If you think SOON means thousands of years later, you don’t need a Bible, you need a dictionary.

When I hear people say that Jesus “is always coming soon,” I cringe. Don’t you squirm a little too when you hear this? After all, some Christians have been predicting the “soon” return of Jesus for 2,000 years.

The “soon” return of Jesus, of course, is the statement made by Jesus himself as quoted in Revelation chapters 1 and 22. Gee whiz. Does language have any meaning at all? Can soon mean far distant? Can love mean hate? Can happy mean sad? Jesus said He was coming SOON in the first century, and I for one, believe Him.

How do we know that “soon” in the New Testament really means close in time, as the word is defined in the dictionary? Answer: Because there are over 100 passages in the New Testament that confirm this time-line. Jesus said his return (Greek “Parousia,” meaning “effectual divine presence”) would be while some of those living in the first century were still alive. That’s what “soon” means. Examples: Matthew 10:23; 16:27-28; 24:29-34; 26:64. That’s what soon means.

In Revelation, Jesus’ “soon” return was further qualified by “about to happen,” “must shortly take place,” and “the time is near.” That’s what “soon” means. You just cannot twist Scripture to make “soon” mean thousands of years later.

When Paul told the Philippians that he wanted to send Timothy to them SOON (Philippians 2:19), did he mean thousands of years later? Of course not.

Futurists usually argue this way: “We know that Jesus hasn’t returned yet, so ‘soon’ doesn’t have the standard meaning.” This argumentation commits a logical fallacy called “begging the question,” also called “circular reasoning.” This means that one is ASSUMING something to be true that he is trying to prove to be true.

There are two similar Greek words in Revelation translated as “soon” or “quickly”— tachos (Revelation 1:1; 22:6) and tachy (Revelation 22:7, 12, 20). These words have the same root word and mean the same thing: “shortly come to pass, without delay.” These words mean the same thing elsewhere in Scripture as Revelation! For example, we see tachos in Luke 18:8; Acts 12:7; 22:18; 25:4. Consider this example:

“And behold, an angel of the Lord stood next to him, and a light shone in the cell. He struck Peter on the side and woke him, say ‘Get up quickly [tachos].’ And the chains fell off his hands.” (Acts 12:7)

We find tachy in Matthew 5:25; 28:7, 8; Mark 16:6, and John 11:29. Here is one of these:

“Then go quickly [tachy] and tell his disciples that He has risen from the dead, and behold, He is going before you to Galilee; there you will see Him.” (Matthew 28:7)

The usage of these words is consistent throughout the New Testament. You cannot impose a long period of time till fulfillment in any instance of their occurrence.

Some Christians think they can escape the obvious by quoting Peter’s words, “With the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.” Does that mean that Jesus was in the tomb 3,000 years? Of course not. Here’s what Revelation scholar Kenneth Gentry says about this:

“In the first place, Peter expressly states the fact that God views time differently from man. John does not. We cannot go about interpreting all temporal indicators by God’s estimation of time. Secondly, Peter is talking about God, whereas John is giving directives to men. Peter makes a theological statement regarding God and his perception of time; John provides an historical directive to men regarding their unfolding hardships. We must not confuse theological truth about God with historical directives to men. Thirdly, Peter is expressly dealing with the objection that certain prophecies have failed because they have yet to occur: “Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts, and saying, ‘Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation’” (2 Pe 3:3–4). Peter is facing the slowness of God’s judgment. John, however, is warning suffering Christians (among which he numbers himself, Rev 1:9) about what they must expect. He dogmatically declares repeatedly and in various ways that his prophecies “must soon take place” because ‘the time is near.’” [1]

It boils down to this: Was Jesus a true prophet or not? I’m going with Jesus as true prophet. Either Jesus was wrong, or else most Christians have simply misunderstood what He meant by his “return.” The preterist view is the only way that affirms Jesus as a true prophet.

So, did Jesus really return while some living in the first century were still alive? The preterist view of eschatology is that Jesus “came” IN JUDGMENT in AD 70 to punish the Jews for their sins and failure to accept Him as savior (Matthew 23:29-39). This is how God “came” in the Old Testament—IN JUDGMENT. No one saw God, but did see the results of his judgments numerous times against his enemies. In John 5:19-22, Jesus was given authority to judge like the Father. God used opposing armies to judge nations throughout biblical history. Similarly, in AD 70, Jesus, with his divine authority used the Roman army to destroy Jerusalem and temple.

There are two types of preterists. Partial preterists hold that most, if not all, of the Olivet Discourse (Matthew 24) and Revelation were fulfilled in AD 70, but other passages (such as Acts 1:9-11) still predict a future bodily return. Full preterists see that all prophecy was fulfilled in the first century, consistent with Luke 21:22, 32; etc.

To sort all of this out, see my website, where I discuss all of the major prophecy themes including the rapture, the last days, the Second Coming, the New Heaven and New Earth, etc.


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