I have, on this blog, occasionally discussed issues related to the eschatological position known as preterism. This is the view that the vast majority of Old and New Testament prophecies were actually fulfilled in the first century in connection with the Roman destruction of
Recently, a friend from church asked me if I could come up with a question to challenge the “full preterist” view. Being rather occupied with my recent move, I thought I would try to kill two birds with one stone and use her question as the prompt for this week’s SC post. I apologize in advance that it is a somewhat skeletal response.
There are several good biblical points to be made against “full preterism”, but the following observations are what finally led me to reject this position and to fix my mind on the so-called “partial preterist” view. The problem with full preterism is that it is forced to conflate sets of events that are really quite distinct and to make events contemporary which were clearly to be separated by a long period of time.
Revelation 20 prophesies as future events two distinct judgments of Satan and two distinct resurrections, both of which are very different in character from one another and both of which are separated by at least a millennium. The first judgment of Satan is a temporary restraining. He is bound with a chain and cast into the abyss, but only for a thousand years (v. 3). At this first binding of Satan, the first resurrection also occurs (v.5). This first resurrection is limited to the tribulation martyrs (v. 5). They, and only they, come to life and reign with Christ for a thousand years (v. 4). The rest of the dead do not raise until the thousand years are finished (v. 5).
It is not until after this millennium has passed that the final judgment of Satan and the final resurrection take place, and both of these are very different from their prototypes. This second judgment of Satan, which follows his thousand year imprisonment, is not, like the first, a temporary binding in the abyss, but an eternal assignment to the lake of fire (v.10). On the heels of this judgment, comes the second resurrection (v. 5), which, no longer limited to the saints, is now universal, bringing before Christ’s throne all who have ever lived and died (vv. 12-13). Those who are not found in the book of life join Satan for eternal punishment in the lake of fire (v. 15).
Again, full preterists are forced to say that each of these judgments of Satan and each of these resurrections were to take place, at the most, within a decade of one another. Some even say that the second judgment and second resurrection are merely re-descriptions of the first.
My question, then, for full preterists is this: Given the clear differences in character and the thousand year interval between these two judgments of Satan and these two resurrections, how can all these events possibly be said to have taken place in the first century and at roughly the same time?