Category Archives: Bible Study

Believers After 70 AD

Were there any ORIGINAL disciples who survived 70 AD?

Preterist Jack Pelham says there were no believers left on the earth after 70 AD—they had been raptured! First, he quotes Matthew 28:20 I will be with you till the end of the age (aion) saying this would leave survivors of 70 AD out of this promise. But Jesus was assuring His audience, that He would be with them till the end of the age. He is not addressing believers 40 years hence, but those around 33 AD who will be His witnesses. That passage does not say anything about disciples after 70. Most believers by then would be Gentiles living well clear of Judea.

Believing Jews having escaped to Pella heeded Jesus’ warnings. Why would Jesus warn them to flee Jerusalem if they were going to be raptured outside Judea? You would expect Jesus to have said something quite different.

Then there are the remarks in John 21:21-24 regarding the beloved disciple being alive “until I come”. Note the discernment here about what Jesus actually said! Note the expectancy of the disciples about an imminent coming!

Paul at 1 Cor 11:26 says “we proclaim the Lord’s death” in the Lord’s supper “till he comes again”. Again there is nothing to suggest that disciples would cease this practice after 70 AD, is there? Paul expected a soon coming.

John 17:20.  “I pray not only for these, but also for those who believe in Me through their message.” Jesus prayer goes a lot further than for the 12 apostles but applies to all who will believe through them.

What changes did the disciples experience who lived after AD70?

In Mark 16:15 we read that He said to them, Go into all the world and preach the gospel to the whole creation—to go to everyone not just to Jews or to the current generation, and that He would work with them with signs following.

Some argue that the miraculous signs and wonders and gifts of the Holy Spirit were withdrawn sometime between 68 AD and 70. There is no evidence for this. This would mean that the apostles and believers alive at that time suddenly lost their power and authority of the Holy Spirit. That is unproven and ridiculous. Mark 16:17. And these signs will accompany those who believe: In My name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new languages. . . . . . .  lay hands on the sick, and they will get well.

It is unreasonable to believe Jesus would give us so many teachings and commands that these would only apply to ‘original’ disciples! Then there are all the passages in the Gospel of John where Jesus uses the Greek word kosmos, world. His teachings words apply to the world not just to Judea: e.g., John 1:29, 3:16, 16:8.

See also Romans 1:20, 4:13; 2 Timothy 2:2; Revelation 11:15, 17:8.

How did the events of 68-70 AD affect his disciples who were still alive?

  • It embolden them to see they were the true Israel, the Israel of God e.g., 1 Peter 2:4-10.
  • The great cleavage follows with ‘the Way’ now separate from the apostate Jews
  • Jesus’ people suffered horrific persecutions from apostate Jews—see numerous Acts passages.
  • Jewish Talmudic writers wrote against the rapidly multiplying Christians, cursing them.
  • John saw Israel as ‘the synagogue of Satan’ (Revelation 2:9) with no temple or priesthood.

There were reports of great earthquakes in the lead up to 70 AD. Scholar, John Gill comments that “at Crete, and in divers cities in Asia in the times of Nero: particularly the three cities of Phrygia, Laodicea, Hierapolis, and Colossae; which were near to each other, and are all said to perish this way, in his reign”[i]

There were wars, kingdoms against kingdoms during this time. See Josephus[ii] Jewish Wars, b. 6 chapter 9, section 3. Coffman[iii] concludes “Such things as famines, wars, and earthquakes seem to have been multiplied during that period”. Also see Albert Barnes Commentary[iv].


[i] Gill, John. The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/matthew-24.html. 1999.

[ii] Josephus, Jewish Wars, Chapter 9, section 3                                                                                                                                  

[iii] Coffman, James BCoffman Commentaries on Old and New Testament. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, USA. 1983-1999.

[iv] Barnes, Albert. Barnes’ Notes on the New Testament. 1870.

THE GREAT TRIBULATION

In Matthew 24:20-21 Jesus’ told his disciples that he would come immediately after “a great tribulation”: . .  pray that your flight will not be in the winter, or on a Sabbath. For then there will be a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will.

Jesus told the disciples of His generation to flee Judea and escape the coming tribulation when they see the advancing Roman armies.

Many believe that this terrible time still lies in our future. I have met people who live in fear of this. Others hope they will be raptured away instead of facing this dreadful experience.  But as I will show, this unprecedented event took place long ago:

  • Jesus words are addressed to Jews, Sabbath keepers, Judeans, to flee Judea and escape this imminent tribulation. Luke (21:21) warns them to keep out of Jerusalem. They must be alert and watch for the signs Jesus indicated in order to escape (15-16) this great distress. How could this possibly apply to us?
  • Jesus’ warning is to the generation he is addressing—it is ‘your flight’. How can this refer to our future?
  • This tribulation would be like nothing previous—terrible suffering at the end of the age but Jesus’ term ‘nor ever will’ means life goes on afterwards. How can this be the end of the world?
  • The Jewish eyewitness historian, Josephus, described the incomparable horror of 68-70 AD– 3½ chaotic, awful years, in his famous work ‘Wars of the Jews’—it’s history! How can this not be what Jesus foretold?
  • Jesus warned His disciples that they would face tribulation in their witnessing about Him (Mat 24:9). In Luke’s Acts and Paul’s letters don’t we read how much the unbelieving Jews persecuted them constantly?
  •  Jesus said they were to remain faithful to the ‘end’, an end which they could clearly foresee—either the end of the current age or of their earthly lives. How could this possibly be about the end of the world?
  • On His way to the cross, Jesus said to the weeping crowds, Daughters of Jerusalem, stop weeping for Me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. For behold, the days are coming when they will say, ‘Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bore, and the breasts that never nursed.’Then they will begin to say to the mountains ‘fall on us and to the hills ‘cover us’. (Luke 23:27ff). These people will face terrible times in their own generation, coming upon the apostate Jews—as Jesus had said, because these are days of vengeance, so that all things which are written will be fulfilled (Luke 21:22). This took place in 68-70 AD when the Jerusalem temple and city were destroyed. So how can this be the end of the world?

The word used in the Greek NT for ‘tribulation’ is thlipsis. Strongs’ Concordance lists these uses in the NT: oppression, affliction, tribulation, distress.  For example, note the following among the 45 occurances:

* Matthew 24:9 : They will deliver you to tribulation, and will kill you, and you will be hated by all nations . .

*Acts 14:22. We must enter the kingdom of God through many persecutions.

*2 Corinthians 1:4. [God ] comforts us in all our affliction so . . .

*Revelation 7:14. These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation . .

Finally, looking at Rev 7:9-14, John’s question about a great multitude which no one could count, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and the Lamb, is then told: These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation.” This is a different ‘great tribulation’.

So what great tribulation is this?

This is that great tribulation: The world takes it out on Jesus’ people with a vengeance. In all periods of history the most horrific things have been done to believers right up to the present day. In the world you will have tribulation (John 16:23). The awful suffering experienced now by many in China, North Korea, Iran and Muslim dominated nations—is this not for them “the great tribulation” of their lives? Won’t they all appear before the throne?

The ‘Futurist’ view I am addressing here insults and discredits these suffering saints, who can surely identify with Paul when he talks about his sufferings filling up what’s lacking in the suffering of Christ (Colossians 1:24).

The NT affirms that suffering (thlipsis, distress) is part of the Christian life and cannot be avoided. Show me any NT writer who wrote about future believers facing some great tribulation ending the world far away into the distant future.

They expected this event to happen in their generation.                         

Seeing the Son of Man

When you read Matthew 24, Jesus’ prediction that the Son of Man will come, do you believe as many do, that He will be seen with human physical eyes? In this short note I show how this does not line up with the scriptures.

The most common Greek word used for ‘see’ is horao. Strongs’ lists these uses for horao:

To see with eyes,  but also to see with the mind, to perceive, to know, to become acquainted with by experience, to experience, to look to, to take heed, beware, to care for, pay heed to.

For example in any of the following cases*, the word horao can be translated by any of the above uses.

*Mat 16:28. Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see [horaō] the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.”

*Mat 24:15. “So when you see [horaō] the abomination of desolation—spoken about by Daniel the prophet—standing in the holy place” (let the reader understand) “then those in Judea must flee . . . .

*Mat 24:30. Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and all the tribes of the earth will mourn. They will see [horaō] the Son of Man arriving on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.

*Mat 24:33. So also you, when you see [horaō] all these things, know that he is near, right at the door.

*Mat 26:64. Jesus said to [high priest], “You have said it yourself. But I tell you, from now on you will see [horaō] the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of Power and coming on the clouds of heaven.” 

 Check out Mat 24:37 and you will note that Jesus said His coming won’t be seen! Just the reverse:

Just like the days of Noah were, so the coming of the Son of Man will be . . .and they knew nothing until the flood came and took them all away. It will be the same at the coming of the Son of Man.

The Lord will not be seen! In Noah’s days they knew nothing,’ so the coming of the Son of Man will be’!

Not even Noah was said to have seen God.

And at Mat 24:43, Jesus says He comes like a thief—unexpectedly. The thief in the night conceals himself. 

But know this, that if the master of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into.

Is the thief seen? Does the thief tell you when he is coming? Does he make a noise and wake you up?

Can you show me from the scriptures where we read of the Lord coming in judgment and visibly? We can note the many visions of Daniel and John where they are unable to stand up in his presence, who ‘dwells in unapproachable light’.[1] The appearances of the Lord in the several theophanies[2] in the Old Testament are disguised or hidden from normal sight. Moses only ‘saw’ Him after He had passed (Exod 33:20-23)[3].

When Saul of Tarsus fell down at the sound of the voice of Jesus (Acts 9:7), he and his companions heard the voice but did not see Jesus—Saul saw the tremendous, glory light only.

Then Peter heard the voice only in that vision at Joppa (Acts 10:9ff). 

In Revelation, Jesus warned some gatherings of believers that he would come to them[4] but do you imagine that the Son of Man seated at the right hand of God in clouds of glory was then going to be visibly seen?

Finally, looking at Revelation 1:7b we have the same Greek word [horaō]: Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see [horaō] him . . . 

Now, can you see it? (I mean, do you get it?)

FOOTNOTES


[1] E.g., Daniel 8:18, 10:8-9; Revelation 1:17, 22:8.

[2] These are appearances of the Lord or Christ in the OT to various people—e.g., Abraham, Jacob, Joshua.

[3] Deuteronomy 33:20 The Lord said to Moses You cannot see my face, for no man can see me and live.

[4] Revelation 2:5,16,25; 3:3,11,21

The “End of the Age”?

Fact: In Matthew 24, after Jesus declared ‘not one stone of this temple will remain on another’ he answers His disciples’ two questions: when will this happen? what is the sign of your coming and the end of the age?

Fact: Jesus was using in the typically dramatic language of OT prophets prophesying God’s coming judgment. He spoke to Jews whom He had taught and not to modern thinkers or English speakers.

Fact: In Matthew 24 the phrase ‘the end of the age’ occurs many times. The Greek word for ‘age’ is aion and not  kosmos (‘world’). Hebrews 9:26 says ‘Jesus appeared at the end of the age, to put away sin.’ 

Here are six passages in Matthew’s Olivet Discourse chapter 24, which raise relevant questions about this phrase.

v15 “Therefore when you see the abomination of desolation which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand), then those who are in Judea must flee  

  1. ‘Those in Judea must flee’ (not ‘in the world’). Jesus told his followers to flee Judea when the Romans occupy the Holy place. Can this be the end of the world if they can escape Judea and survive?

 v17 Whoever is on the housetop must not go down to get things out that are in his house.  Whoever is in the field must not turn back to get his cloak . . .  pray that your flight will not be in winter, or on a Sabbath.

  1. We have already seen it’s Judea/Jerusalem that is in focus. Jesus talks about people working in the field (rural Judea) and Sabbath keepers (Jews)—right? So how can this be the end of the world?

 21 For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will.  Unless those days had been cut short, no life would have been saved; but for the sake of the elect, those days will be cut short. 

  1. Jesus spoke about a great time of suffering (not the Great . . ) coming unprecedented in the world which would again never be as awful. So doesn’t that mean there is life after this? Further, can you see Jesus talks about the time being cut short so the elect would survive? This is the end of the Mosaic age—what apostate Israel will suffer under the wrath of God. How can this be the end of the world?

 v23 Then if anyone says to you, ‘Behold, here is the Christ,’ or ‘There He is,’ do not believe him.  For false Christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect. . . . if they say to you ‘Behold, He is in the wilderness,’ do not go out, or ‘Behold, He is in the inner rooms,’ do not believe them.

  1. Jesus tells them His coming is not seen with physical eyes. As in the O.T., His coming in judgment won’t be optically seen. So they are not to take any notice of people exclaiming He is ‘here’ or ‘there’.

 v27 For just as the lightning comes from the east and flashes even to the west, so will the coming of the Son of Man be. 28 Wherever the corpse is, there the vultures will gather.  

  1. Lightning is limited geographically. Could a flash of lightning cover much beyond Judea? Its coming is unpredictable, instantaneous, swift. It is mostly seen at night. Jesus ‘comes like a thief in the night’, swift, hidden. Do you imagine the form of the glorious, unapproachable, terrifying Son of Man would be seen? He remains at the right hand of the Ancient of Days—right? Do you really think his enemies would see him and still live? Come on!

The insignia of the Roman might was the eagle and the army carried standards of eagles, idolatrous to Jews.

Graphic descriptions in the writings of the ancient historian Josephus talk about piles of dead bodies and blood flowing in the streets of Jerusalem in AD70. Have you read Josephus’ ‘Wars’?

 v 30 then will appear the sign of the Son of Man in Heaven, and then all the tribes of the land will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.

  1. Jesus said ‘tribes of the land’ (not peoples but tribes). Isn’t this all about the apostate Jews who rejected Jesus Messiah realising their fate and mourn ‘seeing’ their doom? Can you see this is a Judean context, the land of Israel? Isn’t this about the end of the long Mosaic age? Facts and logic. Plain thinking?

This very short article raises many implications and many questions will be raised which we cannot deal with here.

What do you really think?

‘Let God be true though all men are liars.’