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Wednesday, March 02, 2011

PRETERISM and the NEW TESTAMENT

PRETERISM

and the

NEW TESTAMENT

Russell Earl Kelly, PHD
March 2, 2011



Section 1: Defining Preterism
Section 2: Messianic Kingdom Texts and References to Israel in the New Testament
Section 3: Matthew 24, Mark 13 and Luke 21: Comparing Hyper-Preterism to Futurism
Section 4: Key Differences between Preterism and Futurism
Section 5: Preteism and the Kingdom


Section 1: Defining Preterism

PRETERISM is an interpretation of Christian eschatology which holds that most or all of the biblical prophecies concerning the End Times refer to events which have already happened in the first century after Christ's birth. The system also claims that Ancient Israel finds its continuation or fulfillment in the Christian church at the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70. (wikipedia)

PARTIAL PRETERISM holds that prophecies such as the destruction of Jerusalem, the Antichrist, the Great Tribulation, and the advent of the Day of the Lord as a "judgment-coming" of Christ were fulfilled in A.D. 70 when the Roman general (and future Emperor) Titus sacked Jerusalem and destroyed the Jewish Temple, putting a permanent stop to the daily animal sacrifices. It identifies "Babylon the Great" (Revelation 17-18) with the ancient pagan City of Rome, or even the city of Jerusalem. Some adherents of Partial Preterism see the Emperor Diocletian as the fulfillment of the "little horn" prophecy of Daniel 7. But this is a minority view. The great majority of Partial Preterists believe that Jerusalem was a "great harlot" destroyed by God in A.D. 70.

Most Partial Preterists also believe that the term Last Days refers not to the last days of planet Earth, or the last days of humankind, but rather to the last days of the Mosaic Covenant, which God held exclusively with the nation of Israel (including biblical proselytes) until the year A.D. 70.

The "Last Days", however, are to be distinguished from the "Last Day", which is considered to still be in the future and entailing the last coming of Jesus, the Resurrection of the righteous and unrighteous dead physically from the grave in like manner to Jesus' physical resurrection, the Final Judgment, and the creation of a literal, non-covenantal New Heaven and New Earth free from the curse of sin and death which was occasioned by the fall of Adam and Eve.

Partial preterists hold that the New Testament predicts and depicts many "comings" of Christ. They contend that the phrase Second Coming means the second of a like kind in a series, for the Scriptures record other "comings" of God even before Jesus' judgment in A.D. 70.

This would eliminate the A.D. 70 event as the "second" of any series, let alone the second of a series in which the earthly, physical ministry of Christ is the first. Partial Preterists believe that the new creation comes in redemptive progression as Christ reigns from His heavenly throne, subjugating His enemies, and will eventually culminate in the destruction of the "last enemy", i.e., physical death (1 Cor 15:20-24). In the Partial Preterist paradigm, since enemies of Christ still exist, the resurrection event cannot have already occurred. Nearly all Partial Preterists hold to amillennialism or postmillennialism. (Wikipedia)

FULL PRETERISM (HYPERPRETERISM) differs from Partial Preterism in that Full Preterists believe that all eschatology or "end times" events were fulfilled with the destruction of Jerusalem, including the resurrection of the dead and Jesus' Second Coming or Parousia. Full Preterism is also known by several other names: Preterism (because the term itself means "past"), Consistent Preterism, True Preterism, Hyper-Preterism (a pejorative term used by opponents of Preterists), and Pantelism. (The term "Pantelism" comes from two Greek roots: παν (pan), "everything", and τελ- (tel-), referring to completion—another attempted pejorative label that never caught on).

Full Preterism holds that Jesus' Second Coming is to be viewed not as a future bodily return, but rather a "return" in glory manifested by the physical destruction of Jerusalem and her Temple in A.D. 70 by foreign armies in a manner similar to various Old Testament descriptions of God coming to destroy other nations in righteous judgment.

Full Preterism also holds that the Resurrection of the Dead did not entail the raising of the physical body, but rather the resurrection of the soul from the "place of the dead", known as Sheol (Hebrew) or Hades (Greek) and that both the living and the dead were raised, changed, caught away and glorified together into one/corporate matured New Covenant Body of Christ. Some versions of Full Preterism teach that the righteous dead obtained an individual spiritual and substantial body for use in the heavenly realm, and the unrighteous dead were cast into the Lake of Fire. Some Full Preterists believe that this judgment is ongoing and that it takes effect upon the death of each individual (Heb. 9:27).

Other Full Preterists believe that because the Book of Revelation was signified (or "symbolized", according to its first verse, Revelation 1:1), the Lake of Fire was only A.D. 70's Gehenna (Jerusalem’s garbage dump, not Hell) as it burned. Moreover, this burning was just aionios (pertaining to an age), not eternal. The hermeneutic of audience relevance confines this judgment and punishment to the 1st century AD.

The New Heaven and the New Earth are also equated with the New Covenant and the Fulfillment of the Law in A.D. 70 and are to be viewed in the same manner by which a Christian is considered a "new creation" upon his or her conversion.

Full Preterists typically reject the authority of the Creeds to condemn their view, stating that the Creeds were written by uninspired and fallible men, and that appeals should be made instead to the Scriptures themselves (sola scriptura).

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Section 2

MESSIANIC “KINGDOM TEXTS” AND REFERENCES TO ISRAEL IN THE NEW TESTAMENT

When Preterists and others teach that the kingdom of God only refers to the spiritual kingdom of the Church, they completely ignore the scores of unconditional Old Testament prophecies AND the New Testament references to Israel in the following texts.

Matt 19:28 And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones , judging the twelve tribes of Israel.(Also Luke 22:30)

This is probably the strongest text against the Preterist teaching that there will be no literal messianic reign of Christ on earth. It is also compelling evidence against the idea that the church is Israel and national Israel is no longer of God’s future plans.

Matt 23:38 Behold, your house is left unto you desolate.
Matt 23:39 “For I say unto you, Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.”

Preterists quote Matthew 23:38 to prove that God had forever rejected Israel as His chosen nation. The context of verse 39 indicates otherwise. While all of the prophets pronounced desolation on Israel and Judea, they also all followed the curse with God’s unconditional promises to restore both.

Luke 1:54 He hath helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy;
Luke 1:55 As he spake to our fathers, to Abraham, and to his seed for ever.

Mary saw God’s actions concerning John and Jesus as God helping the nation Israel by keeping His promises made to Abraham and to his seed for ever (Lk 1:54-55).

Luke 1:68 Blessed be the Lord God of Israel ; for he hath visited and redeemed his people,
Luke 1:69 And hath raised up an horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David;
Luke 1:70 As he spake by the mouth of his holy prophets, which have been since the world began:
Luke 1:71 That we should be saved from our enemies, and from the hand of all that hate us;
Luke 1:72 To perform the mercy promised to our fathers, and to remember his holy covenant;
Luke 1:73 The oath which he sware to our father Abraham,
Luke 1:74 That he would grant unto us, that we being delivered out of the hand of our enemies might serve him without fear,
Luke 1:75 In holiness and righteousness before him, all the days of our life.

While filled with the Holy Spirit, Zacharias, father of John the Baptist, declared that God had sent Jesus to redeem Israel (1:68) and that Jesus was the fulfillment of God’s promises made to David (1:69). The Messiah would be used by God to save Israel from its enemies (1:70, 71, 74, 75). Such was God’s method of keeping his unconditional promises made to Abraham and repeated by the prophets (7:72, 73).

Luke 2:34 And Simeon blessed them, and said unto Mary his mother, Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel ; and for a sign which shall be spoken against.

Simeon interpreted the Christ event as a fulfillment of God’s unconditional promises to national Israel. It would fall and rise again.

Luke 22:29 And I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me;
Luke 22:30 That ye may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel .

This is not a description of heaven. It is a description of the literal Messianic kingdom reign on earth.

Luke 24:21 But we trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel : and beside all this, to day is the third day since these things were done.

The two disciples on the Emmaus road interpreted the Christ events as hopeful fulfillments of God’s literal kingdom promises to national Israel.

John 1:49 Nathanael answered and saith unto him, Rabbi, thou art the Son of God; thou art the King of Israel.

Nathaniel was blessed by God to know that Jesus was to be the King of Israel. This can only be correctly understood in terms of a literal Messianic kingdom on earth.

John 12:13 [Much people] Took branches of palm trees, and went forth to meet him, and cried, Hosanna: Blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the name of the Lord.

The crowds were interpreting Jesus’ first coming as if it were His second coming to literally rule Israel on earth.

Acts 1:6 When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?
Acts 1:7 And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power.

The disciples had one final question to ask Jesus before He ascended into heaven and it concerned God’s unconditional promises to literal national Israel. Notice that Jesus did not correct them and He did not say that Israel was no longer part of God’s plan. He merely reminded them that the Father knew the answer to their question.

Acts 1:11 Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.

Contrary to the Preterist teachings, Jesus will return both literally and visibly accompanied by both clouds and angels.

Acts 2:30 Therefore being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne.

Peter understood the prophets to teach that Messiah would reign in the “flesh.” That mean on earth and not in heaven.

Acts 2:36 Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.

There is no indication that Peter thought God had rejected all the house of Israel.

Rom 9:8 That is, They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed.

Both groups are literal Hebrews. Only true believers within literal Israel are considered to be the children of the promise.

Rom 11:1 I say then, Hath God cast away his people? God forbid. For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin.

The direct question is: “Has God cast away His people (Israel)?” And the direct answer is “No. God forbid.” Yet most of the Christian world today says “Yes, and He has replaced it with the Church, which is spiritual Israel.”

Rom 11:2 God hath not cast away his people which he foreknew. …

It is very strange that Calvinists, Reformed and Presbyterians who interpret God’s foreknowledge to that saints cannot fall from grace do not apply the same logic to God’s foreknowledge of Israel. (See 11:29.)

Rom 11:4 But what saith the answer of God unto him? I have reserved to myself seven thousand men, who have not bowed the knee to the image of Baal.
Rom 11:5 Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace.

God reminded Elijah that there will always be a remnant of believing Hebrews who are the true Israel of God.

Rom 11:6 And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.

God’s foreknowledge of Israel as His chosen nation was never determined by any good works they may have performed. The argument is: “Since good works did not make Israel God’s elect, then failure to do good works cannot cause them to cease being God’s chosen nation.” It is the argument used for eternal security.

Rom 11:7 What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded

Like Isaac being chosen over Ishmael and Jacob over Esau, the children of the promise constitute true Israel. Most literal fleshly Israelites do not qualify as true Israel (11:8-10).

Rom 11:11 I say then, Have they stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy.

The direct question is: “Have they stumbled that they should fall?” Most of the Christian world answers “Yes, and they have been replaced by spiritual Israel, the Church. Yet God’s answer is “No. God forbid.” Paul does not say that Israel’s “fall” was “permanent.” Rather, he said that it was “to provoke them to jealousy” – that they might be restored!

Rom 11:25 For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel , until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.

If, as most teach, Israel had permanently fallen as a nation before God, there would be no “mystery.” The “mystery” is that Israel was only “blinded” (not permanently fallen).

Rom 11:26 And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob:

All true Israel will be saved. Many will be saved by becoming Christians and partaking of the “fullness of the Gentiles.” Others will be saved during the Great Tribulation as in Revelation 7 and 14.

Rom 11:29 For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.

God foreknew true believers within national Israel to be saved and constitute true Israel. He cannot and will not go against His eternal decree to establish Israel before Him forever.

Gal 3:28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.

This text does not teach that all Roman slaves were freed or that all free-men become slaves when they are saved. Neither does it teach that believers lose their sexual orientation when they are saved. Yet many quote it to argue that Jews and Gentiles lose their national identify when they are saved.

Gal 3:29 And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.

As part of the Body of Christ, we are all equal before God.

Gal 6:15 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature.

Since God’s unconditional covenant promises were made to Abram before he was circumcised, the status of Israel is not changed by this text.

Gal 6:16 And as many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God.

There were two groups within the church of Galatia and most other churches. The final close is addressed first to everybody and secondly to Hebrew Christians who were especially affected by his letter.

Eph 2:12 That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world:

Before Calvary, Israel was God’s only chosen people and Gentiles were excluded.

Eph 2:13 But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.

Near to Christ; not near to the commonwealth of Israel.

Eph 2:14 For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us;
Eph 2:15 Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace;
Eph 2:16 And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby:

This was written before Israel’s destruction in AD 70. God joined believing Hebrews and Gentiles into the one body of Christ. Paul was not prophesying the end of Israel in AD 70. Rather he was bringing true Israelites beyond the law to the Abrahamic covenant.

Eph 2:19 Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God;
Eph 2:20 And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;
Eph 2:21 In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord:
Eph 2:22 In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.

Both Hebrews and Gentiles have been brought into the Body of Christ. The nation Israel still existed when this was written. The letter of Hebrews was written to believing Jews inside Israel.

Heb 8:8 For finding fault with them, he saith, Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah: [Mt 10:6; 15:24]
…..
Heb 8:10 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people:

The New Covenant was directed first to the “house of Israel” and the “house of Judah.” These were the literal ruling houses of a literal nation. Jesus commanded His disciples to go first to the cities of Israel. After His resurrection Jesus commanded that the gospel should be brought first to Jerusalem (Acts 1:8). And Paul wrote that the gospel must first go to Israel (Rom 1:16). These texts clearly demonstrate that God still gave priority to Israel and Jerusalem even after Calvary.

Rev 7:4 And I heard the number of them which were sealed: and there were sealed an hundred and forty and four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel .
Rev 7:5 Of the tribe of Juda were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Reuben were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Gad were sealed twelve thousand.
Rev 7:6 Of the tribe of Aser were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Nepthali were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Manasses were sealed twelve thousand.
Rev 7:7 Of the tribe of Simeon were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Levi were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Issachar were sealed twelve thousand.
Rev 7:8 Of the tribe of Zabulon were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Joseph were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Benjamin were sealed twelve thousand.
Rev 7:9 After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands.

Most scholars believe that Revelation was written near AD 100. Preterists argue for a date just prior to AD 70. If, as some contend, Israel ceased to be God’s chosen nation when Jesus died, God would not have included Israel in the descriptions of Revelation.

Rev 20:1 And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand.
Rev 20:2 And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years,
Rev 20:3 And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season.

Although the term “thousand years” appears 6 times in Revelation 20, Preterists and many more interpret it figuratively. Their hermeneutic seems to be “if it does not fit your theory, interpret it figuratively.” The a-millennial (no millennium) problem created by their hermeneutic is explaining why sin is so rampant while Satan is bound.

Rev 20:4 And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.

While futurists interpret this as the unconditional Messianic kingdom promised by all the prophets, Preterists and many others say it is meaningless. One wonders why it is in the Bible.

Rev 21:12 And had a wall great and high, and had twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and names written thereon, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel.

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Section 3: MATTHEW 24, MARK 13 and LUKE 21: Comparing Hyper-Preterism to Futurism

HERMENEUTICS

Futurists believe that Preterists, in departing from a "grammatical, contextual, historical" method of interpretation, have erred greatly in matters of doctrine.

One of the foundational assertions of Preterists is that the first century Church believed a major eschatological event would take place in their lifetime (2 Thes 2:1-4). The Thessalonians were being reassured that they had not missed the coming of "the day of the Lord". They weren't corrected regarding their anticipation of Christ's coming.

TIME TEXTS:

Peterists quote many alleged "time texts" in the New Testament to support this claim, e.g., Matthew 10:23, Matthew 16:27-28, Matthew 24:34, Matthew 26:64, and Rev. 1:1-3. However, Futurists point out that a careful analysis of some of the expressions employed (e.g., "near," "soon," and "at hand"), based on a study of Old Testament usage, gives no indication that imminency requires immediacy. See Deuteronomy 32:35, Isaiah 13:6, Jeremiah 51:33, Joel 2:1, Zephaniah 1:14.

“THIS GENERATION”

It is also contested whether the term "generation" (a translation of the Greek genea) means "race" or "nation," as the context of many verses would imply. Even if the term were used to denote Christ's contemporaries, the grammatical structure of verses such as Matthew 16:28 and Matthew 24:34 does not necessitate a first-century fulfillment.[41] Futurists claim, moreover, that the uniform belief of the early church regarding the futuricity of Christ's second coming militates against the Preterist view.

Preterists maintain that Futurists misunderstand the various metaphors, idioms and prophetic language that the New Testament employs. Preterists claim that many of these are proven to be idiom and metaphors by their use in the Old Testament, and are not meant to be taken literally, e.g., being seen "coming in clouds," 2 Samuel 22:11-12, and the reference to a "thousand" years in Rev. 20:2, (Psalm 50:10, Psalm 90:4, Deuteronomy 7:9).

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COMPARING MATTHEW 24 AND MARK 13 WITH LUKE 21

References are to End Times Fiction, Gary DeMar, 2001 (ETF)

While Preterists and many others teach that Matthew 24, Mark 13 and Luke 21 always descrdibe the same everts, futurists (dispensationalists) do not. Futurists point out the very significant differences. While Luke 21:20-24 focus on AD 70, Matthew 24 and Mark 13 focus on the future Antichrist. Signs and sequences will repeat themselves as hisotry almost repeats itself.

Matthew 23:13-36

Matt 23:35 That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth …
Matt 23:36 Verily I say unto you, All these things shall come upon this generation.

From 23:13-36 “you” refers to the scribes and Pharisees in the multitude of 23:1. Jesus called them a ‘generation of vipers’ in 23:33. All the woes of Matthew 23 will come upon the current generation of scribes and Pharisees.

Matthew 23:37-39

Matt 23:37 O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!
Matt 23:38 Behold, your house is left unto you desolate.
Matt 23:39 For I say unto you, Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.

From 23:37-39 “you” refers to Jerusalem personified –both its leaders and people. A very major point of difference between Preterists and Futurists is here.

Preterists and many others teach that after Calvary God permanently rejected Israel as His chosen nation and replaced it with the Church which is the new “spiritual Israel.”

Futurists point out that, while every Old Testament prophet declared desolation upon Israel, they also all prophesied that God could not and would not forsake Israel because of His scores of unconditional promises. The “desolation” of Matthew 23:38 is followed by the “until” of Matthew 23:39.There will come a time in the future in which Israel once again shouts “Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.” This is validated by every prophet who wrote on the subject.

Matthew 24:1-3; These Things, Sign, End

Matt 24:1 And Jesus went out, and departed from the temple: and his disciples came to him for to shew him the buildings of the temple.
Matt 24:2 And Jesus said unto them, See ye not all these things? verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.
Matt 24:3 And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?
…..
Matt 24:37 But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.

Preterists insist that “you” in Matthew 24, Mark 13 and Luke 21 always only refers to the private group of disciples from 24:3. Therefore the events cannot extend beyond another 40-year generation and must end in AD 70. Consequently they then interpret many of the events very figuratively and not literally. (ETF73-75)

Futurists teach that a closer look compels the reader to conclude that Jesus is referring to the generation of those who literally see and experience the events. We know that James, Peter and Paul died before seeing the events of AD 70. Compare Mark 13:3. And tradition tells us that all of the disciples except John died as martyrs –many before AD70. Futurists interpret the “you” as the generation which literally sees the events of take place.

Matthew 24:1-3 parallels Mark 13:1-5 and Luke 21:5-7. Since history often repeats itself in greater prophetic fulfillments, all of Matthew and Mark probably have a secondary fulfillment during the Great Tribulation.

In Matthew 24:3, Mark 13:4-5 and Luke 21:7 disciples asked Jesus one question in three parts. While they probably thought that all three events would occur at the same time, such is not the case. They asked (1) When shall these things be? – the destruction of the Temple. (2) and what shall be the sign of thy coming? and (3) and of the end of the world? While only Luke records Jesus’ answer to the first part, only Matthew and Mark record the answer to the second and third parts. Perhaps Matthew and Mark wanted to spare their readers of a Gentile-controlled Jerusalem and perhaps Luke the Gentile wanted to focus on that part.

Concerning Matthew 24:37, Preterists interpret these events as local and not worldwide. In reality Jesus describes them in the same scope as Noah’s flood.

Matthew 24:4-13, Mark 13:6-13 and Luke 21:6-13

Preterists: Everything in these three chapters occurred in AD 70. (ETF76-81)

Futurists say that Preterists are wrong. They describe universal signs which are present in all ages and also are all present in our own time: false messiahs, wars, natural disasters, plagues, betrayal and persecution of believers. However, history records that the worst persecutions of Jews were after AD 70 (v9). While the intensity of Rome’s persecutions increased from AD 100 to AD 250 to AD 300, Hitler killed over 13 million Jews in World War Two. The peak of persecution will occur in the future during the Great Tribulation as seen in Revelation 13.

Matthew 24:14

Matt 24:14 And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.

Preterists teach that Matthew 24:14 was completed before AD 70. (ETF82-83)

Futurists argue that a literal interpretation of Matthew 24:14 makes no sense in the context of AD 70 because the greatest evangelism of the world and even the Roman Empire was after AD 70.

Preterists interpret “then shall the end come” as the end of God’s relationship with national Israel and the end of the Old Covenant.

Futurists maintain that God has only temporarily set aside Israel and must restore it in keeping with His unconditional promises made to all the prophets. Moreover, the Old Covenant ended, not in AD 70, but at Calvary.

Luke 21:20-24

Perhaps the greatest point of disagreement between Preterists and Futurists concerns Luke 21:20-24 compared with Matthew 24:15-28.

Preterists teach that all of Matthew 24, Mark 13 and Luke 21 describe the same events which were fulfilled in AD 70. (ETF86-91)

Futurists only accept AD 70 for Luke 21:8-24 and interpret Matthew 24:14 onward as future. Preterists can only interpret all the events of Matthew 24 in the context of AD 70 by severely changing the clear literal meanign of Christ’s words into highly figurative language.

Luke 21:20 contrasted with Matthew 24:15

Luke 21:20 And when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh.

contrast with

Matt 24:15 When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand.

In AD 70 the literal sign of the Temple destruction and to leave Jerusalem was when the city was surrounded by armies. This literally happened and is well-documented. Christians escaped; unbelieving Jews were punished; and the Roman armies were victorious.

In the futurre the lliteral sign of the coming of the Son of man and to leave Jerusalem will be when the Most Holy Place of the Temple is defiled by pagans. This follows the same sequence of Antiochus Epiphanes in 168 BC when he already controlled the city and did not need o surround it for a seige. Preterists teach that these are the same events of AD 70.

Luke 21:21 and Matthew 24:16-20

History will repeat itself. First those in Judea will flee to the mountains. Second, flight will be from the roof-tops because there wil be no time to gather anything. Third, those in the countryside will not enter Jerusalem. The Sabbath was kept in AD 70 and will be kept again during the 70th week of Daniel in the future because the unbelieving Jews will enforce the Sabbath in Jerusalem.

Luke 21:22-24 contrasted with Matthew 24:21-22

Luke 21:22 For these be the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled.
Luke 21:23 … in those days! for there shall be great distress in the land, and wrath upon this people.
Luke 21:24 And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.

Contrast with

Mt 24:21 For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.
Mt 24:22 And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened.

1. In AD 70 God’s “wrath” punished the wicked Jewish people with “great distress.” These are called the “days of vengeance.” Those Jews who survived the great slaughter were sold as slaves throughout the Roman Empire. Non Jews would control Jerusalem until the last days.

The contrast is that Luke describes the events of AD 70 as “great distress” while Matthew descries the future events as the “greatest tribulation” of all history.

2. In AD 70 God’s wrath fell on the wicked Jews and not the invading army. However in the future the opposite is true: God’s wrth will fal lon the invading army of Antichrist and rescue Jewish Christians. This is a significant obvious great difference. Compare Daniel 9:27 and Revelation 11:1-2.

3. Matthew and Mark are silent about Jews being scattered as slaves because the events of the Great Tribulation do not allow time for this.

Again, Preterists interpret these as the same events of AD 70 and disown any possible application to the future. (ETF85-88)

Luke 21:23 and Matthew 24:19

Pregnant women will be disadvantaged. This is always true everywhere.

Luke 24b and Matthew 24:15-28

Luke 21:24b … and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.

compare with

Matt 24:15 When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:)

Luke 24b includes the remainder of Matthew 24. While Jerusalem had been literally “trodeen” down by Gentiles after 586 BC, it has been especially trodden down by Gentiles since AD 70. This “under foot” description will reach until the second coming of Christ in glory at the end of Revelation 19. Even now half of the city is in Muslim hands.

The events of Matthew and Mark are included in the second half of Luke 21:24. While only Luke gives the answer to the first question asked Jesus “When shall these things be?” only Matthew and Mark include the details of the abomination of desolation which is the sign of Jesus’ second coming in glory. It appears that Luke the Gentile omitted the reference to Daniel while Matthew and Mark omitted the part about Gentile domination of Jerusalem.

The second half of verse 24 will reach to the second coming as the events of Matthew 24:29-36, Mark 13:24-32 and Luke 21:25-33 again merge with the signs of the sun, moon and starrs and Christ’s second coming in glory.

Matthew 24:21; Great Tribulation

Matt 24:21 For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.

Matthew 24:21 simply did not occur literally in AD 70 and Jesus’ disciples did not witness the slaughter of 13 million Jews by Nazi Germany in World War Two. Try as they may, Preterists simply cannot explain this in terms of AD 70 and ignore the long history of Jewish persecution since then and the future persecution under Antichrist. Te future Great Tribulation will be even worse.

Matthew 24:22; No Flesh Saved

Matt 24:22 And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened.

The only way that Preterists can force this into their explanation of AD 70 is to claim that “no flesh” only refers to unbelieving Jews inside Jerusalem and Judea. Yet the “elect,” the Christians, had already escaped when the Romans temporarily lifted their siege. And the Roman army was not in danger of being annihilated as part of the “no flesh.” God’s Word must be extremely twisted to reach the Preterist interpretation.

On the other hand, except for God’s hand delivering believers in Revelation 19, “no flesh” will be saved. Unlike the Roman armies which were untouched, the armies of Anti-christ will be annihilated in the future.

Matthew 24:27; As the Lightning

Matt 24:27 For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.

Acts 1:11 “Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.”

Preterists use very inconsistent principles of interpretation to make God’s Word agree with their own viewpoints. They will insist upon interpreting some texts literally such as “this generation” and many others figuratively such as “lightning,” “coming” and “glory.”

For Preterists Matthew 24 describes Jesus’ coming in glory in AD 70 as God’s quick lightning-like wrath to punish wicked Israel. (ETF94-97)

Futurists rreply that, since Jesus did not return in AD 70, Luke is silent about the lightning. No Church Father or other Chrisian writer records scuh an event in AD 70.

Futurists insist on interpreting God’s Word in its obvious literal sense unless context compels non-literal interpretation. There is no reason interpret the context of Matthew 24 as anything other than literal. Jesus’ coming will be as visible and as far reaching as lightning but will, as always, center around the events in Jerusalem. In the context of Revelation 19 and 20, Christ’s return in glory if followed by the establishment of the Messianic kingdom on earth for 1000 years.

Matthew 24:28 Eagles

Matt 24:28 For wheresoever the carcase is, there will the eagles be gathered together.

Preterists interpret this as a reference to the eagles on the Roman flags. IETF97-98) Futurists point to the vultures and flesh-eating birds present throughout the Bible and especially Revelation 19. This is the expected result from the “carcasses.”

Matthew 24:29 Sun, Moon and Stars

Matt 24:29 Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken.

Preterists interpret this as common signs of God’s judgment throughout the Bible. (ETF98-99) However, while that is true, it still must be interpreted in its immediate context. While there are no signs warning of the impending coming of Christ for His church, these are signs warning of the immediate coming of Christ to destroy Antichrist and deliver the tribulation saints in the last days.

Matthew 24:30 Sign, Second Coming, Clouds

Matt 24:30 And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.

Preterists literally interpret the pronoun “you” in Matthew 24 as a reference to the disciples even though many of them died before AD 70. Next they interpret the lightning, clouds and “seeing” as a figurative coming of Christ in AD 70. (ETF102-107)

Futurists interpret the lightning, clouds and coming of Christ in glory literally in the future.

Matthew 24:31; Angels Gather the Elect

Matt 24:31 And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.
…..
Mt 24:37 But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.
Mt 24:38 For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark,
Mt 24:39 And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.
Mt 24:40 Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left.
Mt 24:41 Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left.
Mt 24:42 Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come.

Preterists interpret the angels as Christians who went forth as soul winners to evangelize the Roman Empire after AD 70. (ETF108).

Futurists interpret this verse as a literal description of the second coming of Christ in glory in the future. First, since it is clear that “angels in heaven” in verse 36 does not refer to men, this should also apply to “angels” in verse 31. Second, in the flood story those who were not rescued were all killed. The Preterist interpretation does not consider Jesus’ reason for discussing Noah.

Matthew 24:32-34; This Generation

Matt 24:32 Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh:
Mt 24:33 So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors.
Mt 24:34 Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.
Mt 24:35 Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.

Preterists interpret “this generation” as the generation living when He spoke the words to His disciples in AD 30. They then add 40 years as a typical generation and teach that everything mentioned in Matthew 24 must occur by AD 70 when the Temple was destroyed. Whatever cannot be explained literally is then explained very figuratively. (ETF111-114)

INCONSISTENT INTERPRETATION:

Jerusalem is left desolate (23:38): literal
“Until” (23:39): ignored
Surrounding of armies: literal
Destruction of Jerusalem: literal
Abomination of desolation: literal
Lightning: figurative
Sign of sun, moon and stars: figurative
Coming of Christ in clouds: figurative
Unconditional promises to Israel: ignored

Futurists interpret “this generation” in view of verse 33 as the generation which literally sees all the events in Matthew occur literally. It is difficult to understand the impact of Jesus’ strong words in verse 35 if He did not want to be understood literally.

Matthew 24:36

Mt 24:36 But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.

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Section 4


KEY DIFFERENCES BETWEEN PRETERISM AND FUTURISM (DISPENSATIONALISM).

1.
P: All of Matthew 24 was fulfilled in AD70.
D: Most of Matthew 24 is still future.

2.
P: Old Testament prophecies about national Israel were all conditional and ended in AD70.
D: Hundreds of Old Testament prophecies about national Israel were un-conditional and must be literally fulfilled in the future.

3.
P: The Church is spiritual Israel and replaced national Israel.
D: The church is the mysterious body of Christ and it does not replace literal promises made to Israel. Although it has some of the wording given to Old Covenant Israel in a spiritual context, it is not called spiritual Israel. God promised a literal Messianic Kingdom rule on earth to literal Israel. God cannot lie.

4.
P: The “generation” of Matthew 24 can only be the generation between AD30 and AD70.
D. The “generation” of Matthew 24 refers to the generation which will literally experience its fulfillment in the future.

5.
P: Much of Matthew 24 must be interpreted spiritually in order to fit the events of AD70.
D: All of Matthew 24 should be interpreted literally. Jesus was not speaking apocalyptically. Most of Matthew 24 did not literally occur in AD70.

6.
P: The sign to leave Jerusalem in AD70 was the appearance of the Roman eagle standard inside the Temple (24:15).
D: The sign to leave Jerusalem in AD70 was its being surrounded by armies (Lk 21:20-22). Matthew 24 and Mark 13 focus on the last days; Luke 21 includes AD 70 events.

7.
P: Daniel 9:27 ends with the destruction of the Temple and the end of God’s view of national Israel as His special people.
D: Daniel 9:27 ends with the attacking armies of antichrist being destroyed and this did not happen in AD70. Daniel 9:24 extends beyond 9:27 and ends with the Temple being anointed.

8.
P: The time/timing texts (at hand, quickly) must be interpreted as an AD70 fulfillment.
D: When God acts in the last days, He will act quickly. When the signs are seen, the time is near for that generation.

9.
P: The “clouds”, “lightning” and “trumpet” of Matthew 24 were fulfilled figuratively. The “angels gather” refers to the gospel going out after AD70. The “greatest tribulation” of human history occurred in AD70.
D: The second coming of Christ in glory in the future will literally involve the angels gathering the elect from all the earth. Christ’s coming in glory will be literal and the event, like Noah’s flood, will involve all nations.

10.
P: Preterism is a very minority movement within the a-millennial Reformed and Calvinistic tradition. It does not reflect most of that theology.
D: The futurist viewpoint of dispensationalism allows one to interpret the scores of OT prophecies literally and maintains the integrity of God’s Word.

11.
P: Preterists prefer to severely disregard the unconditional literal nature of Old Testament prophecy regarding national Israel.
D: Futurists argue that the unconditional nature of Old Testament prophecy is their strongest argument for continuity and cannot be ignored.


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Section 5

PRETERISM AND THE KINGDOM (NT)

KINGDOM OF GOD,
KINGDOM OF HEAVEN.

From Systematic Theology, Lewis Sperry Chafer.

The "kingdom of God" is evidently a more comprehensive term than the "kingdom of heaven" and embraces all created intelligences, both in heaven and on earth, who are willingly subject to God and thus in fellowship with Him.

The "kingdom of heaven"-more precisely the "kingdom of the heavens"-is a term descriptive of any type of rulership God may assert on the earth at a given period.

As a predicted kingdom it has reference to the establishment of the kingdom of Israel on the earth (Acts 1:6) and is the subject of extended glowing prophecies in the OT (cf. Ps 2:6; 72:1; Isa 11:1; 32:1; 65:17; Jer 33:15; Dan 7:13-14; Mic 4:1; Zech 9:10; 12:1; 14:9).

As a covenanted kingdom the kingdom of heaven becomes the national hope of Israel (2 Sam 7:4-17). John the Baptist, Christ, and the apostles announced that the kingdom of national Israel was "at hand." That offer was rejected. As a result the "kingdom of heaven" in its earthly manifested form was postponed until Christ's second advent.

Widespread attempts to "bring in the kingdom" on the basis of Christ's first advent are misplaced. According to the clear teaching of the Bible it will be realized only in connection with the second advent. The testimony of Scripture agrees completely with this fact.

According to Matt 13 the present gospel age represents the mystery form of the kingdom. "Since the kingdom of heaven is no other than the rule of God on the earth, He must now be ruling to the extent of full realization of those things which are termed 'the mysteries' in the NT and which really constitute the new message of the NT" (Lewis Sperry Chafer, Systematic Theology, 7:224).
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From The New Unger’s Bible Dictionary:

The "kingdom of the heavens," that is, the manifested rule of God on the earth in the mediatory Davidic kingdom, will not be realized until the future millennial period. The kingdom of God and the kingdom of heaven, as Chafer points out, are not identical despite the fact that "Matthew employs the terminology of the kingdom of heaven" and Mark and Luke, when presenting practically the same teaching, employ the phrase "kingdom of God."

According to Scripture the "sons of the kingdom shall be cast out" (Matt 8:12; 24:50-51; 25:28-30). This fate cannot be applied to the kingdom of God and its members (John 3:18). The parable of the wheat and the tares (Matt 13:24-30,36-43) and the parable of the good and bad fish (13:47-50) are only spoken of in connection with the kingdom of heaven. The parable of the leaven, however (13:33; 13:20-21), is applied to both kingdoms. "Leaven represents evil doctrine rather than evil persons, and evil doctrine may and does corrupt both kingdoms" (op. cit., pp. 224-25).
The New Unger's Bible Dictionary
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1 comment:

Steward said...

Russ,
Good stuff. i just read through this. I can't say that i was able to absorb 10% of it, but i have it for my record.

- jared