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House Divided Chapter Four The NT Time Texts Partial Preterist Keith A. Mathison Vs. Full Preterist Michael J. Sullivan Part 3 Double Fulfillments

House Divided Bridging the Gap in Reformed Eschatology A Preterist Response to

When Shall These Things Be?


Chapter Four

The Eschatological Madness of Mathison or How Can These Things Be? 

Part 3 – Double Fulfillments

Michael J. Sullivan

Copyright 2009 and 2013 – All rights reserved.  No part of this
book (or article) may be reproduced in any form without permission
in writing from the publisher or author of this chapter/article (Vision Publishing
or Michael J. Sullivan), except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical
articles or reviews.


In this chapter, I will answer objections that Dr. Keith Mathison raised

against preterism in his chapter in WSTTB. Mathison’s chapter was

entitled, “The Eschatological Time Texts of the New Testament.” His

objections included:


• Prophetic imminence in the Old Testament

• The futurity of the last days

Prophetic double fulfillment (Part 3)

• Prophetic “telescoping”

• Jesus’ “in-like-manner” return

• “The Rapture”

• The creation groaning

• The abolition of death, pain, mourning, and Satan

• The salvation of “all Israel” in Romans 11

• The “thousand years” of Revelation 20


Mathison raised other objections in his chapter but they are addressed

elsewhere in this book. At the conclusion of this chapter, I will

offer a critique of Mathison’s tenuous and fragmented approach to the

eschatological time texts of the New Testament.


Double Fulfillments


On page 168, Mathison observes that Daniel’s prophecy of “the abomination

of desolation” was double-fulfilled. It was first fulfilled in the desecration

of the temple by Antiochus Epiphanes in 168 BC. Then Jesus

spoke of its future fulfillment two hundred years later. The prophecy of

the birth of Immanuel was also double-fulfilled. It was first fulfilled in

Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz in Isaiah’s day. Then it was “ultimately fulfilled”

in the birth of Jesus many centuries later. Mathison’s conclusion: “New

Testament prophecies may also have multiple fulfillments,” first in AD 70

and then in the end of world history.




I think everyone agrees that many prophecies in the Old Testament

were typologically fulfilled and awaited full realization in the New Testament.

This phenomenon reflected the contrast between Old Testament

types and shadows, and the New Testament Anti-Type or Body,

i.e., Christ (Col. 2:17).


But this principle in no way implies or leads to the notion that New

Testament prophecies, which are fulfilled in Christ, will be fulfilled multiple

times over potentially millions of years of time. The fact that the

Old Testament was “typical” and “shadowy” in no way suggests that the

New Testament is of the same pre-Messianic character. The Cross of

Christ will not be fulfilled multiple times until the end of human history,

and neither will Christ’s Second Coming (Heb. 9:26–28).


Mathison’s co-author Ken Gentry teaches that the time texts of the

New Testament “demand” a fulfillment in AD 70, and that the theory

of “double fulfilling” Revelation, for example, is “pure theological assertion”

that has “no exegetical warrant.”[1] Another partial preterist colleague

of Mathison, Gary DeMar, rejects openness to the double fulfillment

theory in the Olivet Discourse:


Either the Olivet Discourse applies to a generation located

in the distant future from the time the gospel writers composed

the Olivet Discourse or to the generation to whom

Jesus was speaking; it can’t be a little bit of both. As we will

see, the interpretation of the Olivet Discourse in any of the

synoptic gospels does not allow for a mixed approach, a double

fulfillment, or even a future completion. Matthew 24:34

won’t allow for it.[2]


The New Testament is the revealing of the salvation promises contained

in the Old Testament, and those promises were to be realized and

found “in Christ” and in His Body the church (2 Cor. 1:20). Mathison

would have us believe that the New Testament is a further obscuring of

the meaning of kingdom prophecies (with more shadowy and typical fulfillments),

which will only become clear at the alleged end of the very age

that Christ died to establish, the age that Mathison—incredibly— calls

“evil” (188).


Mathison, while refuting Dispensationalism, writes, “We are no

longer under the old covenant.”[3] DeMar likewise teaches that the time

of the destruction of Jerusalem was “the end of the Old Covenant” and

“the consummation of the New Covenant.”[4]   But Mathison and DeMar

do not seem to realize what their teaching implies. If the old covenant

(“the Law”) is no more and the new covenant reached its consummation,

then according to Jesus’ words in Matthew 5:17–19, “the Law and

the Prophets” are fulfilled and “heaven and earth” passed away and we

now live in the new heavens and the new earth.


It irresistibly follows that if we are no longer under the old covenant,

it is because Christ’s Second Coming took place at the end of the

old covenant age and brought to consummation every “jot” and “tittle

of its promises (cf. Matt 5:18; Heb. 8:13, 9:26–28, 10:25–37). There is

no possibility of double-fulfilling or partial-fulfilling every jot and tittle

of the Law and the prophets.


Some of the best Reformed theologians have taught that “heaven

and earth” in Matthew 5:18 refers to the old covenant age which passed

away in AD 70. Reformed theologian John Brown:


But a person at all familiar with the phraseology of the Old

Testament Scriptures, knows that the dissolution of the Mosaic

economy, and the establishment of the Christian, is often

spoken of as the removing of the old earth and heavens, and the

creation of a new earth and new heavens.[5]


Evangelical theologian Crispin H.T. Fletcher-Louis agrees:

. . . [T]he principal reference of “heaven and earth” is the temple

centered cosmology of second-temple Judaism which included

the belief that the temple is heaven and earth in microcosm.

Mark 13[:31] and Matthew 5:18 refer then to the destruction of

the temple as a passing away of an old cosmology. . . .22


Mathison’s double-fulfillment-in-the-New-Testament theory opens

Pandora’s Box to double-fulfilling everything: The earthly ministry of

Christ, His sufferings, His death, His resurrection, His Ascension, His

pouring out of the Holy Spirit, and His Second Coming; even the allegedly

future millennium could be double-fulfilled. Even the casting of

Satan into the Lake of Fire could be double-fulfilled.


Every New Testament promise in the Bible becomes ultimately

uncertain in Mathison’s theory. The “Christ” of Christianity could

potentially be a type of a future, “actual” Christ (cf. WSTTB, 182,

n39). Therefore, unless we want to end up adopting a liberal, postmodern

approach to God’s word and turn all of His promises into

“yes and no,” Mathison’s double-fulfillment theory must be firmly and

finally rejected.


[1] Kenneth Gentry, Four Views on the Book of Revelation, ed. C. Marvin

Pate (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1998), 43–44.

[2] Gary DeMar, The Olivet Discourse: The Test of Truth, http://www.


[3] Keith A. Mathison, Dispensationalism: Rightly Dividing the People of

God? (Phillipsburg, New Jersey: P&R Publishing, 1995), 31.

[4] Gary DeMar, Last Days Madness: Obsession of the Modern Church

(Atlanta, GA: American Vision, 1999), 55.

[5] John Brown, Discourses and Sayings of Our Lord (Edinburg: The Banner

of Truth Trust, 1990 [1852]), 1:170.


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