Home Church Community

Statement of Beliefs

Contact Us

Search Our Site

Bible Study Resource

Printer Friendly Version

Particulars of Christianity:
313 Preterism

Preterism Part 7: Scripture and a Delayed Coming

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"

In our introductory article to this study on Preterism we began by defining what Preterism is. We stated that Preterism is founded on the claim that Jesus' own words regarding his second coming indicated that it would come soon. Based on this claim Preterists argue that any delay in Jesus second coming would therefore make Jesus either a liar or a fool. We then spent a considerable amount of time examining scriptures which Preterists insist demand a "soon" second coming of Christ. Now we will present some scripture in which Jesus indicates that his second coming will be delayed, later than expected, or a long time in coming. These verses will be provided and discussed below. We would do well to note that unlike some of the Preterist proof texts all of these verses are part of Jesus explanation of when he would return and when his kingdom would come. There can be no doubt therefore that the statements they make do pertain to these events and when they would transpire.

As we present each of these passages we note three important points.

1. For those who did not understand the signs, times, and seasons, Jesus coming would be unexpected.
2. Jesus second coming and the coming of his kingdom are described as delayed, being after a long period of time, or long in coming.
3. The apostles (at least Peter and Paul) were aware that Jesus return would take longer than expected and addressed this issue in their epistles as some people were distressed that it had not yet occurred.

And now we turn to the scriptures. (We have grouped the parallel accounts together for simplicity.)

Point 1: For those who did not understand the signs, times, and seasons Jesus coming would be unexpected.

Matthew 24:42 Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come. 43 But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up. 44 Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh.

Matthew 24:50 The lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of,

Matthew 25:13 Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.

Mark 13:32 But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father. 33 Take ye heed, watch and pray: for ye know not when the time is. 34 For the Son of Man is as a man taking a far journey, who left his house, and gave authority to his servants, and to every man his work, and commanded the porter to watch. 35 Watch ye therefore: for ye know not when the master of the house cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at the cockcrowing, or in the morning: 36 Lest coming suddenly he find you sleeping. 37 And what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch.

Luke 12:38 And if he shall come in the second watch, or come in the third watch,

Luke 12:40 Be ye therefore ready also: for the Son of man cometh at an hour when ye think not.

Luke 12:46 The lord of that servant will come in a day when he looketh not for him, and at an hour when he is not aware, and will cut him in sunder, and will appoint him his portion with the unbelievers.

1 Thessalonians 5:1 But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you. 2 For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. 3 For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape. 4 But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief.

Revelation 3:3 If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee.

Revelation 16:15 Behold, I come as a thief.

From these 10 or so passages along with the Olivet Discourse we see several things regarding Jesus' second coming. First, from the Olivet Discourse we know that Jesus gave signs by which we might know when his return was near. At the conclusion of this discourse Jesus instructs his followers to watch for these signs. This message to watch is often reiterated throughout the New Testament when Jesus' return is being discussed. Jesus states that if we do not understand these signs and do not watch for his return, it will catch us off guard.

Point 2: Jesus return would be delayed, a long time in coming, or after a long period of time.

Matthew 24:48 But and if that evil servant shall say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming;
Luke 12:45 But and if that servant say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming;

Matthew 25:14 For the kingdom of heaven is as a man travelling into a far country,
Mark 13:34 For the Son of Man is as a man taking a far journey,
Luke 20:9 Then began he to speak to the people this parable; A certain man planted a vineyard, and let it forth to husbandmen, and went into a far country for a long time.

Matthew 25:5 While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept.

Matthew 25:19 After a long time the lord of those servants cometh, and reckoneth with them.

The passages above state no less than 4 times that Jesus coming would be delayed, a long time in coming, or after a long period of time. This is at least as many verses contradicting the Preterist view of a "soon" coming of Christ as there are that would seem to support it. The verses constitute direct evidence in contradiction of the Preterist assertion that Jesus expected his return to be soon. From these passages we know that Jesus understood that his return would come after a long time had passed.

Point 3: The apostles (at least Peter and Paul) were aware that Jesus return would take longer than expected and addressed this issue in their epistles as some people were distressed that it had not yet occurred.

2 Thessalonians 2:1 Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, 2 That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand. 3 Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; 4 Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God. 5 Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things? 6 And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time.

Obviously, there was in Thessalonica some confusion about when Jesus return would be. Paul seeks to address this and clear up the confusion in parts of both 1 and 2 Thessalonians. Of significance to our current discussion is Paul's words in 2 Thessalonians.

Notice that the Thessalonians were wondering if the coming of Jesus was at hand or had already occurred. Although, this letter was written in about 50 AD Paul assures them that this is not the case. Instead Paul points ahead to the future and explains that Jesus second coming won't come until after a great falling away and after the son of perdition was revealed. This is why Preterists often try to use Nero as a literal antichrist, because without a historic antichrist, there can be no historic second coming.

Paul also firmly states that none of his previous letters can be taken to lead to the conclusion that Jesus' coming was at hand. Paul himself confidently affirms that the coming of Jesus is still ahead. We do not mean to imply that this passage rules out a Preterist eschatology in itself, since it was written before 70 AD. We mention it only to point out that Paul was aware of and disturbed by confusion at Thessalonica over whether or not Jesus second coming had occurred or was at hand.

We now move on to Peter's second epistle in which he deals with similar issues.

2 Peter 3:1 This second epistle, beloved, I now write unto you; in both which I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance: 2 That ye may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Saviour: 3 Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, 4 And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation. 5 For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water: 6 Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished: 7 But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men. 8 But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. 9 The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. 10 But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. 11 Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, 12 Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat? 13 Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness. 14 Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless. 15 And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; 16 As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction. 17 Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness. 18 But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.

Scholars tell us that the letter was likely written at around 64-65 AD. Even if this year is off a little we do note that it is odd that Peter would have been in the beginning of the end even by Preterist standards. Yet as we read through this second chapter we notice that Peter does not seem startled that Jesus had not come back yet. Nor does he present the notion that Jesus is about to return, or that the return is at hand. Instead we find Peter assuring his readers that though Jesus' return is apparently not within view that it will surely someday come. We find him discussing God's patience, God's timing, and long periods of time. Notice how he alludes to Psalm 90 in verse 8.

2 Peter 3:8 But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.

Psalm 90:4 For a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night.

Peter uses this verse from the Psalms to remind his readers to be patient that God is not slack (verse 9) regarding his promise to return. In the Greek the word slack is Strong's #1019. The definition is listed below.

1019 braduno {brad-oo'-no}
from 1021;; v
AV - tarry 1, be slack 1; 2
1) to delay, be slow
1a) to render slowly, retard
1b) to be long, to tarry, loiter

We can see from Peter's writings he understood that though almost 40 years had passed since Jesus ascended into heaven that Jesus promise to return was not discredited. And although he and the other hearers of Jesus Olivet Discourse had grown old and death approached he does not expect a "soon" second coming of Jesus even at 65 AD. Neither does Peter reassure his audience that a second coming of Christ was about to occur.

This is unbelievable given that Preterists insist at the time this epistle was written the second coming was only a few years away. How could Peter not have known this? Why does he not remind his audience that the second coming of Christ was about to occur? Why does he not remind the believers that Jesus said he would come within their lifetimes? Why instead does he speak of God's patience, God's timing, and thousands of years being as a day to the Lord?

We can only conclude that as far as Peter knew Jesus return was not eminent even in 65 AD. But he is not alone in this understanding. In the previous article we provided the writings of several centuries of early church Christians who together with Peter present an unbroken chain of futurist Christian leaders from 65 AD through 200 AD. These writings, when taken together with 2 Peter 3, constitute compelling evidence that Jesus did not return in 70 AD as Preterist contend. In fact, they also provide compelling evidence that the first, second, and third century Church did not believe Jesus' words indictated that he would return within the life span of that first generation. Based on Peter's words in chapter 3 of his second epistle, we can see why they did not believe Jesus had to return within the life span of that first generation.