To begin, we must first define the meaning of a 'disciple.'
In Christianity: A disciple is one who follows the teachings or doctrines of a person (Christ) whom he or she considers to be a master or authority.
a. The 12 original followers of Christ.
b. The 70 followers sent forth by Christ. Luke 10:1.
c. Any other professed follower of Christ in His lifetime.
d. Any follower of Christ.
So everything Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit taught the disciples, they were also to teach others who would come to follow Christ. The 'called out,' (the ekklesia) of God.
Before his ascension Jesus said to them, 'Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, (even) unto the end of the age. Amen' (Mt. 28:19-20).
So we see that 'all the things' Jesus (literally and through the Holy Spirit) taught the apostles, they were also to teach other disciples, the 'called out of God,' the body of Christ, for all generations; beginning at Pentecost, unto the end of the age. In turn, the called out disciples of Christ who believed would also receive the Holy Spirit. So when we read the NT, we know the Living Word was not only written 'for' that first generation body of Christ, though it was written 'to' them first, but for future generations who would become a part of the body of Christ as well; unto the end of the age.
This quotation from a book by J. Todd Billings called The Word of God for the People of God: an entryway to the theological interpretation of scripture rather effectively gets to the heart of the dilemma created by readings of the New Testament that insist on the historical contextualization of the texts:
Another misuse of historical reconstruction is when it leaves readers with a sense that the ancient text does not address them, but only addresses the ancient community. On this issue, Christian interpreters need to be clear that we read as part of the one people of God; we are not reading 'other peopleís mail.' Ö When Christians analyze the text, its history, and background, we should not assume that the historical gap between our contemporary horizon and the ancient one is a great canyon to be bridged by clever analogies or parallels. In a very real sense, this gap is bridged by the Spiritóthe same Spirit who unites together Godís people culture and time. The books of the Bible are not just 'addressed to' ancient Israel or the early church. Through Scripture, the Spirit addresses all of Godís people, not just the original hearers.
I believe, like this author and others that 'audience relevance' is misapplied to 'prophetic texts' vs. 'historical texts.' Biblical historical texts are non-prophetic writings rightly labeled relevant to their time. There are also non-prophetic 1st century biblical writings to the body of Christ that are spiritually applicable for all generations. The 'you' and 'ye' passages that speak to the assemblies of Christ about spiritual things that concern the saints and are applicable to all generations. Then there are the 'prophetic texts,' that would concern 'we' and 'ye' of the body of Christ and find their fulfillment future and not 'contained' to that particular generation the prophetic texts were written 'to.'
From the Matthew passages we see that the phrase 'this generation' hangs on the implications of the words 'ye' and 'you' in the preceding verses. The preterists insist the 'ye' and 'you' can and does only refer to Jesus' immediate physical audience, specifically the apostles. So they insist that the generation that shall not pass is the generation of the apostles; the 1st generation church. The problem is that they completely fail to understand a simple principle in scripture with regard to 'prophetic passages.' This biblical principle occurs in 'prophetic passages' by which God speaks to an immediate physical audience, such as the apostles (1st generation NC assenbly) or the Israelites of Moses' day (1st generation OC assembly) for example, but is actually addressing 'future unborn generations yet to come.'
This principle is inherent in scripture writing, and seen from the very onset when Moses received the word of God and proclaimed it to the Israelites. The Israelites understood that the words proclaimed to them also applied to their children in every age, and not just their generation.
So when we follow this principle of God's Word and read such passages as Matthew 24, Mark 13 and Luke 21 we clearly see that the 'ye' and 'you' Jesus is speaking to is defined by whichever generation would be around when these things come to pass. It is not confined to the apostles and disciples of that day anymore than Moses prophecy was confined to the generation of Israelites in their day who were his initial audience to whom his proclamation was given. The Jews of Jesus' day including his apostles were well aware of this biblical principle of the 'ye' and 'you' seen in their historical and prophetic writings. They certainly would not continue to be waiting for the Messiah if this were not the case.
There are many examples of the 'ye' biblical principle that apply to 'generations' beyond the 1st century generation seen in the Gospels and the Epistles of the apostles; prophetic and non-prophetic. Mt. 3:2, '--saying repent 'ye', for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.' Did the 'ye' to repent only apply to that 1st century generation? Mt. 5:32, 'But I say unto 'you,''--concerning divorce. On oaths, 'you' have heard it said,' Mt. 5: 33-38; Mt. 5:44, 'But I say unto 'you,' love your enemies--.' Mt. 7:1 'Judge not, that 'ye' be not judged.' Are these passages to be seen as only applicable to the 1st century generation only? According to the preterist position, these commandments would no longer be applicable to on-going generations. The 'you,' according to them would only apply to 'this generation' living at that time, being the 1st century hearers.
Acts 2:39, 'For the promise is unto 'you', and to your children, and to all that are afar off, as many as the Lord our God shall call.' (see Acts 2:17). We see it is not just for the generation then living but for on-going generations as well. 1 Cor. 6:19,' What? Know 'ye' not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost---.' 1 Cor. 11:26, 'For as often as 'ye' eat this bread, and drink this cup, 'ye' do show the Lord's death till he come.' 1 Cor. 12:23, 'Now 'ye' are the body of Christ---.' Gal. 3:28-29, '---for 'ye' are all one in Christ Jesus.---then are 'ye' Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.'
According to preterists, these passages, and many more that could be given, when following their audience relevance 'you' and 'this generation' doctrine, the 'prophetic passages' and commandments would no longer be applicable after the 1st century generation ekklesia had passed (70 A.D.). The same would be seen in the Old Covenant, where it would mean that all the prophets who prophesied to the 'contemporary corporate body of Israel,' the prophecies they proclaimed to them would have to be fulfilled 'in their generation,' and no other. Scripture explicitely shows quite the contrary view to their doctrine.
1 Peter 2:9 makes it very clear that the 'ye' biblical prophetic principle applies not only to the immediate generation, but on-going generations as well. 'But 'ye' are a chosen generation*(Greek 'genos'; a family, offspring, 'a race'), a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar (special) people; that 'ye' should show forth the praises of him who hath called 'you' out of darkness into his marvelous light.' The many prophecies spoken of by the Old Covenant prophets didn't occur until hundreds of years later, which contradicts the preterist 'you'/'this generation' audience relevance doctrine. But agrees with the biblical 'you' in 'prophetic passages,' that speak prophetically of 'this generation,'--as being 'this generation whenever it occurs.'
Sorry for the lengthy post.