Sunday , July 23 2017
Breaking News
You are here: Home / Michael Sullivan / Book – A Full Preterist Response to Reformed and Dispensational Critics The Second Coming, Judgment, and Resurrection of the Dead “ALL THESE THINGS” (MATTHEW 24-25/DANIEL 12:1-7) FULFILLED BY AD 70

Book – A Full Preterist Response to Reformed and Dispensational Critics The Second Coming, Judgment, and Resurrection of the Dead “ALL THESE THINGS” (MATTHEW 24-25/DANIEL 12:1-7) FULFILLED BY AD 70

A Full Preterist Response to Reformed and Dispensational Critics

The Second Coming, Judgment, and Resurrection of the Dead

“ALL THESE THINGS” (Matthew 24-25/Daniel 12:1-7)

FULFILLED BY AD 70

A DEFENSE OF GOSPEL ESCHATOLOGY

 

Michael J. Sullivan

 

Copyright © 2015

 

All rights reserved. No part of this book (still in progress) may be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from Michel Sullivan.  Thank you for your consideration.

 

ONE                A FULL PRETERIST EXEGESIS OF MATTHEW 24-25

Introduction and Approach / AD 70 Survey of Matthew’s Gospel Approaching the Olivet Discourse – Matthew 3:2-12- John the Baptist’s Eschatology, An Exegesis of Matthew 5:17-18; 10:22-23; 13:39-43 16:27-28; Matthew 21-23 / The Disciples Question – Who’s Really “Confused”? / The End of the Christian Age or Old Covenant Age? / Signs / Coming of the Son of Man and Gathering the Elect/Resurrection of Daniel 12:2-3 Fulfilled / The Abomination That Causes Desolation / The Great Tribulation / In Fulfillment of all That Has Been Written – Can AD 70 Have a Double or Typological Fulfillment?  / Times of the Gentiles / “This Generation” / One or Two Coming(s) of Christ? – Division Theories Refuted  / Marriage and Resurrection Motif

TWO               NT IMMINENCE – THE STAKE IN THE HEART OF FUTURISM.  EXPOSING FUTURIST SCHEMES ON IMMINENCE

When Jesus Decides to Come, THEN it Will Happen Very “Quickly” / Soon Just Means Certainty / The Beginning or Inauguration of Fulfillment was Imminent Not the Consummation / Jesus’ Second Coming Could Have Been Imminent But it Got “Postponed” Due to First Century Unbelief / Ezekiel 7 and 12 – God’s Condemnation of Man Making “Near” Predictions to Be “Far off” Ones / Violating Sound Hermeneutics – Funneling Over a Hundred Clear Time Texts Through ONE Verse 2 Peter 3:8                      

THREE           THE SEVENTY SEVENS OF DANIEL 9:24-27 FULFILLED BY AD 70

Daniel’s Seventy Sevens Prophecy – Symbolic Period of Time or a Literal 490 Chronology?  / To Finish Transgression, To Put an End to Sin, To Atone for Wickedness, To Bring in Everlasting Righteousness, To Seal Up Vision and Prophecy, To Anoint the Most Holy Place / Dispensational Gap Theory Refuted

FOUR              WHAT ABOUT THE “RAPTURE”?

An Exposition of 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17 / John 14 / The Two Witnesses of Revelation 11 

FIVE               ISN’T FULL PRETERISM JUST THE HYMENAEAN HERESY REVISITED DESTROYING THE FAITH AND HOPE OF THE CHURCH?

An Exposition of 2 Timothy 2:17-18

SIX                  WHAT ABOUT THE RESURRECTION?

An Exposition of John 5:28-29 / An “About to Be” Resurrection in Acts 24:15, An Exposition of 1 Corinthians 15    

SEVEN           WHAT ABOUT ACTS 1:9-11?

Are There Any Indications Within the Book of Acts as to When Acts 1:9-11 Would be Fulfilled? / “In Like Manner” – Was Jesus’ Physical Body Seen Ascending on the Cloud? / Is Jesus Still in His Physical Body?  

EIGHT            ESCHATOLOGICAL ESSAYS IN ROMANS

The Eschatological “Not Yet” of Justification Romans 4:24 – Response to the N.T. Wright Controversy / Romans 5 – Being Saved from the Coming “Wrath” Through the One That was “About to Come” / Paul’s Corporate Body of Sin and Death / Romans 8:18-23 – God’s Glory “About to” Be Revealed IN the Church Through the Liberation of Creation, the Adoption of Sons, and Redemption of Our (Corporate) Body / Romans 11 – The Salvation and Resurrection of “All Israel” / Romans 13:11-12 – God’s Hour of Resurrection/Salvation/Day was “At Hand” / Romans 16:20 – Satan would be Crushed “Soon” 

NINE               ESCHATOLOGICAL ESSAYS IN HEBREWS

Hebrews 3-4; 10:25-37 – The Churches Anti-type “Another Day”/Sabbath Rest was “Approaching” “In a Very Little While and Would Not Delay” / Hebrews 8:13 – The Old Covenant was “Ready to Vanish” / Hebrews 9:6-10, 26-28 – Old Covenant Still Had a Legal Standing Until Christ’s Second Appearing / Hebrews 1 – Christ Was “About to” Consume His “enemies” and Make Them His Footstool When He Came “in a Very Little While” / Hebrews 11 – The NC “Better Resurrection” / Hebrews 12 – Receiving the Kingdom / Hebrews 13 – Looking for the [Enduring] City That was “About to Come”      

TEN                A PRE-AD 70 DAT FOR THE BOOK OF REVELATION

ELEVEN         REVELATION 20 – A “THIS GENERATION” MILLENNIUM

Seven Historical, Exegetical, and Orthodox Points Which Proves the Full Preterist 40 Years Millennial View to be the Biblical One / All the Elements to the Millennium and the Analogy of Scripture Support the Full Preterist View of the Millennium

TWELVE        LIFE IN THE NEW CREATION REVELATION 21-22 – NO MORE DEATH, TEARS, AND PAIN

How Could This be Fulfilled for Us Today – “Just Look Around”?!?

APPENDIX 1  DID TONGUES AND PROPHECY “CEASE” IN AD 70?

An Exegesis of 1 Corinthians 13:8-12

APPENDIX 2  SO WHAT NOW? 

                        Ongoing Fulfillment/Application of Fulfillment / What Real “Hyper-Preterism is

 

Introduction and approach

My approach will be very simple to follow for laymen and scholars alike.  First, I will begin going through Matthew’s gospel addressing the key eschatological texts in the teachings of John the Baptist and our Lord which will lay a contextual setting for giving a detailed exegesis of Matthew 24 – 25.  In doing so, I will give a brief explanation of the various views on key eschatological passages from four views and then defend my view (Full Preterism):   Premillennial Dispensationalism, Amillennialism, Partial Preterism, Progressive Partial Preterism and Full Preterism.  Once we are finished with Matthew’s gospel and particularly Matthew 24 – 25, I will follow this same approach through the rest of the NT.

Matthew 3; 11; 17 – The Eschatology of John the Baptist

“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand (Gk. egos)!” (Matt. 3:2):

“…You snakes—who told you that you could escape from the punishment God is about to (Gk. mello) send?” (Matt. 3:7 GNT)

“And even now (Gk. ede) the ax is laid to the root of the trees. Therefore every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.  “I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.  “His winnowing fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clean out His threshing floor, and gather His wheat into the barn; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.  (Matt.3:10-12)

AN EXEGESIS OF MATTHEW 3:2-12 AND RELATED TEXTS – JOHN THE BAPTIST’S ESCHATOLOGY:  THE WAY OF THE KINGDOM (THROUGH THE SECOND COMING) WAS “AT HAND”

When it comes to the Kingdom of heaven or Kingdom of God the NT teaches three aspects of fulfillment – 1.  the “already” 2.  the “receiving” and 3.  the imminent consummation or “not yet” to the Kingdom promises.  The Kingdom’s “already” and “receiving” in the NT can be seen in Jews and Gentiles  entering Christ’s spiritual Kingdom through repentance and faith and observing it workout in their midst powerfully through Jesus’ healing and the driving out demons (and that of the disciples and Apostles).  The imminent “not yet” aspect to the Kingdom points to God saving a remnant (Jews and Gentiles) while at the same time judging the wicked among Israel and closing the Old Covenant (OC) age while at the same time establishing the New Covenant (NC) age through Christ’s Second Appearing in AD 70.  Israel had been waiting roughly two thousand years for the Messiah and His Kingdom and now within a span of forty years, it was truly “at hand” and within their grasp.

Unfortunately when most futurist eschatologies have addressed the eschatology of John the Baptist they are willing to develop a truly imminent “already” and “receiving” of the Kingdom promises as being “at hand,” but they have not been willing to see John’s eschatology as having a truly imminent “at hand” consummation to the Kingdom as it pertains to him coming to prepare the way of the “great and dreadful day of the Lord” or Second Coming of Jesus.  As we make our way through the eschatology of John the Baptist, we will readily see that this later “not yet” aspect to the NT’s Kingdom promises were no less “at hand” than the “already” and “receiving” aspects to the Kingdom.

Matthew 3:3 / Isaiah 40:6-7, 10 John prepares the way for Christ’s Second Coming

For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah, saying: “The voice of one crying in the wilderness:  ‘Prepare the way of the Lord; Make His paths straight.’” (Matt. 3:3).

“The voice said, “Cry out!” And he said, “What shall I cry?”  “All flesh is grass, And all its loveliness is like the flower of the field.  The grass withers, the flower fades, Because the breath of the Lord blows upon it; Surely the people are grass.  The grass withers, the flower fades, But the word of our God stands forever.”  O Zion, You who bring good tidings, Get up into the high mountain; O Jerusalem, You who bring good tidings, Lift up your voice with strength, Lift it up, be not afraid; Say to the cities of Judah, “Behold your God!” Behold, the Lord God shall come with a strong hand, And His arm shall rule for Him; Behold, His reward is with Him, And His work before Him.” (Isaiah 40:6-10).

What is “the way” in the desert that John is preparing as depicted elsewhere in Isaiah (to get a broader context)?

“He humbles those who dwell on high, he lays the lofty city low; he levels it to the ground and casts it down to the dust.  Feet trample it down— the feet of the oppressed, the footsteps of the poor.  The path of the righteous is level; you, the Upright One, make the way of the righteous smooth.  Yes, Lord, walking in the way of your laws,” (Isa. 26:4-7).

The desert and the parched land will be glad; the wilderness will rejoice and blossom.  Like the crocus, it will burst into bloom; it will rejoice greatly and shout for joy.  The glory of Lebanon will be given to it, the splendor of Carmel and Sharon; they will see the glory of the Lord, the splendor of our God.  Strengthen the feeble hands, steady the knees that give way;  say to those with fearful hearts, “Be strong, do not fear; your God will come, he will come with vengeance; with divine retribution he will come to save you.” Then will the eyes of the blind be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped.  Then will the lame leap like a deer, and the mute tongue shout for joy.  Water will gush forth in the wilderness and streams in the desert.  The burning sand will become a pool, the thirsty ground bubbling springs.  In the haunts where jackals once lay, grass and reeds and papyrus will grow.  And a highway will be there; it will be called the Way of Holiness; it will be for those who walk on that Way. The unclean will not journey on it; wicked fools will not go about on it.  No lion will be there, nor any ravenous beast; they will not be found there.  But only the redeemed will walk there, and those the Lord has rescued will return. They will enter Zion with singing; everlasting joy will crown their heads. Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away.”  (Isa. 35)

Who is the way and how does the Gospel make it level and fruitful?

All of the promises of God are yes and amen – that is, fulfilled “in Christ” (2 Cor. 1:20).  He is the embodiment of the Kingdom promises – the new Promised Land or the “Highway of Holiness” [“the way” (John 14:6)] in which all those who were to be saved (or ever will be in the eternal NC age) should enter and walk through faith and repentance.

The way of the Gospel would be level and smooth suggesting that the high mountains are the prideful among Israel that persecuted the poor and lowly and God would vindicate the poor and make low and level their prideful persecutors.  The low valleys would be brought up to be level as well – perhaps suggesting that the Gospel for the poor would be manifested in such a way as to lift up the persecuted and heavy burdened from their religious suppressors.  The rough and crooked in heart through the power of God through the Gospel would be made soft, smooth and straight.  Through the gospel the level land would become fertile and blossom into God’s New Paradise/New Creation.

No one among Israel could boast that they had a right to enter this way of the Kingdom through being Abraham’s seed, because God was able, and in fact did turn stones (Gentiles) into the sons of God or living stones in which they (along with Jews) were built up a New Temple and New Man (Matt. 3:9/1 Pet. 2:1ff./Ephs. 2-3).

The message of John is to prepare the way for Christ’s “at hand” Second Coming!

Unfortunately, futurists have avoided doing a thorough exegesis of Isaiah 40 in order to understand that John was preparing the way of Christ’s imminent Second Coming (“great and dreadful day of the Lord”).  This would be manifested in an imminent harvest judgment for the wicked and salvation for the righteous and repentant within the immediate context of Matthew 3:2-12.

In hermeneutics one is always called upon to go to the OT passage a NT author quotes, references, or “echoes” in order to find out how the NT author is using it, or see if there are other elements within that OT context that fits what the NT author is developing.  This is also very important in that in Jewish hermeneutics often times even if a small portion of an OT passage is quoted, the reader or listener is expected to draw upon the entire chapter, section or theology of the quote.  When we do this, we immediately find references of John preparing a way for judgment that harmonizes with John’s use of Malachi 3-4 in Matthew 11:10-14.

Here is Isaiah we quickly see that the way that is being prepared is not simply a way of an “at hand” “already” aspect to salvation, but includes Christ’s Second Coming in judgment as well.  We immediately see what this voice is to cry out, “All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field.  The grass withers and the flower fall, because the breath of the Lord blows on them.  Surely the people are grass.  The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God stands forever.” (Isa. 40:6-7)  This is connected to the recompense judgment and giving of rewards, “See, the Sovereign Lord comes with power, and his arm rules for him.  See, his reward is with him, and his recompense accompanies him.” (Isa. 40:10).

Isaiah 40:6-7 / 1 Peter chapters 1 and 4 – John’s imminent eschatology is Peter’s!

Peter quotes Isaiah 40:6-7 in 1 Peter 1:23-24.  The immediate context tells us that Peter’s first century audience was “ready” to receive the salvation and inheritance the OT prophets predicted would come at the revealing of Christ at His Second Coming.  Later we are told by Peter that this coming salvation and “THE judgment” of “the living and dead” was “ready” to take place and that “the end of all things is at hand.” (1 Pet. 4:5-7, 17).  Therefore, the contextual flow of Isaiah 40 tells us that John came to prepare the way of an “at hand” judgment and salvation “ready” to be revealed at Christ’s Second Coming.

Isaiah 40:10 / Matthew 16:27-28 – John’s imminent eschatology is Jesus’!

Again the message of the one crying out is that of a coming judgment through the Second Coming of Christ in the giving of rewards (Isa. 40:10).  This passage is directly applied to Christ’s Second Coming in Matthew 16:27-28 and Revelation 22:6-12.  Jesus taught that He was “about to” come within the lifetimes of some of His first century audience to reward:

‘For, the Son of Man is about to come in the glory of his Father, with his messengers, and then he will reward each, according to his work.  Verily I say to you, there are certain of those standing here who shall not taste of death till they may see the Son of Man coming in his reign.’ (Matt. 16:27-28 YLT).

Isaiah 40:10 / Revelation 22:6-12 – John the Baptist’s imminent eschatology is John the Beloved’s in the book of Revelation 

Jesus through John the beloved in the book of Revelation, confirms the imminent fulfillment of John the Baptist’s eschatology in drawing upon Isaiah 40:10:

“The angel said to me, “These words are trustworthy and true. The Lord, the God who inspires the prophets, sent his angel to show his servants the things that must soon take place.” “Look, I am coming soon! Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy written in this scroll.”  I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things. And when I had heard and seen them, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who had been showing them to me. But he said to me, “Don’t do that! I am a fellow servant with you and with your fellow prophets and with all who keep the words of this scroll. Worship God!”  Then he told me, “Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this scroll, because the time is near. Let the one who does wrong continue to do wrong; let the vile person continue to be vile; let the one who does right continue to do right; and let the holy person continue to be holy.” “Look, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to each person according to what they have done.”  (Rev. 22:6-12)

The message John was to cry out (as we continue going down into Isaiah 40:10) was that of God (The Christ) coming in judgment/recompense/reward.  The NT develops this as being fulfilled in an “at hand” AD 70 time frame.

John’s “preparing the way” of the Second Coming in Judgment of Isaiah 40 is John’s “preparing the way” of the Second Coming in Judgment of Malachi 3-4 

Jesus clearly identifies John the Baptist as the Elijah that was about to come before the way of judgment (the great and dreadful day of the Lord) would take place in which He would suddenly coming to destroy His Temple in fulfillment of Malachi 3-4:

“As John’s disciples were leaving, Jesus began to speak to the crowd about John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed swayed by the wind?  If not, what did you go out to see? A man dressed in fine clothes? No, those who wear fine clothes are in kings’ palaces.  Then what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. This is the one about whom it is written: “ ‘I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way before you.’  Truly I tell you, among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet whoever is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been subjected to violence, and violent people have been raiding it.  For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John. And if you are willing to accept it, he is the Elijah who was to come. Whoever has ears, let them hear.”  (Matt. 11:7-15).

“Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me (John as Elijah): and the Lord (Jesus), whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple (AD 70 Matt. 23-24), even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the Lord of hosts.  But who may abide the day of his coming? and who shall stand when he appeareth? for he is like a refiner’s fire, and like fullers’ soap:  And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness.  Then shall the offering of Judah and Jerusalem be pleasant unto the Lord, as in the days of old, and as in former years.  And I will come near to you to judgment; and I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, and against the adulterers, and against false swearers, and against those that oppress the hireling in his wages, the widow, and the fatherless, and that turn aside the stranger from his right, and fear not me, saith the Lord of hosts.”

“For, behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the Lord of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch.  But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness (Christ) arise with healing in his wings; and ye shall go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall.  And ye shall tread down the wicked; for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet in the day that I shall do this, saith the Lord of hosts.  Remember ye the law of Moses my servant, which I commanded unto him in Horeb for all Israel, with the statutes and judgments.  Behold, I will send you Elijah (John the Baptist per Jesus) the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord:  And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.  (Mal. 3:1-5; 4:1-6).

Here Jesus quotes and echo’s the way of Judgment and salvation through Malachi 3-4.  John is the first messenger that prepares the way for God (Christ) who then comes suddenly to His Temple (in AD 70) purifying the priesthood and burns the wicked.  Since AD 70 the Church is God’s purified and established kingdom of priests and kings.  In AD 70 a clear “distinction” between the wicked OC kingdom and the NC righteous kingdom was revealed in power and great glory.

In Malachi 4:1-5 it is further elaborated that Elijah (whom Jesus says is John the Baptist) would come before this “way” of a fiery “great and dreadful day of the Lord” judgment would take place.

The book of James picks up various OT echo’s concerning the persecution of the rich over the poor (as does Malachi) and Christ coming as the Sun — in an “at hand” and “at the door” time frame to burn up the grass/wicked and bring salvation through the imagery of harvest rain to the righteous (James 1-5/Matt. 24:27-33, 34/Mal. 4:2).

The “at hand” “way” of the Second Coming – as Israel’s new deliverance from Babylon / New Exodus / Seeing God’s face – all on the way into the NC age or New Creation

Before leaving the theme of John/Elijah preparing the “at hand” “way” to the Second Coming of Christ to destroy His Temple in AD 70, it may also be helpful to see how this passage was understood among the Jews and then see how their interpretations could also fit an “at hand” AD 70 time frame.  Beale and Carson’s work is helpful at this point:

“Nothing in the immediate context of Isa. 40 suggests that Isaiah is referring to anyone other than Yahweh himself returning to Israel as king (Goldingay 2005: 5–7), but the references to special sons in Isa. 7–9 and to the messianic branch in Isa. 11, along with the Servant Songs yet to come (beginning in Isa. 42), do indicate God revealing himself through a specially anointed agent. The “shepherding” imagery of a text as close to ours as 40:11 also dovetails with other prophecies in which a messianic figure is likened to a shepherd (esp. Ezek. 34).

C. Use in Jewish Sources. The most significant pre-Christian Jewish uses of Isa. 40:3 appear in the Dead Sea Scrolls. The Rule of the Community declares,

And when these have become a community in Israel in compliance with these arrangements they are to be segregated from within the dwelling of the men of sin to walk to the desert in order to open there His path. As it is written: “In the desert, prepare the way of [YHWH], straighten in the steppe a roadway for our God.” This is the study of the law wh[i]ch he commanded through the hand of Moses, in order to act in compliance with all that has been revealed from age to age, and according to what the prophets have revealed through his holy spirit. (1QS VIII, 12–16) (All quotations from the Dead Sea Scrolls are from García Martínez and Tigchelaar 1997.)

In short, the Essenes at Qumran viewed their monastic community as the fulfillment of Isa. 40:3. This same interpretation is reflected in an allusion to this Scripture in 1QS IX, 19–20. An allusion in 1QS IV, 1–2 applies the metaphor of making straight paths to the establishment of justice, truth, and the respect for the precepts of God. An even longer explicit quotation of Isa. 40:1–5 appears in a fragment of another Qumran scroll (4Q176 1–2 I, 4–9), but not enough context has been preserved for us to know how it was used.

From a very different, Pharisaic branch of Judaism, Pss. Sol. 8:17 seems to allude to this text when it refers to the Jewish leaders’ (probably literal) grading of rough roads to Jerusalem to prepare the way for the conquering Roman general Pompey to enter the city. This part of the welcome was appropriate for a king, albeit ironic because the king was a foreign invader. Other texts, especially apocalyptic ones, allude to Isa. 40:4–5 with its topographical transformations and its expectations of seeing the Lord’s glory in the context of a coming new age (esp. 1 En. 1:6; Bar. 5:7; As. Mos. 10:4; see Brooke 1994: 130–31). Targum Isaiah at this point appears to change the focus from Yahweh’s coming to the people’s return (Snodgrass 1980: 27).

D. Textual Background. The MT begins, “A voice crying in the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord,” which the LXX essentially translates literally (changing only the participle to the genitive: “of one crying”). Matthew, like Mark, follows the LXX verbatim. But the parallelism within the OT verse would seem to require that “in the wilderness” modifies “prepare the way” (just as it does in the next line with “make smooth”) rather than “a voice crying,” as in the Gospels. The MT thus continues, “make smooth in the desert a highway for our God,” which the LXX renders as “make straight the paths of our God,” omitting the redundant “in the desert.” Matthew and Mark again follow the LXX verbatim, except that they change “of our God” to “his,” which scarcely alters the meaning.

E. Hermeneutic Employed. The difference between “a voice crying in the wilderness” and a call to “prepare a way in the wilderness” has often been exaggerated. Both in fact fit John the Baptist’s ministry; he (or the Synoptic writers) could easily have seen a double meaning in the position of the phrase in the Hebrew text, as rabbis often did in their exegeses. But the Hebrew also allows for such a double meaning to have been originally intended (Taylor 1997: 25–29).

Originally, Isaiah had in mind a preliminary fulfillment in the return of the Jewish exiles from distant lands to Israel. But his language already reuses “exodus” imagery, making it natural for the evangelists to reapply this imagery in the greater restoration from (spiritual) exile inaugurated by the ministry of Jesus to which John’s preaching pointed (see Childs 2001: 299). And given that no return from Babylon (or Persia or Greece or Rome) ever came anywhere close to fully ending Israel’s hard service, paying for its sins, or leveling (even metaphorically) all its rugged places, and certainly no event prior to Christ’s coming ever revealed the glory of the Lord to all humanity, it seems reasonable to suggest that Isaiah had a more distant, grander fulfillment in mind as well. Hagner (1993: 48) comments, “The words of Isaiah occur in a context of comfort and deliverance from the exile, but they also allude to Messianic fulfillment.” At the very least, that is how a group such as the one at Qumran would have taken it, so that they could apply it to themselves, demonstrating that the NT’s hermeneutic was not a novel appropriation of the text.[1]

Jesus is the anti-type of the deliverance (through Cyrus, Ezra, and Nehemiah) and restoration of coming back into the land from bondage and slavery.  He is the one that sets the captives free from the slavery of sin.  He is the way of holiness found in the law by which a remnant of Jew and Gentile come into the Kingdom/Heavenly Land/New Creation.   He is also the coming “Root of Jesse” that would stand as the “banner” along this “way” ushering in the “second exodus” (Isa. 11:10-12).   This second exodus motif will be brought out further in our text where John is baptizing (in the Jordan) and later on in Matthew 4 (Jesus being tested in the wilderness as Israel was).

As far as understanding the building of a smooth road to be level for a conquering King – this too could be applied to AD 70.  If un-repentant, a way was being prepared by another conquering King – and it was ironic that they shouted they wanted Caesar as their king at Christ’s trial and then Christ came in AD 70 as their King (in judgment through the army of the Roman Empire “Caesar”) to destroy their city and Temple.

Christ as “the way” did bring about the in-breaking of the Messianic or NC age from AD 30 – AD 70.  In AD 70 Christ’s “at hand” Second Coming was fulfilled and the Church in the eternal NC age see Him “face to face” (Isa. 52:8/1 Cor. 13:12/Rev. 22:4-7).   Amen!  Selah.

Before leaving Matthew 3:2-3 I should point out that some Reformed theologians such as John Lightfoot have pointed out that one of the manifestations of the kingdom being “at hand” in 3:2 would be fulfilled in AD 70:

“1. The exhibition and manifestation of the Messias, Matt. 12:28; “But if I, by the finger of God, cast out devils, the kingdom of God is come upon you:” that is, ‘Hence is the manifestation of the Messias.’ See John 3:3, 12:13, &c. 2. The resurrection of Christ; death, hell, Satan, being conquered: whence is a most evident manifestation that he is that ‘eternal King,’ &c.: see Matt. 26:29, Rom. 1:4. 3. His vengeance upon the Jewish nation, his most implacable enemies: this is another, and most eminent manifestation of him: see Matt. 16:28, 19:28. 4. His dominion by the sceptre of the gospel among the Gentiles, Matt. 21:43. In this place which is before us it points out the exhibition and revelation of the Messias.[2]

And if it seems a strange thing to understand the coming of the Lord in Malachi 3-4 to be fulfilled in AD 70 perhaps this additional quote for commentators such as Adam Clark will help assure the reader of this authors “orthodox” standing in these matters:

“Malachi 4:1:  Behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven – The destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans.

And all the proud – This is in reference to Mal 3:15 of the preceding chapter.

The day that cometh shall burn them up – Either by famine, by sword, or by captivity. All those rebels shall be destroyed.

It shall leave them neither root nor branch – A proverbial expression for total destruction. Neither man nor child shall escape.

Malachi 4:2:  You that fear my name – The persons mentioned in the sixteenth verse of the preceding chapter, ye that look for redemption through the Messiah.

The Sun of righteousness – The Lord Jesus, the promised Messiah; the Hope of Israel.

With healing in his wings – As the sun, by the rays of light and heat, revives, cheers, and fructifies the whole creation, giving, through God, light and life everywhere; so Jesus Christ, by the influences of his grace and Spirit, shall quicken, awaken, enlighten, warm, invigorate heal, purify, and refine every soul that believes in him, and, by his wings or rays, diffuse these blessings from one end of heaven to another; everywhere invigorating the seeds of righteousness, and withering and drying up the seeds of sin. The rays of this Sun are the truths of his Gospel, and the influences of his Spirit. And at present these are universally diffused.

And ye shall go forth – Ye who believe on his name shall go forth out of Jerusalem when the Romans shall come up against it. After Cestius Gallus had blockaded the city for some days, he suddenly raised the siege. The Christians who were then in it, knowing, by seeing Jerusalem encompassed with armies, that the day of its destruction was come, when their Lord commanded them to flee into the mountains, took this opportunity to escape from Jerusalem, and go to Pella, in Coelesyria; so that no Christian life fell in the siege and destruction of this city.

But these words are of more general application and meaning; “ye shall go forth” in all the occupations of life, but particularly in the means of grace; and: –

Grow up as calves of the stall – Full of health, of life, and spirits; satisfied and happy.

Malachi 4:3:  Ye shall tread down – This may be the commission given to the Romans: Tread down the wicked people, tread down the wicked place; set it on fire, and let the ashes be trodden down under your feet.

Malachi 4:4:  Remember ye the law of Moses – Where all these things are predicted. The Septuagint, Arabic, and Coptic, place this verse the last.

Malachi 4:5:  Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet – This is meant alone of John the Baptist, as we learn from Luk 1:17 (note), in whose spirit and power he came.

Malachi 4:6:  And he shall turn (convert) the heart of the fathers (על al, with) the children – Or, together with the children; both old and young. Lest I come, and, finding them unconverted, smote the land with a curse, חרם cherem, utter extinction. So we find that, had the Jews turned to God, and received the Messiah at the preaching of John the Baptist and that of Christ and his apostles, the awful חרם cherem of final excision and execration would not have been executed upon them. However, they filled up the cup of their iniquity, and were reprobated, and the Gentiles elected in their stead. Thus, the last was first, and the first was last. Glory to God for his unspeakable gift!

There are three remarkable predictions in this chapter: –

1. The advent of John Baptist, in the spirit and authority of Elijah.

2. The manifestation of Christ in the flesh, under the emblem of the Sun of righteousness.

3. The final destruction of Jerusalem, represented under the emblem of a burning oven, consuming everything cast into it.

These three prophecies, relating to the most important facts that have ever taken place in the history of the world, announced here nearly four hundred years before their occurrence, have been most circumstantially fulfilled.”[3]

I will disagree with Clark on one point here – and that is, the coming of the Sun of Righteousness is referring to Christ’s Second Coming (the great and dreadful day of the Lord) as depicted elsewhere in Matthew 24:27.  Once we get to this text I will argue that it is Christ coming and shinning from the east to the west as the Sun/Son that is in view and not “as lightening.”

“People came to him from Jerusalem, from the whole province of Judea, and from all the country near the River Jordan. They confessed their sins, and he baptized them in the Jordan.  When John saw many Pharisees and Sadducees coming to him to be baptized, he said to them, “You snakes—who told you that you could escape from the punishment (or “wrath”) God is about to send?” (Matt. 3:5-7 GNT, WUEST).

 

Many miss the theological and eschatological significance of John being in the wilderness baptizing Jesus and Israelites in the river Jordan.  This marks the beginning of fulfillment for Israel’s new or second exodus and restoration promises.  As G.K. Beale points out,

 

“Just as Israel was led by Moses and had to go through the sea at the exodus to enter the promised land, and just as the second generation had to do the same thing at the Jordan River under Josuah’s leadership, as a miniature second exodus, so again, now that Israel’s restoration is imminent through Jesus, true Israelites must again identify with the water and the Jordan and their prophetic leader in order to being to experience true restoration.

 

This is also in fulfillment of the prophecies of Israel’s restoration as a second exodus through water (Isa. 11:15; 43:2, 16-17; 44:27-28; 50:2; 51:9-11), especially through rivers (Isa. 11:15; 42:15; 43:2; 44:27; 50:2).”[4]

 

Unfortunately scholars such as Beale further miss (or I should say are reluctant to acknowledge at this point having been confronted with Full Preterism), is that this second or new exodus was going to take place within another forty year (roughly) generation time period (AD 30 – AD 70).  Toward the end of this generation the unrepentant would experience a “wrath” that was “about to come,” not entering into God’s rest while the righteous followers of Christ would enter into God’s heavenly land – His “another day” “day approaching” “in a very little while” of which the old exodus generation was a mere type (Heb. 3-4, 8:13—10:37; 1 Cor. 10:11).   Moses in Deuteronomy 31-32 predicted a coming “perverse and crooked generation” in Israel’s “later days” which would bring an “end” to OC Israel.  This is the AD 30 – AD 70 new exodus generation predicted by the prophets.

I have referenced translations that render the Greek word mello  in (v. 7) as the wrath that was “about to” take place as being more accurate than other translations and thus fits the immediate context of imminence that we have seen in (v. 2) and being consistent with the same imminence that will be  developed in (vss. 10-12).  These are the verses that Partial Preterists begin seeing fulfilled in AD 70.  For example, John
Lightfoot is on target in identifying the wrath of 3:7 and the baptism John is performing as pointing to the AD 70 judgment,

“…To fly from the wrath to come.] These words respect the very last words of the Old Testament, “lest I smite the earth with a curse,” Mal. 4:[6]; and denote the most miserable destruction of the nation, and now almost ready to fall upon them.

The receiving of John’s baptism signed and fenced those that received it from the ruin that was just coming.”  “…Think here, if those that came to baptism brought not their little ones with them to baptism: when, by the plain words of the Baptist, those that are baptized are said to “fly from the wrath to come?” that is, ‘the wrath of God,’ that was not long hence to destroy the nation by a most sad overthrow.”[5]

So in combining what we’ve learned so far from Beale, Lightfoot, and what the NT is teaching of John’s baptism ushering in a new exodus for Israel — we can glean that the unrepentant within this particular AD 30 – AD 70 generation was going to experience the unquenchable wrath of God while the repentant and followers of Christ would enter into the restoration and new exodus/Sabbath rest promises predicted by the OT prophets at Christ’s Second Coming or “great and dreadful day of the Lord.”

“And even now the ax is laid to the root of the trees. Therefore every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clean out His threshing floor, and gather His wheat into the barn; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” (Matt. 3:10-12).

It is at this point that Partial Preterist theologians begin seeing and developing the imminence of John’s eschatology to AD 70.  John Lightfoot is on target in identifying the wrath of 3:7 and the baptism pointing to the AD 70 judgment,

“…To fly from the wrath to come.] These words respect the very last words of the Old Testament, “lest I smite the earth with a curse,” Mal. 4:[6]; and denote the most miserable destruction of the nation, and now almost ready to fall upon them.

The receiving of John’s baptism signed and fenced those that received it from the ruin that was just coming. To this belongs that of St. Peter, Epist. 1. ch. 3:20, 21: in that manner as Noah and his sons were by water delivered from the flood, “so also baptism now, the antitype of that type, saveth us” from the deluge of divine indignation, which in a short time is to overflow the Jewish nation. Think here, if those that came to baptism brought not their little ones with them to baptism: when, by the plain words of the Baptist, those that are baptized are said to “fly from the wrath to come?” that is, ‘the wrath of God,’ that was not long hence to destroy the nation by a most sad overthrow.”[6]

R.C. Sproul understands the imminence communicated in the metaphor of God having his ax at the root of Israel’s trees,

“The image of the axe does not indicate that the woodsman is merely thinking about cutting down a tree or that he has merely begun the task by striking at the outer bark.  The image is that the task is nearly complete.  The axe has already penetrated to the core of the tree, hinting that one more decisive stroke will make it fall.”[7]

Kenneth Gentry also sees this as referring to an imminent judgment and wrath being poured out upon Israel in AD 70,

“The wrath about which John speaks “came down upon Jews of Palestine in an unparalleled manner in A.D. 70,” when the Romans furiously destroyed Jerusalem, the temple, and untold thousands of Jews.  (Mt.3:10) – “Here John draws his imagery from God’s judgment against Assyria (Isa. 10:33-34):  that sort of judgment soon will break out upon Israel.”[8]  And of the winnowing fork metaphor Gentry also applies this to AD 70:

“…He who is coming” has a “winnowing fork is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clear His threshing floor; and He will gather His wheat into the barn, but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire” (3:12).  This anticipates AD 70.”[9]

In further proving that the harvest gathering here was fulfilled in AD 70 Historic Premillennialist’s such as John Gill correctly point out that the threshing floor of this harvest judgment is local and addressing Israel in AD 70 (not an end of history or global event):

“Christ was just ready to publish; by which he would effectually call his chosen people among the Jews, and so distinguish and separate them from others, as well as purify and cleanse them, or rather the awful judgment of God, which Christ was ready to execute, and in a short time would execute on the unbelieving and impenitent Jews: hence it is said to be “in his hand”; being put there by his Father, who “hath committed all judgment to the Son”. That this is the meaning of the “Baptist,” seems evident, since “fanning” is always, when figuratively taken, used for judgments, #Isa 41:16 Jer 15:7 51:2.  By “his floor,” is meant the land of Israel, where he was born, brought up, and lived; of which the Lord says, “O my threshing, and the corn of my floor!” #Isa 21:10.”[10]

To this the book of Revelation agrees in that the coming “Day of God’s wrath” was imminently approaching its first century audience along with the harvest judgment scene in Revelation 6, 7 and 14.  In 14:20 the bloody harvest scene covers “…the space of a thousand and six hundred furlongs” which commentators have long noted covers the distance of Israel.  Israel is the local scene in which John and Revelation’s harvest judgment takes place.

The problem for Partial Preterist’s such as Gentry, is that this time of the end consummation of the harvest depicted here will be further developed by Jesus in Matthew 13 and 24-25.  For a good explanation of the separation of the wheat from the chaff in our text as it relates to the final process of the harvest Morris writes,

“The thought of judgment is pursued and enlarged. John pictures the Messiah as having a winnowing fork in his hand. At harvest time the grain was threshed, for example, by having oxen tread it out, a process that shook the grain free from the husks but left them in the same heap. It was then winnowed: the threshed grain was separated from the husks by throwing it into the air, at first with a fork and later with a shovel (cf. Isa. 30:24). The heavier grain would fall straight down, but the lighter husks would be blown further away. If the winnowing fork is already in hand, the process of separation is about to begin (REB has “his winnowing shovel,” which would indicate that the last stage in winnowing is about to begin). The picture is one of imminent activity; judgment will not be delayed. And it will be wholehearted, for he will thoroughly cleanse his threshing floor. The verb is unusual, but it clearly points to a complete cleaning out of the threshing floor. It is possible to understand this as meaning that the threshing floor will be cleaned by the removal of all the husks so that only the grain is left. But the further imagery of fire suggests that the cleansing will be by burning up the chaff. And he will gather his wheat signifies the preservation of those who are right with God, just as burn up the chaff the severe judgment of those who are in the wrong. Fire is often used in connection with the last judgment. That cannot be put out points to the impossibility of averting the punishment of evil. The putting of the wheat into the barn (Matthew has “his wheat” and Luke “his barn”) and the burning up of the chaff picture the satisfactory completion of the harvest.”[11]

This is important to establish at this point since I will be arguing that Matthew’s/Jesus’ end of “this [OC] age” harvest gathering in Matthew 13:39-43 is the same AD 70 eschatological harvest gathering of Matthew’s/John the Baptist’s here in Matthew 3:12.  And then once we reach Matthew 24:30-31 and 25:31-33ff. I will again argue that this is the same end of the OC age AD 70 separation/judgment that is taking place.  Simply put – John’s eschatology is Jesus’ eschatology.

What of the baptism of the Holy Spirit and of fire? 

We have seen how the water baptism of John in the Jordan marked the prophetic second exodus that would be ushered in by Jesus and how the AD 30 – AD 70 “this generation” was Israel’s last days terminal generation.  But what of the baptism Jesus would bring for Israel – through the Holy Spirit and fire?  How could these be fulfilled by AD 70?

If you were a good Jew listening to John’s message of a coming Messiah who was going to baptize or pour out the Holy Spirit upon Israel within the context of a coming judgment, you no doubt would be thinking of Joel 2:28-32.  On the Day of Pentecost in Acts 2 Peter delivers a sermon in which he identifies his contemporary “this corrupt (or crooked) generation” as the “last days” generation predicted by Moses (Deut. 31—32:5, 20/Acts 2:40) and that this generation (in context) was to call out to the Lord and ask for forgiveness for crucifying their Messiah and be saved from “the coming great and dreadful day of the Lord” predicted by Joel 2 (cf. Acts 2:16-40).  So the outpouring of the Holy Spirit (manifesting in the miraculous speaking of known foreign languages) was a sign of an imminent coming salvation and judgment.  Paul underscores this same imminence and purpose of tongues in his epistle to the Corinthians (1 Cor. 1:6-8; 7:29, 31; 10:11; 14:21-25).   It should not surprise us that since John came to prepare the way of an imminent “great and dreadful day of the Lord” judgment found in Malachi 3-4, that Jesus also would baptize Israel and pour out His Holy Spirit marking the same imminent “great and dreadful day of the Lord,” except through another prophet (Joel).

Let’s once again turn to the commentators for further support.

John Lightfoot writes,

“…it shall come to pass “in the last days.” We have elsewhere observed that by the last days is to be understood the last days of Jerusalem and the Jewish economy, viz. when the τέλος τοῦ αἰῶνος Ἰουδαϊκοῦ, the end of the Jewish world drew near. And there would be the less doubt as to this matter if we would frame a right notion of “that great and terrible day of the Lord;” that is, the day of his vengeance upon that place and nation. Which terror the Jews, according to their custom and fashion, put far off from themselves,…”[12]

Adam Clark writes,

“Acts 2:20:  The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood – These are figurative representations of eclipses, intended most probably to point out the fall of the civil and ecclesiastical state in Judea: see the notes on Mat 24:29.  That the Sun is darkened when a total eclipse takes place, and that the Moon appears of a bloody hue in such circumstances, every person knows.

Acts 2:21:  Whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved – The predicted ruin is now impending; and only such as receive the Gospel of the Son of God shall be saved. And that none but the Christians did escape, when God poured out these judgments, is well known; and that All the Christians did escape, not one of them perishing in these devastations, stands attested by the most respectable authority. See the note on Mat 24:13.”[13]

“Acts 2:40:  Save yourselves from this untoward generation – Separate yourselves from them: be ye saved, σωθητε: the power is present with you; make a proper use of it, and ye shall be delivered from their obstinate unbelief, and the punishment that awaits it in the destruction of them and their city by the Romans.”[14]

Matthew Henry writes as a possible meaning of the “last days” here,

“…Or, in the days immediately preceding the destruction of the Jewish nation, in the last days of that people, just before that great and notable day of the Lord spoken of, v. 20.[15]

“That one great thing which they should prophesy of should be the judgment that was coming upon the Jewish nation, for this was the chief thing that Christ himself had foretold (Mt. 24) at his entrance into Jerusalem (Lu. 19:41); and when he was going to die (Lu. 23:29); and these judgments were to be brought upon them to punish for their contempt of the gospel, and their opposition to it, though it came to them thus proved. Those that would not submit to the power of God’s grace, in this wonderful effusion of his Spirit, should fall and lie under the pourings out of the vials of his wrath. Those shall break that will not bend. First, The destruction of Jerusalem, which was about forty years after Christ’s death, is here called that great and notable day of the Lord, because it put a final period to the Mosaic economy; the Levitical priesthood and the ceremonial law were thereby for ever abolished and done away. The desolation itself was such as was never brought upon any place or nation, either before or since. It was the day of the Lord, for it was the day of his vengeance upon that people for crucifying Christ, and persecuting his ministers; it was the year of recompences for that controversy; yea, and for all the blood of the saints and martyrs, from the blood of righteous Abel, Mt. 23:35. It was a little day of judgment; it was a notable day: in Joel it is called a terrible day, for so it was to men on earth; but here epiphanē (after the Septuagint), a glorious, illustrious day, for so it was to Christ in heaven; it was the epiphany, his appearing, so he himself spoke of it, Mt. 24:30. The destruction of the Jews was the deliverance of the Christians, who were hated and persecuted by them; and therefore that day was often spoken of by the prophets of that time, for the encouragement of suffering Christians, that the Lord was at hand, the coming of the Lord drew nigh, the Judge stood before the door, James 5:8, 9. Secondly, The terrible presages of that destruction are here foretold: There shall be wonders in heaven above, the sun turned into darkness and the moon into blood; and signs too in the earth beneath, blood and fire. Josephus, in his preface to his history of the wars of the Jews, speaks of the signs and prodigies that preceded them, terrible thunders, lightnings, and earthquakes; there was a fiery comet that hung over the city for a year, and a flaming sword was seen pointing down upon it; a light shone upon the temple and the altar at midnight, as if it had been noon-day. Dr. Lightfoot gives another sense of these presages: The blood of the Son of God, the fire of the Holy Ghost now appearing, the vapour of the smoke in which Christ ascended, the sun darkened, and the moon made blood, at the time of Christ’s passion, were all loud warnings given to that unbelieving people to prepare for the judgments coming upon them. Or, it may be applied, and very fitly, to the previous judgments themselves by which that desolation was brought on. The blood points at the wars of the Jews with the neighbouring nations, with the Samaritans, Syrians, and Greeks, in which abundance of blood was shed, as there was also in their civil wars, and the struggles of the seditious (as they called them), which were very bloody; there was no peace to him that went out nor to him that came in. The fire and vapour of smoke, here foretold, literally came to pass in the burning of their cities, and towns, and synagogues, and temple at last. And this turning of the sun into darkness, and the moon into blood, bespeaks the dissolution of their government, civil and sacred, and the extinguishing of all their lights. Thirdly, The signal preservation of the Lord’s people is here promised (v. 21): Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord Jesus (which is the description of a true Christian, 1 Co. 1:2) shall be saved, shall escape that judgment which shall be a type and earnest of everlasting salvation. In the destruction of Jerusalem by the Chaldeans, there was a remnant sealed to be hid in the day of the Lord’s anger; and in the destruction by the Romans not one Christian perished. Those that distinguish themselves by singular piety shall be distinguished by special preservation.”[16]

And lastly a Partial Preterist author Kenneth Gentry writes,

“Acts 2:20 must highlight AD 70, for it appears in the very context of Jerusalem and incudes tongues-speaking which is a sign of coming judgment upon Israel (cf. Dt 28:49; Isa 28:11; 33:19; Jer 5:15; 1 Cor 14:21-22).  Peter’s sermon not only blames the Jews for Christ’s recent death (Acts 2:22-23, 36), but urges the Jerusalemites to “be saved from this perverse generation” (Acts 2:40).”[17]

The purpose of the baptism or outpouring of the Holy Spirit within Israel’s “last days” (not the last days of the Church age or that of world history) between AD 30 – AD 70 was to warn of an imminent judgment coming and to confirm that God was in fact including Gentiles to be built up as God’s new Tabernacle (Acts 10-11; Acts 15/Amos 9).

Baptism of fire – if you were a good Jew Malachi 3-4 would come to mind.  Since we have covered Malachi 3-4 already and since the immediate context describes an imminent judgment of fire approaching, it is safe to say that this baptism of fire is also referring to the wrath that would be poured out upon the wicked in AD 70.

Before leaving this theme of baptism, perhaps the anti-type of a baptism that was in the process of “saving” the first century Christians in 1 Peter 3:20 is worthy of some comment at this point.  Of this spiritual baptism of fire and persecution that would test the faith of Christians and eventually burn the wicked in AD 70 David Green writes,

“Union / identity with Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection is the essence of spiritual baptism. In I Peter, it is the “suffering” or “fiery” aspect of spiritual baptism for Christians that is the running theme. Peter wrote his epistle to the persecuted, scattered Jewish believers who were living as aliens and strangers (1:1; 2:11). Many of them were being distressed by various trials (1:6), being slandered, reviled and maligned (2:12; 3:16; 4:4,14); their faith was being tested by fire (1:7).

This same baptism was predicted by Jesus in Matt. 20:22,23 (AV); Mk. 10:38,39 (cf. Lk. 12:50), where Jesus asked James and John, “Are you able to . . . be baptized with the baptism which I am baptized?” And they answered, “We are able.” And Jesus said, “. . . You shall be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized.”

Christ was prophesying to His disciples that they were going to become sharers of His sufferings, i.e., they were going to be experientially / spiritually unified and identified with Him in His sufferings, death and burial. They were going to be “crucified with Him” (Rom. 6:6; Gal. 2:20; 5:24) through persecution, but were also going to endure unto victory through the power of Christ’s resurrection.

Union with Christ in His sufferings was further borne out in I Peter when Peter told his readers that it was their calling to patiently endure their persecutions, just as Christ when He suffered, kept entrusting Himself to God. (2:23) “Therefore, since Christ has suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same purpose” (4:1), and, “you share the sufferings of Christ” (4:12,13).

It was this spiritual baptism that was saving the first-century Christians. Just as a small remnant, eight souls (I Peter 3:20), had been brought safely through the flood waters in Noah’s day (I Peter 3:20), so was a small remnant (Rom. 9:27,29) being brought safely through the fire of God’s Last-Days wrath. (Matt. 24:38,39; Lk. 17:26,27; II Peter 2:5-9)

Their saving baptism was a refining, purifying baptism, as they were being sovereignly preserved by God through their persecutions until the end of the age. As Paul said in II Cor. 4:17, “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” (Cf. Acts 14:22).”

Green may be on to something here.  The rain and wrath that God poured down upon the wicked of the land was for 40 days and nights in Genesis 7. As God had preserved Noah and his family through these 40 days, God was preserving and saving His Church during this 40 year transition period. This is similar to what we had seen in the development of the type and anti-type in the wilderness exodus motif 1 Cor. 10:11; Hebs. 3-4/Ps. 95.  Just as God had preserved the faith of Joshua and Caleb during the 40 days of spying out the land and then another 40 years before entering it, God was preserving the faith of these Christians through the persecutions and fiery trials they were undergoing. As the gospel was going throughout the land, it was a living river that by AD 70 would have reached to the heads of the Christians producing salvation Ezek. 47. But for the wicked and unbelieving, the wrath of God remained upon them and thus they were in the process of perishing and would be finally swept away in the fiery flood that consumed and baptized Jerusalem in AD 70.

Let’s now turn our attention to how the various futurist systems have inadequately dealt with the eschatology of John the Baptist.

Premillennial Dispensationalism and John the Baptist’s eschatology

Matthew 3:2:  The Dispensational position on our text is that the ‘kingdom” was a literal earthly kingdom to be established on earth through Messiah’s reign similar to that of David and Solomon’s reigns.  It is pointed out that since this is what the Jews of Jesus’ day were expecting, it must be accurate.  They believe that the kingdom was literally “at hand” BUT it got “delayed” or “postponed”:

“The rejection of Christ by the people delayed [or postponed] its [the kingdom’s] establishment until the Second Coming of Christ (25:31).  The “character” of the kingdom today is described in the parables of Matt. 13.”[18]

Therefore, Dispensationalism teaches “three phases” of the kingdom:  First, a literal kingdom that was literally “at hand” but got postponed due to the Jewish rejection of Christ.  Second, a spiritual aspect of the kingdom is introduced in the “seven mysteries of the kingdom of heaven,” to be fulfilled during the present Church age found in the seven parables of Jesus in (Matt. 13:1-52).  The third phase is the arrival of the literal kingdom (that got postponed the first time around) established on the earth at the Second Coming of Jesus (Matt. 24:29—chapter 25).

Matthew 3:3 & Isaiah 40: I find it interesting that one Dispensational author admits that John came to prepare a way for the remnant of Israel to be saved,

“John was thus a voice of one calling in the desert to prepare a remnant to receive the Messiah.”[19]   

If the mission was to prepare a way of salvation for the “remnant” of Jews (and thus not every Jew or a majority of Jews had to accept Christ), with the kingdom being “at hand,” then there was no need to have the kingdom postponed or delayed since the NT develops that a remnant of Jews (along with the Gentile inclusion) was indeed saved.

There is really no exegetical work done by Dispensationalists trying to examine the context of the passage John references in Isaiah 40 as being salvation 40:2 and judgment 40:6-7, 10 and how that relates to the imminent judgment scene John is developing within the immediate context.     

Matthew 3:7:  Some Progressive Dispensationalists such as John MacArthur, have given lip service to the “wrath [about to] come” in 3:7 as “possibly” being fulfilled in AD 70, but if so, only in a partial or typological way allegedly awaiting the ultimate fulfillment of God pouring out His wrath at Christ’s future (to us) Second Coming.[20]

Matthew 3:10:  In regards to God having already laid His ax at Israel’s tree some see it as a judgment upon Jerusalem, but don’t want to really reference it to AD 70 and the imminence that saturates the rest of Matthew 3:

Judaism was in danger of being removed.  Unless there was productive fruit in keeping with repentance (v. 8), God would remove the tree [tree=Judaism=Israel].”[21]  Why are these Dispensational commentators afraid to point out that in AD 70 the kingdom would in fact be “taken” from Israel and “given” to the “nation” of the Church (Matt. 21:43-45)?  Therefore, when the “at hand kingdom” would come in AD 70, the OC kingdom would be judged (with the kingdom being taken from her – the removing of her tree – ie. gather and burn up the chaff) and the remnant would experience salvation through their repentance and be “given” the kingdom (ie. gather His wheat into the barn).

However, MacArthur of 3:10 refreshingly and boldly writes,

“Irreversible judgment was imminent”[22]

But he fails miserably to exegetically connect this “irreversible imminence” of (v. 10) with the immediate contexts of (verses 2, 7), and gives vague and shallow connections of v. 10) to that of (vss. 11-12).

Matthew 3:11-12:  MacArthur does write concerning the baptism of fire,

“Because fire is used throughout this context as a means of judgment (vv. 10, 12), this must speak of a baptism of judgment upon the unrepentant.”[23]

Here he connects the baptism of fire in (v. 11) with the “irreversible judgment [that] was imminent” of (v. 10), and with being burned up with unquenchable fire” in (12).  But because being burned up with unquenchable fire for his theology means something that is connected with a far distant judgment at the end of world history — at best he can only make a thematic connection with the fiery judgments and not an actual and exegetical one connecting them as the same “imminent” judgment.

Louis Barbieri however does connect this baptism of fire with the Second Coming of Jesus in Malachi 3:

“Those who reject Him (chaff) would be judged and cast into eternal unquenchable fire (cf. Mal. 4:1).”[24]

Matthew 11:10-15; 17:11-13: There seems to be a denial among Dispensationalists when it comes to Jesus’ teaching that John the Baptist fulfilled the prophecy of Elijah’s coming before the great and dreadful day of the Lord could occur (cf. Mal. 4:1-5).  Most seem to think that this is fulfilled when allegedly Elijah will come in our future in fulfillment of Revelation 11.  But John (as Elijah) came to prepare the way for Christ’s Second Coming and judgment (Mal. 3:1-2; Mal. 4:1-5; Isa. 40:3-7, 10).  Dispensationalists are also exegetically impotent to connect the imminence throughout Matthew 3 with the imminence in the NT concerning the Second Coming of Jesus that John came to prepare the way for.          

Weakness of this view

First, there is NO exegetical evidence whatsoever that John the Baptist nor Jesus, was ever offering a literal earthly kingdom that was “at hand.”  A literal earthly kingdom was offered to Jesus and He clearly rejected it and went on further to develop that His kingdom was spiritual (cf. John 6).  Everywhere Jesus describes His kingdom throughout the gospels, it is always described as a spiritual (spiritual water, bread, life, etc…) kingdom that is “not of this world” and when it would come it would not be visible, but would be realized “within.”  The rest of the NT develops a spiritual kingdom never a literal or earthly one.

Secondly, there is NO exegetical evidence anywhere in the teachings of Jesus in the gospels or in the NT authors, that the kingdom John the Baptist and Jesus said was “at hand” got “delayed” or “postponed” thousands of years.  Not a single verse!

Thirdly, it is the NT’s teaching that Christ’s “rejection” (ie. His death and resurrection) actually established the “already” aspect to Israel’s OT promises concerning the Davidic kingdom – hardly “postponing” them.

Fourthly, exegetically speaking the imminent “at hand” aspect of the Kingdom is connected to an “about to” come “wrath” or “irreversible imminent” eschatological harvest judgment that would result in removing Israel (the trees) (vss. 10, 12).  There is really no exegetical work at all being done to harmonize all four of these imminent time statements to the harvest judgment and salvation imminently coming in AD 70.

Fifthly, Dispensationalism admits that John was coming to prepare the way for Christ’s Second Coming (“the day of His coming” / “the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord”) in a fiery judgment as predicted by Malachi 3:2-5/4:1-5/Isa. 40:3-4, 10/=Matthew 3:3, 10-12.  However, men like MacArthur will not connect the exegetical dots in our passage let alone in the rest of the NT which teaches that the “Irreversible judgment [that] was imminent” in John’s day to his first century audience is the Second Coming event of which John came to prepare the way of – for that same first century audience!

Sixthly, Dispensationalism constantly ridicules Covenant Theology and Preterism for pointing out that the OT and NT uses highly apocalyptic/symbolic/metaphoric language in prophetic literature (not literal), and clearly John did not come to prepare a literal highway for Jesus to enter this literal kingdom on earth that they have imagined He was teaching in the book of Dispensationalism 7:7-77 apparently.

Seventh, If John came to prepare a way for the “remnant” of Israel to be saved in order for the kingdom and Christ’s Second Coming could be realized, then there was no reason to have the kingdom “postponed” because a “remnant” was saved prior to Christ coming in the judgment upon Jerusalem in AD 70.

Eighth, There is nothing but pure eisegesis and Dispensational dogma that separates John’s coming harvest judgment and salvation in Matthew 3 related to the kingdom’s arrival and what Jesus will teach on the same subject matter in Matthew 13.

This view has to read into the text (eisegesis) an offer of an alleged earthly/literal kingdom that is nowhere found here or anywhere else in the NT, a “delay” or “postponement” theory that is nowhere found here or anywhere else in the NT, and is confused and impotent on how all four imminent AD 70 references or images (vss. 2, 7, 10-12) harmonize within Matthew 3 let alone how the rest of the NT harmonizes them!

Strengths of this view 

Dispensationalism is forced to at least accept that “at hand” is a genuinely imminent time statement for the first century audience John is addressing.  But unfortunately as we will see later, when it comes to the kingdom being “at hand” associated with Christ’s Second Coming, “at hand” takes on a totally different meaning for the same first century audience.

Dispensationalism does accept that the coming of Christ in judgment found in Malachi 3-4 is the Second Coming event and not just “a” minor AD 70 coming (per Partial Preterism).

We can find points of agreement that the kingdom was genuinely “at hand” (but not “postponed”) and that Matthew 3:10-12 refers to the Second Coming of Christ to bring about an “Irreversible judgment [that] was imminent.”  No debate on those points.

Amillennialism

Matthew 3:2:  Concerning the kingdom being “at hand,” Amillennialism emphasizes the spiritual nature of the kingdom (over against the Premillennial Dispensational view) and that the kingdom’s “already” aspect was present or would imminently be present – realized in the heart,  “bearing forth fruit” with their “repentance.”  For example William Hendricksen writes,

“…heaven’s (ie. God’s) reign in the hearts and lives of men would begin to assert itself far more powerfully than ever before, was about to begin; in a sense, had even now arrived.  Great blessings were in store for all those who, by sovereign grace, would confess and forsake their sins and would begin to live to God’s glory.”[25]

Matthew 3:3 & Isaiah 40:  Hendriksen sees Isaiah 40:3-5 as typologically being fulfilled when the remnant of Israel came out of the wilderness captivity of Babylon and back into the Promised Land through the restoration and preparing the way of God through Ezra and Nehemiah’s ministries.  As far as how John prepares the way, he writes,

“…to prepare the way of the Lord, that is, by God’s grace and power to effect a complete change of mind and heart (see verse 2). This implies that they must make straight his paths, meaning that they must provide the Lord with a ready access into their hearts and lives. They must make straight whatever was crooked, not in line with God’s holy will. They must clear away all the obstacles which they had thrown into his path; such obstructions as self-righteousness and smug complacency (“We have Abraham as our father,” verse 9), greed, cruelty, slander, etc. (Luke 3:13, 14).

It is evident that, both in Isaiah and in John’s preaching as recorded by Matthew, “the wilderness” through which a path must be made ready for the Lord is in the final analysis the people’s heart, inclined to all evil. Though the literal meaning is not absent, it is subsumed into the figurative. The root idea is indeed the actual desert. “But the very sight of the [literal] wilderness must have had a powerful effect on stupid and hardened men, leading them to perceive that they were in a state of death, and to accept the promise of salvation that had been held out to them” (John Calvin on Matt. 3:3).”[26]

So as one can see the Amillennialist is limited in his exegesis of an “at hand” kingdom only addressing its internal affects within the heart and not really dealing with imminent aspects of the kingdom’s arrival in the eschatological areas that are developed throughout the immediate context.  Nor is there any discussion that within the context of Isaiah 40:3-5 the Second Coming is mentioned as a part of the way that is being prepared.

Matthew 3:7:  In trying to address the “approaching wrath,” Hendriksen does not deal with the Greek word mello here and how it is used throughout Matthew’s gospel.  If he were, he would translate it as the wrath that was “about to be” poured out upon the hypocrites and “Brood of vipers” to whom John is addressing.  He does however connect this “wrath” with the Second Coming of Christ:

“…the final outpouring of this wrath is reserved for the future (Eph. 5:6; Col. 3:6; 2 Thess. 1:8, 9; Rev. 14:10).

“…this final manifestation of wrath (Zeph. 1:15; 2:2) is connected with the (second) coming of the Messiah (Mal. 3:2, 3; 4:1, 5).[27]

Matthew 3:10:  As usual futurists such as Hendriksen do not know how to deal with NT imminence and throw everything they can at it.  Everything from the old viewing things from the two mountain tops and “prophetic foreshortening” to pointing out that AD 70 could be in view in that it was a near event.  Note the Amillennialist’s struggle with John’s imminent eschatology and that of the NT’s in general:

“Judgment is at hand. The axe lies right in front of (πρός) or, as we would say, “at” the root, with sinister intent, ready to hew down one tree after another. Right now, therefore, is the proper moment to repent and to believe. In this connection see also Ps. 95:7, 8; Isa. 55:6; Luke 13:7, 9; 17:32; John 15:6; Rom. 13:11; 2 Cor. 6:2; 1 John 2:18; Rev. 1:3. Continued: … every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into fire. The question might be asked, “But was the day of the final manifestation of God’s wrath upon the wicked actually that close? Is it not true that many centuries have passed by since the Baptist spoke these words, and still the Lord has not returned for judgment?” The following facts should be borne in mind:

First, John reminds one of the Old Testament prophet who, in speaking about the last days or the Messianic age would at times look upon the future as a traveler does on a distant mountain range. He fancies that one mountain top rises up right behind the other, when in reality the two are miles apart. The two comings of Christ are viewed as if they were one. Thus we read “A shoot shall come forth out of the stock of Jesse … and he shall smite the earth” (Isa. 11:1–4). “Jehovah has anointed me to preach good tidings to the meek. He has sent me to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and … the day of vengeance of our God” (Isa. 61:1, 2). “I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions.… The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and terrible day of Jehovah arrives” (Joel 2:28–31). Cf. Mal. 3:1, 2. This has been called “prophetic foreshortening.”

Secondly, Jerusalem’s fall (a.d. 70) was drawing perilously near, and foreshadowed the final judgment.

Thirdly, impenitence has a tendency of hardening a person, so that often he is left in his present lost condition. Without genuine repentance death and the judgment are for him irrevocable and “at the door.”

Fourthly, “one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day” (2 Peter 3:8).

Fifthly, as the references given above (p. 205, beginning with Ps. 95:7, 8) indicate, John was by no means the only one who emphasized the imminence of the judgment and/or the need of becoming converted right now. Therefore, if on this score we find fault with the Baptist we would also have to blame the psalmists, the prophets, the apostles, and even the Lord himself! Surely, no true believer is ready to do this.

Sixthly, all this does not necessarily mean that the Baptist himself always saw the present and the future in true perspective. See on 11:1–3. It only means that the Holy Spirit guided him so that in his actual preaching as here recorded he had a perfect right to say what he said.

The “fire” into which the unfruitful trees are cast is evidently a symbol of the final outpouring of God’s wrath upon the wicked. See also Mal. 4:1; Matt. 13:40; John 15:6. Jesus spoke about “the Gehenna of fire” (Matt. 5:22, 29; 18:9; Mark 9:47). This fire is unquenchable (Matt. 3:12; 18:8; Mark 9:43; Luke 3:17). The point is not merely that there is always a fire burning in Gehenna but that God burns the wicked with unquenchable fire, the fire that has been prepared for them as well as for the devil and his angels (Matt. 3:12; 25:41).[28]

Hendriksen is throwing everything he can at John the Baptist’s teaching and how the NT develops imminence hoping that something will stick!  If imminence is to be taken literally here, then AD 70 would fulfill this, but only in “foreshadowing” way.  Why?  Because Hendriksen assumes that this wrath associated with the Second Coming must be future and an world of history kind of event.  Then on the other extreme he appeals to 2 Peter 3:8 and interprets it in such a way that imminence doesn’t have to be interpreted literally at all.  So in this approach when Peter says “the end of all things is at hand” – it really didn’t communicate imminence to Peter’s first century audience because “at hand” could really mean thousands and thousands of years.  Concerning his two mountain peaks illustration – the two were viewed to take place imminently together, because Jesus places his rejection in His first coming and His Second Coming to take place within the same AD 30 – AD 70 “this generation” (Luke 17:25/Luke 21:27-32).  Since they both take place within the same “this generation” time frame, NT imminence can be interpreted literally and refer to Christ coming in the judgment upon Jerusalem and thus God pouring out His wrath upon those that had rejected His Son.

What is helpful from Amillennialists such as William Hendriksen is that they seem to recognize that John’s eschatology here is a microcosm of the rest of the NT’s eschatology.  Therefore, how you interpret one is how you must interpret the other.  Of course I have no disagreement on this point.

Matthew 3:11:  In regards to what the baptism of fire is, Amillennialists tend to agree with the Full Preterist that this is indeed referring to the Second Coming:

“Nevertheless, it would appear from the context (both before and after; see verses 10 and 12) and from Joel’s Pentecost prophecy (Joel 2:30; cf. Acts 2:19), considered in its context (see Joel 2:31), that the ultimate fulfilment of the Baptist’s words awaits Christ’s glorious return to cleanse the earth with fire (2 Peter 3:7, 12; cf. Mal. 3:2; 2 Thess. 1:8).[29]

Matthew 3:12: Simon Kistemaker seems to understand that John’s end time harvest metaphors here in 3:12 answer to the same end time harvest scene elsewhere in Matthew’s Gospel in the teachings of Jesus in Matthew 13:

“Throughout the Gospel of Matthew the theme of separation and judgment unfolds.  The wheat is gathered into the barn, but the chaff is burned up with unquenchable fire (Matt. 3:12); the weeds are separated from the wheat, and tied into bundles and burned, while the wheat is gathered into the barn (Matt. 13:30).”[30]

As far as the threshing floor judgment, Hendriksen correctly connects it with the Second Coming,

Thus also Christ at his return will thoroughly clear the area where the judgment will take place. No one will escape detection.[31]

Of the Christians or “grain” being gathered into the barn or kingdom, Hendriksen connects that with Christians inheriting the New Heaven and Earth in 2 Peter 3 and Revelation 21-22 at Christ’s Second Coming.  And the same time frame is given for the unbelievers or “chaff” – they are thrown into the Lake of Fire for eternal punishment at Christ’s Second Coming (Matt. 25:41; Rev. 20:10).[32]  After all this is the eschatological “not yet” to the kingdom promises.

Weaknesses of this view

It fails to honor the context in that the “at hand” of the kingdom is not just a spiritual “in the heart” “already” aspect to the kingdom, but includes the kingdom’s imminent “not yet” salvation and judgment motif throughout the passage.  This is further evidenced in that it is the Second Coming that John was to prepare the way for in Isaiah 40:3-5, 10 and Malachi 3 and 4.

There is no study on mello in 3:7 which should be translated as a wrath that was “about to” be poured out upon those that would not repent.

It fails to understand or develop NT imminence in any kind of Biblical or consistent way.

Strengths of this view

There is some attempt to find the eschatological imminence or kingdom “not yet” promises being fulfilled in the AD 70 judgment – but not consistently.

The ax laid at the tree and the coming baptism of fire are correctly identified with the Second Coming event as predicted in Malachi 3 and 4.

Unlike Dispensationalism, there are not two different kingdoms or phases of the kingdom – one for Israel and another for the Church in which they separate the salvation and judgment harvest motifs here in Matthew 3 from Jesus’ parable of the wheat and tares in Matthew 13.  Amillennialism seems to equate the two as the same end time harvest event.

This position correctly sees the eschatology of John the Baptist here to be a microcosm of the NT’s eschatology as a whole.  Therefore, its struggle with John’s imminence here is its struggle with NT imminence.

Partial Preterism

Matthew 3:2-3:  In regards to the manifestation of the kingdom being at hand John Lightfoot writes,

“1. The exhibition and manifestation of the Messias, Matt. 12:28; “But if I, by the finger of God, cast out devils, the kingdom of God is come upon you:” that is, ‘Hence is the manifestation of the Messias.’ See John 3:3, 12:13, &c. 2. The resurrection of Christ; death, hell, Satan, being conquered: whence is a most evident manifestation that he is that ‘eternal King,’ &c.: see Matt. 26:29, Rom. 1:4. 3. His vengeance upon the Jewish nation, his most implacable enemies: this is another, and most eminent manifestation of him: see Matt. 16:28, 19:28. 4. His dominion by the sceptre of the gospel among the Gentiles, Matt. 21:43. In this place which is before us it points out the exhibition and revelation of the Messias.[33]

Matthew 3:7:  John Lightfoot is on target in identifying this coming wrath to AD 70,

“…To fly from the wrath to come.] These words respect the very last words of the Old Testament, “lest I smite the earth with a curse,” Mal. 4:[6]; and denote the most miserable destruction of the nation, and now almost ready to fall upon them.

The receiving of John’s baptism signed and fenced those that received it from the ruin that was just coming. To this belongs that of St. Peter, Epist. 1. ch. 3:20, 21: in that manner as Noah and his sons were by water delivered from the flood, “so also baptism now, the antitype of that type, saveth us” from the deluge of divine indignation, which in a short time is to overflow the Jewish nation. Think here, if those that came to baptism brought not their little ones with them to baptism: when, by the plain words of the Baptist, those that are baptized are said to “fly from the wrath to come?” that is, ‘the wrath of God,’ that was not long hence to destroy the nation by a most sad overthrow.”[34]

Matthew 3:10-12:  Gentry concedes a Preterist interpretation of 3:10-12,

“He [John] then warns just before Christ’s ministry begins that “the axe is already laid at the root of the trees. (3:10) and that “He who is coming” has a “winnowing fork is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clear His threshing floor; and He will gather His wheat into the barn, but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire” (3:12).  This anticipates AD 70.”[35]

R.C. Sproul,

“The image of the axe does not indicate that the woodsman is merely thinking about cutting down a tree or that he has merely begun the task by striking at the outer bark.  The image is that the task is nearly complete.  The axe has already penetrated to the core of the tree, hinting that one more decisive stroke will make it fall.

The fan refers to the winnowing fork used by a farmer to separate the wheat from the chaff.  The farmer is not heading to his barn to get the fan.  It is already in his hand and he is about to begin the winnowing.”[36]

Matthew 11:10-14: Gentry writes of Matthew 11:14/Malachi 3-4,

“In Matthew 11:14 Christ declares John the Baptist the fulfillment of the prophecy of Elijah’s return.  When we read of this in Mal 3-4 we discover Christ will come to judge Israel.”[37]

Weaknesses of this view

Unlike the Amillennial view, the weaknesses of this view is in its failure to harmonize and use the analogy of Scripture principle of interpretation concerning the “great and dreadful day of the Lord,” the imminent coming judgment and wrath whereby the wicked are thrown into “unquenchable fire” (all being fulfilled in AD 70) with the rest of the NT’s teaching on these eschatological topics.  There isn’t even any attempt to harmonize the coming harvest separation and judgment of Matthew 3 with Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 13.

Strengths of this view

Unlike the Amillennial view, the strength of this view is that it seeks to take the imminence throughout Matthew 3:2-12 seriously and finds its fulfillment in the fall of Jerusalem.

Progressive Partial Preterism

Matthew 3:2-12:  In response to the kind of vague comments Amillennialists give about a pure inward aspect of the kingdoms arrival and a call for repentance throughout all ages, Russell makes the point that the repentance in our passage is urgent for a specific immediate audience (the Jews) concerning a specific coming national judgment,

“These warnings of John the Baptist are not the vague and indefinite exhortations to repentance, addressed to men in all ages, which they are sometimes assumed to be; they are urgent, burning words, having a specific and present bearing upon the then existing generation, the living men to whom he brought the message of God.  The Jewish nation was now upon its last trial; the second Elijah had come as the precursor of ‘the great and dreadful day of the Lord:’ if they rejected his warnings, the doom predicted by Malachi world surely and speedily follow; “I will come and smite the land with a curse.’  Nothing can be more obvious than that the catastrophe to which John alludes is particular, national, local, and imminent, and history tells us that within the period of the generation that listened to his warning cry, ‘the wrath came upon them to the uttermost.’”[38]

Russell is also helpful in demonstrating that although the “way” John is called upon to “prepare” here in Matthew 3:3 is found in Isaiah 40, we still see the “way” of judgment found in Malachi 3-4 (as is quoted in Matt. 11:10) within our passage,

“It is impossible not to be struck with the correspondence between the language of the Baptist and that of Malachi.  As Hengstenberg observes:  ‘The prophecy of Malacki is throughout the text upon which John comments.’  In both, the coming of the Lord is described as a day of wrath; both speak of His coming with fire to purify and try, with fire to burn and consume.  Both speak of a time of discrimination and separation between the righteous and the wicked, the gold and dross, the wheat and chaff; and both speak of the utter destruction of the chaff, or stubble, with unquenchable fire.  These are not fortuitous resemblances:  the two predictions are the counterpart one of the other, and can only refer to the self-same event, the same ‘day of the lord,’ the same coming judgment.”[39]

Russell also does a great job of using the analogy of Scripture principle of interpreting scripture when he connects the Matthew 3:2-12 with that of the parable of the wheat and tares in Matthew 13:

“It is indeed surprising that expositors should failed to recognize in these solemn predictions the reproduction and reiteration of the words of Malachi and of John the Baptist.  Here we find the same final separation between the righteous and the wicked; the same purging of the floor; the same gathering of the wheat into the garner; the same burning of the chaff [tares, stubble] in the fire.  Can there be no doubt that it is to the same act of judgment, the same period of time, the same historical event, that Malachi, John, and our Lord refer?”[40]

Weaknesses of this view

Russell should have spent some time on the use of mello in Matthew 3:7 to add strength to his case on imminence throughout Matthew 3.

Although doing a good job on showing how the context of Malachi 3-4 can be seen ever here in Matthew 3, he could have spent some time developing the context of Isaiah 40 of which John specifically references to make a case for an AD 70 judgment scene.

Russell’s view of a partial and literal “rapture” of Christians during the events of AD 67-70 at Christ’s parousia I believe is gravely mistaken and has some problems even here at the outset.  Since he equates the gathering of Matthew 3 with Matthew 13, we should not that the tares are “gathered” at the same time as the wheat (actually they are gathered first).  So if the eschatological “gathering” within John and Jesus’ teaching throughout Matthew’s gospel refers to the same event, then this would require that the wicked tares were gathered/raptured in the same way the righteous wheat were gathered/raptured.  There is no discussion of this serious problem for Russell’s view and even modern day Progressive Partial Preterists that hold to his literal rapture theory taking place in AD 70.

Strengths of this view       

As previously noted, Russell is strong in pointing out John’s references to Malachi here in Matthew 3 – and not just in Matthew 11.

His refutation of an Amillennial type general repentance spanning thousands of years in the kingdom being “at hand” is excellent when he points the reader to stay within the text itself arguing for a local, national, and imminence throughout Matthew 3 which exegetically points us to a first century audience being called to repentance for a particular national judgment coming in AD 70.

His appeals that Jesus is simply “reiterating” and “reproducing” the same separating harvest and fiery salvation and judgment scene as that of Malachi and John are excellent (Matt. 3=Matt. 13).  We saw this point made by Kistemaker, but here we have more exegetical evidence demonstrating that both were fulfilled to close the OC age in AD 70 and are not referring to an end of the planet earth or history events.

MATTHEW 24-25 

Virtually every eschatological system, scholar or commentary will tell you that whatever one’s interpretation of the Olivet Discourse (OD) is, it will dictate your eschatological views throughout the rest of the NT.  Nowhere else in the gospels is Jesus’ teaching so clearly laid out concerning all of the main eschatological events:  His coming/parousia, the end of the age, the passing of heaven and earth, the end of the age gathering (ie. the resurrection and judgment of the dead), and the end time signs marking the genuine nearness of these events.  The rest of the NT is simply a reiteration on the time frame and nature of these eschatological events. D.A Carson has correctly pointed out that whatever your eschatological views are in interpreting Matthew 24-25, will be your views of 1 & 2 Thessalonians, the book of Revelation, and indeed will set the pattern for the church’s understanding of eschatology throughout the rest of the NT: 

“…the discourse itself is undoubtedly a source for the Thessalonian Epistles (cf. G. Henry Waterman, “The Sources of Paul’s Teaching on the 2nd Coming of Christ in 1 and 2 Thessalonians,” JETS 18 [1975]: 105–13; David Wenham, “Paul and the Synoptic Apocalypse,” France and Wenham, 2:345–75) and Revelation (cf. Gregory Kimball Beale, “The Use of Daniel in Jewish Apocalyptic Literature and in the Revelation of St. John” [Ph.D. diss., Cambridge University, 1980], pp. 260–64, and the literature cited there). If so, then we may say that Jesus himself sets the pattern for the church’s eschatology.”[41]

And yet because various futurist systems have been imposed upon the OD, it has perplexed many throughout Church history as Amillennialist Kim Riddlebarger admits while quoting Carson,

“For a number of reasons, the Olivet Discourse is one of the most difficult and disputed passages in the whole New Testament.  As D.A. Carson notes, “Few chapters of the Bible have called forth more disagreement among interpreters than Matthew 24 and its parallels in Mark 13 and Luke 21.  The history of the interpretation of this passage is immensely complex.”  How one interprets this important text will go a long way in determining one’s view of the millennial age pre, a, or post.”[42]  

I could multiply quotes like these from virtually every eschatological system and view being taught today.  Other than the agreement on the importance of giving an accurate exegesis of the OD because it will affect ones eschatology throughout the rest of the NT on the time and nature of fulfillment, there isn’t much agreement after that.  And I will argue it is because futurists have been building upon a false and faulty foundation when approaching it.

By way of exegesis, I will be following Matthew 24-25 as a guide, but at points will be addressing the synoptic parallels found in Mark 13 and Luke 21 when relevant.

Four Main Views

As I give an in-depth exegesis of the OD, I will be interacting with four main eschatological views or groups.  There may be some slight differences within each of these groups, but for the most part my descriptions are accurate.  Therefore, before beginning our exegesis it will help the reader to get a bird’s eye view of them and their approaches to or Lord’s discourse on the last things.  I will also give the strengths and weakness of each view.

Premillennial Dispensationalism

While Premillennialism has been around throughout Church history for a long time, Premillennial Dispensationalism has not – being around roughly for only about 150 years.  Although this eschatological system has only been around for such a brief period, it still dominates the radio and television airwaves and has a large following.  Because of this, I will be dealing mostly with the Dispensational aspect within Premillennialism in this work.

Weaknesses

As we will see later, this view (along with the majority of futurist views) is doomed to failure from the very beginning because it assumes that the disciples were “confused” in associating the destruction of the Temple, end of the age, and coming of the Son of Man to take place within the same time frame.

Another error this view teaches is that the “end of the age” or “the end” in the discourse is referring to the end of the planet or the end of the New Covenant Christian age.

It tends to teach that the signs in the discourse are being fulfilled right before our very eyes in the news and thus Jesus’ “rapture” for the Church could be an anytime event for us.

Since there is a radical distinction between the Church and Israel in this system with our current age being the Church age with Israel’s kingdom promises following it, the surrounding of Jerusalem or the desolation of the Temple in this system is not the Temple that Jesus and the disciples are actually looking at and discussing, but rather a future one yet to be rebuilt.  Therefore, there is always excitement within this group and a twisting of OT and NT passages to fit an alleged “fulfillment” of Israel becoming a nation in 1948 and the talk of them re-building the Temple.

The Great Tribulation is seen as a future global event – not within Jesus’ contemporary generation or a local event.

Since the “end of the age” is understood within this view to be an end of world history event, the de-creation in verses 29, 35 likewise tend to be understood as referring to a literal de-creation or re-creation of planet earth events.

Although it is admitted by some of their leading theologians that “this generation” is referring to the AD 30 – AD 70 generation everywhere else by Jesus, it believes Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 24:34 is the exception.  This automatically raises a red flag to any student of hermeneutics.

Jesus’ teaching that all these things would be fulfilled in a “this generation” time period, is interpreted as “the Jewish race will not pass away until all these things will be fulfilled.”  Or another view is that the generation that is alive to see these end time signs be fulfilled is the generation that will witness the rapture and or then his return.  Since the alleged TV “prophecy experts” of this view believe we have witnessed most if not all of these signs, many have taught that it is our generation that Jesus is addressing in the OD, or the generation that witnessed the “super-sign” of Israel becoming a nation in 1948.

It is also relevant to point out that this view believes in two comings of Christ.  First, there is the “secret rapture” coming of Jesus “for” the Church, then there is the actual Second Coming of Jesus “with the Church” some seven years later to establish the kingdom by means of ruling on earth during a literal thousand year millennial period.

And while this view would agree that whatever your view of the OD is, it will dictate your views of these events throughout the rest of the NT – we can’t find a secret rapture coming then a Second Coming in the OD.  Nor can we find any teaching on a literal earthly kingdom whereby Jesus rules on the earth for a thousand years etc….  Nor do we find any teaching on a judgment and resurrection of the dead prior to the thousand years and then one following the thousand years mentioned by Jesus in the OD or anywhere in the teachings of Jesus.

Strengths

The only strength that I can see with this interpretation of the OD is that it does interpret the coming of the Son of Man consistently through Matthew 24-25 as the actual Second Coming event.  I will not take issue with that.

Classic Amillennialism

The classic Amillennial view is probably the most popular view throughout Church history.  It has been held by the Roman Catholic Church and the Protestant Reformed Church.  Although some Amillialists have held to a Partial Preterist interpretation of some of these eschatological events in the OD, the vast majority have not – especially when it comes to the coming of the Son of Man as being one future event.  Therefore, it is this later version that I will address in this book.

Weaknesses

Like the previous view, it assumes that the disciples were “confused” in associating the destruction of the Temple, end of the age, and coming of the Son of Man to take place within the same time frame.

Like the Premillennial Dispensational view, its proponents believe the “end of the age” or “the end” in the discourse is referring to the end of the planet or the end of the New Covenant Christian age.

It tends to erratically chop up the Discourse believing some events refer to AD 70 while others are future.  It separates the surrounding of Jerusalem and the destruction of the Temple in AD 70 from the coming of the Son of Man upon the clouds – which is the Second Coming to take place at the end of the New Covenant Christian age to close world history.  I say this view “erratically chops up” the discourse because the disciples connect all the events to be fulfilled together and Jesus in answering their question(s) does as well (after discussing all these events) when He says, “Most assuredly, this generation will by no means pass away until all these things are fulfilled.”  Notice he does not say “some of these things” would be fulfilled in AD 70 while others would not – but “all these things.”

Therefore, it will become very apparent as we make our way through the OD that this view cannot deal with Jesus’ teaching that His coming would take place within the AD 30 – AD 70 “this generation” and thus its attempts to deal with NT imminence will also fall short of honoring God’s Word.

Strengths

Similar to the Premillennial Dispensational view, the classic Amillennial position consistently sees the coming of the Son of Man throughout the discourse as Jesus’ actual Second Coming.  Unlike Premillennial Dispensationalism, it is a very simple view in that when the ONE Second Coming of Jesus takes place at the end of the age, the de-creation (and by implication the new arrives), and the judgment and resurrection of the dead occurs.   And of course the rest of the NT follows this pattern.

Partial Preterism & Progressive Partial Preterism

Most Partial Preterists and Progressive Partial Preterists today and throughout Church history have been Postmillennialists.  Why?  Well, in order for their “optimistic” “eschatology of victory” to take place (that is the Christianization of every nation on planet earth before the Second Coming takes place), it needs to get some of the negative things for the Church to be fulfilled in the past (preterism).  Therefore, this view arbitrarily uses the preterist hermeneutic to get the Great Tribulation, severe persecutions from the beast, Man of Sin, apostasy, etc…, in the past so that it can promote Postmillennialism.

Partial Preterism

Weaknesses

As the previous two views have errored, so too does this one when it assumes from the very beginning that the disciples were “confused” in associating the destruction of the Temple, end of the age, and coming of the Son of Man to take place together or within Jesus’ AD 30 – AD 70 “this generation” time frame.

Like the first two views outlined above, many Partial Preterist believe that the “end of the age” in the OD is referring to the end of world history or the end of the Christian age.  This too is a major exegetical weakness of this position.

Strengths

Some of the things this view has going for it on an exegetical level is that it views all of the signs elaborated by Jesus to be fulfilled within the AD 30 – AD 70 “this generation” inspired time period.  Therefore, the Great Tribulation and the surrounding of Jerusalem by armies and the desolation of the Temple are also events fulfilled by AD 70.

The de-creation in Matthew 24:29 is not literal but rather prophetic, apocalyptic, and symbolic language referring to the end of Israel’s Old Covenant age or world in AD 70.

The coming of the Son of Man upon the clouds in Matthew 24:27, 30 is also prophetic, apocalyptic, and symbolic language referring to Christ’s coming in judgment upon Jerusalem through the Roman armies in AD 70 – one of its main strengths.

“This generation” is interpreted as it is everywhere else in the gospels and that is Jesus’ contemporary AD 30 – AD 70 generation – thus “a” coming of Jesus, the signs, and the stars falling from the heavens etc…, were fulfilled within this inspired time frame.  Unfortunately for this view, they do not include “the end of the age” as apart of “all these things” are fulfilled within that contemporary generation and so they need to insert that subject in Matthew 24:

Matthew 24:35-36 allegedly marks a division in the OD.  At this point Jesus begins addressing His actual Second Coming and “end of the age” — attended by the literal de-creation of “heaven and earth” (and by implication the new arrives).  In this section the judgment and resurrection of the dead follow as well.

Some of the positives of this view is that it tries to honor Jesus’ time frame claiming that most of verses 3-34 were fulfilled in Jesus’ contemporary “this generation.”  In doing so, it also honors the use of OT prophetic, apocalyptic, and symbolic language.  Since Christ’s parousia and de-creation (and implied new creation) took place in AD 70, it also tries to honor most of the NT’s imminence passages.

The negatives to this view is that nowhere previous to Matthew 24-25 or after, do we find Jesus teaching on TWO comings to end TWO end of the age(s).  There is only one, and it is said to take place within the lifetime of His first century audience (cf. Matt. 10:22-23; 16:27-28; 26:64) – ie. by AD 70.  Therefore, the disciples in the OD do not ask about TWO comings of Christ.  As I will develop later, their arguments to support TWO comings and two sections of the OD will not hold water.  Their arguments that the OD teaches two comings is simply read into the text as is their theory that the rest of the NT teaches this two comings idea.

Progressive Partial Preterism

This view still falls within the realm of “Partial Preterism,” but since it seeks to try and solve some of the exegetical problems I have briefly addressed above within Partial Preterism, and at the same time has moved closer and closer to Full Preterism over the years, I have termed it “Progressive” Partial Preterism.  Progressive Partial Preterists are fond of pointing out how Progressive Dispensationalism has “crossed certain lines” in their interpretations of key passages which undermine the Dispensational system.  And if consistently played out (they argue) Progressive Dispensationalism should lead their theologians and students to Covenant Theology and or Reformed Eschatology.  I find this ironic since Progressive Partial Preterists such as Gary DeMar are no longer holding to a two parousia(s)/coming(s) theory of Jesus in Matthew 24-25 – this has undermined his Partial Preterism and if consistently played out should lead him and his readers into Full Preterism.  In fact this has been the case for me and many other students that have read his materials.

I will be classifying J. Stuart Russell’s position as Progressive Partial Preterism because although he takes the Second Coming taking place in AD 70, he argued that we are still in the millennium and therefore the millennium of Revelation 20 has not been fulfilled. This is neither exegetical nor can it be considered Full Preterism.  His view of a partial literal rapture is neither exegetical nor consistent with Full Preterisms understanding of a spiritual fulfillment of the Kingdom promises being realized “within” in AD 70.

Strengths

Unlike the previous three views, Progressive Partial Preterism does not assume that the disciples were confused in associating the coming of Christ in the OD with the destruction of the Temple and end of the age.  This is an exegetical strength and refreshing to hear coming from this view.

This leads to another exegetical strength that cannot be found within the previous three as well, “the end of the age” or “the end” in the OD both are addressing the end of the Old Covenant age and not the end of the planet earth or the end of the New Covenant Christian age.

Like the traditional Partial Preterist view, all of the signs, the surrounding of Jerusalem by armies and the desolation of the Temple, the Great Tribulation and wrath, the de-creation in Matthew 24:29 and coming of Christ in verses 27, 30 are discussing prophetic, apocalyptic, and symbolic language addressing the end of Israel’s Old Covenant age in AD 70.  But unlike other Partial Preterists, there are no TWO parousia(s)/coming(s) of Christ or two sections in the OD for this group.  The coming of the Son of Man throughout Matthew 24-25 is Christ coming in the judgment of Jerusalem in AD 70.  These are definitely strengths of this view and hopefully other Partial Preterists will follow.

Weaknesses

However, the exegetical weaknesses of this view should be clear enough in that it is now forced to teach that Jesus never discussed His actual Second Coming in Matthew, Mark and Luke and that the teaching on the Second Coming is really more of a doctrine that the Apostle Paul was given to develop (thus separating Jesus’ eschatology from Paul’s).  This is a bizarre position to take to say the least.  Because of this, some within this group don’t know if the NT teaches two comings of Christ or one with different manifestations/fulfillments (Some trying to call this “Realized Preterism”).  Apparently it is so secret and confusing, that it has yet to be fully developed or “realized” in print or in any systematic way.  It is attempting to fix on the one hand some of the exegetical problems within traditional Partial Preterism, while on the other, remain creedal so as to not lose their ministries, orthodox publishing contracts, or get excommunicated from their creedal churches  (which is also the tightrope that traditional Partial Preterism has sought to walk).

Full Preterism  

I will be arguing for the Full Preterist view of the OD which is none other than the organic development (or “Reformed and always reforming”) of the Classic Amillennial view and that of the Partial Preterist views.

A Synthesis of the Classic Amillennial & Progressive Partial Preterist Views

The disciples were not wrong in associating the destruction of the Temple with Christ’s coming and the end of the age (Progressive Partial Preterism).

The “end of the “age” or “the end” is referring to the end of the OC age in AD 70 (Progressive Partial Preterism).

All of the signs, the Great Tribulation, desolation of Jerusalem and Temple (wrath poured out upon the land) were local (not global events) fulfilled by AD 70 (Progressive Partial Preterism).

The “end of the age” and de-creation (and by implication the arriving of the new) are exegetically connect in Matthew 24:3, 29, 35 and are referring to the passing of Israel’s OC world or age and the arrival of the NC Israel’s world or age in AD 70 (Progressive Partial Preterism).

The coming of the Son of Man throughout Matthew 24-25 is not a literal or bodily return of Jesus on literal clouds, but rather the language of the OT prophets, apocalyptic, symbolic language of Christ coming through the Idumean and Roman armies in judgment upon Jerusalem in the AD 30 – AD 70 “this generation” (Progressive Partial Preterism).

The coming of the Son of Man throughout Matthew 24-25 is the ONE and actual Second Coming event which takes place at the end of the age and brings about the ONE arrival of the New Creation, judgment and resurrection of the dead (Classic Amillennialism).

The ONE “the parousia/coming” of Christ, de-creation (implied new), and eschatological harvest “gathering” at the end of the age – judgment and resurrection of the dead taught by Jesus in Matthew 24:30-31—chapter 25 (cf. Matthew 13:39-43/Daniel 12:2-3, 7, 13) sets the stage for the timing and nature of fulfillment for the rest of the NT (Classic Amillennialism).

 

 

CHAPTER 1

The End of the age

Were the disciples “confused?” Did they ask about the end of planet earth?

“Jesus left the temple and was walking away when his disciples came up to him to call his attention to its buildings.  “Do you see all these things?” he asked. “Truly I tell you, not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.” As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. “Tell us,” they said, “when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?”  (Matt. 24:1-3).

Virtually all futurist eschatologies begin their exegesis of the OD with a false assumption related to the disciples question in Matthew 24:3.  That is they simply assume what they need to prove when they assume that the disciples were “confused” in associating Jesus’ coming and end of the age with the destruction of the temple.  Since futurist systems separate these events by thousands of years, and the disciples linked them to be fulfilled altogether, they merely assume the disciples were mistaken and will not concede that it is their systems that are being imposed upon the OD that has created the confusion of this important passage throughout Church history.

Let’s first address each of the four views we will be interacting with and get their own words and views concerning the disciples questions.

Premillennial Dispensationalism

My former Pastor and College President John MacArthur has sought to refute Partial and Full Preterism and writes of the disciples question,

Whether they fully realized it or not, the disciples were actually raising multiple questions in Matthew 24:3.  “When will these things be?” refers to the destruction of the temple and the events surrounding that catastrophe.  “What will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?” deals with a larger eschatological subject – the question of how Christ’s victorious coming as Israel’s Messiah fits into the whole prophetic timetable.

As we shall see in chapters to come, Jesus’ answers by no means erased all the mystery from those questions.  The interpretation of the Olivet Discourse is no easy undertaking.” [43]

Hence according to MacArthur,

“…Christ’s only explicit remarks about the destruction of the temple are those recorded in verse 2, as Jesus and the disciples were departing from the temple (v.1).  In the Olivet Discourse itself He makes no clear reference to the events of A.D. 70.  His entire reply is an extended answer to the more important question about the signs of His coming and the end of the age.  Virtually ignoring their initial question, He said nothing whatsoever about when the destruction of Jerusalem would occurThat is because those events were not really germane to the end of the end of the age. They were merely a foretaste of the greater judgment that would accompany His return, previews of what is to come ultimately.”[44]

Please observe that MacArthur is reading into the text statements like Jesus “ignores” their question and does not tell the disciples when the destruction of Jerusalem would occur because it wasn’t really that important!?!  The only “mystery” here is how MacArthur can’t see that the OT prophets taught that when the Temple was destroyed and judgment rendered upon Jerusalem was the event that would mark and bear witness of “Christ’s victorious coming as Israel’s Messiah!”  The “end” that the disciples are asking about in regards to the destruction of the Temple and the “end” that Jesus discusses throughout the discourse (hardly “ignoring” it!), is found in (Dan. 9:24-27; Dan. 12).

And per MacArthur, allegedly Jesus doesn’t answer their question as to when the destruction of the Temple and judgment upon Jerusalem would take place in the discourse, but wherever it is, it is only a “foretaste” and “previews” what is ultimately to come?  It is this kind of eisegesis (reading something into the text that is not there) that has caused the OD to be so confusing for so many.  We will explore MacArthur’s double type fulfillment theory more when we get to Luke 21:20-22.

In a multi-authored book designed to refute both Partial and Full Preterism produced by Dispensationalists Tim LaHaye and Thomas Ice we read:

“The disciples’ question in Matthew 24:3 is divided into two parts.  The first question relates to the destruction of the Temple, which took place in A.D. 70.  The second question, composed of two parts but related to one another, refers to events that are still yet to come.  The disciples apparently thought that all three elements – the destruction of the Temple, the sign of Christ’s coming, and the end of the age – would occur at the same time.  Yet this is not what Jesus was saying.”[45]

And referring to Pentecost and Stanley Toussaint as authorities they quote:

“J. Dwight Pentecost tells us:  ‘The questions showed that they had arrived at certain conclusions… To these men Christ’s words concerning the destruction of

Jerusalem was the destruction predicted by Zechariah that would precede the advent of the Messiah.  In Jewish eschatology two ages were recognized:  the first was this present age, the age in which Israel was waiting for the coming of the Messiah; the second was the age to come, the age in which all of Israel’s covenants would be fulfilled and Israel would enter into her promised blessing as a result of Messiah’s coming.’[46]

“Stanley Toussaint echoes this notion:  ‘This sequence is so clearly in view that Luke records the question concerning the destruction of Jerusalem only (Luke 21:7).  That is, the disciples took the destruction of Jerusalem to be completely eschatological.  Therefore, Luke records this question only, as though Jerusalem’s destruction would mark the coming of the King to reign.  Bruce is correct when he asserts, ‘The questioners took for granted that all three things went together:  destruction of temple, advent of Son of Man, end of the current age[47]

Let’s stop here just for a minute to observe that Dispensationalism is admitting that within Jewish eschatology the first “this age” for them was that of the law and the prophets and the “age to come” was that ushered in by Messiah – the NC age promised to Israel in her Scriptures.  This will be important in the next phase of our exegesis when we identify what exactly the “age” is the disciples are asking about!  But at this point all that is needed to observe is that like MacArthur, no exegetical evidence is given for this naked assertion that the disciples were confused in linking all three of these events together.

Amillennialism  

Amillennialist Kim Riddlebarger writes on the importance of understanding the disciples question as it pertains to a correct understanding of what follows,

“The questions put to Jesus by the disciples are the key to interpreting the passage correctly.  For the disciples, the destruction of the temple would be such a momentous event that it must mean the end of the age was at hand.

This assumption is clear from the three questions they asked:  When will this happen?  What will be the sign of your coming?  What will be the sign of the end of the age?  The way the questions were phrased, the last two questions are clearly linked, the assumption being that the Parousia or the coming of the Lord and the end of the age occur at the same time.  Jesus answered their questions but in doing so made plain that the coming destruction of the temple and the city of Jerusalem, while connected to God’s judgment on Israel, was not the Parousia nor the end of the age.  National Israel would be cut off and her people dispersed to the ends of the earth.  But another judgment will occur at the second coming of Jesus Christ, signaling the end of the age.  Therefore, Jesus spoke of two judgments:  a judgment to come on Israel within a single generation (the events of A.D. 70) and a final judgment at the end of the age (after an indeterminate period of time).  What makes the prophecy difficult to interpret is the determination of which events belong to the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple and which belong to the future.”[48]

Riddlebarger is correct in that the key to understanding the OD is to understand the disciples question(s) and how Jesus answers it/them.  But again because Kim assumes that the disciples were wrong in connecting the destruction of the Temple to Christ’s coming and the end of the age, this leads to the second error of inserting TWO judgments within the OD that are simply not there – thus making the “prophecy difficult” to interpret.

Partial Preterism

In Kenneth Gentry’s (Partial Preterist) debate with Dispensationalist Thomas Ice, he unfortunately makes the same mistake Ice does regarding the question of the disciples and there alleged confusion or “bewilderment” when he writes,

“In these questions we sense once again the bewilderment among the disciples at Jesus’ teaching—a bewilderment such as is seen elsewhere in Matthew, as in their confusion about the “leaven of the Pharisees” (16:6-12), Christ’s death (vv. 21-23), the purpose of the Transfiguration (17:4-5), Christ’s interest in children (19:13-15), and the nature of kingdom service (20:20-25).  Quite clearly Christ divides their question into two episodes in His answer:  (1) He speaks about the coming Great Tribulation resulting in the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple in A.D. 70 (24:4-34, which is in “this generation,” v. 34); and (2) His distant future second coming at the end of history (24:36-25:46, which is after a “long time,” 25:19).”[49]

And joining hands in the fundamental error of Dispensationalist Thomas Ice Gentry writes that the disciples “were wrong” that he can then insert his two sections/two comings of Jesus theory into the discourse hoping no one will notice,

“As House and Ice admit:  “It is probably true that the disciples thought of the three events (the destruction of the temple, the second coming, and the end of the age) as one event.  But as was almost always the case, they were wrong.”  Thus, Christ divided up the events for them.  The coming “tribulation” (24:36; 24:34; cp. 1Thess. 2:16) and was to be foreshadowed by certain signs (Matt. 24:4-8).  But the Second Advent was to be at “that” far day and hour, and was not to be preceded by particular signs of its nearness, for no man can know it (24:36).”[50]

I will address Gentry’s division theory of the discourse at Matthew 24:35-36ff. when we get to those verses, but for now I only want to document his eisegesis of claiming the disciples “were wrong” or “bewildered” in connecting the Temple’s destruction with Christ’s Parousia and the end of the age.  Before leaving Gentry’s interpretation here I want to address the examples he gives in Matthew’s gospel of the disciples being confused – which is at least an attempt at some kind of exegesis to support an alleged confusion here in the OD.  But as we will see Gentry ends up “proving too much.”

The first text Gentry cites is where the disciples were confused over the “leaven of the Pharisees” (Matt. 16:6-12).  Unfortunately for Gentry, the text clearly states that they didn’t understand and thought Jesus was talking about literal bread (v.7) and then Jesus rebukes and corrects them (vss. 8-11).  From there Matthew tells us that they then understood (v.12) “then they understood.”  So on the first “proof text,” it only proves the Full Preterist case in that when the disciples are confused about something Matthew or Jesus explicitly states it!

The second text Gentry cites is where the disciples are confused over Jesus’ teaching of His impending crucifixion (cf. Matt. 16:21-23).  Again, the text clearly explains this confusion in the words of Peter trying to correct Jesus and then the following rebuke of Jesus to Peter in (vss. 22-23).  Again, where there is confusion or error Matthew or Jesus clearly points it out.

The third text Gentry cites is concerning the disciples’ confusion over the transfiguration (cf. Matt.17:4-5).  Again, the text states their error of seeking to pitch tents for Moses and Elijah in that the Father rebukes them (v. 5).  The first part of the disciples confusion was in their seeking the abiding “let’s make tents” of the glory of the OC (symbolized through Moses = law & Elijah = the prophets) along with the everlasting NC (Jesus = NC) (cf. 2 Cor. 3 & 4; we will address Matt. 24:35 being the passing of the OC heaven and earth later).  The second thing they were confused on was why Jesus didn’t want them to speak of the vision (vss. 9-10).  After all wasn’t Elijah coming in the vision a fulfillment of prophecy they asked (v. 10)?  Jesus corrects their understanding of this by pointing out that Elijah’s prophecy had already been fulfilled in John the Baptist (vss. 11-12).  Then Matthew as a responsible narrator clearly tells his readers that then they “understood” (v.13).  None of this explicit confusion and correction is taking place within Matthew 24:1-3ff.

The fourth text that Gentry gives to buttress his case that the disciples were “bewildered” is in the case of the disciples being rebuked by Jesus when they were seeking to correct those who were brining children to Him (cf. Matt. 19:13-15).  Jesus rebuking them makes it clear in the text that the disciples were in error and then He instructs them on the kingdom using the children as an example.  Again, the text is clear that an error in understanding is present in the passage.

The fifth example Gentry gives is that of the disciples’ understanding of being great in the kingdom (cf. Matt. 20:20-25).  Once again Jesus clearly states, “You do not know what you are asking,” (v. 22).  Then He proceeds to instruct them that there can be no crown in the kingdom without suffering first (vss. 22-23).  Then He follows this with instruction on humility (vss. 24-27).  Where is Jesus’ statement that the disciples “…do not know what they are asking about” in Matthew 24:1-3ff. if this is the norm that we should expect in the OD?

When we carefully examine the “proof texts” or examples Gentry gives us in Matthew’s gospel we are forced to a different conclusion than Gentry offers us for interpreting Matthew 24:1-3ff.  Again, in each of these cases Matthew is a very responsible narrator or Jesus as the great teacher, explains when there is confusion on the part of the disciples and when there isn’t.  When we come to the one question broken down in three parts of Matthew 24:3 there is no hint at all from Matthew or Jesus that the disciples were confused let alone Jesus “correcting them” or “ignoring” (per MacArthur).  At this point Gentry is just as much of an irresponsible “exegete” as MacArthur and Ice are – having read into the text the disciples’ alleged confusion into the Olivet Discourse. 

But on the topic of “bewilderment,” we need to press Gentry on these comments regarding the disciples question and Jesus’ answer on the end of the age in the OD,

“Christ’s teaching here is extremely important to redemptive history.  He is responding to the question of His disciples regarding when the end of the “age” (Gk., aion) will occur (24:3).  In essence, His full answer iswhen the Romans lay waste the temple…”[51]

And that,

“The change of the age is finalized and sealed at the destruction of Jerusalem; allusions to the A.D. 70 transition abound:  “Assuredly, I say to you that there are some standing here who will not taste of death till they see the kingdom of God present with power” (Mark 9:1)”[52].

And therefore this “change of the age” judgment in the context of the gospels is to be found even earlier on in John the Baptist’s teaching,

“Matthew records John’s warning that “the axe is already laid at the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire” (3:10).  Here John draws his imagery from God’s judgment against Assyria (Isa. 10:33-34):  that sort of judgment soon will break upon Israel.  Indeed, “his winnowing fork is in his hand” already (Matt. 3:12).”[53]

Of course I will not dispute that “the full answer to the disciples question” concerning “the end of the age” in Matthew 24:3ff. is “when the Romans laid waste Jerusalem in AD 70” – this being contextually tied to the end of the OC age and destruction of the Temple in AD 70, not the NC age or end of world history.  And I have no problem appealing to Christ’s coming in the judgments of Matthew 16:27-28/Mark 8:38-9:1; Matthew 3:7-12; to support my interpretation that the “full answer to the disciples question on the end of the age” refers to “when the Romans laying waste Jerusalem in AD 70.”

Obviously, Gentry is speaking out of both sides of his mouth when it comes to what the “end of the age” is here in Matthew 24:3ff.  What is even further confusing in reading Gentry, is that he  identifies “the end” connected to the Great Commission in (Matt. 24:14) with AD 70!  Well, the only “the end” being discussed in the OD is the “end of the age” the disciples asked about in (Matt. 24:3)!

Another problem for Gentry that we will discuss more in-depth later on in Matthew 24:30-31 is that he now takes “the end” and resurrection of Daniel 12:1-4 as referring to AD 70.[54]  Well, if “the end” and resurrection of Daniel 12:1-4 was fulfilled in AD 70, and Jesus explicitly refers to Daniel 12:2-3, concerning the end of his “this age” in Matthew 13:39-43, then the end of the age gathering/resurrection of Daniel 12:2-3/Matthew 13:39-43 was fulfilled in AD 70.  If not why not Mr. Gentry?  Yet Gentry’s problems and that of Partial Preterism won’t stop here.  Partial Preterism is now conceding that the “end of the age” or “this age” gathering and resurrection in the parable of the wheat and tares in (Matthew 13:39-43) is the end of the OC age in AD 70 and not the end of world history. We will take a look at this shortly.  But since this is the case, we need to take God’s Word for what it actually teaches when the disciples were asked directed if they understood Jesus’ teaching on the “end of the age” here in Matthew 13:39-51:

“Have you understood all these things?”  Jesus asked.  “Yes,” they replied.”  (Matt. 13:51).

But to make matters worse, Gentry also now concedes that Matthew 24–25 does not necessarily need to be divided and that all of Matthew 24 could be addressing one coming of Christ in AD 70:

“Orthodox preterists see no doctrinal problems arising if we apply all of Matthew 24 to A.D. 70. We generally do not do so because of certain exegetical markers in the text. But if these are not sufficient to distinguish the latter part of Matthew 24 from the earlier part, it would not matter.”[55]

Really?  I think I will call Gentry’s bluff here.  If a Partial Preterist doesn’t divide the OD as Gentry arbitrarily does, then Progressive Partial Preterists such as one of Gentry’s co-authors Gary DeMar, have no problem teaching that the disciples were not confused and that the “end of the age” is the OC age.  Here we begin to see Partial Preterism giving the farm away to Full Preterism.  To this view we now turn our attention.

Progressive Partial Preterism

We now turn our attention to a much clearer and exegetically accurate teaching from Partial Preterist or Progressive Partial Preterists on the “end of the age” in the OD.

Progressive Partial Preterist Gary DeMar

On the disciples question in Matthew 24:3 DeMar correctly writes,

“The disciples question involves three interrelated, contemporary events:  (1) the time of the temple’s destruction; (2) the sign that will signal Jesus’ coming related to the destruction of the temple; and (3) the sign they should look for telling them that “the end of the age” has come.  These questions are related to the destruction of the temple and the end of the Old Covenant redemptive system and nothing else.”[56]

There is no reading into the text that the disciples are “confused” in order fix a problem that isn’t in the text by slipping in a “futurist solution” or agenda in the OD – that we have seen the previous views do.  This is refreshing exegesis to say the least.  And now notice that DeMar does something that Dwight Pentecost could not do in affirming that the Jews of Jesus’ day understood the end of the age to be the OC age of the law and prophets and thus that is the “end of the age” the disciples and Jesus are discussing throughout the OD.  DeMar explains his position on the “end of the age” and then uses a quote from George Hill, to support its historical relevance,

“Notice that the disciples did not ask about the end of the “world” (kosmos), as some Bible versions translate the Greek word aion. In context, with the temple and city as their primary focus, they asked about the end of the “age.”  They were asking when time would run out for the temple, the city of Jerusalem, and the covenant promises that were related to the Mosaic system of animal sacrifices, ceremonial washings, and the priesthood.

Time was divided by the Jews into two great periods, the age of the law and the age of the Messiah.  The conclusion of the one was the beginning of the other, the opening of that kingdom which the Jews believed the Messiah was to establish, which was to put an end to their sufferings, and to render them the greatest people upon the earth.  The apostles full of this hope, said to our Lord, immediately before his ascension, “Lord, wilt thou at this time restore the kingdom to Israel? [Acts 1:6].  Our Lord uses the phrase of his coming to denote his taking vengeance upon the Jews by destroying their city and sanctuary.17

The “end of the age” refers to the end of the Old Covenant redemptive system with its attendant sacrifices and rituals.”[57]

Connecting this with the coming of the Son of Man upon the clouds throughout Matthew 24-25 he writes,

“Jesus never indicates that He has a distant coming in mind.  There is nothing in the Olivet Discourse that would give the reader the impression that a distant event [such as the end the planet earth or NC Christian age] is in view.”[58]

In the 1994 version of DeMar’s Last Days Madness he wrote the following concerning the “end of the age” in the OD,

“The “woes” of Matthew 23 and the destruction of the temple and the city of Jerusalem were a result of all that John the Baptist and Jesus had been warning the scribes, Pharisees, and chief priests regarding the judgment that would come upon them if they did not repent.  “All these things,” Jesus cautioned, “shall come upon this generation” (23:36).  It is after hearing about the desolation of their “house” – the temple – that the disciples ask about the “temple buildings” (24:1).  Jesus answered the disciples’ questions relating to the time and signs of Jerusalem’s destruction, always with the background of Matthew 23 in view, since His comments in that chapter had precipitated the questions (24:3).  The Old Covenant order would end with the destruction of Jerusalem.  This would be the “sign” of the “end of the age,” the end of the Old Covenant, and the consummation of the New Covenant.”[59]

Although these statements from Progressive Partial Preterist Gary DeMar are more accurate and exegetical in communicating that there was no confusion on the disciples’ part in connecting the end of the OC age with the destruction of Jerusalem and Christ’s coming to bring judgment upon the age in which the Temple they were looking at existed, DeMar has some problems he needs to address from me and Full Preterism:

Since he has taken the position that the “end of the age” in the OD is the OC age, will he now admit that the “end of the age” in Matthew 13:39-43 is also the end of the OC age?  As we will see shortly, Gary has published his ministry partner’s (Joel McDurmon’s) book on Luke whereby he develops that the end of the age in Matthew 13:39-43 is referring to the end of the OC age.  Does Gary agree with this?  And one of Gary’s co-authors Peter Leithart places the fulfillment of the parable of the wheat and tares at the end of the OC age in Jesus’ AD 30 – AD 70 “this generation” as well.  Does Gary agree with him?

Since Gary and American Vision published James Jordan’s commentary on Daniel, and Jordan concedes that the resurrection of Daniel 12:2/Revelation 20 was fulfilled in AD 70 at which time Daniel’s soul was raised out of Abrahm’s Bosom or Hades at Christ’s parousia in AD 70 – does DeMar also agree with this position that he has published?  If he agrees with his Partial Progressive Partial Preterists that he co-authors books with and publishes, then the questions we have asked of Gentry apply to him as well – since Jesus identifies the resurrection of Daniel 12:2-3 to take place at the end of the OC “this age” in Matthew 13:39-43, did the resurrection of Daniel 12:2-3 take place in AD 70?  If yes, then the “end of the age” “gathering” of Matthew 24:30-31 is also the resurrection of Daniel 12:2-3 being fulfilled in AD 70.  If not, exegetically why not – is the challenge that DeMar and some of his other Progressive Partial Preterists have not answered let alone articulated in any way up to this point.

And if the “end of the OC age” gathering/resurrection depicted in Matthew 13:39-43/Matthew 24:30-31/Daniel 12:1-4, 7, 13 were fulfilled in AD 70 according to Jesus’ teaching, then why wouldn’t Jesus’ teaching on John 5:28-29 be fulfilled spiritually as well in AD 70 since Jesus is once again appealing to Daniel 12:2?  Or…

Since DeMar takes the Greek word mello as “about to be” virtually everywhere in NT eschatological contexts as referring to AD 70, then why wouldn’t Paul’s eschatology be consistent with Jesus’ when he appeals to Daniel 12:2 concerning an “about to be” resurrection of the just and unjust in (Acts 24:15 YLT)?

And since DeMar believes John’s version of the OD is found in the book of Revelation and virtually every commentator and scholar agree that the resurrection and judgment of the dead at the end of the millennium in Revelation 20 is the resurrection of Daniel 12, and Gary agrees that the content of the book of Revelation would come to pass in an AD 70 “shortly” time period, will he now conceded that the end of the millennium resurrection of Revelation 20 was also fulfilled in AD 70?  If not, hermeneutically and logically why not?

These are just a few challenges I have given to DeMar and other Partial Preterists over the years and I haven’t heard much from them.  Why?  Because they don’t have consistent exegetical answers and they would have to admit that they are getting closer and closer to Full Preterism – that’s why.

There are other modern Progressive Partial Preterists that are worthy to quote and address in identifying the “end of the age” in Jesus’ teaching as the OC age in AD 70, and not the end of the NC Christian age or world history.

Progressive Partial Preterist Joel McDurmon

Joel McDurmon (Partial Preterist Gary North’s son-in-law, and Director of Research for Gary DeMar’s American Vision) writes:

It is clear that Jesus did not have in mind the end of the world, nor did He mean the final judgment.  Rather, Matthew 13:2430, 36-43 describe the judgment that would come upon unbelieving Jerusalem. During this time, the angels would “gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity” (13:41) and these would be judged with fire.  Many of them literally were burned in fire during the destruction of Jerusalem.  During this same time, however, the elect of Christ— “the children of the kingdom” (v. 38)—will be harvested.  While the explanation of the parable does not tell us their final end, the parable itself has the householder instructing the harvesters to “gather the wheat into my barn.”  In other words, they are protected and saved by God.

This, of course, is exactly what happened to the Christians. Not only were they saved in soul, but they mostly fled Jerusalem before the Roman siege.  This was consequent to Jesus’ advice to flee and not look back once the signs arose (Matt. 24:16-22); indeed this would correspond with the angels’ work of harvesting the elect (24:30).[60]

I should also note that McDurmon goes a bit further than his mentor DeMar, in that he develops Jesus’ teaching on “this age” as the OC age, and the “age to come” in Pauline eschatology to be one and the same as Jesus’.[61]  We agree with this but let’s examine the quote above and address the issues related to Paul’s “end of the age” teachings as being the same as Jesus’.

Once again McDurmon (like the other Partial Preterists addressed thus far) fail to address with any consistency (in what they are writing and what the analogy of Scripture teaches us), that the “end of the age” “harvest” “gathering” in Matthew 13:39-43 and Matthew 24:30-31 is THE resurrection of Daniel 12:2-3 that they are saying was fulfilled at the end of the OC age in AD 70!

Further, Jesus and the rest of the NT does not develop the resurrection of Daniel 12:2 to be fulfilled at two different time periods – 1. At the end of the OC age in AD 70 and 2.  At the end of the NC or Christian age to end world history.  In McDurmon’s oral debate with Don Preston McDurmon was forced to acknowledge that it is possible that there was an AD 70 resurrection depicted in 1 Corinthians 15 and at the end of the millennium in Revelation 20, and yet he still argued that there would be a further literal fulfillment of these texts as well.  Amazing indeed!  These statements are not only not exegetically accurate, but they are not creedal as well.  The Reformed creeds only know of one “end of the age” judgment and resurrection of the dead not TWO.  Not only are Partial Preterists very arbitrary in their exegesis, they are arbitrary in calling Full Preterists “heretics” per the Reformed creeds.  Selah.

Progressive Partial Preterist N.T. Wright

Another popular Partial Preterist worth noting would be N.T. Wright.  Wright commenting on the Jewish concept of Christ returning bodily on a literal cloud at the end of time to end world history as a foreign concept to the Jewish mind is profound – even challenging for Wright’s own futurism.  His identifying the “end of the age” as the Jewish age is also relevant to our debate and discussion.

“…there was no reason, either in their own background or in a single thing that Jesus had said to them up to that point, for it even to occur to them that the true story of the world, or of Israel, or of Jesus himself, might include either the end of the space-time universe, or Jesus or anyone else floating down to earth on a cloud.  They hand not yet even thought of his being taken from them, let alone that he might come back; nor did they have any idea of another figure, earthly, heavenly, or something in between, who would one day come on a literal cloud.  Had Jesus wished to introduce so strange and unJewish an idea to them he would have had a very difficult task; as often find in the gospels, their minds were not exactly at their sharpest in picking up redefinitions even of ideas with which they were already somewhat familiar.

The disciples were, however, very interested in a story which ended with Jesus’ coming to Jerusalem to reign as king.  They were looking for the fulfillment of Israel’s hopes, for the story told so often in Israel’s scriptures to reach its appointed climax.  And the ‘close of the age’ for which they longed was not the end of the space-time order, but the end of the present evil age (ha’olam hazeh), and the introduction of the (still very much this-worldly) age to come (ha ‘olam haba’) – in other words, the end of Israel’s period of mourning and exile and the beginning of her freedom and vindication.” [62]

“Matthew is not, in other words, out on a limb from Mark and Luke at this point.  The question at the start of all three versions, seen from within the story the disciples have in their minds, must be read to mean:  When will you come in your kingdom?  When will the evil age, symbolized by the present Jerusalem regime, be over?”[63]

And Wright does not agree with the traditional Partial Preterist division theory of two comings of Jesus throughout Matthew 24-25 either.  In footnote 104 in this section of the disciples question(s) he writes,

“Nor does he divide his chapter into two halves (vv. 4-35, 36-51) on the basis of this double question, the dealing with Jerusalem and the second with the ‘second coming’ (against France 1985, 335).”

And again on the Jewish two age structure and the end of the age in Matthew 13:39; 24:3; Hebrews 9:26-28 being the end of the OC or Jewish age Wright comments,

“The final promise, that Jesus will be with his people ‘until the close of the age’ (hoes tes synteleias tou aionos), belongs closely within the ‘two-age’ structure of chronology which we have seen to be characteristic of mainstream Pharisaic/rabbinic Judaism, and also of early Christianity, particularly Paul.  The point here is that the ‘age to come’ has now been launched with Jesus’ resurrection, and that the risen Jesus represents and embodies this new age, and hence becomes the human bride between it and the present one.  His promise to be ‘with you always’ is thus at the same time the fulfillment of the Emmanuel promise, and with it of YHWH’s promise to be with even a small group of worshippers as though they were actually in the Temple itself.  It is also the sign that in him the eschaton has come to birth, so that his people are guaranteed safe passage through the present age and into the long-awaited age to come.”  (Footnote 42 reads, “On ‘the close of the age’ in Mt., cf. 13:39f., 49; 24:3 (where it is linked with the fall of Jerusalem and the parousia of Jesus).  See too Heb. 9:26; 1 En. 16.1; 4 Ezra 7.113.”[64]

For the exegetical problems and implications for not seeing Matthew 24-25 as the Second Coming event and avoiding how Jesus and the rest of the NT develops the resurrection of Daniel 12 as taking place imminently or at the end of the OC Jewish age, see my challenges to DeMar and the other Progressive Partial Preterists.

Let’s now move from more modern day Progressive Partial Preterists to some older ones such as Milton Terry and J. Stuart Russell.

Progressive Partial Preterist Milton Terry

Terry was spot on when he wrote of Jesus’ teaching on the “end of the age” in the OD and elsewhere in the NT,

“The ‘end of the age’ means the close of the epoch or age—that is, the Jewish age or dispensation which was drawing nigh, as our Lord frequently intimated. All those passages that speak of ‘the end,’ ‘the end of the age,’ or ‘the ends of the ages,’ refer to the same consummation, and always as nigh at hand.” “…the writer regarded the incarnation of Christ as taking place near the end of the aeon, or dispensational period. To suppose that he meant that it was close upon the end of the world, or the destruction of the material globe, would be to make him write false history as well as bad grammar. It would not be true in fact; for the world has already lasted longer since the incarnation than the whole duration of the Mosaic economy, from the exodus to the destruction of the temple. It is futile, therefore, to say that the ‘end of the age’ may mean a lengthened period, extending from the incarnation to our times, and even far beyond them. That would be an aeon, and not the close of an aeon. The aeon of which our Lord was speaking was about to close in a great catastrophe; and a catastrophe is not a protracted process, but a definitive and culminating act.”[65]

Interestingly enough, Hebrews 9:26-28 is where we get the term “Second Coming” from and if the end of the age here is the OC age, then Terry’s logic and the analogy of Scripture would place the coming of Christ both in the OD and Hebrews 9:26-28 to be in AD 70.  And to this the book of Hebrews confirms to us in the next chapter when His coming would take place “…in a very little while” and “would not tarry” (Hebrews 10:37).

While Terry has some insightful comments here in identifying the “end of the age” to be the OC age in AD 70 (following most of J. Stuart Russell’s exegesis), his exegesis of the OD is faulty at times.  For example he seems to argue and prefer the interpretation that the eschatological “gathering” in Matthew 24:30-31 is some kind of limited literal rapture connecting it to the “one being taken” in Matthew 24:40-41,

“The sending forth of the angels, and the gathering of the elect, described in Matt. 24:31, whatever its exact meaning, does not necessarily depict a scenic procedure visible to the human eyes.  If understood literally, it may, nevertheless, be only verbal revelation of what took place in such a supernatural manner as that no man might behold it and remain alive.  It is said in verses 40-41 that at the parousia “two men shall be in the field; one is taken and the one is left…”  “In such a miraculous rapture of living saints (comp. 1 Thess. 4:16, 17; 1 Cor. 15:51, 52) the person left may not have been permitted to see the one taken.”[66]

The strength of his position here is that he at least uses the analogy of Scripture hermeneutic and equates the coming of Christ in Matthew 24:30-31 with that of 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17 and 1 Corinthians 15 as the same event taking place in AD 70.  Men like Gentry, DeMar, McDurmon, Mathison, etc… simply won’t make these parallels as Terry has done and Reformed theology traditionally has.

I will give a rigorous exegesis of Matthew 24:30-31 later on in our study, but for now let me point out a few exegetical weaknesses or problems that Terry was not able to address or overcome here – at least in my estimation:

As with the previous Partial Preterists, the resurrection of the dead of Daniel 12:2-3 takes place at the end of the OC age per Matthew 13:39-43.  Therefore, if Terry is going to hermenutically argue for a “literal” “rapture” of all the living Christians at that time, then he must also argue consistently that a literal resurrection from the literal “dust” took place in AD 70 as well (cf. Dan. 12:2).  Some Partial Preterists have actually tried to take this position!  This to me makes no exegetical sense let alone is simply not historically accurate.  We know that the Apostle John lived well beyond AD 70 into the time of Domitian’s reign in the AD 90’s.  We also know historically that the living Christians fled Jerusalem to Pella (not literally “raptured”).  And are we really to believe that history would not see physically the literal rapture of thousands of Christians let alone the empty tombs of the righteous and wicked per Daniel 12:2?!?

Not to mention if Paul had been teaching a literal “gathering” or “catching away” in the Thessalonian Epistles, he surely would have argued differently to refute those that were teaching that Christ had “already come” prior to end the OC age in AD 70.  Surely Paul would have said something like, “Uh, hey guys remember Jesus and I taught you that this was going to be literal taking of you off of planet earth in a secret “rapture” and since you are all still here…., well, hello?!?”  Or in refuting those that had believed the resurrection had “already” taken place in 2 Timothy 2:17-18 before the close of the OC age in AD 70.  Again, if Paul had been teaching this literal rapture or literal resurrection of rotting corpses from the graveyards, we would expect to hear something along the lines of, “Uh, remember that Jesus and I have been teaching you that the resurrection is a literal biological event and so have you seen any evidence of this, hello?!?”  So the implication is that Paul was developing a spiritual rapture or using apocalyptic language.  Had Terry been consistent in his use of symbolic apocalyptic langue that he used up to this point in interpreting the OD, and had he been consistent with noting this would be the time of fulfilling the kingdom promise of it not being a literally seen or experience (ie. Luke 17:20-21) (447), he would have come to the conclusion that this was a “gathering” in the kingdom that was a “within” the person event and not a literal secret “rapture” one.  I will be arguing for this position later on.

Progressive Partial Preterist J. Stuart Russell

I consider Russell a “Progressive Partial Preterist” for two reasons:  1. Like Russell, he erred on the spiritual nature of fulfillment when it came to Jesus’ and Paul’s teaching on being “gathered” or “caught up” in the clouds of God’s Kingdom at Christ’s parousia in AD 70.  And 2. He erred on the millennium believing it has yet to be fulfilled which is not Full Preterism and has a lot of exegetical errors of its own.  But for the sake of our purposes at this point in examining the disciples’ question(s) and Jesus’ answer, Russell’s response is one of the boldest and clearest I can think of when he writes,

“It is not easy for the ordinary reader to follow the ingenious critic through his convoluted scheme; but it is plain that the disciples must have been hopelessly bewildered amidst a rush of crises and catastrophes from the fall of Jerusalem to the end of the world. Perhaps we shall be told, however, that it does not signify whether the disciples understood our Lord’s answer or not: it was not to them that He was speaking; it was to future ages, to generations yet unborn, who were destined, however, to find the interpretation of the prophecy as embarrassing to them as it was to the original bearers. There are no words too strong to repudiate such a suggestion. The disciples came to their Master with a plain, straightforward inquiry, and it is incredible that He would mock them with an unintelligible riddle for a reply. It is to be presumed that the Saviour meant His disciples to understand His words, and it is to be presumed that they did understand them.

3. The interpretation which we are considering appears to be founded upon a misapprehension of the question put to our Lord by the disciples, as well as of His answer to their question.

It is generally assumed that the disciples came to our Lord with three different questions, relating to different events separated from each other by a long interval of time; that the first inquiry, ‘When shall these things be?’—had reference to the approaching destruction of the temple; that the second and third question—, ‘ What shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?’—referred to events long posterior to the destruction of Jerusalem, and, in fact, not yet accomplished. It is supposed that our Lord’s reply conforms itself to this threefold inquiry, and that this gives the shape to His whole discourse. Now, let it be considered how utterly improbable it is that the disciples should have had any such scheme of the future mapped out in their minds. We know that they had just been shocked and stunned by their Master’s prediction of the total destruction of the glorious house of God on which they had so recently been gazing with admiration. They had not yet had time to recover from their surprise, when they came to Jesus with the inquiry, ‘When shall these things be?’ etc. Is it not reasonable to suppose that one thought possessed them at that moment—the portentous calamity awaiting the magnificent structure, the glory and beauty of Israel? Was that a time when their minds would be occupied with a distant future? Must not their whole soul have been concentrated on the fate of the temple? And must they not have been eager to know what tokens would be given of the approach of the catastrophe? Whether they connected in their imagination the destruction of the temple with the dissolution of the creation, and the close of human history, it is impossible to say; but we may safely conclude, that the uppermost thought in their mind was the announcement which the Lord had just made, ‘Verily I say unto you, there shall not be left here one stone upon another which shall not be thrown down.’ They must have gathered from the Saviour’s language that this catastrophe was imminent; and their anxiety was to know the time and the tokens of its arrival. St. Mark and St. Luke make the question of the disciples refer to one event and one time—‘When shall these things be, and what shall be the sign when all these things shall be fulfilled?’ It is not only presumable, therefore, but indubitable, that the questions of the disciples only refer to different aspects of the same great event. This harmonizes the statements of St. Matthew with those of the other Evangelists, and is plainly required by the circumstances of the case.”[67]

And I particularly like Russell’s comments above that this interpretation of the disciples’ question “harmonizes” and or is “contemporaneous” with the parallel accounts in Mark and Luke.  He elaborates further on this,

“The only point that requires elucidation here refers to the extent of their interrogatory.  St. Mark and St. Luke represent it as having reference to the time of the predicted catastrophe and the sign of its fulfillment coming to pass.  St. Matthew varies the form of the question, but evidently gives the same sense, — ‘Tell us, when shall these things be?  And what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the age?’  Here again it is the time and the sign which form the subject of the inquiry.  There is no reason whatever to suppose that they regarded in their own minds the destruction of the of the temple, the coming of the Lord, and the end of the age, as three distinct or widely separated events; but, on the contrary, it is most natural to suppose that they regarded them as coincident and contemporaneous.”[68]

“…we do know that they had been accustomed to hear their Master speak of His coming again in His kingdom, coming in His glory, and that within the lifetime of some among themselves.  They had also heard Him speak of the ‘end of the age;’ and they evidently connected His ‘coming’ with the end of the age.  The three points embraced in the form of their question, as given by St. Matthew, were therefore in their view contemporaneous; and thus we find no practical difference in the terms of the question of the disciples as recorded by the three Synoptics.”[69]

That is about as well put as it gets!

Full Preterism

Harmonizing Matthew, Mark, and Luke’s versions on the disciples’ question

On the issue as to why Matthew adds the question related to “the end of the age” and Mark and Luke do not – it may be interesting to note that “end of the age” in the Greek, (syntéleia toú aiṓnos) is an expression found only in the gospel of Matthew. I remember asking a Partial Preterist (Greg Bahnsen), many years ago, “Where do you see any justification in Matthew 24 for the teaching that when the Son of Man will come upon the clouds of heaven is is for the purpose of ending world history – when you teach that His coming in Matt. 24:27, 30 was to end the Jewish age in AD 70?” His answer was, “The disciple’s question in Matthew 24:3 on the end of the age – this referring to the end of world history.” My reply was, “If this is the case, then why would Mark and Luke not address such an important topic at the very outset of the OD?” Bahnsen brought up that within Matthew, Mark and Luke differences are seen in various aspects to Jesus’ such as Jesus adding the phrase “except for sexual immorality” in Matthew while Mark and Luke do not.” But this only begged the same question on a different topic, “Okay, then if there are grounds for divorce (and obviously that’s an important aspect to answering the disciples questions and or the Pharisees challenge on this topic), then why would Mark and Luke neglect to point this out to their audiences — who didn’t have the advantage that we do in reading Matthew along with Mark and Luke?” I thought it was providential that Bahnsen would bring this up an example, because I had just finished reading James Montgomery Boice on on this subject and others taking the “betrothal view” of the exceptive clause in Matthew 5 and 19 – thus harmonizing the synoptics gospel’s teaching on Jesus’ teaching here very well.

To be brief and to summarize this view – in Jewish law the first part of the marriage contract was conducted through betrothal. The two were considered “husband and wife” during this period even before their sexual consummation. A betrothed husband could write his “wife” a certificate of “divorce” if she committed “fornication”/pornia (not “adultery”) during this time period. This is why Matthew mentions this in the case of Joseph and Marry and Mark and Luke do not (cf. Matthew 1:19). Since this aspect of “divorce” within the betrothal period (first part of the marriage contract) within Jewish law was only applicable for Matthew’s Jewish audience, Matthew records the exceptive clause, while Mark and Luke do not (containing a Gentile audience or directed mostly to them). Also, in Jewish law a woman could not divorce her husband and this is why Matthew does not mention this while Mark does in their parallel accounts of the Pharisees challenge (Mark 10:12 / Matthew 19:9). Again – since the exceptive clause is brought up to a Jewish audience regarding the first aspect of a Jewish marriage (betrothal) Matthew addresses it, and since Jesus’ teaching here is not applicable to Mark and Luke’s Gentile readers it is omitted by them. Therefore, in essence the three harmonize well in that Jesus’ teaching on divorce agree – “what God has joined together let no man separate.”

So it is often times the different audiences being addressed in the synoptic gospels that dictate why something is left out or added that needs to be considered. Since the “end of the age” was a more familiar concept within Jewish eschatology, Matthew places it within his account while Mark and Luke do not. Since the “end of the age” is the OC Jewish age attended with Christ’s coming, we don’t lose any pertinent information in Mark and Luke’s accounts – AD 70 is still the subject in all three. Also worthy of note, is that within Matthew’s gospel there are more parables given, since the main purpose of the parables was probably to demonstrate that Israel was still in an exile condition (Matt. 13:10-17/Isa. 6:9-10). Therefore, this explains why Matthew’s version of the OD includes additional parables and OT eschatological echos that are not found in Mark and Luke’s versions (cf. Matt. 25).

Also an interesting point is that syntéleia toú aiṓnos and tṓn aiṓnōn, are only used six times in the NT – five in Matthew’s gospel and once in the book of Hebrews (cf. Heb. 9:26) which again, is written to a highly Jewish audience (and the LXX of Dan. 12:4 being undoubtedly the source for both).

Here are some key hermeneutical steps the futurist willfully skips over from the very outset in interpreting the OD:

The Jews of Jesus’ day understood the phrase “end of the age” or end of “this age” to be the Old Covenant (OC)  age of Moses and the prophets and the “age to come” to be the New Covenant (NC) or Messianic age.  Therefore, applying a “historic hermeneutic” here, the “end of the age” or of “this age” (Matthew 13:39-43) in which they were currently living is referring to the end of the OC age at which time the NC or Messianic age of the Church would follow and reach maturity.  As we have seen even Dispensationalists like Dwight Pentecost see this and yet dismiss it as nothing.  Apparently they want Full Preterists and Reformed Covenant Theology/Eschatology to embrace their literal and unbelieving expectations the first century Jews had of a literal kingdom on earth, and yet they don’t want to embrace Jewish teachings of the same time period that identified “this age” as the OC law and the “age to come,” to be the NC or Messianic age.  Nor would they want to accept the Jewish beliefs that would give credence to a 40 years transitional millennial reign of Christ between the OC age and the NC age – which fit perfectly within the imminent time constraints of the book of Revelation and is the Full Preterist view.

The hermeneutical immediate contextual argument fits the Full Preterist view as well – since the topic is the destruction of the Temple in the AD 30 – AD 70 “this generation” of Matthew 23:36-38 and Matthew 24:1-2, the destruction of the Temple is the epitome to the end of the OC age, and not the end of world history.

When it comes to the disciples understanding on the time frame of these three events, they in fact did have the OT prophets as a guide as well.  In the book of Daniel the consummation of the major eschatological events can be found in chapters 7, 9 and 12.  Since many scholars correctly connect Daniel’s eschatological “time of the end” (not “end of time” – a futurist assumption) to Jesus’ teaching on the end of the age in Matthew 13, 24 and 28, the end of world history is not the subject.  Another problem for futurist eschatologies is that Daniel’s “time of the end” eschatological events such as the desolation of the temple, the resurrection, the tribulation, the coming of the Son of man and the arrival of the kingdom, all take place when the city and temple would be destroyed – stating clearly that “all these things” (not some of them) would be fulfilled together (see the consummation scenes in Dan. 12:1-7; Dan. 7:13-14, 18, 27; Dan. 9:24-27).

Another “immediate context” and “OT echo context” argument can be seen in Jesus’ previously teaching the disciples that all the blood from righteous Abel (from Genesis up to those He would send to them) would be avenged when the temple was destroyed in their “this generation” (Matthew 23:30-36, 38).  Isaiah in his “little apocalypse” (Isiah 24-28) posits all of the eschatological events (judgment, de-creation, avenging the sin of blood guilt, the blowing of the trumpet, the resurrection, etc…) to take place together when the temple would be destroyed or “when he makes all the altar stones to be like chalk stones crushed to pieces” (Isaiah 27:9).

In Matthew 13:39-43, 51 Jesus taught that the judgment and resurrection (“the time of the end” eschatological events) would take place at the end of their OC “this age.”  Jesus specifically asks them if they understood His teaching on the time of this harvest at the end of their “this age” and they emphatically responded “Yes” (vs. 51).  It doesn’t get any clearer than this!  Why go beyond what is written when it comes to the disciples understanding of Jesus’ teaching on the “end of the age”?!?  If they said they understood they understood, and surely Jesus doesn’t say anything to the affect, “Oh, but I know you don’t etc…”

Jesus had previously taught that He would return in some of their lifetimes (Matthew 10:22-23; 16:27-28/Mark 8:38-9:1).  So it would only be natural for them to equate His coming, with the destruction of the Temple, as being the end of their OC “this age.”  No mysteries or “difficulties” here folks – only for the futurist.

Some such as Kenneth Gentry have pointed out that the disciples were confused on other issues in the gospel of Matthew and then use this to assert that this justifies importing their alleged confusion here in the OD.  But again, this is a classic case of “proving too much.”  Why?  Because when the disciples are confused or wrong about something Matthew’s gospel clearly teaches us that this indeed is the case (ex. Matt. 16:6-12, 21-23; 17:4-5; 19:13-15; 20:20-25).  As in these other cases where it is clearly pointed out by Matthew (as a responsible narrator) or Jesus as the great teacher – that there is any inclination that the disciples are confused and a correction ensues.  We just don’t have Matthew or Jesus giving such a scenario here in the OD.  Therefore, there is no need to perform eisegesis – and read something into the text that isn’t there in order for futurist biases to be imported throughout the OD.  Selah.

A Progressive Partial Preterist and Full Preterist understanding of the “end of the age” or “the end” being the OC age throughout the OD, harmonizes with the disciples question in the parallel accounts in Mark 13 and Luke 21.

The Partial Preterist and Progressive Partial Preterist cannot articulate the exegetical fact that Jesus’ teaching on “the end of the [OC] age” harvest “gathering” in Matthew 13:39-43 and Matthew 24:30-31 is Christ coming on the clouds ushering in the resurrection of Daniel 12:2-3, 7, 13 – which some of them oddly see as being fulfilled spiritually in AD 70 (Gentry and Jordan).  This is why Partial Preterists are afraid of dealing with the resurrection of the dead when it comes to NT imminence.  It eventually leads to problems in their adherence to the Reformed creeds and confessions.  Amillennialists see that these passages are in fact dealing with the resurrection of the dead, but will not bow before the exegetical evidence of God’s Word that this takes place at the end of the OC age and not the end of world history.  And they too cannot deal with the NT imminence when it comes to Christ’s ONE parousia, the end of the age, and the judgment and resurrection of the dead.  NT imminence concerning these eschatological events follow’s Jesus’ teaching in the OD that “all these things” (not “some of these things”) would be fulfilled in His contemporary “this generation.”

Part 2 – The end of the age signs – general and specific all fulfilled by AD 70

General signs

Before giving a brief exegesis of the general signs Jesus gives in Matthew 24:4-13, we should address what the various futurist views are teaching concerning them.

Premillennial Dispensationalism

Before there was Tim LaHaye and the Left Behind series (and now movie) making millions, there was Hal Lindsey and The Late Great Planet Earth making millions.  Lindsey was the first Dispensationalist who really popularized sensationalistic date setting using the “signs” (Israel becoming a nation in 1948 being the main one) and Jesus’ teaching on “this generation” in Matthew 24 as a guide to catapult an imminent rapture and or return of Christ in our generation.  In his famous book, The Late Great Planet Earth Lindsey wrote,

“Jesus said that this would indicate that He was ‘at the door,’ ready to return. Then He said, ‘Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place’ (Matthew 24:34).  What generation? Obviously, in context, the generation that would see the signs-chief among them the rebirth of Israel. A generation in the Bible is something like forty years. If this is a correct deduction, then within forty years or so of 1948, all these things could take place. Many scholars who have studied Bible prophecy all their lives believe that this is so.”[70]

“WE are the generation that will see the end times… and return of Christ.” And “unmistakably… this generation is the one that will see the end of the present world and the return of Christ”[71]

This view was then fueled from the pulpits of such mega church Pastors as Chuck Smith of the Calvary Chapel (this was my home church and I am a graduate of Calvary Chapel Bible College 1989):

“…that the generation of 1948 is the last generation. Since a generation of judgment is forty years and the Tribulation period lasts seven years, I believe the Lord could come back for His Church any time before the Tribulation starts, which would mean any time before 1981. (1948 + 40 – 7 = 1981).”[72]

In his book Future Survival (1978) Smith wrote,

“From my understanding of biblical prophecies, I’m convinced that the Lord is coming for His Church before the end of 1981.”[73]

Calvary Chapel proudly painted on the back of its bookstore (of which I would work) for all  traffic to see, “Jesus is coming soon. God keeps His promises.”  For Smith and Lindsey, Christ’s announcement that He is coming “soon” only “truly” meant Jesus was literally coming “soon” for our generation.  Apparently when the inspired NT authors wrote within the AD 30 – AD 70 “this generation” time period, “soon” can’t be interpreted literally – only when the Dispensational “Holy Spirit” led “prophecy experts” use the term it means what it says!

Lindsey began by admitting that a generation “was something like forty years.” Since 40 years have long passed, instead of throwing in the towel on his theory and repenting, Lindsey now claims a generation could be 40 – 100 years and therefore we should still be waiting for his interpretation to pan out.[74] If this doesn’t sound new, it’s because it isn’t. The “expanding” of “this generation’ is exactly what the last day’s cults of Mormon’s and Jehovah’s Witnesses have done when their false predictions concerning “this generation” don’t come true![75]

Sign #1 – False Christ’s & deception

“And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.” (Matt. 24:4-5)

“At that time many will turn away from the faith…” (Matt. 24:10)

 “And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many.”  (Matt. 24:11)

“For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.”  (Matt. 24:24)

Dave Hunt has been another popular Dispensationalist teacher over the years who has followed Lindsey’s prophetic scheme.  Hunt after appealing to the passages above and then stringing together some further NT passages concludes this “Major Sign is Here Today.”[76]  This involves the teachings and influence of the Roman Catholic Church, with any ministry expressing unity or ecumencalism with the RCC such Billy Graham etc…, emphasis in the “signs and wonders” movement from John Wimber and Peter Wagner, the “name it and claim it” Faith movement, Robert Schuller and his Self-Love doctrine/movement, and on and on he goes.

Sign #2 – Wars and Rumors of Wars

“You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed.  Such things must happen, but the end is still to come.”  (Matt. 24:6)



[1] Beale, G. K., & Carson, D. A. (2007). Commentary on the New Testament use of the Old Testament (pp. 12–13). Grand Rapids, MI;  Nottingham, UK: Baker Academic;  Apollos.

[2] Lightfoot, J. (2010). A Commentary on the New Testament from the Talmud and Hebraica, Matthew-1 Corinthians, Matthew-Mark (Vol. 2, pp. 49–50). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

[3] Adam Clark, Commentary on the Bible [1831]

[4] G.K. Beale, A NEW TESTAMENT BIBLICAL THEOLOGY THE UNFOLDING OF THE OLD TESTAMENT IN THE NEW, (Grand Rapids, MI:  Baker Acaddemic, 2011),  412

[5] Lightfoot, J. (2010). A Commentary on the New Testament from the Talmud and Hebraica, Matthew-1 Corinthians, Matthew-Mark (Vol. 2, p. 78). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

[6] Lightfoot, J. (2010). A Commentary on the New Testament from the Talmud and Hebraica, Matthew-1 Corinthians, Matthew-Mark (Vol. 2, p. 78). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

[7] R.C. Sproul, THE LAST DAYS ACCORDING TO JESUS, (Grand Rapids, MI:  Baker Books, 1998), 23.

[8] Kenneth Genry, Thomas Ice, The Great Tribulation Past or Future?, (Grand Rapids, MI:  Kregel Publications, 1999), 18, bold emphasis MJS.

[9] Kenneth Gentry, HE SHALL HAVE DOMINION A POSTMILLENNIAL ESCHATOLOGY, THIRD EDITION: REVISED AND EXPANDED, (Draper, VA: Apologetics Group Media, 2009), 175.  Bold emphasis MJS

[10] John Gill, John Gill’s Espositor, Online Bible Software, Version 2.10.06, 2007 Bible Foundation.  www.onlinebible.us, emphasis added

[11] Morris, L. (1992). The Gospel according to Matthew (pp. 62–63). Grand Rapids, MI; Leicester, England: W.B. Eerdmans; Inter-Varsity Press.

[12] Lightfoot, J. (2010). A commentary on the New Testament from the Talmud and Hebraica, Matthew-1 Corinthians, Acts-1 Corinthians (Vol. 4, p. 30). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

[13] Clark, Ibid.

[14] Clark, Ibid.

[15] Henry, M. (1994). Matthew Henry’s commentary on the whole Bible: complete and unabridged in one volume (p. 2068). Peabody: Hendrickson.

[16] Henry, Ibid., 2068

[17] Kenneth L. Gentry, HE SHALL HAVE DOMINION A POSTMILLENNIAL ESCHATOLOGY THIRD EDITION:  REVISED AND EXPANDED, (Draper, VA:  Apologetics Group Media, 2009), 342-343

[18] Charles Ryre, RYRE Study Bible, (Chicago: Moody Publishers, 1986, 1994,), 1420.

[19] The Bible Knowledge Commentary, An Exposition of the Scriptures by Dallas Seminary Faculty NEW TESTAMENT edition, (Colorado Springs, CO, 1983, 2004), 24, emphasis mine

[20] John McArthur, The MACARTHUR Study Bible, (Thomas Nelson, Inc. 1997), 1396, 1518

[21] The Bible Knowledge Commentary, Ibid., 25, bold emphasis mine.

[22] MacArthur, Ibid., 1397

[23] Ibid.

[24] The Bible Knowledge Commentary, Ibid., 25

[25] William Hendriksen, & S.J. Kistemaker, NEW TESTAMENT COMMENTARY The Gospel of Matthew, (Grand Rapids: MI, Baker Book House, 1953 – 2001),  197

[26] Ibid., 198-199.

[27] Ibid., 204.

[28] Ibid., 205-206.

[29] Ibid., 208-209.

[30] Simon Kistemaker, The Parables of Jesus, (Grand Rapids, MI:  Baker Book House, 1980), 148.

[31] Ibid., 210.

[32] Ibid., 210-211.

[33] Lightfoot, J. (2010). A Commentary on the New Testament from the Talmud and Hebraica, Matthew-1 Corinthians, Matthew-Mark (Vol. 2, pp. 49–50). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

[34] Lightfoot, J. (2010). A Commentary on the New Testament from the Talmud and Hebraica, Matthew-1 Corinthians, Matthew-Mark (Vol. 2, p. 78). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

[35] Kenneth Gentry, HE SHALL HAVE DOMINION A POSTMILLENNIAL ESCHATOLOGY, THIRD EDITION: REVISED AND EXPANDED, (Draper, VA: Apologetics Group Media, 2009), 175.

[36] R.C. Sproul, THE LAST DAYS ACCORDING TO JESUS, (Grand Rapids, MI:  Baker Books, 1998), 23.

[37] Gentry, Ibid., 175.

[38] J. Stuart Russell, The Parousia A Study of the New Testament Doctrine of Our Lord’s Second Coming, (Grand Rapids, MI:  Baker Book House, 1887 – 1909),  15-16

[39] Ibid., 14-15.

[40] Ibid., 23-24.

[41] Carson, D. A. (1984). Matthew. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Volume 8: Matthew, Mark, Luke (F. E. Gaebelein, Ed.) (489). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

[42] Kim Riddlebarger, A Case for AMILLENNIALISM UNDERSTANDING THE END TIMES, (Grand Rapids, MI:  Baker Book House Co., 2003; and Leicester LE1 7GP:  England, Inter-Varsity Press, 2007), 157.

[43] MacArthur, John, The Second Coming Signs of Christ’s Return and the End of the Age, (Wheaton, Ill: Crossway Books A Division of Good News Publishers, 1999), 77.

[44] Ibid., 80.

[45] Tim LaHaye & Thomas Ice, The End Times Controversy, (Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers, 2003), 155, emphasis MJS.

[46] Ibid., 155-156

[47] Ibid., 156

[48] Riddlebarger, Ibid., 163.

[49] Thomas Ice and Kenneth Gentry Jr., The Great Tribulation Past or Future? (Grand Rapids, MI:  Kregel Publications, 1999), 26, emphasis MJS.

[50] Greg Bahnsen, and Kenneth Gentry Jr., House Divided The Break-up of Dispensational Theology, (Tyler: TX: ICE Publishers 1989), 267, emphasis MJS

[51] Thomas Ice and Kenneth Gentry, ibid., 58, emphasis MJS

[52] Thomas Ice and Kenneth Gentry, ibid., 63 emphasis MJS

[53] Thomas Ice and Kenneth Gentry, ibid., 18

[54] Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr. He Shall Have Dominion (Draper, VA: Apologetics Group Media, 2009, Third Edition), 538-540.

[55] Ibid., 540.

[56] Gary DeMar, Last Days MADNESS Obsession of the Modern Church, (Powder Springs, GA:  Fourth revised edition, 1999), 68.

[57] Ibid., 68

[58] Ibid., 68

[59] Gary DeMar, Last Days Madness Obsession of the Modern Church, (Powder Springs, GA:  American Vision, 1994), 41, (bold and underline emphasis MJS).

[60] Joel McDurmon, Jesus v. Jerusalem: A Commentary on Luke 9:51 – 20:26, Jesus’ Lawsuit Against Israel (Powder Springs, GA: The American Vision, Inc., 2011), 48-49; see entire section 43-51.

[61] Ibid., 46-47.

[62] N.T. Wright, JESUS AND THE VICTORY OF GOD, (Minneapolis, MN:  Fortress Press, 1996), 345-346

[63] Ibid., 346.

[64] N.T. Wright, N.T. THE RESURRECTION OF THE SON OF GOD, (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2003), 645

[65] Milton S. Terry, Biblical HERMENEUTICS A Treatise on the Interpretation of the Old and New Testaments, (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1986), 441-442.

[66] Ibid., 447-448.

[67] James Stuart Russel, The Parousia The New Testament Doctrine of Christ’s Second Coming, (Grand Rapids, MI:  Baker Book House Company, 1887 and reprinted again in 1990), 57 – 59.  Also being used is the Online Bible’s software where Russell’s book is available electronically.

[68] Ibid., 67

[69] Ibid., 67

[70] Lindsey, Late., p. 54.

[71] Hal Lindsey, The 1980’s: Countdown to Armageddon, (New York: Bantam, 1980), 144 and back-cover.

[72] Chuck Smith, End Times, The Word for Today, 1978, 35.

[73] Francis X. Gumerlock, the Day and the Hour Christianity’s Perennial Fascination with Predicting the End of the World, (Atlanta, GA: American Vision, 2000), 290.

[74] Hal Lindsey, Planet Earth – 2000 A.D., (Palos Verdes, CA:  Western Front, Ltd. 1994), 3.

[75] Michael J. Sullivan, THE FAILED ESCHATLOGICAL JESUS OF THE LIBERALS, MORMONS,
JEHOVAH’S WITNESSES AND THE DATE-SETTING “HOLY SPIRIT LED” EVANGELICALS, http://www.treeoflifeministries.info/index.php?view=article&catid=35%3Apreterist-eschatology-all-prophecy-fulfilled-by-ad-70&id=118%3Amike-sullivan-&option=com_content&Itemid=75

[76] J. Dave Hunt, Flashes of Falling Away, https://www.raptureready.com/terry/james17.html

About Mike Sullivan

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*