In What Sense Did Jesus Leave, Stay and Then Return In AD 70 – Brief Study of Acts 1:6-11–3:17-23 and The Anaology of Scripture

By David Green / Michael Bennett / Michael Sullivan
Talbotism or Partial Preterism would ask:
. . . Jesus left. And unless you ignore his promise to be with them until the end of the age, you would have to agree that there is a sense in which he didn’t leave. Well, it seems awfully obvious to me now that the sense in which he left was in regards to his human nature; which includes a body. He physically left them. Acts 1 clearly demonstrates that.  And there is nothing illogical about that answer.  If that isn’t the sense, then what is? . . . In what sense did he leave and in what sense did he stay. . . ?
David Green’s Comments:

My response:
The answer to Talbotism’s question is found in the answer to these seven questions:
1. “…until Christ is formed in you.” (Gal. 4:19)
The church was looking forward to when Christ would be formed in it.  But Christ was already in the church.  “In what sense” then was He later “formed” in the church?
2. “in whom the whole building, being fitted together is growing into a holy temple in the Lord; in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit” (Eph. 2:21,22).

The church was looking forward to when it would become God’s “holy temple” / dwelling.”  But the church was already God’s temple/dwelling.  “In what sense” then did the church later become God’s temple/dwelling.
3. “So that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith….”
(Eph. 3:17)

Paul’s desire was that God would strengthen believers with might by Christ’s Spirit in the inner man “so that Christ would dwell in [their] hearts through faith.”  But Christ was already dwelling in believers’ hearts through faith.  “In what sense” then did Christ later dwell in believers’ hearts through faith?
4. “to whom God willed to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Col. 1:27).

The church’s glorious hope (her expectation) was “Christ in you.”  But Christ was already in the church.  “In what sense” then did Christ later dwell in the church?
5. “And so we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the Morning Star arises
in your hearts
.” (II Peter 1:19)

Believers were looking forward to “the day” when “the Morning Star” would arise in their hearts.  But the Morning Star (Jesus) was already dwelling in their hearts.  “In what sense” then did Jesus later arise in believers’ hearts?
6. “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him, and will dine with him, and he with Me” (Rev. 3:20;  This promise was written to believers.).

Jesus told believers that if any one of them opened the door, He would “come in to him, and will dine with him.”  But Jesus was already dwelling in believers and dining with them.  “In what sense” then did Jesus later dwell in believers and dine with them?
7. “…If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him, and make Our abode with him.” (Jn. 14:23)

Only spirit-indwelt believers love Jesus.  Yet Jesus said that a time would come when the Father and the Son would make their abode in Spirit-indwelt believers.  Yet the Son was already dwelling in Spirit-indwelt believers.  “In what sense” then did Jesus and the Father later make Their abode in Spirit-indwelt believers?
The rhetorical question of the two men in white apparel: “Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven?
Their question implied that it was pointless for the disciples to stand there gazing up into the sky as Jesus went up.
But, why/how was it pointless for Jesus’ disciples to stand there gazing up into the sky as He went up?

Was it because Jesus wasn’t going to come back for many years?  Was it because the disciples had a lot of work to do and didn’t have time to stand around?
Neither of these reasons were the explanation the two men gave for their rhetorical question.  They did not say, “Why stand ye gazing up into heaven?  Jesus isn’t going to come back for a long, long time.”  Nor did they say, Why stand ye gazing up into heaven?  You have a lot of work to do and limited time in which to do it.”
No, according to the two men, it was pointless to stand there gazing into the sky as Jesus went up, because Jesus was going to “come in like manner as ye have seen Him go into heaven” (Acts 1:11).
In the futurist framework, that argument, of course, makes no sense.  There was no point in looking into the sky as Jesus went up because He was going to come back physically?  That’s a non sequitur.
In the preterist framework though, the words of the two men do make sense.
There was no point in looking for Jesus to come back down out of the sky, because He was to come in the manner in which they had “seen” him going into the sky:
Hidden from ordinary sight, in divine glory (Acts. 1:9; 1 Tim. 3:16).
Michael Bennett comments:
Milton Terry (1898)
“Acts i, 11, is often cited to show that Christ’s coming must needs be spectacular, in like manner as ye beheld him going into the heaven.” But (1) in the only other three places where, what manner, occurs, it points to a general concept rather than the particular form of its actuality. Thus, in Acts vii, 28, it is not sonic particular manner in which Moses killed the Egyptian that is notable, but rather the certain fact of it. In 2 Tim. iii, 8, it is likewise the fact of strenuous opposition rather than the special manner in which Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses. And in Matt. xxiii, 37, and Luke xiii, 34, it is the general thought of protection rather than the visible manner of a mother bird that is intended. Again (2), if Jesus did not come in that generation, and immediately after the great tribulation that attended the fall of Jerusalem, his words in Matt. xvi, 27, 28, xxiv, 29, and parallel passages are in the highest degree misleading. (3) To make the one statement of the angel in Acts i, 11, override all the sayings of Jesus on the same subject and control their meaning is a very one-sided method of biblical interpretation. But all the angel’s words necessarily mean is that as Jesus has ascended into heaven so he will come from heaven And this main thought agrees with the language of Jesus and the prophets.”
“Whatever the real nature of the parousia, as contemplated in this prophetic discourse, our Lord unmistakably associates it with the destruction of the temple and city, which he represents as the signal termination of the pre-Messianic age. The coming on clouds, the darkening of the heavens, the collapse of elements, are, as we have shown above, familiar forms of apocalyptic language, appropriated from the Hebrew prophets.
“To make the one statement of the angel in Acts 1:11, override all the sayings of Jesus on the same subject and control their meaning is a very one-sided method of biblical interpretation. But all the angel’s words necessarily mean is that as Jesus has ascended into heaven so he will come from heaven. And this main thought agrees with the language of Jesus and the prophets.”[1]
If “in like manner” means “in exactly the same way” then:
• How does Jesus come from heaven riding on a white horse (Rev. 19:11)?
• How does He come “with ten thousand of His saints” (Jude 14)?
• How does He come “as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west” (Matt. 24:27)?
• How does He come “with a loud command [shout] . . . and with the trumpet call of God” (1 Thess. 4:16)?
• How does He come “in blazing fire with his powerful angels” (2 Thess. 1:7)?
We have seen various legitimate reasons / arguments and statements why Acts 1 is not about a future coming it is in regards to the AD70 coming of Christ a “2nd” time (Heb. 9:26-28).  Here is another more point – consider the CONTEXT regarding the kingdom. and the dates that the Father sets that no one knows. Where have we seen that and are there time texts etc. attached to those. After all that is the context of Acts 1. That is the question that is being answered by the “two men dressed in white.”
Immediate Context of Acts 1:9-11
“3After his suffering, he showed himself to these men and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God. 6So when they met together, they asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” 7He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. 8But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” 10They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. 11″Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”
The context of Acts 1 is:

  • The coming of the kingdom.
  • You (disciple’s – contemporary audience) do not know the time or dates.
  • The disciple’s preaching the gospel to all the world.

Needless to say – the kingdom was “near” and that is a time text and Matthew 24 cannot be divided into 2 comings because Luke 17 mixes the event so not knowing the day / hour (Matt. 24:36) or times / dates (Acts 1:6ff.; 1 Thess. 5:1ff.) etc. was a reference to AD 70.   Also note that both are about the gospel reaching the world etc.
(Matthew 10:7) “As you go, preach this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven is near.
(Matthew 24:14, 34, 36)  “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. 34I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. 36″No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.

Michael Sullivan’s Comments:
1)  How Christ went and would return
In our book House Divided, pages 101-102 I wrote:
“Mathison errs when he says that Jesus was going to come back in the same way that He “departed.” The Scriptures say that Jesus would come in the same way He had entered the sky. He entered the sky hidden from literal eye sight in the cloud of God’s glory.
Here is the order of events:
1. As they looked, He was taken up (Acts 1:9).
2. A cloud received Him from their eyes (Acts 1:9).
These first two events could very well have happened simultaneously.  As Mathison himself admits, the verse could be translated, “He was lifted up; that is, a cloud received Him out of their sight.”
It is a very real possibility that Jesus was instantly hidden in the cloud at the moment His feet left the earth.
3. Then the disciples saw Him going into the sky. That is, they looked intently into the sky as He was ascending in the cloud (Acts 1:10-11).
. . . The question of the two men was rhetorical, and it meant, “There is no use in standing here longing for Jesus to return to you and to be as He was in the days of His flesh (Heb. 5:7). He will come, but He will come in the manner you saw Him enter heaven —hidden from physical eyes in the cloud of the Father’s glory.”
2)  Christ’s return will follow the completion of the Great Commission
On pages 98-104 I noted how Keith Mathison in one of his books claims:
Acts 1:9-11 has – “…no reference to time connected with the prediction of the return of Christ.” (WSTTB?, 185, emphasis mine)
But in another book he writes,
The time frame is hinted at in the preceding context.  The disciples are given a commission to be Christ’s witneses “in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth” (Acts 1:8).  The implication is that Christ’s visible return will follow the completion of the mission to the remotest part of the earth.” (Postmillennialism, 117, bold emphasis mine).
God saved 3,000 believers (new exodus motif. 3,000 died at giving of law 3,000 live from NC life in the Spirit – the law produces death the Spirit life etc…) from “every nation under heaven” in (Acts 2:5, 41) and sent them back out into their “every nation under heaven” and or “world” (Greek ge) to proclaim the gospel.  By AD 70 “every nation under heaven” and this “world” (Greek ge) Jesus is referring to had been preached to (Rom. 1:18, Cols. 5-6, 23).  Therefore, the “implication” of Partial Preterism and that of Mathison, is that Christ returned in AD 70 when the “time frame” of “the disciples commission” was fulfilled.  Selah.
3)  The “restoration of the kingdom” (Acts 1:6) .
is also inseparably connected to the coming of the Lord in (v. 11).  And yet, the “restoration” of the kingdom Jesus identified with John the Baptist/Elijah — preaching repentance because of an imminent wrath and judgment associated with the  the great and dreadful day of the Lord (Matt. 3:7-12; Matt. 11:10-14; Matt. 17:10-13; Isaiah 11; Mal. 3-4).  Oddly another coming of the Lord Partial Preterism claims took place in AD 70.  ecause Peter was preaching to his contemporary audience telling them to act (per Gentry)!
4)  The “Great and dreadful day of the Lord” in (Acts 2:20ff.)
Partial Preterism also teaches that the contemporary repentance preached to Peter’s generation in Acts 2 along with the “great and dreadful day of the Lord” was fulfilled by AD 70 (Acts 2:20–40).   One of Gentry’s reasons being that Peter was preaching to his contemporary audience telling them to act! Let’s now pick back up the “restoration of the kingdom” or the “restoration of all things” — contemporary exhortation to act in repentance in connection with the Lord’s return in Acts 3 and Hebrews 9:24–10:37.
5)  Picking back up the “restoration of the kingdom” or “until the time comes for God to restore everything” “times of refreshing” (Acts 3:17-23) etc…
These NT terms reached there fullness and mature state when the Second Coming of Lord took place in AD 70 (Luke 21:27-32/Acts 3:17-23/Heb. 9:24–26-28–10:1YLT, 25, 37).  So far according Partial Preterism the coming of the Lord in Acts 1:11 and Acts 2:20-21 took place in AD 70.
But what about in chapter 3 — is there anything in this chapter that would indicate a different coming of the Lord spread out over thousands or millions of years?  Per the logic and reasoning of Gentry in Acts 2, the same Jewish contemporary audience is being exhorted to repent  and if they didn’t  this coming of the Lord would result either in their sins being forgiven (those that would repent), and for  those who refused to repent – they would be “completely cut off from among his people” (Acts 3:17-23). These are those who would not listen to the greater prophet than Moses (Christ) predicted by Moses in Deuteronomy 18:15-19.  And what was the message of “this prophet” (Jesus)?  Was it not that His return in their generation would mark the fulfillment of all that has been written in the OT – time of redemption for those that trusted and repented and the time of punishment for those who would not (Luke 21:22-32)?!? 
Luke 21:20-32 & Acts 3:17-23

  • Same coming of the Lord.
  • Same salvation/redemption for believers and punishment for unbelievers – Jews “his people.”
  • Same fulfillment of all the OT prophets and scriptures.

Since the OT prophets predicted the “restoration of the kingdom” or “the restoration of all things,” when Christ would come from heaven (Acts 1:6-11/3:17-23) and Partial Preterist’s admit that the OC “heaven and earth” of (Matt. 5:17-18) passed away in AD 70 — therefore, the coming of Christ and the restoration of all things pertaining to God’s kingdom found in the law and prophets were fulfilled and reached there mature state by D 70.
And verse 24 wraps up the sermon informing us that all which has gone before (all the OT’s Prophets testimony) “foretold these days” – that is the “last days” and coming of the Lord in salvation or judgment that was preached in the previous chapter in ( Acts 2:17-21, 38-40; see also 1 Peter 1:4-12).  Many Partial Preterists believe the “last days” were from AD 30 – AD 70.  This being the case, the Lord comes from heaven at the end of “the last days” of the OC age at which time He came from heaven to save the remnant and “judge His people (Israel).”  And these same Partial Preterists we are addressing in this article would affirm that the salvation of Israel in Romans 11 was also fulfilled by AD 70.  Since it is grammatically impossible to separate the time given for Christ to come from heaven to reward with forgiveness of sins and or judge these first century Jews “his people” in (Acts 3:19-23) in their “last days” or “these days,” we must ask these Partial Preterists if there is going to be another Old Covenant “Israel” “his people” in the future when Christ returns but yet again?
The bottom line exegetical facts are from Acts 1:6–3:23 we have the:

  • Same contemporary exhortation/audience directed at the Jews to repent for killing their Messiah.
  • Same coming of the Lord in salvation or judgment that we saw in chapter 2.
  • Same “restoration” motif and coming of the Lord we saw in Acts 1:6-11!
  • Same “last days” or “these days” time period (AD 30 – AD 70) for these OT predictions to take place.

Hebrews 9:24-28–10:37 “Time of reformation” “Appear a second time apart from sin.”
Partial Preterist Mathison cites (Heb. 9:28) as an “indefinite reference” of the second coming since the verse allegedly does not contain a time text (WSTTB?, p. 202). But R.C. Sproul in refuting Kistemaker says that this passage includes both His first and second coming occurring by AD. 70 and that a “considerable time” is very much an issue with this text,
This passage refers to both the first and second appearances of Christ. The context for his first appearance is “the end of the ages.” Yet his followers are still waiting for him to appear a second time.” “…If Christ’s first coming at “the end of the ages” has already occurred and if considerable time has elapsed since that coming, then it is impossible to identify “the end of the ages” with the end of time. If the second appearing of Christ here refers to his judgment on Jerusalem, it would still fit in the framework of “the end of the ages” that is not the end of all time.[2]
But probably the best and most straightforward statement comes once again from Partial Preterist Milton S. Terry,
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.[3]
This text is where we get the term “the Second coming” of Jesus , and we have partial preterists such as Sproul and Terry conceding to a common sense Full Preterist interpretation of the passage as possibly or being fulfilled at the end of the OC age in AD 70.  Mathison just avoids the issues but in another work does say of Hebrews 9:1-28,
“In 9:1-10, the author continues his argument by explaining the temporary nature of the Old Testament tabernacle and its ceremonies. The tabernacle and its sacrifices were never intended by God to be permanent. They were to continue until the “time of reformation” (v.10).12 Hebrews 9:11-28 describes what happened when this time of reformation arrived.” (Postmillennialism, ibid., p.132).
He then goes on to quote Philip E. Hughes whom agrees with us that the imagery here is that of the High Priest going into the Most Holy Place tabernacle/temple on the Day of Atonement to make sacrifice and intercede for the covenant people before coming back out “a second time” in declaring that the sacrifice had been accepted and applying or sprinkling the blood etc… The problem for Mathison, is that the time texts within the broader and immediate context of this chapter demand “the time of reformation” process or the eschatological “not yet,” to arrive in its fullness within an imminent AD 70 time frame and not millennia. In his debate with Full Preterism, he does not want to draw attention to this fact let alone allow the imminent contextual flow surrounding the passage to be an exegetical factor (8:13, 9:6-10, 10:1, 13/17, 25, 37) which Sproul says is an exegetical issue that needs addressing. We couldn’t agree more! Once again we find Mathison’s response more than “shallow,” it is nonexistent!
Just in passing, on Hebrews 9:8, — I would agree with commentators who would identify the “first” compartment being the Holy Place (not the entire tabernacle) – symbolizing the Old Covenant age still having a “legal standing,” “have status” or “functioning” and the Most Holy Place being representative of the New Covenant age in-breaking upon the old.  Full and complete face to face access (of the age changing process between AD 30 -AD 70) is given behind the veil within the Most Holy Place at the blowing of the last trumpet when the Second Coming of Christ takes place in AD 70 (Rev. 11:15-19; 21:16–22:3-4, 6-7, 10-12, 20; 1 Cor. 13:12/2 Cor. 3:7–5:10/6:16).
The context of Hebrews 9-10 is the same in which we see developed in Acts 1:6–2:20ff.–3:17-23:

  • A exhortation given to a contemporary audience regarding an imminent judgment/salvation (forgiveness of sin).
  • Concerning the “time of reformation” connected to…
  • The coming of the Lord – a second time.

Partial Preterism (in this case as seen in the hateful Talbot cult obsessed with bearing false witness against Full Preterism – almost on a daily basis as documented on David Greens pretcosmos yahoo list) continues in its hardness in fighting against the analogy of Scripture when trying to reconciling all of the component parts of Acts 1-3 with passages they say were fulfilled by AD 70.  The vast majority of Christianity and creedal statements understands the coming of Christ in Acts 1:11 as the same event as depicted in Matthew 24-25/1 Thess. 4-5/Rev. 1:7 etc… They also correctly identify the Great Commission in Acts 1:8 with that of Matthew 24:14; Mark 16:15-18/Matthew 28:18-20.  If the church is still in the “last days” (depending on which Mathison or Partial Preterist book you read now days) and the commission of the disciples has not been reached throughout the “world” / “every nation under heaven” or to “all nations,” then Mathison and reformed Partial Preterists should be open to speaking in tongues and reworking their theology on the charismata (Acts 1-2; Mark 13:10; 16:15-18).  Selah.
When we compare Acts 1:6-11 with the rest of the NT addressing its various motifs —

  • How Christ went (hidden in the glory cloud) was being formed in the Church and returned “in like manner” (hidden in glory and “in” or “within” the Church).
  • When the “restoration of the kingdom” would come connected to its day/hour and times and seasons…
  • The Great Commission being preached throughout the “world” (Greek ge) being when…
  • Christ would appear a “second time” at the end of the Old Covenant age (even quoting Partial Preterist theologians themselves on Acts 1:9-11/Heb. 9:26-28/Matt. 24-25/Rev. 1:7) we can readily see…
  • That the Second Coming of Christ was fulfilled by AD 70.

Partial Preterists have to continue to kick against the goads seeking the “validation of men” in order to please their creedal supporters and hide from these “simple” truths of Scripture.  We affirm that the creeds are correct in that Acts 1:6-11/Acts 3:20-21/Matt. 24:30-31; 25:31ff. are one event and describe the judgment and resurrection of the “quick and the dead.”  But according to Luke in the book of Acts and Jesus, these were event’s that were “about to” take place in Jesus’ and Luke’s first century “this generation” (Acts 17:31YLT/WEY; Acts 24:15YLT/WEY; Matt. 24:30-34).  And yet this article/response is to Talbot-Jason and Talbot-Frost whom are now quoting reformed creeds and confessions which actually connects Acts 1:11 with Matthew 24:30; 2 Peter 3 and Revelation 22:20 (which they claim happened in AD 70) as the SAME EVENT!  Partial Preterism continues to lead their readers into Full Preterism no matter what they do – selah.  [facebook][tweet][stumble][pinterest][follow id=”Username” ]

[1] Milton Terry, Biblical Apocalyptics: A Study of the Most Notable Revelations of God and of Christ; Baker Book House; pp. 246-247 see note #34 too)
[2] R.C. Sproul, THE LAST DAYS ACCORDING TO JESUS, (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1998), 106.
[3] Milton S. Terry, Biblical HERMENEUTICS A Treatise on the Interpretation of the Old and New Testaments, (Zondervan Publishing House, 1986), 441-442.