Preterism and “This Generation” -- By: Lawrence A. DeBruyn

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 167:666 (Apr 2010)
Article: Preterism and “This Generation”
Author: Lawrence A. DeBruyn


Preterism and “This Generation”

Lawrence A. DeBruyn

Lawrence A. DeBruyn is Senior Pastor, Franklin Avenue Baptist Church, Indianapolis, Indiana.

In Jesus’ fig-tree parable He said, “Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place” (Matt. 24:34; cf. Mark 13:30 and Luke 21:32). Bible students differ on the meaning of the independent statement, “this generation will not pass away,” and the modifying phrase, “until all these things take place.”

The Preterist View

Preterism is the eschatological system that teaches that most (moderate, or partial preterism), if not all (extreme, or plenary preterism), of Jesus’ predictions in the Olivet Discourse were fulfilled at the time of Jerusalem’s desolation and the temple’s destruction in A.D. 70.1 Assuming that a generation is thirty or forty years in length, preterists contend that either in whole or in part, the events Jesus predicted occurred within the lifetime of those who were Jesus’ contemporaries (i.e., within “this generation”).2 One preterist notes, “Not only was something significant about to happen, it was to happen in their lifetime.”3

The Futurist View

On the other hand futurists believe that the Olivet Discourse describes the progress of this evil age until the “parousia-end”4 (Matt. 24:29-31). Futurism allows for the indefinite postponement of events—the “abomination of desolation” (v. 15), the “tribulation” (vv. 21-28), and Jesus’ second coming (v. 30)—leading up to the end of the age and the judgment of earth’s inhabitants (24:50-51; 25:30, 46). Preterists believe that those events either in part or the whole already occurred circa A.D. 70. So the question is, Did Jesus teach that the tribulation would occur and that He would return before some of those who heard His predictions died, or do those predictions await future fulfillment?

This article argues that the exegetical data of the Gospels do not suppo...

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