Jesus vs. Preterism

September 27, 2011

Preterists misinterpret the teaching of Jesus in his Olivet Discourse. They insist that this prophecy was fulfilled in the first century. They delight in comparing their interpretations against those of futurists. Here the claims of preterists are compared with the teachings of Jesus.

Jesus taught: Preterism says:
Don’t worry about wars, but watch out for false teachers. [Mark 13:6-7] The Olivet Discourse is all about the Jewish war of 70 A.D.

Preterism ignores what Jesus taught the disciples, missing the true significance of the Olivet Discourse. The preterists say that the prophecy applies to military conflicts between nations, whereas Jesus discounted those things, while warning especially about the false teachings, and interpretations of men.

Jesus taught: Preterism says:
“For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.” [Mark 13:6] Theudas and Judas, mentioned in Acts 5:36-37, Simon Magus, Dositheus the Samaritan, were among those who fulfilled this prophecy in the first century.

Many would be deceived, Jesus said. Preterism and Dispensationalism, two of the most popular approaches to the Olivet Discourse, contribute to the ways in which people have been deceived. Preterists compare their teachings with the interpretations of Dispensationalism, which is unwise; they need to compare their teachings with what Scripture says instead.

Jesus taught: Preterism says:
Wars, earthquakes, famines are the beginning of sorrows. [Mark 13:9] The Jewish war of 70 AD completely fulfills the Olivet Discourse.

The wars of the first century were merely the beginning of the church age; the Olivet Discourse spans the whole age of the church.

Jesus taught: Preterism says:
“For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it.”  [Mark 8:35] When the abomination of desolation is set up, flee for your life

Jesus was not telling people to flee to save themselves; preterists have misunderstood.

Jesus taught: Preterism says:
“And the gospel must first be published among all nations.” [Mark 13:10] The gospel went to all nations in the first century; that is, all those within the Roman Empire.

Only in modern times has it even been possible for the gospel to go to all the world. Today, through the rise of modern technology, and because of the translation of the Bible into all languages, and the availability of information through the Internet, this prophecy may soon come to pass.

Jesus taught: Preterism says:
“And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.” [Mark 13:13] Peter was jailed, James was killed with the sword, and other apostles were martyred in the first century. The scope of the Olivet Discourse does not extend to the end of the age; it is all about 70 A.D.

Many millions more Christians died during the centuries of the Inquisition and in the wars associated with the Reformation.

Jesus taught: Preterism says:
One needs to understand Daniel’s prophecies in order to see the abomination of desolation. [Mark 13:14] The Roman armies were the abomination of desolation, as Luke’s account refers to them.

Jesus viewed the abomination of desolation as a spiritual entity that has to be understood through a study of Daniel’s prophecies. Preterists, however, misunderstand Daniel’s 70 weeks prophecy. They say that the covenant that Christ confirms for one week was limited to seven literal years, and so they expired in the first century. In fact, the covenant incorporates the new covenant that Christ continues to confirm to this day. False interpretations of all kinds are included in the “little horn” with “eyes like the eyes of a man, and a mouth speaking great things against the Most High,” in chapter 7, and the abomination of desolation of Daniel 9:27: “On a wing of abominations shall be one who causes desolation.” These desolations represent delusions within the church, not obscure abominations or idols set up in a past or future Jewish temple.

Jesus taught: Preterism says:
When the abomination of desolation is set up, the people dwelling in Judea should flee to the mountains. [Mark 13:14] Before the siege of Jerusalem, the Christians fled to Pella, a small city in the Jordan Valley.

Jesus spoke of mountains in a symbolic way. The Olivet Discourse is named for the mount of Olives, where Jesus gave the prophecy. Other revelations also are associated with mountains. Sinai is associated with the Mosaic legislation. The law was written out upon stones on the slopes of a mountain, when the Israelites entered the promised land. The Sermon on the Mount is associated with a mountain, which is one of the mountains of Israel. The mountains Jesus meant we should flee to are these symbolic mountains. They are symbols of the promises and revelations of God. They are part of the promised land, which represents spiritual things promised to the saints. The kingdom of God is represented by a mountain, called “the mountain of the Lord’s house” or “mount Zion” and Hebrews 12:22 says: “For ye are come to mount Sion, and the heavenly Jerusalem.” Christians are those “dwelling in Judea” as Jesus said “salvation is of the Jews.” [John 4:22] The abomination of desolation includes the desolation of the church by false teachings of all kinds; it is recognized when the saints understand the truth.

Jesus taught: Preterism says:
“And let him that is on the housetop not go down into the house, neither enter therein, to take any thing out of his house:” [Mark 3:15] In the ancient Near East, most houses had a flat roof, so the prophecy applies to people in that part of the world. It suggests danger from a military invasion. Caird said this warning seems “more useful to a refugee from military invasion than to a man caught unawares by the last trumpet.” People on housetops would likely have a better view of the Roman armies  when they began to approach Jerusalem.

Jesus spoke of housetops in the context of proclaiming the gospel. “What I tell you in darkness, that speak ye in light: and what ye hear in the ear, that preach ye upon the housetops.” [Matthew 10:27] In ancient cities where the houses were built at one level, the housetops would be a means for the propagation of news. Today’s equivalent would be the Internet.

Jesus taught: Preterism says:
“But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day.” [Matthew 24:20] Obviously the prophecy applies to Jews who were keeping the sabbath day.

In the context the winter represents the time that comes after the fall harvest, which is to occur at the end of the world. To have to flee in winter, means that one has missed out, and was not ready for the harvest, which corresponds to the resurrection, when the saints will be rewarded. Similarly, the sabbath represents the eternal “rest” that is promised to the saints. To flee on the sabbath day, means having to flee, during the time when the saints have entered into the promised rest.

Jesus taught: Preterism says:
“For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.” [Matthew 24:21] The horrors of the Jewish war and the siege would be without precedent.

Jesus alludes to Daniel 12:1, “And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book.” The war in heaven in Revelation 12:7, where Michael is involved, the resurrection, and the judgment are in view here. Those who are delivered are the saints, whose names are written in the book of life, not unbelieving Jews.

Jesus taught: Preterism says:
“And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.” [Luke 21:24] This applies to the region of Jerusalem only, and to the fate of the first century Jews.

For Jesus, the city of Jerusalem represents his kingdom. He refers to the heavenly Jerusalem. Revelation 11:2 says that the Gentiles trample the holy city for forty and two months. “But the court which is without the temple leave out, and measure it not; for it is given unto the Gentiles: and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months.” This forty and two months, which is included in the times of the Gentiles, extends to the end of the age. It is a symbolic period, and in Revelation 13:5, it is the time of the reign of the beast. “And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations.  And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.” [Revelation 13:7-8] The saints are overcome, the prophecy says. This is not limited to the earthly Jerusalem, but “all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him.” The heavenly Jerusalem, the church, is the city that is “trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.”

Jesus taught: Preterism says:
“Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.” [Luke 21:36] Christians, those who were worthy to escape, went to Pella.

Jesus encouraged people to seek the kingdom of God, and pray that they would be accounted worthy, so that they might escape the judgment.

Jesus taught: Preterism says:
“But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, And the stars of heaven shall fall, and the powers that are in heaven shall be shaken.” [Mark 13:24-25] The imagery of sun, moon and stars applies to political entities.

In the New Testament the sun is symbolic of the gospel. The sun clothes the woman in Revelation 12:1, who represents the church. The gospel is darkened by false teachings. For example, Plato’s doctrine of the immortality of the soul which was embraced by most of the early church fathers makes a resurrection unnecessary. The idea that unbelievers suffer unending infernal torment was imported into Christianity from pagan superstition.

Jesus taught: Preterism says:
“And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.” [Luke 21:27-28] The destruction of Jerusalem and the temple in 70 A.D. vindicated Jesus.

The destruction of Jerusalem fulfilled the prophecy of Daniel, that said sacrifices and oblations would cease “in the midst of” the 70th week. But since these things were in the midst of the week, the 70th week was not yet fulfilled. Jesus is still confirming his covenant with many.

Jesus taught: Preterism says:
“This generation shall not pass, till all these things be done.” [Mark 13:30] All the things that were mentioned in the prophecy would happen in that generation, by 70 A.D.

Jesus was raised up from the grave, and remains alive, so his generation has not passed. It is a unique generation.


1. J. P. Holden. The Olivet Discourse: Preterist Exegesis


  1. February 26, 2012 at 2:44 am

    [Just saw this snippet on the net. Any reaction?]

    70 AD Futurism !

    Preterists claim that the “Antichrist” and the “great tribulation” were fulfilled during the 70 AD period.
    If so, why do we find that the arrival of the Antichrist was still expected by writers who lived during and after 70 AD?
    Polycarp (70-167) wrote that “He comes as the Judge of the living and the dead.”
    Justin Martyr (100-168) said that “[Antichrist] shall venture to do unlawful deeds on the earth against us the Christians….”
    Irenaeus (140-202) wrote that the ten kings (Rev. 17)”shall give their kingdom to the beast, and put the church to flight.”
    It’s not true that Francisco Ribera (1537-1591) “revived” futurism because it was never lost during the Middle Ages or prior to that period of time.
    Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153) stated: “There remains only one thing – that the demon of noonday [Antichrist] should appear.”
    Roger Bacon (1214-1274) spoke of “future perils [for the Church] in the times of Antichrist….”
    John Wycliffe (1320-1384) referred to “the hour of temptation, which is coming upon all the world, Rev. iii.”
    Martin Luther (1483-1546): “[The book of Revelation] is intended as a revelation of things that are to happen in the future….”
    (Google or Yahoo “Famous Rapture Watchers” to see quotes from many Christian leaders throughout the Church Age which prove that they expected a future Antichrist and a future great tribulation.)
    Preterists use Matt. 24:34 (“This generation will not pass….”) to try to prove a 70 AD fulfillment of “Antichrist.” Since many of them see “these” (Matt. 25:46) fulfilled in the future in Rev. 20, why can’t they apply futurism as easily to Matt. 24:34? After all, the word “this” is the singular form of “these”!
    Church history is fascinating, right?

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