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Triumphant Return and the Kingdom

The "date" Revelation was written

                           TRIUMPHANT RETURN #3

by Grant Jeffrey




The Time of Christ's Return


This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so
come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven. (Acts 1:
11)

     Careful study of the Scriptures and Church history confirms
that the Bible teaches and the faithful teaching of the orthodox
Church in all generations has affirmed the hope of the return of
Christ. The churches in all major Christian traditions -
Catholic, Protestant, Orthodox, and Coptic - acknowledge the
scriptural teaching of the Second Advent. Consequently, virtually
all Christians acknowledge the Second Coming of Christ. However,
the controversy involves the question as to the timing and the
literal details surrounding this critically important event,
which is prophesied in numerous passages throughout the Old and
New Testament.

     One of the most intriguing prophecies concerning the promise
of His coming is that the final generation that experiences the
fulfillment of the events of the "last days" will also witness an
astonishing denial of the literal truth of the return of our Lord
by scoffers who will openly deny the Bible's prophecies about the
return of Christ. Specifically, the apostle Peter warned, "There
shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own
lusts, And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since
the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from
the beginning of the creation" (2 Peter 3:3-4). In other words,
in the last days, "scoffers" would appear in the Church who will
deny the scriptural truth of a literal, future coming of Christ
on the basis that a long period of time had passed since the
original prophecies were given and the prediction remains
unfulfilled.

     As mentioned in the first few chapters, we are now
witnessing an amazing proclamation by a group of scholars calling
themselves preterists. Extreme or full preterists strongly deny
the truth of the literal and future Second Coming. However,
partial preterists believe that the prophecies of Matthew 24 and
the book of Revelation were almost completely fulfilled when
Jerusalem was destroyed in A.D.70, but they suggest some kind of
a Second Coming will occur in the far distant future. Rather than
deny the truth of the hundreds of prophecies about the Second
Advent, preterists claim these specific predictions were actually
fulfilled almost two thousand years ago when the Roman legions
burned Jerusalem. For example, a major full preterist writer,
David Chilton, wrote, "The Olivet Discourse is not about the
Second Coming of Christ. It is a prophecy of the destruction of
Jerusalem in A.D.70." He also declared, "The Book of Revelation
is not about the Second Coming of Christ. It is about the
destruction of Israel and Christ's victory over His enemies in
the establishment of the New Covenant Temple."
     However, it is obvious that the detailed prophecies in
Matthew 24, 2 Thessalonians and the book of Revelation about
Christ's return were not literally fulfilled by the limited
historical events that transpired during the destruction of
Jerusalem. Over 1,250,000 Jewish citizens of Jerusalem were
starved, burned, and slaughtered by the brutal legions of Rome
following the Jews' ill-considered revolt against the
overwhelming military power of imperial Rome. The only way that
the preterists can claim that the numerous prophecies about
Christ's Second Coming were fulfilled during the burning of
Jerusalem is to interpret the words contained in these numerous
predictions in a totally allegorical, metaphorical, and symbolic
manner.
     This method of allegorical interpretation of the prophecies
is totally contradicted by the normal principles of scriptural
interpretation that are used by all orthodox Christian scholars,
including preterists, to interpret all other non-prophetic
scriptural passages. Curiously, the preterists interpret the
language of the Scriptures about the death and resurrection of
Christ in a totally literal and natural manner, but they abandon
this fundamental principle of biblical interpretation when they
interpret the prophecies about the Second Coming. This
inconsistency of interpretation is logically indefensible and
biased by their desire to escape the clear teaching of the
prophecies regarding the literal and future Second Coming to set
up Christ's millennial rule. (See Chapter 2 for a complete
discussion of why the literal method of interpretation is the
most accurate.)
     The Scriptures declare that there will be a growing "spirit
of Antichrist" in the last days (1 John 4:3). The Bible reveals
that one of the characteristics of the spirit of Antichrist is
that it denies that Jesus Christ comes in the flesh. Obviously,
anyone who denies that Jesus Christ was incarnated into human
flesh by being supernaturally born to His mother Mary is denying
Christ's fundamental claim that He is both the Son of Man and the
Son of God. That is "the spirit of Antichrist." In answer to
this, John wrote:

     Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits
     whether they are of God: because many false prophets are
     gone out into the world. Hereby know ye the Spirit of God:
     Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in
     the flesh is of God: And every spirit that confesseth not
     that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and
     this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard
     that it should come; and even now already is it in the
     world. Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome
     them: because greater is he that is in you, than
     he that is in the world. They are of the world: therefore
     speak they of the world, and the world heareth them. We are
     of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of
     God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and
     the spirit of error. (s John 4::1-6)

     This passage, 1 John 4:2-3, which declares, "Every spirit
that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God"
also refers to His prophesied return in the last days. The New
Testament confirms that just as Jesus truly came into this world
as a physical human being, lived His life as a human, died, and
rose from the dead, He will also return to the earth physically
at the conclusion of the Battle of Armageddon. Therefore, the
denial of the literal reality of the return of Christ is a
fundamental characteristic of the spiritual opposition to God
that will manifest during the last days leading up to His return
from heaven.
     It is surely significant that the New Testament contains
repeated warnings about the danger of spiritual deception in the
final days. The apostle John specifically warned about deception
in the last days regarding the nature of Jesus Christ's Second
Coming (2 John 7-8). It should not, then, be surprising that in
our generation we are witnessing an astonishing claim that denies
the literal reality of the hundreds of prophecies that affirm
that Jesus Christ will return in the flesh from heaven to defeat
the Antichrist and establish His rule on earth.


The Dating of Revelation

     In Chapter 2, we briefly touched on the basic weakness of
preterism, that is, its complete dependence upon Revelation being
written before the A.D.70 destruction of Jerusalem. Naturally, if
John wrote his prophecy after the fall of the Holy City, then
their argument falls apart. Thomas Ice summed up the preterist
problem in the book "Dominion Theology: Blessing or Curse:"
It must be pointed out that if Revelation was written before A.D.
70, then Chilton's view may be correct. But if the Apocalypse was
penned before A.D.70, it would not by itself rule out the
futurist and premillennial view (i.e., Revelation is still
prophetic of the future). The futurist view could still be
correct if it was written when Chilton says it was, since the
date is not determinant to the validity of its view. However, if
Revelation was written even one day after the fall of Jerusalem,
then it ceases to be a prophecy concerning the destruction of
Jerusalem.
     The preterists themselves understand that their theory
cannot be true if John wrote his prophecies in the book of
Revelation at any point in time after the Romans destroyed
Jerusalem, as the well-known preterist Ken Gentry admitted. "If
it could be demonstrated that Revelation was written twenty-five
years after the fall of Jerusalem, Chilton's entire labor would
go up in smoke."
     To get past the fundamental weakness in their position, the
preterists have come up with several arguments to place John's
writing of Revelation before A.D.70 when both Jerusalem and the
Temple were destroyed by Rome. Their main points are as follows.

The Preterist's Claim that the Temple was still Standing
The preterists argue that the apostle John's accurate description
of the Temple in the book of Revelation can only be explained on
the basis that the Temple was still standing when he wrote his
book. In David Chilton's Days of Vengeance, he writes, "St.
John's intimate acquaintance with the minute details of Temple
worship suggests that 'the book of Revelation and the Fourth
Gospel must have been written before the Temple services had
actually ceased.'"
     A careful examination of the text of Revelation reveals only
two verses that directly refer to the actual Temple in Jerusalem.
Both of these references are found in Revelation 11, which
clearly describes John's prophetic vision of a future Temple that
will exist in the years just prior to Christ's return at the
Battle of Armageddon. These genuine references to the Temple in
Jerusalem are as follows: "And there was given me a reed like
unto a rod: and the angel stood, saying, Rise, and measure the
temple of God, and the altar, and them that worship therein. But
the court which is without the temple leave out, and measure it
not; for it is given unto the Gentiles: and the holy city shall
they tread under foot forty and two months" (Revelation 11:1-2).

(No! this does not prove a literal Temple will be built in
Jerusalem, as the detailed explanation of Albert Barnes in his
"Notes on the New Testament" plainly show. I have given the true
meaning of Rev.11 in other studies on this Website - Keith Hunt)


     All other specific references in Revelation to the Temple
are either symbols or they clearly refer to the Temple in heaven.
Those who wish to examine the evidence will find a number of
verses that refer to the Temple in heaven including: Revelation
3:12; 7:15; 11:19;14:15,17;15:5-6, 8;16:1;16:17; 21:22.

     Could John have accurately described the Temple in A.D.96 if
it was destroyed approximately twenty-six years earlier? I
believe so, for the following reasons.

     As a righteous Jew, John would have attended the major
Temple feasts (Passover, Pentecost, and Tabernacles) for a
significant portion of his life, roughly fifty years from his
being an adult until the Temple was destroyed. This means that
John would have attended Temple services about 150 times,
providing more than enough visits for him to accurately remember
and describe the Temple service.
     The gospel of John declares that John was a friend of the
high priest, which would have afforded him additional
opportunities to visit the Temple. This again would provide ample
reason for his accurate description. In addition, as a disciple
and important Christian teacher, John taught often in the Temple
for many years following the ascension of Christ. Acts 3 through
6 show several instances of John's presence at the Temple. Unless
the preterists argue that John suffered from Alzheimer's or some
other specific memory problem, there is no reason to believe that
John could not remember the few details regarding the Jewish
Temple that are recorded in Revelation, regardless of whether the
Temple was still standing at the time of his writing the book of
Revelation.

     A careful evaluation of the Temple imagery found in the
Apocalypse finds that virtually every single detail is also found
in the extensive Temple imagery found in the books of Chronicles,
Kings, Daniel, Ezekiel, Joel, and Zechariah. If the preterists
used the same argument they use to attack John to attack the
prophetic vision of Ezekiel, they would be forced to argue that
the enormous Temple of Ezekiel's vision (Ezekiel 4o-46) must have
been standing in Israel (and must have been visited by Ezekiel)
during the prophet's exile during the Babylonian Captivity, to
account for Ezekiel's highly detailed description and exact
measurements of the future messianic Temple. However, all serious
biblical scholars acknowledge that Ezekiel described in
astonishing precision an inspired prophecy about a future Temple
that will only come into existence at some point in the future
when the Messiah returns. John would naturally have known the
details of the Old Testament prophets' visions about the Temple.
     This scriptural knowledge can easily account for the few
details regarding the Temple that are found in the book of
Revelation, if his personal memories were not sufficient.
     Finally, since those who support preterism accept that the
Scriptures, including Revelation, are divinely inspired by the
Holy Spirit, there is no reason to believe that God would have
allowed John to inaccurately record details about the Temple
service, regardless of the state of the prophet's memory or
whether the Temple was still standing when John penned his
inspired book. In John's Gospel, the Lord promised that He will
inspire and "guide you into all truth." He said, "Howbeit when
he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all
truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall
hear, that shall he speak: and he will show you things to come"
(John 16:13). Furthermore, John specifically affirms in his
Revelation that he "heard and saw these things" and then recorded
in his inspired writing what the angel had shown him in divine
vision. Therefore, the inspiration of the Holy Spirit is
sufficient to account for John's accurate description of the
Temple and his use of Temple imagery without any need for John to
visit the Temple and see it with his own eyes before recording
his divinely inspired visions. Logically, therefore, there is no
basis for denying that John could accurately record the divine
visions he received from the Holy Spirit.


Critics Claim Irenaeus' Testimony is Ambiguous

     Despite the clear testimony of Irenaeus, that Revelation was
written by John "toward the end of Domitian's reign," which was
accepted universally by the early Church, David Chilton wrote:

"Although some scholars have uncritically accepted the statement
of St.Irenaeus (120-202) that the prophecy appeared 'toward the
end of Domitian's reign' (i.e., around 96), there is considerable
room for doubt about his precise meaning (he may have meant that
the Apostle John himself 'was seen' by others). The language of
St.Irenaeus is somewhat ambiguous; and, regardless of what he was
talking about, he could have been mistaken." However, no one ever
suggested that Irenaeus was "ambiguous" or "mistaken" until the
recent appearance of preterism and its need to deny his
compelling testimony that John wrote his prophecy during the
tyranny of Emperor Domitian.

     While Irenaeus is the earliest historical source for the 96
date, there are numerous other historical sources from reliable
early Church fathers that provide powerful evidence regarding the
late date (as we will discuss in the next section). Indeed, no
church historians disputed Irenaeus' statement about the
Apocalypse for many centuries. In comparison, there are no
historical sources from the second or third century that claim
that John wrote the Apocalypse during the reign of Nero.
     To try to make their point, the preterists quibble over
semantics. David Chilton and other preterists reject the normal
interpretation that Irenaeus' statement refers to John's
prophetic vision as recorded in the book of Revelation. Rather,
they suggest that the word that, which is part of Irenaeus'
phrase "For that was seen no very long time since, but almost in
our day, towards the end of Domitian' s reign," actually refers
to the apostle John himself, not his vision or his book. The
Greek word translated "that" is an impersonal pronoun in the
neuter gender, which is consistent with the interpretation of
"that" referring to the book of Revelation. When we consider the
nature of the Greek word "him," which is part of the phrase "it
would have been announced by him who beheld the apocalyptic
vision," we see that it is in the masculine gender. Therefore,
the neuter gender of the original Greek word translated "that"
cannot logically refer to the apostle John. In Greek grammar a
word such as "that" will almost always refer to the nearest
antecedent unless there is a clear reason not to do so based on
the context. Irenaeus' statement must therefore refer to the
Apocalypse itself, which again is consistent with a late date of
96.


Preterists' Claim Others Depend Solely upon Irenaeus

     Since they have already impugned Irenaeus' credibility, the
preterists dismiss other Church fathers' testimonies as relying
solely upon Irenaeus for their facts. David Chilton wrote:

     St.Irenaeus, incidentally, is the only source for this late
     dating Revelation; all other "sources" are simply quoting
     from him. It is thus rather disingenuous for commentators to
     claim, as Swete does, that "Early Christian tradition is
     almost unanimous in assigning the Apocalypse to the last
     years of Domitian." Certainly, there are other early writers
     whose statements indicate that St.John wrote the Revelation
     much earlier, under Nero's persecution.


Refuting the A.D. 68 Date of Revelation

     Despite Chilton's hopes, there is ample historical evidence
from numerous independent sources that supports the 96 date. In
addition, the historical evidence demonstrates that Irenaeus is
not the sole source. Most of the other witnesses regarding the
date of the Apocalypse do not even mention Irenaeus, let alone
quote him. The record of the early Church fathers and historians
who supported the 96 date for the writing of Revelation is
unanimous until approximately 367. There is also evidence from
the Scriptures that support the 96 dating of Revelation.
Furthermore, the following material will demonstrate that the
first clear statement, and only non-contradictory source, that
supports the date of Nero appeared in approximately A.D.550,
almost 450 years after the Apocalypse was written.


Irenaeus (160)

     Irenaeus stated that John wrote the Revelation during the
final years of Emperor Domitian's tyranny. In approximately 160,
Irenaeus wrote about John's prophecies in Revelation concerning
the name and number of the Antichrist. After warning against
trying to identify the name of the Antichrist, he clearly
identified "the apocalyptic vision," Revelation, as a book that
appeared not long ago "almost in our day, towards the end of
Domitiari s reign."

     We will not, however, incur the risk of pronouncing
     positively as to the name of Antichrist; for if it were
     necessary that his name should be distinctly revealed in
     this present time, it would have been announced by him who
     beheld the apocalyptic vision. For that was seen no very
     long time since, but almost in our day, towards the end of
     Domitian's reign.

     Irenaeus' declaration is consistent with the traditional 96
date for Revelation (the date of Domitian's death). However, his
evidence definitely contradicts the preterists' suggested date of
66-68. As an educated scholar in the Roman Empire, Irenaeus
described the appearance of the book of Revelation at the end of
the reign of Domitian. Because he was born only thirty-five years
after Domitiari's death, the well-respected Irenaeus is an
extremely reliable historical source.
     We also view Irenaeus as a very credible source because he
was a student of Polycarp, who had been personally tutored by the
apostle John. There was a direct link of transmitted knowledge
from the apostle John, to his disciple Polycarp, and ultimately
to Irenaeus. Therefore Irenaeus' declaration regarding the
authorship of the Apocalypse and the 96 date is of tremendous
historical value. An article on Revelation in "The Interpreter's
Dictionary of the Bible" states: "The earlier church writers
converged on a date in the reign of Domitian (81-96); such
appears to be the united testimony of Melito of Sardis, Irenaeus,
Clement of Alexandria, Origen, Victorinus, and Eusebius--church
fathers ranging from the second to the fourth century. Jerome too
knows of this tradition."


Clement of Alexandria (190)

     In approximately 190, Clement of Alexandria also confirmed
that John wrote the Apocalypse in 96. He referred to an encounter
between John and a backslidden robber, which occurred when the
apostle returned from exile on Patmos "after the death of the
tyrant." Since two Roman emperors were tyrants during the first
century of the Christian era, the word tyrant could logically
refer to either Nero or Domitian. However, in the same writing
Clement repeatedly referred to John as being a very old and
infirm man. John was less than sixty years old during the reign
of Nero. Sixty would hardly be considered old and infirm. Thus,
it is clear from Eusebius' "Ecclesiastical History" that Eusebius
understood that Clement of Alexandria taught in his "Quis Dives
Salvetur" that John was imprisoned on Patmos during the reign of
Domitian.


Hippolytus (200)

     Hippolytus, the bishop of Portus (170-236), was a Greek but
is associated with the Latin Church. He was a disciple of
Irenaeus and wrote extensively about the prophecies. A remarkable
marble statue of Hippolytus sitting on a chair was discovered
near the Tiburtine Road outside Rome in 1551. On the back of the
marble chair, archeologists discovered a list of Hippolytus's
books, demonstrating the breadth of his scholarship.
Unfortunately, many of his works have not survived. Hippolytus
was an important Christian leader, and as he lived so close to
the time of the apostle John, his testimony (given in
approximately 200) supporting the Domitian date for the
Apocalypse is significant.

     In 1888 Professor John Gwynn from Dublin, Ireland,
discovered five fragments of an ancient Syriac manuscript
belonging to Hippolytus. It is entitled "Capita Adversus Caium"
and rests now in the British Museum (section Cod. Mus. Brit.
Orient. 560). Later that year, Professor Gwynn wrote an article
in the Trinity College Dublin Review, entitled Hermathena,
referring to the writings of Dionysius Barsalibi, the Bishop of
Amid. Dionysius' manuscript states that Hippolytus and Irenaeus
believed that John wrote the Apocalypse during his banishment
under Emperor Domitian in 96. Professor John B. Lightfoot
(1602-1675), vice-chancellor of Cambridge University, also refers
to this manuscript in his authoritative series on ancient
Christian writings entitled "Apostolic Fathers." Professor
Lightfoot wrote: "Dionysius Barsalibi states that Hippolytus,
like Irenaeus, holds the Apocalypse to have been written by John
the Evangelist under Domitian (Gwynn; Hermathena vii. p.137)."
This previously unknown confirmation from Hippolytus provides
additional and compelling evidence in support of the A.D.96 date
for the Apocalypse.


Tertullian (200)

     Tertullian (160-240) was an important Christian theologian
in the city of Carthage in North Africa. Tertullian's writings
clearly support a 96 date for the Apocalypse in his references to
the persecutions of the apostles.

     But if thou art near to Italy, thou hast Rome, where we also
     have an authority close at hand. What an happy Church is
     that! on which the Apostles poured out all their doctrine,
     with their blood: where Peter had a like Passion with the
     Lord; where Paul hath for his crown the same death with
     John; where the Apostle John was plunged into boiling oil,
     and suffered nothing, and was afterwards banished to an
     island.

     Tertullian declared that Emperor Nero martyred Paul and
Peter, yet he does not mention John's banishment to Patmos during
this first imperial persecution of the sword by Nero. However,
Tertullian specifically described the later banishment of
Christians, which was the punishment meted out to the apostle
John "afterwards," when he described the persecution that
occurred during the last two years of Emperor Domitian's reign
(95-96). Tertullian described John's miraculous survival from
boiling oil during the persecution of Nero in A.D.66 when Peter
and Paul were killed. Hovever, Tertullian then mentioned
John's banishment "to an island," which occurred "afterwards."
Numerous sources confirm this banishment occurred during the
tyranny of Domitian in A.D.96. Possibly confusion developed
centuries later regarding these two separate persecutions under
Nero and Domitian, both of which were experienced by the apostle
John.


Origen (225)

     Origen was one of the greatest scholars of the early Church.
He produced an incredible number of books during his long career
as a teacher, theologian, and writer in Alexandria, Egypt.
Writing in about 225, Origen confirmed the fact that John was
banished during the reign of the brutal Domitian. In writing his
commentary on the book of Matthew, Origen made the following
statement about John's banishment:

     The King of the Romans, as tradition teaches, condemned
     John, who bore testimony, on account of the word of truth,
     to the isle of Patmos. John, moreover, teaches us things
     respecting his testimony, without saying who condemned him
     when he utters these things in the Apocalypse. He seems also
     to have seen the Apocalypse ... in the island.

     While one might wish that Origen had been more specific
regarding his identification of the "King of the Romans," it is
most probable that he referred to Emperor Domitian. Knowing that
Irenaeus had clearly identified Domitian as the one who banished
John to Patmos, and that this conclusion was widely taught in the
early Church (see Clement of Alexandria, Hippolytus, et cetera),
it is logical that Origen would have specifically named another
emperor if it were so. Origen's comment therefore tends to
confirm that Domitian is "the King of the Romans" who "condemned
John." R. H. Charles, in his commentary on the Apocalypse,
discussed the preponderance of evidence that leads to this
conclusion. "Neither in Clement nor Origen is Domitian's name
given, but it may be presumed that it was in the mind of the
writers. "


Victorinus (280)

     Another Christian writer, Victorinus (240-303), bishop of
Petau, wrote an extensive "Commentary on the Apocalypse." In this
book, Victorinus, who lived during the persecution under Emperor
Diocletian, confirmed that John wrote his prophecy during the
reign of Domitian. Victorinus' ministry overlapped that of early
Church authorities such as Irenaeus, who personally knew those
who were taught by the apostle John. Victorinus commented:

     When John said these things he was in the island of Patmos,
     condemned to the labour of the mines by Caesar Domitian.
     There, therefore, he saw the Apocalypse; and when grown old,
     he thought that he should at length receive his quittance by
     suffering, Domitian being killed, all his judgments were
     discharged. And John being dismissed from the mines, thus
     subsequently delivered the same Apocalypse which he had
     received from God.

     Bishop Victorinus commented on his interpretation of the
seven kings described in Revelation 17. In Victorinus' commentary
he wrote about the time of their appearance in history: "The time
must be understood in which the written Apocalypse was published,
since then reigned Caesar Domitian; but before him had been Titus
his brother, and Vespasian, Otho, Vitellius, and Galba. These are
the five who have fallen. One remains, under whom the Apocalypse
was written-Domitian, to wit."


(Victorinus was incorrect in understanding the five who had
fallen. See my study "The Beast of Daniel and Revelation" for the
detailed understanding. That study can be found on this Website -
Keith Hunt)


Eusebius (325)

     The early Church historian Eusebius (265-339) quoted the
passage from Irenaeus that was referred to earlier in this
chapter. Once again, it confirms Revelation as being written
"towards the end of Domitian's reign." It is worthwhile to note
that Eusebius, who had available to him all of the records of the
early Christian Church, personally and directly testified that
John wrote his Apocalypse under the reign of Emperor Domitian. In
his historical chapter that details the cruelty of Domitian
toward Christians, Eusebius wrote:

     It is said that in this [Domitian's] persecution the apostle
     and evangelist John, who was still alive, was condemned to
     dwell on the island of Patmos in consequence of his
     testimony to the divine word. ... To such a degree, indeed,
     did the teaching of our faith flourish at that time that
     even those writers who were far from our religion did not
     hesitate to mention in their histories the persecution and
     the martyrdom which took place during it. And they, indeed,
     accurately indicated the time. For they recorded that in the
     fifteenth year of Domitian Flavia Domitilla, daughter of a
     sister of Flavius Clement, who at that time was one of the
     consuls of Rome, was exiled with many others to the island
     of Pontia in consequence of testimony borne to Christ. 

     While he questioned John's authorship at an earlier point in
his life, Eusebius later concluded that the apostle John was the
true author of the Apocalypse. He wrote about John's book of
Revelation as follows:

     But after Domitian had reigned fifteen years and Nerva
     succeeded to the empire, the Roman Senate, according to the
     writers that record the history of those days, voted that
     Domitian's honors [decrees] should be cancelled, and that
     those who had been unjustly banished should return to their
     homes and have their property restored to them. It was at
     this time that the apostle John returned from his banishment
     in the island and took up his abode in Ephesus, according to
     an ancient Christian tradition.

     After Emperor Nerva had reigned a little more than a year,
he was succeeded by Emperor Trajan.
     At that time the apostle and evangelist John, the one whom
Jesus loved, was still living in Asia and governing
the churches of that region, having returned after the death of
Domitian from his exile on the island. And that he was still
alive at that time may be established by the testimony of two
witnesses. They should be trustworthy who have maintained the
orthodoxy of the Church; and such indeed were Irenaeus and
Clement of Alexandria.

     It is noteworthy that Eusebius is the only early Christian
historical source who directly referred to the evidence provided
by Irenaeus in his own statement.


Jerome (385)

     The uniform tradition of the early Church is that the
apostle John was born near the time of Christ's birth, possibly
later, which would be consistent with him being in his sixties
during Nero's reign. For example, the writer Jerome
(c.e.345-419), one of the greatest writers in the early Church,
refers to this apostle as follows: "Yet John, one of the
disciples, who is related to have been the youngest of the
Apostles, and who was a virgin when he embraced Christianity,
remained a virgin." In the same passage in Book I, Jerome refers
to John as "a youth, I may say almost a boy" at the time of the
formation of the Church following Christ's resurrection. In this
passage Jerome refers to John as "a prophet, for he saw in the
island of Patmos, to which he had been banished by the Emperor
Domitian as a martyr for the Lord an Apocalypse containing the
boundless mysteries of the future."
     The clearest historical statement is Jerome's declaration:

"We may be sure that John was then a boy because ecclesiastical
history most clearly proves that he lived to the reign of Trajan,
that is, fell asleep in the sixty-eighth year [A.D.100] after our
Lord's passion.""
In his book Lives of Illustrious Men, Jerome wrote about Johns
banishment.

     In the fourteenth year then after Nero, Domitian having
     raised a second persecution, he was banished to the island
     of Patmos, and wrote the Apocalypse, on which Justin Martyr
     and Irenaeus afterwards wrote commentaries. But Domitian
     having been put to death and his acts, on account of his
     excessive cruelty, having been annulled by the Senate, he
     [John] returned to Ephesus under Pertinax and continuing
     there until the time of the emperor Trajan, founded and
     built churches throughout all Asia, and, worn out by old
     age, died in the sixty-eighth year after our Lord's passion
     and was buried near the same city. 

     Another very important reference to the date of John's
writing of the Apocalypse is found in Jerome's Works, Vol. iv.
ii. p.549 (Bened. Ed.), as recorded in Epistle 44 Pauloe et
Eustochii ad Marcellam, where Jerome specifically describes the
Apocalypse as being written "after the destruction of Jerusalem."


Sulpicius Severus (401)

     Another interesting report by the Christian scholar
Sulpicius Severus, in approximately 401, declares: "John, the
Apostle and Evangelist, was banished by Domitian into the isle of
Patmos; where he had visions, and where he wrote the book of the
Revelation, which is either foolishly or wickedly rejected by
many."


Primasius (540)

     During the sixth century, Primasius was the bishop of
Hadrumentum in north Africa until his death in approximately 560.
He wrote a major commentary on the Apocalypse (around 540) which
was partly based on the earlier commentary of Bishop Victorinus.
In the preface to his commentary, Primasius wrote that John
received his apocalyptic visions while he was banished and
imprisoned in the mines on the island of Patmos under Caesar
Domitian (96). Primasius wrote: "Moreover, he was unfortunately
seen to be deserving, [having been] sent on account of Christ to
the island of Patmos under Caesar Domitian, to be condemned to
the mine and incarcerated there until the end [of his sentence]."


Isodore of Seville (596)

     Isodore of Seville became the archbishop of the Spanish city
Seville in approximately 600. As a prolific author, Isodore wrote
numerous theological works including an important manual of
Church doctrine as well as a twenty-volume encyclopedia. In his
Chronicle in 596, Isodore wrote a history about a number of the
apostles during the first century. He wrote about the martyrdom
of Peter under Emperor Nero and the banishment of the apostle
John under Emperor Domitian.
     Peter, as before said, went to Rome in the reign of
Claudius, to oppose Simon Magus. Here the dispute with Simon
Magus, and his death, are placed in the reign of Nero, and near
the end of it; for about that time the martyrdom of the two
forementioned apostles are supposed to have happened. Of
Domitian, whose reign is computed to have from 81 to 96, he says,
"He raised a persecution against the Christians. In his time the
apostle John, having been banished into the island Patmos, wrote
the Revelation."


Venerable Bede (700)

     The Venerable Bede (Baeda Bede, 673-735) was a famous Church
leader and considered the "father of English history." Despite
living in the neighborhood of Northumbria (northern England)
throughout his life, Bede became known as the most learned man in
Europe. He wrote a comprehensive Church history of the English
people. After completing his famous translation of John's Gospel,
he died. His fame continued to spread after his death and he was
finally called "Venerable Bede" in recognition of his special
spiritual qualities. Writing about John's Apocalypse, Bede stated
the following: "John wrote his epistles, and his gospel, all
about the same time; for after the death of Domitian, being
returned from his exile, he found the Church disturbed by
heretics, which had arisen in his absence, whom, in his epistles,
he often calls antichrists."


Other Historical Testimony

     Another fascinating comment on the date of the Apocalypse is
found in a curious historical source. An Anglican scholar, Daniel
Whitby (1638-1726), who wrote Paraphrase and Commentary on the
New Testament, commented on the fact that the old Roman
Martyrology records that the Christian known as "Antipas" in
John's Apocalypse (2:13) suffered martyrdom under the reign of
Domitian. Obviously, if the Apocalypse of John included
information about the death of Antipas during the persecution of
Emperor Domitian (A.D.95-96), then John must have published the
book of Revelation at some point after his release from the
island of Patmos.


Contradiction With the Spiritual State of the Seven Churches

     Another contradiction with the preterist theory is revealed
in the spiritual state and history of the seven churches in Asia
that John writes to in the first three chapters of Revelation. In
66, the apostle Paul was writing his second letter to Timothy at
a time prior to John's involvement with these churches. Consider
John's first letter to the church at Ephesus (Revelation 2:1-7);
John declares that Ephesus has "left [their] first love," that
they have "fallen," and that they must return to "the first
works" and "repent." This spiritual condition could only occur
after the passing of a number of years following the initial
establishment of the church during Paul's missionary trips. The
description of the church's spiritual challenges is consistent
with a church that has existed for decades.
     When Paul wrote to the Ephesians in the late 60s, the
spiritual life of this church bore no resemblance to the
spiritual backsliding described by John in Revelation. For
example, in John's letter he warns of the Nicolaitans, while Paul
makes no mention of them. The obvious conclusion is that John
wrote Revelation much later, as an encouragement to the Church to
stand against the terrible persecution of Domitian and the trials
that would follow and to confront the teachings destroying their
faith.


Preterist Claims in Support of A.D.68 Date

     A careful examination of the historical records of the early
Church during the first few centuries following the resurrection
of Christ fails to reveal any reliable and undisputed Christian
authority that supports the preterists' view. Surely if John, the
well-known disciple and bishop of seven churches, had truly
written his Apocalypse before the destruction of Jerusalem, there
would be ample surviving testimony to this fact. In addition, one
would expect to discover several commentaries on Revelation that
would have adopted the interpretation whereby John's predictions
applied to the events concerning the destruction of Jerusalem and
the Temple. The total absence of historical references to
Jerusalem's destruction in any early Church commentaries on the
book of Revelation provides compelling evidence that this theory
was unknown to the Christians who lived closest to the life,
ministry, and death of the apostle John.

     While they have failed to find historical references in the
first few centuries of the Christian era, preterists do suggest
several later historical sources they claim support their
position.


Epiphanius (367)

     The first suggestion that the apostle John wrote the
Apocalypse prior to the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D.70
appears in the writings of Epiphanius (315-403), the bishop of
Salamis (Cyprus) in A.D.367. Epiphanius wrote that "John
prophesied, or had the Revelation, in the Isle of Patmos, in the
reign of Claudius" [who ruled Rome from 41-54].  Since there is
no historical evidence about the persecution of Christians during
the reign of Emperor Claudius, Epiphanius' statement is an
obvious mistake with no historical credibility. In my research on
this subject, I have not found any scholars who accept that
Epiphanius was correct in assigning John's banishment to Patmos
during the reign of Emperor Claudius; there is not the slightest
evidence that any significant persecution of Christians occurred
during the reign of this Roman emperor. In light of the fact that
Epiphanius does not refer to Emperor Nero at all, nor to the
period just before the destruction of Jerusalem, his evidence
provides no credible support for the preterist position of the 68
date.


     Another significant problem of inconsistency regarding
Epiphanius' writing is the fact that he referred to John
returning from the isle of Patmos "after ninety years of age."
This statement reveals an internal contradiction - John's old age
of ninety supports the 96 date. Since John was among the youngest
of Christ's disciples he could not have been ninety years old in
A.D.68. Rather than dismiss Epiphanius' obvious error and
ignoring his false statement, preterists have illogically argued
that his incorrect testimony about Emperor Claudius should still
be used to support an early A.D.68 date for the Apocalypse.
     Significantly, John Lawrence von Mosheim, one of the
greatest Christian historians and evaluators of early Christian
writings, wrote that Epiphanius' manuscripts were "full of blots
and errors, through the levity and ignorance of the author."


A Sixth-Century Syriac Version of the Apocalypse (550)

     Preterists also point to the Syriac version of the
Apocalypse, translated about the sixth century. It contains a
subscription or title that refers to Emperor Nero. The
subscription to the translation states: "The Revelation which was
made by God to John the Evangelist in the island of Patmos,
whither he was banished by the Emperor Nero." This is the first
and, in fact, the only clear and non-contradictory historical
evidence that supports the preterist argument. However, the
weakness of this evidence is that the Syriac version of the
Apocalypse was actually translated for the first time about the
sixth century, more than four hundred years after the banishment
of the apostle John to Patmos. The Church historian Johann David
Michaelis notes, "The Syriac version of the Apocalypse is now
known to be a part of the Philoxenian version, which was made by
Polycarp at the beginning of the sixth century." Therefore, while
this is interesting, preterists still fail to provide any
reliable evidence from the first few centuries of the Christian
Church in support of their A.D.68 date.

     As noted earlier, Tertullian described the Apostle John's
participation and supernatural survival from boiling oil during
the persecution of Nero in A.D.66 when Peter and Paul were
killed. He then mentioned his banishment "to an island," which
occurred "afterwards," that numerous other historical sources
confirm occurred during the tyranny of Domitian in A.D.96. It is
possible that there was some confusion four centuries after the
life of John regarding the two different persecutions experienced
by the Apostle which may have resulted in the writer of the
Syrian translation of the Apocalypse in the sixth century
mistakenly believing that John composed the Apocalypse during the
first persecution under Nero when he survived rather than the
correct date of A.D.96 during the second wave of persecution when
he was banished by Domitian.


Arethas (762 or possibly later)

     One of the important sources cited by the preterists is the
Christian writer Arethas, who they claim wrote his Commentary
about the Apocalypse around 540. While some scholars, such as
Moses Stuart and Andrew Robert Fausset, agree with the 540 date,
others such as Henry Barclay Swete suggest that Arethas lived up
to three centuries later (approximately 914).
     There is some evidence that Arethas was the archbishop of
Caesarea and wrote a commentary on the Apocalypse in
approximately 800. However, Arethas wrote his commentary on the
beast of Revelation (13:2), and mentioned the Saracen capital
city of Baghdad near ancient Babylon. In light of the historical
fact that Baghdad was only built by the Saracen dynasty in 762,
it appears that Arethas must have composed his commentary on the
Apocalypse at some point in time after this late date.
     Arethas claimed that the Revelation was written "before the
destruction of Jerusalem." However, Arethas contradicts this
statement in his earlier comment on Revelation 1:9. There Arethas
approvingly quotes Eusebius, referring to the Apocalypse as being
written by the apostle John at the island of Patmos under the
tyranny of Emperor Domitian, "sub Domitiano." Unfortunately for
the preterists, the evidence of Arethas is hopelessly
contradictory, and was written over seven centuries after the
Apocalypse. It does not support their argument.

     Therefore, the sole non-contradictory evidence in favor of
Nero's banishment of John remains the sixth-century translation
of the Apocalypse. However clear it may be, it was written over
four centuries after John wrote his book.


Preterists Claim Domitian's Persecution of Christians Was Not
Sustained

     David Chilton wrote the following in his book "Days of
Vengeance": "A good deal of the modern presumption in favor of a
Domitianic date is based on the belief that a great, sustained
period of persecution and slaughter of Christians was carried on
under his rule. This belief, cherished as it is, does not seem to
be based on any hard evidence at all."

     However, this argument is quite irrelevant to the issue in
question. The issue of the 96 date for the Apocalypse does not
depend at all on a "great, sustained period of persecution and
slaughter of Christians." Chilton's argument is weak and somewhat
bizarre in that the Bible does not describe the details about
this persecution other than to refer to the fact that John was
banished to Patmos. Therefore, the ample historical evidence
about Domitian's banishment of Christians is sufficient to
support the conclusion that the apostle John was indeed
imprisoned by Domitian. The historical records reveal that Nero
killed Christians near Rome in relatively large numbers. However,
there are no early historical sources that support the preterist
assumption that widespread banishment of Christians occurred
during the limited persecution during the short reign of Nero.
Preterists Claim John Referred to Nero in Revelation 17:9-10
According to David Chilton in his book "Days of Vengeance":

     Our safest course, therefore, must be to study the
     Revelation itself to see what internal evidence it presents
     regarding its date. As we will see throughout the
     commentary, the Book of Revelation is primarily a prophecy
     of the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans. This fact
     alone places St.John's authorship somewhere before September
     of A.D.70. Further, as we shall see, St.John speaks of Nero
     Caesar as still on the throne - and Nero died in June 68.

     This argument is circular and without serious merit. Chilton
first concludes, without compelling evidence, that Nero is
clearly mentioned in John's prophecy (because he accepts the 68
date) and then he uses his own assumption as evidence for his
premise that John must therefore have written his prophecies in
the Apocalypse during the reign of Nero.
     Critics Claim God's Revelation was "sealed up" (Daniel 9:24)
To again quote from the preterist David Chilton:

     More important than any of this, however, we have a priori
     teaching from Scripture itself that all special revelation
     ended by A.D.70. The angel Gabriel told Daniel that the
     "seventy weeks" were to end with the destruction of
     Jerusalem (Daniel 9:24-27); and that period would also serve
     to "seal up the vision and prophecy" (Daniel 9:24). In other
     words, special revelation would stop - be "sealed up" - by
     the time Jerusalem was destroyed. The Canon of Holy
     Scripture was entirely completed before Jerusalem fell.

     However, the Word of God does not teach that "inspired
revelation was sealed" in A.D.70. The evidence of the Scriptures
reveals that the prophecies extend to the final events at the end
of this age, which will culminate in the return of Jesus Christ
at the Battle of Armageddon. The prophet Daniel wrote: "Seventy
weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to
finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make
reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting
righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to
anoint the most Holy" (Daniel 9:24).

     We need to analyze this important prophecy to determine when
these vital messianic predictions will finally be fulfilled. The
six prophecies are: (1) to finish the transgression; (2) to make
an end of sins; (3) to make reconciliation for iniquity; (4) to
bring in everlasting righteousness; (5) to seal up the vision and
prophecy; and (6) to anoint the most Holy. If you were to ask any
person unfamiliar with the controversy if these six conditions
were fulfilled at any previous point in history, it is highly
unlikely that they would choose the Roman army's destruction of
Jerusalem in A.D.70 as the event that fulfilled these six
important predictions. Most people will acknowledge that sins are
still being committed and that "everlasting righteousness" would
not precisely describe the times we live in that are reported
daily in our newspapers, the Internet, and the television news.

(True as for the date A.D.70 but not true for the finished work
of Christ on the cross in 30 A.D. The reader is asked to see some
of the famous Bible Commentaries such as Albert Barnes; Adam
Clarke; Matthew Henry. They correctly understood the 70 week
prophecy of Daniel chapter 9. See on this Website the study
called "Daniel's 70 Week Prophecy" - Keith Hunt)

 
An Evaluation of the Preterist Position


     These main arguments of the preterists are actually
astonishingly weak when we consider the absence of strong
historical or scriptural evidence for their position. Despite
their lack of conclusive evidence, the preterists assert in the
strongest terms that their position for a 68 date for the
Apocalypse is absolutely proven. However, even some of the top
preterists admit that David Chilton's arguments in favor of an
A.D.68 date for the Apocalypse are quite weak.
     One of the most interesting books in defense of the doctrine
of preterism is "The Parousia" by J. Stuart Russell, first
published anonymously in 1878. This book has been republished
from 1983 through 1999. Russell's book strongly supports the full
preterist theory that all prophecy was fulfilled by A.D.70. He
suggests that the Second Coming and the rest of Revelation's
prophecies were either fulfilled in the destruction of Jerusalem
or they were fulfilled "spiritually." Russell honestly admitted
that his "explanation of the predictions of the New Testament,
instead of relieving the difficulty, embarrasses and perplexes us
more than ever." Russell even acknowledged the objections of
many orthodox Christians when they consider the preterist view
that all of these powerful prophecies were fulfilled spiritually,
without any observed historical events: "But how can we be
expected to believe in fulfillments which are said to have taken
place in the region of the spiritual and invisible when we have
no witnesses to depose the facts?" There is not one example in
the Bible of a prophecy that was fulfilled in an allegorical,
non-historical manner.


Answering Objections to the Literal Kingdom

     Critics who reject the Millennial Kingdom often raise
objections to its literal nature because they claim several
scriptural passages support their view that the kingdom of God is
purely spiritual.

Jesus stated: "My kingdom is not of this world."

     In John 18:36 Jesus declared, "My kingdom is not of this
world." Some suggest that Jesus affirmed in this passage the
non-material and purely spiritual nature of His kingdom. However,
Christ revealed that His coming kingdom is not part of this
present, sinful, spiritual "world" system. His kingdom will be
announced on earth at His glorious and triumphant return with His
saints. "For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and
the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the
Father, but is of the world" (1 John 2:16). The Lord sharply
defined the difference between His future kingdom and the present
world of sinful rebellion. The gospel of John revealed Christ's
separate view of this present sinful world in contrast to the
glorious sinless kingdom of God which will be revealed at His
Second Coming. "And he said unto them, Ye are from beneath; I am
from above: ye are of this world; I am not of this world" (John
8:23).


"Behold, the kingdom of God is within you."

     Some claim that Christ's words "Behold, the kingdom of God
is within you" (Luke 17:21) support their view that the kingdom
of God exists only in the souls of believers. However, this is
incorrect. Jesus was not stating that the holy kingdom of God
existed in the hearts or spirits of the wicked Pharisees who
rejected His Messianic claims. The Amplified Bible renders this
verse as, "the kingdom of God is within you and among you." Jesus
was referring to the promise of the kingdom of God as existing in
the midst of the Jewish nation at that very time because Christ
as the Messianic King represented that coming kingdom.

(Not entirely so. There are two sides to the Kingdom, the present
one within the minds and hearts of the saints, which is NOW - see
Colossians 1:13. And we have the Kingdom yet to come to earth at
the coming of Christ. There is a "spiritual" and "physical" side
to the Kingdom. So depending on HOW and for what purpose you are
using it, either one is correct. Jesus was trying in that context
to get those Pharisee beyond just looking for physical signs and
a physical Kingdom. If the heart is not right, the physical
earthly coming Kingdom you will never see, for you will not be
part of it - Keith Hunt)


"The Kingdom of God is not meat and drink."

     Others point to Paul's words, "For the kingdom of God is not
meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy
Ghost"(Romans 14:17). In other words, Paul was saying that the
Kingdom of God is not simply public observances. These inspired
words of the apostle cannot mean what the critics suggest - that
the future kingdom will not involve physical reality such as
eating and drinking. For example, Jesus declared, "Blessed is he
that shall eat bread in the kingdom of God" (Luke 14:15). In
another passage, the Lord stated, "And I appoint unto you a
kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me; That ye may eat and
drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the
twelve tribes of Israel" (Luke 22:29-30).


"Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God."

     Those who believe in a purely spiritual kingdom claim
support from the passage where Paul warns that "Flesh and blood
cannot inherit the kingdom of God" (1 Corinthians 15:50). They
suggest this passage teaches that Christ's kingdom is not a real
one. However, the Scriptures repeatedly declare that the coming
kingdom will exist on earth under the direct rule of Jesus Christ
as "King of Kings." Paul revealed that our present mortal and
corruptible bodies are not designed for the holy and eternal
kingdom of God. Jesus will supernaturally resurrect the bodies of
all believers to enable us to rule and reign with Christ forever
in His eternal kingdom. "Behold, I show you a mystery; We shall
not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the
twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall
sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall
be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and
this mortal must put on immortality" (1 Corinthians 15:51-53).
     The kingdom of God will be ushered in at the return of the
Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ. "Then shall the King say unto
them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit
the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world"
(Matthew 25:34)


The Preterist Denial of the Imminent Second Coming of Christ

     Though we have discussed in depth the issue of the date when
Revelation was written, the implication of the preterist's
teaching must not be lost. The point of the preterist's claim
that the writing of Revelation occurred in the year 68 is to show
that Revelation was fulfilled in 70, when Rome destroyed
Jerusalem and the Temple. They argue that Revelation holds no
promise of the imminent return of Christ. Their additional points
are as follows.


The Preterist Argument - The Time Texts

     Preterist scholars reject the teaching of a future
premillennial return of Christ and specifically point to New
Testament phrases such as "the Lord is at hand," "the coming of
the Lord draweth, nigh," et cetera. They argue that such phrases
demand that the Lord must have returned within a very short time
of the original utterance of these prophecies or the prophecies
would be false.
     The problem of the proper interpretation of these time
passages has led to several unfortunate responses: (1) Some have
chosen to ignore the prophecies of the Second Advent on the
grounds that they are vague and not literal. (2) Others have
rejected these prophecies as false because Christ did not return
in the generation when these specific predictions were given. (3)
Finally, some have chosen to interpret these "time prophecy"
passages as being fulfilled in the Roman destruction of Israel
and Jerusalem. The preterists argue that these predictions
specifically demand that the prophesied events must be fulfilled
within a few years of the original prophecy.


The Time of Christ's Return

     Preterists often refer to three specific texts that they
claim show that the Second Coming of Christ must have occurred in
the first century (i.e.,70).


First Time Text-Matthew-10:23

"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" (Matthew 10:23).

     They claim this passage clearly points to the coming of "the
Son of Man" in the lifetime of the disciples. However, many
scholars admit that Matthew arranged his Gospel according to
subject rather than a strict chronological sequence. The prophecy
of Matthew relates to the prophecy given by Christ on the Mount
of Olives, recorded in Matthew 24. The prophecy of Matthew
10:21-23 will be fulfilled when the Jews preach the "gospel of
the Kingdom" during the tribulation, ending with the Second
Coming. The prophecy's use of the title the "Son of Man" always
appears as a reference to the Second Coming of Christ. This
prophetic phrase, expressing Jesus' humanity, points to His
visible, personal coming. Nothing corresponding to Christ's
visible and personal coming as described in numerous prophecies
including Matthew 24 and Revelation 19 ever occurred at the
destruction of Jerusalem, according to the historical records of
Flavius Josephus, who lived at the time and wrote The Jewish War.
For example, Jesus prophesied that, "For then shall be great
tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to
this time, no, nor ever shall be. And except those days should be
shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect's
sake those days shall be shortened" (Matthew 24:21-22).
     The destruction of Jerusalem in A.D.70 was indeed horrific
with the death of an estimated 1,250,000 Jewish citizens.
However, Jesus prophesied an unprecedented global "great
tribulation" so devastating that if He delayed His return "no
flesh [would] be saved." Revelation's prophecies declare, "behold
a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell
followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth
part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with
death, and with the beasts of the earth" (Revelation 6:8). If
words have any meaning whatsoever, then we must reject the claim
of the preterists and amillennialists who declare that these
scriptural predictions and numerous others about the coming
Tribultion were fulfilled in A.D.70. Obviously, these prophecies
must be fulfilled at some point in the future.

(Of course this must be true, for horrific as the slaughter was
in 70 A.D. it cannot come close to the horrific killing during
the Second World War. Yet there is a time coming [last 42 months
of this age] that will make the killing of WW2 look like a
Sunday-afternoon picnic  - Keith Hunt)


Second Time Text-Matthew 16:27-28

"For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with
his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his
works. Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which
shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in
his kingdom." (Matthew 16:27-28)

     Many amillennialists and postmillennial preterists who state
that the kingdom of God appeared spiritually (including the
Second Coming) at the destruction of Jerusalem point to Christ's
words in both the Gospels of Matthew and Mark. These critics of
the millennial kingdom suggest that Christ's statement demands
that the Second Coming must occur during the lifetime of those
disciples who heard His prophecy and wrongly conclude that
Jerusalem's destruction is the correct fulfillment. However, the
very next verse in the passage provides the correct answer to the
question. "And after six days Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John
his brother, and bringeth them up into an high mountain apart,
And was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the
sun, and his raiment was white as the light. And, behold, there
appeared unto them Moses and Elias [Elijah] talking with him"
(Matthew 17:1-3). Only six days after His prophecy, the same
disciples, Peter, James, and John accompanied Jesus up into a
mountain and they personally saw the glory of the Lord revealed
as they witnessed, "the Son of man coming in his kingdom."
To emphasize the glory of His appearing to the disciples, God the
Father announced in "a voice out of the cloud, which said, This
is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him"
(Matthew 17:5). 
     The Scriptures repeatedly refer to the glorification of the
resurrected saints at Christ's appearing. The apostle Paul taught
of the glorification of the resurrected saints as follows: "If so
be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified
together. For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time
are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be
revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creature
waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God" (Romans
8:17-19). The transfiguration of Christ together with the
appearance of the resurrected saints, Elijah and Moses, provided
powerful confirmation to His disciples that God will resurrect
and glorify all of those who place their faith and trust in
Christ when He ushers in the kingdom of God.


Third Time Text-Matthew 24:34

"Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all
these things be fulfilled" (Matthew 24:34)

     Preterists such as Ken Gentry wrote about Matthew 24:34
"This statement of Christ is indisputably clear and absolutely
demanding of a first-century fulfillment of the events in the
preceding verses, including the Great Tribulation." However, the
question of the correct time indicated by Christ when He refers
to "this generation" in Matthew 24:34 is clarified when we
consider the related phrase "all these things," which appears in
this verse as well as the preceding verse, "So likewise ye, when
ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the
doors." In other words, Jesus Christ prophesied that the "last
days" generation that sees "all these things" occur will not
cease to exist as a generation until every one of the events of
the future tribulation period are literally fulfilled. Jesus is
ultimately speaking to those who will be living in the generation
that will personally witness the fulfillment of the prophetic
signs of Matthew 24.


Understanding The Time Texts

     The correct solution to the problem of these "time texts" is
found in the understanding that these prophets were writing with
the specific style used in the Old Testament Jewish prophetic
form.

     Israel's ancient prophets, such as Isaiah, Joel, and
Zechariah, prophesied about God's promise of ultimate national
salvation, the coming day of the Lord, and the coming of the
Messiah in prophetic language that pointed to its being close at
hand. However, both history and the New Testament reveal that a
number of these specific prophecies were fulfilled centuries
after the prediction was given. It is significant that no scholar
has ever objected to the language of these Old Testament prophets
on the basis that these predictions referred to events far in the
future, despite the fact that the prophecy used language that
described events as though they were about to be fulfilled.
Obviously God, who is eternal, views time quite differently than
we do. The Word of God specifically refers to this phenomenon in
the following passages: "For a thousand years in thy sight are
but as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night"
(Psalms 90:4). "But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing,
that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand
years as one day" (2 Peter 3:8).
     For example, consider the "time text" references found in
the language of several Old Testament prophecies:

"Howl ye; for the day of the Lord is at hand; it shall come as a
destruction from the Almighty" (Isaiah 13:6).

"For the day is near, even the day of the Lord is near, a cloudy
day; it shall be the time of the heathen" (Ezekiel 30:3).

"Alas for the day! for the day of the Lord is at hand, and as a
destruction from the Almighty shall it come" (Joel 1:I5).

"Blow ye the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in my holy
mountain: let all the inhabitants of the land tremble: for the
day of the Lord cometh, for it is nigh at hand" (Joel 2:1).


"Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision: for the day of
the Lord is near in the valley of decision" (Joel 3:14).

"For the day of the Lord is near upon all the heathen: as thou
hast done, it shall be done unto thee: thy reward shall return
upon thine own head" (Obadiah 15).

"Hold thy peace at the presence of the Lord God: for the day of
the Lord is at hand: for the Lord hath prepared a sacrifice, he
hath bid his guests.... The great day of the Lord is near, it is
near, and hasteth greatly, even the voice of the day of the Lord:
the mighty man shall cry there bitterly" (Zephaniah 1:7,14).

"Behold, the day of the Lord cometh, and thy spoil shall be
divided in the midst of thee" (Zechariah 14:1).


     It is obvious that each of these Old Testament prophecies
contains prophetic language dealing with time ("the day of the
Lord is at hand") that is very similar to the language used by
the New Testament prophecies in reference to the nearness of
Christ's Second Coming. The language of these inspired prophets
contain phrases such as "near," and "at hand," yet these inspired
prophecies were given by God twenty-five centures ago. The
language confirms that the prophesied event is as certain in its
future fulfillment as if it had already happened.


Implications of the Preterists' Beliefs

     In David Chilton's book Paradise Restored, he revealed the
implications of his rejection of this historic hope of the
Church. Speaking about God's promise of the coming Messiah, he
said:

     The God of the covenant told His people that He would bless
     them to the thousandth generation of their descendants
     (Deuteronomy 7:9). That promise [the Second Coming] was made
     (in round figures) about 3,400 years ago. If we figure the
     biblical generation at about 40 years, a thousand
     generations is forty thousand years. We've got 36,600 years
     to go before this promise is fulfilled.

     Incredibly, some preterists such as David Chilton actually
claim that Jesus Christ will not return for over 36,000 years!
Tragically, the rejection of the truth of the premillennial and
imminent return of Christ leaves those who embrace this teaching
to face a future that offers little hope of a dramatic spiritual
victory over the forces of Satan. While all Christians rejoice at
the wonderful growth of the Church in the Third World in these
last days, we also observe the tragic growth of unrestrained
evil. The world is filled with historically unprecedented evil
developments including devastating chemical, biological, and
nuclear weapons of mass destruction, the genocide of millions in
Africa, concentration camps holding millions (including many
innocent Christians) in China for "reeducation," the harvesting
of organs from Chinese prisoners, partial birth and forced
tri-semester abortions, the slavery of millions in Africa and
other nations, and the sexual abuse of millions of young children

     The preterists who reject the literal teaching of the
scriptural prophecies that Christ's Second Coming is imminent and
future are left with a viewpoint that teaches that Satan will
continue his powerful and evil opposition to Christ for many
thousands of years. They claim that their view is optimistic in
that they believe that the Church will eventually, after
thousands of years, Christianize the world and then deliver the
kingdom to Christ. However, I believe this view is, in reality,
pessimistic because it inevitably accepts the continued growth of
evil in this world for thousands of years while the majority of
humans will continue to be lost to an eternity in hell. If
someone believes that Christ will not return until a thousand
years after the world is converted to Christianity, it is
difficult to see how the doctrine of the Second Coming can
seriously motivate their witnessing, their daily walk in
holiness, or their hope for His return.
     Yet Jesus Christ taught His followers to watch constantly
for His return because, although He might tarry, He will
definitely return for us. Jesus warned:

     For the Son of man is as a man taking a far journey, who
     left his house, and gave authority to his servants, and to
     every man his work, and commanded the porter to watch. Watch
     ye therefore: for ye know not when the master of the house
     cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at the cock crowing, or
     in the morning: And what I say unto you I say unto all,
     Watch. (Mark 13:34-35,37).


Pessimism or Optimism?

     Postmillennial and amillennial critics of the premillennial
return of Christ often complain that our view is somehow
pessimistic.

The Time of Christ's Return

     For example, the preterist, post-millennial writer David
Chilton claimed that those who believe in the premillennial
Second Coming (such as this author and most prophecy teachers)
are supporters of "pessimillennialism." Chilton declared that the
"pessimillennialists" are "content to remain historical
(presecond coming) losers." The truth is that both
postmillennialism and amillennialism represent a real surrender
to theological "pessimism" because they reject the hope of
Christ's imminent return in favor of their spiritually
pessimistic view that the world shall continue in sinful
rebellion for many thousands of years while they gradually
Christianize the world. These critics deny the hope of the
prophesied triumphant return of Christ to usher in the glorious
kingdom of God.

     Those who long for Christ's imminent premillennial return
totally reject this false characterization that we are
pessimistic. Our optimism is based on our confidence in the
inspired Word of God and its glorious promises that Jesus will
triumph over evil when He returns as King of Kings.
     Premillennialists are pessimistic about the likelihood of
this present evil world becoming truly Christian before Christ's
return because the Scriptures deny this. However, we are totally
optimistic about the Bible's prophecies that Christ will
triumphantly return suddenly in an evil generation such as ours.
Then Christ will defeat Satan and usher in the kingdom of God
with righteousness and justice forever. The message of prophecy
is not a pessimistic view of "doom and gloom" but rather a
glorious announcement that the Church's time of waiting is almost
over. The King is coming to victoriously set up His long awaited
kingdom.

     As we contemplate the prophetic events that are being
fulfilled in our generation we are reminded that Jesus Christ
commanded His followers: "And when these things begin to come to
pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption
draweth nigh" (Luke 21:28). Someday soon the angels will proclaim
the glorious truth: "The kingdoms of this world are become the
kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for
ever and ever" (Revelation 11:15). This is truly the greatest and
most optimistic message ever proclaimed.

                        ...........................


Note:

There is not one book of the New Testament that has a verse
contained within itself that tells us the "date" the book was
written. This chapter by Jeffrey I fully agree with and endorse.
From the historical and analytical perspective I believe Jeffrey
is quite correct in the arguments he presents here.

Keith Hunt


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