Prophetic terms that can be helpful – “Historical Preterism”

Luke 21:1-24

The Widow’s Gift

21 And He looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the treasury. And He saw a poor widow putting in two small copper coins. And He said, Truly I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all of them; for they all out of their surplus put into the offering; but she out of her poverty put in all that she had to live on.

And while some were talking about the temple, that it was adorned with beautiful stones and votive gifts, He said, As for these things which you are looking at, the days will come in which there will not be left one stone upon another which will not be torn down.

They questioned Him, saying, “Teacher, when therefore will these things happen? And what will be the sign when these things are about to take place?” And He said, See to it that you are not misled; for many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am He,’ and, ‘The time is near.’ Do not go after them. When you hear of wars and disturbances, do not be terrified; for these things must take place first, but the end does not follow immediately.

Things to Come

10 Then He continued by saying to them, Nation will rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom, 11 and there will be great earthquakes, and in various places plagues and famines; and there will be terrors and great signs from heaven.

12 But before all these things, they will lay their hands on you and will persecute you, delivering you to the synagogues and prisons, bringing you before kings and governors for My name’s sake. 13 It will lead to an opportunity for your testimony. 14 So make up your minds not to prepare beforehand to defend yourselves; 15 for I will give you utterance and wisdom which none of your opponents will be able to resist or refute.16 But you will be betrayed even by parents and brothers and relatives and friends, and they will put some of you to death, 17 and you will be hated by all because of My name. 18 Yet not a hair of your head will perish. 19 By your endurance you will gain your lives.

20 But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then recognize that her desolation is near. 21 Then those who are in Judea must flee to the mountains, and those who are in the midst of the city must leave, and those who are in the country must not enter the city; 22 because these are days of vengeance, so that all things which are written will be fulfilled. 23 Woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days; for there will be great distress upon the land and wrath to this people; 24 and they will fall by the edge of the sword, and will be led captive into all the nations; and Jerusalem will be trampled under foot by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.”

The Return of Christ

25 “There will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth dismay among nations, in perplexity at the roaring of the sea and the waves, 26 men fainting from fear and the expectation of the things which are coming upon the world; for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 27 Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. 28 But when these things begin to take place, straighten up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”

29 Then He told them a parable: “Behold the fig tree and all the trees;30 as soon as they put forth leaves, you see it and know for yourselves that summer is now near. 31 So you also, when you see these things happening, recognize that the kingdom of God is near. 32 Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all things take place.33 Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away.

34 “Be on guard, so that your hearts will not be weighted down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of life, and that day will not come on you suddenly like a trap; 35 for it will come upon all those who dwell on the face of all the earth. 36 But keep on the alert at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are about to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.”


I’ve quoted Luke 21 because its chronology seems clearer than that of Matthew 24 in regard to the destruction of the Temple and Jerusalem – the “days of vengeance” (v. 22) – and the End of the Age. All the references to time and imminence are in bold type. Understanding all of this is very difficult for me but it’s clear that the Lord was speaking of both things.


“A) Umbrella term covering all those who believe that only a slight amount of Bible prophecy was totally fulfilled in the early centuries of the Christian era. Determined by looking at where authors find a ‘transition’ from the past to the future using the Olivet Discourse of Matthew 24/25 and the Apocalypse of John.  B) This class has roots dating back to the first century, such as in the writings of Barnabus  and Clement of Rome, and finds greater development in the writings of  Justin Martyr and Eusebius. The Catholic and Orthodox churches maintained HP through the Middle Ages. Today’s contemporary forms were largely developed in the writings of  Calvin,  Luther,  Grotius  and  Lightfoot.  C) Teaches that some of the Bible’s ‘end times’ prophecies were fulfilled by AD 70, but that the substantial portion of prophetic fulfillment is yet to be revealed at the ‘last day.’ Transitions in the Middle of Matthew 24, or in the Middle of the Apocalypse of John.”

The Siege and Destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans Under the Command of Titus, A.D. 70, by David Roberts (1850)

The Siege and Destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans Under the Command of Titus, A.D. 70, by David Roberts (1850)


17 thoughts on “Prophetic terms that can be helpful – “Historical Preterism”

  1. Thanks, for the information, Maria. While I don’t major in eschatology, I do have an interest. We got our start in a church that was heavily dispensationalist and I still think along those lines. My wife and I just started reading 1 Samuel, and like the other OT books, I can see that the events described have an immediate meaning for the times they were written, but can also be a foreshadowing of the coming of Jesus the Savior, and even of the second coming of Jesus as the King. I don’t know your full views on this so I don’t wish to offend, but I enjoy seeing the various viewpoints.

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  2. Maria, keep in mind that there are some prophecies that have had double meaning. An example would be the prophesied virgin birth. It had both short term as well as long term fulfillment. It seems that much of what Jesus stated to the disciples concerning Jerusalem’s destruction can be also understood this way.

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  3. I don’t know that I’ve heard of “historical preterism” before, but I am familiar with futurism and preterism. I don’t ascribe to either school of prophetic interpretation. Actually, I hold to the “historicism” view. I don’t know if you would consider that “historical preterism” as you say, but that is about where I am.

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    • Hi, Eleventh Hour Worker! From what I can gather, “Historic Preterism” means to believe that a few prophecies were fulfilled but that the majority will be fulfilled at the very End. So that’s very different from Historicism. I respect Historicism and am using an historicist commentary, The Final Prophecy of Jesus by Oral Edmond Collins, in a series I’m doing on “Reading Through Revelation.”

      Liked by 1 person

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