101 Preterist Time-Indicators


In the last two posts (here and here), we have discussed the single, rather than dual (as some have supposed), fulfillment of Jesus’ promises concerning the end of the age. We’ve seen that He foretold the end of the old covenant age, an age which only needed to end once, and an age which gave way to this present new covenant age. In telling His followers and His audience about the soon-coming end of the age, Jesus talked about His coming in great power and glory, the establishment of His kingdom, and the judgment He would bring.

Jesus repeatedly spoke of these events as being “at hand,” as needing to take place within the lifetime of His disciples (e.g. Matthew 16:27-28), before His own generation would pass away (e.g. Matthew 24:34, Mark 13:30, Luke 21:32), etc. The famous revivalist, Jonathan Edwards, picked up on this pattern and said this: “Tis evident that when Christ speaks of his coming; his being revealed; his coming in his Kingdom; or his Kingdom’s coming; He has respect to his appearing in those great works of his Power, Justice, and Grace, which should be in the Destruction of Jerusalem and other extraordinary Providences which should attend it” (Miscellany #1199).

So that’s how Jesus spoke of these things, although many don’t see it that way. What about the other writers of the New Testament? Did they speak of a far off coming of Christ, a far off establishment of His kingdom, or a far off time of world-wide judgment? David Green has compiled 101 New Testament Scriptures showing that John the Baptist, Jesus, Peter, Paul, the author of Hebrews, James, and John were all united in anticipating the fulfillment of these events in their own generation. Here’s a sampling from the writers of the epistles:

Paul: “Besides this you know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed. The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light” (Romans 13:11-12). “This is what I mean, brothers: the appointed time has grown very short. From now on, let those who have wives live as though they had none…and those who buy as though they had no goods, and those who deal with the world as though they had no dealings with it. For the present form of this world is passing away” (I Corinthians 7:29-31). “Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come” (I Cor. 10:11). “The Lord is at hand” (Philippians 4:5).

Hebrews (author unknown): “…encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near” (Hebrews 10:25). “Yet a little while, and the coming One will come and will not delay…” (Heb. 10:37).

James: “Come now, you rich, weep and howl for the miseries that are coming upon you… You have laid up treasure in the last days” (James 5:1-3). “Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand… behold, the Judge is standing at the door” (James 5:8-9).

Peter: “The end of all things is at hand” (I Peter 4:7).

John: “Children, it is the last hour, and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. Therefore we know that it is the last hour” (I John 2:18).

As David Green says in his original 2002 article showing these 101 time-indicators, these passages display “the overwhelming testimony that our Lord actually fulfilled the Law and the Prophets, as He said He would. (Matt. 5:17).” He goes on to speak of “the spirit of imminence that saturates the New Testament” and the common futurist reasoning that says this “only indicates things that are soon in God’s sight.” David makes a good point, though, that “what God said was near to the Apostles, He said was not near to the earlier prophets. Perhaps the clearest illustration of this truth is found in a comparison of Dan. 8:26 and Rev. 22:10:

6th century B.C: “Seal up the vision; for it shall be for many days.” (Dan. 8:26)

1st century A.D.: “Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is near.” (Rev. 22:10)

What God said was far away in Daniel’s time, He said was imminent in the Apostles’ time. The implication is inescapable: The imminence in the New Testament was real.”

Here is the complete list of 101 time indicators concerning major eschatological events:

1. “The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.” (Matt. 3:2)

2. “Who warned you to flee from the wrath about to come?” (Matt. 3:7)

3. “The axe is already laid at the root of the trees.” (Matt. 3:10)

4. “His winnowing fork is in His hand.” (Matt. 3:12)

5. “The kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matt. 4:17)

6. “The kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matt. 10:7)

7. “You shall not finish going through the cities of Israel, until the Son of Man comes.” (Matt. 10:23)

8. “…the age about to come.” (Matt. 12:32)

9. “The Son of Man is about to come in the glory of His Father with His angels; and will then recompense every man according to his deeds.” (Matt. 16:27)

10. “There are some of those who are standing here who shall not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom.” (Matt. 16:28; cf. Mk. 9:1; Lk. 9:27)

11. “‘When the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those vine-growers?’ ‘…He will bring those wretches to a wretched end, and will rent out the vineyard to other vine-growers, who will pay him the proceeds at the proper seasons.’ ‘…Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you, and be given to a nation producing the fruit of it.’ …When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard His parables, they understood that He was speaking about them.” (Matt. 21:40-41,43,45)

12. “This generation will not pass away until all these things take place.” (Matt. 24:34)

13. “From now on, you [Caiaphas, the chief priests, the scribes, the elders, the whole Sanhedrin] shall be seeing the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven.” (Matt. 26:64; Mk. 14:62; Lk. 22:69)

14. “The kingdom of God is at hand.” (Mk. 1:15)

15. “What will the owner of the vineyard do? He will come and destroy the vine-growers, and will give the vineyard to others. …They [the chief priests, scribes and elders] understood that He spoke the parable against them.” (Mk. 12:9,12)

16. “This generation will not pass away until all these things take place.” (Mk. 13:30)

17. “Who warned you to flee from the wrath about to come?” (Lk. 3:7)

18. “The axe is already laid at the root of the trees.” (Lk. 3:9)

19. “His winnowing fork is in His hand…” (Lk. 3:17)

20. “The kingdom of God has come near to you.” (Lk. 10:9)

21. “The kingdom of God has come near.” (Lk. 10:11)

22. “What, therefore, will the owner of the vineyard do to them? He will come and destroy these vine-growers and will give the vineyard to others.” …The scribes and the chief priests…understood that He spoke this parable against them.” (Lk. 20:15-16,19)

23. “These are days of vengeance, in order that all things which are written may be fulfilled.” (Lk. 21:22)

24. “This generation will not pass away until all things take place.” (Lk. 21:32)

25. “Daughters of Jerusalem, stop weeping for Me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. For behold, the days are coming when they will say, ‘Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bore, and the breasts that never nursed.’ Then they will begin to say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us,’ and to the hills, ‘Cover us.'” (Lk. 23:28-30; Compare Rev. 6:14-17)

26. “We were hoping that He was the One who is about to redeem Israel.” (Lk. 24:21)

27. “I will come to you. …In that Day you shall know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you.’ …’Lord, what then has happened that You are about to disclose Yourself to us, and not to the world?'” (Jn. 14:18,20,22)

28. “If I want him to remain until I come, what is that to you?” (Jn. 21:22)

29. “This is what was spoken of through the prophet Joel: ‘And it shall be in the last days…'” (Acts 2:16-17)

30. “He has fixed a day in which He is about to judge the world in righteousness…” (Acts 17:31)

31. “There is about to be a resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked.” (Acts 24:15)

32. “As he was discussing righteousness, self-control and the judgment about to come…” (Acts 24:25)

33. “Not for [Abraham’s] sake only was it written, that [faith] was reckoned to him [as righteousness], but for our sake also, to whom it is about to be reckoned.” (Rom. 4:23-24)

34. “If you are living according to the flesh, you are about to die.” (Rom. 8:13)

35. “I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is about to be revealed to us.” (Rom. 8:18)

36. “It is already the hour for you to awaken from sleep; for now salvation is nearer to us than when we believed. The night is almost gone, and the day is at hand.” (Rom. 13:11-12)

37. “The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet.” (Rom. 16:20)

38. “The time has been shortened.” (I Cor. 7:29)

39. “The form of this world is passing away.” (I Cor. 7:31)

40. “Now these things …were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.” (I Cor. 10:11)

41. “We shall not all fall sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed.” (I Cor. 15:51-52)

42. “Maranatha!” [The Lord comes!] (I Cor. 16:22)

43. “…not only in this age, but also in the one about to come.” (Eph. 1:21)

44. “The Lord is near.” (Phil. 4:5)

45. “The gospel …was proclaimed in all creation under heaven.” (Col. 1:23; Compare Matt. 24:14; Rom. 10:18; 16:26; Col. 1:5-6; II Tim. 4:17; Rev. 14:6-7; cf. I Clement 5,7)

46. “…things which are a shadow of what is about to come.” (Col. 2:16-17)

47. “…we who are alive, and remain until the coming of the Lord… We who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds… …You, brethren, are not in darkness, that the Day should overtake you like a thief.” (I Thess. 4:15,17; 5:4)

48. “May your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (I Thess. 5:23)

49. “It is only just for God to repay with affliction those who afflict you, and to give relief to you who are afflicted and to us as well when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire.” (II Thess. 1:6-7)

50. “Godliness …holds promise for the present life and that which is about to come.” (I Tim. 4:8)

51. “I charge you …that you keep the commandment without stain or reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (I Tim. 6:14)

52. “…storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for that which is about to come, so that they may take hold of that which is life indeed.” (I Tim. 6:19)

53. “In the last days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self… …Avoid these men. For of these are those who enter into households and captivate weak women… …These also oppose the truth… …But they will not make further progress; for their folly will be obvious to all…” (II Tim. 3:1-2,5-6,8-9)

54. “I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is about to judge the living and the dead…” (II Tim. 4:1)

55. “God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son.” (Heb. 1:1-2)

56. “Are they not all ministering spirits, sent out to render service for the sake of those who are about to inherit salvation?” (Heb. 1:14)

57. “He did not subject to angels the world about to come.” (Heb. 2:5)

58. “…and have tasted …the powers of the age about to come.” (Heb. 6:5)

59. “For ground that drinks the rain which often falls upon it and brings forth vegetation useful to those for whose sake it is also tilled, receives a blessing from God; but if it yields thorns and thistles, it is worthless and near a curse, and it’s end is for burning.” (Heb. 6:7-8)

60. “When He said, ‘A new covenant,’ He has made the first obsolete. But whatever is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to disappear.” (Heb. 8:13)

61. “The Holy Spirit is signifying this, that the way of the [heavenly] Holy Places has not yet been revealed, while the outer tabernacle is still standing, which is a symbol for the present time. Accordingly both gifts and sacrifices are offered which cannot make the worshiper perfect in conscience, since they relate only to food and drink and various washings, regulations for the body imposed until a time of reformation.” (Heb. 9:8-10; Compare Gal. 4:19; Eph. 2:21-22; 3:17; 4:13)

62. “But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things about to come…” (Heb. 9:11)

63. “Now once at the consummation of the ages He has been manifested to put away sin.” (Heb. 9:26)

64. “For the Law, since it has only a shadow of the good things about to come…” (Heb. 10:1)

65. “…as you see the Day drawing near.” (Heb. 10:25)

66. “…the fury of a fire which is about to consume the adversaries.” (Heb. 10:27)

67. “For yet in a very little while, He who is coming will come, and will not delay.” (Heb. 10:37)

68. “For here we do not have a lasting city, but we are seeking the one that is about to come.” (Heb. 13:14)

69. “Speak and so act, as those who are about to be judged by the law of liberty.” (Jms. 2:12)

70. “Come now, you rich, weep and howl for your miseries which are coming upon you. …It is in the last days that you have stored up your treasure!” (Jms. 5:1,3)

71. “Be patient, therefore, brethren, until the coming of the Lord.” (Jms. 5:7)

72. “You too be patient; strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.” (Jms. 5:8)

73. “…salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” (I Peter 1:6)

74. “He …has appeared in these last times for the sake of you.” (I Peter 1:20)

75. “They shall give account to Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead.” (I Peter 4:5)

76. “The end of all things is at hand; therefore, be of sound judgment and sober spirit for the purpose of prayer.” (I Peter 4:7)

77. “For it is time for judgment to begin with the household of God.” (I Peter 4:17)

78. “…as your fellow elder and witness of the sufferings of Christ, and a partaker also of the glory that is about to be revealed.” (I Peter 5:1)

79. “We have the prophetic word …which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the Day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts.” (II Peter 1:19)

80. “Their judgment from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.” (II Peter 2:3)

81. “In the last days mockers will come. …For this they willingly are ignorant of…” (I Peter 3:3,5)

82. “But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up. Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God.” (II Peter 3:10-12)

83. “The darkness is passing away, and the true light is already shining.” (I Jn. 2:8)

84. “The world is passing away, and its desires.” (I Jn. 2:17)

85. “It is the last hour.” (I Jn. 2:18)

86. “Even now many antichrists have arisen; from this we know that it is the last hour.” (I Jn. 2:18; Compare Matt. 24:23-34)

87. “This is that of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world.” (I Jn. 4:3; Compare II Thess. 2:7)

88. “For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation. …About these also Enoch …prophesied, saying, ‘Behold, the Lord came with many thousands of His holy ones, to execute judgment upon all, and to convict all the ungodly…'” (Jude 1:4,14-15)

89. “But you, beloved, ought to remember the words that were spoken beforehand by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ, that they were saying to you, ‘In the last time there shall be mockers, following after their own ungodly lusts.’ These are the ones who cause divisions…” (Jude 1:17-19)

90. “…to show to His bond-servants, the things which must shortly take place.” (Rev. 1:1)

91. “The time is near.” (Rev. 1:3)

92. “Nevertheless what you have, hold fast until I come.” (Rev. 2:25)

93. “I also will keep you from the hour of testing which is about to come upon the whole world.” (Rev. 3:10)

94. “I am coming quickly.” (Rev. 3:11)

95. “And she gave birth to a son, a male child, who is about to rule all the nations with a rod of iron.” (Rev. 12:5)

96. “And in her [the Great City Babylon] was found the blood of prophets and of saints and of all who have been slain on the earth.” (Rev. 18:24; Compare Matt. 23:35-36; Lk. 11:50-51)

97. “…to show to His bond-servants the things which must shortly take place.” (Rev. 22:6)

98. “Behold, I am coming quickly.” (Rev. 22:7)

99. “Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is near.” (Rev. 22:10; Compare Dan. 8:26)

100. “Behold, I am coming quickly.” (Rev. 22:12)

101. “Yes, I am coming quickly.” (Rev. 22:20)

Were these writers deceived, mistaken, or misinformed when they clearly believed these things were about to come to pass in their day? Or were they true prophets, and did Jesus do what He said He would do within the time frame He said He would do it?

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Matthew 24: Double Fulfillment Is Not Possible


In a previous post, I shared J. Stuart Russell’s argument against the idea of a dual fulfillment in the Olivet Discourse (Matthew 24-25, Mark 13, and Luke 21). Russell argued (well, in my opinion) that neither in Jesus’ own words, nor in the words of any other New Testament author, does any teaching appear which supports “a twofold reference in the predictions of Jesus concerning the end.”

An article written in 2004 by Michael Fenemore goes into even more detail on why the idea of dual fulfillment does not work when it comes to Jesus’ famous words in Matthew 24:

Some prophecy teachers, while acknowledging a fulfillment of Matthew 24 in the first century, predict a future second fulfillment, but this time, with worldwide implications… We might wonder whether those who promote the double-fulfillment theory ever took the time to test it by reading over the text even once. How could this be fulfilled twice?

This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come (v. 14, NASB throughout unless otherwise noted).

Will the “great commission” be fulfilled twice? Does “the end” come twice? If it does, then, the first one wasn’t the end.

A modern second fulfillment is usually presented as a worldwide catastrophe, but notice verse 20: “…pray that your flight will not be in the winter, or on a Sabbath.” What relevance would this have today? Outside modern-day Israel, relatively few people in the world keep the Sabbath. And what if they do? In ancient times, the gates of Jerusalem were shut on the Sabbath preventing escape (Neh. 13:1922Jer. 17:2124). However, this is not a problem for anyone today. Most Christians probably live out their entire lives without ever praying their “flight” will not take place on the Sabbath. Mark’s account adds this: “…be on your guard; for they will deliver you to the courts, and you will be flogged in the synagogues” (Mark 13:9). How could this be fulfilled worldwide in our time? Today’s Sanhedrin has no jurisdiction outside Israel. There are likely very few Christians in the world, if any, who worry about being “flogged in the synagogues.”

Will there be two “great” tribulations?For there will be greater anguish than at any time since the world began. And it will never be so great again” (Matt. 24:21, NLT). Since this anguish would “never be so great again,” how could it occur twice? Some might protest that such language is hyperbolic; it was not intended to be taken literally. Perhaps that is true. But then, the same people should be able to understand that the rest of Matthew 24 is replete with the same Old Testament-style hyperbole. They should not require a second fulfillment just because some events did not occur exactly as Jesus described them.

Will the “elect” be gathered twice?He will send forth His angels with a great trumpet and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other” (v. 31). This is referring to the “last trumpet” of 1 Cor. 15:51-52: the resurrection and the moment when the living Christians would be “caught up” and “changed.” If Matthew 24 was to be fulfilled twice, then, clearly, the resurrection must have occurred during the first fulfillment within the lifetimes of Christ’s listeners. But if all God’s people in Hades were resurrected in the first century, and now Christians go straight to heaven at death, how could any saints be resurrected from Hades in the future?

Jesus never said Matthew 24 would be fulfilled twice, and there’s no rule anywhere in the Bible saying prophecy should be interpreted this way. The double-fulfillment concept is simply an untenable fabrication created in desperation, probably deemed necessary because its adherents expect literal fulfillments of the highly figurative, cosmic predictions in Matthew 24 and other places, which of course, have never occurred (and never will). In some cases we find types and antitypes in scripture. For instance, Israelite worship under the Old Covenant was a type or “shadow” of things to come under the New Covenant (Col. 2:16-17). However, the New Covenant does not create more shadows for greater fulfillments later. Here is another example of biblical typology:

Old Testament types:

Sodom, Egypt, Babylon

New Testament antitype:

Jerusalem

Sodom, Egypt, and Babylon were probably the three most detestable place names from Israel’s past. To this day, Sodom symbolizes sexual perversion (sodomy). Egypt and Babylon represented sin and captivity. However, by the first century, the sins of God’s own people, the Jews, had become so repugnant that in Revelation, he called Jerusalem by all three names: “…the great city which mystically is called Sodom and Egypt, where also their Lord was crucified” (Rev. 11:8); “BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH” (Rev. 17:5). See also Isa. 1:21. It’s possible, if not probable, Jesus intended to draw the Babylon parallel when he described Jerusalem’s destruction in Matthew 24:

the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light (v. 29)

The same pronouncement was made against Old Testament Babylon:

The sun will be dark when it rises
And the moon will not shed its light. (Isa. 13:10)

Jerusalem had become the antitype of Babylon. Jerusalem’s destruction would be the antitype of Babylon’s destruction.

It’s all fulfilled. There is no third fulfillment. The destruction in Matthew 24 is not a type of something in the future; it’s the antitype of something from the past. The New Testament does not create new types requiring future antitypes. Types and antitypes might be considered double fulfillments by some, but if a double-fulfillment rule should be applied to all biblical predictions without exception, we should expect two Messiahs, two crucifixions, two judgments, two kingdoms, etc. It gets ridiculous.

Evidently, many influential Bible teachers spend little time testing the double-fulfillment idea before teaching it to trusting Christians. They routinely predict events which actually occurred long ago. For instance, some prophecies require a Roman Empire, but since it no longer exists — and hasn’t for over 1,500 years — they predict a “revived” one. However, if they would give up their literal-fulfillment requirements (stars falling from heaven, etc.) and fully accept the first and only fulfillments of New Testament prophecies, there would be no need for any such flimsy double-fulfillment theories, and credulous Christians could be spared a lot of useless speculation.

Objection

Objection: Pastor John Hagee says prophecy should be interpreted by the double-fulfillment model because of “the law of double reference” (John Hagee, From Daniel To Doomsday [Nashville: Thomas Nelson, Inc, 1999], 181).

Answer: Those who promote the law of double reference are unable to show where in the Bible this “law” is mentioned. It is a law only because they say it is, not because of any biblical directive.