And when he was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it, saying, If thou hadst known, eve thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes. For the days shall come upon thee, that thine enemies shall cast trench about thee, and compass thee in on every side, and shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children within thee; and they shall not leave in thee one stone up0n another; because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation. Luke 19:41-44
The term “preterism” is derived from the Latin praeteritus, meaning that which has past. (Praeteritus is the past participle of praeterire, "to go before;" prae is comparative of "before," ire means "to go.") The term occurs in Matt. 24:34 in the Latin Vulgate to describe the time of Christ's second coming: "Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass ("non praeteribit haec generatio"), till all these things be fulfilled." Full Preterists view the Second Coming and related events as being fulfilled in the events culminating in the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70; partial Preterists, although conceding Christ came in some form or manner in A.D. 70, believe there is yet a future Coming that will mark the end of the universe and resurrection of the dead. The strength of the full or consistent Preterist approach is that it is the only interpretive method that offers no violence to the time element extant in Old and New Testament eschatological teaching.
"The Time is Fulfilled"
The Old Testament was characterized by a patient waiting for the kingdom an reign of the Messiah. The Jews of Jesus' day recognized that the time for fulfillment of the Old Testament prophets was near. When John the Baptist appeared, "the people were in expectation, and all men mused in their hearts of John, whether he were the Christ, or no." (Lk. 3:14) Jesus began his ministry proclaiming the kingdom and reign of Christ, saying: "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel." (Mk. 1:15) The prophets made no distinction between the first and seconding coming of Christ, but treated them as a unity, interrupted only by a brief absence when the Messiah would be "cut off." (Dan. 9:26) However, the Messiah would return, and "destroy the city and the sanctuary." Jesus taught that his return was so imminent that the apostles would not have opportunity to fully evangelize Palestine: "When they persecute you in this city, flee ye unto another: for verily I say unto, Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel, till the Son of man be come." (Matt. 10:23) Jesus spoke to this coming in his kingdom when he stated: "For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works. Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom." (Matt. 16:27,28) Luke states that the kingdom and reign of Christ would come in the events marking the destruction of Jerusalem: "So likewise ye, when ye see these things come to pass, know ye that the kingdom of God is nigh at hand. Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass away, till all be fulfilled. (Lk. 21:31,32; cf. II Tim. 4:1) The return of the Messiah would be in that generation; some of the apostles would live to witness it. Just before his ascension, John was expressly named among the disciples who would be alive at Christ's return: "If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? follow me." (Jno. 21:22)
The nearness of Christ's Second Coming is affirmed over and over. Paul said, "But this I say, Brethren, the time is short." (I Cor. 7:29) James said, "the coming of the Lord draweth nigh...the judge standeth before the door." (Jm. 5:8,9) Peter stated, "the end of all things is at hand." (I Pet. 4:,7) The Hebrew writer makes several unmistakable statements to this effect when he says, "For yet a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry." (Heb. 10:37) The nearness of the day is seen in the fact that his readers would "see the day approaching." (Heb. 10:25)
The apostle John indicated the nearness of the end when he stated they were in the "last time" (Grk. hora, "hour"): "Little children, it is the last time; and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time." (I Jno. 2:18) The nearness of Christ's return is repeated over and over throughout Revelation in unmistakable terms, saying, the "time is at hand" (Rev. 1:4; 22:10), "Behold, I come quickly" (Rev. 2:5,16; 3:11; 22:12,20), "Behold, I come as a thief" (Rev. 3:3; 16:15), and the things of the prophecy "must shortly be done." (Rev. 1:1; 22:6)
There is nothing difficult in any of this language; all who will may plainly see that Jesus and his apostles taught the first century church to be in earnest expectation of the Lord's return. The difficulty arises not so much from the announced time of Christ's return, but understanding its manner. Because men have been taught that Christ's return would mark the end of the universe, its continued existence beyond the specified time frame has forced them to explain away the express statements of time by resort to theories of delayed fulfillment or double fulfillment, and assertions that Christ and the apostles were simply wrong. Preterism rejects all such theories, maintaining that the time elements cannot be disregarded or explained away consistent with the doctrine of verbal inspiration. The very authority of the scriptures is at stake!
It is a basic principle of hermeneutics that obscure or difficult passages must be interpreted in light of those that are clear. The great hurdle many face in understanding Biblical eschatology is the figurative nature of apocalyptic language. The language of the prophets by its very definition is veiled and obscure; it is marked by poetic imagery, license, and exaggeration, and is impressed with hyperbole, metaphors and symbols. Hence, as between apocalyptic language describing the manner of Christ's return and the plain statements of time given by the Lord and his apostles concerning when it would occur, it is clear that the former must be interpreted in light of the latter and not vice versa. Preterism maintains that the eschatological teaching of the Lord and his apostles was fulfilled when and as prophesied. However, Preterists insist that the manner of fulfillment was essentially spiritual, not physical, and that language which on its face appears to describe the dissolution of the chemical elements in a cataclysmic end of time and space must be given a figurative construction and interpretation. This is required, not only because of the confines for fulfillment imposed by statements of time, but by the usus loquendi (manner of speech) of the prophets. The following language describing God's judgment upon Idumea and the nations of the world in the days of Assyria and Babylon will help make the point:
The poetic and figurative nature of the instant language is only too obvious; none will contend that in the dissolution of Edom and the nations of God's wrath by the Assyrians and Babylonians that the stars of heaven were literally dissolved, the heavens rolled together as a scroll, or the dust of the land was turned to brimstone. Edom ceased to exist as a separate people and nation millennia ago, yet none of the physical phenomena described attended its passing. Although language of a universal nature involving the whole fabric of the heavens and earth is employed to describe the judgments announced, its fulfillment is circumscribed in time and manner to the people and era set out. Occurrence of such language and imagery is common throughout the Old Testament in passages describing God's judgment upon various peoples and nations; it is the usus loquendi of the prophets; invariably it is poetic, never literal.
Understanding the figurative nature of apocalyptic language in the Old Testament is essential to mastery of Biblical eschatology for at least two reasons: First, because identical language is employed by Jesus and the apostles in the New Testament and we must know how to interpret it. Do we give it a construction and interpretation consistent with the historical usage of the prophets, or do we suddenly cast aside long established rules of interpretation in favor of a literalistic approach? In his great eschatological discourse on the mount of Olives, Jesus said: "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...Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled." (Matt. 24:29,34) Is it the Lord's intention that we understand him to mean that the stars would literally fall from the sky in the events he described, and not rather that these were figures used to describes events of a political and spiritual nature? If we abandon the historical usage of the prophets and adopt a literal approach, upon what ground are we to base such departure? Are we not upon surer ground to adhere to established methods of hermeneutics? If the usus loquendi of the prophets does not require as much, surely the express statement of time for fulfillment does. Surely, we look in vain for fulfillment of the events described beyond the generation addressed. Within the life of many then living Jerusalem would be destroyed and the monarchial "sun" darkened, the priestly "moon" would withdraw its light, the "stars" of the elders and Sanhedrin would be loosed from their orbit as the government and polity of the Jewish nation suffered final and irrevocable dissolution.
Second, understanding the figurative nature of apocalyptic language in the Old Testament is essential to mastery of Biblical eschatology in the New Testament because of the relation of the parts to the whole. The New Testament is the fulfillment of the Old Testament. Nowhere had the Old Testament ever prophesied the end of the cosmos in connection with the coming of the Messiah, or otherwise. Jesus and the apostles did not prophesy it now. Nothing should be introduced into New Testament eschatological teaching and doctrine that cannot be proved by resort to the Old Testament. Since the Old Testament nowhere teaches that the earth is to be destroyed in one final cataclysmic act associated with the reign of the Messiah, there is no basis for introducing such teaching into the New Testament. To do so severs the continuity between the Testaments as the unfolding of God's redemptive purpose for man. In the Old Testament man was told what to look to in the kingdom and reign of the Messiah; in the New Testament he is assured it is come. Far from prophesying the destruction of the cosmos, the coming of Christ was to mark an era of unprecedented peace on earth as the kingdom and reign of the Messiah extended to all nations. Christendom would serve to unite the nations of the world politically as in the church the nations were united spiritually. As fellow-members of the same spiritual kingdom, nation would not lift up sword against nation, neither would they learn war any more. (Isa. 2:4) The nations which were divided by language and region would be united in a common language in Christ, as with one mind and one mouth they returned thanks and praise to God their Saviour. However, first, all enemies had to be placed beneath Christ's feet. (Heb. 2:8) The destruction of Jerusalem and the civil wars and commotions among the Romans following the death of Nero Caesar represent the subjugation of Christ's enemies and his entrance upon his eternal reign and kingdom. Since the time statements are clear, the apocalyptic imagery of Christ and the apostles must be interpreted so as to conform to them, and not vice versa. The fulfillment of Jesus' second coming in that generation is a fact certain; no other interpretation can be placed upon this language consistent with the verbal inspiration of the scriptures and sound principles of hermeneutics.
"The Fashion of this World Passeth Away"
A good deal of the confusion about the manner of Christ's second coming stems from a fundamental misunderstanding concerning the nature of the world that was to suffer dissolution and the nature of the world that would take its place. It is clear from the Olivet Discourse (Matt. 24; Mk. 13; Lk. 21) that the world which was passing away was intimately connected to the city and temple of Jerusalem.
To English speaking persons, "world" often carries connotations of the inhabited earth. Hence, the "end of the world" suggests the utter destruction of every living thing for all time. But this is to greatly mistake Biblical usage of the word. A world would pass away in the events culminating in the destruction of the city and temple, but not the world. The world that was ending was the world-system that had obtained from the time of mankind's fall. The temple ritual and Mosaic law were indicative of the universal reign of sin and death. Sin and death reigned from Adam to Moses (Rom. 5:14); the whole creation - both Jew and Gentile - groaned and travailed in pain together under the bondage of corruption (the law of sin and death), looking for the glorious liberty of the sons of God (redemption and salvation). The temple ritual, belonged to the time of man's estrangement from God; separated by the barrier of sin. God was remote from man; sequestered in the Holy of Hollies; no man could approach under penalty of death. God could be worshipped only through his chosen intercessor and the sprinkling of blood. But the blood sacrifices of the temple could not take away sins (Heb. 9:27; 10:4) and stood merely as object lessons pointing to the redemptive work of Christ. Under the reign of the risen Christ, the temple service could have no place; its continuing service could stand only in denial of Christ's Sonship, substitutionary death, and atoning sacrifice. The Jews' obstinate refusal to obey the gospel and cling to the empty ritual of the temple marked them as enemies of Christ. Together with the temple and city, they were were therefore marked for destruction. However, it does not stop there: the effects of the cross of Christ were so far reaching, his dominion so all encompassing, that the fashion of the whole world was passing away. (I Cor. 7:31) The pagan world too would come under Christ's dominion; all nations would serve and obey him; Christ would rule the nations with a rod of iron; like vessels of clay they would be broken to shivers. (Rev. 2:27)
Thus, the world Christ spoke of in his Olivet Discourse was not the earth with its chemical elements, but the world-system that obtained from the time of man's fall with all its attendant circumstances of idolatry, vain philosophy, cruelty, slavery, and barbarism. In Christ, all would be made new.
The Last Days
What has been said about the usus loquendi of the prophets regarding apocalyptic language and the judgment of nations applies with equal validity to Biblical phrases such as the "last days" and the "day of the Lord." These terms, popularly applied to the end of the world and its inhabitants at some indefinite time in the future, have a long usage among the prophets which must guide our interpretation. Space does not permit us to make an exhaustive treatment of the phrase "last" or "latter" days here, but a couple examples will suffice to show that the term was inexorably tied to the destruction of the Jewish nation at the beginning of the reign of the Messiah.
Among the earliest occurrences of the phrase “last days” is the prophecy of Balaam in the book of Numbers: “And now, behold, I go unto my people: come therefore, and I will advertise thee what this people shall do to thy people in the latter days...there shall come a Star out of Jacob, and a Sceptre shall rise out of Israel...out of Jacob shall come he that shall have dominion, and shall destroy him that remaineth of the city.” (Num. 24:14-19) The “Star” and “Scepter” are obvious allusions to Christ; he would have the dominion and return the kingdom to Israel, vanquishing all the enemies of the children of light. “Him that remaineth of the city” refers to the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70., Moab here being put for the Jews. This is confirmed by what Balaam says in Num. 24:24: “And ships shall come from the coast of Chittim...and shall afflict Eber, and he also shall perish for ever.” (v. 24) “Chittim” is commonly understood to refer to the Romans. This is evidenced by the Vulgate, translated from the Hebrew into Latin about A.D. 387 by Jerome, which gives the rendering of Num. 24:24 thus: “venient in trieribus de Italia” – “they will come in ships from Italy.” The same word occurs in Dan. 11:30 where it is rendered in similar terms: “et venient super eum trieres et Romani” –“and there will come upon him ships and Romans.” "Eber" is commonly supposed to be the root of the word "Hebrew," used of Abraham in Gen. 14:13, who was a descendant of Eber. (Gen. 10:16,26) If this is correct, Balaam's prophecy of the latter days and destruction of Eber by the ships from Chittim would be the earliest and clearest reference to the destruction of Jerusalem and the Jewish state in A.D. 70 by the Romans. However, no matter how we interpret his prophecy, it is certain that nothing Balaam says carries the least suggestion that the end of the world is in view in use of the term “last days.”
The Song of Moses
The Song of Moses was given to Moses by God as a warning against the future wrath upon Israel in the latter days:
Note that there is not the least hint of the end of the world in these verses; national judgment alone is alluded to. The words of the Song itself make this even clearer:
There are several points here worthy of notice. First, it is clear that latter days equates with Israel's latter end. The terms are used interchangeably, each embracing and defining the other. This same pattern is present in Daniel where the “time of the end” is also referred to as “the last end of the indignation” upon the Jewish people. (Dan. 8:17,19; cf. 9:26,27; 10:14) This is the same end Jesus spoke of in his Olivet discourse when he predicted the destruction of Jerusalem. (Matt. 24:14; Mk. 13:7; Lk. 21:9,20) Second, it is significant that the Hebrew writer quotes from the Song of Moses, saying: “For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people.” (Heb. 10:30) The writer's quotation from the Song of Moses is not accidental. National Israel was in apostasy. Jewish Christians were under pressure to forsake Christianity and return to Judaism. But, to join oneself to national Judaism was to apostatize from Christ and invite the vengeance of God. Moreover, it was foolhardy and futile: The imminent destruction of the nation and temple meant that there was nothing to turn back to; the tender associations of their homeland and the customs associated with the temple service would soon vanish away. (Heb. 8:13) In bringing to remembrance the prophecy of Moses concerning the coming wrath upon the people and nation, the Hebrew writer seeks to strengthen his readers' resolve to press on. The nearness of the coming eschaton is indicated in verse 37, saying: “For yet a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry.” The literal Greek reads “mikron hoson hoson,” literally, a very, very little while. That is, it was a very, very little while and Christ would come in wrath upon the Jews, avenging the blood of his covenant. Hence the Hebrew Christians were encouraged to hold out a short time more; they should keep the profession of their faith without wavering (Heb. 10:23), not forsaking the assembling of themselves together, but exhorting one another all the more as they saw the day of national judgment drawing near. (Heb. 10:25) Hence, the Song of Moses, Christ's Olivet discourse, and the Hebrew letter all come together as separate strands of a single cord pointing to the fact that the last days contemplates the end of the mosaic economy, not the world.
The Day of the Lord
Among New Testament writers, Peter twice makes reference to the day of the Lord. The first, in preaching the gospel upon the birth of the church on the first Pentecost after the Lord's ascension. On this occasion, Peter explained that the gift of the Holy Ghost fulfilled the prophecy of Joel concerning the nation's last days and was a token of the approaching day of the Lord that would suddenly sweep the nation away.
Sound exegetical principles require that we preserve the connection between the "last days" and the "day of the Lord." The last days speak to the closing days of national Israel; the day of the Lord to the final act of judgment that would forever terminate Biblical Israel's national existence. Preceded by warning signs in famines, pestilences, and earthquakes, the final act of judgment occurred in the 3 1/2 year war with Rome that witnessed the destruction of the city and temple. Peter's plea to save themselves from that "untoward generation" echoed Jesus warning that the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from Abel unto Zacharias, would come upon that generation. (Matt. 23:34-36) The reference to the destruction of Jerusalem is made a certainty by the words of the prophet Zechariah:
Peter's second use of the term day of the Lord occurs in his second epistle:
Read in isolation Peter's language seems to presage the end of earth and the material universe. However, read against the backdrop of the Old Testament such interpretation becomes wholly inadequate and, indeed, impossible. Not only does the usus loquendi of the prophets prohibit such a literalism, but the whole force and thrust of the Old Testament is manifestly against such an interpretation. By its repeated reference to the destruction of the city and temple the Old Testament makes clear that the culmination of God's redemptive purpose included the end of the Jewish economy, and not just the cross. The cross marked Christ's victory over sin and death, the destruction of the city and temple were the manifestation of Christ in his glory; the sign of the Son of man in heaven; the token of the kingdom and reign of the Messiah; the putting of all things beneath Christ's feet. Besides, Peter's own statements foreclose a literal interpretation when he assumes that, the cataclysm past, a "new" earth and heaven would remain as a habitation of righteousness for God's people. The source of this assurance is the promise given by the prophet Isaiah, which, again, makes unmistakable reference to the destruction of the Jewish nation:
Here is the promise of a new heavens and new earth, intermingled among warnings of national destruction. Nowhere is there the least suggestion that the earth and its chemical elements are in contemplation in either the removal of the old or the creation of the new. The reign of the Messiah was the regeneration and restitution of all things, not the destruction of all that exists. Under the old dispensation, the kingdom of God suffered violence and the violent seized it by force (Matt. 11:12); men like Caesar and Herod were in power; the scribes and Pharisees sat in Moses seat. The day of the Lord put all enemies beneath Christ's feet and restored the kingdom to Israel. (Acts 1:6) The violent lost dominion over the Israel of God, the new Jerusalem is under the direct administration of the throne of God and the Lamb. (Rev. 22:5)
What is Preterism? Preterism upholds the authority and integrity of the word of God against theories of purported postponement and double fulfillment. Preterism is the affirmation that prophecy culminated and came to an end in Christ, and that Christ's prophetic utterances were fulfilled when and as he said they would.
"Non praeteribit haec generatio donec omnia haec fiant." (Matt. 24:34)
What do YOU think ?
Where are all the futurists? Why don't they refute this? Can it be they have no effective answers? FOR SALE: HAL LINDSY & TIM LAHAY COLLECTION. Competitive Price.
It would be cool if you guys could put your statement of beliefs about preterism in a simple "outline" format.
Mr.Simmons: I have read this article carefully 3 times and printed it out in 12 point font. On page 6 quote "...the coming of Christ was to mark an era of unprecedented peace on earth as the kingdom and reign of the Messiah extended to all nations....nation would not lift up sword against nation, neither would they learn war any more. Isa. 2:4." As we look at world history from AD 70 to date we find no paralell with Isa. 2:4. World activity remains the same as it was prior to AD 70. In the same paragraph , quote "...The destruction of Jerusalem...represents the subjection of Christ's enemies and his entrance upon his eternal reign and kingdom." As far as this worlds activities I see no difference than before AD 70. Christ's enemies, Satan and the unconverted world, principalities and powers in heavenly places, are still very active in contempory history. Physical death stills reigns over every human being on planet earth. Page 12 Quote "by its repeated reference to the destruction of the city and templein the O. T. makes clear that the culmination of God's redemptive purpose includes the end of the Jewesh economy, and not just the cross" As a 50 year student of the scriptures I do not see this evident in God's Word. Quote, same paragraph, "...puting of all things beneath Christ's feet." Death still reigns in the phisical world so I am unable to see everything under Christ's feet now. Your brother in Christ, Troy Anderson
Mr. Simmons: Your article is well written and anyone familiar with the scriptures can understand it. Ed. Stevens is also clear in his writings As for Max King I have read his big book The Cross and the Parousia of Christ and I do not understand him, try as I may. I commented on the above article in another place but failed to give you an e-mail address where you could defend your statements, you can e-mail me at email@example.com Your brother in Christ Troy Anderson
I want to give an A-MEN to what bro. Troy Anderson wrote on Dec.24.2003. I wholeheartedly agree with him on his comment about Isa.ch.2. Brother Simmons said that the coming of Christ in 70 AD was the fulfillment of Isa.ch.2 and that marked the beginning of unprecedented peace upon the whole earth. If that is true,it would seem that Isa.did not know what he was talking about. I am sure that Isa. was not mistaken so there must be a mistake in the preterist view of scripture. They say that we are living in the new earth and heavens but it seems not to be the case. If we look at the world since AD 70 it is evident that sin has been roaring to the extent that God will allow. We have not seen any swords beatten into plow sheers and if we look at the world it is a powder keg. They say that the second coming of Christ and the resurrection took place in 70 AD,it would seem that we were resurrected and judged before we were born. In Christ name Hugh Clark
I have believed that Christ was instrumental in the destruction of Israel and Jeruselem,and that is why i am a partial preterist. Your article is well written and you have presented a vast amount of information. However i can not agree with some of the things which you attach to the event,such as the new heavens and the new earth. Although you have made a good argument for your view i am still not convinced. There are several things in which i disagree,including the passages in 2nd.Pet.ch.3:10-13 and Acts ch.1:6. and also the statement that Christ has put all things under his feet. First i want to look at 2nd.Pet.3:10,here we have the statement)the elements shall melt fervent heat( . In the concordance the word Melt # 3089 means- to loosen( the word Fervent # 1618 means- without ceasing and the word Heat # 2741 means- to set on fire. The word fervent would seem to me to be significant in the context of what happened to Israel in AD 70. If the word fervent means)without ceasing,it would seem to me that the activity at Jeruselem would have continued for a very prolonged period of time. Next i want to look at the passage in Acts ch.1 verse 6. Here Christ is being asked a question about wheather or not he intends to restore the kingdom to Israel as it was of old. Verse 3 tells us that Christ had taught them about things concening the kingdom,but it does not tell us what those things were. It is a fact that the Jews believed that Christ had come to restore the physical literal kingdom to Israel. There is no proof that the Jews understood what the truth was concerning what was going to happen to the nation. Lastly i want to look at the statement you made about the new heavens and the new earth. You said that when Christ came in AD 70 it assured us that he had put all things under his feet and that we are living in the time of the new heavens and new earth. If this has happened why are we having wars and death continually all around us? Hugh Clark
Hello there well I have read some of the weirdest things..I have ever read or heard... about the things which are written and clearly revealed in the bible by some of you...of strange understanding. I do agree with Troy Anderson...this evil world could never be the new heavens and the new earth. Since there is still death,famine,wars,pains,confusions,deceit and all forms of Babylon..where there is still night and there is still the sea and there is no tree which bears 12 types of fruits..in a place where terrorism is like a game..for peace? How could this ever be where the saviour is ruling over?When Satan is clearly still out tempting and is still ruler of this earth in the air? Are we to think that..we have been resurrected..and going our 1000 years of judgement? If so where are they that would've survived death..to come and tell the story..that Jesus came and is ruling? The Bible also says that those who have been resurrected will be able to see Jesus as a real person and live with him daily as we go through our tests. Isn't it time to stop deceiving the masses? But of course not.. you have to fullfil all that is written .For many will be deceived in the last days and the truth shall be thrown to the ground and trampled on. Only those who have been taught by the spirit will see easily the counterfeiting measures taken so as not to be deceived and lied to. Ciao
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