The following may seem unbelievable. However, all information below is taken from unbiased historical records and is easily verifiable. Sources are also listed at the bottom of the page.
Preterism and the Parousia–“You will see the Son of Man . . . coming on the Clouds of Heaven”: In Mark 14:61-62 and John 21:22-23, Jesus declares that the High Priest Caiaphas and the Apostle John will live to see the Second Coming.
In Mark 14:61-62, Jesus declares that the high priest who delivered him over to the Romans for execution will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven. Then in John 21:22-23, Jesus says that the Apostle John will remain alive until His return. Jesus also promised to return within His generation in Matthew 16:27-28, Matthew 24 and Mark 8:38-9:1. Because of statements like these, the disciples all believed that Jesus would return within many of their lifetimes.
Preterist View of the Parousia–“You will see the Son of Man . . . coming on the Clouds of Heaven”: The Second Coming is described in Revelation 19:11-14. Here Jesus leads an Army of Angels in the Sky.
The second coming is described in detail in Revelation 19:11-14. Here, Jesus rides a white horse leading an army of angels on horseback on the clouds.
A Preterist View of the Second Coming–“You will see the Son of Man . . . coming on the Clouds of Heaven”: The Second Coming is recorded in Roman History.
An eerily similar event is recorded to have occurred in Iyyar of A.D. 66 at the start of the worst war in Israel’s history, Israel’s war with Rome:
[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.1
The first-century Jewish historian Josephus describes a heavenly army in the clouds much like the army Jesus leads in Revelation 19:11-14. This event is also recorded by other historians. The first-century pagan historian Tacitus also mentions this event: “In the sky appeared a vision of armies in conflict, of glittering armour.”2 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.”3 The parallels between these three accounts and Revelation 19 are striking. However, in Yosippon’s account one can see how 2 Thessalonians 1:7 was explicitly and LITERALLY fulfilled in A.D. 66: “This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels.”
A Realized Eschatological View of the Second Coming–The Coming of the Lord Described: Yosippon’s Description of the Angelic Army of Fire in the Sky in A.D. 66 fulfills descriptions of the Coming of the Lord in Isaiah 66:15, Psalm 68:17 and Habakkuk 3:1-8 in a Surprisingly Literal Way.
The coming of Christ in the presence of fiery angels riding horses and chariots recorded in A.D. 66 and predicted in 2 Thessalonians mirrors the coming of the Lord in Isaiah 66:15 in a surprisingly literal way: “For behold, the Lord will come in fire and His chariots like the whirlwind, to render His anger with fury, and His rebuke with flames of fire.” Descriptions of the coming of the Lord in judgment in Psalm 68:17 and Habakkuk 3:1-8 are also described in a similar fashion. Interestingly, the fiery army of angelic horsemen and charioteers of A.D. 66 was not the first time a specter like this was recorded in Israel.
Covenant Eschatology and the Parousia–The Second Coming Described: Yosippon’s Description of the Angelic Army of Fire in the Sky in A.D. 66 EXACTLY Mirrors the Army of Angels of Fire described in 2 Kings 6:17.
In 2 Kings 6:17 Elisha is protected by an army of angels like those who were expected to accompany Jesus during the second coming. This fiery army of angels is described exactly as the army of horsemen, horses and chariots of fire recorded by Yosippon. 2 Kings 6:17 reads, “And Elisha prayed, ‘Open his eyes, Lord, so that he may see.’ Then the Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.” Notice that in both cases an army of angelic horsemen appeared as horsemen and chariots of fire.
A Realized Eschatological View of the Parousia–The Parousia Described: 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 according to 2 Kings 6:17, 2 Corinthians 11:14 and Matthew 28:2-3.
Why did the angels of 2 Kings 6:17 and those described by Yosippon in A.D. 66 appear as beings of fire? And 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 strongly resembled His physical body while He was still on earth, this appears to have changed after Jesus ascended into heaven in Acts 1 (Acts 9:3-6, Revelation 1:13-16). After His ascension, Jesus’ body as it is described throughout the remainder of the Bible closely resembles Biblical descriptions of the heavenly Father and other beings in heaven—beaming with fiery brilliance. In Ezekiel 1:26-28, Ezekiel describes a vision of God in which, like descriptions of Jesus in Acts 9:3-6 and Revelation 1:13-16, God is said to shine with glorious brilliance:
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 [emphasis mine].
The angels of heaven are also depicted in a similar manner according to 2 Kings 6:17, 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.” Christ’s body after having risen to heaven is pictured with similar fiery luminescence:
[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 (Revelation 1:13-16).”
The burning brightness of Christ’s resurrection body after His ascension is also mentioned in Acts 9:3-6 where Paul is temporarily blinded after seeing the immense radiance that was the post-ascended Christ.
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 the highest heavenly realms 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.
Preterism, The Parousia Described: 2 Peter 1:16-18 indicates that the Transfiguration was a Model of the Parousia. This Fact is Confirmed by Yosippon who describes what appears to be the Coming of Christ on the Clouds in a Radiant Form similar to the Description of Christ during the Transfiguration.
The fact that Jesus was expected to appear in the radiant glory of His post-ascension resurrection body at the time of the parousia is also implied in 2 Peter 1:16-18:
For we did not follow cleverly devised tales when we made known to you the power and coming [parousia] of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty. For when He received honor and glory from God the Father, such an utterance as this was made to Him by the Majestic Glory, ‘This is My beloved Son with whom I am well-pleased’— and we ourselves heard this utterance made from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain.
2 Peter 1:16-18 is a description of the transfiguration. During the transfiguration, Jesus appeared to the disciples in the likeness of a being of light. (Matthew 17, Mark 9, Luke 9) What is interesting about this description of the transfiguration is that the Greek word translated coming in v. 16 is parousia, the same word often used to refer to the second coming throughout the New Testament. The fact that Peter uses the word parousia to describe the moment in which Jesus was transformed into a being of light implies that Peter may have seen the transfiguration as a visionary shadow or model of the parousia, the second coming. The fact that the transfiguration in which Jesus appeared in bright, radiant glory may be a kind of model of the second coming seems to be confirmed by Yosippon’s description of the fiery army in the clouds of A.D. 66. At this time Jesus appeared in fiery radiance in the clouds of heaven bearing the same luminescent likeness of His body at the transfiguration in confirmation of 2 Peter 1:16-18.
It should also be noted that this is not the only way in which the transfiguration was a model of the second coming. According to Matthew 17:5 the Glory Cloud also appeared in the midst of the transfiguration: “While he was still speaking, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and behold, a voice out of the cloud said, ‘This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased; listen to Him!’” This bright cloud is the Glory Cloud, the quintessential sign of the presence of God. For historical evidence of the presence of the Glory Cloud in A.D. 68 and A.D. 70 see The Appearance of Christ in A.D. 68? and The Coming of Christ in A.D. 70–Like You’ve Never Heard it Before!.
Preterism Explained, “You will see the Son of Man . . . coming with the Clouds of Heaven”: Jesus must have been present at the Head of this Army.
Though Jesus is never identified at the head of this angelic army in the clouds, I believe that it is clear that He must have been. Throughout His ministry, Jesus predicted that He would come on the clouds in the presence of the heavenly host within the lifetimes of those present during His ministry. If this supernatural event did, in fact, occur which literally fulfills Revelation 19:14 and ALL OTHER BIBLICAL DESCRIPTIONS concerning the second coming, then Jesus must have been present at the head of this army on the clouds–this miracle would have been too much of a coincidence if He were not. Furthermore, if Jesus had been identified at the head of this army it could be considered strong evidence that the account of the army in the clouds as a whole is a spurious Christian interpolation intended for apologetic purposes. Since as non-Christians unfamiliar with the details of Christian eschatology, Tacitus and Josephus would never be expected to make such an identification. A more detailed explanation of the evidence of the historical reliability of this event will be discussed later.
Realized Eschatology and the Second Coming, “For as Lightning that comes from the East is Visible Even in the West, so will be the Coming of the Son of Man.”: According to Tacitus, Lightning struck the Temple around the Time of the Second Coming in fulfillment of Matthew 24:27.
Matthew 24:27 reads, “For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.” This verse seems to suggest that lightning might mark the coming of the Son of Man on the clouds. Historical evidence that lightning may have accompanied the Parousia seems to be recorded at the start of the Jewish revolt in A.D. 66 by the first-century Roman historian Tacitus:
In the sky appeared a vision of armies in conflict, of glittering armour. A sudden lightening flash from the clouds lit up the Temple. The doors of the holy place abruptly opened, a superhuman voice was heard to declare that the gods were leaving it, and in the same instant came the rushing tumult of their departure [emphasis mine].4
Covenant Eschatology and the Second Coming, “You will see the Son of Man . . . coming with the Clouds of Heaven”: Heavenly Beings are said to look like Lightning in Matthew 28:2-3. Thus Matthew 24:27 was Also Fulfilled Literally at the Parousia when Christ appeared in a Brilliant, Radiant Form that looked like Lightning.
The fact that the second coming is compared to lightning that comes from the east and is visible in the west is also a description of the lightning-like radiant brilliance of Christ seem by the people in his post-ascension glory at the parousia. Recall that the angel seen after Jesus’ resurrection appeared in a form that looked like lightning according to Matthew 28:2-3: “[A]n angel of the Lord descended from heaven . . . his appearance was like lightning [emphasis mine][.]” As stated above, after Jesus’ ascension He took on a similar radiant form which also presumably looked like lightning.
Full Preterist View of the Second Coming–“You will see the Son of Man . . . coming on the Clouds of Heaven”: The Angelic Army of A.D. 66 fulfills all Bible Verses concerning the Second Coming.
This heavenly army recorded above LITERALLY fulfills ALL Biblical descriptions of the second coming.
1) In fulfillment of Matthew 24, Matthew 16:28, Matthew 10:23, Mark 8:38-9:1, Mark 14:61-62, John 21:22 and Revelation 1:7 this event occurred within Jesus’ generation and within the lifetime of the Apostle John, who according to church tradition lived until the reign of Trajan, sometime in the last decade of the first century or the beginning of the second century A.D.5
3) This supernatural specter pictures what appears to be Jesus, the Son of Man, in the presence of a multitude of angels in the clouds fulfilling Matthew 16:27, Mark 8:38, 2 Thessalonians 1:7, and Jude 14-15.
5) This event was accompanied by lightning fulfilling Matthew 24:27.
7) The parousia began at the start of the Jewish War as implied in Revelation 8:5 and Revelation14:14.
8) In fulfillment of 1 Thessalonians 4:16, this army was seen in A.D. 66, the same year in which a multitude of spiritual bodies were seen rising out of the earth in what appears to be the start the resurrection of the dead.6
A Preterist View and Explanation of the Parousia–“You will see the Son of Man . . . coming in the Clouds of Heaven”: The Second Coming was seen in the Same Year as the Start of the Resurrection of the Dead.
1 Thessalonians 4:16 says, “For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.” This verse implies that the second coming would mark the start of the resurrection of the dead. As stated above, Josephus indicates that this heavenly army was seen in Iyyar of A.D. 66, the same year in which another miracle was witnessed.
In A.D. 66 at the start of the Jewish revolt, Nero Caesar was in Greece building a canal. Concerning the construction of this canal, Cassius Dio writes, “[W]hen the first workers touched the earth, blood spouted from it, groans and bellowings were heard, and many phantoms appeared. Nero himself thereupon grasped a mattock and by throwing up some of the soil fairly compelled the rest to imitate him.”7 In recording this same event, Suetonius indicates that as Nero broke the ground the sound of a trumpet was heard.8 The fact that a trumpet was heard at the moment in which the dead appear to have been raised explicitly fulfills 1 Corinthians 15:52: “For the trumpet will sound, [and] the dead will be raised imperishable . . .”
Notice in fulfillment of 1 Thessalonians 4:16, both the second coming of Christ and the start of the resurrection of the dead are recorded to have occurred at the start of the Jewish revolt in A.D. 66. Though both the resurrection and the second coming began in A.D. 66, as is implied in Revelation 15:8, these spirits, however, may not have finally enter heaven until the seven plagues and trumpets are completed. As suggested in Revelation 12:14, these spirits that had been resurrected at the start of the Jewish War might have been taken to an undisclosed location away from Satan’s reach for three and a half years. I believe that these spiritual bodies raised in A.D. 66 may not have finally entered heaven until the parousia of A.D. 70, approximately three and a half years later. Also see How the Resurrection Bodies of the Saints Perfectly Mirror Jesus’ Resurrection Body after His Ascension Into Heaven Fulfilling Philippians 3:20-21 and ALL Other Bible Verses on the Resurrection!!!; The Notion that the Resurrection is an Earthly Phenomenon whereby the Dead are raised as Perfected, Eternal Earthly Bodies is dispelled by 1 Corinthians 15:35-50 and Isaiah 65:20; and The Miraculous Historical Appearance of Christ at the Death of the Beast Fulfills 2 Thessalonians 2:8 and Revelation 19:19-20.
A Preterist Interpretation of the Second Coming–“You will see the Son of Man . . . coming in the Clouds of Heaven”: Could the Resurrection have transpired in A.D. 66 instead of A.D. 70?
The placement of the resurrection in the Book of Revelation is shockingly ambiguous. It is mentioned in places where it could have transpired after the unfolding of the seven plagues or before them. Though the above scenario in which the resurrection ultimately occurred in A.D. 70 certainly seems plausible, it is perhaps just as likely that the resurrection at the seventh trumpet occurred in A.D. 66. About five months after the army of angels were reportedly seen in the clouds in Iyyar of A.D. 66 was the Feast of Trumpets on the 1st of Tishri. Called the Day of Judgment, it is on this day that trumpets sound the somber days of atonement and final judgment. Perhaps it was on the Feast of Trumpets in A.D. 66 that the final trumpet which signaled the resurrection together with all the trumpet plagues of Revelation 8-11 were sounded? Perhaps it was on this day that the vision of the mass resurrection was seen?
One might object to this interpretation by citing Revelation 15:8: “[A]nd no one was able to enter the temple until the seven plagues of the seven angels were finished.” Does this mean that the resurrection was to occur at the fulfillment of the seventh trumpet plague at the fall of Jerusalem in A.D. 70? Perhaps. However, a careful examination of the similarities between the seven bowls and seven trumpets reveals that the seven bowls and seven trumpets describe the same events. Revelation 16:17 indicates that it was at the release of these plagues that the plagues were considered “done.” Therefore, if the seven angels released these plagues at the Feast of Trumpets in A.D. 66, then according to Revelation 16:17 it was at this time that the seventh and last trumpet signaling the resurrection of the dead was sounded (1 Corinthians 15:51-52). If the seventh and last trumpet signaling the resurrection was considered done before its ultimate fulfillment at the fall of Jerusalem in A.D. 70, then this means that the resurrection could have transpired in A.D. 66.
That having been said it is interesting to note that Revelation 16:17 is not the only v. in the Bible that declares something to be finished or completed before it actually transpires. Revelation 14:8 and Matthew 23:38 are two other examples. In these verses future events are predicted in the present or past tense. For example, in Revelation 14:8 and angel warns of the coming fall of Babylon in the past tense: “Fallen, Fallen is Babylon the Great[.]”
Preterism and the Parousia–“You will see the Son of Man . . . coming in the Clouds of Heaven”: Revelation 8:5 and 14:14 imply that the Second Coming was Also Expected to Occur at the Start of the Jewish War, Not Just in A.D. 70.
Before the releasing of the seven trumpets and bowls, Revelation 8:5 alludes to the Glory Cloud. The Glory Cloud is the manifestation of God. Revelation 8:1-6, Revelation 14:14-18 and Revelation 15:1-8 all describe the events leading up to the release of the seven plagues. The Glory Cloud referenced in Revelation 8:5 is also mentioned in Revelation 14:14. In Revelation 14:14 Jesus is seated on a cloud—the Glory Cloud. The fact that Christ is on the clouds in the Glory Cloud according to Revelation 8:5 and 14:14 before the release of the seven plagues points to a manifestation of Christ at the start of the Jewish War and not just in A.D. 70 as is commonly supposed. For a more in depth discussion of the Biblical evidence of the coming of Christ at the start of the Jewish War see the explanation on vs. 1-6 in Revelation 8: A Preterist Commentary.
Preterism and the Secong Coming Explained–“You will see the Son of Man . . . coming in the Clouds of Heaven”: A Careful Comparison of the First Horseman of Revelation 6:2 and Christ, the Rider on the White Horse in Revelation 19:11-14, implies that These Riders are the Same. Because Revelation 6:1-8 transpired before the Seven Plagues, This Army of Horsemen described in Revelation 19:11-16 must have Also made Their Appearance at the Start of the Jewish Revolt. Interestingly, an Angelic Army of Horsemen was reportedly seen at precisely this Time.
Comparing the horseman of Revelation 19:11-14 with the first horseman of Revelation 6:2 reveals striking similarities: both riders wear one or more crowns and both sit atop a white horse. Likewise, both riders have weapons often linked to God (Psalm 17:13; 21:12; Isaiah 27:1; 34:5-6; 66:16; Jeremiah 12:12; 47:6; Lamentations 2:4; 3:12; Ezekiel 5:2; 12:14; 21:3-5; Habakkuk 3:9; Zechariah 9:13).
In light of these similarities I believe that these horsemen are Jesus Christ. It appears that Revelation 6:2-8 and Revelation 19:11-16 describe the same event. Because Revelation 6:1-8 occurred before the releasing of the seven plagues, the cavalry depicted in Revelation 6:1-8 and Revelation 19:11-16 might be said to have appeared at the start of the Jewish Revolt in A.D 66. Interestingly, the army of angelic horsemen mentioned above were allegedly seen at exactly this time.
A Preterist View of the Parousia–“You will see the Son of Man . . . coming in the Clouds of Heaven”: Was the Parousia in A.D. 66 or in A.D. 70? Parousia is a Greek Word meaning a Coming Generally with an Extended Stay. If the Parousia was a Brief, One-Time Appearance of Christ, Parousia is a Strangely Inaccurate Word to use to Describe this Event. Thus I believe that the Parousia began in A.D. 66 and Extended to the Fall of Jerusalem in A.D. 70.
Perhaps you might now be asking yourself, “Was the second coming in A.D. 66 or in A.D. 70?” This is the wrong question to ask. The term second coming is not found in the original Greek of the New Testament, instead what is often translated second coming in the New Testament is the Greek word parousia. Parousia is a Greek word meaning presence or coming. Parousia is a word used to denote the arrival of a conquering general, emperor or high-ranking official into a city for an extended stay oftentimes for several months or years before often returning to the capital city, the seat of his throne. For example, Nero Caesar’s Parousia in Greece lasted for years. Nero arrived in Greece in A.D. 66 and stayed until late A.D. 67 or early A.D. 68. The word connotes a coming and an extended presence or stay often followed by a subsequent departure. When people think of the “second coming” or parousia, they often picture a one-time, brief appearance of Christ on the clouds. However, this term generally connotes a coming and an extended stay or presence as is illustrated by the way Parousia is also used in Philippians 2:12. Thus Jesus’ second coming or Parousia was also a coming with an extended stay or presence.
As is implied by the Greek word often translated “second coming” in the New Testament, the second coming or Parousia was a coming with a lengthy stay. Thus I believe that the Parousia or second coming began at the very start of the Jewish War in Iyyar of A.D. 66 when the Jews first began their revolt against Rome and continued until the fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of its Temple in A.D. 70. Recall that it was also at the very start of the Jewish revolt, Iyyar of A.D. 66, that Jesus was seen approaching Jerusalem on the clouds of heaven with His mighty angels. This Parousia (presence or coming) then continued until A.D. 70 at the destruction of Jerusalem and its Temple. To limit Jesus’ coming to A.D. 66 or A.D. 70 seems to imply that Jesus’ Parousia was just a brief, one-time appearance of Christ on the clouds. If this was truly what the Parousia was meant to be, a brief one-time appearance, Parousia is a strange word to use to describe this event.
The fact that Jesus was to come in A.D. 66 at the start of the Jewish War rather than arriving in A.D. 70 at the end of the war is also implied by the fact that Jesus said He was to “come on the clouds” during the Parousia. The fact that Jesus says that He was going to “come on the clouds” is an allusion to the Old Testament when God had come on the clouds in judgment on nations in the past as was the case, for example, when God came on the clouds in judgment on Egypt with the Assyrians and Babylonians in Old Testament history (Isaiah 19). The fact that Jesus implied that He was going to come on the clouds suggests that He was also going to come in judgment. And if Jesus was going to come in judgment this implies that He was to come when the judgment began, not after it was already over. God judged Jerusalem and apostate Israel during its first-century war with Rome from A.D. 66 to A.D. 70. Thus if Jesus was going to come on the clouds in judgment on Israel one would expect Him to come in A.D. 66 when that judgment began, not first arrive at the fall of Jerusalem in A.D. 70 when this judgment was believed to be over.
Additional evidence that the Parousia was not limited to A.D. 70 is found in Mark 14:61-62. In Mark 14:61-62 Jesus says that the high priest would see the Parousia: ‘“But Jesus remained silent and gave no answer. Again the high priest asked him, ‘Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?’ ‘I am,’ said Jesus. ‘And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.”’ For an explanation as to why it is unlikely that the high priest mentioned in Mark 14:61-62 lived to A.D. 70 see Mark 14:61-62: A Preterist Commentary.
Jesus is commonly believed to have made a handful of appearances throughout the Old Testament (Genesis 16:7; 21:17; 22:11; 31:11; Exodus 3:2-15; 17:1-7; Judges 6:11; 13:21; Daniel 3:24-27; Micah 5:2). These comings or appearances of Christ are called “theophanies.” Interestingly, a similar pattern is seen between Jesus’ resurrection and His ascension and between His ascension and the Parousia (Acts 7:55-56; 9:1-8; 1 Corinthians 15:5-8; Revelation 1). In light of these repetitious appearances it is perhaps not shocking that Jesus may have or would have appeared more than once to people throughout the end of the age at the time of His Parousia, especially when Parousia word often implies a prolonged stay?9 During the Jewish War, I believe Jesus revealed Himself in seemingly all the various and distinct ways in which God previously manifested Himself to people throughout the rest of the Bible. See Historical Evidence that Jesus was LITERALLY SEEN in the Clouds in the First Century.
Throughout the Gospels Jesus often said that He would soon leave the world to be with His Father in heaven (Luke 19:12-27; John 8:21-23; 13:1; 14:2-3; 16:7). Jesus then made good on this promise when He rose up to heaven in a cloud in Acts 1:9-11. Jesus then appears to have stayed in heaven at the right hand of the Father (Acts 7:55, 1 Thessalonians 1:10, 2 Thessalonians 1:7, Hebrews 9:24, 1 Peter 3:22) except for a couple scattered manifestations or appearances (Acts 9, Revelation 1:9-18). Jesus then departs from heaven when He is said to come on the clouds of heaven during His second coming or Parousia at the end of the age. (Therefore the Messiah’s throne is the Jerusalem in heaven mentioned in John 18:36, Hebrews 12:22, and Galatians 4:26. It is here that Christ rules at the right hand of the Father who is also in heaven (Daniel 4:26; Acts 2:22-36; 7:48-49).) Christ’s departure from heaven to come to earth at the time of His second coming therefore perfectly matches the coming of God on the clouds of heaven in Psalm 18. In Psalm 18:9 the Lord also comes down from heaven in order to ride the clouds in judgment: “He [the Lord] parted the heavens and came down; dark clouds were under his feet [emphasis mine].”
As already stated, Parousia is a word denoting the coming or arrival of an illustrious figure followed by an anticipated stay. Parousia is a word suggesting that a royal person will visit a town or city for some time before returning to the capital, the seat of his throne that is unless the city being visited by a king is not the capital itself. Thus Parousia appears to be a perfect word to depict Jesus’ coming in judgment at the time of Israel’s first-century war with Rome. After having risen into heaven in Acts 1:9-11, Christ later returned back to earth to come in judgment during the Jewish War. Here Jesus appears to have stayed for several years while manifesting Himself in diverse and various ways before returning back to heaven, the true seat of His throne, with the saints at the resurrection at the last trumpet (1 Corinthians 15:51-52, 2 Thessalonians 2:1). Thus Jesus’ coming to and prolonged presence in Palestine from A.D. 66 to A.D. 70 during the war with Rome seems to perfectly match Biblical prophecy and historical uses of the Greek word Parousia which implies a coming with a subsequent stay–not a single, momentary appearance–likely followed by an anticipated departure back to the capital. In the case of Christ’s Parousia, the capital is heaven where Christ later returned with the saints at the resurrection in A.D. 70.
I believe that Jesus was present throughout Israel’s first-century war with Rome. This much more literal and seemingly accurate understanding of Parousia sheds light on all the diverse ways in which the Parousia or second coming is described throughout the Bible. Was it truly visible (Mark 14:62)? Yes! Was it at times invisible as was generally the case when God came on the clouds in judgment on nations in the past? Yes! And as I will explain in the remainder of this commentary, I believe it was also much, much more! Thus I believe that the Parousia is the perfect climax to Biblical history. In Matthew 16:27 Jesus says that He will “come in the glory of the Father.” Jesus’ diverse manifestations during the Jewish War seem to mirror what appears to be all the various ways God manifested Himself throughout the Bible literally fulfill Matthew 16:27. Before highlighting all the various aspects of Jesus’ Parousia throughout the Jewish War, let us continue to focus on the initial aspect of the Parousia, Christ’s coming or arrival in A.D. 66.
Covenant Eschatology and the Parousia–“You will see the Son of Man . . . coming with the Clouds of Heaven”: Would All Eyes see the Second Coming?
Having shown how the army seen in the clouds in A.D. 66 fulfills Biblical predictions concerning the second coming, some might argue that this event does not fulfill Revelation 1:7: “Look, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him.” If Jesus returned today, would everyone in the world without exception see him riding on the clouds? Would the blind? What about people working underground in subways or coal mines? How about prisoners in solitary confinement or people asleep in their beds? What about the Roman soldiers that pierced him? “Those who pierced him” in Revelation 1:7 are the first century Roman soldiers that pierced Jesus while he lay on the cross according to John 19:34. (They are perhaps also the Jewish elite that put the Romans up to it.) Thus Revelation 1:7 again indicates that the second coming must be a first century event.
Preterism and the Second Coming–“Look, He is coming with the Clouds, and Every Eye will see Him . . .”: Does All or Every Always mean All or Every?
In Matthew 2:1-3 the Magi appear before King Herod with news that the Messiah had been born. Verse 3 then says, “When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him.” Why would all Jerusalem be disturbed about the Messiah’s birth? Wouldn’t some Jews in Jerusalem be happy?
In Matthew 4:8 the devil took Jesus “to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world.” The world is round. It is impossible even from an infinitely high vantage point to see all the kingdoms of the world.
In Matthew 10:22, Jesus tells the disciples, “All men will hate you because of me.” Would all Christians hate the disciples because of Jesus? Would all the disciples also hate each other because of Christ? Would even all non-Christian Jews hate the disciples because of Jesus?
The Bible often uses hyperbole for emphasis. All or every does not always mean all or every. When the Bible says that every eye will see Jesus at His return, it does not mean that every person in the world will see Him without exception. Jesus says to His disciples, “Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans. Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel (Matthew 10:5-6).” The Gospels show Jesus only preaching His message in and around Israel because the coming judgment was Israel’s eminent war with Rome. It is for this reason that the second coming of A.D. 66 which marked the coming judgment on Israel was seen in Israel only and not elsewhere in the Roman Empire.
Preterism and the Parousia–“[T]hen All the Peoples of the Earth will Mourn, and They will see the Son of Man coming on the Clouds . . .”: “All the Peoples of the Earth” is more accurately translated “All the Tribes of the Land.”
Those who believe in a worldwide second coming often quote Matthew 24:30: “Then will appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven. And then all the peoples of the earth will mourn when they see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory.” Readers may read this verse thinking that the second coming is a global event; however, the NIV places a footnote after “the peoples of the earth.” In this footnote appears a substitute translation: “the tribes of the land.” The tribes of the land are the twelve tribes of Israel. The Greek word translated “earth” in Matthew 24:30 is ge which can be a global term, though it is often used to specify an isolated city, kingdom or nation—in this case it is best applied to the nation of Israel alone.
The Second Coming was in the First Century–“[T]hen All the Peoples of the Earth will Mourn, and They will see the Son of Man coming on the Clouds . . .”: If No Man can see God and Live, How Could Jesus be Seen during the Parousia?
In Exodus 33:20 God told Moses, ““[N]o man can see Me and live!” If no one can see God and live, how could Jesus be seen during the Parousia? Interestingly, people have seen God (Ezekiel 1, Daniel 7) even Moses saw God (Exodus 33:20). However, in Ezekiel 1 and Daniel 7 it is explicitly stated that God was seen by these men in a dream or vision (Ezekiel 1:1, Daniel 7:1, 13). The angels of heaven also only appear to be visible in visions (2 Kings 6:17). Similarly Jesus’ post-ascension appearances seem to also have been visions (Acts 9:7, Revelation 1:10). In light of this Biblical precedence suggesting that heavenly beings like the Father, Jesus and angels are only visible to people in God-given visions it is interesting to note that the appearance of Christ on the clouds in A.D. 66 is explicitly said to be a vision: “In the sky appeared a vision of armies in conflict, of glittering armour [emphasis mine].”10 See If No Man can see God and Live, How Could Jesus be Seen during the Parousia?.
The Parousia and Preterism: The Second Coming mirrors Past Events recorded in the Bible in which God appeared to People.
One might expect that when people see Jesus, the Son of Man, coming on the clouds of heaven during His second coming that this appearance would be similar to previous events in the Bible in which God had come on the clouds. When people think of the second coming, they often think of a single event. Yet the Bible is filled to the brim with types and multiple fulfillments. The “second coming” seems to follow this precident. The second coming or Parousia as it had been fulfilled in the varied supernatural manifestations of Christ in A.D 66, A.D. 68, A.D. 70 and possibly A.D. 79 appears to be a first century climactic repetition or exemplification of all the diverse ways God showed Himself to people throughout the Bible.
The coming of Christ on the clouds with a myriad of angels in A.D. 66 mirrors Biblical precedent as the Lord seems to have come on the clouds in a similar manner in the past. Deuteronomy 33:2 reads, “The Lord came from Sinai and dawned over them from Seir; he shone forth from Mount Paran. He came with myriads of holy ones from the south, from his mountain slopes [emphasis mine].” The parousia of A.D. 66 as it is recorded in Wars of the Jews and Histories is also identical to the appearance of the heavenly host in 2 Kings 6:17 and an event seen in the sky at the start of the Maccabean revolt in the second century B.C. according to 2 Maccabees 5:1-4. Recording the army of angels seen in the sky at the start of the Maccabean revolt, 4 Maccabees 4:10 mentions lightning flashing forth from the weapons of these angels similar to the lightning said to accompany the coming of Christ on the clouds of heaven in Matthew 24:27. Furthermore, as stated above, the coming of Christ in the presence of fiery angels riding horses and chariots in A.D. 66 mirrors the coming of the Lord in Isaiah 66:15, Psalm 68:17 and Habakkuk 3:1-8 in a surprisingly literal manner.
What about the army of angels seen in the sky of 2 Maccabees 5:1-4, is this also God coming on the clouds of heaven? I believe the answer is yes. Zechariah 14 was fulfilled in the Maccabean Wars, Israel’s second century B.C. war with the Greeks. This angelic army in the sky of 2 Maccabees 5:1-4 appears to fulfill Zechariah 9:13-14 and 14:5: “I will rouse your sons, Zion, against your sons, Greece, and make you like a warrior’s sword. Then the Lord will appear over them; his arrow will flash like lightning (Zechariah 9:13-14).” “Then the Lord my God will come, and all the holy ones with him (Zechariah 14:5).” The author of 2 Maccabees knowingly or unknowingly details the fulfillment of much of Zechariah and Zechariah 14 in his account of the Maccabean Wars. In fact, 2 Maccabees is specifically addressed to Egyptians to remind them to continue the practice of the “new” “Feast of Tabernacles” (later called Hanukah) instituted during the Maccabean Wars (2 Maccabees 1:1-18) in explicit fulfillment of Zechariah 14:16-19. Much of the rest of the fulfillment of Zechariah 14 is also recorded in 1 Maccabees leaving, in my opinion, little doubt that Zechariah 14 was fulfilled in the second century B.C. (see Zechariah 14 Fulfilled in the Maccabean Wars: A Preterist Commentary). Thus the fact that a similar specter was seen in the clouds in the second century B.C. which appears to fulfill the coming of the Lord on the clouds of heaven in the presence of His angels explicitly mentioned in Zechariah 9:13-14 and 14:5 is compelling evidence that Christ had come on the clouds of heaven beginning in A.D. 66. The similarities in appearance between these two cloud comings is, I believe, strong evidence that the Parousia began in A.D. 66. And the fact that these two specters literally match Biblical descriptions of previous comings of the Lord on the clouds elsewhere in the Bible when read literally also buttresses this view (Deuteronomy 33:2, Isaiah 66:15, Psalm 68:17, Habakkuk 3:1-8).
Preterism and the First Century Second Coming: Descriptions of the Coming of Christ in A.D. 66 recorded by Josephus and Yosippon may imply a Fulfillment of the Implicit Meaning of the Word Parousia.
As stated above, the Bible often uses the word Parousia when mentioning the “second coming.” Parousia is a Greek word specifying the arrival and stay of a conquering general, emperor or high-ranking official into or in a city. In the ancient world this word implies that a king, general or high ranking official would arrive outside of a host city in the company of a large retinue. The people of the host city would then open the gates of the city, come out to greet the official, and then escort him into their city. When people think of the “second coming” or parousia, they often picture a one-time, brief appearance of Christ on the clouds. However, the use of the word parousia connotes a coming with an extended stay or presence. I believe that Jesus was quite literally present throughout much of the course of the Jewish War beginning with His miraculous appearance in the sky outside of the cities of Israel in the presence of his retinue of angelic soldiers.
Notice that according to Josephus, this angelic army in the clouds “were seen running about among the clouds, and surrounding of cities.”11 Yosippon expounds upon this event 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.”12 Josephus says that this supernatural army on the clouds surrounded the cities of Israel. And Yosippon implies that when this army from the clouds surrounded these cities in Israel and that this army flew near to the ground. Why did this army fly near to the ground presumably while surrounding the cities of Israel? Was this army acting as if it were besieging these cities? Was this miraculous appearance of Christ a mirror of the popular conception of the parousia in which a king or general arrives outside of a city with his retinue or army waiting to be let in? Or perhaps when this army surrounded the cities of Israel they intended to convey both messages? Having surrounded the cities of Israel at the start of the Jewish War, this angelic army certainly appears to have enacted and imparted a warning of an imminent siege. However, this angelic retinue surrounding the cities of Israel also appears to have sent another message upon their arrival. Was this supernatural specter Christ arriving with His military retinue outside of the cities of Israel at the start of His much anticipated parousia?
In Revelation 10 and Revelation 11, there are several verses in these two chapters that imply that Jesus is the sole embodiment of the two witnesses. If this is true, then did Jesus transfigure back into His earthly body as the sole embodiment of the two witnesses and physically and corporally enter the city of Jerusalem shortly after these angelic soldiers from heaven arrived outside of the cities of Israel? Revelation 10 and 11 seem to imply that this may, in fact, be the case. I believe that Jesus may have entered the city of Jerusalem in the flesh during the Feast of Tabernacles, five months after this angelic army surrounded the cities of Israel. If Jesus did actually enter Jerusalem in the flesh around that time, then not only would this fact seem to fulfill much of Revelation 10 and 11, it would also literally appear to fulfill much of what is truly implied in the ancient world by the word parousia. Recall that the word parousia implies that a king, general or high ranking official would enter a city and often stay for some time. Did Jesus enter Jerusalem in the flesh shortly after the arrival of this angelic retinue and army outside of Jerusalem?
Having explained how the Greek word parousia used to described the second coming implies a coming with an extended stay, it is perhaps not surprising, as stated above, that there seems to have been more than just one brief appearance of Christ during the Jewish War. As stated above, Jesus may have entered the city of Jerusalem in the flesh shortly after the arrival of His angelic army outside of Jerusalem. But the physical presence of Christ after the supernatural appearance of this angelic army may not have been the only appearance of Christ after this specter. In fact, there appear to have been a few miraculous manifestations at the time of the Jewish War and possibly even shortly thereafter. See Historical Evidence that Jesus was LITERALLY SEEN in the Clouds in the First Century.
A Preterist View of the Second Coming–“You will see the Son of Man . . . coming with the Clouds of Heaven”: Supernaturally Biased . . .
Though most modern historians would dismiss these accounts of the second coming as unhistorical, this opinion is not based on objective standards of historical reliability. Instead, it is rooted in prior preconceptions of the impossibility of the supernatural. Many modern scholars believe that whether or not God exists, God does not interfere in human history; therefore, all miracles are automatically dismissed as unhistorical despite any amount of evidence to the contrary. Interestingly, there are many reasons to believe that this event did actually occur.
Preterism and the Parousia–“You will see the Son of Man . . . coming in the Clouds of Heaven”: The Fact that this Army in the Clouds is recorded by First Century Historians makes this Event more Historically Reliable.
Tacitus wrote The Histories approximately thirty years after the event recorded therein. Josephus wrote The Wars of the Jews around A.D. 75–just nine to ten years after this event is said to have occurred. These accounts of the Son of Man coming on the clouds were published within the lifetimes of many potential eyewitnesses who could either confirm or deny it. If an angelic army really did appear in the skies over Israel at the start of the Jewish War, many or most Jews from Israel who survived the war would have either seen or heard about it. Because this army in the sky would have been so publically observable, I do not believe that Tacitus or Josephus would have risked straining their credibility by writing about such a publically observable event within the lifetimes of eyewitnesses in the absence of a sufficient number of people to corroborate their accounts.
A Realized Eschatological View of Parousia–“You will see the Son of Man . . . coming on the Clouds of Heaven”: The Fact that Two Historians recorded this Event Independently of Each Other bolsters the Historical Reliability of this Event.
Josephus and Tacitus appear to have written their accounts independently. The fact that two different historians record what appears to be the Son of Man coming with the clouds is another sign of historical reliability. Tacitus describes a war in the sky something Josephus does not mention. Josephus also provides details that are absent in Tacitus’ account like the day and approximate time of this specter. The differing details provided by each historian suggest that each author wrote largely, if not entirely, independently of the other. Therefore, Tacitus did not simply copy Josephus or vise versa. Though possibly drawing from Tacitus’ and Josephus’ accounts, it is interesting to note that this army in the clouds is also mentioned in the Sibylline Oracles.13
Covenant Eschatology and the Parousia–“You will see the Son of Man . . . coming in the Clouds of Heaven”: The Fact that these Three Accounts of the Second Coming are recorded by Non-Christians who are clearly not trying to evangelize or defend the Christian Faith adds to the Reliability of this Event.
The fact that what appears to be the Son of Man coming with the clouds is recorded by non-Christian historians makes this event more historically reliable than if it had been recorded by Christian historians motivated to evangelize or defend their faith.
A Covenant Eschatological View of the Parousia–“You will see the Son of Man . . . coming with the Clouds of Heaven”: These Three Accounts of the Second Coming are not the Result of Christian Interpolation.
As non-Christians living in a culture in which Christianity was a very new religion with a very small number of adherents, Josephus and Tacitus were almost certainly unaware of Biblical details concerning the second coming. The fact that Jesus is not explicitly stated to be at the head of this angelic army recorded by Yosippon, Josephus and Tacitus makes these accounts more historically reliable in that it makes it unlikely that Yosippon’s, Tacitus’ and Josephus’ accounts of the second coming were the product of later counterfeit Christian insertions. Christians have almost certainly tampered with part of Josephus’ writings. Josephus’ account of the life of Jesus Christ is a prime example.14 Here Christian interpolators have shown themselves to be quite obvious when meddling with historical material. In The Antiquities of the Jews several laudatory accolades are given Christ which Josephus–a non-Christian Jew–would probably not write. Not only do these accounts of the heavenly army contain no such praises, no explicit significance or meaning is given to the event that may aid the reader in tying these two accounts to the second coming of Christ. None of the accounts are written in an apologetic tone, a good indication that these three sections of text have remained unmolested by Christian copyists.
Full Preterism and the Parousia–“You will see the Son of Man . . . coming in the Clouds of Heaven”: Still not convinced?
Despite the evidence presented above, many people may still be unconvinced that the army witnessed in the clouds in A.D. 66 was Jesus, the Son of Man, coming on the clouds during the second coming. This is largely because many people do not want to believe that Jesus has already returned because we do not currently see Jesus ruling over an earthly paradise. See Jeremiah 33:20-21 explains why Christ Rules From a Heavenly, Not Earthly, Throne.
A Full Preterist View of the Parousia–“You will see the Son of Man . . . coming in the Clouds of Heaven”: Is there any Evidence from Near-Death Experiences that the New Jerusalem Exists Right Now?
The next logical question might be, “If Jesus, the Son of Man, already came on the clouds of heaven during the second coming, then where is the utopic new Jerusalem?” See the Preterist commentaries on Revelation 21 and Revelation 22.” For a detailed description of the amazing historical fulfillment of all other major end time prophecies around the time of the second coming see revelationrevolution.org.
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For an explanation of the other appearances and manifestations of Christ during and shortly after the Jewish War see Historical Evidence that Jesus was LITERALLY SEEN in the Clouds in the First Century. Also 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.
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!
“And You will see the Son of Man . . . coming in the Clouds of Heaven”: Conclusion
The army in the clouds recorded by Yosippon, Josephus and Tacitus fulfills all predictions concerning the second coming such that when Jesus said his contemporaries would “see the Son of Man coming with the clouds,” he meant it.
Jesus, the Son of Man, was LITERALLY Seen in the Clouds in A.D. 66
- Josephus The Wars of the Jews 6.5.3.
- Tacitus The Histories 5.13.
- 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)
- Tacitus The Histories 5.13.
- Eusebius The History of the Church 3.23.
- A few days or weeks after the army was seen in the clouds at the start of the Jewish revolt in A.D. 66, a multitude of spiritual bodies appeared out of the earth. Cassius Dio writes, “[W]hen the first workers touched the earth, blood spouted from it, groans and bellowings were heard, and many phantoms appeared. Nero himself thereupon grasped a mattock and by throwing up some of the soil fairly compelled the rest to imitate him.” In recording this event, Suetonius indicates that as Nero broke the ground the sound of a trumpet was heard. The fact that a trumpet was heard at the time in which the dead were raised is a clear fulfillment of 1 Corinthians 15:52: “For the trumpet will sound, [and] the dead will be raised imperishable . . .” As is implied in Revelation 15:8, these spirits, however, do not finally enter heaven until the seven plagues are completed. I believe these spirits that had been resurrected at the start of the Jewish War are taken to an undisclosed location away from Satan’s reach for 1260 days, corresponding with the interval between the time of the arrival of the Romans during the month of Tishri in A.D. 66 until Passover of A.D. 70 when Titus began his attack on Jerusalem at the last trumpet.
- Cassius Dio Roman History 63.16.
- Suetonius Lives of the Twelve Caesars 6.19.
- John Noe, Beyond the End Times: The Rest of the Greatest Story Ever Told, (Bradford, PA: Preterist Resources, 1999), 204.
- Tacitus The Histories 5.13.
- Josephus The Wars of the Jews 6.5.3.
- 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)
- The Sibylline Oracles 3.889-1003.
- Josephus The Antiquities of the Jews 18.3.3.