Why I am a Preterist

In this article, the first in a series of Why I am a Preterist, we survey 37 New Testament time texts, which unanimously place Jesus' return in the first century.

Eschatology: The Study of "Last Things" 

The study of the "latter days" and the "time of the end" is referred to as "eschatology," the study of "last things" (Greek "eschatos" = last + "ology" = study of). There are four schools of eschatological interpretation: 1) Futurism; 2) Continuous Historical; 3) Idealism; and 4) Preterism.  Futurism teaches that the end times and second coming of Christ are still future. Futurists typically believe that Christ's second coming will be bodily and visible, and will mark the end of the world.  However, many Futurists believe that the second coming will issue in a millennial reign of Christ on earth seated on David's throne in Israel.   

The Continuous Historical school is type of Futurism, which has it that the prophecies of Daniel and Revelation provide a continuous survey of history until the world's end.  This school was popular with the Reformers who saw the Catholic Church and papacy in the imagery of Daniel and Revelation, and thought they were thus living in the time of the end. This school has been discredited over time, as men have come to recognize that the papacy is nowhere alluded to in scripture. No serious scholars embrace it today.  

Idealism sees events described in prophecy as neither past, present, nor future, but representative of larger ideals and principles. Eschatological prophecy deals with the ongoing struggle between the forces of light and darkness, and the ultimate triumph of good over evil. Its message is purely a spiritual one, an allegory of the spiritual path, which is equally relevant in all ages and for all people. Augustine's allegorical interpretation of Revelation in his City of God may thus be defined as a type of Idealism, being anchored to no particular events in history, but standing as an allegory of God's spiritual kingdom versus that of the world. Against this view it may be pointed out that Revelation is definitely tied to specific events in history; the book opens and closes with affirmations that the events described were "at hand" (Rev. 1:1, 3; 22:6, 7 12, 22). Obviously, this same objection is equally applicable to Futurism. 

The word Preterism is from the Latin "prae" (before) and "ire" (to go), whose past participle is "praeteritus," meaning the subject has gone past.  The word occurs in the future tense in the Latin Vulgate at Matt. 24:34 thus: "non praeteribit haec generatio donec omnia haec fiant" ("this generation shall not pass until all these things be fulfilled"). Preterism takes a contemporary-historical view of eschatology, holding that Revelation and related prophecies describe events contemporary to those to whom they were addressed.  Specifically, Preterism views the latter days and second coming as being bound up in the world events marked by the persecution of Nero Caesar (AD 64-68), the Roman civil wars that erupted upon Nero's death ("the year of four emperors") (AD 68-70), and the destruction of Jerusalem by Rome (AD 67-70).  

It is this writer's belief that Preterism is far and away the most Biblically defensible view. Virtually all prophetic announcements, Old Testament and New, concerning the coming of Christ and his kingdom, the latter days, and related events are tied to a specific time in history that is now millennia past. It is a well recognized fact that the kingdom and coming of Christ would occur in the days of the Roman Empire, the Jerusalem temple, and "Elijah the Prophet" (John the Baptist - Matt. 17:12,1 3; Mal. 4:5, 6) Futurists, particularly Dispensationalists, thus find it necessary to speak about a "revived Roman Empire" and "third temple" and another "Elijah."[1] Rome's historical connection with the kingdom and coming of Christ likewise figured in the Continuous Historical school's belief that the papacy was the antichrist, based upon the assumption that the Catholic Church was a continuation of the Roman Empire.

Futurists are compelled to look for revival of these historical characters this way due to preconceived notions about the nature of prophecy's fulfillment. Dispensationalists look for a worldly kingdom with Christ seated upon a political throne in earthly Jerusalem. Since this did not occur during the historical era of Rome, "Elijah" and the Jerusalem temple, they are forced to bring these characters upon the world stage a second time so prophecy can be fulfilled in the way they believe it must. Futurists who look for the sudden conflagration of the cosmos at Christ's coming are forced for obvious reasons to similarly ignore the historical anchorage of prophetic announcements. Again, the expected nature of fulfillment determines their outcome.  

But if the nature of fulfillment is the only justification for ignoring the historical context of prophecy, are not Futurists building upon a weak foundation?  This is particularly true given the symbolic nature of prophecy, whose metaphoric and mystical language makes the nature of fulfillment its least certain and predictable facet. Surely the safer course is to bring our understanding of the nature of prophetic fulfillment into line with objective criteria of historical context, and not vice versa.  The time texts and characters/events should guide our interpretation of the symbolism, and not the symbolism overrule the time and characters.   This three story pyramid of interpretation - time texts, characters/events, and symbolism - is the method of Preterist interpretation, which we will investigate in this series of articles.  We will confine the rest of this article to the time texts, the base of the pyramid, reserving for future articles the characters/events and symbolic nature of prophetic language.

The Time Texts: A Matter of Biblical Credibility

The most compelling evidence in favor of the Preterist interpretation is the time texts, which universally attest that Christ's second coming would occur in the lives of the apostles and first generation of believers. They serve as the foundation upon which all other interpretation is built.  Here follow some of the more compelling texts, with our comments following. 

Testimony of Matthew 

This was spoken to the disciples who first carried the gospel message. Jesus indicates his soon return, saying they would not have time to preach in every city of Israel before he had come.  This not only places Jesus' return in the disciples' lifetimes, it also links it to the Jewish war with Rome and the fall of Jerusalem, as subsequent passages make clear. 

Here we have an express statement, placing Christ's coming within the lives of his audience.  Mark's gospel words this a little differently, saying, the kingdom would come "with power" (Mk. 8:38; 9:1). In other words, it would come in force, overwhelming all that stood in its way. Christ would then sit upon the throne of his glory, judging men and nations (Matt. 25:31-46), which judgment continues today.   

Although this parable does not give an express statement of time, in saying the Pharisees understood it of them, together with its prediction that Christ would come against the Jewish nation and its leaders, places its fulfillment by the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70.  

This passage should be linked with those that went before. In Matt. 23:34, Jesus mentions how the Jews would persecute his prophets and wise men "from city to city" just like Matt. 10:23. He then says that all the righteous blood shed upon the earth would be required of that generation, and would be fulfilled in the destruction of Jerusalem.  Directly or indirectly, the blood of all earth's martyrs had all been spent on behalf of the gospel and the cause of righteousness. Since the gospel was the culmination of God's purpose, the Jews' rejection of the gospel meant that all the blood down through the ages spilled in its behalf would be required of them. The desolations would be so great, even the Jews would acknowledge Christ's divine visitation upon the nation. 

This passage repeats the prediction of Christ's coming within the very generation of those then living. The context is expressly tied to the fall of Jerusalem (Matt. 24:1-3), being a continuation of the things predicted in Matt. 23:34-39.

The pronoun "ye" is directed to Caiaphas and the Sanhedrin, who would witness Christ's divine visitation and judgment in the fall of Jerusalem not forty years hence.  "Coming in the clouds of heaven" is a metaphoric phrase common to the Old Testament prophets, signifying God's providential judgment upon a people or nation (Isa. 19:1; Ps. 18:10; Ezek. 1:4), and answers the kingdom coming in power. It also has specific reference to Daniel's vision of the heavenly coronation of Christ (Dan. 7:13, 14), which was repeated by Stephen at his trial for saying Christ would destroy Jerusalem and the temple (Acts 6:13, 14; 7:56)

Thus, in Matthew alone there are six direct statements placing Jesus' return within the lives of the first disciples. Whatever presuppositions we may have about Christ's second coming, the time texts are clear and unequivocal and must guide our understanding.  We cannot avoid their force without doing violence to their language.  Further, the context of these passages ties them to characters and events within the generation of the apostles.  Christ's coming in his kingdom in power entailed judgment upon the Jewish nation for rejection of his gospel and the persecution of his church. Since we know that Jerusalem did in fact fall in AD 70, there is every reason to uphold the word of God and affirm Christ's return within the lives of the first disciples.

Testimony of John

The synoptic gospels of Mark and Luke contain identical statements to Matthew, so we pass over them here and look instead at John:

In Matt. 16:28, Jesus stated some of the disciples would live until he returned.  Here, Jesus specifies that, although Peter would give his life in martyrdom (v. 18), the apostle John would live until he had come again.  History confirms that John lived in Ephesus until the time of Trajan.

Testimony of Acts

Although this passage is not a time text proper, because of its connection to the statements in Matthew tying Jesus' return to the destruction of Jerusalem, we have included it here.  Stephen was tried before the Sanhedrin on an accusation that he had blasphemed the temple by saying it would be destroyed.  Given that Stephen says Jesus would destroy the city and temple, it is clear that Christ's coming would be spiritual and providential, not physical and personal; it would take the form of divine visitation and judgment executed in world events, guided by heaven's hand. In the course of his trial, Stephen defended the charge that he had blasphemed Moses and the temple by pointing out that God himself had destroyed the temple before at the Babylonian captivity (Acts 7:42, 43). He then quotes the prophet Isaiah:

"Howbeit, the most High dwelleth not in temples made with hands; as saith the prophet, Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool: what house will ye build me? Saith the Lord: or what is the place of my rest? Hath not my hand made all these things?" Acts 7:48-50 

Stephen's purpose in quoting this passage is to show that the temple was only qualifiedly holy; it was not the actual place of God's habitation, but merely a symbol. The Jews devotion to the temple, but murder of Christ, showed that they were adhering to outward forms of religion, while rejecting God who was its very object. Stephen quoted only the beginning of Isaiah's warning.  In the rest of the passage, Isaiah goes on to describe the Jews' persecution of Christians and the coming destruction of the city and temple. First he describes the continuing temple service as an abomination equal to murder and idolatry: 

"He that killeth an ox is if he slew a man; he that sacrificeth a lamb, as if he cut off a dog's neck; he that offereth an oblation, as if he offered swine's blood; he that burneth incense, as if he blessed an idol.  Yea, they have chosen their own ways, and their soul delighteth in their abominations. I also will choose their delusions, and will bring their fears upon them; because when I called, none did answer; when I spake, they did not hear: but they did evil before mine eyes, and shoes that in which I delighted not.  Isa. 66:3, 4 

Next, Isaiah addresses Christians who were being "cast out" (excommunicated) by their fellow Jews for Jesus' name sake. Even before Jesus was crucified, the rulers of the Jews had decreed that anyone who confessed Christ was to be cast out (Jn. 9:22, 34; 12:42).  The "appearing" of the Lord refers to his second coming. 

"Hear the word of the Lord, ye that tremble at his word; Your breath that hated you, that cast you out for my name's sake, said, Let the Lord be glorified: but he shall appear to your joy, and they shall be ashamed. Isa. 66:5 

Finally, we see the Lord's wrath upon the Jews as he came in providential judgment upon the nation.  

"A voice of noise from the city, a voice form the temple, a voice of the Lord that rendereth recompense to his enemies…for behold the Lord will come with fire, and with his chariots like a whirlwind, to render his anger with fury, and his rebuke with flames of fire."  Isa. 66:3-6, 15 

Although Stephen did not quote the passage in full, the Sanhedrin could not fail to see the connection: The destruction of the city and temple Stephen was foretelling was nothing more than that foretold by the prophet Isaiah. This should have provided a full defense to the charge he had blasphemed. Instead, the Jews hardened their hearts and stopped their ears, and condemned Stephen to death. For us, Stephen's statements, coupled with the prophecy of Isaiah and statements of Christ, provide time texts for the coming of the Lord and related events. 

Testimony of Romans

 The persecution of the church that began in Judea did not remain there, but was carried by the Jews throughout Asia Minor and the world.  The book of Acts relates how everywhere Paul carried the gospel he met with resistance and persecution from the Jews. The historian Suetonius relates that the emperor Claudius was even forced to banish all Jews from Rome and Italy because of their riots against "Chrestus."[2]  This is corroborated by Luke in Acts 18:2, where Paul met Aquilla and Pricilla, who had lately come from Italy "because Claudius had commanded all Jews to depart form Rome."  With the death of Claudius, Nero came to the throne and the ban against the Jews was relaxed: Nero's wife Poppaea Sabinus was sympathetic toward Judaism, if not a proselyte.[3]  The Jews slowly filtered back into Rome, and doubtless caused considerable trouble to the church. They would eventually inveigle Nero and the Empire in their war against the gospel. The first imperial persecution broke out in AD 64-68. It was widely believed that Nero was responsible for the burning of Rome (AD 64), and historians are agreed that he seized upon Christians as a scapegoat.[4]  It is against this background that Paul called the Jews "enemies of the gospel" (Rom. 11:28) and "vessels of wrath fitted to destruction," which God had borne with much longsuffering. Paul exhorted Christians not to avenge themselves, but to give place to wrath (Rom. 12:19).  They were to rouse themselves and watch, lest falling into spiritual slumber they be unprepared when the time of persecution preceding Christ's coming arrived.  However, the "night" of persecution and oppression would soon be over and the "day time" of Christ's dominion would arise. The Roman and Jewish adversary ("Satan") would shortly be bruised beneath believers' feet.  

Testimony of Corinthians

The testimony of Christ received confirmation in the Corinthians by their obedience to the gospel. They then received the gifts of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of the apostle's hands (cf. Acts 8:17; 19:5, 6). The gifts of the Holy Ghost were merely temporary and provisional, belonging to the period between the cross and the second coming of Christ. Hence, Paul says the gifts were given to the Corinthians while waiting for the Lord's return, when they would cease. The passage assumes that the Corinthians will be alive in the day of Christ. 

Although it contains no express declaration of time, this verse assumes the Corinthians would live until the day of testing by fire, which was to precede the coming of Christ. This almost certainly refers to the persecution under Nero, which would try the saints and prove what their work of faith was made of. 

Here we see again that a very short while remained until the time of the end overtook the first generation of believers; so much so that not even the obligations of married life should be permitted to distract them from what lay ahead. The end time would include the persecution under Nero and the cataclysmic judgments attending Christ's coming in vindication of his gospel and martyrs. 

Testimony of 1st Thessalonians

Paul's letters to the Thessalonians contain a great deal of eschatological material. From the book of Acts, we learn that Paul was in Thessalonica hardly more than the space of three weeks (Acts 17:1-10). Although with the Thessalonians such a small space, it is clear that Paul invested much time instructing them about the second coming of Christ. This would make little sense if it was thousands of years away.  But we see here that Paul's teaching and expectation was that Christ would come within his reader's lifetimes. The "wrath to come" may refer to events that would overtake the world, but more likely refers to the wrath awaiting men in the next life who fail to obey the gospel.

We read in Acts about Jewish opposition throughout the world to the gospel message. In its way, the book of Acts is an apologetic defense of the destruction of the Jewish nation, providing a detailed account of their resistance to the gospel and persecution of believers, and the righteous judgment of God in taking the nation away. This is nowhere more true than in Thessalonica. The Jews there not only stirred up persecution against Paul, forcing him to prematurely leave the city, but when they learned he was preaching in Berea, they came and stirred up trouble there as well, again forcing Paul to depart (Acts 17:1-15). The passage quoted here thus predicts the coming wrath that was to overtake the nation in the war with Rome.  Even Jews in foreign cities would become a prey, as the nation lost the protection of law at home and abroad (see below). Read in isolation, the connection between God's wrath upon the Jews and the coming of Christ may be unclear, but when taken in light of the rest of the New Testament, the connection is clear. 

Every chapter of I Thessalonians speaks about Christ's coming; and every chapter places it in the Thessalonianss lifetimes.

We read in Josephus that the Jewish population in many cities was destroyed when their revolted against Rome: 20,000 Jews were slain in Syria, and Caesarea was emptied of its Jewish inhabitants; 13,000 were slain in Scythopolis; 2,500 were slain in Askelon; 2,000 in Ptolemais, similar numbers were slain in Tyre, Hippos, and Gadara. 50,000 were slain in Alexandria.[5]  We can only imagine what occurred in the rest of the world, for the Jews were universally detested.

Testimony of 2nd Thessalonians

 The epistles to the Thessalonians are believed to have been written while Claudius was still upon the throne (AD 41-54), probably in the 50's. The Jews' war with Rome did not break out until AD 66.  The saints' longsuffering and patient endurance under persecution would finally be vindicated, and they would come into a time of rest when Jesus came in wrath against those who troubled his church. Clearly, this would offer small consolation if the events described were thousand of years off.

This passage states that the time was not "at hand," and thus seems to argue against a contemporary-historical fulfillment. However, since it is clear that the Thessalonians were taught to expect Christ's coming within their lifetimes, the fact that it was not then immediately at hand does not mean it was not fulfilled in the years following. The Reformers supposed the papacy and Catholic Church are referred to here, but nobody believes that today. Paul states that the man of sin and son of perdition (the antichrist) was already present, but had not yet been revealed upon the world stage because something and/or someone hindered him, who must first be taken out of the way. Since the papacy would not grow up for hundreds of years, this clearly is not the solution. Rather, we must look for a contemporary-historical explanation.

We believe that Nero and the first imperial persecution are in view here.  The Thessalonians were shaken and troubled that Lord's coming and that their "gathering together unto him" was at hand. If their gathering entailed the translation or rapture of the church in a manner similar to Enoch and Elijah there would be nothing to disturb them, for this is universally supposed to be a good thing.  Rather, the better view is that the gathering was a harvest by martyrdom, in which members of the church would be reaped into the eternal kingdom by death. This is clearly seen in Rev. 14:9-20, where two harvests are portrayed, one of the wicked (the grapes) in wrath and vengeance (vv. 17-20), the other of the church (the wheat) in martyrdom under the beast (vv.9-16). The persecution the Thessalonians suffered from the Jews and their own countrymen (I Thess. 2:14-16; II Thess. 1:6-10) apparently led them to believe that the eschatological persecution was then at hand.  However, Paul reminded them that the time was not then fully ripe. Claudius Caesar was still upon the throne. 

It was Claudius' policy to protect the church by extending the religio licita to it.  Roman law preserved to the nations of the empire the right to worship their own gods and keep their own laws, saving the power of death (ius gladii), which was reposed in the Roman governor.  It was this policy of Roman law in withholding the power of death from local peoples that permitted the church to grow and spread, as otherwise the Jews would have extinguished the gospel as soon as ever the light of salvation was lit (recall the persecution over Stephen).  Acts records that the Jews disturbed the peace throughout the empire, persecuting Paul everywhere he carried the gospel. Indeed, the Jews raised their tumults to such a pitch in Rome that Claudius saw fit to banish from Italy (Acts 18:2).  In the same chapter we learn of the banishment, we read how the Roman consul, Gallio (Seneca's brother), refused to sit in judgment of issues of Jewish law religion, when the Jews sought judgment against Paul (Acts. 18:12-16).  However, Claudius would soon be "taken out of the way;" he was poisoned by Agrippina, Nero's mother, in order to secure Nero's succession to the throne. Nero was but 16 when he came into power, and for the first ten years of his government was under the tutelage of Seneca and Burris, who restrained his vicious temperament. Eventually, however, Nero threw off all restraint and began a reign of terror, culminating in the persecution of the church (AD 64-68). Yet, Nero would be destroyed by Christ's coming and judgment, and Rome itself thrown into a succession of civil wars that left Italy in ruins and the capital destroyed. The Jewish nation, which was ultimately responsible for the persecution, would be completely destroyed.

Testimony of Timothy

 Timothy, Paul's companion in his work and travels, was expected to live and see Christ's return (cf. II Tim. 4:1-4).

Testimony of Hebrews

The Hebrew Christians were under persecution from unbelieving Jews, who put them out of the synagogues and imposed such penalties upon them as they might, including beating with rods, imprisonment, excommunication, and forfeitures. They were thus tempted to turn back to the temple ritual and Mosaic law. The thrust of the epistle is to demonstrate the superiority of Christ and the invalidity of the law, and its complete inability to save. They are warned that to forsake Christ and turn back to the law is apostasy and will cause them to lose their salvation (Heb. 10:26, 27). Hence, they needed the strength derived from their mutual faith and should thus continue assembling together, and the more so as the day of open persecution drew near. They were to draw strength from the assurance that it was but a short while more before the day of national judgment against the Jews arrived, when Christ would exact vengeance for the blood of his martyrs.  Their reward was in heaven, and might thus bear the loss of mortal life happily (Heb. 11:16; 12:4).  

Testimony of James

This epistle is something of a companion to the book of Hebrews, being addressed to Jewish believers, many of whom were under persecution for unbelieving Jews.  It is sometimes argued that in addressing the book to the "twelve tribes scattered abroad" James employs a metaphor for spiritual Israel. However, the better view is that James is addressing actual Jews.  He characterizes those addressed as "first fruits" from among God's creatures, which term is specifically applied by John to the 144,000 taken from the Jews (Jm. 1:18; Rev. 14:4). James says they ought not to show partiality to the rich entering their assemblies, and especially in light of the fact that the rich "blaspheme the worthy by which ye are called" (Jm. 2:7). The word rendered "assembly" here is "synagogue," betraying a distinctly Jewish setting. And blaspheming the name of Christ and Christianity would have been prominent among the Jews, but far less so among the Gentiles. James also mentions how the rich had heaped treasure together for the last days, which, in view of the coming destruction of the Jewish nation, would have special meaning. He says, too, that they condemn and kill the just, which was not yet true among the Gentiles, for no general persecution had yet broken out, but was true among the Jews, who had raised a great persecution against the church in the days of Stephen. James also uses a distinctly Jewish term "Lord of the sabaoth" to describe Jesus as the Lord who provides seed for crops and rain in due season, a term that would have no meaning among Gentiles (Jm. 5:4; cf. Rom. 9:29; Isa. 1:9). In all, there is good reason to see the epistle is addressed primarily to Jewish believers, and the coming of Lord, which he describes as drawing nigh, in reference to the calamity that brought the nation's end and relief from persecution. 

Testimony of Peter

These verses affirm the imminence of Christ coming and the events associated with the end (fulfillment) of age. God was bringing to a close the world-age that was marked by dominion of the unbelieving in the earth, for the government of the world had been given to Christ at his ascension, and he would thenceforth rule the nations in righteousness.  

This passage is often supposed to teach that the physical cosmos was to be destroyed at Christ's coming, but this mistakes the figurative nature of prophetic utterance.  The promise of a new heaven and earth is from the prophet Isaiah, and describes the world under the government of Christ, after the persecutors of his people have all been destroyed. We cited the same prophecy earlier in our discussion about the trial of Stephen and the destruction of Jerusalem (see comments under Acts, above), whereby the reader may see that the heavens and earth and their elements describe, not the physical world, but the socio-political world gathered together in persecution of the church and gospel (Isa. 65, 66). Peter makes abundantly clear that the day of the Lord was hastening upon them and would overtake those then living. Hence, they should be diligent to be found blameless before Christ. 

Testimony of John

The "last time" in the Greek is "last hour." John gives as evidence of the last hour the fact that many antichrists were then present in the world. The "antichrist" refers to St. Paul's "man of sin" and "son of perdition" described in II Thessalonians, or Nero, who would wage war against the church at the Jews' instigation, seeking to eradicate it from earth. Those who "went out from us" correspond to the "apostasy" Paul said would precede the persecution of Nero and doubtless points to Judaizers who abandoned the faith, teaching  that the law was still valid and that Christians must be circumcised to be saved. James uses the identical phrase following the Jerusalem council, saying "Forasmuch as we have hard, that certain which went out from us have troubled you with words, subverting your souls, saying, ye must be circumcised, and keep the law," etc. (Acts 15:24). The phrase may also include Gentiles who apostatized from the faith and had turned to become persecutors, but we think those primarily referred to are Jews. 

Testimony of Revelation

Here we have the opening words of Revelation, assuring first century readers that the time was at hand. Revelation describes the persecution under Nero and the destruction of Rome and Jerusalem by the coming of Christ. The book is intended to strengthen the saints in Asia Minor and the world against the coming persecution; to assure them that Christ is fully aware of the suffering they will endure for his name's sake. He is the Lord who was dead and is alive and holds the keys of death and Hades; he will reward them with eternal life if they are faithful unto death.

The Ephesians were resting upon the strength of past works for their present and future salvation. Christ tells them that they must persevere in their first love and works, or risk his rejection at his coming. It has been argued that this refers to a special coming in judgment against that particular church, but this seems unlikely.  Peter said "For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God" (I Pet. 4:17), which judgment was connected with the time then overtaking the world, and not a special judgment confined to the church. What was true in Peter, is equally true in Revelation.

 The first quote was said to the church at Pergamos, the second to Thyatira.  Both passages affirm Christ's coming within the lives of those addressed.

These quote address the churches of Sardis and Philadelphia, respectively. It has been suggested that these churches represent distinct ages until the Lord's coming, but there is no exegetical support for this notion. The notion is but an invention to try to salvage Futurist interpretation and transfer the prophecies of Revelation to our own day or beyond. In reality, the need to invent such fantastic notions testifies to the true contemporary-historical moorings of the book and prophecies. 

As the book draws to its close, there are repeated affirmations of Christ's soon advent. The righteous would be harvested into the eternal kingdom by martyrdom under Nero and the Jews; the wicked would be destroyed in the wars and calamities that overtook Rome and Judea. 

When Daniel wrote, he was told to "seal up" the sayings of his book, because the time was long away off (Dan. 12:4, 9).  The distance from Daniel to John was approximately 600 years. John is here told not to seal the book, because its events were "at hand." Based upon a comparison with Daniel, it is impossible that the events of Revelation belong to our time, for by no standard of measure can two thousand years be deemed "at hand" in light of 600 years in Daniel being a long way off. So close were the events, that the time remaining would hardly afford men time to change their accustomed habits, and would thus take the wicked and just as it found them. However, it is a mistake to conceive that all men were judged in the events described in Revelation, for Christ is enthroned as judge still today.  One by one as each of us dies are haled before the judgment seat of Christ, that we may receive the things done in the body, according to that we have done, whether it be good or bad (II Cor. 5:10). 

Summary and Conclusion

We have now surveyed the time statements of the New Testament.  Old Testament time texts, particularly from the book of Daniel, are consistent with all that has been said, but will be examined separately in a subsequent article.  Of the 37 passages we have examined, all unanimously affirm Christ's coming within the lives of the first disciples. Where can such an array of witnesses be produced on behalf of Futurist models?  It can't.

Why am I Preterist?  Because dealing openly and honestly with the simple statements of scripture prevents otherwise. We urge you to join the growing crowd of students and scholars "affirming Christ's second coming fulfilled."

[1] John Walvrood, The Book of Revelation (Mood Press, 1966), pp. 176 (a future temple); 178-180 (Elijah still to come); 197, 204 (revived Roman Empire).

[2] "Since the Jews constantly made disturbances at the instigation of Chrestus, he expelled them from Rome." Suetonius, Claudius XXV, 4.

[3] Josephus calls her a "religious woman."  Ant. XX, viii, 11.

[4] "But neither human help, nor imperial munificence, nor all the modes of placating Heaven, could stifle scandal or dispel the belief that the fire had taken place by order. Therefore, to scotch the rumor, Nero substituted as culprits…Christians." Tacitus, Annals XV, xliv.

[5] Josephus, Wars, II, xviii.


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