The Public Proofs for the Resurrection of Jesus Christ – part 2 of 2

The Siege and Destruction of Jerusalem by David Roberts (1850)

The Siege and Destruction of Jerusalem by David Roberts (1850)

The Most Publicly-Visible Proof that Jesus Provided of His Legitimacy as a Prophet from God

For the reasons that I have briefly outlined in part 1, Jesus’ resurrection from the dead is supported by overwhelming empirical evidence and testifies that Jesus is the Messiah.  And His resurrection from the dead was His most theologically significant fulfillment of prophecy, because by it He paid the penalty that allows humanity to be reconciled with God.  But Christ’s resurrection is not his most publicly-visible proof that He provided that He was a legitimate prophet from God, one who truly spoke a message from God.  (And if He was a true prophet, then He was more than a mere human prophet, because He claimed to be God.[1])

Christ’s most publicly-visible proof that He was a true prophet was His prediction of the destruction of the Jerusalem and the Temple within a generation of when He spoke.  That happened, just as He predicted it would, in A.D. 70.  Today, any visitor can go to Jerusalem and see that the Temple that stood in Jesus’ day is no longer there.  On its foundations is build the Dome of the Rock, an Islamic mosque.  Jews still visit and pray at a remaining portion of the western retaining wall of the Temple.  That wall is called the “wailing wall” because of the practice of Jews to stand next to it and mourn the destruction of the Temple.   Also still visible to this day is the “Arch of Titus” in the city of Rome, erected in A.D. 82 by the Emperor Domitian shortly after the death of his older brother Titus to commemorate Titus’ military victories, including the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple in A.D. 70.  The arch is etched with images of the articles of the Temple being carried away, like the Candelabra and Table of Showbread.  There is no reasonable historical basis for doubting the event of the destruction that ended in September of A.D. 70.[2]

Scene on the Arch of Titus, showing the Roman army carrying off the Table of Showbread, Candelabra, and Silver Trumpets after destroying the Temple in A.D. 70.

Scene on the Arch of Titus, showing the Roman army carrying off the Table of Showbread, Candelabra, and Silver Trumpets after destroying the Temple in A.D. 70.

Jesus promised a judgment that would destroy Jerusalem and specifically tear down the Temple that He was looking at (not some future temple as some Christians claim) within the lifetime of some of His apostles in these passages:

 

Jesus left the temple and was going away, when his disciples came to point out to him the buildings of the temple.  But he answered them, “You see all these, do you not? Truly, I say to you, there will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.” . . . Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place.  (Matthew 24:1-2, 34)

 

And when he drew near and saw the city, he wept over it, saying, “Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes.  For the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up a barricade around you and surround you and hem you in on every side and tear you down to the ground, you and your children within you. And they will not leave one stone upon another in you, because you did not know the time of your visitation.” (Luke 19:41-44)

 

But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation has come near.  Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, and let those who are inside the city depart, and let not those who are out in the country enter it,  for these are days of vengeance, to fulfill all that is written. . . .  Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all has taken place. (Luke 21:20-22)

 

Therefore I send you prophets and wise men and scribes, some of whom you will kill and crucify, and some you will flog in your synagogues and persecute from town to town, so that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah the son of Barachiah, whom you murdered between the sanctuary and the altar.  Truly, I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation.  (Matthew 23:34-36)

 

That last quote from Matthew 23 is made while Jesus is at the Temple and just prior to his specific prediction of the destruction of the Temple in Matthew 24:1-2.

Jesus says repeatedly that this judgment will come upon “this generation.”  A generation is generally 40 years in the Bible, as when the Jews wandered in the wilderness after the Exodus until the death of the first generation, which was for 40 years (Numbers 32:13; Psalm 95:10).  Jesus was crucified in A.D. 30, and 40 years later is A.D. 70, when the Temple and Jerusalem were destroyed.  Forty years is consistent with another statement that Jesus makes that only “some” of His disciples would still be alive when the judgment comes:

Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom. (Matthew 16:28)

Similarly, right before His crucifixion, Jesus tells some women who are there weeping over Him:

Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children.  For behold, the days are coming when they will say, ‘Blessed are the barren and the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed!’  Then they will begin to say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us,’ and to the hills, ‘Cover us.’ (Luke 23:28-30)

The judgment was coming on “yourselves” and “your children” – within a generation of those living then.

In addition to getting the timing right, Jesus was right that Jerusalem would be surrounded by armies (Luke 21:20).  The gentile armies surrounded Jerusalem multiple times during the conflict.  The first time was in A.D. 66 when Cestius Gallus, the legate of Syria, marched on Jerusalem, and then retreated.  Many Jews then prepared for further war with Rome, but it may have been taken by Christians to be the signal that it was time to “flee to the mountains” (Luke 21:21) before the complete destruction came.   Another possibility is that Christ’s prediction was fulfilled when Israel’s long-time heathen enemies, the Edomites, surrounded Jerusalem in A.D. 68.  Their 20,000-man army rushed into the city and slit the throats of 8,500 people at the Temple, including the High Priest.[3]  Things only went downhill from there for the city, until its complete destruction in A.D. 70.[4]

The flight of the Christians from Jerusalem to the mountains actually happened, as some early Christian writers have recounted, giving us the additional information that they ended up at the recently deserted mountain city of Pella, north of Jerusalem and on the other side of the Jordan River.[5]  Eusebius (d. 340) writes:

But the people of the church in Jerusalem had been commanded by a revelation, vouchsafed to approved men there before the war, to leave the city and to dwell in a certain town of Perea called Pella.  And when those that believed in Christ had come thither from Jerusalem, then, as if the royal city of the Jews and the whole land of Judea were destitute of holy men, the judgement of God at length overtook those who had committed such outrages against Christ and his apostles, and totally destroyed that generation of impious men.[6]

And Epiphanius of Salamis (d. 403) tells us:

So Aquila, while he was in Jerusalem, also saw the disciples of the disciples of the apostles flourishing in the faith and working great signs, healings, and other miracles. For they were such as had come back from the city of Pella to Jerusalem and were living there and teaching. For when the city was about to be taken and destroyed by the Romans, it was revealed in advance to all the disciples by an angel of God that they should remove from the city, as it was going to be completely destroyed. They sojourned as emigrants in Pella, the city above mentioned in Transjordania. And this city is said to be of the Decapolis.[7]

Jesus also said to flee to the mountains when “when you see the abomination of desolation spoken of by the prophet Daniel, standing in the holy place” (Matt. 24:15).  Exactly what the abomination would be is not stated.   Since Jesus uses “the abomination that causes desolation” interchangeably with Jerusalem being surrounded by armies as the signal to flee, the two phrases probably refer to the same event.[8]  For the “unclean” gentile (Roman) army to surround the holy city of Jerusalem to destroy it would have been an abomination because  Daniel refers to Jerusalem as God’s “holy hill” and “holy city” (Daniel 9:16,20,24).  The gentile attack on the holy city unsurprisingly led to further abominations, like the sacrifices being offered to Roman ensigns in the Temple, [9] and the complete desolation of the Temple itself, never to be rebuilt (at least to our current day).  Whatever the abomination was, the Christians understood it when it happened, and they got out of town in time.

Jesus accurately predicted that the Temple would be completely destroyed, down to the last stone.  While they were on a hill above the city, Jesus’ disciples point out to Him “the buildings of the temple” (Matt. 24:1), and Jesus responds, “You see all these, do you not? Truly, I say to you, there will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down” (Matt. 24:1-2).  Josephus was a Jewish historian who sided with the Romans and recorded the gory details:

While the holy house was on fire, everything was plundered that came to hand, and ten thousand of those that were caught were slain. Nor was there commiseration of any age, or any reverence of gravity; but children, old men, profane persons, and priests were all slain in the same manner. . . . Moreover, many, when they saw the fire, exerted their utmost strength, and did break out into groans and outcries. Perea also did return the echo, as well as the mountains round about Jerusalem, and augmented the force of the noise. Yet was the misery itself more terrible than this disorder. For one would have thought that the hill itself, on which the temple stood, was seething hot, as if full of fire on every part, that the blood was more in quantity than the fire, and that the slain were more in numbers than they who slew them. For the ground did nowhere appear visible because of the dead bodies that lay upon it.”[10]

The retaining wall that partially remains was part of the platform on which the Temple was built, but all the stones of the buildings of the Temple were cleared off, just as Jesus predicted.

Other fulfillments of events during the time leading up to the destruction of Jerusalem could be mentioned, such as the rise of numerous false prophets,[11] famines,[12] widespread lawlessness,[13] and the spread of the gospel throughout the Roman world.[14]

A hurdle that this proof of Christ’s legitimacy faces is noted by the famous philosopher Bertrand Russell, in his book Why I am not a Christian.  He cites the passages that I quote above about Jesus coming in judgment within a generation and concludes that Jesus falsely claimed that He would physically return to earth within a generation.  The idea that “the Great Tribulation” is when Christ’s Second Coming occurs is also a view that is popular among many Christians at this time, although they put it in the future.  These Christians and the liberals are both wrong to connect the Great Tribulation to Christ’s physical Second Coming.  Russell is right that Jesus was speaking of a first century coming, but wrong that it is a physical appearance to people on earth.  Modern Christians who hold to the futurist view are wrong that the Great Tribulation is in the future rather than the first century, and wrong that the Great Tribulation involves Christ Second Coming and the Rapture (bodily translation of living believers to heaven and physical resurrection of dead believers).  There is a two-fold coming of Christ taught in the Bible: 1) a first century (A.D. 70) coming in judgment against Jerusalem in the form of the Roman army destroying the city and Temple (“the Great Tribulation”), and 2) at the end of history in the bodily Second Coming of Christ.  The Second Coming is when Jesus physically appears in the sky, as angels told the disciples when Jesus physically ascended to heaven (Acts 1:10-11).  But the Second Coming and Rapture occur at the end of history, after all nations have chosen to worship Him (cf. Isa. 2:2-4), with the last enemy destroyed being death, resulting in the resurrection:

For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.  But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ.  Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power.  For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet.  The last enemy to be destroyed is death.  (1 Corinthians 15:22-26)

The New Testament contains language about Jesus coming in judgment in the first century, but that has to be interpreted in accordance with how the rest of the Bible uses that kind of language.  In the Old Testament God is often said to be “coming on the clouds” in judgment against a nation, but there is no appearance of God Himself.  Those texts make clear that God is coming in judgment by sending an army to destroy the nation.  For example, in this passage God comes against Egypt through a civil war in that nation:  “Behold, the Lord is riding on a swift cloud and comes to Egypt; and the idols of Egypt will tremble at his presence,  and the heart of the Egyptians will melt within them.   And I will stir up Egyptians against Egyptians, and they will fight, each against another and each against his neighbor, city against city, kingdom against kingdom” (Isaiah 19:1-2).  Micah records this threat of judgment against Israel:  “The Lord is coming out of his place, and will come down and tread upon the high places of the earth.  And the mountains will melt under him, and the valleys will split open, like wax before the fire, like waters poured down a steep place” (Micah 1:3-4).  But it was the nation of Assyria who would literally carried out the judgment (Micah 7:12).  Nahum talks about God’s wrath as God coming in stormy clouds against an evil nation:  “His way is in whirlwind and storm, and the clouds are the dust of his feet” (Nahum 1:3).

Then in the New Testament, passages that talk about Jesus coming in clouds of judgment in the first century also describe Jesus seated on His throne in heaven at the same time.  In Matthew 24:30, just before saying that this event and all the others that He mentions in this speech will come upon “this generation” (Matt. 24:34), Jesus says, “Then will appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.”  Notice the first sentence.  The verb is “appears.”  The verb can apply only to the subject of the sentence, which is “the sign.”  So the sign appears, not the Son of Man.  Where is the Son of Man?  In heaven.[15]  The sign that the Son of Man was reigning in heaven was that He would send the Roman army to destroy His enemies in Jerusalem.  The next sentence is standard coming-in-clouds-of-judgment language from the Old Testament.  Later when being questioned by the High Priest Caiaphas, Jesus tells him, “But I tell you, from now on you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power and coming on the clouds of heaven” (Matt. 26:64).  Again, the Son of Man is seated on His throne in heaven while, at the same time, He is coming in clouds of judgment to destroy Jerusalem and its corrupt religious establishment.  This idea of Christ remaining physically in heaven while He comes in clouds of judgment is consistent with we quoted from Paul in 1 Corinthians 15 and other Old Testament passages on which that is based.  Psalm 110:1, the Old Testament verse most quoted in the New Testament, says, “The Lord says to my Lord: ‘Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool’” (cf. Psalm 2:6-9; Daniel 7:13-14).  The second Lord stays seated in heaven while engaged in the process of making the nations submit to Him.  The judgment on Jerusalem in A.D. 70 and the civil war that raged in Rome around the same time were but the first of the risen Messiah’s acts while sitting on His heavenly throne to bring judgment on nations until the time comes that “all the nations . . .  say, ‘Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob, that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths’” (Isa. 2:2,3).  Only after that happens will Jesus come a second time in a physical appearance, at the time of the Last Judgment, as Paul states in 1 Corinthians 15.

In addition to Jesus’ lecture about “the Great Tribulation” in the gospels, the book of Revelation is also concerned with the first century events of the destruction of Jerusalem and the events in Rome around that time (except, of course, the part about the Last Judgment said to be “a millennium”[16] in the future).  This is stated clearly several times in several ways at the beginning and end of the book so it can’t be missed:  “the things that must soon take place” (Rev. 1:1), “what must soon take place” (Rev. 22:6); “for the time is near” (Rev. 1:3, 22:10), “Behold, I am coming soon,” (Rev. 22:7,10), and “Surely I am coming soon” (Rev. 22:20).  The letter is written by John who is “your brother and partner in the tribulation” (Rev. 1:9), to seven real churches that existed in the latter part of the first century to prepare them for a tribulation whose “time is near” and “soon.”  Jesus tells the church in Pergamum that “I will come to you soon” (Rev.  2:16).  He tells the church in Thyatira to “hold fast what you have until I come” (Rev. 2:25).  He tells the church in Sardis that “I will come like a thief” (Rev. 3:3).  And He tells the church in Philadelphia that “I will keep you from the hour of trial that is coming on the whole world, to try those who dwell on the earth.  I am coming soon” (Rev. 3:10-11).

John says that he writes the book during the reign of the sixth emperor of Rome (Rev. 17:10).  Counting from Julius Caesar, that would be during Nero’s reign (A.D. 54-68).  And the name Nero Caesar happens to add up to 666 when written in Hebrew letters.[17]  Since Nero is the Beast (or, more precisely, the sixth head of the Beast), Revelation is written during the early period of his reign and written about Nero’s reign and the time shortly thereafter, after Nero killed himself and civil war erupted in Rome over control of the empire .

Conclusion on the Predicted Destruction of the Temple and Jerusalem

The accuracy of Jesus’ prediction of the destruction of the Temple and Jerusalem strengthens the case for His resurrection beyond the evidence already given in part 1.  We have clear, visible proof that the Temple and Jerusalem were destroyed.  That is proof that He spoke a message from God; therefore when He made the prediction about Himself that He would die and be resurrected, we can be confident that He was accurate about that too.  Given the evidence for the resurrection itself, and the accuracy of Jesus’ prediction that Jerusalem and the Temple would be destroyed within a generation, every reasonable person should affirm that Jesus Christ is Savior and Ruler of the world.

 

The Rationale Behind the Resurrection

At first blush it seems unthinkable that God would become a man.  But given that God created man, God is not restricted in what He does in His creation.  And given that God created man is His image, there is no reason why God could not have taken on a human form as a means to express Himself to humanity.  As the one who created mankind to begin with, there is no reason that He could not join with a human nature in the womb of a virgin.  To object to the possibility of a virgin birth requires one to reject a sovereign/personal God, whose existence is necessary for the possibility of rationality.

The incarnation of Christ does not mean that God ceases to be God, which would be absurd.  God is triune, and only one person of the trinity became a man, and that person did not cease to be God.  Of course, there are aspects of the incarnation that will forever be beyond the comprehension of our puny human minds.  But the Creed of Chalcedon (A.D. 451) has a helpful way to express the biblical data:  Christ is “truly God and truly Man . . . [having] two natures; . . .  the distinction of natures being no means taken away by the union, but rather the property of each nature being preserved, and concurring in one Person and One Substance. . . .”  The distinction between Creator and creature is preserved in Christ.  The universe was not deprived of God to direct its course when Jesus was conceived in Mary.  The distinction in the natures of Christ can explain how Christ died, but God did not die.  His human body died, but not the divine nature.  The Bible depicts Christ’s knowledge as limited (Matt. 28:36; Luke 8:45-46) because this is part of the limitation of human nature, even though He retained His divine nature, which is omniscient.   As the apostle Paul expresses it, “though he was in the form of God, [he] did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant (Phil. 2:6-7).  He laid aside His prerogatives as God to take the form of a man.

But why should God go through all this trouble of the incarnation?  Although the plan is surprising when a person first hears about it, when we think about it more, there is no other way for God to remain God, in His perfect holiness, and still deal with the problem of sin so that humans can live in fellowship with God for eternity.  All the other religions falter here.  They do not have a solution to sin.  Therefore, if they have a belief in God, God’s holiness is not preserved.  Islam, Mormonism and others believe in salvation by good works, in the sense of humans needing to work harder to be good in order to overcome sin and live in fellowship with God.  But trying harder to be good does not deal with the sin that has been committed.  To not deal with that sin and for God to allow fellowship with humans for eternity impugns God’s perfect holiness.  Since God is perfectly just, He must punish sin at some point.  He allows sin for a time here on earth, but to never punish the sin would mean that God is not perfectly holy and just.

The only solution is for the punishment for sin to be poured out on a substitute for humanity. The only person who would not need to be punished for his own sins would be a perfect person.  Only a perfect person could take God’s wrath on behalf of others.  Since only God is perfect, God had to take the form of a man in order to die for humanity.   His resurrection represents His victory over sin through His death.  Sinful humans must accept the gift of salvation purchased by Jesus Christ by faith, since they could not have earned it themselves.  Through Christ’s incarnation, death, and resurrection, God can be both “just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus” (Rom. 3:26).   That’s the only way of salvation that makes any sense.

 

Conclusion

The idea of worshiping something seems strange in our anti-authoritarian age (although everyone has some ultimate authority as their standard of truth to evaluate other truth claims, and atheists in the twentieth century were particularly prone to embrace a totalitarian State as a substitute god).  For God to demand worship seems downright arrogant, and that would seem to show how fraudulent the Christian claim is that it is the religion that reveals the path of true humility.  It certainly is arrogant for a mere human being to demand worship as God because that person is not God.  But it is not arrogant for God to demand worship of God.

Even though God has every right to demand worship, Christianity teaches the astounding account of how the God who deserves unbounded worship, obedience, and honor became a man and subjected Himself to the most humbling of events at the hands of wicked men (Phil. 2:3-11).  He was born into a lower-class family in a stable and laid in a feeding trough in a small town in a small, insignificant country.  In his public ministry he was rejected and despised by the religious authorities and many of His own people.  He lived a humble life of a traveling preacher, and eventually His own people lied about him, spit on him, and hit him while blindfolded and bound as a prisoner.  They conspired to have Him murdered after being subjected to lengthy and gruesome torture.  And yet He was the God who created the universe, infinite in wisdom, power, and love.  As the divine Messiah, He held the offices of prophet, priest, and king.  But the priest became the sacrifice, the prophet was mocket to identify who hit Him while blindfolded, and the king was given a crown of thorns, smashed against his head.   But now, having persevered through the trial as a servant of all humanity in perfect obedience to God, He deserves the honor, praise and worship as the King of kings, our great High Priest, and the greatest prophet of God, indeed, the very Word of God in the flesh.

And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.  Therefore, God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name,  so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Phil. 2:8-11).

 


 

[1]  On Jesus’ claims to deity, see Bird, Evans, Gathercole, et al, How God Became Jesus; and Charles L. Quarles, A Theology of Matthew: Jesus Revealed as Deliverer, King, and Incarnate Creator (Phillipsburg, NJ:  P&R Publishing, 2013).

[2]  For more on this issue, see David Chilton, Paradise Restored:  An Eschatology of Dominion  (Tyler, TX: Reconstruction Press, 1985),  Days of Vengeance:  An Exposition of The Book of Revelation (Fort Worth, TX:  Dominion Press, 1987), and The Great Tribulation  (Fort Worth, TX: Dominion Press, 1987);  Gary DeMar, Last Days Madness: The Folly of Trying to Predict When Christ Will Return  (Brentwood, TN: Wolgemuth & Hyatt, 1991); J. Marcellus  Kik,  An Eschatology of Victory  (Phillipsburg, N.J.: Presbyterian  and Reformed Publishing Co., 1971); Greg L. Bahnsen and Kenneth Gentry, House Divided: The Breakup of Dispensational Theology  (Tyler, TX: Institute for Christian Economics  [ICE], 1989); Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr., He Shall Have Dominion   (Tyler, TX: ICE, 1992), The Greatness of the Great Commission  (Tyler, TX: ICE, 1990);  Joseph R. Balyeat,  Babylon:  The Great City of Revelation  (Sevierville, TN: 1991); Michael H. Warren, The Coming of Christ’s Kingdom:  The End Times and the Triumph of the Gospel.  Several of these books are available for free download at www.garynorth.com/freebooks/.

[3]  Josephus, Wars, IV.5.

[4]  General Titus surrounded Jerusalem in the spring of A.D. 70, but he didn’t let anyone out, and all the inhabitants were killed or enslaved when Jerusalem finally fell in September of that year; so in order to escape, Christians must have fled when Jerusalem was surrounded on a previous occasion.

[5]  N.T. Wright defends the view that I am presenting here in his book The Victory of Jesus.  However, he makes the comment that “nobody would think that the flight to Pella was fleeing to the mountains.”  But just because they ended up staying at Pella does not mean that they took the most direct route there, up the valley of the Jordan River.  They could have fled to the mountains first, then made their way over to Pella after that.  And Pella is in a mountainous area on the eastern side of the Jordan, so even if they went directly up the Jordan Valley to Pella, they would have been fleeing to the mountains.

[6]  Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History (3:5:3); also see Josephus, Wars, 4:9:2.

[7]  Epiphanius of Salamis (d. 403), On Weights and Measures 15.  On the historicity of the flight to Pella, see P.H.R. van Houwelingen, “Fleeing Forward:  The Departure of Christians from Jerusalem to Pella,”  Westminster Theological Journal 65 (2003):  181-200, at https://www.academia.edu/2057245/Fleeing_Forward_the_Departure_of_Christians_from_Jerusalem_to_Pella.

[8]  Chilton, Paradise Restored, p. 92.

[9]  Josephus, Wars, 6:6:1.

[10]  Josephus, Wars, 6:5:1.

[11]  Matt 24:5,11; Mark 13:20,21; Luke 21:8; Rev. 13-14:  Josephus, Wars, 4:5:3.

[12]  Matt. 24:7; Mark 13:8; Luke 21:11; Rev. 6:5-6:  Josephus, Wars. 5:10:5.

[13]  Matt. 24:12; Rev. 9:20-21,11:8-10, 18:4-5:  Josephus, Wars, 5:13:6.

[14]  Matt. 24:14:    Acts 2:5; Rom. 1:8; Col. 1:16, 20.  That “world” means the Roman world, see Luke 2:1:  “In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered.”

[15]  I have changed the word order in the ESV in this quote from Matthew 24:30 to reflect the word order in the original Greek.  The ESV puts “in heaven” before “the Son of Man,” implying that the sign is in heaven or that the Son of Man is visibly in the sky (as the Greek word for “heaven” may also be translated), even though the verb “appear” can only apply to the subject of the sentence, “the sign,” not “the Son of Man.”

[16]  Revelation 20 is the only place in the Bible that mentions a thousand year reign of the godly, and it is the most symbolic book of the Bible.  “Thousand” is often used to mean an indefinetly large number in the Bible, such as Deuteronomy 7:9 and Psalm 50:10.  Therefore the time between the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70 and the Last Judgment can be much longer than a thousand years.

[17] See Kenneth Gentry, The Beast of Revelation (Tyler, TX:  ICE, 1989), http://www.garynorth.com/freebooks/docs/pdf/beast_of_revelation.pdf; and Before Jerusalem Fell: Dating the Book of Revelation (Tyler, TX:  ICE, 1989), p. 199, http://www.garynorth.com/freebooks/docs/pdf/before_jerusalem_fell.pdf.   More precisely, the Greek form of Nero’s name, “Neron Caesar,” written in Hebrew letters adds up to 666.  A textual variant of 616 strengthens the case of Nero being the Beast because the variation seems to be intentional rather than a copying mistake, and when the Latin form of Nero’s name, “Nero Caesar,” is written in Hebrew letters, it adds up to 616.  See Gentry, Before Jerusalem Fell, pp. 201-03.  Also see Francis X. Gumerlock, Revelation and the First Century:  Preterist Interpretations of the Apocalypse in Early Christianity (Powder Springs, GA:  American Vision Press, 2012).  As Gentry’s books argue, the “Whore of Babylon” in Revelation would be corrupt Jerusalem of the first century “where their Lord was crucified” (Rev. 11:8).

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