Why I’m A Partial Preterist

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For the longest time, I’ve been undecided on my view of eschatology, and it was a long time before I looked into the subject at all. Being a finite human being and being unable to delve equally into every subject matter, I had to give precedence to some subjects over others. When I began studying apologetics and theology, I gave more precedence to studying and researching Natural Theology, Historical Apologetics, the creation/evolution debate, and soteriology than things like the cessationism debate (which I haven’t gotten around to to this day) and eschatology. Eventually, I got around to studying eschatology and was surprised to find out that the “Left Behind” theology I was taught in church wasn’t universally held by Christians. A wide array of beliefs was born, just as there is on creation and soteriology. Moreover, the book I had gotten to study, eschatology (Hank Haangraaf’s The Apocalypse Code), argued against the futurist view I had been taught. It argued for preterism. I began severely doubting futurism at that point and started leaning towards preterism. Later, I read R.C. Sproul’s book The Last Days According To Jesus, and that made me rely even more heavily on preterism.

Preterism is the view on eschatology (i.e., the study of end times) that says that most (Partial Preterism) or all (Full Preterism) prophecies of The Bible have already been fulfilled, and these prophecies were fulfilled in the first century. This contrasts futurism, which states that Revelation, Matthew 24-25, and other eschatological texts remain unfulfilled.

Nowadays, I would consider myself a preterist. I do find the partial preterist position, at present, more plausible than the alternative views I’ve looked at. I want to share a few reasons in this blog post.



Matthew 24-25 is a popular eschatological text. It seems that Yahushua is talking about the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple in AD 70, given that immediately before the Olivet Discourse, Yahushua prophesies the temple’s destruction. Yahushua prophesies the temple destruction (Matthew 24:2), and then immediately after, the scripture says that the disciples asked him, “When will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?” (verse 3), and then the Olivet Discourse immediately follows. The immediate context would indicate that Yahushua was talking about the destruction of the temple rather than the end of the world. It seems to me that the disciples were asking two questions that Yahushua proceeded to answer: (1) Will this happen (i.e., the destruction of the temple), and (2) when will the sign of your coming be? If this is the case, this will prohibit the usual texts used to argue for the rapture to be used to say for the rapture, as these proof texts are found in chapter 24. If the Olivet Discourse is not about future events but events near the end of the first century, then the famous rapture proof texts found in Matthew 24 couldn’t be about the yet-to-occur rapture. That said, you could still use the one in 1 Thessalonians because the context of this rapture proof text is speaking of future events (since Paul is talking about the resurrection of the dead at Christ’s return). Not only that, but the fact that Yahushua says, “This generation will not pass away” before these things come to pass (verse 34) suggests that Yahushua wasn’t talking about the end of the world but the end of the Jewish age because obviously, the world hasn’t ended yet. The Jewish age ended with the destruction of the Jerusalem temple. While there have been attempts to interpret verse 34 in ways consistent with futurism, I don’t find these explanations nearly as plausible as the preterist one, mainly since the rest of the passage seems to support a preterist interpretation so heavily.



In the Olivet Discourse, Yahushua says, “Then let those in Judea flee to the mountains. Let no one on the housetop go down to take anything out of the house. Let no one in the field go back to get their cloak. How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! Pray that your flight will not occur in winter or on the Sabbath. There will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now—and never to be equaled again.” (Matthew 24:16-21). But if the events Yahushua talked about, which preceded and proceeded these verses, are about the apocalypse, then does it make sense for you to run anywhere? After all, the world is coming to an end! It wouldn’t matter where in the world you fled to! Moreover, if the world is ending, it seems self-evident to say that the distress of those days will never be equaled again. Of course, they won’t. Yahuwah’s creating a new world with no suffering (Revelation 21:4). But the language Yahushua used compared the distress of those days with distress that will come after that, saying that the post-stress won’t be as bad.



The abomination of desolation Yahushua refers to refers to the figure the prophet Daniel prophesied about in Daniel 9. However, in the passage of Daniel 9, it says that the anointed one will be put to death, followed by the “people of the ruler” coming and destroying the city. Both of these are prophesied in verse 26. This verse predicts both the messiah's death and Jerusalem's destruction. Then verse 27 says, “He will confirm a covenant with many for one ‘seven.’ He will end sacrifice and offering in the middle of the ‘seven’[i]. And at the temple,’ he will set up an abomination that causes desolation until the end that is decreed is poured out on him.” Daniel 9 seems to be prophesying about events in the first century A.D. Since Yahushua refers to Daniel 9 in His Olivet Discourse, doesn’t this support a preterist understanding of the text? That the abomination of desolation is some first-century Roman emperor (e.g., Nero) rather than a future Anti-Christ figure? I think it does.



Regarding the book of Revelation, preterists rhetorically ask, “If John’s describing an extremely futuristic city, and that’s why the imagery in Revelation is so wild and confusing, then why did Yahuwah inspire their words anyway? Would this book of the Bible be useless to most Christians throughout history?” I think they make a good point. It would be fruitless for Yahuwah to inspire a book that the church would get no benefit from for 2,000 years and only be able to vaguely interpret the last few years before Christ’s return and say, “Oh yeah! These locusts with loud wings are helicopters! This ‘living statue of the anti-Christ’ is animatronic! These horses shooting fire from their mouths are tanks!” 2 Timothy 3:16 says all scripture is Yahuwah-breathed and is helpful for teaching, rebuking, training in righteousness, etc. But unless some form of preterism is proper, how could this be? We would have to say that at least the book of Revelation wasn’t helpful, at least not until the 21st century.


Why I can’t Embrace Full Preterism

Now, I cannot embrace full preterism. Specific texts are talking about events that haven’t happened yet. For example, 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18 talks about the resurrection of the dead at the return of Christ. Now, this prophecy cannot have been fulfilled in the first century. If all of the dead were raised in the first century, this would have caught many first-century authors' attention. Indeed, Josephus or Tacitus would have mentioned it. Indeed, the early church fathers would have recorded it. Dead people rising all over the world at the same time would be a pretty hard thing to keep from being recorded in history since it would be such a dramatic event.

Full Preterists realize this problem, so they try to argue that the resurrection occurred in the first century but was merely a “spiritual” resurrection rather than a physical, bodily resurrection. The spirits of the dead ascended to Heaven, they say, rather than the bodies of these people rising. The problem is that The Bible says Yahushua’s resurrection was a physical, bodily resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:12-20, Luke 24:41-43), and The Bible also says that Yahushua’s resurrection foreshadows ours (Philippians 3:20-21). In that case, if our resurrection is spiritual, then Yahushua’ was spiritual. If our resurrection is physical, so was Yahushua’. But Yahushua’ wasn’t spiritual. It was physical! From that, it follows that ours will be too. From that, it follows that it hasn’t happened yet since it’s unthinkable that bodily resurrections of dead people all over the world would be absent from so many documents dating from that period.

We have good reason to think that full-blown preterism is false. However, partial preterism has a lot going for it.

This also means that the second coming of Christ hasn’t occurred yet since 1 Thessalonians 4 links the bodily resurrection of humanity with Christ’s return. The events of 70 A.D. were more like a mini-apocalypse, and Yahushua did come again in a spiritual sense, but He didn’t return in a physical sense. One might say that this “mini apocalypse” foreshadowed the big apocalypse that is yet to come. The spiritual “coming” of Christ in 70 A.D. predicted the physical coming of Christ sometime in the 21st or some later century.

Moreover, Revelation 21 indeed cannot have been fulfilled in the first century since the chapter talks about no more death, mourning, crying, or pain for the former things that have passed away (verse 4). Well, there still is death, mourning, crying, and pain. If you are the least bit skeptical about that, just flip on the news.

So, since we have good reason to believe that there are still some prophecies yet to be fulfilled, we have good reason to think that full-blown preterism is false. However, partial preterism has a lot going for it.

This is a non-WLC article by Evan Minton.

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