You are hereTimetexts of Christ's Second Coming: A letter to a friend.

Timetexts of Christ's Second Coming: A letter to a friend.

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By John - Posted on 27 June 2002

This is my first article writing from a preteristic stance. I had a chance to write a letter to a friend tonight, and I jumped on it. I immediately started writing away, and I ended up with this article, a report on the timetexts of the Second Coming. Please just read this and comment if you will. My friend is a pretribber, and unknowingly is also very dispensational. Here it is.Jose,

Let me explain to you why I have so suddenly jumped the boat from pretribulationlism to preterism (past fulfillment of Bible prophecy: literally, “past fulfilled”). Throughout the New Testament, there are references to the Second Coming of Christ. The most popular of these “End Times” passages is found in Matthew 24 (parallel passages in Luke 21 and Mark 13). It speaks of the Great Tribulation and other “yet to come” events. In this passage, Jesus has one compelling statement concerning when He will come. He says in verse 34, “This Generation will not pass away, till all these things be fulfilled.” (All these things in reference to everything prophesied in that passage a.k.a. Tribulation, Second Coming, etc.). Now, this verse, if we accepted it plainly, we would have to accept the fact that Jesus prophesied His Second Coming in that century i.e. the first century, specifically a generation from 30 A.D., when He made these prophesies.

Now, one would say, “Oh yes, but in verse 36 it says ‘No man knows the day or the hour’ of the return of the Son of God.” But, I ask, did Jesus ever prophesy the day or the hour? No!!!!!!! He did prophesy a much more general time period of a generation though. There is no contradiction there. One might say there is, but with the simplest of exegesis we realize that there is no contradiction. He prophesied he would come in one generation i.e. the generation he preached Matthew 24 to would not all die till he returned. Quickly, let us establish something. Throughout the Bible, a generation meant 40 years (Now, don’t get me wrong and think I am saying it ONLY means 40 years, for sometimes it means 50, 70, even 100 years). An example is the wandering of the Jews in the wilderness under Moses. They wandered for a generation, 40 years exactly. Now, if we apply this forty years to this prophesy, we find that Jesus would have prophesied to return sometime around 70 A.D., which was when the Temple in Jerusalem was destroyed. The irony in this was that many times God promised to come to judge a nation, but he never literally appeared on earth (example: Isaiah 19). He just used another nation to judge for him. An example of this was He prophesied he would come to judge the Egyptians, which happened when the Assyrians attacked the Egyptians and conquered them (Isaiah 19). So if Jesus prophesied in the same manner, then He would not have come back physically to earth, but would have come in judgment of a nation, specifically Israel. One of the themes of Jesus’ ministry was the impending doom on Jerusalem, i.e. what happened in 70 A.D. So, we must agree that it is a theory that Jesus came back in judgment of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. through the Romans destroying the Temple, the Jewish Soul. And, if this is so, then Jesus would have come back in EXACTLY A GENERATION , exactly 40 years. Interesting theory here.

Another verse we must see is Matthew 10:23. Jesus is giving the disciples comission, in context. In verse 23 He says to them “When the Jews persecute you, go flee into another city. Truly I say to YOU, YOU (the disciples) shall not go through the cities of Israel till the Son of Man (Jesus referring to Himself in the third person) shall come.” Now, most of the disciples had died by 70 or 80 A.D. maximum. Most of them died much earlier i.e. the 50’s or 60’s A.D. Now, for this prophecy to have been fulfilled, Jesus would have had to have come again by 80 A.D. max. Now, either Jesus is a liar (which He is not) we can dismiss the Bible as false. But, He is not, so this MUST mean that Jesus had come back before every disciple had died. So, we now MUST believe he has already come in the first century. This is a much simpler and plainer passage to understand. I don’t think there is anyway around this one. He MUST have come back already. But there is one more verse I would like to hit.

Matthew 16:28 is an excellent verse. Jesus just one verse earlier started talking to His disciples about His Second Coming. In this verse He tells His disciples that not everyone standing there would die until He had come in His Kingdom. Now, unless we have people 2000 years old today, He has already come. A pretribber would argue “Ah yes, but Jesus was referring to the Transfiguration, which happened six days after, therefore fulfilling the prophecy here.” This is an invalid argument for one point: He didn’t come in His Kingdom, He just appeared in His glory before His disciples. One would say, “So He came in Kingdom glory, which is what He probably meant, so this passage is fulfilled (I personally have dealt with this horrid argument).” No, He said He would come in His Kingdom, not in His Kingdom glory. I agree that He came in glory similar to that of His Kingdom Glory, but He did not come in His Kingdom then. So I would still demand the point: Either He lied, or He came back already. I say He came back already, don’t you?

Don’t let these verse convince you though. Read every jot in the Old and New Testaments. See Jesus’ references to His imminently coming Kingdom. Read through Revelation and see how many times John said that the time for that book was at hand (specifically, Revelation 22:10 where he is told by an angel not to seal the prophecies in Revelation, for those prophecies were for the people of that time. Note in Daniel 12:4 Daniel is told to do the exact opposite, to seal the book, for the prophecies were for future generations. Most of those prophecies in Daniel were fulfilled about 300 years after He wrote the book, some shorter than that, some longer than that.) and how the time was to come “soon” and “quickly.” As Martin Luther said (Bondage of the Will when debating Erasmus), I repeat. Do not just take these verses, for every jot and tittle written in that Holy Book stands on my side. I hope this small exegesis on a few verses has helped you, my friend. God Bless Jose.

In Our Reigning King,
-Joel

Virgil's picture

Joel, I am glad to see that you came around and you have an understanding of fulfilled prophecy! Keep up the good work!! Thanks for having an open mind and for being willing to study God's word and see what it really says... :)

Corey_X's picture

A great intro for your friend: plant the seed of truth, without overwhelming him. Please let us know of his response.

Roderick's picture

Joel! I could tell God was working on you. I knew you would eventually grasp preteristic doctrine, just as you did reformed/calvinistic doctrine. I'm glad to have you among us. If this affects you like me, it will be like scales lifted fromyour eyes. You will be praising God daily for His mercy and for allowing you to be such an important part of His kingdom.

World without end

Roderick

rocknrollperfesser's picture

Joel, I believe you're the same individual that I shared my own conversion to preterism with (and greatly appreciated your Berean spirit!). This is well-written and logical. I pray your friend is as open as you.

Welcome to the Prophecy Reformation! Here I stand, I can do no other.

Terry's picture

Joel,

Well said. Regarding the use of the word "generation" by Matthew in chapter 24...we get our best insight into usage by checking Matthew's own usage. In Matthew 1:17 (RSV)he uses the term this way:
"17 So all the generations from Abraham to David were fourteen generations, and from David to the deportation to Babylon fourteen generations, and from the deportation to Babylon to the Christ fourteen generations."
Regarding the statement that "no one knows the day nor hour..."- Jesus' point is that, as he spoke in 33AD, no one knew...not that no one would ever know. As a matter of fact, his point is that as they saw the signs unfold, the season would be apparent as the approached that day and hour. John writes in 1 John 2:18-(RSV)
"18 Children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come; therefore we know that it is the last hour." Is John contradicting Jesus when he says he knows when the last hour was? Not at all; he watched for the signs, saw the signs and wrote by inspiration that it was the last hour.
As you said so well, Jesus' words in Matthew 24 enabled the disciples to know the general season, and if they were perceptive, the day and hour would become apparent. The season became apparent during the Josephus-recorded events of 60-69AD. Then, at the very end of his contemporary generation ( born in roughly 0, 33 years old in 33AD, and his contemporaries who lived to the "end of that generation" would be about 70 when Jerusalem fell in 70AD), John sees the things Jesus said to look for and, again-by inspiration, identifies the last hour as having come. This matches Peter's statement "The end of all things is at hand", and Paul's "the form of this world is passing away" (1 Cor. 7).
Write again.
Terry Hall
Dayton, Ohio

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