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Did Baptism and the Lord's Supper Cease in AD 70?


The subject of the signs, or ordinances as they are often called, is a one that is still being debated among Preterists. The ordinances I'm referring to, are baptism and the Lord's supper. Some Preterists maintain that both these are still to be practiced today, and some maintain that they were done away with, when the Kingdom of Heaven finally came in its fulness in A.D. 70. I am of the opinion that they ceased in A.D. 70, and this article will be an attempt at justifying, through Scriptures, why I believe this to be so.

You may have noticed that I use the word "signs" for the ordinances of baptism and the Lord's supper. Many, if not most Christians, view them as such. They are referred to as signs of the New Covenant, even among Preterists, especially by those Preterists of the Reformed persuasion. Nothing in the NT permits us to call them that, but that doesn't seem to stop most Christians from doing that very thing.

In order to establish this teaching, I will be using the KJV, as it is still the most commonly used translation around. Even though there are better translations, the KJV will suffice to show my point. I also have to mention that I will look at this from a Full or Consistent Preterist viewpoint; meaning that I believe that the parousia (coming, or presence) of Christ has already happened, that the resurrection and the judgment have also happened, and that the Kingdom of Heaven is here in its fulness.

Before we begin: a word about signs

I would like to point out, before I begin in earnest with the main body of my arguments, that nowhere in the NT, are baptism or the Lord's supper ever referred to as covenant signs, despite what those of the Reformed persuasion may claim. Whatever we call them, we cannot call them covenant signs, because the NT will not permit this. Allow me to show you why I say this.

When God made a covenant with Noah, He said that the bow (rainbow) would be a sign to Noah that there was a covenant between he and God.

Gen 9:12 And God said, This is the token of the covenant which I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations: 13 I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth. 14 And it shall come to pass, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow shall be seen in the cloud: 15 And I will remember my covenant, which is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall no more become a flood to destroy all flesh. 16 And the bow shall be in the cloud; and I will look upon it, that I may remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is upon the earth. 17 And God said unto Noah, This is the token of the covenant, which I have established between me and all flesh that is upon the earth.

The "token" that God is speaking of is the sign that the bow, would mean that God had "cut" a covenant with Noah, the earth and every living creature among all flesh that dwells upon the earth. In other words: when God would see this sign in the sky, He would be reminded never to destroy every living creature by deluge. This was the token that signified that covenant.

When God made a covenant with Abraham, he used circumcision as the sign. This was the outward sign that Abraham and his descendants were under covenant with God.

Gen 17:9 And God said unto Abraham, Thou shalt keep my covenant therefore, thou, and thy seed after thee in their generations. 10 This is my covenant, which ye shall keep, between me and you and thy seed after thee; Every man child among you shall be circumcised. 11 And ye shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin; and it shall be a token of the covenant betwixt me and you. 12 And he that is eight days old shall be circumcised among you, every man child in your generations, he that is born in the house, or bought with money of any stranger, which is not of thy seed. {he that is eight...: Heb. a son of eight days} 13 He that is born in thy house, and he that is bought with thy money, must needs be circumcised: and my covenant shall be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant. 14 And the uncircumcised man child whose flesh of his foreskin is not circumcised, that soul shall be cut off from his people; he hath broken my covenant.

Now, when God made a covenant with Israel at Horeb, the sabbath was the sign that God used. Sabbath breaking was such a serious offense, that a man was killed for picking up sticks on this day (Num 15:32-36). One can readily see that the sabbath had become very important to Israel, because God had made it a capital offense to break it. It was the sign of the Mosaic covenant, and breaking this sign meant that one despised that whole covenant.

It would be somewhat akin to someone saying that your wife was ugly, when you showed him a picture of her. He could argue that he didn't say that directlly of your wife, but that wouldn't make any difference, because she would be directly represented by the picture you carried.

Ex 31:12 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, 13 Speak thou also unto the children of Israel, saying, Verily my sabbaths ye shall keep: for it is a sign between me and you throughout your generations; that ye may know that I am the LORD that doth sanctify you. 14 Ye shall keep the sabbath therefore; for it is holy unto you: every one that defileth it shall surely be put to death: for whosoever doeth any work therein, that soul shall be cut off from among his people. 15 Six days may work be done; but in the seventh is the sabbath of rest, holy to the LORD: whosoever doeth any work in the sabbath day, he shall surely be put to death. {holy: Heb. holiness} 16 Wherefore the children of Israel shall keep the sabbath, to observe the sabbath throughout their generations, for a perpetual covenant. 17 It is a sign between me and the children of Israel for ever: for in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested, and was refreshed. 18 And he gave unto Moses, when he had made an end of communing with him upon mount Sinai, two tables of testimony, tables of stone, written with the finger of God.

As I have shown, when God made a covenant in the OT, it was accompanied by a sign. The Bible is clear about what that sign was, and what it meant to that specific covenant. It was delineated in a clear and very simple manner. Nothing of the kind can be said of baptism, or the Lord's supper. In fact, the New Covenant is devoid of physical signs. Covenant Theology and other theological slants have tried to impose a sign on the NC, that the NT will simply not support. I challenge anyone to show a clear passage, like those I have shown in the OT, that state baptism and the Lord's supper are signs of the NC. This is a theological invention, not a Biblical teaching.

Baptism and why it ceased

Baptism was nothing new to the Jews of Jesus' time. When John the Baptist came and started calling Israel to repentance, he baptized them. He would baptize all who came to him in repentance. John is called the Elijah that was to come before "the great and terrible day of the Lord"

Mal 4:5 Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD:

Isa 40:3 The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.

This is verified in the NT by,

Mt 11:13 For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John. 14 And if ye will receive it, this is Elias, which was for to come.

In the gospel of Mark, we are told that John came baptising and preaching the baptism of repentance.

Mark 1:4 John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins.

We are told by Mark that John was that voice that cried in the wilderness saying "Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight." This was a definite indication that the Lord was about to bring His salvation near, and that he would judge Israel for all her sins.  This is easely verified in the contetxt of the gospel narratives. The NT replete with warnings and threatenings concerning Israel and her sin. She was filling up the measure of her father's sins (Matt 23:2). For a more complete treatment of John the Baptist and his importance to NT eschatology, see "The Signal of John the Baptist"
by Ward Fenley. This is an excellent article.

Baptism was nothing new to the Israelites, and thus no one was surprised by its use. When the Pharisees and Sadducees came to see John, they didn't ask him what this "strange" ritual was, because they had been practicing it for a long time. They were familiar with baptism, and they also realized that John's baptism, coupled with his quoting the prophets about the great and terrible day of the Lord, meant that the Messiah was coming to bring in the promised Kingdom.

Baptism then , was directly associated with the "end times", that is: the time when the old order, the Mosaic covenant, was coming to an end. It meant that God would fulfill all the promises made in the law and the prophets. This shows without a doubt that baptism was not originally a "Christian" ritual, but a ritual that found its roots in the various washings and ablutions in the OT.

Heb 9:10 Which stood only in meats and drinks, and divers washings, and carnal ordinances, imposed on them until the time of reformation. {ordinances: or, rites, or, ceremonies}

The word "washings" in this last verse, is from the Greek word "baptismos", # 909 in Strong's Lexicon. The Hebrew Christians were familiar with this practice, and knew that it was given "until the time of reformation". That time of reformation was the change of covenants that was about to occur in their lifetime, that is: in their generation.

Now, if this sign was a preparatory rite of purification, with a view to the coming Kingdom, and that that Kingdom has come, then what need is there of this ritual in the New Covenant?

I realize that there are those who will argue that "Christian" baptism, so-called, is not the same as John's baptism, and that John never baptized in Jesus' name or in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit; but I ask: what is the big difference between the two? There is, to be sure, an added spiritual significance to "Christian" baptism; but basically the two baptisms were essentially the same. Paul tells us:

Titus 3:5 Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;

The washing alluded to here is what baptism represented on the spiritual side, that is: baptism meant that they were washed of their sins and were clean of their imperfections before God, thus making them fit for the kingdom. What, may I ask, is the big difference between that and John's baptism, but that he baptized before Christ was offered up as a sacrifice, and that folowing this, Christians were baptized after the fact?

Moreover, it is argued even by futurists, that baptism was to cease when the Kingdom was to come in its fulness. They argue that there will be no more need to baptize people once Christ has come in His Kingdom. With that, I wholeheartedly agree. What I disagree with, is their claim that the Kingdom of Heaven is not here in its fulness; but that is a matter that this paper is not concerned with; seeing as it is not within the purview of this article.

That baptism was an eschatological "sign", is not the point of contention here. I agree with my futurist brethren that baptism was to cease when Christ came back; only as a Preterist, I must insist that He did so in A.D. 70. Seen from their standpoint, baptism would be quite unnecessary once we're all "in heaven". Since I, and my Preterist brethren, believe that heaven is already here, then baptism must have ceased when the Lord came back in A.D. 70.

Remember the verse in Heb 9:10, in which the author stated that baptisms (washings) were given until a time of reformation. Then why, may I ask my Preterist brethren, are we still practicing baptism? The time of reformation has come and gone; that was the premise behind the epistle to the Hebrews: that a New Covenant was about to replace the Old (Heb 8:13). Seeing then as baptism filled with such a heavy "scent" of the coming Kingdom; my conclusion is that it ceased when the Kingdom came.

May I point out as well that baptism having ceased, we no longer have to argue as to who is the proper recipient of baptism; that is: the Reformed and Anabaptists types need no longer argue as to who may be baptized: infants or believing adults. And Baptists need no longer argue among themselves as to the age of a candidate for baptism. Moreove, we would also settle the matter of whether baptism is necessary for the remission of sins, as those of the Church of Christ claim it is. In short: many problems relating to baptism would be forever settled if only believers realized that this "sign", so-called, was done away with, when the reality it represented was fulfilled.

The Lord's supper and why it ceased

When considering the Lord's supper and why it ceased, my task, it seems, is much easier than that of proving the cessation of baptism. We have a clear declaration of Paul, stated thus:

1 Cor 11:26 For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord's death till he come.

Now here is something we can sink our teeth into. This verse declares in no uncertain terms that first century Christians were showing the Lord's death until he came. What could be simpler, clearer than this. Despite this clear declaration of Paul, Preterists everywhere argue that this doesn't really mean what it says. The lengths that some go to in order to get around such a saying is beyond my understanding.

Even futurists would be the first to say that when the Lord comes, taking the Lord's supper would be unnecessary; but some of my Preterist reject this idea outright and tell me that if this is so, then futurists have every right to say that I am a hyper-Preterist, if I believe that the supper has ceased. One even goes as far as calling this idea "post-everythingism".

How can one call himself a Full Preterist, insisting that everything was fulfilled in A.D. 70, and then want to hang on to physical "signs" that were done away with by God, when that which they represented was clearly fulfilled? These were but shadows of the good things to come. They were "signs" that were related to the Old Covenant, and were preparatory to the New Covenant. When one has the reality, what does one need with the shadow? Can you imagine a futurist claiming that the Lord's supper and baptism are still going to be practiced when the Lord comes back. That man would be a laughing stock. And yet, some Preterists claim the very same thing.

What did the Lord's supper signify? We have our answer in that it was first instituted, as some would call it, when the Lord ate the passover with His disciples, just before He went away to the garden and begin what is commonly called the passion. I will use the text in Luke.

Luke 22:14 And when the hour was come, he sat down, and the twelve apostles with him. 15 And he said unto them, With desire I have desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer: {With desire...: or, I have heartily desired} 16 For I say unto you, I will not any more eat thereof, until it be fulfilled in the kingdom of God. 17 And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, Take this, and divide it among yourselves: 18 For I say unto you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine, until the kingdom of God shall come. 19 And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me. 20 Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you.

From verse 14 we can see that the Lord was eating the passover with His disciples. This was given to the Israelites after they had been brought out of the house bondage, that is Egypt. (Ex 12:11) It is clear from this text that the Lord's supper is directly related to the passover. It signified being delivered from bondage, and the Lord's supper also signifies this; because by His death, we who believe, are also delivered from bondage: the bondage of sin. The elements represented His body (v. 19) and His blood (v. 20). As I said, this practice was directly related to the OT passover.

Now, notice that the Lord said He would not eat the passover again until it was fulfilled in the Kingdom of God. If the Lord hasn't come back, as the futurists claim, then we are still waiting for that fulfillment; but if He has come back, then it was fulfilled when the Kingdom of God came. If it is fulfilled, then why do we still practice this? It was a physical shadow of what was to come, and what it represented has been fulfilled, according to Full Preterists.

Jesus came back in power and glory (Matt 16:27-29; 25:31ff), gathered all His elect from the four corners of the earth (Matt 24:31), judged all the nations (Matt 25:31ff), etc., etc.. This has all been realized, yet some Preterists insist that the Lord's supper still needs to be practiced; and this despite the fact that Paul said they were showing the Lord's death "till He comes".

The very same Preterists who will tell you that the word "till" in Matt 5:18 means that the OT law cannot pass away "TILL" heaven and earth pass away, will argue that the "till" in 1Co. 11:26, does not mean what I think it means. In other words: when it suits their traditions, "till" doesn't mean "till"; but when it goes to proving that their eschatology is correct, then "till" means exactly that: "till". Can you say "double-standards"?

The next thing we notice in the text is that Jesus says they should do this "in memory" of Him. This is what Paul is stating in 1Co 11:26. They took the supper in His memory, because He was gone from their presence for a while, but would return. Now, when He came back to be with believers forever after, then why do we need to do this "in memory" of Him? When someone is with us, we don't need to remember him, because he's there. We need to remember someone that is absent, not someone that is present.

Here is another argument that I have yet to be considered: There is a direct connection between the eating of the manna in the wilderness wanderings, and the taking of the Lord's supper.

John 6:27 Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed.

Note the connection between the bread they ate and the "meat" that would endure unto everlasting life. This "meat" was His body, typified in the Lord's supper. Now, note again the connection that Jesus makes with the manna their fathers ate in the wilderness.

John 6: 30 They said therefore unto him, What sign shewest thou then, that we may see, and believe thee? what dost thou work? 31 Our fathers did eat manna in the desert; as it is written, He gave them bread from heaven to eat. 32 Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven; but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven. 33 For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world.

The bread form heaven that gives life is His body. The connection betwen it and the manna is obvious. Now think about this: when their fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, did they, at any given time, stop eating it? The answer is obviously: yes. They stopped eating it when the crossed over into the promised land. There is a direct correlation between the promised land and the Kingdom of Heaven, as shown in Heb 11.

Heb 11:14 For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country. 15 And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned. 16 But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city.

Moreover, there is a correlation between the 40 years wilderness wanderings and the approximately 40 years that Christians waited for the Lord's return. This correlation is to be found in Heb 3-4. There is an excellent article, written by Todd D. Dennis, of the Preterist Archive, called: "The Forty Years Of Biblical Typology"
that deals with this particular OT type and its NT anti-type.

I would have you note that when the Israelites entered into the promised land, which was a type of the Kingdom of Heaven, they stopped eating the manna. Could not the same thing be said of the Lord's supper, especially considering that he Himself makes this connection with the OT manna? I think this is the case exactly. When the Kingdom of Heaven came in its fulness, there was no longer any need for the manna's anti-type, which was an eartly practice that was fulfilled in the Kingdom of Heaven, when the Lord took it again with His disciples.

As one brother so well put it: "Call me crazy, but that sounds a lot like the cessation of the ritual, because it is fulfilled in the reality. It sounds like the sign was to give way to the substance." We Preterists are big on substance and we tend to go on and on about types and shadows, to demonstrate to our futurist brethren how wrong they are to think escahtology is still unfulfilled; but we seem to be lacking in consitency when it comes to these two ordinances. Go figure?!?! As a man I know once said: "Consistency is a rare gem." And I would add: even among my enlightened Preterist brethren.... at least when it comes to the cessation issue.


It is my considered opinion and my conviction, that the Scriptures teach that the ordinances called baptism and the Lord's supper, have been done away with, because they have accomplished their intended purpose. They were shadows of the good things to come; and as they were rooted in the OT, I believe that they were for a period of time that we Preterists often like to call "the transition period" between the taking away of the Old and the establishing of the New.

Moreover, any futurist would know that if heaven is here now, as we Preterists claim, then the ordinances would have to go. So why do we hang on to them? Is it because we too have to cling to some tradition. We very often quote the Scriptures that say how the traditions of men make void the Word of God; but we too end up keeping traditions that seem to do the same thing.

In reality, when one thinks about it: in this respect, we are no better than the futurists who claim tradition as a defense for hanging on to the futile hope that the Lord will someday come back, when the Scriptures makes it so clear that He already has. I hope that someday we can come to an understanding about this matter, and finally all agree that we no longer need to practice rituals that have been done away with, no matter how important they were back then.

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