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Second Peter Three

Author: Don Preston

Book Review by Kenneth J. Davies

SECOND PETER THREE:  The Late Great Kingdom. By Don K. Preston, Shawnee, OK: Shawnee Printing Co., 1990. 126 pp. paperback, available from Kingdom Counsel.

Currently, Don Preston is preaching for the Ardmore Church of Christ in Ardmore, Oklahoma. He and his wife, Janis, have been married for 21 years and have two children: Donnelle, 15, and Lance, 8. Prior to his current preaching position, Don served as preacher at the East Main Church of Christ for 11 years, and for 5 years at the Maxwell Ave. Church of Christ. His research to prepare for a public debate with a premillennial Baptist minister in 1983 helped to solidify his preterist conclusions. The debate, which continued for four nights, was covered by the local television station and was broadcast 24 hours a day for two weeks! Needless to say, it was the "talk of the town."

Don is presently working on a study of Daniel 9 (the 70 weeks), which he expects to be ready for publication around July of this year. He is also in the process of writing a book-length historical exposition of Matthew 24. Time and finances permitting, he plans to edit and expand II Peter 3: The Late Great Kingdom. His stated purpose for writing this book was "to do an exposition of this famous text with the view to determine if indeed it teaches the end of the Jewish aion, or world" (p.1).

In beginning his study, Preston examines the question of who "the prophets" were to which Peter refers. He proves that they must have been the prophets of the Old Testament, not of the New, thus demonstrating that the things predicted by them must all have been fulfilled. If this is not the case, we are still under obligation to keep the whole law (even the ceremonial aspects). He shows this by cross-referencing Mt.5:17-18 with Lk.21:20-22. If "all things" (i.e. all the Old Testament prophecies, Lk.21) have not yet been fulfilled, as is the contention of all futurists (pre-, a-, and post-millennialists), then neither has "one jot or tittle" passed from the law. That is, we are still under obligation to the Old Testament law in its entirety (even the ceremonial aspects of it)! Obviously, we cannot admit that all portions of the law are still obligatory (though its moral stipulations have been strengthened by Jesus). At the very least, the sacrificial requirements are no longer in force due to the death of Jesus. Since Scripture cannot contradict itself, we must agree with Preston and conclude that, in the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D.70, all Old Testament prophecy was fulfilled.

Although many Bible commentators conclude that the church was fully established at Pentecost, Preston demonstrates the weakness of this opinion. He asks, for example, why the charismatic gifts were necessary if the church was mature, fully established, and had no real need of them prior to A.D.70. Why did they cease? If their purpose was not for the maturing of the church (as Eph.4:11-13 states), what then? Certainly the preterist interpretation makes better Biblical sense than any of the futurist views. Along this same line, he examines the idea that the "last days" began at Pentecost, and are continuing today. He shows that, according to Scripture, the "last days" began before Pentecost, and cannot therefore be equivalent to what is commonly called the "Church age" or "Christian Age".

The "imminency factor" of the New Testament, something many futurist interpreters struggle with, is looked at next. Preston shows that the most sensible way of taking these "problematic" verses is at face value! In dealing with these texts, he shows how ludicrous it is to attempt to "stretch" them in order to accommodate 2,000 (or more) years.

In his discussion of the "world that then was," Preston refutes the traditional view that the "world to come" can only be established after a universal conflagration. He examines the word "world" and explores its range of meaning, showing that it is often used in a figurative sense, much as we might use it today. For example, someone experiencing great changes or disruption in their life might say, "My world is collapsing around me!" We would not assume that the planet was being destroyed, but realize that, to this person, it may seem that way. Preston shows that the language of the Bible is no less expressive, and that care must be taken to avoid the error of interpreting words as if they have only one possible meaning. He also points out the inconsistency of those who insist that II Pet.3 refers to the dissolution of the physical universe. These same people find that they must "re-interpret" the statements of imminency regarding this coming destruction. Suddenly, their "literal hermeneutic" becomes not so literal! Even the amillennialist, who argues at length that the kingdom of God arrived very shortly after it was announced to be "at hand," fudges when it comes to the parousia being just as much "at hand" in the New Testament writings. The same words that communicated the brevity of time in one instance are re-interpreted to mean long millennia in another.

Among the other terms and phrases Preston studies in this book are: the new heavens and earth, "as a thief in the night," the day of the Lord, the New Jerusalem, and the Greek words "mello," "kainos" and "neos."

Like the first edition of almost every book, Second Peter Three has some typos, but it is eschatologically as well as hermeneutically sound, and presents some arguments this reviewer had not heard before (I thought that after reading Russell's and King's books Id heard them all!). Preston takes the reader through various passages of Scripture and presents syllogistically logical conclusions based on the Biblical text. The Late Great Kingdom offers much to consider and should be a welcome addition to any library, especially a preterist one!

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