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What is the Preterist view of the end times?

preterist, preterism

Question: "What is the Preterist view of the end times?"

Answer:
The preterist interpretation of Scripture regards the book of Revelation as a symbolic picture of early church conflicts, not a description of what will occur in the end times. Preterism denies the future prophetic quality of most of the book of Revelation. In varying degrees, preterism combines the allegorical and symbolic interpretation with the concept that Revelation does not deal with specific future events. The preterist movement essentially teaches that all the end-times prophecies of the New Testament were fulfilled in A.D. 70 when the Romans attacked and destroyed Jerusalem and Israel.

The letters to the churches in Revelation 2 and 3 were written to real churches in the first century, and they have practical applications for churches today. But chapters 6-22, if interpreted in the same way as the rest of Bible prophecy, were written about events that are yet future. There is no reason to interpret the prophecies of Revelation allegorically. Previously fulfilled prophecies were fulfilled literally. For example, all of the Old Testament verses predicting the first coming of Christ were fulfilled literally in Jesus. Christ came at the time that He was predicted to come (Daniel 9:25-26). Christ was born of a virgin (Isaiah 7:14). He suffered and died for our sins (Isaiah 53:5-9). These are but a few examples of the hundreds of Old Testament prophecies God gave to the prophets that are recorded in Scripture and that were fulfilled literally. It simply does not make sense to try to allegorize unfulfilled prophecy or understand unfulfilled prophecy in any other way than by a normal reading.

Furthermore, preterism is entirely inconsistent in its interpretation of the book of Revelation. According to the preterist view of the end times, chapters 6-18 of Revelation are symbolic and allegorical, not describing literal events. However, chapter 19, according to preterists, is to be understood literally. Jesus Christ will literally and physically return. Then, chapter 20 is again interpreted allegorically by preterists, while chapters 21-22 are understood literally, at least in part, in that there will truly be a new heaven and new earth. No one denies that Revelation contains amazing and sometimes confusing visions. No one denies that Revelation describes some things figuratively. However, to arbitrarily deny the literal nature of select portions of Revelation is to destroy the basis of interpreting any of the book literally. If the seals, trumpets, bowls, witnesses, 144000, beast, false prophet, millennial kingdom, etc., are allegorical or symbolic, on what basis do we claim that the second coming of Christ and the new earth are literal? That is the failure of preterism—it leaves the interpretation of Revelation to the opinions of the interpreter. Instead, we are to read it, believe it, and obey it—literally and exactly.

Recommended Resources: Understanding End Times Prophecy by Paul Benware and Logos Bible Software.



Related Topics:

What is the Olivet Discourse?

What is the Millennial Kingdom, and should it be understood literally?

Is partial preterism biblical? What do partial preterists believe?

What is dispensationalism and is it biblical?

What is premillennialism?



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What is the Preterist view of the end times?