Date of the Apocalypse
Time Texts in the NT
Coming in Like Manner
Preterism Proof Texts
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All orthodox Christians acknowledge the resurrection of Jesus Christ. That Jesus was raised from the dead in the same body that was crucified is quite plain from Scripture. Yet, this simple truth creates serious problems for preterists. Here's why.
If Jesus came in AD70 as preterists claim, no one saw Him. There is no record in Church history of such a coming. The "dead in Christ" were not resurrected bodily in AD70. In fact, the whole early Church lived through AD70 without ever suspecting that Jesus' second coming had occurred. They remained in a state of expectation of Christ's future coming both before and after AD70.
Preterists avoid the problem of no historical evidence by claiming that Jesus' coming was "spiritual" and "invisible." He therefore did not come "in the flesh," as He did at His first advent. The question is, what kind of "coming" do the Scriptures predict?
We could list many passages of Scripture that announce the details of the second coming. For example, the Olivet Discourse states plainly:
Preterists simply interpret such passages allegorically. The details of the second coming are not to be taken literally, according to preterists. Allegorical interpretation of prophecy is nothing new. It has been fairly common since the third century, being employed by all those who deny Israel's future blessedness mentioned many times in Old Testament prophecy. Therefore, taking the details of the second coming mentioned by Jesus in a mystical way is not much of a stretch for those who are used to doing this with Old Testament prophecy (a-millennialists).
However, Luke recorded something that is not so easily dismissed by those who allegorize Bible prophecy.
According to the two angels, Jesus' second coming will be "in like manner" as His ascension into heaven. This begs the question, in what manner did Jesus ascend into heaven? The answer is in our text. Jesus was with the Apostles in person, in His resurrected state. Verse 3 says they saw Him for forty days prior to His ascension. Verse 4 says Jesus was "assembled together with them." Verse 9 indicates that the Apostles observed Jesus' ascension into the sky until a cloud obscured Him from their view. From this historical narrative we know without question that Jesus ascended in full view of His Apostles in person, visibly. The angels told them that "this same Jesus" would be coming back "in like manner as you have seen Him go into heaven."
This is of course a prophecy. But, it is not so easily allegorized, as preterists are fond of doing. The reason is the words "this same Jesus" and the words "in like manner" connect the prophesied event with a historical event they all witnessed, the ascension. "Jesus" was His human name given Him by Mary. We are left with no alternative than to accept that Jesus' second coming will be bodily, in person, in the full view of believers. This agrees with other statements of Scripture, such as Matt. 24:30 and Rev. 1:7, which indicate Jesus' coming will be visible to both believers and unbelievers alike.
Preterists have a real dilemma here. The Bible states plainly that Jesus was raised in the same physical body that hung on the cross.
The purpose of showing them His hands and feet was so they could see the physical scars from the crucifixion. Notice Jesus' interaction with Thomas.
The resurrection of Jesus Christ is all about the resurrection of the body. And it was in this resurrected body that the disciples watched Him ascend into heaven. In the very next chapter Peter preached that when Jesus ascended into heaven, He sat down at the right hand of the Father. Peter got this from the prophecy in Psalm 110:1. "The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool." This is one of the Psalms Jesus explained to the disciples on the Sunday of His resurrection (cf. Luke 24:26-27,44-45). Jesus ascended into heaven in the same body that bore the marks of the crucifixion. He is seated at the Father's right hand. And "this same Jesus ... will come again in like manner" as the Apostles saw Him go into heaven, visibly, in person, bodily. In fact, that is what the Greek word "parousia" means, which is used repeatedly for His coming. It means the presence of His own person. It cannot refer to some mystical invisible apparition.
The question preterists cannot answer is "What happened to Jesus' resurrected body?" And how could "this same Jesus" have come again in AD70 "in like manner" as the Apostles saw Him go into heaven, when no one saw Him?
Just as problematic for preterists as "this same Jesus" are the passages that refer to the "Son of Man" coming in the clouds of heaven. Justin wrote, "He said then that He was the Son of man, either because of His birth by the Virgin, who was, as I said, of the family of David and Jacob, and Isaac, and Abraham; or because Adam was the father both of Himself and of those who have been first enumerated from whom Mary derives her descent," (Justin, Dialogue with Trypho, 100). And Irenaeus wrote, "For it was for this end that the Word of God was made man, and He who was the Son of God became the Son of man, that man, having been taken into the Word, and receiving the adoption, might become the son of God....He therefore, the Son of God, our Lord, being the Word of the Father, and the Son of man, since He had a generation as to His human nature from Mary — who was descended from mankind, and who was herself a human being — was made the Son of man." (Irenaeus, Bk. III, ch, xix). The term, "Son of Man," refers to Christ as a human person, being physically born from the womb of Mary. In all the following passages of Scripture, Jesus as "Son of Man" (the human being) is to come in the clouds of heaven. This cannot be some mystical apparition, but the actual incarnate person of Jesus Christ.
The phrase, "the coming of the Son of Man" in Matt. 24:37 includes the Greek word, "parousia," translated "coming." This Greek word means the personal "presence" of the subject. In this case, the subject is the "Son of Man," the one born from the womb of Mary. In essence, this language explicetly states that Christ Himself in the person of His flesh will be present at His "coming."
Preterists need to come to terms with the fact that any diminishing of the nature of the second coming of Jesus in person must necessarily diminish the incarnation and the nature of His resurrection. And that calls into question the Gospel itself. An invisible mystical second coming simply cannot satisfy the biblical promises.
Some object to Jesus' description of His coming on the grounds that it is impossible for "every eye" to see Him at His "coming," since people will be living all over the globe. But, this objection is actually resolved for us by Christ Himself in this very passage. He said, "For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be." That is, His coming will include movement from east to west, across the sky. There is every reason to suppose that His coming will be seen by all. First, verse 29 indicates that the sun and moon will be darkened. Verse 30 indicates that He will come in "power and great glory." Therefore, His coming will be in brightness, against the dark background, and will flash across the sky in a westerly direction prior to his descent from the clouds to the Mt. of Olives. We can extrapolate from this that He will actually circle the globe during this period of darkness, ending up above Jerusalem.