Figtreewatchers Podcast Episode 131: End Times Chronology – Preterism Part 1

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In this episode we started a new series “End Times Chronology” where we hope to lay out what we believe to be an accurate view of end time events from the rapture to eternity. As preparation for that, we’ll first analyze the main views on eschatology starting with Preterism. For a downloadable version of the show notes, click download below.

Defining Preterism

Definition: The term “preterism” is derived from the Latin word praeter, which means past and is a view of eschatology that sees all prophecies has having been fulfilled in the past.

Preterists are those who take this view. They argue that the book of Revelation was written in 65AD not 95AD which enables their view. Within this school of thought however are two versions of Preterism: Partial Preterism and Full Preterism.

Partial Preterism

Definition: Partial Preterism is the belief that most biblical prophecy has already been fulfilled in history. Preterists believe that most, but not all, prophecy was fulfilled in the A.D. 70 destruction of Jerusalem.

Some things they believe have already been fulfilled are what Jesus spoke about in the Olivet Discourse (Matthew 24 and 25), prophecies regarding the antichrist, the tribulation, the millennium, etc.

They also view the majority of Second coming prophecies as fulfilled, they do acknowledge that there may be a few passages which still hold to a future Second Coming. Here are some verses they consider: (Acts 1:9–11; 1 Cor. 15:51–53; 1 Th. 4:16–17).

Partial preterists agree that there is a future judgment and a bodily resurrection of believers at Christ’s physical return. They reject national Israel, the rapture and are often found to be anti-Semitic. They also believe that all the gifts of the Holy Spirit are dead.

Full Preterism

Definition: Full preterism is the belief that all eschatology has been fulfilled in 70AD.  Full preterists deny a future Second Coming of Jesus Christ, they believe, that the Bible does not even mention it.

In the article, Preterism: Has All Prophecy Been Fulfilled?, by The Gospel Coalition, they note what those who hold this view belief have been fulfilled in history: “…the prophecy of the coming of Christ in judgment was fulfilled in the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70, Satan and Antichrist have been thrown into the lake of fire, the kingdom of God has arrived, the resurrection is understood in spiritual terms, the Great Commission has been fulfilled, all things have been made new (the old heaven and earth have passed away; the new heaven and earth have come), the promised restoration has arrived, and the world now continues as it is ad infinitum.”

Full preterists also reject the theology of a future bodily resurrection of the dead. This alarming heresy rejects all biblical and historic claims of Christian orthodoxy. Paul addresses this view in 1 Corinthians 15:12-17.


Basis of their View

One key passage Preterists like to use to establish their eschatology is Matthew 24:34: “Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place.” (also see, Mark 13:30; Luke 21:32)

Kenneth Gentry, a Preterist, made this argument concerning this passage: “This statement of Christ is indisputably clear—and absolutely demanding of a first-century fulfillment of the events in the preceding verses, including the Great Tribulation.” (The Great Tribulation: Past or Future?, pgs 26–27)

Thomas Ice refutes Gentry with this response: “However, I believe the timing of “this generation” in Matthew 24:34 is governed by the related phrase all these things, which refers to events Christ described in verses 4-31, which are the events of the Tribulation. Consequently, Christ was saying that the generation that sees “all these things” will exist until all the events of the future Tribulation are fulfilled literally. Preterists ignore the fact in Matthew 24 that it is Israel whom the Lord is rescuing. Matthew 22-23 speaks of Israel’s judgment, which did come in A.D. 70, but one should not ignore the identity of the nation rescued in 24:27–31. It is saved Israel, so this is clearly a future event. This is a literal interpretation and one that was not fulfilled in the first century.” (The Trouble with Preterism)


Problems with the View

Leads to inconsistent interpretation of scripture

There are many examples of prophecies that could not have been fulfilled in the past:

  • The rapture
  • Judgments during the tribulation
  • Armageddon
  • Creation of New Heavens and New Earth

The question we need to ask ourselves is “when did these things happen in history?”

Sources

  1. Preterist (Marriam-Webster Dictionary)
  2. The Trouble with Preterism (Israel My Glory)
  3. What is partial preterism? Is it biblical? What do partial preterists believe? (Compelling Truth)
  4. Thomas Ice and Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr., The Great Tribulation: Past or Future? (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel, 1999), 26–27.
  5. Debunking Preterism by Brock David Hollett
  6. Preterism: Has All Prophecy Been Fulfilled? (The Gospel Coalition)
  7. What is the preterist view of the end times? (Got Questions)

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The Gospel Presentation

Revelation 19:10 tells us that the essence of bible prophecy is Jesus Christ. These things were revealed to us so that we ultimately believe in Christ (John 13:19). We’ve all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Psalm 51:5, Romans 3:23). Because God is Holy he must judge sin. The penalty of this sin is death and ultimately the Lake of fire (Romans 6:23, Revelation 20:11-15). There’s nothing we can do to save ourselves (Isaiah 64:6).

But God, in his love has provided a way to escape his wrath through Christ (John 3:16-18, John 14:6). Jesus paid for our sin penalty by taking God’s wrath in our stead on the cross (Romans 5:8). He died for our sins, was buried, and rose again 3 days later (1 Corinthians 15:1-5).

You can accept this free gift of salvation by believing in Christ (Acts 16:30-31, Romans 6:23, Ephesians 2:8-9). Make sure you’ve made the right decision about Jesus today (2 Corinthians 6:2)! It will be the most important decision of your life, for eternal life.

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