I have for quite some time help that Matthew 24:1-34 refers to the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70. Some refer to this position as the “partial preterist” understanding of that text. Basically, since Jesus says in verse 34 that all the things he has just said would take place within “this generation,” I find it pretty clear that it would all happen before about 40 years expired.
If we look at history, Jesus was speaking approximately AD 30, and if you ad 40 years, you get AD 70, which is exactly when the temple was destroyed. It seems to me to be the simplest, clearest reading of the text. And since there is a shift from “those days” to “that day” once we get to verse 36, it seems that the rest of the chapter then talks about his physical second coming.
Frankly, I haven’t spent a lot of time thinking about this in quite some time. But I was reminded of it today when watching a debate between James White and a Muslim apologist. The Muslim apologist set up his argument like this:
- Jesus said he would come back before the end of “this generation”
- He examined all uses of “this generation” in Matthew, and it was clear that every time it referred to the generation of people alive at the time in which Jesus was speaking
- Jesus did not come back within one generation
- Ergo, the NT cannot be inspired and true
Now while of course futurists (with reference to Matthew 24) have other explanations for the term, etc., the apologist actually had a decent point, if you assume that Jesus was speaking about his 2nd coming in vv. 1-34.
But of course if you reject that assumption, and see instead that Jesus was speaking about his coming in judgment on Jerusalem in verses 1-34, then the apologetic point is actually reversed. Jesus–and the record of his words in the NT–actually predicted incredibly accurately what would happen to Jerusalem and the Temple, attesting to the record’s integrity.Read More