Thursday, December 02, 2010

A short preterist commentary on the Olivet Discourse of Matthew 24

In about 13 minutes (with as much detail as possible all packed in), this video contains a summary of the preterist understanding of Matthew 24. This theological persuasion holds that all of the events in Matthew 24 find their fulfillment in the destruction of the temple in A.D. 70. Of course, this may sound absurd to those who have never been exposed to such theology, as it did to me. But I would ask that you at least watch this video and consider some of the arguments that are made. I can't say that i'm one hundred percent on board or able to provide a thorough defense of this view, but so far its a position that i'm leaning towards:

14 comments:

Mark Hunter said...

I haven't watched the video yet, but as a child raised as a Jehovah's Witness, I was taught that Matthew 24 had two fulfillments.

However, I remember from a fairly young age not understanding how we came to that conclusion; it doesn't seem obvious in the text that Jesus would be talking about anything other than the future destruction of Jerusalem.

The Apologetic Front said...

Mark, the verses which would potentially present the most difficulty for the preterist would be v. 29-31. As far as dual fulfillment, in my opinion this would be more difficult to prove than the WT's view on Daniel 4 having a dual fulfillment. I usually stick to a single fulfillment unless an inspired author interprets a second fulfillment in the text.

Mark Hunter said...

So preterists believe that Matt 24 was all fulfilled in the 1st C?

JWs believe it was fulfilled in the 1st C, but will have a 'greater fulfillment' in the future.

Whereas......what's the alternative?

I'm curious.

(I just follow Jesus, y'know?)

The Apologetic Front said...

Mark, the only alternative that I know of is that some of it was fulfilled in 70 and v. 29-31 are yet to pass. The majority view on this text is very similar to the JW position.

FredTorres said...

Hey Mike:

I'll take a crack at this one.


There are probably several more variations on preterist theology.

I recently spoke with a pastor who believes that there is a "future" fulfillment only from verse 36 onward.

If you consider Matthew 23:38,39, which the gentleman mentions briefly, I think you will find a strong counter arguments against full preterim.

If we accept that verse 38 is fullfiled in 70 AD, then the rest of the statement in verse 39 is spoken from that point in time, hence, it is fullfilled after 70 AD.

This fist well with the notion that the apostles ask for a sign of the "parousia" or "return/advent" in Matt 24:3.

It's a good presentation though.

The Apologetic Front said...

Fred, thanks for taking a "crack." Given the wide array of views and the sheer exegetical complexity of eschatological studies in general, I try to limit myself to "cracks" when it comes to this issue, so you're in good company :-)

The pastor you spoke with probably believes that the entirety of Matthew 24 has a future fulfillment or some sort of dual-fulfillment since this is the majority view amongst evangelicals and many others. No doubt, preterists are in the minority on this one, which I don't have a problem with.

Actually, I don't see 23:38-39 as being a problem at all. This is a conditional promise and not necessarily a guarantee that such will happen. That is, "from now on you will not see me *unless* you say..." And given that Jesus just gave them the worst piece of judgment imaginable to a pharisee (the destruction of Jerusalem), it is doubtful that they would have repented and uttered the words of Psalm 118:26. But more importantly, the context is clearly the destruction of Jerusalem in the surrounding verses, so why would the verse in the middle be the exception?

Can't say i'm set on this, but it does seem to me to be the most reasonable interpretation. As for 24:3, I am in complete agreement that the "parousia" isn't a physical coming, especially since the disciples would have had no clue about Christ leaving and returning. In a Jewish context though, they would have had in mind similar "comings" in which Jehovah came in judgment (Deut. 33:2).

FredTorres said...

Hey there Mike:

"The pastor you spoke with probably believes that the entirety of Matthew 24 has a future fulfillment or some sort of dual-fulfillment since this is the majority view amongst evangelicals and many others."

Yes, sir. I would categorize his views as "partial preterist"

"This is a conditional promise and not necessarily a guarantee that such will happen"

Mike, I'm not sure I explained myself. The phrasing of Matt 23:38,39 places Jesus' possible return "after" the Temple is already destroyed. Thus, when the apostles ask for a sign, Jesus essentially answers your question about whether or not he actually returns in some sense. Which is why so many disagree with full preterism.

Anyways, as always, it is a pleasure. Have a great weekend

The Apologetic Front said...

Fred, thanks for your clarification, but I don't really see the text that way. Just because one verse follows another doesn't mean that they are referring to one event following another (i.e. destruction (v.38) followed by profession (v.39) as opposed to descriptions covering a central theme. In other words, the temple is destroyed and no one will recognize that it is Christ unless they say "blessed is He...etc."

Their pointing out the temple is simply their curiosity of Jesus' previous statement whereby he reiterates what He said previously with more detail.

If I somehow missed or misrepresented what you said, please feel free to correct me. This is one debatable issue if there ever was one!

FredTorres said...

Hey Mike:

"If I somehow missed or misrepresented what you said, please feel free to correct me. This is one debatable issue if there ever was one!"

Yes, it is debatable, especially like you said among certain evangelical circles. And, no you did not misrepresent anything.

Of course, you are correct. You said...
"Just because one verse follows another doesn't mean that they are referring to one event following another (i.e. destruction (v.38) followed by profession (v.39"
...but I would argue that it does mean that many times more often than it does not. And central themes can be developed in logical sequences of events and expressed as such in consecutive verses.

And I think that highlights a weakness of the full preterist perspective, which forces one to deny the meaning derived from the most logical and natural flow of language.

Incidently, I forgot to mention that vs 39 says "untill", not "unless", which adds weight to a dating past 70 AD for Jesus' return. No one in Jerusalem in 70 AD was saying ..blessed is he... In fact, city and temple were destroyed.

If we accept that vs 39 was not fulfilled in 70 AD and again, based on wording of Matt 24:3, naturally lends itself to a greater fulfillment of "erchomai"

So, essentially, the full preterist view puts one in a defensive position almost from the get go, as far as I can see.

I think I will ask you in a year or two if you still lean that way. As I am sure you know, or will know, holding to a full preterist view, you will step on some evangelical doctrinal toes, such as the timing of the resurrection of 1 Thess.

I don't think that either one of us is going to lose sleep over this question, but it does make for an interesting conversation, does it not?

take care Mike

The Apologetic Front said...

Actually, I don't think that v. 39 was ever nor will ever be fulfilled. It was simply a conditional promise. If you "see" Christ return, then you will say it. There is nothing in the text which demands an absolute fulfillment. Look at Matthew 5:26 as an interesting parallel:

"You will not come out of there *until* you have paid up the last cent."

Prisoners are not always able to pay off their debts to those owed. Its a conditional promise, not a guarantee that it will happen.

Just a word of clarification: preterism must be carefully contrasted with hyper-preterism, which is the view that all things, including the resurrection and second coming, have taken place. Preterists simply view Matt. 24 as another parousia of Christ, not the kind of thing that happens in 1 Thess. 4:17, for instance.

FredTorres said...

Mike:



"There is nothing in the text which demands an absolute fulfillment."

Think about that for a second. If as a given, v39 is not fulfilled in 70 AD, and for your position to hold together, you must separate it from the immediate context of 24:3, which as previously stated, is the reason why they ask about his return, not just about the temple. And, again, it answers the very objection you place forth as to the +"promise+" of a return
There is no reason to do that unless you are simply defending a pre-defined position, which I think you are, to evaluate arguments.

"...the view that all things, including the resurrection and second coming, have taken place. Preterists simply view Matt. 24 as another parousia of Christ, not the kind of thing that happens in 1 Thess. 4:17, for instance.

yes, forgot about the hyper-preterists, but I see you going there eventually, maybe.


Well, I have spoken my piece. See you on the other side. :)

Have a wonderful day partner

Anonymous said...

Hello sir. I just wanted to thank you for this blog. I have found it very helpful over the past year or so and have learned so much. Because of the studies that you have done you have encouraged me to study on my own and learn. I'm finding it all very exciting, especially on escatology veiws. Growing up being taught one way and finding out there was so much more to the story is thrilling and I cant wait to grow more in knowledge. Thank you again!!!

Jpie said...

Great website Mike. I myself just recently disassociated myself after being raised for 40 years a Witness. My wife and three kids are still devoted, as are my parents and grandparents. Odd situation.

I left due to a "conscientious separation of my spiritual path" - I just couldn't swallow the doctrine anymore.

I never studied other theology, just straight scripture. But I've personally come to a preterist conclusion myself. I've started posting some of my research at my own personal baby-blog www.comankind.com

The Apologetic Front said...

Hey Jpie,

That's all very encouraging to hear! I hope you'll stop by again and I pray that the Lord will draw your family to the truth.

Your site looks great too, and i'll be sure to add it to my RSS feed :-)