Don’t just let your eyes glaze over with these questions. This is a serious study of Scripture and Christians must come to grips with the implications of this material.
Note that the questions are organized by topic. Here are the topics:
A. Questions about the “End of the Age,” “Last Days,” and the “Day of the Lord”
B. Questions about the timing of the Second Coming (the Parousia) and judgment according to Jesus
C. Questions about the timing of the Parousia and coming judgment according to the New Testament writers
D. New Testament questions about a first century fulfillment of Jesus’ prophecies in the Olivet Discourse
E. Old Testament questions about a first century fulfillment of Jesus’ prophecies in the Olivet Discourse
F. Questions about the book of Revelation
G. More Questions
If you are in a dispensational church, please note the blog entry that has questions just about issues from this viewpoint.
James Stuart Russell (1816-1895) in his classic work The Parousia says this, “In prophecy, as in poetry, the material is regarded as the type of the spiritual, the passions and emotions of humanity find expression in corresponding signs and symptoms in the inanimate creation. The earth convulsed with earthquakes, burning mountains cast into the sea, the stars falling like leaves, the heavens on fire, the sun clothed in sackcloth, the moon turned into blood, are images of appalling grandeur, but they are not necessarily unsuitable representations of great civil commotions—the overturning of thrones and dynasties, the desolations of war, the abolition of ancient systems, the great moral and spiritual revolutions.”
A. Questions about the “End of the Age,” “Last Days,” and the “Day of the Lord”:
1. In such passages as Matthew 13:40; Matthew 13:49; Matthew 24:3; Matthew 28:20, etc., isn’t Jesus referring to the end of an age (Greek aion) rather than the end of the world (Greek kosmos)? In other words, if the author was talking about the end of the world, wouldn’t he have used kosmos when he actually used aion? (Compare the King James Version, which has been confusing people for a long time, with newer translations including the New King James Version.)
2. Since the thrust of the Olivet Discourse (Matthew 24/25; Mark 13; Luke 21) is the destruction of the temple, isn’t it reasonable to believe that the age in question was the age of the Jewish dispensation, thus the Old Covenant order—especially since the ancient Jewish system of temple sacrifices for sin ended with the destruction of the temple in 70 AD?
3. The end time mentioned in the book of Daniel was to be when the burnt offering was taken away (Daniel 9:27, 11:31, and 12:11). Since burnt offerings ended in 70 AD, must not this be the time line, thus the “last days” of which the Bible speaks?
4. Considering audience relevance, can John’s declaration that “it is the last hour” (1 John 2:18) be construed to be far future events? (The last times become the last days which become the last hour, as the decisive moment was now imminent.)
5. Didn’t Peter proclaim the last days to be the time of Pentecost, or more generally the time in which he and his hearers were living (Acts 2:14-20)?
6. Doesn’t Peter insist that the Old Testament prophecies were being fulfilled in his day (Acts 3:23-24)?
7. Doesn’t Peter in his epistles reiterate, or at least strongly imply and reaffirm, that the last times were in his era (1 Peter 1:5, 20; 1 Peter 4:7; 2 Peter 3:3, 12)? Remembering that Peter puts the last days in the first generation in Acts 2, read all of 1st and 2nd Peter to see if the imminency of the events of which he speaks is not evident.
8. Wouldn’t readers of Peter’s epistles have understood the radical nearness of the coming judgment? How else can you interpret Peter’s words in 1 Peter 4:7 that “The end of all things is near/at hand”? Unless you think Peter was a quack, doesn’t it make sense that he is speaking of the end of all Old Covenant things?
9. Isn’t the other New Testament writers’ understanding of what was to happen well explained by Paul when he says in 1 Corinthians 10:11 that “the end of the ages has come” and in 1 Corinthians 7:29-31 the it was the form or fashion of the world that was passing away, not the end of the physical universe?
10. When the writer of Hebrews (Hebrews 1:2) refers to his day and time as “these last days,” can he be referring to the far distant future? Don’t Hebrews 9:26 and Hebrews 10:25-27 confirm a first century setting? If the end of the ages is still in the future, why does Hebrews 9:26 declare the end was present in the first century?
11. Can there be any doubt that James 5:3-9 is telling his readers that they themselves are in the last days?
12. Does any mention of the “last days” or equivalent (last times, last hour) in the New Testament clearly refer without exception to any time outside of the first century (Hebrews 1:2; Acts 2:17; 1 Timothy 4:1; 2 Timothy 3:1; James 5:3; 2 Peter 3:3; Jude 18; 1 John 2:18)?
13. Again considering audience relevance, doesn’t Paul imply in 1 Corinthians 1:7-8 and 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11 that the Day of the Lord will come during the lifetimes of his readers? Does it make any sense for Paul to tell his Thessalonian Christian brothers in 52 AD to be watchful for the Day of the Lord if the catastrophe was not to take place until thousands of years later?
14. The phrase “the day of the Lord” is used in 17 or so passages in the Old Testament (Isaiah 2:12, 13:6, 13:9; Ezekiel 13:5, 30:3; Joel 1:15, 2:1,11,31, 3:14; Amos 3:8:18-20; Obadiah 15; Zephaniah 1:7, 14-18; Zechariah 14:1; Malachi 4:5) and in some 5 passages in the New Testament (Acts 2:20; 1 Corinthians 5:5; 1 Thessalonians 5:1-2; 2 Thessalonians 2:2; 2 Peter 3:10). It is also alluded to in other passages (Revelation 6:17, 16:14). Since this phrase in the Old Testament at least sometimes refers to historical judgments that have already been fulfilled in some sense (Isaiah 13:6-22; Ezekiel 30:2-9; Joel 1:15; Joel 3:14; Amos 5:18-20; Zephaniah 1:14-18), isn’t it reasonable to infer that the times in the New Testament that we see this term may also refer to already fulfilled events?
15. Since other times in the Old Testament where we see the term “day of the Lord” refer to divine judgments that will take place toward the end of the age (Joel 2:30-32; Zechariah 14:1; Malachi 4:1-5), and since we can reasonably infer that the “end of the age” was the end of the Old Covenant age which ended in 70 AD, isn’t this consistent with a 70 AD fulfillment of the New Testament mentions of the Day of the Lord?
16. If you think there is more than one “end of the age” or “last day” or “Day of the Lord” period—one in the first century, and one in the 21st century—where is the Scripture support for this view?
Again quoting Russell, “His ‘coming’ or ‘coming again,’ always refers to one particular event and one particular period.” And: “The phrase, ‘the end of the ages’ (Heb 9:26; 1 Cor 10:11) is equivalent to the ‘end of the age’ (Mat 13:39, 40, 49, 24:3, 28:20) and ‘the end” (Mat 10:22, 24:6, 24:13, 24:14; 1 Cor 1:8, 15:24; Heb 3:6, 3:14, 6:11; 1 Pet 4:7; Rev 2:26). All refer to the same period, viz. the close of the Jewish age, or dispensation—that is, The Old Covenant—which was now at hand….It is sometimes said that the whole period between the incarnation and the end of the world is regarded in the New Testament as the ‘end of the age’ [or the ‘last days’]. But this bears a manifest incongruity in its very front. How could the end of a period be a long protracted duration? Especially how could it be longer than the period of which it is the end? More time has already elapsed since the incarnation than from the giving of the law to the first coming of Christ: so that, on this hypothesis, the end of the age is a great deal longer than the age itself.”
B. Questions about the timing of the Second Coming (the Parousia) and judgment according to Jesus:
1. Doesn’t Jesus make it clear that the days in which he and his contemporaries were on earth—his literal generation—were the days of vengeance to fulfill ALL Old Testament prophecy (Luke 21:22,32)? If there is any yet any unfulfilled prophecy, why did Jesus say that his days were the days of vengeance to fulfill ALL that was written?
2. Doesn’t Luke 21:20, 22 provide biblical proof for 70 AD fulfillment of prophecy? (“When you see Jerusalem being surrounded by armies, you will know that its desolation is near….For this is the time of punishment in fulfillment of all that has been written.”)
3. The term Parousia is the Greek word used 24 times in the New Testament which is often translated as “coming,” that is Christ’s Second Coming or his return. Can’t this term also legitimately mean “divine presence” or “nearness,” or even in specific reference to Christ’s punishment of Jerusalem or finally the wicked? (See Strong’s #3952.) Isn’t it indeed translated as “presence” in 2 Corinthians 10:10 and Philippians 2:12? Doesn’t this understanding at least open up the possibility of a past fulfillment of Jesus’ words in Luke 21: 22, 32?
4. Doesn’t Matthew 10:23 clearly say that his Parousia would be before his disciples finished going through the cities of Israel?
5. Doesn’t Matthew 16:27-28 clearly say that his Parousia would be before all his disciples had died? Isn’t it also clear that this could not mean the time of the transfiguration (just a few days away) unless Jesus thought that some of his disciples would die in those few days? (Compare the language here to see if it is not essentially the same as in the Olivet Discourse, just a few chapters later in Matthew 24/25).
6. What does Jesus mean in John 21:18-23? Isn’t the time line the same as the previous passages (Jesus’ own generation)?
7. The term generation (this generation) is used in 23 passages in the New Testament outside of the Olivet Discourse (Matthew 24, Mark 13, Luke 21), and every time it clearly means without debate the generation of people alive when Jesus spoke. Isn’t it reasonable to interpret this generation the same way in the Olivet Discourse? How can “this generation” in Matthew 24:34 be talking about people thousands of years later? Jesus does not say “some future generation.” (Here is a list of all the times that generation is used in the New Testament: http://www.searchgodsword.org/desk/?l=en&query=generation§ion=2&translation=nas&sr=1&Enter=Perform+Search).
8. Note especially that Jesus, in Matthew 23:35-36 uses this generation to refer to people living right then and there—the scribes and Pharisees. Wouldn’t this have strong implications about his meaning just a few verses later in Matthew 24?
9. Isn’t the focus of Jesus in his “this generation” prophecies (Matthew 12:38-45; Matthew 23:36; Mark 8:38-9:1; Luke 11:50-51) about judgment upon Israel? Wouldn’t this coincide with the destruction of Israel and the temple in 70 AD?
10. Don’t many of Jesus’ parables speak directly to the coming judgment on Israel and the Jewish leaders—The Parable of the Wicked Tenants (Matthew 21:33-46; Mark 12:1-12; Luke 20:9-19), The Parable of the Wedding Banquet (Matthew 22:1-14), The Parable of the Fig Tree (Luke 13:6-9, ref Mark 11:12-21, Isaiah 5:1-7). etc.? Don’t they perfectly fit the destruction of Israel and the temple in 70 AD?
11. If Jesus’ Second Coming would be the world seeing him coming in a physical body, why does Jesus say “In a little while and the world will see me no more” in John 14:19?
12. If you think that Matthew 24 speaks of two different time periods, some to near events (Matthew 24:1-34), and some to far away (Matthew 24:35ff), please comment on this statement: The problem with this idea is that in Luke 17, where Jesus speaks of the same events (“the day that the Son of Man is revealed”), Luke mixes the events up and thus cannot be divided out. When were these events to take place? Jesus tells us: the “generation” alive when he spoke those words. Here is a web link: http://www.worldwithoutend.info/start/articles/ed_stevens_03-matt24.htm.
13. The unbelieving Jews of Jesus’ day were looking for their Messiah, but when he arrived they did not recognize him. They were looking for a Messiah that would reign over a materialistic kingdom. Could it be that Christians have made the same mistake as the Jews, and are still looking for a Second Advent in a way different than what Jesus meant—when in fact he came just as promised in the generation of those then living, but in a way different from what was expected?
C. Questions about the timing of the Parousia and coming judgment according to the New Testament writers:
1. Doesn’t every book in the New Testament (except Philemon) attest to the expectation of a soon fulfillment of the great prophesied evens spoken of by the prophets?
2. Don’t the New Testament writers indisputably affirm that the Old Testament prophecies were being fulfilled in their day (Acts 3:23-24), confirming what Jesus said (Luke 21:22, 32)?
3. Doesn’t Paul declare in Acts 24:14-15 that the resurrection was about to be? (See Young’s Literal Translation.)
4. Doesn’t Paul in Acts 17:31 insist that God is about to judge the world in righteousness? (See Young’s Literal Translation.)
5. Doesn’t Paul further declare that Jesus was about to judge the living and the dead in 2 Timothy 4:1? (See Young’s Literal Translation.)
6. Here are all 19 times the phrase “at hand” is used in the New Testament: http://www.biblegateway.com/keyword/?search=at+hand&searchtype=phrase&version1=47&spanbegin=47&spanend=73. Doesn’t James’ pronouncement that the Lord’s Coming is near/at hand (James 5:7-9) mean just that? Can it possibly mean anything other than the literal interpretation? If “at hand” means 2000 years later or longer, how could the original audience (or anyone else for that matter) know when “at hand” would be? Why isn’t there a single instance in the New Testament that says Christ’s coming was not “at hand”?
7. Does “near” mean “far distant?”
8. What about Paul’s comment that the “time is short” (1 Corinthians 7:29-31)? Can “short” mean “long?” What time frame did Paul have in mind when he said that the present form of the world was passing away? What time frame would Paul’s readers have understood? (To quote R. C. Sproul, “Surely the Corinthians would not have understood Paul to be urging them to do something because the time is short when in fact it is thousands of years away.”)
9. When Paul says that “the end of the ages has come” (1 Corinthians 10:11), could he mean the “end of the world”? If so, why didn’t he say what he meant? If so, why does the Bible speak of the world NEVER ending (Psalms 78:69; 89:36-37, 93:1, 96:10, 104:5, 148:4-6; Ecclesiastes 1:4; Ephesians 3:21)? Isn’t it clear that Paul did not have the end of the world in mind since he spoke of more distant ages and generations elsewhere (Ephesians 2:7; Ephesians 3:21)? Doesn’t Paul clarify in 1 Corinthians 7:29-31 that what is soon to pass away is the present form or fashion of the world, not the world itself?
10. Doesn’t 1 Timothy 6:11-21 refer to the Parousia as something to come to pass while Timothy and his brethren are alive?
11. If Paul had taught the churches to believe in a physical resurrection, how could Hymaneus have overthrown the faith of some so easily, saying the resurrection was past already (2 Timothy 2:17-18)? If Hymaneus told them the resurrection was past already, and they believed in a physical resurrection, wouldn’t they have looked in their local cemeteries to see that the bodies were still in the graves? If Hymaneus taught a different nature of the resurrection than Paul did, why did Paul only condemn the fact that Hymaneus was off on the timing?
12. Isn’t Paul strongly suggesting in Titus 2:11-13 that he and his readers would witness Jesus’ Parousia?
13. Isn’t Paul in Colossians 3:4-6 telling his readers to expect the Parousia and judgment in their lifetimes?
14. Doesn’t it seem clear in 1 Thessalonians 1:4-10 and 2:14-19 that the Parousia and judgment was imminent—the time frame being so close at hand that it “has come upon them?” Isn’t the wrath here the same as in Luke 21:21-28, which is limited to Jesus’ generation?
15. Did Jesus come to grant relief to the Thessalonians as promised by Paul in 2 Thessalonians 1:4-10 ? Would it make any sense to reassure those to whom he is speaking that relief was on its way in thousands of years? (That would be like your calling 9/11 for a life threatening situation and the dispatcher says the ambulance will be there soon or quickly, but doesn’t show up for many years later. For this to mean that soon or quickly means that whenever they do come in the future that they would come very fast—would make language ridiculous.)
16. If Jesus and the apostles all taught Jesus’ Second Coming was thousands of years away, why where the Thessalonians so upset about their loved ones who died before the coming of Christ (1 Thessalonians 4:13)? Is it possible that the inspired apostle Paul had told them Jesus was coming in their lifetime, which is why they were upset when some of them died before Christ came?
17. If Paul taught that some of those to whom he was writing would still be alive at the Second Coming (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18), but in fact none were since the Second Coming was thousands of years away, was Paul not inspired?
18. When the writer of Hebrews (Hebrews 10:37) states that Jesus is coming again in a very little while (will not delay/tarry), what time-frame reference did he have in mind?
19. Is there any doubt about the time frame in mind by the writer of Hebrews 8:6-14 when he stated that what is becoming obsolete and growing old was ready to vanish away?
20. Isn’t the writer of Hebrews 9 calling his time the end of the ages (Hebrews 9:26) in the context of Christ closing out the Old Covenant and Christ’s Second Coming which is eagerly awaited (Hebrews 9:28)—as his readers would see the day drawing near (Hebrews 10:25) and Jesus coming in a little while (Hebrews 10:37)?
21. Consider Peter’s words in 1 Peter 1:5-7, 20; 4:5-17—salvation ready to be revealed, the last times and the end of all things/fiery trial were at hand/near for Peter’s readers in which Christ’s glory would be revealed, and the time for judgment had come! What time frame reference did Peter have in mind? (It is worth comparing Peter’s statement in chapter 4 about the coming glory to Paul’s comments in 2 Corinthians 3:7-18 where that glory is the New Covenant, which was about to be ushered in once for all as the Old Covenant with its animal sacrifices was about to end. It is noteworthy that the tone of Peter’s words is more urgent than that of Paul in 2 Thessalonians; the catastrophe was now imminent. Peter’s epistle was written close to the outbreak of the Jewish war, if not after its actual commencement.)
22. Also consider Peter’s words in 2 Peter 3:1-18—as you look forward to the Day of the Lord and the speed of its coming, with its destruction of the heavens by fire, ushering in a new heaven and earth, etc. While an end-of-the-world interpretation is the standard one for this passage, wouldn’t you agree, that in light of Peter’s comments in 1 Peter, that this Day of the Lord and the new heaven and earth would be known to those to whom he was speaking? Isn’t the language here similar to the Olivet Discourse—fire symbolizing God’s judgment and foreshadowing of the fires that burned the temple in 70 AD?
23. Given the overwhelming immanency of the events described in Peter’s epistles, and given references to Old Testament language with which Peter and his readers would have been familiar (Isaiah 65:17; Isaiah 66:22; Haggai 2:6), as well as New Testament language (Hebrews 12:26-28, et. al.), is it reasonable and consistent to interpret “new heaven and earth” as a theological (covenental) term rather than a cosmological term? That is, could this refer to a new religious order at the end of the Jewish age?
24. When Peter in 2 Peter 3:8 says that a day is like a thousand years, can this be literal? Wouldn’t it be nonsense if so? A short time cannot really mean a long time, can it? Isn’t Peter merely quoting Psalm 90:4 to assert that God is sovereign over time and that his perspective on time differs for ours? Indeed, in context, isn’t Peter using this phrase to tell his listeners that the expectated events would be soon in coming rather than a long time away?
25. Doesn’t more confirmation about Peter’s language come from an understanding of the term elements in 2 Pet. 3:10-13 (incorrectly translated as “heavenly bodies” in some translations, see Strongs #4747), in that while literalists think this term refers to physics, the term is always used in the New Testament in connection with the Old Covenant order (Gal. 4:3, 9; Col. 2:8, 20; Heb. 5:12)?
26. Is there a shred of evidence that the first century Jews and Jewish Christians were anticipating a cosmic catastrophe that would terminate time, burn up planet Earth, and end human history?
27. Consider Jesus’ statement in Matthew 5:18: “For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot [jot and tittle] will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.” (See also Matthew 24:29-35.) This is confusing if the Second Coming is still in the future because we know that Jesus ushered in the New Covenant of grace—so why wouldn’t every detail of the law still be in effect today? In other words, if heaven and earth have not passed away yet, does that mean not one jot or tittle has passed from the law and Jesus did not fulfill it yet (Matthew 5:17)? Isn’t this logic further evidence of a new heaven and earth being a theological expression used by Jesus (also by Isaiah in Isaiah 13:13, 51:16, 65:17, 66:22, by Haggai in Haggai 2:6, 21, 22, by Paul in Ephesians 1:9-10, by the writer of Hebrews in Hebrews 12:22-28, by Peter in 2 Peter 3:13, and by John in Revelation 21:1)? Repeating and emphasizing, isn’t this covenantal language rather than physical world language, referring to the end of the Old Covenant and ushering in of the New Covenant? Isn’t the time-frame reference made clear in the Olivet Discourse where Jesus puts the context of the passing of heaven and earth in the generation then alive?
28. Isn’t Jesus’ promise that Peter refers to in 2 Peter 3:13 concerning the new heavens and new earth the one that Jesus mentions in the Olivet Discourse, and which Jesus told us would be in his generation?
29. Since Jeremiah 4:23-31 uses heaven and earth language about the imminent fall of Jerusalem in 587 BC, isn’t it reasonable to view the heaven and earth language in the New Testament as a parallel to the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD?
30. Isn’t the context of heaven and earth language in Ephesians 1:9-10 in the context of the gentiles being grafted in discussed by Paul in the first three chapters of Ephesians (the “mystery”), which would further fit the end of the Old Covenant order and the ushering in of the New?
31. If Jesus’ purpose for coming in the flesh was to destroy the devil (Hebrews 2:14; 1 John 3:8), and Paul said Satan would be crushed shortly in the first century (Romans 16:20), how can Satan still be here? Did Jesus forget to destroy Satan and decide to let Satan linger 2000 years longer?
32. Are there any passages in the Bible that clearly offer a time-reference for the Parousia past the first century?
33. Did Paul and the other inspired writers mislead their readers about the timing of the Parousia, or did Jesus in fact come—but in a different sense than what most futurists envision?
Christians widely acknowledge that the New Testament writers expected the Parousia along with a cataclysmic world-changing event to occur soon, thus openly admitting the time-texts to be of first century fulfillment. From whom did they get this expectation? Wasn’t it from Jesus himself? This is most perplexing. How can all of these supposedly inspired writers have been wrong? Is not the logic obvious—that if they were wrong they were not really inspired?! Should not our conclusion be that the New Testament writers were in fact correct and the modern interpreters are wrong in thinking that it was the end of the world (rather than end of an age) that was in view?
D. New Testament questions about a first century fulfillment of Jesus’ prophecies in the Olivet Discourse (Matthew 24/25, Mark 13, Luke 21):
1. Isn’t it clear from Luke 21:20-21 that Jesus was not speaking about the end of the world since people would be able to escape the prophesied desolation by fleeing to the mountains? (Josephus confirmed that people did in fact flee to the mountains to avoid the destruction in 70 AD.)
2. Doesn’t the New Testament itself (Romans 1:8, 16:25-27; Colossians 1:6, 23; Acts 2:5, 19:10; 2 Timothy 4:17) prove that the gospel was indeed proclaimed to the “whole world” (Matthew 24:14), that is, to all nations (Mark 13:10), fulfilling Jesus’ prophecy that it would be done in his generation? (The Greek word translated “world” in Matthew 24:14 is the same Greek word used in Luke 2:1—oikoumene—to describe a “world-wide” census that took place during the time of Jesus’ birth, and the same as found in Acts 11:28, 17:6, and 24:5.) So isn’t this word best translated “known world,” thus the “borders of the Roman empire.” See Strong’s # 3625.)
3. Doesn’t Acts 11:28 explicitly show that the prophecy Jesus made concerning famines was fulfilled in his generation—just as he predicted? Note: similar to the above, this passage describes the famine is described as being “throughout all the world,” which means the “known world” since the Greek word is oikoumene (“inhabited earth” or “known world”) and not kosmos (“world”).
4. Isn’t there sufficient evidence from the Bible outside of the Olivet Discourse to prove that Jesus’ prophecy about false prophets would come in his generation (Acts 5:36-37, 8:9-11, 13:6, 20:29-30; 2 Cor. 11:13; 1 Tim. 4:1; 2 Tim. 2:16-18, 3:13; 2 Peter 2:1-3; 1 John 2:18-19, 4:1; 2 John 1:7)?
5. Isn’t there sufficient evidence from the Bible outside of the Olivet Discourse to prove that Jesus’ prophecy about the persecution of Christ’s disciples was fulfilled in his generation (Acts 4:3, 4:17, 5:40, 7:54-60, 8:1, 9:1, 12:1-3, 14:19; 2 Cor. 11:24-26; Rev. 1:9)?
6. Didn’t the most prominent of Jesus’ predictions—the destruction of the temple—occur just as he prophesied, within his generation?
7. Other examples can be given. But don’t the above questions, using Scripture to interpret Scripture, establish that key events of the Olivet Discourse were fulfilled by 70 AD—in his generation just as Jesus predicted!
Russell insisted, “These predictions are bounded by certain limits of time. The time is explicitly declared to fall within the period of the then existing generation. No artifice of logic, no violence of interpretation, can evade or gainsay this undeniable fact…the Parousia, the end of the age, the consummation of the kingdom of God, the destruction of Jerusalem, the judgment of Israel—all synchronize. To find the date of one is to fix the date of all.”
E. Old Testament questions about a first century fulfillment of Jesus’ prophecies in the Olivet Discourse (Matthew 24/25, Mark 13, Luke 21):
1. Doesn’t Jesus’ reference to the fig tree (Matthew 21:18-22; Matthew 24:32), which is elsewhere in the Bible a symbol of the Jewish nation, confirm that the cataclysmic events in the Olivet Discourse apply specifically to the Jewish nation? Didn’t the Jewish nation essentially end in 70 AD, confirming Jesus as a true prophet?
2. Using Scripture to interpret Scripture, doesn’t the destruction of the temple in 70 AD qualify as the “abomination of desolation” Jesus predicted, as this phrase is originally from Daniel 9:27 and 11:31, where it refers to the desecration of the temple? Doesn’t Luke 21:20-24 further clarify that the desolation event is the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple?
3. Doesn’t Daniel expressly state that the prophecies he wrote would be fulfilled when the power of the Jewish nation was scattered and destroyed (Daniel 12:7; cf. 10:14; 9:24-27)? Isn’t Daniel’s 70 weeks prophecy fulfilled by 70 AD when the old covenant world, symbolized by Jerusalem and the temple, finally passed away in the flames of 70 AD?
4. Doesn’t Daniel tell us exactly when the time of distress (12:1), the resurrection (12:2), the time of the end (12:9), and the abomination of desolation (12:11)—all occur—that time being the time when the power of the holy people has finally been broken (12:7) and the burnt offering taken away (12:11)? Can there be ANY doubt that this was 70 AD?
5. Isn’t the language of astronomical signs that Jesus uses in the Olivet Discourse, such as the darkened sun and heavenly bodies being shaken, etc., typical of God’s comings in judgment in the Old Testament? Consider these examples which we know were fulfilled: Isaiah 13:9-13 (predicting doom on Babylon by the Medes); Isaiah 24 (prediction of the judgments about to come on the land of Israel), Isaiah 34:4-5 (judgment on Edom); Ezekiel 32:7-8 (concerning Egypt); Amos 5:18-20, 8:9 (on the Northern Kingdom of Israel); Joel 2:10 (on Judah)? See also Luke 10:18; Acts 2:15-21; Revelation 6:12-17. In other words, isn’t Jesus is using stock-in-trade language that the Jews would have understood as non-literal language about God’s coming judgment upon Israel (in their generation)?
6. Isn’t there further confirmation with the angels language? Isn’t the coming “with angels” in Matthew 24 similar to the coming of God to the Israelites from Mt. Sinai when “He came from the midst of the thousand holy ones” (Deuteronomy 33:1-2)—and similar to language in Jude 13-14 regarding the coming of the Lord in another context? In other words, is there any reason to think that the “angels” language has to be the end of the world?
7. Isn’t the image of lightning in the Olivet Discourse a parallel to Old Testament passages signifying the figurative presence of God and his coming in judgment (Exodus 19:16-19, 20:18; Psalm 18:14; Job 36:30; Ezekiel 21:15, 21:28; Zechariah 9:14)?
8. How about the cloud language in the Olivet Discourse? Aren’t clouds a metaphor for how God figuratively shows himself in the Old Testament (Exodus 13:21, 14:24, 19:9, 20:21, 24:15, 33:9, 34:5; 1 Kings 8:12) or is his figurative mode of transportation (Psalm 104:3)? Here are other passages as to God and clouds: Psalm 97:2; Jeremiah 10:13, 51:16, Ezekiel 30:3; Joel 2:2; Nahum 1:3.
9. Didn’t the chief priests and Pharisees understand in Jesus’ parables and elsewhere (Matthew 26:64; Mark 14:62) that Jesus was speaking to them when he said the kingdom of God would be taken away from them and given to others? In this passage Jesus proclaims that he will be coming in his power on the clouds of heaven. Upon hearing his words, Caiaphas goes into a rage and accuses Jesus of blasphemy. Isn’t that because Caiaphas was aware that God himself is the one that comes on a cloud to judge the Jews?
10. Aren’t the judgment comings of God situations where God was not literally seen visually but He did come nevertheless? Note: here are other instances in which God effectively comes down to affect his will in which people could experience the effects of his coming rather than literally seeing Him: Genesis 14:19-20, 15:17-20; Exodus 3:8, 14:19-20; Deuteronomy 4:11, 5:22, 33:1-2; 2 Samuel 22:10-12; Psalm 18:1-11, 47:2-5, 72, 19:1, 78:49; Ezekiel 32:7-9; Daniel 7:13; Joel 2; Zechariah 2:6; Acts 2:19.
11. Didn’t God use the Romans to punish the Jews in 70 AD just as God used the Babylonians to punish the Jews in an earlier time?
12. Isn’t it reasonable, given the Old Testament comparisons to God coming in judgment on various occassions, that Jesus indeed did come—not visibly, but in judgment—in 70 AD to judge the Jews? Wouldn’t this satisfy Jesus’ predictions in the Olivet Discourse, confounding the skeptics who say that He did not come as predicted?
As Russell says, “Our Lord, in answering the question of his disciples respecting the destruction of Jerusalem mixes up different events—now to Jerusalem and now to the human race; now to events close at hand and now to events indefinitely remote—that to distinguish and allocate the several references and topics, is exceedingly difficult, if not impossible. Is this the manner in which the Savior taught his disciples, leaving them to grope their way through intricate labyrinths? There are no words too strong to repudiate such a suggestion. The disciples came to their Master with a plain, straight forward inquiry, and it is incredible that he would mock them with an unintelligible riddle for a reply.”
Both liberal and conservative New Testament scholars have been busy re-dating the book of Revelation. For example, both liberal scholar John A. T. Robinson in his book Redating the New Testament and conservative scholars Kenneth L. Gentry in his book Before Jerusalem Fell and Don Preston in his book Who Is This Babylon, argue convincingly that Revelation was written prior to 70 AD. Part of their argument is that Revelation always mentions the temple as still standing (Revelation 11 and 21). That the New Testament, including Revelation, would have been written after the events of 70 AD and not mention those events would be even more unlikely than writing a book about the history of New York after 2001 and not mentioning the 9/11 attack.
F. Questions about the book of Revelation:
1. Don’t Revelation 1:1-3, 3:11, 22:6, 22:7, 22:10, 22:12, 22:20 apply specifically to the readers of John’s Apocalypse? Can we overlook or minimize audience relevance? Can “soon” or “quickly” mean far distant future—or that when Jesus does come that he will come quickly? Wouldn’t that be like calling an ambulance and have the driver say, “Well, when we do come in a few months or years, we will certainly come quickly”? When Paul said the he trusted that Jesus would send Timothy to the Philippians soon, could that have meant thousands of years later?
2. Don’t the instructions in Revelation 22:10 not to seal the words of this prophecy stand in deliberate contrast to the instructions Daniel received at the end of his book to seal the words of his prophecy? Isn’t this a strong implication that, in contrast to Daniel (Daniel 12:4, 9), the time for the culmination of prophecy was imminent—indeed near, thus at hand (Revelation 22:10)?
3. In other words, Daniel was to be sealed because it was for “many days” (Daniel 10:14, NKJV), which turned out to be 500 years until the time of the writing of the book of Revelation. And if that is true, how can “at hand” in Revelation be for 2000 years?
4. Why would John write to the seven churches if his message was not directly and principally for them? Wasn’t the book written specifically and obviously about events relevant to John’s first readers? Wasn’t the book to have been read out loud to the churches? How could hidden meanings of things to come thousands of years later have been relevant to these first century Christians?
5. Do you really think that Revelation should be given literal or scientific interpretations (a third of the sun smitten, etc. in 8:12)? Isn’t this language drawn from an Old Testament context—the judgment and destruction of nations (Isaiah 14:12 and Jeremiah 9:12-16)?
6. Why should we read the “thousand years” in Revelation 20 as literal, when the number thousand is used figuratively elsewhere in the Bible to mean perfection, completion, etc. (Deuteronomy 7:9; 1 Chronicles 16:15; Psalm 50:10; Psalm 105:8)?
7. If the teaching that 1 day = 1000 years and 1000 years = 1 day to the Lord (2 Peter 3:8) is how we are to read time in Scripture, does that mean that the 1000 years in Revelation 20 is a single 24 hour day?
8. If Revelation was written after 70 AD, why does John give time statements throughout the book pointing to imminent events which fit the description of Jerusalem’s destruction from Matthew 24, Mark 13, and Luke 17/21?
9. If Revelation was written after 70 AD, why was John told to measure the temple (Revelation 11:1-2), if the temple was already destroyed?
10. If Revelation was written after 70 AD, why is there nothing mentioned about the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple?
11. If Revelation was written after 70 AD, how could there be other apostles alive (Revelation 2:2), when all the apostles except John were dead before 70 AD?
12. If Revelation was written after 70 AD, why were there two different numbers used in different manuscripts to calculate the same beast in Revelation 13:18 which point to Nero? (666 spells Nero in Hebrew, 616 spells Nero in Latin.)
13. Doesn’t John make it clear in Revelation 1:9 that the tribulation was already present when he wrote the book?
14. What purpose would it serve for John to tell the first readers of his prophecy to “calculate” the number of the beast if he was not to born for thousands of years later?
15. John told the seven churches in Asia that “Behold he is coming with the clouds and every eye shall see him, even those who pierced him.” Doesn’t that mean that those who killed Jesus would be alive when Jesus returned? If you think this statement refers to heaven, doesn’t the mention of “tribes” in the same passage (Revelation 1:7) refer to the tribes of Israel, confirming a first century fulfillment?
16. If you think that Revelation is about heaven, why does Revelation 22:2 refer to the healing of the nations? What needs healing in heaven? Isn’t the world of Revelation 21-22 about “our world,” where the gospel of Jesus Christ makes sinners whole again?
17. Don’t numerous other passages in Revelation tie the date of the events in the book to first century Israel either (a) by specific time-reference, (b) correlate to other texts that are limited by a time reference (such as those we have pointed out throughout this article), (c) point specifically to Jerusalem or the nation of Israel, or (d) confirmed by actual historical accounts of first century Jerusalem as the place and time of the apocalypse? See Revelation 1:7, 1:10-11, 1:19, 2:10, 3:10, 4:1, 6:16-17, 8:7-13, 11:15-19, 14:14-20, 15:5-8, 16:6, 16:19, 20:7-15.
18. When John says in Revelation 14:7 that “the hour of his judgment has come,” could he possibly be talking about the far distant future?
19. Is there anything in the text of Revelation to suggest that John speaks of generations and generations into the future?
20. Wouldn’t the readers of Revelation 6:16-17 have clearly understood the radical nearness of the coming judgment—“the great day of His wrath?”
21. If Revelation would occur thousands of years after it was written, why does John say the sixth king is the one who “is” which would mean his present day (Revelation 17:10)?
22. Doesn’t the coming of Christ in Revelation 22:12 parallel the judgment coming of God in Isaiah 40:10 (which according to Revelation was to happen soon/quickly/near)?
23. If the 144,000 from Revelation 7 and 14 are still yet in the future, why are they described as “firstfruits” (Revelation 14:4)? Since they are the “firstfruits,” wouldn’t they be the first Christians rather than the last ones?
24. Summarizing the above questions, isn’t there strong evidence to tie the book of Revelation to the first century?
25. Since John did not have an Olivet Discourse in his gospel, is it reasonable to think that Revelation is an expanded version of the Olivet Discourse?
G. More Questions:
1. If Jesus has not returned, then why do people say Christians go to heaven and the wicked go to hell at death? If Christians go to heaven and the wicked go to hell at death, wouldn’t that mean that salvation, redemption, and judgment have already come to the world? In other words, if Christians go to heaven and the wicked go to hell at death, then doesn’t that suggest that Jesus has returned in some sense?
2. If most Bible prophecy has not been fulfilled or is being fulfilled today, why doesn’t ANY New Testament passage say its fulfillment would be 2000 years later?
3. If “like manner” is exactly how Jesus would return as he left in Acts 1:11, does that mean Jesus left while all the tribes of the earth (land) were wailing (Zechariah 12:10; Matthew 24:30; Revelation 1:7)?
4. If “like manner” is exactly how Jesus would return as he left in Acts 1:11, does that mean Jesus left riding a white horse (Revelation 19:11)?
5. If “like manner” is exactly how Jesus would return as he left in Acts 1:11, does that mean Jesus left with a sword coming out of his mouth (Revelation 19:15)?
6. If “like manner” is how Jesus would return as he left, wouldn’t he be in fact hidden per Acts 1:9?
7. If the Jews in the first century missed the first coming of Jesus because of their ignorance of the scriptures (Mark 12:24), isn’t it entirely possible that Christians living in the twenty-first century have missed the second coming of Jesus for the same reason?
8. Do you put your complete trust in Christ’s finished work on the cross, or is there a footnote? Please read Romans 13:11-12 and Hebrews 9:26-28. Can you call yourself saved and able to enter God’s presence in heaven? Are you still waiting on your salvation?
The good news is this: Christ’s work of redemption is complete! If you are confident that this is true, Christ’s Second Coming has already happened!
Don’t these questions show that Jesus did in fact come—in judgment—in 70 AD, just as he predicted?!