BOOKS: BIBLICAL STUDIES (1500BC-AD70) / EARLY CHRISTIAN PRETERISM (AD50-1000) / FREE ONLINE BOOKS (AD1000-2008)
AD70 Dispensationalism: According to
that view, AD70 was the end of 'this age' and the start of the 'age to come'.
Those who lived before AD70 could only 'see in part' and such, lacking
the resurrection and redemptive blessings which supposedly came only
Herod's Temple in Jerusalem
fell. Accordingly, AD70 was not only the end of Old
Testament Judaism, but it was also the end of the revelation of
Christianity as seen in the New Testament.
AD70 Dispensationalism: According to that view, AD70 was the end of 'this age' and the start of the 'age to come'. Those who lived before AD70 could only 'see in part' and such, lacking the resurrection and redemptive blessings which supposedly came only when Herod's Temple in Jerusalem fell. Accordingly, AD70 was not only the end of Old Testament Judaism, but it was also the end of the revelation of Christianity as seen in the New Testament.
material is being archived for balanced representation of all preterist views,
but is classified under the theological term hyper (as in beyond
the acceptable range of tolerable doctrines) at this website. The
classification of all full preterism as Hyper Preterism (HyP) is built
upon well over a decade of intense research at PreteristArchive.com, and
the convictions of
the website curator (a
former full preterist pastor). The HyP
theology of final resurrection and consummation in the fall of Jerusalem, with its dispensational line in AD70
(end of old age, start of new age), has never been known among authors
through nearly 20 centuries of Christianity leading up
to 1845, when the earliest known full preterist book was written.
Even though there may be many secondary points of agreement between
Historical/Modern Preterism and Hyper Preterism, their premises are undeniably and
THE FOLLOWING MATERIAL HAS BEEN CLASSIFIED AS "HYPER PRETERIST"
"Full preterist" material is being archived for balanced representation of all preterist views, but is classified under the theological term hyper (as in beyond the acceptable range of tolerable doctrines) at this website. The classification of all full preterism as Hyper Preterism (HyP) is built upon well over a decade of intense research at PreteristArchive.com, and the convictions of the website curator (a former full preterist pastor). The HyP theology of final resurrection and consummation in the fall of Jerusalem, with its dispensational line in AD70 (end of old age, start of new age), has never been known among authors through nearly 20 centuries of Christianity leading up to 1845, when the earliest known full preterist book was written. Even though there may be many secondary points of agreement between Historical/Modern Preterism and Hyper Preterism, their premises are undeniably and fundamentally different.
WARNING: THE FOLLOWING MATERIAL HAS BEEN CLASSIFIED AS "HYPER PRETERIST"
SOME DISTINCTIVE DOCTRINES OF SYSTEMATIZED HYPER PRETERISM
It is important to keep in mind that many ideas and doctrines full preterism appeals to - such as the complete end of the Old Covenant world in AD70 - are by no means distinctive to that view. Many non HyPs believe this as well, so one need not embrace the Hyper Preterist system in order to endorse this view. Following are exceptional doctrines which, so far as I've seen, are only taught by adherents of Hyper Preterism.:
DISTINCTIVE DOCTRINES TAUGHT BY STANDARD FULL PRETERISM
DISTINCTIVE DOCTRINES TAUGHT BY VARIOUS FORMS
The Bridge from Futurism to Preterism
By Walt Hibbard
According to Webster’s Unabridged Universal Dictionary, a Preterist is “a theologian who believes that the prophecies of the Apocalypse have already been fulfilled.” By extension, this includes the writings of the Old Testament prophets, the words of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the inspired New Testament books and epistles. It is therefore inaccurate for theologians who believe that the second coming of Christ, the resurrection of the dead, and the judgment are still future for us today to call themselves preterists. They are actually futurists with perhaps some preterist leanings. The pejorative term, “hyper-preterist,” can only serve to prejudice the reader against a particular viewpoint before he has been exposed to what it teaches.
The study of eschatology involves words and phrases that convey different meanings to different people. It is always wise, I think, to define our terms in advance and thus avoid possible confusion and misunderstandings. I shall try to define some of these key words and phrases as I believe the Lord intends us to understand them.
“The last days,” spoken so often by Jesus and His apostles, refers to the final and brief period of time that the Old Covenant remained as the administration given to God’s chosen people, Israel, before that economy passed away. The term does not refer to the end of the material world, but rather to the end of an age that was nearly ready to conclude. These last days were the 40 years from the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus until the end of the Jewish nation in AD 70. at which time the city of Jerusalem and its Temple were destroyed by the Roman armies. There is no clear evidence in Scripture to support the idea that it refers to the last days of the earth or to the last days of the New Covenant era. By defining this time period as “the last days” and at the same time admitting that it has already lasted over 2000 years, presents futurists with a problem. To compare Daniel 12:9 with Revelation 22:10 is also most interesting!
“The time of the end,” spoken of in Daniel 12:4 & 9, refers to the same time period as “the last days.” This term is not to be confused with “the end of time” which does not appear in Scripture. I do not find any mention of the concept of “the end of the material world” or “when time shall be no more.” These ideas have come to us primarily from the annals of Greek and Roman philosophy, as well as the mistranslations in the King James Version of “the end of the world” (Matt. 24:3) which all newer versions translate as “the end of the age.”
The term “this generation” appears at least twenty times in the synoptic Gospels, and each time refers to the people living on earth contemporaneously with Jesus. It does not refer to successive generations of Jews who would live in future centuries, nor does the term mean “race,” as some scholars maintain. When this phrase appears in the New Testament, it always speaks of people living in the first century AD.
I understand the phrase “heaven and earth” as often referring to covenants. The Temple in Jerusalem, to the Jewish mind, was where heaven and earth met. It was the place where God’s presence resided. When the Temple was in existence and functioning properly, the Jewish covenantal world was flourishing. When the Temple was destroyed or corrupted, the land of Israel was also in chaos and desolation. The whole Jewish covenantal world revolved around the Temple with its priesthood and sacrificial system. It was “heaven on earth” for the Jewish people. When the Temple was destroyed, their covenantal world was destroyed. To get a “new heaven and earth” meant a new “heaven on earth” would come, which implied a new Temple, priesthood and sacrificial system. In Matt. 5:17-20 the old “heavens and earth” is directly connected with law keeping and the Temple worship system, which would pass away and be replaced by a new Temple system. The first century Jews were familiar with Isaiah’s language in chapter 51:13-16 which refer to God establishing the Old Covenant with Moses. The passages in II Peter 3, Matt. 5:18; and 24:35 make reference to the Old Covenant law, not to the material earth of the Genesis creation account. By the time the author of Hebrews wrote his epistle (about AD 66), the Old Covenant had not yet passed away (Heb. 8:13) but was almost ready to do so. Peter was looking forward to a new heavens and earth that would come into its fullness by about AD 70 when Christ returned. The Puritan commentator, John Owen, in Vol. 9 of his Works, pages 131-141 also rejected the literal meaning of “heaven and earth,” and recognized the covenantal significance of the term.
Words such as “soon,” “near,” “shortly,” “quickly,” “at hand,” “at the door,” etc. are to be understood in a literal sense. It will not do to stretch the obvious meaning of these words so as to place their fulfillment time thousands of years into the future. It should be clear to the unbiased reader that these terms refer to a time of fulfillment in the immediate future. To remove all doubt, our Lord promised that His coming would occur within “this generation” (Matt. 24.34) and before “some standing here shall not taste death” (Matt. 16:28).
The words “die” or “death” as used in the Bible may refer to either physical death or spiritual death. The meaning must be carefully determined by the context. In the Garden of Eden God promised to Adam and Eve in connection with the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, that “in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die” (Gen. 2:17). Adam lived to be 930 years old physically, but his disobedience resulted in his spiritual death that very day, just as God had promised. To maintain that Adam “began to die physically” at the time of the Fall is to miss the point that the Genesis record is teaching. If the correct interpretation was physical death, then Satan was right and God was wrong! So spiritual death resulted directly from the Fall; physical death only indirectly. When God drove Adam and Eve out of the Garden, this deprived them from regularly partaking of the tree of life, which previously had sustained them physically. This cut them off from enjoying indefinite physical life on the earth and physical death ultimately followed. So physical death was not a direct result of the Fall, but came about more indirectly. “The last enemy that will be destroyed is death” (I Cor. 15:26) – spiritual death, not physical death. Physical death is not an enemy. Quite to the contrary, physical death is related to suffering, which the Scriptures almost redundantly picture as the normal experience of Christians. God uses the suffering experience as a means toward the sanctification of the believer and as his preparation for heaven. It is a privilege to suffer for the sake of Christ! In fact, we are told that if a person does not suffer, in his identification with Christ’s sufferings, there is good reason to question his profession (Heb. 12:3-8). Suffering often can become intense and lead to physical death. Does this mean that suffering for Christ’s sake, when it results in physical death, suddenly becomes an enemy? Absolutely not! For the believer in Christ, physical death is the vehicle that God normally employs to translate a person from this earthly life into the heavenly realm; from the imperfect and incomplete into the perfect (I Cor. 13:9-10, 12) which is heaven itself. Spiritual death, which is the wages of sin (Rom. 6:23), is the last enemy which Jesus Christ has defeated through His efficacious sacrifice on the Cross, and culminated at His second coming about AD 70, as death and hades were cast into the lake of fire (Rev. 20:14).
Now that I have attempted to define some of the more frequently misunderstood terms, let’s get to the heart of what preterism really is. It is no more or no less than an effort on the part of conservative Bible scholars and students to arrive at the true and correct view of what Jesus and His disciples were really teaching about His kingdom. It is, in the words of Dr. R. C. Sproul, a “paradigm shift” in biblical interpretation. Preterism especially relates to those passages where Jesus spoke of the timeframe of His second coming. It also includes references to the other “end time” events that Scripture teaches will occur at the same time, or in connection with, the second coming, such as the resurrection of the dead (e.g. I Cor. 15:23). But why should an investigative study of these imminency statements be absolutely necessary in order to understand preterism?
Simply because the definitive imminency passages of the New Testament have been either ignored, passed over too quickly, or denied outright, in most denominations including our Reformed churches. How many of us have ever listened to an in-depth message preached from our pulpits on any of the over 100 imminency verses from the lips of Jesus or His apostles? In cases where these passages may have been cited, there is usually no attempt to thoroughly exegete the verses; no teaching to remind us of the intense sufferings of those first century Christians and how these people were to be soon delivered from their severe persecution and given rest (I Thess. 4:13-18; II Thess. 1:6-7). It is apparently an unspoken rule that these important promises made by Jesus are best left alone, hoping that they will go away. They seem to be an embarrassment to many pastors, since a normal reading will suggest conclusions that are in conflict with long established eschatological teaching and at variance with the historic creeds and confessions. Searching dozens of commentaries for a satisfactory interpretation of these verses will likely result in the same uncertainty, denials, warped exegesis, and confused thinking that I encountered in my studies.
For lack of time and space I will limit my comments to just four of these passages, all being promises of a first century second advent by the Lord Jesus Christ. All of these verses have at least one thing in common: namely, the inspired writer, Matthew, quotes the plain words of Jesus in a straight forward manner, using didactic language, in an ordinary prose fashion. There are no symbolic, poetic or veiled statements. Everything Jesus said in these verses is very plain, quite succinct, and right to the point. There is no parabolic language here; nothing that should prevent anyone from gaining a correct understanding of the verses in question. Yet many scholars have stumbled over these verses. Perhaps this happens because of an unhealthy reliance on the early ecumenical creeds and the historic confessions, which are normally reliable as summaries of orthodox biblical teaching. Now let’s investigate these seemingly difficult verses.
Matt. 10:23 When they persecute you in this city, I say to you, flee to another. For assuredly, I say to you, you will not have gone through the cities of Israel before the Son of Man comes.
Jesus has just finished instructing His twelve disciples to evangelize “the lost sheep of Israel.” He tells them to not preach the message to any of the Gentiles, but only to the people of Israel. They are to preach that “the kingdom of heaven is at hand, and to heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead and cast out demons (vs.6-8). Jesus tells them how they are to equip themselves, how they are to respond to the people, the kind of opposition they can expect, their earthly fate (vs. 9-22) and finally the promise of His coming again before they had “gone through the cities of Israel” (vs. 23).
I have been disappointed by the variety of interpretations offered by dozens of otherwise competent scholars, in attempting to state what Jesus meant in that 23rd verse. I will not repeat their words here, except to say that not one of these teachers was willing to admit that Jesus meant exactly what He plainly said. Was He not clearly saying that He would come again before His disciples had finished going “through the cities of Israel? Is this not a reasonable and fair interpretation of Jesus’ words?
Well, no…if one is thoroughly convinced that the creeds are completely accurate when they teach that the second coming was to take place beyond the date limits of that first century. And haven’t we all been taught that the creeds are the yardstick in defining what “orthodoxy” consists of? Yet at the same time, all conservative Christians know in their hearts that the Scriptures are inerrant and infallible, postulated by both the witness of the Holy Spirit and the external/internal evidence of the manuscripts themselves. They also know that the historic creeds are not inspired, and do not even claim to be. As accurate and valuable as the creeds are to the church on most doctrines, there is good reason to question their accuracy in summarizing the eschatological teachings of Scripture.
In view of the context of vs. 23, and the clear and unmistakable words that Jesus employed in making the statement, this first imminency passage requires us to believe that Jesus promised His twelve disciples that His second coming would occur before they had passed through the cities in Israel. Perhaps Jesus had in mind the six cities of refuge scattered around Israel. Jesus had told His disciples to keep every jot and tittle of the Law better than the scribes and Pharisees. As law-keepers, they would be entitled to protection in these “refuge cities” if anyone plotted against them. If this is what Jesus had in mind, He is simply telling them that they would not run out of cities to flee to before He would return! Bear in mind that Jesus’ original words were directed to His twelve first century disciples, those common people from the ranks of fishermen, shepherds, and tax collectors of His day – not to Christians living in any century past the first one. It was those twelve disciples who would witness His second coming, when Jerusalem was destroyed by the Roman armies in about AD 70 (Matt. 24:29-31). Now let’s consider another text that is equally clear and to the point.
Matt. 16:27-28 For the Son of Man will come (Greek: mello, is about to come) in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works. Assuredly, I say to you, there are some standing here who shall not taste death till they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom.
In spite of the efforts of the early editors to divide these two verses in the parallel rendering in Mark 8:38 & 9:1 into separate chapters, the editors did not see fit to make this separation in Matthew. Verse 27 flows very naturally into verse 28 and therefore contextually related. Several literal versions remind the non-Greek reader that the phrase “will come” is better translated “is about to come.” As we saw earlier that I Cor. 15:23 unites the second coming of Christ with the resurrection, so this 27th verse unites the appearing of “the Son of Man coming in His kingdom” with the judgment. Notice that this verse tells the original audience that when Jesus comes again, He will pass out rewards to each believer according to the grace that has been active in them. By faith we understand that He kept His promise and did precisely what He said He would do.
And then Jesus, as if to assure His disciples (vs. 24) that this magnanimous event was something that they themselves could anxiously look forward to and not to something that would happen a long time (perhaps 2000 years or more?) into the future, He continues in vs. 28 to make sure that they did not miss the fact that some of these disciples would still be alive to witness His second coming and the related events as well. The readers of these verses will search in vain to find poetic language, hyperbole, or symbolic word pictures. Jesus taught His disciples exactly what He wanted them to believe. Notice He did not say that “maybe” or ”perhaps” He would return while some (but not all) of His disciples still had not died physically. He said that He would return to those same disciples that He gave the promise to. This was a genuine pledge to His disciples, and He dates the timing of His second advent within the bounds of that generation living in the first century. Is there any reason to attempt to reinterpret these verses to mean something different from the obvious meaning of the language? Do we have any authority to twist the meaning of Matt. 16:27-28 so as to postpone its fulfillment to the distant future as the creeds suggest we do? I think not. Neither do these verses stand alone in the Gospels. Let’s now consider a third imminency verse.
Matt. 24:34 Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place.
As I reminded us earlier, the Greek word, “genea,” is used over twenty times in the Gospels, and each time refers to people living at the same time. Read Matthew 23 as just one of many examples which refer to that first generation of apostate Jewish leaders who had come under the judgment and condemnation of the Lord Jesus. Their forefathers had murdered the prophets whom He had sent to them, they had spurned His every gesture of kindness and mercy, and now, like the parable of Matt. 21:33-46, where the landowner sends his son, whom they kill, hoping to gain the inheritance, the Father sends the Son to minister to His people, but they hated Him and nailed Him to a tree. The judgment that was coming upon that first century generation of Jewish covenant breakers was aptly described in the seven woes of Matt. 23 and the conclusion was in vs. 38: “See! Your house is left to you desolate.” Chapter 24 answers the disciples question, “Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?” (vs. 3) In the words that follow, Jesus in the Olivet discourse provides great detail concerning the impending judgment on the city of Jerusalem and its Temple, and follows immediately with the highly symbolic language of stars, sun and moon being shaken and falling. This language was familiar to the Jews since numerous judgments on other nations, such as Babylon, Idumea, and Egypt, had been predicted by the prophet Isaiah and fulfilled earlier in Jewish history. Now the ax would fall on God’s own people who had exhausted His patience to the uttermost.
Luke’s version of the Olivet discourse explains in Luke 21:22 “For these are the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled.” Luke further explains in vs. 27-28 of the same chapter: “Then they will see the Son of Man, coming in a cloud with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near.” What does Luke mean by redemption here? Since Jesus was speaking to His believing disciples, and their hearts had already been redeemed, did this not obviously refer to the resurrection and the redemption of their bodies? Yes, the second coming of Jesus was to take place in connection with God’s judgment on Jerusalem, the resurrection, and the bringing to a close of the Old Covenant system. These events must not be separated in time; the Scripture gives us no authority for any such separation, as some partial preterists would suggest. Read the parallel rendering in Luke 21:22 and notice that Jesus Himself affirms that those appointed days in that first century generation were the days when “all things which are written may be fulfilled.” Dr. Gentry would have us believe that the predicted destruction of Jerusalem was fulfilled in the first century, but the second coming, resurrection of the dead, and the final judgment would not be fulfilled until the end of the material world. How can Gentry allow for the fulfillment of the Jerusalem judgment and yet separate it by 2000 years from the three other major end time events which Jesus in Matt. 24 intermingled together? A close study of Luke 17:20-37, comparing it with Matt. 24, refutes Gentry’s contrived interpretation of the discourse. Once again we suggest that the Scripture is clear and conveys a certain message. Now, we must consider the last of these important imminency passages.
Matt. 26:64 Nevertheless, I say to you, hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven.
Jesus was speaking to the high priest, Caiaphas (vs. 57, 63 & 65), and promising that Caiaphas and the council would witness the events relating to His second coming. Jesus is clearly telling all who were present during that trial, perhaps the entire Sanhedrin, including Caiaphas, that “the cloud coming” of Jesus would happen during the lifetime of some of these Jewish leaders who would witness it. The events of AD 70 would “reveal” or “unveil” Jesus as the Son of Man, who is the Messianic “Judge of all Judges.” It is hardly credible to suggest that the fulfillment would take place in a future generation “to those covenantally related to Caiaphas.” Isn’t it amazing to what lengths some will go to avoid the meaning of plain words in an effort to uphold the creeds? Yet that interpretation was offered by a renowned professor at Westminster Seminary to this writer many years ago. Why is it so difficult to simply take the words of Jesus at face value and believe what He said, because He is the Son of God and does not lie?
In conclusion, I would like to discuss a number of what I will call “common sense” arguments that tend to validate the preterist view. They are not listed in any particular order, and can be considered individually.
** It is often assumed that if a preterist can not explain to his own satisfaction (or to anyone else’s either) just how a particular prophecy was fulfilled, that this refutes the entire preterist system. Nothing could be farther from the truth. In view of the time statements that Jesus and His disciples made, a first century fulfillment is the logical outworking of these promises. Is it so incredible that Jesus would fulfill His promise like He said He would do? Perhaps the logic of it all ought to be turned back upon the opponents of preterism. How can they dare to suggest that Jesus really did not fulfill His promises that He said He would and in the way that He said He would? If it is scary to 21st century ears that the second coming has already happened, how much more scary should it be to suggest that the second coming has not yet taken place? What does this do to Jesus’ credibility as a true prophet? If He did not keep His promises, then He either deceived, mislead, or outright lied to His disciples. If so, how can anyone be sure that Jesus’ Cross sacrifice was truly efficacious and that His way of salvation is really the true way into heaven? This demonstrates the extreme importance that eschatology holds in the overall interpretation of the Holy Scriptures!
** A common objection to the teaching that the second coming has already happened is to suggest that these time statements don’t really mean what the preterist says they mean.
Usually people who level this criticism think they have found a loophole in one of the time statements, and explain it in some other way. In view of the over 100 New Testament imminency statements that preterist scholar, David Green, has compiled, can any objector overcome all 100 of these Scripture verses? A good approach is to ask these people to give their own interpretation. According to the teaching of the Reformers, the “analogy of faith” (comparing Scripture with Scripture) is the only sound method to use in arriving at the true meaning. Are these people able to do this? Not that this writer has observed.. Instead, there is a marked tendency to pass over, or ignore, these important verses, saying that Jesus Himself did not know the day or hour. Let’s consider this objection next.
** It is sometimes suggested that Matt. 24:36, “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only,” nullifies other more specific time limitation statements that Jesus made. Not so. We must not read this verse out of its context. The established context is within that first century generation of about forty years, and emphasized with reference to some individuals being still alive at the second coming.. To not know the precise day or hour does not allow a 2000 year postponement! Rather, we can understand this in the same way as we speak of a pregnant woman who will deliver within nine months, yet no one can predict the exact day or hour that her child will be born. Yet the nine month period has not changed because of this lack of precise day and hour knowledge. We need to read our Bibles like we normally read other literature. One final thought on this verse. The text says that the Father knows the day and hour! That alone ought to be enough to settle the matter, in view of the many other imminency statements
**. If Jesus made a promise to specific people to whom He was speaking, doesn’t it make sense that He would fulfill His promise to those same people? Reason with me now: If I promised my son a bicycle for Christmas two months into the future, and come Christmas day, there was no bicycle presented to my son, did I keep my promise to him?
Would not my son be horribly disappointed and lose faith in my promises? Would it not be disgraceful for me to suggest that I really didn’t promise my son the bicycle at all (a lie!), but rather I will be presenting it, at some indefinite time in the future, to my son’s future son, my grandson, instead. In the covenant line, you know! I am glad that our God is not like that. If He made time delineated promises to certain people, facing them eyeball to eyeball, He will always keep His promises perfectly to them. No postponement is possible. Postponement is the same as non-occurrence, and that is a broken promise. The Lord God is always faithful. He keeps His promises.
** Some opponents of preterism have suggested that the dating of the Book of Revelation was around the year of AD 90, and if this is true, the whole preterist position would come tumbling down. This is absurd! The four imminency statements that we considered above were spoken by Jesus Christ about AD 33. They are valid promises and are not invalidated by opinions about the dating of this last book of the Bible. The excellent book by Dr. Ken Gentry, Before Jerusalem Fell, powerfully argues the pre-AD 70 date, and an earlier work, Redating the New Testament, by the liberal scholar, John A. T. Robertson, also supports the early date. The majority of scholars in the 19th century upheld the early date.
** Although it should be obvious, the New Testament documents were written to people living in the first century AD. They were not written to individual Christians or even to the churches that would exist in future generations. The time delineated promises, therefore, were given to those first century people and not to believers in subsequent centuries.. It has been said that when we 21st century people read the New Testament, we are reading someone else’s mail! None of the Gospels, Epistles, etc. were written to us. But while none of the Bible was written directly to us, all of the Bible was written for us. This distinction is crucial to an accurate understanding of Bible prophecy. It also spells out the difference between fulfillment and application, and upholds the hermeneutical axiom of audience relevance.
** A common charge against preterists is that they teach that nothing significant really happened to the living believers in AD 70 at the time of the parousia. They continued living normal lives and, one by one, died in the course of time, with no deliverance from Roman persecution. However, I do not believe that! If this predicted event was merely an objective, change of covenants, and nothing more than that for the Christians alive at that time, our opponents would have a good argument. Rather, I hold to a literal “catching up” (some call it a “rapture”) event. Along with this catching up (I Thess. 4:13-19; I Cor. 15:50-54; II Cor. 5:1-4) of living believers, who were “changed” and given glorified, incorruptible, spiritual bodies, the departed believers in Sheol/Hades were resurrected and both groups together were taken to heaven by our Lord, as He promised to do in John’s Gospel, chapter 14:1-3. This view is in line with the numerous “expectation statements” of the New Testament, such as Phil. 3:10-11; 3:20-21; II Thess. 1:10; & Rom. 8:23. Surely our Lord would not promise true deliverance to these desperate and persecuted living Christians and then not make good on His promise.
** Preterists often come under attack for believing that our material world should not expect a finality to history. Yet there are over a dozen Scripture passages that suggest that this earth will remain forever, such as Eccl. 1:4 “One generation passes away, and another generation comes, but the earth abides forever”, or Isa. 9:7 “Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, to order it and establish it with judgment and justice from that time forward, even forever…” Mention is made of the “everlasting covenant” in numerous verses, e.g., Isa. 55:3; Jer. 32:40; Heb. 13:20, and of the “everlasting gospel,” e.g., Rev. 14.6. Since there does not seem to be scriptural support to teach that the material earth will be destroyed (II Peter 3 does not teach it, per John Owen, et al), it seems best to conclude that God’s words in Genesis chapter 1, “it is very good,” should prevail. Material substance is not evil and does not sin. If this is correct, then it seems likely that God will continue to use the sufferings that people experience, and even the entire sinful world of people, to the praise of His glory, to sanctify His own people and prepare them for heaven. This has been His pattern for over 2000 years and there does not seem to be any reason to think that He will adopt “plan B” at anytime in the future.
** God finally and completely dealt with sin at the Cross in behalf of each and every true disciple. In AD 70 He rewarded the faithful and cast all unbelievers into hell. After the first century judgment, all people, saved or unsaved, are consigned to their eternal destination when they die physically – the saved are taken to heaven, and the lost are taken to hell. When Paul wrote in I Cor. 13:9-12 “when that which is perfect has come…” he was speaking of heaven where sin will never enter. In order to deal with the sins that Christ did not pay for (in the case of the unbeliever), it remains for this judgment to take place sequentially, at the time of each unbeliever’s death.
** And finally, there would seem to be a contradiction on the destination of departed Christians, as given in some funeral sermons, compared to what is often taught in classes in seminary. A pastor, on the one hand, assures the family of the departed loved one that he/she is in heaven with Jesus. On the other hand, in seminary classes, students often are taught that the soul/spirit of the loved one is in a “disembodied state” (see Charles Hodge’s comments) awaiting the coming of the Lord when his soul/spirit will be re-united with his body at the resurrection and taken to be with Jesus. So which is it? Preterists understand that the pastor’s words of assurance are correct, at least partially, since believers dying today immediately are given incorruptible, glorious spiritual bodies because of the AD 70 consummation. Christ has completed “the place” that He began to prepare after the ascension (John 14: 2-3), taking the Old Testament saints and first century believers with Him at AD 70. Since then, there is no “waiting period” to complete before entering into that glorious habitation, which is the focal point of Rev. 20 & 21. We truly have a completed salvation in Jesus Christ!
What do YOU think ?
If the words of Rev. 21:5 are true, we must accept the (spiritual) fact that in the first century ALL things - not just some things - were made new. ALL things had to include not only the hopelessly fallen, natural Israel but also the hopelessly fallen, natural world. Thus, the new, spiritual and eternal Israel (Christ and the church) appeared in the moment of Christ's resurrection in AD 30 and the new, spiritual and eternal world (the eternal, spiritual dwelling place of Christ and the church on the earth) appeared in the moment of Christ's parousia at the end of the true first century, as described in Rev. 21 and 22.
Walt, bless you for such a positive, reassuring article. Though pols would paint the world a dark place, authors such as you clearly show exactly how "in charge" God is .... totally! gbu
Sorry. The natural world (the unregenerate offspring of Adam and their many institutions) is not only a dark place - hopelessly fallen - it also, if we believe the NT, is destined to be destroyed. The natural world, like OT natural Israel before it, is one of those "things which are seen" and are temporary rather than eternal (2 Cor. 4:18). Christians are IN that doomed world but not OF it. Instead, the new, spiritual and eternal world that appeared in the first century (described in Rev. 21 and 22) is the world of the believer.
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