The Evangelical Universalist Forum

On Preterism, the Second Coming and Hell

as well as thinking Jesus’ words in Acts 1 (unlike the Gospel references) are most naturally read as sounding like some kind of literally visible return, just as his departure is portrayed as an actual sight of him beheld with their physical eyes. In any event, he is implying Jesus knew no second coming, but the apostles later understood that there would be one described in terms awfully similar to Jesus’ words that he thinks intended no such vision. What do you make of this?

Bob Wilson

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Joined: Tue Sep 16, 2008 10:10 am

I think Jesus use of gehenna and/or “coming in the clouds” in the gospels could have referred to 70AD Jerusalem destruction because these are OT expressions used to mean destruction and judgment. However in Acts 1 it sounds like Jesus will return in like manner to his ascension is referring to a physical second coming.

I’ve been aware of partial preterism for some time as, like I said, it’s the default view in my faith tradition. And like I described in the post, partial preterism does put the Second Coming and Final Judgement in the future. Based largely on texts like 1 Thess. and Revelation.

Regarding full preterism–what is called the “AD 70 doctrine” in my tradition–I’m less familiar with and only have just begun to think about. So I don’t have any answers about how every NT text can get shoehorned into the events of AD 70. My post is simply raising the issue that if people, in the debates about hell, point to AD 70 as the reference for what Jesus meant by Gehenna then what about the “second coming” aspects of that same text? I don’t have an answer to that question, just floating it for conversation.

All that said, my interests are in thinking through what a “progressive preterism” might look like, a wedding of progressive ideas (like God’s non-violence) and a preterist eschatology.

For example, regarding God’s non-violence, I have a post scheduled to come out a few months from now. In that post I dwell on this text in Luke that sets up the Olivet Discourse about the Destruction of Jerusalem:

Basically, and this is a point that N.T. Wright makes, Jesus saw Israel on a violent collision course with Rome. One that would end very, very badly. As Jesus says, Jerusalem had failed to learn “the things that make for peace.” And because Jerusalem had failed to respond to Jesus’s kingdom proclamation, failed to learn the things that make for peace, Jerusalem had set herself on a path of destruction.

Importantly for your questions about a non-violent God, we can keep with a preterist reading here–that all the talk in the bible about hell is about AD 70–and we can use a text like Luke 19.41-44 to show how this is a violence that Jerusalem brought upon herself by responding violently to Rome. That is, the cycles of violence just keep repeating, world-historically.

Jesus’s Kingdom proclamation, by contrast, speaks to “the things that make for peace” in this world.

All that to say, there seem to be ways to have a preterist reading of “hell” (AD 70 events that keep repeating in history, violence begetting violence) that keeps to a vision of a non-violent God.

These are the connections that I’m interested in exploring.

Good on you Richard - and pleased to meet you old chap :slight_smile:

May the seed Christ reign (in love over disorderly spirits)

Dick :smiley:

In 2 Cor 3:17 it says the Lord (Jesus) is the Spirit.

The spirit descended on the disciples on Pentecost. This was a second coming IMO.

The one who was and is and is to come.

Was: symbolized in the Passover festival

Is: symbolized in the Pentecost festival (for now we know in part)

Is to come: symbolized in the Tabernacles festival (but then we will be fully known)

When it says he will return the same way they saw him ascend, is it possible that the “same way” is referring to his ascending into the clouds. Here the clouds being symbolic of our heaven.

We are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses, and the waterless clouds from Jude are 2 examples where clouds=people.

So when it says he will return in the same way you saw him go, it may be referring to his ascending in us, which is the feast of Tabernacles. This would be the unveiling of Christ in you, and the two becoming one flesh. Previously the typified by “and the word became flesh and tabernacled among us”. We automatically assume that he will come down out of heaven but it says he will return the same way you saw him go… Ascending.

Just my 2 cents.

Yeah; I think that if I remember right, it’s the way that it is stated; that it is they who will see the second coming in like manner to the ascension. And then there are the other statements by Jesus on other eschatological events also which more clearly refer to things happening before that generation passed away. As for the rest, I’m not sure what I make of it, really. Perhaps I’d better go back and read that section of scripture again.

Well, and then there are redhot’s points, too; which might have been more what I was thinking about.

G’day Richard,

I am a prêterist of the FULL persuasion, I don’t have all the answers but I do have a few. Just some brief personal history… I was raised an A-millennialist, which in the Baptist circles my dad ministered in was a rarity given they were predominately dispensational futurists. I knew why I wasn’t a dispensationalist but one day it occurred to me I didn’t know why I wasn’t a post-millennialist. In 1986 I picked up a post-mill book by J. Marcellus Kik “An Eschatology of Victory”. As I was reading I found myself pretty much in agreement with what I was reading; I found myself double checking to see it was a “post-mill” book, lol. :astonished:

Long story short… after many years an a-millist I ran with post-millennialism – I found it extremely similar to the a-mill view as I knew it, except it was incredibly optimistic and the historicity started to gel for me. In 1990 I happened across David Chilton’s “Days of Vengeance” – at last I thought I had found the holy grail of eschatology.

It was from Chilton’s partial prêterist volume that I followed through on an innocuous little footnote about a full prêterist by name of Max King, a Church of Christ minister who had written a near 800 page tome “The Cross and the Parousia of Christ”, a heavy but brilliant read. So after about 10 years of being a partial prêterist I took the most logical and consistent step into full prêterism. Almost from the start I could see elements of inclusion inherent within the position but I wasn’t having any part of “universalism” as I understood it. Within 2 years I was raising hell on most of the then full prêt forums and being castigated for my universalism… quite a number of full prêterists are Calvinists.

So… I have come to my inclusive soteriological position via a fulfilled eschatology and NOT the more typical “how could a good and loving God do thus-and-so…” philosophical approach of universalism.

Yes… and it is at this very point that the bulk of full prêterists jettison their consistency for sake of positional orthodoxy and exchange Hell MKI (rightly understanding Jesus’ “Gehenna” to be the conflagrations of AD70) for Hell MKII i.e., the ‘lake of fire’. As I understand it the lake of fire WAS the destruction of Jerusalem and NOT some post mortem event. Typically universalists’ just like exclusionists’ accept and believe in the post mortem lake of fire of Christendom… this pantelist does not.

Unfortunately “many Christians didn’t see” and still don’t see because they are looking with wrong eyes. Jesus’ “cloud-coming” language came straight out of their own Scriptures. When Yahweh came in judgement He is described and depicted in the poetic licence of “cosmic events”… Isa 19:1; 13:9-10; 24:21-23; Ez 32:7; Joel 2:28-32. These all tie in with Jesus’ warnings in the gospel’s mini apocalypses. So important was this transitional age from old to new covenants that John the apostle foregoes the “mini” approach with his gospel choosing instead to dedicate an entire book to it.

I’m not sure which texts you have in mind apparently pushing out the parousia beyond Jesus’ “this generation” but for mine there is no mix n’ match to biblical eschatology but rather the “already not yet” of that transitional age AD30-70 (a 40yr biblical generation) where “that which was growing old was ready to pass away” as per Heb 8:13. This was running concurrent with the burgeoning new and better covenant age as per 2Cor 3:11; 1Jn 2:8.

Yes indeed. It is also to be noted that Jesus’ cloud coming of Acts 1:9-11 was in fulfillment of Dan 7:3-14 where the “coming” was to and not from the Ancient of Days, to receive a kingdom. The “in like manner” then equates to the “judgement” clouds associated with the parousia as per Mt 24:30; 26:64.

Again this is keeping in line with OT symbolic language such as “For the day is near, even the day of the LORD is near; It will be a day of clouds, the time of the Gentiles. Ez 30:3

That really is it in a nutshell and something I am resolved is the case.

Richard, I have shared more thoughts from my perspective that might answer some of your questions in other posts on the EU forum and for brevity’s sake I’ll list some of the threads HERE and HERE and HERE… just scroll along for Alf’s head.

Hi Davo,
I’ve just stumbled upon the pantelist view in the last few days, so I’m catching up. I think I have most of it clear except the issue of post-mortem existence.

What’s the pantelism stance on life after death? Is pantalism agnostic about that? Or does pantelism contend that there is no life after death? Or do some believe that there is life after death? And if there is life after death what’s that look like (e.g., if hell was exhausted in AD 70 is everyone “going to heaven”)? I expect that pantelists might have different opinions about all this.

Pantelism does indeed fully accept life after death for all; hence the charge of universalism by ECT/annihilationist prêterists. What and how that life will look like is unknowable this side of the grave except to acknowledge that God’s grace in the here and now has it all covered in the there and then for each of as we step through death’s doorway.

Full Preterism may seem to fit well with Christian Universalism but i don’t think that should have much weight when evaluating it. As full Preterists claim the relevant audience probably did think Jesus was returning soon. But the expressions Jesus sometimes used like “coming in the clouds” was used twice in the OT to mean the destruction of a kingdom and probably referred to the destruction of Jerusalem. This was indeed the end of an age, the end of the Jewish age.
Whatever date you give Revelation it was written after the gospels and it claims to be a “revelation” or an unveiling of things not previously known, not a summary or review of things clearly stated earlier like the destruction of Jerusalem. It says Jesus is returning to judge the world and the dead will be raised and judged and those whose names are not in the book of life will go into the lake of fire. Now i believe judgment is a positive thing and not something to be afraid of , but part of a rehabilitation process.
In Full Preterism this process is gone. Plus my understanding of scripture is that evil will be defeated but not so in Preterism, it just goes on and on.

Thanks for all that Davo; helpful stuff.

Davo - it was reading Kik’s book myself, a number of years ago, that got me thinking along these lines. I’ve not studied the ‘full’ preterist position but would like to.

Hi Richard et al,
This is an interesting subject and I have been looking through and trying to find old notes from a couple of years ago when I was researching the possible dating of Revelation and the subject of Preterism. This was in response to an invitation that I’d received on a study of Revelation from a group who take the Historicist approach. As I’d come to believe differently (I grew up with the historicist approach) but was still rather sketchy on things I had done some study in order to posit a different perspective. I had some interaction with the authors of the series that was revealing but these notes I can only find in part, but if I find anything more that I think might be interesting I’ll put it up later.
To summarise I felt the dating of the book of Revelation was a weak link in the historicist argument and even though general opinion amongst many seems to favour a late date authorship I think this was more a default position accepted because it fits conveniently with those that take a historicist or futurist view rather than from a scholarly approach.
My enquiries certainly didn’t prove an early date, of course, but certainly give at least considerable credence to the very real possibility, and therefore a Preterist interpretation of Rev must enter the debate.
Below is a summary I came across, in my notes, of some of the arguments. I don’t know where this summary came from so can’t give credit to authorship, other than to say it wasn’t me. I hope it’s not too long for a general read.


"…First a backdrop: What is often forgotten or ignored is the fact that the Book of Revelation has more references from the Old Testament than any other book in the Bible! A magnitude of them deals with prophecies about the destruction of the Temple in 70 A.D. and God’s judgment of Jerusalem, as well as the Jewish headship and the disobedience of apostate Israel. Thus, most postmodern Christians will not understand Revelation because they do not know the Old Testament, its rich symbolism, its culture, or the historical conditions of that time.
The date is significant, because if Revelation was “just” written about far-away future events, then this letter to people in dire stress was mostly meaningless. How could they listen to the words of the prophecies and obey something that was not relevant to them?
This would have been a belated word of comfort or a cruel joke, like a relief agency sending a Christmas card to a persecuted Christian in Sudan and saying we are praying for you, but do not worry we will help your great grand kids. (I need to note that I was a diehard late-date person, but now I lean toward an early date personally. So, pardon any bias of language).

An early date prior to 70 A.D.?
First are the arguments previously given. The main arguments to setting a date proposed in the last post is predicated on the fact that John makes no mention of the destruction of Jerusalem or the Temple in 70 A.D. and thus the book must have been written prior to these events. However, the retort to that is that this is an “argument from silence” which does not persuade when there is ample evidence that John wrote Revelation around 95 A.D. Also, when the “Olivet Discourse” (Matthew 24) is compared to Revelation, a proof is formed that is hard to rebuff. In addition, Jesus’ own words are seen in Matthew 24:1-3: “I tell you the truth, not one stone here will be left on another; everyone will be thrown down …This generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened.” In less than forty years later, this prophecy was fulfilled. This statement is climatic and earth shattering to a Jew and for setting up a new covenant, a Kingdom of God age. The “early date” people use this as their main argument. But, is there more evidence?
Word usage and “internal evidence:”
Let’s begin with what the word Apocalypse means. The accepted and understood meaning is that it deals with the end times, with what is going to happen at the end of the world. Also, the popular thinking is that this is about what is ominous, anarchical, and disastrous. However, the word, Apocalypse, has the same meaning as the word Revelation, which comes from the Greek word, apokalypsis, meaning the “discourser of events,” as opposed to undisclosed or mysterious. Thus, even though Revelation has a lot of figurative phrases, it is not necessarily concealed when we take an honest look and compare it to other passages in the O.T. rather than pursuing trends or “newspaper eschatology.” Thus, Apocalypse means something is being revealed as an “uncovering,” an “unveiling,” or, as we have it in the English, a “Revelation.” Revelation is a book of disclosure and hope through John’s seven visions and God’s exhortations (Judges 6:11-23; Dan. 7:16; 10:5-21).
We then see this further as Revelation opens with an elaborate greeting so we can more firmly connect our relationship with the authority that is Christ and we can receive His hope and encouragement. Thus, the title of this Book means the “revelation of and about Jesus Christ” that the original hearers could now know.
Revelation 1:1 states, “what must soon take place.” The word “soon” (swift/shortly—Greek “Tachos”) means quickness and speed, indicating that these events will happen “suddenly” and “unexpectedly” (Matt 24:32; 2 Pet. 3:8-18).
The late date, so people point out, also refers to God’s divine providence and the final phase. The time of waiting is over; Christ is here. The time is near for God who lives outside of space and time, but not necessarily near for us. This is similar to the last days, referring in context to the sudden nature of the Christian era, not necessarily a time reference (2 Pet. 3:3). Many Christians took this to mean that it would happen soon. We need to understand God’s perspective, not our desires. This word is critical to which approach and view of Revelation one takes. If we take this word as it is in English and do not pay attention to the Greek or the context, we will jump to the conclusion of immediate fulfillment (Acts 2:16-17; 1 John 2:18; Rev. 22:6-12, 20).
Thus, if it is a prophecy of things that were to happen “shortly”, then these or most of these prophecies were fulfilled with the destruction of the Temple in 70 A.D.!
More Word usage and “internal evidence for an early date:”
The eight kings mentioned in Revelation 17:9-14, may present a date of early 70 A.D. just before the destruction of the Temple which happened in the fall season. The argument goes that if the kings were the Roman emperors, and if it started with the first, 1. Augustus, with the next seven being 2. Tiberius, 3. Caligula, 4. Claudius, and 5. Nero (who died June 9, 68 A.D. and may be the “deadly wound” in Rev. 13:3-14), then after Nero’s murder which left the Roman Empire in chaos, there were three very short lived “pocket emperors” 6. Galba, 7. Otho, and 8. Vitellius, who sought to take advantage of the situation and consolidate power, but each was quickly assassinated. Then, after the eighth one came Vespasian, who restored order in 70 A.D. but also did not live long (Job security was not good then). The date can be predicated because the “deadly wound” was healed by Vespasian (Rev. 17:10). If you did not count the pocket emperors, Vespasian would be sixth and Titus the seventh and Domitian the eighth. So an argument can be made using this system for both date theories. Even though the length of a Roman Emperor’s reign might be short, he was still the king.
Another wording of note is how the tense of word and context of “beast” is used. In Revelation 17:8-11, it says, the beast, which you saw, once was, now is not. If the “beast" represents the Roman Empire and its megalomaniac emperors like Nero and Domitian, then Revelation could not have been written during the reigns of either Nero or Domitian; rather, just before either one! Now this just confounds things a bit more.
Another “internal evidence” is how John addressed his personal situation. John was still to experience a lot of life after this writing, not that he was ready to die of old age. In Rev. 10:11, John is told that he “must prophesy again before many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings.” If John received this message around 96 A.D., how could he be able to walk and travel? Of course, an assist from God would be an answer too. If he was told this in 65-70 A.D., then he had lots of time and the enablement to do it.
An O.T. word example in Daniel 9 is the term “the abomination of desolation." This is an image of extreme evils, oppression, sexual exploitations, and the seductions of the world, referring to the evils of paganism and immorality and rationalizing it as OK (Lev 18:23; Jer. 3:3; Ezek-. 27; Hos. 2:2; Rev. 2:23; 7:3; 13:6). Antiochus IV Epiphanes destroyed the Temple in 167 B.C., at which time he also desecrated an idol of Zeus resembling himself. But wait; there is more! Herod rebuilt it, and it was just being finished at the time of Christ (Daniel 8:12, Daniel 9:24-27, Daniel 11:31, 12:11, Matthew 24:15, Revelation 11). This also refers to Matthew 24, and the most despicable apostasy and sacrilege that a Jewish person could conceive of that caused the desolation of the most holy place of the Temple. Daniel predicted this would happen after the death/rejection of the Messiah, which was also fulfilled at the crucifixion and the Temple’s destruction in 70 A.D. (Dan. 9:25-27; 11:31).
We will also see that Matthew 24 addresses the same issues as Revelation and the same period of time as Daniel 9. In Matthew 24, Jesus is not talking about the end of the future world, but the destruction of the Jewish temple, marking the end of the Jewish system or “age”. He is not teaching about “The Last Day” (of history), but the last days of the Jewish economy, the false religious system of the Jews, and the beginning of the New Covenant era. This is what John’s readers and hearers were going through.
Textual redaction considerations:
• The “Syriac version” of the New Testament, which dates back to the second century A.D., states that Revelation was written during the reign of Nero making a date of 64-68 A.D.
• The “Muratorian Fragment,” dating back to 170-190 A.D., states that this work of John was written during the reign of Nero.
• The “Aramaic Peshitta” version has a remark that places its date prior to 70 A.D. The title page of Revelation states this work of John was written right after the reign of Nero.
• The “Monarchian Prologues,” that dates back to 250-350 A.D., claims that Paul also wrote to these seven churches (possibly Romans which was a “circular letter,” it went out to many addressees) following John’s Book, thus, placing the book even before some of the other Pauline epistles.
•A quote, arguably attributed to Papius (130 AD), states that John the Apostle was martyred before the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70.
Roman law of exile:
Nero Caesar exiled John on the island of Patmos. Nero died in 68 AD, and according to Roman law, those banned by a prior Caesar would be released by the succeeding Caesar. Thus, John would have been released from Patmos around 68 AD. (John himself mentions he was at Patmos when he received the Revelation).

The condition of the Church in Asia Minor:
John is clearly writing to the seven churches and consequently to people being persecuted by Rome. Rome was a bloodthirsty, pagan empire that oppressed its people, especially Christians, who were considered criminals and slaves and used for sadistic entertainment.
Peter also wrote to the Christians in Asia Minor around the same time for an early date or a few years before John (1Pet. 1:1-6; 4:12; 5:9). He notes that they were in extreme persecution, suffering, and in dire anguish. This is similar to John’s language and situation (Rev 2:9; 3:9) and similar situations recorded by Paul in Acts 13:50; 14:5,19; 17:5-8,13; 18:12. Thus, the severity of the persecution is consistent with an early date.
Keep in mind that a Preterist view would require that the date for Revelation be prior to 70 A.D.
A late date after 70 A.D.?
Most modern, historical, and biblical scholars tend to state that Revelation was written between 95 and 96 A.D. with the major exceptions of McGuiggan, Jay Adams, Philip Schaff, and some others who contended for an early date of 70 A.D., specifically in the spring, during Vespasian’s reign, thus making an argument for an early date steps one out of the herd into the presumption of pride or a theological agenda; of course, the majority can be wrong too. If the later date is true, then the Preterist position cannot stand up well—if at all. The majority of the prophecies were fulfilled (except Christ second coming). Keep in mind that the key to this position is Jesus’ own words in Matthew 24.
Most scholars contend that the date of Revelation was around 95-96 A.D. near the end of the Domitian’s evil reign. How, and why?
Iraneaus is the main spokesmen to this date. He lived in the second century A.D., a principal “Early Church Father” who made a statement in 185 A.D. that the apostle John "saw the revelation…at the close of Domitian’s reign(A.D. 81-96). (Ref: Contra Haereses 5.30.3; ANF, 1:559-60 also called in the fifth book of his work “Against Heresies”.) The argument against this is that in context, his statement is not clear, rather ambiguous, but can be implicit in various ways.
Here it is: We will not, however, incur the risk of pronouncing positively as to the name of Antichrist; for if it were necessary that his name should be distinctly revealed in this present time, it would have been announced by him who beheld the apocalyptic vision. For that was seen not very long time since, but almost in our day, towards the end of Domitian’s reign.
There are at least four main problems with this statement. 1. It is actually a “second hand” account, which he quotes from Polycarp. Thus, it is not a direct quote from Irenaeus. 2. In context, this quote referred to Polycarp’s remembrance (also referred to by Eusebius) “that” sometime toward the end of Domitian’s reign there will be an antichrist (which simply means anyone who opposes Christ; here in a grand scale). 3. It is not clear from this statement to what Polycarp was referring or what he meant by “that was seen.” It could have been referring to Revelation or to a coming antichrist that was also implied by John. 4. Irenaeus suffers from credibility issues and/or textual and scribal errors. He also wrote when he was very old and/or made major mistakes. For example, in the same work as the aforementioned quote, he states that Jesus was crucified when he was fifty years old. Thus, the principle source for the late dating of the Book of Revelation has some significant holes.

Did the Early Church Fathers give credence?
Some of the other Early Church Fathers give credence to a late date. Jerome, Sulpicius Severus, and Hippolytus all thought that John was exiled to Patmos under Domitian, where he saw the visions and wrote the Apocalypse. Another was Clement of Alexandria, who was an “Ante Nicene Father.” In his work, “Who is the rich man that shall be saved? XLII,” he gives credence to a late date too. So say many Futurist scholars. But, when the text is examined,
“the Apostle John. For when, on the tyrant’s death, he returned to Ephesus from the isle of Patmos, he went away, being invited, to the contiguous territories of the nations, here to appoint bishops, there to set in order whole Churches, there to ordain such as were marked out by the Spirit…”
The key is how you translate the phrase the tyrant’s death, because it could be Domitian as this theory argues, but it could be someone else like Nero. Jerome also stated in his Book of Illustrious Men that during the final reign of Domitian, he instigated the biggest persecution of all, even greater than Nero’s. Therefore, this sets up the situation for Revelation. However, these statements can easily be cross-examined and refuted because of contextual issues similar to the Irenaeus refute. Thus, these late date theories may come out of interpretative errors by their scholars, from reading into a theory and grasping for any evidence, or that the historians just could not recognize how Christ’s statements applied to the audience as he said they did.
The other main theory for a late date is when the events recorded in the book of Revelation take place in Domitian’s reign (81- 96 AD), the contention is that it is in the future after the date of around 82 to 96 A.D. This is backed up by the early church historian, Eusebius (A.D. 300-340), who actually did not state the date but just gave a general connection between John and Domitian, which could just mean John was still alive in Domitian’s reign."
I have read other similar references but cannot say I have cross checked anything so those with greater knowledge of some of these church father’s may have some worthwhile opinion on the validity of the thoughts here.
Cheers S

Hi Sturmy, the above can be found HERE.

Thanks Melchi and Dave.

Hi Steve…

This is absolutely correct.

Again yes… biblical “eschatology” was all about the end of the world, that is or should I say was the end of the Mosaic world i.e., the Old Covenant “age”. As I understand it there is NO eschatology relevant to the New Covenant age, that is… the new covenant age has no end. This world will always populate the next ad infinitum.

Well actually, the “revelation” was of “Jesus Christ” and of things “soon” to occur… Jesus had previously prophesied such days and now here is John a good while later commissioned to give relevant details etc.

As to an early dating of Revelation – Kenneth Gentry’s BOOK or PDFstates the case well, IMO. I might add by the way that Gentry is a PARTIAL prêterist.

From my perspective “the world” being judged was the old covenant world that was found wanting Heb 8:7-8]. You have to remember that in spite of previous devastation and deportation [722BC and 587BC] Israelites and in particular their culture survived. Their world was not limited to Palestine, in fact it was for this very reason along with the common Grecian world (trade) language and the Roman roads that traversed the kingdom carrying the gospel message that the early church was predominately viewed as “a Jewish sect”. Hence Paul’s affirmation… “For Moses has had throughout many generations those who preach him in every city, being read in the synagogues every Sabbath.Acts 15:21 cf Jn 7:35; Acts 2:5, 26:7; Jas 1:1; 1Pet 1:1

John’s ‘Revelation’ speaks of those who “…shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire…”. The ‘lake of fire/second death’ was much more than a picture of ‘physical death’ – DEATH like in Israel’s former captivity actually meant EXILE. Yes many literally died, but in covenantal terms “death is exile”. Comprehending this helps us to see Paul’s words to the Thessalonians with more clarity, appreciating the historical context as opposed to applying something more ethereal…

2Thess 1:9 These will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power…

As I understand it “eternal destruction” speaks not of longevity but of TOTALITY – it is qualitative NOT quantitative. History bears witness to the fact that in the aftermath of the Ad70 Judgment a good portion of the Jews were taken captive as slaves back to Rome and paraded by the conquering Titus as part of the spoils of the Roman-Jewish Wars. These captives were all very much alive, yet having had “their part” in the “lake of fire” (Israel’s/Jerusalem’s AD66-70 conflagration) were now banished forever… permanently exiled [DEATH] away fromthe presence of the Lord” in Jerusalem – their world had come crashing down and they were as dead-men-walking… judged and found wanting.

Thanks davo that’s helpful.

Hi Richard:

Out on vacation last week; just noticed this. I suppose first of all I’m intrigued by the breadth of your personal musings about life and theology!
I mean, why this, why now…

Within my denomination of upbringing (and where I currently reside; very Historicist! eg see sturmy’s notes…) there is this inside joke among the more bold… We Adventists (ie the SDA) have no need for hell; (we - though not me! - are annihilationists as you may recall…) we do however have a perfect substitute: the fear engendered by our own particular eschatology – which renders our Second Coming scenarios (and up-leading events) just as fearsome as any hell!

I’ve no fondness for the subject myself. It’s been nothing but a source of fear and trembling and uncertainty. So my bias is inherent and frightfully strong. I’ve found discussions of eschatology mostly as negative; ie quite counter to any notion of gospel (GOOD news folks!!) one might have.

In my experience then, Eschatology serves merely to select and empower a certain enlightened few with, you know, the “special knowledge” that can make one feel so smug and certain and (let’s just admit it) self-righteous… Because, you know, we “know” (wink wink! :wink: what those other less insightful bible readers don’t “know”. It was, in short, a mechanism of exclusion, and control (he with the secret knowledge rules!) and (in retrospect) frightfully manipulative… Little wonder then that for me, my dawning realization of the true God (for me, in ’94…) involved a heavy dose of reworking of my understandings of …. Eschatology.

But to cut through a whole lot of anguish and questions and thought, my response to this question of your’s Richard is, (apologies for sounding crude or irreverent…) so what? All biblical eschatology culminates/is realized in 70 A.D. So what? Jesus came again… Final Judgement… Hell… All over and behind us… So what?? Or, with a nod to my Historicist upbringing (yes, the very one which left me in a tetanic fear…) Most, or maybe NONE of it was fulfilled — it’s ALL going to happen sometime… out there… in the future… gotta “be ready” … Again I’d ask; so what?

For, it seems too obvious to even need to mention, and just think of all to whom this has applied over the ages since the Cross, here we are. Still. Looking, waiting, suffering, yearning, and asking - over and over again until we faint of exhaustion - Why? Oh God? and… How Long Oh God?? The majesty & victory of the Cross simply fades away into the very thing faith always was… waiting out the storm, catching fleeting glimpses and glimmers of the (all too often far off) Kingdom, and then, we die… Die just like those other hero’s of faith. (Heb 11) Die in hope – not having received the promise… still waiting for that heavenly country…

Eschatology fulfilled? So what… Life goes on. And we find ourselves asking the same questions, facing the same dilemmas also faced and asked by vast throngs who’ve trod the way before us.
And no, we’re not leaving Him; we affirm, as did Peter so long ago, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal Life… we know You are the Holy One of God…

Of what use, then, is eschatology? What happened, and when? … what will happen, and when? So what? Why do we need to know with such specificity??

I’ve known many who hold that eschatology exists so that, when it happens (is fulfilled) we can all say “see! - God really does know the future!” which I suppose is to generate confidence in God. Except, as you’ve noted, we can’t even agree that “it” has even happened! To see eschatology as indication of God’s complete foreknowledge, or as refutation of open theism, misses the point – or so it seems to me…

The only way I can even begin to make a coherent place for eschatology is to find a place for it within the overarching narrative of God. God – origin of everything, thus a personal being, the Creator ‘invested’ in His creation. But something’s amiss; call it the ‘fall’, or call it the painful journey towards freedom and right doing from our initial condition of ambiguity, self-centeredness, delusion. Thus, the central actions of God involve redemption. Of not just us, but of the entire creation.

Whether the process of redemption, or “re-creation”, is itself part of, or necessary to the overarching goals of God’s creation I cannot say for sure. (ie following Talbott’s suggestion that we are born into ambiguity, ignorance, and prone to delusion…)

Necessary to this process – and surely we should be able to all agree that it’s mostly a process, not just an instantaneous churning out of perfected beings – is time. Things just need to work out, evolve; cause and effect becoming ever clearer even as the revelation of God’s way’s & means become clearer. (ie without the dark glass; knowing even as we are known etc) This lack of complete clarity however, even as we learn and grow and move, can be extremely anxiety producing as we are tempted to despair, lose hope; our faith shudders.

Into this setting then, this narrative, eschatology begins to make perfect sense when seen as an indispensable part of God’s redemption. It is a framework of history, part and parcel of our narrative, which serves to remind us, over and over as necessary, of the truths on which our hope rests. God is there; God is cause; God is personal; God is involved; we are not alone; God is compassionate; God is redeeming; and most of all, God is victorious. Any eschatology that doesn’t end with a completely victorious God is no eschatology at all.

The point of an eschatology then is not to raise our predictive IQ so we can just plug correct events in with correct dates. Rather, it is to encourage the despairing, rekindle their hope, rebuild courage and strengthen faith. The point is, God stands astride all of history… As we all should be painfully aware, there are those who follow Christ today whose loyalties are costing them their lives. We argue finer points of theology; they’re getting killed. I should think that an eschatology that speaks to God’s current intimate involvement in our Redemptive drama would be rather more pertinent, and powerful, than one which only affected “them” way back “then”. If belief in complete fulfillment “way back then” fosters confidence today (and why wouldn’t it?) then that is fine too of course and that eschatology will also have served its useful purpose.

Or something like that…

Thanks for the thoughts Richard!


steve7150 wrote:It says Jesus is returning to judge the world and the dead will be raised and judged and those whose names are not in the book of life will go into the lake of fire.

From my perspective “the world” being judged was the old covenant world that was found wanting [Heb 8:7-8]. You have to remember that in spite of previous devastation and deportation [722BC and 587BC] Israelites and in particular their culture survived. Their world was not limite

Sorry i have not had much free time, hopefully after July 4th i’ll have more. I read individuals being raised from the dead in Rev 20 and individually being judged and any individual not found in the book of life being put in the lake of fire.
This is nowhere to found in Full Preterism. Also i read in scripture an end to evil at some point also not found in FP. The dating of Revelation is not an issue as for the Historicist and Idealist view it can be written at either date. The things happening soon could have begun in 70AD and simply continued through the church age. However sometimes God described things in the present tense that happened hundreds of years later like Isaiah 53 or Genesis 3.15. Paul said God speaks of things that are not as though they are (Rom 4) therefore the word “soon” may or not mean it the way we normally would take it.

Again… from my perspective the “world” being judged was the “old covenant” world that had failed miserably Heb 8:7-8] and was “about to” μέλλω] “pass away”, as per the likes of Heb 8:13; 2Cor 3:11; 1Jn 2:8.

Although my view of pantelism is in the fully prêteristic camp I certainly do not speak for all full prêterists, far from it, however… as I understand it, this is not some cosmic endless post mortem scene, but rather refers to the Mosaic world’s “end time”, i.e., ‘the lake of fire’ is a metonymic euphemism used to express the conflagrations that were to befall Palestine in AD66-70, culminating in the destruction of Jerusalem in particular the Temple, the paragon of LIFE in the old covenant “world”. Those who remained faithful to Israel’s covenant renewal as founded in Christ “enduring to the end” were delivered, that is, “saved” out of harm’s way, as per Mt 24:13; Lk 21:21.

Those who “had their part” in the lake of fire Rev 21:8] suffered tremendous loss in the Roman-Jewish wars of the period, and particularly so with Jerusalem’s destructive inferno of AD70… some to the point of DEATH, for others deprivation and DEPORTATION to Rome.

Again, history bears witness to the fact that in the aftermath of this AD70 “Judgment” a good portion of Jewish captives were taken back to Rome and paraded as slaves before the conquering Titus as part of the spoils of war. These captives were all still very much alive, yet having had “their part” in the “lake which burns with fire” were now banished “forever”… permanently EXILED, i.e., covenant DEATH aka “the Second Death” away from the presence of the Lord in Jerusalem – their world had come crashing down; they had been judged and found wanting.

These were the ones banished from ever again being found in “the Presence of the Lord” (at the Temple) as per Paul’s words to the Thessalonians… These will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power… 2Thess 1:9

And so it was in contradistinction… they had “no place” or “part” in ‘the Book of Life’ – a euphemism with undertones in part saying no place found for them in the land of the living as per the likes of Ex 32:32; Isa 4:3; Psa 69:28; Rom 9:3.

Steve, which text/s of “scripture” do you actually have in mind that mention “an end to evil”?

Hey everyone,
Has anybody considered that while all the stuff to Jerusalem did happen, that it is also a type/shadow of the future, meaning the same bad stuff will happen again and that Jesus really will come back in the clouds to save us all from killing each other.
Also, when the Bible says that Jerusalem will not be built again, I think it meant it literally in the sense of a nuclear war. :open_mouth:
The preterist view (without any future event) seems to miss out on that fact that global events have gotten progressively worse over time. There is more bloodshed, war, immorality, hypocrisy in the churches, broken families, disasters, famines, monetary debt, and general evil in the last couple of centuries (read: World War I, II, Holocaust, etc.) than ever. The biggest evidence comes from the fact that secularization corrodes Christian values in America and Europe to the point that Christians are unsure of whether God cares. That’s what I call mass manipulation by ‘humanist’ leaders who supposedly represent the ignorant people. Eventually, the leaders will be exposed for their lies and people will cry out for Jesus to save them and bring back order. Jesus gonna boss, man. :sunglasses:
BTW, I come from an Adventist background but now I’m an Universalist who believes that Jesus will come back and sort this whole mess out soon. I don’t mean to be negative, just keeping it real.
Sincerely (yes, I mean everything I said),
Nick :slight_smile:

P.S. Jesus loves you. You’ll be fine if you put your trust in Him. :wink:

Hi Nick, :smiley:

I love your post despite disagreeing with almost everything in it! :wink: I thought quite similarly in the past but now I’m older …and well, just OLDER! I may be wiser but that’s more debatable… Anyway, there is a lot that could be discussed here as you’ve laid out some things here that are very provocative regarding things getting worse in the last few centuries and the corrosion of “Christian values.” I sense a new thread arising from this and wonder if you’d be game to pursue this? If so, I’ll start a new one using this post as an intro and off we go! :smiley: