Biblical Interpretation: the Preterist View of Revelation

Preterism is a Christian viewpoint that believes Revelation has already come to pass. The preterist view of Revelation shows that the prophecies were entirely fulfilled by the fall of Jerusalem in 70 AD. The name of this viewpoint, “preterism,” comes from the Latin world praeter. Since praeter means past, it is a good title for a viewpoint that believes that Revelation has already passed. People who believe in preterism are known as preterists.

The Great Tribulation

With the preterist view of Revelation is the belief that the Great Tribulation already occurred. In 70 AD, the Roman legions desolated Jerusalem during the start of the First Jewish-Roman War. According to the preterist view of Revelation, the Great Tribulation was a way of punishing the Jewish people for their sins. Since they rejected Jesus as the Messiah, their punishment was sent by God and their temple was destroyed.

Biblical Passages that Support This View of Revelation

Using the Gospels, Christians can get a closer view on Revelation. In Matthew 24:34, Jesus says that this generation will not pass away before the prophecies are fulfilled. Matthew 26:36 shows Jesus warning the Pharisees that judgment would arrive within this generation. According to these passages, the prophesies would then have to be fulfilled before the last living members of the generation died. Since the destruction of the temple occurred in 70 AD, it fits the forty-year time period from when Jesus gave the Olivet discourse to the fulfillment of the prophecy, as well as the Mathew 24 pronouncement by Jesus that there will never be another stone left or thrown down for the Jewish Temple. Since the temple was destroyed in 70 AD, this prophecy was fulfilled.

Preterism and Revelation

The preterist view of Revelation is divided into full preterism and partial preterism viewpoints. Someone who is a full preterist believes that every prophecy found within Revelation was fulfilled completely by 70 AD. A full preterist believes that humanity is living in an eternal state within the new heavens and earth.

In comparison, a partial preterist believes that many of the prophesies of Revelation were fulfilled. They believe that the destruction of Jerusalem was one of these prophecies. Unlike the full preterists, a partial preterist thinks that there are still prophesies that have yet to unfold. They think there will be a future resurrection for those who believe, and Christ will return to the earth. For a partial preterist, a full preterist’s beliefs are heretical because they teach the unorthodox view that Christ’s second coming is spiritual rather than physical. The first time either of these views was espoused was by Luis de Alcazar. Born in 1554, Luis de Alcazar was a Jesuit priest who created the preterist view in opposition to the Protestant belief in the Pope as the Antichrist. Since that time, biblical scholars have expanded and elucidated the preterist view of Revelation.

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