Tag Archives: Thessalonians

Two Controversial Passages (1 Thessalonians 4 & Romans 11)

I must say from the outset that having Dr. Don K. Preston as a teaching within the “Full Preterist Movement” with all of his debates, articles, and books are an invaluable resource at our disposal. In the last 2 days, I have finished reading through “We Shall Meet Him in the Air” which provided a commentary on 1 Thessalonians and I listened to his debate with Dr. Michael Brown over Romans chapter 11. You can listen to that debate by visiting the following link:

http://thefulfilledconnection.com/Preston_Brown.html

First, let us deal with 1 Thessalonians chapter 4. Don Preston makes a great statement which I believe is necessary for us to understand at the outset:

“If a given interpretation of 1 Thessalonians chapter 4 cannot be found in the OT prophetic hopes of Israel that interpretation is false. Paul said his eschatological doctrine was nothing other than what was promised in Moses and the Prophets”.

In Romans chapter 9, we read that the promises were given to Israel of the flesh, and then in chapter 15 we read the the Messiah came to fulfill the promises given to Israel of the flesh and it doing so would cause the Gentiles to glorify God for His mercy. The Apostle Paul accounts again and again that he preaches nothing other than those promises that were given by the Law and the Prophets (Acts chapter 24; chapter 26; and in chapter 28 he refers to this as ‘the hope of Israel’).

That sets the precedent for what we read of the apostle Paul writing to the church at Thessalonica. Christ had ascended into the Spiritual temple in the heavens and would come “out of the Temple” and restore God’s presence to the people whom He promised. This “soteriological Temple” would restore God’s presence, fulfill the “resurrection promises” given to Israel in passages such as Isaiah chapters 2-4; Ezekiel 37, and Daniel chapter 9.

We must interpret 1 Thessalonians in light of the fact that it is a reiteration of God’s Old Covenant promises to Israel. To tabernacle among men (Revelation 21:3)

Let’s take a moment to look at the context being given throughout the letter to the Thessalonians. In 1 Thessalonians 1:9-10, speaks about the ‘coming of the Lord’ that they were awaiting which would rescue them from “the wrath to come”. This is the wrath/ rescue that was spoken of by John the Baptist in Matthew chapter 3, and is referenced from Isaiah 40:10-11 and Jeremiah chapter 15.

In reading through 1 Thessalonians chapters 2-3, one must ask – “Where did Paul get the idea that persecution was appointed to them, and what is the connection to “the day of the Lord”? I would offer a cross referencing Matthew 24:9.

1 Thessalonians 3:13 is a cross reference from Zechariah chapter 14. I must be honest at this point. I personally have not had enough time to come to a firm and foundational understanding of Zechariah chapter 14 that I am comfortable with. I know Don Preston has various articles and videos that have dealt with the context of Zechariah chapter 14. Various other commentators have placed Zechariah 14 as fulfilled in AD 70. Here is a link that will take you to some of that information.

http://donkpreston.com/the-eschatology-of-zechariah-14-1/

Former full preterist Bible teacher, Frank Speer had written a great article about the context of 2 Thessalonians chapter 1 titled “To Me or Not To Me?” (which I can get you an emailed copy of upon request). Don makes a great point in explaining that Galatians chapter 4 is a direct commentary on 2 Thessalonians 1.

Sure enough, the fact that some had believed that Christ had already returned. As Don Preston rightly puts it, “If the Day of the Lord is an earth burning, time ending, cosmos destroying event, when every human who has ever lived comes out of the grave, how could anyone convince anyone that it had already occurred?”. We also see the same issue with those who believed the resurrection of the dead had already occurred.

When we get to the “man of sin’ metioned in 2 Thessalonians 2:3, we must look to the first century, during the time of the “Abomination of Desolation. This is still a topic I am willing to re investigate since I have heard a couple plausible options.

You may have noticed that I skipped right past 1 Thessalonians chapter 4 as I was going through various passages. I did this on purpose to establish the context in which we find the famous “rapture” passage in 1 Thessalonians chapter 4. A grammatical error that takes place in 1 Thessalonians 4:14 and is muchly ignored is that the text should read “through Christ” not “in Christ” (dia Christos not en Christos). Reading this along with Ephesians 4:8 establishes who those who died through Christ were. We are reading about the ‘vindication of the martyrs” in 1 Thessalonians chapter 4. This is a promise referenced in Judges chapter 5 and Psalms chapter 68.

In 1 Thessalonians 4:15, the Apostle Paul mentions that which He knows from the “word of Lord”, which scholars agree is Jesus speaking in the Olivet Discourse (Matthew chapter 25 and Luke 21). I have a chart that I have kept in the back of my Bible which shows the ‘verse-by-verse’ comparison of 1 Thessalonians chapter 4; Matthew chapter 24, and 1 Corinthians 15. If you are interested in obtaining this- please let me know.

In 1 Thessalonians 4:15, the Apostle Paul uses the term “apatesis” in Greek to say that the saints will “meet” Christ in the air (a point we will get to in a moment). Don Preston notes that, “The terms parousia and apantesis as technical terms as used and understood in the first century world, negates the idea of a removal of Christians from the earth….The terms parousia and apantesis…were used in the ancient world to speak of a king or royal dignitary that was to make a visit to a given city. As he approached the city for his visit (his parousia), the citizens of that city, being watchful for him, would, when his entourage was sighted, leave their city and go out and meet (apantesis) him. They would then escort him back to their city. The city was the destination of the dignitary”.

This is speaking about the coming of the Lord and the New Jerusalem as referenced in John chapter 14 and Revelation chapters 21-22.

Also, the term used for air, aer in Greek”, is a symbol of the heavenly or Spiritual realm (see, Ephesians 2:2, 6:12; 2 Corinthians 10;11). Ultimately what we are reading about is the Spiritual death of the martyrs and they life they awaited when Christ would be victorious in defeating Satan. This was detailed and expressed through the historical events of AD 70. Obviously, the context of the passage, and the proper understanding of Greek terms used shows that the common view taught about some metaphysical transformation occurring in the near future is completely false and is a false doctrine being perpetuated in many churches.

Another passages used by many who believe that the Full Preterist view is wrong is found in Romans chapter 11. As I mentioned in the beginning of this blog, Don Preston debated Dr. Michael Brown on this passage earlier this week. Herein I will share some of my notes from that debate.

Dr. Michael Brown started out with the premise that the modern church has become arrogant by saying that God is finished with ‘national Israel’ and has fostered the rise of supersecessioism and ‘replacement theology”. Now, I agree with Dr. Brown this was an issue that was being dealt with through the time of the first century when the promises that had been given to Israel of the flesh (see, Romans chapter 9) were being fulfilled. Many within the church thought that God had given up on Old Covenant Israel, but as Christ promised “heaven and earth would not pass away UNTIL all is fulfilled”.

Understanding the phrase “heaven and earth” and how that related to Israel could help very much in this discussion. However that did not come up. Clearly, Dr. Michael Brown does not understand the hermeneutic continually used throughout Scripture using metaphors and idioms. Throughout the debate with Dr. Preston, Dr. Michael Brown continually made the following statement, “Well if the words have any meaning…”- when he was trying to imply that the plain/natural reading must be read. Instead, I would reply that context and genre of the prophetic writing determines how the word should be defined. For example, Dr. Brown brought up the fact that Scripture promises that there will be no more war, and when did “swords get turned into plow shares”. In reading through passages such as Isaiah chapter 2, we understand the prophetic significance of what would be accomplished through the Messiah. Yes, Israel was used to defending their kingdom by constantly turning “plowshares” into “swords”, however when the Messiah brings forth the kingdom of God- Jesus will be the peace. The war will no longer occur- because all the enemies of God will be defeated through the glory of the Messiah. This is essentially the Biblical gospel of what occurred through the Messiah. It seems that Dr. Brown also fails to understand the context and usage of the term “death” as used throughout Scripture. Instead of the terms having no meaning within the Preterist understanding, it is the direct opposite- the words are FULL OF MEANING!

In response to this Don made a great point that the hermeneutic principle (interpretation took) that he uses is the fact that those in the Old Testament saw through “a veil” and did not grasp the full meaning of what God was saying through the prophecies, as the Apostle Paul says many times “the mystery was kept hidden”. However, we believe the Apostles did have that full understanding of what was being revealed in that time that had not been revealed before (Ephesians 3:4-5).

Another topic that Dr. Brown had brought up was the he believes the “restoration of all things” has not occurred. This runs in direct contradiction to what is spoken of occurring in those “last days” by the Apostle Peter in Acts chapter 3, what the Apostle Paul said about his generation being those who “upon whom the end of the ages has come (1 Corinthians 10:11), and what the writer of Hebrews understood as the “time of reformation”. This was happening in the time of transition occurring in the first century and was all summed up in the events of AD 70. God’s presence was restored! The end of the age in correlation to the destruction of the Temple as spoke of by Jesus Christ in Matthew chapter 24, occurred in AD 70! And that “time of reformation” surely occurred when the Old Covenant completely passed away and the New Covenant was fully consummated at the destruction of physical Jerusalem (see, Galatians 4:24-30).

Dr. Preston did a great job of bringing force the Biblical context of Romans 11;25-27. A proper reading and context surely brings an agreement that Romans 11 is speaking about promises and prophecies that were given to ‘ethnic Israel’, the Apostle Paul makes this quite clear both before in Romans chapter 9 and after in Romans chapter 15.
In Romans chapter 11:25-28, we read:
“For I do not want you, brethren, to be uninformed of this mystery- so that you will not be wise in your own estimation- that a partial hardening has happened in Israel until the fulness of the Gentiles has com in; and so all Israel will be saved; just as it is written, “The Deliverer will come from Zion, He will remove ungodliness from Jacob”. “This is My covenant with them, when I take away their sins”. From the standpoint of the gospel they are enemies for your sake, but from the standpoint of God’s choice, they are beloved for the sake of the fathers”.

Follow my logic here for a moment….. God made promises to the fathers, one of them being that He will save them from their sins (“their sins”which under covenant eschatology we understand comes from The Law and produces “the death”.). During the time awaiting the parousia, there was a “partial hardening” in Israel, allowing the Gentiles to come into covenant relationship with God, this partial hardening is to occur in an effort that “all Israel will be saved”. Keep in mind that the apostle Paul also taught that “All Israel is not Israel”, therefore it would be a remnant that would receive the benefits of the fathers. Some of those who had yet to repent were under the “hardening” and would eventually come into the truth of Jesus Christ- when the fullness of the Gentiles came in. That simply what Romans 11 is establishing.

Don Preston urges that we know the “prophetic background” that is being utilized in Romans chapter 11. Isaiah 59:20. Read Isaiah 59 and see the direct context about Israel’s separation from God and that which He will save them from. When He takes away “transgression”-sin. When does the prophet Daniel say sin will be taken away in Daniel chapter 9. At the end of the 70 weeks, that is another whole discussion we can have about the ministry of Christ and the events of AD 70.

I have just shown you a direct reference to AD 70 being made in Romans chapter 11. So where would we logically place the fulfillment?

As is common in Full Preterist discussions with “futurists”, Dr. Brown continually kept returning to the point that he was trying to make that those in “Israel” today are still hardened to the gospel, the gospel is still being brought to the ends of the earth, and we will have no more enemies. I would clearly show that “national Israel” found there end in AD 70, and what has become known as “Israel” today is not that which the Bible speaks. It can clearly be shown that according to Biblical testimony the gospel HAD been brought to “all nations” by the late AD 60’s. And as far as enemies, one must wonder if Dr. Brown has read and is familiar with Christ being the “peace” that turns enemies into “one new man” that is written about in Ephesians chapters 2-3.

In conclusion to all that was debated, Don explained that God never intended to save the entirety of Israel. God has always saved a remnant. In Amos chapter 5, God clearly says that a part of Israel will NEVER rise. Romans chapter 10 gives us the precursor to the “all Israel” being saved in Romans chapter 11 fulfilled. 

If someone asked my overall review, I would say that Dr. Don Preston did a great job of showing the “prophet background” contained within Romans chapter 11. Dr. Brown fails for one reason or anyone to see the context of the Biblical gospel, especially in regards to Israel and her last days. It seemed that Dr. Preston out of respect and humility held back from forcefully saying that the majority of those in “Israel” today are not the Israel of the Bible. What we know as Israel today is a mixed multitude that has by and large converted to secular Judaism. Plain and simple, this is not the Israel of “the fathers”.

Well that about sums up this evenings thoughts. I hope that my messages have not been overbearing, but have served to encourage you to read through and study these details.

Blessings in Christ,

Pastor Michael Miano

 

 

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2 Thessalonians chapter 2 – A Response to Matthew Henry’s Commentary

In the last issue of Fulfilled Magazine you were offered the opportunity to examine for yourself views that spoke of “moving beyond full preterism” and full preterism being the “Hymenean heresy”. As Brian Martin so rightly said, I feel that Truth has nothing to fear from opposing or differing views. If full preterism is the true, Biblical interpretation of eschatology, then it will prevail against all challenges”.

In this article I desire to show you the “Berean spirit” (Acts 17:11) alive and well in the Full Preterist community. I personally have approached those who speak ill of Full Preterism and asked for “reasons” (1 Peter 3:15) for their view- only to be given apathetic responses and or ostracized for my “critical mind”. In contrast, many times I am offered the opportunity to answer questions which I more than welcome, I encourage it.

Recently, a friend of a member of my congregation offered the commentary of 2 Thessalonians chapter 2 as a rebuke of the Full Preterist position. I would like to take some time to respond and deal with the issue that arise from a proper understanding of the text. Here is the link to the commentary offered by Matthew Henry:

http://www.biblestudytools.com/commentaries/matthew-henry-complete/2-thessalonians/2.html

2 Thessalonians chapter 2 is an interesting passage for someone to use “against” Full Preterism . Bible teacher Kurt Simmons writes:

“One of the chief eschatological passages of the New Testament is II Thess. 2, which speaks of the “man of sin” whom the Lord would consume at his coming. (II Thess. 2:3, 8) Tradition among primitive Christians identified St. Paul’s “man of sin” with St. John’s “antichrist” and Revelation’s “beast,” many holding that these were references to Nero. In his fourth homily on II Thessalonians, St. Chrysostom (A.D. 347 to 407) states,

“For the mystery of lawlessness doth already work.” He speaks here of Nero… But he did not also wish to point him out plainly: and this not from cowardice, but instructing us not to bring upon ourselves unnecessary enmities, when there is nothing to call for it.”

So what I hope to provide you with in this “response” is information pertaining to the “eschatological confusion” that has been shown in regards to 2 Thessalonians chapter 2, the culture and background of the confusion in different periods of time through church history (especially pertaining to Matthew Henry’s generation), and a contextual understanding of 2 Thessalonians chapter 2- with provided resources.

In his commentary, Matthew Henry notes that the purpose and opening of 2 Thessalonians chapter 2 is a refutation of the error regarding the “coming of the Lord”. Apparently, the Thessalonians thought the coming of the Lord had come and gone. That alone should come many to PAUSE.

If the “coming of the Lord” or the 2nd Coming as referred to by many, is this big cataclysmic event which involves stars falling to earth, a physical body of a 1st century Jewish man floating out of the sky on a horse, attended by the resurrection of biological bodies and the planet being destroyed- HOW IN THE WORLD COULD THESE PEOPLE HAVE MISSED IT?!?! This alone should cause many to reexamine their view and position of the “coming of the Lord”.

Matthew Henry lived during the 1700’s. This was a time when “end times interpretation” was greatly influenced by what is called the “Continuous Historical Approach”. This approach finds in the imagery of Revelation a continuous, chronologically sequential panorama of history reaching until the world’s end. The first to use this approach was Nicolas of Lyra (A.D. 1329) in his Postilla. Nicolas of Lyra was a Franciscan who rejected the apocalypticism of his fellow Franciscans. Instead, Nicolas offered a continuous-historical interpretation of Revelation beginning in the first century and reaching to his own time. This approach found its way into what we might call “mainstream though” through the Reformation initiated by Martin Luther, the German reformer. Luther equated his times and struggles with the fight against the Antichrist whom he deemed was the Pope. The continuous-historical method has few modern proponents. Its traditional interpretation equating the beast and harlot with papal Rome has not withstood serious scrutiny; no reputable scholars embrace it today. In some “cultish” crowds such as Ellis Scoffield and 7th Day Adventists one is likely to find these interpretation.

A proper understanding of “interpretation principles” enhances our understanding of the Bible. Many ‘Christians’ are content with a ‘face value’ or a 21st century influenced understanding of the ancient Scriptures which is dismaying to say the least. The ‘Continuous-Historical Approach’ is void of audience relevance, consideration of time statements, and the narrative-context of the Scriptures.

In his commentary, Matthew Henry says:

“From these words it appears that some among the Thessalonians had mistaken the apostle’s meaning, in what he had written in his former epistle about the coming of Christ, by thinking that it was near at hand,—that Christ was just ready to appear and come to judgment….and hereupon the apostle is careful to rectify this mistake, and to prevent the spreading of this error. Observe, If errors and mistakes arise among Christians, we should take the first opportunity to rectify them, and hinder the spreading thereof; and good men will be especially careful to suppress errors that may arise from a mistake of their words and actions, though that which was spoken or done was ever so innocent or well”.

Yes, the Apostle Paul was strongly speaking against “eschatological error” in the church at Thessalonica concerning the “coming of the Lord”. This is a work I have engaged in for the past 2-3 years now and it seems many in the Church want to “lessen” the importance of rectifying this error.

Why does it matter? This chapter of 2 Thessalonians clearly shows us the Apostles thought this was a serious issue and had the potential to distort the gospel (something I believe is being done in many churches across the world today). Therefore in writing this article and reproving errors I endeavor to follow the same logic in which Mr. Henry operated in taking ‘the first opportunity to rectify them”, even if that means showing that Matthew Henry’s interpretation of 2 Thessalonians 2 was indeed in error.

Ok..So open up your Bibles to 2 Thessalonians. I urge you before this study to take a minute to read through 2 Thessalonians chapters 1-3, that way you can get the “full force” of the letter the Apostle wrote to the Thessalonians church in A.D. 51-52. Understanding that alone is important and gives credit to the historical reliability of Scripture.

At the beginning of this letter from Paul, Timothy, and Silvanus they are encouraging the Church at Thessalonica through persecution. Notice what is said:

“…in the midst of all your persecutions and afflictions which you endure. This is a plain indication of God’s righteous judgment so that you will be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which indeed you are suffering. For after all it is only just for God to repay with affliction those who afflict you, and to give relief to you who are afflicted and to us as well when the Lord Jesus will be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire, dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Thessalonians 1:4-8)”.

So if this letter was penned in the first century and dropped off at the doorstep of the Thessalonians church which was undergoing persecution and is promising them relief when the “Lord comes”- isn’t it only right to question is the Lord was faithful to this promise and gave them relief? After all, this letter is set forth to clear the confusion and not confuse more- yet the words of Christ Himself to the Apostles alive in that time was that some of them would not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming with His angels on the clouds of heaven to bring judgment (Matthew 16:27-28).

As we move into chapter 2, we now can understand why the Thessalonians would “lose composure” or be disturbed by a message that the coming had already occurred- they were still experiencing persecution- where was this RELIEF?!?!

Speaking about the “gathering together to him” should remind us of Matthew 24:31. In an article in which Dr. Don K. Preston goes in depth about the ‘gathering together’ he writes this:

“An examination of Matthew 24-25 with II Thessalonians 1-2 is especially revealing. In Matthew you have the threat of persecution with the promise of the Parousia for vindication and judgment on the persecutors–the city of Jerusalem. In II Thessalonians 1 you have the church being persecuted, and that persecution is instigated by the Jews, Acts 17. Those being persecuted are promised vindication at the coming of the Lord in fire and vengeance. The Thessalonians were suffering the persecution promised and foreseen by Jesus. Why then is the coming of the Lord in vindication in Thessalonians not the same coming of Jesus in vindication and judgment as that of Matthew 24:29-31?”.

So this gathering would be done after the tribulation which Jesus Christ speaks about in Matthew chapter 24, which a proper historical study can offer is fulfilled through the events of the Roman-Jewish War of AD 70.

“Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, who opposes and exhalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God (2 Thessalonians 2:3-4)”.

Now I personally believe the proof of this passage being in the past is what I posted above about the “gathering together” which was to occur in AD 70. I believe the saints were “raised up” along with “the dead ones” and brought into the presence of God- which until every jot and tittle of the Law was fulfilled could not happen. However, let’s analyze the 2 things the Apostle Paul lists here that must occur prior to the “coming of the Lord” and the “gathering together”. Could these have happened about 20 years after the Apostle Paul penned the second letter to the Thessalonians?

“APOSTASY COMES”.... Dr. Don K. Preston again weighs in on this and says:

“In Matthew 24:12 Jesus said that in the days prior to his coming in the destruction of Jerusalem, “because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold.” In the previous verse he warned that false prophets would “mislead many.” In verse 10 he had stated that due to persecution “many will fall away.”

Can you see the comparison? In Matthew 24 the disciples asked when the Lord was going to come. Jesus said before he returned there would be a time when “many will fall away;” false prophets would “mislead many;” and “most people’s love will grow cold.” He then told them he would come after that apostasy but in that generation, vss. 29-34.

In II Thessalonians the brethren were believing the Lord had already come. To correct their chronological error Paul reminded them that before the Lord could come “the apostasy” had to happen.

He was reminding them of the apostasy the Lord himself had said must happen!”.

BUT…who is this MAN OF LAWLESSNESS? 

Clearly from the words of the Apostle Paul this ‘man’ was alive in his time (2 Thessalonians 2:6-8).

Something was holding him back. There seems to be quite the controversy surrounding “he who know retrains” but with proper context I believe it is quite clear who this ‘man’ was.

Dr. Kenneth Gentry, who is NOT A FULL PRETERIST has some good details to share about identifying this man of lawlessness:

“The “man of lawlessness” is Nero Caesar, who also is the beast of Revelation, as a number of Church Fathers believe. This passage’s difficulty lies in the fact that Paul “describes the Man of Sin with a certain reserve” (Origen, Celsus 6:45) for fear of incurring “the charge of calumny for having spoken evil of the Roman emperor” (Augustine, City of God 20:19). Paul and his associates had already suffered at the hands of the Thessalonican Jews for “acting contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying there is another king – Jesus” (Ac 17:7). Wisdom demands discreetness when referring to imperial authority; his recent (1Th 2:17) personal ministry among them allows it: they were to “remember” that while with them he “told [them] these things” (2:5).

Paul clearly implies that something is presently (ca.AD 52) “restraining” (present participle) the man of sin “that he may be revealed in his own time” (2Th 2:6). The man of lawlessness is alive and waiting to be “revealed.” This implies that for the time being, Christians could expect at least some protection from the Roman government: the Roman laws regardingreligio licita  are currently in Christianity’s favor, while it remains a sect of Judaism. This begins to end after the malevolent Nero ascends the throne, for he begins persecuting Christianity in AD 64. Paul certainly enjoys the protection of Roman law (Ac 18:12ff) and makes important use of it in AD 59 (Ac 25:11–12; 28:19), when he seeks protection from the malignancy of the Jews”.

Or as author James Stuart Russel noted:

“But how striking are the indications that point to Nero in the year when this epistle was written, say A.D.52 or 53. At that time Nero was not yet ‘manifested;’ his true character was not discovered; he had not yet succeeded to the Empire. Claudius, his step-father, lived, and stood in the way of the son of Agrippina. But that hindrance was soon removed. In less than a year, probably, after this epistle was received by the Thessalonians, Claudius was ‘taken out of the way,’ a victim to the deadly practice of the infamous Agrippina; her son also, according to Suetonius, being accessory to the deed. But ‘the mystery of lawlessness was already working;’ the influence of Nero must have been powerful in the last days of the wretched Claudius; the very plots were probably being hatched that paved the way for the accession of the son of the murderess. A few months more would witness the advent to the throne of the world of a miscreant whose name is gibbeted in everlasting infamy as the most brutal of tyrants and the vilest of men”.

Bible Teacher Kurt Simmons would be inclined to historically explain that it was Claudius Caesar and the restraining power of the religio licita that kept the man of lawelessness from being revealed. 

Although being consistent with what is called “intellectual honesty” I must admit there are some who agree that this passage was fulfilled in the 1st century yet they would explain the details a bit different. For example, Bible teacher Ed Stevens would offer the high priest as the ‘lawless one”. He explains:

“The Jewish persecutors, the Judaizers, and the Zealots all show that this was fulfilled in the first century. The falling away was in progress as the last few NT books were written. One only needs to read things like the books of Hebrews, James, 1 & 2 Peter and 1-3 John to see this. The falling away coincided with the great persecution and tribulation that descended on the church just before the Jewish revolt (A.D. 63-66). During this persecution James, Peter and others (such as Paul) were killed (A.D. 63). And it was probably about this same time that John was exiled to Patmos. The NT writers during this time of persecution were bravely challenging their fellow-saints to persevere. The faithful remnant did. But many others forsook the “better things” in Christ and returned to Judaism’s things that were “fading away” and about to be destroyed. The “falling away” and “the coming of the man of sin” were first century events. They occurred in connection with the persecution of the church just before the Jewish revolt in A.D. 66. The destruction and defilement of the temple at Jerusalem is explained in great detail by Josephus. While 2 Thess. 2:1-4 is usually associated with “THE” Antichrist, we need to remember that the anti-Christian spirit was already at work in the first century. The Jewish persecution was already underway when Paul wrote these words. The Holy Spirit was restraining its effect until the church reached a mature-enough condition to persevere. There was a close connection indeed between the tribulation and the apostasy. The anti-Christian forces were persecuting the church to get them to fall away.

There are many passages which indicate that the “anti-Christ” was actually the anti-Christian spirit which motivated the Jewish persecutors who worked against the church in the period before AD 70. Notice these passages in particular: 1 Jn. 4:3; cf. 1 Jn. 2:17, 18; and 2 Thess. 2:7. Whatever this “man of lawlessness” was, it was already at work during the time Paul wrote, and was evidently at its worst when John wrote, since he says, “Children, it is the last hour; and just as you heard that antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have arisen; from this we KNOW it is THE LAST HOUR.” (emphasis mine, ES). And, it is not just preterists who suggest the “man of lawlessness” was something other than an individual. Several of the amillennial and post-millennial theories suggest the same. As far as individual “antichrists” are concerned, some have suggested the various messianic contenders during the war with Rome (John of Gischala, Simon ben Giora, or Eleazar ben Ananias, Eleazar ben Yair — the leader at Masada, or the High Priest). The Judaizers could easily qualify as “antichrists” as well. As I explain in my article elsewhere on this website, I believe the “beast” was Jewish. Whether it was the Jewish Zealots as a group, or individual leader as a figurehead, is not of real big concern to me. If I had to choose an individual who fits all the criteria mentioned here in 2 Thess. 2 and Revelation, I would probably focus on Eleazar ben Yair who resurrected his cause at Masada”.

Sure enough….the “coming of the Lord” occurred when the Romans surrounded the city of Jerusalem (Luke 21:20). This event destroyed the persecutors of the saints (Galatians 4:23-31). The temple was destroyed and it was clear as day as the 1st century historian Josephus noted:

“And this seems to me to have been the reason why God, out of his hatred of these men’s wickedness, rejected our city; and as for the temple, he no longer esteemed it sufficiently pure for him to inhabit therein, but brought the Romans upon us, and threw a fire upon the city to purge it; and brought upon us, our wives, and children, slavery, as desirous to make us wiser by our calamities”.

The rise of Full Preterism can be quite intimidating to many people who want to hold to certain “traditional” teachings. What needs to be known that within the Full Preterist community there are Christians who seek simply to know, understand, and to be obedient to the teachings of Jesus Christ- ALL THE TEACHINGS. I hope I have shown the ‘intellectual honesty’ in this response to the critics who may utilize Matthew Henry’s commentary and I hope that I have shown Mr. Henry’s thoughts on 2 Thessalonians chapter 2 to be flawed.

The fact remains- the letter of 2 Thessalonians was a first century writing to the Thessalonian church to encourage them to withstand persecution having hope in the “coming of the Lord” which would be judgement upon those who persecuted them. This judgment/ “coming of the Lord” occurred right on time as judgment came upon the city of Jerusalem and its inhabitants. Those whom were santified in Christ were ‘gathered to the Lord’ as they heeded His teachings and sure enough as the 1st century historian Josephus accounts- NOT ONE CHRISTIAN DIED IN THE CITY!

 

Reference:

http://www.preteristcentral.com/The%20Road%20Back%20to%20Preterism.html

http://www.preteristarchive.com/Hyper/0000_preston_second-thess.html

http://www.preteristarchive.com/Hyper/0000_preston_how-possible.html

http://torreygazette.com/austinpreterism/2013/07/23/gentry-theology-man-of-lawlessness-identified

http://kloposmasm.com/2009/08/16/pp15-the-man-of-lawlessness-ii-thess-2-part-1/

http://www.preterist.org/preteristQA.asp

 

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