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Particulars of Christianity:
313 Preterism

Things Which Must Shortly Come to Pass

Preterism Part 1: The Basics and Partial Preterism
Preterism Part 2: Olivet and the Transcendent "You"
Preterism Part 3: The Remaining "Proof Texts"
Preterism Part 4: Appealing to Josephus
Preterism Part 5: Uninterrupted Futurism into 2nd Century
Preterism Part 6: Nero, History, and Biblical Details
Preterism Part 7: Scripture and a Delayed Coming
Preterism Part 8: Brief Summary of Conclusions
Behold I Come Quickly
Things Which Must Shortly Come to Pass
When Was Revelation Written?
A Throne of His Own

Addendum: "The Time Is At Hand"

Preterists often find proof of their theory in Revelation. These two very parallel statements can be found in chapter 1 and chapter 22.

Revelation 1:1 The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John:

Revelation 22:6 And he said unto me, These sayings are faithful and true: and the Lord God of the holy prophets sent his angel to shew unto his servants the things which must shortly be done.

The Preterists focus on the phrase "things which must shortly be done." As we will soon show, there are two equally valid ways to interpret the key Greek word in this phrase. First, it can refer to something happening "soon" or, in other words, "in the very near future." Second, it can refer to the rate of speed at which an activity or series of events will be accomplished. Particularly of interest to the Preterists, is of course, the first option, that according to John, Jesus' return would be soon after he wrote the Revelation.

Let's start by assuming this first definition is the case and see if that would force us to accept a Preterist point of view.

In reality, these passages pose very little problem for Futurists. To illustrate, Futurist's might ask a simple question. "These things must shortly come to pass." From whose perspective? God's or man's?

Peter has already told us in II Peter 3 that God does not count time as we count time. And Peter makes this statement concerning the supposed "slackness" of the Lord's coming. So it is particularly with the Lord's return in view that Peter comments on the difference between God's perception of "soon" and our perception of "soon" which appears to be causing the confusion.

Also of note here is that Peter writes this comparison of how God reckons time as opposed to how we reckon time in the mid-60's AD. A Preterist interpretation of Revelation 1:1 and 22:6 that "shortly come to pass" meant the events described would happen just a few years after 65 AD does not seem to fit very easily with Peter's explanation in this second epistle.

If we take into consideration Peter's words in this second epistle when examining these passages in Revelation 1 and 22, then a Futurist interpretation of the passages seems quite reasonable. In fact, the Futurist understanding would seem more reasonable than the Preterist interpretation, which would imply that Peter misunderstood Jesus' teachings on when Jesus' would return. (For more on 2 Peter 3 and Parousia Delay please visit are article entitled "Preterism Part 7: Scripture and a Delayed Coming, which is also in this section on Preterism.")

In other words, disbelief over the Lord's slowness to return can be alleviated, according to Peter, once we understand that a short amount of time to God is much different than a short amount of time to men. For God, a thousand years are a short amount of time, just as short as a day or a watch in the night are to men.

II Peter 3:4 And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.
...8 But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. 9 The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

Psalm 90:4 For a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night.

The origin of this quote that Peter uses here is in Psalms 90 (quoted above). In Psalms 90, a thousand years are compared to two things both of which are relatively short periods of time from a human perspective. A thousand years are said to pass by as quickly to God as 1. a day and 2. a watch in the night. The point of this statement is to demonstrate how quickly our time passes by to God. To this we would make only a slight but interesting speculation. Jesus himself in Luke 12 speaks of his return in terms of watches of the night.

Luke 12:37 Blessed are those servants, whom the lord when he cometh shall find watching: verily I say unto you, that he shall gird himself, and make them to sit down to meat, and will come forth and serve them. 38 And if he shall come in the second watch, or come in the third watch, and find them so, blessed are those servants. 39 And this know, that if the goodman of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched, and not have suffered his house to be broken through. 40 Be ye therefore ready also: for the Son of man cometh at an hour when ye think not.

In this parable, Jesus compares his return to an occurrence that happens late in the evening watches, possibly even as late as the second or even the third watch of the night. Hypothetically, this could be a further hint from Christ himself that his return would be somewhere around the turn of the 2nd and 3rd millennia after his first coming. To arrive at such an understanding of this passage we only have to assume one thing, that Christ was well aware of Psalm 90 when he made this statement.

Even the parable of the good Samaritan provides evidence of this timeframe.

Luke 10:33 But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him, 34 And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. 35 And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence [1220], and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee.

The word for "pence" is the Greek word denarion (Strong's #1220). It also occurs in Matthew 20:2-13 where Jesus says it is a day's wage. The definition of this word also indicates it was a standard day's wage.

1220 denarion {day-nar'-ee-on}
of Latin origin;; n n
AV - penny 9, pence 5, pennyworth 2; 16
denarius = "containing ten"
1) A Roman silver coin in NT time. It took its name from it being equal to ten "asses", a number after 217 B.C. increased to sixteen (about 3.898 grams or .1375 oz.). It was the principal silver coin of the Roman empire. From the parable of the labourers in the vineyard, it would seem that a denarius was then the ordinary pay for a day's wages. (Mt. 20:2-13)

Matthew 20:2 And when he had agreed with the labourers for a penny a day, he sent them into his vineyard.
...9 And when they came that were hired about the eleventh hour, they received every man a penny.

Even in the Good Samaritan parable, Jesus indicates that the Samaritan pays the innkeeper two pence, which would have been two denarion, or two day's wages. So, according to Jesus, the Samaritan would return after two days. Although this is still speculation, there two things of interest here. First, according to Psalm 90, two days would have been the equivalent of 2 thousand year periods.

Second, this is remarkably consistent with Jesus comparison to the watches of the night. With regard to the watches of the night, Jesus says the thief might come in the second or perhaps even the third watch. In the parable of the Good Samaritan, Jesus says the Samaritan gives the innkeeper enough for two days but states that there may be some extra time beyond those two days. Both parables could indicate Jesus' return somewhere between the turn of the second and third millennia after his first coming.

In addition, this would also explain why the writers of the New Testament often refer to being in the last days. Perhaps, they were are aware of Psalm 90, that for God a thousand years pass as quickly as a day passes for men. In the context of the understanding, being in the last days could easily refer to the last 2000 years. Regardless of whether or not the parables in Luke 10 and 12 include symbolic references to the timeframe of Christ's return, Peter's words in II Peter 3 are proof that the apostolic Church leadership did, in fact, understand Psalm 90 applied to the timeframe of the second coming.

So, Revelation 1:1 and 22:6 do not pose a problem for Futurists even if we interpret the key Greek word to refer to the "soon-ness" of certain events. Futurists simply understand that this is from the point of view of God in whose eyes a thousand years are as quick to pass as a day or a watch of the night. And Futurists understand that this would not be deceptive or misleading on the part of God, since Peter's words in II Peter 3 demonstrate that the leadership of the Church at that time did understand the use of this symbolism.

The second definition for the key Greek word in these two verses is even less problematic for Futurists. That is to say, if the key Greek word does not refer to the "soon-ness" of these events, but instead refers to the rate at which these events must occur, then the Preterists' "proof" disappears entirely.

Let's first define the key Greek word in these two parallel verses. The critical word is the English word "shortly" which in the Greek is the compound word/phrase "en tachos" (Strong's 5034). It is defined as follows.

5034 tachos takh'-os
from the same as 5036; ; n n
AV-shortly + 1722 4, quickly + 1722 2,
speedily + 1722 1; 7
1) quickness, speed
En tachos is part of a family of Greek words derived from the root word "tachus."

5036 tachus takh-oos'
of uncertain affinity; ; adj
AV-swift 1; 1
1) quick, fleet, speedy

All the words in this family can be translated to refer to the "soon-ness" of an activity or the rate at which activities will occur. Here are some examples.

Luke 16:6 And he said, An hundred measures of oil. And he said unto him, Take thy bill, and sit down quickly [5030], and write fifty.

1 Timothy 5:22 Lay hands suddenly [5030] on no man, neither be partaker of other men's sins: keep thyself pure.

5030 tacheos takh-eh'-oce
from 5036; ; adv
AV-shortly 4, quickly 2, soon 2, hastily 1, suddenly 1; 10
1) quickly, shortly

John 13:27 And after the sop Satan entered into him. Then said Jesus unto him, That thou doest, do quickly [5032].

5032 tachion takh'-ee-on
neuter singular of the comparative of 5036 (as adverb); ; adv
AV-shortly 2, quickly 1, outrun + 4390 1, the sooner 1; 5
1) more swiftly, more quickly

John 11:29 As soon as she heard, she arose quickly [5035], and came unto him.

5035 tachu takh-oo'
neuter singular of 5036 (as adverb); ; adv
AV-quickly 12, lightly 1; 13
1) quickly, speedily (without delay)

In both Acts 22 and Luke 18 we find the exact parallel of the same Greek phrase “en tachos” (Strong’s number 5034.) And we see in these cases that it has implications for either "soon" or speed.

Acts 22: 18 And saw him saying unto me, Make haste (4692), and get thee quickly (5034) out of Jerusalem: for they will not receive thy testimony concerning me.

In Acts 22:18, “en tachos” is used side by side with the Greek word “speudo” (4692) meaning “make haste” or “hasten.”

4692 speudo
probably strengthened from 4228; ; v
AV-make haste 3, haste 1, haste unto 1, with haste 1; 6
1) to haste, make haste
2) to desire earnestly

Acts 22:18 uses these two Greek words to indicate that Paul’s departure should take place at a quick pace. While it is true that Acts 22 speaks of rapidly occurring actions (Paul’s departure) which would begin immediately, Luke 18 uses “en tachos” to refer to rapidly occurring events which do not take place immediately, but which begin only after some lengthy duration of time.

Luke 18: 1 And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint; 2 Saying, There was in a city a judge, which feared not God, neither regarded man: 3 And there was a widow in that city; and she came unto him, saying, Avenge me of mine adversary. 4 And he would not for a while: but afterward he said within himself, Though I fear not God, nor regard man; 5 Yet because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me. 6 And the Lord said, Hear what the unjust judge saith. 7 And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them? 8 I tell you that he will avenge them speedily (5034). Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?

Here in Luke 18:1-8, Jesus tells a parable that is clearly related to God avenging his persecuted people when Christ returns at the end of the age. This timeframe is invoked by Jesus when he concludes the parable in verse 8 by connecting it to the return of the Son of Man. It is also in verse 8 that Jesus uses the phrase, “en tachos.”

“En tachos” only occurs 6 times in the New Testament, meaning that Luke 18, Revelation 1:1, and Revelation 22:6 account for half of its usage. Moreover, Luke 18 is the first occurrence of “en tachos” in the New Testament, which also bolsters the idea that we are to understand at least some later uses of this same phrase in terms of how it is used in Luke. With so few occurrences of this phrase and the contextual proximity of the return of Christ in both Luke 18 and Revelation, there is good reason to connect the use of “en tachos” in all of these 3 passages.

How does Jesus use “en tachos” here in Luke 18? In verses 7-8, Jesus says, “And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them? I tell you that he will avenge them speedily (en tachos, Strong’s No. 5034 + 1722).” God’s vengeance will be “en tachos.” Unlike other passages in which quickly-occurring (“en tachos”) events may begin immediately, here Jesus speaks of quickly-occurring (“en tachos”) events (God’s vengeance) which will not begin immediately or soon. In fact, Jesus makes sure to denote on two separate occasions that there is a great deal of waiting before the rapidly paced vengeance begins.

First, during the parable narrative, Jesus states that the widow petitioned the judge for deliverance but “he would not for a while” and only “afterward” did he decide to give her vengeance. The widow’s justice did not begin immediately. She had to wait patiently for it.

Second, in two verses Jesus demonstrates that (at least in this regard) God is like the judge in the parable. Verse 1 declares that the purpose of this parable is to teach that “men ought always to pray and not to faint.” Nobody faints after praying only a short while. Fainting, or getting weary or exhausted (as it can also be translated) is something that happens when you don’t get something immediately or soon but have to wait a long time for it. But even more conclusively, in verse 7 Jesus states that God’s elect cry out day and night for vengeance. Do they receive vengeance immediately? Or do they wait like the widow had to? The end of the verse tells us plainly that God “bore long with them.” This phrase indicates the need for patience. The elect have to wait a significant time and endure the injustice and God waits with them. God’s vengeance was not immediate. If it was, there would be no need for patience or endurance. Yet in the very next verse, Jesus says God’s vengeance was “en tachos.” According to Luke 18, God’s vengeance was not immediate nor soon. To the contrary, verse 7 says that the saints (and God with them) had to “bear long” under the injustice. Therefore, Luke 18 provides a clear instance of “en tachos” referring to events which take place at a rapid rate, but which do not begin immediately or soon.

Furthermore, Luke 18 is clearly connected to end-times events. In verse 8, Jesus himself makes this connection. The same connection is also made in Revelation 6:9-11, where we find martyred saints crying out to God about the length of time before he avenges them. The martyred saints clearly parallel the widow portrayed in Jesus’ metaphor in Luke. Like the widow, the martyred saints had to wait some time before God avenges them. However, once God begins to enact this vengeance, he will accomplish it quickly. And while it is true that the martyrs in Revelation 6 are told to wait only a “little” season, it is also true that they have already been waiting for some undisclosed amount of time. The word “yet” in verse 11 is the Greek word “eti” which means, “of a thing which went on formerly” or “of a thing which continues at present.” While this does not tell us that the saints were waiting millennia, it does prevent us from suggesting that they only waited a “little” time in total. They were waiting more than the “little season” they are told to continue waiting. How much longer we can’t be sure but it seems to be contrasted with the “little season” in some sense, which implies that they have been waiting longer and only had a little waiting left to go.

Lastly, a little historical perspective is important regarding the meaning of “en tachos.” Jesus first used “en tachos” in Luke 18, during his ministry circa 30 AD. Likewise, Jesus’ comparison of his return to a thief in the night as well as Jesus’ Olivet Discourse (and any other teaching from Jesus that might be construed to suggest his return would be soon) all originate around 30 AD. If these things are fulfilled by the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple in 70 AD (a common Preterist notion), then there would be 40-years between the actual events and the initial prediction that those events would happen soon or immanently. Likewise, the early Christians began to be persecuted in the 30’s AD. Under any prophetic view, these persecuted and martyred saints were going to have to wait three decades for the justice and vengeance due to them. While 30 or 40 years might be dwarfed when compared to 2,000 years from a modern perspective, first-century Christians didn’t have 2,000 years of perspective. For them, 40 years was a lifetime. Many Christians were persecuted, died, or lived the majority of their lives in this span of time. No one waiting 40 years for an event would say it happened “soon.” To suggest that “en tachos” means “immediately” or within a few days, months, or years is conceptually comprehensible. But to suggest that “en tachos” means “soon” in the sense of 40 years being “soon” is completely incomprehensible. Since no one alive in the first century (the original audience to whom such teaching was given) would have seen 40 years as “soon,” that interpretation of “en tachos” is not available to us either. Whatever our eschatological or perspective may be 2000 years later, whether you believe Christians had to wait 40 years or 2,000 years, it is clear that the rapidly-transpiring events which bring justice and reward to the early New Testament saints and martyrs, were not immediate or soon to begin from their perspective.

Clearly, from these facts we can see that Jesus’ first use of “en tachos” with regard to his return does not mean “soon” or “immediate.” Here in Luke 18, “en tachos” can only mean “rapid rate.” It does not mean “immediately beginning” or “soon to begin.” Jesus’ point is that his people may have to wait a long time for God to give them justice, but they should not give up. God will avenge them. And when God does enact vengeance, he will do so at a rapid rate (“en tachos.”) The use of “en tachos” in Luke 18 demonstrated that Revelation 1 and 22 pose no problems for the futurist model of prophecy. The end-times’ events will happen at a rapid rate once they begin to occur, but the use of “en tachos” in Revelation 1:1 and 22:6 do not necessitate or indicate a “soon” or “imminent” onset of the events in the first century.

Put simply, “en tachos” cannot be used to derive an immediate onset of events. Nor can it be used to legitimately reject a long time before their onset. More specifically, the language and usage of “en tachos” does not necessitate events which take place immediately or within a few years while excluding events which would not take place for decades or millennia.

But why would the Holy Spirit being telling us that these events will occur at a quick rate? There are ample Biblical reasons to assume this understanding. From the end time prophecies of Daniel, we see that the events of the end times take place within a very short duration of time, with the great tribulation spanning only 3 1/2 years.

Daniel 12:7 And I heard the man clothed in linen, which was upon the waters of the river, when he held up his right hand and his left hand unto heaven, and sware by him that liveth for ever that it shall be for a time, times, and an half; and when he shall have accomplished to scatter the power of the holy people, all these things shall be finished.
...11 And from the time that the daily sacrifice shall be taken away, and the abomination that maketh desolate set up, there shall be a thousand two hundred and ninety days. 12 Blessed is he that waiteth, and cometh to the thousand three hundred and five and thirty days.

And Revelation echoes this exact duration in at least two places.

Revelation 11:2 But the court which is without the temple leave out, and measure it not; for it is given unto the Gentiles: and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months.

Revelation 12:14 And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent.

Jesus himself tells us the significance of these things happening over a short duration of time as opposed to a long period of time.

Matthew 24:22 And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened.

Mark 13:20 And except that the Lord had shortened those days, no flesh should be saved: but for the elect's sake, whom he hath chosen, he hath shortened the days.

If the events of the end times are not shortened, if they do not take place quickly over a short duration of time, then no flesh would survive. This would include the elect. So, in order to ensure that some of the elect would survive this period of tribulation and not taste death as prophesied by Paul in I Corinthians 15, God has allowed only the relatively short span of 3 1/2 years for these events to occur.

And Revelation echoes this concept as well. We note that in the first of the following passages the antichrist is said to continue for only a short space of time. The word for "short space" in the Greek is defined as follows. It refers to a short duration of time. Unlike, en tachos, it cannot be interpreted "soon."

3641 oligos ol-ee'-gos
of uncertain affinity; TDNT-5:171,682; adj
AV-few 14, (a) little 7, small 5, few things 4, almost + 1722 2, a while 2, misc 9; 43
1) little, small, few
1a) of number: multitude, quantity, or size
1b) of time: short
1c) of degree or intensity: light, slight

Revelation 17:10 And there are seven kings: five are fallen, and one is, and the other is not yet come; and when he cometh, he must continue a short space <3641>.

Revelation 12:12 Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time. 13 And when the dragon saw that he was cast unto the earth, he persecuted the woman which brought forth the man child. 14 And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent.

In this second passage from Revelation 12, the short time the devil has not only parallels the short space in which the antichrist will reign, but it is equated directly to the 3 1/2 years that the woman is protected from his wrath.

So, to interpret Revelation 1:1 and 22:6 as the rate in which these events must take place, fits perfectly with existing statements made by Christ in Matthew and Mark. It also fits perfectly with descriptions of the end time events found in both Daniel and Revelation where we are told that the great tribulation will last only 3 1/2 years.

And Jesus himself indicates why he would give this information to us. When describing in detail the difficulties and tribulation that is coming upon the earth, it would be of great comfort to God's people to know that these events will span only a short duration of time and that these events will therefore unfold at a very quick rate. God's people will have to endure much in those days but they will not have to endure it for an excessive amount of time. God will be true to his promise in I Thessalonians 4 and I Corinthians 15. Some of his elect will survive and will not taste death.

So, we see that the Greek phrase found in Revelation 1 and 22 can either refer to the "soon-ness" of an event, or it can refer to the rate and duration of a series of events. Neither of these two definitions poses a significant problem for Futurists. These verses are therefore not Preterist proof texts.