By making the assumption that Jesus is only taking about the physical generation of the first century, one misses the exact point Paul was making about the allegorical things it represented.
Have Heaven and Earth Passed Away?
By Scott Thompson
As a former Full Preterist, I believe it is necessary to explain the reasons why I have repented of promoting this system of bible prophecy. For over 8 years, my deep conviction regarding the superiority of this system blinded me from seeing beyond the confines of the Preterist method of interpretation which, in all its forms, maintains the year AD70 as a focal point for prophetic fulfillment. Ever since realizing how that point of view limits ones perspective of spiritual things, it has been my distinct pleasure to discover what AD70 really means for our lives today.
All people are responsible for determining what truth is, and it is because of this search for truth that we labor to grow in our understanding of the world around us. The conclusions we reach in this pursuit are what drive us to do and to say what we believe is right. Within this process of maturing for the Christian, it is always necessary that we allow God to progressively straighten our paths, as he continues challenging our understanding. When we recognize that we have been wrong, we are called upon to repent and tear down the previous conclusions that we realize were not grounded on a solid foundation.
After having recognized a whole host of erroneous conclusions based upon false assumptions I had taught others while sharing my beliefs with others it is now my responsibility to define to them why I believe a consistent Full Preterist approach leads to greater errors, but also to define the newer, straighter path to which God has led me. Just as I was previously convinced that all prophetic fulfillment took place with the fall of Jerusalem and the Jewish temple in AD70, I am now convinced that complete fulfillment actually takes place in Jesus Christ.
The Three Heavens and Earth of 2 Peter 3
It is recognized by those who focus on bible prophecy that the concept of the “new heavens and earth” or “new Jerusalem” are connected to the fulfillment of the Bible’s “end times things.” When looking at the “new heavens and “new earth” passage in 2 Peter 3, it is recognized that we see a remarkable picture of this prophetic scene. It is a primary passage in Bible prophecy that is commonly used to define what happens after the “end of the age” as mentioned throughout the New Testament.
Within this chapter, there are three different “heavens and earth” represented. First, there is a description of the “old heavens and earth” that was destroyed by water (3:4-6). Secondly, there is a “present heavens and earth” which was to be destroyed by fire (3:7). And thirdly, we are shown a “new heavens and earth” in which righteousness dwells (3:13). For reference, here are the three represented in a list:
- The “old heavens and earth” that was destroyed by water (3:4-6)
- The “present heavens and earth” which was to be destroyed by fire (3:7)
- The “new heavens and earth” in which righteousness dwells (3:13)
The “Old Heavens and Earth” (2 Peter 3:4-6)
Most interpreters seem agreed that the “old heavens and earth” represent that period of history prior to Noah’s flood. None believe that the material earth was destroyed during the flood, so the concepts we will be focusing on are the people living in the three “heavens and earth.” Most are agreed that it is a historical era, in which all those not in Noah’s ark perished in a watery flood. This is an important point, because by recognizing that only “the righteous” (Noah and his family) were able to enter into the “heavens and earth” that came thereafter, in the natural sense, we can see how this applies to those who are able to enter into the new heavens and earth of Second Peter chapter three.
On the identification of the era of the “old heavens and earth” mentioned by Peter there there is little disagreement. However, this is not the case regarding that “heavens and earth” then present when Peter wrote his second epistle.
The “Present Heavens and Earth” (2 Peter 3:7)
Most Christian writers believe that the “present heavens and earth” (by which they mean the world around us) will one day “melt with fervent heat” at the destruction of the physical planet. In contrast, when I was a Preterist, I believed that this entire passage was referring to the end of the Jewish system and law, once the elements of that system were removed, by the fall of the Mosaic system in the year 70.
This particular point of view focuses on the “year of our Lord” 70, at the time of the destruction of Jerusalem. This view makes the claim that only after the Jewish temple was destroyed by the Romans did the “present heavens and earth” pass away. It is then deduced that then (and only then) could the “new heavens and earth” find its establishment.
According to this view, the historical year 70 was the prophetic focal point which separated the passing of the present “heavens and earth” from the coming of the new “heavens and earth.” To use other biblical imagery, “this age” is equated with the “old heavens and earth,” (the era of the Jewish Levitical system), and “the age to come” is equated with the “new heavens and earth” (the “Church age”). Here are some quotes from defenders of that view:
“The Jews only believed in two primary ages. Jesus and the New Testament writers concurred with that doctrine. The Jews believed in “this age” and “the age to come.” Their “this age” was the age of Moses and the Law, and the “age to come” was the age of Messiah and the New Covenant.” (Don Preston)
“I am persuaded that the prophecies in this marvelous epistle were penned before 70 A.D., and their fulfillments culminated with the fall of Jerusalem and the temple in 70 A.D., because I see this as the destruction of the old heavens and earth. Yes, it was at that time that the old covenant world, with the temple as its epicenter, the earthly priesthood, and the typical holy of holies, was destroyed and removed. And because of this, it was then time for the creation of the “new heavens and earth.” (Jim Gunter)
If the “heaven and earth” Jesus spoke of in this text still exists, then we are under obligation to both keep and teach it. But if the old heavens and earth have passed away, then the Law is no longer binding. The key word here is “binding” in distinction from “applicable.” This does not mean the Law is no longer “applicable” or that it has nothing of value for kingdom dwellers today. The Law is still very useful, and we would do well to understand it as thoroughly as possible and APPLY its teachings to our life now in the Kingdom. But, the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70 swept away the binding aspects of the old covenant (the old heavens and earth). A new heavens and earth (the kingdom) replaced those things (see Heb. 12:27,28). The priesthood, temple, sacrifices and law were changed into their spiritual counterparts (Heb. 7:12). We don’t live under the Law now, because the better spiritual things of the new heavens and earth are here. (Ed Stevens)
The term “last days” are the last days of the Old Covenant age which finally ended in judgment at A.D.70. We have been in the New Covenant age since A.D.70. The Jews in Old Covenant days spoke of two ages: this present age (meaning the Old Covenant age that they were living in), and the age to come (the age after the Messiah comes, namely the New Covenant age). (Walt Hibbard)
Through the power of Christ’s resurrection, (Col. 2:15) the first-century Christians received the “new heavens and the new earth” (the ever-increasing Kingdom of Christ). (pg. 29) This happened after the “old heaven and earth” of Christ’s enemies was “shaken” and removed in A. D. 70 (Heb. 12:25-29; cf. I Cor. 2:6). Since that time and forever, “the God of this age” is the Lord Jesus Christ, because the age in which we live today is the Christian aeon. “The devil, the god of a prior age, has been defeated” (pg. 34). Amen! (David Green)
Two key verses that most Full Preterists use for deducing the immediate connection between the end of the old and the foundation of the new are Luke 21:22 (“these are days of vengeance, so that all things which are written will be fulfilled”) and Matthew 5:18, where Jesus said “truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished.” Using both of these passages, a seemingly rock solid case is made that the first century generation saw the passing from the then present “heavens and earth” to the new. In order to properly address this assumption of the Preterist system, it is important to take a closer look at to what the phrase “new heavens and earth” refers.
The “New Heavens and Earth” (2 Peter 3:13)
Another place where the phrase “heaven and earth” is given a prominent place is the biblical book of John’s Revelation. There, we can see a picture similar to that which is found in Second Peter. In Revelation 21:1-3, the Bible reads, “I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them.” As pictured here in Revelation, this “new heavens and earth” reveals the holy city which is called the New Jerusalem.
Whatever the new Jerusalem that is contained within the context of the “new heavens and earth” is, it must be noted that only those whose names are written in the book of life are allowed to enter. Remembering that those outside of the ark were not able to enter into the “heavens and earth” after the flood, we can expect that those outside of Jesus Christ (the true ark) can neither enter into this blessed age.
There are many other passages which uses almost identical language, which should be considered in the same context. One of the most obvious connections made is by Paul in Galatians 4:25-26. Here we see a contrast between the “present Jerusalem” which was from below and the Jerusalem which was from above.
The New “Jerusalem Which is Above” (Galatians 4)
As is acknowledged by countless interpreters, Galatians 4 contains the Apostle Paul’s usage of the city name “Jerusalem” in an allegorical fashion. In fact, Paul himself declared that “these things are an allegory,” when making reference to the then standing “present Jerusalem” as a representation of the slavery and bondage of those who were born according to the flesh. When looking at the allegorical nature of Paul’s usage of Jerusalem, it is beyond question that he is using the imagery of a present and new Jerusalem as symbols of transition into the glorious liberty found in Christian life. To restate this in the construction of Second Peter, the old Jerusalem was given to represent the unrighteous, and the new Jerusalem was given to represent the righteous.
- The “Jerusalem Which is Below” = Outside of Christ
On the one hand, Paul teaches that the present Jerusalem was a symbol of slavery — akin to bondage under the Jewish Law given by Moses. Considering his ultimate message regarding the liberty of the gospel, this is best understood as being a representation of those who were without a saving relationship with Jesus Christ. Such people, all agree, are indeed slaves to sin and the fleshly impulses.
- The “Jerusalem Which is Above” = In Christ
The “Jerusalem from above,“ on the other hand, is given by Paul as a representation of those who had been given spiritual life in Jesus Christ. The blessed people are freed from that yoke of slavery, as he shows in Galatians 5:1. In this passage it is said that through the gospel, “Christ set us free.” Hebrews 12:22-24 also teaches that in Christ we come to “Mount Zion,” “the heavenly Jerusalem,” which is likewise used as a representative of the new covenant of salvation in Jesus Christ. It is within the new covenant that those who are Christ’s move from the old things of bondage, to the new things of liberty in Him.
Note the usage of “old” and “new” language, as it is directly comparable to the terms “old” and “new” as used in reference to “Jerusalem” and to the “heavens and earth.” This biblical contrast between old and new are as shown in the chart below.
CONTRAST BETWEEN THE “OLD” AND “NEW” IN GALATIANS 4
|Hagar||PASSING IN CHRIST||Sarah|
|Old Covenant–The Law of Moses||New Covenant–The Promised Spirit|
|Mt. Sinai–Law||Mt. Zion–Grace|
–The Present Earthly One
–The One Above, the Heavenly One
In Ephesians 2:4-7, Paul utilized the same concept of the transition of the wicked from the present to new “Jerusalem,” writing that “God as made us (righteous) alive together with Christ, and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” It would certainly seem clear that Paul is saying that those “in Christ” were already in the New Jerusalem of the realms above. This position of being in Christ is characterized as leaving the “present Jerusalem” below and entering into the “New Jerusalem” which is above.
It is important to note that this transition is not effected by history, but solely by the grace and indwelling of the Lord Jesus Christ. Just as with the flood of Noah, only those who were in the ark were saved. The unrighteous we left outside in the waters, and never progressed beyond their age into that which was coming on the other side of the flood event.
As we recognize that the passing of Jerusalem is likewise utilized by Paul as a symbolic representation of one’s passing from death to life in Christ, then we can more clearly see how the elements of the earthly realm – such as the “present heavens and earth” or “present Jerusalem” or “this unbelieving generation” — are but representatives used to define those who are not “in Christ”. As elsewhere, those new things which Paul says are to be found in Christ alone, are represented by the terminology “new heaven and earth,” “new Jerusalem,” “new man,” and the like.
The “Old” and “New” Man
By acknowledging Paul’s broader vision of each of these terms, being used to distinguish between the just and unjust (instead of simply focusing on the period surrounding the historical year 70), we can see that the first century generation itself – which culminated in the infamous destruction of Jerusalem – was indeed being utilized as an external representation of the conversion process which every Christian experiences as they leave the old for the new. Every person who once resided in death under the “old” man, later through the gospel of Jesus Christ becomes alive through the “putting on” of the “new man. “
We can see that Paul, in 2 Corinthians 5:17, taught the exact same concept, tying it directly to the passing from the old creation to the new. In this passage he wrote, “therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.” Based on Paul’s teaching that the passing occurs in Christ, and not at some point in history, we can begin to see why the Preterist deduction of a passing tied historically to the year AD70 – long after the cross of Christ, becomes very suspect and potentially heretical.
This is not at all to say that the historical events of the end of the age were not foretold and fulfilled precisely as written by Moses and the Prophets ; however, the only way to enter into the new is in Christ. Those who were not in Christ never enter into anything new, and are left in the old. Just as was symbolized by the flood of Noah, and now seen as being symbolized in the events of the first century, we must be able to get past these symbolic events, and validate their true significance. This passing from old to new, as shown in both events, points to Jesus Christ even today, and the transition in our lives today – and is not at all something that is to be placed in the past as fulfilled and completed because a building fell. Though while a Preterist I could tell you precisely what happened to the people thousands of years ago, I was forced to speak very vaguely about what it meant in my Christian life.
The Anti-Christological Focus of Full Preterism
The lack of clarity in identifying the meaning behind historical events has plagued Christians for thousands of years. I began to realize that this deficit was common everywhere I looked – including in my own camp of theology. Nobody was able to specify how the fall of Jerusalem spoke to my life today, aside from broad and vague concepts of victory long ago won. Nowadays, I recognize that many errors creep in by taking the focus off of Jesus Christ – in this case, by making the focal point of fulfillment a single generation thousands of years ago. Rather, I am now joyfully persuaded that Jesus Christ is the focal point of all prophecy, and that He and His Kingdom is equally “at hand” throughout all generations. Those historical expectations which are often regarded by Preterists as the end-all and be-all of prophecy, are actually utilized by Paul to reveal the common circumstances within the lives and hearts of all people throughout all ages.
The great allure with Full Preterism for me was the undeniability that the end of the Jewish sacrificial system did, indeed come to pass ; however, it is a huge leap to then deduce that the end of the historical show equals the fulness of the prophetic purpose! This assumption is particularly vulnerable when looking at the passing of the “present heavens and earth” to the new, as though this dense imagery only applied to a singular historical date, which supposedly changed the station of the entire world from ‘old’ with that destruction… in a way which was completely divorced from any consideration of being old or new “in Christ.”
An exhibition of how the result of fulfillment is shifted in an almost imperceptible way can seen in the following Full Preterist quotes, where Jesus is allowed to be a player, but not the actual focal point :
|“Jesus came in A.D. 70 in power and great glory and His coming was manifested in the destruction of Jerusalem. The heavens and earth of Old Covenant Israel passed away and the New Heavens and Earth of the New Covenant, the church, were consummated.“ (David Curtis)|
And so, it is not Christ that is the focal point of the new heavens and earth.. it is the visible Christian church! There is certainly a huge difference between the two. Here is a more blatant quote along the same mistaken lines:
“Unless one can demonstrate that Paul had something other than the Church in mind when he spoke of the goal of the ages, then the Church was the anticipated destiny of the previous ages.” (Don Preston, emphasis in original!).
Don then goes on to write, “Any doctrine that depreciates the honor and the glory of the church is a Christ dishonoring doctrine.” And yet, if Jesus Christ Himself is the true focus of all previous ages, then wouldn’t ascribing honor and glory to the visible church be Christ dishonoring? Absolutely!
Surely, it can be seen how detrimental such a de-glorifying view can be for one’s perception and comprehension of Jesus Christ. Sadly, this trend of “Christ removal” is common in Full Preterist doctrine – which consistently downplays the work of Christ on the cross as being insufficient for redemption, as though the destruction of a stone temple could be more effective than the destruction of the temple of Christ’s own body, at which point He declared “It is finished!”
“Wherein Righteousness Dwells”
The non-Christological transition from old to new is horrendous enough to warrant a very close examination. And though there are many ways to demonstrate the desolation of the Full Preterist view that the historical year 70 was the start of the world’s “new heavens and earth,” we can start by revisiting Peter’s presentation of the old, present, and new heavens and earth, as displayed in Second Peter chapter three:
“Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.” (v. 13, KJV)
In this passage, as noted above, Peter specifically states that the new heavens and earth was where “righteousness dwells.” Yet we are told that all people – regardless of position in or out of Jesus Christ – dwell therein. Though many passages throughout the Bible which make it clear that the “new heavens and earth” are only receivable in our Lord, for those who have accepted the gospel, this one is perhaps most important for pointing out the externalizing nature of Full Preterism – or any other system which makes the “consummation of the age” receivable outside of Jesus Christ.
In short, only the children of God are inheritors of the new, whereas those opposed to God will never have any part in it. Consider also Isaiah 65:17 “For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; And the former things will not be remembered or come to mind.” and Revelation 21:27 “and nothing unclean, and no one who practices abomination and lying, shall ever come into it, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.”
The “new heavens and earth” are only said to contain those who are righteous. Clearly, the world in the post-70 environment does not meet this criteria. There remains many unrighteous people within this historical age! Therefore, we are warranted to closely consider Jesus Christ as the only means by which one can enter into the new “heavens and earth” with its “new Jerusalem.”
And so, the fundamental considerations coming from this passage are these:
- If the natural “Present H/E” passed away completely in AD70 – AGREED UPON BY FULL PRETERISTS
- And the spiritual “New H/E” is received only for “the righteous” (those in Christ) in AD70 – AGREED UPON BY FULL PRETERISTS
- Then, Those Outside of Christ Are Either Still in the “Old” or
- There is a Standard of Judgment not Contemplated by Peter
- All Are Made Righteous – As According to Universalism
Premise #1 – The “New” is an inheritance reserved only for “the righteous” (those in Christ)
Taking a closer look at these, lets take a close look at the fundamental assumption of Full Preterism that the “New” is an inheritance either shared by all in history. To establish this charge as a fact, here are some quotes from leading full preterists:
“This passage is a grand description of the gospel age after Christ came in judgment in 70 A.D. and took away the old heavens and the old earth. We now have the new heavens and the new earth of the gospel age.” (John Bray)
“This understanding (called Covenant Eschatology) affirms that all Bible prophecy— including the parousia (coming) of Christ, the kingdom of God, and the establishment of the new heavens and earth (Revelation 21-22), was completely fulfilled by the time Jerusalem was destroyed in A.D. 70.” (Don Preston)
We can see first of all that, with there being only one ‘present heaven and earth’ mentioned in Scripture, it has either passed away once for all – taking the judgment by fire with it – within the realm of history or it is something that passes away on an individual basis in Jesus Christ! This unites perfectly with Paul’s treatment of the allegory in Galatians 5 and elsewhere, where those in bondage are represented by the “old,” and those given freedom by the gospel are represented by the “new!” If the “new” blessing is true for the whole world in one, then honest biblical interpretation would make it true for the whole world in all other references.
It is claimed by Full Preterists that Peter is looking at something historical in nature. The “old heavens and earth” which are said to have passed away in the days of Noah is an example of an external application (of this earth, physical). The “present heavens and earth” also appear to also be external (of this earth, physical). Or are they? It would definitely be a stretch of the imagination to also place the “new heavens and earth” in an external or temporal realm, or make it to be something physically seen. If the “new heavens and earth” are of this realm then it must be denied based on 2 Pet 3:13 that both the righteous and unrighteous dwell or are coexistent within the same realms of the “new heavens and earth”. This goes to question that if the “new heavens and earth” are not physical or external, why wouldn’t the “present heaven and earth” described by Paul and Jesus also be place outside of the external or physical realm.
If the “new heavens and earth” came in AD70, with the passing of the “present heavens and earth” being seen as the destruction of Jerusalem, then does this not mandate that all must be made righteous (which is known as the doctrine of Universalism)? Peter does not say that the “new heavens and earth” is also a dwelling place for the unrighteous.
Premise #2 – The “Old” is a continuing reality for those not in Christ
If the unrighteous can not dwell in the “new heavens and new earth”, then the present “heavens and earth which is reserved for fire” taught by Peter must be a continuing reality for the ungodly.
Looking again at, 2 Pet 3:7 which say that “by the Word” “the present heavens and earth are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.” As pointed out above, if one concludes the “present heavens and earth” passes away in 70ad, than that which is left to uphold the “present heavens and earth”, which is the word, has also been nullified. Matt. 5:18 seems to be a key passage used by Preterist circles to prove that the word remains after “the heavens and earth” pass away. Some have defiantly missed the connection to the “present heavens and earth” and the need for this to continue to remain as a dwelling place for the ungodly. If the “present heavens and earth” does in fact pass away in 70ad, then this logically means based on 2 Pet 3:7 that the judgment and destruction of ungodly men also passes away. This is certainly not true.
There seems to be many additional elements that many Preterists have been placed within the context of the first century generation and have in fact made them no longer valid after 70ad. All Christians recognize the simple fact of the relationship between those who are “in Christ” and “not in Christ”. However in light of the chart below, how can it not be seen, that there many different terms that are being used to revealing not only the condition of human heart but also as a classification for this “in Christ” or “outside of Christ”. If we look at these elements which pass away “in Christ” as a resurrection from a realm below to a realm above, then all of the elements within both columns consistently classify those who are residing in death, or born again into life from above.
Earthly (Temporal, External)
Heavenly (Eternal, Internal)
|Present Heavens and Earth||New Heavens and Earth|
|This Present Age||Age to Come|
|Unbelieving generation||Faithful Generation|
|Outside the Most Holy Place||In the Most Holy Place|
|Earthly Kingdom||Kingdom of Heaven|
|Without the veil||Within the Veil|
|Old Man||New Man|
|Earthly Jerusalem||Heavenly (New) Jerusalem|
|Mt. Sinai||Mt. Zion|
|Old Covenant||New Covenant|
|Not in Christ||In Christ|
|Born of Flesh from Below||Born in the Spirit from Above|
|A life wilderness||A life in the garden|
|First Adam||Second Adam|
|Christ does not appear (Luke 17:22; Luke 13:35)||Christ’s Appearing to those in him (John 14:22-23)|
|Tree of Good and Evil||Tree of Life|
|Name not found in the book of Life||Name written in the book of Life|
Premise #3 – If the “Old” passed away for all in AD70, and yet all are not made righteous, then there must be another standard of judgment not contemplated by Peter
If the “present heavens and earth” passes away entirely in AD70, then where does that leave judgment today for those who are ungodly? Peter makes it very clear in 2 Pet 3:7 that “By the WORD the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire.” As long as “The Word” continues to stand, it would seem logical to conclude that the “present heavens and earth” must likewise stand in order for judgment to continue. (Note that the Bible does not mention two “present heavens and earths,” or two different judgments as though there was to be one fulfilled in 70ad and another which remains for the ungodly.) So, if the “present heavens and earth” that is reserved for fire continues to be in existence as a dwelling place for the unrighteous today, then what really passed away in 70ad that does not pass away in Jesus Christ?
By removing the passing of the “present heavens and earth” one must consistently also conclude that every single item in column 1 representing the earthly things also passes away. Either all of column 1 pertain to only to 70ad, and pass away; or they stand today as a picture for those that are outside of the covenant. The direct result of removing any one of these items and placing them with the context of 70ad results in the removal of the classification of the ungodly. This is a major problem of placing eternal things within the confines of the physical world, and in the context of time. By doing so, it becomes a filter by which a whole theology system flows through. On the other hand, by placing them outside of time, and seeing the invisible things they point to, it becomes clear that they are realized within the heart of a man. Preterist have externalized the elements by placing this within the realms of 70ad and made it the substance and focal point. They have also over emphasized one generation which was judged because of their unfaithfulness and unbelief and have made it only pertained to 70ad, not realizing individually this same judgment still stands present as a condition and classification of the heart.
Do all of these terms truly represent a classification for those who are saved and those who are not saved? If not, how can they be separated? This is a very relevant issue within the discussion of Preterism which state that some of the elements in column 1 pass away in 70ad but do not make a constant conclusion that all of these elements pass away. For example, some Preterists conclude that the “Present Heavens and Earth”; “this generation” passed away in 70ad. Other Preterist also remove the Law of sin and death ending 70ad. However, despite this fact, they still believe that judgment has an ongoing effect because of 70ad as opposed to 70ad being an outward show of the “present Jerusalem” which represents those who are still in bondage and condemnation under the old man.
“This Generation” & “This Age”
As shown within the context of column 1 and column 2, the false assumption that any one of the elements from column 1 or column 2 ended or began in 70ad results in the removal of the unbelievers and ungodly that are not allowed into the kingdom or the eternal rest. Instead of 70ad, it seems more appropriate to place that transition point to those who leave column 1 into column 2 as a passing that occurs “in Christ” as Paul does in 2 Cor. 5:17. By making 70ad as the passing from column 1 into column 2 Preterists are externalizing the “present heavens and earth”, which they also are guilty of doing with “this generation” and “this age” and making it pertain solely to the first century generation. If “this generation” and “this age” is placed in 70ad as the focal point rather than as a category for the unfaithful, one can also conclude that judgment under the condemnation of “this generation” is also removed at the fall of Jerusalem.
It is admitted by most that Jesus uses the phase “this generation” or this “this age” many times within the context of the fall of Jerusalem. When looking at passages such as Matt. 23, Luke 21, and Mark 13, it is clear that Jesus was he referring to a day of judgment at the Destruction of Jerusalem. This is where a Preterist makes the sole application, which is the exact opposite of how Paul defines what Jesus was referring to. In light of Paul’s comments in Gal. 4, he used “present Jerusalem” not as a mere visible representation of a physical city, but used it to signify the bondage to those who are slaves to the flesh, and their utter destruction. It is denied that the “present Jerusalem” that Paul uses in Gal. 4 was a mere reference to the physical city. He was certainly not referring to the end as physical fall of Jerusalem but focused on the judgment and condemnation of the ungodly man which continues through out all generations.
By making this assumption that Jesus is only taking about the physical generation of the first century, one misses the exact point Paul was making about the allegorical things it represented. Placing it within the confines of 70ad, within the confines of the destruction of Jerusalem, removes all aspects that have been included in column 1. Galatians 4:25 is very clear that the present Jerusalem was to stand as a representative to the unfaithful generation. It was a shadow to represent the slavery, bondage and condemnation of those who are born after the flesh. If “this generation” or “present Jerusalem” ends in finality in 70ad, then that which it represents ends also.
The fact must be seen that “this generation” and “this age” and “the present Jerusalem” have not passed away but continue post 70ad and stand today as a representation for those who are unfaithful and not “in Christ”. The erosion of placing these elements temporally in 70ad rather than seeing that they are of the heart is an open realization that manifests itself within the confines of ones physical life. Either one chooses to eat from the tree of life or be a partaker of the tree of good and evil. Either one remains in the realms of “the unbelieving generation” or is found faithful “to obtain the age to come.” This is why Christianity as a whole is so opposed to the Preterist viewpoint. Making the assumption that the sole application Jesus makes in Matt. 23, Luke 21, and Mark 13 only pointed to the destruction of a physical city in the context of 70ad, makes judgment of the unbelievers a past event, no longer relevant. Paul had something higher and greater when he applied those physical elements and shadows to the heart.
Futurist also make the same mistake of placing things externally at some future point in time, rather than understanding that the real issue within the context of Jerusalem is really about which master we are serving. The reality is that the ungodly are still present and their dwelling place consists of the world below rather than the world above. God has never stopped or ended his faithfulness to judge those who are unrighteous. He has not stopped or ended his faithfulness to those who he has chosen and called and who have been cleansed from within the heart.
When looking at the following passages, it must be clearly seen that the generation that Jesus was referring to was internally applied within those unbelievers who remain in their sins. (Luke 11:32) “The men of Nineveh will stand up with this generation at the judgment and condemn it” (Luke 11:29) “This generation is a wicked generation” (Luke 21:32) “Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all things take place. (Hebrews 3:10-11) “Therefore I was angry with this generation, And said, ‘They always go astray in their heart, And they did not know My ways’; As I swore in My wrath, ‘They shall not enter My rest.’ ” The truth must be seen in light of the heart that is of the world below. It is also clear that the world below does not just represent the physical world, but as a revealing of those who are residing within the realm of condemnation. As one is called to flee that realm below and enter into the realms above in Christ one passes from column 1 to column 2.
The truth is that all of these elements must continue to remain post 70ad. If any one item in column 1 passes away, the end results in the removal or passing of all of column 1. Just like the issue with the passing of the “present heavens and earth” or the removal of “this present age” or “this generation” from the context of any one of the relating elements. Each of these elements either stands or falls on the basis of ones faith and must be redefined to represent the heart of every man. This is the defining issues that seperates one who is “in Christ” or “not in Christ”. He is either 100% in the first column or a 100% in the second column. One can not serve two masters, and likewise we can not place eternal truths within the real of time. God’s first command “You shall love the Lord your God with ALL your heart and with ALL your soul and with ALL your might.” Friends let us look beyond 70ad to the eternal things above in heavenly places.
The deductions that Preterist have made are enormous due to the external and temporal application within the confines of 70ad. This is why there is so much confusion as to the reasons why no inspired writer places the destruction of the physical city as a final passing away point in history. The reality is that not one passage contained within the bible places the “all things fulfilled” as a past tense. However James does applies “all things fulfilled” when he states “you are fulfilling the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (James 2:8) Preterist continue to maintain that all things were fulfilled in 70ad however this is clearly denying the fulfillment within the heart that passes in Christ. It can not apply to 70ad and also apply within us. Either 70ad was the focal point, or in Christ is the focal point. This is the key issue. Past-poning or post-poning should be removed from the picture. The following chart should be carefully considered.
NON-CHRISTOLOGICAL PRETERISM vs. CHRISTOLOGICAL IDEALISM
|Preterist s Say . . .||Externally||The Bible Says . . .||Internally|
|“Present Heavens and Earth”||Passes in 70ad||“Present Heavens and Earth”||Passes in Christ||1Co 3:13; 2 Cor. 5:17; 1 Peter 1:4; Gal. 6:14; Col. 1:20|
|“Present Jerusalem”||Passes in 70ad||“Present Jerusalem”||Passes in Christ||Gal. 5:1; 1 Cor. 7:22|
|“This Evil Generation”||Passes in 70ad||“This Evil Generation”||Passes in Christ||Gal. 3:26; Eph. 1:5; 1 Thes. 5:9|
|“This Age”||Passes in 70ad||“This Age”||Passes in Christ||1 Cor. 3:18; Luke 18:30; Rom. 5:21|
|“Old Covenant Ended”||Passes in 70ad|
|“Old Covenant Ends”||Passes in Christ||2 Cor. 3:13; Heb. 9:15|
|“The veil was removed”||Passes in 70ad|
|“The veil was removed”||Passes in Christ||2 Cor. 3:15; Heb. 10:19|
|“The Law Ended”||Passes in 70ad|
|“The Law Ends”||Passes in Christ||Rom. 7:4; Rom. 8:2; Gal. 3:13; Col. 2:10-14; James 1:4; James 2:8; Eph. 2:14|
|Preterist s Say . . .||Externally||The Bible Says . . .||Internally|
|“The New Heaven and Earth”||Begins in 70ad||“The New Heaven and Earth”||Fulfilled in Christ||1Co 3:13; 2 Cor. 5:17|
|“The New Jerusalem”||Begins in 70ad||“The New Jerusalem”||Fulfilled in Christ||Gal. 5:1; 1 Cor. 7:22|
|“The Second Coming”||Occurs in 70ad||“The Second Coming”||Fulfilled in Christ||John 14:17-24; John 14: 22-23; 2 Tim 1:9|
|“The Resurrection”||Occurs in 70ad|
|“The Resurrection”||Fulfilled in Christ||Rom. 6:4; Rom. 8:11; Col. 3:1|
|“The Kingdom Came”||Occurs in 70ad|
|“The Kingdom Comes”||Fulfilled in Christ||Luke 17:21; Luke 17:20; Matthew 13:19.|
(2 Corinthians 3:5-6) Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God, who also made us adequate as servants of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.
(Matthew 13:14-15) “In their case the prophecy of Isaiah is being fulfilled, which says, ‘You will keep on hearing, but will not understand; You will keep on seeing, but will not perceive; For the heart of this people has become dull, With their ears they scarcely hear, And they have closed their eyes, Otherwise they would see with their eyes, Hear with their ears, And understand with their heart and return, And I would heal them.’