Matthew 24 Commentary: THAT Generation Shall Not Pass

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This or That–Matthew 24 Fulfilled?

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Fulfilled? Matthew 24 Commentary: Summary and Highlights

In Matthew 24:34, Jesus declares, “[T]his generation shall not pass” until a series of events transpire–including the second coming. Did Jesus mean “this generation will not pass away” or “that generation shall not pass away,” was Matthew 24 fulfilled in the first century?  Two first century Roman historians record a supernatural event that was seen in the sky at the start of the Jewish War with Rome, in A.D. 66, that appears to fulfill Biblical prophecy concerning the second coming.  Almost immediately thereafter, the Roman Historian Cassius Dio records a mass vision of a multitude of spiritual bodies coming out of the earth at the sound of a trumpet in what appears to be a literal resurrection of the dead that same year in fulfillment of Matthew 24:31.   These two events marked the start of the worst war Israel ever faced.  As a result of this war, the Roman army worshipped the beast and his image on the ensigns within the Temple and then destroyed it in A.D. 70 such that “not one stone [was] left on another” in fulfillment of Matthew 24:2 and Matthew 24:15.  Around this time, the saints, including the disciples, were martyred in Jerusalem and Rome; the sun and moon were darkened; many false messiahs and false prophets appeared; and there were earthquakes, famines, wars and rumors of wars.  Jesus was right.  “This [first century] generation [did] not pass until all” the predictions in this chapter literally occurred!  For a detailed explanation of the historical events that fulfill seemingly every detail of every prediction in this chapter see the following commentary on Matthew 24.

The following may seem unbelievable.  However, all information is taken from unbiased historical records and is easily verifiable.  Sources listed at the end.

C.S. Lewis Christian apologist and renown author of the Chronicles of Narnia

C.S. Lewis Christian apologist and renown author of the Chronicles of Narnia

This or That–Matthew 24 Fulfilled?

C.S. Lewis, one of the greatest defenders of the Christian faith, once stated:

Say what you like, we shall be told, ‘the apocalyptic beliefs of the first Christians have been proved to be false. It is clear from the New Testament that they all expected the Second Coming in their own lifetime. And, worse still, they had a reason, and one which you will find very embarrassing. Their Master had told them so. He shared, and indeed created, their delusion. He said in so many words, ‘this generation shall not pass till all these things be done.’ And He was wrong. He clearly knew no more about the end of the world than anyone else.’ It is certainly the most embarrassing verse in the Bible [emphasis mine].1

Nothing could be further from the truth. Though C.S. Lewis was a great Christian apologist, his words are more suitably applied to himself: “And he was wrong. He clearly knew no more about the end of the world than anyone else.” In fact, the historical fulfillment of the predictions concerning the second coming and the end of the age are, arguably, the strongest evidence in favor of the divine inspiration of the Bible. Jesus’ prediction about the time of his return referred to by C.S. Lewis above is found in this chapter. In Matthew 24, Jesus warned of impending disaster that would result in the destruction of Jerusalem, the temple and the loss of the lives of His disciples. Amid these catastrophes, Jesus promised to return to herald the kingdom of God on earth. Biblical scholars see the persecution of Acts 8:1-3, the Neronic persecution, and subsequent fall of Jerusalem during the Jewish War as the intended fulfillment of these prophecies. The dilemma that C.S. Lewis refers to is the fact that amidst the subsequent fulfillment of all these events throughout the course of that generation, Jesus never returned—or did he?

An Artistic Depiction Of The Army In The Clouds In A.D. 66.

An artistic depiction of the army in the clouds in A.D. 66.

Fulfilled! Matthew 24 Explained: The Second Coming is recorded in the Histories of Two First Century Historians.

Both Tacitus and Josephus record a mysterious phantom event seen in the sky over Judea at the start of the Jewish revolt. Did these two historians record the second coming? Neither historian seemed to know what to make of this specter but its significance was unmistakable. Immediately thereafter began the worst disaster in Israel’s history, the war with Rome. As a result of this war, the province of Israel was left a charred wasteland; and Jerusalem and its temple were completely destroyed. Concerning the destruction of the Temple, Jesus declares:

2“Do you see all these things?” he asked. “I tell you the truth, not one stone here will be left on another, every one will be thrown down.”

Fulfilled! A Realized Eschatological View and Preterist Commentary of Matthew 24:2: In A.D. 70 the Romans Destroyed the Temple literally leaving no Stone on Another.

Fulfilled! Matthew 24:2 Commentary: In A.D. 70 the Romans Destroyed the Temple literally leaving no Stone on Another.

The Romans burned and demolished the Temple in A.D. 70 LITERALLY “not leav[ing] one stone on another.”

Jesus delivers a similar oracle in Luke 19:42-44. In these three verses, Jesus wept over Jerusalem saying:

If you, even you, had known on this day what would bring you peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes. The days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment against you and encircle you and hem you in on every side. They will dash you to the ground, you and your children within your walls. They will not leave one stone on another, because you did not recognize the time of God’s coming to you.

The Roman Colosseum is said to be built from the stones of the Jewish Temple–hence no stone was left on another.

The Roman Colosseum is said to be built from the stones of the Jewish Temple–hence no stone was left on another.

In A.D. 70 and in explicit fulfillment of Luke 19:42-44 the Roman army surrounded Jerusalem, built embankments and a wall around Jerusalem to trap the inhabitants inside and laid siege to the city.  The Romans eventually broke through the fortified walls and a great slaughter began.  After Jerusalem had been secured, “Caesar gave orders that they should . . . demolish the entire city and temple.”2  On the ninth day of Av, the temple was destroyed on exactly the same day it had been destroyed by the Babylonians six and a half centuries earlier.3  The rest of Jerusalem suffered a similar fate.  With the exception of the western wall and a few towers, the city was burned and the walls were torn down to the foundation.  Jerusalem was so thoroughly ruined that according to Josephus, an eyewitness of the war, “there was left nothing to make those that came thither believe it had ever been inhabited.”4

Model of the temple that was destroyed in A.D. 70.

Model of the temple that was destroyed in A.D. 70.

3As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. ‘Tell us,’ they said, ‘when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?’

Fulfilled! Preterist View, Interpretation and Commentary of the End Times and Matthew 24:3: “The End of the Age” is the Generation that witnessed the Fulfillment of the Law and the Prophets.

In the remainder of the chapter, Jesus addresses this question in detail. But before discussing the fulfillment of these predictions, it is important to discuss what is meant by “the end of the age.” The end of the age corresponds with the end of the age of the Law.  In Matthew 5:17, Jesus indicates that the customs and laws handed down to Moses on Mount Sinai are symbolic predictions concerning the coming of the Messiah and his kingdom. Upon the fulfillment of these prophetic laws, a new covenant would replace the old one founded on the Law of Moses (Hebrews 8).  “The end of the age” is the generation that is expected to witness the fulfillment of the Law and the prophets. In v. 34, Jesus tells His disciples that it is this generation that will witness the fulfillment of all these predictions. In the following verses, Jesus elaborates on what must soon come to pass:

4Jesus answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you. 5For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many. 6You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come.  7Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom.

A bust of Nero Caesar. After Nero committed suicide, Rome collapsed into civil war.

A bust of Nero Caesar. After Nero committed suicide, Rome collapsed into civil war.

Fulfilled! Matthew 24:6 Preterist Commentary: The Peace of Rome was Broken during the Reign of Nero.

“Augustus’ inauguration of an Age of Peace at the Ludi Saeculares in 17 B.C. (Horace Carmen saeculare) was not an empty gesture.  In the Roman Empire proper, this period of peace remained comparatively undisturbed until the time of Nero.”5  During Nero’s reign Rome went to war with the Parthians, there was a war in Britain and various other rebellious disturbances across the empire.  All these uprisings and wars immediately preceded the Jewish War in fulfillment of vs. 6-7.

In A.D. 66, toward the end of Nero’s reign, the province of Israel revolted against Rome.  While the Israelites fought the Romans, they also turned their weapons against each other; and civil war broke out all over Israel between those wanting peace and those seeking sovereignty.6  Then in A.D. 68, the disease of civil war spread to the rest of the Roman Empire.   Continuing to describe the conflict marking the final throes of the present era, Jesus then goes on to say:

There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. 8All these are the beginning of birth pains.

Fulfilled! A Full Preterist View and Commentary of Matthew 24:7: Earthquakes and Famines in the First Century . . .

During the reign of Claudius Caesar, the emperor immediately preceding Nero, a colossal famine struck the Roman world. Concerning this famine, James Stuart Russell writes, “In the fourth year of his [Claudius] reign, the famine in Judea was so severe, that the price of food became enormous and great numbers perished.”7

One example of the earthquakes mentioned in v. 7 is the earthquake that struck Laodicea sometime between A.D. 60 and A.D. 64 during the reign of Nero.8  It is interesting to note that one of the churches addressed by John in the Book of Revelation was a church in this city (Revelation 3:14-22). Prior to A.D. 70 there were also earthquakes in Crete, Smyrna, Miletus, Chios, Samos, Hierapolis, Colossae, Campania, Rome and Judea.9

9“Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. 10At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other,

Martyrdom of St. Stephen.

Martyrdom of St. Stephen. “Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death. (Matthew 24:9)

Preterism, Matthew 24:9 Explained: Christians were persecuted and killed in Jerusalem after Jesus’ Crucifixion.

In v. 9 Jesus addresses the apostles with a warning: They will soon be persecuted and put to death. The persecution spoken of here was inaugurated just after Jesus’ death with the martyrdom of Stephen. This event marked the beginning of a great persecution of Christians in Jerusalem. In the words of Eusebius:

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.10

persecution of Christians Matthew 24:9-10 fulfilled this that generation shall not pass

Upon the testimony of other Christians, a great multitude of Christians were killed in A.D. 64 in Rome. “Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death . . . At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other.” (Matthew 24:9-10)

Fulfilled! Matthew 24:9-10 Preterist Bible Commentary: Rome also killed Christians in A.D. 64. These Christians were betrayed by other Christians in fulfillment of v. 10: “At that Time many will turn away from the Faith and will betray and hate Each Other.” The Disciples were Martyred.

The second wave of persecution broke out in Rome in A.D. 64.  At this time some Christians were arrested, “then on their information a very large multitude was convicted.”11  Here one can see the fulfillment of v. 10: “At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other. . . .”  These Christians who were betrayed by their brethren were draped in animal skins and ripped apart by dogs or crucified in a major public spectacle.  And at night, these people were burned as torches to light the streets of Rome.12  According to church tradition, it was during this massacre that Peter was crucified and Paul, beheaded.  This same tradition teaches that nearly all of the disciples were martyred.  Matthew was killed by a sword in Ethiopia.  Mark was dragged by horses through the streets of Alexandria.  Luke was hanged in Greece.  Bartholomew was flogged to death.  Andrew was crucified.  Thomas was stabbed with a spear in India.  Jude was pierced with arrows.  Matthias was stoned then beheaded, and Barnabas was stoned in Salonica.13

11and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people.

Fulfilled! Preterist Interpretation, Exposition and Commentary of Matthew 24:11: Many People were bribed to act as Prophets declaring Victory to the Jews during the Jewish War.

The false prophets who deceived many people in v. 11 are mentioned in The Wars of the Jews:

A false prophet was the occasion of these people’s destruction, who had made a public proclamation in the city that very day, that God commanded them to get up upon the temple, and that there they should receive miraculous signs of their deliverance. Now, there was then a great number of false prophets suborned by the tyrants [zealot leaders] to impose upon the people, who denounced this to them, that they should wait for deliverance from God: and this was in order to keep them from deserting, and that they might be buoyed up above fear and care by such hopes.14

Josephus states that the leaders of the Jewish rebellion bribed or in some way coerced a number of people to pretend to be prophets.  During the war with Rome, these people were instructed to predict that God would deliver the Israelites from their enemies in order to inspire courage and prevent desertion.  These prophecies proved false and in fulfillment of v. 11 many people were deceived.  The Roman army eventually conquered Jerusalem and its temple; and there was not a “place in the city that had no dead bodies in it, but [the city] was entirely covered with those that were killed either by the famine or the rebellion.”15  These and other false prophets who acted before and during the Jewish War are also mentioned in The Wars of the Jews 2.12.4; 2.12.5; 2 Peter 2:1-3; 2 Corinthians 11:13; and 1 John 4:1.16

Roberts, David. The Siege and Destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans Under the Command of Titus, A.D. 70. 1850. Yeshiva University Museum, New York.

Roberts, David. The Siege and Destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans Under the Command of Titus, A.D. 70 . 1850. Yeshiva University Museum, New York.

12Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, 13but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.

Fulfilled! Matthew 24:12 Commentary: The Most Wicked Generation . . .

The Israelites of the first century had largely turned their backs on God. In Matthew 12:39, Jesus calls his contemporaries “a wicked and adulterous generation.” The wickedness predicted in v. 12 and mentioned in Matthew 12:39 is echoed in Josephus’ history of the Jewish War with Rome: “[N]either did any other city [Jerusalem] ever suffer such miseries, nor did any age ever breed a generation more fruitful in wickedness that this was, from the beginning of the world.”17

14And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.

Fulfilled! Matthew 24:14 Explained, Preterist Commentary: “This . . . Gospel . . . HAS BEEN proclaimed to Every Creature under Heaven . . .” (Colossians 1:23)

Before the end, Jesus claimed that the gospel would be preached throughout the earth. In Colossians 1:23, Paul alludes to the fulfillment of this prediction by saying, “This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven[.]” (Colossians 1:23.) Approximately six years after Paul’s death, the end had come.

How could all the world have heard the gospel in that generation? As is illustrated in Luke 2:1 the expression “all the world” simply denotes the known inhabited earth. According to Luke 2:1 “all the world” was enrolled in the Roman census imposed by Augustus.18  Deuteronomy 2:25; 29:4; 1 Chronicles 14:17; Ezra 1:1; Psalm 118:10; Jeremiah 27:7; Daniel 2:38; Acts 2:5; and Romans 16:26 are other examples in which “all the world” or “all the nations” refers to the known inhabited world and not every nation without exception. In the next verse, Jesus describes the sign that would mark the end the age:

15“So when you see standing in the holy place ‘the abomination that causes desolation,’ spoken of through the prophet Daniel—let the reader understand—16then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. 17Let no one on the roof of his house go down to take anything out of the house. 18Let no one in the field go back to get his cloak.

After the Romans worshiped the image of Vespasian in the Jewish Temple, Titus ordered the Romans to slaughter all the people left in Jerusalem fulfilling Matthew 24:15-18.

After the Romans worshiped the image of Vespasian in the Jewish Temple, Titus ordered the Romans to slaughter all the people left in Jerusalem.

Fulfilled! A Preterist View and Commentary of Matthew 24:15: The Abomination that Causes Desolation Fulfilled!

The Olivet Discourse described in Matthew 24 is also found in Luke 21.  Luke 21:20-21 records Jesus’ prediction in Matthew 24:15-18 slightly differently: “When you see Jerusalem being surrounded by armies, you will know that its desolation is near. Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, let those in the city get out, and let those in the country not enter the city.”  Notice that instead of saying, “So when you see standing in the holy place ‘the abomination that causes desolation,’” Luke 21:20 seems to paraphrase Jesus’ words by saying, “When you see Jerusalem being surrounded by armies, you will know that its desolation is near.”   In Luke 21:20, instead of saying abomination that causes desolation, Luke appears to define this term as armies that cause desolation.

Graven images, idols and foreign gods are an abomination according to the Law of Moses. The Roman army always carried its ensigns wherever it went. These ensigns were military standards. The main ensign, the Aquila, was an idol of Aquila, the messenger of Jupiter that carried Jupiter’s lightning bolt to the Titans during the war between the gods and Titans. The Aquila was also a symbol of Rome itself. There was also an ensign called the Imago which was a three-dimensional image of Caesar. These ensigns were worshiped by the Roman military and thus were more than just military standards–they were also idols. Therefore, the Roman army with their idols of Jupiter, Caesar and Rome on the ensigns would have been considered an abomination according to the Law of Moses. The Roman army is called the abomination that causes desolation because this abominable army literally caused the desolation of Israel during the Jewish War.

The Imago (Image). The ensign called the Imago would have contained the image of the beast, Caesar Vespasian and/or Titus. This image of the emperor was worshiped in the Temple in A.D. 70.

The Imago (Image). The ensign called the Imago would have contained the image of the beast, Caesar Vespasian and/or Titus. This image of the emperor was worshiped in the Temple in A.D. 70.

The fact that these military ensigns were considered an abomination is illustrated in The Antiquities of the Jews. In A.D. 37 the Jews pled with the governor of Syria not to pass through Judea with two legions because it was unlawful for them to look upon the images in their ensigns.19  Similar Jewish resistance to the ensigns also occurred when Pilate snuck these military idols into Jerusalem at night. Afterwards, Pilate was met by a mob of Jews who pleaded with him to remove the ensigns from the city. Pilate gave in when he saw that the Jews were willing to sacrifice their lives rather than tolerate the presence of these idolatrous images in Jerusalem.20

In Daniel 9:24, Jerusalem is called the “holy city” and possibly the “holy place” as well.  Jerusalem is also called the holy city in Matthew 4:5 and Revelation 11:2.  Remember that in Luke 21:20, Jesus declared, “When you see Jerusalem being surrounded by armies, you will know that its desolation is near.”  In fulfillment of Luke 21:20-21 and Matthew 24:15, the Roman army surrounded Jerusalem, “the holy place,” on three separate occasions during the Jewish War.

The first time was at the very beginning of the revolt.  In the middle of Iyyar of A.D. 66, the Procurator Gessius Florus entered the holy city with the Roman army and killed 3,600 people in the Upper Marketplace of Jerusalem.21  This slaughter occurred just a couple days before the miraculous army was seen in the clouds on the 21st of Iyyar of A.D. 66.  The next occasion was during the Feast of Tabernacles of A.D. 66 when Cestius briefly besieged Jerusalem with the 12th Legion before mysteriously departing shortly thereafter.22  The final time in which the Roman army surrounded Jerusalem during the Jewish War was in A.D. 70 just before the fall of the city under Caesar Titus.

As warned in Luke 21:20-21, the presence of the Roman army and its ensigns (the abomination that causes desolation) outside of Jerusalem in Iyyar of A.D. 66 under Florus and later in Tishri of A.D. 66 under Cestius was a sign to the Christians in Jerusalem to flee the city.  The great slaughter at the Upper Marketplace upon Florus’ entry into Jeursalem in Iyyar of A.D. 66 was the reason Jesus urged his people to immediately flee to the mountains in Matthew 24:16-18.

The same can be said concerning Cestius’ arrival at Jerusalem.  After Cestius withdrew from the city, civil war and uprisings subsequently caused a catastrophic death toll in Jerusalem even before the arrival of Titus in A.D. 70.  The violence following the times in which the Roman army arrived outside of Jerusalem under Florus and Cestius in A.D. 66 was the reason Jesus warned his people in Matthew 24:16-18 and Luke 21:21 to immediately drop everything and flee the city after seeing this sign.

Fulfilled! Matthew 24:15 Commentary: An Alternate or Complimentary view of Matthew 24:15 . . .

Matthew 24:15 says that the abomination that causes desolation will stand “in the holy place.” The problem with the above interpretation is that in every instance in which “holy place” occurs in the Bible, it is always used to refer to the Temple–not the city of Jerusalem or the nation of Israel, the holy land. John Bray argues that in 2 Maccabees 2:18 Israel; the holy land, which includes Jerusalem and its temple; is called the holy place: “As he promised in the law, will shortly have mercy upon us, and gather us together out of every land under heaven into the holy place: for he hath delivered us out of great troubles, and hath purified the place.”23  However, Bray is incorrect. Even in 2 Maccabees 2:18 “holy place” is used to refer to the Temple which was purified by the Maccabees during the Maccabean Wars. The gathering together of all the Jews under heaven to the Temple refers to the gathering of the Jews to the Temple to celebrate Passover, the Feast of Tabernacles, Pentecost and Hanukkah, which is called the Feast of Tabernacles in 2 Maccabees. Though it is true that outside of Matthew 24:15 “holy place” is always used in the Bible to refer to the Temple, it is not technically inaccurate to call Israel, the holy land, or Jerusalem, the holy city, the holy place.

When Cestius briefly besieged Jerusalem in A.D. 66, he attempted to break into the Temple from the north.  At this time the Romans created a testudo or tortoise to protect themselves from arrows and projectiles launched from the walls of Jerusalem while they began to undermine the wall of the Temple.   At that time, Josephus says “the first rank of the Romans rested their shields upon the wall [of the Temple.]”24  Though the Romans did not actually enter the Temple in A.D. 66, according to Josephus they forcibly pressed up against its walls.  Matthew 24:15 says that the abomination that causes desolation would stand “in the holy place [emphasis mine].”  The Greek word translated “in” in Matthew 24:15 is en which means “in, on or among.”  Perhaps when the Roman army forcibly pressed up against the walls of the Temple this qualified as standing in, on or among the holy place?

However, if it was Jesus’ intention to say that the abomination that causes desolation was to actually stand inside the Temple, then this prediction appears to have been fulfilled at the time in which the Roman army set-up their ensigns on the eastern wing of the Temple and worshipped them in A.D. 70. If this interpretation is correct then “’the abomination that causes desolation,’ spoken of through the prophet Daniel” mentioned in v. 15 is a direct reference to Daniel 9:26-27 and Daniel 12:11-12. As will be touched on below, both of these references to the abomination that causes desolation mentioned in the Book of Daniel were fulfilled at least in part when the Romans set-up their ensigns on the eastern wing of the Temple on the 9th of Av of A.D. 70. Let us first take a look at Daniel 9:26-27:

The people of the ruler who will come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end will come like a flood: War will continue until the end, and desolations have been decreed. He will confirm a covenant with many for one ‘seven.’ In the middle of the ‘seven’ he will put an end to sacrifice and offering. And on a wing of the temple he will set up an abomination that causes desolation, until the end that is decreed is poured out on him.

Notice that the abomination that causes desolation is depicted within the Temple, the holy place, in Daniel 9:27.  Also notice that the abomination that causes desolation is set up by the people of “the ruler who will come.”  “The ruler who will come” is sometimes translated prince.  Caesar Titus; the son of Vespasian, the emperor of Rome; is the prince predicted in these verses as he was the emperor’s firstborn son and had already been named his successor at that time.  The seven mentioned in Daniel 9:26-27 refers to the Jewish War itself which lasted approximately seven years from Iyyar of A.D. 66 to the fall of Masada on Passover of A.D. 74.  Half way through this war Titus destroyed the Temple on the 9th of Av of A.D. 70 which permanently put an end to “sacrifice and offering.”  And on that same day the Romans set up their idolatrous ensigns on the eastern wing of the Temple and worshipped them there fulfilling the rest of v. 27.

Immediately after the Romans worshipped these idols in the Temple Titus ordered his army to kill everyone left in the city. Here one might see why Jesus warned his people to quickly flee Jerusalem in Matthew 24:15-22. One potential problem with this view is that before the Romans seized the Temple, they built a wall around Jerusalem in order to prevent people from entering or leaving the city during the siege.25  I believe that it is possible and perhaps likely that while the Romans were celebrating and worshipping in the Temple that this wall was probably not properly guarded due to the festivities allowing many people in Jerusalem to escape.

Another possible objection to the above view is that the scourge of the Jewish War was nearly over at this time, though it should be noted that the Jewish War did not officially end until the fall of Masada on Passover of A.D. 74. Interestingly, as I explain in the commentary on Daniel 12 there were exactly 1335 days from the 9th of Av when the Romans worshiped the ensigns in the Temple until the day after Passover of A.D. 74 when the Jewish War officially ended.26  Not only is 1335 days approximately three and a half years (3.66 years) and therefore corresponds with the interval in which the woman was kept safe from the dragon in Revelation 12, it also fulfills Daniel 12:11-12: “From the time that the daily sacrifice is abolished and the abomination that causes desolation is set up, there will be 1,290 days. How blessed is he who keeps waiting and attains to the 1,335 days!” The ones who keep waiting and attain to the 1335 days are blessed, of course, because they survived the war.

Given the fact that the 1335 days of Daniel 12:12 seems to have been fulfilled at least in part by the interval between the setting-up of the abomination that causes desolation in the Temple on the 9th of Av of A.D. 70 until the end of the Jewish War roughly three and a half years later, one might wonder if this is all purely coincidental. In light of this interval, it may be asked if when most or all Christians left Jerusalem in A.D. 66 when Florus and later Cestius arrived outside of the city with the Roman army, what happened to those people who converted to Christianity during the Jewish War?

Revelation 11:2-3 indicates that two witnesses prophesied for 1260 days during the Jewish War. Did these two witnesses cause anyone in Jerusalem to repent and turn to Jesus amidst the war? Likewise, recalling Jesus’ predictions and gradually seeing them unfold throughout the Jewish War and especially during the Roman siege of Jerusalem, did any of the people trapped in Jerusalem consequently convert to Christianity? And if some did, were these saints also kept safe for a different and later three and a half year period? Though I believe that the three and a half year interval mentioned in Revelation 12 in which the saints are kept safe from the dragon was primarily fulfilled in the three and a half year interval between the departure of the Christian saints from Jerusalem upon the arrival of Cestius with the twelfth legion in A.D. 66, perhaps there was a dual fulfillment for these later Christian converts? If these new Christians were able to flee Jerusalem on the 9th of Av during the time in which the Roman army appears to have been distracted with its worship of the ensigns in the Temple, then these saints would have escaped the impending slaughter that began immediately afterwards. And if these new Christians escaped this massacre, then they would have also likely survived the remaining 1335 days before the war officially ended since there was little conflict after the fall of Jerusalem until the siege of Masada at the end of the war.

Thus I believe that Jesus told His disciples more about the abomination that causes desolation during the Olivet Discourse than just what is recorded in Luke 21:20-21 or Matthew 24:15-18 alone.  After comparing Luke 21:20-21 and Matthew 24:15-18 side-by-side, I believe the most likely explanation is that Jesus warned his people to flee on more than one occasion.  In other words, Jesus instructed his people to flee the city when they saw Jerusalem surrounded by armies.  If these people failed to escape in time and were trapped in the city during the final siege of A.D. 70, I believe Jesus also told his people to make a final attempt to escape while the Romans distracted themselves as they celebrated the capture of the Temple by offering sacrifices to the ensigns on the eastern wing of the Temple.  It makes sense that Jesus would have warned people trapped in the city to flee on this occasion as the Romans were likely distracted at that time and Titus ordered the slaughter of everyone in Jerusalem immediately after this idolatrous celebration.  This idea seems likely to me in light of the fact that Daniel 9:26-27 referenced in Matthew 24:15 seems to so clearly point to the 9th of Av of A.D. 70 when the Romans worshipped the ensigns on the eastern wing of the Temple.

Fulfilled! Matthew 24:15 Commentary: Could the Abomination that Causes Desolation be Murder in the Temple?

In light of the fact that the abomination that causes desolation is said to have been present in the holy place which as stated above signifies the Temple everywhere else in the Bible, it is also possible that the abomination that causes desolation are the Zealots whose vile murders in the Temple grounds desecrated the Temple. In 2 Kings 23:13, Ezekiel 5:11; Ezekiel 8-10; 22:1-16 idolatry and unjust bloodshed are said to be abominations. One of the problems with this interpretation is that Daniel 9:26-27 links the abomination that causes desolation with the prince who is to come which as explained above is Caesar Titus, not the Jewish rebels.   Another argument against this view is the fact that the Zealots continuously defiled the Temple from the beginning of the Jewish War in A.D. 66 until the fall of Jerusalem in A.D. 70. Given the fact that the Zealots desecrated the Temple with murder and various diverse lawless acts over the course of roughly four years, at which point amidst all these abominable acts were the people supposed to drop everything and flee as Jesus warned in vs. 17 and 18?

19How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers!

Explained! Matthew 24:19 Preterist Commentary: Afflicted by Famine, a Woman ate her Child during the Siege of Jerusalem.

In the midst of His execution, Jesus elaborated on the verse above:

Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me; weep for yourselves and for your children. For the time will come when you will say, ‘Blessed are the barren women, the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed! Then “they will say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us!’ and to the hills, ‘Cover us!’” For if men do these things [referring to his crucifixion] when the tree is green, what will happen when it is dry (Luke 23:28-31)?

Jesus was crucified when the city of Jerusalem enjoyed great prosperity.  The “dry” time Jesus refers to above is the famine that had taken many lives during the siege of Jerusalem described in The Wars of the Jews.  Included in this eyewitness account is the tale of a woman who killed and ate the son she had been nursing because she was unable to provide for both herself and her child in the heart of the siege.27  Jesus was, therefore, correct when in v. 19 He said, “How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers!”

famine Matthew 24:19 fulfilled this generation did not pass

The siege of Jerusalem in A.D. 70 induced a famine within the city resulting in catastrophic loss of life. During this siege a woman ate her own child fulfilling Matthew 24:19.

20Pray that your flight will not take place in winter or on the Sabbath. 21For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now—and never to be equaled again.

The Jewish War was the most tragic war in Israel’s history. “For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now—and never to be equaled again.” (Matthew 24:21)

The Jewish War was the most tragic war in Israel’s history. “For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now—and never to be equaled again.” (Matthew 24:21)

Realized Eschatology–Matthew 24:21 Preterist Commentary: Verse 21 is addressed to Israelites. Jesus was Right. The Jewish War was the worst War Israel ever faced even to this Day.

In fulfillment of v. 21, Josephus’ account of the Jewish War opens with the following:

Whereas the war which the Jews made with the Romans hath been the greatest of all those, not only that have been in our times, but, in a manner, of those that ever were heard of; both of those wherein cities have fought against cities, or nations against nations.28

Furthermore, concerning the death toll at the siege of Jerusalem Josephus writes, “Accordingly, the multitude of those that therein perished exceeded all the destructions that either men or God ever brought upon the world.”29  Then in explicit fulfillment of v. 21, Josephus, a Jew likely unaware of the prophetic words spoken above, writes concerning the fall of Jerusalem: “[N]either, did any other city ever suffer such miseries . . . from the beginning of the world.”30

Flavius Josephus see the Son of Man coming on in with the clouds of heaven

Flavius Josephus

Matthew 24:21 Explained, A Preterist View and Commentary: What about World War 2?

Matthew 24:21 is often used as evidence against preterism.  Critics allege that World War 2 was a worse tragedy than the Jewish War.  Therefore, Matthew 24 must be referring to a future catastrophe.  This argument is a very weak one for a few reasons.  First of all this argument assumes that Jesus is speaking on a global scale.  However, the gospels record Jesus exclusively preaching in and around Israel.  Jesus spoke these words to Israelites, and therefore, this statement should not be assumed to be applicable world-wide.  In other words, Jesus spoke these words exclusively to the people of Israel, not German Jews or anyone else.  In v.21, Jesus accurately predicts that the coming war with Rome will be the worst tragedy that Israel will ever face.  This fact was true then and is still true today.  Having occurred at the time of the end and representing the culmination of the Law and the Prophets, the Jewish war with Rome is arguably the most tragic event of the Mosaic Age.

It should also be noted that the “great distress” of those days was not limited to the ravages of the siege of Jerusalem or the catastrophic death toll throughout the war.  Much of the “great distress” mentioned in v. 21 centered on the destruction of the Temple.31  The temple in Jerusalem was the cornerstone of the Jewish religion and the source of the city’s great wealth.  Revelation 18 chronicles the great distress of the city’s many wealthy priests and merchants who owed their fortunes to the Temple.  The Temple was also the center of the Jewish religion.  Among the poorer and perhaps more spiritual Jews the destruction of the Temple sent a distressing message that God had rejected His people or perhaps did not exist at all.

Interestingly, even if Jesus was speaking on a global scale, the fact that World War 2 was a more tragic war than the Jewish War would still not invalidate the preterist interpretation of Matthew 24.  This is because the Bible often employs hyperbole for emphasis.  Matthew 24:21 reads, “For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now—and never to be equaled again.”  Now compare Matthew 24:21 to Exodus 11:6: “And there shall be a great cry throughout all the land of Egypt, such as there was none like it, nor shall be like it any more.”  According to Exodus 11:6 there was never to be greater distress than that which was inflicted on Egypt during the plague of the firstborn.  Does Exodus 11:6 contradict Matthew 24:21?

Similarly, concerning King Solomon 2 Kings 3:12 reads, “. . . so that there was none like thee before thee, neither after thee shall any arise like unto thee.”  However in Matthew 12:42 Jesus says, “A greater than Solomon is here[.]”  Then concerning King Hezekiah 2 Kings 18:5 says the following, “. . . so that after him was none like him among all the kings of Judah, nor any that were before him.”  Now compare these statements with what is said about King Josiah in 2 Kings 23:25: “And like unto him was there no king before him . . . neither after him arose there any like him.”

Along these same lines notice the following promise by God concerning Jerusalem during Ezekiel’s day recorded in Ezekiel 5:9: “And I will do in thee that which I have not done, and whereunto I will not do any more the like, because of all thine abominations.”  Despite this promise, Jesus used similar language to describe the plight of Jerusalem by the Romans in His generation.  In the above verses one can see that the Bible often uses superlatives for emphasis though statements like these often should not be interpreted literally.32

22If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened.

A Full Preterist View and Commentary of Matthew 24:22: “Those Days” is the Interval in which the Abomination that Causes Desolation of v. 15 surrounded and entered Jerusalem.

“Those days” that had been “cut short” in v. 22 appears to be the interval in which the abomination that causes desolation mentioned in v. 15 surrounded and entered Jerusalem first under Florus in the middle of Iyyar of A.D. 66 and then under Cestius in Tishri later that year.   Though tragic, both Florus’ and Cestius’ attacks on Jerusalem were brief and did not result in the fall of the city.  Florus and Cestius could have likely put an end to the Jewish rebellion right then and there and slaughtered the entire city.  This is especially true with Florus who entered the city with his army while it was off guard.  However, Florus and Cestius and their armies relented and withdrew not wanting to slaughter the entire city fulfilling v. 22: “If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive[.]”  The implicit message in this verse is that if these attacks were not “cut short” none of the saint or anyone else in the city would have survived.  These two assaults were instead meant to be warnings to the saints to flee the city as stated in vs. 15-18.

It seems unlikely that the days which were cut short for the sake of the elect mentioned in v. 22 refers to the siege of Jerusalem in A.D. 70 as the saints are said to be preserved from the beast and this siege in Revelation 7 and 12:14.  The church historian Eusebius confirms this fact when he says that the saints of Jerusalem fled to Pella before the siege of Jerusalem in A.D. 70.33  This idea therefore implies that the great distress mentioned in v. 21 may refer to Florus’ assault in the Upper Marketplace of Jerusalem in A.D. 66 as the saints were still present in the city at that time.

Assuming that the last of the Christians of Jerusalem left the city in either Tishri or Marheshvan when Cestius arrived outside of Jerusalem with the 12th Legion and then left, there would have been approximately 1,260 days or three and a half years until Passover when the two witnesses were presumably killed at the start of the siege of Jerusalem in A.D. 70.  Was this the 1,260 days of Revelation 12:6 in which the woman, representing the saints, was kept safe?  See Revelation 11: A Preterist Commentary–Who are the Two Witnesses? and Revelation 12: A Preterist Commentary.

23At that time if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or, ‘There he is!’ do not believe it. 24For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect—if that were possible. 25See, I have told you ahead of time. 26“So if anyone tells you, ‘There he is, out in the desert,’ do not go out; or, ‘Here he is, in the inner rooms,’ do not believe it.

Matthew 24:23-25 Explained, A Preterist Commentary: The False Prophets and False Messiahs of the First Century . . .

During the first half of the first century there were many false prophets who had arisen in the Roman Empire claiming to have the authority to perform astonishing acts by divine power.  According to the church historian Eusebius, when Fadus was procurator of Judea, a man named Theudas led a vast multitude to the Jordan where he promised to divide the river before them.  Upon hearing of this, Fadus sent an armed cavalry against them and many were killed and captured.34  At about this time a self-proclaimed prophet from Egypt gathered a vast crowd of common people to the Mount of Olives overlooking Jerusalem.  From there he promised that at his command the walls of Jerusalem would fall before them allowing them entrance into the city.  However, when Felix heard of this, he sent his army against them and four hundred people were killed and two hundred were taken prisoner.35  In Matthew 24:26 Jesus warns, “So if anyone tells you, ‘There he is, out in the desert,’ do not go out.”  Part of the reason Jesus warned his people not to go out into the desert to meet these false Messiah’s is because many of the followers of these men were killed or captured there by the Jewish civil authorities.

In v. 26 Jesus also warned not to look for the Christ in the “inner rooms.”  This warning appears to be directed at Eleazar, a Messianic contender and temple priest who using the Temple as a fortress led a band of temple priests in revolt against Rome.  Eleazar and many of his soldiers were later killed in the Temple in the middle of the Jewish War by a rival Jewish general and Messianic contender.

Furthermore, in Samaria many people worshipped a man named Simon.  Claiming to be someone great, this man, according to Acts 8:9-11, performed many magic acts and many people asserted that he was the divine power fulfilling v. 24: “For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect—if that were possible.”36

Mount of Olives and Gethsemane!

Mount of Olives and Gethsemane. 1890-1900. Photochrome Print

A Preterist Exposition and Commentary of Matthew 24:24: During the Jewish War, many People were paid to Predict Lies in God’s Name . . .

During the Jewish War, the leaders of the Jewish rebellion compelled a great many people to act as prophets sent by God.  These people were coerced to predict that God would deliver Israel from the Romans in order to encourage the people to continue fighting.  One such prophet was the cause of the deaths of a multitude.  This man made a public declaration in Jerusalem that God had commanded the people to seek refuge in the Temple where they would be miraculously delivered.37  These predictions proved to be false, and these false prophets were collectively responsible for a colossal loss of life.  All this happened in fulfillment of v. 24.

Covenant Eschatology, A Matthew 24:24 Preterist Commentary: Believed by many to be the Jewish Messiah, Vespasian, the Beast Whose Wound had been healed, cured a Blind Man and a Man with a Withered Hand in fulfillment of v. 24.

Vespasian commentary on Matthew 24:23-24 fulfilled

Vespasian believed himself to be and was believed by many to be the Messiah. Before his triumphal entry into Rome, Vespasian healed a blind man and a man with a withered hand fulfilling Matthew 24:23-24: “At that time if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or, ‘There he is!’ do not believe it. For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect—if that were possible.”

Perhaps the most noteworthy fulfillment of the false Messiahs mentioned in v. 24 is Caesar Vespasian, the beast whose wound had been healed of Revelation 13:3.  During the Jewish-Roman War, many Jews believed that the Messiah would rise-up and forcibly establish a world-wide empire centered in Jerusalem.  Israel, of course, lost this war and Biblical prophecies concerning the Messiah were widely believed to have been fulfilled in the victor.  As general of the Roman army during the Jewish War immediately before becoming emperor, Vespasian believed himself to be the Jewish messiah and many people of his day shared this belief.  Three different first-century Roman historians; Suetonius, Josephus and Tacitus; record this seemingly wide-spread belief that Vespasian was the Messiah:

An ancient superstition was current in the East, that out of Judaea at this time would come the rulers of the world.  This prediction, as the event later proved, referred to a Roman Emperor [Vespasian].”38

But now, what did the most elevate them in undertaking this war, was an ambiguous oracle that was also found in their sacred writings, how,” about that time, one from their country should become governor of the habitable earth.” The Jews took this prediction to belong to themselves in particular, and many of the wise men were thereby deceived in their determination. Now this oracle certainly denoted the government of Vespasian, who was appointed emperor in Judea.39

The majority were convinced that the ancient scriptures of their priests alluded to the present as the very time when the Orient would triumph and from Judaea would go forth men destined to rule the world.  This mysterious prophecy really referred to Vespasian and Titus[.]40

vespasian

Caesar Vespasian. Having restored peace and stability to Rome, Vespasian is the beast whose wound had been healed.

Not only was Vespasian one of the false messiahs mentioned in v. 24, he is also recorded to have performed miraculous deeds again fulfilling v. 24: “For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect—if that were possible.”  2 Thessalonians 2:9 reads, “The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the works of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders . . .” Immediately before entering Rome to claim the crown, Caesar Vespasian, the former Roman general of the Jewish-Roman War, was in Alexandria when and where a blind man and a man with a withered hand fell before him begging to be healed:

With a smiling expression and surrounded by an expectant crowd of bystanders, he [Vespasian] did what was asked.  Instantly the cripple recovered the use of his hand and the light of day dawned again upon his blind companion.  Both these incidents are still vouched for by eye-witnesses, though there is now nothing to be gained by lying.41

lightning at 2nd coming Matthew 24:27 fulfilled commentary that generation didn't pass

“In the sky appeared a vision of armies . . . . A sudden lightening flash from the clouds lit up the Temple.” Matthew 24:27: “For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.”

27For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.

Fulfilled! Matthew 24:27 Commentary: When God came on the Clouds in Judgment in the Old Testament, the Spirit of the Lord rode Dark Storm Clouds accompanied by Lightning.  The Second Coming follows this Biblical and Historical Precedent.

When God came on the clouds in judgment in the Old Testament, the spirit of the Lord was pictured riding dark storm clouds accompanied by rumblings of the earth, thunder and lightning.  2 Samuel 22:10-15 illustrates this fact:

He parted the heavens and came down; dark clouds were under his feet.  He mounted the cherubim and flew; he soared on the wings of the wind.  He made darkness his canopy around him—the dark rain clouds of the sky.  Out of the brightness of his presence bolts of lightning blazed forth. The Lord thundered from heaven; the voice of the Most High resounded.  He shot his arrows and scattered the enemy, with great bolts of lightning he routed them.

In Matthew 24:27, Jesus promises to return in a like manner.  The fact that Jesus likens His return to “lightning that comes from the east” illustrates the fact that when Christ was expected to come on the clouds in judgment he was to do so as the Lord had done in the past–riding on dark storm clouds accompanied by lightning.  Matthew 24:27 was fulfilled both literally and symbolically in the Jewish War.

Fulfilled! Matthew 24:27 Explained, A Preterist Commentary: Lightning struck the Temple around the Time of the Visible Return of Christ on the Clouds at the Start of the Jewish War . . .

Historical confirmation of lightening marking the second coming of Christ may be found in the writings of the 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.42

An artistic depiction of the army in the clouds in A.D. 66.

An artistic depiction of the army in the clouds in A.D. 66.

In this brief account, Tacitus, a secular Roman, may have unknowingly recorded the lightning flash associated with the heavenly return of Jesus in A.D. 66. Also notice that “a superhuman voice was heard” literally fulfilling 2 Samuel 22:14.  In this v. “the voice of the Most High resounded” upon his coming on the clouds in judgment.  This event is also mentioned in The Wars of the Jews: “[B]efore sunsetting, chariots and troops of soldiers in their armor were seen running about among the clouds, and surrounding of cities.43  Perhaps the most detailed description of the second coming is found in Revelation 19:11-14. In these verses, Jesus is pictured riding a white horse leading an army of angels on horseback on the clouds.   The description of the second coming in Revelation 19:11-14 and Josephus’ account of the army in the clouds over Israel bear an uncanny resemblance.  Did Josephus and Tacitus unwittingly record the first appearance of Christ during Israel’s first century war with Rome?44  See Historical Evidence that Jesus was LITERALLY SEEN in the Clouds in the First Century.

An artistic depiction of the second coming as it is described in Revelation 19.

An artistic depiction of the second coming as it is described in Revelation 19.

“For as LIGHTNING that comes from the EAST is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.”: The Temple stood on the Eastern edge of Jerusalem.  If Lightning struck the Temple as Tacitus seems to imply, then Here One can see the Literal Fulfillment of the “Lightning that comes from the East.”

According to Tacitus, “[a] sudden lightening flash from the clouds lit up the Temple.”  Tacitus seems to imply that lightning struck the Temple during what appears to be the miraculous appearance of Christ.  The Temple stood on the eastern edge of Jerusalem.  Therefore, if lightning struck the Temple, as Tacitus seems to imply, then this event seems to represent the literal fulfillment of the “lightning that comes from the east” mentioned in Matthew 24:27.

First Century Jerusalem

The Temple stood at the eastern edge of first century Jerusalem.

Preterist View–“For as LIGHTNING that comes from the EAST is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.”: After the Miraculous Appearance of Christ on the Clouds accompanied by Lightning, the 12th Legion drawn from the EASTERN edge of the Roman Empire encamped outside of Jerusalem with its Flags flying high.  The Flag of the 12th Legion is a LIGHTNING Bolt.

The lightning of Matthew 24:27 accompanying the miraculous coming of Christ on the clouds seems to have been a sign for the Christians in Jerusalem to leave the city, first at the start of the war in Iyyar of A.D. 66 following the entrance of the Roman army into the city under Florus and then later in the fall of that same year.  Recall that in Luke 21:20-21, Jesus says, “When you see Jerusalem being surrounded by armies, you will know that its desolation is near. Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, let those in the city get out, and let those in the country not enter the city.”

The second time Jerusalem was surrounded by armies during the Jewish War was when Cestius encamped with the 12th Legion on Mt. Scopus to the northeast of Jerusalem in Tishri of A.D. 66.45  The 12th Legion was mustered out of Syria where it guarded Rome’s eastern borders against the Parthians.  The 12th Legion or Legio duodecima Fulminata means armed with lightning.  The military flag of the 12th Legion erected in its presence is a lightning bolt.  This army drawn from the eastern borders of the Roman Empire encamped northeast of Jerusalem before entering the city with its flags of lightning flying high outside of Jerusalem may have been another, later symbolic reminder of Matthew 24:27: “For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.”

The Emblem of the 12th Legion was a lightening bolt--fire from heaven.

The flag of the 12th Legion is a lightning bolt. “For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.”

Covenant Eschatology–For as LIGHTNING that comes from the EAST is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.”: The Main Ensign, the Aquila, was the Messenger of Zeus that carried Zeus’ LIGHTNING Bolt.  The Aquila was the Symbol of Rome.

It should also be noted that the symbol of Rome was the Aquila which was also the main ensign that all Roman legions carried into battle.   Aquila was the messenger of Jupiter that carried Jupiter’s lightning bolt.  Perhaps in this symbol of Rome and its legions one can see yet another way in which the the “lightning that comes from the east” might be said to symbolize the 12th Legion and the Roman army as a whole?

Realized Eschatology–For as LIGHTNING that comes from the EAST is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.”: The Roman Army encamped on the Mt. of Olives EAST of Jerusalem immediately prior to the Siege and subsequent Fall of Jerusalem in A.D. 70.

After a brief attack on the city, Cestius withdrew from Jerusalem with the 12th Legion shortly thereafter.  The next and final time in which the Roman army surrounded Jerusalem during the Jewish War was in A.D. 70 under Ceasar Titus.  With the aid of the 12th Legion together with several additional legions and auxiliary cohorts, Titus besieged Jerusalem on Passover of A.D. 70.  Five months later Jerusalem fell, many people in the city were killed and exiled, and the city was burned.  A few of these Roman legions encamped east of the city on the Mt. of Olives before the seige of the city began.46  These legions would have raised their main ensign high as they encamped east of Jerusalem before the seige.  Remember that the main ensign and symbol of Rome and its legions, the Aquila, carried Zeus’ lightning bolt in its talons.  Perhaps this image of these legions stationed on the Mount of Olives east of Jerusalem with their Aquilas standing tall also fulfill, in part, the lightning from the east of Matthew 24:27?

First Century Jerusalem

The Mt. of Olives lies to the east of Jerusalem.

Preterist View of Matthew 24:27 Explained! “For as LIGHTNING that comes from the EAST is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.”: A Rain Storm hit Jerusalem at the Arrival of the Romans in A.D. 70, Did Lightning mark the Coming of Christ on the Clouds at that Time as well?

Remember that whenever God came on the clouds in judgment in the Old Testament, the spirit of God was pictured riding dark storm clouds as illustrated in 2 Samuel 22:10-15.  In 2 Samuel 22:12 dark storm clouds render God invisible: “He made darkness his canopy around him—the dark rain clouds of the sky.”  Storm clouds are often accompanied by lightning like that mentioned in 2 Samuel 22:13-15: “Out of the brightness of his presence bolts of lightning blazed forth.  The Lord thundered from heaven; the voice of the Most High resounded.  He shot his arrows and scattered the enemy, with great bolts of lightning he routed them.”  In light of how the coming of the Lord on the clouds is depicted in 2 Samuel 22:10-15 as a vilent storm with rain, thunder and flashes of lightning, it is not surprisng that lightning is also said to accompany the parousia in Matthew 24:27.   Regarding what appears to be the fulfillment of this lightning in A.D. 70, Josephus says that the drought which preceded the siege of Jerusalem ended at the arrival of Titus and his army in A.D. 70.  The fact that a rain storm seemingly marked the  arrival of the Roman army outside Jerusalem in A.D. 70 is a sign that God had come on the clouds in judgment at that time precisely as pictured in 2 Samuel 22:10-15.  And because lightning often accompaines rain storms, perhaps lightning also lit up the sky over Jerusalem at the coming of Christ in A.D. 70 in fulfillment of Matthew 24:27?  It is also worth mentoning that as stated above just as God was invidible during these violent storms as indicated in 2 Samuel 22:12 cited above, Jesus was also presumably invisible in A.D. 70 during this aspect of the parousia.  For additional details see The Coming of Christ in A.D. 70–Like You’ve Never Heard it Before!

After his ascension into heaven, Jesus’ resurrection body was further glorified according to Revelation 1:13-16 such that it resembled the image of the Father and the heavenly host—shinning like blazing fire.

After his ascension into heaven, Jesus’ resurrection body was further glorified according to Revelation 1:13-16 such that it resembled the image of the Father and the heavenly host—shinning like blazing fire.

“For as LIGHTNING that comes from the EAST is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.”: 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. 

There also appears to be yet another way in which lightning aptly describes the parousia.  The army of angels seen in the clouds in Iyyar of A.D. 66 was also recorded by the medieval historian Yosippon who describes this army as horses and riders of fire: “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.”47  Here Yosippon describes this angelic army of A.D. 66 in much the same way that angels are described in 2 Kings 6:17, Matthew 28:2-3 and 2 Corinthians 11:14; God is described in Ezekiel 1:26-28; and Jesus is described in Acts 9:3-6 and Revelation 1:13-16 after having acquired a new, glorified heavenly body after his ascension into heaven.   It is interesting to note that the angel mentioned in Matthew 28:2-3 is explicitly said to look like lightning: “[A]n angel of the Lord descended from heaven . . . his appearance was like lightning[.]”  According to Acts 9:3-6 and Revelation 1:13-16, after Jesus’ ascension He took on a similar radiant form which also presumably looked like lightning. Thus the fact that the second coming is compared to lightning that comes from the east and is visible in the west seems also to hint at Jesus’ glorified heavenly appearance during His Parousia.

Angels are sometimes also described as beings of light according to Matthew 28:2-3.

Angels are sometimes also described as beings of light according to Matthew 28:2-3. In this verse, they are said to look like lightning.

28Wherever there is a carcass, there the vultures will gather.

Fulfilled! Preterist Eschatology and Commentary of Matthew 24:28: The Dead were not buried during the Siege making Them Food for Vultures.

Just prior to the fall of Jerusalem, the remaining Jewish rebels fled to the temple fortress for refuge. Eventually the Romans broke into the Temple causing a great massacre. Concerning the aftermath, Josephus writes:

Nor was there any place in the city [of Jerusalem] that had no dead bodies in it, but what was entirely covered with those that were killed either by the famine or the rebellion; and all was full of the dead bodies of such as had perished, either by that sedition or by that famine.48

As is implied in v. 28 and later in Revelation 19:21, these unburied bodies became food for the vultures. Confirming the fact that the dead of Jerusalem ultimately became food for wild beasts, Kenneth Gentry quotes Josephus as saying, “’[T]heir [the Jews of Jerusalem] dead bodies were thrown to the dogs’ (J.W. 6:7:2) and that some ‘were cast out naked, and seen to be the food of dogs and wild beasts’ (J.W. 4:5:2).”49  But Matthew 24:28 is not just a prediction about carrion birds consuming a dead body.

Fulfilled! Matthew 24:28 Preterist Commentary: The Fulfillment of Matthew 24:28 at the burning of the Temple.

Underlying the literal understanding of this verse appears to be a symbolic prophecy of the fall of the Temple.  The carcass in this verse also seems to denote the Temple which as indicated at the beginning of this chapter was soon to be utterly demolished.    Interestingly, the word translated vulture in this verse also means eagle–the national symbol of Rome.  When the Romans seized the Temple in A.D. 70, they carried their ensigns into the temple courts.  As stated above, Rome’s main ensign was the Aquila, an eagle.  The Roman army offered sacrifices to these eagle images representing Rome on the 9th of Av all while the Temple was in flames.  With these literal and symbolic interpretations, one can appreciate the richness of what Jesus meant when he said, “Wherever there is a carcass, there the vultures [eagles] will gather.”

The eagle, the Aquila, was a symbol of Rome.

The eagle, the Aquila, was a symbol of Rome.

29“Immediately after the distress of those days “‘the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.’ 30“At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the peoples of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory.

A Full Preterist View of Matthew 24:30–“All the Peoples of the Earth will Mourn.  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.”  Some might 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.

Matthew 24:29, A Covenant Eschatology CommentaryAccording to the Midrash, the Sun represents the King, the Moon represents the Sanhedrin and the Stars represent Rabbis.

In Matthew 24:29, the sun and moon darken and the stars fall from the sky.  These astral omens are very similar to the heavenly signs said to accompany the fall of Judah in the sixth century B.C. (Jeremiah 4:23-26), the fall of Egypt in the sixth century B.C. (Ezekiel 32:7-9), the fall of Babylon in the sixth century B.C. (Isaiah 13:9-13), and the fall of Edom in the sixth century B.C. (Isaiah 34:4-5).  And just as various heavenly omens marked a great slaughter at the fall of Judah, Egypt, Babylon and Edom in the sixth century B.C., the same thing is expected to occur at the fall of Jerusalem and Israel at the end of the age.

The fact that in v. 29 the sun darkens, the moon turns to blood and the stars fall from the sky are all signs of the destruction of heaven and earth predicted in 2 Peter 3. For a comprehensive explanation of how the expression “the destruction of heaven and earth” is used in the Bible and how this meaning was fulfilled in the first century see The Destruction of Heaven and Earth and the New Heaven and Earth Explained!

Fulfilled! A Realized Eschatology Exposition and Commentary of Matthew 24:30: A Sword-Shaped Star representing the Word of God appeared in the Sky just before the Jewish War.

At his arrest, Jesus warned, “[A]ll who draw the sword will die by the sword (Matthew 26:52).”  This maxim proved true.  The Jewish zealots who had taken-up arms against the Romans had, for the most part, died as they lived.  However, beneath the surface of this message may be a symbolic double meaning.

Swords are often used in the Bible to represent the word of God (Isaiah 49:2, Hebrews 4:12, Revelation 1:16).   Called the Word of God in John 1, Jesus persistently warned the Israelites of an impending war; and in vs. 15-20, Jesus offered clues on how to survive the coming slaughter.  In A.D. 66 a sword-shaped star hovered over Jerusalem immediately prior to the war with Rome.50  This heavenly sign in the sky, I believe, points to Jesus, the Word of God, and the warning He issued: “[A]ll who draw the sword will die by the sword (Matthew 26:52).”  Could this sword-shaped star be the sign of the Son of Man mentioned in v. 30?   If so then this would not be the first time that a star served as a sign of the coming of the Messiah: “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him (Matthew 2:2).”

Fulfilled! Matthew 24:30 Preterist Commentary: Was the Sign of the Son of Man recorded by Yosippon and Pseudo-Hegesippus?

Though it is impossible to know for sure what the sign of the Son of Man in the sky of v. 30 was, another likely candidate was reported around the same time in which the aforementioned star appeared: “Now it happened after this that there was seen from above over the Holy of Holies for the whole night the outline of a man’s face, the like of whose beauty had never been seen in all the land, and his appearance was quite awesome.”51  Was this the glorified face of Christ?  And if so, was this the sign of the Son of Man seen in the sky predicted in v. 30?   Pseudo-Hegesippus also appears to mention this sign: “Also after many days
a certain figure appeared of tremendous size, which many saw, just as the books of the Jews have disclosed[.]”52

Matthew 24:29 Fulfilled in A.D. 66, A.D. 70 and A.D. 79: “The distress of Those Days” is the Interval when the Abomination that Causes Desolation Surrounded Jerusalem First under Florus and then under Cestius in A.D. 66. 

I believe that the “the distress of those days” of v. 29 are “those days” mentioned in v. 22.  As explained in v. 22, “those days” refers to the interval in which the abomination that causes desolation mentioned in v. 15 surrounded and entered Jerusalem first under Florus in the middle of Iyyar of A.D. 66 and then under Cestius in Tishri later that year.  Matthew 24:29 states, “Immediately after the distress of those days ‘the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.’”  See The Abomination that Causes Desolation Explained.  The fact that the sun and moon were darkened and the stars fell from the sky appears to have been literally fulfilled literally at least three times during each of the miraculous and supernatural appearances of Christ during and shortly after the Jewish War–in the 21st of Iyyar of A.D. 66, Nisan of A.D. 70 and at the death of Vespasian.  See Historical Evidence that Jesus, the Son of Man, was LITERALLY SEEN in the Clouds in the First Century.  In each instance, the sun and moon were darkened as a result of Christ coming on the clouds in judgment.

Fulfilled! Matthew 24:29-30 Commentary: Whenever God came on the Clouds in Judgment on a City in the Old Testament, He Rode Dark Storm Clouds according to Psalm 18:9-11.  These Clouds Darkened the Sun and Moon Fulfilling v. 29.

According to Psalm 18:9-11 when God came on the clouds in judgment on a city, He rode dark storm clouds that often masked the brightness of his appearance:

He parted the heavens and came down; dark clouds were under his feet. He mounted the cherubim and flew; he soared on the wings of the wind. He made darkness his covering, his canopy around him—the dark rain clouds of the sky [emphasis mine].

The dark storm clouds that mark the presence of the Lord when He comes on the clouds in judgment are presumably the cause of the darkening of the sun and moon mentioned in v. 29.  The fact that the storm clouds marking the coming of the Lord on the clouds in judgment on a nation are the reason that the sun, moon and stars are darkened is clearly stated in Ezekiel 32:7: “When I snuff you out, I will cover the heavens and darken their stars; I will cover the sun with a cloud, and the moon will not give its light.”

Matthew 24:29-30 Fulfilled in A.D. 66: Immediately after Florus entered Jerusalem with the Roman Army, the Abomination that causes Desolation, and the Romans slaughtered over 3000 People in Jerusalem, Jesus Came on the Clouds of Heaven and the Sun and Moon were Darkened and a Falling Star was Seen Fulfilling Matthew 24:29-30.

As explained above, Florus entered Jerusalem with the Roman army, the abomination that causes desolation, and the Romans slaughtered over three thousand people in the Upper Marketplace of Jerusalem in the middle of Iyyar.  “Immediately after the distress of those days[,]” Jesus came on the clouds of heaven on the 21st of Iyyar, about a week later, in fulfillment of Matthew 24:29-30.  Recording this event, Josephus writes, “[O]n the twenty-first day of the month of Artemisius [Iyyar] . . . before sunsetting, chariots and troops of soldiers in their armor were seen running about among the clouds, and surrounding of cities.”53  As explained above, this army in the clouds is a precise description of the second coming as it is described in Revelation 19:11-14.  For a detailed explanation of how this army in the sky LITERALLY fulfills descriptions of the second coming found in the Bible including evidence in favor of the historical reliability of this event see Jesus, the Son of Man, was LITERALLY Seen in the Clouds in A.D. 66.

The second coming according to Revelation 19.

The second coming according to Revelation 19.

An artistic depiction of the army in the clouds in A.D. 66. Notice the similarities between this event and the second coming according to Revelation 19.

An artistic depiction of the army in the clouds in Iyyar of A.D. 66. Notice the similarities between this event and the second coming according to Revelation 19.

Describing this same event in The Histories 5.13, Tacitus writes, “In the sky appeared a vision of armies in conflict, of glittering armour.  A sudden lightening flash from the clouds lit up the Temple.” Notice that according to Tacitus, lightning from the clouds marked what appears to be Christ coming on the clouds.  Lightning is typically accompanied by dark storm clouds.  Did these dark storm clouds darken the sun and moon at the coming of Christ on the clouds as predicted in Matthew 24:29?

Matthew 24:29 also predicts that at the coming of Christ “the stars will fall from the sky.”  The fulfillment this prophecy may also be recorded by Josephus.  In The Wars of the Jews, Josephus says that at the start of the Jewish War in A.D. 66, when the army was seen in the clouds, a falling star was seen for a full year: “Thus there was a star resembling a sword, which stood over the city, and a comet, that continued a whole year.”54  Did this comet or falling star fulfill Matthew 24:29?

comet

Matthew 24:29-30 Fulfilled in A.D. 70: Josephus Implies that a Rain Storm Marked the Arrival of the Roman Army at Jerusalem in A.D. 70.  Did Jesus Ride These Storm Clouds as God had in the Past According to Psalm 18:9-11 in Fulfillment of v. 30?  And Did These Strom Clouds Darken the Sun and Moon Fulfilling v. 29?

As stated above Josephus says that a great rainstorm marked the arrival of Titus and his army in A.D. 70.  Did Jesus also come on the clouds in judgment at the start of the siege of Jerusalem in A.D. 70 in fulfillment of Matthew 24:30?  And did these dark rain clouds darken the sun and moon as predicted in Matthew 24:29?

dark storm clouds

Fulfilled Eschatology and Matthew 24:29: Perhaps the “Distress of Those Days” Mentioned in Matthew 24:29 is the Persecution of the Saints which Immediately Preceded the “End” According to Matthew 25:9-14?

It is also possible that “the distress of those days” of Matthew 24:29 may refer to the persecution of the Christian saints mentioned in v. 9-14.  In these vs. cited above, Jesus says that His disciples would be persecuted while the gospel was preached.  Then once the gospel was preached to the whole world the end would come (v. 14).  According to vs. 9-14 the end follows the distress of the persecuted saints, perhaps this Christian persecution is the “distress of those days” mentioned in Matthew 24:29 after which the sun and moon would be darkened and the stars would fall from the sky?

 “A.D. 70 Doctrine” and Matthew 24:29: What is the Sign of the Son of Man?

Regarding that aspect of the Parousia in which Jesus came on the dark storm clouds of the Glory Cloud which darkened the sun and moon in v. 29 upon the arrival of the Roman army to besiege Jerusalem in A.D. 70, perhaps the sign of the Son of Man in heaven at this time was less literal than the visible signs seen in heaven in the initial aspect of the Parousia of A.D. 66?  The sign of the Son of Man in heaven in Matthew 24:30 is often understood to mean that when all the prophecies of Matthew 24 are fulfilled culminating in the destruction of Temple in A.D. 70 that the disciples would know that Christ had truly come on the clouds of heaven as predicted in Matthew 24:30.  Thus many preterists believe that the sign of the Son of Man in heaven is a sign pointing to Jesus’ presence in heaven.  This sign of Jesus’ presence in heaven is the fulfillment of all Jesus’ earthly predictions mentioned in the Olivet Discourse culminating in the destruction of the Temple in A.D. 70 when no stone was truly left on another.  Thus the fulfillment of all these events are a sign or signs of Jesus’ presence in heaven ruling with all dominion and authority.55

31And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.

Fulfilled! A Preterist Interpretation, Exposition and Commentary of Matthew 24:31: A Multitude of Spiritual Bodies were seen Rising out of the Earth at the Sound of a Trumpet in what appears to be the Resurrection of the Dead, the Year the Heavenly Army was seen in the Clouds.

This verse calls to mind 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 and 1 Corinthians 15:52.  These three verses collectively describe the resurrection at the last trumpet.  A multitude of spiritual bodies were recorded rising out of the earth at the sound of a trumpet in what appears to be the resurrection of the dead in A.D. 66, the year the heavenly army was seen in the clouds.  For an in-depth discussion of the resurrection, including the historical evidence in favor of this miraculous event, see 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 and 1 Corinthians 15:50-54: A Preterist CommentaryHow 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!!!, and 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.

Matthew 24:31 fulfilled commentary this that generation didn't pass resurrection

The year of the first aspect of the parousia, a trumpet was heard and a vision of many phantoms were seen at what appears to be the coming of Christ in the sky.

32“Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near. 33Even so, when you see all these things, you know that itis near, right at the door. 34I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened.

Fulfilled! Matthew 24:34 “Hyper Preterism” Commentary: “This [First Century] Generation [did] not Pass until all” the Prophecies of this Chapter Literally Occurred!

In v. 3 the disciples asked Jesus, “when will this happen [the destruction of the Temple], and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?”  Jesus answers this question in v. 34: “I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened.”  If Jesus did not mean His current generation as many futurists suppose it is a wonder that Jesus did not clarify that point in v. 34 as the author of 1 Enoch does when predicting the end of the age: “Enoch a righteous man, whose eyes were opened by God, saw the vision of the Holy One in the heavens, which the angels showed me, and from them I heard everything, and from them I understood as I saw, but not for this generation, but for a remote one which is for to come (1 Enoch 1:2-3).” [Emphasis mine.]

Jesus was correct.  As has been shown up to this point, every one of Jesus’ predictions mentioned in this chapter has recorded historical fulfillment within that generation including the sign of Christ’s coming and the mass vision of Jesus’ seemingly visible return on the clouds of heaven.  All these events are recorded in the annals of Roman history.  For an explanation of the connection between the Hebrew slaves of Exodus and the Israelites at the end of the age see Matthew 23:33-38: A Preterist Commentary.

35Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.

The New Jerusalem resembles descriptions of heaven in near-death experiences.

The New Jerusalem resembles descriptions of heaven in near-death experiences.

Fulfilled! Matthew 24:35 Commentary: The New Jerusalem strikingly resembles Cities of Light often described in Near-Death Experiences.

What did Jesus mean when he said that heaven and earth will pass away?  The destruction of heaven and earth is often understood to mean that God is going to destroy the whole world and rebuild a perfect world in its place, this not necessarily the case. For a comprehensive discussion of the destruction of heaven and earth and its fulfillment in the first century see The Destruction of Heaven and Earth and the New Heaven and Earth Explained!

 this that generation shall not pass away The New Jerusalem

36“No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 37As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. 38For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; 39and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. 40Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. 41Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left.

Fulfilled! Matthew 24:40 Commentary: The Implicit Flood Imagery of v. 40 . . .

What is the meaning of this enigmatic statement: “[O]ne will be taken and the other left”?  Jesus’ use of the word taken in vs. 39 and 40 implies a kind of washing away as if by a flood.  In the Book of Revelation earth is used as a metaphor for the land of Israel and sea represents Gentile Rome.  This imagery is not unique to Revelation, earth is often used to denote a specific nation-state while water imagery like sea, waters and flood often poetically symbolize foreign armies.  See In the Bible “Earth” Signifies the Specific Land Addressed While “Sea” Symbolizes Foreign Nations.  The flood of Matthew 24:36-41 like the floods of Isaiah 8:7-8; Ezekiel 26:3; Jeremiah 46:7-8; 47:1-2; 51:55-56; Daniel 11:10, 40; and Nahum 1:8 represents the coming invasion of Israel by foreign armies at the time of the end.  In other words, the impeding Roman invasion of Israel during the Jewish War is symbolically depicted as a flood washing over the earth in Matthew 24:36-41.56  The flood of Genesis mentioned in vs. 37-41 is, therefore, a symbol of the destruction of Israel, the earth, by Gentile Rome, the sea, in preparation for its re-creation as the New Jerusalem in Revelation 21 and Revelation 22.

Fulfilled! A Realized Eschatology Exposition and Commentary of Matthew 24:40: Did the Romans Kill and Exile One-Half of the People of Jerusalem?

In describing those killed by Noah’s flood, Jesus says that the flood “took them all away.”  As stated above the flood in the analogy above represents the Roman army.  Therefore, those who were “taken” by this metaphorical flood in v.40 may also represent those who were killed during the Jewish War.  The people who are taken away in v. 40 might also represent those who were exiled during and after the Jewish War since being taken away by flood waters representing the Romans also sounds a lot like exile. Perhaps half of the people of Jerusalem were killed or exiled after the Jewish War?57

Fulfilled! A Full Preterist View and Commentary of Matthew 24:40: Two Reasons why Matthew 24:40 is Not about the Rapture

Matthew 24:40 is often mistakenly cited as evidence of the rapture.  Rapture theorists identify those who are taken in v. 40 as the righteous who are raptured.  Preterist Author Charles Meek points out that this verse does not appear to be referring to the rapture since in the context of this verse those who are taken in v. 40 are the wicked, not the righteous, since it was the unrighteous who were taken away by Noah’s flood in v. 39.58

42“Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. 43But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. 44So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him. 45“Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom the master has put in charge of the servants in his household to give them their food at the proper time? 46It will be good for that servant whose master finds him doing so when he returns. 47I tell you the truth, he will put him in charge of all his possessions. 48But suppose that servant is wicked and says to himself, ‘My master is staying away a long time,’ 49and he then begins to beat his fellow servants and to eat and drink with drunkards. 50The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of. 51He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Fulfilled! Matthew 24:43-51 Commentary: What does this Parable Mean?

In the above verses, Jesus tells a parable concerning His return.  The servants in vs. 45-51 are teachers, priests and prophets.  The servants who had beaten their fellow servants are the teachers of the Law, Pharisees and wealthy elite who tried to kill Jesus and his followers as is recorded in John 11:47-53 and Acts 8:1-3.  This wicked generation that had killed the Messiah and His people were ultimately punished during Jesus’ return at the start of the Jewish war with Rome.

 

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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.

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Fulfilled! Matthew 24 Preterist Commentary–This or That Generation Shall Not Pass: Conclusion

As shown in the above preterist commentary on Matthew 24, every prophecy in Matthew 24 was fulfilled in the first century such that when Jesus declared, “[T]his generation shall not pass,” Jesus meant “this generation will not pass away” not “that [meaning some future] generation shall not pass away.”

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Fulfilled! Matthew 24 Preterist Commentary: This or That Generation Shall Not Pass?

 

  1. C.S. Lewis “The World’s Last Night,” The Essential C.S. Lewis 1960, 385, cited in http://libertytothecaptives.net/cslewis_fruits.html. (December 2008).
  2. Josephus The Wars of the Jews 7.1.1.
  3. Though many sources say the two temples fell on the same day, there is some disagreement.  For example, Josephus states that the first temple was burned by the Babylonians on the tenth day of Av. (Josephus The Wars of the Jews 6.4.5.)
  4. Josephus The Wars of the Jews 7.1.1.
  5. Bo Reicke, The New Testament Era: The World of the Bible from 500 B.C. to A.D. 100, trans. David E. Green (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1968), 109-110, cited in Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr., Before Jerusalem Fell: Dating the Book of Revelation (Powder Springs, GA: American Vision, 1998), 241.
  6. Josephus The Wars of the Jews 4.3.2.
  7. James Stuart Russell, The Parousia: The New Testament Doctrine of Christ’s Second Coming, (Bradford, PA: International Preterist Association, Inc., 2003), 70.
  8. Tacitus Annals14:27, cited in Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr., Before Jerusalem Fell: Dating the Book of Revelation (Powder Springs, GA: American Vision, 1998), 319.
  9. Edward E. Stevens, Final Decade Before the End, (Bradford, PA: International Preterist Association, Inc., 2015), 122-123.
  10. Eusebius The History of the Church 3.5.
  11. 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.
  12. Ibid.
  13. Grant R. Jeffrey, The Signature of God, (Nashville: Word Publishing, 1998), 337-339.  Though early church tradition may not be fully reliable on every detail, it is a seemingly universal belief among early Christian writers that most of the apostles were martyred.
  14. Josephus The Wars of the Jews 6.5.2.
  15. Ibid., 6.7.2.
  16. George E. Kouri and Richard Hogue, The Sign of the Kingdom: The Present Reign of Christ in Light of the Olivet Discourse, (Apostolic Ministries International, 1998), 75-78.
  17. Josephus The Wars of the Jews 5.10.5, 6.8.5.
  18. Milton S. Terry, Biblical Apocalyptics: A Study of the Most Notable Revelations of God and of Christ, (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1988), 232.
  19. Josephus The Antiquities of the Jews 18.5.3.
  20. Ibid., 18.3.1.
  21. Josephus The Wars of the Jews 2.14.9.
  22. Ibid., 2.19.
  23. John L. Bray, Matthew 24 Fulfilled, (Powder Springs, GA: American Vision Press, 2008), 58.
  24. Josephus The Wars of the Jews 2.19.5.537.
  25. Ibid., 5.12.
  26. There were 354 days per year in the Hebrew lunar calendar.  The time between the old and new moon is roughly 29.5 days and because there were 12 months in a lunar year, each year was expected to be 354 days long with each month alternating between 29 and 30 days. However, another month was added to the calendar approximately every three years in order to prevent seasonal overlap.  Assuming a standard 354 day lunar year with a 30 day leap month sometime within these three and one half years, there is exactly 1335 days from the 9th day of Av in A.D. 70 until the day after Passover, the 16th of Nisan, in A.D. 74, the first official day of peace after the war.  Josephus says that the 960 Jewish rebels at Masada committed suicide on the “fifteenth day of the month of Xanthicus [Nisan].” (Josephus The Wars of the Jews 7.9.1)  Therefore, the first day of peace was the 16th of Nisan of A.D. 74.  It is important to note that the Hebrew lunar calendar was not fixed until Hillel, 4th century A.D.  Before Hillel, there was no fixed calendar. In other words, it was impossible to determine with certainty when the next month would start. Each month, the Sanhedrin would dictate whether a month would be 29 or 30 days in length.  The length of each month was determined when the following month’s new moon was first seen.  Thus there was some flexibility in the calendar in which one might expect the leap month to vary between 29 and 30 days depending on when the new moon was first seen to mark the following month because the time between the old and new moon is roughly 29.5 days.  Since there were 12 months in a lunar year, each year was expected to be 354 days long with each month alternating between 29 and 30 days.
  27. Josephus The Wars of the Jews 6.3.4.
  28. Ibid., Preface 1.
  29. Ibid., 6.9.4.
  30. Ibid., 5.10.5.
  31. Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr., Perilous Times: A Study in Eschatological Evil (Texarkana, AR: Covenant Media Press, 1999), 66 cited in Don K. Preston, Like Father, Like Son, On Clouds of Glory, (Ardmore, OK: JaDon Management Inc.,  2010),  216.
  32. John L. Bray, Matthew 24 Fulfilled, (Powder Springs, GA: American Vision Press, 2008), 93-94.
  33. Eusebius The History of the Church 3.5.
  34. Ibid., 2.11.
  35. Josephus The Antiquities of the Jews 20.8.6.
  36. Citing a non-canonical Gospel, Sulpitius Severus says the following concerning Simon Magus and his encounter with Peter and Paul:

    For then took place the well-known and celebrated encounter of Peter and Paul with Simon.  He [Simon Magus], after he had flown up into the air by his magical arts, and supported by two demons (with the view of proving that he was a god), the demons being put to flight by the prayers of the apostles, fell to the earth in the sight of all the people, and was dashed to pieces. (Sulpitius Severus The Sacred History 2.28.)

  37. Josephus The Wars of the Jews 6.5.2.
  38. Suetonius Lives of the Twelve Caesars 10.4.
  39. Josephus The Wars of the Jews 6.5.4.
  40. Tacitus The Histories 5.13.
  41. Tacitus The Histories 4.81.
  42. Ibid.
  43. Josephus The Wars of the Jews 6.5.3.
  44. For an in-depth discussion of this historical event see Revelation 19: A Preterist Commentary.
  45. Josephus The Wars of the Jews 2.19.4.
  46. Ibid., 5.2.3
  47. 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)
  48. Josephus The Wars of the Jews 6.7.2.
  49. Dr. Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr., He Shall Have Dominion: A Postmillennial Eschatology, third ed. (USA: Apologetics Group Media, 2009), 405.
  50. Josephus The Wars of the Jews 6.5.3.
  51. 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 (11/13/2014).
  52. Pseudo-Hegesippus, Chapter 44. (Translated from the Latin by Wade Blocker. This excerpt taken from the Latin edited by Vincente Ussani): cited in http://fulfilledtheology.ning.com/forum/topics/historical-records-with-some (11/13/2014).
  53. Josephus The Wars of the Jews 6.5.3.
  54. Ibid.
  55. That said, I believe some Preterist scholars incorrectly link the Parousia with Daniel 7:13-14.  In Daniel 7:13-14 Jesus is seen approaching the presence of the Father on the clouds of heaven to receive all dominion and authority.  Thus when Jesus said that He will come on the clouds of heaven in Matthew 24:30, this coming is often understood to be that which is described in Daniel 7:13-14 when Jesus was seen coming on the clouds to approach the Father in heaven.  I believe Daniel 7:13-14 is a visionary description of Jesus approaching the Father on the clouds of heaven upon his ascension mentioned in Acts 1:9-11:

    After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight. They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”

    The initial aspect of Daniel 7:13-14 in which Jesus approached the Father on the clouds of heaven to receive all dominion and authority, I believe, was witnessed by the disciples in Acts 1:9-11.  Here the apostles saw Jesus rise up to heaven in a cloud.  The fact that Jesus had subsequently received all dominion after His ascension on these clouds is indicated in Ephesians 1:19-23:

    That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.

    By the time in which Ephesians was written, Daniel 7:13-14 appears to have been fulfilled.  In other words, according to Ephesians 1:19-23 Jesus appears to have already received “all rule and authority, power and dominion” prior to the Parousia.  Thus when Jesus ascended up to heaven in a cloud in Acts 1:19-11, He had subsequently been seated at the right hand of the Father and received all dominion and authority as per Daniel 7:13-14. (George E. Kouri and Richard Hogue, The Sign of the Kingdom: The Present Reign of Christ in Light of the Olivet Discourse, (Apostolic Ministries International, 1998), 146-147.)

    Not only does Acts 1:9-11 mention the initial aspect of the fulfillment of Daniel 7:13-14, it also distinguishes this event from the Parousia which is said to occur later and be very similar.  In Acts 1:9-11 an angel told the disciples, “This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”  In other words, in the same way that Jesus was taken up to heaven on the clouds of heaven in Daniel 7:13-14 and Acts 1:9-11, He was also to return in judgment later on the clouds of heaven at His Parousia.  According to Acts 1:11, it is this return in judgment that is said to be very similar to his ascension in Daniel 7:13-14 that is mentioned in Matthew 24:30: “They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory.”

    It should also be noted that I believe that the signs mentioned in Matthew 24:29 may have also been fulfilled in A.D. 79 at the coming of Christ at the death of the lawless one, the emperor Vespasian.  Revelation 19:19-20 and 2 Thessalonians 2:1-9 indicate that Christ will also appear at the death of the beast or lawless one.  As explained in 2 Thessalonians 2:1-9: A Preterist Commentary–The Man of Lawlessness Revealed!, the lawless one is Vespasian.  Vespasian died in the summer of A.D. 79.  Around the time of his death a star fell from the sky, and the sun and moon were darkened over Rome.  The darkening of the sun points to the death of a king (Psalm 72:5, Isaiah 24:21-23).   If this is true then of course in this case this omen was fulfilled in the death of Vespasian, the emperor of Rome.  For a detailed explanation of the LITERAL fulfillment of Matthew 24:29-31 in the appearance of Christ at the death of Caesar Vespasian in A.D. 79 see The Miraculous Historical Appearance of Christ at the Death of the Beast Fulfills 2 Thessalonians 2:8 and Revelation 19:19-20.

  56. See the commentary on Revelation 14:19-20.
  57. Josephus says that the surviving citizens of Jerusalem were allowed to stay in the metropolis after the conquest of the city in A.D. 70: “Only the citizens [of Jerusalem] were allowed to remain [in the city]; all the rest were sold, along with the women and children for a trifling price per head, as supply was far in excess of demand.” (Josephus The Wars of the Jews 6.8.2.)  The Romans began their siege of Jerusalem on Passover.  During this holiday, Jews from all over the world converged on Jerusalem.  Josephus says that 1,100,000 Jews were killed during the siege of Jerusalem and that the majority of these casualties were not citizens of the city.  Josephus also says that the Romans exiled 97,000 people during the entire course of the war. (Ibid., 6.9.3)  This is exactly what one would expect.  Visitors to Jerusalem would likely only carry as much money with them as they felt would be necessary to travel to and stay in Jerusalem during the week-long festival.   These travelers would be the first to run out of money and subsequently perish from the rising cost of food as a consequence of the famine induced by the siege of the city.  In contrast, the citizens of Jerusalem profited greatly from the Passover celebration, and they would also be more likely to have had access to their savings since they lived in the city.
  58. Charles S. Meek, Christian Hope through Fulfilled Prophecy: Is Your Church Teaching Error about the Last Days and Second Coming?, (Spicewood, TX: Faith Facts Publishing, 2013), 230.

One thought on “Matthew 24 Commentary: THAT Generation Shall Not Pass

  1. Keith Jones

    I appreciate the research which has made this commentary possible. As a former dispensationalist I really enjoy reading the Biblical view. Thanks for a job well done.

    Reply

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