|Volume 18 Number 9 September 2016||
Louis Rushmore, Editor
Denying the future resurrection is an old heresy. At nearly the very inception of Christianity a false doctrine arose and was promoted among Christians, members of the churches of Christ (Romans 16:16), which denied the future bodily resurrection from the grave. Three times the apostle Paul specifically identified this apostasy and corrected it. The heretical teaching debunked in the first century is no less fallacious today than it was nearly 2,000 years ago.
Remind them of these things, charging them before the Lord not to strive about words to no profit, to the ruin of the hearers. Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. But shun profane and idle babblings, for they will increase to more ungodliness. And their message will spread like cancer. Hymenaeus and Philetus are of this sort, who have strayed concerning the truth, saying that the resurrection is already past; and they overthrow the faith of some. (2 Timothy 2:14-18 NKJV)
Just like the proponents today of the A.D. 70 Theory (otherwise known as Kingism, Realized or Fulfilled Eschatology), the error that the apostle confronted in the first century claimed that the resurrection was already past. Regarding this false teaching, Paul said about it that (1) it was striving about words to no profit, (2) the teaching ruined those who heard it, (3) those who either taught it or embraced it were not rightly dividing the word of truth and ought to be ashamed, (4) the false doctrine amounted to “profane and idle babblings,” (5) it led to ungodliness, (6) this false doctrine spreads like cancer, (7) those who teach or accept it have strayed from the faith, and (8) the theory that the resurrection is past overthrows the faith of fellow Christians.
Now if Christ is preached that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty. Yes, and we are found false witnesses of God, because we have testified of God that He raised up Christ, whom He did not raise up — if in fact the dead do not rise. For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable. But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ's at His coming. Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power. For He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet. The last enemy that will be destroyed is death. (1 Corinthians 15:12-26)
The apostle Paul devoted 1 Corinthians 15 to affirming the future bodily resurrection from the grave, specifically to correct doctrinal errors then being taught to the contrary. “He is refuting the teaching of those who say there is no resurrection of the dead (I Corinthians 15:12)” (Thornhill).
The consequences of denying the bodily resurrection from the grave were many, including (1) annulling the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ from the grave, (2) which in effect, destroyed the Gospel message (1 Corinthians 15:1-4), (3) without the resurrection of Christ, there is no remission of sins, (4) those who have died have perished, and (5) the living have no hope. However, because Jesus Christ did resurrect from the grave, (1) bodily resurrection is a true doctrine, (2) the bodily resurrection of Christ is a guarantee of the bodily resurrection of mankind, and (3) after the bodily resurrection when the “end” comes, death will be destroyed. Since death continues to slay mankind daily, the resurrection has not occurred yet.
I do want to make a brief point about I Corinthians 15:33, “Do not be deceived: ‘Evil company corrupts good habits’.” Many use this verse with a secondary meaning, (which is not a wrong usage), but we need to keep in mind that its primary meaning is in the context of the discussion of the bodily resurrection. There will be a future bodily resurrection of individuals as affirmed by Christ’s bodily resurrection. Paul is warning believers not to taken in by, and associate with, those who deny the resurrection (emphasis added). (Thornhill)
The apostle Paul once more warned against the first century false doctrine that the Second Coming of Christ was past; he advised that a great apostasy from Christianity would precede the Second Coming (2 Thessalonians 2:1-12). Paul’s point was that the Second Coming, then, had not yet occurred. A significant “…apostasy rather bloomed and flourished after A.D. 70…” (Young), but not before A.D. 70. Therefore, according to the inspired apostle’s instructions, Jesus Christ’s Second Coming did not transpire before A.D. 70, and Kingism is a false doctrine.
Others in the first century also ridiculed the New Testament teaching of the end of time on which occasion Jesus Christ would come again, and the apostle Peter corrected that aspect of the heresy.
Beloved, I now write to you this second epistle (in both of which I stir up your pure minds by way of reminder), that you may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us, the apostles of the Lord and Savior, knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation.” For this they willfully forget: that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of water and in the water, by which the world that then existed perished, being flooded with water. But the heavens and the earth which are now preserved by the same word, are reserved for fire until the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men. (2 Peter 3:1-7)
The Second Coming of Jesus Christ, along with its companion events, were disputed by false teachers, which heresy threatened first century Christians. Therefore, Peter corrected the error. The companion events to the Second Coming of Christ include the end of time, the resurrection of the dead, the destruction of the universe and Final Judgment. Hence, denying the bodily resurrection and repudiating the Second coming were compartments of the same apostasy, along with disclaiming the destruction of the universe and Final Judgment to come. The A.D. 70 Theory, then, in principle has been troubling the Lord’s church off and on for nearly 2,000 years!
More recently but also a long, long time ago, the A.D. 70 Theory with its component parts was popularized by Roman Catholic and denominational religionists before being picked up in contemporary times by members of the churches of Christ.
The historical background of this movement can be traced back to the 17th century teaching of a Spanish Jesuit Friar, Luis de Alcazar (1554-1613). The more modern seeds were sown by James Stuart Russell (1816-1895) a Congregational minister, in his work entitled The Parousia: A Careful Look at the New Testament doctrine of the Lord’s Second Coming (1878). From these seeds, “The 70 AD Doctrine” grew. Among brethren it was first preached by Max R. King in a lectureship at the Brookwood Way church of Christ, Mansfield, OH, in the summer of 1970, and then in April 1971 King and his father-in-law, C.D. Beagle, introduced it in a preacher’s meeting, at Cuyahoga Falls, OH. King popularized this movement and in publishing his first book, The Spirit of Prophecy (1971), he set forth the false concepts of “the 70 AD Doctrine.” This book has since been revised and updated with a second edition published in 2002. Since the inception of “The A.D. 70 Doctrine” by Beagle and King, their followers have established the Northeast Ohio Bible College (1977) and a journal entitled Studies in the Bible (1978). King added a second book to his “70 AD Doctrine” in 1987 called The Cross and the Parousia of Christ. In more recent years, Max’s son, Tim King seems to have assumed the leadership mantle of this cult and has drifted into a closer association with various denominational misfits, all holding the common bond of “realized eschatology.” (Thornhill)
The gist of the A.D. 70 Theory is encapsulated in the proposition that Max King affirmed in debate with Gus Nichols in 1973. “The Holy Scriptures teach that the second coming of Christ, including the establishment of the eternal kingdom, the day of judgment, the end of the world, and the resurrection of the dead, occurred with the fall of Judaism in A.D. 70.” On the surface, such an affirmation appears strange, bizarre, absurd, ridiculous and unbelievable. After examining the A.D. 70 Theory and comparing it with what Scripture teaches, it is no less strange, bizarre, absurd, ridiculous and unbelievable.
Adherents to Realized or Fulfilled Eschatology (1) do not believe that Jesus Christ will return to the earth in the future, (2) do not believe in the bodily resurrection, (3) do not believe that any biblical prophecies remain to be fulfilled, (4) do not believe that the earth and universe will be literally destroyed, and (5) believe that the Judgment is past, not something that will occur in the future. Essentially, it occurs to me that based on the A.D. 70 Theory, the Gospel has been gutted.
New Religious Vocabulary
Plus Unorthodox Hermeneutics
Proponents of the A.D. 70 Theory have made their very own religious vocabulary by redefining biblical words to accommodate their teaching. In addition, they discard standard hermeneutical principles for biblical interpretation, and furthermore, they are inconsistent in even applying their own interpretive methods. Basically, Max King and his followers have opted to spiritualize especially biblical prophecies, discounting the physical aspect and ramifications of prophecies. Whenever someone gets to make up the rules himself and define the words comprising the vocabulary, he can teach anything or nothing – and do it by using the same words that are commonly understood to teach something entirely different. Confusion reigns! One of the prime factors in legitimate biblical interpretation is the consideration of context, but these theorists are oblivious to context whenever it interferes with their doctrine.
King and his followers have little regard for proper hermeneutics and scriptural context. They have concocted a whole scheme of teaching that attempts to interpret scripture as they think it ought to read, not what the scripture actually says. They find a phrase in the Bible and assume it means the same thing each time it is used. This is mighty poor Bible exegesis (interpretation, explanation). It is a fact that some phrases have different meanings in different contexts. Let me give you an example of how one phrase changes meanings in different contexts. Note the phrase, “laid hands on them” Acts 4:3 (to arrest), Acts 13:3 (to commend), Luke 13:3 (to heal), Acts 8:17; 19:6 (to impart spiritual gifts). The same phrase - different contexts - different meanings. (Thornhill)
One error of the A.D. 70 Theory is to build it on the unproven assumption that all Bible books were written before the destruction of Jerusalem and the Jewish Temple by the Romans.
One of the deficiencies of this doctrine is that all of the New Testament books had to have been written before A.D. 70, if their doctrine is true. If there is one New Testament book written after A.D. 70 that mentions one or more of the last time events that the A.D. 70 advocates contend happened before or at A.D. 70 their doctrine is dealt a death blow. … there is a great weight of evidence that indicates that the Gospel of John, I, II, III John, Jude and Revelation were written after A.D. 70. … To argue that all the New Testament books must have been written before A.D. 70 is strictly an opinion, not fact. (Thornhill)
Corruption of Matthew 24
The A.D. 70 theorists further base their misguided doctrine on a gross misinterpretation of Matthew 24. Not only does their Realized Eschatology utterly fall apart once Matthew 24 is correctly understood, such an incompetent mishandling of the biblical text regarding Matthew 24 completely destroys any credibility to handle Scripture responsibly. “Matthew 24 is so clear and discerning as to the descriptions of both the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70 (24:4-34) and the end of the world (yet future; 24:35 through 25:30) that it is hard to conceive how anyone can miss it” (Robinson 11).
How many questions Jesus answered makes all the difference to properly construing Matthew 24. “The distinction between the destruction of Jerusalem, clearly the event referred to prior to verse 34, and that which is referred to after verse 34 is totally rejected by advocates of the AD 70 theory. This, I believe, is their central mistake” (Hicks). Signs of the times in the generation at hand when Jesus spoke would signal the imminent destruction of Jerusalem, but the time at which Jesus Christ would return and the destruction of the world would occur was not known, and it would be a surprise on that basis.
Everything preceding verse 34 would come to pass in “that generation” and there would be sign after sign to indicate its soon arrival. However, a sure and marked contrast to the destruction of Jerusalem is discussed beginning in verse 35. Whereas regarding the destruction of Jerusalem there were “signs” to watch for so that one would know when to leave the city; but concerning the end of the world, no signs would be given. …The remainder of the chapter, as well as chapter 25, gives one example after another to show there would be NO “signs” or “warnings” as to when the end of the world would occur. (Robinson 11)
“Matthew 24:34 says that all the signs and events of which Jesus had previously spoken in verses 4-33 would happen to ‘this generation’… This division of Matthew 24 into verses 4-34 dealing with the destruction of Jerusalem, and verses 35-51 referring to the judgment connected with Christ’s second coming absolutely destroys the A. D. 70 doctrine” (Clarke 3).
Another mishandling of fairly straightforward Scriptures is to incorrectly project Luke 17 to be a parallel to the first half of Matthew 24. “They argue that Luke 17 is a parallel passage to Matthew 24. … Luke 17 is not a parallel passage to Matthew 24. The parallel in Luke is in chapter 21, not chapter 17. The parallel in Mark is chapter 13. …In Luke 17 the setting is entirely different. They are not even at the temple but are in the house of one of the chief Pharisees (14:1)” (Hicks).
First, King wrongly assumes that Luke 17 is part of the Olivet Discourse like Matthew 24, Mark 13 and Luke 21. Luke 21 was, as Matthew 24 and Mark 13, delivered upon the Mount of Olives just outside Jerusalem. However, according to Luke 17:11 and 19:1, 11, 28-29, Jesus spoke what is recorded in Luke 17 sometime after He left Galilee but before He came to Jericho, on His way to Jerusalem. …Second, Luke 17 is not a treatise on the destruction of the temple and Jerusalem. Neither the temple nor Jerusalem is mentioned in that text. Christ’s teaching here relates, not to the local destruction of Jerusalem, but to the universal judgment that would come upon all men. (Clarke 4)
…not one statement in Luke 17:20-37, that has common language also used in Matthew 24:4-34, that relates to the same judgment event. The two sections were spoken on different occasions and have different contexts; Luke referring to the final judgment at Christ’s second coming and Matthew describing the fall of Jerusalem in A.D. 70. …Luke 17:20-37 harmonizes with the latter half of the Olivet Discourse, but is separate from it. These passages are warnings to be watchful and prepared for the second coming of Christ, for which no signs were given (Matthew 24:35-25:46). (Clarke 11)
The Second Coming of Christ
There is only one passage that specifically speaks of the “second coming of Christ” (Hebrews 9:28). Jesus came the first time to be a sin offering, but He will “appear a second time apart from sin, for salvation.” Notice that it says, “He will appear a second time.” This means the second time will be an appearance in the same manner, or in the same way He appeared the first time. If His first appearance was physical and literal, so will His second appearance be. King admits that Jesus’ first coming was physical, but will not admit the second. By his insistence on making the second coming a “spiritual” coming differing from Jesus’ first literal coming King reveals his dishonesty by ignoring the text’s plain teaching to defend his false doctrine. (Thornhill)
At the Ascension of Jesus Christ, the apostles gazed upon our Lord as He ascended into the sky until the clouds concealed Him from their sight (Acts 1:9-11). Two angels appeared to the apostles (verses 10-11), who said to them, “…This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven” (Acts 1:11). Hence, the literal Ascension of Jesus Christ demands a literal Second Coming as well. “Hebrews 9:28…The Lord’s appearance the “first time” was a literal appearance. He shall appear the “second time” in a literal appearance. His second appearance will not be a spiritual or figurative appearance” (Robinson 14).
Furthermore, Revelation 1:7 states that upon the return of Jesus Christ every eye shall see Him. This could only occur with respect to a literal rather than a spiritual Second Coming. In addition, since every eye has not seen the Lord Jesus at His Second Coming, then, that event has not yet occurred.
“…[T]he coming of the Lord will occur at the same time as the resurrection (1 Thess. 4:16). …there are other things which are to take place at the Lord’s return which also have clearly not taken place. Peter teaches that on that day the heavens and the earth shall be destroyed…” (Young).
The Lord will come the “second time” to: 1) Raise the dead (John 5:28-29; Acts 24:15), 2) Judge the world (Matt. 25:31-46; Rom. 14:10-12; Acts 17:31), 3) Sentence the wicked (2 Thess. 1:7-9), 4) Reward the righteous (Rev. 22:2; Matt. 25:46), and 5) Deliver up the kingdom (church) to the Father (1 Cor. 15:24). According to Kingism, all these have already taken place in A.D. 70! …But, we still have our vile body — the body of our humiliation, our low estate. Therefore, the Lord has not come” (Robinson 14-15).
Proponents of the A.D. 70 Doctrine deny that there will be a literal, physical resurrection from the grave of human bodies therein. Notwithstanding, the Bible clearly and unmistakably affirms that there will be a literal, physical resurrection at a time future to the present.
Responsible biblical interpretation proceeds to accept every text as literal, unless the context bears evidence that a statement is to be understood figuratively. Contrariwise, though, advocates of the A.D. 70 Doctrine are prone to view every passage first as figurative, especially if doing so coincides with their preconceived ideas.
The ordinary significance of our Lord’s words in John 5:28-29 is that the bodies of both dead saints and sinners will be resurrected from earthly graves, after which Final Judgment will follow. “Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth — those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation.” There is absolutely nothing in the context surrounding this passage that even hints at a figurative application rather than a literal event.
In addition, people are being raised from the grave – not the church out of the demise of Judaism, as followers of Realized Eschatology affirm. Not only so, but good and bad people are being raised from the grave in John 5:28-29. “The phrases ‘all who’ (John 5:28), and ‘those’ (John 5:29), in the original Greek, are plural, masculine terms referring to a multiplicity of individuals, not a unified system. In addition, Jesus said that two classes of people (good and evil individuals) would be raised” (Thornhill). Just how does the resurrection of evil persons from the grave correspond to the spiritualized birth of the church? It does not!
The apostle Paul spoke of the Second Coming of Christ, at which time the righteous living and the resurrected, righteous dead would be united with our Lord as He comes back to retrieve them.
But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words. (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18)
Paul wrote, “if we believe that Jesus died and rose again.” One of the fundamental errors of the A.D. 70 Doctrine is that its adherents do not believe that Jesus arose from the grave. It is no wonder then that neither do they believe in a literal, bodily resurrection of the righteous dead. However, the apostle taught that on the basis of the literal, bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ, the righteous dead will also experience a literal, bodily resurrection from the grave.
Notice that the righteous living – with literal bodies – at the time of the Second Coming of Christ will be united with the resurrected, righteous dead and Jesus Christ. “‘Those who are fallen asleep,’ ‘those who are Christ’s’ (‘those’ is a plural, personal pronoun). This pronoun indicates that the final resurrection involves people individually, not a resurrection of the body (church) as the whole of Christianity like the A.D. 70 doctrine teaches” (Thornhill).
In Paul’s teaching to the Thessalonians, he noted that the raising of the dead is to occur at the same time as the living Christians of that time are taken to heaven (1 Thess 4:16-17). This means that if the resurrection of the dead occurred in A.D. 70, then necessarily all Christians on the earth at that time would have gone into the clouds to be with the Lord forever (1 Thess. 4:17). At this time, if this theory were true, the church on earth would have ceased to exist! … Thus, the general resurrection of the dead as outlined in the Bible has clearly not taken place. The Bible talks of a physical, corporeal resurrection for the dead, accompanied by the glorification of the living saints. These events as they are described in the Bible have clearly not yet taken place. (Young)
The physical bodies of the living and the dead will be transformed for habitation in the spiritual realm of heaven. “Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption. Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed — in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed“ (1 Corinthians 15:50-52).
There would not be any “comfort” in the words employed by Paul in this context if it were true what is taught by the A.D. 70 Doctrine. Comfort would only result from appreciation of the fact of the future literal, bodily resurrection of Christian family members and of fellow Christians who had passed away. Further, there is absolutely no reason nor is there any indication whatsoever to view the passage in some figurative way.
The apostle Paul devoted 1 Corinthians 15 to the resurrection of bodies from the grave. “I Corinthians 15:35 is clear that he is discussing individual bodies (plural pronoun “they”)” (Thornhill). First Corinthians 15 has become a major obstacle to the A.D. 70 Theory, which its promoters must disarm in an attempt to salvage their argument.
…it is a typical feature of men who specialize in prophecy interpretation that they give forth reams and reams of “explanation” to justify their conclusions. The 750 page book we mentioned spends 250 pages “explaining” one Bible chapter, 1 Corinthians 15. Why so much explanation? Because that is a resurrection chapter describing in detail the concept of dying and being raised to life again… But the book seeks to cancel that out and make it mean something not even involving physical death and resurrection… (Hicks)
“Paul is here considering a change, or a transformation, from a mortal body into an immortal one (1 Cor. 15:53). … If this had indeed taken place in A.D. 70, then there would be no human remains upon the earth dating from before that time! The fact that there are is clear proof that there was no resurrection of the dead in A.D. 70, or indeed at any time prior to our own time” (Young).
“In Matthew 22:23-32 Jesus affirms a future bodily resurrection which the Sadducees denied (Matthew 22:23; Acts 23:8). …There is no textual, grammatical or linguistic reason to take Jesus’ words as any less literal than the Sadducees’ words” (Thornhill). The Sadducees objected to the literal, bodily resurrection of the dead, and that is precisely about which our Lord spoke. In this aspect of the A.D. 70 Doctrine, its promoters are little more than present-day Sadducees.
Observe that after the resurrection marriage does not occur any longer. “…‘in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage’ (Matthew 22:30-31). Yet, today people still marry and die” (Thornhill). Even spiritualizing the resurrection as followers of Kingism do, it remains that following the resurrection, marriage is no more. This is just one more glaring error and an unintended consequence of the A.D. 70 Doctrine, which its agents choose to overlook as even they, too, continue to wed.
New Testament passages teach about a literal, bodily resurrection of persons – not about some sort of spiritualized resurrection of either the church out of the demise of Judaism or of individuals. No amount of sophistry can alter that in any way. “Obviously, there cannot have been a physical resurrection of the dead at that time, as there are numerous examples of human remains dating from before A.D. 70, for example Egyptian mummies, some of which date from before 3000 B.C.” (Young). “Why are the grave yards still full and men around the world continue, day by day, to populate them even more?” (Robinson 8). After all, death was to be done away after the resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:26; Revelation 20:14).
The bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ assures the resurrection of His followers rather than remaining without hope in their graves (1 Corinthians 15:20-23). “Christ was raised from the dead. Christ’s bodily resurrection is used as a comparison or likeness of our own bodily resurrection” (Robinson 9). Furthermore, the bodily resurrection of our Lord is the basis of the form through which obedient believers go when they submit to baptism (Romans 6:3-5).
References to the resurrection in the New Testament are not relegated only to Jerusalem. “Revelation 20:11-15 …Were the dead which had died at sea resurrected and brought to Jerusalem to be judged? Were the dead in the hadean realm resurrected in 70 A.D. to stand before the Lord’s throne in Jerusalem?” (Robinson 13). What the Bible teaches about the resurrection is bigger and broader than the city of Jerusalem in A.D. 70 or in any other year.
Under arrest in Jerusalem and brought before the Jewish Sanhedrin, the apostle Paul threw the assembly into a frenzy by appealing to the resurrection.
In Acts 23:6 Paul and the Pharisees looked for the same bodily resurrection. Later as Paul stood before Felix he talked of this resurrection as being one for both the just and the unjust (Acts 24:15). The only way the A.D. 70 crowd is able to justify their denial of Paul’s view is to use their redefinition of words, and ignore the context. They try to say Paul had in mind the end of the Jewish world, not a bodily resurrection. (Thornhill)
The resurrection was not something about which the apostle only spoke to Jews residing in Jerusalem. The resurrection applies beyond both Jerusalem and the singular date of A.D. 70.
Establishment of the Church or Kingdom
“Mark 9:1, coupled with Acts 1:8 and Acts 2:4, has been used effectively by the Lord’s people since the establishment of the church/kingdom on the day of Pentecost” (Robinson 3). Yet, the King doctrine teaches that the kingdom was not established fully until A.D. 70 as a consequence of the destruction of Jerusalem and the Jewish Temple therein. In Mark 9:1, our Lord said that the kingdom would be established with “power.” In Luke 24:49, Jesus said to His apostles, “Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high.” Then, immediately preceding His Ascension, Christ stated, again to His apostles, “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you” (Acts 1:8).
Our Lord used the words “church” and “kingdom” as synonyms in the same conversation with the apostle Peter (Matthew 16:18-19). Likewise, the apostles Paul and John used the word “kingdom” to refer to the “church” (Colossians 1:13; Revelation 1:9).
The kingdom or the church was established on the Pentecost following the Ascension of Jesus Christ, in accordance with Mark 9:1, Acts 1:8 and Acts 2:4. The Day of Pentecost at the establishment of the church or kingdom and since, Jesus Christ has been adding the saved to the church or kingdom (Acts 2:47). The process of becoming a Christian removes one from the “power of darkness… into the kingdom” of Christ (Colossians 1:13). The church or kingdom was fully established in Acts 2 about A.D. 30 or 33, and it was not necessary for another 40 years to expire (A.D. 70) for the kingdom or church to be fully established. The A.D. 70 Doctrine is wrong!
Another pillar of the A.D.70 doctrine is what its adherents term “covenant transition.” They refer to this as the “eschaton” (last times) period, the 40 years (30-70 AD) between the cross and the destruction of Jerusalem. They contend that the crucifixion of Christ did not end the Old covenant, it only began a transition period that was not completed until the end of the “eschaton” in A.D. 70. To them this date marked the true end of the Old covenant and the full establishment of the New. So, the Old Covenant remained in force until Jerusalem was destroyed by the Romans. They want us to believe that Jesus’ death did not end the Old Covenant, it was only “ready to vanish away” (Hebrew 8:13). (Thornhill)
Yet, “God’s word clearly teaches one cannot be under two different laws at the same time (Romans 7:1-4)” (Thornhill).
Notice other passages that refute the idea of the Old and New Covenants overlapping (Colossians 2:13-15). This passage clearly indicates that Jesus dying on the cross marked the end of the Old Covenant. King and his followers twist the teachings of these verses… just as do the Seventh Day Adventists, other sabbatarians and even some brethren who seek to justify unscriptural remarriages. They seek to evade the plain teaching by claiming “the handwriting of requirements” (Colossians 2:14) that was wiped out (removed) at the cross was not the Mosaic Law but only the bond or agreement by the Jews to keep the ordinances. They err by ignoring the parallel passage in Ephesians 2:14-16. Paul identifies “the enmity” that Jesus “abolished in His flesh” as the “law of commandments contained in ordinances.” This is parallel to “the handwriting of ordinances” of Colossians 2. Those who advocate that “the handwriting of requirements” Colossians 2 was not the Mosaic Law may deny the parallel, but they cannot in all honesty deny the fact that Ephesians 2:13-15 teaches that the Law of Moses ended at the cross. (Thornhill)
“Another consequence of teaching that both the Old and New Covenants were in force at the same time would also mean that two priesthoods also existed at the same time” (Thornhill).
The End of the Material Universe
“King writes ‘the destiny of the material universe shall be left to the hidden counsel of the Creator‘ (SOP p. 81)” (Thornhill). The New Testament, though, teaches something quite to the contrary, that the earth “will be burned up” (2 Peter 3:10) and “will be dissolved” (2 Peter 3:12). “Peter is plainly talking about this physical world (2 Peter 3:3-6)” (Robinson 12). “…[T]he water is literal [2 Peter 3:5-6], then so is the fire [2 Peter 3:7]. The flood was universal and so is the fire that destroys the world. …Elements are the things from which all things come…” (Thornhill).
Since Kingism steals biblical references about the end of time from their rightful places in the future, it has no explanation for the end of the material universe. Instead, “[i]n his book he writes ‘the destiny of the material universe shall be left to the hidden counsel of the Creator’ then paraphrases Deuteronomy 29:29 to justify his view. To him the end of the material world is untaught history” (Thornhill). God did not leave mankind without information relative to the end of the universe, so that men would be watchful and make preparation to meet Him in eternity. “Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness” (2 Peter 3:11).
The Judgment Day or Final Judgment about which both testaments of the Bible speak (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14; 2 Corinthians 5:10) is not some spiritualized judgment relative to Jerusalem in A.D. 70 as Kingism or Realized Eschatology teaches. In an attempt to justify teaching that the Judgment occurred already in A.D. 70 in Jerusalem, Max King resorts to inaccurate definitions of a particular Greek word, from which he draws equally erroneous conclusions. “He argues that all the prophecies concerning Jesus’ second coming centers on the Greek word mello, which appears in such passages as Matthew 16:27; Acts 17:31; II Timothy 4:1. In these passages mello is translated ‘will‘ as in ‘will come,‘ ‘will judge.‘ So King responds by referencing Acts 17:31“ (Thornhill).
Paul said God was about (mello) to judge the world. This word ‘mello,’ where found in the present active, indicative tense signifies, not only intention of purpose but also nearness of action, meaning at the point of, or ready to do what had been stated. Had Paul meant to teach judgment of 2000 or more years’ future he certainly would not have used ‘mello’ in any tense, especially in the present sense. Therefore the judgement of the habitable world (oikoumene) was about to take place in Paul’s day, and in view of other related Scriptures we have every reason to believe Paul’s choice of words conveyed the meaning intended by the Holy Spirit. (King 157)
“He tries to use the word ‘mello’ translated ‘to be about to do, to be on the point of doing’ and limits its meaning to mean at the point of happening now, leaving no room for a long extended time. It is true the word can indicate nearness in the sense of a short duration of time, but it is not always true” (Thornhill).
…Jesus is pointing out that John the Baptist is the prophesied “Elijah [Matthew 17:10-13] that is to come” (Malachi 4:5) (literally the about to come one). Yet there is a period of 400 years between the prophecy and its fulfillment. In Romans 5:14 Paul, in contrasting Adam (type) with Christ (antitype), writes: “…Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come” (was – “mello”). Christ had been about to come for several thousand years, all the way back to the time of Adam. (Thornhill)
Matthew 24, which Kingism severely abuses, flows into Matthew 25 with three narrative accounts depicting Final Judgment. The A.D. 70 Doctrine disagrees with Matthew 25 concerning the Judgment.
…[I]n Matthew 25:31ff. All mankind is assembled and judged. They are separated into two classes, sheep and goats. …do the righteous and wicked still co-exist? If so the judgment has not yet happened. …universal judgment for all men, including Athens (Acts 17:30-31). …the devil, along with the beast and false prophet (Revelation 19:20) were cast into the lake of fire forever. But I can assure you the devil is still our adversary… (Thornhill)
The Judgment about which the Bible teaches is universal, rather than being limited to Jerusalem in A.D. 70. It includes all of the righteous as well as all of the unrighteous. It includes residents of Jerusalem as well as citizens of the rest of the world (Acts 17:30-31). Judgment also includes all persons who have ever lived on earth, not just some people living in A.D. 70. “The blunder of Kingism in this doctrine is that they take every passage which speaks of judgment and relegate it to a local, political or temporal judgment” (Robinson 5).
When Paul spoke on Mar’s Hill in Athens he said, “And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men everywhere to repent: Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead” (Acts 17:30-31). Were “all men everywhere” in the entire world in the city of Jerusalem in A.D. 70? (Robinson 5)
Robinson poses the question having in mind “…(2 Cor. 5:10-11). …Why would we persuade men to obey the Gospel if there is no future judgment?” (6). Further, Matthew 25:31-46 portrays all nations being judged, but the A.D. 70 Doctrine fails to correspond to that. Kingism is wrong regarding Judgment.
Historical View of End Times
Most students of the New Testament believe that several of the books were penned after A.D. 70 and “continued to point forward to such a time as being yet to come. But the advocates of the AD 70 theory deny this and insist that all of the New Testament was completed before AD 70. So we look to other writings, by men who knew the apostles and whose writings are known to have been after AD 70 and ask what their view of it was” (Hicks).
Students of the apostle John, including Ignatius and Polycarp, were alive after A.D. 70 and from their writings we can discern that they still looked for a future resurrection and an end to the physical universe. “The disciples who lived in the immediate time of the AD 70 holocaust unanimously looked for the future world yet to come at the appointed day of resurrection” (Hicks).
The historian Eusebius records that a few years after AD 70 the emperor Domitian decreed that all descendants of David were to be executed. Jesus and His brothers and sisters were descendants of David so their families were affected. The grandchildren of Jesus brother Judas were yet living and were taken before the emperor for questioning. Eusebius says that during this questioning, “When asked also respecting Christ and His kingdom, what was its nature and when and where it was to appear, they replied ‘that it was not a temporal nor an earthly kingdom, but celestial and angelic; that it would appear at the end of the world, when in glory He would judge the quick and dead and give to everyone according to his works…” Upon which Domitian, despising them made no reply; but treating them with contempt, as simpletons, commanded them to be dismissed, and by decree, ordered the persecution to cease.” (Eusebius Ecclesiastical History, Page 103).] (Hicks)
It is also reflected in that the earliest creeds, when men tried to clearly state the fundamentals of their belief, always affirmed that Jesus the Son of God, came to earth from heaven to suffer and die for our sins, rose from the dead and ascended back to heaven, from whence He will return again at the end of this physical world, at which time the dead will be raised to stand before the judgment seat of Christ. Then begins God’s endless day of eternity. (Hicks)
The A.D. 70 Doctrine is a gross distortion of both Holy Scripture as well as unapologetic misrepresentation of the historical record. End of times doctrines about which we read in the Bible are exactly as commonly believed and taught from the New Testament onward to the present.
“Jesus established the Lord’s Supper to be a memorial of his death until He returns I Corinthians 11:26. …If Christians are still eating of it today, then Christ has not yet come or people are eating it without authority” (Thornhill). “In First Corinthians 11:26, in speaking of the Lord’s supper, Paul said, ‘For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come… How long will the saints of the church eat the supper? They will eat it ‘till he come.’ …If He came in A.D. 70, then saints of God have no business eating the Lord’s supper today” (Robinson 15).
“…if Christ has already returned then we have to eliminate every song in our song books that talks of a future return of Christ, since He has already returned, according to them” (Thornhill).
Realized Eschatology or by whatever moniker it goes is not merely a personal opinion of no consequence. It was a harmful false doctrine in the first century (2 Timothy 2:14-18), and it is no less destructive today. “…the A.D. 70 doctrine on the bodily resurrection is not some harmless conviction held by a few people. It is a total perversion of God’s word… It has disastrous consequences to the faith (Jude 3; II Timothy 2:16-18)” (Thornhill). “We can in no way regard this as a ‘harmless theory’… souls are at stake in this matter” (Young). “It is a matter of faith — a matter of fellowship — a matter of heaven or hell” (Robinson 10).
John 14:1-3 informs us that Jesus Christ has gone to prepare a place for His followers – heaven. He is coming back for His own that they might reside forever with Him in heaven, not on the earth. Since we yet reside on the earth, it is certain that the end of times has not occurred, during which the Second Coming of Christ will happen.
The apostle Paul promised a rest for the children of God upon the return of Christ at the Second Coming (2 Thessalonians 1:8). Since the saints do not have that rest yet, it is evident that the end of times has not occurred.
Death, pain, sorrow, tears and wickedness will not continue following the end of times, during which occurs the Second Coming of Christ; the general, bodily resurrection from the dead and Judgment (Revelation 21:4, 8). Therefore, the A.D. 70 Doctrine is a grievous and sinful error (Galatians 1:6-9; 2 John 9-11; Revelation 20:18-19). Impenitent spreaders of this heresy left unchecked will devastate congregations and the faith of Christians, and so they must be identified. “Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them. For those who are such do not serve our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly, and by smooth words and flattering speech deceive the hearts of the simple” (Romans 16:17-18).
Bibliography (Clarke 11-12)
Bock, Darrell. Luke: Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. Ed. Moises Silva. Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1996.
Cates, Curtis A. The A. D. 70 Theology. Memphis: Cates P., 1995.
Fitzmyer, Joseph A. The Gospel According to Luke: Anchor Bible Commentaries. Eds. Wm. F. Albright and David Noel Freedman. New York: Doubleday, 1985.
France, R. T. Matthew: Tyndale New Testament Commentaries. Ed. Leon Morris. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1985.
Green, Joel B. Luke: The New International Commentary on the New Testament. Eds. Ned Stonehouse, F.F. Bruce and Gordon D. Fee. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1997.
Jackson, Wayne. The A. D. 70 Theory: A Review of the Max King Doctrine. Stockton: Courier P., 1990.
King, Max. The Cross and the Parousia. Warren: Max R. King, 1987.
King, Tim and Jack Scott. Covenant Eschatology: A Comprehensive Overview [8 cassette taped lessons and 72 page printed study guide]. Warren: Living Presence Ministries, 1998.
Marshall, I. Howard. Luke: The New International Greek Testament Commentary. Eds. I. Howard Marshall and W. Ward Gasque. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1978.
McGuiggan, Jim and Max R. King. The McGuiggan-King Debate. Warren: Parkman Road Church of Christ, 1975.
Nichols, Gus and Max R. King. The Nichols-King Debate. Warren: Parkman Road Parkman Road Church of Christ, 1973.
Nolland, John. Luke: Word Biblical Commentary. Eds. David A. Hubbard and Glenn W. Barker. Dallas: Word Books, 1989.
Russell, J. Stuart. The Parousia: The New Testament Doctrine of Our Lord’s Second Coming. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1999. (Reprint of 1887 work)
Spicq, Celas. Theological Lexicon of the New Testament. Trans. James D. Ernest. Peabody: Hendrickson, 1994.
Van Broekhoven, Jr., Harold. “Eagle.” The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia. Ed. Geoffrey W. Bromiley. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1982.
Varner, W. Terry. Studies in Biblical Eschatology: Background Study to the A. D. 70 Theory, Vol. 1. Marietta: Therefore Stand P., 1981.
Clarke, Ted J. “The A.D. 70 Doctrine.” The 18th Annual Mid-West Lectures. Independence: 39th Street Church of Christ, 2000.
Hicks, Clan. “A Closer Look at the 70 A.D. Theory.” The Examiner. 5 August 2016. <https://www.theexaminer.org/volume6/number1/ad70.htm>.
King, Max R. The Spirit of Prophecy. Warren: Max R. King, 1971.
Robinson, Garland M. “The A.D. 70 System of Kingism: The A.D. 70 Doctrine.” Seek the Old Paths. 5 Aug 2016. <https:// https://www.seektheoldpaths.com/>.
Thornhill, Tommy. “The A.D. 70 Doctrine.” La Vista Church of Christ, 5 Aug 2016. <https://lavistachurchofchrist.org/LVarticles/AD70Doctrine.html>.
Young, Gary. “Did the Lord Come in A.D. 70?” Balfour Church of Christ. 5 Aug 2016. <https://www.churchofchrist.com.au/Lectures/Issues/AD70.htm>.