The Pretzel Logic of "Orthodox" partial Preterism
Posted on Sunday, February 03 @ 14:33:19 PST by Duncan McKenzie
by Duncan McKenzie
This is an excerpt from my book, The Antichrist and the Second Coming. The book is done but I am still revising and refining it. I am still not sure how I am ever going to get the thing into print. It has three strikes against it: 1. It is written from a preterist perspective. 2. It is too long (about 850 pages). I am technically not qualified to write it. I have a Ph.D. but it is in psychology not theology. Please pray that God makes a way.
While I am what Kenneth Gentry would term a hyperpreterist (I believe the Second Coming, resurrection and judgment happened at AD 70, or more correctly the resurrection and judgment began at AD 70 cf. Rev. 14:13), I am not a full preterist. I do not think all prophecy was fulfilled by AD 70 (I still look for Rev. 20:7-10 to be fulfilled). I find J.S. Russell’s position to be correct. He saw the Second Coming, resurrection and judgment as happening at AD 70 but saw that as the beginning of the millennium (full prets. say AD 70 was the end of the millennium). I think the book of Daniel backs up Russell on this (see my article, “J.S. Russell’s Position on the Millennium, the Neglected Third Way of Preterism” http://planetpreterist.com/news-5017.html (or click on my name on the left under columnists).
The sequence shown in Daniel 7 is the following: God comes and defeats the Antichrist (the little horn) and then thrones are put in place as the court is seated and the saints receive the kingdom. This sequence is shown three times: .Dan. 7:7-11, 19-22; 23-27. The same sequence is shown in Revelation 19:11-20:4. The Word of God comes and defeats the Antichrist (the beast) in Rev. 19:11-21 and then the saints receive the kingdom in Rev. 20. This sequence explains why some of those who come alive at the beginning of the millennium had been killed for not taking the mark of the beast (Rev. 20:4). This is a direct reference to the events of Revelation 13 (which were about to happen when John wrote). These souls of believers (cf. Rev. 6:9) had been killed during the tribulation of AD 67-70 (Rev. 13:4-7) and are being resurrected at AD 70 to share in the millennial reign. The martyrs of the beast being resurrected at the beginning of the millennium in no way fits the AD 30 beginning of the millennium that full preterists teach. It is a huge red flag that should not be ignored.
Enough about that, however, I am here to critique traditional partial preterism, not full preterism. I just want the reader to know that just because partial preterism is wrong, that does not mean that full preterism is 100% right. There is something in-between. Now that I have stepped on the toes of my full preterist brethren let me get back to the task at hand, stepping on the toes of my partial preterist brethren.
One does not have to look too hard to find problems with partial preterism. The partial preterist position argues that the tribulation happened at AD 70 but the resurrection happens in the distant future. Look at Daniel 12, however. It shows the resurrection happening right after the great tribulation. These events were to happen at the AD 70 shattering of the Jewish nation:
At that time Michael shall stand up, the great prince who stands watch over the sons of your people; and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation, even to that time. And at that time your people shall be delivered, every one who is found written in the book. And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, some to shame and everlasting contempt…it shall be for a time, times, and half a time, and when the power of the holy people has bee completely shattered all these things shall be finished. Dan. 12:1-2, 7
Partial preterists usually try to get around this in two ways:
1. They say there is really a gap of thousands of years between vv 1 and 2. That is about as convincing as the gap of thousands of years that dispensationalists claim happen between the 69 and 70th week in Daniel 9:26-27
2. They say that this is not the resurrection but is some sort of national resurrection. This is wrong because it is clearly showing a resurrection of individuals. If one wants to see what a national resurrection looks like see Ezekiel 37. Added to this, Daniel’s people are shattered at this time (Dan. 12:7); that is hardly showing a national resurrection. By the way Revelation 11:15-18 shows the same thing, the resurrection happening at the AD 70 destruction of those who were destroying the Land (gē is often better translated as “Land,” the Land of Israel, in Revelation rather than “earth”).
The partial preterist position of two separate comings of Jesus can lead to some very questionable distinctions between the supposed comings. Consider the following comments by Gentry in discussing 2 Thessalonians 2:1-2.
Though he [Paul] speaks of the Second Advent just a few verses before ([in 2 Thess.] 1:10), he is not dealing with that event here [in 2 Thess. 2:1-2]. Of course, similarities exist between the Day of the Lord upon Jerusalem in AD 70 and the universal Day of the Lord at the Second Advent. The one is a temporal betokening of the other, being a distant adumbration of it. The Second Advent provides a final hope for the eternal resolution to their suffering; the A.D 70 Day of the Lord affords an approaching temporal resolution (cp. Rev. 6:10). Orthodox scholars from each of the millennial scholars agree that Christ brings these two events into close connection in the Olivet Discourse, Indeed, Christ’s disciples almost certainly confuse the two (Matt. 24:3). The same connection seems to exist here as well. [Kenneth L. Gentry, Perilous Times: A Study in Eschatological Evil (Texarkana AR: Covenant Media Press, 1999), 100]
I invite the reader to look at first and second chapters of 2 Thessalonians (see below). See if you can find the two different comings of Jesus supposedly found there; they are three verses apart! Maybe I am missing the adumbration. Gentry maintains that the first coming (2 Thess. 1:7-10) is a reference to the future Second Coming and the next (2 Thess. 2:1) is to the AD 70 coming. I have underlined the supposed two different comings of Jesus.
2 Thessalonians 1:6-2:3
Since it is a righteous thing with God to repay with tribulation those who trouble you, and to give you who are troubled rest with us when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, when He comes in that Day, to be glorified in His saints and to be admired among all those who believe, because our testimony among you was believed [Gentry sees the preceding as referring to a future Second Coming]. Therefore we also pray always for you that our God would count you worthy of this calling and fulfill all the good pleasure of His goodness and the work of faith with power, that the name of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and you in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ. Now brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, [Gentry sees this as referring to the AD 70 coming] we ask you, not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as if from us, as though the day of Christ had come. Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition. brackets mine
Gentry is saying that Paul is talking about a future final advent in 2 Thessalonians 1:7-10 but a mere three verses later switches to the AD 70 coming 2 Thessalonians 2:1! Gentry is forced into this far-fetched position because 2 Thessalonians 1:7-10 is talking about the judgment (which Gentry says is still future) while 2:1 is talking about the AD 70 gathering of God’s people (cf. Matthew 24:29-34, which Gentry correctly believes is AD 70). Such are the extremes that partial preterists are forced into to try and maintain their distinction between an AD 70 coming of Jesus and a supposed future final advent.
Do Different Greek Words Refer to Different Comings?
Gentry’s defense for his distinction of the two separate comings in 2 Thessalonians 1-2 is that the word that Paul uses for the Lord’s final advent in 2 Thessalonians 1:10 (Gr. elthe) is different from the word he uses for the advent in 2 Thessalonians 2:1 (Gr. parousia). [Gentry, Perilous Times, 100-101] It is hard to take this distinction very seriously, however, since Gentry himself says that the word parousia (which he applies to AD 70 in 2 Thess. 2:1) refers to the final advent in 1 Thessalonians 4:15. Thus Gentry makes his elthe/parousia distinction in 2 Thessalonians 1-2 where it suits his position and ignores it in 1 Thessalonians 4 where it doesn’t!
Preston astutely critiqued the inconsistencies in Gentry’s attempts to use the Greek to differentiate the AD 70 coming of Jesus from a supposed final Second Coming:
Gentry says 1 Thessalonians 4:13f and 2 Thessalonians 1[:7-12] are the same event, i.e. the Final Advent. But there is a major problem here for Gentry. Remember that he delineates between 2 Thessalonians 1[:10] and chapter 2[:1] because of the use of elthe in chapter 1 and parousia in chapter 2. [But] 1 Thessalonians 4[:15] and 2 Thessalonians 1[:10] contain the same ‘different words’ as do 2 Thessalonians 1[:10] and 2 Thessalonians 2[:1]! In 1 Thessalonians 4 Paul uses the word parousia (v. 15, the same world used in 2 Thessalonians 2:1), to describe the coming of the Lord. However, remember that in 2 Thessalonians 1:10 Paul uses elthe, and Gentry insists that this word indicates a different coming than parousia. Why then does he not delineate between [parousia and elthe in] 1 Thessalonians 4[:15] and 2 Thessalonians 1[:10]? This is inconsistency exemplified.
Here is what Gentry does:
1 Thessalonians 4:15- parousia is final coming
2 Thessalonians 1:7f- elthe, is final coming.
So, Paul uses different words to describe the same event, and Gentry has no problem with this.
2 Thessalonians 2:1-2 is parousia, and is AD 70, but,
1 Thessalonians 4:15, 17 is parousia and is the “final coming.”
So, Paul uses the identical words, and in both contexts he speaks of the gathering of the saints. But, Gentry insists that these are two totally different events, disparate in nature and time.
If the use of different words (parousia-v-elthe), does not demand different events in Gentry’s application of 1 Thessalonians 4 [:15] and 2 Thessalonians 1[:10], then why does the use of those same different words demand two different events in 2 Thessalonians 1[:10] and 2 Thessalonians 2[:1] (elthe-v-parousia)? And, if different words can be used describe the same event, then why does not the use of the identical words demand the reference to the same event (1 Thessalonians 4:15, parousia / 2 Thessalonians 2:1-2, parousia)? [Don Preston The Elements shall Melt with Fervent Heat: A Study of 2 Peter 3 (Ardmore OK: JaDon Productions LLC, 2006), 223-224 Great stuff Don!]
Is Paul talking about a different coming in the first chapter of 2 Thessalonians than he is in the second chapter? How could the coming in 2 Thessalonians 1:10 (These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, when He comes in that Day to be gloried in His saints…”) be referring to end of time and the coming in 2 Thess 2:1 (Now brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him…) be referring to AD 70? Again, the supposed two different comings are only three verses apart and no distinction is made between the two!
If that isn’t bad enough, the coming of Jesus with His angels in 2 Thessalonians 1:6-10 (which Gentry says is the end of time) is said in Matthew 16 to happen within the lifetime of some of Jesus’ hearers. Compare 2 Thessalonians 1:6-8 with Matthew 16:27-28; I have included A and B for points of comparison.
Since it is a righteous thing with God to repay with tribulation those who trouble you, and to give you who are troubled rest with us [A] when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire [B] taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who don’t not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Thessalonians 1:6-8
[A] For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and [B] then He will reward each according to his works. Assuredly, I say to you, there are some standing here who shall not taste death till they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom. Matt. 16:27-28
Gentry says 2 Thessalonians 1:6-10 is the end of time but is forced to admit that Matthew 16:27-28 is AD 70 (because of the time referent it contains in v. 28). Both of these sections, however, are talking about the same thing: A: Jesus coming in God’s glory with the angels, and B: the judgment. Again, Gentry’s partial preterist distinction doesn’t hold up to biblical scrutiny.
If Paul is talking of two different comings of Jesus in 2 Thessalonians 1:6-2:3 he certainly did not make it very clear. Gentry seems to be suggesting that Paul didn’t make the distinction because he wasn’t totally clear on it himself (“Christ’s disciples almost certainly confuse the two [comings in] Matt. 24:3. The same connection seems to exist here as well”). For Gentry to suggest that the distinction between the supposed two comings of Jesus may not be clear because the NT writers may not have been clear about the comings puts him on very thin ice. If the NT writers were not clear on two separate comings of Jesus then it would mean that they were not making the distinction between two comings of Jesus that partial preterists do. If that is the case then the teaching of partial preterism on this issue is superior to the revelation of Scripture. This is thin ice indeed.
It is indefensible distinctions between an AD 70 coming and the supposed true Second Coming at the end of time that leads me to reject the traditional partial preterist position; it just doesn’t hold up to biblical or logical scrutiny. The Coming of Jesus in Revelation 19 is referring to the one and only Second Coming at AD 70. With harlot Israel destroyed, Jesus comes and defeats the beast from the abyss. This was the Parousia; it was the beginning of the judgment and resurrection (Dan. 12:1-7; Rev. 11:15-18) as well as the millennium (Dan. 7:7-12, 21-22; Luke 19:11-27; Rev. 19:11-20:4).
Duncan McKenzie is a columnist for PlanetPreterist.com. Duncan has Masters and Ph.D degrees in Psychology and currently lives in Los Angeles, California.
View Duncan McKenzie archives
Note: Opinions presented on PlanetPreterist.com or by PlanetPreterist.com columnists may not necessarily reflect the position of PlanetPreterist.com, or reflect the beliefs, doctrine or theological position of all other preterists. We encourage all readers to first and foremost carefully analyze all articles in the light of God's Word.
|Re: The Pretzel Logic of (Score: 1)|
by Duncan on Sunday, February 03 @ 17:39:04 PST
|Thanks for the comment and I will check out your suggestion. |
I am representing Russell correctly; his position is different from Perimans (although both agree that the millennium began at AD 70). Here is an excerpt from an aritcle on this site about Russell's position on the millenniium (click on my name on the left under columnists. The article is entitled "Russell's position on the millennium the forgotten 3rd way of preterism").
Russell’s position is that what is being shown in Revelation 20 is not two separate throne scenes and judgments (one in Rev. 20:4 and one in 20:11-15) separated by the millennium, but one throne scene and judgment (composed of Revelation 20:4 and 11-15) with a digression of what will happen at the end of the millennium (Revelation 20:7-10) in between. Russell’s position is that John begins describing a throne scene judgment at the beginning of the millennium in Revelation 20:4. At 20:7-10 John digresses about what would happen at the end of the millennium, and then at 20:11 he takes up again the subject of the throne scene judgment he started in 20:4. Russell thus saw the description of the throne scene and judgment that is begun in Revelation 20:4 as being continued in Revelation 20:11. The two sections (Rev. 20:4 and 11-15) are thus describing one throne scene judgment (which happens at the beginning of the millennium) not two throne scene judgments (one at the beginning of the millennium and one at its end). Russell wrote the following on this.
…we must consider the passage which treats of (sic) the thousand years, from ver. 5 to ver. 10, as an intercalation or parenthesis. The Seer, having begun to relate the judgment of the dragon, passes in ver. 7 out of the apocalyptic limits to conclude what he had to say respecting the final punishment of ‘the old serpent,” and the fate that awaited him at the close of a lengthened period called ‘a thousand years.’ This we believe to be the sole instance in the whole book of an excursion into distant futurity; and we are disposed to regard the whole parenthesis as relating to matters still future and unfulfilled. The broken continuity of the narration is joined again at ver. 11, where the seer resumes the account of what…had been interrupted by the digression respecting the thousand years, taking up the thread which was dropped at the close of ver. 4.
What Russell is saying is that John begins to relate a throne scene judgment in Revelation 20:4 (And I saw thrones and they sat on them…). In verses 7-10 John digresses and talks about what will happen to Satan at the end of the millennium (“Now when the thousand years have expired, Satan will be released from his prison…” v. 7). At verse 11 the description of the throne scene that was begun in verse 4 is continued (“Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it…).
If Russell’s position is correct (which I believe it is) then the one throne scene and judgment described in Revelation 20:4 and 20:11-15 is as follows.
Rev. 20:4 And I saw thrones and they sat on them and judgment was committed to them. Then I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witnesses to Jesus and for the word of God, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands. And they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years
(Parenthesis of 7-10 of what happens at the end of the millennium)
Rev. 20:11-15 Then I saw a great throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and heaven fled away and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each according to his works. Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.
If Russell’s position is correct then the picture that emerges is that of the saints of verse 4 (composed of either dead believers or symbolically all believers, living and dead) joining in with God in judging the unbelieving dead in verse 11. If this is true then verse 4 (“And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was committed to them…”) is referring to the same judgment that verses 11-12 are (“Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it…and the dead were judged”). It should be noted that Scripture supports this interpretation of Revelation 20:4, 11-15 and its picture of the saints joining with God in the judgment.
Matthew 19:28 Assuredly I say to you, that in the regeneration, when the Son of Man sits on the throne of His glory, you who have followed Me will also sit on twelve thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
1 Corinthians 6:2 Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world will be judged by you, are you unworthy to judge the smallest matters?
Initially I rejected Russell idea (that Revelation 20:4 and 11-15 were describing one judgment that happened at the beginning of the millennium) as being interesting but unlikely. What finally convinced me that Russell was right, was comparing what is clearly one throne scene and judgment at the beginning of the saints possessing the kingdom in Daniel 7:9-10 (which is when thrones are put in place) with Revelation 20:4 and 11-12. In Daniel 7 there is only one throne scene judgment shown; it is at the beginning of the saints possessing the kingdom, the beginning of the millennium, and it contains the elements of both Revelation 20:4 and 11 (as Russell’s position would predict). This is consistent with the proposition that Rev. 20:4 and 11 are showing one throne scene judgment that happens at the beginning of the millennium. Consider the following comparison of these scriptures. I am using the New Revised Standard Version here and have added the letters A-E for points of comparison. I have also added to Daniel 7 the corresponding verses in Revelation 20 in parentheses.
Dan. 7:9-11 NRSV
Dan. 7: 9. As I watched, thrones were set in place
Rev. 20:4 I saw thrones
Dan. 7:9 an Ancient One took his throne, his clothing white as snow.
Rev. 20:11 I saw a great white throne and the one who sat on it
Dan. 7:10 A thousand thousands served him and ten thousand times ten thousand stood attending him.
Rev. 20:12 I saw the dead, great and standing before the throne.
Dan. 7:10 The court sat in judgment
Rev. 20:4 those seated on them [the thrones] were given authority to judge
Dan. 7:10 books were opened
Rev. 20:12 books were opened
Rev. 20:4 NRSV
Then [A] I saw thrones, and [D] those seated on them were given authority to judge. I also saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their testimony to Jesus and for the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years. emphasis added
(Parenthesis of 7-10 of what happens at the end of the millennium)
Then I saw [B] a great white throne and the one who sat on it; the earth and the heaven fled from his presence, and no place was found for them. And I saw [C] the dead, great and small standing before the throne, and [E] books were opened. Also another book was opened, the book of life. And the dead were judged according to their works, as recorded in the books. emphasis added
Notice that it is only by combining the elements of both Revelation 20:4 and 11-12 that one gets all five of the elements of the one throne scene of Daniel 7:9-10. That judgment happens at the beginning of the millennium.
|Re: The Pretzel Logic of (Score: 1)|
by Duncan on Sunday, February 03 @ 18:55:36 PST
(User Info | Send a Message)
|Again, Russell's position is that the throne scene started in 20:4 is continued in vv. 11-15. They make up one AD 70 throne scene at the begining of the millennium. Daniel 7:9-10 stronly supports this position. I don't see Russell suggesting another resurrection. Do you have a quote from him to support what you are saying?|
Personally I see the resurrection and judgment as beginning at AD 70 destruction of Israel (Dan. 12:1-7 cf. Rev. 11:15-18). I see it as having on ongoing fulfillment from that time on. I don't see another resurrection in Daniel or Revelation. I don't think Russell suggests what you are saying, but I am more than willing to be corrected if you can produce a quote from Russell to back it up.
|Re: The Pretzel Logic of (Score: 1)|
by Duncan2 on Monday, February 04 @ 11:12:00 PST
(User Info | Send a Message)
|I will let you run! But if you are saying that Rev. 20:11-14 parallels Dan. 7:9-10 (which is hard to deny) and Dan. 7:9-10 is AD 70 but Rev. 20:11-14 isn't then you have some splaining to do!|
|Re: The Pretzel Logic of (Score: 1)|
by Duncan on Monday, February 04 @ 16:50:23 PST
(User Info | Send a Message)
|... I do know this, however, he says that Rev. 20:4 and 11-15 are one throne scene that happens at the beginning of the millennium, not two throne scenes separated by the millennium. Daniel 7:9-10 supports this. Dan. 7 shows thrones being put in place, (the beginning of the millennium, Rev. 20:4) at the same time the books are opened (Rev. 20:12). ...|