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The 70 A.D. Doctrine Examined
By Marc w. Gibson
One of the strangest, complex, and novel systems of doctrine to be recently spread among our brethren is the A.D. 70 doctrine. To put it mildly, it is a revisionist view of prophecy. It is very popular and highly regarded by many and continues to be an issue since its introduction. Our institutional brethren have dealt with it extensively. We need to be informed of this doctrine and determine its truthfulness by a study of the word of God.
III) CENTRAL THESIS OF THE A.D. 70 DOCTRINE
A) All prophecy is fulfilled as of A.D. 70 and there is no event referred to in Scripture that is yet future.
1) The key period of time is the forty years between the cross of Christ and the fall of Jerusalem in A.D. 70 which is called the "eschaton." The significance of this period and its events are the soul of all Biblical study and God's redemptive scheme.
2) Consider how central A.D. 70 is to their understanding of God's plan: "The fall of Judaism (and its far reaching consequences) is, therefore, a major subject of the Bible. The greater portion of prophecy found its fulfillment in that event, including also the types and shadows of the law. It was the coming of Christ in glory that closely followed his coming in suffering (1 Pet. 1:11), when all things written by the prophets were fulfilled (Luke 21:22; Acts 3:21). It corresponded to the perfection of the saints (1 Cor. 13:10) when they reached adulthood in Christ, receiving their adoption, redemption, and inheritance.
IV) HERMENEUTICAL "KEY"
A) "Until this issue of 'method of interpretation' is settled, there can be no hope of a true and consistent interpretation and application of prophecy" (King, Ibid., p. 1).
B) Two methods of interpretation: "literal" (material) and "spiritual" (non- material).
1) "It is the belief of the author that the spiritual method of interpretation is firmly established in the Bible, and that it is the basic and primary method of interpretation involved in end-time prophecy" (King, Ibid., p. 1-2)
2) Literal (material) relates to fleshly Israel; Spiritual (non-material) relates to spiritual Israel (see King, Ibid, p.2)
C) This hermeneutical approach is King's own invention; it is not based on established hermeneutical approaches nor is it offered with solid Biblical evidence.
1) This is a perfect example of bringing a predetermined doctrine and hermeneutic to the Bible and forcing passages into it to create an impression of truthfulness.
V) BACKGROUND OF RISE OF A.D. 70 DOCTRINE
A) A 17th century Jesuit friar, Luis de Alcazar, taught that the book of Revelation related exclusively to first century events (Stanley Paher, "A Critical Review," The Examiner, January 1993, p. 7).
B) James S. Russell, a Congregational minister, wrote The Parousia (1878).
C) C.D. Beagle and son-in-law Max R. King first introduce this doctrine to our brethren at a Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, preacher's meeting on April 22, 1971. Max King becomes leading proponent.
D) See W. Terry Varner, Studies in Biblical Eschatolonv, pp. 1-12, 32-77, for more background information.
VI) MAJOR TENETS OF THE A.D. 70 DOCTRINE
A) Eschaton Period
1) The forty year period between the cross and the destruction of Jerusalem.
2) The is the period of time in which the covenants changed. The first Age (Mosaic) wasn't fulfilled until 70 A.D. and the Christian Age (the eternal age wasn't established until 70 A.D.
3) Christ was enthroned on Pentecost and kingdom existed, but it was not completely established in glory and power (the "coming" of the kingdom) until 70 A.D.
4) "The cross and the parousia of Christ are in biblical eschatology what alpha and omega are in the Greek alphabet -- the beginning and the end. Our primary aim in this volume, as indicated by the title, is to show that Christ's cross and parousia (i.e., His presence and arrival commonly called the second coming) are the two foci of one complete, indivisible eschaton (end time) that pertain to the fulfillment of all redemptive history and prophecy within the closing period ('the last days') of the Old Testament aeon (age)" (Max King, The Cross and the Parousia of Christ, p. ix).
a) Note forty year period called end time, last days.
B) Covenants (Age, World, Body)
1) Biblical dispensationalism has only two ages: Mosaic (Jewish) and New Testament (Christian).
C) Transitional period between cross and A.D. 70 (eschaton) when Old Covenant transformed into New Covenant.
2) Main passages: Gal. 4:21-31; 2 Cor. 3:11; Heb. 8:13.
3) "It is these two worlds which constitute a major portion of Bible teaching, and occupy a prominent place in prophecy. Failure to see these two worlds as they unfold in the scripture, and to make proper distinction of them, is a major source of error in the interpretation and application of scripture" (King, The Spirit of Prophecy, p. 33).
4) "Why have men concluded that the last days refer to the gospel dispensation? Since there is some basis for every interpretation of scripture, it is interesting to observe the reasoning behind this application. It is based upon another erroneous concept, namely that the Jewish age came to a close on Pentecost day. This is assumed on the basis that Pentecost was the beginning of the Christian age. The error is in failing to see the overlapping period of these two ages or dispensations. Ishmael and Isaac co-ercisted in Abraham's house for a time before Ishmael was cast out. The Jewish age did not end untfl their city, temple, and state fell under Roman invasion in A.D. 66-73" (King, Ibid., pp. 78-79).
C) The Kingdom
1) "The harmony and unity of all prophecy and scripture bearing on the subject, can be maintained only in the concept of a spiritual kingdom's being established or perfected at the end of Judaism [A,D. 70, MWG]" (King, Ibid., p. 154).
2) "The second stage of the resurrection takes place in conjunction with the Messianic reign of Christ, which we have placed in the period of time between His ascension and His parousia in the A.D. 70 consummation of the age. This means that Christ's reign was an age- ending reign, a transition to 'the age to come.'" "Christ's pre- parousia reign had a two-fold objective that was interrelated, and therefore accomplished concurrently He reigned to consummate the old aeon, which in turn was bound up with the coming in of the new aeon." "The concept of consummation at the cross rather than by means of the cross has led to a distortion of the real meaning and time frame of Christ's pre-parousia reign, and consequently the whole biblical scheme of Messianic eschatology in the establishment of the kingdom of God had been thrown into total disarray" (King, The Cross and Parousia of Christ. pp. 415, 417, 418).
3) "This means that during the eschaton the believers lived in a tension of experienced and anticipated eschatology; between 'the already' and 'the not yet.' They were already in the kingdom of Christ (Col. 1:13), but still waiting for the coming of the kingdom of God (1 Cor. 15:24-28). But this waiting was not passive, as seen in Heb, 12:28 where the 'receiving of the kingdom' is presented as a present, active experience, as was also the case in their experiencing the powers of the age to come (6:5)" (King, Ibid., p. 32).
4) Some main passages: 2 Tim. 4:1,18; Heb. 12:28
D) The Second Coming
1) "When the temple is destroyed, the world ends. The ending of the world is the coming of Christ. The coming of Christ is the fall of Jerusalem, or the destruction of the temple, etc....ALL would come to pass before that generation passed into history, and that included the coming of Christ, as well as the passing of heaven and earth" (King, The Spirit of Prophecy, p. 39).
2) "There is no scriptural basis for extending the second coming of Christ beyond the fall of Judaism" (Ibid., p. 105). "...the end of the Jewish world was the second coming of Christ" (p. 81). "Prophecy found its complete fulfrllment in the second coming of Christ, and now may be regarded as closed and consummated" (p. 65).
3) Emphasis on the imminence of His coming in N.T. writings: Jas. 5:8; 1 Pet. 4:17; Lk 21:28; 1 Pet 1:5; Lk 21:31
1) Not in any sense literal; must be understood spiritually.
2) "The resurrection period is confined to the forty years between the cross and A.D. 70. All biblical teaching about 'resurrection' is fulfilled during that period. No one was ever'resurrected' (in the full biblical sense) before or after A.D. 70" (Jim McGuiggan, A.D. 70 Revisited, p. 17).
3) "Resurrection" refers to "covenant bodies."
4) King, though, insists on "process" resurrection, a simultaneity of dying and rising, therefore, able to have both covenants around in some sense between the cross and A.D. 70. The people of this period (Jewish Christians) are the "firstfruits" of this resurrection.
5) Christ's individual body resurrected third day after death; Christ's spiritual "Body" resurrected in A.D. 70.
6) Passages interpreted in this way: 1 Cor. 15; 2 Cor. 5:1-8
F) End of the World/Judgment
1) "World" not literal, but spiritual in meaning: covenant, age, aeon, body (Jewish ends, Christian begins).
2) In New Testament, the second coming was imminent; therefore, the resurrection, judgment, and end of world had to imminent, too.
3) "Applying the last days to the Christian age is a misapplication fostered by a misconception of such terms as 'this world' and the 'world to come.' While Pentecost, in a sense, was the beginning of the Christion Esic] dispensation, yet the New Testament writers often spoke of it asa world or age to come, because the Jewish age had not ended at the time of their writings. (The right of primogeniture belonged to until he was cast out.) Therefore, statements such as 'this world' are interpreted as meaning this present material world rather that [sie] the Jewish age, and the 'world to come' is interpreted as meaning what follows the end of this present material world rather than the new heaven and earth, or Christian age that followed the end of the Jewish age" (King, The Spirit of Prophecy, p. 79).
G) Dating of New Testament Canon
1) All New Testament books must date to before A.D. 70, for that is the consummation of all prophecy demanded in their doctrine.
VII) ANALYSIS OF A.D. 70 DOCTRINE
A) Biblical terms redefined
2) "If the foregoing theory seems to make no sense at all, it is because the novice does not understand how these common biblical terns have been redefined to fit the King theory. The 'second coming' does not denote a Literal return of Christ in the future, but a spiritual, invisible coming in A.D. 70.'Resurrection' hasn't anything to do with the human body; rather, it refers to a resurrection of the Christian system from the persecution inflicted by the Jews between A.D. 30 and 70. The 'judgment day' is not a time when all men will give account to God, it is the destruction of Judaism. And the 'end of the world' is not the passing of the earth; it supposedly is a reference to the dissolution of the Jewish world" (Wayne Jackson, The A.D. 70 Theory)
3) Tunnel-vision problem =
understanding a term the same way every time it is used irregardless of context and/or obvious difference in usage. Example: "World" = Jewish or Christian Age (never literal) in Lk. 20:35; Jn. 18:36; 2 Pet. 3:7,10. Where is the evidence to support this practice other than a presupposed doctrine?
4) "Many seem disposed to regard themselves as at liberty to make anything out of the Bible which their theology may demand or their whims require. And if, at any time, they find a passage that will not harmonize with that view, then the next thing is to find one or more words in the text used elsewhere in a figurative sense, and then demand that such be the Biblical dictionary on the meaning of that word, and hence that it must be the meaning in that place" (D.R. Dungan, Hermeneutics, p. 217).
B) Pre-70 A.D. Dating of All New Testament Books?
1) Turns matter of opinion on date of Revelation and other books into an absolute necessity to know.
2) The problem is we cannot know for sure, and this casts a dark cloud of great uncertainty over their doctrine. In fact, the evidence is strong against their position,
3) "Let us get to our point about the AD 70 doctrine's pre-AD 70 dates for all NT books, Can this thesis be proven beyond a reasonable doubt? I, although I am a joint-believer in this view and would not ordinarily, in any other context, like to admit it so freely, do now most unhesitatingly say, 'No!' and frankly confess my view here to be nothing bur an opinion. In other words, so long as any proponent of some NT books' post-AD 70 origin can present agruments [sic] which are as persuasive or even nearly so as those of the pre-AD 70 advocate, the latter has not gotten close to proving his view beyond a reasonable shadow of doubt ... In conclusion, to argue for the pre-AD 70 date of all NT books as a personally satisfying opinion is one thing, but to argue for such as an absolute necessity to uphold one's basic belief about the new covenant and the only true meaning of divine truth is, to say the least, quite another thing. In short, it is an opinion -- pure and simple!" (Almon Williams, "AD 70: The End?" The Doctrine of Last Things, [1986 Florida College Lectures], p. 215).
4) See also Stanley Paher, "A Critical Review: The 'A.D. 70 Doctrine' and the Dating of the The New Testament," The Examiner, January, 1993, pp. 7-12.
C) Lack of Evidence in Church Fathers
1) They are silent as to contention that all Bible prophecy was fulfilled in A.D. 70.
2) In fact, much evidence can be found that they looked to a future fulfillment of the resurrection, the judgment, the second coming of Christ, and the destruction of the heavens and earth (see Williams, op. cit. pp. 216-219).
3) "...since there is not even a single extant voice among them in favor of realized eschatology, most people will find it very difficult to believe that this third generation could all be wrong about these matters, especially when some of them, for example, Polycarp, probably knew some of the apostles. That is, if the AD 70 doctrine were the NT doctrine, to believe that by AD 90 to AD 150, a complete blackout of such had taken place is very difficult to believe, if not impossible" (Williams, op. cit. p. 219).
4) See also Varner, Studies in Biblical Eschatolonv, pp. 78-97, where he calls it a "missing link in Kingism."
D) Some Scriptural Objections
1) Acts 1:9-11; Rev. 1:7 -- Did not happen in AD. 70.
2) 2 Pet. 3:5-7, 10-11 -- Cannot spiritualize the meaning of "fire" because "water" is Literal.
3) 1 Cor. 15 -- The problem dealt with (v.12); central thought (w.20- 23); further explanation of literal resurrection (vv.35ff). Resurrection cannot be changed into a spiritual meaning here since this would violate the whole purpose of Paul's argument, for he is arguing it on a literal basis.
4) Rom. 7:1-6 -- No "process" dying and resurrection of covenants here. Takes death of one to begin another.
5) Col. 2:13-15 -- Cross is focal point of removal of old covenant, not A.D. 70. Also Heb. 9:16-17
6) 2 Cor. 3:14 -- Old covenant already done away before A.D. 70.
7) Heb. 8:13 -- Vanishing started in Jeremiah's day and completed at cross; Heb. 10:9 -- first had to end in order to start second.
8) Eph, 2:13-18 -- Christ brought full redemption and unity to Jew and Gentile in His death, not in A.D. 70.
9) Gal. 4:21-31 -- Key is in v. 21 (desire out of place) and the point of the allegory is that they were not under the law but under promise. King contends that Ishmael had right of primogeniture until cast out (SP, pp. 29-30). This is entirely wrong. Isaac was always intended by God to be heir to the promise, not Ishmael. King twists allegory to fit his purposes.
10) Acts 2:38 -- Remission of sins available; King denies, sayssins not taken away until second coming (A.D. 70) (SP, p. 63).
11) Isa 2:2 -- House of God fully established in "last days," not in "eternal days."
12) 1 Cor. 11:26 -- To observe Lord's Supper proclaiming His death "until He comes." Are we to stop observing it now? King quibbles (C&P, pp. 716-724) that this is only referring to remembering what Christ's death did in bring about the change of the covenant aeons and that it is now a "fulfilled memorial" for us today. Who would ever get this understanding from this passage or any other passage? Jesus said it would be for a remembrance of Him and His death.When or how does He ever change this even slightly?
13) Matt 26:29 -- Kingdom of God Is, therefore, in existence in Acts 2:42; 20:7; 1 Cor. 11, not after A.D. 70. King just assumes this is in reference to the Lord's Supper after A.D. 70.
E) Unanswered Questions
CONCLUSION What are we to say concerning this doctrine?
1) "Highly questionable and speculative view" (Williams, op. cit. p. 238).
2) "It is not a harmless, private conviction which can be held without hurting oneself and others, but a pernicious theory of error which engulfs the soul of men in destructive heresy!" (Joe Price, "The Second Coming of Christ: Did it Already Occur'! (3)," Guardian of Truth. November 2, 1989, p. 650).
3) I heartily agree! We must oppose this doctrine as false and damning to men's souls. It is complete mistreatment of God's holy word and the promises we are to take hope in. The following statement about King and his doctrine sums it up well:
4) "He then sets out to boldly force literal passages into his own mold of spiritualizing, and dares call one 'fleshly' if he does not agree with him. He switches terms and plays with English words, and employs his sophistry in the most subtle of ways. He adds a word or phrase, or otherwise makes some small change, to misrepresent his opponent. He quotes only part of an authority which would appear to agree with his position, and thus leaves wrong impressions. He has built up his own peculiar lingo to support his doctrine. He ignores contexts wholesale, and presses them into his service. His book is difficult to read and monotonously repetitious. Paragraph after paragraph is but a conglomeration of jumbled and unrelated references which he has arbitrarily applied to fit his doctrine. No one, without King's help, would ever have guessed that inspired writers were trying to get such a message across!" (Bill Reeves, "The Preterist View Heresy," Truth Magazine, February 2, 1973, p. 249).
What do YOU think ?
Never in my life have I seen or heard of such nonsense. You all better repent before it is too late! I have been a Christian for over 40 years and have never come across such a heretical THEORY or teaching. The exegesis of Scripture in your approach is such a twisting and stretching of Biblical meaning the likes of which are beyond the mind to even ponder.
The comments put on your website by myself earlier need some explanation and clarification. I was not familiar with the approach being used in the article in question and "shot from the hip." Further review indicated that the thrust of the article was to present the position of the adherents and promulgators of the A.D. 70 Doctrine. Then various reviewer comments were listed regarding their thinking and understanding based upon what had been presented. It was the intention of my comments to call in serious question the position of those who subscribe to this heretical doctrine. Thus the following comments were so intended: "Never in my life have I seen or heard of such nonsense. You all [those who subscribe to this doctrine] better repent before it is too late! I have been a Christian for over 40 years and have never come across such a heretical THEORY or teaching. The exegesis of Scripture in your [their] approach is such a twisting and stretching of Biblical meaning the likes of which are beyond the mind to even ponder." No one should be deluded into thinking that this false teaching should be consider as just a matter of opinion and thus acceptable. To the contrary, it should be strongly denounced and identified for what it is in reality -- a doctrine that has been hatched in the darkest corner of Hell!
It is all for not. The message given has been given, all else is but folly. Jesus was a messager not a prophet nor a God. Heaven is within each of us and there is nothing more.
I have never read Max King's book...and may never. However I do study the Bible a little and I can see some of your points but not the spirit in which it is given. I read the qoutes you posted from his book and your rebutals. Some things you said make sence and others do not. For instance, just to mention a few. In Heb 8:13, you forgot the latter part of the verse in you analogy, "will soon disapear." Something that is taken away, it seems to me, cannot soon disapear, it is either here or not and if it is soon to disapear it is here. Now it makes no difference to me if it is here or not for Abraham was justified by faith not the Old Covenant. So, something which did not save in the fiist place but identified sin as Paul said still does not nulify the promise made 430 years earlier than the institution of the Law. In Heb 10:9 I have a problem with you stating that the first HAD to end for the new to start. I have a question on the word "sets, as in "sets aside the first to establish the second." It sound like present tense to me as in "he is setting aside to establish, continuing process. Which I think fits Heb 8:13 better, "soon disapear." I think to many of us want to make things punctiliar and emediate when there is no need. The 40 year wilderness wadering was a conituing process of retraining Egyptian Hebrews and a continuing period of revelation. I would think God no less faithful in retraining Greeks or Greek Hebrews for 40 years with revelation, miricles, healings etc. As Peter mentioned in 2 Peter 3:9 the patience of God is salvation. I can clearly see and overlapping of the testaments even if those who read then still had a veil and some didn't. Now as far as the Kingdom. God has always had a kingdom before the worlds were created? It only takes a king and subjects to have a kingdom. He had hosts of subject and even territory, Heaven. I can see the kingdom come to men as the submit to God but I can see the kingdom conquor those who will never submit. I can see one obey and be added to the kingdom throught the establishment of church as part of the overall kingdom of God. I can see his kingdom come in power to destroy the Temple and punish the generation that rejected his Son. I can see praying for the kingdom to come to the hearts of men and his will be done on earth as it is in his KINGDOM in heaven, without question. If at pentecost he set up the church as his people on earth, he merely added them to his Kingdom or the Kingdom came to them but they still had to be added. I can add on to my house without rebuilding the whole house. The resurection of Jesus was slightly different from the "lifting up" of the Old Testament faithful. He HAD to have a representation of his body to be recognized by his friends and declared raised or risk not having historical validity. We do not. I contend that he lifted up all of those from Heb 11 and more to glory who had been declared righteous but could not come before God and receive their reward and live with him beforehand. I think this is the part of the mystery that angels desired to see into. The propitiation had been realized in Jesus, just not finished, not until the real blood was shed and he intered into heaven to make it before the real throne turning it into a seat of mercy. They could not go without the Christ. At the destruction of the Temple I assume, 1 Cor 13 was fullfilled. The end of miracles,tongues, healing, and the book of life, mentioned in Dan and Rev, was opened and those from Abraham's bosom, along with hades (parable of the rich man and Lazarus), were brought before God and to their awaited futures. The ones with the changed bodies could stay with God the others to everlasting seperation. I am a student of the words of God. Not a scholar. However, with careful consideration apart from any commetary I came to the conclusion that the book of Revelation had a earlier than AD 70 date only on the basis that the easier passages and visions fit the easier passages and concepts of the rest of the new testament and seen to me to have there fullfillment in the ideals and attitudes of Peter and Paul towards the end of the ages prior to AD 70. I enjoyed reading your comments and encourage you to love and kindness in your approach to those you feel are in error. There were problems in the first century among the churches but Paul encouraged them with the creed of 1 Cor 15 as a platform of fellowship. Apart from the denial that Jesus came in teh flesh or open imorality they stayed in fellowship with one another. That we can all agree on the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus and our obedience in reconstructing that in our death to self, burial in baptism (the likeness of his burial) and raised to walk in newness of life is without denial. However, without love no man will see God. G Buckelew
Date: 16 Jan 2013
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