When you’re speaking with someone who is new to the topic of fulfilled eschatology, there is one objection that often comes up. It goes something like this, “Well the Parousia (coming of Jesus) could not have happened in 70AD because the Bible says the Gospel has to be preached to the whole world first.”
And this is true. The Bible does say that. In fact, it says it several different times, in several different ways.
But what most Christians are unaware of – remarkably including most pastors and theologians – is the fact that the Bible also says that the Gospel WAS preached to the WHOLE WORLD, to ALL NATIONS, to ALL THE WORLD, to EVERY CREATURE UNDER HEAVEN and even to the ENDS OF THE EARTH. The “end” that was to come right after the Gospel reached “all the [Roman] world” – yes, that happened too. Right on time! Just as Jesus said it would in his Olivet Discourse (Mt 24, Mk 13, Lk 21).
Surprised? This handy dandy visual aid shows every way in which the Gospel was prophesied to be preached to the whole world before the “end” would come. If you put the prophecies on a timeline, you would see that, around 30AD these prophecies were made. And by the 60’s AD, certainly before 70 AD, this sign of “the end” was fulfilled. The Gospel had been preached to what THEY considered to be the whole world. And “the end” that THEY were anticipating – that is, the end of the Old Covenant world – came too, in 70AD as the Temple and Jerusalem were destroyed.
Once again, original Hebrew audience relevance and context are key to understanding what kind of “end” THEY thought Jesus and the prophets were talking about. Instead, too often WE super-impose OUR expectations and definitions and world views onto theirs. Does this negate one’s desire to preach the Gospel in the world? Of course not. Just ask people who hold a fulfilled view. They are some of the most enthusiastic sharers I know!
What a fulfilled view does do is change our motives for bringing good news of God’s grace to the world. We do not preach out of guilt or fear for ourselves or others. We do not share Jesus in order to speed along a coming of Jesus to end a world getting worse and worse. Instead, we bring an optimistic Gospel that celebrates how we can be a part of the story of Jesus in a world that is, ultimately, getting better and better. Part of the greatness of this Good News is that the “the end”, and the tribulations that went with it, are behind us! We bring new beginnings into a world being renewed. Therefore, we have a very bright future ahead of us! We can joyfully bring God’s Kingdom, Spirit and Good News into the world knowing that this heals the world – it doesn’t doom it!
It is not as though God’s plan was to keep Believers in the world cringing in fear of a world-ending tribulation for two thousand years. It was God’s good plan that the message of Jesus went out to his generation of contemporaries in the whole Roman “world”. He then judged the generation and city of people who rejected and crucified Jesus. Then, the bad was over. And the good was ready to come into the world unhindered!
Sharing that Jesus brings renewal and reconciliation to the world, not a doomed future, catalyzes my desire to be a part of His story. I want people to see how great it is that Jesus did what he said he would do – right on time! No mysterious gaps or prolonged delays.
The above example was one of many new learnings that gradually changed my view from futurism to a past fulfillment, or preterist view. If this view is new to you, I encourage you to check it out. Taking another look at Scripture you may also see that the only “end” the Bible talks about is behind us. This refreshingly optimistic view opened up new worlds of possibility, light-heartedness and joy in my faith journey. Now this is the kind of faith that I want to share with the whole world!
What do YOU think? Are you surprised by seeing the above verses? What motivates you to share the story of Jesus?