Tuesday, March 28, 2006


Partial preterism is a view of prophecy which holds that most of the prophecy spoken of in the NT, and especially in the book of Revelation, was fulfilled in a sense in the destruction of the Jewish temple in the year A.D. 70. Partial preterists believe that the book of Revelation was written during the reign of Nero and before his death in A.D. 67. Some noted partial preterists are: Greg Bahnsen and Kenneth Gentry. Gentry is noted for his doctoral dissertation defending the view of partial preterism. It is called Before Jerusalem Fell. Partial preterism is one of four views of prophecy held by scholars today. The other three are:

Idealism--most of the prophecies in Revelation are fulfilled in progressive cycles spiritually; some take a modified approach and say that some is fulfilled in history as well. Some noted idealists are William Hendriksen (More Than Conquerors), Dennis Johnson (The Triumph of the Lamb), Vern Poythress (The Returning King), Sam Hamstra (Four Views on the Book of Revelation), R.J. Rushdoony, and Andrew Sandlin. I would also claim this view as my own as well.

Historicism--the book of Revelation is about all of history in a consecutive order. The Puritans held this view, and so do the London and Westminster Confessions. However, most scholars today recognize that this view is not able to be upheld, since Revelation is not consecutive.

Futurism--this is the view of American evangelicalism, which holds that most of the book of Revelation is future and that prophecy will be fulfilled in the Great Tribulation and the Rapture of the Church and a literal millennial reign of Christ on earth. Dispensationalists usually hold this view.


I believe that one of the main problems with partial preterism is its view of the coming of Christ. While I can agree as an idealist that there was a kind of "coming" of Christ in A.D. 70, Scripture seems to be clear that there are many comings of Christ which will culminate in the climactic coming of Christ. For example, in 2 Peter 1:16-18, Peter calls their experience on the Mount of Transfiguration a "coming" of the Lord Jesus.


Partial preterism cannot answer the fact that there was no Antichrist in A.D. 70. We are told in Thessalonians that the man of lawlessness would be destroyed at the coming of Christ. Our partial preterist friends say that the Antichrist was past, but yet many of them hold that Nero was the Antichrist. Yet, Nero died in 67, not in 70. No matter who they select as the man of sin, he was not destroyed in A.D. 70.


It seems to me that partial preterists have a huge burden of proof when it comes to the rest of John's writings. Even if we grant that Revelation was written in the 60's, what about the rest of his writings? What about the gospel of John, and 1st, 2nd, and 3rd John? Why is it that all the rest of the books of the Bible are pre-70, but John's are the only ones which are post-70? I would venture to say that it is because John was the disciple who would be left. We must remember that he was "the disciple whom Jesus loved," and that he was the only disciple who did not have to die. For this reason, I think we can see why it is that his writings all are post-70.


Our partial preterist brothers usually try to make a case when it comes to Revelation 11. They say the temple was still standing because of the time mentioned. Yet, upon analysis, we see that the number of the time was not exact. (See Poythress' book here.)

They also say that Revelation 17 counts down to Nero. But this depends on how you view what king to begin with. Again, see Poythress. It is quite possible to count to Domitian, which idealists say.

Finally, they think that since there is a textual variant with "666" ("616"), that that proves that only Nero could have been the beast. But this kind of gematria has been done with names for a long time, and we have found numerous names. This ultimately becomes subjective.


I know that this post is getting long, so I will sign off. I have only given you a bit to whet your appetites. Much more could be said, of course. But, for a quick summary, the above is why I am not a partial preterist.