One of the schools of thought regarding eschatology (the study of the end times) is called Preterism (from the Hebrew language's preterit, or past perfect tense). This system holds that all, or nearly all, of the prophecies have been completed and fulfilled. There are two subdivisions: "Full Preterism" which says that all of the prophecies are fulfilled, and "Partial Preterism" which says that most of the prophecies have been fulfilled, with certain exceptions. Within that subdivision, there are variations about which prophecies are fulfilled and which are still future.
Full Preterism believes that Jesus' predictions of the Abomination of Desolation and the Great Tribulation were fulfilled in 70 AD, as well as Christ's return, which is said by Partial Preterists to be in judgment but not bodily. The emperor Titus in that year oversaw the destruction of the Temple and the driving out of the Jews from Jerusalem. But while the Temple was destroyed, none of the other things Jesus said would immediately precede his return took place. This is in fact the major problem with Preterism, as well as with any other system that does not feature the sequence of events that Daniel and Jesus both foretold. (See Foundations of Prophecy.)
The biggest argument for Preterism has been the verses in the New Testament that seem to indicate timing. A list of such verses was compiled by D. Green in 2002, and is currently published on PreteristArchive.com. Below is the list, with references to my responses given below, some of which link to longer articles.
(Compiled by D. Green, 2002; published by PreteristArchive.com)
1. "The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand." (Matt. 3:2) [A]
2. "Who warned you to flee from the wrath about to come?" (Matt. 3:7) [B]
3. "The axe is already laid at the root of the trees." (Matt. 3:10) [C]
4. "His winnowing fork is in His hand." (Matt. 3:12) [C]
5. "The kingdom of heaven is at hand." (Matt. 4:17) [A]
6. "The kingdom of heaven is at hand." (Matt. 10:7) [A]
7. "You shall not finish going through the cities of Israel, until the Son of Man comes." (Matt. 10:23) [D]
8. "....the age about to come." (Matt. 12:32) [B]
9. "The Son of Man is about to come in the glory of His Father with His angels; and will then recompense every man according to his deeds." (Matt. 16:27) [B]
10. "There are some of those who are standing here who shall not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom." (Matt. 16:28; cf. Mk. 9:1; Lk. 9:27) [D]
11. "'When the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those vine-growers?' '....He will bring those wretches to a wretched end, and will rent out the vineyard to other vine-growers, who will pay him the proceeds at the proper seasons.' '....Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you, and be given to a nation producing the fruit of it.' ....When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard His parables, they understood that He was speaking about them." (Matt. 21:40-41,43,45) [C]
12. "This generation will not pass away until all these things take place." (Matt. 24:34) [D]
13. "From now on, you [Caiaphas, the chief priests, the scribes, the elders, the whole Sanhedrin] shall be seeing the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven." (Matt. 26:64; Mk. 14:62; Lk. 22:69) [C]
14. "The kingdom of God is at hand." (Mk. 1:15) [A]
15. "What will the owner of the vineyard do? He will come and destroy the vine-growers, and will give the vineyard to others. ....They [the chief priests, scribes and elders] understood that He spoke the parable against them." (Mk. 12:9,12) [C]
16. "This generation will not pass away until all these things take place.” (Mk. 13:30) [D]
17. “Who warned you to flee from the wrath about to come?” (Lk. 3:7) [B]
18. “The axe is already laid at the root of the trees. " (Lk. 3:9) [C]
19. "His winnowing fork is in His hand…." (Lk. 3:17) [C]
20. “The kingdom of God has come near to you.” (Lk. 10:9) [A]
21. “The kingdom of God has come near.” (Lk. 10:11) [A]
22. “What, therefore, will the owner of the vineyard do to them? He will come and destroy these vine-growers and will give the vineyard to others." …The scribes and the chief priests …understood that He spoke this parable against them.” (Lk. 20:15-16,19) [C]
23. “These are days of vengeance, in order that all things which are written may be fulfilled.” (Lk. 21:22) [C,D]
24. "This generation will not pass away until all things take place.” (Lk. 21:32) [D]
25. "Daughters of Jerusalem, stop weeping for Me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. For behold, the days are coming when they will say, 'Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bore, and the breasts that never nursed.' Then they will begin to say to the mountains, 'Fall on us,' and to the hills, 'Cover us.'” (Lk. 23:28-30; Compare Rev. 6:14-17) [E]
26. "We were hoping that He was the One who is about to redeem Israel.” (Lk. 24:21) [B]
27. "I will come to you. …In that Day you shall know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you.' …'Lord, what then has happened that You are about to disclose Yourself to us, and not to the world?'" (Jn. 14:18,20,22) [B]
28. "If I want him to remain until I come, what is that to you?" (Jn. 21:22) [F]
29. “This is what was spoken of through the prophet Joel: 'And it shall be in the last days…'” (Acts 2:16-17) [C]
30. “He has fixed a day in which He is about to judge the world in righteousness…” (Acts 17:31) [B]
31. “There is about to be a resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked.” (Acts 24:15) [B]
32. “As he was discussing righteousness, self-control and the judgment about to come…" (Acts 24:25) [B]
33. “Not for [Abraham's] sake only was it written, that [faith] was reckoned to him [as righteousness], but for our sake also, to whom it is about to be reckoned.” (Rom. 4:23-24) [B]
34. “If you are living according to the flesh, you are about to die.” (Rom. 8:13) [B]
35. “I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is about to be revealed to us.” (Rom. 8:18) [B]
36. "It is already the hour for you to awaken from sleep; for now salvation is nearer to us than when we believed. The night is almost gone, and the day is at hand." (Rom. 13:11-12) [G]
37. “The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet.” (Rom. 16:20) [H2]
38. “The time has been shortened.” (I Cor. 7:29) [G]
39. “The form of this world is passing away.” (I Cor. 7:31) [I]
40. “Now these things …were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.” (I Cor. 10:11) [C]
41. “We shall not all fall 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 imperishable, and we shall be changed.” (I Cor. 15:51-52) [E]
42. "Maranatha!" [The Lord comes!] (I Cor. 16:22) [E]
43. "...not only in this age, but also in the one about to come.” (Eph. 1:21) [B]
44. “The Lord is near.” (Phil. 4:5) [J]
45. "The gospel …was proclaimed in all creation under heaven." (Col. 1:23; Cp. Matt. 24:14; Rom. 10:18; 16:26; Col. 1:5-6; II Tim. 4:17; Rev. 14:6-7; cf. I Clement 5,7) [K]
46. “…things which are a shadow of what is about to come.” (Col. 2:16-17) [B]
47. “…we who are alive, and remain until the coming of the Lord… …We who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds… …You, brethren, are not in darkness, that the Day should overtake you like a thief.” (I Thess. 4:15,17; 5:4) [E]
48. “May your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (I Thess. 5:23) [E]
49. “It is only just for God to repay with affliction those who afflict you, and to give relief to you who are afflicted and to us as well when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire.” (II Thess. 1:6-7) [E]
50. “Godliness …holds promise for the present life and that which is about to come.” (I Tim. 4:8) [B]
51. “I charge you …that you keep the commandment without stain or reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (I Tim. 6:14) [E]
52. “…storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for that which is about to come, so that they may take hold of that which is life indeed.” (I Tim. 6:19) [B]
53. “In the last days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self… …Avoid these men. For of these are those who enter into households and captivate weak women… …These also oppose the truth… …But they will not make further progress; for their folly will be obvious to all…” (II Tim. 3:1-2,5-6,8-9) [C,G]
54. “I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is about to judge the living and the dead…” (II Tim. 4:1) [B]
55. “God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son.” (Heb. 1:1-2) [C]
56. “Are they not all ministering spirits, sent out to render service for the sake of those who are about to inherit salvation?” (Heb. 1:14) [B]
57. “He did not subject to angels the world about to come.” (Heb. 2:5) [B]
58. “…and have tasted …the powers of the age about to come.” (Heb. 6:5) [B]
59. "For ground that drinks the rain which often falls upon it and brings forth vegetation useful to those for whose sake it is also tilled, receives a blessing from God; but if it yields thorns and thistles, it is worthless and near a curse, and its end is for burning.” (Heb. 6:7-8) [E]
60. “When He said, 'A new covenant,' He has made the first obsolete. But whatever is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to disappear.” (Heb. 8:13) [I]
61. “The Holy Spirit is signifying this, that the way of the [heavenly] Holy Places has not yet been revealed, while the outer tabernacle is still standing, which is a symbol for the present time. Accordingly both gifts and sacrifices are offered which cannot make the worshiper perfect in conscience, since they relate only to food and drink and various washings, regulations for the body imposed until a time of reformation.” (Heb. 9:8-10; Compare Gal. 4:19; Eph. 2:21-22; 3:17; 4:13) [E]
62. “But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things about to come…” (Heb. 9:11) [B]
63. “Now once at the consummation of the ages He has been manifested to put away sin.” (Heb. 9:26) [C]
64. “For the Law, since it has only a shadow of the good things about to come…” (Heb. 10:1) [B]
65. “…as you see the Day drawing near.” (Heb. 10:25) [G]
66. “…the fury of a fire which is about to consume the adversaries.” (Heb. 10:27) [B]
67. “For yet in a very little while, He who is coming will come, and will not delay.” (Heb. 10:37) [G]
68. “For here we do not have a lasting city, but we are seeking the one that is about to come.” (Heb. 13:14) [B]
69. "Speak and so act, as those who are about to be judged by the law of liberty." (Jms. 2:12) [B]
70. “Come now, you rich, weep and howl for your miseries which are coming upon you. …It is in the last days that you have stored up your treasure!” (Jms. 5:1,3) [C]
71. “Be patient, therefore, brethren, until the coming of the Lord.” (Jms. 5:7) [G]
72. “You too be patient; strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.” (Jms. 5:8) [A,G]
73. “…salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” (I Peter 1:6) [C]
74. “He …has appeared in these last times for the sake of you.” (I Peter 1:20) [C]
75. “They shall give account to Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead.” (I Peter 4:5) [L]
76. “The end of all things is at hand; therefore, be of sound judgment and sober spirit for the purpose of prayer.” (I Peter 4:7) [G]
77. "For it is time for judgment to begin with the household of God.” (I Peter 4:17) [M]
78. “…as your fellow elder and witness of the sufferings of Christ, and a partaker also of the glory that is about to be revealed.” (I Peter 5:1) [B]
79. “We have the prophetic word …which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the Day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts.” (II Peter 1:19) [G]
80. “Their judgment from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.” (II Peter 2:3) [N]
81. “In the last days mockers will come. …For this they willingly are ignorant of…” (I Peter 3:3,5) [C]
82. “But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up. Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God.” (II Peter 3:10-12) [E,G]
83. “The darkness is passing away, and the true light is already shining.” (I Jn. 2:8) [G]
84. “The world is passing away, and its desires.” (I Jn. 2:17) [I]
85. “It is the last hour.” (I Jn. 2:18) [C]
86. “Even now many antichrists have arisen; from this we know that it is the last hour.” (I Jn. 2:18; Compare Matt. 24:23-34) [C]
87. “This is that of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world.” (I Jn. 4:3; Compare II Thess. 2:7) [C]
88. “For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation. …About these also Enoch …prophesied, saying, 'Behold, the Lord came with many thousands of His holy ones, to execute judgment upon all, and to convict all the ungodly…'” (Jude 1:4,14-15) [E]
89. “But you, beloved, ought to remember the words that were spoken beforehand by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ, that they were saying to you, 'In the last time there shall be mockers, following after their own ungodly lusts.' These are the ones who cause divisions…” (Jude 1:17-19) [C]
90. “…to show to His bond-servants, the things which must shortly take place.” (Rev. 1:1) [H2,C]
91. “The time is near.” (Rev. 1:3) [C]
92. “Nevertheless what you have, hold fast until I come.” (Rev. 2:25) [G]
93. “I also will keep you from the hour of testing which is about to come upon the whole world.” (Rev. 3:10) [B]
94. “I am coming quickly.” (Rev. 3:11) [H1]
95. “And she gave birth to a son, a male child, who is about to rule all the nations with a rod of iron.” (Rev. 12:5) [B]
96. "And in her [the Great City Babylon] was found the blood of prophets and of saints and of all who have been slain on the earth." (Rev. 18:24; Compare Matt. 23:35-36; Lk. 11:50-51) [O]
97. “…to show to His bond-servants the things which must shortly take place.” (Rev. 22:6) [H2,C]
98. "Behold, I am coming quickly. " (Rev. 22:7) [H1]
99. "Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is near." (Rev. 22:10; Compare Dan. 8:26) [C]
100. "Behold, I am coming quickly.” (Rev. 22:12) [H1]
101. "Yes, I am coming quickly." (Rev. 22:20) [H1]
[A] “At hand” means “near” - it doesn’t mean it had arrived.
[B] Poor translation. The verses here translated using “about to…” are in most English versions rendered by the simple future tense, with no indication of when it will happen. For example:
1. Matthew 3:7 - should be “the wrath to come” or “the coming wrath”
2. Matthew 12:32 - should be “the age to come” or “the coming age”
3. Matthew 16:27 - should be “is going to come” or “will come”
4. Luke 3:7 - should be “the wrath to come” or “the coming wrath.”
5. Luke 24:21, rendered here as "We were hoping that He was the One who is about to redeem Israel” is rendered in other English versions as follows:
NIV: “we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel”
NLT: “we had hoped that he was the Messiah who had come to rescue Israel”
ESV: “we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel”
NASB: “we were hoping that it was he who was going to redeem Israel.
KJV: “we trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel”
HOLMAN CHRISTIAN STANDARD BIBLE: “we were hoping that He was the One who was about to redeem Israel” (This one does use “about to,” because they had hoped he was about to redeem Israel, but it turned out differently.)
ISV: “we kept hoping that he would be the one to redeem Israel.”
NET: “we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel.”
ASV: “we hoped that it was he who should redeem Israel”
DARBY: “we had hoped that he was [the one] who is about to redeem Israel”
WEYMOUTH: “we were hoping that he it is who is about to redeem Israel”
(These last two do have “is about to…” but they are still in the context of what they had been hoping, but now were disappointed in their hopes. No indication that he was “about to” redeem Israel.)
See also the better translations of: John 14:22; Acts 17:31; 24:15,25; Romans 4:23-24; 8:13*,18; Ephesians 1:21; Colossians 2:16-17; I Timothy 4:8; 6:19; II Timothy 4:1; Hebrews 1:14; 2:5; 6:5; 9:11**; 10:1,27; 13:14; James 2:12; I Peter 5:1; Revelation 3:10; 12:5
* Could he really have been suggesting the timing of their death?
** “…the good things that have come” - not even talking about something that was future at that time.
[C] See The Last Days
[D] See This Generation
[E] Simple future tense; it says nothing about when it will take place.
[F] It says “If I want him to…” not “he will.”
[G] The disciples of the first century apparently believed that the Lord’s return was imminent, considering the wording they used. But none of these verses can be taken to mean that they somehow knew the Lord’s return would happen in their lifetimes, since nobody, not even Jesus himself, knows when it will take place. Much less, then, can they be used to prove that it did happen.
The context of these verses is encouragement in light of the hope. The Lord may return in our lives, but if not, we only have so many years, and then when we die, our next waking moment will be the Return. So in light of the big picture, we should live as if it were going to be in our lifetime, even if it turns out not to be.
Jesus taught there would be a period of time between the initial declaration of the Kingdom and its inauguration. He compared it to a nobleman going away to a far country to receive a kingdom, and to return later. He specifically spoke this parable to correct their idea that the Kingdom would appear immediately (Luke 19:11). So the disciples knew that some time would pass before the Lord returned, and were prepared for the possibility that it could be long.
Paul can be seen to have expected it in his lifetime, when he spoke of "we which are alive and remain..." in I Thessalonians 4:15-17. But later in his life, he wrote to Timothy about his imminent death and the future reward that awaited him (II Timothy 4:6-8). The NASB even uses the phrase “in the future” to describe the crown.
[H] Derived from the Greek word tachus, Strong’s #5036; defined as:
quick, swift, speedy, ready, prompt.
[This root (tax-) emphasizes the idea "promptly" (without unjustified time-lapse). Immediacy is conveyed by #2112 euthéōs ("straightway, right away").
1. Tachy, Strong’s #5035: (an adjective, used adverbially, and derived from #5036 tachus, "promptly") – properly, swift (quick), without unnecessary delay; used of God's promptness characterizing how He has ordered all physical scenes of life to happen on His perfect timetable without unnecessary "delay" (Rev 1:1; 22:6).
[5035 (tachy) does not mean "immediately" or necessarily "in a very short time" but rather "without any delay."]
Rev. 3:11; 22:7,12,20 (Cp. Rev. 2:16; 11:14)
2. Tachei, Strong’s 5034 (noun, neuter) – swiftness (speed), i.e. done as quickly (speedily) as is appropriate to the particular situation.
Rom. 16:20; Rev. 1:1; 22:6 (Cp. I Tim. 3:14)
[I] Refers to something temporary that is gradually decaying, and will eventually disappear. It has nothing to do with the timing of the end.
[J] The Lord is “near” - He is near now; not referring to timing of his return.
[K] These verses are figurative, in the same way Romans 10:18 says, “But I say, Have they not heard? Yes verily, their sound went into all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the world.” The Gospel could not have been literally preached in all the world at that time, considering there were many parts of the world that weren’t even settled yet. For more on this, see the excellent article from the Christian Courier, “Was the Gospel Preached throughout the ‘Whole World’ in the First Century?”
(The reference in I Clement 5:7 says of Paul, “…having preached righteousness to the whole world, and having come to the extremity of the West…”)
[L] “Ready” refers to his willingness and ability, not the nearness of time. The same Greek word is used when Paul says he is “ready” to come to the Corinthians (II Corinthians 12:14).
[M] From the context, the judgment referred to is the trials we must face, making sure that we suffer as Christians and not as evildoers. It couldn’t be referring to a judgment of Israel to be poured out in what was then the near future, as it’s talking about Christians. End time judgment doesn’t start with the household of God.
[N] The condemnation of false prophets is from long ago, and it still holds true. They will not remain blameless. Verses 4 and following elaborate. If God didn’t spare the angels that sinned, but put them in prison until the day of judgment, he can do that with anyone else. The judgment is still future though.
[O] The language of Revelation 18:24 harkens back to Matthew 23:35-36 and Luke 11:50-51 with its reference to the blood of the prophets. Those Gospel references say that it would be charged against “this generation.” But that means this evil generation, not just those that were alive at the time. See This Generation.