Is anyone here familiar with Preterism, the belief that Christ’s second coming took place in 70 A.D. (I think)? It’s very interesting, some of it makes alot of sense. Of course I don’t believe it all. But what does the Church say about this?
Are you familiar with Daniel’s 70 weeks being associated with the book of Revelation. (Daniel 9:24-27) If not, I suggest you read David B. Currie’s book “Rapture”. I found some exerpts from some Early Church Fathers who all saw the destruction of the Temple in Daniel’s 70th week.
Instead of typing two pages out of the book I’m going to just list the names of the ECFs.
Clement of Alexandria
Irenaeus, Hippolytus and Apollinaris, on the other hand, believed in a still-future fullfillement of Danie’s seventieth week. But this concept was strongly and universally denounced by the other leaders of the Church. All three of them predicted a specific date for the second coming that has come and gone.
Yes I’ve heard of Daniel’s 70 weeks. It’s VERY interesting, and I’ve heard that some of the early Church Fathers believed in the Preterism doctrines. But I’m not familiar with what the Church says to all of this.
I forget the verse but it’s when Christ speaks about His second coming and that “I tell you, some of this generation will live to see this happen.” I’ve heard that Jesus meant the transfiguration, but that really makes no sense. So how does this get interpreted if Preterism is wrong?
This was the overwelming understaning of the early Church. Sacred tradition makes the ECF’s words relevant today. I haven’t read a recent church document on the subject either, and would be very interested as well. I highly doubt such a document would contradict this position. If anything I imagine it would add to it.
Doesn’t the Church teach though that Christ is returning a second time in judgment to destroy the world and then renew it? From what I understand Preterists believe Christ already did return “symbolically” in 70 A.D.
But that leaves the question in Jesus’ statement “The Son of man shall return in the same manner in which He left.” That seems to be a literal return.
Then again, there were many witnesses, including Josephus the historian who saw chariots of fire swaming around in the sky above Jeruselum before their bitter end. Interesting.
Matthew 24:34 also Mark and Luke. “Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away till all these things take place”
Remember in Matthew 24:3 the disciples ask two questions, which are combined in one sentence. This is confusing if we are not careful listeners. They ask “When will this be?” in reference to Jesus condenming the Temple to destruction. And, “What will be the sign of Your coming at the close of the age?” These are two distinct questions pertaining to events that are seperated by thousands of years.
Jesus answered these questions one at a time. Matthew 24:4-35 answers the question of when the Temple would be destroyed, and 24:36-44 answers the second question. And as we both know the Temple was destroyed within that generation.
Jesus said many interesting things in the following passages.
But to sum it up into a nice and tidy package…He said that His coming would happen before they could finish preaching the gospel of the kingdom to all the cities of Israel. And that it would be within the lifetime of at least some of the apostles. And that THAT generation (40 years) would not pass before ALL these things…(Matt. 24:4-34) would come to pass.
And yes…ALL of those things did come to pass exactly as Jesus said they would. But to look back for…Or to look forward for some kind of physical fulfillments is to miss the point of the true fulfillment of ALL THESE THINGS. Christ WAS that which the whole of the Old Testament was looking forward to. Everything was pointing to Him. And we can clearly see what happened to those who rejected Him.
1 Cor. 15:46 First comes the natural…THEN comes the spiritual.
Everything that was a part of Old Covenant Israel was (1 Cor. 10) an example or a type that IF they would have ingested their scriptures they would have understood that Christ was their Messiah and that he was the reality of what their Old Covenant system was pointing to.
Soooo…Don’t get too tripped up on different eschatalogical systems. Study them all…But make sure you keep them in the framework of when Christ said they would happen. But more importantly…What the message of victory has to offer to all of mankind through the reconciliatory nature of the gospel message.
Revelation 22:17 says “And the Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let him who hears say, “Come!” And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely.”
And as the bride of Christ we are to…with the Spirit…Preach the message of reconciliation through the blood of Christ.
To answer the OP’s original question “the Church” does not have an “official” teaching on a specific *interpretative *approach to the book of Revelation (or any other book of the Bible).
However, she has, from time to time, made rulings on specific abberant doctrines or theologies that come out of certain interpretations of Sacred Scripture, such as her condemnation of Millinnarianism in it’s various forms.
The signs of which we read in the gospels, as Augustine says, writing to Hesychius about the end of the world, refer not only to Christ’s coming to judgment, but also to the time of the sack of Jerusalem, and to the coming of Christ in ceaselessly visiting His Church. So that, perhaps, if we consider them carefully, we shall find that none of them refers to the coming advent, as he remarks: because these signs that are mentioned in the gospels, such as wars, fears, and so forth, have been from the beginning of the human race"
(Thomas Aquinas; Summa Theologica, Supplement Question 73, Article 1)
**675 **Before Christ’s second coming the Church must pass through a final trial that will shake the faith of many believers. The persecution that accompanies her pilgrimage on earth will unveil the “mystery of iniquity” in the form of a religious deception offering men an apparent solution to their problems at the price of apostasy from the truth. The supreme religious deception is that of the Antichrist, a pseudo-messianism by which man glorifies himself in place of God and of his Messiah come in the flesh.
**676 **The Antichrist’s deception already begins to take shape in the world every time the claim is made to realize within history that messianic hope which can only be realized beyond history through the eschatological judgment. The Church has rejected even modified forms of this falsification of the kingdom to come under the name of millenarianism, especially the “intrinsically perverse” political form of a secular messianism.
677 The Church will enter the glory of the kingdom only through this final Passover, when she will follow her Lord in his death and Resurrection. The kingdom will be fulfilled, then, not by a historic triumph of the Church through a progressive ascendancy, but only by God’s victory over the final unleashing of evil, which will cause his Bride to come down from heaven. God’s triumph over the revolt of evil will take the form of the Last Judgment after the final cosmic upheaval of this passing world.
(Catechism of the Catholic Church, 675—677, emphasis added)
**Decree of the Holy Office dated July 21, 1944: **
"In recent times on several occasions, this Supreme Sacred Congregation of the Holy Office has been asked what must be thought of the system of mitigated Millenarianism, which teaches, for example, that Christ the Lord before the final judgment, whether or not preceded by the resurrection of the many just, will come visibly to rule over this world.
“The answer is: The system of mitigated Millenarianism cannot be taught safely.”
This is very interesting, I’ve never thought about it like that before, thanks.
To say that the disciples knowingly asked about two separate events punctuated by thousands of years isn’t something that can be extrapolated from the text. That is a framework imposed on the text from certain eschatalogical interpretive methods. If you let the text speak for itself and you also take into consideration the accounts of Mark and Luke you will see that they were asking about the events that Jesus was speaking about previously. The destruction of the temple. They understood that there was an intrinsic link to the end of the age and the destruction of old covenant Judaism. And there is no indication from the scriptures that the disciples had ever been taught that there was a difference.
I’m not suggesting that the disciples knew there would be thousands of years difference between the fulfillment of the two questions, but there are infact two questions. Luke records ths discourse with essentially the same response, but he places the two questions, with their two answers, in entirely different chapters. Read Luke 21:5-33 then Luke 17:22-37 and you’ll see the seperation is crystal clear.
They truly were asking in the second question “What sign can you give us that history is coming to its eschatological climax with the second advent?”
Interesting…Can you demonstrate to me that the disciples even had a concept of a second advent?
That is extremely fascinating. I’ve never noticed that before.
How do you interpret Matthew 23:39?
Jesus is lamenting over Jerusalem for not recognizing those who God sent to them. Then He says "I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’ "
What is He saying there?
He is saying Israel will not see me again until I come in glory for the final judgement.
I think the prophetic utterances in Matt. are largely concerned with the ending of the age in AD 70, and if this is kept in mind, Revelation is a restating of the promise of the 1000 year reign of the Lord’s Messiah but that first the Jewish age will end with the coming of Titus.
I think that Revelation is a pre- AD 70 book because John never mentions the destruction of the Temple and the City but instead prophesies about great calamity which must shortly come to pass which fits in perfectly with the dire warnings found in the Gospels.
So how does that fit with the second coming?
When Tiglath-Pilesar took Israel cative was that not a judgment from God? Yes! But that is not viewed as a coming of the Christ. The same could be said of the Babylonian captivity, the plagues of Egypt, the defiling of the sanctuary by Antichus Epiphanes, and ultimately the destruction of Jerusalem which the OT prophets equate to the destruction of Sodom, but clearly none of the prophets taught the world would end because Jerusalem was destroyed because they also spoke of restoration after that destruction.
Given that Biblical backdrop, it is perfectly conceivable to view the Judgment on Jerusalem because they did not know thier King as being a legitmate act of God’s wrath without viewing as The Second Coming because the Bible makes it abundantly clear that Christ’s ultimate return will bring about the end of the world and since the world did not end in AD 70 we have no basis upon which to assert that Jesus “RETURNED” but only that judgment came upon one people for a very specific sin.
So we can assert that Jesus’ warnings about “this generation” really meant His generation while at the same time we can still look forward to the retun of our Lord when He come to judge the quick and the dead.
I actually think it was something simpler than that. Quite clearly Jesus came to a people that were expecting a very physical king that would sit on a physical throne that was going to destroy their physical enemies. And the scriptures make it clear that when they came to grab Him and make Him king…HE RAN AWAY. But those of the faithful remnant understood that the kingdom that Jesus brought was not a physical one, but a kingdom that was, “Not of this world.” And so in the same way that those that met Jesus on Palm Sunday and said, “ Hosanna! ‘ Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD!’ The King of Israel!” Those who rejected Him would not see him again until they did the same thing. Their seeing Him again was plain and simply predicated on a positive confession of faith.
Christ comes and dwells in the hearts of everyone who turns to Him. And so I would suggest that what Jesus said in Matthew 23:39 had no eschatological significance but it had everything to do with His parousia and presence that is associated with a repentant heart and faith In Christ.
In regards to the two questions with different answers, here is some supporting quotes from ECFs.
The fourth century archbishop of Constantinople, St. John Chrysostom, split the text into two sections. “When the Lord had finished all that related to Jerusalem, He came in the rest to His own coming” (cited in GCC in Matt. 24:23)
St. Augustine agreed: “In answer to the disciples, the Lord tells them of things which were from that time forth to have their course; whether He meant the destruction of Jerusalem, which occasioned their question . . . or the end itself, in which He will appear to judge the quick and the dead” (EPA, CXCIX:9)
Still…It can not be demonstrated that the disciples had even a concept at this point that Jesus was going to come a second time. They were still clueless at his ascension about even the nature of His kingdom. Matter of fact they didn’t even know that He was going to go away. It wasn’t until they received the Holy Spirit that they understood the spiritual nature of the kingdom and His rule.
So once again I suggest that it is not the text that bares multiple questions, but an interpretive method that requires it. The question may have been multi-layered but was still a question about one thing. The destruction of the temple that Jesus just predicted.
I guess we’ll have to agree to disagree then.