The doctrine which says the personal, second coming of Jesus Christ occurred in 70 A.D. is confusing some brethren, and destroying the faith of others. In our previous article, we saw how this doctrine claims that all the second coming prophecies happened in 70 A.D. While showing that Jesus did come in judgment against Jerusalem in 70 A.D., we also noticed three passages which teach us that the personal return of Christ is still future. These passages are Acts 1:9-11, 2 Peter 3:4-11 and 1 Corinthians 15. He will come bringing rest to the righteous and punishment to the wicked (2 Thess. 1:7-10; Matt. 25:31-46). At his return, all mankind will be resurrected to stand before his judgment seat, and there receive a just sentence for the deeds done in this life (Jn. 5:28-29; 2 Cor. 5:10; Rev. 20:12-15). This world shall be dissolved in a fiery judgment, and a new order shall be established (2 Pet. 3:10-13). These events did not occur in 70 A.D. It is therefore right to hope for a future return of Jesus Christ. We were not begotten unto a dead hope, but a living one (1 Pet. 1:3-5; cf. 1 Cor. 15:19).
Why has 70 A.D. been made such a focal point in this false doctrine? While several answers could be offered which address this question, I submit that the underlying reason for this doctrinal error rests upon a perverted interpretation of the allegory found in Galatians 4:21-31. In this allegory, the A.D. 70 advocate believes that he finds comfort and support for this doctrine. Instead, he finds a refutation of it!
An Overlapping of the Covenants?
To understand how the allegory of Galatians 4:21-31 fits into the system of Realized Eschatology, consider Max King’s following statement:
Christianity is a fulfillment of the prophecies, types and shadows of the law and not merely a “fill-in” between Judaism and another age to come. Abraham had two sons, and there was no gap between them. They overlapped a little, but Isaac “came on” when Ishmael “went out.” The son born of the spirit was given the place and inheritance of the son born of the flesh. Hence, this simple allegory (Gal. 4:21-31) establishes the “Spirit of Prophecy,” confirming prophecy’s fulfillment in the spiritual seed of Abraham through Christ (Gal. 3:16,26-29), and beyond the fall of Jerusalem these prophecies cannot be extended (The Spirit of Prophecy, p. 239. Emp. King’s).
According to King (and others), this allegory establishes his view of the end times. This doctrine teaches that “out of the decay of Judaism arose the spiritual body of Christianity” (Ibid., p. 200). We are told that this occurred during the forty year period of 30-70 A.D. Therefore, an overlapping of the old and new covenants is believed to have occurred, and becomes crucial to this doctrine’s defense. By having us believe that the old and new covenants overlapped from 30-70 A.D., this heresy would have us believe that Christians were “given the place and inheritance” of the Jews. These two allegations (an overlapping of the covenants, and Christians being given the inheritance of the Jews) constitute two fatal mistakes in this false doctrine. So then, let us first look at whether or not the old and new covenants overlapped from 30-70 A.D. Then, we will consider the inheritance obtained by Christians.
God’s word clearly teaches us that the old covenant ceased prior to 70 A.D. To suggest that the covenant remained until 70 A.D. is to deny God’s revealed truth! Consider the following evidence:
(1) Romans 7.1-6. An overlapping of the covenants would amount to spiritual adultery. It is adultery to be married to another man while one’s husband lives (v. 3). With his death, the wife is “discharged from the law of the husband” (v. 2), and is free to marry another (v. 3). With these truths, Paul illustrates man’s current relationship to the law of Moses:
Ye also were made dead to the law through the body of Christ; that ye should be joined (“married” – KJV) to another, even to him who was raised from the dead, . . . . But now we have been discharged from the law (vv. 4,6).
If the old and new covenants overlapped from 30-70 A.D., Paul’s illustration would mean nothing! Furthermore, a Jewish Christian would be married to two husbands (covenants) simultaneously, hence, spiritual adultery! More than a decade before 70 A.D., the apostle said, “But now we have been discharged from the law!” There was no overlapping of the covenants!
(2) Colossians 2.13-15. The focal point in the removal of the old covenant is the cross, not 70 A.D. In this passage, Paul emphasizes the cross as the means whereby one was released from the “bond written in ordinances.” While the old covenant could not forgive (Heb. 10: 1-4), the cross triumphs over sin and its cohorts (v. 15). At the cross, three things regarding the old covenant occurred (v. 14): (a) It was blotted out. That is, it was removed, being against or contrary to man’s forgiveness. (b) It was taken out of the way. Again, its removal is stressed. (c) It was nailed to the cross. Triumph over sin occurred at the cross, not 70 A.D.!
(3) 2 Corinthians 3:14. The old covenant is done away in Christ, not in 70 A.D. Like the Hebrews of Paul’s day, the A.D. 70 advocate fails to perceive that the old covenant was done away in Christ. The old covenant was already done away when Paul wrote this passage! Only minds “hardened” to this truth could miss the apostle’s meaning.
(4) Hebrews 7.11-14. An overlapping of the covenants would mean two priesthoods were in force at the same time. Under the old covenant, the Levitical priesthood was in force (v. 11). However, Christ is not a priest like Aaron (v. 11), but one who is “after the likeness of Melchizedek” (vv. 15,3). Because Jesus came from the tribe of Judah and not Levi, he could not serve as a priest while the old law was in force (vv. 13-14; Heb. 8:4). The law had to change to enable,Jesus Christ to serve as priest over the house of God (Heb. 7:12,15-17; 10:21; 3:1; 5:5-6; 6:20). Jesus did not wait until 70 A.D. to become a priest. Neither did he gradually become one. He began serving as High Priest when he sat down at God’s right hand (Heb. 8:1-2). Therefore, since Jesus served as High Priest before 70 A.D., the law was changed before 70 A.D. (Heb. 7:12).
(5) Ephesians 2.13-18. Christ made peace between Jews and Gentiles in his death, not in 70 A.D. Again, wefind the Bible teaching us that the cross is thefocal point of God’s plan for peace and human redemption, not 70A.D. “He is our peace” (v. 13), thus identifying Christ as the one who accomplished peace between Jews and Gentiles. When and how did he do this? He produced peace between Jews and Gentiles by removing that which stood as a barrier between them, namely, the “law of commandments contained in ordinances” (vv. 14-15). This abolition of the “middle wall of partition,” with its enmity, occurred “in his flesh” (v. 15). Verse 16 confirms this as Christ’s death, by teaching us that reconciliation with God was accomplished “through the cross, having slain the erunity thereby.” Peace between the Jews and Gentiles, and reconciliation with God, were not achieved only after a 40-year struggle of the two covenants (with the new one finally overcoming the old one!). Salvation by grace through faith (Eph. 2:8) was available for all flesh, and preached without distinction to all flesh, long before 70 A.D. (Acts 2:17,21,39; 11:12-18; 10:34-35; 15:7-11). Access to God for both Jews and Gentiles is through Christ’s death (v. 18).