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Response To a Critic of Larry T. Smith's booklet, The Coming of the Lord, the Last Days & the End of the World

by Mike Blume

Larry T. Smith issued a booklet proposing the very thoughts I propose regarding prophecy and the endtimes. That booklet was mailed to 12,000 ministers in July of 2002.

Bro. Smith is a good friend of mine. Let me introduce this response I made to Bro. James Groce by saying that he, like so many others, simply did not adequately represent this viewpoint of prophecy that we adhere to. This is not to malign Brother Groce, but actually to assist him and anyone else, who may want to truly understand our view of prophecy. It is incumbent for anyone truly willing to criticize any viewpoint ensure they first understand the viewpoint and represent it fairly in any form of refutation of it. Hopefully, the following rebuttal will clarify the actual interpretations we adhere to. This is the reason debates are so good for Bible students to observe. They bring out thoughts of certain issues that often reveal a misunderstanding of those issues. I hope this helps the serious Bible student regarding our opinion and interpretation of Bible Prophecy.  Also, I must make it clear to the reader that the closest view to what we currently believe is entitled Partial Preterism. My view could be better called Kingdom Eschatology.

I also wish to make it clear that this issue should not divide brethren and cause division. We can agree to disagree on this issue, for it does not in any way hinder the truth of the necessity of true Acts 2:38 salvation and other tenets of salvation. Those who think it does hinder that faith are people who simply try to put words in our mouths similar to saying we believe the Church Gospel message ceased in AD70, when we believe no such thing whatsoever. It does us all well to ever remember to ensure we properly understand each other's beliefs by asking them questions when questions arise, and hearing it from one another's own mouths before jumping to conclude any assumption we might consider to be a ramification of what we each propose.

James Groce's words are introduced first with rebuttals and remarks of my own following.


JAMES GROCE:

The booklet promotes the theory that all (or most) of the events prophesied in the New Testament (including those in Revelation) were fulfilled in the past, specifically in AD70. The idea is that with the Roman siege of Jerusalem and destruction of the Temple, New Testament prophecies were fulfilled.


MIKE BLUME RESPONSE:

MOST of prophecy was fulfilled by AD70.

And when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh. Then let them which are in Judea flee to the mountains; and let them which are in the midst of it depart out; and let not them that are in the countries enter thereinto. For these be the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled.
(Luke 21:20-22)

This was distinctly referring to the AD70 judgment upon Jerusalem. Let me insert the thought that the crime of the cross, perpetrated at the hands of the generation of Jerusalem in Christ's day, was the worst crime to be possibly committed. Christ was Jerusalem's groom, and He came to His own (bride), and they received Him not. They cried out they wanted Caesar as their king, and wanted their true King crucified. This was her adultery. The kings of the earth mentioned in Rev 17 who were with the whore were described in the very Bible, itself, in plain terms.

And there came one of the seven angels which had the seven vials, and talked with me, saying unto me, Come hither; I will show unto thee the judgment of the great whore that sitteth upon many waters: With whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication , and the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication.
(Rev 17:1-2)

The kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord, and against his Christ. For of a truth against thy holy child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, both Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together,
(Act 4:26-27)

And the history surrounding the cross is absolutely pivotal in Bible Prophecy due to the obvious importance of the cross being utmost! This viewpoint of prophecy highly esteems the cross and its work in its very focus upon even the history surrounding it!

From Matthew 21 (where Christ was rejected in His triumphal entry), onward through Matthew 24, the context is absolutely one theme -- the rejection of Christ and the subsequent judgment upon that generation of perpetrators, and warnings to the future church to stay faithful that they be not backslidden and left in the city to be judged also. My reading of Matthew from front to back in a series of studies simply stunned me when I noticed that Matthew 21 shows a HUGE change of thought and narrative. Parable after parable ALL tie into the thought of Jerusalem's rejection and the church being given the kingdom instead. Futurism breaks off that flow of thought and makes Matthew 24 something totally apart from the cross, and claims it is about a series of events that something other than the cross will cause to occur. Let's keep the cross the focus in our prophetic understanding!

All these parables speak of this theme:

So many references point to AD70 because it was distinctly the judgment upon Jerusalem for crucifying the Lord. The cross is focus of all this detail! Nothing was worse than His bride crucifying Him! Nothing as worse than His Bride adulterating with Rome, saying her king was Caesar! If you are correct, and great trib is future, then some wickedness must occur that is greater than the crime of the bride crucifying her groom. And that is impossible! Nothing will ever be worse than the crime of the cross by Jerusalem.

This is what witnesses so powerfully in my spirit about this teaching. IT ALL CIRCLES THE CROSS AND THAT GENERATION. Its more apostolic than any other teaching! Constantly Jesus rebuked THAT GENERATION.. them and their children. He told the women weeping to not weep for Him, but for themselves and their children (that generation). And the Jews cried for His blood to be on them and their children (That generation). And lo and behold Peter is told to go to Jerusalem, Hell's HQ at the time, and wait for the promise. And he tells the PEOPLE WHO KILLED THE LORD to repent and save themselves form THAT GENERATION. And he says the promise is to them and their children! This is God's best to the worst, showing His grace and mercy!!!! Peter used the same words Christ did in cursing Jerusalem!


JAMES GROCE:

Additionally, since the booklet promotes the belief that New Testament prophecy has been fulfilled in the distant past, it rejects any Biblical basis for knowing when Jesus will come. It could be this year or it could be in 4000 years. Biblically speaking, we have no way to know.


MIKE BLUME:

This is a true point. Since the coming in Matthew 24 only refers to the coming in judgment, and 1 Cor 15 and 1 Thess 4 only refer to the yet future coming of Christ for His church, there are no signs to look for. He will come when He comes and will rapture/resurrect His church out of this world. To say that this view proposes there are no signs is to imply a sort of circular argument that more or less causes traditional prophetic adherents to ghasp in disgust. It's like saying, "This way of thinking is different, so I cannot agree with it." It argues "I am right, therefore you are wrong."

So, really, such points are pointless. What we need to determine is whether or not the coming with signs is speaking solely about judgment on Jerusalem or the future resurrection. Just because TRADITION amongst some circles insists that the references associated with signs regard the future coming of Jesus does not mean they are correct. Bro Groce has to first prove that these references associated with signs are indeed speaking about the future coming of Jesus. He has not done that. Hence, his argument is circular and weak.


JAMES GROCE:

This doctrine teaches that the great tribulation already happened in Jerusalem in the first century. It further states that Caesar Nero was the Antichrist, and Jesus Christ returned invisibly at the conclusion of the siege of Jerusalem in 66 - AD70. Be aware that this doctrine spiritualizes practically everything. In this way, the Antichrist is a Roman Caesar now long dead and buried. It promotes the belief that such events as the second coming as well as the resurrection of the dead and gathering together of the elect which accompany it have NOT yet occurred in history and places these things in the future.


MIKE BLUME:

The great tribulation occurred in AD 66-70. This is because the generation who saw all the signs listed in Matthew 24 to the abomination of desolation in the temple, would be the same generation that would experience this judgment. This is also mirrored in the following verse:

Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom.
(Mat 16:28)

The issue of spiritualizing is somewhat of a misnomer. The interpretations we propose for these issues in Revelation and Matthew 24 are completely based upon commonly used figurative speaking from the Old Testament. Coming in clouds, etc., are all Old Testament figures of God's coming wrath. For example, the high priest was told he would see the Son of man coming in clouds. This High Priest knew exactly what Jesus was talking about.

Imagine the high priest taking Christ's words at face value like so many do today in futurism. He would have walked away thinking Jesus was a nut! Coming in clouds? But he did not do that. He was shocked and accused the Lord of blasphemy. What Jesus said was attributed to God. And where do we find Old Testament references that mention coming in clouds in reference to God that would cause the priest's shock hearing Jesus attribute that to Himself? The only references there are about that are obvious idioms. Anything spoken of God in the Old Testament involved comings that did not speak about visible appearances of God in clouds, because every Jew knew that no man has ever seen God, nor ever will. God is a Spirit.

The High Priest knew Jesus used Old Testament terms, that unfortunately many today are not acquainted with, that indicated Christ was claiming to be GOD! Only God ever came in clouds in His judgment, but invisible as any Jew knew! The high priest knew what Jesus was saying. And that is why he cried, "Blasphemy". In order for Jesus to use the same terms spoken of God's coming invisibly in judgment, and for the High Priest to recognize that and accuse Christ of Blasphemy, it can only be that Christ spoke of coming invisibly in judgment. Futurists do not think this through to realize that.

But Jesus held his peace. And the high priest answered and said unto him, I adjure thee by the living God, that thou tell us whether thou be the Christ, the Son of God. Jesus saith unto him, Thou hast said: nevertheless I say unto you, Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven. Then the high priest rent his clothes, saying, He hath spoken blasphemy; what further need have we of witnesses? behold, now ye have heard his blasphemy.
(Mat 26:63-65)

There is not "the antichrist" in the entire Bible. There is THE BEAST. ANd THE BEAST is certainly AN ANTICHRIST, but the Bible does not use the term THE ANTICHRIST.

The Beast is never called "The Antichrist". The Beast is certainly an Antichrist, but is not "the Antichrist" You will be shocked to learn that there is no mention of "The Antichrist" in the entire Bible.

Here are the only verses that speak of "antichrist".

1 John 2:18 Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time. ;

1 John 2:22 Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son.

1 John 4:3 And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.

2 John 1:7 For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist.

We read of:

* Antichrist.
* Many antichrists.
* That spirit of antichrist.
* An antichrist.

But we never read of "The Antichrist" as though there is a figure in the Bible who is more "antichrist" than any other antichrist. John said that the spirit of antichrist was foretold to come (1 John 4:3). He did not say an individual called antichrist would come. In fact, John said that many antichrists existed in his day, and did not distinguish them from some great antichrist, worse than them all, to come in the future. An Antichrist is simply a person or spirit that denies the Father and the Son. It is a spirit that does not confess that Jesus is come in the flesh.

If you read 1 John very carefully, you will find that John spoke of the spirit of antichrist that was in the world in his day. And he never said anything about a man called antichrist who would come long after the spirit of antichrist was in the world. He said that antichrist was the influence of deception in his day denying the Father and the Son. John spoke of those who were part of the church but later left it and revealed that in reality they were never were part of the church to begin with.

1 John 2:18-19 Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists;. They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt] have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us.

Notice that John points to these apostates who were once among the church as proof that John was at that time in the last time. He proved to the readers that those early believers were in the last time.

Paul warned the churches about this antichrist spirit coming.

Acts 20:28-31 Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears.

Paul said the very people to whom he preached would experience the coming of false preachers. This period of time called the LAST DAYS was absolutely rife with heresy and false doctrine.

2 Timothy 2:16-18 But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness. And their word will eat as doth a canker: of whom is Hymenaeus and Philetus; Who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already; and overthrow the faith of some.

1 Corinthians 15:12 Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead?

Colossians 2:8 Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.

Colossians 2:18 Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshipping of angels, intruding into those things which he hath not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind,

2 Peter 2:1 But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.

2 Peter 2:10 But chiefly them that walk after the flesh in the lust of uncleanness, and despise government. Presumptuous are they, selfwilled, they are not afraid to speak evil of dignities.

The list goes on and on about the heresies in the days of the early church.

And the term "Antichrist" is never even mentioned in the Book of Revelation! So where did this title "The Antichrist" referring to a man with 666 ever come from?

John said it was the last time in his day and proof of that was the fact that antichrist was in the world in his day.

1 John 2:18 Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time. ;

Concerning NERO, since there were FOUR BEASTS that Daniel saw, and not FIVE, Rome was the last and final of the beasts. There will be no more world empires. And THE BEAST is ROME and not an individual person. But mainly the idea of ROME being involved is the point.


JAMES GROCE:

The problem with this doctrine is this: By definition Partial Preterism (the doctrine of the booklet) denies the Full Preterist (all prophecy is already fulfilled) claim that the second coming also had to occur in that first generation. By placing the second coming in the future they accept that at least one of the events prophesied in the Olivet discourse did NOT occur by the time that first generation passed away.


MIKE BLUME:

Incorrect. Nothing in the Olivet discourse speaks of a second coming that is to be future. Everything in that discourse is pointing to 70 AD. No resurrection is implied there.


JAMES GROCE:

In doing so, they negate that the timeframe statements (such as the one found in Matthew 24:34) require the preceding, prophesied events to occur by AD70. By allowing one of those prophesied events to remain unbound by the AD70 deadline, Partial Preterists actually allow all of the rest of the listed events to be delayed as well.


MIKE BLUME:

NONE of those events is future. So the above entire premise is false. See how sloppy James Groce's rebuttal is? It misrepresents us.


JAMES GROCE:

The fact is Partial Preterists deny the timeframe requirements and negate their own proof text. For this reason, Partial Preterism is a self-contradicting theory.


MIKE BLUME:

This is a straw man argument, since Kingdom Eschatology does not teach that any detail in Matthew 24 is future. You may demand that one of them be the resurrection and therefore, future, but that is not the reasoning nor teaching of Kingdom Eschatology at all. So the strongest point thus far that you stand upon against Kingdom Eschatology is actually a straw man, and not true of partial preterism at all.


JAMES GROCE:

It looks at timeframe references such as those found in the Olivet discourse and says, "Aha, these events must happen by AD70." Then it turns around and negates that very timeframe by placing one of those events (the second coming) in the future, thousands of years after the very deadline set by their own proof texts.


MIKE BLUME:

Incorrect, as shown. The second coming of Jesus is found in the narrative of 1 Cor 15 and 1 Thess 4. not Matthew 24.


JAMES GROCE:

The only alternative is for Partial Preterists to hypothesize that there are two second comings (for a total of three comings.) The first second coming they place in 70 AD with the destruction of the Temple as a sign of Christ's judgment. And the second second coming they place in the future when Christ will again return and gather the elect and resurrect the dead.


MIKE BLUME:

This is another circular argument, because it implies that "There cannot be a coming in judgment in AD70 and also a coming in the resurrection in our future because we do not believe that." Where does the Bible state how many times Jesus will come? We only read He would come in judgment in AD70, and then He would come for His church in the resurrection after that. It seems you are capitalizing upon people's traditional thoughts and their reactions to alien interpretations to drive home your point. However, this is not at all scholarly nor proper manner of debating an issue. Prove that there can only be one coming of Jesus after the cross, that is not distinguished by a coming in judgment from a coming in the resurrection. In fact, where does the Bible say "There is a second coming of Jesus"? It's not there. The Bible simply talks of Him coming in judgment and in the resurrection. If context demanded 24 more comings of Christ (which it doesn't), let the context speak for itself!


JAMES GROCE:

Preterists also hypothesize that all of the New Testament books were written prior to 70 AD, including the book of Revelation. This is essential to their theory because if prophetic texts such as Revelation or II Thessalonians 2 were written after 70 AD, then they could no longer assert that prophecies concerning such things as the antichrist and the mark of the beast took place by 70 AD.

But, if the entire New Testament including Revelation was written prior to 70 AD, then one wonders why Partial Preterists think there will be another second coming? Since according to their hypothesis, all of the prophecies in the New Testament concerning a second coming would have been written before the first second coming, what reason would they have for assuming that ALL these prophecies and commentaries weren't fulfilled by that first second coming? Given their premise that all scripture was written before 70 AD, what would be their Biblical basis for assuming there is a second second coming?


MIKE BLUME:

The coming of Jesus in 1 Corinthians 15 is speaking totally apart from the coming in destruction, and speaks of the changing of our mortal bodies, in a very physical manner, based upon Jesus' actual physical change of body in His resurrection. That is speaking totally apart from anything about AD70. And likewise, 1 Thess 4 is speaking about this same resurrection. Your statements above make no sense logically. Nobody said that all of the references to any "second coming" were fulfilled by AD70. Nobody said there will be two second comings. The Bible never even said there would be "one second coming". People have touted certain traditions around so much that they consider the Bible to explicitly state something, and take that for granted as so from that point on, and never stop to realize their conclusion was only a derived thought of interpretation, based upon interpretations of certain verses. Those statements never were made in the Bible, such as "second coming".

But the point of all points is to realize that we must base our interpretations on the Bible alone, and remember and mark those terms we use that are only interpretive, rather than explicit Bible terms.

Because the Bible was fully completed by AD70, and some of those scriptures point to a coming in judgment and other s point to a coming in the resurrection, it absolutely makes no sense to say the words you say above. They simply are inapplicable to the debate.


JAMES GROCE:

None.


MIKE BLUME:

Incorrect, as explained above.


JAMES GROCE:

The idea of two second comings is entirely ridiculous and superfluous.


MIKE BLUME:

And Kingdom Eschatology never said there would be two second comings. There is a coming of judgment that is separated from another coming in the resurrection. Matthew 24 is a local prophecy of the judgment upon Israel, hence the terms "Judaea" and "sabbath", referring to issues that would only affect Jerusalem. Where are two "second comings" found in this proposition?

So far your arguments have been based upon the hopes of pulling reactions from traditional futurist proponents that are by nature a shock, capitalizing upon the common reaction any traditionalist would hold, who was drilled for decades about a certain idea, and never heard anything else. So far, there is hardly any scholarly response in this argument, Bro. JAMES GROCE. Let's talk scripture, and what scripture says, and not talk "terms" and "titles" that are not found explicitly in the Bible, and carry a lot of baggage with them that is also not necessarily Biblically founded. You cannot seem to do that.


JAMES GROCE:

It is unbiblical and it is based on circular reasoning.


MIKE BLUME:

Yet another Straw man argument!


JAMES GROCE:

Partial Preterists are simply trying to assume the existence of something their theory needs to survive.


MIKE BLUME:

Incorrect. On the contrary, Kingdom Eschatology is only pointing out a distinction between scriptures that speak nothing about a resurrection in the instances of a coming of Christ in judgment, and scriptures that speak of judgment that have nothing to do with resurrection in the context.

Gathering the elect is not resurrection. The gathering of the elect is simply a contrast to the gathering of Jerusalem we reads about in Matthew 23. Is the gathering of Jerusalem a resurrection? I think not!

Note the contrast Jesus is giving, which is unnoticed by futurists such as yourself:

Verily I say unto you, All these things shall come upon this generation. O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! Behold, your house is left unto you desolate.
(Mat 23:36-38)

And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh: So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors. Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.
(Mat 24:31-34)

Just like ALL the parables before this, on back through to Matthew 21 and the cursing of the fig tree (symbolic of Jerusalem being cursed), this contrast found in Matthew 23 and 24 shows Jerusalem who were once heirs of such PROTECTION FROM TROUBLE, but lost that opportunity because they rejected Him, and the church instead is to be GATHERED in the same sense of protection from the trouble. And both references also state the generation of that day being the one to see all of this occur.

Futurists, like yourself, have failed to see this contrasting theme through Matthew 21 (starting after the fig tree cursing) through 24. This is the context of those chapters! Contrasting the church as new recipients of the Kingdom after Jerusalem rejects Christ. It focuses on the cross!

Futurists miss all of this context, and pull verses out of Matthew 24 that must be read in context of the entire chapter! Futurists also miss the first person personal pronouns spoken to the people standing right there before Jesus that demand he be speaking of them and their experiences that they would see personally as listed in this chapter!

For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. And ye shall hear of wars and rumors of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. All these are the beginning of sorrows. Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name's sake. And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come. When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:)
(Mat 24:5-15)

Notice all the times Jesus says YOU while looking into that faces of the people of that generation.


JAMES GROCE:

It is as if we assumed the existence of a thirty-two foot frog because otherwise our theory about the universe being ruled by a magic thirty-two foot frog would be obviously wrong. If there are no thirty-two foot frogs, our theory would fall apart. So we assume they MUST exist. The same is true for Partial Preterism and its theory of two second comings. The additional second coming is nothing more than a thirty-two foot frog.


MIKE BLUME:

All incorrect, inapplicable and blatant straw man arguing. Misrepresentation upon misrepresentation. Scholarly honesty and ethics would prohibit such a thing and have a person more thoroughly study what a viewpoint actually proposes instead of making such blunders.


JAMES GROCE:

The Preterist interpretation of these verses entirely depends upon the notion that these words apply MORE to that first generation than they do to us. For Preterists, the "you" in these passages is EXCLUSIVE to the immediate hearers only and DOES NOT equally apply to us.


MIKE BLUME:

Correct on that count. How else would you take Jesus' words had He looked into your eyes and said YOU will experience these things? And then look at you and say THIS GENERATION shall see all these things. Its only CONTEXT.


JAMES GROCE:

This is completely the opposite of what we assume when we read the Great Commission in Matthew 28 ("go ye") and one wonders whether or not Preterists would apply their method of interpretation to that passage as well. It is also the opposite of what we do when we read most of the rest of scripture. Also if this theory is applied to Acts 2:38 the "every one of you" means only (as many contemporary churches also try to tell us) the people THEN present were to repent, be baptized in Jesus Name and receive the Holy Ghost, and therefore has nothing to do with PRESENT DAY salvation.


MIKE BLUME:

Unscholarly assessment again. The context is what demands the use of "you" to refer to a single generation or an ongoing entity represented by a body of people over centuries. And in Matthew 24's case, the context demands it be one generation of people. Hence, the term GENERATION. Also, the reference to the stones being thrown down limit the entire chapter to refer to the generation that saw that occur in AD70. (The note of others who claim the stones were not thrown down due to the proof of the Wailing Wall is error. The Wailing Wall is proven to have not been part of the Temple, which information I can provide.)

The YOU in Matthew 28:19 is in context of the body of the church. But when CHrist spoke of the distinguishing factors in Matthew 24 He limited it to one generation of people.


JAMES GROCE:
The second argument that the booklet uses to demonstrate that Nero was the antichrist is the old number game (this contrivance has been used to absurdity--Hitler, the Pope, etc, etc).

Revelation 13:17 And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name. 18 Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six.

Based upon this verse the booklet points out that, in the Latin, Nero's name does add up to the number 666. In the Latin alphabet, Nero was spelled N-E-R-O-N. The numeric values are assigned as follows in the Latin.

N = 50
E = 6
R = 500
O = 60
N = 50

This, of course, gives us a grand total of 666, the number of the antichrist. Further evidence that is sometimes offered is that some ancient manuscripts of Revelation 13 actually record the number as 616. And, if you subtract the last N from NERON, to give you NERO, then you arrive at exactly that number.

However, there are two points that we want to bring up here. First, why are we using the Latin numbers instead of the Greek? The New Testament was written in Greek including Revelation. So what cause do we have to look to the Latin? Perhaps simply because Nero was Roman and the Roman language was Latin. But this conversion from Greek to Latin is itself an unfounded assumption and the main reason for the use of Latin is simply because if we use Latin "Nero works."

And for further proof, here is how the name Nero adds up using the Greek system instead of the Latin.

Nero (N=50, E=5, R=100, O=70) Total=225
Neron (N=50, E=5, R=100, O=70, N=50) Total=275

Even with the additional "N" at the end, Nero does not add up to 666 when using the Greek system.


MIKE BLUME:

Had you actually read this part of Smith's book, which I highly question you did according to your blunder in misquoting Smith's idea, you would have noticed that he said, "When you translate the name 'Neron Kesar' (Nero Caesar) in Hebrew it has the following numerical value." (666 is the answer).

"By translating from its original Latin into Hebrew...." (p. 68). you get 616. So its not LATIN, but rather HEBREW (666) and LATIN TRANSLATED INTO HEBREW (616).

But in order to defend the people who do claim this, I do indeed propose it is not at all illogical nor folly to refer to the Latin language translated into Hebrew for the identity of the beast through this means. After all, ROME WAS A LATIN entity. And if the beast was indeed Nero Caesar, then all the believers of that era would certainly identify this thought of the Latin language adding up Nero's name, since all the believers were very well acquainted with Nero Caesar in the persecution all admittedly agree occurred at his hand.

There is no illogic involved at all in thinking "him that hath understanding" refers to someone in the know about Nero and the Latin equivalent IN HEBREW and its calculation of his name. Latin was associated specifically with Rome, and Nero was known to be Roman. Comparing that to calculating Hitler's name, and so forth, is talking apples and oranges, since all the believers, including John, knew about Nero and his Latin kingdom.

But more importantly, it is in HEBREW that has the letters of NERON KESAR to add up to 666.


JAMES GROCE:

Second, by quoting Revelation 13 in order to identify Nero as the antichrist, Preterists also automatically uphold that the beast of Revelation is another term for the antichrist.


MIKE BLUME:

For one, I do not identify THE ANTICHRIST as anybody since the Bible does not speak anywhere of THE ANTICHRIST. Antichrist is a term used for ANYBODY who denied Jesus came in the flesh. Never is it designating a single individual.


JAMES GROCE:

They therefore cannot ignore any of the details found in Revelation describing this beast. In order for the Preterists to be correct, Nero would have to fit all of these details as well.


MIKE BLUME:

More straw man arguing.


JAMES GROCE:

So, let's look at some of those details.

II Thessalonians 2:2 That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand. 3 Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; 4 Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God. 5 Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things? 6 And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time. 7 For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way. 8 And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming: 9 Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders

From this passage in II Thessalonians we learn that the day of Christ cannot come unless the antichrist comes first. We also learn some important details about the antichrist.


MIKE BLUME:

Paul nowhere states that this man is THE ANTICHRIST. That is a tradition not taught in Scripture. He certainly is AN antichrist. Where does the Bible, itself, identify the man in 2 Thess. 2 and the beast in Rev 13 to be the same individual? That is a derived conclusion not based on explicit statements, but rather on a method of interpretation that is simply not solid. Anyone ought to be embarrassed for using such logic. This is the same error as concluding that the "HE" who confirms a covenant for one week, in Daniel 9:27, is the antichrist or the beast. The Bible makes no such claim. Again, this sort of reasoning, brother, is based upon tradition of a certain line of interpretation that claims certain personalities and characters are one and the same across the board in Daniel 9:27, 2 Thess 2:3 and Rev 13:18. But the Bible makes no such claims. And such an argument is only used to, once again, stir up a shock effect among those who simply swallowed this tradition part and parcel without ever having heard any other interpretation. It's not the Bible that is saying the man of sin in 2 Thess is the antichrist, nor the beast. The beast and the man of sin are antichrists, but there is no "THE ANTICHRIST" in scripture. So many of these details are simply not recognized by futurists.


JAMES GROCE:

1. We learn in verse 4 that he will sit in the temple of God.
2. We learn in verse 8 that he will be destroyed by Jesus Christ at his return.

Revelation 16:12 And the sixth angel poured out his vial upon the great river Euphrates; and the water thereof was dried up, that the way of the kings of the east might be prepared. 13 And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet. 14 For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty. 15 Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame. 16 And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon.

From verse 13 we know that the above passage is talking about the beast. We have already shown that II Thessalonians states the antichrist must come before Christ's return. And we have also shown that by theorizing Nero was the antichrist, the Preterists' are already assuming this term "beast" is another term for the antichrist.


MIKE BLUME:

On the contrary, you've shown a straw man, for preterists do not refer to any individual as THE ANTICHRIST. This is actually an argument Kingdom Eschatology uses to show the error of futurist interpretation methods. Futurists assume too much, basing their doctrines mostly on repeated thoughts, without having ever really ascertained whether or not the link futurism claims between certain characters in the scriptures is valid.

BEAST is not another term for the ANTICHRIST. I can show you Kingdom Eschatology statements that bring this entire thought forth as argument against futurist's claims that the beast is the antichrist. Who is to say that the man of sin is the same individual as the beast of Rev 13? We don't.


JAMES GROCE:

Here in Revelation 16 we see another detail concerning the antichrist.

3. The antichrist is responsible for gathering kings of many nations. This departs from Preterist theory because by pointing to 70 AD, Preterism only has Rome gathered against Jerusalem. This is one nation with one king, not many kings from nations around the world.


MIKE BLUME:

Everyone knows that ROME's empire was comprised of most nations of Europe at that time. His armies did indeed represent many nations, or tribes of people. By showing the BEAST coming with MANY NATIONS, it is a perfect description of the world empire known as Rome coming.


JAMES GROCE:

4. These kings of many nations around the world and their armies are gathered to a specific geographic location, Armageddon.


MIKE BLUME:

Armageddon is not a specific location anywhere in the world, for there never was a place ever called "Armageddon". Armageddon literally means HILL OF MEGIDDO. There was no place on earth ever called that. Megiddo was a valley, not a hill. And there was no hill around this valley that was ever entitled HILL OF MEGIDDO. Futurists have tried to identify this place as the valley of Esdraelon, when in fact they forgot to notice the term HILL in the word ARMAGEDDON. And it is this sort of fanciful folly that gave rise to "Meshech" being "Moscow" by sheer similarity of the terms, along with "Togarmah" as "Turkey." All is amateur scholarship impresses only the unlearned.

The term ARMAGEDDON is har-megiddon, "the mount of the assembly". chormah gedehon, "the destruction of their army;" or it is har-megiddo, "Mount Megiddo," the valley of which was remarkable for two great slaughters . One was where Israel was defeated (2 Kings 23:29), and the other was where the Canaanites were destroyed (Judges 4:16 and 5:19.). We are meant to understand the thought of total destruction and conquest by the reference to mountain of Megiddo. Once again, there is no place on earth called by that name. Just Megiddo.


JAMES GROCE:

Revelation 19:11 And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war...15 And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God..19 And I saw the beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against him that sat on the horse, and against his army. 20 And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone. 21 And the remnant were slain with the sword of him that sat upon the horse, which sword proceeded out of his mouth: and all the fowls were filled with their flesh.

In Revelation 19 we find the returning Christ. Verse 11 tells us that he has come to make war. We find in this passage a few more details concerning the antichrist.


MIKE BLUME:

Not the antichrist. The beast. And no resurrection is noted anywhere in this text. One man said the voice of many people in heaven demands a resurrection. Untrue. From ages past, the people of God have been persecuted by Jerusalem, the whore, as Jesus Himself stated in Matthew 23. And this is simply a rejoicing of Heaven, demanding no resurrection that is still future.



 

JAMES GROCE:

5. Verse 20 tells us that the antichrist will be alive when he is thrown into the lake of fire.
6. Verse 19 tells us that the antichrist and the kings gathered with him are there to make war against the returning Christ, and, of course, they are defeated.
7. Verse 21 tells us that the antichrist's armies will be slain when he is defeated along with the armies of the nations gathered with him.

This passage also confirms a number of our previous details from II Thessalonians and Revelation 16.


MIKE BLUME:

There is similarity but no confirmation of the character here being the man of Sin in 2 Thess 2. This is derived conclusion not explicitly noted in scripture. We require an explicit statements saying that THE MAN OF SIN IS THE BEAST, or THE ANTICHRIST. Since we already know there is no THE ANTICHRIST, that one option is out to begin with. And there is no explicit reference to the MAN OF SIN as the Beast either.

The Book of Acts identified the KINGS OF THE EARTH as follows:

Who by the mouth of thy servant David hast said, Why did the heathen rage, and the people imagine vain things? The kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord, and against his Christ. For of a truth against thy holy child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, both Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together, For to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done. And now, Lord, behold their threatenings: and grant unto thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak thy word,
(Act 4:25-29)

We claim that the persecution Jesus noted in Matthew 23 of the saints being driven from city to city is seen in the book of Acts, and occurred onward after the narrative e of Acts until the late AD60's. And the same KINGS OF THE EARTH who were identified by divine inspiration in the apostles prayer in Acts 4 are the ones noted in Revelation.


JAMES GROCE:

1. It confirms that the antichrist and his armies will not be alone when they surround Jerusalem on the day of Christ's return. There will be armies and kings from many nations with them.
2. The antichrist is destroyed by Christ at his second coming.


MIKE BLUME:

It confirms no such thing, since these are not conclusive proofs. This is the same error as determining the HE in Dan 9:27 to be the Beast of Rev 13. the Bible makes no such explicit connection. Futurism is rife with such sandy foundations of thought. Nothing conclusive.


JAMES GROCE:

Remember, by appealing to Revelation 13's description of the number 666 to confirm Nero was the antichrist, Preterists have upheld that the details concerning the antichrist will be literally fulfilled and as such can be historically verified.


MIKE BLUME:

Remember, Kingdom Eschatology makes no such claim that THE BEAST is the ANTICHRIST or THE MAN OF SIN. This is putting words into our mouths and building more straw men. Therefore, the above accusation is false.


JAMES GROCE:

Now, let's compare recorded history surrounding the Roman siege of Jerusalem with each of our 7 Biblical details. Let's assume for this test that Nero is the antichrist and see if that theory holds up.

Our first detail concerning the antichrist was from II Thessalonians 2:4. It said that the antichrist would sit in the temple of God. Does history record that Nero sat in the temple of God? No. Did Nero ever even visit Jerusalem? No.

So, Nero fails to meet detail #1. But let's continue.


MIKE BLUME

This argument is entirely moot since Kingdom Eschatology does not claim the man of sin to be the antichrist. And is is simply unreasonable to demand we believe that, when we do not, based upon some workings of interpretation in your mind which is not occurring in our minds.


JAMES GROCE:

Our second detail was from II Thessalonians 2:8 and Revelation 19:15,20. It tells us that the antichrist will be defeated by Christ when Christ returns.


MIKE BLUME:

Once again, these are all straw man arguments, and therefore inapplicable. I've rarely seen so many strawman arguments!


JAMES GROCE:

Was Nero defeated by the returning Christ? Well, look in any encyclopedia and you'll quickly find out that Nero committed suicide on June 9, AD68 AD. This is two years before AD70. That puts Nero's death two years before the fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of the Temple. That's also two years before Preterists claim Jesus returned.


MIKE BLUME:

The BEAST IS ROME. Once again, this is all incorrect assessment and argumentation since it is based upon straw man allegations. Nero Caesar died in June, A.D. 68 and was the sixth king. The seventh king (Galba) "has not yet come."

Rome and her kings committed fornication, and Jerusalem rode it's back to crucify the Lord. In the end, at AD70, Rome threw her off its back and devoured her in destruction through the siege. They burned her with fire, a perfect description of the destruction of Jerusalem.

Rome was trying to wipe out Christianity as well as destroyed Jerusalem. Early historians report this.

The FALSE PROPHET is the second beast in Rev 13. And this beast works miracles. He is identified as the false prophet in Rev 19:20 (compare with Rev 13:11-13). This false prophet is identified as among those whom Christ spoke of as false Christs in Matthew 24. This LAND BEAST is from Israel, itself. Not from Rome. the JEWISH false prophets spoke as a dragon with lamb's horns, but were wolves. This false prophet is the spiritual leadership that resisted Christ and turned Israel to the BEAST of Rome. The SEA BEAST of Rev 13 is Rome, and the fourth one Daniel saw in Daniel 7.


JAMES GROCE:

So, Nero fails to meet detail #2. However, based on this information, we also know that Nero fails to meet detail # 5. Revelation 19:20 tells us that the antichrist will be thrown alive into the lake of fire. Since Nero died in 68 AD, he could not have been thrown live into the lake of fire.


MIKE BLUME:

We never said he was the antichrist. See how rife your error of misrepresentation is?


JAMES GROCE:

Detail #3 is derived from Revelation 16:13-14 and 19:19. These passages tell us that the antichrist gathers kings and armies from all over the world to battle against the returning Jesus Christ. Detail #4 tells us that these armies gathered to a specific location, Armageddon. Did Nero gather armies and kings against Jerusalem or Jesus? No. Did Nero ever gather armies from many nations in Armageddon? No. There is no record any such events in history.


MIKE BLUME:

All straw man arguing. No place exists called ARMAGEDDON. Nero is not the false prophet nor the beast.


JAMES GROCE:

True, the Roman army did besiege Jerusalem, but that is just one army from one nation with one king, and it was not at Armageddon.


MIKE BLUME:

It was many nations comprised as one empire from all across Europe.


JAMES GROCE:

Nor was this destruction carried out under Nero's reign.


MIKE BLUME: STRAW MAN!


JAMES GROCE:

Rather it was under Vespasian that Jerusalem fell and the Temple was destroyed. If Nero was the antichrist, this would mean that Christ defeated him only to let his two successors succeed in his purposes. Furthermore, Vespasian did not die until 79 AD, and Titus, who succeeded him as emperor, lived until 81 AD. Since both of them survived the Preterists hypothetical return of Christ in 70 AD with their power intact, neither of them could be the antichrist either.

So, Nero fails to meet details #3 and 4. We have already shown that Nero's suicide rules out his fulfillment of detail #5. Let's move on to detail #6.

Detail #6 says that the antichrist and the armies he has gathered have come to make war against Jesus Christ. Now, of course, we have already shown that Nero never gathered the armies of many nations. However, the point of this detail is to demonstrate a very significant difference in the Preterist view of the end times and the return of Jesus.

The Preterists believe that Jesus Christ returned in judgment against Jerusalem and the Jews who still attempted to practice the Old Covenant in order to prove that the New Covenant had been inaugurated and the Old Covenant had passed away. To accomplish this, Preterists assert that Jesus gathered the Roman army to besiege Jerusalem and destroy the Temple.

Detail #6 is based on Revelation 19:20-21 and it tells us that this Preterist notion is wrong. Jesus was not prophesied to gather the Roman army for the purpose of destroying Jerusalem. Instead, the end time prophecies depict many armies gathered by the antichrist against Christ. The returning Christ is then recorded as defeating the armies of the antichrist as they come to attack Jerusalem. He is not depicted as in agreement with their destruction of the city. So, in their attempt to align history with prophecy, Preterists have reversed detail #6. Nero never gathered nations and armies to wage war against Christ.


MIKE BLUME:

As indicated, Rome was also trying to smash the church and obliterate it according to many ancient historians. They were trying to wipe out the bride and the whore, but managed to slay the whore and show the bride, who was spared due to leaving Jerusalem, as the only vindicated bride of Christ! The Church!


JAMES GROCE:

Now, Nero certainly did persecute Christians with a vengeance. And perhaps Preterists would attempt to portray this persecution as a fulfillment of detail #6. However, both detail #7 prevents us from accepting such a theory.


MIKE BLUME:

Not just Nero, but Rome itself fought the church. This was the perennial repetition of the most subtle beast in the Garden attacking the first bride, Eve.


JAMES GROCE:

From Revelation 19:21 we derive detail #7. Detail #7 tells us that the armies from all nations gathered by the antichrist to make war against Jesus Christ are defeated and slain specifically by the sword of the returning Jesus Christ.

When was Rome defeated? Not in 70 AD. After the fall of Jerusalem and after the destruction of the Temple in 70 AD, Rome continued to flourish for at least another 2 centuries. In fact, it was not until the 4th century under Emperor Constantine that the capital of the Empire was moved from Rome to Constantinople. Clearly, Rome did not fall under any circumstance related to the events of 70 AD. And clearly, since the armies of Rome were not slain by Christ when they besieged Jerusalem and destroyed the Temple, Nero (who himself died 2 years earlier) does not meet detail #7. His armies were not destroyed by the returning Christ.


MIKE BLUME:

Revelation 19 is not restricted to the past, but is ongoing. It starts with the destruction of Jerusalem and goes onward into the times past then, with the Church going forth in victory. Chapter 20 follows suit and shows the period of the church until the end with the white throne judgment. Chapter 21 and 22 are also the church, as Hebrews 12:22 says we are come to Heavenly Jerusalem, to Mount Sion. Not "going to," but "are come."


JAMES GROCE:

Nero fails to meet every Biblical detail concerning the antichrist. As such, he could not have been the antichrist as Preterists suggest. Nero was not the antichrist. Preterists are wrong. Without an antichrist that meets the Biblical details, II Thessalonians 2 tells us that Christ could not have returned in 70 AD.


MIKE BLUME:

The entire last few arguments are incorrect and straw men arguments. They do not attack preterism of any form, since they misrepresent what preterists believe about the beast and the false prophet, and mistakenly assumes Kingdom Eschatology teaches ideas about an alleged "THE ANTICHRIST".


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