Bible Question:

In an ongoing benign dialogue with a preterist friend, I (a futurist/millennialist) have been challenged by Jesus' words in Matthew10:23 where He tells His disciples that they will not have gone through the cities of Israel until the Son of Man comes. Does this mean that Jesus did come in A.D. 70?

Bible Answer:

Did Jesus’ second coming occur in 70 A.D.? Preterism claims that the second coming of Christ occurred in A.D. 70.  Their primary passage is Matthew 24:34 in which they believe Jesus prophesied that His second coming would occur during the lifespan of the generation that was alive when Christ died and was resurrected. They believe other passages also support their doctrine. Two important passages are Matthew 10:23 and Matthew 24:34.

Explanation of Matthew 10:23

We will first study Matthew 10:22-23. It states,

And you will be hated by all on account of My name, but it is the one who has endured to the end who will be saved. But whenever they persecute you in this city, flee to the next; for truly I say to you, you shall not finish going through the cities of Israel, until the Son of Man comes. Matthew 10:22-23 (NASB)

There are several important points in this verse. First, the beginning of the verse describes the persecution of Jesus’ followers, for He says, “you will be hated by all on account of My name.” These opening words describe a time of persecution of the followers of Christ. Preterists focus on the persecution of Christians prior to the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70. They would have us believe this refers to the persecution of the early Christians described in Acts 8:1-3; 12:1-3, or Hebrews 10:32-33. One difficulty with the preterists view is that the Roman army did not destroy Jerusalem and the temple because of Christians. While it is true the Romans persecuted Christians under Nero, that was not the driving reason for the Roman destruction of Jerusalem. That occurred because of the Jewish revolt. The Romans wanted to eliminate the Jewish state.

Amillennialists and postmillennialists believe the persecution has been occurring since the time of Christ to the present time. Premillennialists agree but believe it will continue into the future tribulation as described in Revelation 6-19, with Christ’s second coming occurring in Revelation 19:11-21.

Second, the Greek word for “finish” is teleo which simply means “complete.” What Jesus actually said was that they will not “complete” the cities of Israel before He comes. Jesus used a double negative (ou me) prior to teleo. It is strong evidence that the disciples would not finish preaching the gospel before the second coming of Christ or parousia occurred. But this does not require the parousia to occur A.D. 70.  As Richard Mayhue states, “It does not require calling an A.D. 70 “non-coming” a “coming” as proposed by preterists.”[1]. His point is that fulfillment of Matthew 10:23 does not require the second coming of Christ to occur in A.D. 70. In addition, preterists have implicitly admitted that Jesus did not literally come in A.D. 70 when they say He came figuratively or spiritually. In sharp contrast, we are told the whole world will see Him (Matthew 24:30; Mark 13:25; Luke 21:27).

Third,  Jesus said in Matthew 24:14 the preaching of the gospel around the world would be completed before the second coming. This is a clear statement that the preaching of the gospel would be completed throughout the earth, and not just in the cities of Israel.

And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world for a witness to all the nations, and then the end shall come. Matthew 24:14 (NASB)

Jesus described the evangelization of the entire world, which includes Israel. Even today the gospel has not been preached around the whole world. Therefore, Matthew 10:23 and Matthew 24:14 are not in conflict. Jesus made both statements and they indicate the second coming of Christ is still future.

Explanation of Matthew 24:34

A related and supporting passage for preterists is Matthew 24:34. They use Matthew 24:34 to support their claim the second coming of Christ would occur during the lifespan of those who lived at the time of His death and resurrection. Matthew 24:33-34 says,

. . . when you see all these things, recognize that He is near, right at the door. Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. Matthew 24:33-34 (NASB)

We need to remember that Jesus had just finished describing the signs of His Second Coming and the judgment of the righteous and wicked (Matthew 24:1-31). He stated “this generation will not pass away until all these things take place.” The key phrase is “this generation.” The Greek word “generation” is genea. This word means more than just “generation.” It includes the idea of “birth,” “descent,” “children,” “race” and was even used to refer to the end times.[2] It is best to understand Jesus’ expression to mean “this race,” “this people,” or “this period of time.” In Luke 16:8 genea is translated as “kind” (the word is in bold),

And his master praised the unrighteous steward because he had acted shrewdly; for the sons of this age are more shrewd in relation to their own kind than the sons of light. Luke 16:8 (NASB)

The word genea is used in a general sense to refer to all unrighteous people. For a detailed discussion of “this generation” visit, “What does “this generation” mean in Matthew 24:34?” The article reveals it is a mistake to constrain it to the generation that lives at the time of Christ.  There is much greater support for it to refer to those who will be living during the events in the tribulation and at the time of the second coming.

The major problem with assuming that Jesus came in 70 A.D. is that the book of Revelation was written about 95 A.D. The book of Revelation is a prophetic book predicting the second coming of Jesus. Both the early church fathers and history strongly support this date. Not until recent times has that date been questioned in order to provide support for preterism. Preterists claim the book of Revelation is a history book. If so, why is it called an apocalypse if it is recorded history between A.D. 33 and A.D. 70?

But since Revelation prophesies Jesus’ coming and was written about 95 A.D., then Jesus’ second coming is still future, and did not occur in 70 A.D. This is the correct conclusion.


The major sign of Christ’s second coming is completion of the preaching of the gospel throughout the world (Matthew 24:14). That is our commission – to share the gospel! Also,  Jesus said we should be looking for His coming! Even so, come, Lord Jesus!



1. Richard Mayhue. JESUS: A PRETERIST OR A FUTURIST? TMSJ 14/1 (Spring 2003) 9-22 (
2. Herodotus of Halicanassus III, 122.

Suggested Links:

What does “this generation” mean in Matthew 24:34?
What are the signs of Jesus’ Second Coming?
Is Matthew 24:30-31 about the rapture or second coming?
Does two men in the field, one taken and one left refer to the rapture?
The Final Kingdom
Prophecy of The Future
When and where does the Goat and Sheep judgment occur?