The Son of Man Will Come… With His Angels


I first published this article two days ago in The Fulfilled Connection Magazine (tfcmag.com):

In the book of Revelation the word “angel(s)” appears a total of 76 times, according to Strong’s Concordance (and based on the King James Version). In the majority of these instances, angels had the role of announcing or pouring out judgments. Why is this significant?

Six days before Jesus was transfigured on a high mountain (Matthew 17:1-8), He made some detailed predictions about His coming, telling His disciples that some of them would live long enough to witness it:

For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to His works. Assuredly, I say to you, there are some standing here who shall not taste death till they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom” (Matthew 16:27-28).

In Matthew 16 Jesus said He would come with His angels to judge. In the book of Revelation, as we will see, angels are directly connected with a multitude of judgments poured out on the harlot (see Rev. 11, 16, 17, 18), the great city where Jesus was crucified (Rev. 11:8). I didn’t initially make this connection between Matthew 16:27-28 and Revelation on my own. In early 2011 my friend, Mark Church, introduced himself and this Scriptural connection when he left this comment on my blog:

“Has anyone else ever seen the imagery given by Jesus in Matthew 16:27 about Him coming with His “ANGELS” and the imagery given in the whole of the book of Revelation? Preterists claim that much of what Jesus spoke of on the Mount of Olives was related to the book of Revelation. THEN NOTICE ALL THROUGHOUT REVELATION, THAT IT WAS ***ANGELS*** POURING OUT THE JUDGMENTS UPON THE NATION OF ISRAEL!!! He came back with His ANGELS and poured out His Judgments that He decreed would come upon them! WOW!”

In another post last month, we explored how Jude predicted that Jesus would come with thousands of angels to judge those who were presently troubling the church, and how Enoch predicted that this judgment would take place 70 generations after his time (confirmed in Luke 3 to be the generation in which Jesus lived). Before examining the prevalence of angels in the book of Revelation, let’s break down the four elements of Jesus’ coming which He predicted in Matthew 16:27-28.

1. IN THE GLORY OF HIS FATHER: As Don Preston well points out, this can be understood to mean that just as the Father had come in the past, Jesus would also come in the same manner. Don gives as an example Isaiah 64:1-3, where the writer declares that God had “come down” numerous times in the past:

“Oh, that You would rend the heavens and come down, that the mountains might quake at Your presence – as when fire kindles brushwood, and the fire causes water to boil – to make Your name known to Your adversaries, and that the nations might tremble at Your presence! When You did awesome things that we did not look for,You came down, the mountains quaked at Your presence.”

2. WITH HIS ANGELS: Compare this to what Paul promised the Thessalonian believers when he told them that they could expect relief “when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance (II Thessalonians 1:7), in order “to repay with affliction those who afflict you” (verse 6). This was imminent in their day, for Paul said that the wrath of God had already come upon the Jewish persecutors (I Thess. 2:14-16). He knew this to be true because Jesus had declared in no uncertain terms (Matthew 23:35-36) that the blood of all the prophets would be required of His own generation. As we will see, all throughout the book of Revelation God’s angels pour out judgment upon “the great city” where the Lord was crucified (Revelation 11:8) – that is, Jerusalem, the city marked as a harlot because of its shedding of the blood of the saints and martyrs (Rev. 17:1-6), apostles, and prophets (Rev. 18:20-24).

3. TO REPAY EACH PERSON: The context of Jesus’ promise to come and “repay each person” for what they had done was His foretelling of [1] His own death and suffering at the hands of the Jewish leaders (Matt. 16:21-23) and [2] the suffering that His own disciples would experience (verses 24-26). In other words, Jesus would come to vindicate this very persecution. In Revelation 6:10, the “souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the testimony which they held” cried out for this very thing: “How long, O Lord, holy and true, until You judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?”

4. IN HIS KINGDOM: Jesus promised to come in His kingdom before all of His disciples had died. This echoes His earlier promise to come before His disciples could pass through all the towns and cities of Israel (Matthew 10:23). It also fits perfectly with the following prophecy given to Daniel: “And in the days of those kings* the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed, nor shall the kingdom be left to another people” (Daniel 2:44). [*Many scholars agree that the four kingdoms in Daniel’s vision were Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome. Since Rome was destroyed in 476 AD, the kingdom had to be set up before that time.] A first century fulfillment fits; a 21st century fulfillment doesn’t. Furthermore, the kingdom was to be given to the saints (Daniel 7:18, 22, 27). This is reminiscent of Jesus’ words in the Parable of the Tenants that the kingdom of God would soon be taken away from the Jewish leaders and given instead “to a people producing its fruits” (Matthew 21:43) – i.e. the body of Christ. This was to happen even as the stone was to crush those who would fall (verse 44) – 1.1 million Jews killed in August/September 70 AD by the Romans would seem to qualify as a fulfillment of this prediction.

Let’s now examine the prevalence of angels in the book of Revelation. What follows is a record of all 76 instances where angels are mentioned in Revelation. This is lengthy, but you can skim it, use it as a topical study tool, or skip ahead to the conclusion (if it appears small, press the Control and + keys together on your keyboard to increase the size on your screen):

Instance

Reference

Scripture Text

#1 Rev. 1:1 “And He sent and signified it by His angel to His servant John…”
#2 1:20 “The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches…”
#3 – #9 2:1, 8, 12, 18; 3:1, 7, 14 “To the angel of the church of
Ephesus / Smyrna / Pergamos / Thyatira / Sardis / Philadelphia / Laodicea write…”
#10 3:5 “He who overcomes… I will confess His name before My Father and before His angels.”
#11 5:2 “Then I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, ‘Who is worthy to open the scroll and to loose its seals?’”
#12 5:11 “Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne, the living creatures, and the elders; and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands…”
#13 7:1 “After these things I saw the four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth…”
#14 – #15 7:2 “Then I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God. And he cried with a loud voice to the four angels to whom it was granted to harm the earth and the sea…”
#16 7:11 “And all the angels stood around the throne and the elders and the four living creatures, and fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God…”
#17 8:2 “And I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and to them were given seven trumpets.”
#18 – #20 8:3-5 “Then another angel, having a golden censer, came and stood at the altar. And he was given much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all the saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne. And the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, ascended before God from the angel’s hand. Then the angel took the censer, filled it with fire from the altar, and threw it to the earth. And there were noises, thunderings, lightnings, and an earthquake.”
#21 8:6 “So the seven angels who had the seven trumpets prepared themselves to sound.”
#22 8:7 “The first angel sounded: And hail and fire followed, mingled with blood, and they were thrown to the earth…”
#23 8:8 “Then the second angel sounded: And something like a great mountain burning with fire was thrown into the sea, and a third of the sea became blood…”
#24 8:10 “Then the third angel sounded: And a great star fell from heaven, burning like a torch, and it fell on a third of the rivers and on the springs of water…”
#25 8:12 “Then the fourth angel sounded: And a third of the sun was struck, a third of the moon, and a third of the stars, so that  a third of them were darkened; and a third of the day did not shine, and likewise the night.”
#26 – #27 8:13 “And I looked, and I heard an angel flying through the midst of heaven, saying with a loud voice, ‘Woe, woe, woe to the inhabitants of the earth, because of the remaining blasts of the trumpet of the three angels who are about to sound!’”
#28 9:1 “Then the fifth angel sounded: And I saw a star fallen from heaven to the earth. And to him was given the key to the bottomless pit.”
#29 9:11 “And they had as king over them the angel of the bottomless pit, whose name in Hebrew is Abaddon, but in Greek he has the name Apollyon.”
#30 – #32 9:13-14 “Then the sixth angel sounded: And I heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar which is before God, saying to the sixth angel who had the trumpet, ‘Release the four angels who are bound at the great River Euphrates.’”
#33 9:15 “So the four angels, who had been prepared for the hour and day and month and year, were released to kill a third of mankind.”
#34 10:1 “And I saw still another mighty angel coming down from heaven, clothed with a cloud. And a rainbow was on his head, his face was like the sun, and his feet like pillars of fire.”
#35 – #36 10:5-7 “And the angel whom I saw standing on the sea and on the land lifted up his hand to heaven and swore… that there should be delay no longer, but in the days of the sounding of the seventh angel, when he is about to sound, the mystery of God would be finished, as He declared to His servants the prophets.”
#37 – #39 10:8-10 “Then the voice which I heard from heaven spoke to me again and said, ‘Go, take the little book which is open in the hand of the angel who stands on the sea and on the earth.’ So I went to the angel and said to him, ‘Give me the little book.’ And he said to me, ‘Take and eat it; and it will make your stomach bitter, but it will be as sweet as honey in your mouth.’”
#40 11:1 “Then I was given a reed like a measuring rod. And the angel stood, saying, ‘Rise and measure the temple of God, the altar, and those who worship there.’”
#41 11:15 “Then the seventh angel sounded: And there were loud voices in heaven, saying, ‘The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!’”
#42 – #43 12:7 “And war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought…”
#44 12:9 “So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.”
#45 14:6 “Then I saw another angel flying in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach to those who dwell on the earth…”
#46 14:8 “And another angel followed, saying, ‘Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she has made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.’”
#47 – #48 14:9-10 “Then a third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, ‘If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives his mark on his forehead or on his hand, he himself shall also drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out full strength into the cup of His indignation. And he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb.’”
#49 14:15 “And another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to Him who sat on the cloud, ‘Thrust in Your sickle and reap, for the time has come for You to reap, for the harvest of the earth is ripe.’”
#50 14:17 “Then another angel came out of the temple which is in heaven, he also having a sharp sickle.”
#51 – #52 14:18-19 “And another angel came out from the altar, who had power over fire, and he cried with a loud cry to him who had the sharp sickle, saying, ‘Thrust in your sharp sickle and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth, for her grapes are fully ripe.’ So the angel thrust his sickle into the earth and gathered the vine of the earth, and threw it into the great winepress of the wrath of God.”
#53 15:1 “Then I saw another sign in heaven, great and marvelous: seven angels having the seven last plagues, for in them the wrath of God is complete.”
#54 15:6 “And out of the temple came the seven angels having the seven plagues, clothed in pure bright linen…”
#55 15:7 “Then one of the four living creatures gave to the seven angels seven golden bowls full of the wrath of God who lives forever and ever.”
#56 15:8 “The temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God and from His power, and no one was able to enter the temple till the seven plagues of the seven angels were completed.”
#57 16:1 “Then I heard a loud voice from the temple saying to the seven angels, ‘Go and pour out the bowls of the wrath of God on the earth.”
#58 16:3 “Then the second angel poured out his bowl on the sea, and it became blood as of a dead man; and every living creature in the sea died.”
#59 16:4 “Then the third angel poured out his bowl on the rivers and springs of water, and they became blood.”
#60 16:5-6 “And I heard the angel of the waters saying: ‘You are righteous, O Lord… For they have shed the blood of saints and prophets, and You have given them blood to drink. For it is their just due.’”
#61 16:8 “Then the fourth angel poured out his bowl on the sun, and power was given to him to scorch men with fire.”
#62 16:10 “Then the fifth angel poured out his bowl on the throne of the beast, and his kingdom became full of darkness…”
#63 16:12 “Then the sixth angel poured out his bowl on the great river Euphrates, and its water was dried up, so that the way of the kings from the east might be prepared.”
#64 16:17 “Then the seventh angel poured out his bowl into the air, and a loud voice came out of the temple of heaven, from the throne, saying, ‘It is done!’”
#65 17:1 “Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and talked with me, saying to me, ‘Come, I will show you the judgment of the great harlot who sits on many waters…”
#66 17:7 “But the angel said to me, ‘Why did you marvel? I will tell you the mystery of the woman and of the beast that carries her, which has the seven heads and the ten horns.’”
#67 18:1-2a “After these things I saw another angel coming down from heaven, having great authority, and the earth was illuminated with his glory. And he cried mightily with a loud voice, saying, ‘Babylon the great is fallen!’”
#68 18:21 “Then a mighty angel took up a stone like a great millstone and threw it into the sea, saying, ‘Thus with violence the great city Babylon shall be thrown down, and shall not be found anymore.’”
#69 19:17-18 “Then I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the birds that fly in the midst of heaven, ‘Come and gather together for the supper of the great God, that you may eat the flesh of kings…and the flesh of all people, free and slave, both small and great.’”
#70 20:1-2 “Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, having the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. He laid hold of the dragon, that serpent of old, who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years…”
#71 21:9 “Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls filled with the seven last plagues came to me and talked with me, saying, ‘Come, I will show you the bride, the Lamb’s wife.’”
#72 21:12 “Also she had a great and high wall with twelve gates, and twelve angels at the gates, and names written on them, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel.”
#73 21:17 “Then he measured its wall: one hundred and forty-four cubits, according to the measure of a man, that is, of an angel.”
#74 22:6 “Then he said to me, ‘These words are faithful and true.’ And the Lord God of the holy prophets sent His angel to show His servants the things which must shortly take place.”
#75 22:8 “Now I, John, saw and heard these things. And when I heard and saw, I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel who showed me these things. Then he said to me, ‘See that you do not do that…’”
#76 22:16 “I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things in the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, the Bright and Morning Star.”

As we can see from these texts, a different angel was assigned to pour out each seal judgment, each trumpet judgment, and each bowl judgment. The “Revelation of Jesus Christ” was given in the first century to show God’s servants things which would “shortly take place” (Rev. 1:1, 22:6), “for the time [was] near” (Rev. 1:3). Jesus also said in Revelation 22:12 that He would come quickly, and He added, “My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work.” This is identical to what He told His disciples in Matthew 16:27-28, i.e. that He would come with His angels, while some of them were still alive, to judge everyone for their deeds.

Jesus, John, and Paul clearly predicted that Jesus was about to come in vengeance, with His angels, in their generation. Indeed, before their generation passed, angels presided over a series of judgments in the events leading up to and including Israel’s downfall and Jerusalem’s destruction in 70 AD. The book of Revelation gives a clear picture of just how deeply the angels would be involved, and everything came to pass just as Jesus said it would.

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The Significance of the Overthrow of the Old Covenant System in 70 AD (Quotes)


“No matter what view of eschatology we embrace, we must take seriously the redemptive-historical importance of Jerusalem’s destruction in 70 AD.”

–R.C. Sproul, The Last Days According to Jesus, p. 26

In the last post, Prophecy Teachers Needlessly Prophesy Horrors for Israel, I included a quote from Philip Mauro (1921) in which he said that many “seem not to be aware of the immense significance of the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70…and the vast amount of prophecy which it fulfilled.” Mauro’s viewpoint echoes the understanding of numerous leaders throughout church history, as demonstrated in the quotes below. Many of these quotes also demonstrate a good understanding that what Paul said around 52 AD to the believers in Thessalonica was at the heart of why the old covenant system had to be removed, and why Israel was ripe for judgment:

For you, brethren, became imitators of the churches of God which are in Judea in Christ Jesus. For you also suffered the same things from your own countrymen, just as they did from the Judeans, who killed both the Lord Jesus and their own prophets, and have persecuted us; and they do not please God and are contrary to all men, forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they may be saved, so as always to fill up the measure of their sins; but wrath has come upon them to the uttermost” (I Thessalonians 2:14-16)

On a personal note, I was brought up in a Pentecostal church from the time I was three years old (1981), attended Bible College from 1997-2000, and spent significant time in other church circles, but it wasn’t until 2008/2009 – through the internet – that I heard for the first time that some believers found spiritual or prophetic significance in Jerusalem’s destruction in 70 AD. Before this time, I also hardly knew a single detail about the events of that time period (the Roman-Jewish War of 66-73 AD), and I suspect this was also true of almost every Christian I personally knew. 

The following quotes are adapted from The Preterist Archive, compiled by Todd Dennis, and have been arranged chronologically, ranging from 174 AD to 1997:

[1] Irenaeus (174 AD): “CHAP. IV.–ANSWER TO ANOTHER OBJECTION, SHOWING THAT THE DESTRUCTION OF JERUSALEM, WHICH WAS THE CITY OF THE GREAT KING, DIMINISHED NOTHING FROM THE SUPREME MAJESTY’ AND POWER OF GOD, FOR THAT THIS DESTRUCTION WAS PUT IN EXECUTION BY THE MOST WISE COUNSEL OF THE SAME GOD. (1) Further, also, concerning Jerusalem and the Lord, they venture to assert that, if it had been ‘the city of the great King,’ it would not have been deserted. This is just as if anyone should say, that if straw were a creation of God, it would never part company with the wheat; and that the vine twigs, if made by God, never would be lopped away and deprived of the clusters… Even as Esaias saith, ‘The children of Jacob shall strike root, and Israel shall flourish, and the whole world shall be filled with his fruit.’ The fruit, therefore, having been sown throughout all the world, she (Jerusalem) was deservedly forsaken, and those things which had formerly brought forth fruit abundantly were taken away; for from these, according to the flesh, were Christ and the apostles enabled to bring forth fruit. But now these are no longer useful for bringing forth fruit. For all things which have a beginning in time must of course have an end in time also. (2) Since, then, the law originated with Moses, it terminated with John as a necessary consequence. Christ had come to fulfil it: wherefore ‘the law and the prophets were’ with them ‘until John.’ And therefore Jerusalem, taking its commencement from David, and fulfilling its own times, must have an end of legislation when the new covenant was revealed.

[2] Tertullian (160-220 AD): “Therefore, when these times also were completed, and the Jews subdued, there afterwards ceased in that place [Jerusalem] ‘libations and sacrifices,’ which thenceforward have not been able to be in that place celebrated; for ‘the unction,’ too, was ‘exterminated’ in that place after the passion of Christ. For it had been predicted that the unction should be exterminated in that place; as in the Psalms it is prophesied, ‘They exterminated my hands and feet.’ … Accordingly, all the synagogue of Israel did slay Him, saying to Pilate, when he was desirous to dismiss Him, ‘His blood be upon us, and upon our children;’ and, ‘If thou dismiss him, thou art not a friend of Caesar;’ in order that all things might be fulfilled which had been written of Him” (An Answer to the Jews, Chapter VII—Of Jerusalem’s Destruction).

[3] Hyppolytus of Rome, disciple of Irenaeus (170-236 AD): “Come, then, O blessed Isaiah; arise, tell us clearly what thou didst prophesy with respect to the mighty Babylon [Isaiah 13]. For thou didst speak also of Jerusalem, and thy word is accomplished. For thou didst speak boldly and openly: ‘Your country is desolate, your cities are burned with fire; your land, strangers devour it in your presence, and it is desolate as overthrown by many strangers. The daughter of Sion shall be left as a cottage in a vineyard, and as a lodge in a garden of cucumbers, as a besieged city’ [Isaiah 1:8]. What then? Are not these things come to pass? Are not the things announced by thee fulfilled? Is not their country, Judea, desolate? Is not the holy place burned with fire? Are not their walls cast down? Are not their cities destroyed? Their land, do not strangers devour it? Do not the Romans rule the country? And indeed these impious people hated thee, and did saw thee asunder, and they crucified Christ. Thou art dead in the world, but thou livest in Christ” (Fragments of Dogmatic and Historical Works).

[4] Origen (185-254 AD): “Therefore He [God], also, having separated from her [Israel], married, so to speak, another [the Church], having given into the hands of the former the bill of divorcement; wherefore they can no longer do the things enjoined on them by the law, because of the bill of divorcement. And a sign that she has received the bill of divorcement is this, that Jerusalem was destroyed along with what they called the sanctuary of the things in it which were believed to be holy, and with the altar of burnt offerings, and all the worship associated with it… And what was more unseemly than the fact, that they all said in His case, ‘Crucify Him, crucify Him,’ and ‘Away with such a fellow from the earth’? And can this be freed from the charge of unseemliness, ‘His blood be upon us, and upon our children’? Wherefore, when He was avenged, Jerusalem was compassed with armies, and its desolation was near, and their house was taken away from it, and ‘the daughter of Zion was left as a booth in a vineyard, and as a lodge in a garden of cucumbers, and as a besieged city.’ And, about the same time, I think, the husband wrote out a bill of divorcement to his former wife, and gave it into her hands, and sent her away from His own house, and the bond of her who came from the Gentiles has been cancelled about which the Apostle says, ‘Having blotted out the bond written in ordinances, which was contrary to us, and He hath taken it out of the way, nailing it to the cross;’ for Paul also and others became proselytes of Israel for her who came from the Gentiles” (Commentary on the Gospel According to Matthew, Book 2, Section 19).

[5] Lactantius (240-320 AD): “Also Zechariah says: ‘And they shall look on me whom they pierced.’ Amos thus speaks of the obscuring of the sun: ‘In that day, saith the Lord, the sun shall go down at noon, and the clear day shall be dark; and I will turn your feasts into mourning, and your songs into lamentation.’ Jeremiah also speaks of the city of Jerusalem, in which He suffered: ‘Her sun is gone down while it was yet day; she hath been confounded and reviled, and the residue of them will I deliver to the sword.’ Nor were these things spoken in vain. For after a short time the Emperor Vespasian subdued the Jews, and laid waste their lands with the sword and fire, besieged and reduced them by famine, overthrew Jerusalem, led the captives in triumph, and prohibited the others who were left from ever returning to their native land. And these things were done by God on account of that crucifixion of Christ, as He before declared this to Solomon in their Scriptures, saying, ‘And Israel shall be for perdition and a reproach to the people, and this house shall be desolate; and every one that shall pass by shall be astonished, and shall say, “Why hath God done these evils to this land, and to this house? And they shall say, Because they forsook the Lord their God, and persecuted their King, who was dearly beloved by God, and crucified Him with great degradation, therefore hath God brought upon them these evils.”’ For what would they not deserve who put to death their Lord, who had come for their salvation?” (Epitome of the Divine Institutes, Chapter 46).

[6] Eusebius (314 AD): “If any one compares the words of our Saviour with the other accounts of the historian (Josephus) concerning the whole war, how can one fail to wonder, and to admit that the foreknowledge and the prophecy of our Saviour were truly divine and marvelously strange” (Proof of the GospelBook III, Ch. VII).

[7] Athanasius (345 AD): “When did prophet and vision cease from Israel? Was it not when Christ came, the Holy One of holies? It is, in fact, a sign and notable proof of the coming of the Word that Jerusalem no longer stands, neither is prophet raised up nor vision revealed among them. And it is natural that it should be so, for when He that was signified had come, what need was there any longer of any to signify Him? And when the Truth had come, what further need was there of the shadow? On His account only they prophesied continually, until such time as Essential Righteousness has come, Who was made the Ransom for the sins of all. For the same reason Jerusalem stood until the same time, in order that there men might premeditate the types before the Truth was known. So, of course, once the Holy One of holies had come, both vision and prophecy were sealed” (Incarnation, Chapter VI).

[8] John Calvin (1509-1564): “So in this passage [Daniel 9], without doubt, he treats of the period after the destruction of the Temple; there could be no hope of restoration, as the law with all its ceremonies would then arrive at its termination… That devastation happened as soon as the gospel began to be promulgated. God then deserted his Temple, because it was only founded for a time, and was but a shadow, until the Jews so completely violated the whole covenant that no sanctity remained in either the Temple, the nation, or the land itself. Some restrict this [the abomination of desolation] to those standards which Tiberius erected on the very highest pinnacle of the Temple, and others to the statue of Caligula, but I have already stated my view of these opinions as too forced. I have no hesitation in referring this language of the angel to that profanation of the Temple which happened after the manifestation of Christ, when sacrifices ceased, and the shadows of the law were abolished. From the time, therefore, at which the sacrifice really ceased to be offered; this refers to the period at which Christ by his advent should abolish the shadows of the law, thus making all offering of sacrifices to God totally valueless… The Jews never anticipated the final cessation of their ceremonies, and always boasted in their peculiar external worship, and unless God had openly demonstrated it before their eyes, they would never have renounced their sacrifices and rites as mere shadowy representations. Hence Jerusalem and their Temple were exposed to the vengeance of the Gentiles. This, therefore, was the setting up of this stupefying abomination; it was a clear testimony to the wrath of God, exhorting the Jews in their confusion to boast no longer in their Temple and its holiness.”

[9] Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758): “Thus there was a final end to the Old Testament world: all was finished with a kind of day of judgment, in which the people of God were saved, and His enemies terribly destroyed” (1736).

[10] William Whiston (1667-1752): “Josephus speaks so, that it is most evident he was fully satisfied that God was on the Romans’ side, and made use of them now for the destruction of the Jews, which was for certain the true state of this matter, as the prophet Daniel first, and our Saviour himself afterwards had clearly foretold” (Literature Accomplished of Prophecy, p. 64, 1737).

[11] John Wesley (1703-1791): “Josephus’ History of the Jewish War is the best commentary on this chapter (Matt. 24). It is a wonderful instance of God’s providence, that he, an eyewitness, and one who lived and died a Jew, should, especially in so extraordinary a manner, be preserved, to transmit to us a collection of important facts, which so exactly illustrate this glorious prophecy, in almost every circumstance” (Explanatory Notes Upon the New Testament, 1754).

[12] Dom Toutee (1790): “St. Chrysostom shows that the destruction of Jerusalem is to be ascribed, not to the power of the Romans, for God had often delivered it from no less dangers; but to a special providence which was pleased to put it out of the power of human perversity to delay or respite the extinction of those ceremonial observances.”

[13] William Dool Killen (1859): “Nero died A.D. 68, and the war which involved the destruction of Jerusalem and of upwards of a million of the Jews, was already in progress. The holy city fell A.D. 70; and the Mosaic economy, which had been virtually abolished by the death of Christ, now reached its practical termination. At the same period the prophecy of Daniel was literally fulfilled; for “the sacrifice and the oblation” were made to cease, [168:5] as the demolition of the temple and the dispersion of the priests put an end to the celebration of the Levitical worship. The overthrow of the metropolis of Palestine contributed in various ways to the advancement of the Christian cause. Judaism, no longer able to provide for the maintenance of its ritual, was exhibited to the world as a defunct system; its institutions, now more narrowly examined by the spiritual eye, were discovered to be but types of the blessings of a more glorious dispensation; and many believers, who had hitherto adhered to the ceremonial law, discontinued its observances. Christ, forty years before, had predicted the siege and desolation of Jerusalem; [169:1] and the remarkable verification of a prophecy, delivered at a time when the catastrophe was exceedingly improbable, appears to have induced not a few to think more favourably of the credentials of the gospel. In another point of view the ruin of the ancient capital of Judea proved advantageous to the Church. In the subversion of their chief city the power of the Jews sustained a shock from which it has never since recovered; and the disciples were partially delivered from the attacks of their most restless and implacable persecutors” (The Ancient Church: Its History, Doctrine, Worship, and Constitution, Project Gutenberg, available at http://www2.cddc.vt.edu/gutenberg/1/6/7/0/16700/16700-8.txt).

[14] C.H. (Charles) Spurgeon (1834-1892): “The destruction of Jerusalem was more terrible than anything that the world has ever witnessed, either before or since. Even Titus seemed to see in his cruel work the hand of an avenging God… Truly, the blood of the martyrs slain in Jerusalem was amply avenged when the whole city became veritable Aceldama, or field of blood… There was a sufficient interval for the full proclamation of the gospel by the apostles and evangelists of the early Christian Church, and for the gathering out of those who recognized the crucified Christ as their true Messiah. Then came the awful end, which the Saviour foresaw and foretold, and the prospect of which wrung from his lips and heart the sorrowful lament that followed his prophecy of the doom awaiting this guilty capital…Nothing remained for the King but to pronounce the solemn sentence of death upon those who would not come unto him that they might have life: ‘Behold, your house is left unto you desolate.’ The whole ‘house’ of the Jews was left desolate when Jesus departed from them; and the temple, the holy and beautiful ‘house’ became a spiritual desolation when Christ finally left it. Jerusalem was too far gone to be rescued from its self-sought doom (Commentary on Matthew, 1868, pp. 412-413).

[15] Philip Schaff (1819-1893): “A few years afterwards followed the destruction of Jerusalem, which must have made an overpowering impression and broken the last ties which bound Jewish Christianity to the old theocracy…The awfiul catastrophe of the destruction of the Jewish theocracy must have produced the profoundest sensation among the Christians… It was the greatest calamity of Judaism and a great benefit to Christianity; a refutation of the one, a vindication…of the other. It separated them forever” (History of the Christian Church, Vol. 1, 1877, pp. 403-404).

[16] F.W. Farrar (1831-1903): “The Fall of Jerusalem and all the events which accompanied and followed it in the Roman world and in the Christian world, had a significance which it is hardly possible to overestimate. They were the final end of the Old Dispensation. They were the full inauguration of the New Covenant. They were God’s own overwhelming judgment on that form of Judaic Christianity which threatened to crush the work of St. Paul, to lay on the Gentiles the yoke of abrogated Mosaism, to establish itself by threats and anathemas as the only orthodoxy… No event less awful than the desolation of Judea, the destruction of Judaism, the annihilation of all possibility of observing the precepts of Moses, could have opened the eyes of the Judaisers from their dream of imagined infallibility. Nothing but God’s own unmistakable interposition – nothing but the manifest coming of Christ – could have persuaded Jewish Christians that the Law of the Wilderness was annulled” (The Early Days of Christianity, 1882, pp. 489-490).

[17] Philip Mauro (1859-1952): “It is greatly to be regretted that those who, in our day, give themselves to the study and exposition of prophecy, seem not to be aware of the immense significance of the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70, which was accompanied by the extinction of Jewish national existence, and the dispersion of the Jewish people among all the nations. The failure to recognize the significance of that event, and the vast amount of prophecy which it fulfilled, has been the cause of great confusion, for the necessary consequence of missing the past fulfillment of predicted events is to leave on our hands a mass of prophecies for which we must needs contrive fulfillments in the future. The harmful results are twofold; for first, we are thus deprived of the evidential value, and the support to the faith, of those remarkable fulfillments of prophecy which are so clearly presented to us in authentic contemporary histories; and second, our vision of things to come is greatly obscured and confused by the transference to the future of predicted events which, in fact, have already happened, and whereof complete records have been preserved for our information.

“Yet, in the face of all this, we have today a widely held scheme of prophetic interpretation, which has for its very cornerstone the idea that, when God’s time to remember His promised mercies to Israel shall at last have come, He will gather them into their ancient land again, only to pour upon them calamities and distresses far exceeding even the horrors which attended the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70. This is, we are convinced, an error of such magnitude as to derange the whole program of unfulfilled prophecy” (Seventy Weeks and the Great Tribulation, 1921, emphasis added).

[18] John Piper (1996): “It is almost impossible to exaggerate the importance of what happened in A.D. 70 in Jerusalem. It was an event that, for Jews and Christians, was critical in defining their faith for the next 2000 years.”

[19] R.C. Sproul (1997): “The coming of Christ in A.D.70 was a coming in judgment on the Jewish nation, indicating the end of the Jewish age and the fulfillment of a day of the Lord. Jesus really did come in judgment at this time, fulfilling his prophecy in the Olivet Discourse” (The Last Days According to Jesus, p. 158, 1998). “The most significant, redemptive, historical action that takes place outside the New Testament, is the judgment that falls on Jerusalem, and by which judgment the Christian Church now [clearly] emerges as The Body of Christ” (R.C. Sproul, Dust to Glory  video series, 1997).

Philip Mauro (1921): Prophecy Teachers Today Needlessly Prophesy Horrors for Israel


This is a great quote from Philip Mauro, almost 100 years ago, regarding the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD, its significance in relation to Bible prophecy, and how popular beliefs on Bible prophecy speak to the people of Israel today:

“It is greatly to be regretted that those who, in our day, give themselves to the study and exposition of prophecy, seem not to be aware of the immense significance of the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70, which was accompanied by the extinction of Jewish national existence, and the dispersion of the Jewish people among all the nations. The failure to recognize the significance of that event, and the vast amount of prophecy which it fulfilled, has been the cause of great confusion, for the necessary consequence of missing the past fulfillment of predicted events is to leave on our hands a mass of prophecies for which we must needs contrive fulfillments in the future. The harmful results are two fold; for first, we are thus deprived of the evidential value, and the support to the faith, of those remarkable fulfillments of prophecy which are so clearly presented to us in authentic contemporary histories; and second, our vision of things to come is greatly obscured and confused by the transference to the future of predicted events which, in fact, have already happened, and whereof complete records have been preserved for our information.”

“Yet, in the face of all this, we have today a widely held scheme of prophetic interpretation, which has for its very cornerstone the idea that, when God’s time to remember His promised mercies to Israel shall at last have come, He will gather them into their ancient land again, only to pour upon them calamities and distresses far exceeding even the horrors which attended the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70. This is, we are convinced, an error of such magnitude as to derange the whole program of unfulfilled prophecy.”

–Philip Mauro, “Seventy Weeks and the Great Tribulation,” 1921

For some good information on the historical events that took place from 62 AD – 70 AD, and the spiritual significance of many of these events in light of Bible prophecy, please see the following posts:

1. The Historical Events Leading Up to 70 AD, Part 1
2. The Historical Events Leading Up to 70 AD, Part 2
3. The Historical Events Leading Up to 70 AD, Part 3
4. The Spiritual Significance of [Events in] 70 AD

Visitors are also encouraged to check out our series on the Olivet Discourse (Matthew 24, Mark 13, Luke 21) and our series on the book of Revelation, for some good information on how these prophecies were fulfilled by first century historical events.

A Discussion of Two Ages: “This age and the age to come”


A Discussion of Two Ages

Adam Maarschalk: April 10, 2010

Readers familiar with the New Testament will recall that there are two ages frequently spoken of within its pages. NT writers spoke often of “this present age,” i.e. an age that was present in their day. Is this same age still present in our day? Interpreters are divided on this point. The way one answers this question has a significant bearing on one’s eschatology. The well-known and well-respected Puritan theologian Dr. John Owen (1616-1683) would have answered “no” to this question, which would have put him in the minority if he was living today. This is what he once said on this matter:

Most expositors suppose that this expression [In Hebrews 1:2], “The last days,” is a periphrasis [euphemism] for the times of the gospel. But it doth not appear that they are anywhere so called; nor were they ever known by that name among the Jews, upon whose principles the apostle proceeds… It is the last days of the Judaical church and state, which were then drawing to their period and abolition, that are here and elsewhere called “The last days,” or “The latter days,” or “The last hour,” 2 Peter 3:31 John 2:18Jude 1:18… This phrase of speech is signally used in the Old Testament to denote the last days of the Judaical church (John Owen, The Works of John Owen, Volume 19, pp.12 – 13).

Source: David Duncan (Facebook)

Source: David Duncan (Facebook)

This topic was broached briefly during the “Evening of Eschatology” forum moderated by Pastor John Piper in September 2009, and the division between the forum members was evident. Here in this post I will only be presenting one point of view, the same view that John Owen held to. Do feel free, though, to take up this discussion in the “Comments” section below this post, and even to point out any other well-written articles taking up an alternative position.

The bulk of what follows is an article on this subject by Pastor David B. Curtis, based on a message he preached March 14, 1999 at Berean Bible Church in Chesapeake, Virginia. This discussion has a bearing not only on our study of Revelation 20, but also our study of Revelation 21 which will be posted soon. David draws on a large number of texts which refer to “this age and the age to come” and other similar language used in the New Testament. His premise is that we are living in the New Covenant age (which the New Testament often called “the age to come”), and that the previous age, i.e. the Judaic or Old Covenant age, came to an end in 70 AD when Jerusalem and the temple were destroyed. I chose to highlight David’s article because I don’t know that I’ve seen a more thorough or well put-together discussion on this subject. I will only be quoting from the portion of his article which discusses this dichotomy of two ages.

Curtis begins his article by asking whether or not the Bible teaches that this world will end. This is beyond the scope of our discussion here, but one relevant point he does make early in his article is that passages like Matthew 13:40 (and Matt. 24:3) have often been taken to refer to the end of world history when in fact they do not. In the King James Version, Matt. 13:40 reads: “As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world.” However, “world” here is [perhaps not so correctly] translated from the Greek word “aion” which means “age, dispensation, era, or a period of time.” Newer translations do in fact implement this change, such as the New King James Version: Therefore as the tares are gathered and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of this age.” Clearly Jesus was living in the age He was speaking of, which Curtis believes (and I agree) ended in 70 AD with the destruction of Jerusalem and the Second Temple.

Curtis goes on to show that the end of that age was connected to the destruction of the temple in Jesus’ famous sermon known as the Olivet Discourse (see especially Matt. 24:3, Mark 13:4, and Luke 21:7). For the sake of space I will only sum up Curtis’ closing thoughts regarding the Olivet Discourse (but one may follow the link in the paragraph above to see all that he had to say):

[The disciples’] question was, “When will the end be?” …Jesus tells them quite clearly that the end would come in “this generation” (v 34). The word “generation” means: “those who are contemporaries or live at the same time.” So, the age that was to end was the Jewish age. It would end with the destruction of the Jewish temple and the city Jerusalem. The end of the age did not happen at the cross or at Pentecost but at the destruction of Jerusalem. The world was not going to end but the age of Judaism was. The disciples knew that the fall of the temple and the destruction of the city meant the end of the Old Covenant age and the inauguration of a new age.

As far as I know, this understanding that 70 AD was a dividing point between two ages is not at all consistent with most Futurist and premillennial ideas. Even some preterists, though, would articulate Curtis’ thoughts just a little bit differently. For example, when reviewing the “Evening of Eschatology” hosted by John Piper (video included), I noted this observation from one partial-preterist:

Doug Wilson made the point that the years 30-70 AD were the overlapping of two ages, the Judaic (Old Covenant) age and the Christian (Church) age. He likened this transition to the passing of a baton between two runners, where the first runner keeps running alongside the second runner for some distance, before completely letting go of the baton and giving way to the second runner. One relevant text for this idea is Hebrews 8:13. Doug noted that the Christian age began at Pentecost, but the Judaic age only ended 40 years later with the destruction of the Jerusalem temple in 70 AD (See the video, roughly from the 18:30-22:00 mark).

Source: Cindye Coates, The Porch

So Doug Wilson speaks of the Church age beginning at Pentecost, while David Curtis speaks of it being inaugurated a generation later in 70 AD. Perhaps this is a small distinction, for I know that some preterists will say, for example, that in 70 AD the Church age “carried on exclusively, no longer encumbered by Old Covenant Judaism.” With that caveat out of the way, I’d like to come back now to the article by David Curtis and quote a sizeable portion from it regarding these two ages:

This brings us to a very important question, “HOW MANY AGES ARE THERE? William Barclay says: “Time was divided by the Jews into two great periods– this present age, and the age to come. The present age is wholly bad and beyond all hope of human reformation. It can be mended only by the direct intervention of God. When God does intervene, the golden age, the age to come, will arrive. But in between the two ages there will come the Day of the Lord, which will be a time of terrible and fearful upheaval, like the birth-pangs of a new age.”

Zechariah 14 teaches us that the “Day of the Lord” and the destruction of Jerusalem were connected. So, the destruction of Jerusalem, which was the Day of the Lord, marked the end of one age, the Jewish age, and the beginning of the new age, the Christian age of the New Covenant.

To the Jews, time was divided into two great periods, the Mosaic Age and the Messianic Age. The Messiah was viewed as one who would bring in a new world. The period of the Messiah was, therefore, correctly characterized by the Synagogue as “the world to come.” All through the New Testament we see two ages in contrast: “This age” and the “age to come.”

Matthew 12:32 (NKJV) “Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come.

The word “come” at the end of the verse is the Greek word mello, which means: “about to be.” We could translate this, the “age about to come” (in the first century). Many think that the age to come will be a sinless age; not according to this verse. Sin against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven in that age, referring to the age of the New Covenant, our present age. We see here that both of these ages have sin in them.

Ephesians 1:21 (NKJV) far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come.

Here again we see the two ages. So, the New Testament speaks of two ages, “this age” and “the age to come.” The understanding of these two ages and when they changed is fundamental to interpreting the Bible.

Let’s see what the New Testament teaches us about these two ages. Questions that we need to try to answer are: What age did the new testament writers live in? What age do we live in? How is ‘this age” characterized in the New Testament? What does the New Testament say about “the age to come”? When does “this age” end and “the age to come” begin?

WHAT AGE DID THE NEW TESTAMENT WRITERS LIVE IN?

The New Testament writer lived in the age that they called “this age.” To the New Testament writers the “age to come” was future, but it was very near because “this age” was about to end.

1 Corinthians 2:6-8 (NKJV) However, we speak wisdom among those who are mature, yet not the wisdom of this age, nor of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. 7 But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory, 8 which none of the rulers of this age knew; for had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.

The wisdom and rulers of “this age” were coming to nothing because the age was passing away. He is speaking of the Jewish leaders and the Old Covenant system. The rulers of “this age” crucified the Lord. These rulers would shortly have no realm in which to rule because “this age” was about to end. Think about this. If the Jewish age ended at the cross, as so many claim, why were they still ruling the age?

1 Corinthians 10:11 (NKJV) Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.

Paul said very plainly that the end of the ages was coming upon them, the first century saints. “This age,” along with its wisdom and rulers, was about to end.

Hebrews 1:1-2 (NKJV) 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;

Jesus was speaking in the last days. What last days? The last days of the Bible’s “this age” — the Old Covenant age.

Hebrews 9:26 (NKJV) He then would have had to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now, once at the end of the ages, He has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.

When was it that Jesus appeared? He was born, not at the beginning, but at the end of the ages. To suppose that he meant that Jesus’ incarnation came near the end of the world would be to make his statement false. The world has already lasted longer since the incarnation than the whole duration of the Mosaic economy, from the exodus to the destruction of the temple. Jesus was manifest at the end of the Jewish age. Peter says the same thing.

1 Peter 1:20 (NKJV) He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you.

Jesus came during the last days of the age that was the Old Covenant age, the Jewish age. That age came to an end with the destruction of the temple in AD 70. All the things prophesied by Jesus in Matthew 24 occurred at the end of that age. Alright, so the New Testament writers lived in what the Bible calls “this age.”

HOW IS “THIS AGE” CHARACTERIZED IN THE NEW TESTAMENT?

1. It is an evil age:

Galatians 1:3-4 (NKJV) Grace to you and peace from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ, 4 who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father,

Paul says here that the “present age” which is “this age,” the one that was about to pass away, is an “evil” age. Christ came to deliver them from the “present age” because it was evil. Could “evil age” be referring to Christianity? Could the Christian age be called an “evil age” that we need to be delivered from? No! Christ came to bring us out of the evil age and place us into His kingdom.

2. It was an age of darkness:

Colossians 1:12-13 (NKJV) giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light. 13 He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love,

Christ came to deliver them from the “power of darkness.” This is a reference to the Old Covenant or “this age.”[1]

John 8:12 (NKJV) Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.”

Jesus was speaking to the Jews, He was calling them to leave the darkness of the Old Covenant and follow Him.

3. It was an age in which Satan ruled.

Acts 26:18 (NKJV) ‘to open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me.’

The “present age” was one of darkness. Satan is called the god of “this age.”

2 Corinthians 4:3-4 (NKJV) But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, 4 whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them.

Remember “this age” is not referring to our age, it was the “this age” of the first century. Satan ruled in the Old Covenant world of Judaism but his reign was shortly (in the first century) to come to an end.

Romans 16:20 (NKJV) And the God of peace will crush Satan under your feet shortly. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen.

Satan would be crushed when the “present age” of darkness came to an end. When John wrote his first epistle he said that the darkness was passing.

1 John 2:8 (NKJV) Again, a new commandment I write to you, which thing is true in Him and in you, because the darkness is passing away, and the true light is already shining.

The “darkness” is speaking of the Old Covenant age, and the “true light” is speaking of the New Covenant age.

4. It was an age of death and condemnation.

2 Corinthians 3:5-11 (NKJV) Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God, 6 who also made us sufficient as ministers of the new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. 7 But if the ministry of death, written and engraved on stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of the glory of his countenance, which glory was passing away, 8 how will the ministry of the Spirit not be more glorious? 9 For if the ministry of condemnation had glory, the ministry of righteousness exceeds much more in glory. 10 For even what was made glorious had no glory in this respect, because of the glory that excels. 11 For if what is passing away was glorious, what remains is much more glorious.

Here Paul is comparing the two Covenants, the Old Covenant was one of death and condemnation, but the New Covenant was one of life and righteousness. When Paul wrote this to the Corinthians, the Old Covenant age, the “present age,” was in the process of passing away.

Paul spoke to the Galatians about these two covenants and said that the Old Covenant was at that time in effect.

Galatians 4:21-26 (NKJV) Tell me, you who desire to be under the law, do you not hear the law? 22 For it is written that Abraham had two sons: the one by a bondwoman, the other by a freewoman. 23 But he who was of the bondwoman was born according to the flesh, and he of the freewoman through promise, 24 which things are symbolic. For these are the two covenants: the one from Mount Sinai which gives birth to bondage, which is Hagar; 25 for this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia, and corresponds to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children; 26 but the Jerusalem above is free, which is the mother of us all.

Hagar, represented both the Old Covenant and the Jerusalem that “now is” (the Old was still present at that time), and Sarah represented both the New Covenant and the New Jerusalem that was “above” (it was still to come).

5. It was an age that was called “night.”

Romans 13:11-12 (NKJV) And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed. 12 The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light.

Their salvation was drawing near, and the night was just about over. Is the Christian age day or night? It is day! The night of Old Covenant Judaism was just about to end, the day of the New Covenant, the Christian age, was just about to dawn.

1 Thessalonians 5:1-4 (NKJV) But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you. 2 For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. 3 For when they say, “Peace and safety!” then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape. 4 But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief. 5 You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness.

Paul told the Thessalonian Christians that they were not in darkness, they were sons of light and sons of the day that was about to dawn.

So, “this age” of the Bible is the age of the Old Covenant that was about to pass away in the first century. It was characterized as evil, darkness, Satan’s rule, condemnation, death, and night. It should be clear to you that “this age” is not the Christian age in which we live. In the first century the age of the Old Covenant was fading away and would end completely when the temple was destroyed in AD 70.

Hebrews 8:13 (NKJV) In that He says, “A new covenant,” He has made the first obsolete. Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.

The book of Hebrews was written at around 65-69 AD. At this time the Old Covenant was still in effect but it was ready to pass away. It passed away in AD 70 in the destruction of Jerusalem. The “this age” of the Bible is now ancient history.

 I will conclude with these words from David Curtis:

We now live in what was to the first century saints the “age to come.” When most Christians read in the New Testament and see the words “the age to come,” they think of a yet future (to us) age. But the New Testament writers were referring to the Christian age. We live in what was to them the “age to come,” the New Covenant age. Since the “present age” of the Bible ended in AD 70 with the destruction of the temple and the coming of the Lord, we must be in the “age to come.”

David Green, who shares this same viewpoint, has listed 101 Scripture passages from the New Testament which indicate that a very significant event (or series of events) was about to take place in the days of the early Church. The study he has presented is valuable in seeing how frequent this language is in the New Testament, and what was to take place not in the 21st century (or beyond) but at that time.

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All of our Revelation chapter-by-chapter studies, and any other posts related to the book of Revelation, can be found here.

All of our studies on Revelation 20 and the Millennium can be found here.

We are now ready to move on in our study of the book of Revelation to Revelation 21, where John presents his readers with a picture of the New Jerusalem coming down out of heaven.


[1] Another text that gives credence to this idea is Matthew 22:1-14, the Parable of the Wedding Feast. In this parable, speaking of the kingdom of heaven (vs. 2), a king (God) was to prepare a wedding feast for his son (Jesus), but those who were originally invited (the Jews) refused to come (vss. 3-5) and even killed the king’s servants who had invited them (v. 6). Therefore, these murderers were destroyed (cf. Matthew 23:29-38; Rev. 16:4-7, 17:6, 18:20, 18:24), and their city was burned (cf. Rev. 18:8-10, 18; 19:3). This is precisely what we see having happened in Jerusalem’s destruction and burning in 70 AD. The invitation then goes out to others (Gentiles as well as Jews; vss. 9-10), but only those with proper wedding garments were allowed to remain (vss. 10-14; cf. Rev. 19:8). Those who lacked these garments remained in outer darkness and were not part of the chosen people of God (vss. 13-14; cf. Matt. 8:11-12).

Revelation Chapter 6 (Part 2)


REVELATION 6 (Part 2)

Adam Maarschalk: September 3, 2009

Scripture text for this study: Revelation 6:1-17 (Part 2 covers verses 9-17)

This is now the second part of our study on Revelation 6. It is recommended that one refer to the first part before reading what is to follow:

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E. Fifth Seal: The Cry of the Martyrs (6:9-11)

Rhetorical questions (open for further discussion): [1] In what sense did John see “the souls” of the martyrs (i.e. How can souls be seen)? [2] The martyrs had already passed on from this life and were safe in God’s presence, so why were they still concerned about vengeance? [3] If they hadn’t yet received their redeemed bodies, what were they to do with the white robes they were given? Were these literal robes?

Sam Storms says,

The fifth seal focuses on the oppression and martyrdom of God’s people. Unlike the first four seals, the fifth says nothing of an angelic decree of judgment or suffering but rather a human response to it… John’s language indicates that there is a specified number of God’s people who are destined to be martyred (the verb translated ‘should be completed’ in v. 11 can mean ‘to make something total or complete, to complete the number of’” (Aune, 2:412). Only when all have been killed in accordance with God’s plan will he act in judgment (http://www.enjoyinggodministries.com/article/the-seven-seals-part-ii/).

Dr. Thomas Constable remarks (p. 71), “‘Those who dwell on the earth’ is almost a technical expression in Revelation describing unbelievers who are hostile to God (cf. 3:10; 8:13; 11:10; 13:8, 12; 17:2, 8).” I would agree, and would again add that the term “earth,” as considered earlier, refers specifically to the land of Israel and Palestine. [In our study of Revelation so far, we have suggested that many of the references to “the earth” in the book of Revelation are not meant to be taken as worldwide in scope, but as dealing instead with the land of Israel/Palestine. In a 3-part study on this subjectbeginning with this post, I have outlined nearly 20 instances where this appears to be the case.]

The hostile unbelievers were primarily the apostate Jews of John’s day. Steve Gregg, editor of “Revelation: Four Views (A Parallel Commentary),” remarks (p. 118):

As the blood of sacrificial animals was poured out at the foot of the altar (Lev. 4:7), so the souls of the martyrs (slain like animals by the Jewish priests) are seen under the altar (v. 9). “The soul [Heb. nephesh] of the flesh is in the blood” (Lev. 17:11). Their blood cries out for vindication, as did the blood of Abel (Gen. 4:10). The fact that the martyrs are asking for the avenging of their blood upon those who dwell on the earth [or land] (v. 10) suggests that their persecutors were still alive on earth at the time John saw the vision. Prior to A.D. 70, the main persecutors of the righteous Jews and Christians were the leaders of the Jewish nation, headquartered in Jerusalem (Luke 13:33).

These thoughts are brought together by Jesus when He predicted: “that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah…whom you murdered between the temple and the altar… All these things will come upon this generation” (Matt. 23:35f). The destruction of Jerusalem in that generation was the sentence of the divine Judge in response to the cries of the blood (souls) of the righteous slain by her leaders.

Indeed, Jesus couldn’t have been more clear that His own generation in Israel would be held responsible for the shedding of the blood of the saints, prophets, and Himself (Matthew 21:33-45, 23:29-38). We will also see in our study of Revelation 18 that the “saints and apostles and prophets” (verse 20) will be invited to rejoice over the destruction of Babylon the Great, i.e. Jerusalem (18:18, 21; cf. 11:8), because in her was found the blood of prophets and of saints, and of all who have been slain on the earth” (18:24; cf. 16:5-6). Their time of waiting (6:11) will have ended at that point. Babylon the Great, then, cannot be a city in the 21st century or beyond, because Jesus stated explicitly that the generation which crucified Him would be the one held responsible for the shedding of righteous blood and justly judged as a result. The generation which heard Jesus speak these things also saw them happen, just as He said they would, in 70 AD. Steve Gregg quotes J. Stewart Russell, who, writing in 1887, said:

[I]t is impossible not to be struck with the marked resemblance between the vision of the fifth seal and our Lord’s parable of the unjust judge (Luke 18:1-8): ‘And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them? I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith in the land?’ This is more than resemblance: it is identity.

One more note: These martyrs simply asked God to do what He had said long ago that He would do. This was not a brand new request. It was not a question of “if” this judgment would happen but “when” it would happen.

F. Sixth Seal: Cosmic Disturbances (6:12-17)

Verses 12-14: Sam Storms agrees with Preterists when he remarks,

“These verses and their vivid portrayal of disruptions in the heavens echo several OT texts: Isa. 13:10-13 (the defeat of Babylon); 24:1-6,19-23; 34:4 (the defeat of Edom); Ezek. 32:6-8 (the defeat of Egypt); Joel 2:10, 30-31 (judgment on Israel itself); 3:15-16; Hab. 3:6-11 (the defeat of the Chaldeans and other enemies of Israel). In particular, compare Isaiah 34:4 and God’s judgment against historical Edom with Rev. 6:13-14a.

‘and the powers of the heaven will melt, and the heaven will be rolled up like a scroll; and all the stars will fall . . . as leaves fall from a fig tree’ (Isa. 34:4).

‘and the stars of the heaven fell to the earth, as a fig tree casts its unripe figs when shaken by a great wind, and the heaven was split apart like a scroll when it is rolled up’ (Rev. 6:13-14a).

The point is this: all these celestial (heavenly) and terrestrial (earthly) phenomena are prophetic hyperbole for national catastrophe. God’s judgment of earthly unbelief and idolatry is described in terms of heavenly disasters.

N. T. Wright is surely correct in contending that “it is crass literalism, in view of the many prophetic passages in which this language denotes socio-political and military catastrophe, to insist that this time the words must refer to the physical collapse of the space-time world. This is simply the way regular Jewish imagery is able to refer to major socio-political events and bring out their full significance” (Victory, 361)… In summary, Revelation 6:12-14 is stock-in-trade OT prophetic language for national disaster.”

Verses 15-17: “What sinners dread most is not death, but having to stand before a holy and righteous God” (Dr. Thomas Constable, quoting from Robert Thomas, ibid).

FUTURIST VIEWPOINT: “Next God will send a tremendous earthquake that will rock the whole world (cf. Luke 21:11). The darkening of the sun (cf. Isa. 13:10; Ezek. 32:7-8; Joel 2:10, 31; Amos 8:9; Matt. 24:29; Mark 13:24-25; Luke 21:25), the reddening of the moon (cf. Joel 2:31; Acts 2:20), and the falling of the stars to earth (a meteor-like shower?) appear from the context to be consequences of this judgment… Many commentators have taken this description as picturing a metaphorical convulsion among the nations, not a literal shaking of the earth and the heavens. We should probably take them literally for at least two reasons. First, Jesus used the same language in the Olivet Discourse and gave no indication that it was symbolic[1] (cf. Matt. 24:7; Mark 13:8; Luke 21:11). Second, a shaking of the nations follows in verses 15-17” (Dr. Thomas Constable, p. 72, ibid).

As J. Stuart Russell pointed out, though, the “gorgeous symbolical imagery” used in this passage is fitting for the destruction of Jerusalem because “[t]hat event is not simply a tragical historical incident; it is not to be looked at as in the same category with the siege of Troy or of Carthage. It was a grand providential epoch; the close of an aeon; the winding up of a great period in the divine government of the world” (Steve Gregg, p. 124). Gregg clarifies, “The vision depicts the end of the Jewish state and the fall of its leaders” (p. 122).

In verse 17, John’s readers are told that the great day of God’s wrath has come. J. Stewart Russell says of this day (Gregg, pp. 120, 122), “This is… ‘the great and terrible day of the Lord‘ predicted by Malachi, by John the Baptist, by St. Paul, by St. Peter, and, above all, by our Lord in His apocalyptic discourse on the Mount of Olives. … It is impossible to overlook the connection between the seventeenth verse and the language of Malachi 3:2, ‘But who may abide the day of his coming?’ ” Revelation 6 ends with the question, “and who can stand?” We will see the answer to this question in our study on chapter 7.

Verse 16: It is said that those who would not repent called “to the mountains and rocks, ‘Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who is seated on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb…’” F.F. Bruce said the following in 1986 regarding this verse: “The best commentary on the present passage is found in our Lord’s words to the ‘daughters of Jerusalem’ on the Via Dolorosa (Lk. 23:30)…” (“Revelation” in International Bible Commentary, p. 1608). This is what Luke 23:27-30 says:

And there followed Him [Jesus] a great multitude of the people and of women who were mourning and lamenting for Him. But turning to them Jesus said, ‘Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep 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.” For if they do these things when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?

Jesus spoke these things to the “daughters of Jerusalem,” concerning themselves and their children. If these things were to take place centuries later in judgment upon Gentile nations, why would He have directed these remarks in this way to the present generation of Jews among whom He lived?

The same prophecy was given by the prophet Hosea concerning Israel: “The high places of Aven, the sin of Israel, shall be destroyed. Thorn and thistle shall grow up on their altars, and they shall say to the mountains, Cover us, and to the hills, Fall on us” (Hosea 10:8). This is yet another indication that the judgments of the book of Revelation were directed toward apostate 1st-century Israel (Source).

On July 31, 70 AD, after a five month siege, the Romans succeeded in penetrating the final wall around Jerusalem and burned the temple to the ground. Tens of thousands of Jews were killed, but the surviving Jews retreated to the Upper City of Jerusalem, where many continued to plunder, ambush, and assault their fellow Jews. The victims were too weakened by famine to resist, and quite a few were killed senselessly. Josephus tried to persuade them to surrender to the Romans and spare what was left of the city, but he was only laughed at. Josephus also records that when the temple was burned in August 70 AD, many survivors retreated to Upper Jerusalem and longed for death. Josephus said in Wars 6.7.2 that “as they saw the city on fire, they appeared cheerful, and put on joyful countenances, in expectation, as they said, of death to end their miseries.” Many Jews sought refuge in the caves and underground caverns, hoping to remain hidden once the Romans would reach the Upper City, as Josephus records (Steve Gregg, pp. 124, 126):

So now the last hope which supported the tyrants and that crew of robbers who were with them, was in the caves and caverns underground; whither, if they could once fly, they did not expect to be searched for; but endeavored, that after the whole city should be destroyed, and the Romans gone away, they might come out again, and escape from them. This was no better than a dream of theirs; for they were not able to lie hid either from God or from the Romans (Wars, 6:7:3).

The Romans not only ravaged and leveled Jerusalem, but during the next three years they rooted out the Jews who had fled Jerusalem and attempted to hide out in various pockets of resistance in the Dead Sea areas. The famous hill fortress of Masada was the last to be taken by the Romans in April 73 AD, where 960 Jews committed mass suicide.

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Our study of Revelation 7 can be found here.

All of our Revelation chapter-by-chapter studies, and any other posts related to the book of Revelation, can be found here.


[1] It can be said, though, that this language is indicated to be symbolic by the fact that the same type of language was used symbolically many other times in Scripture to refer to localized judgments.

PP12: Did Jesus Come in 70 AD? Part 2


This is now the twelfth post in our series on “A Partial-Preterist Perspective on the Destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD.” This is the same title as a term paper I recently submitted to Northwestern College. All the previous posts can be found here, and it’s recommended that they be read in order before reading this post:

[1] https://kloposmasm.wordpress.com/2009/08/13/brief-explanation-of-partial-preterism/
[2] https://kloposmasm.wordpress.com/2009/08/13/pp2-references/
[3] https://kloposmasm.wordpress.com/2009/08/13/pp3-external-evidence-for-an-early-date-revelation/
[4] https://kloposmasm.wordpress.com/2009/08/14/pp4-internal-evidence-for-an-early-date-revelation-part-1/
[5] https://kloposmasm.wordpress.com/2009/08/14/pp5-internal-evidence-for-an-early-date-revelation-part-2/
[6] https://kloposmasm.wordpress.com/2009/08/14/pp6-internal-evidence-for-an-early-date-revelation-part-3/
[7] https://kloposmasm.wordpress.com/2009/08/14/pp7-internal-evidence-for-an-early-date-revelation-part-4/
[8] https://kloposmasm.wordpress.com/2009/08/14/pp8-daniels-70-week-prophecy-part-1/
[9] https://kloposmasm.wordpress.com/2009/08/15/pp9-daniels-70-week-prophecy-part-2/
[10] https://kloposmasm.wordpress.com/2009/08/15/pp10-jerusalems-destruction-foretold-in-the-olivet-discourse/
[11] https://kloposmasm.wordpress.com/2009/08/15/pp11-did-jesus-come-in-70-ad-part-1/

In the previous post we entered into a two-part discussion of Christ’s non-physical return in judgment on Jerusalem in 70 AD. That post is a definite prerequisite for this one. They are broken up for the sake of readability. This post continues that discussion, and will also address the words of Jesus declaring that His generation would not pass away until all that He had prophesied would take place.

Adam Maarschalk

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Did Jesus Come in 70 AD? (Part 2)

Earlier Jesus had also said to His disciples: “For the Son of Man is going to come with His angels in the glory of His Father, and then He will repay each person according to what he has done. Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom” (Matthew 16:27-28). If this statement was fulfilled in His transfiguration six days later, as some contend, in what sense did Jesus “come with His angels” then and repay each person according to what he had done (a clear picture of judgment), and why would He have done so before their lives had come to an end? Also why did Jesus say that “some” (rather than all) would not taste death before they saw this happen? None of Jesus’ disciples died during the six days after Jesus made this statement, but some were indeed martyred before 70 AD.

In the common Preterist view, then, those who were still alive in 70 AD indeed saw “the Son of Man coming in His kingdom” before they tasted death. John Wesley, clearly holding to this view, said of this passage, “For there is no way to escape the righteous judgment of God. And, as an emblem of this, there are some here who shall live to see the Messiah coming to set up his mediatorial kingdom with great power and glory, by the destruction of the temple, city, and polity of the Jews” (Todd Dennis [10], 2009). Dr. Thomas Newton (1704-1782) and Charles Spurgeon (1834-1892) also held this view, as does R.C. Sproul (Todd Dennis [16], 2009). Some Preterists see Matthew 16:27-28 as being identical to the prophecy Jesus gave in Revelation 22:12, revealing the purpose for His soon coming: “Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay everyone for what he has done.”[1]

In some way, Jesus tied His coming[2] to the lives of His listeners in Matthew 16:27-28 and 26:64, though it continues to be debated whether He spoke there of His coming in judgment in 70 AD. One instance, though, where He did clearly connect His judgment-coming in 70 AD to His audience was in Matthew 24:34. Here we read the following statement concerning all He had revealed in the Olivet Discourse up to that point, “Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place.”

As already noted, this very clear time marker has been taken by Dispensationalists to mean that all the things Jesus prophesied would take place in one future generation which would see them begin. This is not the historical viewpoint, however. Indeed, the question can be asked why Jesus would have meant anything different by the phrase “this generation” here than He did in Matthew 11:16; 12:41, 42, 45; 17:17; 23:26; Mark 8:12; Luke 7:31; 11:29-32; 17:25 (all clearly referring to His immediate audience). Charles Spurgeon, in his 1868 commentary on this passage, remarked:

The King left his followers in no doubt as to when these things should happen: ‘Verily I say unto you, this generation shall not pass till all these things be fulfilled.’ It was just about the ordinary limit of a generation when the Roman armies compassed Jerusalem, whose measure of iniquity was then full, and overflowed in misery, agony, distress, and bloodshed such as the world never saw before or since. Jesus was a true Prophet; everything that he foretold was literally fulfilled” (Joe Haynes, 2001).

The reformer John Calvin, in his commentary on this verse, said, “This prophecy does not relate to evils that are distant, and which posterity will see after the lapse of many centuries, but which are now hanging over you, and ready to fall in one mass, so that there is no part of it which the present generation [in Jesus’ time] will not experience” (Todd Dennis [9], 2009, emphasis added). John Wesley, in 1754, stated, “The expression implies that great part of that generation would be passed away, but not the whole. Just so it was; for the city and temple were destroyed thirty-nine or forty years after.”

These men were in good historical company. Clement (150-220 AD) said, “And in like manner He spoke in plain words the things that were straightway to happen, which we can now see with our eyes, in order that the accomplishment might be among those to whom the word was spoken” (Puritan Lad, 2008, emphasis added). Eusebius (263-339 AD) also assigned the meaning of “this generation” to those alive when Jesus spoke these words (Todd Dennis [4], 2009):

And when those that believed in Christ had come thither [out] from Jerusalem [in obedience to Matthew 24:15-16], then, as if the royal city of the Jews and the whole land of Judea were entirely destitute of holy men, the judgment of God at length overtook those who had committed such outrages against Christ and his apostles, and totally destroyed that generation of impious men (Proof of the Gospel, Book III, Ch. 5).

Eusebius, in fact, taught that Jesus came at that time in judgment. After detailing how the other signs given by Jesus in the Olivet Discourse had been fulfilled prior to 70 AD [see next section], Eusebius concluded that His predicted coming likewise had occurred (Todd Dennis [19], 2009):

[W]hen the lamentation and wailing that was predicted for the Jews, and the burning of the Temple and its utter desolation, can also be seen even now to have occurred according to the prediction, surely we must also agree that the King who was prophesied, the Christ of God, has come, since the signs of His coming have been shewn in each instance I have treated to have been clearly fulfilled” (Proof of the Gospel, Book VIII, emphasis added).

Henry Alford, an English scholar and theologian who was also Dean of Canterbury from 1857-1871, believed that Jesus’ 70 AD coming should also be apparent from His telling of the Parable of the Tenants in Matthew 21:33-45. There He identified the tenants of the vineyard as the Jews, who consistently killed God’s servants whenever they were sent to collect fruit. They finally killed God’s own Son, begging the question (verse 40), “When therefore the owner of the vineyard comes, what will He do to those tenants?” Jesus affirmed the answer of the chief priests and the Pharisees (verse 41) by stating that they would be put to a miserable death, they would be crushed (verse 44), and the kingdom of God would be taken from them “and given to a people producing its fruits” (verse 43; cf. Daniel 7:18-27). Alford notes:

We may observe that our Lord makes ‘when the Lord cometh’ coincide with the destruction of Jerusalem, which is incontestably the overthrow of the wicked husbandmen. This passage therefore forms an important key to our Lord’s prophecies, and a decisive justification for those who, like myself, firmly hold that the coming of the Lord is, in many places, to be identified, primarily, with that overthrow (Todd Dennis [19], 2009, emphasis in original).

As already noted, we have the testimony of Jonathan Edwards a century earlier (1776), saying, “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.” John Owen (1721), commenting on Matthew 24, noted the similarities between Christ’s coming in judgment in the first century and His final future coming:

That the language is similar to that in which Christ’s final coming is described, cannot be denied. But that is not strange, when we consider, as has been remarked, that the one event is typical of the other; that his coming to destroy Jerusalem is a representation, faint indeed but real, of his glorious and awful coming to take vengeance upon the finally impenitent, and that language therefore is used of it, which seems appropriately to belong to the final judgment (Todd Dennis [20], 2009).


[1] Todd Dennis again, though, does not see in this passage a direct connection to 70 AD. Instead, he says, the immediate context for Jesus’ statement in Matthew 16 is the subject of self-denial, persecution, and potential martyrdom, “with the attendant rewards which follow” (Todd Dennis [2], 2008). It’s a suffering/vindication motif which finds frequent mention in the New Testament (e.g. Stephen’s martyrdom in Acts 7:54-58, where Stephen sees Jesus revealed in power and glory just prior to tasting death; Hebrews 9:27-28, where judgment is said to follow death, and—in Todd’s view—there is a personal coming of Christ for each of His followers at the occasion of their deaths (in the manner of Christ saying, “I will come again and will take you to Myself, that where I am you may be also” [John 14:3]). The “death of the individual is where the focus lies in [Matthew 16:28],” he adds, and only some would have the privilege of seeing Him come in His kingdom before tasting death because some (i.e. Judas) would reject Him.

[2] Or “a coming of His”; Even Dispensationalists generally believe that some of Jesus’ disciples saw Him come in His kingdom before they died, albeit only three of them six days later when He was transfigured. Holding to this belief, then, they should have no logical problem believing that Christ came within the lifetime of the generation that heard Him speak, in some sense other than His Second Coming.