Was the Lord’s “Second Coming” in A.D. 70?
The theory of “realized eschatology,” better known as the A.D. 70 doctrine, alleges that all Bible prophecy, including the “Second Coming” of Christ, was fulfilled with the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in A.D. 70.
A major problem with this idea is in explaining clear Bible passages which depict the Lord’s return in a visible manner, which did not occur, of course, in A.D. 70.
While it is a fact that sometimes the word “see” can be used in the sense of “to perceive” or “to enjoy” (cf. Mt. 5:8; 24:30; Jn. 3:3), that certainly is not always the case. Especially is this true in a context where visual phenomena are clearly indicated.
Consider, for example, Acts 1:9-11. There it is said that as the disciples
“were looking, he [Christ] was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. And while they were looking steadfastly into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; who also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand you looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was received up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye beheld him going into heaven.”
Jesus was taken up visibly into a cloud as the disciples watched; and, in like manner, as they beheld him going, he will return.
This is a huge problem for the A.D. 70 theorists. An attempt to deal with this difficulty appeared in a journal that promotes this doctrine.
The position taken, in an effort to be consistent, was this: Jesus was not actually taken up at the so-called ascension scene. It was argued that the Greek word eperthe (“taken up” — 1:9) “does not denote a literal and physical elevation of the person, but rather describes in figurative terms the elevation of the person in honor and dignity.”
This notion of restricted, figurative definition of eperthe would force one to consistently translate Acts 1:11 as follows:
“Ye men of Galilee, why stand you figuratively looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was figuratively received up from you into heaven, shall figuratively so come in like manner as ye figuratively beheld him figuratively going into heaven.”
This is an absurd position, completely at variance with the context of this passage.
Further, there are many cases where epairo is used of a physical lifting up: the eyes (Mt. 17:8), the hands (Lk. 24:50), the head (Lk. 21:28), a sail (Acts 27:40), etc.
There is simply no justification for the notion that Jesus was not literally taken up from the disciples’ view. This attempt reveals the desperation of the devotees of A.D. 70ism.
Scripture references: Matthew 5:8, 24:30; John 3:3; Acts 1:9-11; Acts 1:11; Matthew 17:8; Luke 24:50; Luke 21:28; Acts 27:40