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The Preterist and Futurist Views of Jesus Second Presence and Anti-Christ 

The leaders of the Reformation all recognized the Roman system as the Antichrist.  The Futurist and Preterist views originated from two Jesuit Priests as a Counter Reformation Rebuttal to argue against the conclusion that the Papacy was the Anti-Christ system, also called the Man of Sin.

With all the success of the Reformation, it was necessary for the Catholic Church to have some “damage control.”  They assigned a capable Spanish Jesuit scholar who was fluent in Latin, Greek, and Hebrew named Francisco Ribera (ca. 1590) to propose a future Antichrist as an alternative to a Roman Antichrist (with support from cardinal Bellarmine).  This he did in his “Commentary on the Apocalypse of blessed John, Apostle and Evangelist” [B[eati] Ioannis Apostoli, & Evangelistiae Apocalypsin Commentarii]  Ribera died in 1591.

This Futurist view did not penetrate Protestantism until the early nineteenth century, with Samuel R. Maitland at Gloucester, then James H. Todd at University of Dublin, John Henry Newman (who converted to Rome and became a cardinal), Edward Irving, a Presbyterian preacher, then Margaret Macdonald’s “prophetic” visions, and later John Nelson Darby of the Plymouth Brethren.  The Anglican Bishop, Edward Elliott, wrote five editions of “Horae Apocalypticae” to counteract the new thinking about the Antichrist, and Henry Grattan Guinness further popularized Elliott’s defense.

From Jim Parkinson we get the following:

On Matthew 24: Praeterist, Historicist or Futurist Interpretation?

To understand Matthew 24, and Luke 21, we must do translation before interpretation, and then read carefully.  Comparison with Old Testament prophecies may also be appropriate.  Some thoughts are suggested below:

“What shall be the sign of thy presence, and of the consummation of the age?” (Matthew 24:3 RVIC, ASVmargin).  A consummation implies a completion of a plan, bringing it to fruition.  The completion of the faithful church, to be the bride of Christ, would qualify.  (What else?)  [Marshall’s and McReynolds’ diaglotts support the RVIC translation, and Kingdom Interlinear (KI) comes close.]  What goal was completed at the end of the Jewish Age (A.D. 69-72)?  What goal remains to be completed during the end of the Gospel Age after the church is complete?

What wars and rumors of wars were between A.D. 33 and 69-73? (Matthew 24:6).  No wars plural, just the one war of the Roman armies and Jews.

In what century was this gospel of the kingdom first preached in America? in Australia? in Japan? (Matthew 24:14).

“When therefore ye see the abomination of desolation, which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet, having stood in the holy place (let him that readeth understand), then let them that are in Judea flee unto the mountains…” (Matthew 24:15f. RVIC; McReynolds, KI concur).  By the time pagan Romans were standing in the Temple (A.D. 70) it would have been too late for the Christians to flee.  But if this is prophetic of Papal Rome (A.D. 538/539 to 1798/1799), then the call would not have begun before 1799 at the earliest.  (Note that the “Holy Place” is in the Temple (Acts 6:13; 21:28)

“Then shall be great tribulation, such as hath not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, nor ever shall be thereafter.” (Matthew 24:21ff. RVIC).  How does the fall of Jerusalem and Judah compare with the Flood? with the two million people previously killed by Alexander the Great (or Alexander the Terrible, if you are Persian)? or with the hundred million killed by Mao, Stalin and Hitler in the twentieth century?

“This generation shall not pass away, till all these things be come to pass” (Matthew 24:34 RVIC).  A generation comprises all the children of the same father.  If that be understood of the next seventy years after Jesus spoke these words (A.D. 33), that would support the Praeterist view of Matthew 24.  On the other hand, if it be understood of the church as all sons of the same Heavenly Father, then all these things will at least begin happening before the church is complete, consistent with the Historicist view.

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