Interpretation of Revelation

Discussion in '2000-02 Archive' started by Mark-in-Tx, May 23, 2002.

  1. Mark-in-Tx

    Mark-in-Tx
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    There are four ways that people generally interpret the book of Revelation.

    Preterist- regards the prophecies as wholly concerned with the circumstances of John's day, having no reference whatever to future ages.

    historicist interpretation- construes the visions as a preview of history from the time of the writer to the end of the world.

    futurist- places the relevance of the visions entirely at the end of the age, largely divorcing them from the prophet's time.

    Poetic- the prophet simply describes, by means of his powers of artistry, the sure triumph of God over all evil powers.

    Which of these do you hold too and why?

    [ May 23, 2002, 11:15 AM: Message edited by: Mark-in-Tx ]
     
  2. Chris Temple

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    Rarely does anyone hold to just one; there are several combinations. I believe aspects of all four are present in the book :D although I would be mostly preterist-historicist, since John said:

    Rev. 1:1-3 (ESV)
    The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show to his servants the things that must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, [2] who bore witness to the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, even to all that he saw. [3] Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written in it, for the time is near.

    1:9a (ESV)
    I, John, your brother and partner in the tribulation and the kingdom ...
     
  3. KenH

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    I agree with the historicist view. Within that view I am an amillennialist but I am wanting to do a study of postmillennialism as I am beginning to find that view very interesting as to whether a Christian should be an optimist concerning world evangelism or a pessimist concerning world evangelism. Due to the permeation of general evangelical thought with dispensational premillennialism during the past 40 years, it has been very easy to be a pessimist and look for the "great escape" of Christ's church in this age rather than to be an optimist and look for the "great triumph" of Christ's church in this age.

    I think it is a study worth making.
     
  4. Bartholomew

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    Hi Ing.
    Now, I don't agree with certain important aspects of modern dispensational premillennialism (e.g. who will take part in the rapture, and what will happen to disobedient Christians), but I would point out that one of the finest missionaries of all time - J. Hudson Taylor - was a determined premillennialist. So we can't suggest that premillennalism is bad for evangelism.

    As for Mark-in-TX - I get the impression you believe what you call the "poetic" view. Am I correct? [​IMG] But to answer your question, I'm a futurist. Why? Because when it says people had to take a mark on their forehead or hand, I believe it means they had to take a mark on their forehead or hand; I believe that when it says the waters would turn to blood, that it means the waters would turn to blood; I believe that when it says 1,000 years, it means 1,000 years; etc. Simply, I believe the book means what it says. Of course there are symbols, but such should be obvious to discern; and they should all stand for literally true things. You don't need a scorching sun, destroyed vegetation, seas of blood, mountains burning with fire falling out of the sky, the mark of the beast, images that have life, battles in Armagedon, devilish locusts, etc. just to tell you good will triumph over evil!!!

    Your friend and brother,

    Bartholomew
     
  5. KenH

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    "but I would point out that one of the finest missionaries of all time - J. Hudson Taylor - was a determined premillennialist. So we can't suggest that premillennalism is bad for evangelism."

    Bartholomew,

    I agree that that one can be a dispensationalist and committed to evangelism. The same goes for Calvinists. Some of the most passionate missionaries and preachers in history have been thoroughly Calvinistic - Whitefield, Edwards, Judson, , Brainerd, Carey, Spurgeon, etc.
     
  6. Chris Temple

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    Very good points. :D

    May I suggest two books: Postmillenialism: An Eschatology of Hope and Three Views on the Millennium
     
  7. KenH

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    Thanks, Chris.
     
  8. Joseph_Botwinick

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    I am probably a preterist...still have many questions and don't claim to know it all. But I am still learning.

    Joseph Botwinick
     
  9. Mark-in-Tx

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    Whoops!!

    [ May 24, 2002, 01:01 PM: Message edited by: Mark-in-Tx ]
     
  10. Mark-in-Tx

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    The jury is still out about which one of these I believe. I can tell you that the preterist and the historicist are out. One thing I would say is this surely when you read " The Lord is my Shepherd I shall not want" you don't go looking for the nearest pasture to stick your mug down and chow. Surely you can understand that some writings have meanings different than litteral interpretations. :cool:
     
  11. Bartholomew

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    Exactly. That's why I wrote:
    That we aren't literal sheep tended by a literal shepherd is quite obvious. That symbol means that God literally looks after, feeds, protects, etc. his people. The easily-discerned symbol conveys literally truth. But like I said:
    Your friend and brother,

    Bartholomew
     
  12. Chris Temple

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  13. tyndale1946

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    From Church History by Elder Sylvester Hassell 1886... This publication is also online at pb.org
    under writers... History Of The Church Of God Chapter VIII.

    “While John, in the Revelation, had in view, primarily, the overthrow of Jerusalem and of heathen Rome, the two great foes of Christianity at that time, his vision was not confined to these momentous events. It extends even to the remotest future when death and Hades shall be no more, and a new Heaven and a new earth shall appear. Al- though the fulfillment is predicted as being near at hand, he puts a Millennium and a short intervening conflict before the overthrow of Satan, the beast, and the false prophet. We have an analogy in the prophecy of the Old Testament and the eschatological discourses of our Lord (in Matt. xxiv., xxv., Mark xiii., and Luke xxi.), which furnish the key for the understanding of the Apocalypse. He describes the destruction of Jerusalem and the general judgment in close proximity, as if they were one continuous event. He sees the end from the beginning. The first catastrophe is painted with colors borrowed from the last, and the last appears as a repetition of the first on a grand and universal scale. It is the manner of prophetic vision to bring distant events into close proximity, as in a panorama. To God a thousand years are as a day. Every true prophecy admits of an expanding fulfillment. History ever repeats itself, though with new variations. The Apocalypse is not a prophetical manual of church history and chronology in the sense of a prediction of particular persons, dates and events. This would have made it useless to the first readers, and would make it useless now to the great mass of Christians. It gives, under symbolic figures and for popular edification, an outline of the general principles of Divine government and the leading forces in the conflict between Christ's kingdom and His foes, which is still going on under ever-varying forms. In this way it teaches, like all the prophetic utterances of the Gospels and epistles, lessons of warning and encouragement to every age. We must distinguish between the spiritual coming of Christ and His personal arrival, or parousia. The former is progressive, the latter instantaneous. The spiritual coming began with His ascension to Heaven (see Matt. xxvi. 64, ‘Henceforth ye shall see the Son of man sitting at the right hand of power, and coming on the clouds of Heaven’), and goes on in unbroken succession of judgments and blessings (for the history of the world is a judgment of the world); hence the alternation of action and repose, of scenes of terror and scenes of joy, of battles and victories. The personal arrival of the Bridegroom is still in the unknown future, but is as certain as the first advent of Christ. The hope of the church will not be disappointed, for it rests on the promise of Him who is called ‘the Amen, the faithful and true witness’ (Rev. iii. 14).” -P. Schaff.

    There are three methods of interpreting the book of Revelation- the Praeterist, the Futurist and the Historical (or continuous). The Praeterist maintains that the prophecies in Revelation have already been fulfilled- that they refer chiefly to the triumph of Christianity over Judaism and paganism, signalized in the downfall of Jerusalem and of Rome. Against this view it is urged that if all these prophecies were fulfilled some 1,400 years ago (the Western Roman Empire fell A.D. 476), their accomplishment should be so perspicuous as to be universally manifest, which is very far from being the case. The Futurist interpreters refer all the book, except the first three chapters, to events which are yet to come. Against this view it is alleged that it is inconsistent with the repeated declarations of a speedy fulfillment at the beginning and end of the book itself (i. 3; xxii. 6, 7, 12, 20). Against both these views it is argued that, if either of them is correct, the Christian church is left without any prophetic guidance in the Scriptures, during the greater part of its existence; while the Jewish church was favored with prophets during the most of its existence. The Historical or Continuous expositors believe the Revelation a progressive history of the church from the first century to the end of time. The advocates of this method of interpretation are the most numerous, and among them are such famous writers as Luther, Sir Isaac Newton, Bengel, Faber, Elliott, Wordsworth, Hengstenberg, Alford, Fausset and Lee. The ablest living expositors of this class consider the seven seals, seven trumpets, seven thunders and seven vials as all synchronous, or contemporaneous, or parallel, a series of cyclical collective pictures, each representing the entire course of the world (as connected with the church) down to the end of time; just as the seven churches in the first three chapters represent the universal church, the message to each pointing to the second coming of Christ. So the introduction in the first chapter, and the conclusion in the last chapter, refer to the beginning and the end of time, and to the second coming of Christ. Three times in the last chapter is His quick coming predicted. For these reasons the book of Revelation has been called the “Book of the Prophecy of Christ’s Coming.” It is the most difficult and sublime book of the Bible. While foretelling the righteous and terrific judgments of God upon the sins of man, it shows that all things are absolutely subject to the Divine foreknowledge and control (Acts xv. 18; Psalms lxxvi. 10; xlvi. 6; Matt. xxiv. 22); and it abounds in the strongest consolation to the tried people of God, revealing the certainty of their final triumph over all their enemies, and their sure entrance into eternal bliss. Hence, it has been impressively remarked that “the book spreads itself out before us like the mantle of dusky night, broidered over with brilliant stars like jewels- enlivening the hope, patience, perseverance and love of the church of God, and affording her sufficient light concerning the future to enable her to find her way in situations of the greatest obscurity, while presenting an impenetrable veil to the profane gaze of the worldly mind.” Scarcely are any two leading interpreters agreed as to the exact events alluded to by each prophecy; no doubt many of the prophecies are still future, and cannot be understood until their fulfillment. While the prophecies may have one, or more than one, typical, imperfect, historical fulfillment, there can be no question that they also imply a higher spiritual fulfillment... Brother Glen [​IMG]

    [ May 24, 2002, 07:22 PM: Message edited by: tyndale1946 ]
     
  14. Pastor Larry

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    Writing for this "literalist" as well as most others, we do believe the 1260 days are 1260 days and that the 70 "sevens" are 70 "sevens." So I am not sure why you are questioning or rolling your eyes. I have not read any "literalists" who deny either of these.
     
  15. DocCas

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    I don't know of any who don't, do you? Is this another case, much like the Dave Hunt/James White debate, where you have either misunderstood or mischaracterized dispensational premillennialism? [​IMG]
     
  16. tyndale1946

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    Thomas Cassidy just when I was getting use to your name you had to go and change it... Brother Glen [​IMG]

    [ May 24, 2002, 10:45 PM: Message edited by: tyndale1946 ]
     
  17. DocCas

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    Just trying to keep everybody on their toes. :D
     
  18. tyndale1946

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    Is there only one interpretation for the book of Revelation or is this book multifaceted? I have been studying this book all my life and what makes this book stand out among the rest is the mysteriousness of it. I for one love a mystery and what do all the symbols and sign mean? Is there just one answer or many? What did they mean to the original listeners? Why does this book intrigue so many Christians as we already know who wins. It's the story of how the victory comes about that is truely the Revelation... Brother Glen :D
     
  19. Mark-in-Tx

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    Another method of interpreting the book of Revelation is by understanding it to be simmilar to poetry. The author writes to inform and encourage the church that ultimately God will triumph over evil. This would be simmilar to interpreting Genesis as the writer informing his hearers that God is responsible for creation. We don't have to look at our Bibles as being a biology book instead we can see it as a religious one leading men's hearts to God. This can be helpful so that we don't have to look at the text with 21st century minds of having to prove the veracity of every statement. Something the author might not have had any intention of doing. You don't believe the author wanted to answer all the questions of science in his text?? Do ya? ;)

    [ May 27, 2002, 11:15 AM: Message edited by: Mark-in-Tx ]
     
  20. Chris Temple

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    The book must be interpreted as any other by asking:

    1. Who was John writing to?
    2. Why was he writing it?
    3. What was he saying to his audience?
    4. What genre was he using in writing the book?
    5. How would his audience have understood the book?

    Was John's purpose to comfort first century Christians by telling them what would happen exclusively more than 2000 years in the future? :confused:
     

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