The Jewish Historian Yosippon records a Fiery Angelic Army in the Sky in A.D. 66 That LITERALLY Fulfills 2 Thessalonians 1:6-10
A Preterist Commentary on 2 Thessalonians 1:6-10: Summary and Highlights
According to 2 Thessalonians 1:7, Jesus is said to be “revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels” during the second coming. This aspect of the second coming is described in greater detail in Revelation 19:11-14. Here Jesus leads an angelic army in the sky like that mentioned in 2 Thessalonians 1:7. An angelic army was recorded in the sky in A.D. 66, at the start of the Jewish War. In describing this angelic army in the sky, the Jewish historian Yosippon states that these angelic soldiers were horses and riders of fire in literal fulfillment of 2 Thessalonians 1:7: “This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels.”
The fact that “Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire” is also a reference to the destruction of Israel, the earth, by fire. Immediately after this fiery army of angels was seen in the clouds, the Roman legions attacked and burned the province of Israel leaving much of it a charred wasteland. Thus the Lord Jesus had truly been “revealed from heaven in blazing fire” during Israel’s first century war with Rome. For a detailed explanation of the literal historical fulfillment of these verses in the first century see the following commentary on 2 Thessalonians 1:6-10.
The following may seem unbelievable. However, all information is taken from unbiased historical records and is easily verifiable. Sources listed at the end.
The Jewish Historian Yosippon records a Fiery Angelic Army in the Sky in A.D. 66 That LITERALLY Fulfills 2 Thessalonians 1:6-10
6 God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you 7 and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. 8 He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. 9 They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might 10 on the day he comes to be glorified in his holy people and to be marveled at among all those who have believed. This includes you, because you believed our testimony to you.
2 Thessalonians 1:6 Commentary: The Trouble in v. 6 is the Persecution of Christians in the First Century.
Verse 6 opens with a promise. God “will pay back trouble to those who trouble” His people. 2 Thessalonians is believed to have been written around A.D. 51 or 52. Therefore, the “trouble” or persecution mentioned in vs. 6-7 is the first century persecution of Christians by their Jewish brethren mentioned often in the New Testament and in the Book of Acts (Acts 8:1-3, 12:1-4 and 26:10). Eusebius also mentions this persecution:
First they [the Jews] stoned Stephen to death; then James the son of Zebedee and the brother of John was beheaded; and finally James, the first after our Saviour’s Ascension to be raised to the bishop’s throne there, lost his life in the way described, while the remaining apostles, in constant danger from murderous plots, were driven out of Judaea.[i]
In fulfillment of vs. 6-10 the Jewish persecution of the Christian saints mentioned in vs. 6-7 is believed to have ended at the fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of the Temple in A.D. 70. As a consequence of the Jewish War antisemitism ran rampant throughout Rome during the Flavian Dynasty. This anti-Jewish sentiment was so bad, in fact, that Titus had to send away his Jewish lover, Queen Berenice, shortly after the fall of Jerusalem. Not only were the Jews in no position to persecute the saints at this time, they also had less motive.
First-century Jews largely persecuted the early church because of a zeal for the Law which Christians often challenged by disrupted their synagogues and declaring that the Law was passing away. When the Temple was destroyed in A.D. 70, the predictions of the saints proved accurate and Christianity and Judaism officially separated into two entirely separate and distinct religions. This schism occurred because of this persecution as well as the fact that Judaism underwent significant changes as a result of the fact that the Temple had been destroyed and the Law could no longer be fully practiced. With Christianity now seen as an entirely separate religion and no longer just a sect of Judaism, Christians and Jews then began to worship in separate churches and synagogues.
The second wave of persecution broke out in Rome in A.D. 64. At this time Christians were draped in animal skins and ripped apart by dogs or crucified in a major public spectacle. And at night, they were burned as human torches to light the streets of Rome.[ii] According to church tradition, it was during this massacre that Peter was crucified and Paul, beheaded. This, however, is not the persecution the church is said to be facing in vs. 6-7 since 2 Thessalonians was written in A.D. 51 or 52 and the Roman persecution began in A.D. 64.
Addressing the persecution of the saints, Jesus is recorded to have said, “And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly (Luke 18:7-8).” The justice spoken of here is hinted at in 2 Thessalonians 1:6-10.
2 Thessalonians 1:7 Commentary: According to v. 7 and Revelation 19:11-14, Jesus was to lead an Angelic Army in the Clouds at the Second Coming. An Angelic Army was seen in the Clouds in A.D. 66, at the Start of the Jewish War.
Verses 6-8 declare that God’s vengeance will begin “when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels (2 Thessalonians 1:7).” This prediction is elaborated upon in Revelation 19:11-14:
I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and makes war. . . . He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. The armies of heaven were following him, riding white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean.
Verse 7 and Revelation 19:11-14 are detailed descriptions of the first manifestation of Christ during the second coming in which Jesus is seen coming on the clouds of heaven. In Revelation 19:11-14, Jesus is seen riding a white horse at the head of an angelic army. These prophecies came to pass at the start of the Jewish revolt in A.D. 66:
[O]n the twenty-first day of the month of Artemisius [Jyar], a certain prodigious and incredible phenomenon appeared; I suppose the account of it would seem to be a fable, were it not related by those that saw it, and were not the events that followed it of so considerable a nature as to deserve such signals; for, before sunsetting, chariots and troops of soldiers in their armor were seen running about among the clouds, and surrounding of cities.[vi]
2 Thessalonians 1:7 Commentary: The Jewish Historian Yosippon adds the Fact that this Angelic Army in the Sky of A.D. 66 was composed of Soldiers that Blazed with Fire LITERALLY fulfilling 2 Thessalonians 1:7: “This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from Heaven in Blazing Fire with His Powerful Angels.”
The Medieval Jewish Historian Sepher Yosippon expounds upon this angelic army in the sky of A.D. 66 by saying, “Moreover, in those days were seen chariots of fire and horsemen, a great force flying across the sky near to the ground coming against Jerusalem and all the land of Judah, all of them horses of fire and riders of fire.”[via] In the above two excerpts, the Jewish historians Josephus and Yosippon describe a heavenly army in the clouds much like the army Jesus led in Revelation 19:11-14 and 2 Thessalonians 1:7. In these two historical excerpts one can see how 2 Thessalonians 1:7 was explicitly fulfilled in A.D. 66 when “the Lord Jesus [was LITERALLY] revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels.”
2 Thessalonians 1:7 Commentary: According to Acts 9:3-6 and Revelation 1:13-16, Jesus’ Resurrection Body was Further Glorified after His Ascension into Heaven such that it Beamed with Radiance like Blazing Fire. Thus Jesus’ Body took on a Form similar to that of the Angels of Heaven (2 Corinthians 11:14 and Matthew 28:2-3).
Why does 2 Thessalonians 1:7 imply that Jesus was to take on a form like that of blazing fire during his second coming? Though Jesus’ resurrection body closely resembled his physical body immediately after his resurrection, Jesus’ body was further glorified after his ascension according to Acts 9:3-6 and Revelation 1:13-16. After having ascended into heaven, Jesus’ body took on a form like that of the Father and the heavenly host. In describing the appearance of God, Ezekiel 1:26-28 reads:
Above the vault over their heads was what looked like a throne of lapis lazuli, and high above on the throne was a figure like that of a man. I saw that from what appeared to be his waist up he looked like glowing metal, as if full of fire, and that from there down he looked like fire; and brilliant light surrounded him. Like the appearance of a rainbow in the clouds on a rainy day, so was the radiance around him. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord.
The angels of heaven are also described as beings of light according to Matthew 28:2-3 and 2 Corinthians 11:14. Matthew 28:2-3 reads, “[A]n angel of the Lord descended from heaven . . . his appearance was like lightning[.]” 2 Corinthians 11:14 echoes Matthew 28:2-3: “And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light.” Jesus’ resurrection body after his ascension into heaven is described with similar radiance and glory according to Revelation 1:13-16:
[A]nd among the lampstands was someone like a son of man, dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a golden sash around his chest. The hair on his head was white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire. His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, and coming out of his mouth was a sharp, double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance.”
The brilliance of Christ’s resurrection body after having risen into heaven is also mentioned in Acts 9:3-6. In these verses, Paul was temporarily blinded by the extreme luminosity of Jesus’ uncloaked image after he saw the ascended Christ on his road to Damascus.
Notice that Yosippon states that the horses seen in the sky were horses of fire whereas Revelation 19:14 says that the angels rode white horses during the parousia, is this a contradiction? No. Many people who have had revelatory near-death experiences (NDE’s) state that beings in heaven exude brilliant white light. Thus the horses described by Yosippon would have also likely shown in a brilliant white light like that of other beings in heaven. This brilliant white radiance would likely be described as fire to a first century observer. This brilliant white radiance would likely be described as fire to a first century observer.
2 Thessalonians 1:6-7 Commentary: This Fiery Army in the Sky also fits the Timing Implied in 2 Thessalonians 1:6-7.
As stated above, vs. 6-8 declare that God’s vengeance will begin “when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels (2 Thessalonians 1:7).” This angelic army in the sky was seen in Iyyar of A.D. 66–the same month and year in which the Jewish revolt began. During the Jewish War and the death of the lawless one, Jesus made several miraculous appearances including the one mentioned above. These various appearances of Christ during and shortly after the Jewish War are a climatic exemplification and fulfillment of seemingly all the various ways in which God appeared to people in the Old and New Testaments. They also seem to literally fulfill every detail of every prophecy concerning the parousia or second coming. See Historical Evidence that Jesus was LITERALLY SEEN in the Clouds in the First Century.
2 Thessalonians 1:7-10 Commentary: The Fact that “Jesus is revealed from Heaven in Blazing Fire” is also a Reference to the Destruction of Heaven and Israel, the Earth, by Fire as predicted in 2 Peter 3:7-13.
2 Thessalonians 1:7 pictures Christ being “revealed from heaven in blazing fire.” According to Josephus this army in the sky was seen at sunset in Iyyar. Perhaps this army in the sky also appeared when the sky over Israel shimmered with hues of orange and red giving an appearance of the sky being on fire as is often the case at sunset in Israel in this month? Regardless, the fact that “the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire”[vii] also subtly hints at the destruction of heaven and earth by fire predicted in 2 Peter 3:7-13.[viii]
2 Thessalonians 1:7-10 Commentary: The Land of Israel was burned by the Romans leaving it a Charred Waste.
Throughout the Book of Revelation, the Book of Daniel and much of the Bible, earth represents the nation of Israel and sea, the Gentile nations.[ix] Concerning the destruction of Israel, the earth, by fire, Josephus writes, “He [General Titus] also at the same time gave his soldiers leave to set the suburbs on fire. . . . So the trees were now cut down immediately, and the suburbs left naked.”[x] Further testimony of how the land was left burned and desolate as a consequence of the Roman army’s scorched-earth policy can again be found in The Wars of the Jews: “Now this country [Jericho] is then so sadly burnt up that nobody care [sic] to come at it…”[xi] “[N]or did the Romans . . . leave off either by night or by day, burning the places in the plain . . . so that Galilee was all over filled with fire and blood. . . .”[xii] “He [General Vespasian] also set fire, not only to the city [of Gadara] itself, but to all the villas and small cities that were round about it. . . .” As a consequence of the war with Rome, Israel was left a burning wasteland with much of the rest of the province suffering the same fate as that of Jerusalem, Jericho, Gadara and Galilee mentioned above.[xiii] Thus the fact that Jesus was “revealed from heaven in blazing fire” foreshadowed the ultimate destruction of Israel, the earth, by fire.
“This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from Heaven in Blazing Fire with His Powerful Angels”: Was 2 Thessalonians 1:7 LITERALLY fulfilled at the Final Appearance of Christ at the Death of the Beast and Subsequent Eruption of Vesuvius?
The fact that Christ is “revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels” during the appearance of his coming also seems to literally describe the final miraculous appearance of Christ. 2 Thessalonians 2:8 says that the lawless one will be SLAIN at the APPEARANCE of the coming of Christ: “Then that lawless one will be revealed whom the Lord will slay with the breath of His mouth and bring to an end by the appearance of His coming.” The final miraculous appearance of Christ at the death of the lawless occurred in concert with a vision of angelic beings seen over Mt. Vesuvius before and during its eruption.
Was this vision of angelic beings seen in the sky during and after the fiery eruption of Mt. Vesuvius Jesus Christ “revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels”? This appearance of Christ at the death of the beast fulfills 2 Thessalonians 2:8 and Revelation 19:19-20 and bears an uncanny resemblance to the descent of the Lord on Mt. Sinai according to the Book of Exodus. For a detailed description of the abundant Biblical and historical evidence of the miraculous final appearance of Christ at the death of the lawless one and the fiery eruption of Vesuvius see The Miraculous Historical Appearance of Christ at the Death of the Beast Fulfills 2 Thessalonians 2:8 and Revelation 19:19-20.
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Interested in THE PRETERIST VIEW OF ESCHATOLOGY, or are you a PRETERIST struggling with a prophecy or verse? It DID happen just like the Bible says! If you liked this essay, see PRETERIST BIBLE COMMENTARY for a detailed explanation of the FULFILLMENT OF ALL MAJOR END TIME PROPHECIES IN THE BIBLE. The more unbelievable the prophecy, the more amazing and miraculous the fulfillment!
Also see Historical Evidence that Jesus was LITERALLY SEEN in the Clouds in the First Century. For an explanation of how the end of the age and its fulfillment during the Jewish War mirror Genesis 1-3; how the Bible teaches that the resurrection of the dead is a resurrection of heavenly bodies to heaven, not a resurrection of perfected earthly bodies; and how the resurrection is a mirror opposite of the fall see How the Jewish War and Resurrection to Heaven Mirror Genesis and the Fall; and How Preterism fixes the Age of the Earth Problem and unravels the Mysteries in Genesis.
[i] Eusebius The History of the Church 3.5.
[ii] Tacitus Annals 15.44.4, cited in Robert E. Van Voorst, Jesus Outside the New Testament: An Introduction to the Ancient Evidence, (Grand Rapids: Eerdmanns, 2000), 42.
[vi] Josephus The Wars of the Jews 6.5.3.
[via] Sepher Yosippon A Mediaeval History of Ancient Israel translated from the Hebrew by Steven B. Bowman. Excerpts from Chapter 87 “Burning of the Temple” cited in http://fulfilledtheology.ning.com/forum/topics/historical-records-with-some (9/16/2014)
[ix] See the commentary on Revelation.
[x] Josephus The Wars of the Jews 5.6.2.
[xi] Ibid., 4.8.3.
[xii] Ibid., 3.4.1.
[xiii] Ibid., 4.8.3, 4.9.7, 6.1.1.
A Preterist Commentary on 2 Thessalonians 1:6-10: Conclusion
As indicated in the above preterist commentary on 2 Thessalonians 1:6-10, Jesus was, in fact, “revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels” when in fulfillment of 2 Thessalonians 1:7 and Revelation 19:11-14 a fiery army was seen in the clouds immediately before the burning of Israel during the Jewish War.