The Preterist’s Misinterpretation of the Kingdom of God

Full Preterists (i.e. those so-called biblical experts who believe all prophecies were fulfilled with the 70 AD destruction of the temple in Jerusalem, including the Second Coming of Christ and General Resurrection) often seem to fail to understand phrases like “this generation”, “not taste death until,” “Kingdom of God” which was to come on the earth. This is primarily because they take many certain critical passages in the Gospels and the Book of Revelation literally (i.e. “quickly” “shortly”, “this generation”, etc), just as many Futurists and Dispensationalists do with the same phrases. And upon reading these phrases literally, the Preterists have concluded that the 70 AD destruction of the temple was the key moment in which that “generation” within 40 years of Jesus’s death saw Jesus return and establish the “Kingdom of God in Heaven”, including some sort of spiritual general resurrection, before that generation “tasted death”, or died of old age.

But Christ came down from Heaven and spoke of a different “Kingdom of God” that was coming soon upon the earth so that we, also, would worship as they do in Heaven. And we are assured of this new form of worship, because we were even directed by Christ Himself in his teaching in Luke Chapter 11 with the ‘Lord’s prayer’. And this new prayer tells us to worship as they do in heaven, which is the will and desire of the Father… to be worshipped and glorified regardless of which realm we exist in, i.e. the earthly/physical world or the heavenly spiritual realm:

“Your KINGDOM COME, your will be done, ON EARTH as it is in heaven” – Luke 11:2-4

Hence, we are instructed by the most popular and simple prayer known to Christians: to pray and worship on Earth as it is in Heaven. This new ‘Kingdom’ which was to come with great power and glory over the darkness of delusion of the earth, is described by three related verses in the Gospels (in which the Preterists have taken out of context):

Matthew 16:28: “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.”

Mark 9:1- “And he said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That there be some of them that stand here, which shall not taste of death, till they have seen the kingdom of GOD come with power.”

Luke 9:27: “But I tell you of a truth, there be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the kingdom of GOD.”

The KINGDOM OF GOD was invisible and unseen in Christ during his first visitation. For Christ being the great and glorious King of this new kingdom, appeared then as a simple and insignificant private citizen, poor and not having a place on earth to lay his head. But he was to show, after a few days, His glory and witness to others of this proclaimed new kind of Kingdom, witnesses of the great and glorious King Who is to come and reveal Himself to all men and even to the Jews who crucified Him, as the scripture say, “The shall see whom they pierced.

However, the Full Preterists interpret this verse described by the three evangelists to mean that all the Old Testament prophecies of the Jewish messianic era and the prophecies of the Apocalypse would occur before all of those people standing there would die… in that “generation“. This is because they fail to see what the Kingdom of God truly is… THE KINGDOM OF GOD IS THE PHYSICAL PRESENCE OF THE CHURCH (or Body of Christ) ON THE EARTH!!! It is in the Church that we worship as they do in heaven.

Thus, with Jesus really was saying was that many of his disciples standing around him would first be a witness to this Kingdom, first by seeing the resurrected Christ in his glory after three days through his death on the cross. There were others as well who would soon bear witness to the glory of Christ the King and His divine glory and power during the 40 days after the resurrection, and would soon also worship and celebrate, that the Son of Man came to earth with great power to set up his Kingdom. And they partook of that kingdom as the Church began to grow from the day of Pentecost.

Another example of misconstruing the scriptures by the Full Preterists to support a 70 AD second coming and resurrection are taken from Luke chapter 17:

Luke 17:20-22 – “Being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, he answered them, “The kingdom of God is not coming in ways that can be observed, nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There!’ for behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you.” And he said to the disciples, “The days are coming when you will desire to see one of the days of the Son of Man, and you will not see it.”

The Pharisees could not understand that Christ preached “Repent for the Kingdom of God is at Hand” meant that the Church was coming to provide a new way to worship God as revealed by the Holy Trinity in Spirit and Truth. Perhaps it seems the Pharisees here in Luke 17:20 were being sarcastic with Jesus in trying to find of the time of the advent and appearance of the Kingdom on the Land of Israel. But Jesus answered them “The Kingdom of God cometh not with observation” means that the Kingdom of God on the earth is coming but it is not to be observed through the eyes of the body, neither can anyone point out the exact location of the Body of Christ, that is, the Church… to just one particular house of worship, temple or structure. And because the essential requirement of the Kingdom of God is Christ as King, the Pharisees being blind, did not seem Him right in front of their eyes. so he said to them:

“For behold the KINGDOM OF GOD is WITHIN US, but being blind, you do not see it.”

However, he then later said to his disciples in the next few verses the complete understanding to this.

Luke 22:-25 – “Then he said to his disciples, “The time is coming when you will long to see one of the days of the Son of Man, but you will not see it. People will tell you, ‘There he is!’ or ‘Here he is!’ Do not go running off after them. For the Son of Man in his day will be like the lightning, which flashes and lights up the sky from one end to the other. But first he must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation.”

That is, the days of the Son of Man were the three years of the preaching of the Gospel and the performance of miracles by Christ, when the disciples during that time followed behind Him rejoiced in seeing the miracles of their own Master, hoping to co-reign with Him in Jerusalem. But for them, these happy days were to go by like “lightening“, because days of trials and afflictions were to come during which they, too, were to preach the KINGDOM OF GOD on the earth as THE CHURCH to the Jews and Gentiles, and thus persecuted and tortured by both. And naturally, during these days of persecution they would remember and long for the happy days of Christ, but that longing would remain unfulfilled. “Ye Shall Desire to see one of the days of the Son of man, and ye shall not see it.” And because they received the promise of the Second Coming of Christ where everyone will be judged , each according to his works, this is the reason the false prophets in the early church (and the Full Preterists of today) would often say “Behold Christ has come”. Christ explicitly says not to follow those who say he already came back. But before he would come back again and ALL WILL SEE HIM visibly in the air, he says he would first suffer and be rejected by “this generation” of the unbelieving Pharisees and Jews.

Now here is the key point which the Preterist fail to understand: the “Kingdom of God” on the earth took form with the liturgical worship which shows strong parallels to the worship in heaven that St. John the Theologian describes in the book of Revelation. Many Biblical scholars have shown, very convincingly, that when John describes heavenly worship in the book of Revelation, he is following the Hebrew custom of portraying Heaven’s worship in terms of earthly liturgy. The writers of the Bible thought of earthly worship as a “shadow” or “type” of Heaven’s liturgy (i.e. Isaiah 6, Hebrews 8:4-6.) In other words, a biblical passage such as the fourth and fifth chapters of the Book of Revelation gives us an accurate picture of a very early Christian worship service. That service very much resembles traditional worship in the Orthodox Church, and on a lesser extent, the Catholic and Anglican churches, where you will see and hear some familiar liturgies where they also draw their worship from the ancient liturgies celebrated by the Early Church.

This form of worship, similar to the customs used in the Jewish Temple, is how the first century Christians worshiped. The French biblical scholar Oscar Cullmann, an Evangelical, confirms this. In his classic little work, ‘Early Christian Worship’, he concludes that the Book of Revelation contains a number of references to early Christian liturgical practices, especially in chapters 4 and 5. There the ‘worship of heaven’ is revealed in terms of first-century liturgical worship. For example, the altar table used in liturgical worship does not merely symbolize the table of the last supper. It is the symbolic and mystical presence of the heavenly throne and table of the Kingdom of God. The dome in the church, or the spacious, all-embracing ceiling gives the impression that in the Kingdom of God, and in the Church, Christ “unites all things in himself, things in heaven and things on earth,” (Ephesians 1:10) and that in Him we are all “filled with all the fullness of God.” (Ephesians 3:19)

Therefore, the Preterist failed miserably to see the “Kingdom of God” was established on the earth as the CHURCH by those first generation Jews who believed in him. And it is not referring to the spiritual or heavenly kingdom of God up high in the sky, nor the supposedly heavenly armies that Josephus supposedly documented during the 70 AD temple destruction.

So then, it is most likely that Preterists cannot grasp this concept of the “Kingdom of God” on the earth because they have not experienced this type of liturgical worship ever in their lifetime, because they have none the elements of worship described in the Book of Revelation in their services. If your current ‘Kingdom‘ or church denomination rejects the forms of liturgical worship of the early churches, you have to question whether you are in the right ‘Kingdom of God.’ That is… does your current ‘Kingdom‘ or Church worship God by the will of the Father, on this very earth as the saints do in heaven, as revealed to us in the scriptures?

References and Further Reading:
1. Robert Gray, 2015-05-20 Worship in the Book of Revelation and the Eastern Orthodox Liturgy, www.jgospel.net/…/Worship-in-the-Book-of-Revelation-and-the…

2. Is Orthodox Worship Biblical, DOXA, Fall 2001 issue, http://www.holycrossyakima.org/…/IS%20ORTHODOX%20WORSHIP%20…

3. Church Architecture, St. Barbara Greek Orthodox Church, http://saintbarbara.org/…/orthodox_wors…/church-architecture

4. Understanding Orthodox Worship, Aug 22, 2015, St Innocent of Alaska Orthodox Church, http://www.eurekafirstchurch.com/understanding-orthodox-wo…/

5. Ft Tomas Hopko, The Orthodox Church and the Book of Revelation, june 9, 2014, http://myocn.net/orthodox-church-book-revelation/

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