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Was All The Prophecy in the Bible Fulfilled by A.D.70?
By Duncan McKenzie, Ph.D.
Duncan McKenzie Study Archive | The Covenant Judgments of Revelation | The Antichrist Chronicles: vol. II | J.S. Russell's Position on the Millennium, the Neglected Third Way of Preterism | A New Preterist Perspective | Was All The Prophecy in the Bible Fulfilled by A.D.70? | Revelation: The Book of Fulfillment of the Covenant Curses of Leviticus and Deuteronomy | Babylon in Not Jerusalem | Premillennial Preterism | The Serious Error of the Literal Hermeneutic in the Interpretation of the Book of Revelation | A Preterist Book on the Antichrist is Coming | Revelation Chapter 12
By far the most frequent question I am asked in relation to my articles that have appeared on this web site is, "What about Luke 21:22?" "Doesn't it say all the prophecy in the Bible would be fulfilled by AD 70?" The reason I am asked this question is because, although my position sees AD 70 as being the time of Jesus' Second Coming, I still look for certain events to be fulfilled in the future. For example, I see the end of the millennium when Satan is cast into the lake of fire as being in the future.
Luke 21:22 is the corner stone of the full preterist hermeneutic that all the prophecy in the Bible was fulfilled by AD 70.
Luke 21:20-22 is as follows:
20. But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation is near.
21. Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, let those who are in the midst of her depart, and let not those who are in the country enter her.
22. For these are the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled. All Bible quotations are from the NKJV unless otherwise noted.
Full preterists maintain that the "all things" referred to here means that all the prophecy in the Bible was fulfilled by AD 70. While I have a great deal of agreement with full preterists, I disagree with their interpretation here. Let me emphasize, however, that I am in total agreement with my full preterist brothers and sisters that the Second Coming of Jesus happened at AD 70.
My short answer to the question of what Luke 21:22 means is that it is saying all things written about the days of vengeance that would come upon the Jews when they violated the covenant would be fulfilled by AD 70. It is not saying that all prophecy in the Bible would be fulfilled by AD 70.
There are many passages that speak of God's vengeance on His Old Covenant people if they broke the covenant. The two major passages are found in Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28-32.
14. But if you do not obey Me, and do not observe all these commandments
15. and if you despise My statutes, or if your soul abhors My judgments, so that you do not perform all My commandments, but break My covenant, I will also do this to you.
God goes on to list a number of plagues and punishments He would bring on the Jews.
Leviticus 26:25 And I will bring a sword against you that will execute the vengeance of the covenant...
Deuteronomy chapters 28-32 also talk of Godís vengeance on the Jews if they broke the covenant.
40. For I raise My hand to heaven, and say, As I live forever.
41. If I whet My glittering sword, and My hand takes hold on judgment, I will render vengeance to My enemies, and repay those who hate Me.
42. I will make My arrows drunk with blood, and My sword shall devour flesh, with the blood of the slain and the captives, from the heads of the leaders of the enemy.
43. Rejoice, O Gentiles, with His people; for He will avenge the blood of His servants, and render vengeance to His adversaries; He will provide atonement for His land and His people.
If I may digress for a moment, notice how in both of these passages that speak of God's judgment on His Old Covenant people for breaking the covenant, the judgment is associated with a sword. With that in mind consider the following quote from Josephus. Talking about the events leading up to the destruction of Jerusalem, he wrote the following:
"This is how the unhappy people were beguiled at this stage by charlatans and false messengers of God, while they disregarded and disbelieved the unmistakable portents that foreshadowed the coming desolation, and, as though thunderstuck (sic), blind, senseless, paid no heed to the clear warnings of God. It was like this when a star that looked like a sword stood over the city and a comet that continued for a whole year." Josephus, War of the Jews (6,5,3).
A star in the shape of a sword loomed over Jerusalem in the days preceding its desolation! This was a sign of God's coming judgment, His sword to "execute the vengeance of the covenant."
Jesus said that the vengeance for all the righteous blood shed on the earth would be visited on the generation that rejected him.
32. Fill up then, the measure of your fatherís guilt.
33. Serpents, brood of vipers! How can you escape the condemnation of hell?
34. Therefore, indeed, I send you prophets, wise men, and scribes: some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues and persecute from city to city.
35. that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on the earth from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, son of Berechiah whom you murdered between the temple and the altar
36. Assuredly, I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation.
God's Old Covenant people had been judged before for breaking the covenant (Daniel 9:10-13) but the ultimate judgment would come in AD 70, on the generation that rejected and killed Jesus. This was because the Jews rejecting and killing Jesus was the ultimate act of breaking of the Covenant (Luke 20:9-16). In killing Jesus the Jews were killing their husband, God (see Hosea chapter 2). This is why Babylon, the harlot city, is said to be a widow (even though she denies it Rev. 18:7&8). This left the Lord free to marry another people (Hosea 2:19-23), which of course He did! (Rev. 19:1-10)
In Revelation chapter 6 we see the souls of those killed for the word of God crying out for God's righteous vengeance. They are told to wait just a little while longer.
9. When He opened the fifth seal I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the testimony which they held.
10. And they cried with a loud voice, saying "How long, O Lord, holy and true until You judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?" ("earth" should be translated "land" here.)
11. Then a white robe was given to each of them; and it was said to them that they should rest a little while longer, until both the number of their fellow servants and their brethren, who would be killed as they were, was completed.
Vengeance for the blood guilt of those who rejected Jesus was about to be poured out on the dwellers on the land in the book of Revelation. It is the subject of most of the book. This is no doubt the reason that David Chilton named his commentary on Revelation "The Days of Vengeance". Let me interject here that the Greek word "ge" which is translated "earth" in most of Revelation, is often better translated "land" (i.e. the promised land). Compare Revelation 1:7 with Zechariah 12:10-14. It is the tribes of the land who were to mourn at Jesusí Second Coming not the tribes of the earth. In Revelation 13:11-18, the second beast doesnít come out of the "earth", he comes out of the "land" (of Israel). That is, he was Jewish, the false prophet. (Rev. 19:20). This distinction becomes very important in a verse like Rev. 6:8 where a fourth of the population of the earth (land) is killed. A fourth of those living on the earth where not killed around AD 70, a fourth of those on the land (and more) were. For a more thorough treatment of this subject see the following: K. Gentry, Before Jerusalem Fell pgs. 127-131; J.S. Russell, The Parousia pgs. 380-381, 392-393; D. Chilton, The Days of Vengeance pgs. 129-130.
The prophet Isaiah also wrote about God's days of vengeance. Isaiah 35:3&4
3. Strengthen the weak hands, and make firm the feeble knees.
4. Say to those who are fearful-hearted "Be strong, do not fear!" Behold your God will come with vengeance, with the recompense of God; He will come and save you.
See also Isaiah 61:2 and 63:1-6
There was much written in the Old Testament about God's days of vengeance on His Old Covenant people when they broke the covenant. All these scriptures would be fulfilled in their ultimate sense on the generation that killed Jesus. These were the days of vengeance and all that was written about them would be fulfilled in the days leading up to AD 70. This is not the same, however, as saying that all the prophecy in the Bible would be fulfilled by AD 70.
For those who need more convincing (which would probably be most of the full preterists reading this article) consider Luke 18:31.
Then He took the twelve aside and said to them, Behold we are going up to Jerusalem, and ALL THINGS which are written through the prophets about the Son of Man will be accomplished. emphasis mine
Jesus tells His disciples that "all things" written about Him by the prophets would be accomplished at Jerusalem. If we used the logic that full preterists are using on Luke 21:22 we would say that ALL the prophets said about Jesus was fulfilled at the cross. Well of course the Second Coming of Jesus wasn't fulfilled at the cross (Luke 21:27). If one tried to make the "ALL THINGS" in Luke 18:31 include the Second Coming they would be making a big mistake. One would end up trying to fit the Second Coming in with, or before, the crucifixion. What Luke 18:31 is saying is that all that was written about Jesus suffering, dying and rising in victory on the third day would be fulfilled in His death and resurrection at Jerusalem. That is, all the specifics that were written about these events would be fulfilled, not all things written about Jesus. To make the "all things" refer to all the prophecies in the Bible about Jesus being accomplished by that time would be flat out wrong. Yet this would be the exact same logic that full preterists are using on Luke 21:22. This should be cause for full preterists to reconsider the emphasis they put on Luke 21:22 necessitating the fulfillment of all prophecy by AD 70.
Now consider Luke 24:44-48. Jesus, after His resurrection, said the following to His disciples:
Luke 24:44. Then He said to them, "These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me."
Once again did this mean all the prophecies in the Law, Prophets and Psalms about Jesus were fulfilled by the time of His resurrection? Of course not, Jesusí Second Coming and millennial reign still awaited fulfillment. What Jesus meant was that everything that happened at Jerusalem had to have happened to fulfill all the prophecies about Him dying and rising again. He didn't mean that all the prophecies in the Bible regarding Him were fulfilled at that time. This is made clear as He continues in the following verses.
Luke 24:45 And He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures.
46. Then He said to them "Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day,
47. and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.
48. And you are witnesses of these things."
Another "all things" verse is found in Luke 21:32:
Luke 21:28 Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near.
29. Then He spoke to them a parable: Look at the fig tree, and all the trees.
30. When they are already budding you see and know for yourselves that summer is now near.
31. So you also, when you see these things happening, know that the kingdom of God is near.
32. Assuredly I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all things take place.
Once again Luke gives us an "all things" taking place statement. Does this mean all the prophecies in the Bible were to be fulfilled by the end of that generation or does it mean all the things Jesus had mentioned (the great tribulation, abomination of desolation, Second Coming, etc.) would take place in that generation? Looking at the parallel passages in Matthew and Mark helps to answer this question.
Matthew 24:32. Now learn this parable from the fig tree: When its branch has already become tender and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near.
33. So you also, when you see all these things, know that it is near-at the very doors!
34. Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things are fulfilled.
Mark 13:28 Now learn this parable from the fig tree: When its branch has already become tender, and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near.
29. So you also, when you see these things happening, know that it is near-at the doors!
30. Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place.
Looking at the parallel passages helps to answer the question as to the meaning of "all things" taking place, in Luke 21:32. According to Matthew and Mark the "all things" in Luke 21:32 means "all these things", the things Jesus had been talking about, not all the prophecies in the Bible being fulfilled by that generation.
To summarize, Luke 21:22 is saying that all things that were written in the Old Testament about the days of vengeance would be fulfilled by AD 70 with the destruction of Jerusalem. To say the "all things" of Luke 21:22 means that all the prophecies in the Bible were to be fulfilled by AD 70 is unwarranted. This becomes clear when one examines other passages in Luke that speak of "all things" being fulfilled or accomplished (Luke 18:31, 24:44, 21:32). Luke's use of "all things" speaks of all the specifics of a given prophetic event being fulfilled, not all the prophecies in the Bible being fulfilled.
Having said that all the things Jesus spoke about the days of vengeance (not all the prophecy in the Bible) happened by AD 70, a logical question would be "So what is left to be fulfilled?" Allow me a somewhat lengthy digression to address this by talking about the judgment of the nations. This was one of the things Jesus had said would happen before the generation that was listening to Him had passed away (Matthew 25:31-46). Full preterists posit that this judgment, that happens at Jesusí Second Coming, happens at the end of the millennium. Since Jesus came at AD 70 their reasoning is that the millennium must have ended at that time. I of course agree that the Second Coming happened at AD 70 but I believe that the judgment of the nations happened at the beginning of the millennium not the end.
In looking at the resurrection at the beginning of the millennium (Rev. 20:4), notice that one of the categories of people that come alive are the souls of those "who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands" (Rev 20:4). The beast and his mark had to do with events that happened around AD 70. Whoever a full preterist may say the beast was (most say he was Nero), all would say he existed around AD 70. This is because he was destroyed around the time of the Second Coming of Jesus (Rev. 19:11-21). To make the time of the first resurrection (Rev. 20:4) AD 30 and the time of what appears on the surface to be the second resurrection (Rev. 20:11-15) AD 70 (the usual full preterist proposal) does not fit. If the first resurrection happened at AD 30 what mark of the beast had the martyrs who came alive for the 1000-year reign overcome? And why were Christians just finally being warned about this mark some 35 years after AD 30? Rev. 14:8-13 (Revelation was probably written around AD 65). Once again, to try and make the resurrection at the beginning of the millennium happen around AD 30 simply does not fit. Full preterists have to try to make it fit because they need to have the millennium end by AD 70 (all prophecy fulfilled by AD 70). Thus they end up trying to fit the 1000-year reign into the forty-year period of AD 30 to AD 70. The 1000-year reign didn't end at AD 70 it began at that time. One reason God was revealing it was to provide encouragement to those who would face the beast and his mark (Rev. 13:7-10). That is, He was encouraging those who were about to face the beast to be faithful until the Second Coming by showing how they would reign with Him at that time (Rev. 2:25-27; 3:20& 21; 20:4).
At the resurrection of Revelation 20:4 (which I maintain happened at AD 70) John saw "thrones, and they sat on them and judgment was committed to them" (Rev 20:4). The word "judgment" here (Greek, "krima") has to do with "the power and business of judging" (Thayer's Greek-English Lexicon). In other words it is talking about believers being involved with God in the decision making process and verdict as He judged the world. This was the judgment that Jesus told His disciples they would participate in at His Second Coming (AD 70).
Matthew 19:28 So Jesus said to them, "Assuredly I say to you, that in the regeneration, when the Son of Man sits on the throne of His glory, you who have followed Me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
29. And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My name's sake, shall receive a hundredfold, and inherit eternal life.
The resurrection at the beginning of the millennium shows the thrones, the judging and the eternal life that Jesus had promised to His disciples at His Second Coming.
Revelation 20:4 And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was committed to them. Then I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands. And they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.
Those who would want to say the regeneration of Matthew 19:28 refers to AD 30 run into a very big problem. Matthew 19:28 says the time when the disciples would sit on thrones judging Israel would be "when the Son of Man sits on the throne of His glory." Matthew chapter 25 clearly puts the time of Jesus sitting on the throne of His glory at His Second Coming (AD 70).
31. When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory.
32. All the nations will be gathered before Him and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats.
The time when Jesus had promised His disciples they would sit on thrones judging Israel referred to the time of His Second Coming (AD 70).
At the beginning of the millennium (which I maintain began at AD 70) John saw "thrones, and they sat on them and judgment was committed to them" (Rev. 20:4). This judgment was the same one that Paul said would be committed to believers at Jesusí Second Coming (AD 70).
1 Corinthians 6:2 Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world will be judged by you, are you unworthy to judge the smallest matters?
3. Do you not know that we shall judge angels? How much more, things that pertain to this life?
The Lordís judgment began at the house of God (1 Peter 4:17). Thus I see the judgment seat of Christ (2 Cor. 5:10), when believers were judged in terms of rewards (1Cor. 3:10-15) taking place right before the saints participated in the judgment of the world at AD 70.
Jesus judged the world at His Second Coming (AD 70), when He sat "on the throne of His glory" (Matthew 19:28 & 25:31). The souls that came alive to rule in the millennium (Rev. 20:4) were the same ones that were told to wait just a little longer (until the Second Coming) for God to avenge them (Rev. 6:9). Believers participated in the judgment of the world and are now sharing in the Lordís rule over the nations (Rev. 2:25-27; 2 Timothy 2:10-12; Rev. 5:9&10). Once again this rule, the 1,000-year reign (the 1,000-years being symbolic of the Day of the Lord, 2 Peter 3:8) didn't end at AD 70 it began at that time. It was the kingdom coming with power that some of those listening to Jesus would still be alive to see (Mark 9:1, Matthew 16:27&28). The start of the millennium was about to happen at AD 70, but the end of the 1,000-year rule was, by necessity, in the distant future. The end of something that lasts a 1,000 years would have been understood by the original audience as something in the distant future. Thus the end of it would have been seen as being outside of the things that were about to take place.
My position sees the resurrection and judgment at Jesus' Second Coming (AD 70) as the resurrection of Rev. 20:4-6. Originally I had posited that the judgment in Rev. 20:4 and Rev. 20:11-15 were two different judgments separated by the millennium. This is the same sequence that full preterists propose but my view of the timing was different. Full preterists see a resurrection (believers coming alive spiritually) at AD 30 (Rev. 20:4) and one at AD 70 (Rev. 20:11-15) with the millennium in between. I had seen a resurrection at AD 70 (Rev. 20:4) and one at the end of time (Rev. 20:11-15) with the millennium in between. I have now come to agree with J.S. Russell that Rev. 20:4 and 20:11-15 arenít two different judgments separated by the millennium but one judgment with a parenthetical statement of future things (Rev. 20:5-10) in between. Thus Revelation 20:11-15 is not a separate judgment, but a continuation of the description of the judgment of Revelation 20:4. Russell said the following regarding this:
"The result of the whole is, that we must consider the passage which treats of the thousand years, from ver. 5 to ver. 10, as an intercalation or parenthesis. The seer, having begun to relate the judgment of the dragon, passes in ver. 7 out of the apocalyptic limits to conclude what he had to say respecting the final punishment of Ďthe old serpent,í and the fate that awaited him at the close of a lengthened period called Ďa thousand years.í This we believe to be the sole instance in the whole book of an excursion into distant futurity; and we are disposed to regard the whole parenthesis as relating to matters still future and unfulfilled. The broken continuity of the narration is joined again at ver. 11, where the Seer resumes the account of what he beheld in vision, introducing it by the familiar formula ĎAnd I saw.í" J.S. Russell The Parousia pg. 523
What Russell was saying was that the description of the judgment in Rev. 20:4 is continued in Rev. 20:11. Revelation 20:5-10 (the millennium, the release of Satan from the abyss for a season, the Gog and Magog invasion, Satan cast into the lake of fire) forms a parenthesis of things that happen during and at the conclusion of the millennium. If one puts aside the parenthesis of Revelation 20:5-10 for a moment the following description of the judgment appears:
4. And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given to them. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of the testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God, and those who had not worshipped the beast or his image, and had not received the mark upon their forehead and upon their hand; and they came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years
(Verses 5-10, parenthesize of things future to AD 70)
11. And I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them.
12. And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deedsÖ NASB
Russell saw the parenthesis of Revelation 20:5-10 (the millennium, the release of Satan from the abyss for a season, the Gog and Magog invasion, the casting of Satan into the lake of fire) as the only part of Revelation that projected into the distant future (future to AD 70). I have come to agree with him that Revelation 20:5-10 is the only part of Revelation that deals with post AD 70 subject matter. My previous position had seen Revelation 20:5-15 as dealing with things that were to happen after AD 70. I now view my previous extension of Russellís parenthesis (extending it from Rev. 20:5-10 to Rev. 20:5-15) as untenable.
Getting back to the original subject of my paper. The second most common argument used by full preterists for saying all prophecy was fulfilled by AD 70 would probably be the imminency of the time statements in the book of Revelation. That is, the many statements of the nearness of the things predicted in Revelation. J.S. Russell, the author of The Parousia and one of the biggest influences on modern preterism was one of the staunchest spokesmen for the imminency of the time statements in Revelation.
"If there be one thing which more than any other is explicitly and repeatedly affirmed in the Apocalypse it is the nearness of the events which it predicts. This is stated, and reiterated again and again, in the beginning, the middle, and the end...
As this is a point of the highest importance, and indispensable to the right interpretation of the Apocalypse, it is proper to bring forward the proof that the events depicted in the book are comprehended within a very brief period of time.
The opening sentence, containing what may be called the title of the book, is of itself decisive of the nearness of the events to which it relates:
CHAP. 1:1 'The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants what things must shortly come to pass.' J.S. Russell, The Parousia, pg. 367
As vehement as Russell was about the nearness of the time statements of Revelation necessitating an AD 70 fulfillment, he made an exception in the case of the millennium and the subsequent casting of Satan into the lake of fire. As I have stated, Russell saw the millennium as beginning in AD 70 and extending into the future. Thus he saw Revelation 20:5-10 as a parenthetical passage of things not yet fulfilled. He saw the rest of the book (the new heaven and new earth, the new Jerusalem etc.) as going back to things that were about to happen (around AD 70). Thus Russell saw Revelation 21 and 22 as being fulfilled at AD 70. He said the following about those who would try to fit the millennium in before AD 70.
"Some interpreters indeed attempt to get over the difficulty by supposing that the thousand years, being a symbolic number, may represent a period of very short duration, and so bring the whole within the prescribed apocalyptic limits; but this method of interpretation appears to us so violent and unnatural that we cannot hesitate to reject it. The act of binding and shutting up the dragon does indeed come within the 'shortly' of the apocalyptic statement, for it is coincident or nearly so, with the judgment of the harlot and the beast; but the term of the dragon's imprisonment is distinctly stated to be for a thousand years, and thus must necessarily pass entirely beyond the field of vision so strictly and constantly limited by the book itself. We believe, however, that this is the solitary example which the whole book contains of this excursion beyond the limits of 'shortly'." J.S. Russell, The Parousia, pg. 514
What Russell was saying was that those who were trying to fit the millennium in before AD 70 were very wrong. Current day full preterism is trying to do just that. The usual full preterist solution for the 1,000-year reign is to try and make it the 40 year period from AD 30 to AD 70. The fact that Russell considered this interpretation "violent and unnatural" should have full preterists examining their position closely. Probably no one more than Russell would have liked to fit the millennium into the things that were about to happen (AD 70). Russell of course saw the millennium as about to happen in terms of it beginning at AD 70 not ending at that time. J.S. Russell was as motivated as one could be to fit the millennium in before AD 70. Six verses, Revelation 20:5-10 (the millennium, the loosing of Satan for a season, the Gog and Magog invasion, and subsequent banishment of Satan to the lake of fire) out of the whole book of Revelation that he could not in good conscience fit in between AD 30 and AD 70. For Russell to fit the millennium in before AD 70 may have put all his ducks in a row, but apparently he thought it would have been the wrong row! Russell's refusal to crunch the millennium in before AD 70 and his denouncement of the method of those who do, are reason enough to reconsider the "all fulfilled by AD 70" rule of full preterism.
The fact that J.S. Russell saw the millennium beginning at AD 70 and extending into the future means that he would not be a full preterist by today's standards. This brings up a very important point. Current day full preterism, (with its hermeneutic that all the prophecy in the Bible was fulfilled by AD 70) is a relatively recent development. As near as I can tell it had its start in the late sixties and early seventies with Max King's writings. Now being new does not in and of itself make a position right or wrong, and I am certainly not impugning the integrity of Max King. Ultimately it is Scripture alone that is the final authority. I do think, however, that new theological ideas need to be scrutinized very closely.
What is new about current day full preterism is the hermeneutic that all prophecy has to have been fulfilled by AD 70. Full preterists have developed this as a meta-hermeneutic (if I may coin a term). A hermeneutic is a rule or principle of how to interpret the Bible. By "meta" I mean something that is higher or transcending. So by meta-hermeneutic I mean a hermeneutic that is higher or more important; that is, a higher order, guiding interpretative rule or principle. If a full preterist violates the meta-hermeneutic of "all fulfilled by AD 70" they are, by definition, no longer a full preterist. So while full preterists use other rules of interpretation for a given passage, ultimately the fulfillment of a passage has to fit in before AD 70. If it doesn't then a full preterist would have to change his or her paradigm.
The concept I am employing of meta-hermeneutic is not necessarily negative. For example I would call the belief in the innerrancy of Scripture a meta-hermeneutic. Thus those of us who hold to it seek to have a given passage be consistent with the rest of Scripture. Those who are more liberal in their interpretation of the Bible don't feel this need to make the Bible consistent. For them to say the Second Coming didn't happen in the first century (when the NT writers said it would) is no problem. They don't adhere to the higher order, guiding rule of innerrancy.
Creedalists use the creeds as a meta-hermeneutic. Thus, whatever passage they are interpreting has to fit in with their creed's statement of a future physical Second Coming. This brings up a very important point. One has to examine one's meta-hermeneutics very carefully. This is because they draw the parameters or boundaries for the rest of one's interpretive principles. That is, they become the underlying assumptions that one bases oneís whole approach to the interpretation of Scripture on. For example the creedalist as long as he or she accepts the creeds as a meta-hermeneutic can never see AD 70 as the time of the Second Coming, most of church tradition doesn't allow for it. Instead the creedalists have to go through all sorts of theological gymnastics trying to differentiate between a coming in judgment (AD 70) and the "real" Second Coming in the future. As long as they hold their creeds as a meta-hermeneutic, creedalists will have to strain to come up with artificial distinctions between two comings of Jesus. Once again, oneís higher guiding interpretative rules need to be examined very carefully, they limit the possibilities of one's interpretive system. This is why I am advocating for a closer examination of the "all fulfilled by AD 70" meta-hermeneutic. To my knowledge the "all prophecy fulfilled by AD 70" rule has never really been questioned by those who see AD 70 as the time of the Second Coming. John L. Bray would be an exception to this but even he just came to the conclusion that AD 70 was the Second (and final) Coming of Jesus in the last few years. The usual choice has been between traditional partial preterism, that sees AD 70 as a coming of Jesus in judgment (but not the Second Coming), and full preterism with its all fulfilled by AD 70 meta-hermeneutic. I am trying to show that there is a very viable option in between these two traditional positions. Of course those who would chose the position I am advocating will probably still end up being labeled as a heretic by those who subscribe to the creeds as a meta-hermeneutic, sorry!
Russell came to many of the same conclusions as full preterists do (as do I) but he did so by letting the context of each section of Scripture determine when its fulfillment was. He did not have a meta-hermeneutic that all prophecy had to have been fulfilled by AD 70. Thus when he came to the conclusion that the millennium started at AD 70 he was able to adjust his interpretation of Revelation accordingly. Again Russell wasn't working from the meta-hermeneutic of current day full preterists that all prophecy had to have been fulfilled by AD 70.
In writing my paper on Revelation chapter 12, I approached the chapter with no particular agenda in terms of applying it before AD 70 or after. In a nutshell, the conclusion I came to was that Satan was cast out of heaven at Jesus' resurrection and then was loose on the earth until AD 70. It was at that time, at the Second Coming, that Satan was bound, cast into the abyss, and the millennium began. If I was working under the meta-hermeneutic of the full preterist (that all has to be fulfilled by AD 70) I would have had to drastically alter my conclusions so I could fit everything in before AD 70. I would dare say that a full preterist reading my conclusions here on Revelation 12 would be almost sure I was wrong even before reading my paper. It would either be my being wrong or his or her paradigm being wrong. Guess which way most people lean when they feel their paradigm is being threatened (they usually "circle the wagons" seeking to discount the perceived threat). In my mind having to fit all prophecy in before AD 70 is just as stifling to the search for the Truth of Scripture as having to fit all prophecy into a creedal formula is. We all need to be careful that it is the Truth of Scripture that we are defending and not simply our view or paradigm. Unfortunately many times it is not easy to tell the difference between the two.
In this paper I have examined the proposition that all the prophecies in the Bible were fulfilled by AD 70. This proposition is used as a meta-hermeneutic (a higher order interpretive rule or principle) by full preterists. I examined the two most common arguments to support this meta-hermeneutic (Luke 21:22, and the imminency of the time statements of Revelation). I found these arguments not to be as solid as they appear on the surface. I argued that a meta-hermeneutic, because it helps to form the underlying assumptions of oneís Biblical interpretive system, needs to have a very solid Scriptural foundation. I don't think the "all the prophecy in the Bible fulfilled by AD 70" meta-hermeneutic has that solid foundation. First because I don't find the arguments for it convincing. Second, and just as important, I see portions of Scripture that contradict it (i.e. Revelation 12 showing Satan being cast to the earth at AD 30, not into the abyss; the millennium beginning at AD 70 at the Second Coming). I have called for a re-examination of the "all prophecy fulfilled by AD 70" meta-hermeneutic of full preterism.
As one who does not recognize the constraint of all prophecy having to be fulfilled by AD 70, let me outline my position. I am summarizing here; for some of the rationale behind my thinking read my other articles, "A New Preterist Perspective" (although this paper modifies the section in that paper labeled "Resurrections") and "Revelation Chapter 12".
First, I agree with full preterists that the Second Coming of Jesus happened at AD 70. To me this is the heart of preterism. I don't look for a third coming (Jesus would have to leave for that to happen!). I also agree that our salvation was made complete at the Second Coming. I also agree with full preterists that Christians have had access to the New Jerusalem and tree of life since the Second Coming (AD 70), Praise the Lord! Looking at Revelation chapter 12, I see that Satan was cast to the earth at Jesus' resurrection (John 12:31). He was loose on the earth until the Second Coming (AD 70). Looking at Revelation chapters 17-20, I see Jesus' Second Coming as happening at the destruction of Jerusalem (the fall of Babylon) in AD 70. The beast was defeated around that time, and thrown into the lake of fire. Satan was bound and cast into the abyss at that time (AD 70) and the millennial reign of believers began. It was at this time that the resurrection and judgment of Revelation 20 happened. I see this resurrection as an ongoing one that all believers participate in, ruling and reigning with Jesus. I see a final abolishment of evil at the end of the millennium when Satan and all that is evil will be thrown into the lake of fire.
A major disagreement I have with full preterists is over their view of the current status of evil. Full preterists see Satan and all other enemies of Jesus as being abolished (thrown into the lake of fire) at AD 70. Thus full preterists see Satan as totally off the scene today, although evil still lives on in the hearts of men. In their view evil may diminish as the Kingdom expands but it never really ceases to exist. I look for a more definitive abolishment of all evil at the end of the millennium (Rev. 20:7-10). My position sees Satan as being active today. He was defeated at the cross (Matthew 28:18) but that does not mean he doesn't still produce destruction in the world today.
I see us currently in the end part of the millennial reign when Satan is released from the abyss to go out and deceive the nations. That is why I think we have been experiencing such a rise in spiritual darkness in the last 3 or 4 decades. Spiritually speaking this is our world and we need (by prayer and sharing the word of God) to be more active in our rule of it. The Christian army advances on its knees! In the same manner as the children of Israel, when they inherited the promised land (Joshua 1:3), everywhere we set our feet (bringing God's rule) has already been given to us. In my opinion any form of preterism that doesnít emphasize the active ruling of the Christian today (primarily through prayer) is on the wrong track. I don't look for the world to become totally Christian (like the post-millennialist does). I look for a continuing polarization of dark and light. That is, I look for the dark (non-Christians) to get darker and the light (Christians) to get brighter as the Kingdom expands. How optimistic or pessimistic others may view my position does not concern me as much as how well it lines up with Scripture.
I see God's sovereign hand in bringing the Jews (after the flesh) back to the land of Israel. He owes them absolutely nothing from the Old Covenant, but is grafting those who will come to faith in Jesus back into the tree of Israel (which we are a part of). God is dealing positively again with the Jews (after the flesh) for His name's sake (so His enemies donít think it was they who overthrew Israel), for the sake of the Fathers (Abraham, Isaac, Jacob etc.) and because His calling is irrevocable. Many preterists (both partial and full), would disagree with me on this but are at a loss to explain what God is currently doing with physical Israel. I look for increasing numbers of Jews (after the flesh) becoming true Jews (believers in Jesus). I also look for increasing antagonism from those Jews who won't be grafted back into the tree of true Israel. I look for peace to come to the land of Israel and at a time after that I look for the Gog and Magog invasion to happen. At that time Satan and all that is evil are thrown into their final place of judgment and destruction, the lake of fire. This is when Jesus, having abolished all enemies, all that is evil, delivers the Kingdom up to the Father (I Cor.15:22-26). We then live on in the eternal fulfillment of being with our God and Lord (what I call the eternal state) where we will have fullness of joy in their presence and with each other!
What do YOU think ?
Date: 23 Mar 2007
Date: 18 May 2007
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