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House Divided Chapter Four Partial Preterist Keith A. Mathison Vs. Full Preterist Michael J. Sullivan Part 6 The Coming of the Son of Man

House Divided Bridging the Gap in Reformed Eschatology A Preterist Response to
When Shall These Things Be?

Chapter Four
The Eschatological Madness of Mathison or How Can These Things Be?
Part 6 – The Coming of the Son of Man

Michael J. Sullivan

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The Coming of the Son of Man


On pages 181–182, Mathison offers this argument: Whenever Jesus referred

to “the coming of the Son of Man,” He “seems to have been alluding to

Daniel 7:13–14,” which refers not to the Second Coming but to His ascension

to the heavenly throne of God to receive His kingdom. “ . . . [T]he possibility

must be kept open that Jesus wasn’t referring to his Second Advent

at all when he used this language. He may have been referring instead to

his ascension to the throne of God, his receiving of his kingdom, and the

judgment on Jerusalem that would prove he had received the kingdom

and was who he claimed to be. . . . ” It may be that “Jesus had very little to

say about his actual second coming.”




Let us assume for the moment that the premises of Mathison’s argument

above are true. Let us grant for the sake of argument that Daniel 7:13–14

refers to the Ascension of Christ, and that Christ was somehow alluding

to Daniel’s reference to His Ascension whenever He spoke of His future

coming in AD 70. Even if these premises are true, they in no way prove

that the coming of Christ in AD 70 was not “His actual second coming.”

Whenever Jesus spoke of the future coming of “the Son of Man,”

He could have been referring, as Mathison said, “to his ascension to the

throne of God [in Daniel 7:13–14], his receiving of his kingdom, and the

judgment on Jerusalem that would prove he had received the kingdom

and was who he claimed to be”; and at the same time, it could be that

His coming in AD 70 was also “His actual second coming.”


Mathison’s interpretation does not create an either/or choice. It

does not conflict with the “hyper-preterist” framework. “Hyper-preterists”

can embrace Mathison’s interpretation, wrong though it is, and

remain “hyper-preterists.” Mathison’s argument therefore is moot.

Though there is no need to refute Mathison’s explanation of Daniel 7:13,

I will briefly offer three other possibilities:


The presentation of the Son of Man to the Ancient of Days in Daniel

7:13 is perhaps a reference to Christ in His Parousia delivering up the

kingdom (“the saints”) to the Father (“the Ancient of Days”) in AD 70.


Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom

to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all

rule and all authority and power. (1 Cor. 15:24)


Or, as David Green has suggested, perhaps “the Son of Man” in Daniel

7:13 signifies the Body of Christ (the saints, “the fullness of Christ”)

in His Parousia (Eph. 4:13). In this view, the universal church (“the New

Man,” “the Son of Man”) was presented to Christ (“the Ancient of Days”)

and united with Him in the end of the age, in His Parousia in AD 70 (2

Cor. 4:14; 11:2; Eph. 5:27; Col. 1:22, 28; Jude 1:24).


My preferred interpretation is similar to that of F.F. Bruce. According

to the Old Greek Septuagint translation of Daniel 7:13, the Son of

Man came “as the Ancient of Days” on the clouds of heaven, not “to the

Ancient of Days.” This translation is in harmony with verse 22, which

says that it was the Ancient of Days Himself who came in judgment and

gave the saints the kingdom.


Also, the New Testament does not give the slightest hint that “the coming

of the Son of Man” on the clouds of heaven would be fulfilled in the

Ascension. And as Keil and Delitzch commented regarding Daniel 7:13-14,


…it is manifest that he could only come from heaven to earth.

If the reverse is to be understood, then it ought to have been

so expressed, since the coming with the clouds of heaven in

opposition to the rising up of the beasts out of the sea very distinctly

indicates a coming down from heaven. The clouds are

the veil or the “chariot” on which God comes from heaven to

execute judgment against His enemies; cf. Ps. 18:10f., 97:2–4;

104:3, Isa. 19:1, Nah. 1:3. This passage forms the foundation

for the declaration of Christ regarding His future coming,

which is described after Dan. 7:13 as a coming of the Son of

man with, in, on the clouds of heaven; Matt. 24:30; 26:64; Mark

18:26; Rev. 1:7; 14:14.[1]


I would agree with Keil and Delitzch that the context of Dan. 7:13 and

how the NT develops it, forms the foundation for the Second Coming

event with Him coming down from heaven in judgment upon His enemies

(who are upon the earth rising in opposition to Him) and not Him

going “up” at the ascension event.


It is also important to point out that John in the book of Revelation

alludes to Dan. 7:9, 13 in his description of Christ as being both the Son

of Man who comes on the clouds to judge those whom had pierced Him

(first century Jews) and as the eternal Ancient of Days in Rev. 1:7, 13-17.

Again the context is developing Christ’s future “soon” (Rev. 1:1) Second

Coming not His ascension.


Matthew 16:27–28


For the Son of Man is about to come in the glory of His Father with

His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works.

Assuredly, I say to you there are some standing here who shall not

taste death till they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom.


Not surprisingly, Mathison is the only author in WSTTB who

touched upon this key prophecy, and he offered no exegesis of it. Instead,

he threw it to the wind of the various speculative, futuristic in-

terpretations. Let us now demonstrate that Matthew 16:27–28 (and its

parallels, Mark 8:38–9:1; Luke 9:26–27) cannot be divided into two different

events, according to the typical futurist approach. As we can see

from the chart below, Matthew 16:27 is united to Matthew 16:28. Both

verses speak of the same timeframe and event that Jesus spoke of in His

undivided Olivet Discourse. 


Matthew 16:27-28 & Parallels

The Olivet Discourse

1. Christ comes in glory (Luke 9:26)

1. Christ comes in glory (Matt. 24:30)


2. Christ comes with angels (Matt. 16:27)

2. Christ comes with angels (Matt. 24:31)


3. Christ comes in judgment (Matt. 16:27)

3. Christ comes in judgment (Matt. 24:28-31;



4. Christ and the kingdom come in power (Mark 8:38)

4. Christ and the kingdom come in power (Luke 21:27-32)


5. Some of the disciples would live (Matt. 16:28)

5. Some of the disciples would live (Luke 21:16-18)


6. Some of the disciples would die (Matt. 16:28)

6. Some of the disciples would die  (Luke 21:16)


7. Christ would be ashamed of some in His generation (Mark 8:38)

7. All of this would occur in His generation

 (Matt. 24:34)



For the Son of Man is about to Come


Young’s Literal Translation (YLT), the Darby Bible, Wuest’s Expanded

Translation of the New Testament, and Weymouth’s New Testament in

Modern Speech all translate Jesus’ return here as “about to come” or “soon to

come.” These translations reflect the consistent usage of the Greek word mello

in Matthew’s gospel, and its predominant usage in the New Testament.

Christ’s imminent coming in verse 27 is consistent with Christ’s coming in

the lifetime of “some” in the crowd who were listening to him in verse 28.

After having waited thousands of years for the coming of the Messiah and

His kingdom, the span of forty years (AD 30–70) was a relatively short time.


Verily I say unto you


Jesus uses the term “verily,” “truly,” or “most assuredly” 99 times

in the gospels. The Greek word is “amen,” and it means “absolutely,” (and its parallels in Mark and Luke)

really,” “may it be fulfilled.” It is never used to introduce a new subject.

Dispensational author and editor of another multi-authored book

seeking to refute preterism, Thomas Ice, says of Matthew 16:27 and 28

that these “are two separate predictions separated by the words ‘truly

I say to you.’”[2] But Mr. Ice fails to produce a single passage in which

Jesus’ phrase, “Verily I say unto you,” separates one subject from another.

To the contrary, the phrase always signals an amplification of the

previous thought.


Some standing here shall not taste of death until


Thomas Ice says of this verse: “A further problem with the preterist

view is that our Lord said, ‘some of those standing here . . . .’ It is clear

that the term ‘some’ would have to include at least two or more individuals.

. . . Peter notes that John only survived among the 12 disciples

till the destruction of Jerusalem” (Ice, Controversy, 88).


In other words, according to Ice, Jesus said that “some” would survive,

but the reality is that among His twelve disciples only John survived.

Ice’s argument would possibly have some validity if Jesus had

been speaking only to His twelve apostles; but He was not. According

to Mark’s account, “ . . . He called the crowd to him along with his disciples

and said . . . ” (Mk. 8:34–9:1). So much for Ice’s arguments.


Until they see the kingdom of God already come in power


According to Mark’s account, some of the disciples would not die until

they looked back on this event, knowing that the Lord and His kingdom

had come in power. (Literally, “until they see the kingdom of God having

come in power.”) According to Jesus, some of those who were listening to

Him that day would see His Parousia, look back on the event, and afterwards

die. Gentry concedes this point citing J.A. Alexander:


Here “come” is “not, as the English words may seem to mean, in

the act of coming (till they see it come), but actually or already

come, the only sense that can be put upon the perfect parti-ciple here



The Greek word here for “see” is eido. As with the English word,

eido not only refers to physical sight, it can also mean “perceive.”

Through observing with the physical senses, “some” of Jesus’ contemporary

audience would be able to look back on the destruction of the old covenant

kingdom’s temple and city in AD 70 and “perceive” that Christ’s kingdom

had arrived among and within them (Lk. 17:20–37; Col. 1:27; Jn. 14:2–3, 23, 29).

[1] Keil, C. F., & Delitzsch, F., Commentary on the Old Testament.

(Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 2002), (Daniel 7:13-14), bold emphasis MJS. 

[2] Tim LaHaye and Thomas Ice, The End Times Controversy: The Second

Coming Under Attack (Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers, 2003), 87. 

[3] Kenneth L. Gentry Jr., He Shall Have Dominion (Tyler, TX: Institute

for Christian Economics, 1992), 215–216 (emphasis added).

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Mike Sullivan