Dismembering an Idol (The Story of Zacchaeus)

by Adam Maarschalk (December 7, 2010)

A few months ago I began receiving monthly ministry updates from Desiring God Ministries (DGM), a ministry under the oversight of Pastor John Piper of Bethlehem Baptist Church here in Minneapolis. I thought the write-up in November was especially good and valuable, and I’d like to share it here. It was written by Jon Bloom, the Executive Director of DGM. Bloom tells the story of Zacchaeus’ change of heart and fruit-bearing repentance in captivating form:

In Luke 19, Zacchaeus the tax collector was converted. He vowed to give back fourfold to anyone he had defrauded. Imagine a conversation he might have had when returning the money.

*          *          *

“Dad, there’s a man at the door. He said his name is Zacchaeus.”

“Zacchaeus!” Judah’s face flushed with sudden anger. “What does he want?” Under his breath he muttered, “The little vermin.” His young daughter didn’t need to hear that.

“I don’t know.”

Judah moved brusquely past his daughter, clenching his jaw. If the little weasel even hints at more money, I swear… a thunderstorm of violent thoughts broke in his mind.

When he saw Zacchaeus he exploded, “WHAT?” Zacchaeus reeled slightly from the verbal blow.

“I’m here to return something to you, Judah.”

“What do you mean?” The words sounded more like “Get out of my sight!”

Zacchaeus held out a small moneybag. Judah was suspiciously confused. This man had robbed half of Jericho collecting taxes for Tiberius. No one was more conniving and slippery with words. Fearing some kind of set-up, Judah didn’t move.

“What are you doing, Zacchaeus?” The cynicism hissed through Judah’s teeth.

“I’m dismembering my idol.”

Judah’s fiery glare turned to stony bewilderment. “What are you talking about?”

“Judah, I know how strange this must sound. And you have every reason not to trust me. I’m here because I’ve defrauded you. I’ve charged you more taxes than Rome required and kept them for my wicked little self. I know that you and everyone else knows that. But now I’ve come to ask your forgiveness for sinning against you like that, and to make restitution. That’s what’s in this bag.”

Zacchaeus held it out again. This time Judah tentatively took it. He looked inside. “There’s a lot in here. It’s got to be more than you overcharged me.”

“Yes. It’s four times what I overcharged you. I’ve got all the records, you know.” Zacchaeus smiled.

“Why are you giving me four times what you owe me?” Judah’s distrust was not dispelled.

“I’m keeping a vow. I promised Jesus that I would repay everyone I defrauded fourfold.”

“You mean the Rabbi Jesus? You know him?”

“I do now. He’s in town, as you know. And the other day I wanted to get a glimpse of him. But being, ah, short-legged, I figured the only way I’d see him was from a tree! Wouldn’t you know, as Jesus passes by he stops, looks up at silly me in the sycamore and says, ‘Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today.'”

Judah gave him a puzzled look.

Zacchaeus said, “I know, I know! I was as shocked as anyone! How did he know my name, right? So Jesus and his disciples come to my house and in a matter of minutes my world falls apart and comes together.”

“Falls apart and comes together.”

“Judah, when I was a boy I was in awe of what I thought money did for people. It seemed to open all the doors to power and pleasure. So I vowed to myself that whatever it took I was going to be rich. And I kept that vow. Back then I had no idea how empty being rich would be. But up till two days ago, I figured it was still better than the alternative.

“But as I sat in my home with Jesus and his disciples, who have nothing, nothing but God—Judah, I’ve never seen happier people in my life! And as Jesus spoke, it was like his words were alive. My heart burned with a longing for God I had never felt before! And a deep shame that I traded him for money.

“Then it hit me like a cedar beam: I’m poor, not rich! They had God; I had a dead idol: money. They were rich; I was no more than a beggar. They were free. But the only doors money ever opened for me led to dungeons. My world, as I had known it, fell apart.

“And there sat Jesus, looking at me as if he could read me like a scroll. Everything in me just wanted to follow him. I wanted the forgiveness and salvation he’s been preaching about. For the first time in my life I wanted God more than… anything! Suddenly, it was like life never made more sense. Before I knew it I was on my feet vowing in front of everyone that, well, that I would dismember my idol.”

“Give away your money.”

“Right. Well, some of it is your money.”

This time Judah smiled.

Later, Judah’s wife found him staring at a small moneybag on the table.

“What’s that?”

“A tax refund.”

“A what?

“I think we need to go hear Rabbi Jesus.”

“Rabbi Jesus? Why?”

“I think we’re poor.”

*          *          *

Some of our idols need to be dismembered for us to be free of them. Jesus knows what they are and how to help us see them. It may feel like we are losing our world to lose them. That’s okay. Jesus said, “whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it” (Matthew 16:25).

“He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose” (Jim Elliot, October 28, 1949).

Source: http://www.desiringgod.org/blog/posts/dismembering-an-idol

Reading this, I’m also reminded of Jesus’ sobering and hard-hitting words to the Church in Laodicea:

For you say, ‘I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing,’ not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see. Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent” (Revelation 3:17-19).

[For some historical background on this passage, feel free to see our study of Revelation 3 here, and scroll down about halfway to the section on Laodicia.] To one degree or another, we are all in need of being able to spiritually see more clearly. May pride and self-righteousness not stand in the way and give us the distorted idea that we are in need of nothing. May we also recognize and welcome His discipline, for it’s a mark of His love toward us. Here you can watch and listen to a group of youth (from the Shepherd of the Valley Lutheran Church in Beaverton, Oregon) singing the classic song “The Blind Man”:

I also appreciate this version of the same song sung by an Indian brother living in the UK:

In the mail-out version of Jon Bloom’s letter, he appropriately closed with these words:

“Our featured sermon for November is titled, ‘The Radical Cost of Following Jesus.’ In it John Piper says, ‘Jesus knows everyone’s idol. Jesus knows perfectly what is competing in your heart with affection for Him.’ This is really good news. Because when Jesus asks us to dismember our idols, He’s really offering us fullness of joy and pleasures forever (Psalm 16:11).


John Piper Hosts “An Evening of Eschatology”

Event: An Evening of Eschatology (The Meaning of the Millennium)
Location: Bethlehem Baptist Church (Minneapolis)

Speakers: Sam Storms, Jim Hamilton, Doug Wilson (Moderator: John Piper)

Date: September 27, 2009

Video Source: http://www.desiringgod.org/ResourceLibrary/MediaPlayer/4262/Video/

These men gathered at Bethlehem Baptist Church to discuss the thousand-year reign discussed in Revelation 20.  It was at times serious and intense, and at other times very funny.  I enjoyed watching some heavy-hitters defend their beliefs head-to-head.   Here are some of my jottings from the evening:

-Christ died so that we might die.  He lives so that we might live.  He absorbed our sin and God’s wrath and His righteousness was imputed on our behalf.
-Doug Wilson remarked (15:25 point in the video) that the Millennium is 1000 years of peace that Christians like to fight about.  🙂
-One’s view of the millennium pertains to when he believes the 1000 year reign discussed in Rev. 20:1-6 falls in time.
-Relevant texts regarding the Bible’s use of the word “ages”: [1] Matthew 12:32 [2] Mark 10:30 [3] I Corinthians 10:11 [4] Ephesians 1:21

Some opinions and comments from the speakers:

Doug Wilson:  Ages overlap from Pentecost to 70 AD.  Jewish age ended 70; new age began then.

Jim Hamilton, Doug Wilson, Sam Storms: Jesus will reign on this earth.

Doug Wilson: This earth is longing for the resurrection for the created order – Rom 8

Doug Wilson: Intermediate state – we die and are with the Lord the day of our death – in heaven.  We wait for the redemption of our bodies.

Jim Hamilton (Premillennial View): Revelation shows that there will be a resurrection of believers who reign with Jesus on earth for a thousand years.  JW suggests that their offspring may not be regenerated and could die without Christ in that period.  Then Satan is released, and there is a rebellion, to be followed by the  final judgment, and a new heaven and new earth.

Doug Wilson  (Post-millennial View): The  Millennium is now on the earth.  Jesus will come and judge death at the end of this age.  The dead will be raised; we will be ushered into the golden age.  The progress of the gospel  is apparent here on earth; suffering is abating.  Doug concurred with the Partial-Preterist view that the book of Revelation was written before 70 AD and the prophecies were fulfilled in the destruction of the Jerusalem temple.

Sam Storms  (Amillennial View): The Millennium is vital, but it is in heaven.  Revelation 20 saints are with Christ now and they are in the millennium.  The Millennium is now and it will end at Christ’s 2nd coming.  One problem with the post-millennial view is that suffering continues here on earth (according to Scripture).  Believers who have died are in the millennium now.


Adam’s Notes

It wasn’t easy to take notes because of the pace of the discussion and the heavy subject matter being discussed. The video of this event is now available (above and on YouTube), and anyone can review what was said during the two-hour long forum.

Participant Millennium View Eschatological Stance on the Book of Revelation
Jim Hamilton Premillennialist Futurist
Sam Storms Amillennialist Historicist
Doug Wilson Post-Millennialist Partial-Preterist
John Piper Premillennialist Futurist (Post-Tribulationist)

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).

Sam Storms stated that the “millennium” is currently taking place in heaven, experienced by all who have died in Christ and are dwelling in the intermediate state, awaiting Christ’s Second Coming, the Resurrection, and the redemption of our bodies. Thus they are reigning with Christ now, but from heaven and not from the earth.

Doug Wilson, representing the Post-Millennial viewpoint, insisted that the Great Commission will be successful in human history, Christianity will more or less take over the world, and then Christ will return. Some Post-Millennialists believe that a literal 1000-year Golden Age will close out the Church age. Others, like Doug, believe that Church history will simply end in a climax as Christianity progressively permeates the earth more than ever before.

John Piper posted some follow-up thoughts two days after we attended this forum:

For two hours I moderated, more or less, a discussion among Jim Hamilton (professor of New Testament at Southern Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky), Sam Storms (pastor of Bridgeway Church in Oklahoma City), and Doug Wilson (pastor of Christ Church, Moscow, Idaho).

The discussion was intended to focus on the relationship between the thousand-year reign of Christ mentioned in Revelation 20 and the return of Christ to this earth visibly and physically to reign. This thousand years is usually called “the millennium.” Revelation 20 is the only place in the Bible where the length of this period is mentioned.

A little later in this article, Piper summarizes the three views which were presented that night:

Premillennialism (represented by Jim Hamilton): The return of Christ happens before (pre-) the thousand-year reign of Christ, which is a reign of the risen Christ on the earth.

Amillennialism (represented by Sam Storms): The return of Christ happens after the thousand-year reign, a reign that occurs in heaven, in the intermediate state, and not upon the earth. Those who have died in faith and entered into the presence of Christ share his rule and reign during the current church age in which we now live.

Postmillennialism (represented by Doug Wilson): The return of Christ happens after (post-) the thousand-year reign, which corresponds to the Christian age, and the reign of Christ from heaven leads the church to triumph by and through the gospel to such an extent that the Great Commission will be successfully fulfilled, and the Christian faith will pervade all the cultures of all the nations of men. All Christ’s enemies will be subdued in this way, with the exception of death, which he will destroy by his coming.

Piper acknowledges that his own view is Historic Premillennialism, but adds that he sees Amillennialism as “the next most plausible view.”

*Someone mentioned a few days after this forum that John Piper had prepared 16 more questions which he never got to because time got away from the group.

**Each of the speakers has recommended several resources for further study: See here


An Introduction and Outline of all our posts on Revelation 20 (concerning the topic of the Millennium) 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.

Revelation Study Resources

The following is a list of online resources that we used as we studied the book of Revelation in 2009-2010. (At the bottom of this page are two books that we also used.)

[A] Preterist viewpoint:

[1] http://www.ccel.org/contrib/exec_outlines/rev.htm
-“Revelation: A Study Guide” by Mark Copeland
-Includes all 22 chapters of Revelation
-Also available here: http://executableoutlines.com/rev.htm

[2] http://www.preteristarchive.com/StudyArchive/index.html
-Limited Scripture Study Archive
-Only has commentary on the following texts: Revelation 1:7, 6:16-17, 9:11, 11:1, 13:18, 17:10, 20:1-10

[3] http://www.preteristarchive.com/
-Type a Scripture text into the search box, and you may or may not find some valuable commentary on that particular text, both modern and ancient commentary.

[B] Neutral viewpoint:

[4] http://www.desiringgod.org/ResourceLibrary/Sermons/ByScripture/17/
-John Piper’s sermons on Revelation over the years
-Generally non-eschatological
-Sermons available only for chapters 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 19, 21, 22

[C] Futurist and/or Dispensationalist viewpoint:

[5] http://www.gcfweb.org/institute/general/revelation.pdf
-From the Grace Institute for Biblical Leadership
-In outline form, and covers all 22 chapters of Revelation
-In PDF format, so they can be saved and read offline

[6] http://www.soniclight.com/constable/notes/pdf/revelation.pdf
-Notes on Revelation from Dr. Thomas Constable, Department Chairman and Senior Professor of Bible Exposition at Dallas Theological Seminary
-In outline form, and covers all 22 chapters of Revelation
-In PDF format

[7] http://www.studylight.org/com/guz/view.cgi?book=re
-Commentary on the book of Revelation from David Guzik, director of Calvary Chapel Bible College in Siegen, Germany.
-In outline form, and covers all 22 chapters of Revelation

[D] Dr. Sam Storms/Historicist viewpoint

[8] http://www.enjoyinggodministries.com/studies/eschatology/
-Sam Storms is an Amillennialist, and the best I can tell he is also a Historicist. His writings on the various Millennial views came in handy in our study of Revelation 20.
-His commentary at the above site covers Revelation 10, 11, 12, 14, 17, 18, 19, 20, and 21
-He also writes about the seven seals (chapters 6, 8); the seven trumpets (chapters 8, 9, 11); and the seven bowls (chapter 16).
-His meditations on Revelation 2-3 (letters to the seven churches) are here: http://www.enjoyinggodministries.com/biblical-studies/ (scroll down the page 1/3 of the way)


The following are offline sources (books) that we used in our study of Revelation:

[1] Gentry, Kenneth L. Before Jerusalem Fell: Dating the Book of Revelation (An Exegetical and Historical Argument for a Pre-A.D. 70 Composition). American Vision: Powder Springs, Georgia, 1988.

[2] Gregg, Steve. Revelation: Four Views (A Parallel Commentary). Thomas Nelson Publishers: Nashville, 1997.

Revelation Chapter 5

Revelation Chapter 5

Rod: August 27, 2009

Scripture text for this study: Revelation 5:1-14

Notes are based in part on a sermon preached by Pastor John Piper, at Desiring God Ministries. [Notes from Adam were added on October 14th, and are in blue font. They are based mostly on Steve Gregg’s book “Revelation: Four Views (A Parallel Commentary).”]

1. Verse 1:  A scroll with seven seals.  What is this scroll?
John Piper: The scroll represents the decrees of God of what will happen in the future.  In chapter 6, we can see that the seals are opened up one by one revealing the coming judgements upon the earth.  The opening of the seals is the course of history leading up to the end, and the rest of the scroll is the story of the end of the world and God’s final triumph. (Keep in mind that John Piper writes these things as a futurist who sees most of the book of Revelation as yet unfulfilled. The preterist view sees here the announcing of a series of judgments which were soon, in John’s day, to come upon apostate Israel as the end of the Old Covenant age drew near at that time.)

2. Verse 1:  What else do you see that is significant about this scroll?
John Piper: The scroll is being held in God’s right hand.  All of earth’s history is in the right hand of God, and nothing can change that.  The scroll is also complete, full both front and back.  Nothing can be added to it – it is full, complete and safe in the right hand of God.

Steve Gregg (p. 93) quotes Henry Morris and John Walvoord who are Futurists in regard to the judgments spoken of in Revelation:

Henry Morris, in agreement with many dispensational interpreters (e.g. Ironside, Criswell, Lindsey), wrote, ‘But what is this remarkable scroll? It is nothing less than the title deed to the earth itself.’ Walvoord notes, ‘Roman law required a will to be sealed seven times as illustrated in the wills left by Augustus and Vespasian for their successors.’ The mighty judgments of the Tribulation period that are unleashed by the opening of the document all are part of God’s reclaiming for Himself the control of the earth, which was forfeited to Satan by the fall of Adam and Eve long ago. The ‘redemption of the purchased possession’ (Eph. 1:14) is accompanied by long-overdue punishments upon the usurpers who have ‘destroyed the earth’ (Rev. 11:18).

I find these statements a bit odd. Walvoord sounds like he is speaking on behalf of radical environmentalists who are deeply concerned about mankind’s misuse of the planet’s resources (not to say this isn’t a valid concern). It’s the final generation which will experience God’s full wrath for the injustice of altering the environment, he implies. Furthermore, he suggests that their punishment has a lot to do with “our inheritance” (Eph. 1:14, ESV) being granted to us one day yet to come.

On the other hand, Steve Gregg also references Jay Adams, who advocates the Preterist view and goes back to the courtroom theme alluded to in the previous chapter (p. 92): “In Jay Adams’ view, the scroll with the seven seals is the sentence handed down by the judge against Jerusalem for its part in shedding ‘all the righteous blood’ of the martyrs (Matt. 23:35).” I’m personally much more comfortable with this explanation for why God is shown here preparing to release the seal judgments. See also Revelation 16:6, 17:6, and 18:24 in this regard; these passages serve to demonstrate that Jerusalem is one and the same with Babylon the Great here in this book (cf. Rev. 11:8, where Jerusalem is identified as “the great city” just as Babylon the Great is in Rev. 16:19, 17:18; 18:9, 16, 18-21.

Verses 2-5: A strong angel loudly asks for someone who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals. No one in heaven or on earth was found who was worthy to do so, causing John to weep. He had to be told by one of the 24 elders that One had been found, that is, Jesus.

How is Christ recognized in verses 5 and 6?
John Piper: As a Lion, of the tribe of Judah (an animal that is strong, majestic and dangerous). See Genesis 49:9-10.

In verse 6, John is allowed to see the Lion.  He now appears before the throne as a Lamb (an animal that is weak, harmless and lowly). Jesus is also referred to as “the Root of David,” a title borrowed from Isaiah 11:1, 10 and Romans 15:12, where the point is that He rises to rule the Gentiles and “in Him will the Gentiles hope.” This is not something awaiting a 21st century fulfillment so that it can become a reality. It was very much a reality in the 1st century AD.

4.  In verse 5, the elder says that the Lion of Judah has conquered.  What does this conquering refer to, as mentioned later in the text?
In verse 9, the four living creatures and twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb and sang a song exclaiming that He conquered by being slain and His blood ransomed people for God.

Steve Gregg remarks (p. 94): “Comparing Christ with a lamb is not a reference to His gentleness, since He is portrayed in the following chapters as anything but gentle (cf. 6:16)! His role as the Sacrificed One explains His being likened to a lamb (cf. John 1:29).”

5.  Jesus is symbolized as a Lamb standing before the throne.  What are some characteristics of this lamb and what do they mean?
John Piper: The Lamb (who was once slain) is now standing.  He has seven horns, which is a sign of strength and power throughout Revelation (12:3; 13:1; 17:3, 12) and also in the OT (Deuteronomy 33:17; Psalm 18:2; 112:7).  The number seven signifies completeness and fullness. John Piper concludes that Jesus is shown here as “a Lion-like Lamb and a Lamb-like Lion.”

Verses 8-10: Steve Gregg comments on the heavenly scene pictured here in these verses, along with the significance of the song sung by the four living creatures and the 24 elders (pp. 96, 98):

The taking of the scroll by the Lamb provokes an outburst of worship and praise in heaven, and a new song (v. 9) is introduced. In Revelation 4:11, they had sung an “old song” of praise to God for His older work of creating all things. The new song praises Him for His new work of redemption in Christ. This worship is accompanied by the priestly worship form of the offering up of incense (v. 8), which here represents the prayers of the saints—most likely the Christians who are being persecuted and are pleading for deliverance (cf. 6:10). This deliverance comes when their persecutors in Jerusalem are judged, after the seven seals of the scroll are broken. Making the redeemed kings and priests (v. 10), or, as some manuscripts have it, “a kingdom of priests,” implies that the original kingdom of priests, Israel (Ex. 19:5-6), has been done away with and replaced by the Church (cf. Heb. 7:12; 8:13).

The Futurist view of verse 10 is expressed this way in Gregg’s book (p. 99):

The reign of the saints on the earth (v. 10)—as opposed to “in heaven”—is a reference to the millennial reign of the saints with Christ after He has returned to earth to establish His kingdom. Henry Morris writes: “Three times in the book of Revelation it is said that believers are to be made kings and priests (Rev. 1:6; 5:10; 20:6). These functions apply particularly in the millennial kingdom, when there is still need for them.” According to dispensational expectations, many unsaved people will live on earth during the Millennium, and the saints will reign over these people from their headquarters in Jerusalem (cf. Luke 19:17).

I highlighted part of Morris’ quote above because I find it rather astonishing. To be fair, he didn’t say the functions of believers as kings and priests apply exclusively to a future Millennium, so I suppose he leaves room for them to apply now. I certainly hope so. Revelation 1:6 was written beyond the shadow of a doubt to a group of first-century churches, and they were very much a kingdom of priests then just as believers are now: “John to the seven churches that are in Asia…Him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by His blood and made us a kingdom, priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen” (Rev. 1:4-6). This has been a present reality for all believers ever since Jesus died and rose again. Peter, writing to a different first-century audience, concurs: “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light” (I Peter 2:9).

It seems that Morris made his statement based on the common Premillennialist idea that sacrifices will be carried out in a physical temple in Jerusalem during a future Millennium period. Thus, for Morris, there would be a need for believers to function as priests, apparently just as there was once such a need under the Old Covenant. This would suggest a regression back to the types and shadows that have been fulfilled by Christ’s first coming. Whether or not this is the idea intended by Morris’ statement, let it be clear that followers of Jesus are, in this present age, that kingdom of priests which John and Peter wrote about.

Verses 11-14: “The song of 4:11 was sung by the 24 elders alone. In the song of 5:9-10, they were joined by the four living creatures. Now many angels (v. 11), numbering into millions, add their voices in attributing glory to the Lamb” (Steve Gregg, p. 100). They cry out:

Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing! …To Him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!


Our study of Revelation 6 (Part 1) 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.

PP2: References

I thought it good now to provide the references I used for my paper entitled, “A Partial-Preterist Perspective on the Destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD.”  See previous post here for the Title Page, Outline, and Introduction to this paper:


The reason it will be good for any readers to have ready access to these references is because of the format I used in my paper. When quoting or referencing a source in this paper, I was simply required to make note of the source’s name and the year in which it was published (e.g. Adam Maarschalk, 2009). The reader then would need to use this small amount of information to locate the source in the Reference Page for further follow-up, if desired. So, having now posted (below) all my references, I plan to also link back to this post every time I create another post in this series. The following, then, are the references I used.

Adam Maarschalk

To proceed to the next section: https://kloposmasm.wordpress.com/2009/08/13/pp3-external-evidence-for-an-early-date-revelation/



1) Anthony, Richard

2009    The Mark of the Beast. At http://www.ecclesia.org/truth/beast.html.

2) Benario, Herbert W.

2006    De Imperatoribus Romanis: An Online Encyclopedia of Roman Rulers. At http://www.roman-emperors.org/nero.htm.

3) Brown, Peter; Bowersock, G.W.; Grabar, Oleg

1999    Late Antiquity: A Guide to the Postclassical World. Harvard University Press: Cambridge, MA.

4) Bruce, F.F.

1983    New Testament History. Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group, Inc. New York.

5) Daly, Kevin

2009    When Will These Things Happen? Messianic Good News. At https://www.givengain.com/cgi-bin/giga.cgi?cmd=cause_dir_news_item&cause_id=1507&news_id=68301&cat_id=529.

6) DeMar, Gary

2008    A Review of “Understanding End-Times Prophecy” (by Paul Benware). At http://www.preteristarchive.com/StudyArchive/d/demar-gary.html.

7) Dennis, Todd [1]

2008    Matthew 16:27-28—Not About AD 70. At http://www.hyperpreteristarchive.com/blog1.php/2008/04/19/matthew-16-27-28-is-not-about-ad70.

8] Dennis, Todd [2]

2008    Matthew 26:64—Not About AD 70. At http://www.hyperpreteristarchive.com/blog1.php/2008/04/21/matthew-26-64-not-about-ad70.

9) Dennis, Todd [1]

2009    Jonathan Edwards. At http://www.preteristarchive.com/StudyArchive/e/edwards-jonathan.html

10) Dennis, Todd [2]

2009    Hyper Preterism Study Archive. At http://www.preteristarchive.com/Hyper/index.html

11) Dennis, Todd [3]

2009    Clement of Alexandria. At http://www.preteristarchive.com/StudyArchive/c/clement-of-alexandria.html

12) Dennis, Todd [4]

2009    Eusebius Pamphilius. At http://www.preteristarchive.com/StudyArchive/e/eusebius.html.

13) Dennis, Todd [5]

2009    Arethas of Caesarea. At http://www.preteristarchive.com/StudyArchive/a/arethas_caesarea.html.

14) Dennis, Todd [6]

2009    Quintus Florens Tertullian. At http://www.preteristarchive.com/StudyArchive/t/tertullian.html.

15) Dennis, Todd [7]

2009    Nero. At http://www.preteristarchive.com/StudyArchive/n/nero.html.

16) Dennis, Todd [8]

2009    George Peter Holford. At http://www.preteristarchive.com/Books/1805_holford_proof.html.

17) Dennis, Todd [9]

2009    John Calvin. At http://www.preteristarchive.com/StudyArchive/c/calvin-john.html.

18) Dennis, Todd [10]

2009    John Wesley. At http://www.preteristarchive.com/StudyArchive/w/wesley-john.html.

19) Dennis, Todd [11]

2009    Visual Timeline of the Roman-Jewish War. At http://www.preteristarchive.com/JewishWars/timeline_factional.html.

20) Dennis, Todd [12]

2009    Matthew 24:15 –Abomination of Desolation. At http://www.preteristarchive.com/BibleStudies/Bible_NT/Matthew/matthew_24-15.html.

21) Dennis, Todd [13]

2009    Preterist Perspectives on Josephus’ War on the Jews. At http://www.preteristarchive.com/JewishWars/timeline_theological.html.

22) Dennis, Todd [14]

2009    Daniel 9:24 Study Bible. At http://www.preteristarchive.com/BibleStudies/Bible_OT/Daniel/daniel_09_24-27.html.

23) Dennis, Todd [15]

2009    Armageddon: Past or Future (John Noe). At http://www.preteristarchive.com/Modern/2003_noe_armageddon.html.

24) Dennis, Todd [16]

2009    Matthew 16:27-28 Study Archive. At http://www.preteristarchive.com/BibleStudies/Bible_NT/Matthew/matthew_16-28.html.

25) Dennis, Todd [17]

2009    Matthew 26:64 Study Archive. At http://www.preteristarchive.com/BibleStudies/Bible_NT/Matthew/matthew_26-64.html.

26) Dennis, Todd [18]

2009    Prophetic Day or Year (John Denton). At http://www.preteristarchive.com/PartialPreterism/denton-john_pp_01.html.

27) Dennis, Todd [19]

2009    The Significance of A.D. 70. At http://www.preteristarchive.com/StudyArchive/s/significance-of-ad70.html.

28) Dennis, Todd [20]

2009    The Second Coming of Christ Study Archive. At http://www.preteristarchive.com/StudyArchive/s/second-coming-of-jesus.html.

29) Dennis, Todd [21]

2009    The Seventy Weeks and the Great Tribulation, by Philip Mauro. At http://www.preteristarchive.com/Books/pdf/1921_mauro_seventyweeks.pdf.

30) Dennis, Todd [22]

2009    Daniel’s 70 Weeks—Future or Fulfilled? (Ralph Woodrow) At http://www.preteristarchive.com/Modern/1971_woodrow_seventy-weeks.html.

31) Dennis, Todd [23]

2009    David Chilton: Josephus on the Fall of Jerusalem (1985). At http://www.preteristarchive.com/JewishWars/articles/1985_chilton_josephus.html.

32) Dennis, Todd [24]

2009    The Time of the Destruction of the Temple (Ivan Lewis, 2000). At http://www.preteristarchive.com/JewishWars/articles/2000_lewis_time-destruction.html.

33) Dennis, Todd [25]

2009    Preterism Defined, Defended. At http://www.preteristarchive.com/PartialPreterism/pp_defined.html.

34) Dennis, Todd [26]

2009    The Parousia: A Careful Look at Our Lord’s Second Coming, by James Stuart Russell. At http://www.preteristarchive.com/Books/images/1878_russell_parousia/russell_parousia_02c.html.

35) Gentry, Jr., Kenneth L.

1998    Before Jerusalem Fell: Dating the Book of Revelation. American Vision: Powder Springs, GA.

36) Gentry, Jr., Kenneth L.

1999    Apocalypse Then. At https://www.kennethgentry.com/catalog/apocalypse.htm.

37) Gentry, Jr. Kenneth L.

2002    The Beast of Revelation. American Vision: Powder Springs, GA.

38) Haynes, Joe

2001    Charles Spurgeon on Matthew 24 (Spurgeon’s Popular Exposition of Matthew). http://www.historicism.com/sites/matt24/spurgeon.htm.

39) Jeffrey, Grant

2001    The Time of Christ’s Return. At http://www.keithhunt.com/Trire3.html

40) Jordan, James B.

1988    The Abomination of Desolation. Dominion Press: Tyler, TX.

41) Krejcir, Richard Joseph [1]

2009 Research Insights into the Date of Revelation, Part V. The Francis A. Schaeffer Institute of Church Leadership Development. At http://biblicaleschatology.org/2009/01/05/research-insights-into-the-date-of-revelation-part-v/

42) Krejcir, Richard Joseph [2]

2009 Research Insights into the Date of Revelation, Part IV. The Francis A. Schaeffer Institute of Church Leadership Development. At http://biblicaleschatology.org/2009/01/05/research-insights-into-the-date-of-revelation-part-iv/

43) Kroll, Paul

1999    The “Beasts” of Revelation 13. Grace Communion International. At http://www.wcg.org/lit/bible/Rev/rev13beasts.htm.

44) Ladd, George E.

1987    A Commentary on the Revelation of John (Second Edition). Eerdmans: Grand Rapids, MI.

45) Lowman, David [1]

2009    Rapture Passages—II Thessalonians. Village Seven Presbyterian Church: Colorado Springs, CO. At http://low5point.wordpress.com/2009/02/04/rapture-passages-2-thessalonians/.

46) Lowman, David [2]

2009    Characters and Themes—The Man of Lawlessness Debated. Village Seven Presbyterian Church: Colorado Springs, CO. At http://low5point.wordpress.com/2009/01/29/characters-and-themes-the-man-of-lawlessness-debated/.

47) Lowman, David [3]

2009   Revealing Revelation–The Early Date Theory Part 1. Village Seven Presbyterian Church: Colorado Springs, CO. At http://low5point.wordpress.com/2009/02/17/revealing-revelation-the-early-date-theory-part-1/.

48) Lowman, David [4]

2009   Revealing Revelation–What Time Is It? Part 1. Village Seven Presbyterian Church: Colorado Springs, CO. At http://low5point.wordpress.com/2009/03/02/revealing-revelation-what-time-is-it-part-1/.

49) Meelhuysen, Ed R.

1992    The Kings of the North and the South: A Detailed Commentary on Daniel 10 to 12. At http://www.bibleplus.org/prophecy/kings.html.

50) Miller, PJ

2009   Daniel’s Countdown from Exile to Messiah (Analysis of Article by Kevin Daly of Messianic Good News). Sola Dei Gloria. At http://pjmiller.wordpress.com/2009/04/25/daniel%E2%80%99s-countdown-from-exile-to-messiah/.

51) Pate, C. Martin; Haines Jr., Calvin B.

1995    Doomsday Delusions: What’s Wrong with Predictions about the End of the World. Intervarsity Press: Downer’s Grove, IL.

52) Piper, John

1996    Jesus: Mediator of a Better Covenant, Part 2. Desiring God Ministries, December 22, 1996. Text at http://www.desiringgod.org/ResourceLibrary/Sermons/ByScripture/26/981_Jesus_Mediator_of_a_Better_Covenant_Part_2/

53) Puritan Lad

2008    Christianity in History: The Amillennial Preterism of Clement of Alexandria [AD 162]. March 3. At http://christianityinhistory.blogspot.com/2008/03/amillennial-preterism-of-clement-of.html

54) Robinson, A.T.

1976    Redating the New Testament. Philadelphia: Westminster, p. 235. This quote was taken from Philostratus, Life of Apollonius, Oxford Press, 1912, p. 38.

55) Rusten, Mike [1]

2009    Formal Literary Parallels between Mark 13, Matthew 24 and Luke 21. Personal Reference.

56) Rusten, Mike [2]

2009    Dissimilarities between Luke 21 and Matthew 24/Mark 13. Personal Reference.

57) Simmons, Kurt [1]

2009    Dating the Book of Revelation. At http://www.preteristcentral.com/prev-dating-revelation.htm

58) Simmons, Kurt [2]

2009    The Man of Sin. At http://www.preteristcentral.com/pgt-man-of-sin.htm.

59) Sproul, R.C.

1998    The Last Days According to Jesus. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker House. At http://www.preteristarchive.com/StudyArchive/s/sproul-rc_sr.html

60) Storms, Sam

2006    Daniel’s 70 Weeks (Series: Eschatology). Enjoying God Ministries: Edmond, Oklahoma. At http://www.enjoyinggodministries.com/article/daniels-70-weeks/.

61) Thompson, L.L.

1990    The Book of Revelation: Apocalypse and Empire. Oxford University Press: United Kingdom.

62) Wikipedia Online Encyclopedia

2009    Partial Preterism. At http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Partial_Preterism

63) Ussher, James

2009    The Annals of the World. At http://www.angelfire.com/sc3/nwp/World9g.htm.

64) Vilnay, Zev

1973    Legends of Jerusalem, the Sacred Land: Volume 1. Philadelphia: The Jewish Publication Society of America.

65) Whiston, William

2009    The Works of Flavius Josephus (Translated by William Whiston). At http://www.ccel.org/j/josephus/works/JOSEPHUS.HTM.

66) Whiston, William [2]

2009    The Wars of the Jews (or The History of the Destruction of Jerusalem) Book VI: From the Extremity to Which the Jews Were Reduced to the Taking of Jerusalem by Titus. At http://www.ccel.org/j/josephus/works/war-6.htm.

PP1: Brief Explanation of Partial Preterism

I have decided to post my recent term paper here on this blog. The title of this paper is “A Partial-Preterist Perspective on the Destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD.” It was submitted to Northwestern College in Saint Paul, Minnesota as part of my course requirements, and is 48 pages in length. Due to its size, I plan to post it one segment at a time. For any readers who are not part of our Minneapolis-based Bible Study group here, in June 2009 we began to study the book of Revelation. As we study Revelation we are also comparing the popular Futurist viewpoint with the less popular, but more historic Partial-Preterist viewpoint. This paper will serve to foster further discussion and study.

Here’s a very brief note on my personal journey as it regards eschatology. I was taught the Pre-Tribulation Rapture view growing up, and believed it and passed it on. However, a few years ago I became convinced that this view is not correct or Biblical. At that time I instead embraced the Post-Tribulation Rapture view, based in part on the language used in Matthew 24:29-31 and II Thessalonians 2:3-4. However, during the last six months or so I’ve studied this subject more deeply than ever before, and have now embraced the Partial-Preterist view (As will be seen, I no longer view Matthew 24 or II Thessalonians 2 the way I did as a Post-Tribulationist). I’m certainly not infallible, so anything I post here should be seen for what it is, the writings of a fellow human who is continuing to learn and submit to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. As you read this, please do follow the example of the Bereans who searched the Scriptures to make sure that what they were hearing was the truth (Acts 17:10-11). Responsible comments and critiques will be welcome, and I expect to learn from and be challenged by them.

As a practical note, the title of each segment belonging to this term paper will begin with “PP” and the appropriate number (e.g. this first one begins with “PP1”, the next segment will be headed by “PP2,” etc). It’s recommended that these segments be read in order. This first segment contains the paper’s Title Page, Outline, Introduction, and a brief introduction to Partial-Preterism. The outline will indicate the type of content that is to follow in future posts. All of the posts can also be found here:


Adam Maarschalk

[DISCLAIMER (Early 2011): Since 2009, when I wrote this paper, I have progressed in my understanding of eschatology. I’m now closer to full preterism than I was at that time, so please take what I said about the differences between partial-preterism and full preterism with a grain of salt. Thank you.]


A Partial-Preterist Perspective of the Destruction of the Jerusalem Temple in 70 AD

By Adam Maarschalk

Mentor: Mike Rusten

Course: Global Studies

Northwestern College

July 10, 2009

(Second Edition: August 5, 2009)



A. Introduction
B. Partial-Preterism Explained
C. The Book of Revelation: Early or Late Authorship?

I. External Evidence for an Early Date
II. Internal Evidence for an Early Date
D. Daniel’s 70-Week Prophecy

E. Jerusalem’s Destruction Foretold in the Olivet Discourse

I. Did Jesus Come in 70 AD?
II. Signs of the Close of the Age
III. The Abomination of Desolation
IV. No Greater Tribulation Before or Since
F. The Man of Lawlessness (II Thessalonians 2)

G. The Historical Events Leading Up to 70 AD

H. The Spiritual Significance of 70 AD
I. References



Search the average church website in America for teaching articles related to 70 AD, and no results are likely to turn up. A search for articles related to a future temple, though, one which is allegedly to be rebuilt in modern Jerusalem, is more likely to produce results. Taking the internet out of the equation, Church history reveals that this would not have been the case prior to the 1830s. This was the pivotal decade when John Nelson Darby laid the framework for dispensationalism, that system of belief which not only divides history into successive ages but holds to a sharp distinction between Israel and the Church. Dispensationalism was further popularized when the Scofield Reference Bible was published in 1909. As prophecy students were baited with the prospects of a future “third temple,” the story behind the previous one was pushed out of view, perhaps intentionally.

If it weren’t for the censorship of the history of Jerusalem’s destruction in 70 AD, the faith of many Christian believers in America today could be enriched by the knowledge of those events and their significance. The events leading up to and surrounding this event are full of rich implications, especially as they involve the disbanding of the Old Covenant and related practices, beliefs, superstitions, and man-made traditions. A case can be made that the period of time between Christ’s resurrection and the destruction of the temple in 70 AD was a period of transition, and that this event brought about a culmination of the Old Covenant dissolving in favor of the New Covenant. Hebrews 8:13 seems to indicate this when it uses the present perfect tense to say, “In speaking of a new covenant, He makes the first one obsolete. And what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.”

What happened in 70 AD is not pleasant to consider, as will be seen, but it was accomplished through God’s very hand of judgment. It was not simply a satanic plot to exterminate the Jews, as is often taught by dispensationalists. These events were of such importance that Luke was moved to say, “These are days of vengeance, to fulfill all that is written” (Luke 21:22). After 70 AD it was abundantly clear that a life immersed in Jesus was the true way of life, not Old Covenant Judaism. The events of that year were an outstanding fulfillment of many prophecies given by the prophets, apostles, and by Jesus Himself, and it’s a curious reality that this is not more often pointed out in Christian teaching today.

B. Partial-Preterism Explained

Admittedly, the events which took place around 70 AD hold more importance among Preterists than they do for Dispensationalists. This is because Preterism views this point in history as marking the fulfillment of a great deal of Biblical prophecy, while Dispensationalism holds that most Biblical prophecy remains yet to be fulfilled, including Daniel’s 70th Week, a 7-year tribulation period, and the salvation of national Israel. There are fundamental differences of opinion, then, in these two systems of thought regarding large portions of Biblical text. In this work, Partial-Preterism, rather than Hyper-Preterism, will be advocated and it will be through this lens that the events of 70 AD will be viewed. According to Wikipedia (2009),

Partial preterism is a form of Christian eschatology that places the events of most of the Book of Revelation as occurring during the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD…yet still affirms an orthodox future bodily return of Christ to earth at an unknown day and hour. Partial preterism sees Matthew 24, Matthew 25:31-46[1], the Book of Daniel and most of the Book of Revelation (besides its last 2 or 3 chapters) as speaking about events no later than the first century AD, and about a coming of Christ in judgement, not the (second, final and bodily) coming of Christ and Last judgement.

Most Partial Preterists also believe the term Last Days refers not to the last days of planet Earth or the last days of humankind, but rather to the last days of the Mosaic Covenant which God had exclusively with national Israel… As God came in judgment upon various nations in the Old Testament, Christ also came in judgment against those in Israel who rejected him. The “last days,” however, are to be distinguished from the “last day,” which is considered still future and entails the Second Coming of Jesus, the Resurrection of the righteous and unrighteous dead physically from the grave in like-manner to Jesus’ physical resurrection, the Final Judgment, and the creation of a literal (rather than covenantal) New Heavens and a New Earth…. Thus partial preterists are in agreement and conformity with the historic ecumenical creeds of the Church and articulate the doctrine of the resurrection held by the early Church Fathers… Because of the widespread acceptance of Dispensational Futurism amongst American evangelicals, Partial Preterism is often considered unorthodox by many… Partial Preterism is distinct from Full Preterism, which holds that ‘all’ biblical prophecy was fulfilled in the past.

Todd Dennis, founder of the comprehensive and highly resourceful Preterist Archive (www.preteristarchive.com), himself a Partial-Preterist, defines Preterism this way: “Preterism places the prophecies of intense evil and foreboding gloom in the first century, focusing on the events surrounding the forty-two-month long Neronic persecution, the forty-two-month long Jewish war with Rome, and the destruction of the temple. The word ‘preterist’ is based on the Latin ‘praeteritus,’ meaning ‘gone by’ or ‘past’” (Todd Dennis [25], 2009).

Notable proponents of Partial-Preterism include John Wesley, John Calvin, Jonathan Edwards, R. C. Sproul, David Chilton, Kenneth Gentry, Gary DeMar, and Hank Hanegraaff. In his book, The Last Days According to Jesus, R.C. Sproul (1998) clarifies that the Partial-Preterist position does not teach that the Second Coming took place in 70 AD, only that certain Biblical texts which are assumed by some to refer to the Second Coming in fact refer instead to a different type of coming. He says, “While partial preterists acknowledge that in the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D.70 there was a parousia, or coming of Christ, they maintain that it was not the parousia” (page 158). Sproul outlines the differences between the two comings in this way:

A coming (parousia) of Christ The Coming (parousia) of Christ
A day of the Lord The Day of the Lord
A judgment The (final) Judgment
The end of the Jewish Age The end of history
The Resurrection of the dead
The Rapture of the living

[NOTE (added on March 14, 2010): Some partial-preterists do apparently see the Second Coming as a past event. One of these is Duncan McKenzie, who says,

Like full preterists, I see AD 70 as the time of the Second Coming, resurrection and judgment (with the resurrection and judgment having an ongoing fulfillment since that time).  Like partial preterists I see certain prophetic events that still await fulfillment (e.g., the destruction of Satan at the end of the millennium described in Revelation 20:7-10).  While my position is much closer to full preterism, I strongly disagree with its premise that all biblical prophecy was fulfilled by AD 70. Our approach is most similar to that of nineteenth-century theologian James Stuart Russell.  Like full preterists, Russell saw AD 70 as the time of the Second Coming; unlike full preterists, Russell saw the Second Coming as the beginning of the millennium, not its end.]

Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758), in his work titled “Miscellany #1199, directly tied Christ’s predictions of His coming as recorded in the gospels to the events of 66-70 AD:

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 [So in Luke 17:20 – 18:8].

As this idea of Christ’s coming in 70 AD is likely revolutionary for anyone immersed in Dispensationalist thought, it will be given more attention in the section where Christ’s words in the Olivet Discourse are examined. Jonathan Edwards, though, in his work titled “History of Redemption,” called this event the “final end to the Old Testament world,” and added that “the dissolution of the Jewish state was often spoken of in the Old Testament as the end of the world.” According to Edwards, this was an “instance of removing those things which [were] ready to vanish away, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain,” a reference to Hebrews 8:13 and 12:27-28.

Edwards’ position was that the Old Covenant was rendered obsolete because of Christ’s work on the cross, yet it was still “becoming” obsolete at the time Hebrews was written because the worship life that centered on Jerusalem and the temple was still alive (though meaningless) as long as the temple stood (Dennis Todd, 2009 [1]). These things did vanish away in 70 AD, and it became abundantly clear to anyone with eyes to see that all types and shadows had been replaced by the reality, Christ Himself. Judaism has never been the same since that time. With this interpretation John Piper (1996), the pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church, agrees. He states that 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.”

It was noted that Hyper-Preterism, also known as Full-Preterism, goes far beyond Partial-Preterism in the significance it ascribes to 70 AD. The following, according to Todd Dennis (2009 [1]), are some of the tenets of Hyper-Preterism: [A] All Bible prophecy was fulfilled by 70 AD. [B] The atonement was incomplete at the cross, but was completed in 70 AD. [C] “The Consummation of the Ages” came in 70 AD. [D] “The Millennium” is in the past, having occurred from 30 AD to 70 AD. [E] The Christian Age began in 70 AD, and this present earth will never end. [F] “The Day of the Lord” was Israel’s destruction ending in 70 AD. [G] The “Second Coming” of Jesus Christ took place around 70 AD. [H] The Great Judgment took place in 70 AD, and there will be no future Judgment. [I] The Law, death, sin, the Devil, Hades, etc. were utterly defeated in 70 AD. [J] “The Resurrection” of the Dead and Living is past, having taken place in 70 AD (Dennis Todd, 2009 [2]). These tenets should not be seen as forming the basis for what is to follow.

[1] The inclusion of Matthew 25:31-46 here, implying a past fulfillment of this text, is debatable. An interesting article relating this judgment event as already fulfilled, but from a Full Preterist viewpoint, can be seen here: http://web.archive.org/web/20051218184900/www.preterism.us/judgement.htm