Why Preterism is not an Accurate Interpretation of Bible Prophecy
As with any theological position there are those who are looked to as being more knowledgeable in this area. Known preterist’s are Max King, John L. Bray, and Gary DeMar who is president o American Vision, is one of Preterism’s most active and vocal promoters today; Hank Hannegraff of the Bible Answerman broadcast also joins their ranks. “Preterist” means past in fulfillment, and “Futurist” which means future in fulfillment. To preface this article we need to know there are two different kinds of Preterism; partial and full Preterists.
According to Preterism- No signs today point forward to Christ's return Jesus “came” in 70 AD All of Matthew 24 is fulfilled, both partial and full Preterism agree on this.
Full Preterism is not limited to this division in prophecy. The whole world saw the son come in the clouds, Zech 12 fulfills Mt.24:30. Nero was the “beast” and “The man of sin” (2 Thess. 2:4) has come. Some full Preterists claim Jesus is the “prince that shall come” in Dan.9. The “end” of the world (age) refers to the end of the Jewish world in 70 AD when the temple was destroyed and Israel was scattered. It was the last days of the old system. The fall of “Babylon” refers to the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans. God replaced Old Testament Israel with the Church, all the promises to Israel now belong to the church. Satan is already bound in the abyss unable to hinder the spread of the Gospel. The spirit being poured out on all flesh already took place. Rev.7:9 is the end of the age harvest that already took place, the fullness of the Gentiles have come in. Revelation 20 has already been fulfilled. On one Preterist radio program here in the Islands they stated: “We are in the eternal order” (Radio program Sept.29, 2007 ‘Bible Prophecy Fulfilled” on KGU Hawaii).
If you think on the implications of believing the “prophecies” as past events, it can change nearly everything you have ever learned from the Bible.
The Preterists view on the book of Revelation is that its primary focus is on events surrounding the destruction of Jerusalem. Preterists insist on an early date for the book of Revelation to tie it into the 70 A.D. destruction of Jerusalem. Clearly John outlasted all the other apostles by more than a few years and is given the final book of the Bible, The Revelation of Jesus Christ (Rev.1:9). As the first century nears its close 7 historical churches are addressed. History tells us Revelation was written late in the first century. In Irenaeus’ work entitled, “Against Heresies” chapter 13:18, Irenaeus tells us when John had his apocalyptic vision and wrote the book. “For that [referring to John’s vision] Irenaeus wrote the following: “We will not, however, incur the risk of pronouncing positively as to the name of Antichrist; for if it were necessary that his name should be distinctly revealed in this present time, it would have been announced by him who beheld the apocalyptic vision. For that was seen not very long time since, but almost in our day, towards the end of Domitian's reign” (written 180 AD).
No matter how good we are in dating manuscripts-we do not have the originals but we have those who are closest to that time-period. Irenaeus says John's apocalyptic vision was “towards the end of Domitian’s reign.” Domitian was a Roman Emperor his reign began in 81 AD ended in 96 AD. Irenaeus lived 120-202 A.D. he was discipled under Polcarp of Smyrna. Polycarp was a disciple of the apostle John, and the bishop of the church of Smyrna in Asia. According to Polycarp the Book of Revelation was written after the destruction of Jerusalem. In his letter called To the Philippians he writes that his church, did not exist in the days of the apostle Paul before the destruction of Jerusalem. Symrna is not mentioned in the Book of Acts, nor in any other New Testament epistle, it was a late planted church. Sardis, Thyatira, Philadelphia and Laodicea are not mentioned in the book of Acts which most believe span 30 years of the early church. Preterists argue that Irenaeus’ writing is in poor condition so we cannot depend on its accuracy. But there are so many other sources we can draw from. I will mention a few, for I do not want to make this an article about what the early church thought on these matters.
One of the early Church Fathers, The Shepherd of Hermas, written in the early 2nd Century, states “the great tribulation that is coming,” which is a silly thing to state if the church believed it already took place.
The Didache was used as a church manual, most date it written at the latest about 100 A.D.. It says it is still future. ‘Watch for your life's sake. Let not your lamps be quenched, nor your loins unloosed; but be ye ready, for ye know not the hour in which our Lord cometh. …. For in the last days false prophets and corrupters shall be multiplied, and the sheep shall be turned into wolves, and love shall be turned into hate; for when lawlessness increaseth, they shall hate and persecute and betray one another, and then shall appear the world-deceiver as Son of God, and shall do signs and wonders, and the earth shall be delivered into his hands, and he shall do iniquitous things which have never yet come to pass since the beginning. … And then shall appear the signs of the truth; first, the sign of an out-spreading in heaven; then the sign of the sound of the trumpet; and the third, the resurrection of the dead; yet not of all, but as it is said: The Lord shall come and all His saints with Him. Then shall the world see the Lord coming upon the clouds of heaven.” [Didache, XVI]
Again, Irenaeus a respected early church apologist that lived AD. 120-202 had this to say about future events- “It is therefore more certain, and less hazardous, to await the fulfillment of the prophecy, than to be making surmises, and casting about for any names that may present themselves, inasmuch as many names can be found possessing the number mentioned; and the same question will, after all, remain unsolved. ... But he indicates the number of the name now, that when this man comes we may avoid him, being aware who he is: ... But when this Antichrist shall have devastated all things in this world, he will reign for three years and six months, and sit in the temple at Jerusalem; and then the Lord will come from heaven in the clouds, in the glory of the Father, sending this man and those who follow him into the lake of fire; but bringing in for the righteous the times of the kingdom, that is, the rest, the hallowed seventh day; and restoring to Abraham the promised inheritance, in which kingdom the Lord declared, that many coming from the east and from the west should sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob” [Irenaeus: Against Heresies, Book V, XXX].
While the early church writings can be helpful, we do not need them to prove to us what did or did not happen, it should not be based on what they say- but based on the Bible of which they expounded their teaching from. The fact that ancient Christians continued to expect the Lord's coming, after the unbelieving generation passed away does seem to indicate they were not looking to the past for the reference point of it already taking place.
Where did Preterism begin? The view that 70 AD was the fulfillment some point to its development in the 16th century. This theory is said to be invented in the early 1500’s by a Jesuit named Alcasar to counter the Reformers' claim that the Roman Catholic Church was the “great whore... mystery Babylon” sitting on the beast in Revelation 17. Alcazar wrote a large commentary, “Investigation of the Hidden Sense of the Apocalypse,” which suggested the entire book of Revelation is pagan Rome and the first six centuries of the Church's existence.
He promoted that conditions will gradually improve over time, evolving into a world that has become “Christianized”, and ready for the second coming of Christ. All of the prophecies in Revelation (except for Rev 20:4-22:21) were fulfilled at A.D.70., and that Christ returned in A.D.70 in the person of the Roman armies to destroy Jerusalem and dispersed Israel. (just as Preterists believe today).
I have heard Preterists today say that Israel’s return to the land has absolutely NOTHING to do with Bible prophecy today, God is finished with the Jews. The old Jerusalem is condemned- God can’t work with Israel today because they rejected him. Israel was the Babylon of the first century etc.etc..
This has been the stance of the Roman Catholic church for over a thousand years. On June 22, 1943, the Pope (Pius XII) wrote to President Roosevelt: “It is true that at one time Palestine was inhabited by the Hebrew Race, but there is no axiom in history to substantiate the necessity of, people returning to a country they left nineteen centuries before.”
This type of teaching purposely misleads people into thinking Old Testament prophecy has been fulfilled. The obvious flaws will be addressed throughout these series of articles- their biblical, historical flaws and overall prophetic view point. When we see the very things warned about in the Scripture about the end and we are being told by this segment of the church to not be concerned, it means nothing- Watch out!
For Peter himself states in 2 Peter 3:2-8: “you may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us, the apostles of the Lord and Savior, knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation.” For this they willfully forget: that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of water and in the water, by which the world that then existed perished, being flooded with water. But the heavens and the earth which are now preserved by the same word, are reserved for fire until the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.” the Judgment which we call the tribulation period is not in the past but is future.
What did NOT Happen in 70 AD proves that Preterism is false
They complain “we” (those of us known as futurists in our prophetic viewpoint) are always looking into the future but in the same venue, they myopically look to the past and revision it. They apply fulfillment to events that the Bible does not. In other words, if you claim numerous prophecies are fulfilled it must be completed exactly the way it is written, not in one or two points. Similarity does not mean sameness.
Much of what Preterists base their eschatology on is from Christ’s Olivet Discourse in Matthew 24. Their understanding of the phrase “this generation” (Matthew 24:34) demands a first century fulfillment, it becomes the ultimate proof text that settles any alternate (future) views. In this first article we will concentrate on this term and the surrounding points relative to its meaning.
Jesus: “Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled” (Matt. 24:34)
Preterists insist Jesus was referring to those living at that time (or that generation standing with him). All end time activities which were described in the earlier verses of Matthew 24 had to have occurred then, concluding at the destruction of Jerusalem. On this platform they proceed to ignore and even mock a literal translation of any contradictory textual reference in both the New and Old Testaments which is a description of a future fulfillment of prophetic events beyond AD 70.
There are a number of explanations for the phrase “this generation” that do not support the Preterist’s “past historical view,” so we do not have only one choice as they represent.
Lets read-Matthew 24:4-51, Jesus was responding to a question that His disciples asked Him. Matt 24:1-2 When Jesus went out and departed from the temple, His disciples admired the building of the temple. And Jesus said to them, “Do you not see all these things? Assuredly, I say to you, not one stone shall be left here upon another, that shall not be thrown down.” This took place 40 years later- 70 A.D. What brought about the destruction of the second temple rebuilt by Herod was their rejecting the Messiahship of Jesus. Because of this sin, Jesus declared that their house would now be left desolate. It also refers to the covenant made with Moses. God told them if you are unfaithful, and do not obey Him they will be scattered among the nations (Israel had been taken captive twice before this). Lev.26:38-43 Moses’ prophecy of dispersion V.38. “You shall perish among the nations, and the land of your enemies shall eat you up.” Speaking of their ancestors sins while in these lands: v.40-43 “But if they confess their iniquity and the iniquity of their fathers, with their unfaithfulness in which they were unfaithful to Me, and that they also have walked contrary to Me, and that I also have walked contrary to them and have brought them into the land of their enemies; if their uncircumcised hearts are humbled, and they accept their guilt-- then I will remember My covenant with Jacob, and My covenant with Isaac and My covenant with Abraham I will remember; I will remember the land.” The iniquity is the rejection of the Messiah who came to them in the land and He gives them a requirement. Before the Olivet discourse Jesus stated in Matthew 23:36-39: “Assuredly, I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation.” Then he explains what He desired and what they will see “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! See! Your house is left to you desolate; for I say to you, you shall see Me no more till you say, 'Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD!'”
Jesus has said this to the generation that rejected him. But this same generation did not call upon him to come back, (saying: 'Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD!') but they are the ones who saw the temple destroyed and were consequently scattered. So His coming back and the temple being destroyed cannot be the same event. But Preterists insist that this is when Jesus did come back. Since this generation (of Jesus’ day) was punished because of their unrepentance- he couldn’t have come back. For He said He will not come back until they repent and call upon him saying 'Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD!’ So how can those who rejected Him call on Him if they are unrepentant, are dead, or gone? This is how we find the meaning of “this generation’ (in Mt.24:34)- it is not applied to those who He spoke this to anymore than His saying “for I say to you; till you say.” A judgment took place, not His (return) coming to them because they are required to call upon him in repentance. These are two completely different events and the body of Scripture tells us so.
What are all these things will come upon this generation? “all the righteous blood shed on the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah” Why? “Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers' guilt.” Matthew 23:32 this is the iniquity of the fathers referred to in Lev.26:40-43.
Matthew 23:35 Israel was made desolate in 70 AD as they were either killed, captured or fled. However, Scripture makes it clear they will be back in the land when they call upon the Lord to defend them and save them (Joel 2:30-32; 3:1,16-17; Zech. 12:10). God has promised to bring them back where they will be saved and enjoy the land in peace- which takes place in the millennial reign of Christ.
As we continue, we will gain a better understanding how context influences the meaning of Jesus’ words.
In v.3 “Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?” Jesus begins by warning of deception and lists the numerous things to take place before He comes, and what it will be like when He comes back. He mentions earthquakes, wars, diseases increasing. Before we look at these events individually, I think it is necessary to look at the phrase that contains “This generation.”
Matt. 24:34: “Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.” Endless discussions has been centered on what is a generation. What is the length of a generation 40, 80, 100 years? A generation can be up to 100 years (Gen. 15:13-16). Some measure the generation from 1948, Israel’s birth as a nation. But this is NOT the meaning in this text. It does not mean a time element as in the length of a generation. The emphasis is on the signs the generation sees, and who is the generation. And as we will see- it is certainly not the generation Jesus was among. But, we must tackle one point at a time to understand correctly this complex issue. Your patience is needed, as the proof will become apparent.
The Preterist claims that Christ was referring to those living at that time when he said “this generation.” This is their main argument for a 70 A.D. fulfillment of all the prophecy Jesus is referring to. All the events which were described in the earlier verses of Matthew 24 occurred and concluded at the destruction of Jerusalem. But Jesus is not saying this to his specific generation but to the generation that sees all the signs taking place simultaneously in their lifetime. Notice it does not say “your generation” as if to purposely identify them as the ones who will experience this, but this generation. What generation? The one who sees all the signs occurring during their lifetime, and they have to be in the land to see this. The emphasis is on the signs seen by the generation NOT the generation by itself.
Luke 21:27-32: “And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. But when these things begin to come to pass, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws nigh. And He spoke a parable to them: Behold the fig-tree and all the trees; when they already sprout, ye know of your own selves, on looking at them, that already the summer is near. So also ye, when ye see these things take place, know that the kingdom of God is near. Verily I say unto you, that this generation shall in no wise pass away until all come to pass.”
Notice it says their redemption draws near, not judgment. Jesus comes back to save them not destroy (judge) them as Preterists claim. This is a crucial point neglected in their theological construct.
And this is based on God’s promises. In Jeremiah 31:35-37 God relays to Jeremiah and us, giving the example of the sun, the moon and the stars and says V.36 “If those ordinances depart From before Me, says the LORD, Then the seed of Israel shall also cease From being a nation before Me forever.” Thus says the LORD: “If heaven above can be measured, And the foundations of the earth searched out beneath, I will also cast off all the seed of Israel For all that they have done, says the LORD.”
In other word’s their existence as a nation- the Jewish people will continue, they are not going to be cast off as Preterists claim- unless of course they can remove the sun and moon. These people will be brought back into the same land according to numerous prophecies in the Old Testament that did NOT come to pass before the end of the first century.
The word Greek word for generation is “genea,” it is used about 38 times in the New Testament. Most interpret it as meaning race. Preterists insist, “this generation” can have no other meaning but of the Lord’s contemporaries (those living at that time). The phrase “this generation” does not determine the fulfillment of Jesus’ Olivet Discourse; it is the timing of the fulfillment that determines the meaning of the phrase, “this generation.”
This generation' refers to a kind of people Jesus encountered at his first advent will also to the same kind of people who rebelled against God's leadership throughout the Old Testament.
generation: geneav Genea: Greek, Noun Feminine, Strong #: 1074
1. fathered, birth, nativity
2. that which has been begotten, men of the same stock, a family
a. the several ranks of natural descent, the successive members of a genealogy
b. metaph. a group of men very like each other in endowments, pursuits, character
1. esp. in a bad sense, a perverse nation
3. the whole multitude of men living at the same time
4. an age (i.e. the time ordinarily occupied be each successive generation), a space of 30 - 33 years
As we can see, there is some flexibility in this word. We have a contrast between 3 (the preterist position) and 2 and 2.b
genos, “a generation, kind, stock,” is used in the dative case, with the article, to signify “by race,”
(Vine's Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words)
There is a variety of of opinions from the commentators throughout the ages of the church, for example: 1.Jerome: The human race 2. Calovius: The Jewish nation. 3: The creation. 4. De Wette, Meyer: That present generation. Luther: " All will begin place now in this time, while ye live :" that is, ye will survive the beginning of these events. So Starke, Lisko, Gerlach. But Christ here speaks of the end of the world. 5. The body of My disciples, of believers.
Meyer than comments -This generation means the generation of those who know and discern these signs. Since the words of ver. 33, " So likewise ye” could not have their literal fulfillment in the disciples themselves.”’ (references-Langes commentary Matthew Luke 1960 ; Henry Alford The Four Gospels 1863)
It is similar to its usage of Jesus being called the “only begotten;” mono- genos are two words, mono- single; genos – kind, type when they are put together used for Jesus who is called the monogenus- He is the only one of his kind, he alone has these certain qualities and characteristics.
A generation can be identified with a quality, a characteristic that they have in common.
“Generation” is used a number of times in the scripture for a group identified by a given moral character; a group of persons. it is often used by Jesus to identify a particular group of people that are similar in their characteristics.
For example- “this generation”- the context it is connected to determines its meaning. One cannot arrive at its meaning by isolating the phrase by itself.
It can mean of the same kind because of common ancestry or characteristic.
“It may be well to shew that Genea has in Hellenistic Greek the meaning of a race or family of people. See Jer. viii. 3 LXX.; compare ch. xxiii. 36 with ver. 35, l .., but this generation did not slay Zacharias-so that the whole people are addressed : see also ch. xii. 45, in which the meaning absolutely requires this sense (see note there) : see also Luke xvii. 26; Matt. xvii. 17; Luke xvi. 8, …, Acts ii. 40; Phil. ii. 15. ”
“In all these places, Genea is = (Greek word) or nearly so; having it is true a more pregnant meaning, implying that the character of one generation stamps itself upon the race, as here in this verse also, ” (ibid.)
For example, in our modern terms, a Car: a Toyota Camry- each year rolls off the assembly line another generation of the same car.
Let’s look at some examples of how the word is used in the Old Testament.
Deuteronomy 32:5: “They have corrupted themselves; They are not His children, Because of their blemish: A perverse and crooked generation.” They are identified with a flawed characteristic.
Deut. 32:20: “And He said, I will hide my face from them, I will see what their end shall be; For they are a perverse generation, Children in whom is no faithfulness.”
Is this addressing only one generation or all those who are faithless. This can be describing a distinct race of people to this day. That generation that has the same characteristics.
Psalm 24:6:”This is the generation of them that seek unto him, that seek thy face, O Jacob. Selah.”
Psalm 112:2: “His seed shall be mighty in the land; the generation of the upright shall be blessed.”
Is it only the present generation God is speaking to, or does this include others at different times?
In the New Testament
Luke 9:41: “And Jesus answering said, O unbelieving and perverted generation, how long shall I be with you and suffer you?”
He is classifying them by their lack of spirituality and identifying them specifically.
In Matthew is in 16:4: Jesus says to them “‘An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign; and a sign will not be given it, except the sign of Jonah.’” He is characterizing these people by their lack of spiritual qualities he is not focused on pointing out who they are as group in history.
Again, the context explains the use of term not the term explains the context.
Luke 17:25: “But first he must suffer many things and be rejected of this generation.”
This has both a narrow and wider application. Jesus was certainly rejected by those who He came to while he was on earth. But there are those who rejected him after he ascended that were not part of the Jews who saw him face to face.
Matthew 11:16 “But to what shall I liken this generation?
He is likening a quality a characteristic to this generation of people, what type they were.
Paul used this in this same manner “that you may prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world” (Philippians 2:15). Does this mean that only the generation of his day was perverse? Or can it be applied to us living among the worlds immoral at any time in history; I think it is the later.
The word genea is used in the New Testament can be a qualitative term; it is not limited to be chronological or has the intent of only meaning his contemporaries.
Let’s apply this same rule of interpretation / application to other areas. If this generation only means the ones Jesus spoke to, then what of Paul when he addressed a particular church. Is it only for that church and no other (he had them pass on the letters he addressed to them). Does it only mean them at that time? What of the letters written to each church from Jesus in the book of Revelation, is it all in the past?
If everytime someone is addressed directly would mean it is only for them; then we must then disregard any correlation or application to our day.
To the Galatians 3:26-27: “For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.” Is it only for the Galatians or to all Christians then and today?
Galatians 4:6-7: “And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts”
Is it only in their hearts Paul is speaking to or to us also.
Ephesians 2:19 “Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God,
1 John 2:12-14: “I write to you, little children, Because your sins are forgiven you for His name's sake. I write to you, fathers, Because you have known Him who is from the beginning.
I write to you, young men, Because you have overcome the wicked one. I write to you, little children, Because you have known the Father. I have written to you, fathers, Because you have known Him who is from the beginning. I have written to you, young men”
Then 1 John does not apply to us today.
The whole New Testament is written to certain churches that existed then. These letters could not apply to us today if we are to apply a Preterists narrow interpretation.
Some statements of “I say unto you” are specific in their hearing, others have a wider range; the context should bear this out. If we are to limit a statement addressed to the recipients of Jesus speaking to them as being the ones fulfilling what he said then we are going to have problems with numerous scriptures. Matthew 5:20: “For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.”
Matthew 8:11: “And I say to you that many will come from east and west, and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven.”
Did this happen in his day- did they sit with the Patriarchs? Only if one spiritualizes the meaning can they dismiss this meaning.
Matthew 19:28-29: Jesus said to them, “Assuredly I say to you, that in the regeneration, when the Son of Man sits on the throne of His glory, you who have followed Me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” This obviously did not happen.
Matthew 26:29: “But I say to you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father's kingdom.”
Jess physically drank the wine with his disciples. Where is Jesus drinking this with us on earth. If not then we must admit the Fathers kingdom has not come in the way it is interpreted by the Preterists.
John 3:3: “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.
Ephesians 2:8-9 “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.
Romans 5:8: “while we were still sinners, Christ died for us”
The letter is to the Romans, “we’ and “us” are specific showing they are the recipients. Of course no one would argue that this means only his generation otherwise no one else can be saved.
Jesus speaking to Nicodemus John 3:3: “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
Mark 13:35-37: “Watch therefore, for you do not know when the master of the house is coming-- in the evening, at midnight, at the crowing of the rooster, or in the morning-- “lest, coming suddenly, he find you sleeping. “And what I say to you, I say to all: Watch!”
If Jesus is stating this to those he is among (whom preterists argue is “this generation”) then who is the all? others of that generation not present? I propose it is all generations because it is an open event. He is telling us that there is no time given on this event, that every generation should be watching and praying until it happens.
Paul wrote that the true Christians should be “looking” forward to “the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ…” (Titus 2:11). This verse has been read by Christians in all generations and is our hope. Does “looking” still apply to us? Why should we should keep “looking” forward to the second coming of Jesus Christ if Preterism is accurate? Where is He? Where is the manifestation of our hope that Jesus promised when He comes? That is the point.
One has to willfully convince him or her self into denial to come to conclusion that the Old Testament prophecies have already fulfilled and the Lord has no more use for nation and people of Israel. We are watching the birth of a global government, a global religion and a global economy today. It is a fact Earthquakes, famines, wars and pestilences are increasing in both scope and intensity. These are all taking place in the same time period, numerous world wars and internal conflicts, a rise of false prophets and false Christ's as never before. One is hard pressed to prove this is a first century fulfillment, it goes against all logic, present reality and accurate Bible interpretation. The Bible says “...no prophecy is of private interpretation” 2 Peter 1:20.
Even when symbolism is used in the Bible for prophecy it is always fulfilled literally, not allegorically. A literal Jesus was born to a literal virgin in the actual town of Bethlehem. He literally died and paid for the sins of humanity with literal Blood and he literally rose in a physical body– exactly as prophesied. If not, then nothing means what it says in the Scripture. You do not pick and paste portions to make something out of nothing. Bible prophecy is literal, specific not vague but accurate.
Acts 1:11 “This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven." He left a certain way, physically and visibly- we are told He will return in the same way (even the same place he left) he will descend from heaven to earth and set his feet on the Mount of Olives (Zech.14:4). If the prophecy is not fulfilled as it was written then it is not the fulfillment that Preterists claim.
“this generation will not pass away until all these things take place” ( the signs and events -Matthew 24:34; Luke 21:32; Mark 13:30).
It can mean their generation or someone’s else’s in another time period, the context determines its meaning. Again, the emphasis is on the signs this generation sees and it is definitely not the generation Jesus was among (the fulfillments that are told in Scripture did not occur and will be listed in the next article). In Mt.24:34 he is speaking to this generation of believers that see all the signs. This Jewish race (which is another literal meaning for ‘generation’) shall not pass away until all these things take place. Which is also a promise by God in the fact that “all these things” take place during a specific period of time. What the Bible said would take place in the last days, much is being set up to take place before our eyes certainly affirming a futurist perspective not a past perspective on New Testament prophecy. It is this generation that sees all these things take place that will see the Lord physically come back. This includes the abomination of desolation in the middle of the Tribulation- which needs a temple in Jerusalem to be in and Jerusalem to be in Israel.
Preterists ignore Matthew 24:33 (immediately preceding):
“...when ye shall see ALL these things, know that it (My second coming) is near, even at the doors” they have made the mistake of using a few points in the Olivet discourse to argue that it all took place. The fact is, prophecy is often repetitive, it has patterns. 70 AD is to be replayed in a much greater scale in the future because it was a pattern, just as Pentecost was pattern of the latter rain that will be poured out on Israel in the end. Acts 2 was not the exact fulfillment of Joel’s prophecy for a number of reasons (Joel 2-3); there was no blood, fire and vapor of smoke. The sun was not turned into darkness, or the moon into blood, Acts 2:19-20, a quote from Joel's prophecy did not take place (unless one wants to spiritualize these literal events, which they do). What this does show is that it was a pattern, it was the first of the rain that will be completed in some future generation that will save all of Israel because we are told it must take place.
A reading of the entirety of Matthew 24 through chapter 25 indicates the future occurrence of cataclysmic events worldwide, which clearly did not happen prior to AD 70. Jesus did not separate the sheep from the goats, judge the people and pronounce the sentence on the goats and have the sheep enter the kingdom he would be ruling as Mt.25 describes. This fact alone completely destroys the Preterist position. Many other, equally devastating arguments can be made which demonstrate the flawed view of these prophecies being fulfilled (these will be presented in part 2).
Before Jesus left He gave them the answer to their question: “Therefore, when they had come together, they asked Him, saying, “Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” And He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority” (Acts 1:6-7). This is a completely different answer than “This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled” (Matt. 24:34)
It’s not for you to know the times or the seasons- he did not say to them: I have already told you it would be in your generation. It cannot be both- you will see it happen and it is not for you to know.
To summarize all this and conclude let us go back to the disciples original question.
Matthew 24:3-4 “Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?” Jesus then gives all kinds of events, catastrophes that would be signs of the end of the age and His coming( Lk.21:25). The Preterists insist all these took place in 70 AD.
Let us hear from Jesus to settle the matter…
Luke 11:30-31: “For as Jonah became a sign to the Ninevites, so also the Son of Man will be to this generation” This is speaking of his resurrection to the generation that rejected him
Matthew 16:4 “and no sign shall be given to it (this generation) except the sign of the prophet Jonah.” This is the resurrection according to Jesus’ explanation (it repeated in Matthew 12:39; Mk.8:12).
Mark 8:12: “Assuredly, I say to you, no sign shall be given to this generation.”
If there are no signs to be given to his generation (“this generation”) then how can Mt. 24 be fulfilled- no sign is given to them like those mentioned in mt.24, the only sign is of the resurrection! Therefore they are reserved fro another generation in their future.