Q & A Topics

Questions & Answers

QUESTION:

Matt 24:29 “But immediately after the tribulation…” In this passage it is clearly said that Christ would come immediately after the tribulation, but in 2 Thess. 1:6-8 it is shown that it is his coming “from heaven with his angels” that is causing the tribulation! How can this be explained?

ANSWER:

You are correct in pointing out that the word “tribulation” (Gr. thlipsis) is found in both passages. Both passages harmonize well. In Matthew 24, there is a great tribulation (persecution) of the saints which is followed immediately by the coming of Christ, which causes the heavens & earth to be shaken and all the tribes of the earth to mourn (Matt.24:30). In 2 Thess. 1:6-10, we see the same scenario. The saints were being persecuted. Christ would come and give them relief, and at the same time give affliction to their persecutors. We are talking about two different phases of the tribulation, with Christ’s return in the middle (the first against the saints, and the second against their persecutors). Both passages (in their contexts) deal with both phases. -Edward E. Stevens

QUESTION:

Luke 21:8 “..many shall come in my name, saying…, the time is at hand; go ye not after them.” (ASV) Why not go after them, was not the time AT HAND?

ANSWER:

In Luke 21:9 (the very next verse), Jesus said the reason his disciples should not pay attention to anyone saying “the time is at hand” in those days was because the other signs he gave them had not happened yet. Jesus gave enough signs that they could not miss it. When compared with the parallel accounts in Matthew and Mark, this is even more apparent. For instance, if Jesus had given them 30 signs to look for and only 5 of them had taken place, it wouldn’t make much sense to believe that the end was immediately at hand. But if all 30 had taken place (by the year 66 AD), they could be sure the end was indeed at hand. There is another reason also. The people who were trying to lead away the brethren were probably caught up in the nationalistic mindset and looking for a materialistic kingdom or paradise, or they were Judaizers. To follow them would have been fatal in view of what happened to such zealots at 70 AD. -Edward E. Stevens

QUESTION:

Lk. 21:29-31 – Did the fig tree refer to Israel becoming a nation again?

ANSWER:

There really is no indication that the budding of the fig tree in Lk. 21:29-31 referred to Israel becoming a nation in 1948 (or in any other year). Verse 29 shows that the fig tree is not the only thing that sprouts leaves when summer is near. Jesus said, “Watch the fig tree and all the trees. If we are to take the budding fig tree to mean Israel becoming a nation, then we must take all the other budding trees to refer to all the other nations in the world somehow becoming nations. But this would not make any Biblical sense.

Jesus did at other times use a fig tree to illustrate fleshly Israel. Once was when he cursed a fig tree on His way to Jerusalem (Matt. 21:19). After He cursed it, He said to it, “Let there be no more fruit from you forever.” This indicated the cutting off of fleshly Israel as God’s chosen nation forever. Today Christ’s Kingdom is God’s Nation, and all physical Jews are welcomed to become citizens of that nation along with all other nationalities. But fleshly Israel will never again, according to Jesus, produce fruit as God’s chosen nation. That holy duty and privilege belongs to Christ’s followers both now and forever (cf. Lk. 13:7-9; Rev. 6:13). The fig tree was not the main symbol of Israel anyway. Instead, it was the olive tree. – David A. Green

QUESTION:

Does Matthew 24 refer only to the period of 40 years from the cross to the destruction of Jerusalem?

ANSWER:

Yes. Let’s look at some of the factors in the Olivet discourse that definitely point to the conclusion that Matthew 24, Mark 13, and Luke 21 were all fulfilled by A.D. 70.

First, when Jesus’ disciples asked Him, “What is the sign of Your coming and of the end of the age?” (Matt. 24:3), they must have had in mind the destruction of the temple; Jesus had just told them that the temple was going to be completely destroyed (Matthew 24:2). For the disciples, the destruction of the Holy Temple would have been viewed as nothing less than a massive upheaval or end of their entire religious/political world. So it’s not surprising they would connect the destruction of the temple with the final coming of the King and with the end of the age (cf. Isa. 66:6).

Jesus said, “Many false christs will rise up, and false prophets” (Matt. 24:24). The rising up of many impostors was a sign that the last days had arrived. The apostle John understood that this was being fulfilled in the first century A.D. when he said, “…it is the last hour, and as you heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have risen up; by this you know that it is the last hour” (I John 2:18). John told his readers in this verse that they could know it was “the last hour” (the last hour of Biblical Judaism) because “many antichrists” had risen up. In other words, since Jesus said that many false christs and false prophets would appear in the last days, John and the other Christians knew the end was indeed near for them because many of the deceivers had already appeared.

Jesus said, “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come” (Matt. 24:14). The good news had been preached to all the world by the time the book of Romans and the book of Colossians were written in the first century. Romans 10:18, “Their voice (the voice of those preaching the good news) has gone out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world”. Col. 1:23, “This…gospel…has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven”. And shortly after the good news was preached in the whole world in the first century, the end of the Old Testament world came in fiery judgment in A.D. 70, at the destruction of Christ’s enemies.

Finally, in Matthew 24, Jesus said, “This generation will in no wise pass away until all these things have happened.” “This generation” means the same thing here as it does in most other places in the NT. It speaks of those living at that time. So all of Matthew 24 was indeed fulfilled within the forty year period between the cross and the destruction of Jerusalem, including the parousia and the end of the age. – David A. Green

QUESTION:

Matt. 28:19, 20 “..lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.” (AGE) Does this imply that he was “with them” always, or only until 70 AD?

ANSWER:

The Greek here is very interesting. Literally translated, it reads, “…and behold I am with you all the days until the consummation of the age.” There is an unfortunate translation here. It should say, “the whole time” (lit. “all the days”) rather than “always.” He would be with them the whole time they were announcing the coming of the kingdom, down to the very consummation of that age. He was simply telling them they would not be alone during this period when the great commission was being accomplished (from 30 to 70 AD). He would be Spiritually present with them (through the work of the Holy Spirit) to see them through to the very end of that old Jewish age. At 70 AD Christ Himself returned to put down His final enemies and give His saints their kingdom inheritance. They had only a temporary and partial “pledge, earnest or seal” of that inheritance from 30 to 70 AD. At 70 AD He returned to dwell with the saints forever onwards. -Edward E. Stevens

QUESTION:

Did Jesus Christ return in 70 AD without fanfare?

ANSWER:

I wouldn’t exactly call the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD an event “without fanfare.” Jews today still commemorate it in some fashion in almost every joyous occasion they celebrate (the shattered goblet at Jewish weddings, and a special fast day every year in August are two ways in which they still remember the destruction). One of the chief rabbis from Connecticut, in the opening remarks of his lecture on “Post-Biblical Judaism,” commented that he would begin the study of post-Biblical Judaism with “the end.” Then he said, he would begin with 70 A.D., because 70 AD was “the end of Biblical Judaism”. Josephus, a Jewish priest and one of the ten Jewish generals who started the war with Rome in 66 A.D., gives his eyewitness account of that gruesome judgment which Jesus said was, “such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever shall.” (Matt. 24:21) A few days later Jesus (at His trial) said the High Priest & the Sanhedrin, “shall see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of power, and coming on the clouds of heaven.” (Matt. 27:64) Josephus, Tacitus, Eusebius and the Talmud all record the FACT that God’s presence was perceived at that awesome destruction. They even record that angelic armies were seen in the clouds. -Edward E. Stevens

QUESTION:

Did Jesus return corporately and visibly at 70 AD?

ANSWER:

He returned in clouds of judgment just like He said He would, and just like the OT prophets always spoke of God’s visitation (riding a swift cloud in judgment upon the enemies of His people). Those who understood the issue of God’s kingdom perceived God’s presence in those events at 70 AD, to judge the enemies (the unrepentant Jews) and vindicate the righteous (Christians). -Edward E. Stevens

QUESTION:

How did Jesus reveal himself to the world at his 70 AD coming?

ANSWER:

The Jews knew who was judging them and why. Josephus stated that he felt that the judgment fell upon the Jews directly because of their persecution of the Christians. Even the Roman General Titus recognized that God was the one who delivered the Jews into His hand, and that without God’s help he would never have been able to conquer the Jews. The Christians knew Christ returned to give them relief from the persecution. The whole Roman world saw God’s righteous judgment and dispensing of universal salvation then. Christ’s identity and the nature of the spiritual kingdom was revealed at 70 AD. -Edward E. Stevens

QUESTION:

Did the signs of his second coming (Mt. 24:27-30) already take place and nobody noticed them?

ANSWER:

Eusebius and other historians mention that the Christians definitely saw the signs and left Jerusalem. The Jews saw the signs too (acc. to Josephus and Tacitus), but they refused to acknowledge them as portending calamity for them. They stubbornly believed that God was about to establish a literal, physical Golden Age of the Messiah. So, the Jews stayed in Jerusalem and Judea to fight the war, believing God would somehow miraculously deliver them and give them their physical kingdom over Rome and the whole world. -Edward E. Stevens

QUESTION:

If Jesus Christ came back in 70 AD—corporately, invisibly, symbolically, spiritually or however—why didn’t anybody notice? Why hasn’t history recorded this cosmic event?

ANSWER:

They did notice. It has been recorded. The problem is, no one reads history with spiritual perception. We are making the same mistake the Jews did. They were looking for a physical king and materialistic kingdom. They missed the spiritual kingdom Christ established. People today are missing the spiritual kingdom for exactly the same reason: they are looking for a physical paradise and fleshly, materialistic fulfillments. The kingdom is here now, we just need to open our eyes and realize it. -Edward E. Stevens

QUESTION:

Is it really clear that the New Testament writers thought Jesus would return in their life-time?

ANSWER:

Yes. Rom. 13:12, “The night is nearly over; the day is almost here.” Rom. 16:20, “The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet.” I Cor. 7:29 and 31, “The time is short. This world in its present form is passing away.” I Cor. 10:11, “These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the fulfillment of the ages has come.” I Thess. 5:23, “May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” I Tim. 6:14, “Keep this command without spot or blame until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Hebrews 10:37, “In just a very little while, He who is coming will come and will not delay.” James 5:7, “Be patient until the Lord’s coming.” James 5:8, “The Lord’s coming is near.” James 5:9, “The judge is standing at the door.” I Peter 4:7, “The end of all things has drawn near.” Jude 4,14,17-19, “Certain men whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. Enoch, the seventh from Adam prophesied about these men: ‘See, the Lord is coming with thousands upon thousands of his holy ones to judge everyone, and to convict all the ungodly of all the ungodly acts they have done in the ungodly way, and of all the harsh words ungodly sinners have spoken against him.’ Remember the apostles foretold that in the last times there will be scoffers who will follow their own ungodly desires. These are the men who divide you, who follow mere natural instincts and do not have the Spirit.” – David A. Green

QUESTION:

Why didn’t Jesus himself say he had returned?

ANSWER:

All the books of the NT were written before 70 AD, so there is no record of His statements after 70 AD. But He gave us enough information that we can know that He kept His promise to come soon after the book of Revelation was written (cf. Rev. 22:6, 7, 10, 12, 20). Josephus, Tacitus, Eusebius and the Talmudic writings record more than enough information to prove that Jesus returned at 70 AD. -Edward E. Stevens

QUESTION:

1 Thess. 4:16-18 says “the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first; then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the air; and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” How could this be fulfilled already?

ANSWER:

One thing that needs to be mentioned right up front is that there is a tremendous similarity between the language here in this context (1 Thess. 4, 5) and Matt. 23-25 (esp. Matt. 24:29-31). There was a great article on this similarity in one of the past issues of Kingdom Counsel. The angels, trumpet and gathering are mentioned in Matt. 24. The angels, trumpet and catching-up are mentioned in 1 Thess. 4. We should always use the easier passages on a subject to help interpret the more difficult ones. In this case, Matt. 24 is the easier one. It is a matter of historical record (Josephus, Eusebius, Tacitus and the Talmud) that the trumpets, voices of angels and angelic activity were seen and heard in the time leading up to and during the destruction of Jerusalem. Unfortunately many Christians are just not aware of this. They are not being taught this by current (predominantly-futurist) clergy. The “catching-up” (1 Thess. 4:17) or “gathering” (Matt. 24:31) was accomplished when the faithful remnant of Jewish believers with the in-grafted Gentiles were transformed (and transferred) into Christ’s new spiritual Israel. This was accomplished at the same time the old fleshly-based Israel was dissolved at A.D. 70. The meeting-place is the heavenly places in Christ – the spiritual kingdom.

The word ‘shout’ as used in 1 Thess. 4:16 carries the meaning of a command, or order. When God’s wrath was poured out on fleshly Israel, the command went forth in heaven for the Lord Jesus to return even as He had promised He would. That there was also an earthly ‘shout’ is undoubtedly more than mere coincidence!

“… Nor can one imagine anything either greater or more terrible than this noise; for there was at once a shout of the Roman legions, who were marching all together, and a sad clamor of the seditious, who were now surrounded with fire and sword. The people also that were left above were beaten back upon the enemy, and under a great consternation, and made sad moans at the calamity they were under; the multitude also that was in the city joined in this outcry with those that were worn away by the famine, and their mouths almost closed, when they saw the fire of the holy house, they exerted their utmost strength, and broke out into groans and outcries again; Perea did also return the echo, as well as the mountains round about the city, and augmented the force of the entire noise…” (Josephus – see 2 Peter 3:10).

The ‘trump’ of God is thus defined (Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance – Greek Dictionary of the New Testament), as a vibration, reverberation, or ‘shaking’. This kind of language was used in the OT prophets quite often of God’s judgment being poured out on wicked nations. This time the judgment of God was poured out on the Old Covenant world, and shook its institutions to the ground and replaced them with the real spiritual things that had only been prefigured and foreshadowed by the Jewish temple system.

Therefore I will shake the heavens, and the earth shall remove out of her place, in the wrath of the LORD of hosts, and in the day of his fierce anger. (Isaiah 13:13)

The LORD also shall roar out of Zion, and utter his voice from Jerusalem; and the heavens and the earth shall shake: but the LORD will be the hope of his people, and the strength of the children of Israel. (Joel 3:16)

For thus saith the LORD of hosts; Yet once, it is a little while, and I will shake the heavens, and the earth, and the sea, and the dry land. (Haggai 2:6)

Whose voice then shook the earth: but now he hath promised, saying, Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven. (Hebrews 12:26)

The vibrations of the destruction of O.T. Jerusalem reverberated throughout not only the kingdoms, nations and empires of the earth, but the heavens also (where the angels, principalities and powers are).

It is worth noting some more of Josephus’ statements in regard to the tremendous significance of this disruption in the affairs of the world:

“This was the end which Jerusalem came to by the madness of those that were for innovations; a city other wise of great magnificence, and of mighty fame among all mankind.”

“…it had so come to pass, that our city Jerusalem had arrived at a higher degree of felicity than any other city under the Roman government, and yet at last fell into the sorest of calamities again. Accordingly it appears to me, that the misfortunes of all men, from the beginning of the world, if they be compared to these of the Jews, are not so considerable as they were.”

“Where as the war which the Jews made with the Romans hath been the greatest of all those, not only that have been in our times, but, in a manner, of those that ever were heard of; both of those wherein cities have fought against cities, or nations against nations.”

“That neither did any other city ever suffer such miseries, nor did any age ever breed a generation more fruitful in wickedness than this was, from the beginning of the world.” (Matt. 24:21; and Mk. 13:19).

QUESTION:

First Thessalonians says we should comfort one another with the knowledge of a coming rapture. If the Lord has already come, and this is the “new earth”, I don’t find much comfort in that passage. The world, and living in it, is too nasty to warrant such comfort.

ANSWER:

It amazes me how Christians never seem to realize the predicament we are in if Christ has not already come and fulfilled all these promises. Not only do we have all the NT time statements pointing to an imminent fulfillment in their generation, but we have all the OT prophets pointing to these things also being consummated “in those days,” making no distinction between two different time periods separated by some long period of delay. The Jews use these OT passages to prove Jesus could not be their Messiah unless He fulfilled all those things “in those days” of His generation just like the OT prophets predicted. And they expect a literal fulfillment just like the futurists of today. And that is why they missed the significance of Christ’s spiritual kingdom, and it is why many Christians today are missing it as well. How much comfort does it give us if Jesus failed to come when He said He would, and if He failed to accomplish all that the OT prophets said He would “in those days.” Are we saying that we are more comforted by a still-future hope than by a realized one? Which would you rather have – the spiritual blessings now, or still waiting for our enemies to be conquered? The comfort is in a realized eschatology, not in an unrealized one!

Those who focus merely on the physical realm here below and do not set our minds on the things above will miss the fulfillment of these things. What is mankind’s worst enemy? Physical death or spiritual death? What did Christ come to conquer? Just physical death? Or spiritual death as well? When was the last ultimate enemy (spiritual death) finally conquered? Is it still unconquered? Has Christ restored His tree of life to us? Have we been gathered into His heavenly kingdom? Do we now have the fullness of spiritual life, or are we still in death’s grip? Has Christ conquered, or are the Jews correct in pointing out that Jesus must not be the Messiah since He failed to bring physical peace and an end to physical death?

Many churches/religions have taught an ‘escapist’ doctrine, whereby God’s people have been led to believe that we will one day be evacuated from all that is unpleasant and ungodly. This is not the doctrine of Scripture. The escapist mentality often leads to disappointment in God for ‘leaving us here’ through all the ups and downs of mankind’s governments, economies, societies, etc. Our pain and suffering in the world becomes a matter of endurance, rather than identification with Christ in His suffering, an exercise in crucifixion of the flesh, as taught in the Word of God. Yet Jesus prayed:

I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil. (John 17:15)

He hath remembered his covenant for ever, the word which he commanded to a thousand generations. Which covenant he made with Abraham, and his oath unto Isaac; And confirmed the same unto Jacob for a law, and to Israel for an *everlasting* covenant: (Psalms 105:8-10)

I am sure that those to whom Paul wrote in 1 Thess. 4, who were living in the day of God’s wrath upon fleshly-oriented Israel, who remembered Jesus’ words and fled into the hills to escape the destruction, took great comfort in those precious words of hope. (see Matt. 24:15-21) They did not want to forsake their being gathered together into the heavenly kingdom.

QUESTION:

Was the “man of lawlessness’’ (2 Thess. 2:3) a contemporary of Apostle Paul. Did he also come and go without notice?

ANSWER:

There are many passages (in Revelation and elsewhere) which indicate that the “anti-Christ” was actually the anti-Christian spirit which motivated the Jewish (and Gentile) persecutors who worked against the church in the period before 70 AD. Notice these passages in particular: 1 Jn. 4:3; cf. 1 Jn. 2:17, 18; and 2 Thess. 2:7. Whatever this “man of lawlessness” was, it was already at work during the time Paul wrote, and was evidently at its worst when John wrote, since he says, “Children, it is the last hour; and just as you heard that antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have arisen; from this we KNOW it is THE LAST HOUR.” (emphasis mine, ES). And, it is not just preterists who suggest the “man of lawlessness” was something other than an individual. Several of the amillennial and post-millennial theories suggest the same. As far as “antichrists” are concerned, some have suggested the four messianic contenders during the war with Rome (Menachem, John of Gischala, Simon ben Giora, or Eleazar), Yohanan ben Zachai (the great rabbi who founded the school in Yavneh after the war), one of the other messianic figures during the period (such as Eleazar ben Yair, the leader at Masada), or the High Priest. The Judaizers could easily qualify as “antichrists” as well. -Edward E. Stevens

QUESTION:

2 Thess. 2:1-4 says “that day” (the coming of Christ) “shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God.” How can we possibly be living in the “new earth” the Bible speaks of since the “falling away” has obviously not happened yet?

ANSWER:

The falling away was in progress as the last few NT books were written. One only needs to read things like the books of Hebrews, James, 1 & 2 Peter and 1-3 John to see this. The falling away coincided with the great persecution and tribulation that descended on the church just before the Jewish revolt (@ A.D. 63-66). During this persecution James, Peter and others (such as Paul) were killed (A.D. 63). And it was probably about this same time that John was exiled to Patmos. The NT writers during this time of persecution were bravely challenging their fellow-saints to persevere. The faithful remnant did. But many others forsook the “better things” in Christ and returned to Judaism’s things that were “fading away” and about to be destroyed. The “falling away” and “the coming of the man of sin” were first century events. They occurred in connection with the persecution of the church just before the Jewish revolt in A.D. 66. The destruction and defilement of the temple at Jerusalem is one of the major themes in the passing of the Old Covenant world, and the coming of the New. While 2 Thess. 2:1-4 is usually associated with “THE” Antichrist, we need to remember that the anti-Christian spirit was already at work in the first century:

For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way. (2 Thess. 2:7)

The Jewish persecution was already underway when Paul wrote these words. The Holy Spirit was restraining its effect until the church reached a mature-enough condition to persevere. There was a close connection indeed between the tribulation and the apostasy. The anti-Christian forces were persecuting the church to get them to fall away. Several other NT passages allude to this warfare that was being waged:

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. (1 John 2:18)

Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is Antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son. (1 John 2:22)

And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of Antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world. (1 John 4:3)

For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an Antichrist. (2 Jn. 1:7)

That the abomination of desolation happened in/to the temple is perhaps nowhere more clearly recorded than in the writings of Josephus, who was an eyewitness to the horrible tribulation (see his Jewish Wars and Antiquities of The Jews). Here are some excerpts:

In A.D. 66-67, the armies of Idumaea were called to Jerusalem by a band of murderous Zealots who had captured the Temple, fortified within it, and defiled it with all manner of abominations. But the people of the city who opposed the Zealots did not allow the Idumaeans to enter the city; and so the Idumaean army stayed outside the walls of Jerusalem that night.

And “there broke out a prodigious storm in the night, with the utmost violence, and very strong winds, with the largest showers of rain, with continual lightnings, terrible thunderings, and amazing concussions and bellowings of the earth, that was in an earthquake. These things were a manifest indication that some destruction was coming upon men, when the system of the world was put into this disorder; and anyone would guess that these wonders foreshowed some grand calamities that were coming”.

During that remarkable disruption of the order of things that night, some of the Zealots in the temple managed to go out unnoticed, and open the city gates to the Idumaeans. The zealots and the Idumaeans then joined together and during the upheaval attacked their opponents who were guarding the temple. “And now the outer temple was all of it overflowed with blood (see Rev. 11:2) and that day, as it came on, saw 8,500 dead bodies there” (see Rev. 11:13).

“The death of Ananus was the beginning of the destruction of the city, and from [that] very day may be dated the overthrow of her wall, and the ruin of her affairs, whereon they saw their high priest, and the procurer of their preservation, slain in the midst of their city. …[Ananus and Jesus, who] a little before had worn the sacred garments, and had presided over the public worship, …were cast out naked, and seen to be the food of dogs and wild beasts.”

During the civil conflicts in those final days of Old-Testament Jerusalem, “many of the priests” were killed “as they were about their sacred ministrations”. Those who came into the temple court were “often destroyed by this sedition; for those darts that were thrown by the engines (which were made from the sacred material in the temple) came with [such] force, that they …reached as far as the altar, and the temple itself, and fell upon the priests, and those that were about the sacred offices; insomuch that if any persons came …to offer sacrifices, …they fell down before their own sacrifices themselves, and sprinkled that altar, …with their own blood; till the dead bodies of strangers were mingled together with those of their own country, and those of profane persons with those of the priests, and the blood of all sorts of dead carcasses stood in lakes in the holy courts themselves.”

“…As for that House, God had for certain long ago doomed it to the fire; and now that fatal day was come, according to the revolution of ages; it was the tenth day of the month Lous [Ab], upon which it was formerly burnt by the king of Babylon.”

“As the flames went upward the Jews made a clamor, such as so mighty an affliction required, and ran together to prevent it; and now they spared not their lives any longer, nor suffered anything to restrain their force, since that holy House was perishing….”

“As for the seditious, they were in too great distress already to afford their assistance [towards quenching the fire]; they were everywhere slain, and everywhere beaten; and as for a great part of the people, they were weak and without arms, and had their throats cut wherever they were caught. Now, round about the altar lay dead bodies heaped one upon another; as at the steps going up to it ran a great quantity of their blood whither also the dead bodies that were slain above [on the altar] fell down.”

“And now the Romans, upon the flight of the seditious into the city, and upon the burning of the holy House itself, and of all the buildings round about it, brought their ensigns to the temple, and set them over against its eastern gate; and there did they offer sacrifices to them….”

“Now, as soon as the army had no more people to slay or to plunder, because there remained none to be objects of their fury (for they would not have spared any, had there remained any other such work to be done), Caesar gave orders that they should now demolish the entire city and temple [except some towers and part of the wall on the west side of the city], …but for all the rest of the wall, it was so thoroughly laid even with the ground by those that dug it up to the foundation, that there was left nothing to make those that came thither believe it had ever been inhabited.”

QUESTION:

The second coming is supposed to be an event that we as believers can look forward to. It is a time when our battles with the flesh, with sin and death, are supposed to be over (1 Corinthians 15:51-55). This battle is still going on is it not?

ANSWER:

If the battle is still going on, Jesus hasn’t really saved us yet. His victory is not complete. We are only partially saved. And then the Jews would be right in their suggestion that Jesus is not the Messiah since He hasn’t really fulfilled all OT prophecy yet and proven that He is the Messiah. His failure to fulfill all those things in a physical literal way is the reason many Jews rejected Him. It was not physical battles that He fought for us. His kingdom is not of this world, else His servants would fight with physical weapons in physical battles. His warfare was spiritual and His weapons were spiritual. And those final ultimate conflicts have been engaged and settled. Christ has conquered. The kingdom is ours. Satan’s dominion over us has been shattered and crushed.

We need to remember what kind of death is our worst enemy (spiritual death) and what kind of resurrection is the “better resurrection” (spiritual life). Has Christ conquered? Or are we still waiting for Him to prove His Messiahship? Do the Jews have a justifiable excuse for refusing to accept Jesus as Messiah simply because He hasn’t fulfilled the promises physically-literally? Or were those prophecies dealing with the spiritual realities of the kingdom? Did Jesus promise us a physical paradise with no physical pain or suffering (like the Jews expected)? Or did He promise us spiritual victory? In Luke 21:16-19 Jesus said that in the soon-to-come tribulation some of them would be “put to death,” but also that “not a hair of your head will perish.” Is this contradictory, or was He speaking spiritually of their soul’s preservation through the coming persecution? Verse 19 says it all: “By your perseverance you will win your souls.” Jesus never promised them a physical paradise and materialistic, sensual delights. He promised soul salvation. That is here now. It is reality. When these physical bodies die we continue on in His presence in our spiritual body.

The wages of sin is death. Is this “death” physical or spiritual? It could not be physical death however, since we all die a physical death, righteous and sinner alike. The cost of sin is spiritual death, for which Christ paid the price for all those who are His. We need to start putting our spiritual glasses on and setting our minds on the things above in the heavenly places. The heavenly kingdom cannot be entered or lived in by sensual and materialistically-oriented folks.

Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption. (1 Cor. 15:50)

We have inherited that kingdom. The final enemy (spiritual death) has been defeated. All enemies raised up against Christ and His people have been conquered. The battle is over!

QUESTION:

Scripture seems to have dual meanings: i.e. Husband-wife/ Jesus-church, Night-day/evil-good. Couldn’t the “coming” of Christ in A.D. 70 be a type of a final, future Second Coming?

ANSWER:

The dual meanings which are found throughout the holy writings are a testimony to the typical and symbolic nature of the Old Testament. Double references abound in the Old Testament books because all that was written and done in those days merely foreshadowed the future reality of Christ. Almost everything, if not everything, in the OT somehow pointed to or foreshadowed Christ.

But when the New Testament writings appeared, the shadows and types were being done away with by the coming realities of Christ Jesus. No longer would God’s people need the school master (the law with all of its symbolic regulations and rituals), for their faith and love in Jesus was fulfilling the entire law, and was hastening the day when Christ’s loving Presence in His Church would be complete, and the termination of the fleshly Jewish covenant would finally be revealed.

Jesus did not die and rise from the dead to end one age of shadows and symbols, only to begin another age of shadows and symbols. Christianity (Christ) is the reality, whereas Judaism was the shadow. There is not much of the double-fulfillment spirit to be found in the New Testament writings because The New Testament speaks only of Christ being the fulfillment and end of redemptive history. – David A. Green

QUESTION:

What evidence is there for a pre-70 date for the book of Revelation?

ANSWER:

The 96 AD date is the most common view today, though it wasn’t that way a century ago. The late 96 AD date has been shown by several writers to rest on very unstable ground. A lot of influential English and German (and a few American) scholars in the 1800’s and early 1900’s believed quite strongly that the book was written (and mostly or completely fulfilled) before A.D. 70. There are a few contemporary American theologians who believe and teach the early date as well (Max King, Jay Adams, Foy Wallace, Jr.; Franklin Camp; etc.). These are especially good sources. I highly recommend Milton S. Terry’s book Biblical Hermeneu-tics and J. S. Russell’s The Parousia. The comments in my book, What Happened In 70 AD? are pretty persuasive for an early date (at least that’s what a lot of people keep telling us). There is a good list and bibliography of other good sources in that booklet. There is a lot of internal evidence for an early date. Some of the passages in Revelation which point clearly to a date before A.D. 70 are Rev. 11:1, 2; 11:8 and 18:24.

Rev. 11:1, 2 seems to indicate that the Temple in Jerusalem was still standing when the book was written. It wouldn’t make much sense otherwise.

Rev. 11:8 indicates that “The Great City” was Jerusalem (“where also their Lord was crucified”). Jerusalem was also quite often compared “mystically” to Sodom and Egypt, by the Prophets, by Jesus, and by John as well.

And their dead bodies will lie in the street of the great city which mystically is called Sodom and Egypt, where also their Lord was crucified. (Rev. 11:8)

And, the statements in Rev. 18:24 seem to identify the Great City even more clearly:

And in her was found the blood of prophets and of saints and of all who have been slain on the earth. (emphasis mine, E.S.)

When this verse is compared to Luke 13:33ff, it is obvious that Jerusalem is the Great City under discussion here. It wouldn’t fit Rome or any other city. There is so much internal as well as external evidence for a pre-70 date. I also highly recommend reading Ken Gentry’s new book, Before Jerusalem Fell, for additional evidence of the pre-70 date. -Edward E. Stevens

QUESTION:

Rev. 1:1,3; 22:6,7,10,12,20 – “Behold I come quickly”- What does it mean in God’s time frame, not man’s?

ANSWER:

There is no question that “time” is nothing to God. A thousand years are like yesterday to Him (Psa. 90:4). But time is nothing only to God. When God communicates time to man, He reasons with His creation in a way that man can understand Him. While it is feasible from a literary standpoint that words such as “soon” and “near” may be figurized to mean long spans of time, it is not their normal sense. To use an exceptional case to interpret all other occurrences in not good hermeneutics. For “soon” and “near” are not the only terms used to indicate a first century date for Christ’s second coming. In Matt. 16:28; Mark 9:1, Jesus said, “Some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom” [and] “the Kingdom of God come with power”. This first century coming of Christ and His Kingdom can refer only to the second coming, not to the transfiguration or Pentecost because it is described in the preceding verse of Matthew as the time when the Son of Man would come in His Father’s glory with His angels, and reward each person according to what he had done (Matt. 16:27). This description can refer only to the second coming. – David A. Green

QUESTION:

Is the book of Revelation entirely symbolic?

ANSWER:

Do Chapters 20 and 21 describe a future hope for the church? The entire book of Revelation is not symbolic. There is language that is meant to be taken physically-literally, as well as language meant to be taken figuratively, apocalyptically and allegorically. Chapter 20 describes the transition from the Old System to the New, and 21 presents in figurative terms the spiritual nature of things we now have in Christ’s kingdom. I have often said that Josephus and Eusebius describe in physical terminology what the book of Revelation portrays apocalyptically. -Edward E. Stevens

QUESTION:

Have all prophetic events—Daniel’s seventieth week, the second coming, the New Jerusalem, the new heavens and new earth, the judgment seat of Christ, the great white throne, the condemnation of the beast, false prophet, dragon and harlot, the seal, trumpet and bowl judgements . . . in fact all judgements—already taken place, or are they symbolic and have not and will not be literally fulfilled?

ANSWER:

They WERE fulfilled in the first century. Some of them were physically-literally fulfilled in the physical events surrounding the destruction of Jerusalem, others were fulfilled in the heavenly realm where the departed spirits were raised out of Hades and gathered into the Kingdom. But, whether physically or heavenly, the events actually, literally occurred and were fulfilled. -Edward E. Stevens

QUESTION:

Is there no millennium? Never was, never will be?

ANSWER:

If you believe the millennium had to be a literal 1000-year period, then your statement would be correct. But many postmillennialists and all the amillennialists hold the idea that the millennium was/is/will be a period of indeterminable length and not merely a literal thousand years. It could symbolize a period of completeness, fullness, finishing. In Second Peter, chapter 3, Peter says God was not hasty in bringing the then-imminent judgment upon that generation. He waited until the harvest was ripe before treading the winepress. He had already said in his first epistle that it was time for that judgment to begin (1 Pet 4:7, 17). So I believe the millennium was the period from Christ’s first coming until His Second Coming. It was what the rabbis referred to as the “Days of the Messiah,” which was a “transitionary period between this world (age) and the world to come (age to come). They referred to it as the Messiah’s millennium also. And they debated how long those “Days of the Messiah” would last. There were three rabbis in the first century who taught that the Messiah’s millennium would be a period of forty years, just like the transitionary period between the exodus and the entrance into the promised land. The term “thousand years” (millennium) would then simply refer to the period of time while the Church or Kingdom was being built (cir. AD 30-70), while Christ was reigning in His millennial reign to put down all of  His enemies (1 Cor 15:25). Jesus said in Matthew 24 that no man knew the day or the hour. All they could know was that it was getting close, by the signs He told them to watch for, and by His further revelation to them, in the book of Revelation, saying that all these events were “about to be” fulfilled (including the end of the millennium and the arrival of the New Heavens and Earth). If any those prophecies in the book of Revelation have not been fulfilled yet, then the persecuted saints who derived hope from those promises were deluded. They hoped for a relief from the persecution, rescue out of the tribulation, and reward in His Presence, before they tasted of death (Matt 16:27-28). Did they get it? If not, then John was a false prophet, and Christianity is a hoax. – Edward E. Stevens

QUESTION:

Has Satan already been cast eternally into the lake of fire? In the newsletter, Don Preston uses Rom. 16:20 as evidence that Paul believed in the imminent return of Christ. If Satan has been crushed, as is evidently the case from Preterist eschatology, why is he so active today? In fact, if I understand Preterism correctly, you have a lot of problems with Satan. I have the sneaky suspicion that you think he’s not really a person or a fallen angel, but rather an influence or inclination toward evil within each of us like the (gasp) liberals believe?

ANSWER:

Make no mistake about Preterism. The preterist view is the ONLY eschatological position which challenges the liberal school of thought consistently. The whole futurist network has surrendered to the liberals on numerous inconsistent fronts. The futurists have more problems dealing consistently with Satan than the preterists. I do not speak for other preterists, but I see no problem either way. We could personify our lusts (James 1:13-15) and call them the influence of Satan, or we could actually believe that there is a fallen angel (Satan) who spiritually fathered the Jews (Matt. 3:7; 23:33; Jn. 8:44) and influenced them to reject Christ and persecute the Christians. Who was it that tempted Christ in the wilderness (Matt. 4:1ff)? I would have a hard time believing he is not an actual angelic being. But, like we said in reference to sin above, existence is one thing, reign is another. The “ruler of this world” was cast out and his dominion taken away. So what if he still exists? He has no real spiritual power over us now. It is our own lusts that affect us today (Jas.1:13ff). One final point that can be made here is that no where in the Bible is it said that Satan must exist in order for there to be evil in the world. When Sin/Satan reigned, evil threatened the scheme of redemption, but now through Christ, Satan and Sin no longer reign. -Edward E. Stevens

QUESTION:

If Jesus Christ has returned, why is sin still rampant?

ANSWER:

Jesus conquered the REIGN of sin over us, not the EXISTENCE of sin. Sin will always exist, but it no longer is master over us. The Last Enemy (spiritual death, condemnation, or separation from God’s fellowship), which is the result of Sin’s reign over us, has been conquered. We now have access to the presence of God. Even though we may still sin, it now can no longer hold us in its web. Christ has set us free. Death and Hades have been done away with. -Edward E. Stevens

QUESTION:

What does the future now hold for the church, the unbelieving world and creation, according to the Preterist view?

ANSWER:

I’m not totally comfortable using the word “church” in reference to the Kingdom of God today. The word “church” just might refer to the “calling-out” process of the transitional period from 30-70 AD when Christ was building His Kingdom. The Kingdom is the repository of all those who were “called out” of the dominion of darkness. The Kingdom of Christ is here now. We enjoy all the spiritual blessings that were promised in the prophets. Since the Kingdom is here now in its fullness, we must live accordingly. What this means is that we live spiritual lives, governed by the law of the spirit, rather than by the law of the letter (legalism).

I also believe there is a long future ahead of us on this planet. I do not believe it is just about over. The sun has many millions of years left to burn. We have only just begun to achieve the purposes for which God planted us here. I saw an interesting comment along these same lines in Jim Jordan’s Biblical Horizons (Tyler, Texas), where he said:

“I personally agree with the great Presbyterian theologian B. B. Warfield, who held that we are still living in the early Church, with thousands of years ahead of us. I expect future generations will be better able to answer some of these questions than I am.“ [Biblical Horizons Occasional Papers No.4, page 16]

In regard to our destiny after physical death, we no longer go to Hades to await a resurrection and judgment. Death and Hades were done away with at 70 A.D. when the “death” that reigned over man (Rom.5:14) was reversed by the eternal “life” provided through Christ (Rom.5:17,21). Hades was a conscious waiting place for the biologically dead. At the 70 A.D. resurrection, souls in Hades were resurrected out of that waiting state, the righteous into the presence of Christ in His kingdom, and the wicked to eternal punishment. Since then, when the righteous die biologically, they continue living in the presence of God, while the wicked go away to eternal punishment. -Edward E. Stevens

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