Partial preterism (often referred to as orthodox preterism or classical preterism) may hold that most eschatological prophecies, such as the destruction of Jerusalem, the Antichrist,
the Great Tribulation, and the advent of the Day of the Lord as a "judgment-coming" of Christ, were fulfilled either in AD 70 or during the persecution of Christians under the Emperor Nero. Some
partial preterists may believe that the Antichrist, the Great Tribulation, and the advent of the Day of the Lord as a "judgment-coming" of Christ, were not historically fulfilled. Some partial
preterists identify "Babylon the Great" (Revelation 17–18) with the pagan Roman Empire, though some, such as N.T. Wright, David Chilton, and Kenneth Gentry identify it with the city of Jerusalem.
Most interpretations identify Nero as the Beast, while his mark is often interpreted as the stamped image of the emperor's head on every coin of the Roman Empire:
the stamp on the hand or in the mind of all, without which no one could buy or sell. Another partial preterist view regards first and second century events as recurrent patterns with Nero and
Bar Koch presented as archetypes. There is evidence that the epithet of Bar
Koch is a play on the Hebrew Shema with the value equating to the gematria value of 666. The pun on his patronymic
equates to the variant reading 616. However, others believe the Book of Revelation was written after Nero's suicide in AD 68, and identify the Beast with another emperor. The Catholic Encyclopedia
states that Revelation was "written during the latter part of the reign of the Roman Emperor Domitian, probably in AD 95 or 96". Many Protestant scholars agree. The Second Coming,
resurrection of the dead, and Final Judgment however, have not yet occurred in the partial preterist system.
Partial preterism is the belief that some prophecies were
fulfilled, yet many are left to be fulfilled such as the second
coming and judgment. Some believe that A.D. was a "second coming",
and yet a future one also awaits us. They contend for the early date of Revelation
writing to satisfy the belief that the Olivet and the Revelation of
John are of the same events.
Partial Preterist Proponents:
The Preterist Approach to Revelation — The Unfolding of Biblical Eschatology by Keith Mathison
Because the approach one takes to the book of Revelation dramatically affects one’s exegetical conclusions, it is necessary that I explain the reasons I take the approach I do.
I believe that the book itself demands a basically preterist approach. This does not mean that all of the prophecies in the book have already been fulfilled. Some of the prophecies
in Revelation (e.g., 20:7–22:21) have yet to be fulfilled, but many, if not most, of the prophecies in the book have been fulfilled. My approach then may be considered as essentially preterist.
Before explaining why I believe this approach to be correct, I must explain why I do not believe the other approaches to be fully adequate. Proponents of the futurist view say that their approach is necessary
because there is no correspondence between the events prophesied in the book and anything that has happened in history. This conclusion is reached because of an overly literalistic approach to the symbolism of
the book and a lack of appreciation for how such language was used in the Old Testament prophetic books. This, however, is not the most serious problem with the futurist approach.
The most fundamental problem with the futurist approach is
that it requires a very artificial reading of the many texts
within the book itself that point to the imminent fulfillment of
its prophecies. The book opens and closes with declarations
indicating that the things revealed in the book “must soon take
place” (1:1; 22:6). It opens and closes with declarations
indicating that “the time is near” (1:3; 22:10).
The book of Revelation has direct relevance to the real
historical first century churches to whom it was addressed, and
the text of the book itself points to the imminent fulfillment
of most of its prophecies. Their resonances in the specific social, political, cultural and religious world of their first readers need to be understood if their meaning is to be appropriated today.
The Old Testament prophets used highly figurative and symbolic language, but they used this language to speak of real historical nations and specific impending historical judgments. Writing his own prophetic book,
John does the same. Proponents of the futurist, historicist, and idealist
approaches offer several criticisms of the preterist approach to
In the first place, our basic hermeneutical approach to the book should be determined by the nature and content of the book itself. As we have already seen,
the book itself indicates when at least most of its prophecies are to be fulfilled. In both the first and last chapters, John tells his first century readers that the things revealed in the book “must soon
take place” (1:1; 22:6) and that “the time is near” (1:3; 22:10). These statements are generalizations, so they do not require that every event prophesied in the book must be fulfilled in the first century,
but the generalizations do provide us with a “general” idea of how we should understand the book.
The bulk of John’s prophecy concerns something that was impending in his own day. Secondly, when the genre of the book is taken into consideration, it provides strong evidence for a basically preterist approach to the book. The book is a prophecy (1:3; 19:10; 22:7, 10, 18, 19).
It is an apocalyptic prophecy set within the form of an epistle, but it is a prophecy nonetheless. Why is this important? It is important because it means that our approach to the other prophetic books of
the Bible should provide us with some guidance in how we approach this last prophetic book of the Bible. We should approach it and read it in the same basic way. We do not read any of the Old Testament prophetic
books as a whole in an idealist manner, and there is precious little in any of them that could be approached in a historicist manner. We recognize that these prophecies were given to specific people in specific
historical contexts. Many of the Old Testament prophecies deal with impending judgments upon either Israel or Judah or the nations that oppressed Israel. They also contain glimpses of ultimate future restoration.
In short, we take a basically preterist approach to the Old Testament prophetic books, recognizing that they speak largely of impending events, yet also deal at times with the distant future.
Given that this is the way in which the Old Testament prophetic books are approached, it seems that our presumption should be in favor of the same basic approach to the prophetic book of Revelation. It is also easy to forget when
reading the book of Revelation that it is the capstone of the entire narrative of Scripture. The bulk of the biblical narrative has concerned the story of Israel, leading up to the coming of the promised Messiah.
We recall that most of the content of the Old Testament prophetic books concerned the coming exile of Israel and Judah on account of her rejection of God. The prophecies continued right up to the time of the
destruction of Jerusalem and the temple by the Babylonians in 586 B.C.(cf. Jeremiah; Ezekiel). In the first century, Jesus foretold another coming judgment of Israel on account of her rejection of himself, and
he connected this coming judgment with his accession to the throne of the kingdom of God. In light of the history of prophecy in Israel, and in light of the redemptive-historical significance Jesus himself
places on this first century judgment of Israel, would it be terribly surprising if at the conclusion of the biblical narrative God once again sent a prophet to declare the impending judgment of Israel as
well as the ultimate future restoration? When the genre, the statements of the book itself, and the larger biblical context are taken into consideration, a basically preterist approach to the book emerges as
the most appropriate approach to take.
Partial Preterism in Brief
Partial preterism is the belief that some prophecies were fulfilled, yet many are left to be fulfilled such as the second coming and judgment. Some believe that A.D. was a "second coming",
and yet a future one also awaits us. They contend for the early date of Revelation writing to satisfy the belief that the Olivet and the Revelation of John are of the same events.
Deeper into Error
In any system based on error, because of its foundation being off it continues to produce more errors as people are unable to accurately divide the word of God.
Error always leads to more error because the person is unable to recognize where their beliefs create inconsistency. In many cases they will argue against a futurist by citing verses they think contradict
another verse. This is what we call cognitive dissonance. They can read a verse that talks about Christ dwelling in heaven in Bodily form (Col 2:9) but will go to John 17 and try to prove he is a "spirit'
since he return to the glory he had with the father before he descended as a man.
The Hermeneutics of Preterism changes the meaning of words to fit their paradigm. They redefine "audience relevance" to suggest we are reading someone else's mail and it does not pertain to us.
It demands illogically that "Timing dictates the nature", meaning since time statements demands a first century coming and Paul teaches a physical appearing, therefor they have to change Paul's teaching to
mean an invisible appearing despite the fact Paul used the very technical Greek word "Epiphaneia" which means "to be made visible". As we watch the system seems to be self destructing as it divides over its
many many private interpretations.
Books by Partial Preterists
Kenneth Gentry; Before Jerusalem Fell, Post Millennium Made Easy, Navigating the Book of Revelation
J Stuart Russell; The Parousia
Hank Hanegraaff; The Apocalypse Code
Other Works to consider
R. C Sproul; The Last Days According to Jesus