What is Preterist theology? Preterism is a Christian eschatological view which interprets some (Partial Preterism) or all (Full Preterism) prophecies of the Bible as events which have already happened.
To bolster our argument, let’s compare and contrast Matthew 24 with a book written 26 years after the destruction of the Temple, the book of Revelation
“And Jacob called unto his sons, and said, Gather yourselves together, that I may tell you that which shall befall you in the last days.” Genesis 49:1 (KJV)
Today we shall take a quick peek into the heresy known as Preterism, the idea that all Bible prophecy was fulfilled in the year 70 AD with the fall of Jerusalem at the hands of the Roman emperor Titus. People who ascribe to this nonsense have a very shallow view of the Bible, and put no division between Jews looking for a kingdom and born again Christians in the Church Age. In short, to be a preterist you must abandon Paul’s command to rightly divide, and instead, lump everything all together. So to get started, let’s go to the main Bible verse that they claim as the platform of their heresy.
“And Jesus went out, and departed from the temple: and his disciples came to him for to shew him the buildings of the temple. And Jesus said unto them, See ye not all these things? verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.” Matthew 24:1,2 (KJV)
In Matthew 24, the chapter which gives us the prophecy of the Jews in the time of Jacob’s trouble (yet future as of this writing), Jesus makes a prophecy that the Temple they were looking at would be utterly destroyed. It was in 70 AD by the Romans. After Jesus says that, His disciples ask Him when His Second Coming would be, and when the end of the world would take place.
So the preterist reads this, and because they are non-dispensational and refuse to rightly divide, they lump everything together and declare that since the Temple was destroyed in 70 AD, that everything else in Matthew 24 was also somehow fulfilled in 70 AD as well. But as we shall see, none of this will align itself with Bible prophecy, and here are our reasons why not.
The Preterist vs. Matthew 24:
- Matthew 24 prophecies a worldwide conflict between nations: Jesus says that the conflicts coming would be on a global scale. The Temple being destroyed in 70 AD was a highly localized event. “For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places.” Matthew 24:7 (KJV)
- Matthew 24 says the persecution is global not local: Jesus says that His followers would be hated by “all nations”. By 70 AD, the gospel had not spread very far outside of Asia minor at all. There was persecution during this time period, but it was local not global. “Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake.” Matthew 24:9 (KJV)
- Matthew 24 says the gospel preached to the whole world: Jesus says that the gospel will be preached to all nations in all the world. Again,nothing even close to this took place in 70 AD. “And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.” Matthew 24:14 (KJV)
- Matthew 24 says observable weather phenomena: Jesus says that right after the “tribulation of those days”, 70 AD according to the preterist, that the sun, moon and stars go haywire on a global scale. This didn’t happen, either. “Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken:” Matthew 24:29 (KJV)
- Matthew 24 says Jesus has yet to return in the Second Coming: The climax of all this is the spectacular return of Jesus Christ at the Battle of Armageddon, what Matthew 24 calls the “sign of the Son of man”. Guess what? That too is yet future, obviously. “And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.” Matthew 24:30 (KJV)
Now we could give you a dozen more of these bullet points showing you that Matthew 24 is yet for future fulfillment, but if 5 won’t convince you you’re probably a preterist. Let’s keep going.
Let’s go back to the beginning of Matthew 24 for a moment, and let’s take away the entire argument that preterism is based on – 70 AD.
Jesus says that the Temple would be destroyed down to the ground and not a stone left on top of each other, and then, all the other stuff happens, right? Well, did Jesus mean the Second Temple or was He referring to the one yet to be built in the time of Jacob’s trouble? Because if He wasn’t then you have to start doing a whole lot of juggling to make the rest of Matthew 24 fit. History does record Titus destroying the Temple in 70 AD, but history does not record any of the other things in Matthew 24. They either didn’t happen, or they haven’t happened yet.
To bolster our argument, let’s compare and contrast Matthew 24 with a book written 26 years after the destruction of the Temple, the book of Revelation. In chapter 6 of Revelation, John gives us a detailed look at the start of the time of Jacob’s trouble, beginning with the release of Antichrist. But did you also know that the opening of the first 6 Seals in that chapter match EXACTLY with Matthew 24? Take a look:
SEAL #1: THE START OF THE TIME OF JACOB’S TROUBLE REVEALS THE FALSE MESSIAH – ANTICHRIST!
In Revelation 6, we see the start of the Tribulation which opens with the appearance of the Antichrist:
“And I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seals, and I heard, as it were the noise of thunder, one of the four beasts saying, Come and see. And I saw, and behold a white horse: and he that sat on him had a bow; and a crown was given unto him: and he went forth conquering, and to conquer.” Revelation 6:1,2 (KJV)
Now look what Jesus says is the first thing to happen in Matthew 24:
“And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world? And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.” Matthew 24:3-5 (KJV)
Wow, check that out, perfect harmony.
SEAL #2: WARS AND RUMORS OF WAR!
“And when he had opened the second seal, I heard the second beast say, Come and see. And there went out another horse that was red: and power was given to him that sat thereon to take peace from the earth, and that they should kill one another: and there was given unto him a great sword.” Revelation 6:3,4 (KJV)
Just coincidentally, that’s also what Matthew says happens next:
“And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.” Matthew 24:6 (KJV)
SEAL #3: FAMINE AND STARVATION
“And when he had opened the third seal, I heard the third beast say, Come and see. And I beheld, and lo a black horse; and he that sat on him had a pair of balances in his hand. And I heard a voice in the midst of the four beasts say, A measure of wheat for a penny, and three measures of barley for a penny; and see thou hurt not the oil and the wine.” Revelation 6:5,6 (KJV)
And that’s what Matthew says happens next as well:
“For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. All these are the beginning of sorrows.” Matthew 24:7,8 (KJV)
SEAL #4: DEATH FOR THE NAME OF JESUS
“And when he had opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth beast say, Come and see. And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth.” Revelation 6:7,8 (KJV)
Look what Jesus says next in Matthew:
“Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake.” Matthew 24:9 (KJV)
SEAL# 5: THE SOULS UNDER THE ALTAR
“And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held: And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?” Revelation 6:9,10 (KJV)
Matthew stays right even with Revelation:
“And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.” Matthew 24:10-13 (KJV)
SEAL #6: EARTHQUAKES AND OTHER NATURAL DISASTERS
“And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood; And the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind. And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places. And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains; And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb: For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?” Revelation 6:12-17 (KJV)
What does Matthew say about that?
“Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.” Matthew 24:29,30 (KJV)
Well, will you look at that! What are the prophecies in Matthew 24 doing Revelation which was written 26 years after 70 AD? Simple. John is telling us that all those things in Matthew 24 including the destruction of the Temple are yet future. Why do you think that Jesus, in Matthew 24, refers you back to the prophet Daniel? Because He is drawing your attention not to the destruction of the Second Temple, but to the destruction of the Temple in the time of Jacob’s trouble!
“When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand.)” Matthew 24:15 (KJV)
“And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.” Daniel 9:27 (KJV)
At this point, the shaky foundation that preterism is built on has just imploded. Their main selling point, the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 AD, has just been removed. But even it it wasn’t, none of the other prophecies in Matthew or Revelation have come true yet. Not a single one.
If you are a preterist, I dare you to show me to following having already happened:
- “And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places.” Revelation 6:14 (KJV)
- “And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb:” Revelation 6:16 (KJV)
- “Saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads.” Revelation 7:3 (KJV)
- “The first angel sounded, and there followed hail and fire mingled with blood, and they were cast upon the earth: and the third part of trees was burnt up, and all green grass was burnt up.” Revelation 8:7 (KJV)
- “And the second angel sounded, and as it were a great mountain burning with fire was cast into the sea: and the third part of the sea became blood;” Revelation 8:8 (KJV)
- “And there came out of the smoke locusts upon the earth: and unto them was given power, as the scorpions of the earth have power.” Revelation 9:3 (KJV)
Obviously, none of these things have happened yet, not a single one. If you are a preterist, you have to do this elaborate tap dance and start making all these prophecies spiritual instead of literal. That’s a great trick of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, they declare prophecies have been fulfilled spiritually instead of literally so they don’t have to produce proof!
For example, if I were to tell you that Jesus returned in 2001 and is now reigning over the Earth spiritually, then I wouldn’t have to show you proof it happened. I could claim anything I like because you can’t see it. but the prophecies in Matthew and Revelation are not spiritual prophecies, they are LITERAL prophecies that have a literal, see-it-with-your-own-eyes fulfillment.
Preterists take prophecies that have a literal fulfillment and then spiritualize them into meaninglessness that cannot be verified from history. Nothing more than the old “shell game” so loved by lazy Laodiceans.
Here we will leave the preterist, in the ashes of 70 AD and their failed system of eschatology, and set our eyes on the soon-to-be future of the blessed hope that jump starts the time of Jacob’s trouble.
“Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;” Titus 2:13 (KJV)