What is a Preterist?
to Webster's Unabridged Universal Dictionary, a Preterist
is "a theologian who believes that the prophecies of the Apocalypse
have already been fulfilled"
(Source: WordNet ® 1.6, ©1997 Princeton University). Yes,
a Preterist believes that all Bible prophecy has been
fulfilled. Let that sink in for a moment.... For most people,
this is a shocking statement. One that causes an immediate
reaction, usually negative. That's too bad, because the Scriptures
are very clear as to the timing of its prophecies. Shouldn't
we expect God's Word to be understandable?
people believe that because God is eternal and lives outside
the constraints of the time/space continuum, He is unconcerned
with communicating accurately regarding time. For example,
many interpret the passage in I Pet. 3 as indicating this.
They say that for God, one day is the same as 1,000 years
and vice versa. Using this assumption, they ignore the time
limitations of prophetic texts, saying they are "flexible."
In this way, such statements as "at hand"
and "near" are interpreted to mean "a
long time," and "far."
is it so difficult to simply take God at His Word? Jesus
emphatically declared that He would return before the generation
He was speaking to had passed away (Matt. 24:34). Despite
the convoluted attempts at altering the meaning of His words,
He meant exactly what it sounds like! He even told those He
was speaking to that some of them would live to see His return
Jesus was referring simply to His transfiguration that took
place only six days later, He greatly exaggerated what was
to take place! The implication of what He said is that some
of the people He was speaking to would have died by the time
it came to pass. Where was the judgment that was to
take place in the presence of the angels?
that the prophecies of the Apocalypse have already been fulfilled."
In the most basic terms, a Preterist believes that all the
prophecies of the Bible were fulfilled by the end of the first
century AD (usually by AD 70), and those prophecies have continuing
results (effects) today. For instance, when Jesus began His
preaching, He proclaimed that the kingdom of God was "at
hand." The kingdom "came with power" in A.D.
70 (Mk. 9:1) and continues to exist in power today. There
are several reasons why you may want to become a Preterist:
First, your eschatological (prophetic) view will be consistent
with Scripture. When Jesus says something such as, "This
generation shall certainly not pass away before all these
things are fulfilled" (Mt 24:34), you can say, "Amen!
He was telling the truth!" without having to go through
various hermeneutical (interpretive) gymnastics in order to
deny the plain sense of the Master's words.
Second, you can know the joy of having received all the promises
the OT saints were eagerly awaiting. You can acknowledge the
fact that you are a full-fledged child of God living in His
eternal kingdom right now, and enjoying the benefits of a
fully-accomplished salvation! Never again will you have to
say that you are only a second-class citizen because you weren't
born Jewish or live in the modern-day state called "Israel."
No more will you be required to impugn the foresight of your
heavenly Father by sheepishly explaining that the so-called
"Church age" is merely a parenthesis (a "hiccup,"
if you will) in the plan of God. Nay, you can know for sure
that you are a citizen of the true Israel with full rights
and privileges, a true child of Abraham, whether you are Jew
You can also have the confidence of knowing that you are
living in the Kingdom age (you can call it the "Church
age" if you like), and that it is everlasting in its
Thirdly, you can live your life productively! No pessimism
is necessary in this view. You won't have to be discouraged
from working to change society because you will know that
the things you do can make a difference! You will discover
that the "ship" is not sinking, and it is therefore
a good idea not only to "polish the brass," but
also to swab the decks (you could even turn on the bilge pump)!
You can live your life free from the fear of imminent disaster
and tribulation. Nor more do you need to fear being "left
behind" in an allegedly future "rapture." The
energy you formerly wasted worrying needlessly about these
things can be used positively now to further the spread of
God's wonderful kingdom!
Fourth, when you share the gospel with someone, you can offer
them truly good news. All is not lost! The heathen are not
destined to take over, and never were! (The only reason they
have the position they do now of apparent superiority is because
the Church has been poisoned with the false notion that the
Bible prophesies her defeat). You can have the confidence
of knowing that you belong to one of the greatest and most
powerful "fighting machines" in the universe and
you are destined to win!
Now, the question is: Do you have the courage to take Jesus
at His word? Can you believe Him when He says that His second
coming would take place before the generation of people He
spoke to during His earthly ministry had passed away? Are
you able to trust Him enough to believe what He said when
He assured some of His first century audience members that
they would not die before they saw His return and the full
establishment of the New Covenant kingdom of God?
Yes, it takes courage to become a Preterist. I have been
called a heretic and been yelled at by those holding to differing
views of Bible prophecy (who cite their favorite teacher,
not the Scriptures, as their authority). My troubles have
been minor compared to others. Some have been ousted from
their church homes and slandered. They have been accused of
teaching "dangerous and destructive heresies" and
had their names run through the mud publicly and throughout
the churches in their community. Jesus warned us that if we
were to truly follow Him, it would cost us, sometimes dearly
(Lk 14:26-33). Certainly it is nothing to be entered into
So, here is the challenge: Examine the following Scripture
passages and see if you can accept what they say at face value.
The problem with most people is that when they come across
verses such as these, and understand the obvious implication
of them, they immediately begin looking for an alternate explanation.
Not because the text demands it, but because the system they
have been taught requires it!
"When you are persecuted in one place, flee to another.
I tell you the truth, you will not finish going through
the cities of Israel before the Son of Man comes" (Matt
"For the Son of Man is going to come in His Father's
glory with His angels, and then He will reward each person
according to what he has done. I tell you the truth, some
who are standing here will not taste death before they see
the Son of Man coming in His kingdom" (Matt 16:27-28).
The transfiguration that took place a few days after Jesus
made this statement cannot be the fulfillment of this prophecy.
Note that during the transfiguration there were no angels
present, and no rewards given in accordance to anyone's deeds.
It would also have been an odd thing to say that only "some"
of those listening to Him would live long enough to witness
this event! (Perhaps His audience was composed of octogenarians).
"Even so, when you see all these things, you know
that it is near, right at the door. I tell you the truth,
this generation will certainly not pass away until all these
things have happened" (Matt 24:33-34).
Compare this to the NEB translation: "I tell you this:
the present generation will live to see it all." For
those who may be tempted to interpret the word "generation"
(Greek: genea) as meaning "race" (Greek: genos),
compare the use of the same word by the same author, just
one chapter earlier :
"And so upon you will come all the righteous blood
that has been shed on earth, from the blood of righteous
Abel to the blood of Zechariah son of Berekiah, whom you
murdered between the temple and the altar. I tell you the
truth, all this will come upon this generation" (Matt
"But Jesus remained silent. The high priest said to
him, 'I charge you under oath by the living God: Tell us
if you are the Christ, the Son of God.' 'Yes, it is as you
say,' Jesus replied. 'But I say to all of you: In the future
you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of
the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven'"
Please note that the high priest Jesus was addressing died
during the AD 70 siege of Jerusalem. If he did not see the
coming of Christ in the events that took place at that time,
Jesus was mistaken!
Throughout the NT, salvation is equated with the second coming
of Christ, and it is spoken of as being yet future:
"And do this, understanding the present time. The
hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber, because
our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed"
"And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom
you were sealed for the day of redemption" (Eph 4:30).
"...who through faith are shielded by God's power
until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed
in the last time" (1 Pet 1:5).
If Christ has not yet returned as He said He would, we are
still waiting for salvation!
There is a principle in scientific research that can be applied
to a case such as this. When a theory has a number of apparent
anomalies that cannot be explained without complicated "exceptions
to the rules," it usually indicates that it is time to
come up with a new theory—one that explains all the
data. If you find yourself having to apply "special"
rules of interpretation to certain passages of Scripture (e.g.,
redefining words in order to escape their primary meanings),
perhaps you need to re-examine your basic assumptions. In
the scientific community this is known as a "paradigm
The data (all the data) is re-examined and new theories are
proposed that take into account and explain those things that
were previously thought to be anomalies. For example, in the
study of the universe, Ptolemy's theory of a geocentric (earth-centered)
universe reigned supreme for over one thousand years. However,
it could not explain certain planetary actions, such as their
periodic "retrograde" (backward) movement, without
the use of a series of complicated calculations, all designed
to explain these apparent exceptions to the rule. When Copernicus
finally appeared on the scene, he postulated a new theory,
one that took into account all the observable data. He suggested
that the universe was heliocentric (Sun-centered) and that
the Earth turned on its axis every 24 hours. As we know, his
theory was much closer to the truth than that of Ptolemy.
This is what must take place in the subject of eschatology.
Under the current schemes, there are many "anomalies"
that these views fail to adequately explain with their rules
of interpretation. A paradigm shift must take place and a
"new" theory has to replace the old ones. I say
"new" because the view that takes all the data into
account is not really new. It has been around since the first
century (Jesus and His apostles were Preterists). It has merely
been forgotten or overlooked by most people today. The time
has come, however, to take another look at this view in light
of the Scriptures!
Many other Scripture passages could be cited that demonstrate
the fact that Jesus taught His disciples to look for His return
within their lifetimes. They wrote down what He taught and
passed it on to the Church. Many people forget that the Bible
was written to communicate God's truth to man. It is not written
in a special "God code" that only He can understand.
True, it may be difficult to accept, but this is due to the
presuppositions we bring to the text of Scripture, not because
of any ambiguity in the Word. There comes a time when we must
admit that we don't know everything and simply believe what
the Word of God says.
That is why I became a Preterist. That is why you should
become one, too!
1 Cf. Thomas S. Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific