Wednesday, July 30, 2014

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Preterist Questions and Answers

  • 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? Get the answer.
  • 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? Get the answer.
  • Lk. 21:29-31 – Did the fig tree refer to Israel becoming a nation again? Get the answer.
  • Does Matthew 24 refer only to the period of 40 years from the cross to the destruction of Jerusalem? Get the answer.
  • Matt. 25:31f “..before him shall be gathered all the nations..” If this scene took place in AD 70, what happened to those who were not raptured, did they go to the “everlasting fire”? What about us living now? Get the answer.
  • 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 AD 70? Get the answer.
  • Did Jesus Christ return in AD 70 without fanfare? Get the answer.
  • How did Jesus reveal himself to the world at his AD 70 coming? Get the answer.
  • Did the signs of his second coming (Mt. 24:27-30) already take place and nobody noticed them? Get the answer.
  • If Jesus Christ came back in AD 70—corporately, invisibly, symbolically, spiritually or however—why didn’t anybody notice? Why hasn’t history recorded this cosmic event? Get the answer.
  • Is it really clear that the New Testament writers thought Jesus would return in their life-time? Get the answer.
  • Why didn’t Jesus himself say he had returned? Get the answer.
  • 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? Get the answer.
  • 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. Get the answer.
  • Was the “man of lawlessness’’ (2 Thess. 2:3) a contemporary of Apostle Paul. Did he also come and go without notice? Get the answer.
  • 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? Get the answer.
  • 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 Cor. 15:51-55). This battle is still going on is it not? Get the answer.
  • 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? Get the answer.
  • What evidence is there for a pre-70 date for the book of Revelation? Get the answer.
  • 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? Get the answer.
  • Is the book of Revelation entirely symbolic? Get the answer.
  • 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 judgments . . . in fact all judgments—already taken place, or are they symbolic and have not and will not be literally fulfilled? Get the answer.
  • Is there no millennium? Never was, never will be? Get the answer.
  • If Jesus Christ has returned, why is sin still rampant? Get the answer.
  • 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? Get the answer.
  • What does the future now hold for the church, the unbelieving world and creation, according to the Preterist view? Get the answer.

 

 



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 (AD 66), and at the same time give tribulation 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 in AD 62 - 66, and the second against their persecutors in AD 66-70). 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. And sure enough the NT time statements written nearest to AD 66 are more intense in their nearness than the earlier time statements. 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 AD 70.    -Edward E. Stevens


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

ANSWER: The fig tree was not the main symbol of Israel. Instead, it was the olive tree. 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).     - 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 all 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. 25:31f “..before him shall be gathered all the nations..” If this scene took place in AD 70, what happened to those who were not raptured, did they go to the “everlasting fire”? What about us living now?

ANSWER: I believe this gathering here in Mt. 25:31 is speaking of the judgment of all the dead who had just been raised out of Hades. The living saints were raptured to be with the resurrected dead at this final judgment scene. This judgment took place in the unseen spiritual realm after the dead were raised and the living saints were caught up together with them. After AD 70, there is no more waiting place (Hades). “Death and Hades are done away with.” Now, when Christians die, we receive our new immortal bodies and go to live with Christ in the heavenly places while the unsaved go to the "outside" where they consciously remain forever (Rev. 22:15).    -Edward E. Stevens


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 AD 70?

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 AD 70). 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. In AD 66-70, 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 AD 70. The great commission given to the twelve apostles was completed by the time Jesus returned at the end of that Jewish age.     -Edward E. Stevens


QUESTION: Did Jesus Christ return in AD 70 without fanfare?

ANSWER: I wouldn't exactly call the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70 an event “without fanfare.” Josephus mentions some loud voices and trumpet sounds being heard, as well as angelic armies being visible in the sky over Judea at the time of the Jewish revolt (AD 66-70). 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 (Tisha b'Av) are two ways in which they still remember the destruction). Rabbi Davis (from White Plains NY), in his opening remarks of his (1978?) 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 AD 70., because AD 70 was “the end of Biblical Judaism” and the beginning of rabbinic or Talmudic 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: How did Jesus reveal himself to the world at his AD 70 coming?

ANSWER: The Jewish "world" knew who was judging them and why. Josephus stated that he believed the judgment fell upon the Jews immediately after their murder of James the brother of Jesus. Even the Roman General Titus recognized that the Jewish 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 by snatching them away to be with him in the spiritual realm (1 Thess. 4:17). The whole Roman "world" saw God’s righteous judgment and dispensing of salvation then. Christ’s identity and the nature of the spiritual kingdom was revealed at AD 70. As R. C. Sproul has also observed, the destruction of Jerusalem was an extremely significant redemptive event, not just for that generation, but for the whole world for "all generations of the ages to come."    -Edward E. Stevens


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

ANSWER: I would hardly describe the voluminous accounts of Josephus, Tacitus, and Eusebius as "nobody noticed them." Plus the "deafening silence" and mysterious absence of any Christian writings and missionary activity for almost a whole generation after AD 70 tells us that something very significant happened to remove the Christians. Their absence left a big "black hole" in church history about which patristic historians are still scratching their heads. 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 heed 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. But God had a "better" heavenly kingdom in store for His saints.     -Edward E. Stevens


QUESTION: If Jesus Christ came back in AD 70—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. See all the quotes from Josephus, Eusebius, and Tacitus, and Yosippon that we have listed below in answer to the question on 1 Thess. 4:16-18. The problem is, no one reads history with spiritual discernment. 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: Read these texts and judge for yourself how "clear" it would have been to these first century saints. Matt. 16:27, 28, For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and will then repay every man according to His deeds. "Truly I say to you, there are some who are standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom." Matt.24:34 "Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place." 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 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.” I John 2:18, "Children, it is the last hour; and just as you heard that antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have appeared; from this we know that it is the last hour. Rev. 22:6, 7, "And he said to me, "These words are faithful and true"; ... the things which must soon take place. "And behold, I am coming quickly.... Rev. 22:10, 12, And he said to me, "Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is near. "Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done. Rev. 22:20, He who testifies to these things says, "Yes, I am coming quickly," Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.     - David A. Green and Edward E. Stevens


QUESTION: Why didn’t Jesus himself say he had returned?

ANSWER: All the books of the NT were written before AD 70, so there is no record of His statements after AD 70. 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). Mark Chiacchira pointed out to me that the book of Revelation is "history" written before it occurred. It records Jesus' return in judgment upon Jerusalem, and Jesus says repeatedly throughout the book that His coming was about to occur, shortly after the book was written. From this perspective Jesus DID say (in advance) that He returned in AD 70. Josephus, Tacitus, Eusebius and the Talmudic writings record more than enough information to prove that Jesus returned at AD 70. Take a look at the quotes from their writings about all this down below in the next Q&A. - 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 the Nov. 1989 issue of our newsletter. It was written by Joseph Canfield, and entetled "Matt. 24 and 1 Thess. 4 Compared." Look for this article in the "Articles and Reviews" section of this website, under the heading "Articles from Past Issues of our newsletter." 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) occurred at this very time (AD 66) when Josephus says they saw the angels and heard the voices and trumpets. Here are a few quotes from the writings of Josephus, Eusebius, Tacitus, and Yosippon to document the fulfillment of these things.

Josephus Wars Book 6, Chapter 5, Sections 2 and 3)

War 6:286 (6.5.2.286) Now, there was then a great number of false prophets suborned by the tyrants to impose upon the people, who denounced this to them, that they should wait for deliverance from God: and this was in order to keep them from deserting, and that they might be buoyed up above fear and care by such hopes.

War 6:288 ¶ (6.5.3.288) Thus were the miserable people persuaded by these deceivers, and such as belied God himself; while they did not attend, nor give credit, to the signs that were so evident and did so plainly foretell their future desolation; but, like men infatuated, without either eyes to see, or minds to consider, did not regard the denunciations that God made to them.

War 6:289 (6.5.3.289) Thus there was a star resembling a sword, which stood over the city, and a comet, that continued a whole year.

War 6:290 (6.5.3.290) Thus also, before the Jews’ rebellion, and before those commotions which preceded the war, when the people were come in great crowds to the feast of unleavened bread, on the eighth day of the month Xanthicus [Nisan], and at the ninth hour of the night, so great a light shone round the altar and the holy house, that it appeared to be bright day time; which light lasted for half an hour.

War 6:291 (6.5.3.291) This light seemed to be a good sign to the unskillful, but was so interpreted by the sacred scribes, as to portend those events that followed immediately upon it.

War 6:296 (6.5.3.296) So these publicly declared, that this signal foreshowed the desolation that was coming upon them. Besides these, a few days after that feast, on the twenty-first day of the month Artemisius [Jyar],

War 6:297 (6.5.3.297) a certain prodigious and incredible phenomenon appeared; I suppose the account of it would seem to be a fable, were it not related by those that saw it,

War 6:298 (6.5.3.298) and were not the events that followed it of so considerable a nature as to deserve such signals; for, before sunsetting, chariots and troops of soldiers in their armor were seen

War 6:299 (6.5.3.299) running about among the clouds, and surrounding of cities. Moreover at that feast which we call Pentecost, as the priests were going by night into the inner [court of the] temple, as their custom was, to perform their sacred ministrations, they said that, in the first place, they felt a quaking, and heard a great noise,

War 6:300 (6.5.3.300) and after that they heard a sound as of a great multitude, saying, “Let us remove hence.”

Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History, Book 3, Chapter 8, Sections 1-6

1 Taking, then, the work of this author, read what he records in the sixth book of his History. His words are as follows:94 “Thus were the miserable people won over at this time by the impostors and false prophets;95 but they did not heed nor give credit to the visions and signs that foretold the approaching desolation. On the contrary, as if struck by lightning, and as if possessing neither eyes nor understanding, they slighted the proclamations of God.

2 At one time a star, in form like a sword, stood over the city, and a comet, which lasted for a whole year; and again before the revolt and before the disturbances that led to the war, when the people were gathered for the feast of unleavened bread, on the eighth of the month Xanthicus,96 at the ninth hour of the night, so great a light shone about the altar and the temple that it seemed to be bright day; and this continued for half an hour. This seemed to the unskillful a good sign, but was interpreted by the sacred scribes as portending those events which very soon took place.

3 And at the same feast a cow, led by the high priest to be sacrificed, brought forth a lamb in the midst of the temple.

4 And the eastern gate of the inner temple, which was of bronze and very massive, and which at evening was closed with difficulty by twenty men, and rested upon iron-bound beams, and had bars sunk deep in the ground, was seen at the sixth hour of the night to open of itself.

5 And not many days after the feast, on the twenty-first of the month Artemisium,97 a certain marvelous vision was seen which passes belief. The prodigy might seem fabulous were it not related by those who saw it, and were not the calamities which followed deserving of such signs. For before the setting of the sun chariots and armed troops were seen throughout the whole region in mid-air, wheeling through the clouds and encircling the cities.

6 And at the feast which is called Pentecost, when the priests entered the temple at night, as was their custom, to perform the services, they said that at first they perceived a movement and a noise, and afterward a voice as of a great multitude, saying, ‘Let us go hence.’98

Tacitus, Histories, Book 5

Prodigies had occurred, which this nation, prone to superstition, but hating all religious rites, did not deem it lawful to expiate by offering and sacrifice. There had been seen hosts joining battle in the skies, the fiery gleam of arms, the temple illuminated by a sudden radiance from the clouds. The doors of the inner shrine were suddenly thrown open, and a voice of more than mortal tone was heard to cry that the Gods were departing. At the same instant there was a mighty stir as of departure. Some few put a fearful meaning on these events, but in most there was a firm persuasion, that in the ancient records of their priests was contained a prediction of how at this very time the East was to grow powerful, and rulers, coming from Judaea, were to acquire universal empire. These mysterious

Sepher Yosippon (A Mediaeval History of Ancient Israel) translated from the Hebrew by Steven B. Bowman. Excerpts from Chapter 87 "Burning of the Temple"

For one year before Vespasian came, a single great star shining like unsheathed swords was seen over the Temple. And in those days when the sign was seen it was the holiday of Passover and during that entire night the Temple was lit up and illuminated like the light of day, and thus it was all seven days of the Passover. All the sages of Jerusalem knew that it was a malevolent sign, but the rest of the ignorant people said that it was a benevolent sign.

Now it happened after this that there was seen from above over the Holy of Holies for the whole night the outline of a man's face, the like of whose beauty had never been seen in all the land, and his appearance was quite awesome.

Moreover, in those days were seen chariots of fire and horsemen, a great force flying across the sky near to the ground coming against Jerusalem and all the land of Judah, all of them horses of fire and riders of fire. When the holiday of Shavu'oth came in those days, during the night the priests heard within the Temple something like the sound of men going and the sound of men marching in a multitude going into the Temple, and a terrible and mighty voice was heard speaking: "Let's go and leave this House.

We have both Josephus and Eusebius available for order right here at IPA. Simply click on their names below to read their book descriptions.

1. Josephus: The Complete Works - by William Whiston, translator

2. Eusebius' Ecclesiastical History - by C.F. Cruse, trans.

For more Biblical exposition in answer to this question I would heartily refer the reader to these books on the subject of the rapture text:

1. Expectations Demand a First Century Rapture - by Edward E. Stevens

2. Taken to Heaven in AD 70 - by Ian Harding

3. The Parousia - by James Stuart Russell

These three books explain in much detail "how" the rapture occurred. These books are available here on our website. Click on the book titles to read the descriptions of them on our book list.


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: We need to remember the "audience relevance" factor here. Who was Paul writing to? If they were raptured to meet Christ along with their departed loved ones and then afterwards stay together with them and Christ forever, would that be encouraging to them?

This is not talking about them being left on earth after the Parousia. This is talking about their blessed condition in heaven after they were raptured and reunited with their departed loved ones. For more information on this I would recommend three of the books on our booklist:    -Edward E. Stevens

1. Expectations Demand a First Century Rapture - by Edward E. Stevens

2. Taken to Heaven in AD 70 - by Ian Harding

3. The Parousia - by James Stuart Russell


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 which indicate that the “anti-Christ” was actually the anti-Christian spirit which motivated the Jewish persecutors who worked against the church in the period before AD 70. 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 individual “antichrists” are concerned, some have suggested the various messianic contenders during the war with Rome (John of Gischala, Simon ben Giora, or Eleazar ben Ananias, Eleazar ben Yair -- the leader at Masada, or the High Priest). The Judaizers could easily qualify as “antichrists” as well. As I explain in my article elsewhere on this website, I believe the "beast" was Jewish. Whether it was the Jewish Zealots as a group, or individual leader as a figurehead, is not of real big concern to me. If I had to choose an individual who fits all the criteria mentioned here in 2 Thess. 2 and Revelation, I would probably focus on Eleazar ben Yair who resurrected his cause at Masada.    -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 Jewish persecutors, the Judaizers, and the Zealots all show that this was fulfilled in the first century. 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 explained in great detail by Josephus. 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”. (Josephus Wars 4.4.5)

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” (Josephus Wars 4.5.1) (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, two former High Priests, 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.” (Josephus Wars 4.5.2)

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.” (Josephus Wars 5.1.3)

“...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.” (Wars 6.4.5)

“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....” (Wars 6.4.5)

“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.” (Wars 6.4.6)

“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....” (Wars 6.6.1)

“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.” (Wars 7.1.1)


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 Cor. 15:51-55). This battle is still going on is it not?

ANSWER: Again, we must invoke the "audience relevance" factor here in this text. What group of people are given this promise? All Christians of all ages, of the "we" of 1 Cor. 15:51, some of whom would still be alive when Christ returned to "change" their corruptible bodies into incorruptible bodies at the resurrection and rapture.

These promises of escape from the evils trials of this world by "change" (1 Cor. 15:51) and rapture (1 Thess. 4) were only applicable to those readers of Paul who lived and remained until the Parousia, and were taken off this earth to suffer no more. We would again recommend our three books on the subject of this "change" at the rapture and Parousia:

1. Expectations Demand a First Century Rapture - by Edward E. Stevens

2. Taken to Heaven in AD 70 - by Ian Harding

3. The Parousia - by James Stuart Russell


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. 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 Hermeneutics and J. S. Russell’s The Parousia. The comments in my book, What Happened In AD 70? 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. It is available right here on this website. Click on the book title to read the descriptions of them on our book list.    -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 is not good hermeneutics. “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: 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 judgments . . . in fact all judgments—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 they occurred in the physical realm or only in the spiritual realm, 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 necessarily 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. I believe Max King’s suggestion (that the millennium was the period from 30 to AD 70) is the correct one. The term “thousand years” would then simply refer to the period of time while the kingdom was being built, before God came to judge His enemies. It was a time of completion. 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. We have an excellent series of audio tapes dealing with the Transition Period (AD 30-70) being the Millennium. I would highly recommend it to anyone interested in how the Preterist view handles the millennium issue. To read more about that set of audio lessons, click here    -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: 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. 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 Paul said in reference to sin, 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). When Sin/Satan reigned, evil threatened the scheme of redemption, but now through Christ, Satan and Sin no longer reign.   -Edward E. Stevens


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

ANSWER: The word “church” might sometimes refer to the “calling-out” process of the transitional period from AD 30-70 when Christ was building His Kingdom. The Kingdom is the repository of all those who were “called out” of the dominion of darkness. However, I do believe the word "church" is used in more than one way in our NT, and that one of those uses is in reference to the ongoing body of believers, both universal (visible and invisible) and local. The Kingdom of Christ is here now. We enjoy all the spiritual blessings that were promised in the prophets.

I also believe there is a long future ahead of us on this planet. I do not believe it is just about over. 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, 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 AD 70 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 conscious punishment "outside" the gates of heaven (Rev. 22:15). Since then, when the righteous die biologically, they immediately receive their new immortal bodies and go directly into heaven to live forever in the presence of God, while the wicked go away to eternal conscious punishment. (see Matt. 25:41, 46 and Rev. 22:15)     -Edward E. Stevens

 

 

 

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