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Some argue that the miraculous signs and wonders and gifts of the Holy Spirit were withdrawn sometime between 68 AD and 70.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.