We are continuing our series observing how Christian (futurist) apologists to Muslims haven’t been able to deal with Muslims stealing liberal and Bible skeptic arguments concerning how an imminent (and in their view “failed”) Second Coming in the NT overthrows Jesus’ claims to be divine and a faithful prophet. As we have noticed, James White didn’t even TOUCH the issue in his debate with Shabir Ally and even Partial Preterists such as Anthony Rogers and Sam Shamoun are scrambling and incompetent to give a consistent exegetical answer to him.
Our series continues in Matthew 24 (critiquing White’s sermons on the passage & the various Reformed Partial Preterist views) with emphasis in this article being on the meaning of “this generation” and if Matthew 24-25 can be divided up into two sections or two comings of the Son of Man – one in AD 70 and another future end of world history coming.
Not surprisingly, James White flies by on what the meaning of “this generation” is in (Matt. 24:34) in his Sunday School lessons to his Church. All he really says is that some have tried to teach that it means, “the race of Jews will not pass away until all these things have been fulfilled” and that this is a view he “wouldn’t feel comfortable defending in a debate.” But then again I don’t think White is competent or comfortable doing any kind of “debate” in Matthew 24 something I am challenging him on – Selah. So what is his view? I don’t know because he doesn’t say. But he sure doesn’t even remotely touch what the “all these things” are in (Matt. 24:34) that would be fulfilled in Jesus’ “this generation” (as he avoided in his debate with Shabir Ally) because contextually he knows that would be the signs, the end of the age, and His coming in the previous and immediate verses/context. Mr. White apparently isn’t available for doing any real exegesis (mocking Dispensationalism yes, irrelevant “rabbit trails” yes, but actual exegesis of the passage, no). So sad. Let’s provide the Christian public and members of White’s Church with a real exegesis of our passage.
The Thayer Greek-English Lexicon and Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words defines genea here in Matthew 24:34 (and in the other relevant passages), as Jesus addressing His Jewish contemporary generation (AD 30-70) and therefore is the subject of the prophetic pronouncement,
“the whole multitude of men living at the same time: Mt.xxiv. 34; Mk. xiii. 30; Lk. i. 48; xxi. 32; Phil. ii. 15; used esp. of the Jewish race living at one and the same period: Mt. xi. 16; xii. 39, 41 sq. 45; xvi. 4; xxiii.36; Mk. Viii. 12, 38; Lk. Xi. 29 sq. 32, 50 sq.; xvii. 36; Heb. iii. 10…” “…who can describe the wickedness of the present generation, Acts viii. 33 (fr. Is. Liii. 8 Sept.).”
“…of the whole multitude of men living at the same time, Matt. 24:34; Mark 13:30; Luke 1:48; 21:32; Phil. 2:15, and especially of those of the Jewish people to the time in which they lived, the world came to mean age, i.e., a period ordinarily occupied by each successive generation, say, of thirty or forty years, Acts 14:16; 15:21; Eph. 3:5; Col. 1:26; see also, e.g., Gen. 15:16.”
Although somewhat inconsistent, the most impressive Greek work and interpretation I have come across thus far comes from Collin Brown,
“In Matt. it has the sense of this generation, and according to the first evangelist, Jesus expected the end of this age (Time, art. aion) to occur in connection with the judgment on Jerusalem at the end of that first generation (see Mk. 9:1 and Matt. 16:28).”
“But if these events were expected within the first generation of Christians (and “generation” is the most probable translation of genea), either Jesus or the evangelists were mistaken…” or “…there is an alternative interpretation of the passage which points out that insufficient attention has been paid to the prophetic language of the passage as a whole.
The imagery of cosmic phenomena is used in the OT to describe this-worldly events and, in particular, historical acts of judgment. The following passages are significant, not least because of their affinities with the present context: Isa. 13:10 (predicting doom on Babylon); Isa. 34:4 (referring to “all the nations”, but especially to Edom); Ezek. 32:7 (concerning Egypt); Amos 8:9 (the Northern Kingdom of Israel); Joel 2:10 (Judah). The cosmic imagery draws attention to the divine dimension of the event in which the judgment of God is enacted. The use of Joel 2:28-32 in Acts 2:15-21 provides an instance of the way in which such prophetic cosmic imagery is applied to historical events in the present (cf. also Lk. 10:18; Jn. 12:31; 1 Thess. 4:16; 2 Pet. 3:10ff.; Rev. 6:12-17; 18:1). Other OT passages relevant to the interpretation of the present context are Isa. 19:1; 27:13; Dn. 7:13; Deut. 30:4; Zech. 2:6; 12:10-14; Mal. 3:1. In view of this, Mk. 13:24-30 may be interpreted as a Son of man will be vindicated. Such prophecy of judgment on Israel in which a judgment took place with the destruction of Jerusalem, the desecration of the Temple and the scattering of Israel – all of which happened within the lifetime of “this generation.” “…Such an interpretation fits the preceding discourse and the introductory remarks of the disciples (Mk. 13:1ff. par.).” (Brown, Ibid., 38-39).
Brown is at least attempting to allow the Bible to interpret itself. And if I’m not mistaken, he seems to be consenting that the “rapture” or resurrection passage of 1 Thessalonians 4:16 can been seen as fulfilled by the “historical event” of AD 70 just as the language of Matthew 24 can or should be interpreted. Unfortunately, Brown was inconsistent in interpreting 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 elsewhere in his writings with a Preterist or using an OT apocalyptic/figurative “in history” (not at the end of history) hermeneutic. I will provide the consistent hermeneutic of apocalyptic language pointing to AD 70 between Matthew 24 and 1 Thessalonians 4-5 in another article in this series.
Other translations that understand the meaning of Jesus’ words here translate Matthew 24:34:
“Remember that all these things will happen before the people now living have all died.” (Matt. 24:34 GNT – cf. Matt. 16:27-28)
“Don’t take this lightly. I’m not just saying this for some future generation, but for all of you. This age continues until all these things take place.” (Matt. 24:34 The Message)
“I tell you the truth, all these things will happen while the people of this time are still living.” (Matt. 24:34 NCV – cf. Matt. 16:27-28)
Matthew 24:34 and its context is unequivocally clear. Jesus promises that “ALL” of the “THINGS” the disciples previously asked about and that He just got done answering/teaching on (the destruction of the Temple, with the end of it’s OC “age,” the signs, and His coming) would be fulfilled in their AD 30 – AD 70 “this generation.” The very FACT that as that AD 30 – AD 70 “this generation” was ending, the NT posits Christ’s Second Coming as “near,” soon,” “at hand,” etc…, IS further overwhelming evidence that this how the inspired NT authors understood Jesus’ teaching here in Matthew 24! This is an obvious point that James White didn’t want to address to his Church (because it would violate the London Baptist 1689 Confession of Faith) and one he didn’t want to respond to in his debate with Shabir Ally over NT imminence!
Division Theories Considered
Although I have focused a great deal of attention on James White’s interpretation of Matthew 24, I will now be focusing more on various Partial Preterist views and that of Sam Shamoun and Anthony Rogers. Remember, White’s embarrassing neglect to deal with Shabir Ally’s points on NT imminence is the reason (I believe) Shamoun posted Anthony Rogers Partial Preterist response to Shabir Ally (http://answeringislam.net/authors/rogers/rebuttals/ally.html). This being the case, I have to point out once again that Rogers (conveniently) unfinished article stops right around Matthew 24:34-36 – begging the question as to if Anthony Rogers (and Shamoun) believe Matthew 24-25 is describing one coming of Christ upon the clouds in AD 70 (the view of DeMar, McDurmon, Mathison, etc…) or if the Olivet Discourse is divided up having two comings – one in AD 70 and one at the end of history (the view of Kenneth Gentry)? This is indeed where the “rubber meets the road” so to speak and these men aren’t really dealing with the exegetical issues that would or would not address Shabir Ally’s points concerning Jesus’ and the NT’s teaching on imminence.
“Heaven and earth will pass away”
So far we have found contextual and grammatical reasons to interpret the “end of the age” as the old covenant age in vs. 3, the stars falling from the heavens in vs. 29 to be the religious and civil rulers falling from their places of power when Jerusalem and her Temple was destroyed in AD 70, but what of verse 35 which addresses the “heaven and earth” passing away? Surely that is referring to the end of planet earth and a possible switch of subject in Jesus’ teaching? Once again there is contextual and a historical hermeneutic within the Christian church that understands the phrase “heaven and earth” to be referring to the old covenant heaven and earth and its temple as such – and not to planet earth.
G.K. Beale’s research indicates,
“…that ‘heaven and earth’ in the Old Testament may sometimes be a way of referring to Jerusalem or its temple, for which ‘Jerusalem’ is a metonymy.” Reformed theologian John Brown in identifying the passing of “heaven and earth” in Matthew 5:18 writes:
“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.” (John Brown, Discourses and Sayings of Our Lord (Edinburg: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1990 ), 1:170).
Commentators are correct to identify the “heaven and earth” of (Matthew 5:18) as the “heaven and earth” of (Matthew 24:35), but the context of both point us to the old covenant system and not the planet earth passing by AD 70. According to Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 5:17-18 if heaven and earth have not passed away, then we are currently under all of the “jots and tittles” of the old covenant law.
And now specifically of the passing of heaven and earth here in our text, Evangelical Crispin H.T. Fletcher-Louis makes the following comments on Mark 13:31/Matthew 24:35:
“The temple was far more than the point at which heaven and earth met. Rather, it was thought to correspond to, represent, or, in some sense, to be ‘heaven and earth’ in its totality.” And “. . . [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.
Some Partial Preterists such as Kenneth Gentry make a distinction between Matthew 24:3-34 being fulfilled in AD 70 and Jesus allegedly switching into a discussion about the end of planet earth based upon Jesus discussing the passing of “heaven and earth” in v. 35. This is odd indeed since Gentry takes the de-creation language in v. 29 as referring to the old covenant rulers and system passing in AD 70. Gentry’s Partial Preterist colleague Gary DeMar takes v. 29 the same way but believes v. 35 simply re-iterates the same AD 70 fulfillment and quotes Gentry’s favorite Partial Preterist John Lightfoot for support:
“Jesus does not change subjects when He assures the disciples that “heaven and earth will pass away.” Rather, He merely affirms His prior predictions which are recorded in Matthew 24:29-31.”
“The darkening of the sun and moon and the falling of the stars, coupled with the shaking of the heavens (24:29), are more descriptive ways of saying that “heaven and earth will pass away” (24:35).”
Jesus nor the NT writers ever predicted the end of the planet earth as is simply assumed by so many here in Matthew 24:3, 29, 35 and elsewhere in the NT. When we take a combined look at some of the best theologians within the Reformed and Evangelical communities, we find a preterist interpretation of virtually every eschatological de-creation prophecy in the Bible. Combined, men such as John Owen, John Locke, John Lightfoot, John Brown, R.C. Sproul, Gary DeMar, Kenneth Gentry, James Jordan, Peter Leithart, Keith Mathison, Crispin H.T. Fletcher-Louis, Hank Hanegraaff, and N.T. Wright teach that the passing away of heaven and earth (Matt. 5:17–18; 24:3, 29, 35; 1 Cor. 7:31; II Peter 3; I Jn. 2:17–18; Rev. 21:1) refers to the destruction of the temple or to the civil and religious worlds of men—either Jews or Gentiles; and that the rulers of the old covenant system or world, along with the temple, were the “sun, moon, and stars,” which made up the “heaven and earth” of the world that perished in AD 70. (John Owen, The Works of John Owen, 16 vols. (London: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1965–68), 9:134–135. John Lightfoot, Commentary on the New Testament from the Talmud and Hebraica: Matthew – 1 Corinthians, 4 vols. (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, , 1989), 3:452, 454. John Brown, Discourses and Sayings of our Lord, 3 vols. (Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust,  1990), 1:170. John Locke, The Clarendon Edition of the Works of John Locke: A Paraphrase and Notes on the Epistles of St Paul Volume 2, (NY: Oxford University Press, 1987), 617–618. R.C. Sproul, The Last Days According to Jesus (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1998). Kenneth Gentry, He Shall Have Dominion (Tyler TX: Institute for Christian Economics, 1992), 363–365. Kenneth Gentry (contributing author), Four Views on the Book of Revelation (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 1998), 89. Gary DeMar, Last Days Madness: Obsession of the Modern Church (Powder Springs: GA, 1999), 68–74, 141–154, 191–192. James B. Jordan, Through New Eyes Developing a Biblical View of the World (Brentwood, TN: Wolgemuth & Hyatt, Publishers, 1998), 269–279. Crispin H.T. Fletcher-Louis (contributing author) Eschatology in Bible & Theology (Downers Grove, Illinois: Inter Varsity Press, 1997), 145–169. Peter J. Leithart, The Promise of His Appearing: An Exposition of Second Peter (Moscow, ID: Canon Press, 2004). Keith A. Mathison, Postmillennialism: An Eschatology of Hope (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 1999), 114, 157–158. N.T. Wright, Jesus and the Victory of God (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 1996), 345–346. N.T. Wright, The Resurrection of the Son of God (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2003), 645, n.42. Hank Hanegraaff, The Apocalypse Code (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2007), 84–86. C. Jonathin Seraiah, The End of All Things: A Defense of the Future (Moscow, ID: Canon Press, 2002).
These interpretations are, individually considered, “orthodox.” Yet when full preterists consolidate the most defensible elements of Reformed and Evangelical eschatology, anti-preterists unite in opposition to even some of their own stated views. The Full Preterist combines the two competing “orthodox” views on the coming of the Lord and de-creation of Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 24-25 to form a consistently exegetical and historical position:
- CLASSIC AMILLENNIAL VIEW: The coming of the Son of Man in Matthew 24-25 is the ONE second coming event as is the de-creation spoken of here.
- PARTIAL PRETERIST VIEW: The coming of the Son of Man happened spiritually and the end of age, de-creation of verses 3, 29 and 35 are descriptive of the passing of the old covenant creation/age and establishment of the new by AD 70.
- FULL PRETERIST VIEW (Synthesis of 1-2 “Reformed and always reforming”): The coming of the Son of Man is the ONE second coming event (as is the de-creation spoken of in verses 3, 29, 35) whereby Christ came spiritually to end the old covenant creation/age in the events of AD 66 – AD 70 and established the new.
The “those days” (plural) vs. “that day” (singular)
Some Partial Preterists such as Kenneth Gentry argue that since Jesus uses the plural “days” in Matthew 24:1-34 this refers to the days leading up to the fall of Jerusalem and when Jesus uses “day” in Matthew 24:36ff. this refers to another future event or literal Second Coming of Jesus to end world history. Probably the best way to refute orthodox Partial Preterism is with orthodox Partial Preterism. Gary DeMar appeals to John Gill, Adam Clarke, and Gentry’s favorite Partial Preterist John Lightfoot – as taking the “day and hour” (Matt. 24:36) as Christ coming in the fall of Jerusalem (as do Full Preterists). Others that see the “Day and hour” along with the parables in Matthew 24 being fulfilled in AD 70 would be Keith A. Mathison and N.T. Wright.
Jesus in His exhortation to the Church at Sardis in Revelation 3 tells them (a church that no longer exists – not us) to “watch” for He would come upon them as a “thief” and at an “hour” they were not expecting if they did not repent. This is consistent with what we have seen here in Matthew 24 -25 — Jesus would come in their “this generation” or as in the book of Revelation Him coming “shortly” to that first century audience.
The “last day” or “that day” (singular), is simply the last day of the “days” (plural) in question or in the context. Peter uses the terms “last time” (singular) and “last times” (plural) to be saying the same thing Jesus was – ALL the prophecies in the OT concerning the Messiah’s judgment and salvation would be accomplished in an “at hand” “last time” “last days” or “this generation” time period 1 Pet. 1:5-20, 4:5, 7, 17; Acts 2:40/Lk.21:22-32. One does not have to be a rocket scientist or have a PhD in theology to see this. This is an odd position for Gentry to have since he understands the de-creation and “last hour” (singular) of the Anti-Christ’s in 1 Jn. 2:17-18 to be the fulfillment of the “signs” section and Christ’s coming in an AD 70 found in Matthew 24:23-34.
In the OD and in Luke 17 Jesus uses the judgment of the days (plural) and day (singular) of Noah as a type and illustration of what was going to take place in His generation.
In Luke 17’s account of the Second Coming, both “days” and “day” are used interchangeably together describing the same event:
a). “For the Son of Man in His DAY will be like the lightening,…” (vs. 24).
b). “…so also will it be in the DAYS of the Son of Man” (vs. 26).
c). “It will be just like this on the DAY the Son of Man is revealed” (vs. 30).
d). “On that DAY…” (vs. 31).
Again, Jesus uses “days” (plural) and “day” (singular) in referring to the judgments of Noah and the destruction of Sodom as an example of His Second Coming in the fall of Jerusalem.
To further lay waist this eschatological schizophrenia of two second comings proposed by Partial Preterists such as Kenneth Gentry all we need to do is further harmonizing Matthew 24’s alleged two sections or comings of Christ with Luke 17. Please note that someone forgot to tell Luke to organize his material in a Partial Preterist “section A” coming and a “section B” coming chronology.
Alleged section “A” (“a” coming of Christ in AD 70 before vs. 34)
1) vss. 17,18 – “Let him which is on the housetop not come down…”
2) vs. 26-27 – “For just as the lightning comes from the east…”
3) vs. 28 – “Wherever the corpse is, there the vultures will gather.”
Section B (“The” Alleged Second (third?) Coming of Christ vs. 36ff.)
4) vss. 37-39 – “For the coming of the Son of Man will be just like the days of Noah.”
5) vss. 40.41 – “Then there shall be two men in the field; one will be taken, and one will be left.”
One section describing one Second Coming (events mixed and nonsensical if Gentry’s division theory of Mt.24 is correct)
2) vss. 23, 24 – “For just as the lightning, when it flashes…”
4) vss. 26,27 – “And just as it happened in the days of Noah, so it shall be also i the days of the Son of Man” 1) vs. 31- “On that day, let not the one who is on the housetop…”
1) vss. 31 – “On that day, let not the one who is on the housetop…”
5) vss. 35,36 – “There will be two women grinding at the same place; one will be taken, and the other will be left.
3) vs. 37 – “…Where the body is, there also will the vultures be gathered.”
The Matthew 24 and Luke 17 parallels present problems for all futurist eschatologies, but they effectively destroy some Postmillennial Partial Preterist positions such as Gentry’s. If Matthew 24 deals with two different parousias of Christ with events leading up to two different time periods, then Luke’s account is incorrect. Either Luke was wrong in mixing up these events or preterists such as Gentry are wrong in dividing up Matthew 24 into two sections with two comings of Christ. Both Matthew 24 and Luke 17 speak of the same “days” time period that were leading up to Christ’s revelation “DAY” in AD 70.
Gary DeMar correctly points out:
“Similarly, there is little evidence that the “coming of the Son of Man” in Matthew 24:27, 30, 39, and 42 is different from the “coming of the Son of Man” in 25:31.”
Signs vs. no signs
Some Partial Preterists such as Gentry try and reason that since there are specific signs that are mentioned before verse 34 and there are none mentioned after this verse, that this somehow proves there are two sections with two different comings of Christ involved. Hmm. I think a more “common sense” approach might be that Jesus has finished answering the disciple’s questions as far as what specific signs to look for and not to look for in indicating His imminent return and is now going to give some further teaching and exhortations on being ready and watchful for these events! But doesn’t the fact Jesus exhorts the disciples after verse 34 to “watch,” “pray,” and “be ready” have some connection with being discerning of the signs He had just mentioned? Jesus has just finished answering the disciples question regarding the signs of His return and is now going to illustrate through the use of various parables the necessity of being ready and watching for the same events the disciples asked about and that He had just answered in verses 4-34. This is not difficult folks.
“This generation” vs. “a long time”
Some Partial Preterists such as Gentry argue that since before verse 34, there is a short time frame of forty years. And after verse 34, the time frame is long (24:48; 25:5, 19) – thus a justification in two comings separated by thousands of years.
To be thorough, I will also cover Luke 19 since many appeal to this text as well. In Luke 19:11 many having listened to John the Baptist and Jesus’ declarations of the “kingdom being at hand” thought they were teaching the kingdom would come “immediately” or “at once” (Greek eggus). In response to that “immediate” mindset, Jesus gives the parable of the “Ten Minas” where He describes Himself as one going away into a far country to receive the rights to be King over Israel and then traveling back, as going into a “distant country” or taking a long journey (Lk. 19:12ff.). Jesus’ listeners would not gather from Jesus’ parable of the man going to a “distant country” as taking thousands of years! Jesus also understood that many false prophets would arise making premature statements that the kingdom was again “immediately” (Greek eutheos) going to appear when in fact it was not (Lk. 21:19). Jesus’ teaching of His coming and kingdom arriving in “this generation” (Lk. 21:27-32) was some 40 years removed from the false concept that He was teaching an “immediate” arrival or that general wars and earthquakes marked the nearness of His parousia and kingdom. There were certain events that needed to transpire first such as the great commission throughout the Jewish and Roman world.
Now let’s look at the first “long time” text in Matthew 24. The first appeal is to the wicked servant who interprets His master being gone as a “long time” and beats his fellow servants and drinks with other drunkards Matt. 24:48-49. Obviously the servant was punished within his own lifetime so where is the thousands of years delay of Christ taught here?
Another appeal of some Partial Preterists for a 2,000+ years “delay” of Christ’s return is found in Jesus’ teaching of the ten virgins in Matt. 25:5 where He says, “the bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep.” Jesus’ first century audience were aware of the Jewish wedding scene of a man being betrothed to a woman up to a year while he prepared a home for them. He could come at any time to “snatch” (1Thess. 4:17) her from her life and existence under her father to himself. Because of this she needed to be excited and ready not sluggish and doubtful of his love. The foolish virgins considered this a “long time” and were not ready and fell asleep. Because they viewed this as taking too long and were “foolish,” they did not make preparations of buying oil for His surprise arrival. No one listening to Jesus’ words here would consider this parable as teaching a 2,000 + years “long time” as some Partial Preterists have interpreted it to mean. They would interpret “long time” in the context of a person’s lifetime along with the other parables and would consider it being consistent with Jesus’ 30 – 40 year “this generation” teaching and time frame.
The last reference is to the parable of the talents in Matt. 25:19. Again all the points I made above apply here as well. The servant was not “alert” but “lazy” and “worthless”! What he had was given to the faithful servants in verses 28-29 as the kingdom would be taken from the faithless apostates and given to the Church – the true Israel/Nation of God (cf. Matt. 21:33-45).
It’s not exactly accurate for some Partial Preterists to assume that that 40 years is a “short time.” Relatively speaking in the world and Israel waiting thousands of years for salvation of the Messiah – this could be true. But if one is 20-30 years old or older during the time Jesus utters His “this generation” statement, 40 years is making one nearing the end of his life 60 – 70 or older. Therefore, viewing it from Israel’s redemptive history, fulfillment within 40 years could easily be considered “at hand,” but in the context of a person’s lifetime, 40 years was enough time to be tempted to think it may not occur (as we see in Peter has to deal with in regards to the “mockers” and false teachers in His letters).
Gary DeMar responds to Partial Preterists who assume “long time” means thousands of years to justify two different comings in Matthew 24,
“In every other New Testament context, “a long time” means nothing more than an extended period of time (Luke 8:27; 23:8; John 5:6; Acts 8:11; 14:3, 28; 26:5, 29; 27:21; 28:6). Nowhere does it mean centuries or multiple generations.”
Having spent some time critiquing and refuting Kenneth Gentry’s Partial Preterism with exegesis and using his own Partial Preterists to expose his arbitrary division of the OD, I will turn some attention to Gary DeMar and those Partial Preterists that see the coming of the Son of Man throughout Matthew 24-25 as being fulfilled in AD 70 – yet still claim the NT speaks of a future coming.
Not only does DeMar believe the coming of Christ in both Matthew 24-25 took place in AD 70, but he affirms that “John’s version of Matthew 24-25 is found in the book of Revelation.” Apart of DeMar’s “exegetical” work is to compare and parallel Matthew 24 with the rest of the NT and find AD 70 fulfillments where amillennialists and dispensationalists don’t. However, DeMar’s hermeneutic and exegetical method is more than arbitrary and inconsistent. For example here is one that DeMar neglects:
|MATTHEW 24-25||REVELATION 20:5-15|
|Resurrection and judgment Matt. 24:30-31 (cf. Matt. 13:39-43/Dan. 12:2-3) Matt. 25:31-46 (cf. Matt. 16:27-28)||Resurrection and judgment Rev. 20:5-15|
|De-creation heaven and earth pass/flee Matt. 24:29, 35 (cf. Matt. 5:17-18)||De-creation heaven and earth pass/flee Rev. 20:11 (cf. Rev. 6:14; 16:20; 21:1)|
|Christ on throne to judge Matt. 25:31||God on throne to judge Rev. 20:11|
|Wicked along with Devil eternally punished Matt. 25:41-46||Wicked along with Devil eternally punished Rev. 20:10, 14-15|
As I pointed out earlier in this series, DeMar publishes James Jordan whom claims Daniel himself was raised out of Hades or Abraham’s Bosom in AD 70 according to Daniel 12:2, 13 and Revelation 20. The partial preterists are also on record for saying things such as, “The Apostle John in the book of Revelation picks up where Daniel leaves off.” So here is something that DeMar needs to address as well:
|DANIEL 12:1-2||REVELATION 20:5-15|
|Only those whose names are written in the book would be delivered/saved from eternal condemnation Dan. 12:1-2||Only those whose names are written in the book would be delivered/saved from the lake of fire Rev. 20:12-15|
|This is the time for the resurrection and judgment of the dead Dan. 12:1-2||This is the time for the resurrection and judgment of the dead Rev. 20:5-15|
The analogy of Scripture and these charts demonstrate that DeMar’s view that we are still in the millennium and that the end of the millennium resurrection is still unfulfilled (while believing that the resurrection of Daniel 12:2-3 was fulfilled in AD 70) is creedally arbitrary.
Postmillennial partial preterism did not win the eschatological debate for Luther, Calvin and the WCF which have taught the coming of Christ in Matthew 24-25 is indeed the Second Coming (as Full Preterism teaches). And what about today? Mathison and DeMar didn’t win the battle over Matthew 24-25 in the Reformation Study Bible, which is in perfect harmony with Full Preterism in interpreting the parallel’s in Matthew 24:30-31 as being the same eschatological event with the following passages:
“But the language of [Matthew 24:31] is parallel to passages like 13:41; 16:27; 25:31, as well as to passages such as 1 Cor. 15:52 and 1 Thess. 4:14–17. The passage most naturally refers to the Second Coming.” (see HD, 112).
Here are some of those exegetical “parallels” that Full Preterists and classic amillennialists agree upon:
Matthew 24-25/Luke 21 & Matthew 13 Parallels
Evangelism in the world takes place (Mt. 24:14/Mt. 13:38).
There is persecution, tribulation, apostasy, & faithfulness (Mt. 24:9-13/Mt. 13:19-30).
The subject is the growth and reception of the kingdom at which time the judgment at the “end of the age” takes place (Lk. 21:31-32/Mt. 13:43; Mt. 24:3/Mt. 13:40).
The Son of Man comes with His angels to gather the sheep/wheat into His barn/kingdom and the wicked goats/tares are gathered and thrown into the fire and burned (Mt. 24:30-31, 25:31-41/Mt. 13:39-42).
Matthew 24-25/Luke 21 & 1 Corinthians 15 Parallels
Christ’s coming/parousia and trumpet call (Mt. 24:27, 31/1 Cor. 15:23, 52).
This is the time of “the end” (Mt. 24:3, 14/1 Cor. 15:24).
At this time God judges His enemies (Mt. 21:43; 22:41-44; 24-25/1 Cor. 15:24-28).
This is the time for inheriting the kingdom (Lk. 21:31-32/1 Cor. 15:24).
Matthew 24 & 1 Thessalonians 4-5 Parallels
Christ returns 1 Thess. 4:16=Matt. 24:30
From heaven 1 Thess. 4:16=Matt. 24:30
Accompanied by angels 1 Thess. 4:16=Matt. 24:31
With a trumpet of God 1 Thess. 4:16=Matt. 24:31
Believers gathered to Christ 1 Thess. 4:17=2 Matt. 4:31, 40-41
In clouds 1 Thess. 4:17=Matt. 24:30
Time unknown 1 Thess. 5:1-2=Matt. 24:36
Coming like a thief 1 Thess. 5:2=Matt. 24:43
Unbelievers unaware of impending judgment 1 Thess. 5:3=Matt. 24:8
Judgment comes as pain upon an expectant mother 1 Thess. 5:3=Matt. 24:8
Believers not deceived 1 Thess. 5:4-5=Matt. 24:43
Believers to be watchful 1 Thess. 5:6=Matt. 24:37-39
Warning against drunkenness 1 Thess. 5:7=Matt. 24:49
As I pointed out in HD, it is more than arbitrary for men like Gary DeMar and Keith Mathison to make AD 70 parallels and fulfillments in Matthew 24=1 Thessalonians 5 or Matthew 24=2 Thessalonians 1-2, but avoid where most of the parallels are in Matthew 24=1 Thessalonians 4:15-17 because the resurrection is in view (see HD, 112-115). It is amazingly arrogant for DeMar and AV to claim they are performing “exegesis” when comparing Matthew 24 with the eschatology of the NT in order to develop AD 70 fulfillments, but if Full Preterists do, AV wants to refer to us as “heretical.” We are making the same “parallel’s” and appealing to the same “analogy of scripture” argument that the creedal amillennialists are.
|Passage||Mike SullivanFull Peterist||Gary DeMarPartial Preterist||Kenneth GentryPartial Preterist||James WhiteTraditional Amillennialist|
|1 Thess. 1-3||A.D. 70||A.D. 70||Future||Future|
|1 Thess. 4||A.D. 70||Future||Future||Future|
|1 Thess. 5||A.D. 70||A.D. 70||Future||Future|
|2 Thess. 1||A.D. 70||A.D. 70||Future||Future|
|2 Thess. 2||A.D. 70||A.D. 70||A.D. 70||Future|
Some Partial Preterists such as author Mike Bull (a disciple of James Jordan) actually agree with Full Preterists that the parallels between Matthew 24=1 Thessalonains 4 are just too strong and therefore there was some kind of fulfillment for a resurrection in AD 70. DeMar is now backed into a corner. Since he and AV are now publishing that there was a spiritual, corporate, covenantal judgment and resurrection for the living and dead from AD 30 – AD 70 which resulted in Daniel’s soul being raised out of Hades or Abraham’s Bosom in AD 70, then Gary needs to prove that Matthew 24:30-31 (cf. Matthew 13:39-43/Daniel 12:2-3) isn’t Paul’s source in 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17 and thus this isn’t that AD 70 resurrection. Or if Gary wants to make the kind of statements that Joel McDurmon has and that perhaps this passage along with other NT resurrection texts “could” have been fulfilled in AD 70 — then Gary needs to prove or explain why this could have two or multiple fulfillments. Apparently Gary is unavailable for comment.
Gary DeMar has referenced John Murray before as a Postmillennialist who most assuredly couldn’t be referred to as “heretical” and indeed performed exegesis. Well, again like Full Preterists, Murray saw the coming of Christ and “redemption” in (Luke 21:27-28) to be the Second Advent and “redemption of the body” in (Romans 8:23):
“Now in Luke 21:28 . . . [t]his word ‘redemption’ (apolutrosin), when used with reference to the future, has a distinctly eschatological connotation, the final redemption, the consummation of the redemptive process (cf. Rom. 8:23; 1 Cor. 1:30; Eph. 1:14; 4:30). Hence anal-ogy would again point to the eschatological complex of events.” (see HD, 119).
And of course Murray understood Matthew 24:30-31 as most naturally referring to the Second Coming and resurrection as we do:
“…Verse 30, for several reasons to be adduced later, surely refers to the advent in glory, and the sign of the Son of man to the sign of the coming of Christ and the consummation of the age in the disciples question (vs. 3). (John Murray, COLLECTED WRITINGS OF JOHN MURRAY 2 Systematic Theology, Carlisle, PA: THE BANNER OF TRUTH TRUST, 1977, 389)
“The terms of verse 30, that all the tribes of the earth ‘will see the Son of man coming upon the clouds of heaven with great power and glory’ (or ‘with power and great glory’) are terms that are quite definitely those of the second advent in the terminology of the New Testament (cf. Matt. 16:27; Mark 8:38; Matt. 25:31; Acts 1:9-11; 1 Thess. 4:17; 2 Thess. 1:7; Rev. 1:7.” (Murray, Ibid., 390).
“There is ample allusion to the sound of the trumpet and to the ministry of angels elsewhere in the New Testament, in connection with Christ’s advent (cf. 1 Cor. 15:52; 1 Thess. 4:16). Hence verse 31 can most readily be taken to refer to the gathering of the elect at the resurrection.” (Murray, Ibid., 391).
Murray also does a great job demonstrating that Matthew 24-25 is written with a “recapitulation” structure (Ibid., 388) and therefore we once again reach “the end”/“end of the age” with the disciples question associating the end of the age with His coming in Matthew 24:3, 30-31. Matthew 24:30-31 is the Second Coming and resurrection/gathering event which takes place at the end of the [old covenant] age (cf. Matthew 13:39-43/Daniel 12:2-3) and is therefore, not some kind of second Great Commission “gathering” post AD 70 – per DeMar.
As I reference in HD DeMar takes the glory that was “about to be revealed” in Romans 8:18 YLT as a fulfillment in AD 70 (HD, 120-121) and McDurmon claims Jesus’ use of “this age” is the old covenant age and the “age to come” is the new covenant age arriving in AD 70 (HD, 91, n.28). Yet Murray writes of these passages,
“The present time is “this age” or the “present age” in contrast with the “age to come” (cf. “…Luke 20:34….”). “…The age to come is the age of the resurrection and of the glory to be revealed.” “…And the glory to be revealed is so bound up with the resurrection (vs. 23)…” (John Murray, EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS, 1 vol. edition, Eerdmans Publishing, 1968, 300-301).
After conceding that “this age” is the old covenant age and the “age to come” here is the arrival of the new in AD 70, McDurmon’s attempts to posit the resurrection of Luke 20:34 as biological at the end of time and beyond AD 70 in his debate with Preston was painful to watch and an embarrassment for AV in general.
For over a decade now I have also been asking DeMar to comment on another of his favorite partial preterists (John Lightfoot) who took the creation groaning from the bondage and decay in Romans 8 to have nothing to do with the planet earth (not even poetically) but is rather referring to men’s condition under sin in the mind and heart (HD, 116-117). In essence this is a full preterist interpretation of the “creation” here.
So then according to John Murray, John Lightfoot, AV Gary DeMar/Joel McDurmon — the glory that was “about to be revealed” was the Second Coming and resurrection/redemption of the body that would take place when “this [old covenant] age” gave way to “the [new covenant] age to come” in Jesus’ “this generation” ie. AD 70 (Luke 21:27-28=Romans 8:18-23=Luke 20:34-35). This consummation/resurrection/restoration of creation event involved the hearts and minds of men and therefore does not necessarily involve a literal de-creation/literal re-creation and or literal resurrection of the dead to take place at the end of history. We surely agree with the “exegesis” and logical conclusion of these men!
The following “parallel” chart confirms that the “redemption” of Christ’s disciples in the first century in Luke 21:28 was the redemption of “the body” “about to be revealed” in Romans 8:18–23:
|Romans 8||Olivet Discourse & Luke 17|
|Present sufferings (Rom. 8:17–18)||Suffering to come (Matt. 24:9)|
|Receive and share in Christ’s glory (Rom. 8:17–18)||Christ comes in glory (Matt. 24:30)|
|Glory will be “in” them (Rom. 8:18)||Kingdom will be realized “within”at Christ’s return (Lk.17:21–37; 21:27–32)|
|Redemption and salvation – resurrection (Rom. 8:23–24; cf. 11:15–27; 13:11–12)||Redemption and salvation – resurrection (Lk. 21:27–28; Matt. 24:13, 30–31/Matt. 13:39-43)|
|Birth pains together (Rom. 8:22)||Birth pains of the tribulation (Matt. 24:8)|
|This was “about to” take place (Rom. 8:18)||This would all happen in “this generation”(Matt. 24:34)|
Gary can run and Gary can hide, but the fact of the matter is — our parallel/analogy of scripture hermeneutic comparing Matthew 24-25 with the eschatology of the NT, is not only more consistent than DeMar’s, it is more creedal and confessional – Selah.
Concluding Matthew 24-25
James White – After critiquing White’s shallow handling of Matthew 24 to his Church (something he mentions in his debate with Shabir Ally), it is no wonder he didn’t want to address Jesus’ teaching here and in Matthew 16:27-28 as it pertained to NT imminence. White simply did not address Ally’s argument that Jesus and the NT predicted that the Second Coming would be fulfilled in their contemporary generation and before some of them died – period!
Between me posting my last article and this one James White moderated a debate between a Full Preterist (Don K. Preston) and a futurist (Michael Brown) over Romans 11. But my debate challenge to Mr. White remains. Mr. White – it is not enough to moderate debates with Full Preterists in them, you need to debate one. Selah.
Anthony Rogers / Sam Shamoun – Has published a series of articles attempting to respond to Shabir Ally from a Partial Preterist view. Rogers claims the “end of the age” is referring to the OC age ending in AD 70, but is shallow and arbitrary in his exegesis because he does not address that Jesus identifies the resurrection as taking place at the “end of the age” in other passages. And Rogers stopped his exegesis of Matthew 24 prior to verses 35-36ff. where the “rubber meets the road” so to speak and never delivered.
Gary DeMar / Keith Mathison / N.T. Wright – To be thorough I briefly critiqued other Partial Preterists that believe the coming of the Son of Man throughout Matthew 24-25 was fulfilled by AD 70 and is not divided up as other Partial Preterists have attempted to prove. As I pointed out earlier, there is almost unanimous agreement between all eschatological views that supports the idea that Matthew 24-25 is NT eschatology in a nutshell. Or simply put whatever your view of the OD is, will dictate your eschatology in the rest of the NT. This being said, DeMar, Mathison, and Wright fall miserably short in Matthew 24-25 being the foundation for 1 Thessalonians 4-5 (passages Shabir Ally pointed to that White did not address and neither has Rogers thus far) and Revelation 20 – to name just a couple.
Shabir Ally – If Shabir Ally wants to debate a Christian apologist that REALLY believes Jesus was and remains to be a faithful and true prophet and fulfilled His promises concerning His Second Coming, judgment, resurrection, and bringing an end to the age in which He and His contemporaries were living in (within the AD 30 – AD 70 “this generation”), then I suggest he debate me or the Full Preterist position. As I have demonstrated thus far, Shabir and other Bible skeptics will not get the answers they are looking for (or honest exegetical answers) from these other men and their positions when it comes to NT imminence. Selah.
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 https://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 https://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) https://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 https://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 Refutedhttps://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) https://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/
 Joseph Henry Thayer, D.D., A GREEK-ENGLISH LEXICON OF THE NEW TESTAMENT, (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1977), 112 (bold emphasis added).
 W.E. Vine (edited by F.F. Bruce), VINE’S Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words (Iowa Falls, Iowa: World Bible Publishers, 1981), 42 (emphasis added).
 Colin Brown, The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology Vol. 2, (Grand Rapids MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1986), 37-38 (bold emphasis added).
 Brown, Ibid., 38-39.
 G.K. Beale, The Temple and the Church’s Mission A biblical theology of the dwelling place of God, (Downers Grove, Illinois: Inter Varsity Press, 2004), 25). See also a student of Beale’s – J.V. Fesko, Last things first Unlocking Genesis 1-3 with the Christ of Eschatology, (Scottland, UK, 2007), 70.
 John Brown, Discourses and Sayings of Our Lord (Edinburg: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1990 ), 1:170.
 Crispin H.T. Fletcher-Louis a contributing author in, ESCHATOLOGY in Bible & Theology Evangelical Essays at the Dawn of a New Millennium, (Downers Grove, Illinois: Inter Varsity Press, 1997), 157.
 Gary DeMar, Last Days MADNESS Obsession of the Modern Church, (Powder Springs, GA: American Vision, 1999, Fourth Edition), 189.
 Ibid., 190.
 John Owen, The Works of John Owen, 16 vols. (London: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1965–68), 9:134–135. John Lightfoot, Commentary on the New Testament from the Talmud and Hebraica: Matthew – 1 Corinthians, 4 vols. (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, , 1989), 3:452, 454. John Brown, Discourses and Sayings of our Lord, 3 vols. (Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust,  1990), 1:170. John Locke, The Clarendon Edition of the Works of John Locke: A Paraphrase and Notes on the Epistles of St Paul Volume 2, (NY: Oxford University Press, 1987), 617–618. R.C. Sproul, The Last Days According to Jesus (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1998). Kenneth Gentry, He Shall Have Dominion (Tyler TX: Institute for Christian Economics, 1992), 363–365. Kenneth Gentry (contributing author), Four Views on the Book of Revelation (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 1998), 89. Gary DeMar, Last Days Madness: Obsession of the Modern Church (Powder Springs: GA, 1999), 68–74, 141–154, 191–192. James B. Jordan, Through New Eyes Developing a Biblical View of the World (Brentwood, TN: Wolgemuth & Hyatt, Publishers, 1998), 269–279. Crispin H.T. Fletcher-Louis (contributing author) Eschatology in Bible & Theology (Downers Grove, Illinois: Inter Varsity Press, 1997), 145–169. Peter J. Leithart, The Promise of His Appearing: An Exposition of Second Peter (Moscow, ID: Canon Press, 2004). Keith A. Mathison, Postmillennialism: An Eschatology of Hope (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 1999), 114, 157–158. N.T. Wright, Jesus and the Victory of God (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 1996), 345–346. N.T. Wright, The Resurrection of the Son of God (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2003), 645, n.42. Hank Hanegraaff, The Apocalypse Code (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2007), 84–86. C. Jonathin Seraiah, The End of All Things: A Defense of the Future (Moscow, ID: Canon Press, 2002.
 DeMar, Last Days MADNESS, Ibid., 193-194.
 Keith A. Mathison, FROM AGE TO AGE THE UNFOLDING OF BIBLICAL ESCHATOLOGY, (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2009), 379.
 DeMar, Ibid., 200.
 DeMar, Ibid., 199.