Now I want to move on to another passage White virtually avoided altogether in his debate with Shabir Ally (ie. Matthew 24) and was the subject of Anthony Rogers unfinished article series responding to Shabir (since White “dreads” [his words] the subject).
I personally believe White was a bit deceptive with Shabir in that Shabir kept appealing to Matt. 16:27-28/Matt. 24/1 Thess. 4:12-17 to demonstrate that Christ’s COMING was predicted to take place within the first century – and all White really had to say was to use the term “in AD 70” and mentioned that back home he was teaching a study on Matthew 24. So it gave the impression that perhaps White was at least a Partial Preterist and believed that “a” parousia or coming of Christ was fulfilled in AD 70. But once you listen to those lectures on Matthew 24, White does NOT take the Partial Preterist view on the coming of the Lord being fulfilled in 70 for those passages. He appeals to the classic Amillennial view’s interpretation of Matthew 24 and the “Two-Age Model” (he claims to agree with Kim Riddlebarger’s view in A Case for AMILLENNIALISM UNDERSTANDING THE END TIMES, pp. 92-99, 157-179). The only things White claims were kind-of-sort-of fulfilled by AD 70 are some of the signs. BUT Shabir’s argument was not addressing the signs but the coming of Christ, therefore, White was dishonest or at the very least misleading in his use of the term “AD 70.”
White makes mention of D.A. Carson and Kim Riddlebarger to help make some introductory points:
- Matthew 24 is one of or the most “difficult passages” to interpret in the NT. Therefore, White tells his church that he has been “secretly dreading” dealing with it.
- Whatever your view of Matthew 24 is, it will be (or should be) your interpretation in such NT books as 1 and 2 Thessalonians, Revelation and NT eschatology in general. Riddlebarger also correctly states that it will also form your “millennial view.”
- White claims the “truth is somewhere in the middle” between Dispensationalism’s futurism and Full Preterism.
White’s admissions only make my case against him. It is true that the Olivet Discourse is a “difficult passage” for futurism because there is a stale-mate between the classical Reformed Amillennial position (James White’s position) in Matthew 24 (and NT imminence) with that of the Reformed Partial Preterist position (Anthony Rogers / Sam Shamoun’s position). White also makes my point when he claims that the “truth is somewhere in the middle of these two” which is really somewhere in the middle of the middle:
Classic Amillennialism (James White/Kim Riddlebarger) – The coming of the Son of Man in Matthew 24:27-30—chapter 25 is the ONE NT’s Second Coming event that takes place at the end of the ONE “end of the age” (Matt. 24:3) in our future.
Partial Preterism (Anthony Rogers) – The coming of the Son of Man in Matthew 24:27-30—chapter 25 was fulfilled spiritually to close “the end of the (old covenant) age” (Matt. 24:3) in AD 70.
Full Preterism (Michael Sullivan / synthesis “Reformed and always reforming”) – The coming of the Son of Man in Matthew 24:27-30—chapter 25 is the ONE NT’s Second Coming event fulfilled spiritually to close “the end of the (old covenant) age” (Matt. 24:3) in AD 70.
The difficulty is that without Full Preterism “Bridging the Gap” between the two and a willingness to reform the creeds on the timing and nature of fulfillment for the Second Coming, the two form a contradiction. And if one is truly Reformed, he or she will submit to the teachings of the Reformed creeds which state that they can be in error and are subject to an accurate exegesis of God’s Word (“The Scriptures only” — Bereans — “Reformed and always reforming” concepts).
I also agree with White, Carson, and Riddlebarger, that whatever ones view of the coming of the Son of Man is upon the clouds of glory in Matthew 24:27-30—25:31, it will (and should) dictate your interpretations of 1 and 2 Thessalonians, Revelation, and NT eschatology in general (ex. Acts 1:8-11; 1 Cor. 15).
Having stated where I agree with James White on the importance of understanding Matthew 24-25 (and how it will affect ones eschatology), I must clearly state that I disagree with him that the passage is “very difficult” to understand or a subject one should “dread.”
The Disciples Question(s) and End of the Age
Critiquing James White’s position:
James White begins his study of Matthew 24 by making two foundational interpretive errors:
The disciples alleged “confusion”
First, he performs eisegesis (reading something into the text that is not there) and “question begging” when he assumes the disciples were “confused” in believing the Temple’s destruction end of the age, and Jesus’ Parousia/Second Coming would all be fulfilled together. Is this something the text tells us (as it does in other places of Matthew’s gospel when they are confused)? No. But is this doctrinal mantra used by White (and futurism) depicting the disciples as being allegedly “confused” a necessary inference necessary so that they he can then go on to create division theories (that he admits no one can really agree upon) as to which verses were fulfilled in AD 70 and which ones allegedly are end of time ones. In other words White NEEDS the disciples to be “confused” so that he can then try and “solve” that confusion by giving the OD two fulfillments – one in AD 70 and another at the end of world history.
“The Two-Age Model”
White immediately tells us what has influenced him the most in his study of NT eschatology and in fact is his foundation upon which he builds – the “two-age model” of the Jesus’ teaching and that of the NT. For White “this age” is somehow the New Covenant or Church age and the “age to come” is when the Second Coming/New Creation/Eternal state arrives. White references Matthew 13:39-43 and Luke 20:27-40 for support.
My response to these two points:
First, I find it interesting that White quickly contradicts himself when he points out that the disciples correctly understood Jesus connecting His coming with the destruction of the Temple right before we enter into the OD in Matthew 23:38-39. So this immediately creates some interpretive questions White needs to respond to. If the disciples correctly connected Jesus’ future coming with the destruction of the Temple in Matthew 23:38-39, and this “sets the stage or context for Matthew 24,” then why isn’t the future coming the disciples asked about in connection with the Temple’s destruction in Matthew 24:3ff. (and the one Jesus refers to throughout) the same AD 70 judgment coming of Christ?!? If Jesus did “come in judgment” to destroy the Temple according to Matthew 23:38-39, then where else in Jesus’ teaching (if not in Matt. 16:27-28, Matt. 24; or the rest of the NT for that matter), is this “coming” of Jesus addressed? And if Jesus taught on his “coming” to destroy the Temple, was this teaching anticipated by any of the NT authors as being something that would happen “soon,” “quickly,” “at hand,” “shortly,” “about to be,” or in their “this generation” (cf. 23:36), etc… as AD 70 was approaching?!? In other words White just opened himself up to a two NT comings view of Partial Preterism and now the burden of proof is upon him to prove that not only the coming in Matthews 23:38-39 is not the coming of Christ in Matthew 24, but to tell us which NT future coming of Jesus passages are referring to AD 70 and which ones are allegedly future?
Here are some other problems White has that he doesn’t address:
First, In Part 2 of my response to White and Rogers I dealt with this subject of “this age” and the “age to come” in-depth and would refer the reader to that section if they haven’t read it already. In regards to White, he does no “historical” exegesis in that the Jews of Jesus’ day understood “this age” to be the Old Covenant age of the law and prophets, and the “age to come” to be the New Covenant age or the age Messiah would usher in. That being said, when Jesus in Matthew 13:39-43 states that the separation of the wheat and tares and the resurrection of Daniel 12:2-3 would be fulfilled at the end of their “this age,” He is referring to the commonly understood “this age” of the Old Covenant law and prophets. Jesus hadn’t even died and rose again, so while alive in addressing the crowd about something that would be fulfilled in their current “this age” (not having shed His blood ushering in the inauguration of the NC age), Jesus is teaching that the resurrection would be fulfilled at the end of the OC age – not the NC age. Another issue White avoids in Matthew 13:39-43, 51 is that after Jesus gives His teaching on the “end of this age,” He specifically asks the disciples 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). Obviously the reason White avoided this text in his mention of Matthew 13 is that it contradicts his necessary theory that the disciples were confused as to what events would be associated with and fulfilled at the end of their “this age.”
Another issue related to a “historical” hermeneutic is where is White’s discussion of how others have interpreted “end of the age” in (Matt. 24:3) within the Reformed Church? Surely he knows that some throughout church history within the Reformed church have taught that the “end of the age” in Matthew 24 is the OC age and not the NC age (such as the view that Anthony Rogers is trying to defend in his response to Shabir Ally)? I think the answer is obvious why he doesn’t want that to be public knowledge for his church or the Christian community to think about.
Secondly, in the book of Daniel the consummation of the major eschatological events can be found in chapters 7, 9 and 12. Daniel connected the eschatological “time of the end” (not end of time) 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 to take place when the city and temple would be destroyed – or “when the power of the holy people would be completely shattered” (ie. “all these things” (not some of them) would be fulfilled together Dan. 7:13-14, 18, 27; Dan. 9:24-27; Dan. 12:1-7). Not to mention Daniel predicted that Messiah’s Kingdom would be fulfilled during the time of the fourth Kingdom (Rome) and this is exactly when Christ’s Kingdom and coming took place (cf. Luke 21:27, 31-32).The disciples had the OT Scriptures to guide them in that all these events would be fulfilled together (not thousands of years apart – ie. James White’s position). And thus far in Matthew’s gospel, Jesus has been consistent with this OT time frame for all of these events being fulfilled within some of their lifetimes. This leads us to our next point.
Thirdly, Jesus had previously taught that His coming would take place within some of their lifetimes (Matthew 10:22-23; 16:27-28/Mark 8:38-9:1). If Jesus has already taught the disciples that His coming would take place within some of their lifetimes and connects to the destruction of the Temple (Matt. 23:38-39), why would the disciples be “confused”? Maybe it’s really White and his futurism that is “confused” on this subject and not the disciples or Full Preterism?
Fourthly, although White briefly addresses Matthew 23 as forming the context of Matthew 24, he does not address that Jesus previously taught 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)
Fifthly, 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). So before we even get to Matthew 24, the disciples could have discerned from such prophets as Daniel and Isaiah, that all of the eschatological events would be fulfilled when the temple was destroyed. The record clearly states that the disciples understood Jesus’ teaching on “the end of age” or the end of their “this age.” And lastly, Jesus had already taught them that some of them would live to witness His return and the destruction of the Temple. Therefore, they were NOT mistaken to associate and connect Jesus’ coming (to destroy the Temple [that they were looking at and discussing] in their generation) with His coming and the end of the age.
Sixthly, White and others trying to make the point that the disciples were confused on previous occasions is classic mistake of “proving too much.” Why? Because Matthew (as a responsible narrator) and or Jesus makes this clear when the disciples are confused or they need to be corrected (cf. Matt. 16:6-12, 21-23; 17:4-5; 19:13-15; 20:20-25). We don’t find that in Matthew 24:3ff.!
And lastly, it is understandable why James White “dreads” addressing Matthew 24 – because he can’t even begin addressing the first verses or the context of the passage without contradicting himself or performing eisegesis!
White’s “harmonization” apologetic against Shabir Ally
In White’s debate with Shabir Ally, Shabir tried to show how the gospels “contradicted” themselves at various points and that this somehow proved they had been corrupted. What was White’s response? He demonstrated that Shabir’s points (and the liberal theologians he was trying to use to discount the reliability of the gospels) could easily be solved through what he called the “harmonization” process of comparing the gospels in that each gospel was written to a different audience which accounted for some of the differences (not contradictions) between them. If White was willing to see that the “end of the age” in the context of the Temple’s destruction in (Matt. 24:3) is the end of the OC age, then he would be ready to see how and why Mark and Luke do not record “and the end of the age” in their versions and why a “harmonization” between them supports the Full Preterist position.
“Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign when all these things will be fulfilled?” (Mark 13:4)
“So they asked Him, saying, “Teacher, but when will these things be? And what sign will there be when these things are about to take place?” (Luke 21:7)
“Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?” (Matt. 24:3)
Stuart Russell brings up the issue of “harmonization” to point out that all three are dealing with “different aspects of the same great event” in AD 70:
“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.” (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).
The “end of the age” in the Greek, (syntéleia toú aiṓnos) is an expression found only in the gospel of Matthew and therefore suggests that it has a peculiar understanding to the Jewish mind. When we broaden this study beyond the gospels with that of the rest of the NT, we discover 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. This is probably why Matthew also includes more parables than Mark and Luke do.
If the “end of the age” is referring to the end of planet earth, one would expect to find such crucial information not being omitted by Mark and Luke in the form of the disciples question since this sets the stage and makes an outline of sorts for Jesus’ teaching in the OD.
Perhaps a similar situation as to why something that seems at first to be very important and is omitted in one gospel but added to another, can be found in Jesus’ teaching on divorce. If “fornication” (some mistranslate this as “adultery”) is grounds for divorce, then why would Mark and Luke omit this exceptive clause from Jesus’ teaching in their accounts while we only find it in Matthew’s gospel? Again, it seems to lie in the different audiences being addressed that accounts for the differences.
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 (written primarily to Gentiles). Also, in Jewish law a woman could not divorce her husband and this is why Matthew does not mention this while Mark does (cf. Mark 10:12 / Matthew 19:9).
Therefore, in essence the three harmonize well in that Jesus’ teaching on divorce agree – “what God has joined together let no man separate.” And when it comes to the disciples question in Matthew, Mark, and Luke (that is a reaction to Jesus telling them that the Temple would be destroyed) – all three accounts harmonize well because all three are dealing with the destruction of the Temple and the end of the Jewish or OC age – “nothing else” (as even Reformed Partial Preterist Gary DeMar has informed us).
Before leaving the subject of the “end of the age” I should point out that the only strength to White’s Amillennial position on the two age view, is just that – Jesus only really taught on “TWO ages.” White ridicules Dispensationalism for having “little mini ages” “here and there in-between the two ages” when no such exegetical warrant can be found in the teachings of Jesus or the NT. But why doesn’t White criticize the Partial Preterist position here as well? Is it because if we really do study what the two views “in the middle” (his Amillennialism and Partial Preterism) are on this subject we arrive at “the truth” of Full Preterism? However, Partial Preterism does need to be criticized for inserting within the teachings of Jesus and that of the NT: TWO Parousias of Christ, TWO Great Commissions, TWO arrivals of the New Creation, TWO Judgments and Resurrections of the living and dead, and TWO “end of the age” doctrines to support their double vision and double-talk eschatology. Selah.
Let’s now shift our attention from Mr. White to that of Anthony Rogers and Sam Shamoun.
Critiquing Anthony Rogers and Sam Shamoun
Unlike White, at least Anthony Rogers attempts to correctly identify the “end of the age” in Matthew 24:3 and “the end” throughout as the end of the OC age in AD 70 and quotes Milton Terry for support (as most Preterists have). Milton Terry following Russell’s lead was spot on in identifying Jesus’ teaching on the “end of the age” in the Olivet discourse and elsewhere in the NT (such as Hebrews 9:26-28) as the OC age ending in AD 70:
“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.” (Milton S. Terry, Biblical HERMENEUTICS A Treatise on the Interpretation of the Old and New Testaments, (Zondervan Publishing House, 1986), 441-442).
After all the “Second Appearing” or “Second Coming” of Christ to close the OC age is further described as Christ coming in an AD 70 imminent time frame: “…in a very little while” and “would not tarry” in the next chapter (Hebrews 10:37). But let’s think about this for just a moment. The very text by which Christianity has formed the term “The Second Coming of Jesus” Partial Preterism says was fulfilled at the end of the OC age in AD 70! This is why when I try and explain this position (even once being a PP), people look confused and say, “So they believe in a “second, second coming’”???
Reformed Partial Preterists such as Gary DeMar would agree with Full Preterism on three crucial points in interpreting Matthew 24-25 properly: 1. The disciples were not confused, 2. The “end of the age” is the OC age ending in AD 70, and 3. There are not two comings (one in AD 70 and one at the end of world history) described in these chapters. 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.” (Gary DeMar, Last Days MADNESS Obsession of the Modern Church, (Powder Springs, GA: Fourth revised edition, 1999), 68, bold emphasis added).
Explaining his position on the “end of the age” being the OC age, DeMar quotes George Hill to support its historical relevance of “this age” being the OC age and the “age to come” being the NC or Messianic age,
“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.” (Ibid., 68).
Connecting this with the coming of the Son of Man upon the clouds throughout Matthew 24-25 DeMar 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.” (Ibid., 68, brackets mine).
As helpful and as exegetical as these quotes are, the weakness of DeMar’s Partial Preterism should be apparent. As White and other Reformed Amillennialists have pointed out Jesus only taught on two ages “this age” and the “age to come.” As I covered in Part 2 of this series, Jesus places the ONE resurrection and judgment of the living and dead of Daniel 12:2-3 at the end of the OC “this age” or “end of the age” in Matthew 13:39-43 and Luke 20:27-40. And as we noted in Part 2, there is no exegetical evidence that Jesus uses Daniel’s “hour” (Dan. 12:1-4 (OG) LXX) in John 4-5 as being fulfilled literally at the end of world history either.
Like Gary DeMar, this is a subject Anthony Rogers wants to avoid (and has so far) in his series of articles trying to respond to Shabir Ally in areas White “dreaded” to address. The spiritual resurrection at the end of the ONE “end of the (OC) age” in AD 70 is the Achilles heel of Partial Preterism and is something that continues to lead its readers into the Full Preterist movement. They want one foot in sound exegesis while trying to keep the other in the WCF on the “end of the age” and that “dog just won’t hunt” as they say around here.
General and Specific Signs
Critiquing James White
As I recall White gives most of the signs a dual type fulfillment. He criticizes Dispensationalism for giving a futuristic view of the signs and yet his double-type fulfillment on most of them leaves the door right open for Dispensationalism to do the very thing White criticizes.
False Christ’s / Messiah’s (vss. 5, 11, 23-24)
Because James White debates many views and professing “Christian” cults he points out that this passage could be applied to events prior to AD 70 but claims it is still being fulfilled today (example all of the cults he debates etc…). I don’t really see much of a difference between James White’s interpretations here and say that of David Hunt’s.
Jesus predicted that false messiahs would come in the generation of the first century and they did: Theudas (Acts 5:36; 13:6), Judas of Galilee (Acts 5:37), and Simon (Acts 8:9-11) to name a few. In the epistles of John, John writes (as that generation was ending) the first century Church that they knew it was “the last hour” because the Antichrist’s had arrived (1 John 2:17-18). For those who understand the “Antichrist” and “Man of Sin” to be the same person, we should point out that this individual was alive and “already at work” during the time of Paul (cf. 2 Thessalonians 2:3-8). As I discussed in Part 2 of this series, John’s “last hour” was the “hour” of Jesus’ teaching on the resurrection and judgment upon Jerusalem and that of Daniel 12 in (Matt. 24:36; John 4:20-24; John 5:24-29/Dan. 12:1-2 (OG) LXX). James White has the Church living in a very LONG “it is the last hour” that should be a sign of Christ’s coming upon the clouds of heaven in the fall of Jerusalem in AD 70.
The Jewish historian Josephus writes of a false prophet during the destruction of Jerusalem which deceived the Jews to stay and fight the Romans:
“Of so great a multitude, not one escaped. Their destruction was caused by a false prophet, who had on that day proclaimed to those remaining in the city, that “God commanded them to go up to the temple, there to receive the signs of their deliverance.” There were at this time many prophets suborned by the tyrants to delude the people, by bidding them wait for help from God, in order that there might be less desertion, and that those who were above fear and control might be encouraged by hope. Under calamities man readily yields to persuasion but when the deceiver pictures to him deliverance from pressing evils, then the sufferer is wholly influenced by hope. Thus it was that the impostors and pretended messengers of heaven at that time beguiled the wretched people.” (Josephus, Wars, 6.3.6.).
“Wars and Rumors of Wars” (vss. 6-7)
If I recall White spends most of his time here pretty much mocking Dispensationalists for claiming the “end is near” every time there is a war (which is all the time), famine, earthquake, persecution of Christians, etc…. Yet White seems to miss the significance to all of the signs (even the general ones) being fulfilled within the AD 30 – AD 70 “this generation” time period. As John L. Bray wrote:
“In AD 40 there was a disturbance at Mesopotamia which (Josephus says) caused the deaths of more than 50,000 people. In AD 49, a tumult at Jerusalem at the time of the Passover resulted in 10,000 to 20,000 deaths. At Caesarea, contentions between Jewish people and other inhabitants resulted in over 20,000 Jews being killed. As Jews moved elsewhere, over 20,000 were destroyed by Syrians. At Scythopolis, over 13,000 Jews were killed. Thousands were killed in other places, and at Alexandria 50,000 were killed. At Damascus, 10,000 were killed in an hour’s time.” (John L. Bray, Matthew 24 Fulfilled, p. 28)
“Famines” and earthquakes (vss. 7-8)
Again, the Bible and history record famine and pestilences during “the last days” (AD 30 – AD 70) of the Mosaic old-covenant age and generation (Acts 11:27-29). In AD 40 and AD 60 there were pestilences in Babylon and Rome where Jews and Gentiles alike suffered.
The book of Acts records for us an earthquake occurring in the Apostolic generation (Acts 16:26). “…just previous to 70 AD there were earthquakes in Crete, Smyrna, Miletus, Chios, Samos, Laodicea, Hierapolis, Colosse, Campania, Rome, and Judea.” (Gary DeMar, ibid., 64)
“Put to death,” “The love of many will grow cold” “He who endures till the end shall be saved” (vss. 9-13)
The first century Christians were to expect tribulation, to be brought before kings and rulers, imprisonment, beatings, for the sake of Jesus. Please read the book of Acts 4:3,17; Acts 5:40; Acts 7:54-60; Acts 8:1; Acts 9:1; Acts 12:1-3; Acts 14:19 to see the fulfillment of Jesus’ prophecy in Luke 21:12. In fulfillment of our Lord’s words, Paul and Silas were beaten (Acts 26:23) and Paul was brought before rulers and kings – Gallio, (Acts 28:12), Felix (Acts 24), Festus and Agrippa (Acts 25). Peter and Paul were put to death in the persecution of Nero.
Now White references a lot of these NT passages as well and discusses Nero’s persecutions etc…, but then again claims this has no real significance to a fulfillment of Christ’s return in the passage and the end of the age since the Church has always been persecuted throughout Church history.
But White seems to miss the golden thread of the NT’s teaching on: The preaching, persecution, power (charismata present), before the parousia.
We now enter the “persecution” before “the end.” White claims “the end” here is nothing more than the “end” of an individual’s life which could be fulfilled for any persecuted group of Christian’s pre or post AD 70. But contextually “the end” should be seen as the fulfillment to “the end of the age” the disciples asked about in (v. 3). But if this wasn’t clear enough, we need only go back earlier in Jesus’ teaching on the same subjects in Matthew 10:17-23:
“And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matt. 10:7)
“I tell you the truth, it will be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town.” (Matt. 10:15)
“And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved. But when they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another: for verily I say unto you, Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel, till the Son of man be come.” (Matt. 10:22-23)
I find it interesting that James White refers to the book When Shall These Things Be? in hopes that someone can refute Full Preterism – since he is unwilling to debate and respond to us. Yet here in this book Mathison (my opponent) references D.A. Carson (someone White appeals to often as well) as someone applying the fulfillment of this passage to AD 70 (WSTTB?, 175, fn. 23). Ironically, Mathison’s source for all the main views on this passage ends up taking a Preterist one! Carson finds view #7 to be the most contextually accurate in light of the limited cultural and local indicators connected with this persecution and the coming of the Son of Man:
“7. The “coming of the Son of Man” here refers to his coming in judgment against the Jews, culminating in the sack of Jerusalem and the destruction of the temple (so France, Jesus, p. 140; Feuillet, “Les origines,” pp. 182–98; Moule, Birth, p. 90; J.A.T. Robinson, Jesus and His Coming [London: SCM, 1957], pp. 80, 91–92; and others).” (Carson, D. A. (1984). Matthew. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Matthew, Mark, Luke (Vol. 8, pp. 252–253). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House).
“Against this background the coming of the Son of Man in v. 23 marks that stage in the coming of the kingdom in which the judgment repeatedly foretold falls on the Jews. With it the temple cultus disappears, and the new wine necessarily takes to new wineskins (see on 9:16–17). The age of the kingdom comes into its own, precisely because so many of the structured foreshadowings of the OT, bound up with the cultus and nation, now disappear (see on 5:17–48). The Son of Man comes.
Above all this interpretation makes contextual sense of v. 23. The connection is not with v. 22 alone but with vv. 17–22, which picture the suffering witness of the church in the post-Pentecost period during a time when many of Jesus’ disciples are still bound up with the synagogue. During that period, Jesus says in v. 23, his disciples must not use the opposition to justify quitting or bravado. Far from it. When they face persecution, they must take it as no more than a signal for strategic withdrawal to the next city (W. Barclay, The Gospel of Matthew, 2 vols. [Philadelphia: Westminster, 1975], 1:378–80) where witness must continue, for the time is short. They will not have finished evangelizing the cities of Israel before the Son of Man comes in judgment on Israel.” (Carson, Ibid.).
In addition to Carson’s comments, I would argue that the coming of the Son of Man in verse 23 is not just connected to verses 17-22, but would include Jesus’ announcement that the Kingdom was “at hand” in verse 7 and “the judgment” coming upon the “villages” and “towns” of 15 also point to Christ coming upon Jerusalem in AD 70.
Herman Ridderbos is partially correct when he tries to say that it is not the mission of the disciples that is the issue, but the persecution in this passage (Herman Ridderbos, The COMING of the KINGDOM, (P&R pub., 1962), pp. 508-509). But the truth of the matter is that both go hand in hand. The OT echo and background here is the “city of refuge” in which individuals unjustly convicted of crimes could flee to for safety when wrongly accused or persecuted (cf. Ex. 21; 13; Num. 35:6, 11, 14; Deut. 21:2, 9; Josh. 20:1-9). With this being the background some have actually translated the text as,
“But whenever they persecute you in one city, flee to the next; for truly I say to you, you will not finish fleeing to all the cities of Israel until the Son of Man comes.”
These cities being evangelized would obviously fall under the umbrella of the gospel having been preached to “every creature under heaven” and in “all the world/earth” and to “all nations” Cols.1:5-6, 23; Rms.10:18; Rms.16:25-26 prior to AD 70. Not all the cities would have persecuted them during their missionary journeys but when they were, they were promised to have a city to flee to for safety. We also know from history that the Christians fled to Pella (a city of refuge) when they saw Jerusalem surrounded by armies as predicted and directed by our Lord Luke 21:20ff.
While briefly here in Matthew 10:17-23, I should point out that a lot of Rreformed theologians try and say that this coming of the Son of Man was fulfilled in the resurrection or ascension events. Yet, as Carson observed, the text is inseparably linked to the preaching and persecutions that precede it. Therefore, the challenge for this is to demonstrate where is it EVER recorded in the NT that the disciples were: 1) “delivered up to councils” in verse 17, 2) “scourged in the synagogues” in verse 17, and 3) given the Holy Spirit to be “brought before governors and kings as a testimony to them and the Gentiles” vs. 19-20, prior to the resurrection and ascension? All of these events are recorded for us in the book of Acts and took place AFTER the resurrection and ascension of Christ and not before it. Selah. However, all of these events occurred before Christ came on the clouds to make an “end” of the Jewish or OC age in AD 70 and “save” His people from the wrath that was to engulf Jerusalem. The persecution and fleeing passages are inseparably linked to the time of “the end.” The chapter ends with those among Israel whom will receive a “prophet’s reward” Matt.10:40-42. These “prophets” in the context, are the disciples (cf. Matt. 23:34-36) whom some of which were promised to be alive to witness the Son of Man coming to reward every man (Matt.16:27-28/Rev. 22:12) as I proved in Part 1 of this series
The persecution connected to “the end” here in Matthew 10:22-23 and that of Matthew 24:3, 12, 14 is once again pointing us back to Daniel’s “time of the end” or “the end” of the Seventy Sevens which again find their fulfillment in AD 70 (cf. Dan. 9:24-27; 12:1-13). In connection with the coming of the Son of Man in Daniel 7:13 the contextual setting was prophesied that the little horn would wage war against the saints (thus inferring martyrdom) before they could poses and inherit the kingdom. This is what we are seeing in both Matthew 10:7, 17-23 (persecution takes place in light of the fact that the “kingdom is at hand” — connected to the coming of the Son of Man) and Matthew 24/Mark 13/Luke 21:27, 31-23 (persecution, kingdom at hand or at the door, and coming of the Son of Man predicted to take place within their “this generation”).
Here are some of the other parallels:
|Matthew 10:17-23||Olivet Discourse|
|1. Delivered up to local councils and synagogues – Matt. 10:17||1. Delivered up to local councils and synagogues – Mark 13:9|
|2. Brought before governors and kings to be witnesses to the Gentiles – Matt. 10:18||2. Brought before governors and kings to be witnesses to the Gentiles – Mark 13:9|
|3. Holy Spirit would speak through them – Matt. 10:19-20||3. Holy Spirit would speak through them – Mark 13:11|
|4. Family members would betray and kill each other, all men would hate disciples, but he that would stand firm to “the end” would be saved – Matt. 10:22||4. Family members would betray and kill each other, all men would hate disciples, but he that would stand firm to “the end” would be “saved” – Mark 13:12-13|
|5. The disciples would not have run out of cities of refuge to flee to as they were being persecuted preaching the gospel to the cities of Israel before the Son of Man would come. Matt. 10:23||5. The disciples (and later Paul the Apostle to the Gentiles) were to preach the gospel to the then known “world” and “nations” at that time before “the end” (of the OC age) and coming of the Son of Man would take place. Matthew 24:14/Mark 13:10|
D.A. Carson claims that the coming of the Son of Man and “the end” in Matthew 10:17-23 have to refer to Christ coming in judgment upon Jerusalem in AD 70 because of the unique cultural and temporal indicators describing the disciples persecutions (“local councils” and “synagogues” etc…) that are inseparably connected to the time frame of the coming of the Son of Man. But these SAME cultural and temporal indicators are inseparably connected to the coming of the Son of Man in the Olivet Discourse – which pose a problem for both Carson and White!
It is ultimately Carson working from a creedal bias and faulty assumptions that the coming of the Son of Man in judgment upon Jerusalem in Matthew 10:17-23 cannot be the Second Coming event as is described in Matthew 24 and Mark 13 that forces him to not see Full Preterism. This causes him to hastily brush aside these parallels and Jesus’ teaching in the OD in which Christ coming in judgment upon Jerusalem is the Second Coming event which brought about “the end” of her age or OC age in AD 70. Where is Carson’s exegetical work on Jesus’ OT echo here for “the end” which posit the destruction of the Temple and City (in AD 70) to be the time for the judgment and resurrection of the dead to take place (ie. Daniel 12:1-13)?
In allowing Jesus to interpret Himself in comparing the persecution of the first century pre-AD 70 disciples in our text Matt. 24:13 with that of “the end” in (Matt. 10:17-23/Mark 13) we see that “the end” is not the end of an individual’s life pre or post AD 70 as White merely assumes, but Daniel’s “time of the end” and in the immediate context “the end of the age” the disciples asked about. White did absolutely no paralleling (“harmonization”) with Mark 13 or addressed this same subject in the gospel of Matthew in chapter 10. Sloppy use of hermeneutics and exposition on White’s part and his church need to be Bereans and challenge him on his “dreaded” approach to Matthew 24.
We will revisit what this “the end” is once we get to verse 14 – where White creates all kinds of problems for himself. But first let’s address the sign of the apostasy in this passage.
At this point we are getting into what Riddlebarger observed in that how one interprets the OD will form ones “millennial view” to some extent (Riddlebarger, Ibid., 157). What are the “days” (plural) that lead up to “the day” (singular) of Christ’s coming and judgment throughout Matthew 24? White’s Amillennialism and that of the “Two-Age Model” would teach these are describing the NT’s use of the “last days” of the Church age in which the “last day” of the Second Coming takes place. So for Amillennialists is Matthew 24 and say 2 Timothy 3 teaching an “optimistic Amillennial view” or what some call a “pessimistic Amillennial view?” Now some Reformed Partial Preterists have taken the NT’s use of the “last days” to be exclusively from roughly from AD 30 – AD 70 referring not to the last days of the Church or NC age, but the last days of the Jewish or OC age ending in AD 70 (Chilton, DeMar, etc…). However, some like Kenneth Gentry and Keith Mathison like to try and “have their cake and eat it to” when it comes to the “last days” and persecution or apostasy is the subject. Why? Because Postmillennial Partial Preterists in debating “pessimistic Dispensationalists” or “pessimistic Postmillennialists” here in Matthew 24:12 and 2 Timothy 3 would like to get this fulfilled in a Preterist “past” time frame so that they can promote an “optimistic Postmillennialism.” Since their eschatology has the vast majority of the nations of the world being Christianized right before the Second Coming takes place, passages like these HAVE to be already be fulfilled in the past or in throws a monkey wrench into their eschatology. I addressed this “doubletalk” in my response to Keith Mathison in our book:
“Mathison says that 2 Timothy 3:1 and 2 Peter 3:3 imply that the last days are still future. Let us see if that interpretation holds water.
But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come (2 Tim. 3:1).
In his book, Postmillennialism: An Eschatology of Hope, Mathison writes to futurists concerning this verse and its context:
The . . . “last days” . . . and similar phrases are often used to refer to the last days of the Jewish age (e.g., Heb. 1:2; 1Pet.1:20; 1John 2:18). . . . [This passage] speaks to a pastoral situation that Timothy was dealing with in his own day. It is not a prophecyof conditions at the end of the world.
But five years later, in WSTTB, when debating “hyper preterists,” Mathison says that the very same last days prophecy (2 Tim. 3:1) will be fulfilled in our future:
. . . [Some] New Testament texts . . . seem to refer to “the last days” as something yet to come. Paul, for example, warns Timothy that “In the last days perilous times will come” (2 Tim. 3:1; cf. 1 Tim. 4:1). Peter warns his readers “that scoffers will come in the last days” (2 Peter 3:3). [Paul and Peter] say . . . that “the last days” will be the time in which something that is future will happen. The coming of “perilous times” and of “scoffers” is explicitly said to be future. The future times during which these things will come is called “the last days.” The implication is that “the last days” referred to in these texts are still future.
So while we are already in the last days, there is still some sense in which the last days can be considered future.
But then yet another five years later, in his new book, From Age to Age, Mathison reverts to the biblical-preterist view that the last days in 2 Timothy 3:1 refer to the first century.
According to some, these verses refer to an apostasy to occur in the time immediately preceding the second coming of Jesus. There are at least three reasons, however, to doubt this conclusion.
Who do we believe? The 1999 preterist Mathison (Postmillennialism) or the 2004 futurist Mathison (WSTTB) or the 2009 preterist Mathison (From Age to Age)? Are the last days in 2 Timothy 3:1 the last days of the “Jewish age,” as Mathison implies while defending partial preterist postmillennialism against other futurists? Or are the last days in 2 Timothy 3:1 the last days of a future end of world history, as Mathison implies while attempting to refute biblical preterism?
Mathison says “the last days” are past when he is refuting other futurists because he knows that if “the last days” are still future, then the growing and increasing apostasy which characterizes those “perilous times” are still present and future for us as well; and if this is the case, then there is nothing left to his “optimistic” and “successful” postmillennial “golden age” that will gradually blossom before Jesus allegedly comes back peacefully for His Second (Third) Coming in our future.
But Mathison does not concern himself with this implication of making “the last days” future when he refutes “hyper-preterists.” His only concern when dealing with us is to counter “hyper-preterism” at any cost, even, apparently, at the cost of his own doctrinal integrity.
Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts. (2 Peter 3:3)
The majority of futurist commentators, men such as Mathison’s coauthor Simon Kistemaker, are certain (as are we) that Peter’s “last days” involves at least one or two signs that Jesus spoke of in the Olivet Discourse, namely, false prophets and the apostasy (2 Peter 1:16; 2:1ff; cf. Matt. 24:3–5, 11, 23–26; 27–34). This fact leads us to an AD 70 fulfillment, not a future-to-us fulfillment.
The “mockers” and “ungodly men” of 2 Peter 3:3–7 are the “false teachers” of 2 Peter 2:1–3, whose destruction was imminent in Peter’s day. Partial preterist Peter Leithart writes of these false teachers and mockers:
Peter says explicitly that the destruction of false teachers is coming “soon.” Their destruction is the same event as the destruction of the present heavens and earth, the “day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men” (3:7). If the destruction of false teachers was near when Peter wrote, so also was the destruction of the heavens and earth and the coming of a new heavens and earth.
Peter responds to mockers who doubt the promise of Jesus’ coming because time has passed without any sign of the Parousia.
If there were no time limit on the original prophecy, then the mockers would have no grounds for their mockery and no way to attract converts to their skeptical views. Therefore, the original prophecy must have included a time limit, a terminus ad quem, and that time limit must have been the lifetime of the apostles.16
Since these mockers were already present, it is illogical for Mathison to say that the perilous times of the last days will take place in our future (190). There is not one scintilla of evidence, whether explicit or implicit, for Mathison’s contention that “the future” for Peter and his audience is still “the future” for us.
According to Isaiah, the coming of the Lord and His righteous judgment of these scoffers would be likened to the Lord’s return in judgment upon the Philistines and the Amorites at Mount Perazim and the Valley of Gibeon (Isa. 28:21). These were not global judgments that burned the face of the planet or that disintegrated the elements of the periodic table.
Isaiah repeatedly tells us that there were to be “survivors” of this “Day of the Lord” even after the “earth”/“land” is burned with fire and the new creation takes its place (Isa. 1–5; 24–25; 65–66). This precludes the notion that Isaiah was speaking of a fiery destruction of the face of planet Earth and of the stars and planets.
The Law and the Prophets never predicted a literal torching of the planet. “The last days” were the last days before the judgment of apostate, old covenant Judah/Jerusalem and the “elements” (rudiments) of her world, and cannot be applied to an alleged ending of the eternal, new covenant age/world. There can be no “last days” of an age that has “no end” (Isa. 9:7; Eph. 3:21). There is therefore no 2000+ year extension or expansion of the “last days” into our future, as Mathison and other futurists theorize.” (Sullivan, Green, Hassertt, House Divided, Ibid., pp. 81-84).
Recently, Mr. Gentry has sought to take issue with White’s Amillennialism in 2 Timothy 3 and is arguing for a first century fulfillment of the passage while at the same time trying to be more “orthodox” on the “last days” claiming the Church is still in those days. For Gentry’s form of Partial Preterism (and apparently that of Mathison), he has ONE eschatological “last days” period that spans through TWO eschatological “already not yet” periods which end two ages (OC age in AD 70 and the Churches at the end of world history). Of course Gentry is extremely arbitrary in this construction that is neither creedal nor Biblical (as White, Riddlebarger, Strimple, and Full Preterists have pointed out). As I pointed out Gentry and Mathison have other problems with these passages in that they describe “signs” in Matthew 24 that they say were fulfilled in AD 70, while trying to claim 2 Timothy 3 and 2 Peter 3 need to have a future fulfillment when in fact these chapters are inseparably connect to the same AD 70 fulfillment signs! They should have listened to their Partial Preterist brethren and that of Full Preterists on these passages but they would not.
And because White fails to understand that this specific sign of apostasy here in Matthew 24:12 was to be fulfilled in the AD 30 – AD 70 “this generation” (not in the Church age post AD 70) and that the “last days” and apostasy described in 2 Timothy 3:1-5 is describing the “last days” of the Jewish or OC age, he too incorrectly interprets these passages. Since White has already told us that “the truth can be found in the middle (of classical Amillennialism & Partial Preterism) let’s solve this tiff between Gentry and White on these passages:
James White (Classic Amillennialism) – The “last days” span between the “Two-Age-Model” of Jesus’ and the NT’s teaching on the signs of persecution, apostasy, and false teachers found in Matthew 24; 2 Timothy 3; and 2 Peter 3.
Gary DeMar (AV Partial Preterism) – The “days” leading up to “that day” in Matthew 24 and the NT’s use of the “last days” are describing, leading up to, and were fulfilled when the OC age ended in AD 70 and therefore Matthew 24; 2 Timothy 3; and 2 Peter 3 were fulfilled by AD 70.
Michael Sullivan (Full Preterism synthesis “truth is in the middle”) – The “last days” of the OC age ended in AD 70 and were a span of time that that were between the NT’s “Two-Age-Model” (not three per Gentry and even DeMar – both claim “the end of the age” in Matt. 28:18-20 is still future) found describing the signs of persecution, apostasy, and false teachers found in Matthew 24; 2 Timothy 3; and 2 Peter 3. Therefore, all three passages have already been fulfilled (cf. Luke 21:22/1 Peter 1:4-12/2 Peter 4:5-7/2 Tim. 4:1YLT).
But having taken a necessary and exegetical “rabbit trail” here in looking at the “last days” signs found in 2 Timothy 3:1-5 and 2 Peter 3 in developing Matthew 24:9-13, it would be nice to hear how Gentry believes the living and dead were judged in AD 70: “I do fully testify, then, before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who is about to judge living and dead at his manifestation and his reign” (2 Tim. 4:1YLT/1 Peter 4:5-7). Selah. It’s always fun to watch a Partial Preterist squirm and address that topic – trying to explain to Amillennialists and Full Preterists how the NT supposedly teaches TWO judgments and resurrections from the dead. All the while they try and keep a straight face and tell you that they are creedal and their views don’t lead to Full Preterism – lol.
“And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” (Matthew 24:14)
Based upon everything you hear up to this point in listening to James White’s treatment of Matthew 24 up to this point is a lot of eisegesis and very disappointing. But once he gets to Matthew 24:14 he catches you a bit by surprise. White actually claims that in interpreting this passage and (Mark 13:10) we should understand the terms “whole world” and “all nations” in a “local” first century context in relation to the Roman world or the world as they knew it — and for support he goes to Colossians 1:5-6, 23 in fulfillment of these passages in Paul’s day! You would think you are listening to a Partial Preterist or Full Preterist at this point. But what White says of this passage creates some exegetical problems for him.
First, “the end” in verse 14 is referring contextually to “the end of the age” the disciples asked about in v. 3. This is the same problem White ran into with “the end” in 24:13. Even Kim Riddlebarger (whom White claims he is following for the most part) admits “In verse 14, Jesus gave another sign of the end of the age…” (Riddlebarger, Ibid., 166). Well, if v. 14 is a “sign of the end of the age” the disciples asked about, then contextually one of the signs of “the end of the age” was fulfilled in Paul’s day. That being the case, then “the end of the age” or “the end” refers to the OC age that Paul identified as “shortly” coming to an end in his day (1 Cor. 7:29, 31; 1 Cor. 10:11).
Secondly, if the sign (of the end of the age) concerning the Gospel being preached to the “whole world” and to “all nations” was fulfilled just prior to AD 70 (White citing Cols. 1:5-6, 23), then “the end” or “the end of the (OC) age” is what the disciples asked about and clearly what Jesus is saying would be fulfilled within their AD 30 – AD “this generation” (Matt. 24:34). But to do this, it takes White out of his “Two-Age-Model!” So what do you do? One might substitute “the end” or “end of the age” with the “apostolic age”? Since White claims he is following Riddlebarger for the most part let’s quote him a bit more on this verse. I want you to pay attention to his use of the “apostolic age” and also his references to the “Roman Empire” and Acts 1:8:
“Clearly, this sign (of the end of the age), extended not only to the apostolic age, in which the gospel was proclaimed throughout most of the Roman Empire by A.D. 70 (cf. Acts 1:8). But this same gospel which Jesus preached must be preached to all nations before the end of the age. This idea applies to the end of the age and second coming advent, not the events of A.D. 70.” (Ibid.)
“Clearly” Riddlebarger must know that the NT does not mention anything about an “apostolic age” since we have to remind him that he only holds to a “Two-Age-Model.” If Acts 1:8 is referring to the Roman Empire, then the gospel had been preached throughout the Roman Empire just prior to the end of the OC age in AD 70. So when you compare what White is saying of Matthew 24:14/Mark 13:10/Colossians 1:5-6, 23 as referring to the “known world at that time” / “Roman world” / “nations” being “local” not global, and Riddlebarger claiming the “ends of the earth” is referring to the Roman Empire in (Acts 1:8) – you have to kind of scratch your head a bit. “Clearly” Riddlebarger and White are confused. Every Greek word Jesus uses for the fulfillment of the GC, the Apostle Paul turns right around and uses (under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit) to teach that the GC had already been fulfilled in his day:
|“And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world (Greek oikumene) for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come” (Matthew 24:14)||“But I say, have they not heard? Yes indeed: ‘Their sound has gone out to all the earth, and their words to the ends of the world (Greek oikumene)” (Romans 10:18)|
|“And the gospel must first be published among all nations (Greek ethnos)” (Mark 13:10)||“…My gospel… has been made manifest, and by the prophetic Scriptures has been made known to all nations (Greek ethnos)…” (Romans 16:25-26)|
|“And He said to them, ‘Go into all the world (Greek kosmos) and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15)||“…of the gospel, which has come to you, as it has also in all the world (Greek kosmos), as is bringing forth fruit…,” (Colossians 1:5-6).|
|And he said unto them ‘Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature(Greek kitisis) ” (Mark 16:15)||“…from the gospel which you heard, which was preached to every creature (Greek kitisis) under heaven, of which I, Paul became a minister” (Colossians 1:23)|
|“But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth(Greek ge)” (Acts 1:8).||“But I say, have they not heard? Yes indeed: ‘Their sound has gone out to all the earth (Greek ge), and their words to the ends of the world” (Romans 10:18)|
Jesus nor the Apostle Paul meant nor understood these phrases of “into all the world,” “all nations,” “every creature,” or “end of the earth,” to be global terms but rather the nations of the Roman Empire or “the inhabited world as they knew it” in the first century as Riddlebarger and White have admitted to these Biblical definitions!
“Clearly,” Paul in Colossians 1:5-6, 23 and in Romans 10:18 does not say that the gospel had been preached into “most” of the “end of the earth” – just that it had been preached to “all the earth” and to “the ends of the earth” just as the end of the OC age was approaching. And “clearly” within the context of Matthew 24:14 there is no mention of this being fulfilled by the “apostolic age” – the only “the end” is referring to the “end of the (OC) age” connected to the destruction of the Temple in AD 70. I would rather follow the Paul’s inspired teachings and thus his development of NT imminence (that is really imminent) than Riddlebarger and White who feel way to comfortable “going beyond what is written.”
Although I would disagree with John Murray and what he views as fulfilled in AD 70 and what is allegedly future, I would agree with his observations that like other prophetic material (such as the book of Revelation), Jesus in the OD is using the commonly practiced use of “recapitulation” throughout:
“1. The discourse, as to structure, is recapitulatory to a considerable extent. It is not, therefore, continuously progressive. We are repeatedly brought to the advent and informed of its various features, concomitants, and consequences (vss. 14, 29-31, 37-41, 25:31-46).” John Murray, COLLECTED WRITINGS OF JOHN MURRAY 2: Systematic Theology, (Carlisle, PA: THE BANNER OF TRUTH TRUST, 1977), 398-399).
Murray’s structure is spot on and creates problems for White’s exegesis so far in what he and Riddlebarger have said of the GC described in Matthew 24:14 and Mark 13:10 in their appeals to Colossians 1:5-6, 23 and Acts 1:8 with how Paul understood these terms of the commission being fulfilled just prior to the end of the OC age asked about in Matt. 24:3 (not the “apostolic age”) approaching AD 66 – AD 70. It also creates problems for Partial Preterists who claim Matthew 24:30-31 is descriptive of a second GC commission (removed from v. 14) gathering post AD 70 and not the actual ONE “Second Advent” or “end of the age” gathering and resurrection described for us in Matthew 13:39-43/Matthew 24:30-31. Matthew 24:30-31 is not a second GC, but is the “recapitulation” of the consummation or fulfillment found in v. 14! Again, let me stress, the gathering of the elect at the Second Coming (the fulfillment of the harvest) fulfills the GC of v. 14.
But I think Murray misses that Matthew 24:15-20/Luke 21:20-23 is also a recapitulated consummation scene to the disciples question in v. 3 as well. And to that subject we now turn our attention to.
“The abomination that causes desolation” “Then let those who are in Judea flee” (vss. 15-20) “For this is the time of punishment in fulfillment of all that has been written” (Luke 21:20-22)
We finally reach some passages that James White is willing to admit have been 100% fulfilled by AD 70 (at least in Matthew’s account). In the previous passages White criticizes and mocks Dispensationalism’s futuristic treatment of the signs and yet we have found that White ironically gives them the same kind of futuristic double-type fulfillments that fuels the “extremes” of newspaper Dispensational eschatology! But now it is safe to say White is separating himself from Dispensationalists when it comes to agree with Partial Preterists and Full Preterists that these verses have been fulfilled by AD 70.
White at this point of his exegesis of Matthew 24 finally wants to do some “harmonization” between Matthew 24:15-20 with other parallel accounts to the OD such as Luke 21:20-23. Why? Well, mostly it is to further mock Dispensationalism. But putting that aside, White is correct to point out to Dispensationalists that there is no need for a future re-built Temple to fulfill this passage. Nor is their understanding of trying to identify a future to us “anti-Christ” (“alive and well on planet earth”) to do abominable acts in this future to us re-built Temple in hopes of fulfilling this passage. Why? Because a “harmonization” of Matthew 24:15-20 with that of Luke 21:20-23 concerning this “desolation” makes it plain that the Roman armies on Jerusalem’s land (surrounding the City and Temple area) would be an “abomination” to the Jew, and thus a fulfillment of the Daniel 9:27 Jesus references.
White is correct to point out the clear AD 70 local and temporal indicators within the (Matt. 24:15-20/Luke 21:20-23) passages such as:
- The surrounding of Jerusalem being the Romans in AD 66.
- The flight of the Christian Jews from Jerusalem to the city to Pella.
- References to “Judea” and pre-AD 70 cultural references to one being on a “roof.”
For White, Partial Preterists and Full Preterists this is sound hermeneutical ground to see these passages as being fulfilled in the events of AD 66 – AD 70.
But of course it is my job as a “Berean,” thorough exegete, and a Full Preterist theologian to bring up and address issues White did not address on these passages:
- If I recall there was no mention or exegesis of what the, “For this is the time of punishment in fulfillment of all that has been written” passage means (Luke 21:22) which of course is sandwiched in-between the abomination and desolation/flight of (Matt. 24:15-20/Luke 21:20-23).
- Since White appealed to D.A. Carson on how “difficult” and yet significant and important Matthew 24 is to how one will interpret his eschatology say in 1 and 2 Thessalonians, we should ask ourselves where else could this AD 66 – AD 70 “wrath” be described in Thessalonians? This is especially relevant as it pertains to passages that have been brought up in Muslim debates and articles addressed to Sam Shamoun etc…
- There was no real exegesis from White on the OT echo or reference Jesus brings up in Daniel 9:27 which is the fulfillment of the Seventy Sevens of Daniel 9:24-27 and how those verses could have been fulfilled by AD 70. Exegetically speaking, anytime a NT author quotes or alludes to an OT reference, it is the Christian exegete’s responsibility to develop that OT context to see how, what, when, and where that context applies to the NT author’s use of the passage in the NT.
Daniel 2 / 7 / 9 / 12 recapitulation and Matthew 24:15/Luke 21:22 “all things written”
As the book of Revelation and Matthew 24-25 are written in a common prophetic “recapitulation,” structure understood in the context of Jesus’ day, so too was the prophetic book of Daniel. So if Jesus says that Daniel 9:27 would be fulfilled by AD 70 that isn’t exactly the end of the issue. Because in context, Daniel 9:27 is the climax of the redemptive events being fulfilled for the entire Seventy Seven’s prophecy in Daniel 9:24-27. And have some of these same events been recapitulated previously in say chapters 2 and 7, and will they be recapitulated again in chapter 12 with indicators that they too would all be fulfilled by AD 70 – ie. “all things written” (the coming of the Son of Man, the judgment, and resurrection) (Luke 21:22/Matt. 5:17-18)?
Daniel 2 – Nebuchadnezzar has a dream which troubles him. He seeks to have his wise men to tell him what he dreamt and its interpretation. No one could do this except the God of Daniel. The dream was of a statue which represented four world powers (1. Head of gold = Babylon, 2. Chest and arms of silver = Medo-Persia, 3. Belly and thighs of bronze = Greece, and 4. Legs of iron and feet of clay = Roman (and possibly the Hasmonean dynasty). It is revealed that the God of heaven will establish His everlasting Kingdom that will never be destroyed through the use of a “stone cut out of a mountain without hands” that will strike the feet of the statue (during the time of the Roman Kingdom).
Daniel 7 – This is the time for the eschatological judgment when the Ancient of Days would open the books. In verse 13 in the (OG) LXX it depicts one like a Son of Man coming with/upon the clouds of heaven “as the Ancient of days.” Daniel wants to understand more about this and is given an angelic interpretation in vss. 19-27. We are told that a “little horn” from the “fourth beast” (Rome) would wage war against the saints (implying persecution and martyrdom) before the Ancient of Days would come in judgment and the saints could “poses” or inherit the kingdom.
Jesus and the book of Revelation depict Christ coming as the Son of Man upon the clouds and as the Ancient of Days in His Second Advent (Matt. 16:27-28; Matt. 24:30-31—25:31; Rev. 1:7-18). The Second Advent of the Son of Man and His Kingdom (cf. Luke 21:27, 31-32; Matt. 16:27-28/Mark 8:38-9:1) is described to take place within some of lifetimes of Jesus’ first century audience and in their “this generation.” This is consistent with an AD 70 imminent “shortly” fulfillment of Christ’s coming as the Ancient of days in judgment found in the book of Revelation (Rev. 1:1—-22:20).
So before getting into Daniel 9:27, we can see that there has been a “recapitulation” of progressive development of how and when God’s everlasting Kingdom will come during the time of the Roman Empire. In chapter 2 why find out that it comes during the time of the fourth kingdom (Rome) and that it comes in the form of a Stone (Jesus Christ the Chief Corner Stone) bringing an end to the times of the Gentiles (we will get into that when approaching Luke 21:24 – shortly). Recapitulation in the form of progressive revelation (or description of this same event) further describes the coming Stone as a Son of Man coming upon the clouds “as the Ancient of Days” in judgment upon the little horn of the fourth beast (Rome) at which time the Kingdom is established. But here we are given further information about the same end time judgment event in that there is persecution for the saints before they can inherit this spiritual and eternal kingdom.
Daniel 9:24-27 – As I stated earlier, since there is no disagreement between myself, White, Rogers, and Shamoun, on the fulfillment of Matthew 24:15-20/Luke 21:20-23 being fulfilled by AD 70, I want to develop the context and spend a little more time on the immediate context of Daniel 9:24-27.
This too is one of those allegedly “difficult” passages to interpret but it really isn’t. As we have seen so far in Matthew 16:27-28 and Matthew 24, the truth is easy to see and has been a synthesis or combination of the Classical Amillennial view and the Partial Preterist views. The truth of the matter is that a easy explanation of the Seventy Sevens is found “in the middle” of two Christian views that have been seen as contradictory (working within the box of the creeds), but when combined together actually form the Biblical view.
View #1 – Many of the early church fathers and even exegetes today (even Partial Preterists) find the fulfillment of Daniel 9:24-27 in Christ’s appearance in the flesh, His death, and the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in AD 70 – closing the OC age. Many within this view try and make the prophecy be a literal 490 years.
View #2 – Other church fathers and even modern theologians have interpreted the prophecy from the Babylonian Exile to the kingdom’s arrival attended by the Second Coming of Christ – at the end of the days or end of the Church age. This view understands the Seventy Sevens (or as some call them “The Seventy Weeks”) not to be a literal 490 years, but a prophetic and symbolic period of time.
My View – (synthesis “Reformed and always reforming”) – The Seventy Sevens is a prophetic and or symbolic period of time from God calling His people back into their land from the Babylon captivity (through Cyrus’ decree – under Nehemiah and Ezra leadership), to Christ in His Second Advent gathering His elect “in Him/the Kingdom/Heavenly Land” from Babylonian captivity (out from among the OC apostate “Great City” Jerusalem) at the close of the OC age in AD 70.
As we have seen thus far, Jesus identifies the judgment and destruction of Jerusalem and Her Temple with the fall of Jerusalem in AD 70 (Dan. 9:24a, 26-27/Matt. 24:15/Luke 21:20-22). Daniel 9:27 is brings an “…the end that is decreed” – that is it is the climatic event or the last seven that fulfills “Seventy sevens decreed for” Daniel’s people and their city of (Dan. 9:24). So whatever these six redemptive (from cross to parousia) events are depicted in this decree and these verses, they will be (in a nut-shell) the fulfillment of “all things written” (Luke 21:22). And as this information will be progressively built upon through recapitulation into Daniel 12:1-13, we will see that this is clearly the time of the judgment and resurrection of the dead as well (“all things written”).
The strengths of view #1 or the Partial Preterist view is that it tries to honor Christ’s teaching that the prophecy somehow must be fulfilled with a reference to AD 70 but it doesn’t exactly know how to get there.
But the problems for this view are two-fold.
First, the argue for a literal 490 years chronology of fulfillment claiming the seventy sevens (filled with redemptive material) were fulfilled in the life, death and resurrection of Christ (roughly in AD 26 – AD 30) and then reference the destruction of AD 70 as kind of addendum or exclamation mark to it. After all how could AD 70 be considered a redemptive event that would bring an end to sin?
Secondly, seeing that the problem in that the math doesn’t work, some have had to suggest a 40 years “gap” in the chronology from AD 30 – Christ coming in judgment upon Jerusalem in AD 70. This is ironic because these same individuals criticize Dispensationalism for taking the prophecy for a literal 490 years (like they do) and placing a “gap” of thousands of years between the 69th and 70th. Weeks. Taking this prophecy with a literal 490 years is the first error, and the second is creating a “gap theory” (of 40 or thousands of years).
The strengths of view #2 is that it eliminates and solves the math problem by demonstrating that a more symbolic period marked by the number (seventy sevens) makes more sense. Its other strength is that it sees some of the redemptive aspects contained in Daniel 9:24-27 to be referring to Christ’s Second Coming at “the end of the age.” After all the Second Coming does have redemptive aspects to it – not just the cross and resurrection of Christ.
There are at least 5 problems I see with view #2.
It errs in failing to acknowledge that Christ posits His redemptive “end” or the unfolding of the kingdom to be fulfilled: 1. During the time of the Roman Empire (not at the end of world history), 2. During the time of the destruction of the Temple and City (Dan. 9:24, 26-27/Matt. 24:15/Luke 21:20-22), 3. “the end” or “end of the age” in (Matt. 24:3, 14) is referring to the end of the OC age in AD 70 (again not the end of world history) 4. Jesus posits the fulfillment of redemption and the arrival of His Kingdom and Second Coming to take place within the same AD 30 – AD 70 “this generation” time period (Luke 21:27-32).
Let’s now turn our attention to the Biblical view. Commenting on the seventy sevens prophecy as being a symbolic period of time marked by the number 7 and tying it into God’s Sabbath rrest Lee Irons and Meredith Kline write:
“The seventy “weeks” (literally “sevens”) comprise a definite period of time until the coming of the Messiah and the destruction of Jerusalem…a period that is actually longer than a literal 490 years.”
“…the point of the seventy weeks is not to provide a precise chronological prediction but to make the profound theological point that the coming of Christ and the abrogation of the Old Covenant order will usher in the eschatological Sabbath rest for the people of God.” (Lee Irons, Meredith Kline, J. Ligon Duncan, David W. Hall, Hugh Ross, Gleason L. Archer, THE GENESIS DEBATE Three Views on the Days of Creation, (Mission Viejo, CA: Crux Press, Inc., 2001), 227).
I would also agree with Keil and Delitzsch on the point that this is not a reference to a literal 490 years of chronology: “That by this word common years are to be understood, is indeed taken for granted by many interpreters, but a satisfactory proof of such a meaning has not been adduced. Moreover, in favour of year-weeks (periods of seven years) it has been argued that such an interpretation was very natural, since they hold so prominent a place in the law of Moses; and the Exile had brought them anew very distinctly into remembrance, in as much as the seventy years’ desolation of the land was viewed as a punishment for the interrupted festival of the sabbatical years: 2 Chron. 36:21 (Hgstb., Kran., and others). But since these periods of seven years, as Hengstenberg himself confesses, are not called in the law שָׁבֻעִים or שָׁבֻעֹות, therefore, from the repeated designation of the seventh year as that of the great Sabbath merely (Lev. 25:2, 4, 5;26:34, 35, 43; 2 Chron. 36:21), the idea of year-weeks in no way follows. The law makes mention not only of the Sabbath-year, but also of periods of seven times seven years, after the expiry of which a year of jubilee was always to be celebrated (Lev. 25:8ff.). These, as well as the Sabbath-years, might be called שָׁבֻעִים. Thus the idea of year-weeks has no exegetical foundation. Hofmann and Kliefoth are in the right when they remark that שָׁבֻעִים does not necessarily mean year-weeks, but an intentionally indefinite designation of a period of time measured by the number seven, whose chronological duration must be determined on other grounds.” (Keil,C. F., & Delitzsch, F. (1996). Commentaryon the Old Testament (Vol. 9, pp. 717–718). Peabody, MA: Hendrickson).
Irons and Kline also point out that symbolism using sevens is not an unusual way of communicating within the Jewish world and give the genealogy of Matthew 1:1-17 (whereby evidence is given that Jesus is the long awaited Messiah) as an example:
“Similarly, in his genealogy of Christ, Matthew employs sabbatical theology to structure history. He purposely dropped at least four names and counted David twice to construct a sabbatical structure of the history of redemption from Abraham to the Messiah. He states that from Abraham to David is 14 generations; from David to the captivity is 14 generations; and from the captivity to Messiah, 14 generations (Matt.1:17). This was intentional: the author purposely wanted to stress this numerical system, primarily because of its sabbatical symbolism (3×14 = 6×7); the generations of the Messiah represents the seventh seven, thereby showing that it is He who inaugurates the ultimate Sabbath rest for the people of God, the eschatological age. Matthew employs sabbatical symbolism to underscore one of his major themes: the Messiah’s advent constitutes the apex and fulfillment of redemptive history.” (Irons and Kline, Ibid., 227).
The book of Hebrews in chapters 3-4 tells us that entering the land and Sabbath rest were typological pointing to “another day” of Sabbath rest coming. This is the second appearing or “the Day approaching” in (Heb. 10:25, 37) that was coming in a “very little while” and would “not be delayed” in which God’s raging fire was “about to” consume the enemies of God – “his people” (Heb. 10:27 YLT, 30). In Hebrews 9:26-28 we are told that Jesus appeared in Israel’s “last days” “at the end of [the OC] age” (this is in “the end” or “the end that is decreed” for the seventy sevens to be fulfilled) “to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself…” “…sacrificed to take away the sins of many;” (cf. Dan. 9:27) and “bring salvation to those who are waiting” “a second time.” Hebrews 9:26-28 so accurately describes the work of Messiah in the last seven of the seventy sevens (his redemptive work being accomplished from His First and Second Appearings as the Churches Great High Priest).
Simply put, the prophecy of the seventy sevens symbolizes a period between the imminent fall of Babylon in Daniel’s day (in 538 BC) to the imminent fall of “Babylon” (the old order or old covenant “Jerusalem” the apostate “Great City” or “Harlot” of Revelation) in John’s day (in AD 70) – a period covering roughly 608 literal years (not 490). The book of Revelation is outlined with the number 7 representing perfection/completion, Sabbath rest and New Creation motifs (7 churches, 7 seals, 7 trumpets, 7 angels with 7 plagues, 7 bowls of God’s wrath, etc… Revelation 22 depicts entering into this Sabbath or New Creation rest after Babylon’s/Jerusalem’s fall in an imminent AD 70 time frame (the same imminent time frame we see in the book of Hebrews): “…sent his angel to show his servants the things that must soon take place,” “Behold I am coming soon,” “Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, because the time is near,” (cf. Rev. 22:6-7, 10-12, 20).
Daniel 9:24 – Here are the main elements of the seventy sevens in Daniel 9:24-27 to be fulfilled for the people and her city Jerusalem:
- Finish transgression – Jerusalem “filled up” or “finished transgressions” against God and His Messiah within Jesus’ “this generation” (Mt. 23:31-38; Dan. 9:24a).
- Put an end to sin – As we have seen in our brief discussion of entering into the sabbath rest in the book of Hebrews, Christ put an “end to sin” at His imminent “in a very little while” Second Appearing as the Great Anointed High Priest fulfilling the NC promises made to Israel and to close the “last days” of the OC age in AD 70 (Heb. 9:26-28/10:37; Rom. 11:26-27/13:11-12; Dan. 9:24b.).
- To atone for wickedness or the covering over of iniquity – See references in #2. In the New Creation our sins are remembered no more and covered in the depths of the sea (Isa. 65-66; Micah 7:19).
- To bring in everlasting righteousness – At Christ’s return in AD 70, He brought in “everlasting righteousness” or a “world of righteousness” in 2 Peter 3 – the “end of all things” being “at hand” in Peter’s day (1 Peter 4:5-7). “but also on ours, to whom it [righteousness] is about to be reckoned — to us believing on Him who did raise up Jesus our Lord out of the dead,” (Romans 4:24). “For through the Spirit we eagerly await by faith the righteousness for which we hope.” (Galatians 5:5).
- To seal up vision and prophecy – Jesus teaching is clear, all of Israel’s promises and prophetic material concerning His redemptive work would be accomplished within the AD 30 – AD 70 “this generation” (Luke 21:22-32). Prophecy would “cease” when “that which is perfect” (the Second Coming and arrival of the New Creation) arrived in AD 70 (1 Cor. 1:7-8/13:8-12/Rev. 21-22:6-7, 10-12, 20). The NT bears witness that all would be fulfilled imminently in AD 70 (cf. 1 Cor. 10:11; 1 Pet. 1:4-12; 4:5-7). Therefore, all the eschatological promises made to Israel concerning vision and prophecy were fulfilled or sealed up by AD 70 in fulfillment of the seventy sevens prophecy. This effective destroys all of the “last days” cults and Islam whom claim that they were given divine revelation and that their “prophets” (Muhammad, Joseph Smith, the Watchtower, etc…) have legitimacy.
- To anoint the most holy – Christ anointed and consummated the New Covenant Church as His Most Holy Place and Bride in AD 70 (Ex. 20, 29-31, 40; cf. Hebrews 9:6-10; Revelation 11:18-19, 19–21:16). The New Jerusalem is pictured as the anointed and perfected Most Holy Place (a perfect cube) coming down from heaven to earth in Revelation 21. This was all to be fulfilled in an AD 70 “at hand,” “soon,” “shortly,” “quickly” “about to be” time period (Rev. 1:1—22:6-20).
Daniel 9:25 – The “decree (of Cyrus) to restore and re-build Jerusalem” is found in (2 Chron. 36:22-23; Ezra 1:1-4; Isa. 44:24, 26, 28; 45:13; cf. Josephus, Antiquities, xi, 6, 12). It’s rebuilding in the “difficult times” of Ezra and Nehemiah can be read in those OT books. The first 62 sevens represents a period from the rebuilding of Jerusalem by Nehemiah and Ezra to the first coming of Jesus – the “Anointed One.” Jesus was anointed by the Father to preach the good news of the Gospel to Israel.
Daniel 9:26 – The Anointed One/Prince/Ruler/Leader/Messiah (Jesus the Christ), would be “cut off” after the 62 sevens. Isaiah 53 teaches us the same about a coming Messiah who would be cut off and have nothing (with some Jews conceded Isa. 53 is Messianic). “The people (the Jews or Roman soldiers) of the Ruler (Jesus), will destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end (of the seventy sevens) will come like a flood: War will continue until the end, and desolations have been decreed.” Between AD 66 – AD 70 not only did the Romans surround the city, but the Idumeans (Jewish Zealots) did as well and entered Jerusalem resulting in the city being divided into three warring sects – all shedding blood over the Temple area and for control of Jerusalem. War and blood shed took place within the Temple and thus it was subject to abominations. The Romans (who were also under the control of Christ) did very little except wait it out and let “the people” that rejected their Messiah to devour (sometimes literally) each other. Also through the imprecatory prayers of the Christians (people of the Prince), Jerusalem was destroyed and it’s mountain removed and thrown into the Lake of Fire (Matthew 21:18-22; Revelation 8:8).
Daniel 9:27 – The “He” here is still the Messiah (not an alleged “Anti-Christ”) and through His sacrifice He established the New Covenant for the “many” (ie. the Church the new Israel of God). This last seven was from the anointing of Jesus in His first coming to His anointing the Church in His Second in AD 70. His Wife and or New Jerusalem is described as a perfect cube as the MHP place was (cf. Rev. 21:16 & “the first” [Holy Place] representing the OC community being removed in AD 70 and “the second” [the Most Holy Place] representing the NC community and its establishment during the time of the “new order” fully arriving at the end of the OC age in AD 70 in a “very little while” cf. Heb. 9:6-10, 26-28; 10:37). Christ came and overshadowed Jerusalem with desolation and determined wrath upon the desolate in AD 70 (cf. Matthew 24:15ff/Luke 21:20-24).
As we can see, if Jesus fulfilled Daniel 9:27, then He fulfilled the last seven – ALL of the redemptive events from His First Coming to His Second when He came upon the clouds of heaven to judge Jerusalem in AD 70. This was not just a physical “salvation” and flight to Pella. That was an outward show of a physical salvation that demonstrated what Christ Had done within His people in atoning for their Sins.
So from the birth of Israel’s King and Messiah (Jesus the Christ) to His Second Appearing at the end of her OC age in AD 70 is roughly another more significant 70 years for her coming out of bondage and slavery from OC “Jerusalem/Babylon” (an administration of death) into the freedom/rest and salvation found not “in the land” but “in Christ” – in the NC or New Jerusalem wherein is eternal life. Selah.
I want to turn our attention to how Daniel 12 now recapitulates events within chapters 7 and 9 and makes clearer that AD 70 would be the time of the resurrection to be fulfilled – thus “all that is written” would be fulfilled when God would judge OC Jerusalem.
|Daniel 7 & 9||Daniel 12|
|Dan. 7 – Time of persecution – “war” with saints and they are “defeated” for a time before Son of Man comes and they inherit the Kingdom.||Time of great distress – persecution before judgment and resurrection takes place.|
|Dan. 7 – Time of judgment – books were opened||Time of judgment – Those written in the book would be delivered.|
|Dan. 9:24-27 – finish transgression, put an end to sin, atone for wickedness, bring in everlasting righteousness, seal up vision and prophecy, anoint the most holy (Christ as HP – redemption accomplished and applied – from First to Second Comings – last seven).||Here is made more clear that the six redemptive events in the seventy sevens was the time of the resurrection|
|Dan. 7 – When? – “Time, times and half a time” (3 ½) Dan. 9 – in the middle of the last 7 (3 ½).||When? – “Time, times, and half a time” (3 ½)|
|Dan. 9 – “end of decree” “the end” of the seventy sevens.||“Time of the end.”|
|Dan. 9 – When destruction of Jerusalem takes place, is when all the redemptive events of the seventy sevens are fulfilled.||When destruction of Jerusalem takes place (“when the power of the holy people is completely shattered”) “all these things” (including judgment and resurrection) – all is fulfilled.|
As one can see, Daniel and Jesus placed the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70 to be the time frame when: 1). the Son of Man would come upon the clouds, 2). the judgment and resurrection of the dead, and 3). the time that the saints would inherit the Kingdom. Jesus in Matthew 24/Luke 21 states that all of these events would be fulfilled in His AD 30 – AD 70 “this generation” (see chart in Part 2 comparing Daniel 12 with OD).
Concluding meditations upon Matthew 24:15-20/Luke 21:20-23 – If the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70 fulfilled the seventy sevens prophecy, then Christ as the Churches Great High Priest came a “Second Time” to the eagerly awaiting congregation to accomplish/fulfill and apply (sprinkle the blood) His redemption (from sin) for Her. Anthony Rogers believes Hebrews 9:26-28/10:37 was fulfilled in AD 70, therefore, AD 70 was much more than just a physical salvation or deliverance. If we didn’t get this in Daniel 7-9 God makes it even clearer in chapter 12 in which it is unambiguously taught that when the destruction of the City takes place – it is the time for the judgment and resurrection to be fulfilled. Thus this is how we are to understand how “all things written” were fulfilled by Jesus in AD 70 (cf. Luke 21:20-22). I will have more to say upon this subject once we discuss the “heaven and earth” passing away of Matthew 24:35 and connecting this as the time Jesus fulfilled ALL the law and prophets in Matthew 5:17-18.
If I recall, White avoids any discussion or harmonization of Luke 21:22 in his treatment of Matthew 24:15-20. Nor does he do any exegesis of Daniel 9:24-27 of which Jesus references in Matthew 24:15. And if I recall Anthony Rogers does not address these issues either. I find this to be sloppy and inadequate exegesis – to say the very least.
So if you turn to one of the authors White recommends and is following (Kim Riddlebarger), you will quickly see that he quotes Kline favorably. Concerning the last 3 ½ or broken seven period he quotes Kline:
“The last week is the age of the church in the wilderness of the nations for a time, a times, and half a time (Rev. 12:14). Since the seventy weeks are ten jubilee eras that issue in the last jubilee, the seventieth week closes with angelic trumpeting of the earth’s redemption and the glorious liberty of the children of God. The acceptable year of the Lord which came with Christ will then have fully come. Then the new Jerusalem whose temple is the Lord and the Lamb will descend from heaven (Rev. 21:10, 22) and the ark of the covenant will be seen (Rev. 11:19), the covenant the Lamb has made to prevail and the Lord as remembered.” (Ibid., 155).
And Riddlebarger commenting on this,
“Although he has wrought the blessings of the jubilee, including the forgiveness of sins and everlasting righteousness, that which has been accomplished by Christ remains yet to be consummated. The final three-and-one-half years of the seventieth week as interpreted by John is symbolic of the church on earth during the entire time of its existence. It also is a reference to the tribulation depicted in Daniel.” (Ibid., 156).
First, the second exodus motif as developed in the NT is not a period depicting the NC Church age (ie. thousands of years), but as I pointed out in Hebrews, it is rather a transition AD 30 – AD 70 “this generation” period between the passing of the OC age (separating from literal land), awaiting the AD 70 “in a very little while” “another day” of inheriting a spiritual city, mountain, heavenly land “in Christ” at the end of the OC age (Heb. 3-4; 9-10:37; 11-13:14YLT).
Secondly, the Church was taken and delivered from the wrath of the Dragon when they fled Jerusalem in AD 66 in obedience to Christ’s warnings in Matt. 24:15-20/Luke 21:20-23.
Thirdly, yes the 3 ½ years is symbolic of a period of time (not a literal 3 ½ years) that has something to do with the tribulation period. The Church did undergo some tribulation and persecution prior to AD 66, but were delivered from the “wrath” that soon befell the city. As we will soon see, the Great Tribulation was a specific historic event connected to the fall of Jerusalem and has already been fulfilled. Even Anthony Rogers points this out in his article response to Shabir Ally.
Fourthly, the events of Revelation 11, 12, and 21 have already been fulfilled with the last trumpet being blown at Christ’s “at hand” “soon” coming in AD 70. We will cover that more when getting into Matthew 24:30-31 and a little of Revelation 11 when discussing “Jerusalem being trampled” as being the “times of the Gentiles” be fulfilled (Luke 21:23-24). The Church is not in the “already and not yet” – we are in the “face to face” fulfillment of enjoying God’s presence in His eternal NC glorious Kingdom/New Creation/Age (Rev. 21-22:4-6ff.).
The Great Tribulation in “those days” (vss. 21-25) “Jerusalem will be trampled on by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled” (Luke 21:23-24)
Well, right when you think there is ray of hope in White’s attempts at exegeting Matthew 24 by finally giving verses 15-20 a 100% AD 70 fulfillment (not a dual fulfillment as he has up to this point), White apparently get’s sucked back into regurgitating Kim Riddlebarger’s theory that the Tribulation may have had some fulfillment in the events leading up to AD 70, but in reality it is to be stretched out throughout the entire Church age. Really?
Apparently once again we need to remind White to do that “harmonization” thing that he chided Shabir Ally on not doing in his debate with him and compare this passage with its parallel in Luke 21:23-24 since there it is even clearer the time frame for the abomination that causes desolation and the tribulation period are inseparably connected to the same historical events leading up to AD 70. And since Luke covers “the times of the Gentiles” (and Matthew does not) we should spend a little time on that as well.
“Therefore when you see the ‘abomination of desolation,’ spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place” (whoever reads, let him understand), “then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. Let him who is on the housetop not go down to take anything out of his house. And let him who is in the field not go back to get his clothes. But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! And pray that your flight may not be in winter or on the Sabbath. For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be. And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect’s sake those days will be shortened. “Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There!’ do not believe it. For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. See, I have told you beforehand. “Therefore if they say to you, ‘Look, He is in the desert!’ do not go out; or ‘Look, He is in the inner rooms!’ do not believe it.” (Matt. 24:21-25).
“But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation is near. Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, let those who are in the midst of her depart, and let not those who are in the country enter her. For these are the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled. But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! For there will be great distress in the land and wrath upon this people. And they will fall by the edge of the sword, and be led away captive into all nations. And Jerusalem will be trampled by Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.” (Luke 21:20-24).
Argument #1 – Grammatically the phrase “For then…” or “For these are the days…” connects the historically unique days of the abomination that causes desolation period leading up to AD 70 with the historically unique days of the tribulation period. Therefore, if White is going to argue with Dispensationalists that the abomination of desolation cannot have a future or double fulfillment, White can’t then turn around and make the same misstate with the tribulation period!
Argument #2 – Local and cultural indicators – previously White argued that Matthew 24:15-20 was 100% and uniquely fulfilled in the days leading up to AD 70 (and could not have a double type fulfillment) because of some of the local and cultural indicators within the text such as “Judea,” “fleeing to the mountains,” being on the “house top,” farming, etc… He is obviously following Kim Riddlebarger and D.A. Carson on these verses,
“As D.A. Carson points out, the details of what follows are too limited “geographically and culturally to extend this beyond A.D. 70.” (Riddlebarger, Ibid., 168).
I would add the “flight” on “the Sabbath” to be among these limited cultural indicators, but since James White is a Reformed Baptist he no doubt still legalistically thinks this is still in place today (he and Chantry would consider the wrong Sabbath a “delight” – see my previous comments on when the anti-type Sabbath arrived in AD 70 in Hebrews). But notice that Luke describes the tribulation period with similar local and cultural indicators – “great distress (tribulation) in the land and wrath upon this people.” And that “this people” would “fall by the edge of the sword and be led away captive into all nations.” Obviously “Judea” and “in the land” “this people” are all equivalents describing the same time period. And “falling by the edge of the sword” and being “led captives” were uniquely cultural practices of the Roman Empire and fulfilled in the events leading up to AD 70 and shortly thereafter.
Argument #3 – In understanding the recapitulation structure of Daniel 7, 9 and 12, we saw that the time of the abomination of desolation with that the tribulation period would be fulfilled together at the end of the seventy sevens and when Jerusalem would be destroyed in AD 70 – “when the power of the holy people is completely shattered.” To claim the abomination of desolation was fulfilled in AD 70 but give the tribulation period some kind of double or expanded fulfillment is purely arbitrary and eisegetical.
It shouldn’t surprise us that Kim Riddlebarger (whom White is following for the most part) ends up speaking out of both sides of his mouth on the tribulation period. Previously I documented him stretching out the Great Tribulation period throughout the “Church age” when interpreting Daniel and his 3 ½ years period. And let’s watch him struggle once again on the tribulation period as described in the OD,
“The reason people were to flee the city was that the horrors to come upon Jerusalem in A.D. 70 were the worst that Jerusalem had ever experienced. It would be greater than the destruction of the temple in 583 B.C. It would be greater than the desolation of 163 B.C. at the hands of Antiochus Epiphanes. This would be Israel’s darkest hour.” (Ibid., 171).
“Yet Jesus continued to speak, not of the final judgment at the end of the age, but of God’s grace in restraining the evil forces which would fall on the inhabitants of Jerusalem. In verse 22, Jesus said, “If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened.” Even as Israel would become desolate and the temple destroyed, God would shorten the days of judgment for the sake of his elect, a reference to Christians living in Jerusalem at the time of the city’s destruction. Israel would be cut off, and the Jews dispersed but God would preserve his people, even under the worst circumstances.
“Yet the possibility of double fulfillment surfaces again. Is this prophecy of horrible tribulation limited to the destruction of Jerusalem and the events of A.D. 70? Indeed, it is possible that the events of A.D. 70 pointed beyond historical fulfillment to the great tribulation to be faced by God’s people during the apostasy, which will come immediately before the end of the age.” (Ibid., 172, bold emphasis mine).
So the Amillennialism of White and Riddlebarger argue against the Dipsensationalist that the abomination of desolation was a unique event fulfilled in AD 70 that cannot have double fulfillments and yet once they get into the Great Tribulation period they want to do the very thing they condemn Dispensationalists of! And of course Postmillennial Partial Preterists argue that they have no right to do this,
“As Christ pointed out in Matthew, the Great Tribulation was to take place, not at the end of history, but in the middle, for nothing similar had occurred “from the beginning of the world until now, nor ever shall.” Thus the prophecy of the Tribulation refers to the destruction of the Temple in that generation (A.D. 70) alone. I cannot be made to fit into some “double-fulfillment” scheme of interpretation; the Great Tribulation of A.D. 70 was an absolutely unique event, never to be repeated.” (David Chilton, THE GREAT TRIBULATION, (Ft. Worth, TX: Dominion Press, 1987), 14, bold emphasis mine).
So what have we seen so far? White and Riddlebarger (Amillennialism) claim the Dispensationalist can’t have a future fulfillment or double-fulfillment for the abomination of desolation period but want to have one for the Tribulation period (which contextually is describing the same period)! Then the Postmillennial Partial Preterist comes along and claims the Dispensationalist nor the Amillennialist can have a future or double-fulfillment for the abomination of desolation and Great Tribulation period, because they are fulfilled together. But once the Postmillennial Partial Preterist gets into Daniel 12:1-7, they want to give the resurrection a future or double-fulfillment when debating the Full Preterist, even though verse 7 clearly says the Tribulation and the Resurrection would be fulfilled together at the same historical event – ie. the destruction of Jerusalem. Consistency thou rare jewel.
Times of the Gentiles and Revelation 11
“And they will fall by the edge of the sword, and be led away captive into all nations. And Jerusalem will be trampled by Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.” (Luke 21:24).
James White does not really deal with Luke’s account of the times of the Gentiles and them trampling Jerusalem. Riddlebarger doesn’t really address this issue either in his treatment of the OD. But since Riddlebarger has mentioned Revelation 11 being representative of Daniel’s 3 ½ years or the “Church age,” we should spend a little time on Revelation 11 as it pertains to our text here. This is an excerpt from my response to Simon Kistemaker on Revelation 11 in our book:
Kistemaker spends a substantial portion of his chapter interpreting Revelation 11:2:
And leave out the court which is outside the temple, and do not measure it, for it has been given to the nations; and they will tread under foot the holy city for forty-two months.
Kistemaker says that according to this verse, the new covenant church on Earth (“the holy city”) is destined by God to be trampled underfoot for the entire church age (“forty-two months”) while “Satan and his henchmen” “rule the world” and “have full sway on the face of this earth” until the end of time (238, 249).
One does not need to be a “hyper-preterist” to see a problem here. Kistemaker’s interpretation of Revelation 11:2 is what happens when we mysticize the time statements of the New Testament so that the imminence that saturates it is not really “imminence” at all. We take an obvious historic-prophetic reference to the trampling of Jerusalem that culminated in its destruction in AD 70 and turn it into a trans-historical “ideal” of defeat for the church (cf. Rev. 13:5–7) throughout the entirety of world history until the end of time. Again we see Kistemaker’s doctrine being cruel news for the people of God.
Let us compare Revelation 11:2b with Luke 21:24 (which was fulfilled in AD 70):
[A]nd they [“the nations”] will trample under foot the holy city for forty-two months. (Rev. 11:2b)
. . . Jerusalem will be trampled under foot by the nations until the times of the nations [“forty-two months”] be fulfilled. (Lk. 21:24)
In both of these verses, the nations trample Jerusalem for a period of time. There is more than similarity of language here. Jesus and John prophesied the same event —an event that was “near” and that took place in Christ’s “generation” (Lk. 21:32; Rev. 1:3; 22:10). Therefore, “forty-two months” does not signify 2,000+ years. It signifies some months or years between AD 66 and 70, the years of the war that ended in the destruction of the city and the sanctuary. That was the same period of time that the angel called “a time, times, and half a time” in Daniel 12:7 and which was consummated when the power of the Old Testament “holy people” was shattered in AD 70.
Kistemaker moves on to Revelation 11:8. He says that “the great city” (“Babylon”) in that verse was “not the earthly city of Jerusalem,” even though the verse specifically states that “the great city” was “where also their Lord was crucified.”
One of the reasons Kistemaker rejects earthly Jerusalem as being “the great city” is that, according to Kistemaker, “God’s enemies inhabit the great city, which cannot be one particular place, but ‘the worldwide structure of unbelief and defiance against God’” (226). But this argument can be quickly dismissed, because there is no indication that all unbelievers lived in “the great city.” When the city fell in chapter eighteen, the kings of the earth who had committed adultery with her stood from afar and mourned over her (Rev. 18:9–10).
The historical referent is clear enough in that the “great city” is “where also their Lord was crucified” (Rev. 11:8). “It is Jerusalem that is guilty of the blood of the old covenant witnesses; she is, par excellence, the killer of prophets (Matt. 21:33–43; 23:34–38). In fact, Jesus said, ‘it cannot be that a prophet should perish outside of Jerusalem’ (Luke 13:33).” Compare Revelation 18:24 with Matthew 23:35.
Kistemaker also argues that “the holy city” in Revelation 11:2 cannot be Old Testament Jerusalem because that city was no longer holy after the veil was ripped in two in about AD 30. In this argument, Kistemaker is implying that the holy covenant that was established with terrible and blazing fire, an earthquake, darkness, gloom, fear, trembling, whirlwind, and the staggering blast of a trumpet (Heb. 12:18–21) came to a final end in God’s sight with the tearing of the veil (which was later sewn back together). And therefore earthly Jerusalem ceased to be holy at that time.
In contrast to this futurist myth, the author of Hebrews taught that the covenant that began with momentous signs was going to end with momentous signs in the near future:
And His voice shook the earth then [at Mount Sinai], but now He has promised, saying, “Yet once more I will shake not only the earth, but also the heaven.” And this expression, “Yet once more,” denotes the removing of those things which can be shaken, as of created things [the old covenant world], in order that those things which cannot be shaken [the kingdom of Christ] may remain. Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe; for our God is a consuming fire. (Heb. 12:26–29)
The old covenant did not vanish when Christ died on the Cross (Heb. 8:13). Therefore Jerusalem was still holy after Christ died because it was still the covenant city of God, even though it was being “shaken” and was being nullified (2 Cor. 3:7, 11–12) through the age-changing power of the Cross. It was still the holy city of God even though it had become “Babylon,” “Sodom,” and “Egypt” because of its sins.
To the holy-yet-hardened Jewish nation belonged “the adoption as sons and the glory and the covenants and the giving of the Law and the temple service and the promises” (Rom. 3:2; 9:4). Those blessings were all still intact even after the Jews murdered the Lord and persecuted His church (1 Thess. 2:15). The unbelieving Jewish nation was still in the kingdom of God after the death and resurrection of Christ; but its days were numbered. It was soon to be cast out of the kingdom in the Parousia of Christ in the consummation of the ages (Matt. 8:12; 13:41; Gal. 4:21–31).
The tearing of the veil was a sign of the coming judgment upon that generation and its temple and world. The biblical record is clear that the old covenant law remained in force for the Jews, both believing and nonbelieving, even after the Cross, until “heaven and earth” passed away in AD 70 (Heb. 8:13; 2 Cor. 3:7–18; Matt. 5:17–19; Acts 21:20–26; 24:17).
Finally, Kistemaker feels he has a valid objection in the fact that “the great city” was called “Egypt” (Rev. 11:8), while old covenant Jerusalem/ Israel was never described in Scripture as “Egypt” (226–227). But as David Chilton eloquently observed, this is to miss the forest for the trees: Commentators are generally unable to find Bible references comparing Israel (or Jerusalem) to Egypt, but this is the old problem of not being able to see the forest for the trees. For the proof is contained in the whole message of the New Testament. Jesus is constantly regarded as the new Moses (Acts 3:20–23; Heb. 3–4), the new Israel (Matt. 2:15), the new Temple (John 1:14; 2:19–21), and in fact a living recapitulation / transcendence of the entire history of the Exodus (cf. 1 Cor. 10:1–4).” (Ibid., HD, 144-147).
So Jerusalem being trampled by the Nations/Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles would be fulfilled refers us back to Daniel’s prophetic material. The OC Kingdom/Jerusalem was subject to the rule of the four Gentile earthly kingdoms, but in AD 70 the OC literal Kingdom/Jerusalem would be consummatively changed into and “given” up to be a NC spiritual Kingdom/Jerusalem “from above” “not of this world” (Gals. 4/Heb. 12/Rev. 21; Matt. 21:33-45). Post AD 70 the NC Kingdom of God is not subject to “the times of the Gentile” nor can be as the OC Kingdom had. In Revelation 11:15 we have God’s spiritual NC Kingdom (the fifth and everlasting kingdom of Daniel 2) taking over. It is now universalized in that it is no longer a predominately Jewish and localized kingdom.
This is all taking place at the sound of the last and seventh trumpet at which time two other events take place – 1. time for the judgment and rewarding of the dead to take place (Rev. 11:18; cf. Matt. 24:30-31; 25:31-46/1 Thess. 4:15–17) and 2. the “rapture” of the Church symbolized by the two witnesses being caught up to heaven (Rev. 11:3-12).
There of course has been many different views as to who these two witnesses are: 1) Enoch and Elijah, 2) Moses and Elijah, 3) Jeremiah and Elijah, 4) Joshua and Caleb, 5) Peter and Paul, 6) John the Baptist and Jesus, 7) John and his brother James, 8) Stephen and James of Zebedee and 9) Peter and James and 10) representative of the Jewish and Gentile church. Commentators are divided on if this is referring to two individuals or the two witnesses are symbolic of the churches testimony. I prefer the view that the two witnesses represent the testimony of the Church in fulfilling the Great Commission through the images of Moses (the law) and Elijah (the prophets) and then in 11:4 with the imagery of Zechariah’s two olive trees and a golden lampstand (Zech. 4:2-3) bring to bear the imagery of Joshua the high priest and Zerubbabel the governor – to be representative of the Church as a kingdom of Priests and Kings.
Chapter 10 just finished issues pertaining to the mystery (Jew / Gentile union) and the Great Commission with there being no more “delay” because the time of fulfillment was “near” during the time John was writing. In chapter 10 we have both the OC prophets and the message of the NC believers through the gospel coming together as a testimony against the OC apostate City for rejecting her message. Just as the 24 elders previously represent the OC 12 tribes and the NC 12 apostles upon which the church is built represents the fulfillment of the message of the mystery of the Church; so we have here in chapter 11 with the imagery of the two witnesses coming together bearing testimony against Jerusalem. Jesus said that the OT Scriptures and Moses himself, were sufficient to condemn them (cf. John 5:45). Jesus and Paul taught no other things than that which were written in the law and the prophets (Acts 26:22; 28:23). So it is the Church as the NC Israel of God (of which the OC Law and Prophets bore testimony of), condemning OC Jerusalem through the message of the gospel. Fire comes out of their mouths consuming their enemies, because the Word of God is described as “fire” (Jer. 23:29). This is also why the sword (also depicting the word or testimony of God) comes forth from Jesus’ mouth and how He conquers (Rev. 19:15/Heb. 4:12). A literal interpretation of these witnesses in the midst of a self-proclaimed symbolic book is totally misguided to say the least.
These two witnesses are being described with hyperbole to represent the Church in the first century as the persecuted martyrs of God first described for us in chapter 6. This same group will be consistently depicted throughout the book – even into chapter 20. Probably the best commentary on this section especially in light of the immediate context of chapter 10’s themes of the great commission, the mystery, and the message of the prophets, can be found in Colossians 1:23-29. Here we see the Apostle Paul filling up in his flesh what was still lacking in regards to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of the Church. And Paul and the Church were dying daily to the old-covenant age/law in hopes of further attaining the resurrection (Rms. 5-8; Phil. 3). The Church is now recapitulating the eschatological suffering, death and resurrection of Christ. G.K. Beale notes that the use of “body” and “bodies” still represent the church as a corporate body,
“…(the body)” could be a collective singular.” “…But we must ask why singular forms of (“the body”) in vv 8a and 9a are followed by the plural (“the bodies”) in v 9b.” “…The likely reason for the change in number is to connote the corporate nature of the witnesses.” (G.K. Beale, The New International Greek TestamentCommentary The Book of Revelation, (Eerdmans pub. 1999), 1018-19, (emphasis added).
And what of the loud voice calling the two witnesses to “come up here” and their ascent into heaven in verse 12? Is this a proof text for the literal rapture or a defense for a literal biological resurrection of corpses at the end of history? I would agree in connecting the ascent of the two witnesses with God gathering the Church into His kingdom at His parousia/coming in Matthew 24:30-31/Luke 21:27-32/1 Thessalonians 4:16-17/1 Corinthians 15. After all, this is the time of the seventh and final trumpet Revelation 11:15-19 in which 1. The dead are judged, 2. The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ,” and 3. Access into the Most Holy Place presence of God is fully granted. Clearly, this is the same end time trumpet being blown in these passages accomplishing these eschatological goals. The blowing of the trumpet had a lot of salvific and covenantal imagery connected with it. It was the blowing of the trumpet at which God gathered Israel at Mount Sinai. The anti-type being God now consummately gathering the new covenant Israel up to Mount Zion. The trumpet sounded at the Harvest time. The anti-type being this was the time of the consummative harvest and resurrection of Israel to take place at the end of the OC age. The trumpet would sound when the groom came for the bride. The anti-type being the consummation in which Christ was coming to gather His Bride the New Jerusalem. The trumpet would sound as a battle cry to bring down God’s enemies as the last and seventh trumpet brought down the walls of Jericho. The anti-type here being old covenant Jerusalem is now the enemy of God being destroyed for not heeding the Churches message.
However this “rapture” of the two witnesses is no more literal than fire coming out of their mouths. I will give a more detailed exposition of 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 later on in this series demonstrating that a literal interpretation of this passage is also not accurate. The corporate testimony and resurrection of the two witnesses symbolically represent the resurrection and transformation of the new Israel of God – the Church emerging from the glory of the OC economy to the NC one. Just as the passing of the “heaven and earth” in (Matt. 24:35) implies that this is the time the new arrives (with the coming of the Son of Man), so too OC Israel being a dead corporate carcass implies the time for a raised and glorified Israel emerging from its ashes (Matt. 24:28). As Gentry says of Israel being a carcass in Matthew 24:28:
“…in the events of AD 70, the true Israel will arise from old Israel’s carcass, as in a resurrection.” (Kenneth Gentry, HE SHALL HAVE DOMINION A POSTMILLENNIAL ESCHATOLOGY, (Draper, VA: Apologetics Group Media, Third Edition, 2009), 540, see also 539).
Concluding Part 3a. –
As we have seen thus far, all of the signs preceding Christ’s coming to end the OC age were fulfilled prior to the events leading up to AD 66 – AD 70. James White and Kim Riddlebarger are more than inconsistent to argue against Dispensationalism that the abomination that causes desolation cannot have a double-fulfillment (it was 100% fulfilled by AD 70), and then turn around and give the Tribulation period (during the same time frame of those days) a double-fulfillment. And there is also a beam in the eye of Postmillennial Partial Preterism when it claims these two events in Matthew 24 cannot have double or typological fulfillments for our future, and then turn around and do that very thing with the resurrection in Daniel 12:1-7. Jesus tells us that in fulfilling the abomination of desolation and the Tribulation period, would be when “all that has been written” would be fulfilled. Our study of Daniel 7, 9, and 12 confirms this to be the time when the coming of the Son of Man, the judgment, and the resurrection – thus “all that has been written” would be fulfilled at the end of the OC age in AD 70.
In Part 3b. we will look at the de-creation and coming of the Son of Man. White correctly tells us in his Matthew 24 series that this is “where the rubber meets the road!”
PART 1 – Debate Challenge and Response to: James White, Shabir Ally, Sam Shamoun, and Anthony Rogers – Matt. 16:27-28/Mark 8:38-9:1 http://fullpreterism.com/james-whites-embarrassing-failure-to-address-matthew-1627-28-matthew-24-and-1-thessalonians-416-17-in-his-debate-with-shabir-ally-and-my-public-challenge-to-debate-shabir-ally-james-whit/
PART 2 – Debate Challenge and Response to: James White, Shabir Ally, Sam Shamoun, and Anthony Rogers – “Time/Hour of the End” = “End of the Age” Resurrection (Dan. 12=Matt. 13=Luke 20:27-40=Matt. 24:30-31, 36=John 4-5) All Fulfilled In AD 70 http://fullpreterism.com/debate-challenge-and-response-to-james-white-shabir-ally-sam-shamoun-and-anthony-rogers-part-2-the-end-of-the-age-matthew-13-matthew-24/
PART 3a. – Debate Challenge And Response To: James White, Shabir Ally, Anthony Rogers, Sam Shamoun – All The Signs, Abomination That Causes Desolation, Tribulation, Times Of The Gentiles – “In Fulfillment Of All That Has Been Written” (Matt. 24:1-25/Luke 21:20-24) http://fullpreterism.com/part-3-a-debate-challenge-and-response-to-james-white-shabir-ally-anthony-rogers-sam-shamoun-matthew-241-25/
Part 3b. – Debate Challenge And Response To: James White, Shabir Ally, Sam Shamoun, And Anthony Rogers – The Coming Of The Son Of Man (Matt. 24:27—-25:31) Fulfilled By Ad 70 http://fullpreterism.com/part-3b-debate-challenge-and-response-to-james-white-shabir-ally-sam-shamoun-and-anthony-rogers-the-coming-of-the-son-of-man-matt-2427-2531-fulfilled-by-ad-70/
Part 3c. – Debate Challenge And Response To: James White, Anthony Rogers, Sam Shamoun, Shabir Ally: Matthew 24-25 “This Generation” And Division Theories Refutedhttp://fullpreterism.com/part-3c-debate-challenge-and-response-to-james-white-anthony-rogers-sam-shamoun-shabir-ally-matthew-24-25-this-generation-and-division-theories-refuted/
Part 4 – Debate Challenge And Response To: James White, Anthony Rogers, Sam Shamoun And Shabir Ally (1 Thess. 4:16-17 & Acts 1:9-11) http://fullpreterism.com/part-4-debate-challenge-and-response-to-james-white-anthony-rogers-sam-shamoun-and-shabir-alley-1-thess-416-17-and-acts-19-11/
 . David Chilton, Days of Vengeance: An Exposition of the Book of Revelation (Ft. Worth, TX: Dominion Press, 1987), 281.
 . Chilton, The Days of Vengeance, 281 (emphasis added).