Bible Options

Section 4Section IV

EndnotesEndnotes

APPENDIX 1

Some Objections to Postmillennialism Answered

 

Q:  Was not the postmillennial view that the world is always getting better disproved by two world wars?  Postmillennialism all but became extinct during that time for good reason.

A:  The fact that an era of world peace has not come is no more proof that it will not come, than the fact that Christ has not returned proves that Christ will not return.  By this reasoning we could just as well say "where is the promise of His coming?" (cf. 2 Peter 3:1-4).  The newspapers and those who read them cannot nullify the word of God.  God's council stands (Isa. 46:10).  The question is whether the Bible teaches a future world-wide victory of the gospel.  To decide the issue on any other grounds than the Bible's teaching is unfaithful to the authority of God's word.[1]  It is another example of the "newspaper exegesis" practiced by Dispensationalists.

Furthermore, it is a misrepresentation to say that postmillennialists believe things are always getting better.  They will be the first to affirm that God brings judgement in the midst of history on evil societies that arise.  Judgement plays a prominent role in the postmillennialist understanding of how Christ's kingdom advances.  Gary North says, "What this world needs today is a really big plague, if  such a plague would bring men face to face with mankind's impotence in the face of God's judgments in history.  An economic collapse would not be a bad thing, either. . . ."[2]  As Isaiah 26:9 says, "When thy judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness."  God allows great evil to erupt from time to time in order to weed it out and have the people learn righteousness.  Blessing and judgment are both tools used by God to gradually move history toward greater righteousness.  The fact that this century has suffered two world wars means that we have got a lot to learn and a long way to go before the millennial blessings will be fully realized.

George Santayana has said, the one thing we learn from history is that we do not learn from history.  Likewise, Proverbs says that as a dog returns to his vomit, so a fool returns to his folly (26:11; 2 Peter 2:22).  But God's grace has redeemed us from foolishness (Prov. 1:7).  That which He has begun in us, He will carry to completion until the day of Christ Jesus (Phil. 1:6).  The Church will learn to get its act together, eventually.

The statement that postmillennialism died out after W.W.II is not even true.  A look at the publication dates on several of the books in the endnotes show that prominent theologians were defending postmillennialism during this period of history.    Since the 1980's postmillennialism has experienced a significant revival among Christians, both professional theologians and laity, as a look at the endnotes will also reveal.

 

Q:  Does not postmillennialism require belief in the inherent goodness of man?  Man's nature is evil.  Man cannot bring the kingdom in; only God can.

A:  This question shows a real ignorance about postmillennial writings by orthodox Christians.  Most of them have been Calvinists (Calvin himself should probably be included as a postmillennialist).[3]  Calvinists believe in the total depravity of man.  The heart of man certainly is corrupt, but Jesus gives us a new heart.  It's up to Jesus to decide how many new hearts He gives and when.  The calling of God is irrevocable (Rom. 11:29), and He has determined to bring regeneration on a world-wide scale in the future, with unimaginable blessings (11:15,25-26).  Never will the earth be completely sinless nor a time when every single  person on earth is saved before Christ returns.  There will always be some swamps that will not receive the living water (Eze. 47:11).  There will always be some tares among the wheat, but it is a wheat field, not a tare field (Matt. 13:24-30, 36-43 ).

Those who pose this question apparently confuse orthodox postmillennialism with the humanistic Social Gospel Movement.  The humanist Social Gospel says that man without God brings Paradise on earth.  Postmils say that the world is transformed by God's power working in and through His redeemed people.  The humanist Social Gospel is based on naturalistic evolution.  Postmillennialism is based on the literal Genesis account of creation (see Sect. II, "From Dominion Mandate of Creation to the Great Commission").  

 

Q:  How can the postmillennialist say that such a large number of people will be saved when Jesus said, "Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and many are those who enter by it.  For the gate is small and the gate is narrow that leads to life, and few are those who find it" (Matthew 7:13-14)?

A:  There are many verses in the Bible that speak of the Kingdom of God being wide, deep and growing to cover the whole earth (Isaiah 2:2-3; 9:7; 11:9; 25:6-7; 56:1; 66:18; Daniel 2:35,44; 7:14,18,27; Matthew 8:11; 13:31-33; 28:19; Revelation 11:15).  Let me ask, what does the premillennialist do with these verses?  The premil says that verses about 'wide' and `deep' and `earth filling' aren't applicable until after the Great Tribulation, during the Millennium (The amil just ignores these verses).  The postmillennialist says the same thing!  The only difference is that the premil. says that the Great Tribulation is something to look forward to, while the postmil says it already happened at the fall of Jerusalem in A.D. 70.  Jesus said that the road was narrow for his wicked generation, but He also said a time would come when things would be considerably different: "But I say to you that many will come from the east and the west and take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven.  But the subjects of the kingdom [the Jews who reject Christ] will be thrown outside, into the darkness where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth" (Matt. 8: 11-12).  And Paul says,  the rejection of the Jews is the "reconciliation of the world" (Rom. 11:15).  But the rejection of the Jews is not permanent:  ". . . a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fulness of the Gentiles has come in [not every single Gentile will be saved, but the Gentile nations  will have become explicitly Christian]; and thus all Israel will be saved" (Rom. 11:25-26).  And even compared to Gentile nations throughout the world becoming Christian, the salvation of the Jewish nation  will be like "life from the dead" (Rom. 11:15).[4]

Also, Jesus actually says that "many are the ones" entering through the wide gate to destruction, and "few are the ones finding" the narrow way.  He speaks in the present tense, therefore these words can't be said to always apply in the future.  John saw a "great multitude" of redeemed so large that "no one could count" (Rev. 7:9).

There is good reason to believe that at when the number of souls are counted in heaven and hell at the Final Judgment, two-thirds of those who ever lived will be in heaven and one-third in hell.  The Bible says that the first-born gets a double inheritance, so that if there are two sons, the first-born gets two-thirds and the younger gets one-third (Deut. 21:17).  If the oldest son was unfaithful to the covenant, however, the younger son would receive the inheritance of the first-born.  This exception almost becomes the rule in Scripture: Isaac inherited over Ishmael; Jacob inherited over Esau; Joseph over his brothers.  Lucifer was the supreme angel before his fall (Ezekial 28:14), and when he fell one-third of the angels fell with him (Rev. 12:4), leaving two-thirds for the faithful arch-angel, Michael.  Adam was the first man and the "the son of God" (Luke 3:38).  He fell; but Jesus, the Son of God, the second Adam (1 Cor. 15:45,47) was perfectly faithful to His Father; therefore two-thirds of humanity should become members of the redeemed race, as Christ's inheritance, and only one-third remain part of the fallen, Adamic race.  "Nevertheless death reigned from Adam until Moses, even over those who had not sinned in the likeness of the offense of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come.  But the free gift is not like the transgression.  For if by the transgression of the one the many died, much more did the grace of God and the gift by the one Man, Jesus Christ, abound to the many" (Rom. 5:14-15).[5]

 

Q:  Isaiah 11 describes some amazing transformations of the animal kingdom, like the wolf dwelling with the lamb and the child being able to safely play beside the viper's den.  How could these amazing transformations take place before Christ's Second Coming?

A:  Of course God can always perform a miracle, or man could find a way to tame these wild beasts through breeding (James 3:7).  However, I think that Psalm 22 gives warrant for taking these changes figuratively.  The Gospel of John specifically says that this psalm describes Christ's crucifixion (John 19:24).  Psalm 22 describes the band of evildoers that encompass Him at His crucifiction as dogs, lions, and oxen (Psalm 22:16, 20, 21).  These were men, not real animals.  When Isaiah speaks of ferocious animals, like wolves, leopards, bears, lions, and vipers, dwelling in peace with weak creatures like the lamb and infant, he means that the nature of ferocious, lawless men will be changed so that they will no longer oppress the weak.  These ferocious men  have been changed because they have come to know the Lord: "They will not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain, for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea" (Isaiah 11:9). 

 

Q:  I don't see postmillennialism as an optimistic view.  It destroys my hope that Jesus will return in my life time.

A:  Look, we're all going to see Jesus as soon as we die anyway.  And besides, you'll have a lot more fun seeing Christ be victorious while your live as a postmillennialist than you will have living as a pessimillennialist having false, unfulfilled expectations about Jesus coming in your life time.

 

Q:  In Luke 18:8 Jesus says that when He comes he will not find faith on the earth.  This contradicts the postmillennial view that the world will be converted to the Christian faith.

A:  Dispensationalists, or any other Christians, don't really believe that the Christian religion ("faith") will be absent from the earth when Christ returns.  In context "faith" refers to the kind of faith displayed by the widow: persistent prayer for justice (vv. 1-8).  Also, the question does not assume a negative answer.  The Greek implies only anxiety or impatience.  As in John 6:67-68, it could be its purpose is to produce self-examination.  Lastly, the coming probably refers to His soon  coming upon Israel, which He has just discussed (17:22-37).  The purpose of the question, then, would be to encourage them to endure in prayer during the Tribulation (cf. Matt. 24:34).[6]

 

Q:  Jesus promised the apostles that "I bestow upon you a kingdom, just as My Father bestowed one upon Me, that you may eat and drink at My table in My kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel" (Luke 22:29-30; cf. Matt. 19:28).  This could only be fulfilled during a Millennium as Dispensationalists describe.

A:  Postmillennialists view this passage as referring to the earthly, historical aspects of the kingdom, with eternal implications.  The verb "bestow" in Luke 22:29 is in the present tense.  We have already seen that Christ's kingdom began at His first coming (Matt. 28:18-20; Acts 2:34-36).  The eating and drinking at His table refer to the Lord's Supper, which He just instituted (Luke 22:13-20).  Since the kingdom and supper refer to a present, spiritual reality, so does the sitting on thrones.  In a sense, all Christians sit on thrones:  "He seated us with Him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus" (Eph. 2:6).   The "judging the twelve tribes of Israel" refers to the judicial, covenantal distinction that participation in the Lord's Supper draws; the unbelieving are not admitted to the table.  The twelve apostles have taken the places of honor at the table previously held by the twelve tribes of Israel.  By excluding unbelieving Jews from the table, the apostles pronounce God's judgment on them (cf. Matt. 8:11-12).  In A.D. 70, God carried out that judgment; now Old Covenant Israel is no more. 

 

Q:  Doesn't Acts 3:19-21 say that Jesus will return when the Jews receive Him as Savior?

A:  Peter is referring to guilt and forgiveness for those standing there, not some far off generation.  He says,  "you denied the Holy One and the Just . . . and killed the Prince of Life" (Acts 3:13-17).  Those who had committed history's greatest crime were facing judgment: "every soul who does not hear that Prophet shall be utterly destroyed from among the people" (Acts 3:23; cf. 2:19-21).  This would occur by A.D. 70, a generation:  "Be saved from this perverse generation!" (Acts 2:40).  Thus "the times of refreshing" that would result from repentance refer to the promise of respite from the soon coming judgment on Jerusalem (cf. Matt. 24:15-22).  The sending of Jesus is in terms of salvation:  "God raised up His Servant, and sent Him to bless you by turning every one of you from your wicked ways" (Acts 3:26; cf. John 14:23).  The word "until," in "heaven must receive Him until the restoration of all things" carries the meaning of continual action.  Christ will return bodily, not to introduce the restoration foretold by the prophets, but to complete it.  

 

Q:  Doesn't Zechariah 14:4 clearly say that Christ will return bodily during the Tribulation and before the Millennium?  Since Christ has not returned bodily, the Tribulation must be future.

A:  As with much prophecy there is a mixture of the literal and figurative.  The postmillennialist determines the figurative with good warrant from Scripture itself, not the unbiblical hyper-literalism of Pharisees and Dispensationalists.

The temple and city that are predicted to be destroyed in chapters 12 thru 14 refer to the very temple and city that were being rebuilt in Zechariah's day.  This literal temple and city were destroyed in A.D. 70.  It was then that Christ literally "gathered the nations against Jerusalem to battle, and the city will be captured . . ." (Zech. 14:2).

John says that Zech. 12:10 was fulfilled by the first-century Israelites who crucified Christ (John 19:37).  It is those tribes of Israel that where called to mourn for their murderous crime and expect judgment (Zech. 12:10-14; Luke 23:27-31; Acts 2:36, 3:17-21).

The Lord fighting against His enemies is a common expression in the Old Testament referring to His providential favor (Joshua 10:14, 42; 23:3).  God's feet are often mentioned in regard to God's triumph over the enemies of His people (Psalm 18:9; Isa. 60:13; Nah. 1:3; Hab. 3:5).  The cleaving of mountains also refers to God's conquering power (Micah 1:3-4).

The direction of the mountain cleft refers to the direction of theflight of Christians from Jerusalem (Zech. 14: 4-5; cf. Matt. 24:16-20).   This leads to darkness and distress upon Israel (14:6-7; Matt. 24:29; Acts 2:20-22).  Yet Christianity spreads the waters of life into the whole world (14:8), until the Lord becomes King of all the earth (14:9,16).  The Feast of Tabernacles is mentioned for what it prefigures: the time of the fulness of the fields of harvest (cf. John 4:35-38).  That "Holy to the Lord" is no longer restricted to the temple (14:20; cf. Exo. 28:36-38) tells of a change in the Old Testament ceremonial law (See Sect. 4, "The O.T. Foretold Its Own Demise"). 

 

Q:  The time statements that open and close Revelation refer toGod's conception of time.  "Soon" means a longer time for God than man (2 Peter 3:8).  Christ's statement that He is coming "quickly" refer to the suddenness of His appearing, not when He will appear.

A:  The book of Revelation is addressed to churches that existed and faced persecution in the first century.  It would be no comfort to tell them (indeed, deceive them!) that Christ will deliver them "soon" and "the time is near" when that refers to thousands of years after they are dead.   "Quickly" cannot mean "a sudden appearance thousands of years away" because that would contradict the statement that "the time is near."  And what other words could John have used to mean nearness of time?  He varies the phrasing of it several ways so as not to be misunderstood.  Compare Rev. 22:10 with Dan. 8:26, 12:4.  Also, many other references in Revelation place its events in the first century (see Sect. II, "First Century Fulfillment").

2 Peter 3:8 is one of the most abused passages in Scripture.  All that Peter means is that sometimes God takes longer to bring His judgment than what the ungodly expect, and sometimes God's judgment comes sooner than the ungodly expect. But Christians are to have a better understanding about when God will bring judgment, "For you, brothers, are not in darkness, that the day should overtake you as a thief, for you are all sons of light and sons of day" (1 Thess. 5:4-5).

If all the Bible's references to time are to be adjusted according to 2 Peter 3:8, than that could mean one of two things.  It could mean that each time a period of time is mentioned in the Bible, the days are to be multiplied by one thousand years.  This should be obviously absurd, but even if true, it does not help the Dispensationalist put the events of Revelation two thousand years in the future.  If "the time is near" means three or more days from the time John wrote Revelation, then the events will not occur until at least A.D. 3000!

Alternatively, 2 Peter 3:8 might be interpreted to mean that no mention of time in the Bible can be trusted to be accurate.  This would make the Bible an ahistorical document, which commits the heresy of gnosticism and neo-orthodoxy.  Indeed, many who want to deny the inspiration and accuracy of Scripture use 2 Peter 3:8 to deny the reliability of the Genesis account of creation and the historical accuracy of everything else in the Bible.


APPENDIX 2

Some Objections to Authorship of Revelation During Nero's Reign Answered

 

Was there Nero worship?

James Moffat writes, “When the motive of the Apocalypse is thus found in the pressure upon the Christian conscience exerted by Domitian’s emphasis of the imperial cultus, especially as that was felt in Asia Minor, any earlier date for the book becomes almost impossible.”  The Revelation of St. John the Divine.

But Nero was depicted as Apollo on Roman coins.

After a year in Greece where the Greeks deified him as “Zeus, Our Liberator,” the historian Dio Cassius records the scene of Nero’s return to Rome as he entered the palace and Apollo’s temple:

The city was all decked with garlands, was ablaze with lights and reeking with incense, and the whole population, the senators themselves most of all, kept shouting in chorus,  “Hail, Olympian Victor!  Hail, Pythian Victor!  Augustus!  Augustus!  Hail to Nero, our Hercules!  Hail to Nero, our Apollo!  The only Victor of the Grand Tour, the only one from the beginning of time!  Augustus!  Augustus!  O, Divine Voice!  Blessed are they that hear thee.”  Roman History, 62:20:5. 

A Jewish book written mostly after A.D. 80 called the Sibylline Oracles, says “the evil of Nero has the same three dimensions as the evil of Rome:  he is morally evil, he was responsible for the destruction of Jerusalem, since the Jewish war began in his reign, and he claimed to be God.”

The decision to no longer offer sacrifices to Nero was a major impetus for the Roman war against Israel.  Josephus wrote: 

And this was the true beginning of our war with the Romans:  for they rejected the sacrifice of Caesar on this account:  and when many of the high priests and principal men besought them not to omit the sacrifice, which it was customary for them to offer for their princes, they would not be prevailed upon. Wars, 2:10:4

F.F. Bruce writes about the decision to stop offering sacrifices to Caesar in the temple, that “its termination in the summer of A.D. 66 was tantamount to official renunciation of his authority.” New Testament History (1969), p. 139.

New Testament scholar John A.T. Robinson writes that “while the evidence from the imperial cultus does not rule out a Domitianic dating, it does not establish it either.”  Redating the New Testament, p. 236.

 

Does the persecution accord more with Domitian than Nero?

Advocates of Revelation being written around A.D. 95, during the reign of Emperor Domitian, claim that the mention of imperial persecution against Christians fits better with the reign of Domitian than the reign of Nero.  However, several late-advocates admit that the evidence for Christian persecution under Domitian is questionable.  David H. van Daalen writes that we “have no evidence that there was any persecution under Domitian.”  A Guide to the Revelation, WEF Study Guide 20 (1986), p. 3.

There is however, considerable evidence persecution under Nero.  Early church father Tertullian wrote that “At Rome Nero was the first who stained with blood the rising faith.”  Scorpion’s Sting, 15.

Roman historian Tacitus writes:

So, to dispel the report, [Nero] substituted as the guilty persons and inflicted unheard-of punishments on those who, detested for their abominable crimes, were vulgarly called Christians. . . . And their death was aggravated with mockeries, insomuch that, wrapped in the hides of wild beasts, they were torn to pieces by dogs, or fastened to crosses to be set on fire, that when the darkness fell they might be burned to illuminate the night. . . . Whence it came about that, though the victims were guilty and deserved the most exemplary punishment, a sense of pity was aroused by the feeling that they were sacrificed not on the altar of public interest, but to satisfy the cruelty of one man.  Annals, 15:44

Nero’s persecution of Christians was not limited to the city of Rome.  Christian apologist Paulus Orosius (c. A.D. 385-418) writes: "For [Nero] was the first at Rome to torture and inflict the penalty of death upon Christians, and he ordered them through out all the provinces to be afflicted with like persecution. . . .”  Paulus Orosius, The Seven Books of History Against the Pagans, book 7, chap. 7, trans. P. J. Deferrari; in The Fathers of the Church, vol. 50 (Washington, DC: Catholic University of America Press, 1964), pp. 298-299.

 

Would John have been banished under Nero?

Advocates of the view that John wrote Revelation during the reign of Domitian claim that Domitian banished criminals, but Nero did not.  The early church father Tertullian says about John’s banishment,

But if thou art near to Italy, thou hast Rome, where we also have an authority close at hand. What an happy Church is that! on which the Apostles poured out all their doctrine, with their blood: where Peter had a like Passion with the Lord; where Paul hath for his crown the same death with John; where the Apostle John was plunged into boiling oil, and suffered nothing, and was afterwards banished to an island.  Tertullian, Exclusion of Heretics, 36.

Tertullian does not name the Caesar who reigned when these things happened, but the fact that John was plunged into boiling oil points to Nero, because Nero ordered Christians to be covered in a flammable material before they would be lit as torches for his parties.

Historian Herbert B. Workman, in his classic study, Persecution in the Early Church, draws the following conclusions from the Tertullianic evidence: "St. John's banishment to Patmos was itself a result of the great persecution of Nero. Hard labour for life in the mines and quarries of certain islands, especially Sardinia, formed one of the commonest punishments for Christians."  Herbert B. Workman, Persecution in the Early Church (Oxford: Oxford University Press, [1906] 1980), pp. 18. 

 

Could Laodicea be described as wealthy in the years prior to A.D. 70?

Late-date advocates have argued that Laodicea could not have been described as rich the few years before A.D. 70 because it had suffered an earthquake in A.D. 60 that destroyed much of the city.  But Laodicea was actually so rich from the textile industry there that it was no great financial burden for its residents to rebuild the city after the earthquake.  The Roman historian Tacitus wrote:

 

See also the Holman Bible Dictionary:  http://www.studylight.org/dic/hbd/view.cgi?number=T3759

 

Would a church at Smyrna exist prior to A.D. 70?

Pierce says:

Polycarp wrote to the Philippian church says:

So Polycarp is saying that when Paul wrote his letter to the Philippians, the people of Smyrna did not yet know the Lord.  Scholars say that Paul wrote Philippians sometime between A.D. 53 and A.D. 63.  Even with the latter date, it’s possible that a church was established in Smyrna in Paul’s lifetime, but after he wrote Philippians, which could have been before A.D. 70 and before John wrote his Revelation.  Acts 19:10 says that all the province of Asia heard of the gospel through Paul.  Smyrna is in that area, and the church may have been established shortly after that as a result of Paul’s preaching.

The expression 'the seven churches' seems to imply that this constituted the whole number, and hence affords one of the most striking incidental proofs of an early date. . . Those who contend for the later date, when there must have been a greater number of churches than even in the region designated by the apostle, fail to give any sufficient reason for his mentioning no more.  That they mystically or symbolically represent others is surely not such a reason.”  James M. McDonald, Life and Writing of St. John, p. 154.

 

What writings outside the Bible show about the beliefs of the early church:

1.      Only the Bible determines doctrine:  “I am shocked at the number of people who want to fashion their theology around the early Church Fathers.  One can find in their confusing writings the full spectrum of views from baptismal regeneration, infant baptism, and other heretical teachings.  The Church Fathers do not determine doctrine!  A sound study of the Word of God determines our doctrine.”  Mal Couch, president of Tyndale Theological Seminary (dispensational); quoted in The Early Church and the End of the World, p. 3.  Remember, Paul warned that soon after his departure, wolves would come into the church spreading false doctrine.  So we cannot assume that what the early church fathers taught was pure doctrine.

2.      We don’t know very much about what the early church fathers said.  “Most of what the Church Fathers wrote remains untranslated – 218 Latin and 166 Geek volumes – therefore, we cannot be dogmatic in asserting what the early Church Fathers believed.”  Ibid, p. 40.

3.      The few examples of Christians who taught a return of Christ before the millennium denied key tenets of modern Dispensationalism.  Patrick Alan Boyd summarizes his survey of premillenial teachings in early Christian writings:  “1) the writers /writings surveyed did not generally adopt a consistently applied literal interpretation; 2) they did not generally distinguish between the Church and Israel; 3) there is no evidence that they generally held to a dispensational view of revealed history; 4) although Papias and Justin Martyr did believe in a Millennial Kingdom, the 1,000 years is the only basic similarity with the modern system (in fact, they and dispensational premillennialism radically differ on the basis for the  Millennium; 5) they had no concept of immanency or a pretribulational rapture of the Church. . . .” Ibid., pp. 41-42.

 

Was Preterism unknown in the early church?

Examples of preterism in early Christian writings:

The Great Tribulation that Jesus predicted:

1.      James the brother of Jesus, known as James the Just, as told by Hegesippus around A.D. 170 at http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/text/hegesippus.html:

The aforesaid scribes and Pharisees accordingly set James on the summit of the temple, and cried aloud to him, and said: "O just one, whom we are all bound to obey, forasmuch as the people is in error, and follows Jesus the crucified, do thou tell us what is the door of Jesus, the crucified." And he answered with a loud voice: "Why ask ye me concerning Jesus the Son of man? He Himself sitteth in heaven, at the right hand of the Great Power, and shall come on the clouds of heaven."

And, when many were fully convinced by these words, and offered praise for the testimony of James, and said, "Hosanna to the son of David," then again the said Pharisees and scribes said to one another, "We have not done well in procuring this testimony to Jesus. But let us go up and throw him down, that they may be afraid, and not believe him." And they cried aloud, and said: "Oh! oh! the just man himself is in error." Thus they fulfilled the Scripture written in Isaiah: "Let us away with the just man, because he is troublesome to us: therefore shall they eat the fruit of their doings." So they went up and threw down the just man, and said to one another: "Let us stone James the Just." And they began to stone him: for he was not killed by the fall; but he turned, and kneeled down, and said: "I beseech Thee, Lord God our Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” . . . .

And shortly after Vespasian besieged Judaea, taking them captive.

 

2.      Commenting on Daniel, Clement of Alexandria said in the second century:  “The half of the week Nero held sway, and in the holy city Jerusalem placed the abomination; and in the half of the week he was taken away, and Otho, and Galba, and Vitellius. And Vespasian rose to the supreme power, and destroyed Jerusalem, and desolated the holy place.  And that such are the facts of the case is clear to him that is able to understand, as the prophet said."  The Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 1

3.      Eusebius says that the Great Tribulation that Jesus predicted “took place in this manner in the second year of the reign of Vespasian, in accordance with the prophecies of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, who by divine power saw them beforehand as if they were already present, and wept and mourned according to the statement of the holy evangelists.” Eusebius Pamphilus, “Predictions of Christ,” 93.  Early Church, p. 75.  Vespasian’s reign began in A.D. 69.

4.      Origen (d. 254) made a habit of interpreting the Bible allegorically, but mentions others who interpreted “this generation” in the Olivet Discourse literally:  “And certain uninstructed persons refer the words to the destruction of Jerusalem, and think that they were said about that generation which was in the time of Christ and saw His passion, that it was not going to pass away before the destruction of that city.”  Commentary on Matthew.  On Matthew 24:34.

5.      John Chysostom commented on Matt. 24:14, And then the end shall come:  “And in fit season did Jerusalem fall, namely, after the Gospel had been preached throughout the world; as it follows, And then shall the consummation come, i.e. the end of Jerusalem.”  Homily 75 on Matthew.

6.      The great early church theologian Augustine said, “Thus, Luke made clear what could have been uncertain, that what was said of the abomination of desolation referred to the siege of Jerusalem, not to the end of the world.” (p.87 – Epistle 199 to Hesychius, 29.  FC 30:379)  Concerning the “Son of Man coming on the clouds” in Matt. 24:30, Augustine says,

And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud, with great power and majesty.  As I see it, this could be taken in two ways:  one, that He will come in the Church as in a cloud, as He continues to come now according to His word:  Hereafter you shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of the power of God, and coming in the clouds of heaven; and He comes with great power and majesty because His greater power and majesty will appear in the saints to whom He will give great power, so that they may not be overcome by such persecution.  The other way in which He will come will be in His body in which He sits at the right hand of the Father, in which, also, He died and rose again and ascended into heaven, as it is written in the Acts of the Apostles:  And when he had said these things, a cloud received him and he was taken up from their sight.  And because the angels said thereupon:  He shall so come as you have seen him going away, we have reason to believe that He will come not only in the same Body but also  in a cloud, since He will so come as He went away, and a cloud received Him as He went.  (Letter 199, 41.  FC 30:389.)

 

In his book The City of God, St. Augustine says that Nero is the Man of Sin of 2 Thess. 2 and the Beast of Rev. 13:

 

The last part refers to the Nero Redivivus legend that is mentioned by several other Christian writers in this era as being a common belief.  It is based on the statement in Revelation 13:3 that “One of the heads of the beast seemed to have had a fatal wound, but the fatal wound had been healed.”  Our view is that the wound to the Beast in Revelation refers to the Roman government stabilizing itself after the death of Nero, but the legend still shows a tradition of identifying the Beast of Revelation with Nero.

Also see for quotes:  http://penelope.uchicago.edu/~grout/encyclopaedia_romana/gladiators/nero.html

 

Irenaeus’s report

Late-date advocates of Revelation’s composition often cite Irenaeus (A.D. 130-202) to prove that it was written during the reign of Domitian.  Guthrie writes that Irenaeus "is quite specific that the Apocalypse 'was seen no such long time ago, but almost in our own generation, at the end of the reign of Domitian.’"  Donald Guthrie, New Testament Introduction, 3rd ed. (Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press, 1970), p. 956.  Irenaeus wrote this about A.D. 180 to 190, and he is the earliest known authority designating a date for the writing or Revelation.  Also, Irenaeus knew Polycarp, who knew the Apostle John. 

But this seemingly strong evidence has some serious problems.  First, even though Irenaeus was two generations removed from the apostles, he is known to make erroneous historical claims about that era.  He claims, for example, that Christ was over fifty years old before his crucifixion.

But even more important than that is that Irenaeus’s statement is very ambiguous.  The full statement is as follows:

We will not, however, incur the risk of pronouncing positively as to the name of Antichrist; for if it were necessary that his name should be distinctly revealed in this present time, it would have been announced by him who beheld the apocalyptic vision. For that was seen no very long time since, but almost in our day, towards the end of Domitian's reign.  Ante Nicene Fathers, 1:559-560.

The question is what Irenaeus is referring to when he says that "that was seen" (eůńNčç)?  Late-date advocates assume that he is saying that John saw the Revelation toward the end of Domitian’s reign.  Or does “that” refer to “him who beheld the apocalyptic vision” – John?  Many scholars have concluded the latter, and it makes more sense.  The book of Revelation has the same information about the “antichrist” no matter when it was written.  Rather, Irenaeus is saying that, since John was seen not very long ago, if it was necessary for Christians in the second century to know who the antichrist was, John could have explained that to people who would still be alive near Irenaeus’s day.

Additional support for this latter interpretation is that in another place Irenaeus says that the number of the antichrist is found in all the “ancient copies” of Revelation. (Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, 1:222).  It would be somewhat inconsistent for Irenaeus to call copies of the Revelation “ancient” and also say that Revelation was written “almost in our day.”

 


APPENDIX 3

A Short History of the End of the World[1]

 

The sack of Rome by Vandals (410) was supposed to bring the end.

Concerning the year 1000 a monk wrote:  "In the thousandth year after the birth of Christ, violent earthquakes shook all over Europe, and throughout the continent destroyed solid and magnificent buildings.  In the same year a horrible comet appeared in the sky.  Seeing it, many who believed that this was announcing the Last Day were frozen with fear."

"The People's Crusade" to the Holy Land of the eleventh and twelfth centuries were inspired by the belief that they were participating in the events of last days. According to the calculations of Pope Urban, the Antichrist had already been born and could set up his throne in the Temple of Jerusalem at any moment.

Birth of the Inquisition (1209-1244). 

The Black Death (1347-1350).

Thomas Muntzer, a leader of the German Peasant Revolt (1524), saw himself as the Lord's instrument of judgement to prepare for the return of Christ. 

The Anabaptists who seized Munster in 1534-1535 believed that the world would be destroyed by Easter, except for Munster, which would be the New Jerusalem. 

January 1532 Martin Luther wrote, "The last day is at hand."

The execution of Charles I in 1649 was thought to be a sign of the imminent return of Christ.

In 1654 John Tillinghast declared that "This generation shall not pass" until the millennium has arrived. 

After his humiliating return from his third voyage, Christopher Columbus persuaded himself that the world would end in 1656.  To prove his thesis he wrote a Book of Prophesies, in which he says that "there is no doubt that the world must end in one hundred fifty-five years."

In 1658 John Bunyan declared that "the judgement day is at hand." 

Inspired by a belief in Christ's imminent return, the Fifth Monarchist sect lead uprisings against the English government in 1657 and 1661.

Lisbon earthquake of 1755.

The French Revolution, when a naked women, coronated the Goddess of Reason, was carried into the Cathedral of Notre Dame as she shouted blasphemies. Napoleon was identified as the Antichrist and Man of Sin. 

The 1,260 days of Revelation 12:6 was actually 1,260 years, and this period was to have ended in the late eighteenth century. 

"Cleansing of the sanctuary" of Daniel 8:14 was to occur some time during the 1840's. 

William Miller, founder of Seventh Day Adventism, fixed Christ's coming at 1843, or October 22, 1844 at latest. 

Charles Taze Russell, founder of the Watchtower Society (Jehovah's Witnesses), said that Christ returned invisibly in 1873 and the end would come in 1914. 

When World War I began The Weekly Evangel (April 10, 1917) wrote, "We are not in the Armageddon struggle proper, but at its commencement, and it may be, if students of prophecy read the signs aright, that Christ will come before the present war closes, and before Armageddon....The war preliminary to Armageddon, it seems, has commenced." 

In 1970 Hal Lindsey predicted the rapture to come in 1981. (Birth of Israel in 1948 + a generation [40 yrs.] - 7 years for pretrib. rapture ' 1981). 

In April of 1975 The Jack Van Impe Crusade Newsletter declared: "Messiah 1975? The Tribulation 1976?"  

Edgar C. Whisenant wrote 88 Reasons Why the Rapture Is in 1988.

Chen Heng-ming of Taiwan, predicted that God would arrive March 31, 1998. He was so sure of this date that he guarantee it on his life. At least he admitted he was wrong when God failed to show. He told his 140 followers, who quit their jobs in anticipation of the end, that his predictions "can be considered nonsense."

 

 

 

So when will Jesus come back? :

 

After the Church has obediently and successfully carried out Christ's Great Commission to disciple all the nations (Matt. 28:18-20), so that the earth is filled with a knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea (Hab. 2:14; Isa. 11:9) and His every enemy is destroyed; the last enemy being death, which occurs the moment of His return, resulting in the resurrection of the body ("rapture") (1 Cor. 15:22-28, 50-57).

 

Section 4Section IV

EndnotesEndnotes