Stephen Whitsett BA
Giving an orthodox apologetic answer for Preterism / Dispensationalism
Preterism Is founded and rooted in five scriptural Foundations:
#1. Mathew 24.34 "This Generation" Refers to the first Century believers who would see the signs and all would be fulfilled "IN that generation".
#2 Luke 21.22 "for these are days of vengeance, to fulfill all that is written.
#3. Mathew 5.18 ""Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them." ...they believe then all prophecy of the Old Testament must be fulfilled.
#4. Revelation 22.20 "“Surely I am coming soon.” To the demands he had to come with in their Generation and not some two thousand years later.
#5. Mathew 16.28 "Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.” The "coming of the son of man" is about the second coming, therefore he had to come in their lifetime.
#1 This generation
“32“From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts out its leaves, you know that summer is near. 33So also, when you see all these things, you know that he is near, at the very gates. 34Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. 35Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.”
How do we then understand “this generation”.
Preterism argues that the textual basis for interpreting prophecy as having been fulfilled in the past is Jesus’ use of the phrase “this generation” as only and always having reference to the first-century generation to whom He spoke. Since Mathew 24 speaks of the return and judgment then all things must be fulfilled in that one and same generation.
There are basically FOUR views concerning Mathew 24 and the Olivet discourse; 1) It’s all future, 2) it’s all past, and 3) it’s some past and some future since the events discussed are the destruction, return, and judgment. BUT according to NT Wright, Mathew 24 could be speaking nothing of anything but 70AD destruction, and has nothing to do with the second coming or the final judgment. “This Generation” is the generation Jesus is speaking to, which would still allow Revelation to be all about the second coming and the final judgment.
Futurism in general, by contrast, accepts some uses of “this generation” as having reference to those to whom Jesus spoke and other uses as having reference to those about whom Jesus spoke, with context being the determining factor. For example, the use of “this generation” in Matthew 23:36 is applied as an indictment (in context) to the generation of the “scribes and Pharisees” (Matthew 23:29) whose actions against Jesus demonstrate their affinity with previous persecutors of the Prophets (verses 30-35). Jesus’ then pronounces sentence with the words “all these things shall come upon this generation.” The phrase “these things” must also be interpreted in its context. In this case, the next verse (verse 37) describes “these things” as the future experience of Temple Desolation. It is important to observe here that even though now historically past, “this generation” in context was a future generation at the time of its being originally spoken by Jesus and being recorded by Matthew. It was future from the perspective of the sins “this generation” (in context) would yet commit (complicity in the crucifixion) and the judgment they would receive (the Roman destruction in AD 70 (Luke 21:20-24).
Even though in context Jesus may refer to the future “this generation” as “you,” this is a conventional usage of language with respect to reference and does not have to ultimately apply to a present audience. Such usage is found in Old Testament prophetic sections. For example, Moses uses language similar to Jesus when he says “So it will be when all of these things have come upon you …” (Deuteronomy 30:1a). Even though he is speaking to the present generation (‘you”), it is evident from the context that his words speak about a future generation that will live thousands of years later and into the eschatological period. “This generation” (the “you”) are those who will have already suffered the judgment of exile (verse 1b), captivity (verse 3), been regathered and restored (verses 4-5), and received spiritual regeneration (“circumcision of heart,” verse 6). The future sense of “this generation” in Gundry, Mark, p. 755. 12 "That the scope cannot be limited to a present audience is obvious from the fact that such usage cannot mean only those who heard the message or who were currently part of the present generation, since others who were not present and who were yet to be born must be included while some would certainly have died before the events were fulfilled and no longer be part of that generation, especially since it is still future from the perspective of the speaker. Judgment context sets precedence for in judgment context sets precedence for its interpretation in contexts that are both judicial and eschatological. If the desolation experienced by “this generation” in Matthew 23:36 can be understood as a future fulfillment that came some 40 years later, it should not be a problem to understand the Tribulation judgment as a future fulfillment that will come on the generation that will experience it at the end of the age. However, the difference is not simply a span of time, but the nature of that time as eschatological. For the “this generation” of Matthew 24:34, Mark 13:30, and Luke 21:32, “all these things” (Matthew 24:34; Mark 13:30; Luke 21:28) must refer contextually to the events of the “Great Tribulation,” the conclusion of “the times of the Gentiles,” the coming of Christ in glory, and the regathering and redemption of Israel, all of which are not only declared to be future by Jesus at the time of speaking (Mark 13:23), but also cast in typical eschatological language (for example, “end of the age,” “such as not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever shall,” “powers of the heavens will be shaken”)
How we are to determine what “this Generation” means then it becomes solved in the historical record. We have understood that His second coming is to be a visible grand display of God’s power and glory. Christ exposes the beast and kills him (2 Thess 2.8-9) by throwing him alive into the lake of fire. (Rev 19) The dead in Christ are raised and those who are alive are changed (I Thess4 4, I Cor 15) both groups meet him in the air as He returns to rule from Jerusalem. To solve this problem for preterist who see these things did not literally happen in 70 AD but in order for Christ not to be a liar about it happening in “this generation” they explain away the visible return to an invisible one. This becomes the first “lie” as we explain why His “parousia” is very visible.
"The dead are raised out of Hades instead of from out of their graves or tombs as what happened in Mathew 27.52. Those who are alive are inwardly changed; their “spirit” becomes immortal and “imperishable” as if those terms speak about a spirit and not the “body”. They meet the Lord “spiritually” in the air and are ever with Him.
The dishonesty with scriptures then becomes evident as they redefine Greek terms and go so far as to say it’s all spiritual and nothing physical which again draws the charge of “Gnosticism”. This is all to explain why there was no historical record by any one of his return, this why those who lived through 70 AD were never “changed” why the dead did not walk again. BUT it still falls ways short of explaining why NOT one disciple or apostle who lived past 70 AD (Luke, John, Timothy, Barnabus, Clement) ever stated or taught Christ had returned.
This becomes the most damming evidence of all. IF John knew Christ would return in His lifetime, in “this Generation”, John a “bishop” of the church failed to pass on to His disciples that Christ had returned. Nor did he or any other first century church father EVER explain the return, resurrection of the dead, was anything else but “physical”. He did not see (I John 3.2)
Now some would then say there is no historical record because they were all taken away. Again the evidence of John’s death as well as Luke and Timothy, and the fact Clement wrote letters after 70 AD all point to the fact they were not taken up. (Which also implies they do not understand the dead are raised and we who are alive are changed to become His army (Rev 19 and to rule and reign with Him on earth) To get around this they either deny the written testimony as all being fake or in serious error or dismiss the NON inspired writing of these church fathers as being all wrong. These same men who many died in the hands of the Romans for their faith were all wrong and heretics.
We then must understand then “this generation” is the one who experienced the destruction but not the return or the final judgment, Christ not being a “liar” then could not be talking about the generation he was speaking to simply because it did not happen to that generation. Going back to scripture changing meaning of words, and applying "spiritual" application to change the nature of his coming to a "spiritual" event falls short in many many ways.
What did come was the judgment from the "son of man".