The Last Judgment
of Chapter Four of the Book,
End of All Things: A Defense of the Future1
The first to plead his case seems right,
Until another comes and examines him.
Mr. Seraiah demonstrates a lack of understanding when it comes
to the Preterist view of the Last Judgment. Chapter 4, entitled
“Judgment Day,” opens with this statement: “The concept of
judgment has been reworked by [Preterists] to the point of
a full denial of the orthodox teaching of a future Day of
Judgment at the end of this world” (p. 67).
This is quite a claim! Certainly, it implies that Preterists
are in conflict with “orthodoxy,” and therefore are teaching
things contrary to Scripture. But is this true? What if the
“Day of Judgment” is a past event? Would it still be “orthodox”
to teach that it is a future event? It is if you define “orthodoxy”
as necessarily believing this event to be future!2
Let us say that two men find a letter. The first man reads
it and becomes very agitated. He says to the other, “It says
here that there is going to be an assassination attempt made
on the president within the year! I have to warn him!” He
then runs off to find a telephone. The second man is shocked!
He picks up the letter and begins reading. He notices that
the paper is old and the words have been written with a quill
pen. Then he sees that it is signed “John W. Booth.”
Should he still believe the assassination attempt will take
place some time in the future? “Of course not!” you say. “Why
get people all worked up over something that has already taken
place?” Whereas it would be wrong for the man to ignore the
letter if it was dealing with the future, it would be just
as wrong for him to attribute it to the future if it refers
to the past. In fact, if he were to simply ignore the time
indicators, author, and audience of the letter and claim it
still refers to a future event, he should probably be considered
deceptive, perhaps even insane.
While reading Seraiah’s theories regarding the Day of Judgment,
it struck me that he is handling the sacred text of Scripture
like the first man described above. Despite the time of writing,
the author, the audience to whom it was written, and the clear
time limitations stated in the context of the Scripture verses
he quotes, Seraiah continues to assert that the only “orthodox”
way of interpreting these verses is to see them as yet future.
Let’s look at the verses he quotes.
In Matthew 10:14-15, Jesus was giving His disciples instructions:
“If anyone will not receive you or listen to your words, shake
off the dust from your feet as you leave that house or town.
Truly, I say to you, it shall be more tolerable on the day
of judgment for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah than for that
Seraiah asks, “What do the inhabitants of a city that had
been dead for two thousand years have to do with the judgment
on apostate Israel? ….The ‘judgment’ of A.D. 70 was obviously
a temporal judgment on the Jews who crucified Christ” (p.
68). The sin of Sodom and Gomorrah was “not an open rejection
of God incarnate, as it was for Jesus’ contemporaries.” It
should be obvious that it was for this reason that the judgment
the Jews were to incur would be greater than that to which
the Sodomites were looking forward. Seraiah alleges that because
Jesus spoke of the judgment of Sodom and Gomorrah as being
yet future, it must still be future to us two centuries
later. “The paradigm is obvious,” says Seraiah. “Sodom and
Gomorrah underwent a temporal judgment that did not exclude
them from an eternal judgment at the end of all things” (p.
This is quite an interesting choice of words considering what
Peter wrote to the Christian Jews of his time: “The end of
all things is at hand” (I Pet. 4:7)! Seraiah apparently doesn’t
see the connection between the temporal and spiritual judgments
that took place in AD 70. He looks with the eyes of the flesh
only and sees only physical things. What would happen if we
viewed the crucifixion of Christ in this manner? We would
see the condemnation and death of an itinerant preacher who
was crucified by the Romans for treason. Quite unremarkable
from a purely earthly standpoint. Yet, we know from Scripture
that the death of Jesus on the cross was much more than this!
If we see with spiritual eyes, we understand that this was
the very Son of God, shedding His blood for the sins of the
world! Simply because we cannot perceive something with our
physical eyes, or verify it with a secular historical account,
does not make it any less of a reality!
Jesus is called “a priest after the order of Melchizedek”
(Heb.6:20). Was this true in an earthly sense? He told His
disciples that they had to “eat” His “flesh” and “drink” His
“blood” in order to have life (Jn. 6:53). Were the disciples
of Jesus physically dead? Did Jesus want them to cannibalize
Him in order to survive? When He told Nicodemus that he must
be “born again,” did He mean it in an earthly, physical sense?
The answers to these questions should be obvious. The natural
man “does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for
they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them,
because they are spiritually appraised” (I Cor. 2:14, NASB).
“Now we know the temporal judgment that was meted out on Israel
in A.D. 70 was future, but Jesus portrays here a single event
(‘the day of judgment’) that will bring not only apostate
Israel to judgment but also Sodom and Gomorrah” (ibid.). Perhaps
this is another case of stating the obvious, but at the time
Jesus spoke these words to His disciples, AD 70 was still
40 years away. Seraiah offers other examples of what he considers
to be “problem texts” for Preterists. In Matt. 11:22, Jesus
compares the cities of Tyre and Sidon to the Jews of His generation.
“There is no doubt that once again our Lord is using these
cities as a paradigm of evil, and thus he [sic] is
showing that those who rejected Him are to become a new paradigm
to replace the old ones” (ibid.). Seraiah makes it plain that
he misses what is to happen “behind the scenes” (in the spiritual
realm) at the time of the temporal judgment awaiting the Jews.
“It is most evident…that Jesus is not talking about the contemporary
generation of those in Tyre and Sidon (and thus it cannot
somehow be included within the experience of the Jewish war)”
(ibid.). “Jesus has no theological or practical reason
to include Sodom and Gomorrah in His reference to the temporal
judgment that was experienced by Jerusalem in 70. He does,
however, have reason to include them in a reference to the
Last Judgment at the end of the world” (p. 70). To this, we
say, “Amen.” Jesus was not including the aforementioned cities
in the temporal judgment of Israel (AD 70), but in
the coming spiritual judgment that would take place at the
same time as that temporal one. One must wonder why Mr. Seraiah
chose to use the King James language of “end of the world”
rather than the more correct translation, “end of the age”
(see Matt. 13:49 in the NASB, for example).
Seraiah claims that in the Preterist “scheme of things,” the
temporal judgment mentioned in Matt. 10:14-15; 11:22, and
12:39-42 has “nothing” to do with the “Final Judgment Day”
(pp. 67-71). He makes the lofty claim, “In an orthodox understanding
of Judgment Day at the end of all things, Ninevah has much
to do with Israel’s judgment” (p. 71). Since we agree with
this statement, does this then mean we, too, are “orthodox”?
Notice, once again, Seraiah’s use of the phrase “the end of
all things.” In I Pet. 4:7, the inspired apostle says, “the
end of all things is at hand”! Perhaps Mr. Seraiah is siding
with others in the futurist camp who say that “at hand” doesn’t
really mean “at hand.” One must wonder if he would also agree
with the dispensationalists that the kingdom of God is yet
future, despite the fact that Jesus said it was “at hand”
when He began His preaching (Matt. 4:17; Mk. 1:15).
Seraiah goes on to point out that Jesus said the queen of
Sheba would “condemn Israel on the last day” (Matt. 12:42;
p. 71). If, when John wrote I John, he said it was at that
time “the last hour,” the end of the “last day” must have
been close indeed! But, like a certain pink bunny that keeps
pounding his drum, Seraiah keeps going….
But that is not
all that Jesus says. He says they [the queen of Sheba and
the Ninevites] will arise “with this generation” ([Matt.]
12:41, 42). Jesus is saying that “this generation” will
“arise” (be physically resurrected) at the judgment just
as much as the centuries-dead queen of the South and the
men of Ninevah [ibid.].
Did you notice how Mr. Seraiah slipped his futuristic, physically-oriented
assumptions into the mouth of Jesus? Note well that our Lord
did not say they would be “physically resurrected,”
but only that they would “arise.” Is it also an “orthodox”
practice to play so fast and loose with God’s Word?
“The assumption by our Lord that ‘this generation’ would need
to be resurrected physically in order to stand at the judgment
is in complete contrast with the passages that speak of the
judgment the Jews of the first century would experience in
their lifetime” (ibid.) Mr. Seraiah apparently knows the mind
of the Lord so well, he can assume what Jesus must have assumed
when He spoke! Seraiah goes on: “Jesus told His apostles (who
were the faithful part of ‘this generation’) that some of
them would live to see His ‘coming’ (Matt. 16:28, notice the
‘judgment’ aspect of the previous verse)” (ibid.). Perhaps
Mr. Seraiah didn’t actually read the verses he refers
us to here!
For the Son of
Man is going to come in the glory of His Father with His
angels, and WILL THEN REPAY EVERY MAN ACCORDING TO HIS DEEDS.
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 (Matt. 16:27-28, NASB, emphasis
Notice carefully what was to take place before the death of
all of those first century disciples of Jesus: Christ would
return, not only “in His kingdom,” but would also act as Judge,
handing out rewards or punishments according to men’s deeds!
This coming (that Seraiah sees fit to surround with
quotation marks, as if it is somehow not the real coming
of Christ) is attended by angels, adding to its glorious nature.
So, let’s see what we have here. Jesus returning in glory,
establishing His kingdom, and judging the deeds of mankind.
Perhaps this is a secret judgment day, like the alleged
Seraiah demonstrates his ability to present a “straw man”
argument in his next series of statements:
said Israel would be judged before “this generation”
was to “pass away” (i.e., before they were to die) (Matt.
24:34). He said the high priest would see (i.e., in his
lifetime) Christ seated “at the right hand of Power” (Matt.
26:64). This leads us to the conclusion that the entire
contemporary generation was not in need of resurrection
because there were enough alive when Jesus came against
Jerusalem to fulfill this prophecy (this is one of the basic
points that makes one believe Jesus came in judgment in
the first century.
If Jesus were speaking of a Day of Judgment which would require
“this generation” (not merely a few, but all of them in “this
generation”) to be resurrected, then He must have been speaking
about something that was far enough away in time for all of
“this generation” to have died, and thus after A.D. 70. In
addition, Christ was speaking of something that included people
from other eras who have no connection at all with the rejection
of Christ in the first century A.D. For it was that generation,
and that one alone, that was to be punished for killing Christ
(Matt. 23:32-36), not people who lived in Sodom two thousand
years before [p. 72].
Let’s examine Seraiah’s logic here and place it under Biblical
said that the queen of Sheba, the Ninevites, and the Sodomites
would “arise” with the generation of Jews He was addressing.
said that Israel would be judged for their rejection of
Him before the generation He was addressing would completely
not every person of that generation had died by AD 70, not
every person included in it could “arise” at that time and
could not, therefore, fulfill the prophecy of being judged
and condemned for their rejection of Christ, and therefore,
according to Seraiah, AD 70 could not have been the Judgment
Does this sequence pass Biblical muster? Let’s look at what
Seraiah is saying here. He assumes that all those persons
alive at the time Jesus spoke these words would be have to
be dead, since, in his estimation, every man, woman, and child
of that generation was to be included in the judgment to come.
Seraiah completely ignores the fact that there are two classes
of people referred to in “this generation”—the redeemed and
the unredeemed. On the one hand, at least some of the people
alive at the time would live long enough to witness the temporal
judgment of Christ’s return upon unfaithful Israel. Some of
Jesus’ disciples are included in this promise (Matt. 16:27).
On the other hand, there were those within that generation
who would not live through those events and would suffer the
condemnation they deserved in the judgment of the afterlife.
It was at this time that those of previous generations would
rise up 3
to add their condemnations to those of the Lord. Should we
assume the disciples of Jesus were to be among those receiving
such condemnation? After all, if “this generation” is all-inclusive
in the one case, Mr. Seraiah, why not in both? Obviously,
this type of logic is flawed from a Biblical standpoint (as
well as just plain common sense)!
Seraiah continues his misunderstanding:
In connection with these passages, [Preterists]
have proposed that the “judgment” of A.D. 70 included not
only apostate Jews but also (in some way) every person alive
at the time (even Gentiles living thousands of miles away).
Some…have even said the “judgment” included all those who
were within the nation of Israel from previous generations
as well (p. 72).
At least Seraiah, unlike Kenneth Gentry, Andrew Sandlin, Keith
Mathison, and R. C. Sproul, Jr., admits: “They do this because
they are sincerely trying to interpret the Scriptures faithfully”
It is quite interesting
that Seraiah then quotes Acts 17:31 as a “universal” statement.
He believes, of course, that this verse is referring to an
event that is yet future, and will include all people of all
times. Let’s look at what it says: “He has fixed the day on
which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom
he has appointed, and of this he has given assurance to all
men by raising him from the dead” (pp. 72-73). At first glance,
this may seem to support what Seraiah’s viewpoint. However,
if one looks at the wording in the Greek text, there is a
notable omission in this English version. The word mellw
(mello) is found here, although it has not been included in
the translation. Why not? Perhaps because of what it would
mean to a committed futurist such as Seraiah. If we include
mellw in the verse,
as it should be, it would read: “He has fixed the day on which
He is about to [mellw] judge the world in righteousness….” This
should give one cause to pause, as they say! Not only is there
a futurist bias present among the popular theologians of our
day, but also among translators of Scripture. Wherever possible,
it seems, they have “toned down” the language of imminence
in the New Testament writings.
Seraiah also quotes Rom.
14:10-11, and II Cor. 5:10: “For we must all appear before
the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive
good or evil, according to what he has done in the body” (p.
73). Of these verses, Seraiah alleges, “The threat of judgment
upon numbers of people who don’t live in Jerusalem, as well
as people who did not specifically reject Christ, forces [Preterists]
to say the temporal judgment on apostate Israel in the first
century included everyone alive at the time” (ibid.).
Rom. 14:10-11; II Cor. 5:10 say nothing about the temporal
(earthly) judgment, which took place in AD 70, but speak only
of that taking place in the heavenly (spiritual) realm.
How do these verses imply a judgment of “everyone alive at
the time”? (p. 73). “How do these warnings of [universal]
judgment fit with the coming of Christ in 70 against Jerusalem?”
(p. 75). “We must all…” (Rom. 14:10), and “For we must all…”
(II Cor. 5:10) is certainly “universal language,” but indicates
only that every person shall, after death, stand before the
Lord to be judged.
Seraiah continues: “Look at a few references which describe
the nature, cause, and purpose of the judgment Christ brought
upon Jerusalem in 70:” (p.73). Here, he quotes Matt. 3:7-10;
16:4; 17:17; Mk. 8:38; Lk. 21:22-23, 35; Acts 2:22-23, and
2:40 (pp. 73-74). He says,
From these verses
we can see that the focus of the condemnation in the first
century was upon the Jews who rejected Christ. So often
does this condemnation occur that the idea of “this generation”
becomes a technical term to describe the apostate Jews who
refused to accept Jesus as the Messiah (see also Acts 7:51-53;
13:32-47; 1 Thess. 2:14-16) [p. 74].
Seraiah’s confusion becomes evident when he says, “The references
to universal judgment make no sense in the context of a punishment
on the apostate Jews of the first century” (p. 74). These
verses are only confusing when they are removed from their
first century context and placed somewhere in the distant
future! Jesus was very clear in His teaching that a
“universal judgment” would take place at His coming in AD
70. In Matt. 16:27-28, Jesus states that, before all His disciples
died, He would return “in His kingdom” and “reward every man
according to his works” (cp. Rev. 22:12). The evidence of
this taking place in the spiritual realm would be the judgment
taking place in the physical realm—the destruction of Jerusalem.
If the latter has taken place, we must assume (based on the
words of Christ Himself) that the former likewise came to
pass at that time! As James Stuart Russell said,
It is strange
that so great incredulity should exist in this day respecting
the plain sense of our Lord’s express declarations on this
subject [His return]. Fulfilled or unfulfilled, right or
wrong, there is no ambiguity or uncertainty in His language.
It may be said that we have no evidence of such facts having
occurred as are here described, —the Lord descending with
a shout, the sounding of the trumpet, the raising of the
sleeping dead, the rapture of the living saints. True; but
is it certain that these are facts cognisable by the senses?
Is their place in the region of the material and the visible?
As we have already said, we know and are sure that a very
large portion of the events predicted by our Lord, and expected
by His apostles, did actually come to pass at that very
crisis called “the end of the age.” There is no difference
of opinion concerning the destruction of the temple, the
overthrow of the city, the unparalleled slaughter of the
people, the extinction of the nationality, the end of the
legal dispensation. But the Parousia is inseparably linked
with the destruction of Jerusalem; and, in like manner,
the resurrection of the dead, and the judgment of the “wicked
generation,” with the Parousia. They are different parts
of one great catastrophe; different scenes in one great
drama. We accept the facts verified by the historian
on the word of man; is it for Christians to hesitate
to accept the facts which are vouched by the word of
the Lord? [The Parousia, p. 168, emphasis his].
In an attempt
to minimize the importance and impact of Christ’s return
in AD 70, Seraiah says:
The only note of effect this event has upon
anyone else [outside Israel] is, first, in the Neronic persecution
resulting from mandatory emperor worship (and the clearest
descriptions of this occur in the book of Revelation), and
second, in the blessings that will come for the Church once
she is delivered from her persecutions. The only judgment
and condemnation given are against the apostate Jews (for
their rejection of Christ and their persecution of the Church)
and perhaps Rome (for demanding emperor worship). Furthermore,
the notes of punishment on Rome, which are confined to the
book of Revelation (14:9-11; 16:10; 17:8, 11, 14; 19:19-20),
are few and focused on Nero [p. 75].
The assumption that “Babylon” of Revelation is Rome is demonstrated
to be false in my book Babylon, the Harlot City.4
These verses refer to Jerusalem, not Rome. Seraiah
misses completely the results of the judgment upon Israel.
This was the end of their “world,” and of the age! It signaled
the “last day” of the Old Covenant and full establishment
of the New. The everlasting kingdom of God had now come in
its fullness! To say its affect was minimal simply because
it was an event localized in Israel is akin to saying the
crucifixion didn’t matter much because it was simply a local
event and only a limited number of people witnessed it!
According to Seraiah, “To try to force the descriptions of
Judgment Day, which have a universal note to them, into the
events of the Jewish war and the Roman persecution of he Church
is like putting a square peg in a round hole” (pp. 76-77).
It is impossible, however, to separate one from the other
in regard to the timing of these events! To so completely
ignore the rules of Biblical hermeneutics in this manner is
to demonstrate not only one’s ignorance, but to disregard
the inspiration and infallibility of Scripture!
Seraiah claims that Preterists are “heterodox” (p. 77), and
that we “have to ignore the contemporary nature” of certain
verses “in order to fit the universal Judgment within the
frame of the temporal judgment on Israel.” He says:
These two ideas don’t fit, and they need
to compromise the truth of [P]reterism in order to remain
[Preterists]. Many prophecies in the New Testament have
already been fulfilled…. Some, however, have not been fulfilled;
they clearly display a coming of Christ, a Judgment, and
a Resurrection that include everyone who ever lived and
bring an end to this physical world [p. 77].
It is interesting that Mr. Seraiah cites no Scripture references
to support this contention. Of course, this is because there
are none which refer to the coming of Christ, the Judgment
and Resurrection as being future to us, and none that refer
to “an end of this physical world”! In this sense, he is like
a dispensationalist—alleging a delay of the promises
of God based on a system that requires it. He should at least
be honest enough to tell his readers that his assumptions
are based on tradition, not the Scriptures! His standard
of “orthodoxy” (by which he calls Preterists “heterodox”)
is the word of man, not the Word of God.
Regarding Rom. 14:8-12, Seraiah, continuing to misrepresent
the Preterist view, and demonstrating the convoluted logic
of the pseudo-Preterist, says:
The [Preterist], who denies any kind of
Final Judgment, has only two options for interpreting this
passage. First, he can say all who were alive or dead at
the coming of Christ in A.D. 70 were eternally judged (which
would leave millions of Christians and non-Christians that
had not yet been born free from eternal judgment). Second,
he can say that after each person dies he faces Christ in
judgment (which would leave the reference to the “living”
being judged pointless) [pp. 78-79].
look at the passage Seraiah cites:
For if we live, we live to the Lord; and
if we die, we die to the Lord. Therefore, whether we live
or die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ died and
rose and lived again, that He might be Lord of both the
dead and the living. But why do you judge your brother?
Or why do you show contempt for your brother? For we shall
all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. For it is
written: “As I live, says the LORD, Every knee shall bow
to Me, And every tongue shall confess to God.” So then each
of us shall give account of himself to God. [Rom. 14:8-12].
Note that Paul says, “For to this end Christ died and rose
and lived again, that He might be Lord of both the dead and
the living.” He continues, “For we shall all stand before
the judgment seat of Christ…. So then each of us shall give
account of himself to God.” Paul does not say that at Christ’s
return, the “living and the dead” would be judged, as Seraiah
alleges, but simply “we shall all stand before the judgment
seat of God”! The “Final Judgment” (which Preterists do indeed
believe in) took place in AD 70, just as Scripture says it
would. The “books were opened…and the dead were judged” (Rev.
20:12). The “Final Judgment” of the living, however, is an
ongoing process, taking place at the physical death of the
individual. Paul never said every living person throughout
all time would be judged at the return of Christ in AD 70
(or some time yet future to us)! This is a clear misreading
and misrepresentation of Scripture!
In an attempt to shore up his faulty exegesis (eisegesis),
Seraiah quotes Acts 10:42, “He [God] commanded us to preach
to the people, and to testify that He [Jesus] is the One ordained
by God to be Judge of the living and the dead” (p. 79). Seraiah
answers his own objection when he says, “this passage tends
more towards Christ’s sovereignty and authority over all things
than specifically to any act of judgment…” (ibid.). “[T]he
reference to ‘judge of the living and dead’ is Peter’s way
of saying that Christ has been exalted to the highest place
possible, the judge of everyone who ever lived” (p. 80). Seraiah
makes our point for us here!
His next citation is II Tim 4:1, Paul’s exhortation to Timothy:
“I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ,
who [is about to] judge the living and the dead at His appearing
and His kingdom….”It will be noted that Paul uses the Greek
word mellw (mello) here, which means “about to.”
This verse is obviously a problem for the premillennialist
due to its explicitly imminent character. But, it is a problem,
too, for futurists of every type. Paul is telling Timothy
that these things (Christ’s appearing, the Judgment, and the
kingdom of God) are “about to” come! If, as most non-premillennialist
Christians agree, the kingdom of God is a present reality,
the “second coming” (appearing/parousia) of Christ and the
Judgment have also taken place, since they are all inextricably
linked together in this verse! Therefore, we must ask, in
what sense were “the living” judged at that time (AD 70)?
Seraiah admits, “Paul is here using terminology that has also
been used to refer to the destruction of Jerusalem” (p. 80).
However, he says, “Jerusalem’s destruction does not fit in
this context” (ibid.). According to Seraiah, “Although the
[Preterist] assumes 4:1 is referring to events in the first
century, this is not necessitated by anything in the text.
This becomes apparent when one realizes that Paul viewed the
Final Advent of Christ as an event which all believers will
be present for (as in 1 Cor. 15:23; 1 Thess. 4:15-17; etc.)”
(ibid.). The term “Final Advent,” of course, is nowhere found
in Scripture. He continues, “The event Paul is speaking of
in 2 Tim. 4:1-8 somehow involves all Christians. …[I]t cannot
be said that all Christians were involved in what happened
in A.D. 70” (p. 81). To say Paul was referring here to “all
Christians” is to read more into this text than is there.
(This is known as eisegesis). Seraiah says this event
included “all Christians who ever lived” (ibid.). “Paul knew
the event of reward he was speaking of was so far in the future
that he would be dead, as well as all the Christians of his
day” (ibid.). This is the height of presumption, to say the
least! It also demonstrates the lengths to which some will
go in order to avoid the clear teaching of Scripture. While
Seraiah admits that II Tim. 4:1 contains the word mellw
(mello, Strong’s #3195), he says in an endnote that “this
word does not always mean ‘about to’” (p. 103). His reference
to Bauer, Ardnt and Gingrich (BAGD)
5 does nothing to support his contention that this
is not the meaning of mellw in II Tim. 4:1, since it is not listed
in the examples given. Those verses listed in which the meaning
definitely is “be on the point of, be about to be”
are: Jn. 4:47; Acts 12:6; 16:27; Rom. 8:18; I Pet. 5:1 (cf.
Lk. 19:4; Jn. 6:6; Acts 3:3; 5:35; 18:14; 21:27; 22:26; 23:27);
Rev. 3:2, 16; 10:4; 12:4 (also I Clem. 42:3; 55:6; Jos. Antiq.
4:83; 12:357; II Macc. 7:18; IV Macc. 10:9) (BAGD, p. 501).
Let’s look at a couple of these verses:
Rom. 8:18 - “For I reckon that the sufferings of this
present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory
which [is about to be] revealed in us”
I Pet. 5:1 - “The elders which are among you I exhort,
who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ,
and also a partaker of the glory that [is about to be] revealed.”
It is clear from Paul’s use of the word mellw
in II Tim. 4:1 that the things to which he was referring were
“about to” take place. The “living” who were “about to” be
judged were those living in Israel at that time. For Seraiah
to say, “Although the [Preterist] assumes 4:1 is referring
to events in the first century, this is not necessitated by
anything in the text” (p. 80) is simply bearing false witness!
Everything about this text necessitates a first century fulfillment!
Unless Seraiah is prepared to say the kingdom is not to come
until the “end of time” (for which there is likewise no Scriptural
support), he must admit that the “appearing”
6 of Christ and the judgment of “the living and
the dead,” took place in the first century, coinciding with
the manifestation of the “kingdom.” Notice how Paul inextricably
links these three things together: “I charge you therefore
before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who [is about to] judge
the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom….”It
is simply presumption for Seraiah to say, “Jerusalem’s destruction
does not fit in this context” (p. 80), and is necessitated
only by the preconceptions of his futurist paradigm. As my
friend, Pastor Julio Velasquez says, “People just don’t want
to believe what the Bible says!” Although the destruction
of Jerusalem is not referred to specifically, it was to take
place in conjunction with the things mentioned by Paul in
this context. This is the same message Paul preached
to the Athenians in Acts 17:31:
“For He [God] has set a day in which He is about to [mellw]
judge the world7 in righteousness by that Man He has
Note that the word translated “world” here is the same one
Jesus used in Matt. 24:14: “And this gospel of the kingdom
shall be preached in all the world [oikoumene] for a witness to all nations; and
then the end shall come.” The apostle Paul says this was fulfilled
in the first century (Rom. 10:18; Col. 1:6, 26).
Paul also preached the same when he stood before Felix and
the Jews: “I believe everything that agrees with the Law and…the
Prophets, and I have the same hope in God as these men, that
there [is about to be] a resurrection of both the righteous
and the wicked” (Acts 24:14-15). Those who persist in calling
Preterists “heretics” should note that Paul was on trial here
for being a “follower of the Way, which [the Jews] call heresy”
(Acts 24:14). The modern-day Pharisees and Saducees accuse
us of “heresy” on the same basis as they did Paul, claiming
our view of the resurrection is unscriptural. What Preterists
proclaim, however, is the same message Paul preached—that
there was, in the first century, a resurrection that was about
to take place!8
Seraiah seems to constantly contradict himself. On p. 80,
he says, “Paul is exhorting Timothy…because he knows that
he [Paul] is going to die soon: ‘the time of my departure
has come’ ([I Tim.] 4:6).” Yet, on the very next page, he
says, “If he were speaking [in I Tim. 4:1] about A.D. 70,
it was possible he could have lived to see it. Paul knew the
event of [his] reward he was speaking of was so far in the
future that he would be dead, as well as all the Christians
of his day” (p. 81). Here we see Mr. Seraiah not only adding
to Scripture, but also contradicting the clear statements
of our Lord! Jesus said, “All these things shall come upon
this generation” (Matt. 23:36; 24:34), and He told John in
the Revelation that the prophecies shown to him were “at hand,”
and would come to pass “shortly” (Rev. 1:1, 3; 22:6, 10, 12,
20). That Revelation included the appearing of Christ, the
Resurrection, and the “Last Judgment” (so-called). Perhaps
Mr. Seraiah assumed the penalty threatened in Revelation (22:18-19)
was also only applicable to some far-off generation!
Seraiah then tries to tackle I Peter: “We read there, ‘[T]hey
will give account to him who is ready to judge the living
and the dead’ (4:5)” (p. 82, brackets his). Building on his
false assumption that “Paul said all Christians would receive
rewards at the judging of the ‘living and the dead’” (ibid.),
he says, “In what sense can we imagine Gentiles in Asia Minor
of the first century giving account for their deeds before
Christ when He destroyed Jerusalem?” (ibid.). This is like
asking what possible effect the death of a Jewish criminal
in Palestine could have had on people in Asia Minor. Neither
Paul nor Peter makes the assertion that “all” the living would
be judged at that time. We know from the records of Josephus,
however, that people throughout the Roman Empire suffered
judgment during the last days of the Old Covenant era. Seraiah
seems oblivious to the obvious immanence contained in Peter’s
statement, “they will give account to Him who is ready
to judge the living and the dead”! Whatever this judgment
was to entail, and whoever constituted “the living and the
dead,” the event was ready to take place when Peter
wrote! To ignore this clear time reference is shoddy
exegesis to say the least. Once again, Seraiah is found to
contradict himself (and God’s Word) when he states:
It becomes obvious that Peter here is speaking
of the Final Judgment of all men at the end of all things
in the future. …. Jesus will, at some unknown day in the
future, end the course of this earth and at that time judge
everyone who is alive (the “living”) and everyone who has
died prior to that day (the “dead”) [pp. 82-83].
Further down p. 83, he then quotes I Pet. 4:7, “The end of
all things is near”! He even admits, “Clearly his [Peter’s]
reference to the ‘end’ being near shows that he is referring
in this context to the end of all things in the Jewish age”
(ibid.). In a vain attempt to “clarify” this, he says, “This,
however, does not negate the judgment that will occur for
all men (at the ultimate end of all things)”
(p. 84, emphasis his).
Christ is indeed Lord and Judge of all men, and those who
seem to escape judgment in this world will certainly receive
it in the next! As Paul wrote, “For we must all appear before
the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive
good and evil, according to what he has done in the body”
(II Cor. 5:10). Preterists do not deny a future judgment of
mankind! We do, however, disagree with Seraiah’s assumption
that the “Final Judgment” (which took place in AD 70) was
“final” in the sense of being the last. The judgment
that takes place now does so on an individual basis and happens
at a person’s physical demise. The event Seraiah calls the
“Final Judgment” took place at the closing of the Old Covenant,
and took place en masse. All that had died up to that
point were raised from the confines of Sheol/Hades and judged.
Sheol/Hades was a temporary “holding tank” that was emptied
of its inhabitants and destroyed when the Old Covenant ended
(Rev. 20:13-14). Now, when a person dies, he goes immediately
to judgment and receives his reward or punishment at that
In his analysis of I John 4:17-18, Seraiah says: “Love, both
for God and for our Christian brothers, is essential to the
Christian life. John says not only that ‘God is love’ (4:16),
but also that if someone says he is a believer but does not
love, he is not a true Christian (4:20-21)” (p. 86).
It must be asked, is it “loving” to call your brothers and
sisters in Christ “damnable heretics”? On the back cover of
his little book, Seraiah quotes Andrew Sandlin, of the Chalcedon
Foundation. Mr. Sandlin says the Preterist view “subverts
and reconstructs the Faith itself.” Sandlin is well-known
for his vicious and vitriolic attacks on Preterists, calling
us “damnable heretics” and worse in his publication. Seraiah
also uses a quote from Kenneth Gentry on the back of his book,
in which he says Preterist teachings consist of “doctrinal
aberrations,” and “pseudo-intellectual theological heresy.”
Mr. Gentry has likewise been a hostile and outspoken opponent
of the Preterist understanding of Scripture.
In the Forward of Seraiah’s book, R. C. Sproul, Jr. is even
more “loving” in his remarks. He refers to the Preterist view
as “fatal” (p. 9), and a “damnable heresy” (p. 10). Is this
because we have somehow contradicted God’s Word? No! According
to Sproul (Jr.), it is because we “have strayed from the confessions
of the Church” (ibid.). He accuses Preterists of “Scripture-twisting,”
since “while they [the creeds] can err, they nevertheless
define historic orthodoxy” (ibid.). The ludicrous nature of
this statement is almost beyond belief! The creeds may be
wrong, but they’re still the standard of orthodoxy for interpreting
God’s Word! Sproul, Jr. piously prays that we “are merely
temporarily theologically lost and not forever outside the
faith” (ibid.). Can’t you just feel the “love”? These
men, whom Seraiah quotes with obvious approval, consider Preterists
to be “outside the Faith”! I suppose this justifies them ignoring
the command of Christ to “love one another.” Does this also
preclude them from Christ’s other command, to “love your enemies”?
Seraiah next looks at I John 2:28-3:3:
Now, little children, abide in Him, so that
when He appears, we may have confidence and not shrink away
from Him in shame at His coming. If you know that He is
righteous, you know that everyone also who practices righteousness
is born of Him. See how great a love the Father has bestowed
on us, that we would be called children of God; and such
we are. For this reason the world does not know us, because
it did not know Him. Beloved, now we are children of God,
and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know
that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will
see Him just as He is. And everyone who has this hope fixed
on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure [NASB].
Note the language of immanence: “we” is used repeatedly, communicating
to John’s audience that they are the ones who would
experience these things. Seraiah admits, “John is, in this
passage, connecting the ‘coming’ of Christ with our being
made ‘like him’ (resurrection)” (p. 88). Seraiah is assuming,
of course, that to be “like Him” means to be resurrected,
something not stated in the text! Jumping back and
forth between chapters 2 and 4 of I John, Seraiah says:
In 4:17 John says that “as he is so are
we in this world.” Thus in some sense John viewed the
believer as already like Christ. …. The context says that
the way we are “as he is,” is found in the love of God.
…. Therefore, we are like Christ in holiness, only by
virtue of what He has done (4:19) [p. 88].
So far, so
good. No disagreement here! But, then he says, “If John
and the believers of the first century were like Christ
in this manner, what likeness was John looking forward to
that he did not know the manner of (3:2)? If spiritual likeness
already exists, then only a physical likeness is left” (ibid.).
Didn’t Paul say, “the spiritual is not first, but the natural;
then the spiritual” (I Cor. 15:46)? Why would something
that is likewise spiritual in nature be precluded from John’s
statement? Why, too, does John say, “it does not yet appear
what we shall be”? Was not John an eyewitness of the resurrected
Christ? If John were merely stating that he and his listeners
would be just like Christ physically, why did he
not say, “we know exactly what we shall be like”? Whatever
we may conclude regarding these verses, we must at least
admit the following:
events referred to were going to take place within the
lifetime of John’s audience, and,
John nor his audience knew what they were going to be
like once they happened.
Could this not have been referring to immortality? Once Christ
appeared, all believers in Him would receive immortality.
No one would be required to go to Sheol/Hades after that day
when they died.
Next, Mr. Seraiah takes on the judgment of angels. He notes
that the demons Jesus cast out were aware of a time of judgment
to come, and that it had not yet arrived. “If this was, however,
merely a spiritual judgment,” says Seraiah (“merely”?),
“that would allow them to continue their influence in the
world (as it exists today), then how would they know that
the time they were in was ‘before the time’?” (pp. 89-90).
Seraiah assumes demons are still active today. “…[W]hy are
they still able to do so much in this world?” (p. 90). He
bases this statement on “experience,” not on Scripture. Seraiah
assumes that the power of demons today is “greatly limited,”
referring to Rev. 20:2 (as if this is not yet past) and Col.
2:15. He insists, “Unless the [Preterists] desire to prove
that there is no demonic influence on the world around us,
they are forced to admit that demons have not yet been cast
into eternal hell” (p. 92). Why must the evil present in the
world today be explained as the activity of demons? Are we
not told that the heart of man is “deceitful above all things,
and desperately wicked” (Jer. 17:9)? The judgment of the Flood
took place in Noah’s day because “God saw that the wickedness
of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination
of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Gen.
6:5). No demonic intervention was needed to explain the wickedness
that covered the earth at that time. Why so today? If, as
Scripture says, the things contained in the book of Revelation
were to come to pass “soon” after John wrote, why do some
allege that they have not yet taken place? For too long now,
the Church has allowed herself to be influenced by tradition
(the creeds) and “experience,” and “made the Word of God of
none effect” (Mk. 7:13). The time has come for Christians
to believe what God’s Word clearly says! Revelation
says the things contained in it were to come to pass shortly
(soon). Therefore, we must affirm that they did indeed! “Let
God be true, and every man a liar”(Rom. 3:4)!
Seraiah tries desperately to present what he calls “one of
the most severe problems with the [Preterist] position” (p.
93). The casting out of Satan from heaven in Rev. 12:4-9 and
his “binding” in Rev. 20:2 are examined and said to be totally
This casting down cannot be equated with
his being cast into the abyss, for two reasons. In 12:12
there is a warning given that Satan is coming to earth “in
great wrath,” thus relating that he is going to bring persecution
to the saints (12:17). Second, in 20:3, where he is cast
into the abyss, his power is limited. The limiting of his
power is told as an encouragement. The casting down to earth
is told as a warning: these do not fit together as being
the same event [p.94].
One must wonder why Seraiah fails to bother mentioning how
Satan’s power was being limited. Rev. 20:3 says this binding
process was “to keep him from deceiving the nations any more
until the thousand years were ended.” This states clearly
not only the purpose of Satan’s binding, but also that
he was to be released after the appointed time had
been completed. Note what he does when released:
When the thousand years are completed, Satan
will be released from his prison, and will come out to deceive
the nations which are in the four corners of the earth [or:
land], Gog and Magog, to gather them together for the war;
the number of them is like the sand of the seashore [Rev.
The use of “Gog and Magog,” another ancient enemy of Israel
is, like the names “Babylon,” “Sodom,” and “Egypt,” a reference
to apostate Israel itself, “whose number is like the sand
of the seashore” (cf. Gen. 22:7). The word translated “earth”
is gh (ge Strong’s #1093) and means “land” as
well. Since the prophecies of Revelation are limited in their
time of fulfillment (“at hand” in John’s time) and subject
matter, this should be read as “the nations which are in the
four corners of the land [of Israel].”9
Satan’s binding did not prevent him from stirring up persecution
against the Church, but merely prevented his hindering the
spread of the gospel to “the nations.” Paul says that “every
creature under heaven” had heard the gospel by the time he
wrote Romans and Colossians (Rom. 10:18; Col. 1:6, 23). Around
AD 66, the Romans started to gather their troops to fight
against the apostate Jewish nation and “the war” began.
Seraiah claims that interpreting the “thousand years” as the
time between Christ’s crucifixion and AD 70 (or shortly before)
makes a “mockery” of that symbol. “If a thousand years does
not denote a long duration of time, then it has lost all its
symbolism” (p. 94). Au contraire, Messieur Seraiah!
This subject has been dealt with in my paper refuting the
errors of Keith Mathison:10
In order to
understand the meaning behind a symbolic number, we must
observe how it is used in Scripture (the Reformers called
this the “analogy of faith”). When used in a non-literal
(symbolic) manner in Scripture, the number 1,000 represents
a perfect whole, or “all.” One example is to be found in
Ps. 50:10—“For every beast of the forest is Mine, and the
cattle on a thousand hills.” The emphasis is not on the
number of hills being great, but as can be seen in this
example of Hebrew parallelism, on the totality of
God’s rule over and ownership of His creation. He owns the
whole number of the beasts of the forest and field.
If the book of Revelation had meant to communicate simply
a large number, the phraseology of Rev. 5:11 could easily
have been employed: “Then I looked, and I heard the voice
of many angels around the throne…and the number of them
was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands….”
It should be noted that Scripture elsewhere refers to 40
years as “a long time” (Josh. 24:7; Mt. 25:19).
The use of 1,000 is also demonstrated elsewhere in Revelation,
for example, the number of the redeemed in Israel is given
as “144,000.” This is 12 x 12 x 1,000, representing the
full number of the redeemed. The number of persons
saved in Israel in the first century was small enough to
be called a “remnant” elsewhere in Scripture, yet the number
1,000 is still used to represent them (see: Rom. 11:5; Rev.
12:17; cp. Zech. 8:6, 12). If “1,000” truly represents a
“huge number,” then 144 x 1,000 must be incredibly
large! And if a 40-year time span could not possibly be
represented by the number 1,000, then neither could 144
times that same number represent a “remnant.” Again, we
must abide by the temporal delimiters given quite
clearly in the opening and closing verses of the book! If
the things contained in it were not really going
to be fulfilled shortly, then we may ignore or reinterpret
all the other parts of the book freely also. If, however,
we honor and uphold the integrity and inspiration of the
Bible, we will be able to interpret it properly.
If the symbol of one thousand years is meant to convey a “whole”
or “totality,” then to view it as “a long period of time”
is to misinterpret it! As usual, things are not so “cut and
dried” as Seraiah would like us to think! What is truly unfortunate
is that all the arguments presented by Mr. Seraiah are moot,
since the book of Revelation clearly states that its prophecies
were all to come to pass shortly after they were written.
To lift a particular passage out of this context simply because
it does not “fit in” with one’s system of interpretation is
exegetical dishonesty, to say the least. Another example of
this sort of misapplication of Scripture can be found on p.
96, where it is stated:
In [Rev.] 20:10,
John says that “the devil…was thrown into the lake of fire
and sulphur where the beast and false prophet were.” John
says the beast and false prophet had already received
their punishment before Satan did (at least a thousand years
before). [p. 96, emphasis his].
Seraiah admits in an endnote, however, that he supplied
the verb in the past tense: “estin
[were] must be assumed in the text; John does not give it.
He thus assumes they ‘were’ or ‘are’ already in the lake of
fire. In order to equate the times of their punishment he
would have had to supply some form of verb” (endnote 15, p.
103). This begs the question, “Why couldn’t the assumed verb
be future tense?” It would then read, “where the beast
and false prophet shall be.” Note the subtlety of this
attack. Seraiah supplies (assumes) a verb in the past tense,
then says this “proves” his point!
On p. 97, Seraiah attempts another argument: “Finally, we
see that Judgment Day is described in the book of Revelation
as something that is in the distant future (at least a thousand
years after A.D. 70). It does not carry the idea in any way
that it is something which is ‘at hand.’” Seraiah would have
us simply ignore what the opening and closing verses
of Revelation state emphatically—that the things contained
in it were “at hand”! This is certainly a novel approach
to the science of sacred hermeneutics! Seraiah could just
as well be describing his method of interpretation when he
states, “Nonpreterist systems either ignore or reinterpret
the passages that necessitate a ‘near’ or ‘soon’ fulfillment
of the particular prophecy” (p. 98). Being a futurist, Seraiah
is forced to do this very thing! He continues:
This can be seen in the numerous twists
that have been done to the exegesis of Matthew 24:34. Most
either try (poorly) to reinterpret “this generation” as
“this race,” or they will say “all these things” only refers
to some of the verses previous to the statement but not
“all” of them (like the verse says). A similar instance
is the slippery means by which people try to avoid the “soon”
statements in the book of Revelation. The predetermined
grid they are trying to fit everything into says these passages
must be referring to the Final Advent of Christ; therefore
they do all they can to ensure that they are viewed that
way [p. 98, emphasis his].
Seraiah might as well be describing his own methodology here.
Because of his “grid” that assumes a future “Final Advent”
of Christ, he cannot allow certain verses in God’s Word to
find their proper fulfillment in AD 70. In a vain attempt
to show that “near” doesn’t always mean “near,” Seraiah goes
to the Old Testament prophecies. Beginning with Adam and Eve,
he says they assumed God’s prophecy of the “seed of the woman”
was to be fulfilled in their time. He neglects to mention
that the Lord, who gave the prophecy, did not say its fulfillment
was “near.” In fact, God gave no time indicators at all
in His prophecy!
Next, Seraiah goes to Isa. 10:25; 13:6; and 13:22, which speak
of Jerusalem’s destruction as being “near.” He admits, “the
first destruction was only around forty years later” (p. 99)!
Referring to Isa. 9:6-7 does not help his case either, since
no indication of nearness is found in this context. Seraiah
next cites Dan. 8:16-26, but here again, no indication is
given of this prophecy being “near.” In fact, Daniel was told
to “seal up” his book because the things contained in it were
not to take place “for many days”! (Dan. 8:26; 12:4).
Seraiah basically states the Preterist view when he says:
There are many other “near” passages in
the Old Testament (e.g. Joel 1:15; 2:1; 3:14; Zeph. 1:7;
1:14) that clearly are referring to events that took place
“soon” after the prophecy was given (exactly as the verses
said they would); to say otherwise would go against the
clear testimony of the Scriptures. Yet this does not force
us to say that all prophecies in the Old Testament were
fulfilled soon, but only those that say so [p. 101].
His final exhortation in this chapter is a good one: “If a
text says something is ‘near,’ then we must accept it as true”
(p. 102). Now, if only Mr. Seraiah would take his own advice!
2 Speaking of the historic Creeds of the Church, R.
C. Sproul, Jr. says in the Forward of this book, “...[W]hile
they can err, they nevertheless define historic orthodoxy”
3 “meta thV geneaV tauthV”—“with, among, in company
with” (BAGD, p. 508) “this generation.”
4 Bradford, PA: International Preterist Association,
5 A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and
Other Early Christian Literature, 2nd ed.,
by Walter Bauer. Translated by William F. Ardnt and F. Wilbur
Gingrich. Revised by F. Wilbur Gingrich and Frederick W.
Danker (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1979).
6 The word here is epifaneia
(epiphanea - Strong’s #2015), a synonym for apokaluyiV
(oikoumene Strong’s #3625), used of the Roman Empire.
8 See the excellent paper dealing with this subject
by Joseph Gautier, Jr., All Nations Stood Before the
9 Compare David Chilton’s statements in this regard
in his Days of Vengeance.