preterism surprisePMW 2021-078 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.

Preterism is getting traction in the modern evangelical world. Dispensationalism, though still a behemoth, is on its last legs. All proposed rapture dates have failed; all identifications of the Antichrist have been exhausted. What is there to do? Evangelicalism is now living in a gap period: between dispensationalism’s heyday and its total demise. This is one gap theory I love.

But why is preterism gaining a footing? In this introductory article, I will summarily list the leading indicators, as they apply to the book of Revelation. Then in the next articles I will flesh them out.

Basically, three factors generate preterism:

1. The importance of chronological indicators in biblical prophecy.
2. The impact of OT apocalyptic language on eschatological discourse.
3. The significance of A.D. 70 for redemptive history.

Let us see how these impact Revelation.

Olivet Discourse Made Easy
(by Ken Gentry)

Verse-by-verse analysis of Christ’s teaching on Jerusalem’s destruction in Matt 24. Shows the great tribulation is past, having occurred in AD 70, and is distinct from the Second Advent at the end of history.

See more study materials at:

Exegetical observations

First, preterism relies heavily upon Revelation’s assertions of the nearness of certain prophetic events (1:1,3; 22:6,10), while non-preterists disingenuously re-interpret these.

“The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show to His bond-servants, the things which must soon take place; and He sent and communicated it by His angel to His bond-servant John…. Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of the prophecy, and heed the things which are written in it; for the time is near.” (Rev 1:1, 3).

When the preterist comes upon didactically-seated, temporal delimiters, such as these, he allows them their literal significance. And he seeks an historical fulfillment in antiquity, since he believes the Bible is without error. Where absent, then other issues must suggest the proper interpretation, which may or may not demand a past fulfillment.

Interpretive recognition

Second, the preterist recognizes the hyperbolic-symbolic nature of the dramatic visual imagery in apocalyptically-framed prophecies. Although most evangelicals recognize the symbolic character of OT apocalyptic, its influence in NT passages is often overlooked.

John opens Revelation with the clear statement:

“The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show to His bond-servants, the things which must soon take place; and He sent and communicated it.”

The word “communicated” translates esemanen. It fits well with “to show” (deixai). Together they indicate: “to show by means of symbols.” And why would anyone not expect such in a book populated with seven-headed beasts, fire-breathing prophets, a woman standing on the moon, and so forth?

Perilous Times: A Study in Eschatological Evil
(by Ken Gentry)

Technical studies on Daniel’s Seventy Weeks, the great tribulation, Paul’s Man of Sin, and John’s Revelation.

See more study materials at:

Historical realization

Third, preterists hold that the birth of new covenant Christianity at Pentecost (AD 30) necessarily leads to the death of old covenant Judaism in the holocaust (AD 70).

According to Acts 2:16-21, 40, tongues-speaking was a sign of the “blood and fire to envelop Jerusalem in AD 70.”[1] For rejecting her prophesied Messiah (Lk 23:18-32; Mt 21:33-46; cp. 1Th 2:14-16), God judges Israel’s people, land, city, and temple (Mt 23:34-24:34).

This judgment concludes for all times the typological-ceremonial era of the OT (Heb 8:13; cp. Jn 4:21; Heb 10:23-25; 12:18-29), which narrowly focused on one people (Dt 7:6; Ps 147:19-20; Am 3:2) in a confined land (Gen. 15:18; Psa. 135:10-12). This dramatically opens God’s redemption to all peoples in all the world (Mt 8: 10-11; 24:29-30; 28:18-20; Lk 24:44-49; Ac 1:8).

Free downloadable Gentry sermon: Genesis’ Days or Evolution’s Ages?

Preterism is quite biblical and historical. Therefore, it is not given to emotional and fantastical interpretations. Thus, historically it has not sold well. But as Christians are beginning to awaken to the necessity of careful biblical interpretation, “the times, they are a’changing.”


1. O. Palmer Robertson, The Final Word (Banner of Truth, 1993), 41-49.



  1. Larry Campbell March 9, 2015 at 8:19 pm

    Essentially I see dispensationalism collapsing within the next 50 years. There main argument for a futuristic view of Matthew 24 is Israel in 1948 and their belief that “this generation” refers to the generation that is alive at this formation of Israel. One of the many problems is 67 years have already passed. So I would argue that sooner rather than later dispensationalism will be in the ash heap of history.

  2. Richard Stals March 9, 2015 at 8:55 pm

    Thank you Ken.

    I believe as more and more Christians move beyond a simple folk religion, whose theological authority seems to rest on sermon sound bites and inane cliches (not to mention whichever ‘best seller’ is currently sitting on their local Christian bookstore), toward a more reflective and considered faith – a commitement to Dispensationalism will naturally evaporate.

  3. Barry Will March 25, 2015 at 10:57 pm

    I am a dispensationalist convert to partial preterism-within the past 5 years. I became disenchanted with dispensationalism over time and felt for years that it was s very clunky system of biblical doctrine. It was like the square peg being forced into a round hole. After praying for more biblical understanding of eschatological passages, God sent a preterist my way who introduced me to the doctrine. I am hooked!

  4. Mike May 4, 2015 at 9:46 am

    My impression is that the promotion of preterism by the prominent theologian N.T. Wright in his book Jesus and the Victory of God has also played a role in the recent rise of interest in preterism.

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