Earthquakes…Signs of the Times, 3 (Mark 13): Whose Questions – Ours or Theirs?

This is the third post in a series titled: Earthquakes… Signs of the Times?  I invite you to check out the rest of the series here to catch up, so to speak :-) This is a series exploring whether or not we can say that natural disasters are indicators of the imminent return of Christ/ end times/ rapture.  My argument is no, but I’ll let you be the judge to see if the following argument holds up.  Let’s continue…


The first part of our Mark 13 text has Jesus and his disciples exiting the Temple and heading towards the Mount of Olives.  After the remarks of his disciples, Jesus comments that “not one stone will be left on another.”  This leads to the disciples questions that provide the landscape of the rest of the chapter: 1) “Tell us, when will these things happen?” 2) “And what will be the sign that they are all about to be fulfilled?”  Many modern interpreters have looked at these questions and supposed that Jesus extends them in such a way that they become a launching point to discuss the end of the space-time universe.  Rather than just being about the disciples’ near future, they are also about a yet-to-be fulfilled future. John MacArthur, for instance, believes that Jesus’ statements were fulfilled in regards to the destruction under the invading Romans in the first century; however, the “…most important aspects of His prophecy were not fulfilled in the destruction in AD 70.”[1] This type of reading leaves the interpretive door wide open for people to speculate about modern events such as the Haitian earthquake as being a ‘sign’ pointing to the still coming tribulation.  Critical to interpreting the rest of Mark 13 will be determining to whom these questions are addressed.  Andrew Perriman states:

But the questions put by the disciples are not our questions.  Jesus is not—on the fact of it—addressing the concerns of a later Gentile church impatient for, or skeptical about, the second coming.  If we allow the historical dimension to be collapsed in this way, we risk severely damaging the delicate tissue of significance that connects the discourse with the actual historical circumstances that it both presupposes and predicts.  The narrative setting in thee Gospels must be taken seriously.[2]

If Perriman is correct, then we must choose to allow the context of the conversation that Jesus had with his disciples (immediate, historical, social, and canonical contexts) to set the course for our reading of what will follow as Jesus’ answer to their questions.  And we should note: nowhere in Mark 13.1-4[3] is the idea of the “end” even mentioned.  Yet, because of popular theologies it is easy for us to instantly read this idea into the passage.  But according to what we have here, as Tim Geddert rightly recognizes: “We cannot be sure whether the disciples have the End in mind at all.”[4] Nevertheless, he reads this chapter as having been partially fulfilled in the events of 70 AD, but not fully.  To this point we shall return in a future post.

Why do we often read this passage as though Jesus is answering our questions about the future?  Who do you think has a better argument: MacArthur or Perriman?  OTHER THOUGHTS?

[1]. John MacArthur, The Second Coming: Sings of Christ’s Return and The End of The Age(Weaton: Crossway Books, 1999), 78.


[2]. Andrew Perriman, The Coming of The Son of Man: New Testament Eschatology for an Emerging Church (Waynesboro, Georgia: Paternoster Press, 2005), 18-19.

[3] This study is not on a synoptic harmony of this discourse, so let’s not read Matthew too quickly into Mark regarding the addition of “end of the age.”  Even so, Matthew is probably speaking of the end of the age sacrifice, not the time-space universe.

[4]. Timothy J. Geddert, Mark, Believers Church Bible Commentary (Scottdale, PA: Herald Press, 2001), 305.


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  • Saints,

    Paul warned believers not to be deceived by anyone saying the Lord had already come (2 Tim. 2:17-19). He uses the false teaching of Hymenaeus and Philetus as an example. They overthrew the faith of some by teaching the resurrection had past. Sadly, history is about to repeat itself. There are teachers today called Preterists. Preterist means past. Preterists believe the events described in The Revelation of Jesus Christ were fulfilled by A.D. 70. They confidently teach the Great Tribulation of the saints by the Beast took place in the first century. This is why many sincere Christians now believe Nero of Rome was the Beast (Antichrist). They point out Nero proclaimed to be God. That he forced many Christians to worship him. Even the number of his name turns out to be 666. When the Word of God appears at the supper of the great God, the Beast will be cast alive into the lake of fire. Unfortunately, Nero committed suicide. This proves this ruler couldn’t have been the Beast. Yet many Christians blindly trust in this heresy. Why is this so dangerous? Anyone believing the Beast is past is being set up to receive his mark! The same can be said for those believing they will be raptured before the Beast takes over the nations. These heresies are paving the way for an avalanche of deception.

    • Paul… although I have major disagreements about your approach to faith and especially the scriptures, I can respect you as a brother in Jesus who has an obvious (yet misguided in this instance) passion for God. I would ask you to consider that your perspective is only a couple of hundred years old. And this kind of futurism imposes a hyper-literalism that is fully foreign to the thoughts and patterns of the biblical authors… these ideas are very much “modern”. Not only does that system take genre out of the picture, it also seems to have to do some pretty wild somersaults to make a coherent hermeneutic. Also, I would make clear that whatever your description is of a “preterist” it doesn’t fit me much. I think that Revelation was probably written during the reign of Domitian… but again, this text (Mark 13) is disconnected from the Apocalypse. In other words, I could be accused of being a preterist in regards to the Olivet Discourse…

      Have you read any NT Wright? He speaks to these issues in a very biblically sound way that you may find appealing.

  • Anthony

    @Paul: agreed. However, many say the same thing about Jeremiah and Ezekiel, not realizing that they are dual fulfillment.

  • Jason Derr

    I once heard it said that Mark 13 functions not as an ‘end of the world’ scenario but as foreshadowing as to how that gospel will end. It’s a literary device.

  • Kurt,

    Reading your post was pretty heartbreaking. I can get by your obvious spirit of pride. But your ignorance of what the early church taught is unacceptable. Such respected leaders from the early church, Irenaeus, Justin Martyr, Tertullian, and Hippolytus, all taught the Antichrist would war against the saints (Rev. 13:7). To some how teach this persecution took place in the first century is pure heresy. Talk about as you say, “pretty wild somersaults”. Your assessment that this teaching is only a couple hundred years old is totally false. Actually your teaching that the coming of the Son of Man for the church in Mark 13 (Mat. 24, Luke 21) are disconnected (not part of) from the Revelation of Jesus Christ is not only heretical but your taking away from the prophecy of this book. (Rev. 22:18-19) Believers who add or take away from this prophecy Jesus promises to remove from the Book of Life and the Holy City, the New Jerusalem for eternity. Kurt, you need to repent of your heresy that this deceiving those listening to you.

  • Hi Jason,

    The end of the age is the harvest of the righteous before the eruption of the Day of the Lord, Gods wrath against the wicked. Those enduring until the coming of the Son of Man will be delivered from the wrath to come. This resurrection will come when the world is living in darkness, like the days of Noah and Lot. Once the angel preaches the gospel to every nation, tribe and tongue (Rev. 14:6-7), the harvest of the overcomers will take place. (Mat. 24:13-14)

  • “Brethren, if anyone among you wanders from the truth, and someone turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins.” (Jam. 5:19-20)

    Recently, another heresy has made dramatic inroads within the church. It is called the Emergent Movement. Many professing Jesus as their Savior are excited about steering Christianity in a new direction. Emergent teachers believe Jesus will spiritually save mankind. They teach Jesus cannot be the Savior of the world unless He saves every person ever born. [23. Universalism vs. Eternal Damnation Debate I, T. 1:28-2:19]

    “Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may run swiftly and be glorified, just as it is with you, and that we may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men; for not all have faith.” (2 Thes. 3:1-2)

    Not all people have faith in the Lord (Acts 14:2). As believers we must enter eternal life through the narrow gate. According to Jesus, this path to heaven is so difficult very few will find it (Mat. 7:13-14). In contrast, many will enter the broad gate leading to destruction. This is why we aren’t to fear those who can just kill the body. Instead we should fear (respect) God; the only One able to destroy both soul and body in hell (Mat. 10:28).

    Emergent leader Doug Pagitt doesn’t believe a loving God would ever cast anyone into hell fire. [24. Doug Pagitt Denies The Doctrine Of Hell, T. 7:50-7:59] He teaches everyone will be judged the same way; whether they believe in Jesus or not. Carlton Pearson once led a congregation of six thousand in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The exodus began the day he taught hell is a myth. [25. Carlton Pearson, T. 1:42-2:21] He believes everyone will be saved. Those in his church judged his universal gospel as wicked. They knew anyone teaching such heresy is not abiding in the doctrine of Christ.

  • Chris


    I don’t want to deal with the theology side of your argument, because most people (especially, it seems, people with your type of theology) are very set in their ways.

    However, I believe that the spirit of your words is untrue. Kurt believes you are mistaken but did not call for your repentance. He did not put on a false remorse as you seem to be doing. I do not believe he is the one whose pride is in the way.

  • Daniel

    Kurt, I want to be careful here as the tone of a couple of the previous comments are pretty harsh, and I don’t want to come across that way. I am just curious about what you do with particular parts of the 13th chapter of Mark, such as these:

    Many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am he,’ and will deceive many. When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places, and famines. These are the beginning of birth pains. [vs. 6-8]


    How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! Pray that this will not take place in winter, because those will be days of distress unequaled from the beginning, when God created the world, until now—and never to be equaled again. If the Lord had not cut short those days, no one would survive. But for the sake of the elect, whom he has chosen, he has shortened them. At that time if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or, ‘Look, there he is!’ do not believe it. For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform signs and miracles to deceive the elect—if that were possible. So be on your guard; I have told you everything ahead of time. [vs. 17-23]

    and finally…

    At that time men will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. And he will send his angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of the heavens. [vs. 26,27]

    While I’d have to agree with you that the Apostles were probably not thinking about the “End Times” when they asked their original question, this doesn’t mean that Jesus decided to answer their question with a word about that topic. There are tons of examples where Jesus answers a question by referring to something that the disciples do not yet grasp, such as His death and resurrection…

    You said, “nowhere in Mark 13.1-4[3] is the idea of the “end” even mentioned, but we only have to continue on as far as verse 7 to see Christ mention it…. (“When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come“)

    But beyond just the mention of the term “the end”, the things Jesus actually describes provide a lot of insight into what He must be talking about. He describes a period of time where if it were not cut short, no one would survive… Has such an event, or series of events, ever been witnessed in the world up to this point? He speaks of wars, and rumors of wars, and earthquakes, being the “beginning of birthpains”… And the mention of something like “birthpains” is a pretty straightforward analogy, because they are clearly events which signal the approach of a climactic event (childbirth…)

    Probably the most striking statement made in this whole teaching of Jesus, is where He says, “At that time men will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. And he will send his angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of the heavens”, and I wonder how anyone could even attempt to say such a thing was accomplished in the year A.D. 70… The only way to take such a statement, and apply it in a way so that it doesn’t refer to the “end”, would be to remove every ounce of literal meaning from His words, and make a wild leap towards some kind of figurative interpretation. But if we did that, then every word Jesus spoke would have to be subject to the same thing, and we could make Jesus say virtually anything we wanted Him to say….

    • Hi Daniel! I hear what you are saying without a bad tone 🙂 I want to simply say that I plan on addressing those issues in some of my future posts. The only thing I want to clarify is “end” in quotes was meant to convey “end” as we see it… the end of the space-time universe/ rapture/ ect… I will suggest in a future post that Jesus and the disciples had a compeltely different understanding of “end” in mind than we have. And, ps – in case you or anyone is wondering… I fully believe in the second coming of Jesus; just not in the way it is often conveyed. blessings bro!

      • Daniel

        I look forward to reading it then…

        But the only point that still seems to be left hanging out there, is the assertion that Jesus’s concepts of things (whether the “End”, or anything else) are automatically identical to the disciple’s concepts of things…

        We can’t forget that the disciples did not really understand the Gospel until after Christ had died, rose again, and appeared to them. They didn’t even understand that the gospel was for all people, and not just Jews, until after Pentecost… Seems pretty safe to say that we can’t limit our interpration of any of Jesus’s words to what the disciples may have believed at the time He first said them… Wouldn’t you agree?

        • Daniel, this is a very valid question indeed. I can’t promise I’ll answer it adequately, but certainly I will try 🙂 Thanks!

  • Daniel

    Oops, had a typo there… I meant to write,

    “this doesn’t mean that Jesus didn’t decide to answer their question with a word about that topic.”

    My bad…

  • Paul you are misconstruing Full Preterism and Partial( Orthodox) preterism which is not heretical and does believe in a future resurrection and second coming. You are misconstruing the Beast. John Writes Revelation in a way, as to make a The beast as one man( the Emperor) and ALSO corporally the Roman Empire. Nero did commit suicide and we also see in Revelation that The one of the heads of the Beast was gravely wounded with a sword, just like Nero!! it says of the Beast “He that leadeth into captivity shall go into captivity: he that killeth with the sword must be killed with the sword” Nero killed himself with the sword!

    Sorry Paul you are just wrong on the mark! There will not be people who will get stamped on their head. Let the bible interpret the bible, instead of reading sensationalist newspapers into the word of god.

    John Takes the imagery of the Mark from Deutronomy 6 ” Take the word of god and put in on your forehead” and also Ezekiel. ( Ezekial was supposed to mark of the God on their forehead just like revelation, before the first destruction of Jerusalem!). If The same language used in Ezekial is the same as revelation and Ezekial did not go around with a stamp stamping people in the forehead, why should we believe any different in revelation?

    In revelation 14 after chapter 13, we see a mark of the lamb, why don’t we hear anything about the” mark of the lamb”? Why does the mark of the beast get all the attention?

    Also can you tell me what early church fathers had a conception of a futurism as exposed by Hal Lindsay and Timothy lehare?

    • To be honest, I don’t think either theologian has a solid argument, at least as-presented. Macarthur needs to give some proof about things not being fulfilled, and Perriman has an argument from absence. It’s very weak indeed to either not explain your point, or argue that because a particular word is absent from the text, the idea is not addressed or intended.

      The real problem is, I think, limiting the text in any particular way. It can both address 70AD, and encourage us to stay faithful today. The words can address a past event, and have recirculating fulfillment for Christian life. In other words, it’s ANE-styled prophecy: let’s leave it open instead of tying it down.

      • I see your point here friend… You would like the work of Tim Geddert on this passage then. He takes your angle – I just happen to disagree with leaving open something that we have read into the text. But even my point is debatable 🙂

  • Katrin Hefke

    Hi guys,

    I am not that good in English because I am German, but I am very interested in this topic, that`s why I try to join your discussion. Before I went to bible school I had a strong dispensationalist background. I was taught to believe in watching out for the signs of the end times, the rapture and a lot of other teachings. When I started to read the bible in its context God opened my eyes. We really have to be careful not to read our thoughts into the biblical texts. I don`t want to say that we can understand everything the first reader could and there are still prophecies that will be fulfilled. But I think that we too often want our modern questions to be answered by texts that were not written for modern people. (I hope you understand what I mean.) That´s why I agree with Kurt. But I also agree with Paul about beeing aware of the antichrist today, though I think that even the people in the first century faced the antichrist.

    Therefore I would like to mention a very important verse about the antichrist in 1 John 2:18. My teacher said that this verse is a hermeneutical key to understand the teachings about the antichrist (the revelation).

    “Dear children, this is the last hour; and as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come. This is how we know that it is the last hour.”

    I think that there isn`t only one Antichrist, but we always have to be aware of them until the time, when maybe the last fight will be fought. That is why the revelation is also important for us, not as a “future book”, but as a helpful book, that will bless the one who reads the words of its prophecy (Rev 1:3 – another key verse).

    I also say that as a German christian who is very sad that a lot of christians in the Third Reich didn`t recognize Hitler as one of the antichrists who he definitely was. That´s why I am very eager to find out the right teachings about that topic and I hope it could be a help.

    Sorry, I lost the topic of Mark 13 a bit…

    God bless you all and the thoughts you have about his lovely word!


  • Daniel, you should Josephus the Jewish wars, and In that period between 30 AD and 70 Ad. There were many false messiahs and prophets claiming to be from God.

    “War 6:286 ( Now, there was then a great number of false prophets suborned by the tyrants to impose upon the people, who denounced this to them, that they should wait for deliverance from God: and this was in order to keep them from deserting, and that they might be buoyed up above fear and care by such hopes.”

    “War 6:288 ¶ ( Thus were the miserable people persuaded by these deceivers, and such as belied God himself; while they did not attend, nor give credit, to the signs that were so evident and did so plainly foretell their future desolation; but, like men infatuated, without either eyes to see, or minds to consider, did not regard the denunciations that God made to them”

    Josephus also talks famines and many other calamities in the empire that time. After the Death of Nero, People literally thought the the empire was going to collapse in that era. Roman historian Kenneth Wellesley says of the year 69 AD

    “The year 69, ‘that long but single year’ as Tacitus had earlier called it, offers a wealth of dramatic incident. After the solid and prosperous security of the first or Julio-Claudian dynasty, the ground opens. The vast edifice of the world empire is shaken. Pretender rises against pretender. The frontier armies move on Rome from Spain, Germany, the Balkans and the East. The frontiers themselves are breached by the barbarian. There are palace conspiracies, sudden assassinations, desperate battles, deeds of heroism and perfidy. The scene shifts continually from one end of the empire to the other, from Britain to Palestine, from Morocco to the Caucasus. Three emperors- Galba, Otho, Vitellius- meet their end. The fourth, Vespasian, survives by fate or chance or merit, and founds his dynasty for good or ill”

    To the early christians the world would have looked like it was going to end.

    • Daniel

      I do not dispute the fact that to the early Christians, it would have looked like the would was coming to an end…

      What I am saying, is that this period of history does not come close to fulfilling Jesus’ words. Was there there such calamity and destruction during that time, that everyone on earth would have died if it had gone on for too long? Upon the death of Nero (or any other Roman emperor…), did Christ send out His angels to gather the Elect from the four corners of the earth? Did all the nations mourn at the sight of Christ returning on the clouds?

      (…and just for the record, I am not espousing “LeHaye” theology either, I have a great many disagreements with their outlook, but that doesn’t mean we throw out what the Bible does clearly say, as we reject the sensational writers of “Christian” fiction…)

  • also Daniel that passage “At that time men will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. And he will send his angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of the heavens”,

    if you look at An oracle concerning Egypt in Isaiah 19:1 it says” See, the LORD rides on a swift cloud and is coming to Egypt. The idols of Egypt tremble before him, and the hearts of the Egyptians melt within them.”

    The coming of the clouds is a imagery of judgement against a nation against god. I seriously doubt God literally rode on a cloud and kicked over idols with his feet and used a flamethrower on the Egyptians in the Old Testament. That passage would probably use the some motif of Divine Judgment, and instead of YHWH doing the judgement, it would be Jesus.

    • Daniel

      Are you sure “Egypt” isn’t the main term being used as a “motif”…?

  • Jesus never places the resurrection of the dead in Christ and the gathering up of believers from earth, before, in the middle, or at the end of the 70th week. Think of the countless hours of research, preaching, articles, and books by believers vainly trying to prove a pre-tribulation, mid-tribulation, or post-tribulation rapture. These interpretations are not in scripture. Let’s remember, the 70th week of Daniel is never called the tribulation period (Dan. 9:24). When Jesus says ‘after the tribulation of these days’, He is referring to the first five seals on the outside of the heavenly scroll. Jesus will open the 4th seal in the middle of the 70th week (Rev. 6:7-8, Mat. 24:9-15). The Son of Man will come back after He opens the 6th seal (Mark 13:24-27). This proves the gathering up of the elect at His coming must happen sometime in the second half of the 70th week; no man knows the exact day or hour (Mat. 24:36).

  • @ Katrin,

    You are correct in that there would be more than one antichrist, at the battle of Armageddon those who Christ destroys (Rev 19:19-21) are all antichrists. But you should take careful note that the word ‘antichrist’ is never mentioned in the book of Revelations, the term used is ‘beast’ and there is good reason for this.

    This beast is also an antichrist but he would be different in many respects than the average antichrist that mankind has witnessed in the past, different from those present today and would be different from those yet to come. He is called the man of sin, the son of perdition (2 Thess 2: 3), he will be the only one of his kind (antichrists) to claim he is God and this would be regardless of the various religious beliefs, e.g. to the Muslims he would claim to be Allah, to the Hindus he would claim to be Krishna etc…

    Now regarding the topic of Mark 13. The discourse is two fold in nature; it dealt with prophesies that would be fulfilled in the lifetime of the apostles an example being the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70 as well as the eventual death of most of the apostles – beheading, crucifixion etc… . The discourse also deals with signs of the end times. TRUE there have always been wars, false prophets/teachers, famines and pestilence in man’s history after Christ’s death and resurrection and there are going to be lots more even unto the tribulation period. The clue to discerning the relevance to our time is right there in the discourse itself, it is the parable of the fig tree. Think about it! Christ is telling the apostles about the destruction of Jerusalem, about their own trials, wars, famines, pestilence and then abruptly goes into a parable about the ‘fig tree’. This is the turning point as it were for the last generation, Christ gave another significant clue which was the use of ‘birth pangs or birth pains’ that would further give clearer understanding on the timing of events.

    We, the last generation would bear witness to increased numbers of wars, earthquakes, famines, pestilence, false prophets/teachers etc in such spaces of time that it would tremendously difficult even for the elect not to be deceived. In closing I would say this, the disciples asked 3 questions at the beginning of the discourse – (Mar 13:4) Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign when all these things shall be fulfilled?

    Christ responded by answering a question that was never asked! He told them about things not of their time. You see they were asking questions based on Christ’s comments about the destruction of the temple, (Mar 13:1) And as he went out of the temple, one of his disciples saith unto him, Master, see what manner of stones and what buildings are here!
    (Mar 13:2) And Jesus answering said unto him, Seest thou these great buildings? there shall not be left one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.

    At that time they were not concerned with Christ’s impending death much less His second coming.

  • daniel, I will be doing some hw now, but plan to address the comments real soon.

  • Well, Kurt, this article has certainly stirred up ‘interest’! I appreciate the courteous way you respond to the replies, even when they accuse you of ‘heresy’ and call on you to repent.

    I agree that the quote from Andrew Perriman is right on the mark. One of the most important keys in interpretation is determining who is being addressed, and what is the subject of the passage. I look forward to your future posts on this subject.

    I wrote several articles on “The Last Days” and “The Olivet Discourse” in my blog last year, beginning with “The Last Days” ( But I make it clear from the outset that I’m a ‘heretic’ by ‘orthodox’ standards; and the charge of ‘heresy’ has long ceased to bother me. My position on the ‘Olivet Discourse’, though, and on Revelation, is pretty much in line with ‘orthodox’ writers such as Gary DeMar – though as I said, he would consider me a ‘heretic’ for other reasons. (For one thing, I’m a ‘full’ preterist, and don’t believe there’s any Biblical basis for a future-to-us “Second Coming” of Christ.) I have dealt with at least many of the objections to a past-to-us fulfillment of this Olivet prophecy in those articles.

    Keep up your good work.

    • Mystic,

      Its chilling to hear you deny the future second coming of Christ. You have no idea the deceiving spirits sowing this doctrines of demons (1 Tim. 4:1) Jesus warned His elect of many coming in Christs name and deceiving many (Mat. 24:4-5) To actually see people coming in Christs name and teaching such heresy is frightening. The increase of scoffers denying the promise of His coming can only increase as we draw near. (2 Pet 3:3-4)

      • Mystic,

        Your denial of the second coming makes total sense after finding out you also deny everlasting fire for the wicked. Tragically your not a christian because your denying the doctrine of Christ. Only those abiding in the doctrine of Christ have the Father and His Son (2 John 1:9) Seek Jesus, mystic, you must be born again to enter the kingdom of heaven.

    • Stephen aka Mystic, thanks for your kind words. I surely try to be courteous without being a doormat in the process. It is neat when others come to your ‘aide’ when harsh words are spoken.

      We are in agreement about this passage. I am familiar with the work of DeMar and have one of his books. It is a great resource, although I do not know that I hold to the pre 70 AD approach to revelation… lack of history seems to support it. Internal argument however is sound… just not sure I am there. Nevertheless, I could be regarded as some form of a late date partial preterist idealist I suppose 🙂

      As far as full preterism, I am not in agreement there. It is still ‘orthodox’ but not a hermeneutic I am willing to hold to. I believe in the renewal of the cosmos and the union of heaven and earth… so I cant quite get there.

      As far as Revelation, I want to show you a great resource that challenged my view of pre 70 AD authorship. It was a great sermon given by Rob Bell. You can watch it in its entirety for free here:

      (scroll down to the bottom and click the link that says “watch”). Love to hear your thoughts 🙂

      Blessings my friend!

      • You certainly show what real ‘friendship’ and kindness are, Kurt! Thanks for the link to Rob Bell’s sermon on “Jesus and Domitian”. He is an energetic and fascinating speaker, isn’t he? He expressed himself clearly, and just as importantly he was INTERESTING. Definitely nothing dull and dry about him! And I loved the way he applied the point of the sermon by asking us to identify who or what are the Domitians in our lives, which (or who) would stand in opposition to the authority of Jesus, God’s anointed.

        One question ‘futurists’ always ask of ‘preterists’ is: what evidence is there of a ‘mark of the Beast’ in the time of Nero or Domitian? He gave a good answer, at least for the time of Domitian. Since all of the Caesars were considered Divine and worshiped, I wouldn’t doubt that the same sort of thing was true in Nero’s reign.

        I didn’t feel too ‘challenged’ about the date of authorship of Revelation, simply because Rob didn’t present any historical evidence (that I remember, anyhow) to back up his statements about John having been banished under Domitian, and having written his ‘letter’ specifically to the Ephesian church at that time. Revelation is addressed to 7 churches; Ephesus was one of them, but not the only (or even main) church addressed. To the best of my understanding, historical evidence for the date of writing Revelation is very skimpy – to put it mildly. Everything goes back to the statement of Irenaeus; everybody else just quotes him. His statement that “it (or he) was seen in the time of Domitian” is capable of more that one interpretation. Even if he did mean that Revelation was ‘seen’ or revealed in Domitian’s time, his correctness is open to question since he also insisted that Jesus was in his 50s when he died. If he was wrong about that, perhaps he was wrong about when Revelation was ‘seen’ also (if that was his meanng). [His identification of the Nicolaitans is one of several possibilities; there is a considerable lack of historical evidence to identify those people also.]

        My reasons for believing the ‘early date’ position is internal, not external (historical). The theme of judgment against that ‘great city’ where our Lord was crucified (11:8), together with many other factors showing a Jewish emphasis help convince me that Revelation is more or less a fuller treatment of what Jesus spoke of in his Olivet prophecy: the destruction of Jerusalem and the end of the ‘Old Covenant’ age.

        Paulbortolazzo’s ‘beef’ is primarily with me, I believe; and I apologize for that. Paul, if you’re reading this, perhaps you wouldn’t mind letting the good folks on this blog alone, and just use my blog comments section to express your indignation. You’ll certainly find plenty of things to label ‘heresy’ there; universalism and denial of a future-to-us ‘second coming of Christ’ are just the tip of the iceberg. I have no intention of using Kurt’s blog to propagandize my beliefs; my main intention here was to express support for Kurt’s efforts, without attempting argue him or others into my own ‘strange’ beliefs. I appreciate Kurt’s willingness to question ‘tradition’, and reexamine ‘orthodox’ interpretations of the Bible; I support him in that, even though he does not (presently at least) believe the way I do on many matters. I am not seeking to cause divisions or create a new sect – which is the true meaning of the word ‘heresy’. It is not so much ‘false teaching’ as divisiveness – and I think you (Paul) are in fact more guilty of that in your comments.

        • Wow Stephen, glad you liked it! I think that you are a great blog ‘friend’ and even though we differ at some points theologically… i am proud to call you my brother in Christ. I should say that I was influenced heavily by the work of Hank Hanagraaff early on in my transition away from futurism. His book– The Apocalypse Code: Find Out What the Bible REALLY Says About the End Times . . . and Why It Matters Today — is excellent, even though I have my skepticism about the early date (at this point). The early date preterism he expounds is a very good approach to the Revelation. His work on Israel and the New Israel is amazing in this book, esepecially his study on how supporting Israel has been detrimental to Palestinian Christians.

          As far as the “heresy.” I put none of the blame on you. I am glad to have your voice in these conversations and appreciate your encouragement.

          Finally, have you read any Brian McLaren? I think you would love his: “A New Kind of Christian” trilogy. The third book even addresses the question of universalism. If you havent read all three, I HIGHLY COMMEND them to you!

          Book 1:

          Book 2:

          Book 3:

          • Thanks for the book suggestions; unfortunately I won’t be able to follow up on that. I come across a lot of books I wish I could buy, but I just can’t afford to spend the money. In my previous occupation (over-the-road truck driver) I could have, but I’m on disability now and it’s just enough to scrape by. I’m definitely grateful to have it, though! I check out books from the library occasionally, and re-read (over and over) books I already possess; besides that, I’m pretty much restricted to what I can find free online. Computers and the Internet sure have their good points, I’m finding!

          • If you cant purchase them, I still want to recommend that you check them out from the library. They should have access to a copy 🙂

            PS – sorry that you have had some physical limitations. Blessings friend.

          • I checked my county library system, and found they have 4 titles by Bryan McLaren; but only the first of the 3 you suggested is among them. That one is available as an e-book so I have created an online account and will download it. The other 3 titles are in regular book form though they’re all checked out now. Only one was ‘owned’ by my local library, but I can have the others delivered to my library if I want to read them. I think I’ll read the one you suggested first, and then decide if I’m interested in reading the others. Thanks again for the suggestions.

            It has just occurred to me that I may be able to find the other 2 books you suggested through an inter-library loan from libraries outside of my county system. I’ll check out that possibility after reading the e-book.

  • (1) “An oracle concerning Egypt: See, the LORD rides on a swift cloud and is coming to Egypt. The idols of Egypt tremble before him, and the hearts of the Egyptians melt within them”.

    Daniel, I fail to see how Egypt is being used as a motif. That doesn’t make sense to me. Also it doesn’t even have to be this passage, look at any judgement passages against pagan nations in the Old testament, and you will see the motif of YHWH ” coming with the clouds”. It never meant that YHWH literally rode on a cumulus raining thunderbolts, but it is meant as a symbol of Divine judgement against pagan nation. In the New testament the “Jewish nation” takes that new role.

    (2) Also the phrase all the tribes of the earth” can be translated “all the tribes of the land and it probably meant a local land than every “single nations”. Jesus judgement against Caiaphas, was that “Caiaphas would see him in the coming in the clouds with power. When the Jewish nation was destroyed in the Roman/Jewish war, they would probably know that it was Jesus who was judging them. Jesus takes YHWH’s role as the Divine warrior/Judge in the Jewish War in the New Testament.

    (3) “Was there there such calamity and destruction during that time, that everyone on earth would have died if it had gone on for too long?”

    When Paul says ” Now the Gospel is preached to the whole world”, he does not mean that Antarctica and Austria had the gospel preached to them. He would have meant the Roman empire. The same thing would be for the Roman citizens during the time Revelation was written. There was famines,earthquakes, political uprisings, false messiahs, persecutions, signs and Wonders and they would have “thought” that it would have been better to die than live in a time like that.

    (4) Also I see no reason that Christ sending out His angels to gather the Elect from the four corners of the earth, could not have been referring to The Gospel being spread to the entire “Roman” world.

    • Daniel

      So when they met together, they asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?”

      He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

      After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight.

      They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven. [Acts 1:6-11]

      First I must ask Jeremy, do you think this verse which describes Jesus ascending into the clouds is a figurative description? It flatly says that the disciples were looking up into the sky… If the angels said that Jesus would return in the way He went into heaven, then we are left with little to speculate about, since a literal ascension would then have to mean a literal, from-the-sky return…

      I understand your point about those OT passages speaking of divine judgement against pagan nations, but what I am saying is, are you sure that the “bigger picture” of all those passages isn’t to describe something on a much grander scale? Nations like Egypt and Babylon are constantly used in scripture to describe the wicked Kingdoms of this world, empires which represent mans deification of himself, in defiance of the true God. Obviously, when John had his vision on Patmos, and he is seeing things which refer to “Babylon the Great”, he is not being given a vision which is talking about the literal, political entity that was Babylon… See my point?

      So, you take “tribes of the earth”, and then interpret that as “tribes of the land”, and then take “tribes of the land”, and translate that as “Caiaphas”? That feels like quite a stretch there…

      Also you said that to the people of that time, it would have felt like the world was coming to an end, so we could apply Jesus’s words to them. But did Jesus say, “If the Lord had not cut short those days, no one would feel like they would survive.“…?

      It strikes me that in regards to many of these questions, you continuously refer to what the the people at that time must have thought/believed, in order to understand what Jesus was saying… Is Jesus not the Creator and King of the Universe? Does Jesus not know that the world is much bigger than the Roman empire at that time? Does Jesus have no idea about the people across Asia, Africa, Europe and the Americas?

      Also, you say that “gathering the elect” could refer to simply preaching the gospel throught the Roman Empire. But if we look to the book of Matthew, chapter 24 is a parallel account of Mark 13, but it continues on where Mark does not. Matthew 25 continues on which Jesus’ explanation, where he uses three different parables to help explain one thing, His return

      Then Jesus says THIS! (yikes…)

      When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
      “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

      “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

      “The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’

      “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’

      “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’

      “He will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’

      “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.” [Matthew 25:31-46]

      (Hopefully I didn’t just pour gas on the fire by posting a verse like that…) 🙂

  • Owen

    I do not think you can adequately make Mark 13 (and it’s parallels) either entirely in our past (the disciples near future) or what is future to us, although I am probably not saying both quite in the same way that churchedunchurched did.

    While, in agreement with Perrimen, we must read the question in light of the historical context, I think the error is to presume that everything Jesus gives would fall as part of the answer to the question. It is certainly possible that Jesus addresses the question of the disciples and moves down a tangential line of discussion that is related to the topic at hand, but is not specifically addressing the question. So the answer the original question, I don’t think you should take Mark 13 as either/or but the option is open to both.

    Now to expound a bit more without going into exegesis in the comment section, I think this can allow us to take seriously the consistency of the bulk of Mark 13 with the historical destruction of Jerusalem, but allow the most theologically significant element for today, the Son of Man coming in clouds, to actually refer to the future second coming, instead of trying to incorporate other interpretive options to keep to the perspective that keeps the language fitting within the time close to 70 AD (such as with NT Wright, or in skeptics who take it as the second coming and use the immediate unfulfillment as proof of error).

    One last point then I will quit rambling. I think the idea that Jesus takes the discussion down a tangential direction can explain the difference between the questions the disciples ask in Matthew’s account, who specifically ask about Jesus’ coming, as opposed to Mark’s, which lacks that question. Assuming Matthew and/or his source is later that Mark and/or his source, Matthew’s reading could have arisen out the recognition that Jesus message went beyond the original question of the disciples, thus the early church included the question about Jesus’ coming.

  • Samuel Adams

    I put a longer one, but it didn’t get through. I think that Jesus is saying that the church must always minister in the midst of pain. Especially seeing that Mark says the days will be cut short for the elects’ sake. The point is not that God is destroying the earth, but that until God comes there will be pain, and we must be the truth of God for the world.

  • Jack Burton

    These discussions are tiresome and do more to confuse than clarify. Just a bunch of “educated” christians wanting to be make their point. You sit around and use your fancy words for religion and no where in this blog is there a spirit of learning except for the original blogger’s post. Since when did thinking chrisitans need to speak the “truth” in ways that the normal christian cant understand. We got Paul here spewing scripture in order to prove his own personal point like a dang robot and nowhere in his writings are there a sense of realness about him. Every time Jesus spoke, we got a sense for who he was and what he was about. I can’t stand listening to people who just want to vomit information all over the place. Like you input something and out comes scripture. I think there is a time and place for discussions like this, but honestly, this doesn’t seem to be one. Is it important for me to fully understand Mark 13? Does it really change the way I act? Why not tell me why you think it is important for me to know Mark 13? Seems to me, that seminary produces christians that are more concerned with flexing their mind rather than their spirit. Too many of these posts on thinking christian seem like a bunch of christians who want to show off who has the longest word that ends in ism.

    • Owen


      How you understand the Bible will eventually change how you act. They are not two different things, but they build each other up. You may not see the connections between mind and spirit, belief and behavior offhand, but they are present and work in subtle ways.

      And it might been good not to judge the motives of people simply because they use big words. Jesus calls us not to judge, and you can not tell the motives behind the various people who talk in an educated manner. The possibility might be of sincerity, not showiness. A lot of people use deep analysis of the text because it finds it helps to make sense of many things that were otherwise unclear, and use big words and isms because they clearly convey what they mean. So, please don’t judge people based upon appearances, but use righteous judgment.

  • Jack,
    Do you understand some of the bloggers above call themselves Christian while in the same breath deny the future 2nd coming of Christ and everlasting damnation. They are emergents (universalism) sowing their heresy all will be saved, no one lost. I find it interesting that you chose to judge me. Sadly you probably didn’t look up the verses I posted proving the coming of the Son of Man is the resurrection the dead in Christ and those alive on earth. Its important to know this because the Abomination of Desolation (Antichrist) must invade Jerusalem, take control of the nations, issue the mark of the Beast, BEFORE THE CHURCH IS RAPTURED (RESURRECTED). We are edging toward the greatest falling away in the history of the church. In 1 Tim 4:1, Paul warns of believers departing from the faith by believing in doctrines of demons and deceiving spirits. Jack, read the posts above and you will see the apostasy has already begun.

  • After many years of studying this specific truth I believe the pre- tribers have problems with Matthew 24 being the rapture because of Matthew 25. They insist the coming of the Son of Man with His angels can’t be rapture because the sheep and goats are separated on earth not in heaven. The fact is, Jesus promised believers would be rewarded for their works in heaven at the Bema Seat (judgment seat of Christ) immediately following the Son of Man coming in the glory of His Father and His angels (Mat. 16:27). There is ONLY ONE coming of the Son of Man. This coming happens after the 6th seal (Mat. 24:29-31) Henry, Jesus doesn’t sit on the earth after the 6th seal. The separation of the wheat and tares, sheep and goats, takes place at the judgment seat. The parables in Matthew 24 and 25 are about the judgment seat of Christ. May the Holy Spirit bear witness.

    • Daniel


      After reading your plethora of comments here, my heart is troubled. The reason being, that while I believe I most likely agree with everything you are saying in regards to what the scriptures say about Christ’s return, the manner in which you are doing it seems to lack compassion, and patience…

      Do you honestly think that someone will be cut to the heart, and open their eyes to the truth, simply because some random guy on the internet calls them a heretic?

      Ironically, I fear that the same kind of attitude with which you are speaking to the people involved in this discussion, has most likely already been a large factor as to why many of them have rejected these truths in the first place…

      If you’re going to spend your time engaging in these conversations, you might as well try talking with people, rather than AT them, don’t you think….?

      • jasonekk

        @daniel… I agree… lets talk with not at each other.

  • What is the spiritual temperature of the body of Christ today (2 Tim. 4:3)? Why are so many not concerned about living holy lives (2 Tim. 2:19)? Why do most pastors admit we are living in the last days but aren’t preparing the saints to overcome (Rev. 2:11)? Instead of obeying the warnings from the Holy Spirit most ministers would rather teach on prosperity, family relationships, emotional healing, even worship. It’s because they’re coveting the approval of man. Such compromise will never produce the genuine unity Christians are yearning for. Most shepherds have given up seeking after an authentic revival that changes hearts (Phil. 1:10). Their focus has become a numbers game. How many attend their church? How big is their youth group? How big is their choir? How many tithe? A major priority is to be positive and not judge. Such feel good messages are producing some of the fastest growing churches in America. Such veiled rebellion gravitates toward pleasing man rather than God. This is why sin is running rampant. Paul warns no one can be a man pleaser and serve Christ.
    “For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ.” (Gal. 1:10)
    To gain acceptance many pastors are giving their congregations what their itching ears want to hear. When the Holy Spirit showed me this I was stunned. If you want to be an overcomer for the Lord you need to understand this truth.
    “Then you shall again discern between the righteous and the wicked, between one who serves God and one who does not serve Him.” (Mal. 3:18)
    Today, why are so many Christians refusing to judge between the righteous and the wicked; between who is serving God and who isn’t? Simply, they are coveting the approval of the world.
    “If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.” (John 15:19)
    For decades, the news media, television, movies, and universities, have bombarded Christians with this message: don’t judge lest you be judged. Let us discern the demonic spirit using this ploy. The wicked will never love anyone judging their rebellion against God. The world will hate you if you teach what Jesus taught. This is why so many are not willing to take a stand for righteousness anymore.

  • Daniel,

    Acts 1:6-11 represents physical return of the Messiah to fulfill the mystery of God, the salvation of Israel. (Rom. 11:25-27, Dan. 9;24, Rev. 10:1-7) During the coming of the Son of Man Jesus doesn’t touch the earth. In Rev. 10:1-7, The Holy One with a rainbow on His head eyes like fire returns to earth to fulfill the mystery of God between the sounding of the 6th and 7th trumpets. The coming of the Son of Man takes place between the 6th and 7th seals (Mat. 24:29-31) These are two events, taking place at different times. for different reasons, each having different results. Each is part of Christs Second Coming (Rev. 7:9-14; 10:1-7, 19:11-21, 21:9-10)

    • Daniel

      Um…. Seriously?

      Are you listening… at all? Or just so used to being ignored by people that you just instinctively talk at them?

      Dude! I actually agree with the bulk of what you are saying, (on paper anyways…) but your TONE is off the hook…

      Don’t forget…

      If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing. [1 Cor. 13:1-3]

      It’s easy to get up on the ol’ soapbox, especially when it comes to something you are passionate about. (I have been guilty of this countless times myself…) But if love gets chucked out the window in the process, then it’s really all for nothing…

  • jasonekk

    @paul… I feel you are missing the point of this thread. For one… you do not agree peoples views on the end times… fine whatever… I dont think that peoples views on the end times really matter in the long run of life (yes i know… eschatology influences how we view today… especially if one thinks that the earth will be destroyed literally, then one might not care too much about the environment… anyways). The most important thing is that we are loving Christ and others daily.

    It seems that you want to use this thread to vent your anger at universalism (which none of us are espousing).

    @All… lets get back to the conversation at hand (you know the original post and all)… or maybe move on and take a breather…

    Shalom to you all!

    • I have to take the blame for Paul’s expressions of indignation about universalism. He found, on my bog site, that I teach that belief and decided to give vent to his condemnation concerning that supposed ‘false teaching’ here as well as on my blog. I wish he had confined himself to the comments section of my site, rather than here. I have not sought to use this site as a forum to express my ‘heresies’; just to express my support for Kurt in his willingness to reexamine popular or ‘orthodox’ teachings within the Christian church. I know that Kurt – and his readers – do not agree with my ‘strange’ beliefs for the most part; though Kurt and I do share some common ground in understanding some of the ‘second coming’ prophecies. I think diversity of belief (without divisiveness) is a great thing, because it gives us the opportunity to always be ‘checking up on ourselves’ to try to be sure of the things we believe. When someone expresses a differing viewpoint, it can be accepted as a ‘challenge’ to put our own beliefs to the test – so we can hold on to what is good and reject what is evil. So I am not offended when Kurt or anyone else expresses viewpoints different from mine; and I hope y’all (I am a good southerner from North Carolina) aren’t offended by anything I say.

  • Daniel,

    Ive tried to share the scriptures supporting the fact of a future 2nd coming of Christ. Several in here deny this. I called such denial a heresy. Those who teach heresy are called heretics. Some in here also deny there is a literal lake of fire for the wicked who reject Jesus. What else would you call such lies concerning the doctrine of Christ. I’m not a heresy hunter and I’ve tried my best to share the scriptures that support the coming of the Son of Man in Mathew 24, Mark 13, Luke 21, is the future resurrection of the dead in Christ followed by believers alive on earth. The fact is I’m listening to you Daniel. The question is why? Who would I after hearing such bitterness and sarcasm in your words. Before you make such mean spirited remarks about my character and my teaching try looking in mirror, you have big time issues.

  • Dear Paul and Friends on this thread:

    I am having to do something that is regrettable, but necessary to keep the open conversation without degrading speech or accusations on this blog. I have decided to block Paul from being allowed to comment on this site. Paul, I hope that anything you pursue to do for the kingdom of God will be done in the love of Jesus Christ. Please do not comment here again… not out of fear that I am being exposed as wrong, but out of a concern for others who participate out of sincerity and seeking the truth of Jesus which is revealed through the scriptures. May your love increase and may the Holy Spirit fill you with opportunities to reflect the love of God to all you know. Blessings.


    PS – Just for the record: I do believe in the second coming of Jesus and I am not a universalist… Jesus is the only hope that this world has got.

  • jack burton

    I was not judging,

    merely making observations. I don’t know anybody here and would not presume to say anybody is right or wrong. However, this is the first time I have come on these posts and it will be the last. I came here to learn about the recent earthquakes and what I learned was that there were a lot of people here that seem to not care about teaching others but rather trying to get their point across. I don’t care if you use big words, but understand that not everybody knows what the heck you are talking about. To me, that is not how god communicates. If you use an ism, make sure it is clear to everyone that might read this what it means. If you are in private conversation with somebody that understands that stuff that seems to make more sense. All kinds of people read these posts and it would seem to me that you would want everyone to understand what you are talking about. I write for the first time on here expressing concern about this matter and clearly frustrated and you come back basically rebuking me for judging others. I asked a couple questions in my post, but you did not answer those questions but rather took a rather defensive tone. Maybe I should be reading the christian blogs for dummies not the thinking christian.