CLAIM: John writes, “Behold, He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him; and all the tribes of the earth will mourn over Him” (Rev. 1:7). Preterists interpret this to refer to Jesus’ “coming” to destroy Jerusalem in AD 70. They offer a few arguments for this interpretation:
1. “Even those who pierced Him” Matthew writes that the Jewish crowds cheered for Jesus to be crucified, and as a result, they deserved the judgment of this grave mistake (Mt. 27:22, 25). Jesus claimed that the first-century Jews were responsible for his death (Mt. 20:18; Lk. 9:22) as did the apostle Peter (Acts 2:22-23, 36; 3:14-15; 4:10; 5:30; 10:39) and Paul (1 Thess. 2:14-16). As a consequence, they were to be judged for this horrific sin (Mt. 21:33-44). Gentry writes, “John’s reference to Christ’s piercing demands a first-century focus if the theme is to be relevant and true, for those who pierced him are now long since deceased.” Since the people at the end of human history didn’t pierce Christ, this wouldn’t be applicable to them.
2. “Coming on the clouds” Preterists argue that the language of “coming on the clouds” comes from prophetic OT scenes signifying divine judgment (Isa. 19:1; see Ps. 18:7-15; 104:3; Joel 2:1-2; Mic. 1:3-4). Thus this passage refers to all of the first century Jews “seeing Christ” when he invisibly came in judgment over Jerusalem.
3. “All the tribes of the earth” Preterists hold that this should not be translated earth—but land instead. Gentry writes, “We should probably translate the Greek word hē gē as ‘the land’ rather than ‘the earth’ in the great majority of the cases where this word occurs in Revelation.”
Is this interpretation valid?
RESPONSE: This passage leaves a gaping hole in Preterist theology for a number of reasons:
First, it presupposes an early date for the writing of Revelation (~AD 60). We have already argued that Revelation should be dated in AD 90, which would eliminate the prophetic element of the Preterist view (see our article “The Date of Revelation”). This fact alone eliminates the Preterist view for Bible believers.
Second, the Greek word for earth (ge) should not be understood as the land of Israel alone. Just two verses earlier, John refers to Jesus as “the ruler of the kings of the earth (Greek ge)” (Rev. 1:5). Of course, John uses this word to refer to the entire globe—not just Israel here. In Revelation 3:10, he equates “those who dwell on the earth” with “the whole world.” While ge can be translated as “land,” we see no justification for that translation here, as Preterists claim.
Third, this interpretation doesn’t fit with Zechariah 12. John is no doubt quoting from Zechariah 12:10 in this passage (Rev. 1:7). However, while Preterists hold that Jerusalem will be attacked, Zechariah 12:9 states that Jerusalem will be defended by God (“In that day I will set about to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem”). Moreover, the inhabitants of Jerusalem are said to repent and mourn for killing Christ—not despair over this.
Fourth, the language of Revelation 1:7 is universal and visible. John writes that “every eye will see Him” and “all the tribes of the earth” will be there at this coming (Rev. 1:7). This fits with what Christ says elsewhere that his second coming would be visible—not invisible as Preterists argue (Mt. 24:30; Mk. 13:26; Lk. 21:27). In fact, Jesus argued that we could identify false teachers by this fact. He said, “If they say to you, ‘Behold, He is in the wilderness,’ do not go out, or, ‘Behold, He is in the inner rooms,’ do not believe them. 27 For just as the lightning comes from the east and flashes even to the west, so will the coming of the Son of Man be” (Mt. 24:26-27). In contrast to these invisible or disguised comings of Christ, Jesus’ true second coming with be visible. In fact, the angels told the disciples that Jesus would return in the same way that he left Earth: “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven” (Acts 1:11). Since Jesus left visibly into the clouds, we should expect him to return visibly from the clouds.
Fifth, in the book of Revelation, Jesus’ coming is associated with Christ’s rescue of his people. For instance, Jesus says, “Because you have kept the word of My perseverance, I also will keep you from the hour of testing, that hour which is about to come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth. 11 I am coming quickly; hold fast what you have, so that no one will take your crown” (Rev. 3:10-11). Here Jesus claims that his “coming” will bring protection for his people. But how did Jesus’ “coming” in AD 70 bring protection for believers?
Sixth, the rest of the book of Revelation is universal in scope. Since the rest of Revelation is universal in scope, we should consistently treat this passage as universal too. Consider a number of passages:
(Rev. 3:10) Because you have kept the word of My perseverance, I also will keep you from the hour of testing, that hour which is about to come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth.
(Rev. 6:10) They cried out with a loud voice, saying, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, will You refrain from judging and avenging our blood on those who dwell on the earth?”
(Rev. 8:13) Then I looked, and I heard an eagle flying in midheaven, saying with a loud voice, “Woe, woe, woe to those who dwell on the earth, because of the remaining blasts of the trumpet of the three angels who are about to sound!”
(Rev. 11:10) And those who dwell on the earth will rejoice over them and celebrate; and they will send gifts to one another, because these two prophets tormented those who dwell on the earth.
(Rev. 13:8) All who dwell on the earth will worship him, everyone whose name has not been written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who has been slain.
(Rev. 13:12) He exercises all the authority of the first beast in his presence. And he makes the earth and those who dwell in it to worship the first beast, whose fatal wound was healed.
(Rev. 13:14) And he deceives those who dwell on the earth because of the signs which it was given him to perform in the presence of the beast, telling those who dwell on the earth to make an image to the beast who had the wound of the sword and has come to life.
(Rev. 14:6) And I saw another angel flying in midheaven, having an eternal gospel to preach to those who live on the earth, and to every nation and tribe and tongue and people.
(Rev. 15:4) “Who will not fear, O Lord, and glorify Your name? For You alone are holy; for all the nations will come and worship before You, for Your righteous acts have been revealed.”
(Rev. 17:2) With whom the kings of the earth committed acts of immorality, and those who dwell on the earth were made drunk with the wine of her immorality.
(Rev. 17:8) The beast that you saw was, and is not, and is about to come up out of the abyss and go to destruction. And those who dwell on the earth, whose name has not been written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, will wonder when they see the beast, that he was and is not and will come.
 Gentry, Kenneth. “A Preterist View of Revelation.” In S. N. Gundry & C. M. Pate (Eds.), Four Views on the Book of Revelation (S. N. Gundry & C. M. Pate, Ed.). Zondervan Counterpoints Collection. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan. 1998. 48.
 Gentry, K. L., Jr. (1998). A Preterist View of Revelation . In S. N. Gundry & C. M. Pate (Eds.), Four Views on the Book of Revelation (S. N. Gundry & C. M. Pate, Ed.). Zondervan Counterpoints Collection (48). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.