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Full preterists believe that the last trumpet call took place in AD 70. A very elaborate presentation of this view can be found in Gina's answer in one of my previous questions. A quote from the answer below (with emphasis mine):

[...] The corruptible earthly temple worship also had to put on the incorruptible and be transformed into the pure and perfect temple of our Lord and Savior. And, it happened when that earthly temple was taken out of the way in AD 70.

The last trumpet call for Jerusalem took place in AD 70 at the hands of the Roman army. But, there is a last trumpet call for each individual at our own bodily death, & that trumpet call signals either our gathering into heaven, or our judgment.

Did the early Church believe the same? Did most early Christians turn into full preterists after the events of AD 70? What were the eschatological views of the early Church towards the end of the first century? Did the early Church's views on eschatology change or remain the same in the centuries that followed?

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    The Reformers did not accept such an interpretation. And what is the point of asking what the early church believed twenty years, or so, before John published the Apocalypse ? ? The Book of Revelation was that which guided the church, not the historical events of 70 AD.
    – Nigel J
    May 30 at 17:35
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    Full preterists believe that the resurrection of the dead, the second coming of Jesus, and the final judgement have all already happened. That has never been the dominant position of Christianity.
    – curiousdannii
    May 31 at 3:04
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    I think efforts to compare beliefs of today with beliefs of first & second generation Christians are legitimate areas of inquiry, upvoted +1. FWIW, Papias of Hieropolis, a disciple of John, was not a preterist. May 31 at 4:29
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    @NigelJ People who believe the parousia happened in AD 70, also tend to believe Revelation was written in the 60s. May 31 at 4:59
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    +1 Excellent question. This is a big question in my mind re full preterism. If AD 70 was it, why didn't the early Church (including John, who would have still been 'tarrying') recognize it? May 31 at 5:01
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+50

To determine what the church believed at the end of the first century isn’t a simple question. Christians will turn to whatever their interpretation of the Bible is and say it was that. If we turn to the early church fathers we’ll find that modern scholars will label them chiliastic. That is an idea related to six thousand years of earth history, such as Barnabas (Epistle of Barnabas ch XV) and Irenaeus (Against the Heresies, V.XXIX.2). According to modernists, this is the same thing as premillennialism.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Premillennialism#Justin_Martyr_and_Irenaeus

The problem with this is that modern millennialism interprets in a very literal manner and early writers like Papias, Hermas, Barnabas, and Justin Martyr use quite a bit of Metaphor. Premillennialism believes in literal interpretation, a literal temple will be rebuilt, and a literal thousand years. Here are some statements from Irenaeus:

For he did not venture to blaspheme his Lord openly of himself; as also in the beginning he led man astray through the instrumentality of the serpent, concealing himself as it were from God. Truly has Justin remarked: That before the Lord's appearance Satan never dared to blaspheme God, inasmuch as he did not yet know his own sentence, because it was contained in parables and allegories; (V.XXVI.2) Whence also he says, that this handiwork is "the temple of God," thus declaring: "Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man, therefore, will defile the temple of God, him will God destroy: for the temple of God is holy, which [temple] ye are." (V.VI.2) For the prophet neither speaks concerning a day which includes the space of twelve hours, nor of a year the length of which is twelve months. For even they themselves acknowledge that the prophets have very often expressed themselves in parables and allegories, and [are] not [to be understood] according to the mere sound of the words. (II.XXI.2)

He is considered a premillennialist by modern scholars. Preteristic thinking started entering by the time of Augustine (354-430 AD)

Many passages I omit, because, though they seem to refer to the last judgment, yet on a closer examination they are found to be ambiguous, or to allude rather to some other event,--whether to that coming of the Saviour which continually occurs in His Church, that is, in His members, in which comes little by little, and piece by piece, since the whole Church is His body, or to the destruction of the earthly Jerusalem. For when He speaks even of this, He often uses language which is applicable to the end of the world and that last and great day of judgment, so that these two events cannot be distinguished unless all the corresponding passages bearing on the subject in the three evangelists, Matthew, Mark, and Luke, are compared with one another,--for some things are put more obscurely by one evangelist and more plainly by another,--so that it becomes apparent what things are meant to be referred to one event. (City of God XX.5)

This is from the Wikipedia article on preterism.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Preterism

Historically, preterists and non-preterists have generally agreed that the Jesuit Luis de Alcasar (1554–1613) wrote the first systematic preterist exposition of prophecy Vestigatio arcani sensus in Apocalypsi (published in 1614) during the Counter-Reformation.

In 1730 the Protestant and Arian, Frenchman Firmin Abauzit wrote the first full preterist exposition, "Essai sur l'Apocalypse". Abauzit worked in the then independent Republic of Geneva as a librarian.

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The question seems to leave out the consideration of what the 1st century AD assemblies knew about the promised coming of the Lord before the temple was destroyed in AD 70. The word "preterist" is from the Latin "prateritum" which refers to the verb form denoting events that have already happened in the past.

Therefore, the assemblies of the first century AD who were still waiting for the 2nd coming of the Lord were looking into their future - which is now our past history. The answer then has to consider if the 1st century assemblies KNEW what was at hand, and soon to come upon them.

"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." (1 Thess. 5:1-4, YLT)

The letters from Paul to the Thessalonians - those living and working to spread the gospel of Christ in Thessalonica - were written approx. 50 - 51 AD during Paul's second missionary journey. (1) So, 20 years before the destruction of the temple Paul was telling THEM that they KNEW the times and seasons; that THEY were not in darkness.

He used the same words Jesus used when telling His disciples in Matt. 24 & 25 when the temple would be destroyed - as a thief in the night.

The Jews used the phrase "as a thief in the night" to refer to three things:

  1. the role of the High Priest as he quietly entered the temple at night to check that the priest on duty was doing his job, and had not fallen asleep (2) (3)

  2. a reference to the manner in which the bridegroom came for his bride during the traditional Jewish wedding ceremonies which usually happened during the night with the bridegroom and his party sounding trumpets through the streets which allowed the bride to prepare (3)

  3. the Feast of Trumpets / Yom Teruah on the 1st of Tishri - which the Jews also referred to as "no man knows the day or the hour" because they had to wait for the council to declare the first day of the month from the witness reports of the new moon. (3 (4))

Jesus connected all of these in the Olivet discourse when telling His disciples about the destruction of the temple in Matt. 24-25. These phrases were telling the disciples the times and the seasons as they referred to the fall feast days beginning with the Feast of Trumpets on the 1st of Tishri.

So, Paul told the Thessalonians that they knew the times and seasons, and he used that same phrase "as a thief in the night." They knew the season - the fall feasts. Some of them may have discerned the year if they made the connection to the OT type of the 40 years of wandering in the Exodus wilderness, but this is only my speculation.

The point is that the Apostles had told the assemblies about the coming, still future to them, destruction of the temple which would happen during the fall feast days of Tishri. They were not in darkness, they were aware as Paul stated they would not be overtaken as the High Priest came.

Peter used the same phrase again in 2 Pet. 3:10.

"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." (KJV)

Instead of trying to think of this as just English words translated from the Greek, let's paraphrase with the knowledge of Jewish idioms and associations for the feast days and the temple.

"But the day of the Lord will come [High Priest, First of Tishri, Feast of Trumpets] in which the [ruling authorities of the Jewish OT Mosaic covenant, and the temple] shall pass away (Matt. 24:35) with [trumpets] and the [teachings of the OT Mosaic laws] shall melt with fervent heat, [the people of the Judea/Jerusalem] and the [sacrifices at the temple] shall be burned up."

If we step into their language with their idioms and phrases it becomes apparent to us that they KNEW what these words meant. We are the ones who are confused as we were not taught the meanings of the phrases associated with the Jewish feast days and the temple. When we make the associations that they automatically made we can see the very literal prophetic elements of the burning of Jerusalem and the temple which literally happened in AD 70.

So, after AD 70 did "the church" have a Preterist perspective? If they knew beforehand of the prophesy, as they did, then they most certainly recognized that it had happened when that temple was destroyed and it was then a past event. As the assembly at Jerusalem dispersed before Titus laid siege and reportedly moved to Pella in Perea they were watching and waiting for His coming judgment upon Jerusalem. (5) (6)

The question then is how long did they retain this knowledge? Assemblies of Christ are independent, non-centralzied, non-institutional assemblies, and we do not have many records from the 1st and 2nd centuries AD. But, the assembly at Rome began to hold itself above all the others due to misunderstood writings of Iraneus (7) and opinions expressed by early church "fathers."

The errors creeping into the assembly at Rome kept building upon each other like stumbling blocks. When Sulpicius and Orosius misunderstood and misquoted Iraneus' statements regarding the time of the apocalypse in the 3rd century AD, it caused and still causes much confusion.

Excerpt from The Signs of Revelation - Part I: The Time of His Coming: (8)

"We have confirmation brought forth by Robert Young in his concordance (Young’s Analytical Concordance, 1885) concerning the date of the writing of Revelation: “It was written in Patmos about A.D. 68, whither John had been banished by Domitius Nero, as stated in the title of the Syria version of the book; and with this concurs the express statement of Irenaeus in A.D. 175, who says it happened in the reign of Domitianou – i.e., Domitius (Nero). Sulpicius, Orosius, etc., stupidly mistaking Domitianou for Domitianikos, supposed Irenaeus to refer to Domitian, A.D. 95, and most succeeding writers have fallen into the same blunder. The internal testimony is wholly in favor of the early date. The temple at Jerusalem was still standing (ch. 11.1-10); the exact duration of the siege is foretold, viz., 42 months, 3(-)1/2 years, or 1260 days; the two witnesses are to be slain in the city where our Lord was crucified; Nero was reigning at the time, for it is said of the seven kings of Rome; ‘five are fallen, and one is, and the other is not yet come, and when he cometh, he must continue a short space.’ The five kings are Julius Caesar, Augustus, Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius. The ‘one who is ‘ is Nero; the one who ‘must continue for a short space’ is Galba, who reigned only seven months. Everywhere the events are ‘to come quickly,’ lit. ‘with haste,’ or speed (ch. 1.1; 2.16; 3.11; 11.14; 22.7, 12, 20). The escape of the Christian Jews from Jerusalem to Pella is undoubtedly referred to in ch. 7.1-8, compared with Mat. 24.30.’”

Nero’s birth name was Lucius Domitius Ahenobarbus, and he chose the name Nero Claudius Caesar Drusus Germanicus after he was adopted by Claudius in 50 A.D. Domitian was born Titus Flavius Domitianius in AD 51, and later became Caesar Domitianus Augustus. Domitianou and Domitianikos appear to be the Greek form of their names."

Origen, an early church father who lived Ad 185 - 254 appears to have been of the preterist belief. (9) So some of the knowledge held by the 1st century assemblies was retained after AD 70. But as time went on and other "fathers" expressed opinions become prominent, confusion set in.

The "church" at Rome fell into error and apostasy centuries ago. The teachings of their church fathers are filled with much error. As the Protestant Reformation came out of the Catholic traditions and dogma in the 15th century AD, they still held a lot of the traditional teachings of the Catholic priesthood which still infect all of the Christian denominations today.

It is past time that we recognize what the 1st century assemblies knew and were eagerly watching for (Heb. 9:28)- that the 2nd coming of the Lord was the judgment against Jerusalem and that temple for crucifying our Lord and Savior -and which they saw happen in AD 70.

Notes:

  1. Dates for the Letters to the Thessalonians - DatingTheNewTestament

  2. The Thief in the Night - Joshlink

  3. The Thief in the Night - AwestruckByGlory

  4. Signs of the Feasts - Part III: The Thief in the Night -ShreddingTheVeil

  5. Did all the Judean Christians Flee to Pella? = here

  6. Head for the Hills - ChristianInIsrael

  7. Rome and Preeminent Authority... - here

  8. The Time of His Coming - ShreddingTheVeil

  9. Origin was a Preterist - PreteristCentral

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  • +1 The Protestant reformation brought the Church back to Augustinian Christianity, but full preterist ideas, it seems, require that the Church be brought back to Apostolic Christianity. One thing I've come to appreciate is how little we know of the Church in the key AD 70-120 period. Even writers we have texts from in that period, we have little of what they wrote. And presumably that is a small minority of what was written, which in turn wasn't even necessarily representative of what was believed at the time. Jun 24 at 17:53
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    @OneGodtheFather - Yes. I am not impressed with Augustine's writings. They do not supplant the word of God. God's word is our authority, & He set the apostles as the higher authority (Rom. 13:1-4. It was not civilian magistrates or Nero who were ministrants to the assemblies, but the Apostles. If interested See The First Audience Perspective of Romans 13 here: shreddingtheveil.org/2018/11/03/…
    – Gina
    Jun 24 at 21:32

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