We are studying the Olivet Discourse of our Lord found in Mark 13. This is a very important chapter; it is, in fact, the heart of New Testament prophecy. We have seen that looking at this text through first century glasses gives us a whole new meaning of Jesus' words. Jesus is not talking to us (twenty first century Americans), but to His disciples (first century Jews). Things that were future (to them), at the time of the writing, are ancient history to us. This whole discourse is concerned with answering the disciple's questions concerning the end of the Jewish age (not world) and the parousia of Christ, both of which would be demonstrated by the destruction of Jerusalem and the Jewish temple. The majority of Christisdom looks for a future Second Coming of Christ, but according to Jesus' own words, all these things took place in "that generation" to whom He spoke. Jesus came in A.D. 70 in power and great glory and His coming was manifested in the destruction of Jerusalem. The heavens and earth of Old Covenant Israel passed away and the New Heavens and Earth of the New Covenant, the church, were consummated.
Someone who believes all of this would be considered a Preterist. A Preterist is someone who believes that all prophecy was fulfilled in A.D. 70. A partial Preterist (which is technically a futurist) believes that most of the prophecies have been fulfilled in A.D. 70, but still looks for a future return of Christ and a future resurrection. Partial Preterists would agree with most of what I have said in the interpretation and the application of Mark 13:1-31 referring to the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70. However, a debate arises over a proposed shift in topics and eras with verse 32 being seen by partial Preterists as a time transition verse:
"But of that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone. (Mark 13:32 NASB)
The debate concerns whether Christ dealt with two issues (the destruction of Jerusalem vs.1-31and the end of the world vs32ff.) or just one, that being the destruction of Jerusalem, which was the end of the Jewish age.
J. Marcellus Kik writes in his commentary on Jesus' Olivet Discourse, An Eschatology of Victory: "Many have recognized that with verse 36 [of Matthew 24] a change in subject matter occurs. [Charles H.] Spurgeon indicates this in his commentary on verse 36 [of Matthew 24]: 'There is a manifest change in our Lord's words here, which clearly indicates that they refer to His last great coming to judgment.'" Kenneth L. Gentry, author of many helpful works on prophecy, takes a similar view.
Is it a big deal if Mark 13 can be divided or not? Absolutely! If the chapter is only dealing with a first century fulfillment, which I believe it is, then the futurist has no text to indicate a future coming of Christ. And he must admit that the Parousia of Christ was a first century spiritual event, which keeps in tact all the imminent time statements made concerning His coming (e.g. Matt.16:27-28; Lk.21:20-36; Jn.21:22-23; Rom.13:11-12; 1 Cor.1:4-8; Heb.8:13; 10:25,37; Jas.5:7-9; 1 Pet.4:5,7,17; 1 Jn.2:18; Jude 17-19; Rev.1:1-3,7; 22:6,7,10,20; to name a few).
The Preterist view is that the Second Coming of Christ happened in A.D. 70 and was a judgement and removal of the Old Covenant system (heaven and earth), and it established fully the kingdom, the New Covenant (New Heavens and Earth). Jesus came in the first century, just as He said He would, and there is NO mention anywhere in Scripture of a "future" coming.
Let's look at some different arguments that demonstrate that this chapter cannot be divided.
1. Those Days and That Day
One of the KEY arguments by those who divide this chapter is that four times in four different verses, Jesus refers to "those days":
"But woe to those who are with child and to those who nurse babes in those days! (Mark 13:17 NASB)
"For those days will be a time of tribulation such as has not occurred since the beginning of the creation which God created, until now, and never shall. (Mark 13:19 NASB)
"And unless the Lord had shortened those days, no life would have been saved; but for the sake of the elect whom He chose, He shortened the days. (Mark 13:20 NASB)
"But in those days, after that tribulation, THE SUN WILL BE DARKENED, AND THE MOON WILL NOT GIVE ITS LIGHT, (Mark 13:24 NASB)
However, we are told, in verse 32 we have a direct contrast when Jesus says:
"But of that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone. (Mark 13:32 NASB)
Stafford North says, "Verse 32 starts with the word 'but', suggesting a contrast with what has gone before. Before verse 30, moreover, Jesus uses the plural 'days' to refer to His major subject, while after verse 32 He speaks in the singular of 'that day.'" Kik also emphasized this distinction: "The expression 'that day and hour' gives immediate evidence of a change of subject matter." Gentry writes, "We should notice the pre-transition emphasis on plural 'days' in contrast to the focus on the singular 'day' afterwards.
Gentry also writes, "There seems to be an intended contrast between that which is near (in verse 30) and that which is far (in verse 32): this generation vs. that day. It would seem more appropriate for Christ to have spoken of 'this day' rather than 'that day' if He had meant to refer to the time of 'this generation.'"
I think "that" all of "this" is much ado about nothing. "This generation" refers to the present generation Jesus was addressing. "This" is therefore the appropriate word for something presentwhile "that" is the most appropriate word for something future (to them). Arndt and Gingrich agree: "This refers to something comparatively near at hand, just as ekeinos (that) refers to something comparatively farther away."
The partial Preterists do not believe "that day" can be a reference to the fall of Jerusalem. They argue that the singular, "that day," can only refer to a future (to us) coming of Christ. It is easy to show how wrong they are by comparing Scripture with Scripture:
"On that day, let not the one who is on the housetop and whose goods are in the house go down to take them away; and likewise let not the one who is in the field turn back. (Luke 17:31 NASB)
Here Jesus uses the singular expression, "That day," which is clearly referring to the same situation that is spoken of in Mark 13:15, which those who divide Mark 13 say is speaking of the destruction of Jerusalem:
"And let him who is on the housetop not go down, or enter in, to get anything out of his house; (Mark 13:15 NASB)
You cannot say "that day" of Luke 17:31 refers to a past event to us, and "that day" of Mark 13:32 refers to a future event to us. They are clearly speaking of the same event! So when Jesus uses the expression, "But of that day," in verse 32, He is still talking about the same subject.
Doesn't it make sense that "those days" would culminate in "that day"? "Those days" led to the passing away of the heavens and earth, which is "that day" referred to in verse 32.
One of the reasons a distinction between "those days" and "that day" is seen by many commentators is because of a pre-conceived idea that the disciples had asked questions about two subjects, the destruction of Jerusalem and the end of time. With this presupposition, the interpreter then sees Jesus changing the subject in verse 32.
Where is the contextual evidence that the disciples had any other coming in mind than the coming just mentioned by JesusHis coming to destroy Jerusalem in that generation? It is pure eisegesis to import another coming into this context!
2. Here's Your Sign.
Another argument that those who divide the chapter use is the absence of signs in verse 32. They say that Jesus gave signs in the first part of the chapter, but in verse 32 He says, "But of that day or hour no one knows." They say, "One day has signs, the other doesn't, therefore it can't be the same day!" North says, "He had told the disciples...precisely when the destruction of Jerusalem would be: during their lifetime, and they could read the sign of the approaching army so closely that they could escape it. But of His coming, no one knows when it will beneither man, his angels, nor Jesus himself."
If you examine carefully all three synoptic accounts, you will see that Jesus never told them that they would know "the Day" in reference to the destruction of Jerusalem. You won't find it anywhere. The signs He gave them was to tell them when it would be "NEAR." He never gave them a day or hour:
"But of that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone. (Mark 13:32 NASB)
Mark says, "Nor the Son." Jesus, as the God-Man, laid aside the prerogatives of deity, one of them being omniscience. As a man, Jesus himself didn't know the exact day or hour of Jerusalem's destruction. He was growing in wisdom:
And Jesus kept increasing in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men. (Luke 2:52 NASB)
Many today use verse 32, "But of that day or hour no one knows," to prove that we have no knowledge of the time of a future to us, Second Coming of Christ. But, as we have already seen, "that day" refers to the passing away of the heavens and earth, which was the destruction of Jerusalem and the Old Covenant. Jesus had already told them, in verse 30, that it would happen in their generation (forty years or so). But they did not know the "day or hour" that it would happen.
When a woman gets pregnant, we know that in about forty weeks she is going to have a baby. We don't know the day or hour, but we can know that it will happen in about forty weeks. That is exactly what Jesus is saying here. And it is quite interesting that the time prior to the consummation of the kingdom is often referred to as birth pangs:
"For nation will arise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be earthquakes in various places; there will also be famines. These things are merely the beginning of birth pangs. (Mark 13:8 NASB)
The Greek word translated "birth pangs" is odin. It means: "a pang or throe, especially of childbirth:pain, sorrow, travail." This same word is used in 1 Thessalonians 5:3 also translated "birth pang":
Now as to the times and the epochs, brethren, you have no need of anything to be written to you. 2 For you yourselves know full well that the day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night. 3 While they are saying, "Peace and safety!" then destruction will come upon them suddenly like birth pangsupon a woman with child; and they shall not escape. 4 But you, brethren, are not in darkness, that the day should overtake you like a thief; (1 Thessalonians 5:1-4 NASB)
So, the illustration of gestation and child birth is a Biblical one. We know when the birth of the child is near, but we do not know the day or hour.
John Lightfoot said, "Of what day and hour? That the discourse is of the day of the destruction of Jerusalem is so evident, both by the disciples' questions, and by the whole thread of Christ's discourse, that it is a wonder any should understand these words of the day and hour of the last judgment" (vol. 2, p.442)
N. Nisbett(1787) said, "But though the time was hastening on for the completion of our Lord's prophecy of the ruin of the Jews; yet the exact time of this judgment, laid hid in the bosom of the Father (Verse 34) 'Of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.' St. Mark has it: 'Neither the Son, but the Father'; but the sense is the same. Some men of great learning and eminence have thought that our Lord is here speaking, not of the destruction of Jerusalem, but of that more solemn and awful one of the day of judgment. But I can by no means think that the Evangelists are such loose, inaccurate writers, as to make so sudden and abrupt a transition, as they are here supposed to do; much less to break through the fundamental rules of good writing, by apparently referring to something which they had said before; when in reality they were beginning a new subject, and the absurdity of the supposition will appear more strongly, if it is recollected that the question of the disciples was, 'When shall these things be?' 'Why,' says our Saviour, 'of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only'" (pp. 38-39).
Adam Clarke(1837) said, "Verse 36: But of that day and hour is translated season by many eminent critics, and is used in this sense by both sacred and profane authors. As the day was not known, in which Jerusalem should be invested by the Romans, therefore our Lord advised His disciples to pray that it might not be on a Sabbath; and as the season was not known, therefore they were to pray that it might not be in the winter ( Matthew 24:20. See on Mark 13:32)" (Adam Clarke's Commentary On Matthew 24)
3) Does the word "but" signal a transition?
It has been said that by the use of the word "But," Jesus changed the subject to something else. Does the fact that verse 32 starts with "but" signal a contrast in subject matter? No! The word "but" is used as a conjunction and not a preposition. As a conjunction, "but" is not a word of contrast, but joins what has just been said with what is about to be said. The New Englishman's Greek Concordance of the New Testament says, "The conjunctival usage of 'de,' is by far the most frequent use of the particle `de' in the New Testament."
If the use of "de" at the beginning of a verse introduces a break in subject, there are 8 subject changes in Matthew 24! See Matthew 24:6,8,13,20,32,36,43,48. By examining the verses before 24:36 and after, you will see that the most common usage of "but" in Matthew 24-25 has nothing to do with changing subjects!
Thomas Newton(1754) said, "It is to me a wonder how any man can refer part of the foregoing
discourse to the destruction of Jerusalem, and part to the end of the world, or any other distant
event, when it is said so positively here in the conclusion, 'All these things shall be fulfilled in
this generation.' It seemeth as if our Saviour had been aware of some such misapplication of His
words, by adding yet greater force and emphasis His affirmation, v 35 - 'Heaven and earth shall
pass away, but my words shall not pass away'" (p. 426).
4. Matthew's words for "coming."
This argument can't be seen from Mark's text, but if we look at the parallel text in Matthew, I think that we can clearly prove that verse 36 is not a transition verse. We can see that Jesus doesn't switch to another subject by noticing the Greek words for coming. The Greek word "parousia" is used four times in Matthew 24, twice before verse 36 and twice after it:
And as He was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, "Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of Your coming, [parousia] and of the end of the age?" (Matthew 24:3 NASB)
"For just as the lightning comes from the east, and flashes even to the west, so shall the coming [parousia] of the Son of Man be. (Matthew 24:27 NASB)
"For the coming [parousia] of the Son of Man will be just like the days of Noah. (Matthew 24:37 NASB)
and they did not understand until the flood came and took them all away; so shall the coming [parousia] of the Son of Man be. (Matthew 24:39 NASB)
Not only is "parousia" used on both sides of verse 36, but so is the Greek word "erchomai," which is also translated: "coming":
and then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the SON OF MAN COMING [erchomai] ON THE CLOUDS OF THE SKY with power and great glory. (Matthew 24:30 NASB)
"Therefore be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming [erchomai] . (Matthew 24:42 NASB)
"Erchomai" is also used in verses 44, 46, and 50. Now, some commentators apply all three "coming" passages before verse 36 to the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70 and say the same exact words used after verse 36 refer to a future to us coming of Christ. Are there two comings of Christ discussed in this passage? Does Jesus use the exact same words to speak of two totally different events in the same passage of Scripture?
It is also interesting to note that the Greek word "parousia" is not used by Jesus anywhere else in the four Gospel accounts. So, there is no place in Jesus' teaching where He distinguishes between two different "parousias" separated by thousands of years.
David Chilton said, "...any proposed division of Matthew 24 into two different 'comings' is illegitimate, nugatory, and gossamer. Scripture foretells a Second Coming (Heb.9:28)not a third!" (Forward to What Happened in AD70?)
Alright, so far I have given you four arguments as to why this chapter cannot be divided: We looked at the "this day, that day" argument, the absence of signs argument, the big "but" argument, and the Greek words used for "coming" argument. Now, all of those pale in comparison (and I think they are all good) to the next argument that I want to put forth. To me this one ends the discussion and sends the dividers of Mark 13 and Matthew 24 running. My final argument is a divine answer that ends all questions, it is Luke 17.
If you compare Matthew 24 to the parallel account of Luke, all of these same signs and symbols are being applied to the question asked by the Pharisees as to when the kingdom would come. If Jesus is using signs in Luke's account to answer when the kingdom would fully come that in Matthew's account are applied to the destruction of Jerusalem, it doesn't take a "brain surgeon" to figure out that any attempt to apply the coming of the kingdom, that Luke is talking about, to Pentecost is patently false.
The dividers of Mark 13 assert that the first part, verses 1-31, can only refer to the destruction of Jerusalem at A.D. 70; while the second part, verses 32 - 37, is completely different and only can be applied to the end of the world and the "real" Second Coming of Jesus.
But a simple reading of Luke 17 will reveal that, according to Luke's arrangement of the signs and symbols, he only understood Christ to be referring to one event, which, as we have already stated, pertained to the full coming of the kingdom in A.D. 70. No distinction is possible when examining Luke's context. He uses the signs from the first part of Matthew 24 and the second part in an intermingled fashion. Notice the following comparison: (see chart below, or see on separate page)
|Matthew 24||Luke 17|
SECTION ONE Verses 1-351. Matthew 24:17-18 (NKJV)
Let him who is on the housetop not go down to take anything out of his house. 18 "And let him who is in the field not go back to get his clothes.
2. Luke 17:23-24 (NKJV)
"And they will say to you, 'Look here!' or 'Look there!' Do not go after them or follow them. 24 "For as the lightning that flashes out of one part under heaven shines to the other part under heaven, so also the Son of Man will be in His day.
2. Matthew 24:26-27 (NKJV)
"Therefore if they say to you, 'Look, He is in the desert!' do not go out; or 'Look, He is in the inner rooms!' do not believe it. 27 "For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.
4. Luke 17:26-27 (NKJV)
"And as it was in the days of Noah, so it will be also in the days of the Son of Man: 27 "They ate, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all.
3. Matthew 24:28 (NKJV)
"For wherever the carcass is, there the eagles will be gathered together.
1. Luke 17:31 (NKJV)
"In that day, he who is on the housetop, and his goods are in the house, let him not come down to take them away. And likewise the one who is in the field, let him not turn back.
SECTION TWO Verses 36-514. Matthew 24:37-39 (NKJV)
"But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. 38 "For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, 39 "and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.
5. Luke 17:35-36 (NKJV)
"Two women will be grinding together: the one will be taken and the other left. 36 "Two men will be in the field: the one will be taken and the other left."
5. Matthew 24:40-41 (NKJV)
"Then two men will be in the field: one will be taken and the other left. 41 "Two women will be grinding at the mill: one will be taken and the other left.
3. Luke 17:37 (NKJV)
And they answered and said to Him, "Where, Lord?" So He said to them, "Wherever the body is, there the eagles will be gathered together."
Those who attempt to divide Matthew 24 say that SECTION ONE refers to the events of AD 70. But they say SECTION TWO refers to events yet future to us. If the five prophetic events of Matthew 24 that are found in Luke 17 are numbered 1-2-3-4-5, Luke's numbering of the same events would be 2-4-1-5-3. Luke has an event from section 1 followed by one from section 2, then another from section 1 followed by section 2, and finally one from section 1. This shows the impossibility of dividing Matthew 24 with a 2,000 year gap.
Notice how Luke records the same events as Matthew, but in a different order. Matthew's order is 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, but Luke's order is scrambled 2, 4, 1, 5, 3. Luke has an event from section 1 followed by one from section 2, then another from section 1 followed by section 2, and finally one from section 1. If Matthew 24 really deals with two different comings, that happen thousands of years apart, then Luke made a mistake. He mixes Matthew's events up and makes them all happen at one time. The way I see it, you have one of two choices: You can either say that Luke is wrong, thus denying inspiration, or you can conclude that Matthew 24 and Mark 13 all speaks of one event. Which do you choose? Think carefully now. The simple answer is that Jesus returned in the first century, just as He said He would, and there is no "future" coming mentioned anywhere in Scripture.
In light of His coming in judgement on Jerusalem, Jesus cautions His disciples to "keep on the alert":
"Take heed, keep on the alert; for you do not know when the appointed time is. 34 "It is like a man, away on a journey, who upon leaving his house and putting his slaves in charge, assigning to each one his task, also commanded the doorkeeper to stay on the alert. 35 "Therefore, be on the alert-- for you do not know when the master of the house is coming, whether in the evening, at midnight, at cockcrowing, or in the morning 36 lest he come suddenly and find you asleep. 37 "And what I say to you I say to all, 'Be on the alert!'" (Mark 13:37 NASB)
In light of His coming in judgement on Jerusalem, Jesus cautions His disciples to "keep on the alert" This exhortation to "take heed" is not given to us, twenty first century Christians, but to them, first century Christians. We must understand this or we will never understand what our Lord is saying here. Would it make sense for Jesus to urge His disciples to "keep on the alert" for something that was not to take place for another 2,000 years of so?
The word "alert" in verses 34, 35 and 37 is the Greek word gregoreuo. It means: "to keep awake, i.e. watch (lit. or fig.):--be vigilant." It is in the present imperative, meaning "to be constantly on guard."
This parable is an amplification of one word which our Lord gave to His disciples after He had outlined the course of events. He said to them, "Be on the alert!" That word is stressed throughout this whole passage. It is the one command Jesus gives to those that are waiting for His coming. This parable tells us what it means to be alert. What did our Lord mean when he said, "Be on the alert"? Our Lord did not mean that they were to be standing forever gazing up into the heavens, like an air raid sentry on duty. He meant that they were to live a life of faithfulness to His commands. The ever present anticipation of His return was to keep them faithful in the midst of the apostasy that surrounded them.
In this parable, we have a household whose master is away, and the household is waiting for him to return. The master has appointed certain servants and given them responsibility during the time of his absence:
lest he come suddenly and find you asleep. (Mark 13:36 NASB)
He warns them not to get caught sleeping, but to be watching. The idea of sleeping is not to be taken literally. I think the idea is that of morally sleeping; not being faithful to the Word of God. This idea is seen many places in the New Testament:
Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; 2 and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you, and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma. (Ephesians 5:1-2 NASB)
Here, Paul is exhorting the believers to walk in love. Walk is speaking of their conduct. They are to put away sin and walk in holiness:
But do not let immorality or any impurity or greed even be named among you, as is proper among saints; (Ephesians 5:3 NASB)
They are to do this because they are light, and they are to live as children of light:
for you were formerly darkness, but now you are light in the Lord; walk as children of light (Ephesians 5:8 NASB)
They are light. That is their position, their identity. Because of who they are, they are to walk as children of light. That is to be their practice.
For this reason it says, "Awake, sleeper, And arise from the dead, And Christ will shine on you." 15 Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men, but as wise, 16 making the most of your time, because the days are evil. 17 So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. (Ephesians 5:14-17 NASB)
The Greek word used here for sleep is katheudo, which means: to lie down to rest, i.e. (by impl.) to fall asleep (lit.or fig.). This is the same word used in Mark. This is a call for believers to "watch," to awake out of sleep. He is speaking about their conduct. They are to wake up and be careful how they walk, that is speaking of their practical lives. Notice also:
Now as to the times and the epochs, brethren, you have no need of anything to be written to you. 2 For you yourselves know full well that the day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night. 3 While they are saying, "Peace and safety!" then destruction will come upon them suddenly like birth pangs upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape. 4 But you, brethren, are not in darkness, that the day should overtake you like a thief; 5 for you are all sons of light and sons of day. We are not of night nor of darkness; (1 Thessalonians 5:1-5 NASB)
Again, He affirms their identity, their position, they are children of light; and because of that, they are to stay awake:
so then let us not sleep as others do, but let us be alert and sober. (1 Thessalonians 5:6 NASB)
"So then"because of who we are. The word "sleep" here is katheudo and the word "be alert" is gregoreuo. These are the same words that our Lord used in the parable of the unfaithful servant. It is believers who are not to sleep.
For those who sleep do their sleeping at night, and those who get drunk get drunk at night. 8 But since we are of the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet, the hope of salvation. 9 For God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, (1 Thessalonians 5:7-9 NASB)
"The wrath", here, is not speaking of Hell, but the destruction of Jerusalem that they can escape if they watch. Notice carefully, what He says in the next verse:
who died for us, that whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with Him. (1 Thessalonians 5:10 NASB)
Who did the Lord die for? His elect! These are the same Greek words; if they wake or sleep, they will still live together with Jesus Christ. The difference is that if they sleep, they will suffer great harm physically.
'Remember therefore what you have received and heard; and keep it, and repent. If therefore you will not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come upon you.' (Revelation 3:3 NASB)
The word "if" is a third class conditionmaybe you will and maybe you won't. If those in Sardis did not watch, Christ would come to them as a thief, speaking of judgement. If they watched, His coming would not take them by surprise.
Folks, you cannot divide Mark 13 or Matthew 24. There is no indication that Jesus is describing two comings separated by an indeterminate period of time. What would have led the disciples to conclude that Jesus was describing a coming different from the one He described moments before when He uses identical language to describe both of them?
It's as plain as the nose on your face, to anyone who is honestly looking, that you cannot divide this chapter. So why the big effort to divide it? So they will have some verses that speak of a future (to us) coming of Christ. They can't let go of the traditional view of a future coming of Christ to destroy the planet, so they try to get two comings out of Mark 13 and Matthew 24. But it can't be done. Jesus only spoke of one coming, and that happened in A.D. 70. In reference to the judgement coming of Christ upon Jerusalem, notice again what Jesus said:
"But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then recognize that her desolation is at hand. 21 "Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, and let those who are in the midst of the city depart, and let not those who are in the country enter the city; 22 because these are days of vengeance, in order that all things which are written may be fulfilled. (Luke 21:20-22 NASB)
Jesus said that in the destruction of Jerusalem, "all things written would be fulfilled." All prophecy was fulfilled in AD. 70. There is no future coming or any other prophecy yet to be fulfilled.
All prophecy was fulfilled in A.D. 70 in the day of God's wrath, just as Jesus said it would be. Any ideas of a "future coming" are truly speculation and have no shred of Biblical backing. There is only one parousia talked about in the New Testament. That is the parousia that took place in the fall of Jerusalem. The parousia that brought about the fulfillment of all of the promises that God made to the fathers of Israel.
Before he became a consistent Preterist, David Chilton concluded that there were no verses in the Bible which taught a future (to us) coming of Christ, in which Christ would bodily return to this planet. Nevertheless, he continued to believe the doctrine because it had been taught for nearly 2000 years by "Holy Mother, the Church" (Chilton's words).
John Bray held a similar view in his booklet, Jesus is Coming Soon! he says this, "The New Testament references to the parousia/coming of Christ had reference to that 'momentous' and signal event which occurred in A.D. 70. The time statements in the New Testament prove this. Any reference to a future (to us) coming of Christ found in the New Testament is found by inference and deduction, and not by express statement."
Do you hear what he said? He held to a future coming of Christ, but said there is no Scripture to support it, it is only seen in inference and deduction. Soon after this Mr. Bray gave up his view of a future coming of Christ and has become a full Preterist.
In his book, The Days of Vengeance, David Chilton labels full Preterism as heterodox: "Contrary to the theories of those interpreters who would style themselves as 'consistent Preterists,' the Fall of Jerusalem did not constitute the Second Coming of Christ... its ultimate thesis--that there is no future Coming of Christ or Final Judgment--is heretical.
"...it has become popular in some otherwise apparently orthodox circles to adopt a heretical form of 'Preterism' that denies any future bodily Resurrection or Judgment, asserting that all these are fulfilled in the Resurrection of Christ, the regeneration of the Church, the coming of the New Covenant, and the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70. Whatever else may be said about those who hold such notions, it is clear that they are not in conformity to any recognizable form of orthodox Christianity."
David Chilton denounced full Preterism as heresy, but then something very strange happened, he had a paradigm shift. He became a full Preterist, he became what he called a heretical!
After his paradigm shift, he said this, "The more I pondered the awesome implications of Jesus' words, the more I realized their truly revolutionary significance for eschatology. Without exception, every event foretold by the Biblical prophets was fulfilled within that generation, as Jesus said. Scripture foretells a Second Coming-- not a third!" (David Chilton, Foreword to What Happened in AD 70? By Ed Stevens, 1997).
How is it that David Chilton went towards heresy? How does a man come to embrace what he has once denounced as heresy? He embraced it because he realized it was the irrefutable truth of Scripture! The Preterist view may go against the creeds, but it is in line with the Scripture. May our prayer be like that of the psalmist:
Lead me in Thy truth and teach me, For Thou art the God of my salvation; For Thee I wait all the day. (Psalms 25:5 NASB)
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