In this final post, Toussaint addresses other issues in preterism. The preterists say that “all these things” in Matthew 24:29 “refer to the non-bodily, non-personal coming of Christ through the Roman army in the first century” (The End Time Controversy, page 94).
Toussaint in a journal article disagrees: “The word ['coming' Gk. parousia] in the New Testament is always used of an actual presence. In 1 Corinthians 16:17; 2 Corinthians 7:6-7; 10:10; Philippians 1:26; 2:12; and 2 Thessalonians 2:9 parousia refers to a person’s bodily presence. In all the other cases parousia is used of the Lord’s presence at His second coming (1 Cor. 15:23; 1 Thess. 2:19; 3:13; 4:15; 5:23; 2 Thess. 2:1, 8; James 5:7-8; 2 Pet. 1:16; 3:4, 12: 1 John 2:28). Since the only occurrences parousia in the Gospels are in Matthew 24, it would seem that they too refer to a yet-future coming of Christ” (Stanley Toussaint, A Critique of the Preterist View of the Olivet Discourse, “Bibliotheca Sacra 161 /October-December 2004, 476.”
The prophecy of Christ in Matthew 24:29-31 and its parallel in Luke 21:25-28 is that at the Second Coming of Christ, Israel would be rescued from the horrors of the antichrist. Christ in Luke 21:28 said, “When these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draws nigh.”
The preterists say these verses were fulfilled in A.D. 70. When was the nation of Israel rescued in A.D. 70? According the Josephus, the Jewish historian, Israel was not rescued; Israel was massacred. Josephus says that 1.1 million Jews were killed and 97,000 were taken captive during the destruction of Jerusalem.
Both Toussaint and Walvoord in their commentaries give the divergent views concerning the meaning of “generation” in Matthew 24:29. Both refer to the view that says Christ was in error when he made this statement because the present generation did not live to see the signs fulfilled. This was the view of M’Neile. This view attacks and denies the sinlessness of Christ.
Both mention the view that “generation” has the Jewish people of Israel in mind. This is the view of Arno C. Gaebelein. According to this view the nation of Israel will live to see the Second Coming of Christ when they see the signs of Matthew 24:4-31. Even though antichrist will seek to exterminate the nation of Israel, they will survive to see Christ’s return. “This is a legitimate interpretation since genea can mean ‘race, stock, or lineage’ (Toussaint, Behold the King, page 279).
Walvoord gives his preference for the view that takes “generation” in its normal sense of meaning a “period of thirty to one hundred years, and refers to the particular generation that will see the specific signs, that is, the signs of the great tribulation. In other words, the same generation that will experience the great tribulation will also witness the second coming of Christ” (Matthew: Thy Kingdom Come, page 193).
This is the view preferred by Toussaint also over the Jewish interpretation. “Although it is true that the Jewish race will continue until the end, the context does not support this view as well as the other. These words were spoken with the word ‘near’ in view (verse thirty-two). When the tree is tender and it puts forth leaves, then the summer is known to be near. Thus the first sign of the Son of Man’s coming indicate its proximity. It is so close that the generation that is alive when the first sign appears will live to see the coming of Christ” (Toussaint, Behold the King, pages 279-280).
What is your response to Toussaint’s handling of preterism? Where do you agree or disagree? Let me know what you think.