Kenneth Gentry, a reformed scholar and partial preterist has written some great books and held debates that have been helpful to ongoing studies and debates about eschatology. However, his books are not without contradictions. It is my observation that Gentry cannot successfully debate a true Preterist or a Dispensationalist from a partial preterist perspective simply because of those inconsistencies, which by the way Dr. Thomas Ice, a Dispensationalist pointed out in their debate on the Great Tribulation.
Does Matthew 24:31 present a dilemma for partial preterist Kenneth Gentry? While offering compelling arguments on behalf of his partial preterist position, many of those same arguments were an impaling sword turned against him negating the effectiveness of his attempt to refute Dispensationalism, a position we also reject. In an interview, about Preterism posted on YouTube.Com, Dr. Gentry offers comments on what he chooses to style as “hyperpreterism.” Although he admits that one who studies eschatology cannot escape some form of Preterism, which means fulfilled in the past.
His reasoning is as follows. There are temporal indicators which determine passages which are in the past. He cited examples of the man of sin, the Antichrist, the great tribulation and the book of Revelation. One of Gentry’s greatest contributions to the field of eschatology is his scholarly work on “Before Jerusalem Fell,” establishing a pre-A.D. 70 date for the Book of Revelation.
Gentry’s proof is that these things are stated to be imminently at hand and shortly to come to pass when written. Therefore, they cannot be in our future. In other words, he reasons that the preterist position on these subjects is the only true biblical approach. As much as Gentry and other Partial Preterists try to separate themselves from the true preterist view (which they are fond of styling hyperpreterism, full preterism, etc), this very statement destroys the foundation of their alleged futurist eschatology and Partial Preterist position.
There is not a single theme of the end time which does not have a temporal indicator that limits the time of its fulfillment to the first century.
Gentry’s premise on Revelation being fulfilled in AD 70 because of the time statements would of necessity deny that not a single text in Revelation speaks of the second coming of Christ, the judgment, the end of the world, the resurrection of the dead or end of God’s enemies.
Yet, all those events can be found in the last three chapters of the book and throughout. Most importantly, they have the same time indicator as the first chapter. See Revelation 1:1-3 and chapter 22:6-10. Gentry’s hermeneutic is faulty here because it separates the prophecy (singular, –not prophecies, plural) in Revelation from the end time teaching of the epistles and the Old Testament prophets.
Clearly in Revelation, God is declaring his mystery as was declared to the prophets, (Revelation 10:7). That is the time of the sounding of the 7th or last trumpet which by the way is the resurrection trumpet of Matthew 24:31, 1 Corinthians 15:51-52, and 1 Thessalonians 4:16.
Gentry’s Comments on Matthew 24:31
What does Gentry say about the trumpet in Matthew 24:31? He says it is the “poetic imagery: the destruction of the temple trumpets in the ultimate Jubilee Year.” He connects it with the demise of the temple and the Jewish-focused, typologically based blessings which God opens to the world in the forgiveness of man’s ultimate debt before God.
He then argues that it occurs in the fullness of the times, (Gal. 4:4), and brings the day of salvation!, (2 Corinthians 6:2), “which fulfills the Old Testament redemptive hope.” By employing imagery drawn from the typological Year of Jubilee in Leviticus 25, the Lord here speaks about the final stage of redemption, which is finally secured as the temple vanishes from history. “ (The Great Tribulation, Past or Future, p. 61. “
Now, you must take note of what Gentry has written here. He has just given up his entire Partial Preterist position in favor of full, true or biblical preterism! He argues that Matthew 24:31 is the fulfillment of the Old Testament year of Jubiliee per Leviticus 25. Next, he says this brings in the day of salvation per 2 Corinthians 6:2, which fulfills the Old Testament redemptive hope. But, what is the Old Testament redemptive hope? Let Paul answer the question for us as he does repeatedly in the book of Acts.
Paul on Israel’s Redemptive Hope
Paul, as Gentry has written, says his hope was based on the Old Covenant scriptures, i.e. the Law and the Prophets. “But this I confess to you, that according to the Way which they call a sect, so I worship the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the Law and in the Prophets. I have hope in God, which they themselves also accept, that there will be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and the unjust.” (Acts 24:14-15).
Again in chapter 26, note Paul’s words. And now I stand and am judged for the hope of the promise made by God to our fathers. To this promise our twelve tribes earnestly serving God night and day, hope to attain. For this hope’s sake, King Agrippa, I am accused by the Jews. Why should it be thought incredible by you that God raises the dead?
Finally, in Acts 28:20, Paul says “For this reason therefore I have called for you, to see you and speak with you, because for the hope of Israel I am bound with this chain.” In each case above, Paul defined the hope of Israel as the resurrection of the dead.
Gentry writes that Matthew 24:31, is the fulfillment of Israel’s Old Testament redemptive hope? How many “hopes” did Israel have? We all should know the answer to that one, (Ephesians 4:4). Now why is this important? It is because in his debate with Dispensationalist, Thomas Ice, Gentry argues this text is fulfilled in A.D. 70, in the fall of Jerusalem.
He also adds passages with temporal limitations in support of his argument from Mark 1:14-15, saying the time is fulfilled and the kingdom of God is at hand., (p. 63).
Then he says the change of the age is finalized and sealed at the destruction of Jerusalem; allusions to the A.D. 70 transition abound.” He offers more time texts from Mark 9:1, and John 4:21. Then he adds, “the significance of the collapse of Jerusalem and the destruction of the temple in A.D. 70 is little appreciated by modern Christians. But A.D. 70 effectively closes out the old, typological era and removes a major hindrance to the spread of the Christian faith.” (TGT, pp. 64-65).
Then to wrap it all up, he argues in his conclusion that “a simple reading of Matthew 24:34 lucidly reveals that all of the things Christ the Great Prophet mentions up to this point—that is, everything in verses 4 through 34-will occur in the same generation of the original disciples; “Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things are fulfilled.” [His emphasis].
More Temporal indicators
Gentry uses more of the time limiting indicators saying, “Here “this generation” is identical to “this generation “ of Matthew 23:36. In chapter 23, the Lord rebukes the scribes and Pharisees of His own day (vv. 13-16, 23, 25, 27, 29), then assures them: “I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation” (v. 36). These woes upon the scribes and Pharisees may not be catapulted two thousand years (or more!) into the future without violence to the text. (emp. His)
Neither may we project the events of 24:4-34 into the distant future.” We say Amen, Amen, and Amen again! Gentry’s last quote says it all. “In fact, as I show above the whole impetus to this discourse is Christ’s reference to the destruction of the historical temple to which the disciples point (23:38-24:1-3).
There you have it, in Gentry’s own words, a complete repudiation of his partial preterist position and an affirmation that Matthew 24:31, which describe Israel’s hope and day of salvation, i.e. the resurrection of the dead, was fulfilled in A.D. 70. Gentry must argue against his own position to refute this, and down goes his attempt to successfully defeat Dispensationalism. All of Gentry’s arguments against the true or full preterist position can be refuted in the same manner.