Questions On The Preterist View

Q. I am a premillennialist and recently heard about the preterist view of Matthew 24 and Revelation and have two questions in which I was hoping to receive answers.

[1] Meaning of word “world”. Preterists argue that the Greek word for the entire globe, Kosmos, is not used in end-times prophecies such as Matthew 24 and Revelation 16. They claim that instead, the word “Oikoumene” was used and referred the Roman Empire. Thus, they point to AD 70 as Armageddon and the judgments leading up to it as only local events involving Israel and the Roman nations.

[2] The phrase “This generation” in Matthew 24: Preterists claim that Matthew 24:34 is the only place in the Bible where the term “this generation” did not refer to the actual audience at that time. Why would Jesus not specify a future generation by using a word such as “that” instead of this?

Thank you and I love your site!

A. Several Greek words are translated world in Matt. 24. In verse 3 the Greek word aion actually means age not world, and from the disciples’ perspective referred to the remaining 7 years in the 490 years of Daniel’s “70 weeks” prophecy.(Daniel 9:24-27)

In verse 14 the word is oikoumene. It can mean everything from an empire to the Universe. It’s used 15 times in the New Testament and 14 times it’s translated world, with Earth being the other time. It’s never used in the Bible to identify anything smaller than the world and specifically never refers to just the Roman Empire.

The word kosmos is used in verse 21 where Jesus said that the Great Tribulation would be worse than anything the world had ever seen either before or after it. Tragically there have been worse events in world history than the destruction of Israel, both before and after 70 AD. Plus the events following it as predicted in Matt. 24 simply haven’t happened. The “local” view isn’t consistent with a literal interpretation of Matt. 24.

Some Preterists point to the Mt. of Transfiguration episode as fulfilling the 2nd Coming, but when Jesus described it in Matt. 24 as being in the future, His transfiguration appearance had already taken place. (Matt. 17:1-13)

Earth is mentioned 3 times in Rev. 16 and each time the Greek word is ge which means land. This word is used to distinguish judgments which strike the land from those that strike the sea, the rivers, and the Sun.

As to your 2nd question, Jesus was clearly describing events of a future time and used the word “this” for the generation present at that time. And again, the events surrounding verse 34 simply did not happen as Jesus described them within the lifetimes of the Disciples.

You have to be very careful when discussing these things with Preterists. Many of them don’t abide by any established set of rules when (re) interpreting Scripture to conform to their view. Of all the views of End Times Prophecy, the Preterist view is the most difficult to reconcile with a literal view of Scripture. I personally find it an impossible task.

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