ABSRACT: This paper seeks to establish and demonstrate two things concerning Full Preterism claims in “correct” interpretation of scriptures. The first is that their divergence from the Historical Christian faith demonstrates a departure from acceptable methods of interpretation and secondly a lack of scriptural knowledge based in systematic theology produces an inconsistent interpretation.
When someone claims to do an “exegetical” work one should expect to see actual exegetical work done according to the academic standards and acceptable practices established by current scholarship. Full Preterism and other such defined cults are completely different trees trying to hang out in the same forest. Meaning if Full Preterism belief system claims to be rooted in an academic scholarship then the rules applied in their interpretation must adhere to norms and standards so that communication is achieved between the two parties. This is simply not the case of full Preterism hermeneutics. When the meaning of words are changed, and theological constructs are recreated yet using similar terminology, miscommunication begins to happen. When a futurist speaks of a “resurrection of the dead”, it is defined by a dead body “standing again”. The Full Preterist will insist no such thing is implied or taught in scripture and call the resurrection the new birth, or a “soul exiting hades” and still they can never prove logically or exegetically with honesty, their position. It’s not about having a different viable interpretation, that people ought to consider, instead, it shouldn’t be given any more consideration than Mormonism, as both are founded on lies.
What makes Christianity a singular belief system is the main tenets of faith as expressed in the Nicea Creed. The two intertwined trees, Catholicism and Protestantism, hold to the core beliefs of the Nicea creeds, which is the essence and expression of the gospel message. There are two core branches of Christianity, the first branch is a more liberal approach to interpretation such a Bultmann or Bonhoeffer who argue that scriptures contain the word of God and they deny its full inspiration. The other is more literal in their approach which accepts the entire word of God is inspired and infallible in their autographs. These distinctions are often misunderstood and not recognized by uneducated Full Preterist who in their core beliefs reject modern Christian scholarship and so are not familiar with the differing arguments presented by the differing sides. At times a Full Preterist will cite a scholar not knowing his full views on a given subject and so then will often misrepresent their position or provide a quote completely out of context or in Sexton’s case, does not understand the context of the comment he is using to try and prove his case when it argues against his view. (futurist like a broken clock is right twice a day, comment)
Two religions that also claim to be Christian, Mormonism and Jehovah’s witnesses are two theological system that are miles apart from the Historical Christian faith. Both are defined as a cult for their departure from the Historical Christian faith expressed in the Creeds. Both claim to have the true faith yet demonstrate in their theology the departure from sound hermeneutics. Prophecy and “Revelation” is placed above the inspired text. They become the core example of what is Full Preterism, a different gospel. By rejecting core tenets of the historical faith, declaring they have it right and the church has been wrong for two thousand years, creating a preterists elitism, creating their own systematic theology, and then declaring to still be Christian, is what makes Full Preterism a cult.
Christianity upholds that which was established two thousand years ago as to what it means to be “Christian”, based in its core tenets expressed in the creeds. Full Preterism fails in two primary tenets. The physical/bodily resurrection of the saints, and the bodily return of Christ. It becomes the full preterist responsibility to produce Biblical evidence as to why these two core tenets as justified by the Early Church Fathers is wrong. In every work presented by preterists it fails in two respects. They do not adhere to the proper rules of Hermeneutics and secondly, fails contextually in its systematics.
While denying a creed they in their core tenets express a Creed of the their own. When asked concerning salvation message in their own words, many will repeat the Nicea creed in their own words. Secondly, they affirm Christ returned in A.D. 70. All prophecy is fulfilled, “timing dictates the nature” these statements all become a formulated Creed.
If Full Preterism seeks to separate itself from the creeds, by rejecting and non-conformity to Christian standards of academic scholarship which is done by inventing their own rules of Hermeneutics and adopting a priori – “analogy of Faith” that changes the essence of the ground rules for interpretation, then it can be argued that it is they who have departed from the faith.
Within futurism there are many denominational distinctives. Catholic doctrine while Futuristic in nature, arrive at much of the same conclusions as Protestant concerning many foundations and yet differ in some very profound ways but they are of the same tree. The same is true among the many denominations, they still come from the same tree or rooted in the same creed (core values and beliefs). This cannot be said of Full Preterism. It is entirely a different tree.
Much of the goal of Preterism scholarship focuses on proving how all “Prophetic” scriptures point to a fulfillment in A.D. 70 whether it is true or not is not the issue, they have decided it’s true no matter what inconsistency is pointed out to them. At a certain point, truth is no longer the goal, upholding the lie is, otherwise one would have to finally admit they were dead wrong when they eventually face the idea their position is inconsistent.
Exposing the Inconsistency
Joel Sexton, in “Refuting William Vincent‘s “Until” Article On [Acts 3:18-26]” claims to be arguing against the idea from William Vincent in that the “full maturity” of the Kingdom did arrive in A.D. 70. His whole purpose is to tie in the prophecy based on a misapplied context to prove it did happen and makes connections that are unfounded based on a lack of exegetical study on the very phrase in question, “The restoration of all things”.
Joel Sexton claims,
I am never the least bit surprised when a Partial Preterist or Futurist runs to Acts 3:18-21 as if this passage is some silver bullet against Full Preterism. When actual exegetical work is done, and then contextual works by comparing with [Acts 2], we actually see a strong case for fulfillment in A.D. 70.
Yet every work presented by scholarship over 2000 years from all sides of the tree have never arrived at the idea the “restoration of all things” was fulfilled in A.D. 70 as Sexton argues. These men being much more skilled and adept at exegesis and in Biblical languages would baulk at the logic even employed to try and prove such a thing.
Any cursorily logical thought acknowledges that Jerusalem was destroyed, and the state of Israel ceased to exist in A.D. 70 and in no sense can there be the idea that somehow in this destruction was the “restoration of all things”. Especially when the concept of the land promises and the Davidic Kingdom are introduced as a background for what is being restored. Restoration is always a thought of a destruction followed by a promise of renewal, the two cannot happen at the same time when the destruction is a result of judgment against a specific generation. In Old Testament examples God always restores a future generation.
Peter in Acts 3 promised that once “they” repented a time of refreshing would happen for them, that time of refreshing would happen at his coming, when all things would be restored. The evidence then that he did not come in A.D. 70 was that there was no restoration that took place. The Preterist must argue since he came in A.D. 70 therefor the restoration happens, and yet Sexton talks about the Davidic kingdom and land promises being restored and there is no possible way this can be interpreted as a “spiritual” restoration that does not happen in the real world. This is where preterism falls apart. Forcing this restoration to happen in A.D 70 because the second coming it had to happen, yet the very nature and idea of what restoration is of all things will be redefined by the full preterist to make it fit. Then smugly assert their twisted version of interpretation proves them right. It just can’t be refuted! How can the Kingdom be taken away from them and yet restored to them at the same time? And this has nothing to do with a transfer of Israel promises to the church.
In Old Testament examples God always restores a future generation. In the desert wandering the “rebellious” generation died in the wilderness and the next generation entered the promise land. The people were led into Babylonians captivity where that generation died, and another returned. The prophets then prophesied of God’s mercy based on the Davidic promises.
Therefore, thus says the LORD, I have returned to Jerusalem with mercy; my house shall be built in it, declares the LORD of hosts, and the measuring line shall be stretched out over Jerusalem. Cry out again, Thus says the LORD of hosts: My cities shall again overflow with prosperity, and the LORD will again comfort Zion and again choose Jerusalem.’” Zechariah 1:16-17
Vincent argued for a progression in the growth of the kingdom that extends it beyond A.D. 70 which represents the idea the Kingdom could not reach its ultimate consummation until all the gentiles that are to come in, have come in, which includes Gentiles coming in after A.D. 70. Since “gentiles” such as Sexton believes he is saved, post A.D.70. the kingdom continues to grow “without end”. IF gentiles coming into the kingdom after A.D. 70 is excluded as being a measuring rod for when the consummation comes, then Israel Only is correct and Sexton has proven their case for full consummation, then no further gentile can come in since it is the consummation and the Kingdom is handed over to the father. His work of intercession is complete then no one further can come into the kingdom without Christ intercession to the father. The idea that the full consummation of the Kingdom includes the “time of the gentiles” as Paul stated in Romans 11:25, their inclusion is a must since the age of the church continues after A.D. 70 and does not end. Yet some more consistent Preterist will argue that the church age ended in A.D. 70 so that “the church”, pastors, evangelist and such are no longer needed, and yet ironically claim they are Christians and growing in their faith as they study the word of God. Some would even claim they are still part of the “body of Christ” with out understanding the connection that the body of Christ is the church.
This argument is typified in the recent debate between John Watson and George Parsley. Watson concluded that A.D. 70 was the fulfillment of all things including the full elect had come in and yet people are still being saved after this so called “consummation”. Watson vehemently denied the basic common-sense logic. This is what demonstrates the points made above. If all things are fulfilled, and it’s the consummation of the Kingdom, the full elect has come in then there is no salvation after A.D. 70. Consummation means it came to an end. Even Sexton states, “this is the end of the “But not yet”- in A.D. 70. If it ended then it ended.
“The “restoration of all things” is particularly speaking of the full consummation of the Davidic Kingdom. When the sons of the kingdom, that killed the slave and heir were cast out. That is A.D. 70. This is the “But Not Yet” coming to its end.”
If this is the consummation of the Davidic Kingdom, and Christ is supposed to rule on that throne until all enemies are put under his feet, and hands the kingdom back to the father, then the Davidic kingdom ended. Then two things are also true; Christ no longer rules on the throne of his father David, then no one can be saved after A.D 70, BECAUSE HE IS NO LONGER MEDIATING BETWEEN MAN AND THE FATHER AS HIS PRIMARY DUTY AS King. Secondly, all his enemies have not been put under his feet as “physical death” still exists.
Let’s point out a few other specific problems with his statement.
“full consummation of the Davidic Kingdom”.
“Consummation” is the Greek word sunteleia: συντέλεια and used in the Bible to mean, – culmination (completion), i.e. when the parts come together into a whole (“consummation“) – “an end involving many parts” (B. F. Westcott).
(“culminating end, finish”) is not strictly “termination” but rather “consummation” (completion) that ushers in a new time-era/age (Mt 13:39,40,49,24:3, 28:20).and from the root, properly, culminate (consummate), reaching the desired end-point (result, fulfillment). 4931 /synteléō (“culminate”) focuses on the “end-point” of two or more related factors working together to reach fulfillment.
The end point of the Davidic Kingdom then according to Preterists would be A.D. 70, it would mean Christ rule ended and a new age began. This idea we have already established as untenable since Gentiles continue to enter the Kingdom of God through the Davidic King who still sits on the throne. Which brings me to the next point, the Kingdom of God and the Davidic Kingdom are two different things.
The Kingdom of God is primarily the rule and reign of Christ in men’s hearts on earth. The body of Christ is the extension of the Heavenly Kingdom on Earth.
The idea of the “Davidic Kingdom” as expressed by scholars, is of two things. The first is that Christ ascended to his throne and given the Kingdom at his ascension. (Daniel 7:13-14). This is the eternal kingdom which is not contested by Preterist as being a “spiritual” kingdom in heaven. The second aspect which even Jesus alludes to is this, “thy Kingdom come … on earth as it is in heaven”. N.T Wright and other scholars argues that the goal of God is to reunite the heavenly realm with the physical realm in which there becomes one place where man and God dwells together face to face.
If the Kingdom was already present on earth through his presence on Earth and yet Jesus teaches his disciples to pray for the kingdom to yet come, then it would mean he is speaking of an aspect of the Kingdom that had not yet arrived on earth. The expectation of the disciples was that the “son of David” would sit on an earthly throne and restore the kingdom to Israel.
In Acts 1the disciples asked him about this, “Lord will you at this time “restore” the Kingdom to Israel. Christ did not deny their expectation yet instead said, “It is not for you to know when” – a very clear timing statement that implied, that the restoration of the Kingdom of Israel as in earthly kingdom, was understood and not denied by Jesus as a future promise to be fulfilled, a future promise given by the prophets.
There was no restoration of the kingdom of Israel in A.D. 70.
Joel quoted Robinson, “”Restoration, restitution, i. e. to a former state, Acts 3. 21 the time of the restoration of all things, i. e. the Messiah’s future kingdom, v. 19″
– the Messiah’s future kingdom, in what sense does the Messiah have a future kingdom to yet come? One that is not already present?
Cognate: 605 apokatástasis (from 600 /apokathístēmi, “restore”) – restitution, referring to the “restoration of the physical earth in the Messianic kingdom (Millennium)” (G. Archer).
While it is said in different ways by scholars, the idea is clear as to what they mean. Christ will restore the earthly kingdom to Israel. In Revelation 20, Jerusalem is being called the “camp of the saints” the city he loves. In Zechariah 14:16, it states, “Then everyone who survives of all the nations that have come against Jerusalem shall go up year after year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts” The clear implication is that Christ when he returns he will dwell on Earth and rule over the nations with a rod of Iron. This is basic Eschatology 101 of premillennial scholars. Revelation 21-22 is a picture of the New Jerusalem, the city of God, descending out of heaven and man and God living face to face on Earth. The Preterists just turns this into a “spiritual” unification and not a literal one, another very bad interpretation created by the idea of a A.D. 70 second coming.
In the second part of his statement, “When the sons of the kingdom, (Jews) that killed the slave and heir were cast out.” Comes from Mathew 21:33-36 and points to what they did to Christ in A.D. 33.
So here is what Joel is stating; The Davidic Kingdom came to its end when Christ was killed on the cross (heir cast out). – not in A.D. 70, 70 when he returned – but in A.D. 33. You cannot have the Davidic Kingdom starting in A.D. 70 and ending in A.D. 70 and then restored again in A.D. 70. He ascended to his throne in 33 therefore that is when the David Kingdom began according to Daniel 7:13-15.
Yes, it speaks of the Kingdom of God being taken away from one people and given to another. This was done in A.D. 33, on Pentecost day. This is obviously not a restoration that Peter is talking about in Acts 3. The kingdom was never restored back to the people who had it in the first place. If the Kingdom was taken away from the Jews in A.D. 70 how can this be a restoration of the kingdom?
That’s the promise of “restoration”, when it is restored back. What does Paul say about this restoration?
A partial hardening has come upon Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. 26And in this way all Israel will be saved, … 30For just as you were at one time disobedient to God but now have received mercy because of their disobedience, 31so they too have now been disobedient in order that by the mercy shown to you they also may now receive mercy.32For God has consigned all to disobedience, that he may have mercy on all.
This partial hardening that has come upon Israel will be removed when the completed time of the gentiles is “consummated”, so that he may show the nation of Israel “mercy”. Since the completion of the time of the gentiles has not ended, then the consummation or restoration of all things has not happened. Common sense then would tell us when Jew and Gentile are of one people, grafted into the vine and all of Israel is saved, then this is the consummation, /synteléō (“culminate”) focuses on the “end-point” of two or more related factors working together to reach fulfillment. – These two factors Jew and Gentile coming in as one.
If the “but not yet”, has come to its end, the end signifies the completion of all things and nothing further can be added, or its not completed. If I fill up a glass half full, it is not the “consummation”, consummation is when the glass is entirely full and not one more drop can be added, the end then has come.
In the rest of his paper Sexton then applies the prophetic context of Old Testament passages and tries to tie them neatly together in a red ribbon as if those contexts define that these last days are all about A.D. 70. Because the prophet Joel said, “In the last days” and Peter quotes that passage, as being fulfilled therefore these are the last days and that means it has to be the consummation of the Kingdom. In all his passages there are many foundational truths he never established his understanding as being a “correct” view and interpretation but simply took it for granted his assertion were correct, or did he prove the last days of Joel were confined to those years from 33 to A.D. 70. Nor did he sight arguments from other sources that he interacted with who articulate an opposing opinion.
His whole argument demonstrates a complete lack of understanding of nuances found in other passages that speak to the different dimensions of the Kingdom and of the Davidic Kingdom and its fulfilment. It displays a lack of understanding of the systematic process in Theology and then further displays his lack of understanding his sources. I doubt that my producing twenty other scholars who state the very same position as I have articulated here, would in any way sway the opinion in one direction or another. Any commentary will say the same.
Barnes Notes on the Bible: “Until the times which shall establish the perfection or completion of all the predictions of the prophets,” etc. In this sense the passage means that the heavens must receive the Lord Jesus until all thrums spoken by the prophets in relation to his work, his reign, the spread of the gospel, the triumph of religion, etc., shall have been fulfilled. It also conveys the idea of the predicted recovery of the world from sin, and the restoration of peace and order; the consummation of the work of the Messiah, now begun, but not yet complete; slow it may be in its advances, but triumphant and certain in its progress and its close.
Yet I will continue.
In Zechariah 14, a post Babylonian prophet speaks prophetically of the future siege of Jerusalem.
For I will gather all the nations against Jerusalem to battle, and the city shall be taken, and the houses plundered, and the women raped. Half of the city shall go out into exile, but the rest of the people shall not be cut off from the city.
Exegetically we can prove this is the same siege being talked about by Moses in Deuteronomy 28:52-53. And preterists and futurist alike confirm this refers to the A.D. 70 events.
“They shall besiege you in all your towns, until your high and fortified walls, in which you trusted, come down throughout all your land. And they shall besiege you in all your towns throughout all your land, which the LORD your God has given you. And you shall eat the fruit of your womb, the flesh of your sons and daughters, whom the LORD your God has given you, in the siege and in the distress with which your enemies shall distress you.
We find these prophecies accurately fulfilled in the works of Josephus.
Without question by scholars, NT Wright, Kazen, Walvoord, Ice, and Hitchcock all point to Zechariah 12 and 14 as being second coming prophecies. IF these are second coming passages then the events described MUST happen in A.D. 70 according to even Preterists hermeneutics.
On that day his feet shall stand on the Mount of Olives that lies before Jerusalem on the east, … Then the LORD my God will come, and all the holy ones with him.
Paul quotes this passage in I Thessalonians 3:13,
so that he may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints.
This is further prophesied in Revelation 19 where we see Jesus return with his saints as his army.
Following the context of Zechariah 12 and 14 we find several statements that are identified as to also happen with his coming.
4On that day, declares the LORD, … 5Then the clans of Judah shall say to themselves, ‘The inhabitants of Jerusalem have strength through the LORD of hosts, their God.’ … while Jerusalem shall again be inhabited in its place, in Jerusalem.-
7“And the LORD will give salvation to the tents of Judah first, that the glory of the house of David and the glory of the inhabitants of Jerusalem may not surpass that of Judah.
8On that day the LORD will protect the inhabitants of Jerusalem, …
10“And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and pleas for mercy, so that, when they look on me, on him whom they have pierced, they shall mourn for him, as one mourns for an only child, and weep bitterly over him, as one weeps over a firstborn. (Rev 1:7 – his second coming)
Zech 14, 8On that day living waters shall flow out from Jerusalem, half of them to the eastern sea and half of them to the western sea. It shall continue in summer as in winter. …
11And it shall be inhabited, for there shall never again be a decree of utter destruction. Jerusalem shall dwell in security (restoration) …
12And this shall be the plague with which the LORD will strike all the peoples that wage war against Jerusalem: their flesh will rot while they are still standing on their feet, their eyes will rot in their sockets, and their tongues will rot in their mouths. …
16Then everyone who survives of all the nations that have come against Jerusalem shall go up year after year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to keep the Feast of Booths.
Scholars unanimously proclaim the details of these two chapters express the victory of Israel over her enemies on “that day”. Not one of these quotes of prophecy from Zechariah 12 and 14 ever describes the events of A.D. 70. Yet the Preterists will argue the siege is literal, but his coming and these other factors are to be understood spiritually. That is the wrong hermeneutic. If the siege is literal then what happens also on that day, must also be understood as literal. It also proves exegetically that it is not talking about the same day. One day Jerusalem is destroyed, then on another day, he will protect Israel. This first day of the destruction is the result of a judgment against her, but following that day there will never ever be another decree of destruction.
Getting back to Sextons paper, the only thing we find remotely close to exegesis is his quoting the definition for “restoration” from Robinson. Robinson being a “futurist” makes statement that Joel quotes yet did not comprehend. But let’s first point out several other such quotes from Lexicons of the same word. While ignoring all commentaries at this point. Especially since there are no such things as a “full Preterist” commentary, lexicon, concordance or any other scholarly reference work.
a restitution or restoration of a thing to its former state; hence, the renovation of a new and better era, – Mounce
“Restoration, restitution, i. e. to a former state, Acts 3. 21 the time of the restoration of all things, i. e. the Messiah’s future kingdom, v. 19” (Joel’s quote of Robinson)
Cognate: 605 apokatástasis (from 600 /apokathístēmi, “restore”) – restitution, referring to the “restoration of the physical earth in the Messianic kingdom (Millennium)” (G. Archer).
ἀποκατάστασις, ἀποκαταστάσεως, ἡ (ἀποκαθίστημι, which see), restoration: τῶν πάντων, the restoration not only of the true theocracy but also of that more perfect state of (even physical) things which existed before the fall, Acts 3:21; cf. Meyer at the passage (Often in Polybius, Diodorus, Plutarch, others.) – Thayer’s entry.
…… the Messiah’s future kingdom. – the way it was before the fall.
So what is being restored? Peter is saying “all things” and according to the definition of the word restore, it would be a renewal of something old, so all things of the old age. This simply can’t be a restoring of the church age since it did not end in A.D. 70 and it began with the birth of the church on Pentecost, which is also the establishment of the New Covenant. The Old covenant age is not being restored. In A.D. 70 there was no Kingdom restored or was the nation of Israel restored (or replaced). Joel stated, “that is their restoration to the land and to the Davidic Kingdom if repentance was wrought.” In Peter statement there is no condition placed as over “3000” came to repentance and were promised they were to wait for Jesus who is in heaven, until the time of restoring of all things which God talked about by the prophets. What would these new Christians be waiting for to be restored? Simply the land promises? If that was true, then why was not the land promises restored to Israel in A.D. 70? What was restored in A.D. 70? Joel quoted, Dr. J. Dwight Pentecost,
“it answers the question of Israel’s relation to the land promises of the Abrahamic covenant.” – Dr. J. Dwight Pentecost
The restoration of all things not only includes the fulfillment of the land promises where they are to dwell there “forever” it also includes the restoration of the Kingdom of Israel as a sovereign nation. It includes a return to the state of perfection found in the garden before the fall. Where the lion and the lamb lay together.
Ezekiel 37:25 They shall dwell in the land that I gave to my servant Jacob, where your fathers lived. They and their children and their children’s children shall dwell there forever, and David my servant shall be their prince forever.
Isa 34:17 He has cast the lot for them; his hand has portioned it out to them with the line; they shall possess it forever; from generation to generation they shall dwell in it.
Even the Dispensationalist, like a broken clock, is right twice a day. Their works and theologians point out that [Deut 4; 30-34] refer to Israel’s last days and restoration.
No futurist scholar cites any passage or makes a statement concerning “the last days as also being the time of restoration”, what they state is in the last days PERIOD, not the last days of Israel or is Israel restored in the last days of A.D. 70. Sexton falsely puts in “refer to Israel’s last days” when in fact verses 32-34 have nothing to do with the last days or restoration.
30-31 – 30When you are in tribulation, and all these things come upon you in the latter days, you will return to the LORD your God and obey his voice. 31For the LORD your God is a merciful God. He will not leave you or destroy you or forget the covenant with your fathers that he swore to them.
If this passage is true in the sense Sexton is using it, as a restoration passage, it clearly points to a time after tribulation. In common Preterist interpretation the divorce of A.D. 70 was final, there was to be no return to the covenant or any covenant for Israel as a people. No more mercy and to be forgotten as an unfaithful bride whose rejection is permanent. Yet the promises of God is to ever remain faithful to his people and his promises to them to restore.
As a side note Sexton used a quote,
“…God stated again His Covenant promise concerning Israel’s possession of an inheritance in the land in Deuteronomy 30:1-10, which statement we call the Palestinian covenant because it answers the question of Israel’s relation to the land promises of the Abrahamic covenant. ”
Joel attributes the statement to Dr. J. Dwight Pentecost in his standard work, “Things To Come” and assigns entry number  to the quote in his footnote for entry  he pastes, Dr. Robinson’s Greek Lexicon To New Testament Lexicon, George Bell, London, 186 Fleet Street, 1851, pg 47 – which is simply to note his citations was completely mixed up.