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Partial Preterism Refuted
 

By John Aziza

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WHAT IS PRETERISM?

Preterism is an eschatological view that teaches all or most of Bible prophecy has already been fulfilled. It derives its name from the Latin praeter, meaning "past". Preterists are divided into two camps, representing full (or consistent) preterism and partial preterism. Both preterists and non-preterists have generally agreed that the Jesuit Luis de Alcasar (1554–1613) wrote the first systematic preterist exposition of prophecy Vestigatio arcani sensus in Apocalypsi, published during the Counter-Reformation (see here).

 

Full preterism takes the extreme position that all of Bible prophecy, including Christ's Second Coming, has already been fulfilled with the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70. This form of preterism is very rare and lacks credible scholarship. It is also considered heretical, even by partial preterists. 

Note: For the sake of brevity, we will not respond to the claims of full preterism in this writing. Brock David Hollett, a former full preterist, does a great job debunking full preterism in his book Debunking Preterism, How Over-Realized Eschatology Misses the "Not Yet" of Bible Prophecy. This book is a thorough treatment of the subject and one that I highly recommend. 

 

Partial preterism is the belief that most of the apocalyptic prophecies in Daniel, Mathew, and Revelation have already been fulfilled in AD 70 with the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans. Partial preterists rely on an allegorical reading of the text and the premise that the New Testament's warnings of judgement applied exclusively to the Jews of Christ's day. They further maintain that the reference to the “last days" mentioned in the Bible points to the last days of the Old Testament rather than the last days of the earth. To support their position, much emphasis is placed on the "time texts" in the Gospels and Epistles. For example, the passage in Matthew 24:34 that reads “...this generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled”, is used to prove that everything prophesied by Christ in the preceding verses would reach fulfillment before the end of the first century. Finally, partial preterism takes the awkward position that there are two "Second Comings" of Jesus. These are represented by the (1) spiritual and localized return of Christ for the purpose of judging the Jewish nation (a “judgement coming”), which occurred in AD 70, and (2) the physical and visible universal coming of Christ on the “Day of the Lord”.

 

IS PARTIAL PRETERISM A DANGEROUS HERESY?

There are several reasons why partial preterism can be regarded as a dangerous heresy rather than a benign doctrinal error, some of which are as follows:

 

1. It invalidates the belief in a future antichrist, leaving Christians vulnerable to antichrist deception and the wholesale acceptance of the mark of the beast described in Revelation 13. Note: Preterists believe that Caesar Nero was the antichrist of Bible prophecy. The antichrist is therefore no longer a threat to modern Christians.

2. It asserts that the Great Tribulation (Dan. 12:1, Mat. 24:21, Rev. 7:14) is already over, having occurred in AD 66-70 when the Roman army besieged Jerusalem. This leads to a false sense of security and the vain belief that no future universal tribulation awaits the modern Church. So when tribulation does arrive, Christians will be ill equipped and ill prepared to deal with it.

 

3. It invalidates Christ's clear injunction to watch for the signs that herald His return and the end of the world (Mat. 24:3). We simply can't watch for Christ's return if there are no signs to signal it. But the writer of Hebrews promises that Christ will “appear the second time... unto those who look for Him” (Heb. 9:28).

WHAT ARE THE MAIN CLAIMS OF PARTIAL PRETERISM?

1. Mark 14:62 does not refer to the physical and visible coming of Christ, but to His "judgment coming".

2. The "time texts" in Matthew 24:34 and Luke 21:32 limit Christ's return to the generation of His disciples.

3. The "tribes of the earth" in Revelation 1:7 may be interpreted to mean "tribes of the land", and may therefore apply to the tribes of Israel, rather than the nations of the world.

4. "Mystery Babylon" (Rev. 14-18) is a symbolic reference for Jerusalem.

5. The "kings of the earth" in Revelation 6:15 refers to Israel's political leaders rather than those of the world.

6. The book of Revelation is primarily concerned with Jerusalem's fall in AD 70 as opposed to Christ's universal return.

REFUTING PARTIAL PRETERISM

1. A "judgment coming" or Christ's physical return?

....and ye shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven (Mark 14:62).

According to full and partial preterists, Mark 14:62 does not predict Christ's physical and visible return. Instead, it refers to Christ's "judgment coming" in AD 70, resulting in Jerusalem's destruction. Since the terminology in Mark 14:62 is somewhat similar to that in Isaiah 19:1, which describes a localized judgement, it is argued that the meaning of these two passages must therefore be the same. For the preterist, this common link negates the traditional interpretation of Mark 14:62 and its application to the future coming of Jesus. But let's examine Isaiah 19:1 to see whether this supposition is actually valid:

The burden of Egypt. Behold, the Lord rideth upon a swift cloud, and shall come into Egypt: and the idols of Egypt shall be moved at his presence, and the heart of Egypt shall melt in the midst of it (Is. 19:1).

The above passage is a prime example of how apocalyptic imagery is used to symbolically depict God's imminent judgement of Egypt. It describes the Lord "riding upon a swift cloud” into Egypt, the idols of the land being “moved at his presence”, and “the heart of Egypt” melting. The fact that the whole verse is rife with exaggerated symbolism is hard to ignore. When compared, then, with Christ's plain testimony in Mark 14:62 the differences are rather stark. In the case of Mark's account, Jesus was informing the Jewish leaders that the next time around the circumstances would be very different. Instead of Him standing before them to be judged, they would be standing before Him to be judged. Nothing in Mark 14:62 warrants the supposition that it is describing a non-literal or symbolic "coming".

 

Mark 14:62 is only one verse out of several that describes the physical and universal return of Christ within the greater Gospel narrative. To connect it with a localized judgement coming is even more difficult once we take into consideration the other noteworthy passages, which have also been traditionally applied to the Second Coming of Christ. Notice:

 

....and ye shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven (Mark 14:62).

 

And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other (Mat. 24:30-31).

 

Men's hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken. And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh. ...So likewise ye, when ye see these things come to pass, know ye that the kingdom of God is nigh at hand. ...Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man (Luk. 21:26-36).

 

When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats (Mat. 25:31-32).

 

Now when combining the information presented in the above passages, we end up with the following breakdown of actual/literal events:

 

(1) Jesus is described in His glorified state as “sitting at the right hand of power”. To be seated at the right hand of someone is a Hebrew idiom that denotes power and authority (Mark 14:62).

 

(2) The “tribes of the earth” will mourn as they see the "sign" of Christ's impending return. Simultaneous with His return, the mighty blast of a trumpet will signal to the angels to gather “his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other”, which clearly describes the rapture of the Church (Mat. 24:30-31). 

(3) Jesus will descend to earth "with power and great glory”. But long before this, the Church is instructed to “look up” in anticipation of our nearing redemption. This fact is important not to miss because the rapture of the Church—our redemption—is always part and parcel with the final return of Christ. Jesus also reminds us to pray so that we may escape all of the judgments that will precede His return. These judgements are described a few verses previous in the same chapter (Luk. 21:26-36).

 

(4) Upon His return to earth, Christ will be enthroned and all of the nations will be gathered before Him to be judged (Mat. 25:31-32).

 

Notice the many overlapping features present in all of the gospels' prophetic accounts of Christ's return. It is also important to note that in Matthew's account, Christ's return is clearly connected to the judgement of the ENTIRE world, not merely Jerusalem. In Matthew 19:28, this fact is further emphasized when Jesus promises His disciples that upon His return they too will sit as judges over the twelve tribes of Israel: And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel (Mat. 19:28).]

 

So what does this tell us? For one, it rules out the possibility that Mark 14:62 is describing a localized judgement of Jerusalem. Also, it is easy to see that the common features contained in the above passages relate to the same event, not two separate ones. And they clearly have universal application and relevance. Now unless we want to make the impossible argument that Mark 14:62 is a stand alone passage, which points to a localized judgement, we are forced to accept it as a description of Christ's universal coming.

 

But the fact that the Coming of Christ is always portrayed as a physical event of universal scope and scale is further demonstrated in the bellow passages:

 

I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed (Dan. 7:13-14).

 

For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be (Mat. 24:27).

 

Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? 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 (Act. 1:11).

 

Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord (1 Thes. 4:17).

 

I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom (2 Tim. 4:1).

 

Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints,To execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him (Jude 14-15).

 

And now, little children, abide in him; that, when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming (1 Jn. 2:28).

 

Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen (Rev. 1:7). 

 

Yet the clearest indication that Mark 14:62 does not describe a localized judgement is made most apparent in both Mark 16:19 and Acts 1:9, as cited above. In Acts 1:11, we are promised that Christ's return will be very similar to His ascension: this same Jesus... shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven (Act. 1:11). Yet is is clear that when Jesus was received into heaven before His disciples, His ascension was neither silent nor symbolic. Instead, it was a very clear and vivid show of power. Notice:

 

So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God... (Mark 16:19).

And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight (Act. 1:9).

 

Now compare the above passage with the terminology contained in Mark 14:62:

 

....and ye shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven (Mark 14:62).

 

The fact that the disciples physically witnessed our Lord being taken up into heaven [in a cloud] to be seated at the right hand of God demolishes the argument that Jesus was merely speaking of a symbolic localized judgement in Mark 14:62. Clearly, the passages in Mark 14 and 16 describe an extremely similar event. In both cases, Jesus is sitting at the right hand of God and a cloud is either whisking Him up or transporting Him down. So we can be confident that Christ's return in Mark 14:62 will be physical and witnessed by all of mankind.

 

In short, to isolate Mark 14:62 from the rest of Scripture in order to make it describe a localized judgement coming is not only unnecessary, but logically flawed.

2. Do the Gospel's "time texts" confine Christ's return to the generation of His disciples?

The Gospel's "time texts" are the supporting pillar of the preterist system and demand the near or immediate fulfillment of the prophetic events contained therein... or do they? To answer this, let's begin by looking at some of the actual time texts in order to better understand their contextual meaning:

 

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

Verily I say unto you, All these things shall come upon this generation (Mat. 23:36).

 

Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass away, till all be fulfilled (Luke 21:32). 

 

The same or similar statement also appears in Mark 13:30 and Luke 21:32. So what did Christ mean? Perhaps the explanation is simpler than preterists realize. In other words, all of the prophetic events relevant to THAT generation (in which Christ lived), such as the siege of Jerusalem by Rome's armies, the destruction of the Jewish Temple, and Christian persecution, etc, would not be missed by THAT generation, which is indeed what happened. "ALL these things" can be either generalized or specific depending on the usage and context. In this case, "all these things" acts to implicate only those prophetic events relevant to Christ's first century generation. 

But what about the following time texts? Is there a way to resolve those also?

 

But I tell you of a truth, there be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the kingdom of God (Luk. 9:27).

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 (Mat. 16:28).

 

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).

 

I think the most logical way to explain Luke 9:27 and Matthew 16:28 is by looking at the clues provided in Luke 9:28-35 and Matthew 17, which repeats the same account:

 

And it came to pass about an eight days after these sayings, he took Peter and John and James, and went up into a mountain to pray. And as he prayed, the fashion of his countenance was altered, and his raiment was white and glistering. And, behold, there talked with him two men, which were Moses and Elias: Who appeared in glory, and spake of his decease which he should accomplish at Jerusalem. But Peter and they that were with him were heavy with sleep: and when they were awake, they saw his glory, and the two men that stood with him. And it came to pass, as they departed from him, Peter said unto Jesus, Master, it is good for us to be here: and let us make three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias: not knowing what he said. While he thus spake, there came a cloud, and overshadowed them: and they feared as they entered into the cloud. And there came a voice out of the cloud, saying, This is my beloved Son: hear him (Luke 9:28-35).

 

The context for Luke 9:28 is immediately apparent in the subsequent verses (29-35), which tell the rest of the story. Indeed, some of the disciples did receive a powerful glimpse of the glorified Christ as He would appear in His Kingdom.

In respect to Matthew 10:23, the context is once again equally relevant. Jesus is about to send off His disciples on their very first evangelistic mission. Before their departure, He proceeds to give them specific instructions on where to go (vs. 5-6) and the message they would proclaim: And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand (v. 7). You see, it wasn't until the Holy Spirit was poured out on the Church at Pentecost that the kingdom age had officially begun marking also the point in time when the Holy Spirit (Christ's spiritual presence) had arrived (John 16:8). So when Jesus told His disciples that He would have "come" before they were finished evangelizing every city in Israel, He was essentially telling them that His spiritual presence within the Church would be established long before they were finished with their mission. And the Holy Spirit, Christ's manifest substitute, did in fact arrive within the promised time frame, further solidifying this link. So these passages have nothing to do with the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70, but rather the inauguration of the church age, also known as "the Kingdom of Heaven" or "Kingdom of God", and the advent of the Holy Spirit.

 

Now let's look at the next set of time texts, some of which do not appear in the Gospels, but are still relevant to this subject:

The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John...Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand (Rev. 1:1, 3).

And he saith unto me, Seal not the sayings of the prophecy of this bookfor the time is at hand (Rev. 22:10).

 

Behold, I come quickly: blessed is he that keepeth the sayings of the prophecy of this book (Rev. 22:7).


And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be (Rev. 22:12).

 

He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus (Rev. 22:20).

 

Partial preterists like to compare Revelation 22:10 with Daniel 12:4. Where Daniel is told to "seal up the words of this prophecy", John is told not to, meaning the book of Revelation should have had imminent fulfillment. Since Daniel's day was almost 500 years prior to the First Advent of Christ, His prophecies regarding the "time of the end" would have definitely stayed sealed. In contrast, Apostle John had just witnessed the First Advent and was now looking towards Christ's Second Advent. John's day was far closer to the time of the end than Daniel's in that respect. Also, according to Scripture, the Second Coming of Christ is a non-fixed time period. Jesus may return at any time (Mark 13:33, Rev. 16:15), at the second or third watch (Luke 12:38), and we the Church are to hasten His return by completing the Great Commission (Mat. 24:14, 2 Pet. 3:12). In fact, Jesus even hinted that His return would appear to be delayed (Luke 12:45). Partial preterists do not refute this point and agree with the notion that the Church has a role to play in hastening Christ's return. Just like Daniel fasted and prayed to ensure the fulfillment of Jeremiah's 70 year prophecy, the Church is called to ensure Christ's return occurs sooner rather than later by fulfilling her task to take the Gospel to all nations. Jesus promised He would not return until this happened (Mat. 24:14). Therefore, the sooner we accomplish this mission, the sooner His return (2 Pet. 3:12). Had the Church played her part faithfully, it's likely that Christ may have returned a long time ago.

 

The other important point about Revelation's time texts is that they contain the same impending tone as those located in the epistles. Yet Peter reminded the Church not to grow weary in waiting for Christ's return, since "one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day" (2 Peter 3:8). This reminder was highly necessary since the Church of His day clearly believed in the imminent return of Christ:


But this I say, brethren, the time is short: it remaineth, that both they that have wives be as though they had none (1 Cor. 7:29).


Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come (1 Cor. 10:6).

Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand (Phil. 4:5).

Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord is at hand (Jas. 5:8).

 

But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer (1 Pet. 4:7).

3. Does the phrase "tribes of the earth" refer to the twelve tribes of Israel or the nations of the world?

Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen (Rev. 1:7).

 

Since preterists believe that Revelation 1:7 refers to the judgement coming of Christ, they interpret the phrase "kindreds of the earth" to mean "tribes of the land", thereby implicating the tribes of Israel. However, this type of interpretation is faulty for the following reason. The Septuagintel Greek of the Old Testament does not use the phrase "tribes of the earth" to refer to the tribes of Israel, but rather the gentile nations. And it would appear that the Koine Greek of the New Testament follows the same principal:

Ye are the children of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with our fathers, saying unto Abraham, And in thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed (Act. 3:25).

 

Additionally, we find that throughout the New Testament the word "earth" seems to always apply to the whole world, not the land of Israel:

 

Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth (Mat. 5:5).

Ye are the salt of the earth (Mat. 5:13).

But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth (Act. 1:8).

4. Does "Mystery Babylon" represent Jerusalem or Rome?

Like the Protestant Reformers, it is my firm conviction that "Mystery Babylon" represents Rome, not Jerusalem (see here). There are simply too many reasons why the whore of Babylon (Rev. 14-18) cannot possibly refer to Jerusalem, like the following:


A. The Old Testament does not exclusively apply the term harlot to Israel

In fact, both Tyre and Nineveh are also referred to as harlots. Notice:


Because of the multitude of the whoredoms of the wellfavoured harlot, the mistress of witchcrafts, that selleth nations through her whoredoms, and families through her witchcrafts... Behold, I am against thee, saith the Lord of hosts...And it shall come to pass, that all they that look upon thee shall flee from thee, and say, Nineveh is laid waste: who will bemoan her? whence shall I seek comforters for thee? (Nahum 3:4-5).

 

And it shall come to pass in that day, that Tyre shall be forgotten seventy years, according to the days of one king: after the end of seventy years shall Tyre sing as an harlot (Isa. 23:15).

 

B. The Harlot "sits on many waters" (Rev. 17:1)

This phrase was also used to describe the multi-ethnic empire of ancient Babylon: 

 

O thou that dwellest upon many waters, abundant in treasures, thine end is come, and the measure of thy covetousness (Jer. 51:13).

 

In fact, the similarities between Babylon of the Old Testament and the whore of Revelation are so striking that we simply can't deny their typological connection:

 

  • Associated with a golden cup Jer. 51:7; Rev. 17:4

  • Dwelling on many waters Jer. 51:13; Rev. 17:1

  • Intoxicating the nations Jer. 51:7; Rev. 18:3

  • Will rise again no more Jer. 50:39; Rev. 18:21

In contrast, Israel was never a world-ruling empire, nor was she a multi-ethnic society, since she was created around the principle of racial purity

C. "Reigns over the kings of the earth" (Rev. 17:18)

Again, Jerusalem was never a world ruling empire. Daniel saw only four world empires and Jerusalem was not among them.

 

D. "Never to be rebuilt again" (Rev. 18:21)

Jerusalem exists today and has been rebuilt by the Jews, the very people to whom preterists apply this judgement.

 

E. The woman sits atop seven hills:  

And here is the mind which hath wisdom. The seven heads are seven mountains, on which the woman sitteth (Rev. 17:9). Rome, not Jerusalem, is regarded as the city of seven hills.

 

F. The woman sits atop a conglomerate beast "that was, and is not, yet is" (Rev. 17:11)

The woman sitting atop the "beast" in Revelation 13 is a symbolic portrayal of her control over the politics of the empire (beast). In contrast, Jerusalem of AD 70 was occupied by imperial Rome and under its tyrannical rule, not the other way around. Furthermore, first century Rome did not yet evolve into the conglomerate beast that we see in Revelation 13 and 17, a clear depiction of papal Rome (see here).

G. The destruction of "Babylon the Great" ushers in the Second Coming (Rev. 19:1-7)

If the whore of Revelation was truly Jerusalem of AD 70 then the universal Second Coming of Christ (His physical return) would have occurred in AD 70. This fact is made clear when reading Revelation 19. Upon the whore's destruction, Jesus returns to set up the new heaven and new earth (Rev. 21). 

 

5. Does the phrase "kings of the earth" refer to the political leaders of Israel or the leaders of the entire world?

And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains (Rev. 6:15).

 

For the same reasons listed in point #3, we can be certain the phrase "kings of the earth" does not refer to the political leaders of Israel. But there's another reason for disproving this claim. Since preterists interpret the phrase "kings of the earth" to be referring to the Jewish rulers of Israel and the whore of Revelation to be referring to Jerusalem, they create an illogical situation. Notice:

 

With whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication (Rev. 17:2).

 

Here's the illogical situation that preterists create with the preceding text: The kings of the earth (rulers of Israel) have committed fornication with the whore (Jerusalem) and the inhabitants of the earth (Israel) are made drunk with the wine of Her (Jerusalem) fornication. Does this mean that Israel was fornicating with itself? Obviously, not! 

 

The same illogical situation is created yet again in Revelation 18: And the kings of the earth, who have committed fornication and lived deliciously with her, shall bewail her and lament for her when they shall see the smoke of her burning, Standing afar off for the fear of her torment, saying, Alas, alas, that great city Babylon, that mighty city; for in one hour is thy judgment come! And the merchants of the earth shall weep and mourn over her, for no one buys their merchandise anymore (Rev. 18:9-11). Does this mean that while Rome besieged Jerusalem (and the greater Israel) and millions of Jews were either slaughtered or captured, only the Jewish merchants were spared and somehow allowed to stand "afar off" and bemoan the loss of their clients?

Undoubtedly, a far better interpretation is that the "kings of the earth" are a group of world leaders present at the end of time. This same configuration of leaders will then be aligned with the antichrist in order to wage war against the armies of heaven at Christ's return: And I saw the beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against him that sat on the horse, and against his army (Rev. 19:19).

6. Is the book of Revelation concerned with Jerusalem's fall in AD 70 or Christ's universal return?

What is the overarching theme of Revelation and how does it affect the preterist interpretation? I believe we can answer this by simply pointing to verse 7 of chapter 1, which reads, "Behold he cometh with the clouds....". Therefore it would seem that the book's overwhelming preoccupation has to do with the return of Christ and the world's final judgement. We find this theme echoed again in Revelation chapter 3: 

Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth (Rev. 3:10).

 

Finally, it's important to note that the book of Revelation starts out with seven letters addressed to the seven Churches of Asia—not Israel (Rev. 1:4). This little fact is something preterists seem to completely ignore. So when John records Christ's promise to preserve the Church in Philadelphia from the "hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world", he is very clearly not referring to the inhabitants of Jerusalem.

CONCLUSION

While preterism is a damnable heresy condemned by the Scriptures (2 Tim. 2:17-18) with much to disprove it, it may still be regarded as a useful system of eschatology. For instance, there are many prophetic events contained in the Gospels and elsewhere that have already been fulfilled and are no longer future. And the very proof that Jesus was a genuine prophet is clearly demonstrated by the fact that he foretold the destruction of Jerusalem and the Roman invasion nearly forty years before it happened (Luke 21:20). In this regard, preterism has proven true.

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