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Can a reasonable case be made that early new testament apocalyptic writings sometimes attributed to a later second-coming event, such as that which is described in the book of Revelation, really refer to an event like the destruction of the temple in 70 AD or another type of near-future apocalyptic change?

I have recently encountered a view that this is a more contextually correct way of interpreting early new testament writing, (outside of the gospel of John and the book of Revelation) and can be used to explain verses like:

  • Mark 13:30
  • Matthew 24:36-51
  • 1 Thess. 4:15-17

Is the claim that "the apocalyptic writings contained in the synoptic Gospels, and the writings of Paul, are about a different event than what is described in the book of Revelation" a reasonable interpretation of the text?

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    Welcome to SE-BH. On this particular hermeneutic site we need a specific text of scripture to analyse in order to practice the technique. We do not discuss or debate biblical topics, as such. Please see the Tour and the Help (below, bottom left) as to the purpose and the functioning of the site. There are four main interpretations of the Apocalypse : Resumptive, Historicist, Futurist and Praeterist.
    – Nigel J
    Jun 25, 2023 at 7:07
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    The best study of the Apocalypse that I have ever found, myself, is The Revelation of Jesus Christ by John Metcalfe which begins with the four most widely published interpretations and then goes on to fully expound the 'Resumptive' interpretation which views the book as seven sections, each dealing with time from the ascension of Christ to his second coming, but dealing with an increasingly spiritual view of global events unto the crescendo of the final judgment and new heavens and new earth.
    – Nigel J
    Jun 25, 2023 at 9:07

2 Answers 2

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Two Different Comings Very important question because much confusion is rampant in the modern Church concerning the Second Coming, and alleged "signs of the times." First, there must be caution in using the words "apocalyptic literature." When O.T. Jewish-style imagery is used there is a rush to call it apocalyptic and lump it in with the Apocalypse of John. The difference between PROPHECY and APOCALYPSE is overlooked.

Coming in Destruction The verses you refer to in the Gospels and Epistle do refer to both, the Destruction of Jerusalem (Mark 13:30)...and to the Second Coming (Mathew 24:36-51; 1 Thess. 4:14-15). Mark's verse aligns with the first half of Matthew 24, in describing the End of Judaism. Paul's verse aligns with the second half of Matthew 24.

The problem many biblical students have is in thinking that if amazing meterological imagery is used, it all refers to the same event! Sun darkened, moon not shine, stars fall from sky, lightnings, etc. Whereas the O.T. used it to describe the Fall of a Nation (e.g. Edom's destruction, Egypt's conquest, Israel's capture) In the first half of the Olivet Discourse these describe in picturesque terms, the Fall of Judea to the Romans. In Thessalonians, they show the End of the World as we know it!

The Book of Revelation is a totally different genre of biblical literature: an Apocalypse, styled after the Jewish literature of the centuries surrounding the Early Church. It is an amalgamation of Old Testament scriptures merged to give the Early Christians hope during times of persecution and adversity. Much of it uses the astronomical imagery the Jews were accustomed to as well. Many consider these as symbols of the Second Coming.

This diagram may help in explaining the Olivet Discourse"

End of Judaism---------->transition verses------------>End of the World

Matthew 23:36---------------24:35-36----------------------24:36-25:46

Yes, what often passes as "apocalyptic verses" in the Gospels and Epistles can refer to events outside the book of Revelation End Time scenario. It all depends on the context: the topic the writer is teaching the Early Church congregations.

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Introduction

Based on my evaluation, the theory suggesting that the New Testament (NT) writings depict two distinct second-coming events is implausible. This conclusion is primarily arrived at by examining the timeline within which all major end-time events were predicted to occur.

The Timeline of the End

Daniel 12, which speaks of the time of the end and serves as the background for the Olivet Discourse (Matthew 24; Mark 13; Luke 21) makes it clear that the time of distress (v. 1), the deliverance of Daniel’s people (v. 1), and the resurrection of the dead would all occur within a period of 1,290 days or 3.5 years (Da 12:7, 11)—a period that would begin with the taking away of the daily sacrifice and setting up of the abomination of desolation (Da 12:11) and end with the shattering of the power of the holy people (Da 12:7). (See figure 1 below for a visual representation of the timeline of Daniel 12).

enter image description here Figure 1. Timeline of the end, based on Daniel 12

In Matthew 24, Yeshua tells his disciples that the setting up of the abomination of desolation (Mt 24:15 // Mk 13:14 // Lk 21:20), the time of distress (i.e., tribulation; Mt 24:21 // Mk 13:19), the deliverance of the elect at his Parousia (Mt 24:31 // Mk 13:27 // Lk 21:28),1 and the shattering of the power of the holy people (Mt 24:2; Lk 21:20–24; cf. Mt 23:29–39; Lk 19:41–44), would occur during the lifetime of their generation (Mt 24:34; cf. Mt 23:36).

It is my understanding that the shattering of the power of the holy people must have been fulfilled in the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple by the Romans (ca. August AD 70; Josephus, J.W. 7.7.1). It is also my understanding that the taking away of the daily sacrifice and the setting up of the abomination of desolation most likely occurred around the time Eleazar b. Ananias stopped the daily sacrifices on behalf of Caesar (ca. August AD 66; Josephus, J.W. 2.17.2), which led to the Roman legions (i.e., the abomination of desolation; cf. Lk 21:20) encamping around Jerusalem (AD 66/67).

Evidence that the abomination of desolation was set up during the generation of the disciples can be found in the writings of the church historian Eusebius:

3 But the people of the church in Jerusalem had been commanded by a revelation, vouchsafed to approved men there before the war, to leave the city and to dwell in a certain town of Perea called Pella. And when those that believed in Christ had come thither from Jerusalem, then, as if the royal city of the Jews and the whole land of Judea were entirely destitute of holy men, the judgment of God at length overtook those who had committed such outrages against Christ and his apostles, and totally destroyed that generation of impious men. (Eusebius, Hist. eccl. 3.5.3)

That Eusebius records that the people of the church fled from Judea and Jerusalem to Pella (ca. AD 67) is significant because that is exactly what Christ commanded the disciples to do when they saw the abomination of desolation set up (Mt 24:15–16 // Mk 13:14 // Lk 21:20–21). Therefore, Eusebius’ quote shows that the disciples recognized that the setting up of the abomination of desolation (i.e., the second of two events that were to signal the beginning of Daniel’s 3.5 years) had occurred during their lifetime, just as Yeshua said it would.

If these events, which were to signal the beginning and end of Daniel’s 3.5 years, were fulfilled by the end of AD 70, then it would follow that the time of tribulation (Mt 24:31 par.; cf. Re 1:9), the deliverance of the elect at the Parousia (Mt 24:31 par.; 1 Th 1:10; 4:16–17), the resurrections of the dead (Jn 5:28–29; Ac 24:15; 1 Th 4:16; 1 Co 15:52; Re 20:4–6, 12–15), and the judgment2 (Mt 24:31–46; Ac 17:31; 2 Tim 4:1; 1 Pe 4:5 Re 20:12–15) should have also been fulfilled since they were to occur within that 3.5-year time frame.

To push any of these events beyond the lifetime of the disciples’ generation or to separate them by a period of more than 3.5 years—as is done by proponents of the two-comings view—simply cannot be justified in light of the biblical data.

The Problem of Two Judgments

Another issue with the “two comings” theory is that it asserts that the NT has in view two separate judgments that were to coincide with the post-ascension “comings” of Christ. Proponents of this theory typically see the first judgment as having come upon Judea and Jerusalem from ca. AD 67–70 and the second as a judgment that will come upon all the world at a future point in history. The problem with this position can be seen when one compares Mt 24:29–31 to its parallel in Lk 21:25–28:3

29 “But immediately after the suffering of those days, the sun will be darkened, the moon will not give its light, the stars will fall from the sky, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken; 30 and then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky. Then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory. 31 He will send out his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together his chosen ones from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other. (Matthew 24:29–31, WEB)

25 “There will be signs in the sun, moon, and stars; and on the earth anxiety of nations, in perplexity for the roaring of the sea and the waves; 26 men fainting for fear and for expectation of the things which are coming on the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 27 Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. 28 But when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is near.” (Luke 21:25–28, WEB)

That Mt 24:29–31 and Lk 21:25–28 are parallels is evidenced by their common placement in both Gospel writers’ accounts of the Olivet Discourse and the common themes discussed in each passage, namely, the signs that would precede the Parousia (Mt 24:29–30a; Lk 21:25), the distress of earth’s inhabitants because of these signs (Mt 24:30b; Lk 21:26), the coming of the Son of Man on the clouds with power and great glory (Mt 24:30b; Lk 21:27), and the salvation (or redemption) of the elect disciples (Mt 24:31; Lk 21:28). Comparing these two passages is important because proponents of the two-comings view typically understand Mt 24:29–31 as describing events that occurred at Christ’s coming in judgment against Judea and Jerusalem since they are said to occur “immediately after” the period of suffering (i.e., tribulation) described in Mt 24:15–28.4 However, a careful reading of Lk 21:25–28 makes it clear that the judgment in view in the passage was not only coming upon the inhabitants of Judea and Jerusalem but also on the nations (v.25) and the world (v. 26).

Further, it should be noted that although Mt 24:29–31 may not be as clear as Lk 21:25–28 in defining the scope of the judgment that was to occur at the Parousia, it too appears to have in view a judgment that would affect a greater population than that of Judea and Jerusalem. Support for this notion can be found in Donald Hagner’s comments on Matthew’s use of the phrase “all the tribes of the earth” in Mt 24:30. Hagner writes that

[t]his language is virtually the same as that of Zech 12:10–14 (where both the same verb as in Matthew, κόψεται, “mourn,” and the phrase πᾶσαι αἱ φυλαί, “all the tribes,” as well as ἡ γῆ, here meant as “the land [of Israel],” occur—this in connection with looking on “me whom they have pierced” [LXX: “mocked”]). In keeping with Matthew’s universal perspective, the tribes of the earth, which in the OT originally meant the tribes of Israel, are to be understood as all the nations of the earth (cf. 25:32).5

As Hagner notes, considering Matthew’s “universal perspective,” it is best to understand “all the tribes of the earth” in v. 30 as a reference to all the nations of the earth rather than all the tribes of Israel. Understood in this way, Mt 24:29–31 would be in perfect agreement with Lk 21:25–28 regarding its representation of the scope of the judgment.

When one recognizes that Mt 24:29–31 and Lk 21:25–28 have the same events in view, then it becomes clear that both the judgment of Judea and Jerusalem and the judgment of the world must have occurred within the same time frame. And as I suggested in the first part of my answer, this time frame best aligns with the period from ca. AD 67–70.

Added support for this suggestion can be found in the various statements made in the NT about the timing of the judgment of the world. Take, for example, Paul’s proclamation to the men of Athens that God was “about to6 judge the world in righteousness” (Ac 17:31, YLT), or his discussion with Governor Felix concerning “righteousness, and temperance, and the judgment that is about to be” (Ac 24:25, YLT),7 or his charge to Timothy before the Lord, who he says was “about to judge living and dead at his manifestation and his reign” (2 Ti 4:1, YLT); and finally, there is Yeshua’s promise to the assembly in Philadelphia that he would keep them from the “hour of the trial that is about to come upon all the world, to try those dwelling upon the earth” (Re 3:10, YLT).8

The passages demonstrate that the NT writers and their contemporaries understood that the judgment of the world was imminent and would happen in their generation, rather than in a far-off future.

The Question of a First-Century Judgment of the World

Given my assertion that Christ’s coming in judgment against the world best fits the period from ca. AD 67–70, I must address the question of whether he actually judged the world at that time. Though most would argue that the answer to this question is no, I am persuaded that the available historical data provide evidence in favor of an affirmative answer. Further below, I will share some of the evidence that I have found most compelling in this regard, but before I do so, it will be important that I deal with a common misconception that can hinder us from understanding how the judgment of the world could have occurred during the first century.

The Biblical World and the Judgment

As readers of the Bible in modern times, it can be easy for us to assume that the world that was to be judged at the Parousia is the same as the world we know today. However, it is important to exercise caution in making such assumptions. We must recognize that the Scriptures were written by ancient authors to ancient audiences and that both groups had a different perspective on the world than we do. Therefore, to properly interpret the biblical passages about the judgment of the world, we need to understand their worldview. In the analysis below, I will examine several passages to show how they viewed the world so that we may better understand exactly what “world” was to be judged at the Parousia.

Daniel 2:31–40

31 “You, O king, were looking and, look, there was one great statue. This statue was huge and its brilliance extraordinary, standing there before you, and its appearance was frightening. 32 The head of this statue was of fine gold, its chest and its arms of silver, its belly and its thighs of bronze, 33 its legs of iron, its feet, part of them of iron and part of them of clay. 34 You were looking on until a stone was chiseled out—that not by hands—and it struck the statue on its feet of iron and clay, and it broke them in pieces. 35 Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver and the gold all at once broke into pieces and they became like chaff from the summer threshing floor, and the wind carried them away and any trace of them could not be found. But the stone that struck the statue became a great mountain and it filled the whole earth. 36 “This was the dream, and now we will tell its interpretation to the king. 37 You, O king, the king of kings, to whom the God of heaven has given the kingdom, the power and the might and the glory, 38 and also human beings wherever they dwell, the animals of the field and the birds of heaven—he has given into your hand and made you ruler over all of them—you are the head of gold. 39 And after you another kingdom inferior to yours will arise, and another third kingdom of bronze that will rule over the whole earth. 40 And a fourth kingdom will be strong as iron, and just as iron crushes and smashes everything, and as iron shatters all of these other metals, so it will crush and it will shatter these nations. (LEB; emphasis added)

In Da 2:31–40, Daniel makes known to Nebuchadnezzar the succession of kingdoms (or empires) that would follow his own, leading up to the establishment of the kingdom of God. The first four kingdoms represented in the dream are Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome. Notice in v. 38 that Nebuchadnezzar is said to have ruled over every place where human beings, the animals of the field, and the birds of heaven dwelled, and in v. 39 Daniel prophecies that the kingdom of Greece would rule over “the whole earth.” However, as modern readers, we recognize that neither of these kingdoms ruled over the full extent of the world as we know it today. Their dominions corresponded to the regions shown on the three maps below:

enter image description here Figure 2. The Babylonian Empire (see green territory)9

enter image description here Figure 3. The Persian Empire10

enter image description here Figure 4. The Greek Empire11

When this passage and the maps above are considered, it becomes clear that Daniel and his contemporaries living during the 7th and 6th centuries BC had a more limited view of the extent of the world than we do as modern readers. And this perspective was not confined to that period either. This is made evident when one considers 1 Mac 1:1–3 (written ca. AD 100), where the author reports that Alexander the Great *“*advanced to the ends of the earth” (NRSV) in his conquest of the nations and lands that would ultimately comprise his Greek empire.12 The clear implication of this report is that, from the author’s perspective, Alexander had gained dominion over the “whole earth” (cf. Da 2:39).

Having demonstrated that this limited view of the world prevailed from at least the 7th to the 2nd century BC, I will now move on to a couple of relevant NT passages to show how the world was viewed by the NT writers and their contemporaries.

Acts 2:5–11

5 Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men, from every nation under the sky. 6 When this sound was heard, the multitude came together and were bewildered, because everyone heard them speaking in his own language. 7 They were all amazed and marveled, saying to one another, “Behold, aren’t all these who speak Galileans? 8 How do we hear, everyone in our own native language? 9 Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and people from Mesopotamia, Judea, Cappadocia, Pontus, Asia, 10 Phrygia, Pamphylia, Egypt, the parts of Libya around Cyrene, visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, 11 Cretans and Arabians—we hear them speaking in our languages the mighty works of God!” (WEB; emphasis added)

Acts 2:5–11 gives an account of the reaction of the Jerusalem crowd on Pentecost when they heard the Galilean disciples speaking through the Holy Spirit of the mighty works of God. What is notable in this passage is that the author of Acts describes the devout Jews who composed this crowd as being “from every nation under the sky.” However, these men were not from every nation under the sky, as we would think of every nation today. They came from nations located throughout the Mediterranean and Middle East, as can be seen on the map below:

enter image description here
Figure 5. The Jewish Diaspora at Pentecost13

Luke 2:1–3

1 Now in those days, a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world [Gk. oikoumenē] should be enrolled. 2 This was the first enrollment made when Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3 All went to enroll themselves, everyone to his own city. (WEB; emphasis added)

In Lk 2:1–3, the Gospel writer records the census decree made by Caesar Augustus when Quirinius was governor over Syria. Notably, this census was to encompass “all the world.”14 Yet, once again, we as modern readers recognize that Caesar Augustus did not rule over all the world as we know it, but he did rule over what the NT writers knew as the oikoumenē—the region of the world depicted in the map below:

enter image description here Figure 6. The Roman Empire (see purple and green territories)15

Regarding the meaning of the Greek word oikoumenē, BDAG gives the following two meanings that are most relevant to the use of the word in v. 1 of this passage:

the world as administrative unit, the Roman Empire (in the hyperbolic diction commonly used in ref. to emperors, the Rom. Emp. equalled the whole world [as e.g. Xerxes’ empire: Ael. Aristid. 54 p. 675 D., and of Cyrus: Jos., Ant. 11, 3]: OGI 666, 4; 668, 5 τῷ σωτῆρι κ. εὐεργέτῃ τῆς οἰκουμένης [Nero]; 669, 10; SIG 906 A, 3f τὸν πάσης οἰκουμένης δεσπότην [Julian];…
③ all inhabitants of the earth, fig. extension of 1 (cp. γῆ) : world, humankind Ac 17:31 (cp. Ps 9:9; Artapanus: 726 Fgm. 3:22 Jac., God as ὁ τῆς οἰκ. δεσπότης); 19:27. Of Satan: ὁ πλανῶν τὴν οἰκ. ὅλην who deceives all humankind Rv 12:9. The passage ἐξῆλθεν δόγμα παρὰ Καίσαρος Αὐγούστου ἀπογράφεσθαι πᾶσαν τὴν οἰκουμένην (cp. κόσμον … πάντα LBW II, 1192, 6) Lk 2:1 belongs here also. For the evangelist considers it of great importance that the birth of the world’s savior coincided w. another event that also affected every person in the ‘world’. But it can also be said of Augustus that he ruled the οἰκ., because the word is used also in the sense of 2 above.16

Both of the above definitions show that in the minds of the NT writers and their audiences, the oikoumenē could be viewed as representative of all the inhabitants of the earth (i.e., humankind) and the Roman Empire at the same time.17 This is because the Roman Empire was their world, and as Alexander Souter states, “all outside it was regarded as of no account.”18

Therefore, in consideration of the above analysis, it should be concluded that the Bible designates the world of the Roman Empire as the locus of the judgment that would occur at the Parousia and the inhabitants of the empire as those who would be subject to that judgment.19

Historical Evidence for a First-Century Judgment of the World

That the Roman world was judged at Christ’s Parousia is evidenced not only by the multitude of calamities that came upon Judea and Jerusalem20 from ca. AD 67–70 but also those that came upon Rome and the rest of the empire.21

Regarding this period, Michael Green writes that “[t]he years AD 68–70 saw the Roman world tottering on the edge of total ruin from internal wars and rumours of wars.… It was a period in which, some Roman writers tell us, people were widely expecting the end of the world.22 In this same vein, the Roman historian Tacitus records the following about the state of the Empire following emperor Nero’s death in AD 68:

I am entering on the history of a period rich in disasters, frightful in its wars, torn by civil strife, and even in peace full of horrors. Four emperors perished by the sword. There were three civil wars; there were more with foreign enemies; there were often wars that had both characters at once. There was success in the East, and disaster in the West. There were disturbances in Illyricum; Gaul wavered in its allegiance; Britain was thoroughly subdued and immediately abandoned; the tribes of the Suevi and the Sarmatæ rose in concert against us; the Dacians had the glory of inflicting as well as suffering defeat; the armies of Parthia were all but set in motion by the cheat of a counterfeit Nero. Now too Italy was prostrated by disasters either entirely novel, or that recurred only after a long succession of ages; cities in Campania’s richest plains were swallowed up and overwhelmed; Rome was wasted by conflagrations, its oldest temples consumed, and the Capitol itself fired by the hands of citizens. Sacred rites were profaned; there was profligacy in the highest ranks; the sea was crowded with exiles, and its rocks polluted with bloody deeds. In the capital there were yet worse horrors. Nobility, wealth, the refusal or the acceptance of office, were grounds for accusation, and virtue ensured destruction. The rewards of the informers were no less odious than their crimes; for while some seized on consulships and priestly offices, as their share of the spoil, others on procuratorships, and posts of more confidential authority, they robbed and ruined in every direction amid universal hatred and terror. Slaves were bribed to turn against their masters, and freedmen to betray their patrons; and those who had not an enemy were destroyed by friends.…
Besides the manifold vicissitudes of human affairs, there were prodigies in heaven and earth, the warning voices of the thunder, and other intimations of the future, auspicious or gloomy, doubtful or not to be mistaken. Never surely did more terrible calamities of the Roman People, or evidence more conclusive, prove that the Gods take no thought for our happiness, but only for our punishment. (Tacitus, Histories 1.2–3)

Though Tacitus only provides a broad overview of the experience of the Roman world in the years following Nero’s death, what he makes abundantly clear is that during that period the inhabitants of the empire experienced unprecedented calamities, which served as unmistakable evidence of divine punishment.23 And given that calamities of this nature were to result from the divine judgment at the Parousia (Mt 24:37–44; Lk 17:25–37; 21:25–27, 34–36), I would suggest that they should also be viewed as evidence that the Parousia occurred during the time frame I have proposed.

Conclusion

As I have shown in my answer, the theory that the NT is referring to two second-coming events is problematic for two main reasons. Firstly, it contradicts the Bible’s teaching that all major eschatological events, including the judgment of the world, were to occur within the same 3.5-year period—a period which the NT places within the lifetime of Yeshua and his disciples’ generation. Secondly, it fails to acknowledge that historical data, when viewed in the context of the biblical writers’ understanding of the world, provides evidence that the world of the NT was judged from ca. AD 67–70. Given these issues, I would suggest a more reasonable position is one that maintains that the NT is referring to only one second-coming event, which occurred during the first century AD.


Notes

1 The Parousia refers to the “second coming” or arrival of Christ at the eschaton.

2: Though the judgment is not explicitly mentioned in Daniel 12, that it should be included as one of the events that were to occur within Daniel’s 3.5 years is supported by two considerations: (1) the judgment of the dead is portrayed as occurring at the time of the resurrection, which is mentioned in Da 12:2 and (2) the shattering of the power of the holy people would have undoubtedly resulted from the judgment of the living.

3 Cf. Re 1:7; 6:12–17.

4 See for example, Douglas Mangum, ed., Lexham Context Commentary: New Testament, Lexham Context Commentary (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2020), Mt 24:29–31. Mangum who believes there will be a future coming of Christ to judge the world (see his comments on Lk 21:25–28 in the same work), comments as follows on Mt 24:29: “Jesus uses a temporal frame to indicate an immediate sequence of events from the ‘tribulation of those days’ to what will be described utilizing apocalyptic language of the OT. The first passage that began answering the question of the disciples about the temple’s destruction (24:3) discussed the ‘birth pangs’ leading up to the event (24:8). The previous passage then used ‘those days’ (24:19, 22) to describe the time of the temple’s imminent destruction. Now Jesus moves on to what happens after the tribulation (24:21) of ‘those days’ just described. Jesus quotes the cosmic language typical of apocalyptic judgment, quoting Isa 13:10 and 34:4. This cosmic language of judgment is used in apocalyptic discourse not to describe actual events in the physical world, but to signify cataclysmic events that signify a profound shake-up in God’s providential plan. This profound shake-up is the destruction of Jerusalem’s temple, and it is described here by Jesus using the grand cosmic language of judgment from the OT Scriptures.”

5 Donald A. Hagner, Matthew 14–28, vol. 33B, Word Biblical Commentary (Dallas: Word, Incorporated, 1995), 714.

6 The Greek word translated as “about to” in this and the following verses is μέλλω, which means “to occur at a point of time in the future which is subsequent to another event and closely related to it—‘to be about to.’” Johannes P. Louw and Eugene Albert Nida, “μέλλω,” Louw-Nida 67.62.

7 It is important to note that the latter part of the verse says that Felix was “terrified” after hearing Paul’s words. Given that Felix was not a Jew, his fearful reaction would make little sense unless he was aware that he as a Gentile would also be subject to the coming judgment.

8 I take the Book of Revelation to have been written no later than AD 67/68. Two primary considerations support this conclusion. First, Re 11:1–2 implies that the temple was still standing when the book was written and had not yet begun to be trampled upon by the nations. Second, Re 17:9–10 speaks of seven kings of Rome (the city of seven hills), and mentions that five had fallen, one was, and the other had not yet come and would remain a little while. If you begin the count of the Caesars of Rome with Julius (as do Suetonius and Josephus), you get (1) Julius, (2) Augustus, (3) Tiberius, (4) Caligula, (5) Claudius, (6) Nero, the one who is, and (7) Galba, who remained for a little while (his reign lasted 7 months). If Nero was in fact reigning when John wrote Revelation, then it must have been written prior to Nero’s death in June of AD 68.

9 Map by Logos Bible Software.

10 Map by Logos Bible Software.

11 Map by Logos Bible Software.

12 See Figure 4.

13 Map by Logos Bible Software.

14 Cf. Dan 7:23 regarding the devouring of the whole earth by Rome (i.e., the fourth beast).

15 Map by Logos Bible Software.

16 William Arndt et al., “οἰκουμένη,” BDAG 699.

17 See Josephus, J.W. 2.362–363; Ag. Ap. 2.41; Otto Michel, “οἶκος,” TDNTA 679. According to Michel, “The NT never contests the Roman claim that equates the oikouménē with the empire.”

18 Alexander Souter, A Pocket Lexicon to the Greek New Testament (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1917), 173. Evidence that the ancients of the biblical world were aware of (or speculated about) “habitable worlds” beyond their own can be seen in Strabo, Geography 1.4.6 and Josephus, Wars of the Jews 2.363. However, they generally had very little knowledge about them.

19 See the Greek of Ac 17:31; Lk 21:26; Re 3:10 for the use of oikoumenē in connection with the judgment.

20 See Josephus, J.W. 6.3.4; 6.9.1–4; 7.1.1–3

21 See Tacitus, Histories 1.2–3, 11; 2.56; 3.46, 71–72; 4.54; Cassius Dio, Historiae Romanae 65.15, 19. For a list of calamities that came upon the Roman Empire from AD 67–70 see Kurt Simmons, Urgent Corrections Preterism Must Make - No. 1

22 Michael Green, The Message of Matthew: The Kingdom of Heaven, The Bible Speaks Today (Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2001), 252.

23 It is worth noting that Tacitus mistakenly attributes this punishment to the “Gods,” which is not the first time that Yahweh's judgment has been wrongly credited to pagan deities (Cf. 1 Sa 4:7–8).


Selected Bibliography

Gentry, Kenneth L., Jr. Before Jerusalem Fell: Dating the Book of Revelation: An Exegetical and Historical Argument for a Pre-A.D. 70 Composition. Tyler, TX: Institute for Christian Economics, 1989.
Green, Michael. The Message of Matthew: The Kingdom of Heaven. The Bible Speaks Today. Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2001.
Hagner, Donald A. Matthew 14–28. Vol. 33B. Word Biblical Commentary. Dallas: Word, Incorporated, 1995.
Kittel, Gerhard, Gerhard Friedrich, and Geoffrey William Bromiley. Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, Abridged in One Volume. Grand Rapids, MI: W.B. Eerdmans, 1985.
Louw, Johannes P., and Eugene Albert Nida. Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament: Based on Semantic Domains. New York: United Bible Societies, 1996. Souter, Alexander. A Pocket Lexicon to the Greek New Testament. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1917.

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  • Good article, but I would have to disagree. I think a lot of your points are solid, but it fails to address how other prophecies were fulfilled literally and exactly. We also see parallel themes in the scriptures all over the place, not to mention many see Matt 24 describing two related but different events. There's also the problem of not fulfilling the prophecies as they were written, in a literal sense, point by point, rather then in a poetic sense. Why would God suddenly decide to act so inconsistently and contrary to Himself in regards to how He fulfilled prophecies in the past?
    – Yahuchanan
    Aug 11, 2023 at 18:47
  • @Yahuchanan thank you for sharing your thoughts. Which specific passages do you think contain prophecies that should have been fulfilled differently from what I suggested in my answer?
    – AMRhone
    Aug 24, 2023 at 20:10

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