The preterist approach: have the Last Days
already occurred? / Anonymous 00, 2001-05-30
The biblical background.
The Great Tribulation.
The millennial kingdom of the Lord Jesus
The proximity of the kingdom of Heaven.
Reply Markus Mosimann 00-03, 2003-01-06
Part 2 - Discourse 352
Reply Markus Mosimann 04-06, 2003-01-06
Part 3 - Discourse 353
The Great Tribulation as seen by the
preterists. - Discourse 45
(Texts in a black frame are quotations from visitors to this site or from other authors.)
It has struck me that in your analysis of the seven letters to the churches you
reject the preterist approach, on the basis of an argument that to my mind seems less than
convincing. The preterist approach, though hardly a familiar concept in areas where German is
spoken, is being intensively debated at present in the USA and in other countries (in all
denominations right across the board), and in my view might be deserving of more attention in
German-speaking areas as well. It would be going too far here to make a comprehensive
formulation of my preterist understanding of biblical eschatology, but I would like to encourage
you to engage with this point of view: a point of view which, to my understanding of the matter,
is in keeping with the Gospel, where the visible finally found its fulfillment in the invisible
(Jn 18,36: “My Kingdom is not of this world”). (...)
Just as rebirth is not a visible, external event (as Nicodemus, in his conversation with Jesus, imagined it to be), and as the Temple was not literally torn down and rebuilt in three days (as Jesus put it, referring to his crucifixion and resurrection), so other prophetic events too, in my view, are not of an earthly and visible nature, but are to be fulfilled in his Kingdom, which – as Jesus said – is not of this world. With the destruction of Jerusalem in the year 70 AD, visible signs came to an end. The suffering that was played out in Israel at that time can hardly be imagined by us today, and it also corresponds, from the point of view of the temporal framework, with the tribulation described in Revelation, which John – as he tells us in Rev 1,9 – experienced at first hand. The events of Revelation are described as being “near” (Rev 1,3; 22,20). Are those “near” events which occur thousands of years later? Jesus declared to his disciples, in Mt 16,28, “Truly I say to you, there are some of those who are standing here who shall not taste death till they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom”, and in Mt 10,23, “But whenever they persecute you in this city, flee to the next; for truly I say to you, you shall not finish going through the cities of Israel, until the Son of Man comes”.
(See also Excursus 02: “The seven Letters to the
The preterist approach is indeed being discussed in many quarters (above all in the
USA), and the argument – as the author quoted above admirably demonstrates – is in some respects
not easily to be dismissed out of hand.
So as to be able to make a correct evaluation of the statements given above, let us first of all attempt an exposition of the biblical background, and then analyze the consequences of this preterist point of view.
Let us begin with the Temple, which the Lord said he would rebuild in three days.
This utterance already provoked dissenting reactions from the scribes and Pharisees of Jesus’
time, as we can see from the following scriptural passages:
Some stood up and began to give false testimony against Him.
Mk 14,55 Now the chief priests and the whole Council kept trying to
obtain testimony against Jesus to put Him to death, and they were not finding any. 14,56 For many
were giving false testimony against Him, but their testimony was not consistent. 14,57 Some stood
up and began to give false testimony against Him, saying, 14,58 “We heard Him say, ‘I
will destroy this temple made with hands, and in three days I will build another made without hands.’“
The chief priests and the whole Council kept trying to obtain false testimony against Jesus.
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.’“
According to both these passages, then, the witnesses’ statements were a false
testimony, and clearly “fixed” by the High Council. The synoptic Gospels do not give us any
instance of the Lord’s making a statement of this kind either. In John, on the other hand, we find
the exact words of this saying of Jesus, and with them the circumstances in which they were uttered:
Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.
Jn 2,13 The Passover of the Jews was near, and Jesus went up to
Jerusalem. 2,14 And He found in the temple those who were selling oxen and sheep and doves, and the
money changers seated at their tables.
2,15 And He made a scourge of cords, and drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen; and He poured out the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables; 2,16 and to those who were selling the doves He said, “Take these things away; stop making My Father’s house a place of business.“ 2,17 His disciples remembered that it was written, “zeal for your house will consume Me.“
2,18 The Jews then said to Him, “What sign do You show us as your authority for doing these things?” 2,19 Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” 2,20 The Jews then said, “It took forty-six years to build this temple, and will You raise it up in three days?” 2,21 But He was speaking of the temple of His body. Jn 2,13-21;
This, then, is the well-known story of the Lord’s driving out the money-changers
and sellers of sacrificial animals from the Temple. They were angry at the Nazarene’s driving them
out of the Temple and disrupting their lucrative business activities. And so they asked him what his
authority was for doing these things. And in answer to this question the Lord now made this
response: “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up”.
John however adds immediately: “But he was speaking of the temple of his body”. An explanation which was no doubt needed at the time, but which for us today, knowing of the death and resurrection of the Son of God, certainly does not add up to any new revelation.
If we now consider the above argument of the author
“... and as the Temple was not literally torn down and rebuilt in
three days ...”
we must clearly conclude here as well – as John does in the passage quoted –
that this saying of the Lord did not refer to the Temple, to the edifice in Jerusalem, that is, but
to the Body of Christ, in which the Holy Spirit dwelt and which therefore was the temple of God upon
earth at this time. And as the above-quoted commentary concedes, this very temple was “torn down
and rebuilt in three days”, amounting – alas – to an absolutely literal fulfillment of this
prophecy of the Lord’s.
But the attempt to use this example as proof of a transition from a visible and material unfolding of the history of salvation to an invisible and immaterial one comes up against another difficulty.
This still has to do with the Temple, and with the Lord’s statements referring to it. In Mt 24,1-2, and parallel passages, Jesus says of this Temple:
Not one stone here will be left upon another, which will not be torn down.
Mt 24,1 Jesus came out from the temple and was going away when His
disciples came up to point out the temple buildings to Him. 24,2 And He said to them, “Do you not
see all these things? Truly I say to you, not one stone here will be left upon another, which
will not be torn down.” Mt 24, 1- 2;
If Jesus’ hearers had adopted the preterist approach at that time, they would have
had to interpret this statement too as referring not to the actual Temple, but to an invisible and
This would indeed have been the biggest mistake they could possibly have made. About forty years after the death of the Lord, in the year 70, not only was Jerusalem conquered and destroyed by the Romans under Titus, but the Temple too – in disobedience to the orders of Titus, who actually wanted to save it – was completely destroyed by the Roman soldiery, acting in rage and hatred of the Jews, so that not one stone was left upon another. And that, alas, was an entirely objective event, the consequences of which are all too visible at the present day.
(See also Chapter 02: “The conquest and dispersion
With that we come to the next eschatological event which according to the preterist
approach is to be placed in the past: the Great Tribulation. The author of the commentary cited at
the beginning of this discourse states as his opinion:
“With the destruction of Jerusalem in the year 70 AD, visible signs
came to an end. The suffering that was played out in Israel at that time can hardly be imagined by
us today, and it also corresponds, from the point of view of the temporal framework, with the
tribulation described in Revelation, which John – as he tells us in Rev 1,9 – experienced at
And he clearly means here that the scriptural prophecies of the Great Tribulation
were already fulfilled in that epoch.
If we look at the relevant biblical passages (in this connection the term “distress”
with reference to this tribulation should not surprise us here, as they are synonyms for a Greece
word that is one and the same).
I, John, your brother and fellow partaker in the tribulation.
Rev1,9 I, John, your brother and fellow partaker in the tribulation
and kingdom and perseverance which are in Jesus, was on the island called Patmos because of the word
of God and the testimony of Jesus. Rev 1, 9;
John is clearly speaking here of a tribulation. Now John, as a victim of the
persecution of the Christians that took place at that time under Domitian, was banished to the
island of Patmos. It is therefore perfectly correct to say that that time was a difficult one for
the Christians, and particularly so for John. But the Israelites as well were persecuted and driven
out at that time, and this was, as we know, the beginning of the diaspora, the dispersion of the
Jews over the whole world. The commentator’s remark that “the suffering that was played out in
Israel at that time... can hardly be imagined by us today” is therefore perfectly plausible.
When we look at the matter more closely, though, the first doubts start to emerge. What about the Holocaust, in which six million people – the greater part of the Jews – lost their lives? Any one who has seen pictures of the people who were tortured and murdered in the concentration camps will speedily come to the conclusion that the sufferings of the people of Israel may well have been even greater at this time.
It is true, of course, that at the earlier period an entire people was driven out of its homeland. But have there not been countless historical instances since then – as with the Indios of South America or the Native American tribes of North America? And finally, do we not have similar things happening even in our own day – from the Sudeten German ethnic group in 1945 in what was then Czechoslovakia (over 230,000 dead), to the Tutsi tribe in the African country of Ruanda in 1994 (over 500,000 dead), the Bosnians in former Yugoslavia, or the 3.7 million Palestinians in former Palestine which is today Israel?
We can see that an essential criterion for determining whether the affliction of the Israelites at that time is to be seen as the Great Tribulation mentioned in the Scriptures is the way in which it is characterized. And here the second statement about a “tribulation” in Revelation can help us out.
These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation.
Rev7,9 After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude
which no one could count, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing
before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, and palm branches were in their
7,10 and they cry out with a loud voice, saying, “Salvation to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.” 7,11 And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures; and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, 7,12 saying, “Amen, blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might, be to our God forever and ever. Amen.”
7,13 Then one of the elders answered, saying to me, “These who are clothed in the white robes, who are they, and where have they come from?” 7,14 I said to him, “My lord, you know.” And he said to me, “These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. 7,15 For this reason, they are before the throne of God; and they serve Him day and night in His temple; and He who sits on the throne will spread His tabernacle over them.”
7,16 “They will hunger no longer, nor thirst anymore; nor will the sun beat down on them, nor any heat; 7,17 for the Lamb in the center of the throne will be their shepherd, and will guide them to springs of the water of life; and God will wipe every tear from their eyes.” Rev 7,13-17;
By contrast with the first passage, that in Rev 1,9, John here speaks of the “great”
tribulation. This is a first point of support for the view that two different times of tribulation
are being spoken of here. But the proof that the “Great Tribulation” cannot possibly be the
affliction of the Jews at the end of the first century is offered us by the statement a few verses
earlier, in Rev 7,9. There we are told, quite unambiguously: “After these things I looked, and
behold, a great multitude which no one could count, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and
tongues”, and not (just) the people of Israel. That also explains the fact that we have to do here
with “a great multitude which no one could count”.
If we now continue to investigate the Scriptures, we can distinguish a further criterion for the correct assessment of this event of the Last Days. For the Lord Jesus also speaks, in his eschatological discourse, of the Great Tribulation, and says:
A great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will.
Mt 24,21 “For then there will be a great tribulation, such as has
not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will. 24,22 Unless those days
had been cut short, no life would have been saved; but for the sake of the elect those days will be
cut short.” Mt 24,21-22;
A little earlier in this chapter, in Mt 24,15, the Lord refers to statements made by
the prophet Daniel, who likewise was granted a vision by God of the events of the Last Days. And so,
logically enough, we find references to this “Great Tribulation” in Daniel as well:
A time of distress such as never occurred since there was a nation until that time
Dan 12,1 “Now at that time Michael, the great prince who stands guard
over the sons of your people, will arise. And there will be a time of distress such as never
occurred since there was a nation until that time; and at that time your people, everyone who is
found written in the book, will be rescued. 12,2 Many of those who sleep in the dust of the ground will
awake, these to everlasting life, but the others to disgrace and everlasting contempt.” Dan
12, 1- 2;
We can conclude that this is the same tribulation as the one prophesied by the Lord
in the passage from Mt 24,21 quoted above, not just because he here explicitly refers to this
prophecy by the prophet Daniel, but also and especially in view of the fact that here too, as in Mt
24,21, the “Great Tribulation” is characterized as one “such as never occurred since there was
a nation until that time”.
If we now take these statements made by the Lord Jesus and the prophet Daniel seriously – and there is no reason why we should not do so – then this “Great Tribulation”, which is also mentioned in Revelation, is a world-wide catastrophe in which a great proportion of the human race will perish. This is also confirmed by what the Lord says in Mt 24,22: “Unless those days had been cut short, no life would have been saved”.
After all this evidence to the contrary, we hardly need any further arguments to refute the view of the preterists that supposes the Great Tribulation to have already taken place in the past, in the form of the dispersion of the people of Israel at the end of the first century.
And yet the people of Israel itself is the most convincing proof that this event is still to come. In the passage quoted above, Dan 12,1, we are told with reference to this time: “And at that time your people, everyone who is written in the book, will be rescued”. At the time at which the preterists would like to place the Great Tribulation – at the end of the first century AD – the people of Israel was not rescued: on the contrary, it set out on its long and painful journey into the diaspora.
(See also Chapter 03: “The Great Tribulation.”)
But there is also another aspect to be discerned in these verses from Dan 12, 1-3.
Alongside the statement that at the time of the Great Tribulation the people of Israel will be
rescued, there is also a promise that the resurrection of many (but not all!) will take place at the
same time. But alongside the Universal Resurrection at the end of the world, we find in Scripture
(apart from Mt 27,52-53) only one other resurrection immediately before the thousand-year kingdom,
If we now place the tribulation at the end of the first century AD, we cannot avoid dating this resurrection as well, and therefore in particular the beginning of the kingdom of God on earth, to the same epoch.
As it now appears, the preterist approach does indeed in consistency take this view. The author writes in his commentary:
“ (...) so other prophetic events too, in my view, are not of an
earthly and visible nature, but are to be fulfilled in his Kingdom, which – as Jesus said – is
not of this world. (...) Jesus declared to his disciples, in Mt 16,28, ‘Truly I say to you, there
are some of those who are standing here who shall not taste death till they see the Son of Man
coming in His kingdom’, and in Mt 10,23, ‘But whenever they persecute you in this city, flee to
the next; for truly I say to you, you shall not finish going through the cities of Israel, until the
Son of Man comes’.”
On this view, then, the situation would be as follows:
- The Great Tribulation has already taken place at the end of the first
- The Antichrist has established his world dominion and has ruled.
- Our Lord Jesus Christ already – in a “not earthly or visible”
sense, to use the phrase quoted above – entered upon his millennial kingdom at the end of the
first century AD.
- The raising from the dead and rapture of the faithful (1Cor 15,51-53;
1The 4,15-17) on the return of the Lord has already taken place.
- The First Resurrection of the martyrs (Rev 20,4), to reign with Christ in
the thousand years of his kingdom of peace, became a reality at that time.
- The millennial kingdom started some two thousand years ago.
(See also Chapter 06: “The return of the Lord.”)
(See also Chapter 09: “The return home of the
(See also Chapter 10: “The Millennium.”)
Leaving aside all the events, such as
o The visible return of the Lord Jesus (Mt 24,29-30; 1The
4,15-17; Rev 11,15-18)
They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory.
Mt 24,29 “But immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun
will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from the sky, and
the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 24,30 “And then the sign of the Son of Man will appear
in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man
coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory. Mt 24,29-30;
o The conversion of the people of Israel to its God (Isa 10,20-21; Jer
31,31-34; 33,20-24; Rom 11,25-32)
A remnant will return, the remnant of Jacob, to the mighty God.
Isa10,20 Now in that day the remnant of Israel, and those of the house
of Jacob who have escaped, will never again rely on the one who struck them, but will truly rely on
the LORD, the Holy One of Israel.10,21 A remnant will return, the remnant of Jacob, to the mighty
God. Isa 10,20-21;
o The pouring out of the Holy Spirit (Isa 32,14-15; 44,1-5; Ezk
11,19-21; 36,24-32; Joel 3,1-2; Zech 12,10)
I will pour out on the house of David the Spirit of grace.
Zech 12,10 “I will pour out on the house of David and on the
inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and of supplication, so that they will look on Me whom
they have pierced; and they will mourn for Him, as one mourns for an only son, and they will
weep bitterly over Him like the bitter weeping over a firstborn. Zech 12,10;
o The building of the Temple in the earthly Jerusalem
(Eze 40, 1-49; 41, 1-26; 42, 1-20; 43, 1-27; Hag 2,6-9; Zech 6,15; 14,20-21;
Those who are far off will come and build the temple of the LORD.
Zech6,15 “Those who are far off will come and build the temple of
the LORD.“ Then you will know that the LORD of hosts has sent me to you. And it will take
place if you completely obey the LORD your God. Zech 6,15;
o The entry of the Lord into this earthly Temple (Isa 52,8-9;
Eze 43,4; Zech 6,12-15)
The LORD restores Zion. Break forth, shout joyfully together, you waste places of Jerusalem.
Isa 52,8 Listen! Your watchmen lift up their voices, They shout
joyfully together; For they will see with their own eyes When the LORD restores Zion. 51,9
Break forth, shout joyfully together, You waste places of Jerusalem; For the LORD has
comforted His people, He has redeemed Jerusalem. Isa 52, 8- 9;
o Israel will dwell in peace in its own land, they will have forgotten
how to wage war (Isa 2,2-5; 9,4-6; Jer 23,5-6; Hos 2,18-25; Mi 4,3-5; 5,9-14; Zech 9,10)
Nation will not lift up sword against nation, And never again will they learn war.
Isa2,2 Now it will come about that In the last days The mountain of
the house of the LORD Will be established as the chief of the mountains, And will be raised
above the hills; And all the nations will stream to it. 2,3 And many peoples will come and
say, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, To the house of the God of Jacob; That He
may teach us concerning His ways And that we may walk in His paths.“ For the law will go forth
from Zion And the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. 2,4 And He will judge between the nations, And
will render decisions for many peoples; And they will hammer their swords into plowshares and their
spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not lift up sword against nation, And never again will
they learn war. Isa 2, 2- 4;
o etc. etc.
– leaving aside, then, all the events which Scripture foretells as taking place in
this Kingdom of God, the main question that suggests itself, of course, is the following:
In Rev 20,7-15 the time after these thousand years is spoken of. Here Satan is again set free, he leads the peoples of the earth to fight against Jerusalem, he is conquered and thrown into the lake of fire, after which the Universal Resurrection and Last Judgment take place.
So if these thousand years of the Millennium began at the end of the first century AD, they came to an end after a thousand years – that is to say, some time around the year 1100. After that date, in consistency, all these events from Rev 20,7-15 must have taken place.
We are living now in the year 2001 – that is, about 900 years later. How come we are still on earth? How is it that we have noticed nothing of the Universal Resurrection and Last Judgment? How is it that the earth still exists at all, when we are told in Rev 20,11 that after the thousand years “earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them”?
There is no point in carrying the argument further: this preterist viewpoint boils down to absurdity. Still more, if we look at the further postulates of this point of view:
- We are now already living in Eternity,
- the Millennium was played out starting from 30-70 AD,
- the Coming of the Lord took place in the year 70 AD.
- And just how can these people accommodate the Revelation of John, which
was not written until around the year 90 AD, and so contains all these prophecies of events which
according to the preterists had already taken place 20 years before?
The arguments in the commentary quoted above which are quite convincing, and should
not be underestimated, rest on the scriptural passages which speak of various events as being “near”.
The author asks:
“Are those ‘near’ events which occur thousands of years later?”
Well, of course not. But that is not yet a justification for simply “transposing”
these events thousands of years into the past. Still more when the Scriptures are full of events
which are to take place at this time (on earth!) and which have shown no sign of being realized to
In the interests of objectivity, nonetheless, we will analyze the scriptural passages cited by the author in this connection, and try to separate the passages which are accessible to interpretation from the statements which we indeed are unable to explain at the present time.
Here, then, is Mt 10,23:
You will not finish going through the cities of Israel until the Son of Man comes.
Mt 10,21 “Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his
child; and children will rise up against parents and cause them to be put to death. 10,22 “You
will be hated by all because of My name, but it is the one who has endured to the end who will be
saved. 10,23 “But whenever they persecute you in one city, flee to the next; for truly I say
to you, you will not finish going through the cities of Israel until the Son of Man comes. Mt
If this statement of the Lord’s is not taken in isolation but viewed along with
its context, it is easy to see that we have here a statement referring to the Last Days. It relates
to the Christians: this is confirmed both by the title of “brother” in Mt 10,21 as well as the
indication “because of My name” in Mt 10,22. They will be hated by all, persecuted,
betrayed by their own families and put to death.
Now although in the past two thousand years there have been repeated persecutions of Christians – under the Inquisition of the Catholic Church many genuine Christians were also persecuted and put to death – a scenario that envisages all Christians as being hated, betrayed, persecuted and put to death by all the rest of the human race, as it is characterized here, cannot realistically be demonstrated either in the past or in the present.
So this can only be an indication for the faithful of the Last Days, still more in view of Mt 10,22: “But it is the one who has endured to the end who will be saved”. If these words had been addressed to the faithful at the time of Jesus, they would have to wait thousands of years to experience this “end”.
It is the faithful of the Last Days, then, laboring in dire affliction, to whom these warnings are directed. But that includes as well the comforting statements that they will not finish going through the cities of Israel until the Lord comes, and that the one who has endured to the end will be saved. In view of these statements (referring to the cities of Israel), we can only be dealing here with a period of about three to four years at most, and this is wholly in keeping with the other prophecies relating to the Last Days (3½ years).
Then Mt 16,28 is quoted:
They will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom.
Mt 16,28 “Truly I say to you, there are some of those who are
standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom.“
This is undoubtedly one of the scriptural passages which has most preoccupied
biblical commentators in the last two thousand years, and it also constitutes one of the reasons, as
we can see, why the preterists incline to transpose the start of the kingdom of peace of the Lord
Jesus to the end of the first century AD. But the easy-going attitude involved here, that of taking
a surface view of this passage and reaching for the first solution that comes along, then also
results in hundreds of scriptural passages referring to the Last Days having to be “transposed
If we analyze this passage more carefully, we can see that there are three possibilities in all of finding an explanation for this statement of the Lord’s. The first possibility is that chosen by the preterists. They plainly assume that a human being has a life expectation of 80-90 years, and so that the people addressed by Our Lord in Mt 16,28 – around the year 30 of the Christian era – had at most another 60-70 years to live. So if they were to see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom in their lifetime, this kingdom must have started at this period – that is to say, towards the end of the first century AD.
The second possibility is admittedly a purely theoretical one, but it should be put forward all the same, in order to throw light on the possible error of interpretation in the preterist approach. Basically, the problem we are concerned with offers two possible approaches to a solution. Either we assume a normal life expectation on the part of the disciples addressed, and bring forward the date of the coming of God’s kingdom, or we leave the start of the Millennium where it is – that is, in the Last Days, which are still to come – and postulate a life expectation on the part of the disciples extending to this point in time.
This certainly appears improbable, but it does lead us to a third possible solution. We find in Scripture an event in which the prophet Elijah – similarly to the rapture of the living faithful to be expected in the Last Days – ascended into heaven.
And Elijah went up by a whirlwind to heaven.
2Kg 2,11 As they were going along and talking, behold, there appeared a
chariot of fire and horses of fire which separated the two of them. And Elijah went up by a
whirlwind to heaven. 2Ki 2,11;
It is quite clear that Elijah was taken up alive into heaven – and presumably
still exists there – and so he cannot on any account have tasted death. Now if this was possible
for Elijah, and will be possible in the rapture of the Last Days for all the faithful who are still
alive, why should it not also have been like this for some of the Lord’s disciples? They would
then, like Elijah, have ascended into heaven, but without having died – for whatever reason (we do
not know with any certainty, either, why Elijah has not died). And just like Elijah they would
experience the Second Coming of the Lord on earth and the start of his millennial kingdom without
having tasted death.
And finally the commentary given above states:
“The events of Revelation are described as being ‘near’ (Rev 1,3;
Here are the scriptural passages referred to, in their proper context:
Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of the prophecy; for the time is near.
Rev1,1 The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show to
His bond-servants, the things which must soon take place; and He sent and communicated it by His
angel to His bond-servant John, 1,2 who testified to the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus
Christ, even to all that he saw.
1,3 Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of the prophecy, and heed the things which are written in it; for the time is near. Rev 1, 1- 3;
He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming quickly.
Rev22,18 I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of
this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues which are written in this book;
22,19 and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his
part from the tree of life and from the holy city, which are written in this book. 22,20 He who
testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming quickly.“ Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.22,21 The
grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen. Rev 22,18-21;
As can be seen, we here have to do – oddly enough – with the beginning and the
end of Revelation. And there is one other relevant indication in Revelation:
And behold, I am coming quickly.
Rev22,7 “And behold, I am coming quickly. Blessed is he who
heeds the words of the prophecy of this book.“ Rev 22, 7;
This is a summarizing of what is said in the verses Rev 1,3 and 22,20.
These passages in Revelation, now, are the only arguments in the commentary quoted above which are not yet accessible to a satisfactory explanation in an eschatological perspective. And yet in terms of their type these statements do not stand alone. We often find prophecies in Scripture which characterize events that are to occur in the Last Days as “soon”, “near” or “in a short time”.
One of the best known scriptural passages of this type is Hag 2,6-7, where the prophet foretells the reorganization of heaven and earth in the Last Days, before the Millennium, and adds the indication “in a little while”.
Once more in a little while, I am going to shake the heavens and the earth.
Hag 2,6 “For thus says the LORD of hosts, ‘Once more in a little
while, I am going to shake the heavens and the earth, the sea also and the dry land. 2,7 ‘I
will shake all the nations; and they will come with the wealth of all nations, and I will fill this
house with glory,’ says the LORD of hosts. Hag 2, 6- 7;
Many commentators here think that “a little while”, seen in the context of
eternity, would in a temporal context amount to thousands of years, and quote 2Pet 3,8 in support of
this view, where Peter condemns the ungodly and the unbelieving for thinking that the Second Coming
of the Lord is no more than an invention of the Christians.
That with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day.
2Ptr 3,1 This is now, beloved, the second letter I am writing to you in
which I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder, 3,2 that you should remember the words
spoken beforehand by the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior spoken by your
apostles. 3,3 Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking,
following after their own lusts, 3,4 and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For ever
since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation.“
3,5 For when they maintain this, it escapes their notice that by the word of God the heavens existed long ago and the earth was formed out of water and by water, 3,6 through which the world at that time was destroyed, being flooded with water. 3,7 But by His word the present heavens and earth are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men. 3,8 But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day. 3,9 The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.
3,10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up. 3,11 Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, 3,12 looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat! 3,13 But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells. 2Pet 3, 1-13;
And these commentators (the Adventists, for instance) now focus here on the
comparison “One day is like a thousand years”, and draw the conclusion that when a number of
days is mentioned in the Bible it basically needs to be multiplied by a thousand years.
And yet if we look more closely at this passage, we can see that Peter’s meaning is quite different from this. The example of one day and a thousand years is only intended as a comparison. For he also reverses the argument, and says that “a thousand years are like one day”. And here the thousand years are likewise “with the Lord”, that is, to be understood in the plane of eternity and as a day on earth.
If, now, it is true both that a day of eternity is like a thousand years on earth, and equally that these thousand years in eternity are like a day on earth, then what we are told here does not amount to any “time conversion factor”, but rather represents, quite simply, an attempt to make the imponderability of time, seen from God’s point of view, comprehensible to human beings.
And this is just what the Lord tells us, as well, in Mk 13,31-37:
Of that day or hour no one knows, but the Father alone.
Mk 13,31 “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will
not pass away. 13,32 “But of that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor
the Son, but the Father alone. 13,33 “Take heed, keep on the alert; for you do not know when
the appointed time will come.
13,34 “It is like a man away on a journey, who upon leaving his house and putting his slaves in charge, assigning to each one his task, also commanded the doorkeeper to stay on the alert. 13,35 “Therefore, be on the alert - for you do not know when the master of the house is coming, whether in the evening, at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or in the morning - 13,36 in case he should come suddenly and find you asleep. 13,37 “What I say to you I say to all, ‘Be on the alert!’“ Mk 13,31-37;
(See also Chapter 08: “The reorganization of
heaven and earth.”)
So we do not know when the time is to come. And as the Lord warns us in the
following parable, we should stay on the alert, and not let ourselves be lulled into a false
sense of security and fall asleep. Otherwise he will come unexpectedly, like a thief in the night,
and say to us “I do not know you, or where you are from. Depart from me, all you evildoers.”
I tell you, I do not know where you are from; depart from Me, all you evildoers.
Lk 13,24 “Strive to enter through the narrow door; for many, I tell
you, will seek to enter and will not be able. 13,25 “Once the head of the house gets up and shuts
the door, and you begin to stand outside and knock on the door, saying, ‘Lord, open up to us!’
then He will answer and say to you, ‘I do not know where you are from.’
13,26 “Then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank in Your presence, and You taught in our streets’; 13,27 and He will say, ‘I tell you, I do not know where you are from; depart from Me, all you evildoers.’ Lk 13,24-27;
Be on the alert then, for you do not know the day nor the hour.
Mt 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 25,11-13;
And as Paul finally warns us in his second Epistle to the Thessalonians, we should
not let ourselves be led astray by claims that the Lord has already come and that the day of the
Lord has been and gone.
Let no one deceive you by a letter as if from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come.
2The 2,1 Now we request you, brethren, with regard to the coming of
our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, 2,2 that you not be quickly shaken from
your composure or be disturbed either by a spirit or a message or a letter as if from us, to the
effect that the day of the Lord has come. 2,3 Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not
come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of
destruction, 2,4 who opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so
that he takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God. 2The 2, 1- 4;
That lawless one the Lord will bring to an end by the appearance of His coming.
2The 2,5 Do you not remember that while I was still with you, I was
telling you these things? 2,6 And you know what restrains him now, so that in his time he will be
revealed. 2,7 For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only he who now restrains will do
so until he is taken out of the way. 2,8 Then that lawless one will be revealed whom the Lord
will slay with the breath of His mouth and bring to an end by the appearance of His coming; 2,9
that is, the one whose coming is in accord with the activity of Satan, with all power and signs and
false wonders, 2,10 and with all the deception of wickedness for those who perish, because they did
not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved. 2,11 For this reason God will send upon them
a deluding influence so that they will believe what is false. 2The 2, 5-11;
The apostasy, then, must come first, and the man of lawlessness – the Antichrist
– must be revealed. Only then will the Lord Jesus come, and annihilate the lawless one with the
breath of his mouth by the appearance of his coming.
And just as – thank the Lord – all the prophecies of Rev 13 relating to the Antichrist have not been fulfilled to date, so also the Second Coming of the Lord has not taken place to this day! All those who claim the contrary, like the Jehovah’s Witnesses for instance, are seriously in error, and run the risk of misleading both themselves and those who follow them into a false sense of security on grounds which according to the Scriptures do not exist, and will not exist until the Lord indeed shall come – in a form visible to the whole world!!
Reply Markus Mosimann 00-03, 2003-01-06
Part 2 - Discourse 352
Reply Markus Mosimann 04-06, 2003-01-22
Part 3 - Discourse 353
The Great Tribulation as seen by the Preterists. -