By Joe Price
The proponents of Realized Eschatology, or the "A.D. 70" doctrine, have deceived and are deceiving some brethren into believing that all the end time events have already been accomplished. Its advocates have caused unsuspecting Christians to accept the belief that the events of 70 A.D. in the destruction of Jerusalem satisfy all the prophecies of a future return of Christ, resurrection of the dead, judgment and reception of the eternal inheritance. It would have us believe that the "last days" existed from 30-70 A.D., and that the "eternal days" began at 70 A.D. We are supposedly living in the "eternal days!" The "Bible" of this doctrine, Max King's The Spirit of Prophecy, has this to say on page 81: "…whenever faulty interpretation creates a time period that doesn't exist in the Bible, more error will follow by attributing to that period something that cannot belong to it." I say AMEN to that!
This 40-year "gap" where the old and new covenants supposedly "overlapped" is the result of faulty interpretation, and it has borne its evil fruit! (See Part II of this series for more information on the overlapping of the covenants.)
Simply stated, the A.D. 70 doctrine has the following things being accomplished on that date:
1) Second coming of Christ (as per 1 Cor. 15:23).
2) Resurrection of the dead (as per 1 Cor. 15).
3) Judgment / Day of the Lord (as per 2 Pet. 3:10; et al.).
4) Establishment of the new covenant.
5) Completeness in Christ (adulthood, adoption, redemption).
6) Kingdom fully established.
7) Reception of the eternal inheritance.
To document these positions as central to this doctrine, consider this assessment from the pen of Max King:
"The fall of Judaism (and its far reaching consequences) is, therefore, a major (emp., King's) subject of the Bible. The greater portion of prophecy found its fulfillment in that event, including also the types and shadows of the law. It was the coming of Christ in glory that closely followed his coming in suffering (1 Pet. 1:11), when all things written by the prophets were fulfilled (Luke 21:22: Acts 3:21). It corresponded to the perfection of the saints (1 Cor. 13:10) when the reached adulthood in Christ, receiving their adoption, redemption, and inheritance. The eternal kingdom was possessed (Heb. 12:28) and the new heaven and earth inherited (Matt. 5:5; Rev. 21:1, 7)" – The Spirit of Prophecy, p. 239; emp. jrp).
In Part I of this series, we addressed the major problems of this doctrine by looking at what the New Testament has to say about the second coming of Christ (including the judgment and the resurrection of the dead). In Part II, we discussed why 70 A.D. is made such a focal point in this system of error, with emphasis upon the old and new covenants and the allegory of Galatians 4:21-31. In this final article, we must consider some of the consequences of this doctrine, and see that it is not a harmless, private conviction which can be held without hurting oneself and others, but a pernicious theory of error which engulfs the souls of men in destructive heresy! Given this doctrine’s premise that God's scheme of redemption was not complete until 70 A.D., there are some very grave consequences which necessarily follow.
Problems Regarding Resurrection: 1) Luke 20:34-36 – No marriage and no death after 70 A.D.! This consequence centers upon the view that the "last days" are to be defined as the closing period of the Jewish age, 30 – 70 A.D., with the "eternal days" continuing from that point. "We are now in that world ‘which is to come’ ….instead of being in last days we are in eternal days world without end (Eph. 3:21)." (Ibid., p. 81; emp. King’s). So, in the New Testament, those who lived between 30-70 AD. were in the "last days," while we now live in the "eternal days." However, in Luke 20:34-36, Jesus contrasts "this world" and "that world" following the resurrection of the dead, and concludes that while marriage occurs in "this world," it will not be so in "that world." Plus, those who "are accounted worthy to attain to that world, and the resurrection of the dead,…die no more" (vss. 35-36). Are people still marrying after 70 A.D.?! Of course they are! Are they still dying? Most certainly! Is the period of Christianity in which we now live termed the "eternal days" in the New Testament? No! Otherwise, following 70 A.D., Christians would be prohibited from marrying, and neither could they die anymore! The A.D. 70 doctrine is false!
2) Acts 24:15 – The Pharisees and Paul looked for the same kind of resurrection. Here, it must be remembered that the A.D. 70 doctrine holds that the resurrection of the dead discussed in such places as 1 Corinthians 15 is the resurrection of Christianity out of Judaism (The Spirit of Prophecy, page 200). But, if this is the truth of the matter, then the Pharisees held a very strange hope concerning the resurrection! Paul states that his accusers before Felix were looking for "a resurrection both of the just and unjust," the same as Paul. Must we conclude these Jewish accusers were looking forward to the day when Christianity would arise to dominance, while Judaism would be destroyed under God's wrath?! Surely this is not what they were "looking for" (v. 15; Jno. 11:48-50), but we are told they were looking for the same resurrection Paul hoped for. Maybe the apostle Paul was wrong in his assessment of the Jews' hope, or, maybe the A.D. 70 doctrine is wrong in its assessment of the resurrection of the dead! What do you think?
3) 1 Cor. 15:20-23 – The bodily resurrection of Jesus is called into doubt by this doctrine. Christ is presented as the "firstfruits" (v. 20) of the dead, which identifies Him as the beginning and the guarantor of a future, bodily resurrection (vss. 21-22, 35-49). The resurrection of the dead endorsed by 1 Corinthians 15 is a future, bodily resurrection of mankind, based upon the fact of Christ's bodily resurrection. If, however, the body to be raised in 1 Corinthians 15 is "Christianity out of Judaism," why must we believe in the bodily resurrection of Christ? If the later fruit resurrection of the dead – v. 21) is not the bodily resurrection of mankind, there is no real reason to believe the "firstfruits" (vss. 20, 23) was the bodily resurrection of Christ! (The firstfruits and the later fruits must be the same type of fruit!) The whole issue of Jesus’ bodily resurrection is called into doubt, and is a logical consequence of this doctrine. Are the proponents of the A.D. 70 doctrine ready to accept this consequence of their doctrine? If one will not accept the consequences of his position, he should renounce his position as the error that it is!
These are but three consequences regarding resurrection from the dead which logically result from the A.D. 70 doctrine. Like the error of Hymenaeus and Philetus (who said the resurrection is past already, 2 Tim. 2:16-18), the A.D. 70 doctrine "proceed(s) further in ungodliness," as it eats like a cankerous sore upon the souls of men, spreading its decay and overthrowing the faith of saints. The plea of this writer is that those who currently hold to this doctrine will see its destructive effects upon "the faith of some" (v. 18), and renounce their acceptance of it.
Problems Regarding Human Redemption: 1) Forgiveness of sins was not fully accomplished until 70 A.D. Forgiveness of sins was not fully accomplished until 70 A.D. This decotrine does not regard forgiveness of sins as an accomplished fact until 70 A.D. "When would ungodliness be turned away from Jacob, or their sins be taken away? When Christ, the deliverer, came OUT OF SION. When did Christ come out of Zion? Not at his first coming, but his second coming" (The Spirit of Prophecy, p.63; emp., King’s). The cross of Christ is thus removed as the focal point and means of accomplishing forgiveness, and replaced by 70 A.D.! Such a consequence reduces the scriptures to shambles, and makes deceptive the many appeals to people before 70 A.D. to receive the forgiveness of their sins through the death of Christ. In Acts 2:38, the apostle said "Repent ye, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ unto the remission of your sins; and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." This Jewish audience did not have to wait until 70 A.D. to have their sins remitted! Acts 22:16 gives instruction to Saul to "wash away thy sins." by being baptized. Baptism puts one into the death of Christ (Rom. 6:3), to enable justification by His blood (Rom. 5:8-9). Forgiveness of sins was accomplished by the cross of Christ! In Romans 6:17-18, when the Romans "became obedient from the heart" to the gospel, they were "made free from sin," and "became servants of righteousness." This happened long before 70 A.D.!
Referring back to the quote at the start of this article from page 239 of The Spirit of Prophecy, notice that Realized Eschatology says that our adoption, redemption and inheritance were accomplished at the fall of Judaism (70 A.D.). Yet, Galatians 4:3-7 places the means of our adoption at the first coming of Christ (vss. 4-5), and its reality prior to 70 A.D., when Paul says "ye are sons" (v. 6). Our redemption was accomplished at the cross (Gal. 3:13-14; Heb. 9:11-12). Our inheritance as sons of God is thereby assured (Rom. 8:16-17; Gal. 3:18). Forgiveness and its blessings are ours today because of the cross of Christ, not because of the fall of Judaism in 70 A.D.
2) Maturity or completeness in Christ was not possible before 70 A.D. So implies King's quote from page 239 of his book. However, Colossians 2:10 says "in him ye are made full." In chapter 1:27-28, Christ was being proclaimed ‘that we may present every man perfect in Christ." They were not proclaiming the fall of Judaism in 70 A.D. as the means of perfection (completeness, full growth, maturity)! This doctrine concludes that no Christian could be mature in Christ before 70 A.D. — not apostles, not elders, not any child of God! The ramifications of that consequence are mind-boggling.
Problems Regarding The Establishment Of The Kingdom: By misapplying Hebrews 12:28, this doctrine concludes that the kingdom was not fully established until 70 A.D. However, we again find this doctrine at odds with revealed truth. In Isaiah 2:2, it was prophesied "And it shall come to pass in the latter days, that the mountain of Jehovah's house shall be established on the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it." Realized Eschatology would have God’s house or kingdom only partially established in the "latter days," and only fully established at 70 A.D., their "eternal days." Isaiah implies full and complete establishment in verse 2, and reveals this would occur when the law and the word of Jehovah would go forth from Jerusalem (v. 3). The gospel of the kingdom was preached from Jerusalem unto all the nations following Jesus ascension (Lk. 24:45-49; Acts 1:5; 2:14-36). Therefore, the kingdom predicted by Isaiah was established as he said it would be, on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2).
Jesus said the kingdom would "come with power," and that some of His disciples would not taste of death until they saw it come (Mk. 9:1). The "power" referred to must be the heavenly power of Holy Spirit baptism, received by the apostles on the day of Pentecost (Lk. 24:49; Acts 1:4-5, 8; 2:1-4, 33). There is no hint in the scriptures that this was only partial power, or that the kingdom and its blessings were only partially present! Full power and full blessings amounted to a fully established kingdom on the day of Pentecost! What parts were missing? Its king (Lk. 1:32-33; 1 Tim. 1:17; 6:15)? Its territory (Mk. 16:15)? Its subjects (Acts 10:34-35)? Its law (Mk. 16:15; Jas. 1:25)? People did not have to wait until 70 A.D. to fully possess the kingdom! They were being translated into the kingdom (Col. 1:13) from Pentecost onward. To deny the full establishment of the kingdom before 70 A.D. is to deny the fulness of its king (Jesus), its gospel (power to save, Rom. 1:16), and its blessings (Eph. 1:3-4) before 70 A.D.! This is untenable and blasphemous!
Problems Regarding Worship: 1) Should the Lord's Supper be observed after 70 A.D.? According to 1 Corinthians 11:26, in partaking of the Lord's Supper we "proclaim the Lord’s death till he come." Since the A.D. 70 doctrine makes every coming of the Lord in the New Testament mean 70 A.D., we wonder, what are its advocates going to do about the Lord's Supper? There are two options open to them, and both are equally unacceptable. First, they could conclude that after 70 A.D. the Lord's Supper no longer proclaims Christ's death. But, this destroys the central meaning and effect of the Supper! Secondly, they could conclude that the Lord's Supper is no longer applicable to Christians, and cease partaking of it. Some Christians are currently wrestling with this consequence of their doctrine. Either horn of this dilemma is sharp and will cause pain and great damage to the one who attempts to set upon it. Which shall it be? Instead, why not renounce this system of error which places such devastating consequences upon the Christian’s observance of the Lord’s Supper?!
2) One must eliminate from his worship every hymn and spiritual song referring to the return of Jesus Christ and its events. I have witnessed Christians not singing with their brethren (Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16) because of this consequence! Why sing about something you believe has already occurred? Are you willing to renounce your brethren as guilty of false worship whenever they sing about the future return of Christ and its events? And, to be consistent in your worship, you will have to make that choice about the Lord's Supper. Will you eliminate it, or destroy its meaning?!
These consequences should be weighed in the light of God's revelation of truth. Realized Eschatology opens a can of worms that some brethren have not realized. Some may try to ignore its consequences, but this will only lead to hardened hearts. To accept these consequences will steep a person deeper in error and apostasy. God's remedy is still available — repentance of this sinful doctrine (Acts 8:22), confession of the sin (1 Jno. 1:9), and doing works worthy of repentance (Acts 26:20; Lk.3:8) by renouncing this doctrine of man.
Comforting Christians Concerning Christ's Coming: 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 provides us a fitting conclusion to this series of articles. In this passage, the apostle comforts the saints with assurance that Christians who die before Jesus returns will not miss out on any of the events and blessings of that grand day. He contrasts living and dead Christians throughout this passage – alien sinners are not in view here. Jesus "himself" will descend from heaven (this did not happen in 70 A.D.). Audible and visible events will occur. A "shout" commanding death to give up its prisoners will go forth (Jno. 5:28-29). The "voice of the archangel" will herald the power and victory of Christ’s return (cf. 2 Thess. 1:7). The "trump of God" shall sound, signaling deliverance and liberty from death (cf. 1 Cor. 15:52; Lev. 25:9-10). These things did not happen in 70 A.D. The dead in Christ shall rise first, with the living Christians being "caught up in the clouds," and all the saints shall "meet the Lord in the air" (this did not happen in 70 A.D.). Then, "so shall we ever be with the Lord." We will ever be with the Lord in this resurrected, changed, caught-up state (this did not happen in 70 A.D.)! We can comfort one another with these words (v. 18), but there is surely no comfort in the words and doctrines of Realized Eschatology. It provides no final and decisive solution to the sin problem humanity faces. It presents a world in sin which will forever continue. The Bible reveals that with the Lord’s personal return (Acts 1:9-11), this sin-cursed world will be destroyed (2 Pet. 3:5-12), with a new order taking its place (2 Pet. 3:13) In view of these realities, Christians should be comforted in their hope of the future return of Christ (1 Thess. 4:18; 2 Thess. 1:10; Col. 3:4). But, sinners and perverters of God's word should convert to Christ, for it will certainly be "a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God"(Heb. 10:31; 2 Thess. 1:7-9).