"The Early Church and the End of the World"
Gary DeMar &
Francis X. Gumerlock
"Since the futurist perspective has been
promoted as an early church reality by so many for so long, few people
today actually question it. The Early Church and the "End of the
World" is the first book to question the prevailing futurist view
by a careful study of the historical record. It will show that
some of the earliest writers, most likely writing before the destruction
of Jerusalem in A.D. 70, were referring to the judgment coming of Jesus,
an event that the gospel writers tell us was to take place before that
first-century generation passed away (Matt. 24:34). Adding to the
confirmation of this view are the writings of the church’s first
historian, Eusebius Pampilus of Caesarea (c. 260–341), whose
Ecclesiastical History is a window on the first few
centuries of the church. "
END OF THE WORLD
FRANCIS X. GUMERLOCK
"One commentary, an Irish Book of Questions on the
Gospels, written about 725, interpreted Christ's coming
in Matthew 24 in light of the Judean war, as a coming in
judgment through the Roman armies."
FROM INSIDE FLAP
The Early Church and the End of the World
asks this fundamental question: What did the earliest of the
early Christian writers actually believe about prophetic events?
We can only answer this question by studying what they wrote.
Unfortunately, we do not have a complete record of the period.
Many of their surviving works are only fragments of larger works
no longer available to us. To make an historical
investigation even more difficult, there are translation issues.
Many of the works of those who wrote just before the destruction
of Jerusalem in A.D. 70 and beyond have not been translated into
The Early Church and the End of the World seeks to remedy
some of these problems. Thomas Ice, in his book The End
Times Controversy, makes some bold claims that cannot be
supported when the historical record is actually analyzed.
The early church was not monolithic in its views of Bible
prophecy. There was no unanimous acceptance of
premillennialism, a distant futurism, or the peculiar
distinctives of dispensationalism.
The Early Church and the End of the World will show that
some of the earliest writers commenting on the Olivet Discourse,
most likely writing before the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D.
70, were referring to the judgment coming of Jesus, an event
that the gospel writers tell us was to take place before that
first-century generation passed away (Matt. 24:34). Adding
to the confirmation of this view are the writings of the
church's first historian, Eusebius Pampilus of Caesarea (c.
260-341), whose Ecclesiastical History is a window on the
first few centuries of the church.
Francis X. Gumerlock has undertaken the task
of translating a number of ancient and medieval commentators who
have written on Matthew 24 and Revelation. He shows that
many early and medieval Christian writers believed that these
prophecies had already been fulfilled before the "end" of
Jerusalem, that is, before its destruction by the Romans in A.D.
70 which resulted in the end of the Old Covenant world.
Gumerlock's chapters fill the gap in
historiography by providing English translations of a number of
preterist commentaries on prophecies in Matthew 24 by ancient
and medieval Bible expositors. Did other Christians, long
before Martin Luther, John Calvin, or Luis Alcasar,
interpret prophecies of Matthew 24 as fulfilled in connection
with the A.D. 70 destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans?
Matthew 24:4-14 records Jesus' prediction of
various signs that would take place before the end (24:6,14).
Not believing that these signs applied exclusively to the end of
the world, many early and medieval writers believed that they
had already appeared historically before the "end" of Jerusalem.
To illustrate their beliefs with regard to the content and
timing of these signs of the end, Gumerlock's chapters provide a
chain of comments from different Church Fathers upon the verses
that they expounded.
With respect to the generation that would see
all these things fulfilled (Matt. 24:34), several sources showed
that a preterist interpretation of the passage existed in the
early church. Concerning the "coming" of Christ, mentioned
many times in Matthew 24:27-51, most of the Church Fathers
referred this coming to His bodily coming at the end of the
world. But patristic and medieval Biblical expositors did
allow for it to be interpreted as a non-bodily advent, whether
that be His coming to take residence in one's heart, His coming
to receive one's soul at death, His continuous coming to the
Church for strengthening, or a "hidden" coming in judgment.
One commentary, an Irish Book of Questions on the Gospels,
written about 725, interpreted Christ's coming in Matthew 24 in
light of the Judean war, as a coming in judgment through the
The Early Church and the End of the World is a needed
addition to the discussion on what the earliest of the early
church believed on Bible prophecy.
Chapter 1 - Biblical Minimalism and Bible Prophecy
Chapter 2 - The Proof of the Gospel
Chapter 3 - Preterism Among First-Century Writers
Chapter 4 - Premillennialism in the Early Church
Chapter 5 - Sola Scriptura and Bible Prophecy
Chapter 6 - The Olivet Discourse in Ancient and Medieval
Chapter 7 - The Date of Revelation in the Early Church
Chapter 8 - More External Evidence for an Early Date of
Chapter 9 - Blood, Fire and Vapor of Smoke: The A.D.70
Destruction of Jerusalem in the Ancient Exegesis of Acts 2:19-27
Chapter 10 - Irenaeus and the Dating of Revelation
"John C. Whitcomb, in his
article on "The Millennial Temple," writes that "five different
offerings in Ezekiel (43:13-46:15), four of them with
bloodletting, will serve God's purposes. These offerings
are not voluntary but obligatory; God will 'accept' people on
the basis of these animal sacrifices (43:27), which make
reconciliation [atonement] for the house of Israel (45:17, cf.
45:15)." This is an impossible interpretation for at least
three reasons. First, these sacrifices are said to be "for
atonement" (reconciliation) (Ezek. 45:15, 17) not, as Whitcomb
claims, "as effective vehicles of divine instruction for Israel
and the nations during the Millennial Kingdom." Second,
Jesus is the once for all sacrifice whose blood cleanses us from
sin (Heb. 7:26-27; 8:13; 9:11-15;10:5-22; 1 Peter 3:18).
Third, sanctification comes under the new covenant by "the
washing of water with the word" (Eph. 5:26) not by the washing
of blood from sacrifices. Those who dispute the
completeness of the new covenant promises are looking for the
Jews to return to the shadows of the Old Testament that Jesus
came to shed redemptive light on. They want to return to a
world that Jesus came to replace." (xiv)
Gary DeMar grew up in the suburbs of
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He is a graduate of
Western Michigan University (1973) and earned
his M.Div. at Reformed Theological Seminary in
1979. He has lived in the Atlanta area since
1979 with his wife Carol. They have two grown
sons. Gary and Carol are members of Midway
Presbyterian Church (PCA).
prolific writer, Gary has authored over twenty
books covering a full range of topics: The
three-volume God and Government series
(1982-86), Ruler of the Nations (1987,
2002), The Reduction of Christianity
(1988), Surviving College Successfully
(1988), Something Greater Is Here
(1988), You’ve Heard It Said (1991), America’s
Christian History: The Untold Story (1993),
War of the Worldviews (1994), Last
Days Madness (4th ed., 1999), Is Jesus
Coming Soon? (1999), Thinking Straight
in a Crooked World (2001), End Times
Fiction: A Biblical Consideration of the Left
Behind Theology (2001), The Changing
Face of Islam in History and Prophecy
(2002), and America’s Heritage (2002).
He is also the general editor and co-author of
A New World in View (1996) and
Reformation to Colonization (1997), the
first two volumes in the To Pledge
Allegiance history textbook series.
has been interviewed by Time magazine,
CNN, MSNBC, FOX, the
BBC, and Sean Hannity. He has
done numerous radio and television interviews,
including the “Bible Answer Man,” hosted by Hank
Hanegraaff. Newspaper interviews with Gary have
also appeared in the Washington Times,
Toledo (Ohio) Blade, the
Sacramento Bee, the Atlanta
Journal/Constitution, and the Chicago
American Vision also publishes The Biblical
Worldview, a monthly magazine edited by
What do YOU think ?
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Comment Box Disabled For Security
Date: 06 Apr 2009
Preterism upends all of scripture, denoting all to mythical mind games,
including the glorious second coming of Christ. It is a most heinous
doctrine that undermines the faith of believers taking them from hope of
the resurrection to a belief much like Jehovah Witnesses who believe
that all we see is now on this earth. Where heaven went, I know not, nor
the New Jerusalem. All are merely illusions of the mind to the
preterist, in my opinion.
Date: 19 Feb 2010
i would like to read all his writings--he appears to be a first. class
scholar--Only today-2010-2-19 I hear about him. I am retired from Long
Island . Amityville- Suffolf Cty--but in China at the moment with my
wife Evelyn for howlong who knows????I am reading everyday Evangelical
thoughts and writings-- I cannot afford to pay for books or CDs--
email@example.com WE live in Guangdong Province--very much like
Florida.I want to read all of Gary De mar's works--How??
Date: 24 Jan 2011
The preterist view is supportable at least to some extent in the bible.
I can't help but feel disappointed in that the full preterist doesn't
believe that physical death will ever be abolished. Although Paul said
that our "vile" body would be made like unto his, the Lord's "glorious"
body. Not sure how they reconcile that. Also, in revelation that there'd
be no more pain, sorrow or crying. Pretty hard to explain all that away.
Date: 24 May 2013
Preterists have it mostly right and futurists have it completely wrong
because everyone has overlooked something very important. They
mistakenly assume that they know how the Bible was inspired and they
build their positions on a false premise. The obvious truth is that
Jesus did, in a figurative sense, return and he was also resurrected
only in a figurative sense. The stories of his physical resurrection
were invented by the apostles for the same kind of justifiable reason
that Rahab lied to the authorities and was justified in doing so. We
tend to forget that good and evil are judged by a person's motives and
not by their actions in isolation as the Pharisees were prone to do.
People who believe in God, having one of the various conflicting ways of
identifying God (concepts of God) and hold to one of the several
theories of atonement, often talk about “salvation” and disagree on
exactly what is meant by it. From the Biblical point of view, salvation
has to do with rediscovering or admitting that the golden rule (the true
religion) is the only way to live that will save humans from all the
problems they cause themselves by ignoring it thinking that a life of
selfishness is better. The writers of the Bible also assumed that
violating the golden rule was the original cause of physical death and
suffering and so assumed that all people sin as proved by the fact that
all humans die. Because it’s so obvious that the golden rule is the best
way to live and that every normal adult person and even many children
can recognize this it means that Jesus’ death was not necessary for
people to be saved. Jesus’ death merely demonstrates the lengths to
which a person may have to go to be faithful to the golden rule and, at
the same time, the seeming determination to deny this truth that most
people obviously have and the terrifying things they will do to people
who promote it.
According to Jesus, the gospel or good news is the golden rule and the
fact that it’s actually easy to live up to it if you understand it
correctly. Matt. 11:29-30. What makes it difficult and keeps so many
people from taking that path to life is that it obviously makes people
vulnerable to those who desire power over others and the fear of abuse,
criticism, and even death that usually results from daring to believe
it, practice it, and attempting to convert others to it.
The stories of Jesus’ physical resurrection were obviously invented by
Jesus’ apostles who admitted to not accurately understanding a lot of
what they said Jesus tried to explain to them, and who were still
obviously not very clear about some things when they got around to
writing the letters of the New Testament, because they needed a way of
encouraging converts overwhelmingly immersed in legalism and dualism and
dedicated to the necessary use of symbols to remain faithful to what
they were teaching. In the case of Paul, he assumed that Jesus’
resurrection was true based on his subjective experience on the way to
Damascus caused by a guilty conscience and his own interpretation of the
lightening strike that almost killed him and the confirmation of it he
got from the other apostles. Although Jesus did not require converts to
be baptized as did his cousin John (proving that it isn’t an absolute
necessity), his disciples began to require it as a necessity, or so they
made it sound, after he died because they still clung to the legalistic
and subjective way of thinking that they had grown up with and that was
promoted by a leading sect of the Jews of which Paul was among the most
educated according to his own description of himself.
“If Jesus’ resurrection is not true, what would motivate anyone to try
to convert other people to Jesus and to living according to the golden
rule” you might ask? Well, I’ll ask you. What motivated Jesus to endure
so much ridicule and even death in trying to convert people to it? Could
it have been because he was so concerned about people and the problems
they cause themselves by ignoring it? Then, why couldn't that same kind
of concern inspire others to do likewise? When Jesus supposedly said
that if he was “lifted up,” referring to crucifixion, people from all
walks of life would be inspired to follow or be drawn to him the result
was essentially no different from that of an Islamic jihadist who blows
himself up in sacrifice to his beliefs. He inspires others to follow his
example. See 1 Corinthians 15:1-19 where Paul says that if Jesus was not
raised then there’s really nothing to inspire a person to suffer the
results of trying to get people to accept the golden rule as “the way of
life.” Obviously, Jesus didn't agree because he taught it and
demonstrated it from the beginning of his ministry and obviously
expected his disciples as well as all the Jews to understand it and do
likewise. Why else would he have ridiculed them accusing them of being
willfully blind to it the way he did?
“But Jesus was God,” most of you will exclaim. What you aren't aware of
is that your idea of God means that Jesus wasn't like God, he was
literally God and not a man who was like God in a figurative sense
because he accurately portrayed the meaning of “the word” or golden rule
which is the highest and most complete expression of love which, as John
said, is God (whether he actually understood what he said or not). “No
one,” said Jesus, “can express love in a greater way than to give his
life for others.” John 15:13. See 1 John also. Yes, I know that the
writer of Hebrews plainly said that Jesus was literally God at one time
and returned to being God after a time on earth as the human Jesus but
that could not be true and God be just at the same time. Such an idea
has clear implications that you fail to recognize make God such an
unjust manipulating tyrant that no sane and reasonable person could
justly be expected to accept it and be inspired to worship “him” of
their own free will.
“You’re accusing the writers of the Bible of lying!” you say. In reply,
I want to ask you what you think about what Rahab did. She lied to the
authorities about which way the ten Israelite spies went out of concern
for their welfare and was said to have done the right thing. Do you
believe that’s true? See James 2. Why couldn't Jesus and his apostles
have had the same kind of motive and you believe that they did the right
thing or do you judge right and wrong based solely on a person’s
actions? If so, is that the way you want people to judge you, by your
actions alone? It’s clear that the apostles lied about the resurrection
of Jesus but just like everyone else, they honestly believed some things
and spoke about them as if they were true when they weren't, at least
not literally in the way they put them or the way people typically