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Particulars of Christianity:
313 Preterism

Preterism Part 3: The Remaining "Proof Texts"

Preterism Part 1: The Basics and Partial Preterism
Preterism Part 2: Olivet and the Transcendent "You"
Preterism Part 3: The Remaining "Proof Texts"
Preterism Part 4: Appealing to Josephus
Preterism Part 5: Uninterrupted Futurism into 2nd Century
Preterism Part 6: Nero, History, and Biblical Details
Preterism Part 7: Scripture and a Delayed Coming
Preterism Part 8: Brief Summary of Conclusions
Behold I Come Quickly
Things Which Must Shortly Come to Pass
When Was Revelation Written?
A Throne of His Own

Addendum: "The Time Is At Hand"

Having identified and demonstrated the Biblical principle of the Transcendent "You" with regard to the intended audience and its repercussions for Preterist doctrine, we will now move on to yet another textual difficulty for establishing the Preterist position, that of context.

When taken in the context of an entire passage, of the entire Gospel, or of the entire New Testament many Preterist proof texts do not point to their conclusions of a "soon" second coming of Christ in 70 AD. In fact, it is only by isolating specific verses from context and parallel passages that Preterist proof texts can be used to support their notion that Jesus spoke of a "soon" coming. Upon closer inspection we can see instead that in many of these passages Jesus was not demanding a Preterist view of his return. We will now go over these proof texts examining them in the context of other relevant scripture.

The first passage we will cover is Matthew 10:22-23.

Matthew 10:22 And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved. 23 But when they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another: for verily I say unto you, Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel, till the Son of man be come.

So, what exactly about this passage do Preterists think makes it a proof text for their position? Well, for Preterists, the idea is that Jesus had to return before the apostles/disciples had gone to all the cities in Israel.

Now, sometimes Preterists will couple this notion with the idea that the Apostles were told to go and preach the Gospel in Israel proper. This command from Jesus to the Apostles occurs in this very same chapter, not twenty verses earlier in verses 5 and 6.

Matthew 10:5 These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: 6 But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. 7 And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand.

Because both verses 5-6 and verses 22-23 refer to Jesus' disciples going out to the cities of Israel, Preterists assume Jesus would return before the Gospel is preached to all the cities in Israel.

This is patently false for a number of reasons. First, there are the parallel accounts of this story in Mark and Luke. (Matthew 10:1-15, Mark 6:7-13, 30, Luke 9:1-6, 10.) Of these parallel accounts, Mark and Luke are more detailed than Matthew 10. And the details of the Mark and Luke accounts corroborate each other.

Luke 9:6 And they departed, and went through the towns, preaching the gospel, and healing every where
10 And the apostles, when they were returned, told him all that they had done. And he took them, and went aside privately into a desert place belonging to the city called Bethsaida.

Luke 9 records in verse 6 and 10 that after the Apostles received their instructions from Jesus, the departed to the towns of Israel and then returned to tell Jesus what they had done. In fact, Luke 9:6 says the apostles went "every where." And the Mark account is identical.

Mark 6:12 And they went out, and preached that men should repent
30 And the apostles gathered themselves together unto Jesus, and told him all things, both what they had done, and what they had taught.

Here again, just like Luke 9, Mark says that after receiving their instructions, the apostles departed and then returned some time later. In other words, according to both the Luke and Mark accounts, the apostles had already completed their mission of preaching the Gospel to the people of Israel before the close of the chapter, long before Jesus went to the cross, let alone before 70 A.D. (when the Preterists claim Jesus returned.)

Thus, the events described in Matthew 10:1-15 were accomplished by the apostles BEFORE Jesus went to the cross. On the other hand, the events described in Matthew 10:16-23 were not accomplished until AFTER the resurrection. Notice in verses 16-23 that Jesus speaks of the apostles being "delivered up to the councils" and "scourged in the synagogues" as well as being "brought before governors and kings."

In these verses Jesus is predicting that his disciples would be persecuted. And it is a well-known fact that the persecution of Christians did not begin until AFTER the resurrection and the day of Pentecost. Even so, all of these things described in verses 16-23 happened AFTER the day of Pentecost. In Acts 4:1-21 we find the apostles brought before the Jerusalem council and threatened because of their preaching the Gospel. In Acts 21:27-25:27 Paul is brought before King Agrippa and Governor Felix, Herod Antipatris, and the Jewish council to stand trial and he even appeals to appear before Caesar Augustus.

The events described by Jesus in verse 1-15 were completed before the crucifixion and the events described by Jesus in verse 16-23 did not come to pass until after the resurrection. Thus, it is inaccurate for Preterists to link the apostles "fleeing from city to city" in verse 22, with their commission to preach the Gospels to the Israelites found in verse 6. The fact is that the Apostles had already completed their commission to preach to the cities of the Israelites a long time before the crucifixion, let alone 70 A.D. So, in no way could verse 22 be used by Preterists to assert that Jesus had to return BEFORE the apostles had preached the Gospel to every city in Israel. If that was Jesus meaning, his prophecy failed before the close of the chapter when the Apostles returned from this mission before he even died and rose again.

And, once we remove the Preterist notion that Jesus would return before every Israelite city had heard the Gospel, we see that the Preterist use of this passage as a proof text falls apart. It's a lot easier to state with certainty that every city in Israel had heard the Gospel by around 70 A.D. than it is to state with certainty that Jesus disciples had fled to nearly every city in Israel and run out of places to take refuge by that time.

So, we cannot use the fact that nearly every city in Israel was aware of the Gospel by 70 A.D. as proof that Jesus had to return by then. In fact, as we have said, that mission was accomplished long before 70 A.D. and long before the crucifixion. (Its accomplishment was recorded within the same chapters in Matthew, Mark, and Luke where we read about the Apostles being sent out.) Instead, if we were trying to use Matthew 10:22-23 as a timeframe marker we would have to be able to point to some historic indication that by 70 A.D. the apostles had nearly run out of Israelite cities to flee to. (And, as we have said, that is a rather strange and difficult thing to try and prove.)

When we look at Matthew 10:22-23 again, we see that Jesus words have nothing to do with how long it would take for the Gospel to be heard in every city in Israel and nothing to do with preaching the Gospel at all by that point in the chapter.

Matthew 10:22 And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved. 23 But when they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another: for verily I say unto you, Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel, till the Son of man be come.

Instead of going from city to city to preach the Gospel there, we find them going from city to city to flee persecution. Now, we know as a matter of historic fact that the early Christians did preach the Gospel in every city that they fled to including such cities as Damascus. But that fact has nothing to do with Jesus words here because Jesus words do NOT point to preaching, they point to fleeing. The truth is Jesus' words here clearly state he would return before the disciples run out of places to FLEE to, not before they run out of places to PREACH to. Preaching, had nothing to do with the timeframe reference in Matthew 10:22-23.

The fact that Jesus' comments in verse 22-23 deal with places to FLEE to instead of places to PREACH to, demonstrate that Jesus words here are meant primarily as a COMFORT and REASSURANCE to his disciples that they would not run out of places of refuge. Thus, Jesus' words here are NOT meant as a timeframe marker whereby the disciples would know the nearness of his return based upon how many cities were left for them to flee to.

Matthew 10:23 …Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel, till the Son of man be come.

Look closely at Jesus words. He doesn't say they will run out or cities to flee to. He is saying the opposite. He is saying, they will always have more cities to flee to.

In verse 23, Jesus is making a POSITIVE statement about the AVAILABILITY of refuges. Preterists are interpreting that as a NEGATIVE statement about the LOSS of refuges. Jesus is saying, "refuges will always be available to you until I return." Preterists are interpreting that as, "You are going to run out of refuges." Jesus' is reassuring the PERMANENT AVAILABILITY of refuges until his return. The Pretersists interpret this as a declaration of THE INEVITABLE LOSS of all refuges. They are reversing the intent of Jesus' statement.

Only by reversing Jesus' statement to indicate the inevitable loss of refuges instead of the permanent availability of refuges can Preterists use this passage to construct a deadline for Jesus' return. If Jesus is saying "the refuges ARE going to run out," then the Preterists can use the dwindling number of refuges as a clock, counting down to Jesus return.

On the other hand, if Jesus is saying, "until the time of my return, you will always have refuges available," then there is no way to derive a deadline for his arrival from this verse. Instead of promising to return before the disciples inevitably run out of refuges, Jesus is promising that refuges would remain available until he returns, whenever that return would be.

Considering all this, the Preterists' use of Matthew 10:22-23 as a timeframe marker is inappropriate and inaccurate to say the least. To take this statement in verse 22-23 as a timeframe marker instead of as an expression of comfort and reassurance as it was intended is to take it out of its context.

In addition, it is clear that Matthew 10:1-15 Jesus is addressing the 12 apostles. But, Acts 8:1 tells us that when the Jerusalem Church was persecuted, everyone fled except for the apostles who stayed behind.

Acts 8:1 And Saul was consenting unto his death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles.

Since in Matthew 10:22-23 Jesus was speaking to his 12 apostles when he gave the instructions to flee from one city to city when persecuted and since Acts 8:1 tells us the apostles remained in Jerusalem when that occurred, we know the apostles must have understood Jesus words in Matthew 10:22-23 to incorporate the principle of the transcendent "you." Thus, they knew when Jesus said to them, "flee ye" he wasn't referring to them (the 12 apostles) but to them as "stand-ins" for the future converts and who would come to Christ and join the Jerusalem Church by the thousands during the book of Acts.

However, even if we were to use Matthew 10:22-23 as a timeframe marker, far from supporting the Preterist assertions that Jesus returned by 70 A.D., this passage would actually pose a huge problem for Preterists. Once again, we reiterate that the focus of these verses is persecution.

Matthew 10:17 But beware of men: for they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues;
21 And the brother shall deliver up the brother to death, and the father the child: and the children shall rise up against their parents, and cause them to be put to death. 22 And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved. 23 But when they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another: for verily I say unto you, Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel, till the Son of man be come.

Jesus clearly states that his disciples should flee from their persecutors from one city to the next. He also says they will not run out of places to flee to before he returns. And Jesus says those who endure to the end will be saved. Endure what to the end? Endure the persecution they have been fleeing from city to city. Surviving from the men who have been trying to kill them. Clearly, the concept presented in this passage is that the persecution will stop at the end when Jesus returns. In fact, it is no secret that Jesus' return was viewed throughout the entire New Testament and very prominently by the early Church as the time of deliverance from their worldly persecutions.

Acts 4:22 Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.

1 Timothy 4:18 And the Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve me unto his heavenly kingdom: to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

NOTES: Notice how in Acts 4 and 1 Timothy 4, the early Church expected that they would enter the kingdom of God through persecutions, thus, necessitating that when the kingdom of God arrived, their persecutions would cease. (The rest of these passages will further demonstrate this.)

2 Thessalonians 1:4 So that we ourselves glory in you in the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that ye endure: 5 Which is a manifest token of the righteous judgment of God, that ye may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which ye also suffer: 6 Seeing it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you; 7 And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, 8 In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: 9 Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power;

NOTES: 2 Thessalonians is perfectly clear. In verse 7, Paul specifically states that Christian persecution and trouble will end when Christ returns and is revealed in power with his holy angels to punish those who don't know God.

1 Peter 1:6 Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: 7 That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:

1 Peter 4:12 Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: 13 But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.

NOTES: Like Paul in 2 Thessalonians 1, Peter here twice expresses the expectation that trials will last only until the appearing (return) of Jesus Christ. This is inarguable similar to Paul's statement in 2 Thessalonians that the persecution will end when Jesus is revealed from heaven.

Well, all this begs the question. Did the persecutions of Christians cease in 70 A.D? If Christ returned in 70 A.D. then we should expect, based upon Matthew 10:22-23 and other New Testament precedent that persecution would have ceased. But it did not. History records that the persecution of Christians continued onward right through 70 A.D. up until the conversion of Constantine. This historic fact is not difficult at all to substantiate. It is quite easily found in any reference work, as the following quote from encyclopedia.com demonstrates.

"For 250 years it was a martyrs' church; the persecutions were fueled by the refusal of Christians to worship the state and the Roman emperor. There were persecutions under Nero (AD 54-AD 68), Domitian (AD 81-AD 96), Trajan (AD 98-AD 117) and the other Antonines (138-161), Maximin (308-13), Decius (249-51), Valerian (253-60), and Diocletian (284-305) and Galerius (305-10); Decius ordered the first official persecution in 250. In 313, Constantine I and Licinius announced toleration of Christianity in the Edict of Milan." - encyclopedia.com

If anything in Matthew 10:22-23 acts as a timeframe indicator for the return of Christ, it points to a return of Christ that did not occur until at least the reign of Constantine, almost 250 years after the Preterists' 70 A.D. deadline. (But even that would ignore the fact that the persecution of Christians continues to this day in some places around the world.)

How disappointing it must have been for Christians to be waiting until 70 A.D. for the return of Christ and rest from persecution and fleeing from city to city only to find that it would continue for almost another two and a half centuries. Rather than seeing Christian persecution nearing its end in 70 A.D., we find that things are really just getting underway as far as persecution goes for the Christians. Nero was Caesar for 16 years before 70 A.D., but Christian persecution under Rome continued for another 243 years (until 313 A.D.)

Because Matthew 10:22-23 was intended as a comfort to the disciples (NOT as a timeframe marker for Jesus' return) and because even Matthew 10:22-23 expects Christian persecution to cease upon the return of Christ, we must reject the Preterist appeal to this verse as support for their theory that Christ returned in 70 A.D.

Having therefore demonstrated conclusively from the scripture that Matthew 10:22-23 does not demand a soon coming of Christ we will move on to the next proof texts.

Matthew 16:28 Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom.

Mark 8:28 Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels. 9:1 And he said unto them, Verily say unto you, That there be some of them that stand here, which shall not taste of death, till they have seen the kingdom of God come with power.

Luke 9:26 For whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he shall come in his own glory, and in his Father's, and of the holy angels. 27 But I tell you of a truth, there be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the kingdom of God.

In the above passages we see Jesus clearly state that some in his audience at the time would not taste death until they saw the Son of man coming in his kingdom. But does this verse therefore lead to the conclusion of a 1st century coming of Christ?

The best way to address this question is to first note that Jesus does not say exactly how many persons must not taste death until they see him come in his kingdom. In the Greek the word that is used for some is Strong's #5100. The definition is given below.

5100 tis {tis}
an enclitic indefinite pronoun;; pron
AV - certain 104, some 73, any man 55, any 37, one 34, man 34, anything 24, a 9, certain man 7, something 6, somewhat 6, ought 5, some man 4, certain thing 2, nothing + 3756 2, divers 2, he 2, thing 1, another 2, not tr 17, misc 22; 448
1) a certain, a certain one
2) some, some time, a while

Notice that the first meaning for this word is a certain, or a certain one. This means that it is not unlikely that Jesus had in mind as few as only one person. (This will become important momentarily.)

In fact, this word "tis" is meant to convey "a certain one" by Jesus elsewhere in the Gospels. Consider the following passage.

John 6:64 But there are some [5100] of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him.

Here in John 6, Jesus uses this same Greek word "tis" in part to refer to Judas, the single individual who would betray him. So, it is well within the common usage of this Greek word "tis" to interpret Matthew 16:28, Mark 9:1, and Luke 9:27.

Getting back to the rest of the verses we should also note Jesus DOES NOT say that there are some standing there that would not die before He came in his kingdom, rather he states that some standing there would not die before they SAW Jesus coming in his kingdom. The operating word is "see," They would not die before they saw Jesus coming in his kingdom. In Greek, the word see is Strong's #1492, eido.

If we were to do a word search for the use of eido in the New Testament we would find that it is used many times in the Book of Revelation. In the Book of Revelation John describes a vision he saw of things which were before his time, which were in his time, and which would come after his time. Among the things that John sees (eido) which were to come after his vision is Jesus coming in his kingdom with great power and glory. It is important to note Revelation prophecied Jesus' coming in his kingdom. The event was still in the future at the time John saw the vision. That is to say, what John saw (Jesus coming in his kingdom) was not actually occurring at the time John saw it, yet he did see (eido) it before he died, even though the actual event of Jesus coming in his kingdom was still in the future.

So we have John who was present as Jesus spoke in Matthew 16:28, Mark 8:38, and Luke 9:6 and that he did see (eido) Jesus coming in his kingdom before he died through the vision that God gave him. And he recorded this vision in the book of revelation. This being the case we need not postulate an actual return or second coming of Jesus within the lifetime of Jesus audience in order to fulfill Jesus remarks here. John's experience would adequately fulfill this prophecy of Jesus in Matthew 16:28, Mark 8:38-9:1, and Luke 9:26-27.

Having already examined Matthew 24:34, Mark 13:30, and Luke 21:32 in light of our discussion of the principle of the transcendent "you." We will forego any further discussion of these verses and move on to Luke 12:31-32.

We now move on to the second to last Preterist proof text John12: 31-32.

John 12:31 Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out. 32 And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me. 33 This he said, signifying what death he should die.

The Preterist' appeal to this passage is based on two tenuous premises. First, they assume that by "judgment of this world" Jesus is referring to his second coming and the coming of the kingdom of God. Second, Preterists then argue that Jesus' indication that this judgment would take place "now" indicates a 1st century second coming of Jesus and the kingdom of God. But is this the case?

Their first premise that "judgment of this world" refers to Jesus second coming and the coming of the kingdom of God is a very tenuous one. This is because the rest of the chapter is devoid of any apocalyptic language. Jesus is not here discussing the end of the world, his return, or even the kingdom of God. Therefore, to insist that Jesus is speaking of these things is quite dubious and not the best exegetical practice. This passage simply does not give any indication that Jesus is referring to any of these events.

With regard to Jesus use of the word "now" to indicate the time frame, Preterists also have some difficulty making their point. In order to illustrate this we ask the question, when exactly did Jesus mean by "now?"

From the context it seems he was indicating his crucifixion (verse 32). But some Preterist suggest that Jesus was indicating 70 AD. This suggestion strains credulity. Such an argument can only be made based on a 21st century perspective. From our perspective 40 years does not seem like much time when compared to 2000 years. Therefore, it seems as though 40 years would be a reasonable time frame for "now."

In the 1st century, however, 40 years would certainly have seemed longer than could be expected by the phrase "now." From their point of view, 40 years strains the word "now" to the breaking point. If the integrety of the text is to be upheld at all then we must admit that "now" would seem to be a more immediate and limited time frame than 40 years would allow.

The Preterist's own interpretation of this passage would already change "now" from an immediate point in time to a 40-year duration. So it seems difficult for the Preterist to resist a Futurist rendering given that their own interpretation negates that "now" means "now." To argue that now could be said to include a 40 year period after, but not 2000 years is unjustifiable. The use of the word "now" cannot be used to support an extension of 40 years over and extension of 2000 years. In fact, if we are to take "now" as Preterists contend, then even 40 years would be quite a parousia delay. So John 12:31 cannot support the Preterist argument that the day of judgment came in 70 AD.

The Preterist may argue instead that judgment of this world took place on the cross, but Futurists would not disagree with this. Disagreement would arise if the Preterist were to suggest that the day of judgment took place on the cross. Such an argument is impossible to uphold in light of the many post-resurrection references in the New Testament which indicate that the day of God's wrath or judgement is yet in the future.

In a related point we might also mention a verse earlier from John 12, verse 23, which Preterist often quote to support their idea of a "soon" coming of Christ.

John 12:23 And Jesus answered them, saying, The hour is come, that the Son of man should be glorified.

Here again Preterists have a problem in attempting to argue that this verse indicates that the glorification that Jesus was/is to receive at his return or the coming of his kingdom was to occur by 70 AD. The phrase "the hour is come, that the Son of man should be glorified" is much too short and too immediate to include a 40 year period that extended to 70 AD. Added trouble is that in context there is no indication that the glorification Jesus is speaking of here has anything to do with his second coming or the coming of his kingdom. Rather it seems Jesus is speaking exclusively about his impending death on the cross. It would be unfair to the text to suggest otherwise.

Now we will proceed to the final Preterist proof text, Luke 17:20-21.

Luke 17:20 And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: 21 Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.

This last passage, Luke 17:20-21 is important as we conclude our article on Preterist proof texts and prepare to move to a discussion of the historical evidence for or against a 70 AD fulfillment of all things.

The reason this text is so important is that Preterists often quote it in defense whenever opponents argue that the historical record of 70 AD does NOT to fit with Bible prophecy on the end times, including the descriptions in the Olivet discourse. The argument that Preterists attempt to make is that the coming of the kingdom cannot be measured by observable signs. Instead it is within you. It is something internal.

Clearly, however, this is not what Jesus meant. We need only look at the Olivet Discourse to see that Jesus' return would be accompanied and identifiable by observable signs, which would be discernable on earth. If we accept the Preterist's defense here, we would have to assume that when the apostles ask, "what will be the sign?" Jesus answered by giving them signs that would not occur and could not be observed since according the Preterists assertion of Luke 17:20-21 "The kingdom of God cometh not with observation." The very fact that Jesus answers their question with specific detail and events indicates that the statement in Luke 17 applies to another aspect of the kingdom of God, NOT the coming of the end and the establishment of Christ's reign on earth.

The Preterist argument that the coming of the kingdom would not be observable is absurd in light of Jesus' words in the Olivet discourse and can only be maintained if the passages are isolated from one another instead of harmonized.

So, what does Jesus mean in Luke 17 when he says that the "The kingdom of God cometh not with observation"? Well, context, context, context. As usual, Preterists are not concerning themselves with context when determining their interpretation of a passage. And as usual, we can clear up any conflict between the "lack of observation" mentioned in Luke 17:20 and the numerous signs given in the Olivet Discourse simply by looking at the context of Luke 17:20.

Luke 17:20 And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: 21 Neither shall they say, Lo [2400] here! or, lo [2400] there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you. 22 And he said unto the disciples, The days will come, when ye shall desire to see one of the days of the Son of man, and ye shall not see it. 23 And they shall say to you, See[2400] here; or, see[2400] there: go not after them, nor follow them. 24 For as the lightning, that lighteneth out of the one part under heaven, shineth unto the other part under heaven; so shall also the Son of man be in his day. 25 But first must he suffer many things, and be rejected of this generation. 26 And as it was in the days of Noe, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man. 27 They did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, and the flood came, and destroyed them all. 28 Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot; they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded; 29 But the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all. 30 Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed. 31 In that day, he which shall be upon the housetop, and his stuff in the house, let him not come down to take it away: and he that is in the field, let him likewise not return back. 32 Remember Lot's wife. 33 Whosoever shall seek to save his life shall lose it; and whosoever shall lose his life shall preserve it.

Now, first of all we must point out the recurrence of the phrase "in his day" referring to the Son of Man. Derivatives of this phrase occur in verse 24, 30, 31. In fact, the use of this phrase in verse 30 interprets the term for us as "the day when the Son of Man is revealed." Jesus goes on to state that "in that day" (verse 30) if a man is on his roof, he should not go back into the house and if a man is in the field, he should not return home. Why? Because if a man goes back to his house to get his things, he is seeking to preserve his life here on earth and, like Lot's wife, the desire to preserve our material life can cost us our deliverance from the coming destruction.

What does all this tell us? Well, in verse 20, the Pharisees asked Jesus a "when" question: "When will the kingdom of God come?" Here, we have Jesus giving them some "when" answers. From the comparison Jesus makes to Noah and Lot, we know Jesus is speaking of the coming of the kingdom in terms of a destructive event. From Jesus' use of the term "the day when the Son of Man is revealed" we also know Jesus is talking about his revelation coinciding with that destructive event. And from the context of the Pharisees question, we know that Jesus is saying the coming of the kingdom of God will coincide with the revelation of Jesus Christ and a destructive event similar to the Flood and the destruction of Sodom.

So far, both Preterists and Futurists would claim this passage poses no problem for their interpretation. Now, we will get back to what Jesus' meant by "without observation."

First, we will now notice the recurrence of the phrase "Lo here! or, lo there!" This phrase actually occurs twice in this passage. The first time is verse 21. The second time is in verse 23 where it is translated "See here; or, see there." The word "Lo" and "See" are the same Greek word "idou" (Strong's #2400.) So, these phrases in verse 21 and 23 are identical. And that is crucial to a correct interpretation of the text because Jesus' uses these phrases to explain his initial statement that "the kingdom does not come with observation."

Second, the word translated "within" in the phrase "the kingdom of God is within you" (verse 21) is the Greek word "entos" (Strong's #1787.) "Entos" can mean "within you" in the sense of "within your soul" but it can also mean "within you" in the sense of "in the midst of you."

1787 entos {en-tos'}
from 1722;; prep
AV - within 2; 2
1) within, inside
1a) within you i.e. in the midst of you
1b) within you i.e. your soul

[Notice that "in the midst of you" is listed as a definition before "in your soul."]

"Entos" only occurs twice in the New Testament. Here in Luke 17 and one other time in Matthew 23:26 where Jesus is telling the Pharisees to clean the inside of the cup. However, "entos" is derived from a related Greek root word "en" (Strong's 1722). "En" occurs 2800 times in the New Testament, of which it is translated "among" 117 times, "with" 140 times, and "by" 163 times, which is why "entos" can not only indicate "inside you" but can also indicate "among you."

In fact, Jesus use of the word "entos" in Luke 17:21 is similar to his use of the word "epi" (Strong's #1909) in Luke 17:20.

Luke 11:20 But if I with the finger of God cast out devils, no doubt the kingdom of God is come upon [1909] you.

In Luke 17:21, the use of "entos" does, in fact, refer to "among you" and not "inside you." And the context clearly demonstrates that as we will now demonstrate.

First, Jesus is speaking to the Pharisees. This is further established by the fact that in verse 20 the Pharisees ask Jesus a question, in verse 21, Jesus answer that question, and it is not until verse 22 that the text indicates Jesus switched from the Pharisees and began addressing his disciples. So, since Jesus is talking to the Pharisees in verse 21, we know that he did not mean the kingdom of God was "inside" THEM. He must have meant the kingdom of God was "among" them.

Second, look at the context. In verse 21, 23-24, Jesus is telling the Pharisees and then the disciples that you cannot say "the kingdom of God is over there, let's go there." This is what Jesus means when he says "Look here or look there" in verses 21 and 23.

(Remember, as we have shown, that Jesus is describing the coming of the kingdom as coinciding with the day the Son of Man is revealed and a day of great destruction like the Flood or the destruction of Sodom.)

From the context we can clearly see what Jesus means by "within" or "among" you. Jesus' statement that the kingdom of God is "among you" (in your midst) is meant as a contrast to looking for it "here or there." Jesus statement that the kingdom of God doesn't come by observation is meant as a contrast to the idea of going to look for it "here or there." Instead of having to go look for the kingdom in this place or that place, Jesus says, you won't have to observe it here or there, it will be like lightning flashing across the sky; it will be in your very midst when it comes.

So, "without observation" doesn't refer to the kingdom of God coming without physical, observable signs. Jesus clearly gave such physical signs in the Olivet Discourse. Rather, "without observation" refers simply to the fact that when the kingdom of God arrives, it will not require us to go and observe it in some other place. It will be readily apparent in our midst just as lightning is readily visible from one side of the earth to the other. That is what Jesus means by the statement "the kingdom does not come with observation."

One last point on this issue before we close this section. If Preterists truly uphold that the kingdom of God came but was unobservable then they cannot point to historical accounts of events in 70 AD as support for their theory. Preterists cannot simultaneously assert the kingdom would come without "observable signs" AND at the same time turn around and point to similarities between historical events and Bible prophecy such Nero and the antichrist of Revelation. They must pick one and abandon the other. Either it is valid to compare historic events with the Bible's prophesied signs or there would be no observable signs and any historic similarities to Bible prophecies are irrelevant.

On this so-called proof text, the Preterists approach is inconsistent and self-contradicting. Clearly Jesus advocates in the Olivet Discourse that there are many observable signs that will precede and accompany the end of the world and his return. To suggest otherwise is to empty Jesus' words in the Olivet Discourse of their meaning. Having said this we will now move on to see if the historical record fits with Bible prophecy regarding these matters.