The All-Of-It Discourse: Evaluating the case for Preterism

The Eschatology Circus

People are commonly the most easily fooled with regards to the things they know the least about.  Realistically for most people, eschatology is on the “things I am clueless about” list right above “smelting iron”.  Due to the levels of general misunderstanding regarding eschatology, experts abound that claim to rightly explain eschatology, often with a newspaper in one hand and a bible in another, saying that the end is “just around the corner”.  Gary Demar sums up the atmosphere of popular eschatology when he says “Sensationalism, not sound biblical study, sells.”[1] Responding to television prophecy gurus and eschatology literature from Costco, some have attempted to closely consider the biblical text and in doing so have apparently arrived at the position that the Bible doesn’t teach much of a future eschatology at all.  Instead, they claim that the Bible teaches of a tribulation and second coming that are in the past.  This eschatological position is known as “Preterism” and Kenneth Gentry defines it thusly: “Preterism refers to that understanding of certain eschatological passages which holds that they have already come to fulfillment.”[2]

Variations of Preterism

So what has already come to fulfillment?  That depends on which preterist a person consults, though all forms of preterism believe that the destruction of the temple in 70 A.D. marks some sort of fulfillment of prophecies regarding the tribulation and second coming.  Preterism has historically come in three forms: mild, full and moderate preterism.  Mild preterism was first put forth by a Jesuit friar named Alcazar in 1614 who taught that Rev. 6-12 were fulfilled with the destruction of the temple by Nero in 70 A.D. and Rev. 13-19 were fulfilled with the rise of Constantine in the fourth century.  Mild preterism did not find popularity and has no modern proponents.[3] Full preterism seems to be pioneered by J. Stuart Russell.  He wrote The Parousia in 1887 and taught that the tribulation, second coming and rapture all occurred around 70 A.D. He also taught that Christians are currently living in the new heavens and new earth of Rev. 21-22, which are exclusively ‘spiritual’ in nature.  Though it has found a few modern proponents, it is condemned by moderate preterists as a heresy since it denies the bodily return of Christ.[4] Moderate preterism believes that much of the prophecies regarding the tribulation and the second coming were fulfilled in the siege of Jerusalem and destruction of the temple in 70 A.D, but also that the New Testament teaches a bodily second coming of Christ and a bodily resurrection of believers.  Modern proponents of moderate preterism are Kenneth Gentry, Gary Demar and RC Sproul.[5] Moderate preterism, by far the most common strand, will be the form of preterism evaluated in this paper.

The Preterist Proposal

Preterists put forth a variety of exegetical, logical and historic arguments in an effort to make their case that some, if not much, eschatological prophecy was fulfilled in and around 70 A.D. when Rome laid siege to Jerusalem and destroyed the temple.  That being said, there are basically two main arguments that run throughout the majority of preterist literature.  The least formidable argument of the two is the preterist interpretation of Revelation and the entire preterist reading of Revelation presupposes a pre-70 A.D. writing of the book of Revelation. Kenneth Gentry suggests that preterism “stands or falls on the early date of Revelation…”[6] The second, and more formidable argument, is the case made for preterist in the Olivet Discourse.  This case is mainly made from the text of Matt. 24:1-34, though there is a minor supporting argument made by some from Matt. 16:28.  Regarding Matt. 24:34, Kenneth Gentry writes “This is the statement that must be reckoned with by the futurist or historicist viewpoints.”[7]

Dating Revelation

Now it stands to reason that for the 70 A.D fulfillment of the prophecies of Christ from the Olivet Discourse, John could not have written the book of Revelation after 70 A.D. and taught about a future tribulation and second coming of Christ.  If John had written the book of Revelation around 95 A.D., as almost all non-preterist readings of Revelation recognize, preterism would receive a fatal blow.  In challenging the late date authoring of Revelation, preterists and non-preterists alike appeal to both internal and external data.  This presents a problem to the critical engagement of preterism; neither preterists nor non-preterists have an objective position from which to evaluate the internal data of the book of Revelation; both interpret the text in the light of their differing historical presuppositions regarding Revelation.[8] The possible interpretations of the data of scripture are presupposed.  Hence it seems more fitting to limit the scope of exploring preterist arguments for the early date of Revelation to the external data alone.

Of the external data regarding the date of the authorship of Revelation, the exceedingly most significant argument comes from the testimony of Irenaeus.  In section 3 of chapter 30 of book 5 of Against Heresies, Irenaeus writes “…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.”[9] Kenneth Gentry has, far and away, given the most exhaustive presentation for an early authorship of Revelation.  In addressing this quotation, Gentry admits that few scholars struggle with this passage, which seems straightforwardly attesting to the vision of John occurring toward the end of Domitian’s reign.[10] Gentry also writes “Undoubtedly, Irenaeus’ observation is the strongest weapon in the late date arsenal.”[11]

In attempting to deal with the testimony of Irenaeus, Gentry offers several arguments.  He writes that Irenaeus’ use of εωράθη refers likely to John and not his vision since in his writing, Irenaeus usually uses οράω to refer to people.[12] Gentry suggests that the testimony of Irenaeus should not be held as highly as many do since the early church fathers did not consider Irenaeus the final authority on details of the life of John.[13] He writes that the text of Irenaeus comes from a corrupted Latin translation[14] and that Irenaeus was contradicted himself by saying that John lived until the end of Domitians reign and also until Trajan’s reign.[15] Gentry suggest that the temporal phrase “it was seen not long ago, but almost in our own generation” was written a century later, and unlikely to be referring to the Revelation of John.[16] Gentry suggests that Irenaeus should not be held as a reliable witness to the dating of Revelation since he learned this information from Polycarp and possibly up to 75 years passed before he wrote Against Heresies.[17] Interestingly, after his critical engagement of the testimony of Irenaeus, Gentry writes that the external evidence of history should not be allowed to “over-shadow a book’s own self-witness to its date.”[18]

Little has been added to the offerings of Gentry by other preterist writers.  For the most part, Sproul essentially restates Gentry’s arguments[19] and concludes that the arguments and reinterpretations of Irenaeus quote in Heresies Against at best shows what Irenaeus’ quote “could have meant”,[20] as well as agreeing with Gentry in concluding that “the external evidence regarding the date of Revelation is neither monolithic nor homogeneous…but…the preponderance of the his evidence supports a Neronic date”[21].  Sproul also builds a case on the internal evidence from Revelation but seems to ignore the subjective nature of arguing for hermeneutical systems for interpreting Revelation from within Revelation.  Demar mostly ignores the question of the date of the writing of Revelation altogether, and Hank Hanegraaf essentially makes two arguments on the issue.  First, the date for Revelation is built on the ambiguous testimony of one individual (Irenaeus) who taught that Jesus was crucified at the age of 50, thus is unreliable.[22] Second, Hanegraaf writes that it is impossible to suggest that John had written Revelation in 95 AD since he doesn’t mention the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem.  In his typical fashion, Hanegraaf writes “when prophecy is fulfilled, the biblical writers mentioned it. And when the mother of all prophecies is fulfilled, it is inconceivable that John is not going to mention it.”[23] It seems that Hanegraaf is committed to his preterism beyond the possibility of critical engagement.

The Precedent of Matthew 16

Though the exegetical arguments made in support of preterism are mainly based upon Matt. 23:34-24:36, there is a minor supporting argument for their understanding of the Olivet Discourse made by preterists based on Matt. 16:27-28.  Matt.16:27-28 is seen as a parallel passage to Matt. 24:34; both discuss the ‘coming’ of Christ before the deaths of his listeners.[24] Preterists suggest that Matthew 16:27 and 16:28 discuss the same event[25] and that Matt. 16:27-28 is talking about the same “coming” as Matt. 24:34.[26] Preterists suggest that the language of “coming in glory” with angels to dispense rewards is eschatological language; describing a coming of judgment.[27] Demar parallels the language in Matthew 16:27-28 with the language in passages like Ps. 62:12; Prov. 24:12; Jer. 17:10 and Ez. 18:30 in an effort to show that “Jesus assumes the Old Testament apocalyptic language referring to Jehovah’s coming and applies it to himself.”[28] Demar understands John 21:18-23 to comment on the fulfillment of Matt. 16:27-28, seeing that Peter died before 70 A.D. and John did not.[29] Sproul suggests that the fulfillment of Matt. 16:27-28 in the transfiguration is too near and “if the word generation refers to a forty year period, then it is possible, if not probable, that Jesus’ reference to his coming in Matthew 16:28 refers to the same events…”[30]

The Key of the Olivet Discourse

The main exegetical support for preterism is the Olivet Discourse, which in preterism is called the “key to eschatology”. [31] In opening the “key”, preterists claim to interpret “literally”, which means interpreting of the Olivet Discourse as apocalyptic literature with apocalyptic figures of speech[32] and taking the time indication language literally but event descriptions metaphorically.[33] Also, in opening the “key”, preterists argue that in Matt. 24:3 the disciples were asking not about the end of the world, but the end of the Jewish age.[34] Hanegraaf writes that in the Olivet Discourse “our Lord is delineating the very signs that would precede the judgment of Jerusalem and the end of the age of sacrifice.”[35] Sproul suggests that Luke 21:24 teaches the presence of a definite Gentile epoch as opposed to a definite Jewish epoch.[36] Sproul also suggests that the phrase “the end of the ages has come” in 1 Cor. 10:11 is referring to how the end of the ages has come upon the Jews.[37]

In working in a preteristic definition of “literal interpretation”, and in understanding that the “end of the age” refers to the end of the Jewish age, preterists build a majority of their case for interpreting the Olivet Discourse on a straightforward understanding of Matt. 24:34, specifically the meaning of the phrase “this generation” in the Olivet Discourse.  Unashamedly, Gentry writes “we find the key to locating the Great Tribulation in history in Matthew 24:34.”[38] The straightforward understanding of the phrase “this generation” is the main argument put forth by preterists.  Hanegraaf writes “…it is grammatically impossible for Him to have been referencing anything other than the generation present during His delivery of the Olivet Discourse.”[39] Demar writes “If some future generation had been in view, Jesus could have chosen the adjective that[40] and “‘this generation’ always means the generation to whom Jesus was speaking.”[41] Sproul comments that the phrase “this generation” refers to the contemporaries of Jesus.[42] Gentry suggests that all the temporal indicators in Matt 24:34 demand contemporary fulfillment.  He suggests that “this generation”, “verily”, “I tell you” and “by no means” all indicate a strong and purposeful reinforcing of a contemporary idea.  Gentry writes about the statement of Christ in Matt. 24:34, saying “He is staking his credibility, as it were, on the absolute certainty of this prophetic pronouncement.”[43] Gentry reveals his textual bias when he writes “Whatever the difficult apocalyptic imagery in some of the preceding verses (eg., vv.29-31) may indicate, Jesus clearly says that ‘all these things’ will occur before ‘this generation’ passes away.”[44] It seems that the phrase “this generation” is the key to unlocking all interpretive questions in the Olivet Discourse.

Given that preterists are foundationally committed to the idea that Matt. 42:34 is the interpretational key to the entire Olivet Discourse, and given that the prophecies in Matt. 23:36-24:35 are said to be fulfilled in the destruction of the temple in 70 A.D., the interpretations of the ‘meanings’ of the specific prophecies in the Olivet Discourse are both varied and creative. The “wars and rumors of wars” in Matt. 24:6 are the “disturbances in Germany” or “commotions in Africa” recorded by Tacitus according to Demar[45] but are the “many battles fought as the Romans systematically and relentlessly moved across the land like a juggernaut” recorded by Josephus according to Sproul.[46] The “abomination of desolation” of Matt. 24:15 was the defiling of the temple with “the corpses of unbelieving Pharisees” according to Hanegraaf[47], according to Demar the “abomination of desolation” is the rejection of Christ by the high priest[48], according to Sproul it is the Roman standards that were erected in the temple[49] and according to Gentry it is a composite event that is fulfilled in the murder of the Pharisees in the temple[50], the surrounding of the city by the Romans[51] and the erecting of the Roman standards in the temple.[52] According to Hanegraaf and Gentry, the darkening of the sun, moon and falling of the stars refer to “judgment metaphors”[53], according to Demar they refer to things like an appearance of Haley’s comet in 60 A.D. which suggested that Nero had been dethroned by ‘the gods’[54], according to Sproul they refer to several events recorded by Josephus (Haley’s comet, visions of chariots and soldiers in the clouds, a bright light shining around the temple and a star resembling a sword appearing in the sky).[55] Clearly, there is a lack of unity in interpretation when applying apocalyptic language and truly “literal interpretation” to the understanding of the Olivet Discourse.

Problems with Proposals

Preterists have offered thousands of pages of writing to support their claims.  They have produced substantial works that have sought to deal seriously with the objections to their positions, and they have sought to be biblically driven in their interpretation of the Olivet Discourse and eschatology.  That being said, there are still serious and articulate biblical challenges and responses to their arguments.

History and John’s Revelation

Regarding the arguments for the dating of Revelation, a few things can be said.  First, the late date of the writing of Revelation was almost exclusively held until 18th century.[56] Hitchcock shows that the first millennia has three external witnesses for an early date[57].  Secondly, Gentry himself admits that few scholars find much ambiguity in the testimony of Irenaeus.[58] Third, Allen rightly suggests that the testimony of Irenaeus is too quickly dismissed by preterists, writing

Irenaeus, who died about A.D. 180, is the chief early witness for the dating of Revelation. It should be remembered that this man was one of the greatest defenders of Christianity, writing against the Gnostic Heretics. His association with Polycarp, the disciple of the apostle John, had been close. His evidence for the whole tradition of John’s last days in Asia Minor is among the most solid legacies of church history.[59]

Thomas comments that the historical, late date supporting interpretation of the statement of Irenaeus has stood until the current era.[60] Fourth, Smalley says that the early date means that Revelation was written before the Gospel of John (80AD) or the Johanine Epistles (90-93 AD).[61] This is combined with the problem of suggesting that John had somehow established himself as an authority in Asia, especially when it is generally accepted that Paul was still authoritative in Asia around 65 A.D.[62] If John had established himself as influential in Asia with his writing of Revelation, one would wonder why Paul never mentions him in his pastoral epistles and why John remained silent for 15-20 years, especially while Paul was combating rampant heresy.  Fifth, Thomas suggests that the most reliable reports from church history place John arriving in Asia around 66 A.D.[63] Sixth, Osborne writes that Nero’s persecution was only limited to Rome, and there is no evidence that extended throughout Asia.[64] Norm Geisler writes a list of 10 reasons why the date of Revelation’s authorship could not be prior to 70 A.D. and lists several of the reasons already mentioned, along with suggesting that the empire worship reflected in Revelation started under Domitian, Laodicea was destroyed by an earthquake in 61 A.D., Smyrna did not exist in 64 A.D. and the Nicolaitans were not established until near the turn of the century.[65] The evidence is not inescapable, but it is arguably a match for the arguments presented by preterists.

The Parousia of Mathew 17

This argument, in the opinion of this author, is fraught with two inescapable flaws.  First, Sproul admits that the term παρουσία is not mentioned in Matt. 16:28, hence it is only possible that Matt. 16:28 and the Olivet Discourse are talking about the same event.[66] Secondly, and much more definitively, in 2 Peter 1:16 Peter records how he was an eyewitness of Christ’s παρουσία, and quotes Matt. 17:5 to remove any confusion with regards to which event he is referring.  Under the weight of Peter’s testimony, it seems inescapable that the fulfillment of Matt. 16:28 occurred in the transfiguration.  Regardless of the doubts and arguments of preterists, the testimony of Peter outweighs them all.

The “All-Of-It” Discourse

The largest issue with preterism is the insistence of taking Matt. 24:34 as the exegetical key to the Olivet Discourse; when it comes to the Olivet, all-of-it is understood via Matt. 24:34.  Preterists claim to take the Olivet Discourse literally, but in practice they have to resort to almost absurd back-peddling to make the content of the Olivet Discourse make sense in conjunction with a 70 A.D. fulfillment.  Preterists claim to take “this generation” in 24:34 as exactly how it sounds, but they essentially claim that any difficulty in sustaining a consistent preterist reading of the Olivet Discourse lies in understanding the difficult passage as “figurative language” or “judgment metaphors”.   The tribulation (i.e. the siege of Jerusalem and razing of the temple) was somehow the worst suffering in history (Matt. 24:21), but Rieske writes that if this were the case, “one would have to prove it was exceedingly more devastating than the historical judgments that happened to Israel in the past”.[67] Matt. 24:22 talks about being saved from death, but it is very difficult to understand how the presence of Christians in Jerusalem prevented “all flesh” (Matt. 24:22) from being destroyed; apparently “all” does not mean “all”. [68] Hendricksen suggests that this verse clearly indicates that in the tribulation, if not for God’s grace, all people on earth would have died a violent death.[69] Even though Matt. 24:27-28 seems to clearly indicate that Jesus second coming would be obvious and not missed by anyone, preterists suggest that the language is language that symbolizes a coming in judgment.  This seems to strongly go against Acts 1:9-11, which lacks any cataclysmic terms and strongly indicates a physical, visible, glorious second coming.  Even Sproul admits that Acts is a difficult passage, though he simply dismisses it on the basis of similar apocalyptic language that appears in the Old Testament.[70] The mourning of all the tribes of the land in Matt 24:30 is actually “all the tribes of the land (of Israel)”[71] which only makes a larger problem, suggesting that all the Jews (both regenerate and unregenerate) in Israel recognized the siege of Jerusalem and razing of the temple as divine judgment and the second coming (since they “see” the Son of Man).  If this is the case, no apostle who wrote after 70 A.D. said anything to suggest such an understanding.  Obviously, many passages of the Olivet Discourse, if taken with a similar “common sense” reading as preterists demand of 24:34, did not occur at all.  David Turner sums up the case against preterism by writing “It is very doubtful that the global language or Matt. 24 can be satisfactorily explained by a local even in 70 CE…as significant as that event was.”[72]

Regarding the phrase “this generation” in 24:34 specifically, many interpretations about, but the best interpretation of “this generation” in the context of the Olivet Discourse seems to be to take it as a contemporary generation, but one that is the generation who sees the events of the great tribulation; the generation that is contemporary with the tribulation will not pass away before the second coming occurs.[73] Considering that in the Olivet Discourse the disciples had asked for a sign of the second coming (24:3) and Jesus replies that the sign of the second coming will be the events of the great tribulation, it seems logical that the generation that sees the events of the tribulation will know that the second coming is drawing near.[74] This interpretation allows for the normative use of “this generation” in the gospels (referring to a contemporaneous generation) but also allows for a futuristic and consistent reading of the Olivet Discourse.

Serving the Skeptics

One last argument needs to be considered as one considers preterism.  It is not so much a positive argument for preterism as it is an indication for the need for a preteristic understanding of the Olivet Discourse.  It seems that Hanegraaf, Demar, Sproul and Gentry are all exceedingly conscious of how biblical skeptics have seized Matthew 24:34 as some sort of “proof text” against the Bible; apparently Jesus made a clear and obvious prediction that was inescapably wrong (and is either a liar or a fool).  Hanegraaf writes about the Matt. 24:34, saying “Skeptics have been quick to point out that by these very words, Jesus disqualified Himself as deity and demonstrated beyond peradventure of doubt that He was a false prophet.”[75] Talking about Russell, Schweitzer and Gerald Sigal (Jewish skeptic), Hanegraaf says “Had these men understood the language of the Bible, they may not have been as quick to wag their fingers at the Master.”[76] Demar laments on the problems that have been introduced by non-preteristic understandings of the Olivet Discourse when he writes “Critics of the Bible have studied Jesus’ words in these passages and have concluded that he was wrong!  Jesus predicted that he would return within a generation, as Matthew 24:34 clearly states, and He did not.  The conclusion?  The Bible cannot be trusted as a reliable book”.  Sproul writes that Bertrand Russell thought Jesus was wrong about his own second coming and thereby could not be God.[77] Sproul also spends time sharing his understanding of how non-preterist eschatology has fueled unbelief, saying

“My own academic training took place for the  most part at institution of higher learning that are not identified with conservative or evangelical Christianity.  One of my chief professors in college was a doctoral student under Rudolph Bultmann.  In seminary I was exposed daily to the critical theories espoused by my professors regarding the Scripture.  What stands out in my memory of those days is the heavy emphasis on biblical texts regarding the return of Christ, which were constantly cited as examples of errors in the New Testament and proof that the text had been edited to accommodate the crisis in the early church caused by the so-called-parousia-delay of Jesus.”[78]

Gentry comments on how Matthew 22:7 “…so clearly warns of the A.D. 70 destruction of Jerusalem that critical scholars claim it is ex eventu prophecy.”[79] It seems that the opinions and misunderstandings of skeptics are consistently involved in the motivations for the preterists’ exegetical efforts and defense of Christ’s eschatological teaching.

One must wonder if these various individuals have a biblical understanding for the reasons that people like Bertrand Russell and other unbelieving skeptics reject the claims of Christ regarding his person and work.  The scripture is exceedingly clear that the reason for unbelief is due to the sinfulness of the individual’s own heart, not any lack in the scripture.  Secondly, one must wonder why people with a Biblical understanding of unbelief would be bothered when unbelieving skeptics do not understand the difficult passages in the scripture; without the Holy Spirit, no unbelieving skeptic can fully understand any scripture, let alone difficult passages.  It seems biblically inconsistent that a person would attempt to defend the scripture against the unbelieving skeptics who, as unregenerate sinners, are at war with God and unable to discern the truth of his word.

Final Thoughts

After presenting the argumentation offered by preterists for the date of Revelation, the arguments from Matt. 16:28 and the Olivet Discourse and the critical responses to preterist offerings, one must recognize that there is no shortage of reasonable and biblically defensible responses to preterist arguments, and one can establish biblical precedent against arguments offered by preterists. Given the unsubstantiated skepticism of Irenaeus and the external evidence for the date of the writing of Revelation, the testimony of Peter, the inconsistent interpretation of the Olivet Discourse and the strange motivation that fuels preterism, one finds that though the preterist writers make a comprehensive case for preterism, it is neither consistent nor convincing.  Given the excessive amounts of eschatological questions that lie in the wake of preterism, one can rightly suggest that preterism ignores more eschatological questions than it actually answers.


[1] Gary Demar, Last Days Madness: Obsession of the Modern Church.  (4th ed.; Atlanta, GA: American Vision, 1999), 26.

[2] Kenneth Gentry, He Shall Have Dominion. (Tyler, Texas: Institute for Christian Economics, 1992), 163.

[3] Thomas Ice.  “What is Preterism?” Pages 17-35 in The End Times Controversy. (ed. Tim Lahaye and Thomas Ice. Eugene, Or: Harvest House Publishers, 2003), 22.

[4] Ibid, 23-24.

[5] Ibid, 22-23.

[6] Kenneth Gentry, Before Jerusalem Fell: Dating the Book of Revelation.  (Tyler, Texas: Institute for Christian Economics, 1989), 342.

[7] Gentry, He Shall Have Dominion, 352.

[8] Richard Mayhue. “Jesus: A Preterist or Futurist?” TMSJ 14 no 1 (Spring 2003), 14.

[9] Irenaeus, “Against Heresies 5.30.3,” Christian Classics Ethereal Library, n.p. [Cited July 18th, 2009]. Online: http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/anf01.ix.vii.xxxi.html

[10] Gentry, Before Jerusalem Fell, 47.

[11] Ibid, 46.

[12] Ibid, 50.

[13] Ibid, 54.

[14] Ibid, 55.

[15] Ibid, 56.

[16] Ibid, 58.

[17] Ibid, 62.

[18] Ibid, 66.

[19] Sproul gives a brief delivery of Gentry’s main arguments in pages 140 to 149.  R.C. Sproul, The Last Days According to Jesus.  (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1998).

[20] Ibid, 143.

[21] Ironically, the “preponderance of the his evidence” that Sproul looks at are 2 external and 2 (weak) internal arguments, which in the opinion of this author are engaged in a manner that suggest little effort to research or meaningfully engage the positions offered in non-preterist literature.  Ibid, 145.

[22] Hank Hanegraaf, “Hank Speaks Out: Dating the Book of Revelation” Christian Research Institute,  n.p. [Cited July 18th, 2009].  Online: http://www.equip.org/hank_speaks_outs/dating-the-book-of-revelation.

[23] Ibid.

[24] Sproul, 53.

[25]Gary Demar does not explicitly state this idea but spends time in the third chapter of his book refuting attempts to separate the two verses are referring to separate events.  Gary Demar, Last Days Madness: Obsession of the Modern Church.  (4th ed.; Atlanta, GA: American Vision, 1999), 43-49.

[26] Sproul, 55.

[27] Demar, 49.

[28] Ibid.

[29] Ibid, 44.

[30] Sproul, 54-55.

[31] Thomas Ice and Kenneth. L. Gentry Jr., The Great Tribulation: Past or Future? Two Evangelicals Debate the Question. (Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 1999), 14.

[32] Sproul, 65.

[33] Sproul lists three ways that a person could interpret the Olivet Discourse.  If one takes the time indications literally and various events literally, then several events in the Olivet Discourse did not come to pass.  If one takes time indications metaphorically and various events literally, then one does not take Matt. 24:34 in its most logical sense.  If one takes time indications literally and various events metaphorically, as preterists do, then all of Jesus’ prophecies came to pass as he said they would.  Ibid, 66.

[34] Ibid, 32.

[35] Hank Hanegraaf, “Apocalypse When?  Why Most End Times Teaching is Dead Wrong,” Christian Research Journal 30 no. 2 (2007). [Cited July 18th, 2009]. Online: http://www.equipresources.org/atf/cf/%7B9C4EE03A-F988-4091-84BD-F8E70A3B0215%7D/JAA188.pdf, 5.

[36] Sproul, 85.

[37] Ibid, 89.

[38] Ice and Gentry, The Great Tribulation, 26.

[39] Hanegraaf, Apocalypse When, 5.

[40] Demar, 58.

[41] Ibid, 56.

[42] Sproul, 62.

[43] Gentry, He Shall Have Dominion, 167.

[44] Ibid, 168.

[45] Demar, 79.

[46] Sproul, 117.

[47] Hanegraaf, Apocalypse When, 8.

[48] Demar, 108-109.

[49] Sproul 39-40.

[50] Ice and Gentry, The Great Tribulation, 47.

[51] Ibid, 48.

[52] Ibid, 50.

[53] Hanegraaf, Apocalypse When, 9.  Gentry, He Shall Have Dominion, 361.

[54] Demar, 81.

[55] Sproul, 125.

[56] Mayhue, 14.

[57] Mark Hitchcock.  “The Stake in the Heart – The A.D.95 Date of Revelation?” Pages 123-150  in The End Times Controversy. (ed. Tim Lahaye and Thomas Ice. Eugene, Or: Harvest House Publishers, 2003), 138.

[58] Gentry, Before Jerusalem Fell, 47.

[59] Isbell, Allen C. “The Dating of Revelation,” ResQ 9 no 2 (1966), 115.

[60] Robert L. Thomas. Revelation 1-7: An Exegetical Commentary.  (Chicago: Moody Press, 1992), 20.

[61] Stephen Smalley, The Revelation of John: A Commentary on the Greek Text of the Apocalypse.  (Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 2005), 3.

[62] Robert Thomas. “Theonomy and the Dating of Revelation” TMSJ 5 no 2 (Fall 1994), 200.

[63] Ibid, 201.

[64] Grant R. Osborne. Revelation: (Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2002), 8.

[65] Norman Geisler. “A Friendly Response to Hank Hanegraaf’s Book The Last Disciple Dr. Norman Geisler,  n.p. [Cited July 18th, 2009].  Online: http://www.normangeisler.net/lastdisciple.htm

[66] Sproul, 53.

[67] Susan M. Rieske, “What is the Meaning of This Generation in Matthew 23.36?” BibSac 165 no 658 (April-June 2008): 223.

[68] Leon Morris. Matthew: (PTNC. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1992), 606.

[69] William Hendriksen. Matthew. (NTC. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1973), 860.

[70] Sproul, 44, 46.

[71] Demar, 166.

[72] David L. Turner. Matthew: (Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2008), 580.

[73] John MacArthur. Matthew. (The MacArthur New Testament Commentary Chicago: Moody Press, 1989), 63.

[74] Larry Pettegrew. “Interpretive Flaws in the Olivet Discourse,” TMSJ 13 no 2 (Fall 2002), 186.

[75] Hanegraaf, “Apocalypse When”.

[76] Ibid.

[77] Sproul, 13

[78].Ibid, 14

[79]Ice and Gentry, The Great Tribulation, 20.

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18 thoughts on “The All-Of-It Discourse: Evaluating the case for Preterism

  1. I appreciate that you only have a limited amount of space, but I wish you’d spent more time on a couple of portions of your article. First, your attempt to describe the “variations of preterism” was so thin that you might as well have skipped that portion. You didn’t engage early church partial preterist assumptions, the strong preterism reflected in reformers such as Lightfoot, or modern Full Preterists such as Don Preston. Even if you didn’t want to get into those details, the reality is that J. S. Russell wasn’t a Full Preterist. A Full Preterist sees all prophecies as being fulfilled. Russell proposed that he was in the Millennial kingdom (similarly to Amillennialism) and that at the end of that period he was still looking forward to the Gog and Magog war of Revelation 20.

    Another major problem I noticed is a nearly complete lack of engagement with time statements throughout the New Testament. Simply doing a search on “101 time statements” in preterism will give you an extensive list of such things. If you wanted to focus on something simple, outside of traditional Olivet Discourse related topics, you could have focused on 2nd Thessalonians 1. In that chapter Paul promises the recipients of his letter that God, because he was just (so that if he failed to do so his justice would be violated) would give them relief from their enemies (throughout passages associated with the Thessalonians their enemies are the Jews) when Christ came back with his angels. That either happened or it didn’t. Both choices have significant implications.

    Finally, I thought you quit on internal proofs for an early dating of Revelation too early. If we are to assume that scripture is the final word, then basing most of your argument on an argument from external evidence seems like a fundamental mistake.

    • Doug,

      Thanks for your comments. Originally, this was a (research) paper written for a seminary class and the page limit necessitated “broad strokes” on various points; it is most certainly not an exhaustive treatment and in no way pretends to be. I’ll respond to your 3 points in a list, for the sake of clarity.

      1. It’s been a while and I don’t have a copy of Russell at my disposal, so I’ll simply say that I’ll have to check up on Russell.

      2. Also due to space restraints, I didn’t address every single Preterist argument. I took on the 2 major arguments; the dating of revelation and the Preterist interpretation of the Olivet discourse.

      You wrote ” If you wanted to focus on something simple, outside of traditional Olivet Discourse related topics, you could have focused on 2nd Thessalonians 1.” Well, I didn’t want to.

      That being said, what are you suggesting with regard to 2 Thessalonians 1? Is there some sort of natural Preterist reading of that passage, specifically v. 5-10 of which I’m apparently blind?

      3. With regards to the internal and external evidence for the book of Revelation, I stand by what I wrote. Since the book of Revelation does NOT include explicit declarations as to the date of it’s writing, every internal argument I’ve encountered presupposes the date of writing. There’s no “knock down” internal argument one way or the other, and it’s pretty clear that everyone on both sides of the debate recognizes that this.

      • For ease of reference, the important part of the text is below. After Paul compliments them on their faithfulness in persecution he writes,

        “5 This is evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are also suffering— 6 since indeed God considers it just to repay with affliction those who afflict you, 7 and to grant relief to you who are afflicted as well as to us, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels 8 in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. 9 They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from[b] the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might, 10 when he comes on that day to be glorified in his saints, and to be marveled at among all who have believed, because our testimony to you was believed.”

        If you haven’t read it in a while, I’d slow down and read it a couple of times keeping in mind that he was writing to a specific group of people in the 50’sAD who were undergoing a real crisis (as opposed to making a blanket, idealistic statement about Christians and God in all cases of suffering). It seems to me that Paul is clear that the Thessalonians would receive relief from their persecutors. He stakes the justice of God on it. It’s a simple promise that in every other flavor of theology (say, soteriology as it addresses eternal security or irresistible grace) would be taken at face value and talked about on a regular basis. But, since we are uncomfortable with the possibility that the promise failed we don’t talk about it. Like I said, there are huge implications for either the success or failure of this promise.

        As far as internal evidences of the dating of Revelation there are a number of examples that could have been used. First, some mention should have been made of the present tense of reference to how many kings had passed or are future in Rev. 17:7-14. Early date advocates have a straight forward answer to this while in my readings I’ve noticed that late date advocates struggle to make sense of it. Second, an early date (around 63AD) would make more sense with the section in Rev. 11 on measuring the temple. The burden should be on those who say it was written after the temple was destroyed to come up with an explanation. Finally, there is general agreement now that there is very little evidence of a widespread persecution under Domitian (as opposed to Nero or the Jews of the 60’sAD). If so, the introduction in Rev. 1 would make more sense with an early date. Hank Hanegraaf does a good job of making this point in his debate with Mark Hitchcock which can be found on Youtube.

        Doug

      • Doug, I’ll interact a little with your Thessalonians quote and then your internal dating ideas:

        1. Let’s take it at face value, should we? Here’s v. 6-9

        “(6) since indeed God considers it just to repay with affliction those who afflict you, (7) and to grant relief to you who are afflicted as well as to us, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels (8) in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. (9) They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might”

        ***What are the promises of verses 6 and 7?***

        v. 6 – “God considers it just to repay with affliction those who afflict you”.

        v. 7 – “and to grant relief”

        ***Who gets those promises?***

        v. 7 – “to you who are afflicted as well as to us”.

        So those among the Thessalonians who are afflicted, as well as “Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy” (v. 1) will receive those promises of repayment and relief.

        ***What is the time of that repayment and relief?***

        v. 7-8 – “when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance….”

        Ah. Here’s the rub. So when is the time that the Lord is revealed from heaven with his angels in flaming fire? When is the time of the inflicting of vengeance?

        You say it’s 70 AD at the destruction of the temple.

        I say that it’s utterly impossible for it to be 70 AD at the destruction of the temple.

        Why?

        Let’s read on…

        ***Who gets the vengeance?***

        V. 8 – “inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.”

        Hmmm. So did the Romans “not know God”? Did the Romans “not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus”?

        You bet your subarmalis. Did the Greeks, or the Gauls, or anyone else besides the Jews “not know God” or did “not obey the gospel”?

        You can bet your Incan (or Nephite) calendar. There were a whole lot more groups than the Jews that would be part of that category.

        Is there any reason in the text to limit that category to strictly the Jews?

        Not on your Menorah partner.

        In 70 AD, if the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem was manifestation of vengeance upon the Incans, or the Chinese, or the Gauls, they sure didn’t have a clue or notice for 1 second.

        I’m not speaking from experience, but I’d hazard a guess that one of the defining qualities of the vengeance of God would certainly be that those who receive it would notice.

        ***Exegetical Implosion Imminent***

        So….

        ***What else would happen to those who got the vengeance?***

        V. 9 – “They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might”

        Woah!

        Eternal destruction?

        That sounds more serious that a building being knocked down and a few tens of thousands of people being slain on another continent!

        Well, what does “eternal destruction” mean? It sounds pretty serious. The phrase only occurs in 2 Thess. 1:9, so that passage doesn’t single-handedly clarify the mystery..

        The Greek term “aionios” (eternal) does appear 71 times in the New Testament though. Here’s some interesting information:

        a. Of the 30 usages of “aionios” in the Gospels (i.e. every single time Jesus used it), it is in reference to either “eternal life” or “eternal fire/punishment/damnation” with 1 exception: In Luke 16:9 it’s used as an adjective to describe the nature of the dwelling place of a person after the grave.

        b. Of the 41 occurrences in the rest of the NT, 28 are in reference to “eternal life” or “eternal fire/judgment”. Here’s the remaining 13 occurrences:

        – Romans 16:25 (Before the beginning of time)
        – Romans 16:26 (everlasting God)
        – 2 Cor. 4:17 (eternal – as an adjective referring to the weight of the coming glory)
        – 1 Cor. 4:18 (eternal- as a quality of the things that are unseen in the spiritual realm)
        – 2 Cor. 5:1 (everlasting – as a reference to our heavenly bodies)
        – 2 Thess. 2:16 (everlasting consolation)
        – 1 Tim. 6:16 (everlasting power)
        – 2 Tim. 1:9 (Before the beginning of time)
        – 2 Tim. 2:10 (everlasting glory)
        – Phm. 1:15 (eternally – in reference to how long 2 believers will be together)
        – Heb. 9:14 (Eternal – as an quality of the Holy Spirit.
        – 2 Pet. 1:11 (everlasting – as a description of the coming kingdom)
        – Rev. 14:6 (everlasting – as a characteristic of the gospel).

        So 2 Thess. 1:9 is a contested passage. The term is always used in reference to something spoken temporally as “timeless”, “occurring before time” or “occurring in the end times” (meaning the actual culmination of all things, not some period 1/2 way throughout human history).

        It seems to overtly contradict the uniform usage of “aionios” in scripture to suggest that “eternal destruction” would be anything other than the final judgment; the casting of the wicked into the lake of fire.

        That SURELY did not happen at 70AD.

        ***Exegetical Implosion***

        That will happen in the end.

        Paul was already dead by 70AD, but Paul, Silvanus, Timothy, the Thessalonians will get their relief and see their afflictors afflicted in the end when they enter their eternal rest and their afflictors enter their eternal affliction.

        You can claim that the Bible doesn’t teach that, but you’ve got to do a million times better than a shallow reading of 2 Thessalonians 1 to get there.

        The Preterist understand is uncovered by taking Preterism and forcing it onto the text.

        Next passage?

        2. As for the internal evidence, I’ve spent far too long working on point 1 and I’ll simply say “so what?”

        2a. The issue of tense – News flash : It’s prophetic literature.

        Have you never heard of “prophetic perfect”, where the prophet speaks as if the events in a future occurrence are happening concurrently to his time?

        2b. The measuring of the temple – we’re talking about 2 verses where John measures the temple, but says nothing about what the measurements are. If there’s an argument in that comment somewhere, I cannot see it.

        2c. The burden of proof – “The burden should be on those who say it was written after the temple was destroyed to come up with an explanation”

        No. That’s not how “burden of proof” works.

        A burden of proof falls on anyone who makes a claim about something. You cannot assume your position to be the default position and then demand proof from everyone else.

        If you make a claim, you need to provide the proof for that claim. The Preterist has a fully equal burden of proof to a futurist.

        2d. The tribulation point – Why is the assumption that only the most extreme persecution of the 1st century is what is being referenced? The text of 1:9 says:

        “I, John, your brother and partner in the tribulation and the kingdom and the patient endurance that are in Jesus”

        It doesn’t assume anything except that both John and the seven churches both endured tribulation. Just because there was more tribulation under one emperor doesn’t necessitate that the worse emperor is being referenced.

        Again, every one of the “internal” arguments you’ve tossed at me assumes Preterism. Don’t feel bad, but I’m not convinced…I’m not even in the area code of “convinced”.

        • In the interest of space (and the fact that anyone really interested in the topic would be better off reading Gentry’s book) I’ll leave the timing of the writing of Revelation (which I maintain was about 63AD) for another discussion and focus the comments below on 2nd Thess. 1. It seems to me that we are using a couple of key pieces of vocabulary significantly differently, which is causing our conclusions to be mutually exclusive. Probably the most important is “the time of the end”, “the end time”, or the end of time”. As N. T. Wright has pointed out there is no evidence that at the time of the writing of the NT that the Jews or Christians (and this applies to the Dead Sea Scrolls) expected history to end at the culmination of eschatology. This was most likely imported into Christianity through the influence of the Stoics in the first few hundred years of the church. The phase that we see as “the time of the end”, etc., is simply meant to refer to the destiny of the people or prophecy in question. This is why, at the time of the end of the Old Covenant, the author of Hebrews says,

          Hebrews 1:1-2 (NKJV)
          1 God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets,
          2 has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds;
          The New Testament period was the time of the end of that covenant, not the end of time. There is no such thing postulated in scripture as the end of time.

          I disagree with you that aionios itself implies anything about a time before the creation of time or after the end of time. That is a philosophical interpolation that I don’t think the text warrants, and would be foreign to Hebrew cosmology as far as I’ve been able to find. I agree that the eternal or everlasting destruction of the bad guys are in view in 2nd Thess. 1. However, it seems that because you define this as at the “end of time” literally, you cannot see this as happening anywhere in history other than at the end of human history. But, the text doesn’t explicitly say that. It simply says that whatever judgment happens will be forever. If the judgment lasts forever, but there is no predicted end of history in the text, then I see no problem with that judgment beginning at some point in human history and continuing as an ongoing institution. That’s why, I’d argue, Paul told those he spoke to that there was about to be a judgment of the righteous and unrighteous. This had never happened before (the Hadean relm or Sheol had been the destiny of all people up to that point in history), but the change Paul promised was about to happen is that from that time on people would be immediately finally judged, first in a batch up to that point in history and then as they arrived after death from that point on (Rev. 14:13).

          If you are saying that human history is over at that point (something that I’d argue is only implied in some texts if you take certain vocabulary in certain ways) what would you do with the following text?

          Isaiah 9:7 (ESV)
          7 Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.
          It seems to me that this passage from Isaiah proposes two important things. First, the kingdom will not end. Second, it will continue to increase in influence indefinitely. When do you propose that this kingdom comes about (is it the Millennium?, the post GWTJ New Heavens and New Earth?)?

          It seems to me that the Thessalonian passage is pretty simple. The Thessalonians, per Acts, were being persecuted by the Jews (the people that the rest of the NT focuses on as the unbelievers on whom vengeance is going to be dealt per Deut. 32 and Luke 21). They were massacred as individuals all through the Roman Empire during the 66-70AD war and their power center, Jerusalem, was destroyed. Therefore, the people who were causing problems were in face destroyed by divine justice as promised. You are right that Eskimos and Incas were not part of that. They’re not part of the rest of the Biblical narrative by name either. As I mentioned before, I thought that your overall knowledge of Preterism and the metanarrative of the NT was shaky. To understand the covenantal issues involved I’d suggest reading Chilton’s “Days of Vengeance” (free as a PDF online).

      • Doug. Here’s how it always goes down:

        – The Preterists (that’s you) accuse the Futurists (that’s me) of being ignorant of scripture/not dealing with scripture/not having a “biblical” view.

        – The Futurist says “What passage do you have in mind?” and then the Preterist tosses out a passage.

        – The Futurist walks through the text, carefully going over the language, grammar, and syntax of the text, and shows that there’s a reasonable futurist understanding of the text that does not force itself into the text.

        – The Preterist then shifts to quoting “scholars” (but only the guys he names are true “scholars”), and doesn’t give any sort of in depth response to the futurist exegesis. The Futurist is then asked to read 1,000+ pages of literature in order to further the discussion.

        I’ve had this exact conversation before. I’m on holidays and not doing it now.

        Why don’t you walk through 2 Thess. 1 and show me, in like care that I showed you, how the passage offers up a Preterist understanding? I’ve shown you where my understanding comes from. Show me from the grammar, syntax and vocabulary of the scripture where your understanding comes from.

        I don’t think you can do so, hence you have to change the topic and start talking about Stoic influence, Tom Wright and other scripture.

  2. From my side of the fence, it looks like if you are repeatedly being told that you need to read 1,000 pages of commentary in order to have a qualified opinion then several people have noticed that you are not very knowledgeable about the subject. You have at least read the portion of “Wars of the Jews” that covers the siege of Jerusalem, right?

    But, if a more detailed look at 2nd Thess. 1 is what you desire I’ll give it a shot. Since in any exegesis context is more important than grammar, I’ll start there. Most commentators will agree that the letters to the Thessalonians were written in the early 50’s and fairly close together (a common argument is that they were written only two weeks apart, for instance). Paul had met the Thessalonians on one of his missionary journeys where he started a church in his usual way, which was to go to a synagogue and recruit Jews who were prepared to accept Christ. This immediately caused problems with those who weren’t willing to accept Christ, and those Jews caused problems in not only Thessalonica but almost all of the cities that we have a record of Paul evangelizing. In other words, throughout his ministry Paul’s primary enemies were those Jews who refused to upgrade to the New Covenant. Christ himself had this same problem which is well documented in the four gospels, though a short section which focuses on this conflict is Matt. 21-23. In the narrative of the New Testament, this conflict is the central theme. There is very little concern about persecution by the Romans (which didn’t start until the mid-60’s) and little emphasis on Gentiles (the Eskimos and Incas) outside of those found where the Diaspora of Israelites lived (fulfilling the theme “Jews first, then Gentiles”), though Paul said in Colossians that he’d already evangelized every creature under heaven.

    The Jews that Paul, his companions, and his planted churches dealt with were extremely vicious (Acts 17). After causing a riot in Thessalonica in protest of Paul’s message they followed him to other cities trying to stir up trouble. Paul eventually had to flee by sea to Athens to get away from them. These are the enemies Paul had in mind in this passage and it is obvious from the passage that they were still up to no good when he wrote is epistles to his flock who could not pick up and flee. So, when we see in v.7 that Paul is guaranteeing vengeance against their common enemies, it is the Jews who are a target of that vengeance (not the Romans, the Pope, Islam, or any other group spiritualized from the text in order to allow for it not to be fulfilled on time as promised).

    Though it would take too long to do so here, I suggest that you do a word study on the concept of vengeance in scripture. From Deuteronomy 32 to Isaiah 65-66 to Luke 21, we see that God’s vengeance has always been primarily targeted at those who violated their covenant with him. Though Gentiles or barbarians who sin are also peripherally in view as being targets of God’s displeasure throughout scripture, the apostate members of groups already in relationship with God have been the primary focus of vengeance. The Old Testament prophets are particularly clear about this.

    So, Paul starts his second epistle complimenting the Thessalonians on their endurance and love (v.1-4). Those Thessalonians are going to be rewarded for their endurance with eternal life in the Kingdom of God that is being prepared for them (v.5). Paul says that he, his team, and the Thessalonians are expecting relief from their persecutors, the Jews, when Christ comes with his angels (v.6-8). Paul bets the justice of God on the fact that this will happen (v.6).

    Let’s stop for a moment and consider the importance of that. Reformed theology has gone to great lengths to find a way to honor the justice of God in their theory of atonement. The Rube Goldberg system of ordus salutis, TULIP, and other associated doctrines were necessitated by their imagination of what God’s justice required. They take God’s justice very seriously. But, here we have a simple, explicit declaration of something that an Apostle in inspired text says God’s justice actually hinges on: Paul and his flock will be given relief from the Jews and their persecution when Christ comes with his angels. That either happened or it didn’t. If it did, then God’s justice was satisfied and Paul and company were given relief from their persecution. If it didn’t, then we have to either come up with an exotic explanation for why in order maintain the justice of God, or question whether God is just. If Christians would put 1% of the effort that they do for soteriology into this question I think we’d be much further along in the study of eschatology.

    In v.9 and following we see an interesting reference to eternal destruction away from the presence of God. One of the reasons I think this passage is confusing to you is that you are only seeing that in reference to personal eschatology based on belief in Christ or not after the Great White Throne Judgment. However, it’s important to understand that a dynamic played out in parallel is the national destiny of apostate Israel under the Old Covenant. Eschatology in the Bible is based on the promise of a conversion from the Old Covenant to the New Covenant (Deut. 32, Eze. 37, Jer. 31, Isa. 65-66, Dan. 12, etc.). Paul says clearly that his gospel and doctrine of the resurrection is based directly on the promises of the Law and the prophets (Acts 24, 26, 28). The playing out of that narrative is the theme of scripture, and Isaiah is particularly clear that those who are cast out forever are members of the rebellious nation who will not repent towards God (Isa. 65-66, Matt. 21-23). Likewise, the mentions of Gehenna in the New Testament have their source in Jeremiah’s threats against Jerusalem in which he says that the invading armies of Babylon are going to throw the apostate Israelites’ bodies into the Gehenna (the valley next to the city) so that they are ignominiously discarded. So, language associated with Gehenna is tightly tied to national covenantal judgment, only applicable to individual rebellious humans throughout time as a type and shadow described in full detail in Rev. 20 as the Lake of Fire. The modus operandi of God is the fulfillment of the full reality of something when the type is fulfilled in human history (cf, Passover, Unleavened Bread, First Fruits, Pentecost, etc.). Using this pattern as a guide I propose that when the nation was destroyed and the rebellious members’ bodies were indeed thrown into the valley just as predicted (see “Wars of the Jews” book 6) the Great White Throne Judgment see in Revelation 20 began operation, beginning with a judgment of all of those throughout human history who’d been cooling their heels in Hades/Sheol, and continuing for each generation as it dies off.

    This passage is about Christ coming in judgment as promised to the apostate nation (cf Matt. 24, 1st Cor. 15, 1st Thess. 4). It cleanly fits with the rest of the narrative of scripture and the goal of eschatology. In my experience, a failure to understand prophetic imagery (cf Isaiah 34) has so confused modern Christians that they aren’t able to understand how the authors of the New Testament talked or used their prophetic vocabulary. There is no need in this passage to examine exotic grammar or vocabulary because there is none. It’s a simple letter written to simple believers who got two weeks of face to face teaching by Paul and were at the time under tremendous pressure. If you are confused by phrases such as the Lord coming in clouds and with flaming fire, I suggest you study the Old Testament references to such things. Coming in the clouds in judgment is universally seen as God using an evil nation to invade his apostate nation (cf Eze. 38-39). Again, if you require miraculous signs then if you were familiar with “Wars of the Jews” you’d see that there was plenty of this offered by God to make sure that the people being judged didn’t miss message. If it’s significant astronomical signs you need, then go to the NASA lunar eclipse page and find that a blood red moon eclipse happened immediately after the sacking of Jerusalem and before the end of that Fall’s festal calendar (cf Matt. 24).

    You are entitled to your opinion on eschatology, but before you write again preterism I’d ask that you do some more research.

  3. Doug, thanks for your thoughts and insults. I make a point to come at people with like firepower with which they engage me (minus the insults).

    Here comes:

    You said ” Since in any exegesis context is more important than grammar, I’ll start there…”

    I’d suggest that you and I have HIGHLY different views of what “exegesis” means. The context isn’t the history as opposed to the grammar; it’s both the grammatical and historical settings in which the passage finds itself.

    You assume that the persecutors of believers were ONLY the Jews, and you need to assume the idea in order to justify your reading of the text.

    That’s many things but it’s certainly not exegesis.

    You also didn’t actually walk through the passage beyond giving a broad summary in 1 paragraph (again, compare that with what I did in my previous post). The rest of your post was you dragging in a whole slough of selective history, wrong theological and lexical ideas and other passages to make your point and then reading it back into 2 Thess. 1.

    Wrong?

    Harsh words?

    Well, let’s take a look at your claims about “vengeance” while ignoring the basic error in your lexicography; you don’t define a Greek term by it’s Hebrew equivalent, or even it’s semantic range. The meaning of a term is found by it’s usage in a sentence (i.e. grammatical context), not it’s lexical meaning or semantic range.

    **********

    In 2 Thess. 1:8, the word is ekdikesis, translated “vengeance”. The word only appears 9 times in the NT: Luke 18:8, 18:8, 21:22; Acts7:24, Rom. 12:19; 2 Cor. 7:11, 2 Thess. 1:8; Heb. 10:30 and 1 Pet. 2:14.

    Luke 18:1-8 is the parable of the persistent widow and that passage definitely does not teach that “God’s vengeance has always been primarily targeted at those who violated their covenant with him”.

    Luke 21:22 simply says that “those days” will be marked by vengeance and doesn’t teach that “God’s vengeance has always been primarily targeted at those who violated their covenant with him”.

    Acts 7:24 speaks of Moses killing the Egyptian, which certainly doesn’t teach that “God’s vengeance has always been primarily targeted at those who violated their covenant with him”.

    Romans 12:19 says that vengeance should never be enacted by believers because it belongs to God, which certainly doesn’t teach that “God’s vengeance has always been primarily targeted at those who violated their covenant with him”.

    2 Corinthians 7:11 says that “ekdikesis” is the fruit of the godly sorrow in the Corinthians, which certainly doesn’t teach that “God’s vengeance has always been primarily targeted at those who violated their covenant with him”.

    Hebrews 10:30 is a reference to Deuteronomy 32. which is in the context of those who violated the law of Moses and states that since those folks died, those who tread Christ under foot will not escape. This passage would lean itself to teaching “God’s vengeance has always been primarily targeted at those who violated their covenant with him”.

    1 Peter 2:14 says that governors punish the evil and praise the good, which certainly doesn’t teach that “God’s vengeance has always been primarily targeted at those who violated their covenant with him”.

    So, when we get to 2 Thess. 1:8, we have 1 verse in a list of 8 that gives us reason to believe that “those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus” are some sort of covenant breakers rather than generic unbelievers/sinners…

    …and just so I don’t get the “well, you ignored the OT” card thrown at me, Deut 32:35 (cited in Hebrews) uses the term naqam, translated “vengeance”, and naqam only appears 17 times in the OT: Lev. 26:25; Deut 32:35, 41, 43; Judg. 16:28; Ps. 58:10; Prov. 6:34; Is. 34:8, 35:4, 47:3, 59:17, 61:2, 63:4; Eze. 24:8, 25:12, 15; Mic. 5:15. Only 1 of those passages talks about God getting “vengeance” on those who break his covenant – Leviticus 26:25. There’s no pattern there, unless 2 our of 26 occurrences (7%) is some sort of clear and obvious pattern.

    I’ve looked at the relevant NT passages, and the term in the OT passage cited by the one relevant NT passage. I’ve done the work, found your claim to be bogus, and confidently call you wrong.

    That’s not “stupid” or anything, but only wrong.

    Being wrong detracts from the force of your argument. Just fyi.

  4. I’m not sure where I insulted you, but I’ll try to be nicer.

    You said, “You assume that the persecutors of believers were ONLY the Jews, and you need to assume the idea in order to justify your reading of the text.”

    There is no evidence that at the time of the writing of the New Testament there was any systematic persecution of Christians by anyone other than Jews as reflected in Act, Galatians, etc. I challenge you to demonstrate any other systematic persecution.

    I said, “Though it would take too long to do so here, I suggest that you do a word study on the concept of vengeance in scripture. From Deuteronomy 32 to Isaiah 65-66 to Luke 21, we see that God’s vengeance has always been primarily targeted at those who violated their covenant with him. Though Gentiles or barbarians who sin are also peripherally in view as being targets of God’s displeasure throughout scripture, the apostate members of groups already in relationship with God have been the primary focus of vengeance. The Old Testament prophets are particularly clear about this.”

    In your response you made it sound like I said that every use of the term vengeance in scripture refers to God’s vengeance against apostate Israel. That’s not what I said. I said it is primarily targeted at people who violate a covenant with him. In addition, the three passages I listed and the clear context of the comment had to do with prophetic passages. So, we’ll look at the verses you mentioned plus the ones I had in mind in more detail, keeping in mind that our primary interest is in prophetic uses of the term “vengeance.”

    Luke 18:1-8 (NKJV)
    1 Then He spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart,
    2 saying: “There was in a certain city a judge who did not fear God nor regard man.
    3 Now there was a widow in that city; and she came to him, saying, ‘Get justice for me from my adversary.’
    4 And he would not for a while; but afterward he said within himself, ‘Though I do not fear God nor regard man,
    5 yet because this widow troubles me I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.’ ”
    6 Then the Lord said, “Hear what the unjust judge said.
    7 And shall God not avenge His own elect who cry out day and night to Him, though He bears long with them?
    8 I tell you that He will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?”
    [I think you missed the second half of the passage where Jesus gives some application. He explicitly says that that the point he is making is that he will avenge the elect who cry out to him day and night (cf Matt 23:33ff, Rev. 6:9ff). This use of vengeance by Jesus is precisely aimed at the Jews of his generation.]
    Luke 21:22 (NKJV)
    22 For these are the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled.
    [To keep this short, I suggest you read “Days of Vengeance” by Chilton, who got the name of the preterist book specifically from this passage. You may not agree with it, but preterists take this as an explicit reference to vengeance promised in the OT (see below)].
    Acts 7:23-25 (NKJV)
    23 Now when he was forty years old, it came into his heart to visit his brethren, the children of Israel.
    24 And seeing one of them suffer wrong, he defended and avenged him who was oppressed, and struck down the Egyptian.
    25 For he supposed that his brethren would have understood that God would deliver them by his hand, but they did not understand.
    [As I repeated above, eschatological uses of vengeance have to do primarily with God’s vengeance against apostate Israel. I didn’t say every use of it was. I think it’s possible that this passage has some typological meaning along those lines, but I doubt you’d be convinced of this.]
    Romans 12:19 (NKJV)
    19 Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. (Ref to Deut. 32:36)
    [You forgot to mention that Paul got this phrase directly from Deuteronomy 23:35, a passage specifically designed as an oracle of doom against apostate Israel. We have a habit of universalizing it (and there is probably some universal truth to it), but in the context of ~57AD (when Paul wrote Romans to his audience) the topic was individual Christians taking vengeance against Jews who were persecuting them when God had already set up the Roman nation as an instrument of wrath. It’s worth considering who the players are in real history in these passages.]

    2 Corinthians 7:11 (NKJV)
    11 For observe this very thing, that you sorrowed in a godly manner: What diligence it produced in you, what clearing of yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what vehement desire, what zeal, what vindication! In all things you proved yourselves to be clear in this matter.
    [As I pointed out above, my original assertion was focused on eschatology. But, in as much as there is an overlap with the point I just made in Romans 12 I could say that they took Paul’s advice to allow the Romans to be an instrument of God’s vengeance.]
    2 Thessalonians 1:5-10 (NKJV)
    5 which is manifest evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you also suffer;
    6 since it is a righteous thing with God to repay with tribulation those who trouble you,
    7 and to give you who are troubled rest with us when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels,
    8 in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.
    9 These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power,
    10 when He comes, in that Day, to be glorified in His saints and to be admired among all those who believe, because our testimony among you was believed.
    [You didn’t comment on this one directly in your most recent post, though it seems like you accepted my point for the sake of argument lower in your post. My take on it is that it’s the same vengeance referred to in Luke 21, Matt. 23, etc., making it explicitly about punishment of the Jews for persecuting the prophets and then the Christians.]
    Hebrews 10:28-30 (NKJV)
    28 Anyone who has rejected Moses’ law dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses.
    29 Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace?
    30 For we know Him who said, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. And again, “The Lord will judge His people.”
    [I agree.]

    1 Peter 2:13-14 (NKJV)
    13 Therefore submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake, whether to the king as supreme,
    14 or to governors, as to those who are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and for the praise of those who do good.
    [Again, at the time it was written, who were the governors? Rome. Who were the people doing evil throughout the New Testament? The Jews (taken to mean the leadership of the apostate nation and their followers).]

    Here are a couple of other important references that need to be considered:

    Revelation 6:9-10 (ESV)
    9 When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the witness they had borne.
    10 They cried out with a loud voice, “O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?”
    Revelation 19:1-2 (ESV)
    1 After this I heard what seemed to be the loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, crying out, “Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God,
    2 for his judgments are true and just; for he has judged the great prostitute who corrupted the earth with her immorality, and has avenged on her the blood of his servants.”
    [I expect that you won’t see these verses as associated with apostate Israel, but that’s exactly what preterism proposes. Starting with Lev. 26 and Deut. 32 we have a prophecy of doom for apostasy. Then, throughout the Old Testament prophets we have more detail about what will result from rebellion from God’s people. Then, in Matt. 23 we have Christ explicitly declaring the doom foretold earlier in the OT on that generation. In Revelation we have saints praying for vengeance in chapter six and then the vengeance being applied in chapter 19.]

    By my count, all of the passages associated with prophecy reinforce my point. The problem seems to be one of presuppositions. I know we disagree about those. But, I think I can make my case consistently and if you want to write about preterism I think you should become more familiar with them.

    Doug

    • Doug,

      I’ll number things to make it less difficult to follow (I hate long posts that are disorganized)

      (1) 2 Thess. 1 says nothing about systematic persecution. You’re pressing the term into a meaning that isn’t even part of it’s semantic range. I’ll take your challenge and dismiss it as a lexical fallacy.

      The Greek verb is “thlibo”, and it simply means “trouble” or “distress” or “press against”. Jesus says that “thlibo” is the way that leads to life in Matt 7:14. In Mark 3:9, Christ preached to the crowd from a boat because he was concerned that the crowd would “thlibo” him. The term does, in no way, carry “systematic persecution” as part of it’s lexical range, and neither do it’s cognates:

      The noun form of “thlipsis” is used to describe the time of tribulation in Matt. 24:9, 21 & 29 (which will not be a tribulation performed by the Jews but rather upon them, even in a Preterist understanding), but it is also used to describe what comes against the seed that withers in Mark 4:17, the pain of childbirth in John 16:21, the troubles of Joseph in Egypt in Acts 7:10-11, what awaits both the unrighteous Jew and Gentile in Romans 2:9, and what happens to those who are married in 1 Cor. 7:28.

      When I got married, I sure didn’t experience systematic persecution by any Jews…but I did experience much more general trouble and hardship. That’s what Paul’s writing the church in Thessalonica about. Your insistence about the narrow application to the Jews in 2 Thess. 1:6 is now debunked as run-of-the-mill eisegesis.

      (2) Regarding Luke 18, you said “This use of vengeance by Jesus is precisely aimed at the Jews of his generation”. That’s simply absurd. If I missed the end (which I didn’t), you simply weren’t paying attention to the beginning, where Jesus says what the parable is about: “And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart” (18:1).

      The parable is about persistence in prayer, and Jesus makes the point that if a persistent widow will get justice from a wicked judge, how much more will God’s elect get justice from a righteous judge?

      That’s justice from God not limited to simply being applied against the Jews of Jesus day, but rather is a universal truth about persistence in prayer and the fact that God hears all believers and will grant justice to all believers.

      Luke 18, as I said, doesn’t support preterism at all.

      (3) As for Romans 12:19 being about “individual Christians taking vengeance against Jews who were persecuting them when God had already set up the Roman nation as an instrument of wrath”, Again, you simply import a “context”, pretend it’s there, and force the text to say something it doesn’t remotely say..

      Rom 12:14-15 – Bless those who persecute you. (narrow scope)
      Rom 12:16 – Live in harmony with one another (broad scope)
      Rom 12:17-21 – Repay no one evil for evil but rather live peaceably with all. (universal scope).

      Romans 12:19 cannot possibly be about Christian simply taking vengeance against the Jews. It’s using universal language (“Repay no one evil for evil” or “do what is honorable in the sight of all” or “live peaceably with all” or “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good”).

      Romans 12:19 doesn’t support preterism at all.

      (4) Regarding 1 Peter 2:13-14, you said “Again, at the time it was written, who were the governors? Rome. Who were the people doing evil throughout the New Testament? The Jews…”

      As if the Jews were the generic “evildoers” in scripture. You’re so determined to prove your Preterism that you don’t even seem to see what the scripture says:

      “every human institution” is only Rome and “those who do evil” are only the Jews? What?

      Good night Irene. That’s simply so desperate it’s embarassing.

      1 Peter 2:13-14 doesn’t support preterism at all. I think I’m detecting a pattern here…

      By my count, you’re zero for 3 on your proof-texts. Shall we continue?

      No?

      You said “The problem seems to be one of presuppositions. I know we disagree about those. But, I think I can make my case consistently and if you want to write about preterism I think you should become more familiar with them.”

      I’m plenty familiar with them, my good fellow.

      The problem is one of presuppositions, but our difference isn’t one about presupposing preterism or futurism. It’s one about the nature of scripture and the nature of “exegesis”. In what I’ve seen of your hermeneutics, you put the historical far before and quite above the grammatical. I put the historical alongside the grammatical.

  5. I’m starting to wonder if you’ve ever read the Acts of the Apostles, or the rest of the New Testament for that matter. Who beat Peter and John? Why did Herod put John to death? Who did Saul worked for? Who was persecuting the Thessalonians? Who hounded Paul from city to city? Who caused the dispute requiring the epistle to the Galatians? Who arrested Paul? Who is Matthew 23 aimed at? Who did Jesus dispute with throughout his ministry? Who arrested him and asked that he be killed? I could go on. I have a hard time believing that you are actually this ignorant of the New Testament narrative.

    Doug

    • Nope. I’ve never read the Bible. Thanks for coming out Doug.

      I don’t have a clue if you’re trying to make a point, or simply angry because I’ve exposed your unwillingness (or inability) to let scripture define it’s own terms and meaning.

      Is every generic reference to anything or anyone “evil” a veiled reference to the Jews?

      Of course not. That’s simply absurd.

      Is every reference to the coming great tribulation a reference to how the Jews persecuted the Christians in the 1st century, or the destruction of the temple?

      Well, I don’t know. I’m open to a biblical argument for that, but you haven’t presented any biblical arguments that survive even a shallow reading of the texts you cite. You assume your case, force it into the scriptures, and then simply get mad when I don’t agree with you.

      The reason I’m not a preterist is because when I do exegesis of the text of the New Testament, I don’t find preterism.

      Beyond that, I see only one side of the argument doing exegesis of scripture (the futurists) and the preterists simply talk about the “historical context” (most of which is extra-biblical) while ignoring the actual language of scripture.

  6. Excellent, we’ll stick to the text. Please fill in the blank next to each of the questions:

    Who beat Peter and John?
    Who stoned Stephen?
    Why did Herod put John to death?
    Who did Saul worked for?
    Who was persecuting the Thessalonians?
    Who hounded Paul from city to city?
    Who caused the dispute requiring the epistle to the Galatians?
    Who stoned Paul?
    Who arrested Paul?
    Who is Matthew 23 aimed at?
    Who is the vengeance of Luke 21 aimed at?
    Who did Jesus dispute with throughout his ministry?
    Who arrested him and asked that he be killed?
    Who is Deuteronomy 32 aimed at?
    Who is God’s anger in Hosea aimed at?
    Who is God’s anger in Jeremiah aimed at?
    Who are God’s enemies in Isaiah 65-66?
    Who does Malachi predict will be put down?

    Again, I could go on. I think you can answer those off of the top of your head (though I think you’ll probably choke on the answers).

    Doug

    • Interesting how you want to stick to the text and then don’t actually walk through any texts. Typical Preterist. Bible-ish isn’t the same as Biblical.

      – Who beat Peter and John?

      The Sanhedrin, and they were Jewish.

      – Who stoned Stephen?

      The Jews…sort of.

      – Why did Herod put John to death?

      “For Herod had seized John and bound him and put him in prison for the sake of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife,[a] 4 because John had been saying to him, “It is not lawful for you to have her.” 5 And though he wanted to put him to death, he feared the people, because they held him to be a prophet.” – Matthew 14:3-5 tells us why he was imprisoned.

      Why was John slain? Matt. 14:8 says it’s becuase his daughter asked for his head.

      So where were the Jews in this?

      – Who did Saul worked for?

      The Pharisees.

      – Who was persecuting the Thessalonians?

      Well, it was the people in Thessalonica – “For you, brothers, became imitators of the churches of God in Christ Jesus that are in Judea. For you suffered the same things from your own countrymen as they did from the Jews, who killed both the Lord Jesus and the prophets, and drove us out, and displease God and oppose all mankind” – 1 Thess 2:14-15.

      I know you don’t like it when the actual text of the Bible disagrees with you, but it’s interesting how Paul says “from your own countrymen as they did from the Jews (placing those who troubled the Thessalonians in a separate category). The Thessalonians became imitators of the Judean churches (who were troubled by the Jews) and suffered similarly at the hands of their own countrymen (different and distinct category from the Jews).

      Wonder why Paul said that if he was trying to say that the same Jews that troubled the Judeans were troubling the Thessalonians?

      Hmmm…

      I’m not answering the rest of your questions, since the broad category of “The Jews” is the answer you’re assuming in every passage (even Isaiah 65 and 66? What?), and you don’t seem to allow for any nuance beyond that simple answer. I could equally answer every one of those with “the wicked” or “sinners”.

      Equally general and equally unhelpful in determining who is the specific people being addressed in 2 Thessalonians 1:6.

      You cannot over-rule the language of the scripture with broad historical context.

      That’s not exegesis.

  7. I’m not surprised that you didn’t want to answer the rest of the questions.

    I figured that you’d be tracking with me that we were starting the list with the events of Acts. I was referring to John, brother of James. Herod killed him and was about to do the same to Peter to please the Jews.

    Speaking of which, let’s take a look at the text to find out who was causing the problems in Thessalonica:

    Acts 17:1-6 (NASB)
    1 Now when they had traveled through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a synagogue of the Jews.
    2 And according to Paul’s custom, he went to them, and for three Sabbaths reasoned with them from the Scriptures,
    3 explaining and giving evidence that the Christ had to suffer and rise again from the dead, and saying, “This Jesus whom I am proclaiming to you is the Christ.”
    4 And some of them were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas, along with a large number of the God-fearing Greeks and a number of the leading women.
    5 But the Jews, becoming jealous and taking along some wicked men from the market place, formed a mob and set the city in an uproar; and attacking the house of Jason, they were seeking to bring them out to the people.
    6 When they did not find them, they began dragging Jason and some brethren before the city authorities, shouting, “These men who have upset the world have come here also;

    These same Jews who rejected Paul were the ones who eventually hounded him from city to city. There is no textual reason to believe that the people putting pressure on the believers in the epistles to the Thessalonians were anyone other than these characters (you certainly couldn’t prove so from the text).

    • Bruce,

      You just keep attempting to establish your point on assumption after assumption. The Jews were going after Paul in Thessalonica; agreed.

      Acts 17:1-6 says that the Jews were troubling Paul, but Acts 17:1-6 doesn’t say who was troubling the Thessalonians years later when Paul wrote to them.

      It may have still been those same Jews, but 1 Thess. 2:14-15 gives me a reasonable case to suggest that it wasn’t just the Jews (and only the Jews) who were the problem for the Thessalonians; the troublemakers in their lives may have very well included non-Jews.

      Again, the whole Jewish persecution point is irrelevant because 2 Thess. 1:6 doesn’t talk about systemic, organized persecution. You don’t seem to be able to face that fact.

      It’s talking about general trouble/strife/etc that believers face, and that trouble isn’t always caused by Jews. In Thessalonica, trouble was caused by people other than the Jews, and this is true of believers of every age, it was true even in the life of Paul.

      • I don’t know who Bruce is, but I think you were referring to me. There is no textual evidence that the people harassing the Thessalonians were anyone other than the local Jews who had harassed Paul earlier. You may want or need it to be otherwise, but you have nothing to base that on. You also have nothing to base your spiritualization of the text on when you say that 2nd Thessalonians 1 is talking about a general trouble/strive/etc. that believers face. I don’t think that passage should be spiritualized in such a way. 2nd Thessalonians is a real letter written to real people in about 55AD, not you. You can learn from the advice given to them but the letter isn’t about you and wasn’t written to you. The same goes for the rest of the New Testament, which is why Calvinism is such a mess.

      • Doug,

        I don’t know why I called you Bruce for some reason…probably was the last name that caused some weird association. Putting my Jabez-confusion aside, it appears that I’ve already addressed all your points of contention. I guess I’m simply left to simply copy and paste my previous comments as they still stand:

        1. You said ” There is no textual evidence that the people harassing the Thessalonians were anyone other than the local Jews who had harassed Paul earlier. You may want or need it to be otherwise, but you have nothing to base that on.”

        Yet I have previously written:

        **********

        “Who was persecuting the Thessalonians?

        Well, it was the people in Thessalonica – “For you, brothers, became imitators of the churches of God in Christ Jesus that are in Judea. For you suffered the same things from your own countrymen as they did from the Jews, who killed both the Lord Jesus and the prophets, and drove us out, and displease God and oppose all mankind” – 1 Thess 2:14-15.

        I know you don’t like it when the actual text of the Bible disagrees with you, but it’s interesting how Paul says “from your own countrymen as they did from the Jews (placing those who troubled the Thessalonians in a separate category). The Thessalonians became imitators of the Judean churches (who were troubled by the Jews) and suffered similarly at the hands of their own countrymen (different and distinct category from the Jews).

        Wonder why Paul said that if he was trying to say that the same Jews that troubled the Judeans were troubling the Thessalonians?

        Hmmm…”

        **********

        as well as:

        **********

        “Acts 17:1-6 says that the Jews were troubling Paul, but Acts 17:1-6 doesn’t say who was troubling the Thessalonians years later when Paul wrote to them.

        It may have still been those same Jews, but 1 Thess. 2:14-15 gives me a reasonable case to suggest that it wasn’t just the Jews (and only the Jews) who were the problem for the Thessalonians; the troublemakers in their lives may have very well included non-Jews.”

        **********

        That’s not nothing. That’s reasonable deduction from scripture:

        Paul was troubled by the Jews, but years later those who troubled the Thessalonians were likely both Jews and non-Jews, hence Paul uses the broader category of “your own countrymen” in juxtaposition to “the Jews”.

        **********

        2. You said “You also have nothing to base your spiritualization of the text on when you say that 2nd Thessalonians 1 is talking about a general trouble/strive/etc. that believers face. I don’t think that passage should be spiritualized in such a way.”

        2a. You aren’t using the term “spiritualize” correctly.

        Just for clarification, if I was using the passage in a metaphorical way or interpreting it in contradistinction to the common usage of the words in their historical AND grammatical context, I’d be “spiritualizing”.

        I’m not.

        2b. I have already addressed that complaint too. I have previously written:

        **********

        “2 Thess. 1 says nothing about systematic persecution. You’re pressing the term into a meaning that isn’t even part of it’s semantic range. I’ll take your challenge and dismiss it as a lexical fallacy.

        The Greek verb is “thlibo”, and it simply means “trouble” or “distress” or “press against”. Jesus says that “thlibo” is the way that leads to life in Matt 7:14. In Mark 3:9, Christ preached to the crowd from a boat because he was concerned that the crowd would “thlibo” him. The term does, in no way, carry “systematic persecution” as part of it’s lexical range, and neither do it’s cognates:

        The noun form of “thlipsis” is used to describe the time of tribulation in Matt. 24:9, 21 & 29 (which will not be a tribulation performed by the Jews but rather upon them, even in a Preterist understanding), but it is also used to describe what comes against the seed that withers in Mark 4:17, the pain of childbirth in John 16:21, the troubles of Joseph in Egypt in Acts 7:10-11, what awaits both the unrighteous Jew and Gentile in Romans 2:9, and what happens to those who are married in 1 Cor. 7:28.

        When I got married, I sure didn’t experience systematic persecution by any Jews…but I did experience much more general trouble and hardship. That’s what Paul’s writing the church in Thessalonica about. Your insistence about the narrow application to the Jews in 2 Thess. 1:6 is now debunked as run-of-the-mill eisegesis.”

        **********

        Looking at the passage again, 2 Thess. 1:6 is clearly not talking about persecution, as 2 Thess. 1:4 uses both “thlipsis” (trouble/distress) and “diogmos” (persecution) but 2 Thess 1:6 only uses “thlipsis”. (and it’s worth noting that “diogmos” is plural [diogmois] in 1:4, meaning “persecutions”. This wouldn’t be the case if there was only 1 persecution happening). Paul is using general language in 2 Thess. 1:6-10.

        The Thessaloninas were enduring both persecutions and troubles in 2 Thess. 1:4, and Paul celebrated their endurance in 1:5. He encouraged them that God would repay their troublers (1:6) and give them rest on the day that Christ appears with the angels (1:7); that day would be marked as the day when he’ll mete out flaming fire on those who don’t know God and disobey the gospel (1:8) and send them to everlasting destruction, away from the presence of God (1:9) and when Christ comes to be glorified among his saints and adored among all who have believed (1:10).

        So, does “all” mean “all” in 2 Thess. 1:10? The Greek is “en pasin tois pisteuousin” (among all the believing ones) if that helps answer that question.

        Did Christ mete out flaming fire an all unbelievers in 70AD?

        Did all unbelievers go to Hell in 70AD?

        No?

        3. You also said ” 2nd Thessalonians is a real letter written to real people in about 55AD, not you. You can learn from the advice given to them but the letter isn’t about you and wasn’t written to you.”

        Where exactly have I suggested that I’m the intended audience of 2 Thessalonians? I have not ever suggested it was written to or about me. The scenario that they were experiencing is common to believers across all ages (facing and enduring trouble), and the repayment and comfort promised to them will be received by all believers in the specific period of the end times (which starts at the rapture and continues on through the millennium and eternal state), so I take the universal truth of 2 Thessalonians and apply that to my life.

        4. You closed off with “The same goes for the rest of the New Testament, which is why Calvinism is such a mess.”

        Ha! Calvinism is a mess?

        Well, I’m sure whatever you describe as “Calvinism” I would join you in rejecting.

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