An important issue that divides
most preterists from futurists is the meaning of the biblical phrase " the age
to come." Also, one' s understanding of a related term " the present age," is
significant to a right understanding of the biblical view of prophecy. I
believe that this present age refers to the current church age that began
almost 2,000 years ago on the day of Pentecost when the church was founded. It
will end with the rapture of the church. The age to come is a reference to the
millennial kingdom that will commence with the second coming of Christ and last
for one thousand years.
will not surprise regular readers to learn that preterists usually believe that
the phrase " current age" referred to the approximately 40-year period between
the earthly ministry of Christ and the destruction of the Jerusalem in a.d. 70. Preterism teaches that most,
if not all, of the Book of Revelation and the Olivet Discourse (Matt. 24- 25;
Mark 13; Luke 21) were fulfilled in conjunction with the destruction of
Jerusalem by the Romans in a.d.
70. They also believe that " the age to come" refers to the current age in
which we now live, which began after a.d.
70. Gary DeMar says the following:
" end of the age" refers to the end of the Old Covenant redemption system with
its attendant sacrifices and rituals. . . . The " end of the age" refers to the
termination of the exclusive Jewish entitlement to the covenant promises and
the inclusion of the Gentiles into the blessings of the covenant and the
privileges of the gospel and kingdom (Matt. 21:41, 43; 22:10). " End of the
age" is a covenantal phrase. With the temple destroyed, there would be no way
and no need to carry out the rigorous demands of the sacrificial system, a
system that was predestined to pass away with the incarnation, death,
resurrection, ascension, and enthronement of Jesus.
Wow! DeMar produced a
lot of speculative thought out of those four little words, " end of the age."
tend to believe that the phrase " present age" or " this age" refers to the
approximately 40-year period between the earthly ministry of Christ and the
destruction of the Jerusalem in a.d.
70. Thus, as DeMar indicated, that means that after a.d. 70 we are in what the Bible refers to as " the age to
come." Full preterist (i.e., no future second coming) Don Preston says, " If we
understand Jesus' ' this age' to be the Mosaic Age in which he was living and
the ' age to come" as the Christian Age, there is no difficulty." 
However, is that how the Bible really uses that phrase and related phrases? I
do not think so!
Jewish Perspective of
Jewish perspective of Bible prophecy viewed history as consisting of two ages.
The first was this present age, the age in which Israel was waiting for the
coming of the Messiah. The second was the age to come, the age in which all
promises and covenants would be fulfilled and Israel would enter into her
promised blessings as a result of Messiah' s coming. The present age would be
terminated by the appearance of Messiah, and the coming age would be introduced
by His advent. The present age, then, was to end in judgment, and the coming
age must be preceded by this devastation.
disciples, who were questioning Jesus on the Mount of Olives, linked Christ' s
words of judgment about the destruction of the present Temple with the invasion
of Jerusalem that was predicted by Zechariah. The disciples believed that it
would precede the advent of the Messiah.
Zechariah 14:4 the prophet describes the advent of Messiah to institute His
kingdom as follows:
And in that day
His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which is in front of Jerusalem on
the east; and the Mount of Olives will be split in its middle from east to west
by a very large valley, so that half of the mountain will move toward the north
and the other half toward the south.
This coming was to be
preceded by an invasion and capture of Jerusalem (Zech. 12:1-3; 14:1-3).
However, Jerusalem would be delivered by the coming of Messiah from the Mount
of Olives (Zech. 14:4-5) and then the glory of the kingdom would be realized
(Zech. 14:14-15). This is when the " age to come" would arrive.
Christ' s Perspective of Bible Prophecy
uses the same vocabulary, in the same way when He says, in Matthew 12:32 " And
whoever shall speak a word against the Son of Man, it shall be forgiven him;
but whoever shall speak against the Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgiven him,
either in this age, or in the age
to come." Christ clearly distinguishes between the present age and the age to
come. Meyer says of " this age," that it " is the period previous to the coming
of the Messiah . . . as Jesus understood it: the time before the second
coming."  He
says of " the age to come," that it is " the period that succeeds the coming of
the Messiah . . . as Jesus understood it: the time that follows the second
coming."  Jesus
says, in Matthew 13:49 " So it will be at the end of the age; the angels shall come forth, and take out the
wicked from among the righteous," as He continues to speak within the
contemporary Jewish framework.
disciples concluded that the judgment Christ had predicted was the one that
would terminate this present age. After this judgment Messiah would come to
introduce the age to come. Thus they asked their questions that precipitates
the Olivet Discourse in Matthew 24:3 " Tell us, when will these things be, and
what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?" Later, after His resurrection but before
His ascension, Jesus gave His disciples the Great Commission and said in
Matthew 28:20 " lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age," continuing to speak within the framework of
" this age" and " the age to come."
The Apostle' s Perspective
of Bible Prophecy
Apostle Paul continues use of the same language when he says in Ephesians 1:21
that New Testament believers have been given a position in Christ " far above
all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named,
not only in this age, but also in the one to come." Paul tells us
in Galatians 1:4 that Christ " gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver
us out of this present evil age,
according to the will of our God and Father." Paul also tells Christians in
Titus 2:12 that God' s grace instructs " us to deny ungodliness and worldly
desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age."
continues to use the phrases " this age" and " the age to come" in the way that
Christ used it. Even though Jesus had come, Paul still views the current
church age as the time leading up to the coming of the Messiah, thus, we are
still in " the present age." This means that the " age to come" has not yet
arrived and will come at the second coming, a time which is still in our own
day a future event.
after a post-resurrection, 40-day period of instruction by Christ to the
disciples " of the things concerning the kingdom of God" they ask Jesus in Acts
1:6 " Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?" Jesus
did not rebuke or correct the nature of their question as illegitimate, instead
He said, " It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed
by His own authority." This clearly implies that there will be a future
kingdom, as they thought, . . . but not yet. The kingdom is a reference to the
age to come. Our Lord tells His disciples to go preach the gospel throughout
Acts 3, Peter is preaching the gospel to Israel and says in 3:17 that his Jewish
brethren and their rulers " acted in ignorance." The he says the following:
But the things which God
announced beforehand by the mouth of all the prophets, that His Christ should
suffer, He has thus fulfilled. Repent therefore and return, that your sins may
be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of
the Lord; and that He may send Jesus, the Christ appointed for you, whom heaven
must receive until the period of restoration of all things about which God
spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from ancient time.
a similar vein, we see in Acts 15 that James says to the Jerusalem Council:
And after they had stopped
speaking, James answered, saying, " Brethren, listen to me. Simeon has related
how God first concerned Himself about taking from among the Gentiles a people
for His name. And with this the words of the Prophets agree, just as it is
written, " after these things I will return, and I will rebuild the tabernacle
of David which has fallen, and I will rebuild its ruins, and I will restore it,
in order that the rest of mankind may seek the Lord, and all the Gentiles who
are called by My name."
did not believe that " the age to come" or the kingdom had arrived, or he would
not have made the above statement. It is clear that the New Testament writers
of the Epistles continue to use the phrase " this age" to refer to the time
before the arrival of the Messiah, who will at that time bring with Him the
kingdom, which is also still future to our own day.
Since the second coming of Christ
has been postponed until after the current church age and tribulation, the
current church age is presented by the writers of the New Testament Epistles as
the last period of history until this present age is terminated, which will
give rise to " the age to come." Three New Testament passages (Rom. 16:25- 27;
Eph. 3:1-13; Col. 2:4- 3:3) teach that the church age is a temporary mystery in
the overall plan of God. Thus, the church age is a continuation of " this
present age" from the time of Christ. Yet because of further New Testament
revelation about the church age, we know that when it ends at the rapture,
there will not be anymore stretching out of the time frame what will lead to
" the age to come" - the time of Messiah' s kingdom.
There is an urgency concerning the
entire church age in which we now live. For example, Paul, speaking of the
entire church age, calls it " the present distress" (1 Cor. 7:26). Because
Christ could return at any moment at the rapture, church age believers are
always to be ready and always waiting for His return. Notice the following
list of New Testament passages that teach this doctrine: 1 Corinthians 1:7; 16:22; Philippians 3:20; 4:5;
1 Thessalonians 1:10; Titus 2:13; Hebrews 9:28; James 5:7-9; 1 Peter 1:13; Jude
21; Revelation 3:11; 22:7, 12, 17, 20.
see the end of the age occurring by a.d.
70. Since the New Testament Epistles were written to instruct Believers in how
to live until this present evil age comes to an end, it follows that all the
doctrine and instruction applies only during the 40-year period that ended in a.d. 70. Logically, which they rarely
realize, it means that they are wrong to apply the teaching and instruction of
the Epistles to their lives, since they believe that they are living in " the
age to come." This explains why some preterists believe that they are in the
New Heavens and New Earth, yet they have no specific revelation, which tells
them how to please God. NO! We are not living in the eternal state. We are
still awaiting the any-moment return of our Lord Jesus Christ. Maranatha!