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The End. That’s what the Greek word “eschaton” means. But a question that some are now asking is, ‘The end of what?’ Up until recently most Christians would have said- the world, but now good Biblical scholarship is shedding greater light upon this highly controversial word and revealing that many of the assumptions we might make about this word may not be accurate.

When I went to church as a young boy, ‘End Times’ teaching was all the rage. After all, there were wars in the Middle East, famines in Africa, natural disasters in Asia, and economic struggles in Europe and America. Added to these ‘signs of the times’ there were conspiracy theories, global uncertainty, a worldwide fuel crisis, and the emerging cashless society. All of these things were apparently predicted in the Bible many thousands of years ago as being the last signs before the end of the world. As the last three decades have unfolded however, it has become obvious that none of these things have led to the end of the world, and we now realise that they are not the Biblical triggers for the end of the world at all.

With so much unfounded speculation about what the Bible teaches about ‘the end’, it’s little wonder that many Christians have put eschatology (the study of ‘last things’) either in the too-hard basket or now regard it as not worth worrying about because apparently nobody knows anyway.


Hermeneutics is the science of Biblical interpretation. Hermeneutics involves answering three questions: What does the text say? What did the text mean (to the original audience)? How does this apply to me? Therefore, when we read passages that state something is about to happen “soon”, “this hour”, “now”, “at hand”, it is unreasonable to interpret these passages as referring to any other period of time other than in the context of the time-frame of the original audience! Consider Matthew 24:34 —

Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, this generation shall not pass away until all these things take place.”

Either this verse has been fulfilled or Jesus Christ was, as Bertrand Russell claimed in a famous debate with C.S. Lewis, “a liar!” To suggest that “this generation” means anything other than the generation alive during Christ’s ministry (His original audience) is not consistent with how Christ used this expression as recorded in the gospels. Some propose a hermeneutical approach that would make this particular usage of the term to mean something other than what the context demands. It is variously called ‘The Law of Double Reference’ or ‘Near fulfilment, distant fulfilment’, or ‘Dual Reference’. Some Bible teachers, such  Hank Hanegraaff (‘The Bible Answer Man’, often describes Christ’s words in Matthew 24 as “predicting near events using final eschaton language.” But this is neither clear or warranted.

According to Matthew 24:34, either the parousia has happened or Christ is a liar, claimed the atheist Bertrand Russell in a debate with C.S. Lewis.

To read the New Testament in a way that deliberately inverts the otherwise plain meaning of a text, has led some, like the late leading atheist Professor Bertrand Russell (pictured left), to consider that the New Testament must be non-sensical. This is a shame that such discredit has been brought about Christ and His Word in the minds of so many non-believers. Even C.S. Lewis wrote, in one of the last letters he penned about the debate he had with Russell (which he lost), that it really did seem that Christ ‘deceived His disciples’ when He told them in Matthew 24:34 that the parousia would take place within their generation!

This has led increasing numbers of people who believe that the Bible is God’s infallible Word and that Christ could never deceive anyone, to seek Biblically consistent answers to this hermeneutical challenge. Realising that Dispensationalism’s Double Reference device is unreasonable (since it attempts to make the plain intended meaning of a passage say something other than what the context demands), many believers have been looking at the solutions offered by taking a Preterist (from the Latin praetor meaning, the past) position and considering answers to textual problems that have baffled biblical scholars over for years. The recent popular promotion of Dispensationalism, the Left Behind series, has promoted a rather unhelpful and fanciful interpretation of eschatological passages in the Bible. The more Dispensationalists promote their speculations, which soon prove to be incorrect, the more people are realising just how unhelpful this kind of paperback rapture-theology is.



A chart from the Historical School of InterpretationHistoricists (those who see the prophecies of Christ as foretold history from the first century to the present day) have long tried to point out that Dispensationalism was hermeneutically bankrupt. But Historicism is just as speculative as Dispensationalism. It also suffers from similar hermeneutical distortions when it takes verses like Matthew 16:28 or 24:34 and offers equally illogical interpretations to that of Dispensationalism by saying that although that’s what Jesus said, it’s not what He meant(?).


Preterism is the only logical method for interpreting such eschatological passages. Hank Hanegraaff, the “Bible Answer Man”, has now embraced Preterism, but prefers to call it “Exegetical Eschatology” (E2). But Hanegraaff’s brand of Preterism still suffers from some of the same deficiencies as Dispensationalism. He refers to the Olivet Discourse (Matthew 24) and the Book of Revelation as using ‘final eschaton language’ when prophesying events about to take place in the lives of the original audience of Scripture. But this is not what the Scriptures itself says.

Since the ‘eschaton’ is the end many people who realise that Preterism is the only logical approach for interpretting eschaton passages find it difficult, if not impossible, to make any distinction between a first century eschaton and a ‘grand eschaton’ without embracing a similar approach to Hanegraaff.



In my eBook, THE MOST EMBARRASSING VERSE IN THE BIBLE, where I discuss Matthew 24 in much more detail, I make a fairly strong case from history and Scripture for regarding all of Matthew 24 as being fulfilled. I also explain why I believe that Matthew 25 is not a parallel of Matthew 24, but should be regarded as subsequent to it. To sum up why I regard Scripture speaking of two “eschatons” (one being the end of the Old Covenant era, the other being the end of this age) it might be profitable to overview what Partial (or, “Classic”) and Full (s1metimes called “Hyper”) Preterists acknowledge as being fulfilled.

Antichrist (not to be confused with the “Beast from across the sea” of Revelation 13) “Anti”= one who opposes, in this instance- the one who opposes Christ. Best understood as the office of High Priest within the first century Judaistic Temple worship. Mostly mentioned in John’s epistles but also referred to as “the man of sin” by Paul in 2Thess. 2. John refers to him as the beast from The Land in Revelation 13.


Beast from across the sea (not to be confused with the “Beast from The Land“) Compare with Daniel 8. As Daniel predicts the rise of world empires he equates the rise of the Roman Empire as being like a beast coming from across the sea. We therefore should understand this Beast to be the office of Caesar and in particular- Nero (Daniel’s “Little Horn”)


Only mentioned in Revelation 13.
Coming of Christ “Coming of the Lord” is an established OT expression to describe God’s judgment. The coming of Christ refered to in Matthew 24 deals with His judgment of Jerusalem in 70AD. Coming in “His glory” described in Matthew 25 is yet to happen. Referred to in Matthew 24, Revelation 1, to be distinguished from the Coming “in His glory” referred to Matthew 25 which is sometimes symbolised as fire from heaven (2Thess 1:8; Rev. 20:9) and needs to be understood as a different parousia to that in Matthew 24.


Temple The physical, literal temple, present in Jerusalem at the time of Christ and destroyed in AD 70.


Referred to in Matthew 24; 2Thess 2:4; Revelation 11.

The 1260 day Tribulation for the Church (Rev. 12:6) commenced in A.D 64 when Nero declared war on the Church and began an official campaign of martyrdom of Christians. The 42 months of Tribulation for Jerusalem (Rev. 11:2; 13:5) began in A.D. 66 when Nero ordered it be attacked.


Referred to Matthew 24:29; Revelation 11:2; 12:6; 13:5.
Sun, Moon, and Stars Speaks of Israel. Joseph dreamed a dream of Israel being Sun, Moon, and Stars in Genesis 37. These are each light sources and when they no longer give their light or fall from the sky it is metaphoric language of Israel’s apostacy and failure to walk in the light of God.


Genesis 37:9; Isa. 13:10; Ezek. 32:7; Joel 2:10



While Full Preterists see no distinction between parousia and eschaton passages, Classical Preterists regard the texts describing either the eschaton of the Old Covenant (note Hebrews 8:13) or the eschaton of the final consummation (note Ephesians 1:10; 1Corinthians 15:24). This is why Classical Preterists can endorse the ancient universal creeds of the Church and still partake in Holy Communion (“until He comes“). Just as the Old Testament writers did not have the full revelation of Christ as the triumphant Messiah yet Suffering Servant, the New Testament writers may not have understood Christ as ‘coming’ to end the Old Covenant with the judgment on Jerusalem in A.D. 70 and His ultimate return to dissolve these present elements.

For example, in Second Thessalonians chapter seems to be dealing with the consummation at the end of time, whereas chapter 2 deals with an imminent, localised judgment parousia. Note the references in Second Thessalonians chapter 1 about ‘eternal’ punishment and the reference to fire from heaven (which corresponds to Revelation 20:9). Yet in Second Thessalonians chapter 2 the language makes it clear the period time in question is the one in which the Temple stood.

Second Thessalonians 1
Second Thessalonians 2
* Deals with the final eschaton * Deals with the eschaton pertaining to the end of the Old Covenant
* Deals with the Lord Jesus being seen “revealed” (Gr. apocalypsis) from Heaven (vs 7) * Deals with Christ’s localised judgment “will kill with the breath of his mouth” at the “appearance” (Gr. epiphaneia) of His coming (vs 8)
* Revealed in “flaming fire” (vs 8) corresponding to the final eschaton of Revelation 20:9 and judges “all those who do not know God and who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.” * Judgment is localised with the focus on the Old Covenant and its stewards being the objects of wrath (vs 8)
* “eternal destruction” results (vs 9) * No universal punishment
* To be “marvelled at among His saints” (vs 10) * Not naturally visible

It does appear though, that just as the Old Testament writers couldn’t harmonise the tension between the suffering and the glorious messiah (note 1Peter 1:11) that the same may have been even the case for the founding apostles who considered only one parousia and an end (eschaton) to the Old Covenant order equating to the end of everything(?).

Classical and Full Preterists are united however in the implications of this understanding of the eschaton texts. Since we can be certain that at least one parousia and at least one eschaton has happened: we should be engaging the world with the Kingdom claims of Christ now, to help build a better future for our grand children and their great grand children! We should be living as salt and light and building the Kingdom of God spiritually through Gospel preaching, the demonstration of the Spirit’s power, practically showing the love of Christ toward all people, and prophetically counseling those in positions of Governmental power. We should encourage pastors and Bible teachers to abandon a doctrine of escapism (as Dr. John R.W. Stott called it), forsake an ironic glorification of the devil and his supposed scheme to take over the world through a yet-future puppet Antichrist figure, and encourage them to preach about the Glorious Christ who rules and reigns and whose Kingdom shall have no end.

© Dr. Andrew Corbett, Legana, Tasmania, June 29th 2006


Download Dr Corbett’s eBook The Most Embarrassing Book In The Bible.


  1. Stephen

    This makes no sense. If this were all true, let us eat drink and be merry for tomorrow we die. Peter specifically stated all would would be destroyed and then where will be A New Heavens and a new earth…does it looks like a new heavens and new earth out there? Where’s all of the people that have been Resurrected from 2000 years ago? Where’s Jesus Christ Himself. It was written that So when they had come together, they were asking Him, saying, “Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority; but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.” And after He had said these things, He was lifted up while they were looking on, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. And as they were gazing intently into the sky while He was going, behold, two men in white clothing stood beside them. They also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven.”

    [Acts 1:6-11 NASB]

    1 Thessalonians 4:14-17 NASB For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus. [15] For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. [16] For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. [17] Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord.

    • Andrew Corbett

      Stephen, thank you for your comment. It seems that you have either misread or not understood the main points of this article. Your comments seem to apply to someone promoting full-preterism, which I am not doing.

  2. James Sheather

    This was fascinating! It is my hope that the eschaton is a narrative mechanism used to help us cram the otherwise mind-shattering inversion of all meaning ushered in by the beast of revelation. The true nature of revelation is to remake the world, imagine you discover your wife has been unfaithful for years, now suddenly what you “knew” all those years, upon the mere breath of one bearing truth, is overthrown.

    For me this is the promise of revelations: they bark like dogs and call it reason, the rape and pillage and call it reparation, and they ornament themselves with condemnation and judgment that they call faith. They fall from the light and name their transgressions sacrament. The drink the water and it is clear. They breath the air and it does not exhaust. In truth the should rejoice and mourn, for they belong to this world.

    Heaven does not know them.


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About Apostles
A Non-Futurist Vision of The Future
Is Preterism Biblical?
Who Is The Man Identified With The Number - 666
Is Israel God's Unfinished Business?
The divine divorce of Israel
The Binding of Satan
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About Apostles
The Rapture Examined

About Apostles
A Non-Futurist Vision of The Future
Is Preterism Biblical?
Who Is The Man Identified With The Number - 666
About the "great-tribulation"
Is Israel God's Unfinished Business?
The Binding of Satan
What The Bible Teaches About Alcohol
About Apostles
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