Discourse 352 - The preterist approach: have the Last Days already occurred? - Part 2




The preterist approach: have the Last Days already occurred? / Reply Markus Mosimann 00, 2003-01-06

The Kingdom of God.

Will the Kingdom of God on earth not be realized in visible form? / Reply Markus Mosimann 01, 2003-01-06

Have we already risen from the dead?/ Reply Markus Mosimann 02, 2003-01-06

Did the ends of the ages occur in the year 70 AD?/ Reply Markus Mosimann 03, 2003-01-22

Anonymous 00, 2001-05-30Part 1 - Discourse 35

Reply Markus Mosimann 04.06, 2003-01-06       Part 3 - Discourse 353



(Texts enclosed in a black frame are quoted from visitors to the site or other authors.)

(The preterist approach: have the Last Days already occurred? / Reply MM 00, 2003-01-06)

I believe that we Christians are living in the realized (spiritual) kingdom of God. Or to put it in another way - we are living in a time where the Kingdom of God has already come: it is dwelling in our midst and it “is not of this world”.

-  The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent and believe in the gospel. (Mk 1,15)

-  For behold, the kingdom of God is in your midst. (Lk 17,21)

-  Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world.” (Jn 18,36)


As to the nature of the kingdom of God, however, a certain amount of uncertainty seems to prevail. Many churches and congregations project the kingdom of God into this world, because they understand themselves, qua institution, as the kingdom of God - and they have always been prone to this view. This, in my opinion, is also the reason why the study of ecclesiastical history is not much help for the understanding of the Gospel. As I see it, many commentators make the false assumption that because of the temporal proximity of the first generations in the history of the church to the first proclamation of the Gospel they were thus also automatically closer to the truth the Gospel represents.

But we know, on the evidence of the Old Testament, that the true fear of God can be forgotten in the space of as little as a generation:

“And all that generation also were gathered to their fathers; and there arose another generation after them who did not know the LORD, nor yet the work which He had done for Israel. Then the sons of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD, and served the Baals.” (Jude 2,10-11)

I am far from any desire to denigrate the achievements of the Fathers of the Church, or to deliver a judgmental verdict on the generations who lived at that time. But in what concerns fundamental questions, such as the question for instance “where we are today”, I would not want to rely on the credos of ecclesiastical history, however much the churches have always tended to see themselves as the defining yardstick of Christendom. The Bible itself explains to us the (spiritual) nature of the kingdom of God, and also gives us sufficient indications with reference to the time of its coming to be fulfilled. The uncertainty with reference to the temporal scheme comes above all from the way in which the church institutions’ conception of their role is seamlessly linked to apostolic times (the time, that is, between the Ascension and the destruction of the Temple and the casting of the biblical texts in their final form). This paradigm is so ingrained in our Christian self-understanding that many theological systems have been (consciously or unconsciously) woven into this temporal scheme, and even the translations of the Bible have been influenced in their nuances to conform with this underlying assumption.

(Markus Mosimann m.mosimann@mopa.ch)



The serious biblical commentator is repeatedly obliged to take issue with the preterist view of that the events of the Last Days have already been accomplished, and to subject it to thorough examination. This is because we indeed have to do here with an argument that is to some extent supported by scriptural evidence, and for which we who adhere to a futurist eschatological view (the future-related view of the events of the Last Days) are as yet unable to give any really satisfactory explanation.

(See also Discourse 35: “The preterist approach: have the Last Days already occurred?”)

The Kingdom of God.

In the passage quoted above - part of his answer to the question “Where do we stand today (on the preterist view and in terms of salvific history)?”, M. Mosimann refers repeatedly to scriptural passages that relate to the kingdom of God. To examine the validity of these statements, and also out of general interest, we would like now to conduct a somewhat more detailed analysis of the content of the scriptural passages in question.

The expression “the kingdom of God” appears in the New Testament in all four Gospels and in the Acts of Apostles as well as in some of Paul’s letters and in Revelation. The literal meaning is the “kingly dominion (Greek: basileia) of God”, and it refers to the power of God, as supreme governor of this kingdom. Only in the Gospel of Matthew do we find the expression “the kingdom of heaven”, which also in this context in the original text means the “kingly dominion of heaven”, so that semantically it has the same meaning as the “kingdom of God”.

Let us now first of all look at the way the Lord Jesus Christ describes this kingdom of heaven:

The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field.

Mt 13,31 He presented another parable to them, saying, "The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field; 13,32 and this is smaller than all other seeds, but when it is full grown, it is larger than the garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and nest in its branches." Mt 13,31-32;

The kingdom of heaven is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three pecks of flour until it was all leavened.

Mt 13,33 He spoke another parable to them, "The kingdom of heaven is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three pecks of flour until it was all leavened."

13,34 All these things Jesus spoke to the crowds in parables, and He did not speak to them without a parable. 13,35 This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet: "I will open my mouth in parables; I will utter things hidden since the foundation of the world." Mt 13,33-35;


In both these parables we can recognize the same principle: namely, that the kingdom of God is not an event which suddenly bursts upon an individual, or upon humanity as a whole. Its clear distinguishing property is the way in which it slowly but surely spreads out, in the world and among human beings. We find confirmation of this in the following parable as well - and here it is stated for the first time that there is evidently a “factor of disruption” also at work.

The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field.

Mt 13,24 Jesus presented another parable to them, saying, "The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field. 13,25 "But while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went away. 13,26 "But when the wheat sprouted and bore grain, then the tares became evident also. 13,27 "The slaves of the landowner came and said to him, ‘Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have tares?’

13,28 "And he said to them, ‘An enemy has done this!’ The slaves said to him, ‘Do you want us, then, to go and gather them up?’ 13,29 "But he said, ‘No; for while you are gathering up the tares, you may uproot the wheat with them. 13,30 ‘Allow both to grow together until the harvest; and in the time of the harvest I will say to the reapers, "First gather up the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them up; but gather the wheat into my barn."‘" Mt 13,24-30;


For us who are living today it may seem astonishing that even the disciples did not fully understand the meaning of this parable. But here we must take into account the fact that we are able to look back on almost two thousand years of biblical interpretation - consequently many metaphors have come to be standard for us which were new to the disciples at the time, and indeed completely unknown.

And His disciples came to Him and said, "Explain to us the parable of the tares of the field."

Mt 13,36 Then He left the crowds and went into the house. And His disciples came to Him and said, "Explain to us the parable of the tares of the field."

13,37 And He said, "The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man, 13,38 and the field is the world; and as for the good seed, these are the sons of the kingdom; and the tares are the sons of the evil one; 13,39 and the enemy who sowed them is the devil, and the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are angels.

13,40 "So just as the tares are gathered up and burned with fire, so shall it be at the end of the world. 13,41 "The Son of Man will send forth His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all stumbling blocks, and those who commit lawlessness, 13,42 and will throw them into the furnace of fire; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

13,43 "Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear. Mt 13,36-43;


So we meet here with the same principle as before: the “seed” is sown and left to grow, without interference. What is more, not even the tares, which have likewise taken root in the midst of the good seed, will be weeded out. Everything will be left free to grow until the time of the harvest. Then, and only then, does the time come when the entire field will be “cut” - that is to say, harvested - and the wheat will be separated from the tares.

A very similar picture meets us in the parable of the catch of fish:

Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a dragnet cast into the sea.

Mt 13,47 "Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a dragnet cast into the sea, and gathering fish of every kind; 13,48 and when it was filled, they drew it up on the beach; and they sat down and gathered the good fish into containers, but the bad they threw away.

13,49 "So it will be at the end of the world; the angels will come forth and take out the wicked from among the righteous, 13,50 and will throw them into the furnace of fire; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 13,51 "Have you understood all these things?" They said to Him, "Yes."

13,52 And Jesus said to them, "Therefore every scribe who has become a disciple of the kingdom of heaven is like a head of a household, who brings out of his treasure things new and old." Mt 13,47-52;


Here too there is a “harvest”, when the net is pulled in. And with the fish, too, we have a separation of the good from the bad. A further aspect, which seems to us highly significant for the consideration of the present issue, is the mention of the time of this “harvest”. Both in the parable of the tares in the field, and in that relating to the catch of fish, there is an explicit indication that this will be “at the end of the world” (as King James and Luther’s translation puts it). And moreover, the Lord explains here quite openly that at that time the angels will come forth and take out the wicked - that is, the tares and the bad fish - from among the righteous.

But the following statement of the Lord’s, now, is more than just a parable.

Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you.

Mt 25,31 "But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne 25,32 "All the nations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats;

25,33 and He will put the sheep on His right, and the goats on the left. 25,34 "Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. Mt 25,31-34;


In this passage (Mt 25,31-34), the time referred to is after the General Resurrection at the end of the world - this is the Last Judgment. The “nations” referred to here are those human beings who have died and have now risen from the dead - both the righteous and the unrighteous - these after all come from all the world and from all nations. This, then, is that event which the above parables repeatedly refer to as “the harvest”.

In the next part of Our Lord’s discourse on the Last Days, we find a quite definite reference to the righteous who will inherit eternal life and to the accursed who will go into the eternal fire.

Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire.

Mt 25,41 "Then He will also say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels. Mt 25,41;

These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.

Mt 25,46 "These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life." Mt 25,46;


The scriptural passages cited so far enable us to come to the following conclusions:

-  Jesus Christ has sowed the good seed of the kingdom of God in the field of the world.

-  The devil has scattered his seed of unbelief and evil in the midst of the good seed.

-  God will allow both to continue to grow among men, without interfering, until the time of the harvest - that is, until the end of this world.

-  Then the Son of God will come with his angels, and separate the righteous from the unrighteous.

-  The one group will inherit eternal life in the heavenly kingdom of God, while the others will be cast into the eternal fire.


From this sequence we can see that even if everything from the “sowing” to the “harvest” comes under the heading of the “kingdom of God”, all the same the actual and veritable kingdom of God, the “barn” as it were, is not of a material nature. For us human beings it is first of all a mental category - comparable perhaps with the resolution of a young athlete to go in for competitive sport. For this purpose, of course, he needs to be physically fit. And yet, if he is to be able - on the basis of tough and persistent training - to acquire the physical qualities that will make him capable of competing, a mental decision is first called for. He must change his attitude - he must be wholly and absolutely committed to the goal he has chosen. He must put most of his other needs in second place, if discipline and hard work are finally to enable him to reach the summit.

We can see that here too that there is a phase of mental resolution - we might even say, mental fight - that must precede any visible successes. And just as in sport individuals are all too commonly found who in the end cannot maintain their dedication to discipline and are no longer willing to make the sacrifices that are called for, so too in the life of faith there are individuals who have made a start on this path, but have then all the same lost heart and fallen by the wayside.

The circumstance that in the parable of the harvest quoted above the tares are burnt and not gathered into the barn is plain enough. Less obvious, though, is the fact that in the nature of things not every grain of the good seed comes to bear fruit, as the next parable shows us:

And others fell on the good soil and yielded a crop, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty.

Mt 13,1 That day Jesus went out of the house and was sitting by the sea. 13,2 And large crowds gathered to Him, so He got into a boat and sat down, and the whole crowd was standing on the beach.

13,3 And He spoke many things to them in parables, saying, "Behold, the sower went out to sow; 13,4 and as he sowed, some seeds fell beside the road, and the birds came and ate them up.

13,5 "Others fell on the rocky places, where they did not have much soil; and immediately they sprang up, because they had no depth of soil. 13,6 "But when the sun had risen, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away.

13,7 "Others fell among the thorns, and the thorns came up and choked them out.

13,8 "And others fell on the good soil and yielded a crop, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty.

13,9 "He who has ears, let him hear." Mt 13, 1- 9;

(See also Excursus 01: “The interpretation of the prophetic Scriptures.”)

In the next parable of the ten virgins - which is generally well known - there is no more talk of the unrighteous and the ungodly. All ten virgins are invited to the wedding - all ten must therefore be classed as believers.

Then the kingdom of heaven will be comparable to ten virgins.

Mt 25,1 "Then the kingdom of heaven will be comparable to ten virgins, who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom.

25,2 "Five of them were foolish, and five were prudent. 25,3 "For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, 25,4 but the prudent took oil in flasks along with their lamps. 25,5 "Now while the bridegroom was delaying, they all got drowsy and began to sleep.

25,6 But at midnight there was a shout, ‘Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ 25,7 "Then all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps. 25,8 "The foolish said to the prudent, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ 25,9 "But the prudent answered, ‘No, there will not be enough for us and you too; go instead to the dealers and buy some for yourselves.’ 25,10 "And while they were going away to make the purchase, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding feast; and the door was shut.

25,11 "Later the other virgins also came, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open up for us.’ 25,12 "But he answered, ‘Truly I say to you, I do not know you.’

25,13 "Be on the alert then, for you do not know the day nor the hour. Mt 25, 1-13;


This text too gives clear expression to the fact that the “kingdom of God” does not mean either a spatial region or any kind of final state, but rather the development of a certain attitude of mind among human beings. These five foolish virgins did not consider that they might have to wait for an extended period and would therefore need a full supply of oil in their lamps, nor did they think to bring a reserve can of oil so as to be prepared for this eventuality.

Of course these are just metaphors. But what the parable is really trying to tell us is that these five foolish virgins were in fact completely uninterested in taking part in the wedding of the bridegroom. And that is their real fault. They were insufficiently prepared. They just took the lamps in the state in which they found them. They didn’t even check to see how much oil was in them, let alone provide for an additional supply. We are familiar with this kind of situation from daily life: when someone does things, or has to do things that go against the grain, that is when things are bound to go wrong.

So in the sphere of human life the kingdom of God may be compared to an attitude of mind. And as we have seen from the ten virgins in the above passage, it is not an easy matter to determine what a person’s attitude really is. When they came to the wedding, no one would have been in a position to say which of them had come out of real conviction, and which were lacking it.

And this is just what the Lord said to the Pharisees when they asked him when the kingdom of God was coming.

The kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed.

Lk 17,20 Now having been questioned by the Pharisees as to when the kingdom of God was coming, He answered them and said, "The kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed; 17,21 nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or, ‘There it is!’ For behold, the kingdom of God is in your midst." Lk 17,20-21;


It follows that the kingdom of God is in our midst - though some translations (e.g. the King James Bible) translate it as “within you”. Understandably, M. Mosimann also cites this passage in his commentary quoted above. He goes on to say -

“As to the nature of the kingdom of God, however, a certain amount of uncertainty seems to prevail. Many churches and congregations project the kingdom of God into this world, because they understand themselves, qua institution, as the kingdom of God - and they have always been prone to this view.”


And we can only express our complete agreement with this. Many Christian churches, up to the present day, have commandeered this term - the “kingdom of God” - for themselves without further analysis; and among many believing Christians there is not just uncertainty, but ignorance pure and simple, as to the meaning and content of the term.

Then too there is the fact that even among theologians there is some degree of uncertainty, attributable mainly to the somewhat misleading translation which gives us the “kingdom” of God. This comes to be associated in thought - not so much consciously as unconsciously - with an “area” and a “domain”, and this immediately inclines the thinker to draw false conclusions.

If we adopt the original term - the “kingly rule” of God - we are in a much better position to understand that this scriptural text is pointing to a quite different dimension. And this enables us too to explain the three “states” of the kingdom of God in a much more convincing way. The kingdom - or kingly rule - of God is always to be found where God has supreme lordship.

-  First of all on the mental level, in the spirit of humanity, where it is “among you” (indwelling in you), as the Lord tells us.

-  Then in its second, material and earthly phase - in the Millennium, the thousand year kingdom of peace of Our Lord Jesus Christ on earth. As Christ will have received his power and glory from the Father, God’s “kingly dominion” will also be found here.

-  And lastly in its third and final phase, in the New Creation of eternity, when the Son hands over all dominion to the Father and God is all in all.


(See also Table 09: “God's plan of salvation and its effects on Creation.”)

In his first letter to the Corinthians, Paul outlines these three phases with great precision:

Then comes the end, when He hands over the kingdom to the God and Father.

1Cor 15,22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive. 15,23 But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, after that those who are Christ’s at His coming, 15,24 then comes the end, when He hands over the kingdom to the God and Father, when He has abolished all rule and all authority and power. 15,25 For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet. 15,26 The last enemy that will be abolished is death.

15,27 For He has put all things in subjection under His feet. But when He says, "All things are put in subjection," it is evident that He is excepted who put all things in subjection to Him. 15,28 When all things are subjected to Him, then the Son Himself also will be subjected to the One who subjected all things to Him, so that God may be all in all. 1Cor 15,22-28;


Paul speaks here of the fact that in Christ all will be made alive - all, that is, will rise from the dead. As the first fruits, Christ himself rose from the dead after the Crucifixion, and ascended to his Father in heaven. Then those who belong to Christ will rise from the dead on his return - at the Second Coming of the Lord. This refers to the resurrection of the dead in Christ, and their Rapture (1Cor 15,50-53; Mt 24,31) together with the faithful who are alive, after the Great Tribulation. Up to this point, God reigns only in the spirit of Christian believers. This is the first - the spiritual - phase of the kingly dominion of God.

(See also Chapter 062: “The Return of the Lord - part 2: The Rapture.”)

“Then comes the end, when He hands over the kingdom to the God and Father, when he has abolished all rule and all authority and power.” The “end” of course means the end of the world. At an earlier stage, however, this “kingdom” which will then finally be handed over, has been established as the millennial kingdom of peace of the Son of God on earth (Rev 20,4-5). In Jesus Christ God reigns over the whole world. There will be no more wars, and every human authority and power will be abolished. This is the second - the material and earthly - phase of the kingly dominion of God.

(See also Chapter 10: “The Millennium.”)

At the end of this thousand-year period (thus, at the end of the world), after the General Resurrection and Last Judgment (Rev 20,11-15), the first heaven and the first earth will pass away, and God will create a new earth and a new heaven - the New Creation (Rev 21,1). And now the Son will hand over the former earthly kingdom, in which all authority and power has been abolished, to God the Father. “Then the Son Himself also will be subjected to the One who subjected all things to Him, so that God may be all in all.” This is the third, final and eternal state of the kingly dominion of God.

(See also Chapter 11: “The end of the world.”)

(See also Chapter 12: “The Resurrection.”)

(See also Chapter 13: “The Last Judgment.”)

(See also Chapter 14: “The New Creation.”)

But this shows us that the two contrasting views of the kingdom of God, quoted above by M. Mosimann -

-  on the one hand the view of the preterists, who think that the kingdom of God is solely and exclusively to be understood as a spiritual dimension, and

-  on the other the conception that many churches and congregations have of their role, in referring the “kingdom of God” to themselves and so giving it a purely earthly connotation -


represent extreme standpoints, and cannot stand up to a closer examination of the scriptural texts. As we have demonstrated above, the kingdom of God has, so to speak, a spiritual, a material earthly and a heavenly dimension. Whereas the churches, in contradiction of all biblical statements on this point, are clearly only concerned to uphold their own importance and sphere of influence, the view taken by the preterists covers at least the spiritual and the heavenly dimensions. Their leaving the kingly dominion of God in the Millennium on earth out of account is to some extent understandable, as in the nature of things it is difficult to accommodate this period of a thousand years in the few decades available at the end of the first century.


After this analysis of the term “the kingdom of God”, let us pass on to the second part of M. Mosimann’s commentary:


(Texts enclosed in a black frame are quoted from visitors to the site or other authors.)

(Will the Kingdom of God on earth not be realized in visible form? / Reply MM 01, 2003-01-06)

This is also the background against which the discussions of the gifts of the Spirit (e.g. 1 Corinthians 12) are to be understood. If we were indeed still living in this state of “already - but not yet”, we would have to acknowledge that there are people who, through the exercise of the gifts of “prophetic utterance” and “speaking in tongues”, communicate matters that are to be put on the same level as the biblical texts. Do you believe this? In referring to the Exodus story in the Old Testament, Paul gives us a clear description of this transitional phase (“already - but not yet”), and applies this property of liminality to himself and his contemporaries (“us”). It is worth reading the whole passage in this connection:

1Cor 10,1-11 "For I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that our fathers were all under the cloud and all passed through the sea; and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea; and all ate the same spiritual food; and all drank the same spiritual drink, for they were drinking from a spiritual rock which followed them; and the rock was Christ. Nevertheless, with most of them God was not well-pleased; for they were laid low in the wilderness. Now these things happened as examples for us, so that we would not crave evil things as they also craved. Do not be idolaters, as some of them were; as it is written, ‘the people sat down to eat and drink, and stood up to play.’ Nor let us act immorally, as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in one day. Nor let us try the Lord, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the serpents. Nor grumble, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the destroyer. Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.“

The churches imagine that they are still in the desert, and are waiting for the end of time - for a thousand-year kingdom of peace on earth, for the realization of the kingdom of God, a new heaven and a new earth and so on. The earthly orientation of the churches is not satisfied with a faith that is exclusively linked to the invisible. It expects the visible expression of the kingdom of God on earth in the same way as the Jews expected the coming of Jesus Christ as an earthly king - and were disappointed.

(Markus Mosimann m.mosimann@mopa.ch )



I have read this passage attentively, but with the best will in the world I cannot find any connection with the aspect of “liminality” mentioned here. The author quotes Paul’s remarks in 1Cor 10,1 (“Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction...”). But if we take into account the context of this passage, we find that Paul is here issuing a warning against falling into sin and trying the Lord, just as Israel did in former times.

Not only can I not find any trace of liminality here - on the contrary, I actually see the preterists as being in a similar position to that of Israel in the desert, after the Exodus. At that time too a great many of the people of Israel doubted whether God would fulfill his earthly promise - doubted, even, whether Moses would come back down again from Mount Sinai. They were lacking in faith and in patience, and so made themselves a golden calf and worshiped it. Israel today is acting in the same way. They did not want to wait for their God to gather them and restore them to their own land through the action of the Holy Spirit. They have repatriated themselves on their own initiative, and founded a state of their own.

(See also Discourse 41: “The stubbornness of Israel in the past and at the present day.”)

Anyone who doubts whether the earthly promises of God will be fulfilled in reality, and who claims that all these prophecies must be understood in a spiritual sense, is in a similar position - and is contradicting the statement made by the Lord in Lk 5,17-18:

Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill.

Mt "Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. 5,18 "For 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. Mt 5,17-18;


And although I do not see myself as a defender of the established churches, I must nonetheless point out that it is not just the churches that are waiting “for a thousand-year kingdom of peace on earth” and “a new heaven and a new earth” - these prophecies are entirely biblical.

And he laid hold of the dragon, the serpent of old, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years.

Rev 20,1 Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding the key of the abyss and a great chain in his hand. 20,2 And he laid hold of the dragon, the serpent of old, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years; 20,3 and he threw him into the abyss, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he would not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were completed; after these things he must be released for a short time. Rev 20, 1- 3;

They will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years.

Rev 20,4 Then I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was given to them. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received the mark on their forehead and on their hand; and they came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.

20,5 The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were completed. This is the first resurrection. 20,6 Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years. Rev 20, 4- 6;

Satan will come out to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth.

Rev 20,7 When the thousand years are completed, Satan will be released from his prison, 20,8 and will come out to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together for the war; the number of them is like the sand of the seashore. 20,9 And they came up on the broad plain of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city, and fire came down from heaven and devoured them. Rev 20. 7-9;


How, then, are we to understand these thousand years? When it is written here -

-  “ ...he... bound him [Satan] for a thousand years ...”

-  “ ...so that he would not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were completed”“

-  “ ...they came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.”

-  “ ...The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were completed...”

-  “ ...they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years.

-  “ ...When the thousand years are completed, Satan will be released from his prison...”


- and this too coupled with the explicit indication that all this is happening “on the earth” (Rev 20,9) - how can the preterists possibly succeed in transposing it all into the “invisible” dimension, and putting it in a space of ten or twenty years at the end of the first century?

Likewise with the prophecies of a new heaven and a new earth. When on the one hand it is written in Rev 20,11:

Earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them.

Rev 20,11 Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them. Rev 20,11;


and on the other in Rev 21,1:

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away.

Rev 21,1 Then 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. Rev 21, 1;


I have to ask myself - How can the preterist approach try to transpose the passing away of a whole universe and the creation of a new universe into the realm of the “invisible”?

And finally the statement that “the Jews expected the coming of Jesus Christ as an earthly king - and were disappointed” is not quite correct. It was not the Jews who were disappointed - rather, Christ was disappointed by their refusing to accept him. If they had accepted him, in the way in which he came to them, then the prophecies would have been fulfilled and the millennial kingdom would have been established on earth at that very time. The Lord gives us a confirmation of this in Mt 11,10-14:

And if you are willing to accept it, John himself is Elijah who was to come.

Mt 11,10 This is the one about whom it is written, ‘Behold, I send My messenger ahead of You, who will prepare Your way before You.’

11,11 "Truly I say to you, among those born of women there has not arisen anyone greater than John the Baptist! Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. 11,12 "From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and violent men take it by force. 11,13 "For all the prophets and the Law prophesied until John.

11,14 "And if you are willing to accept it, John himself is Elijah who was to come. 11,15 "He who has ears to hear, let him hear. Mt 11,10-14;


The Lord is here quoting from the prophet Malachi:

Behold, I am going to send My messenger, and he will clear the way before Me.

Mal 3,1 "Behold, I am going to send My messenger, and he will clear the way before Me. And the Lord, whom you seek, will suddenly come to His temple; and the messenger of the covenant, in whom you delight, behold, He is coming," says the LORD of hosts. Mal 3, 1;

I am going to send you Elijah the prophet. He will restore the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers.

Mal 3,23 "Behold, I am going to send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and terrible day of the LORD.

3,24 "He will restore the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers, so that I will not come and smite the land with a curse." Mal 3,23-24;


The seventy members of the Sanhedrin (synedrion, High Council) in Jerusalem, who came both of the priestly aristocracy of the Sadducees and of the Pharisaic class of scribes and scriptural scholars, presided over by the High Priest Caiaphas, had studied the scriptures and were acquainted with the prophetic writings; so they knew who this Jesus of Nazareth really was. And because they were therefore forced to confront the prospect that their power and their influence would shortly be superseded, if they were to recognize him as the Messiah that he was, they went to all lengths to calumniate him, bringing the testimony of false witnesses with the horrifying accusation of “blasphemy” to justify their condemning him to death.

Now the chief priests and the whole Council kept trying to obtain false testimony against Jesus, so that they might put Him to death.

Mt 26,59 Now the chief priests and the whole Council kept trying to obtain false testimony against Jesus, so that they might put Him to death. 26,60 They did not find any, even though many false witnesses came forward. But later on two came forward, 26,61 and said, "This man stated, ‘I am able to destroy the temple of God and to rebuild it in three days.’" 26,62 The high priest stood up and said to Him, "Do You not answer? What is it that these men are testifying against You?"

26,63 But Jesus kept silent. And the high priest said to Him, "I adjure You by the living God, that You tell us whether You are the Christ, the Son of God." 26,64 Jesus *said to him, "You have said it yourself; nevertheless I tell you, hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of power, and coming on the clouds of heaven."

26,65 Then the high priest tore his robes and said, "He has blasphemed! What further need do we have of witnesses? Behold, you have now heard the blasphemy; 26,66 what do you think?" They answered, "He deserves death!". Mt 26,59-66;


But the Lord had known that it would come to this - he foretold as much to the scribes and Pharisees, in an apposite parable:

This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.

Mk 12,1 And He began to speak to them in parables: "A man planted a vineyard and put a wall around it, and dug a vat under the wine press and built a tower, and rented it out to vine-growers and went on a journey.

12,2 "At the harvest time he sent a slave to the vine-growers, in order to receive some of the produce of the vineyard from the vine-growers. 12,3 "They took him, and beat him and sent him away empty-handed.

12,4 "Again he sent them another slave, and they wounded him in the head, and treated him shamefully. 12,5 "And he sent another, and that one they killed; and so with many others, beating some and killing others.

12,6 "He had one more to send, a beloved son; he sent him last of all to them, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’ 12,7 "But those vine-growers said to one another, ‘This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and the inheritance will be ours!’ 12,8 "They took him, and killed him and threw him out of the vineyard.

12,9 "What will the owner of the vineyard do? He will come and destroy the vine-growers, and will give the vineyard to others. Mk 12, 1- 9;


The owner of the vineyard, in this parable, is of course God, and the vineyard is Israel. The vine-growers to whom the vineyard is rented out are the leaders of the people of Israel, over the many years of its history. The slaves stand for the servants of God - the prophets - who were sent by God, and who were repeatedly persecuted, cast out and even killed by the rulers of Israel.

The beloved son, finally, who is sent to them by the owner of the vineyard as a last resort, is the Son of God, Our Lord Jesus Christ. These last vine-growers in the story, who killed the son, are the leaders of the people of Israel at the time of Jesus - the members of the Sanhedrin under the presidency of the High Priest Caiaphas.

And now when the parable tells us that “those vine-growers said to one another, ‘This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and the inheritance will be ours!’”, we can draw from this the unmistakable conclusion that these people were well aware who it was that they had to do with. And their actions were motivated, without any shadow of doubt, by their reluctance to relinquish their own power.



(Texts enclosed in a black frame are quoted from visitors to the site or other authors.)

(Have we already risen from the dead? / Reply MM 02, 2003-01-06)

To conclude my remarks on this topic, I would like to mention that many people are sooner inclined to the view that the apostles were mistaken in their expectation that the Second Coming of Jesus and the complete establishment of the kingdom of God (with a new heaven and new earth) were imminent than they are to acknowledge the reality of a spiritual fulfillment. C. S. Lewis even went so far as to attribute an error to Christ himself, with the scriptural citation of Matthew 24,34 (“Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place”) - which he describes as “the most embarrassing verse in the Bible” (in his book “The World’s Last Night”).

Note: the attempt to use the theories of quantum mechanics as a basis for putting faith in a spiritual reality on the level of demonstrable proof seems to me just as dubious - even if I acknowledge the notable scientific contribution made by these theories in their pressing against the limits of our physical reality. So long as we continue to think in terms of earthly categories, we are excluding the kingdom of God:

“Now I say this, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.” (1 Corinthians 15,50)

If Christ said, 2000 years ago, that the kingdom of God was at hand (Mark 1,15), and prompted John to write that the events of Revelation would “shortly take place” (Rev 1,1), as well as indicating repeatedly that he would be coming “quickly” (Rev 22), I am simply at a loss to understand how the testimony of these and many other New Testament passages can be set off against the expectation of a visible fulfillment, priority being given to the latter.

To sum up, I take the position that our earthly life as Christians is equivalent to this state of liminality (“already - but not yet”), while the events of salvific history have already come to pass in their entirety. If we believe in Christ, we will not be judged, and those who do not believe have been judged already (Jn 3,18). We have been raised from the dead (“raised up with Christ”, Col 3,1) - and we have complete certainty as to where we are and where we will be on the death of the body - a question that I would like to go into in my next e-mail. I am aware that such an abbreviated summary of my argument leaves a great many questions open. But I would like all the same to provide answers to your further questions next. Outstanding questions: - What happens to the dead? - Where are the righteous? - Where are the ungodly? - Where is Satan? Does he still exist? - How long will the world continue to exist? - What happens afterwards? - How is the Resurrection in Scripture to be understood? - What about the Last Judgment?

(Markus Mosimann m.mosimann@mopa.ch )



In answer to this claim of the “reality of a spiritual fulfillment” as applying to the “new heaven and new earth”, I would like once more to point to the statements made in Scripture that contradict this view:

Earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them.

Rev 20,11 Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them. Rev 20,11;

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away.

Rev 21,1 Then 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. Rev 21, 1;


And if now the preterist position takes the view that “the events of salvific history have already come to pass in their entirety”, it becomes necessary to explain on what earth and under what heaven we are living today, if we are to suppose that the first heaven and the first earth have already passed away. When were the new heaven and the new earth created, and how is it that this new earth still has a sea - even though the prophecy states that there will no longer be any sea? Here it is impossible to smuggle in any kind of “symbolic” interpretation. If heaven and earth are to be understood as real variables, the sea can hardly be a metaphor!

When Paul tells us, in 1Cor 15,50,

Now I say this, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God.

1Cor 15,50 Now I say this, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 1Cor 15,50;


he is not by any means saying “that we as Christians are living in the realized (spiritual) kingdom of God”, as stated at the beginning of the above commentary. Rather, as Paul tells the Corinthians in the verse immediately following, he is speaking of the events of the Resurrection and the Rapture:

The dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.

1Cor 15,51 Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, 15,52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 15,53 For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality. 1Cor 15,51-53;


At this point, then, the dead will be raised and will be given an imperishable spirit body, and the bodies of believers who are still alive will also be transformed into a spirit body. Here the dialectic of these statements comes over very clearly:

-  on the one hand the living, perishable, destructible (and by no means “spiritual”) bodies of the living,

-  and on the other their transformation into imperishable and indestructible bodies.


Finally, we have the reference above to the Lord’s statement that the kingdom of God is “at hand”. As I have already shown in the first part of this Discourse, this means the rule of the Holy Spirit in us Christian believers - that is to say, the spiritual phase of the kingly dominion of God.

Those passages that speak of fulfillment coming “quickly” (“I am coming quickly”, etc.) do indeed constitute the reason why we must keep on grappling with this problem. If there have been some solutions proposed - alongside a number of extra-biblical ones - that do rely on scriptural authority, such as for instance

Of that day and hour no one knows, not even the Son, but the Father alone.

Mt 24,36 But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone. Mt 24,36;


I would fully concur with the judgment that this is unsatisfactory.

At all events I must confess that I too find myself at a loss to understand how the preterist argument can “spiritualize” dozens of prophecies, from both the Old Testament and the New, in spite of their having an absolutely literal reference - this on the basis of rather unconvincing arguments that simply do not conform to reality - so that the validity of just a few statements, like those of Rev 1,1 or 22,20, may be upheld.



(Texts enclosed in a black frame are quoted from visitors to the site or other authors.)

(Did the ‘ends of the ages’ occur in the year 70 AD? / Reply MM 03, 2003-01-22)

Your commentary on my reply of 6 January 2003 has now thrown up a whole plethora of new questions, and I would like here to pick up on a number of individual points - e.g. the position of the first congregations in terms of salvific history - and then, in my next communication, go into the question of the ‘thousand years’ in Revelation 20.

The position of the first congregations in terms of salvific history

You say that you cannot see any connection between the liminality I spoke of with reference to the time of the apostles and 1 Corinthians 10; I would like therefore to go into this relation between the first congregations and the Exodus, in terms of salvific history, in somewhat greater depth.

As far as my biblical understanding goes, in 1 Corinthians 10 Paul links this time of transition in which the first congregations found themselves with the paradigm, or warning example, of the Old Testament Exodus. Moreover, this time when the Israelites were wandering in the desert, between the Red Sea and the Jordan or Jericho, can certainly be understood as a kind of liminality, in which God’s presence and guidance of his people were made manifest through visible signs and wonders - as was also the case in the time of the apostles. Of course both the Exodus and the apostolic period have retained their admonitory significance for us to the present day. But when Paul applies this warning from the Exodus story to his contemporaries, “upon whom the ends of the ages have come” (1Cor 10,11), this indication also has a bearing on salvific history, with reference to the position of the first congregations.

Interestingly, your commentary quotes only the first half of verse 11 of Corinthians 10:

“...Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction...”

You will agree with me that only the complete quotation of a biblical passage can establish the context, and this is what we find here:

“Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.” (1Cor 10,11).

Upon whom have the ends of the ages come, and what does the Exodus stand for? Paul’s words are: “... written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.” If you now want to take Paul’s “upon whom the ends of the ages have come” as applying to 2000 years of ecclesiastical history (and perhaps even extending far into the future), I must ask you what criteria you adduce for “literal” and for “spiritualized” interpretation. Here Paul is not describing any kind of prophecy of the future - he is just concerned to admonish the congregation of Corinth. And he adds, in explanation, that “the ends of the ages have come” upon them. As I have said above, this does not of course deny the significance of these texts as a warning to us Christians right up to the present day. But the liminality of the Exodus in terms of salvific history is here being referred, as an Old Testament type, to that very time when Paul was writing his letter to the Corinthians.

Similarly, the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews too puts his admonitions against the background of Exodus (see Hebrews 3 and 4). And of course these warnings as well are equally applicable to subsequent generations; after all, our earthly path through life can likewise be compared with this state of liminality, in which we “exult in the hope of the glory of God” (Rom 5,2). In this sense the entire course of salvific history and the whole Bible remain firmly established as a living message, as instruction and admonition. But the foundations in salvific history have already been completed: God’s plan of salvation has already been fulfilled. The reference to Exodus in the Epistle to the Hebrews cannot easily be detached from the imminent expectation of the Coming, or Second Coming, of Christ, which also comes across clearly in other passages of the same Epistle:

“God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world.” (Hebr. 1,1-2)

“For yet in a very little while, He who is coming will come, and will not delay.” (Hebr. 10,37)

There are some interesting parallels between Exodus as a shadow (one of the many foreshadowings) of the future establishment of the New Covenant, and the time from Christ’s appearance in this world up to the destruction of Jerusalem as the fulfillment of God’s promises of the last days. I would like to give a short listing here in note form:

- OT: slavery in Egypt // NT: “... held in bondage under the elemental things of the world” (Gal. 4,3)

- OT: Passover, blood of sheep // NT: Passover, the blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ

- OT: Passage through the Red Sea; physical redemption out of slavery // NT: Crucifixion and Resurrection of Christ; spiritual redemption

- OT: 50 days* after Passover: the coming of the Law (Exodus 19,1 ff) // NT: 50 days after Passover: Pentecost, the coming of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2,1-2)

- OT: 3000 die, because they worship the golden calf (Exodus 32,28) // NT: 3000 hear the word and are saved (Acts 2,41)

- OT: Arrival in the Promised Land; crossing of the Jordan and the fall of Jericho (Joshua 24,11-13) // NT: Kingly dominion of God; fall of Jerusalem.

Both transitional periods were characterized by the presence and power of God in this world in a special sense, as expressed in visible signs and wonders.

* according to the Jewish lunar calendar


 (Markus Mosimann m.mosimann@mopa.ch )



So as to keep download times for visitors to the site within reasonable bounds, I have divided your commentary into two parts, including the other part, together with my commentary, in a further document.

(See also Discourse 353: “The preterist approach: have the Last Days already occurred? - part 3.”)


This first part of your argument as quoted above does not really offer much that is new. Basically we have here all those scriptural passages which suggest the imminent expectation of the events of the Last Days occurring - as early as in the 1st century AD - and it is these passages, in the last resort, that prompted me to engage in this dialog with you.

Countering these, however, is the fact that if we look at such prophecies of the Last Days as the following -

-  peace being taken from the earth, men slaying one another (Rev 6,4)

-  famine and pestilence (Rev 6,8)

-  earthquakes, darkening of the heavenly bodies (Rev 6,12)

-  fires that annihilate one third of the vegetation of the world (Rev 8,7)

-  poisoning of the water of seas, rivers and springs (Rev 8,8-11)

-  one third of mankind is killed (Rev 9,15)

-  and so on and so forth...


- there is nothing reported, but absolutely nothing, either in the letters of the first congregations or in the writings of the Fathers of the Church, or for that matter in the records of the historians of the time, to suggest the occurrence of any such events.

And this even though at the very same period the destruction of the city of Pompeii in the province of Naples in southern Italy in an eruption of Vesuvius (buried on 24.8.79 along with a proportion of its population) is relatively well documented - though by comparison with the worldwide catastrophes listed above that are supposed to have taken place, this would have been a comparatively insignificant event. The preterist attempt to postulate a transcendent fulfillment for these prophecies in the first century AD - a fulfillment invisible and undetectable on earth - thus carries little conviction.

As far as my biblical understanding goes, these events of the Last Days mentioned in Scripture are much too real and too specifically related to our visible and physical world for them to have been “overlooked” by world history or for them to be “transposed” into a transcendent dimension. And then too (just to rule out the possibility of misunderstanding), according to Mt 24,29-31 at least the first three of the catastrophes mentioned above are to take place before the Second Coming of the Lord - which last, according to the preterists, is supposed to have happened 2000 years ago already.

Not wishing, however, to take up too much of your time with a further reply on my part and so keep you from answering the questions I have put to you, I will refrain for a while from commenting on your statements. As I have mentioned on repeated occasions, I believe your arguments to be thoroughly grounded in Scripture, and so I would be glad to hear your views on the questions I suggested, in the hope of forming a definite picture of the entire network of beliefs that make up the preterist position.

In answer to your injunction that I should address my criticisms relative to the founding of the state of Israel “not just to the Zionists, but also to those futurist groups who see the present state of Israel as the re-established Israel in keeping with biblical prophecy”, I must beg leave to point out that I am fully open to the discussion of such issues.

If you will just take the time to glance through the discussions published at Immanuel.at, you will find that a number of Discourses contain lively discussions of this very topic. I have endeavored repeatedly to indicate - backing up my arguments with scriptural citation - that this attitude of expectation on the part of many futurist commentators and Christian congregations bears no relation either to the statements made by Scripture or to the patent picture presented by reality. It is therefore incorrect.

(See also Discourse 08: “The gathering of Israel: already since 1948, or not to happen until the Last Days?”)

(See also Discourse 17: “The course of world history: acid test for the interpretation of the prophetic Word?”)

(See also Discourse 29: “Are we living in the Last Days?”)

(See also Discourse 41: “The stubbornness of Israel in the past and at the present day.”)



Anonymous 00, 2001-05-30 Part 1 - Discourse 35

Reply Markus Mosimann 04-06, 2003-01-06        Part 3 - Discourse 353