In the Book of Revelation
Your method of interpretation will give you your approach to how you teach the book.
- This method started in Alexandria in the third century with Clement and Origen who had a tendency to spiritualize the entirety of the Scriptures, whether plainly symbolic or not. Thus, in the book of Revelation, a non-literal meaning is also assigned to everything, especially the "thousand year" mentioned six times in Revelation 20. I don’t agree with the position. This allegorical position influenced the church throughout its history, including the preterist and historical views of Revelation due to its amillennial approach.
- A branch off this would be the Symbolic View: which believes that Revelation portrays the continuing conflict between the forces of good and evil throughout the entire span of human history. And this view is designed to give encouragement voice since at the end the good will triumph.
- Credit the Jesuit Alcasar who died in 1613 for this view. The symbolism is confined to conflicts endured by the early church. This means that everything in the book of Revelation happened by about the end of the First Century and that John was writing about the events of his own day. The book of Revelation, therefore, becomes more descriptive than predictive. This view, meaning they "favor the past." They presuppose that most if not all the prophecies of the Book have been fulfilled and/or pertain to what was happening in the first century. This view says what happened in 70 A.D. in Jerusalem with the fall and destruction of the Temple and Nero was the Anti- Christ.
- Thus, the main point of Revelation was to encourage the Christian under persecution. Thus Revelation becomes just historical and didactic, giving us only examples of being faithful.
My thinking is, if Revelation is prophecy, and Revelation was written after the destruction of Jerusalem how could Revelation be prophecy?
- This view started, it is said, in the 13th century under Joachim of Floris (1202) and portrays Revelation as a template for principles of history. It is a panoramic depiction of the history and future of the Church. All the events in human history could be viewed in the Book of Revelation. Since Revelation is a view of all of history over the last 2000 years, it’s a beautiful way of encouraging Christians of any age.
- This view asserts that Revelation is about the details and order of future events immediately preceding the Second Coming. This view states that none of the events of Matthew 24 took place in 70 AD. And the seals, trumpets, beasts, and Antichrist are still to come and will appear in the last days of human history Thus, the book of Revelation has yet to be fulfilled. This view also states that Israel and the church are distinct in God’s plan.
- This sounds good, but how much of it is really possible I am not sure. This view says you engage the text with careful exegesis, uninhibited by theological prejudice, with an inductive process and come with open minds to discover God’s lessons for us.
I have said that when I taught Revelation to the Youth at Roanoke Baptist Temple in Roanoke ,Virginia, in 1965. I said it when I taught Revelation at Madison Baptist Church in 1973. I said this when I taught Revelation at First Baptist Church in Altoona, Kansas, twice. 1980's and 1990's And again in 2001.
And truly when I taught this in FBC of Altoona, I really tried to teach the text verse by verse. Rather than trying to get a crowd and play up the seals and the Anti-Christ, I tried to view the book as it was written. I believe the events in the Book of Revelation has not yet happen.
I realize that our preconceived ideas will form our opinions and usually not what the Word actually says.
I desired to reveal the truth of the book inductively, applying the literal interpretation (if the genre allows), historical and grammatical exegesis and not mere human speculations and traditions.
But the truth is, we really are human and all we know and see comes through our fallen filter made from depravity. I can’t see Revelation without seeing Dr. Marr in 1950's and 60's at the Baptist Tabernacle in Danville Virginia. I can’t see Revelation without that big chart he had across the church front. Then I can not view Revelation without viewing Oliver B Greene either. I have read over 100 books on the Revelation. Then in 1990 John MacArthur’s teaching on Revelation sealed my conviction of how to teach Revelation.
And since 2003 I have studied and read many articles and papers on the other views and have not been convinced at all to their points of view.
Notes of Reference:
1A Spiros Zodhates footnotes on Revelation in the Hebrew-Greek Key Study Bible
2A John MacArthur’s Study Notes on Revelation
3A Articles from Monergism.com
4A School of Interpretation by Frame-poythress
5A My own studies from more than 100 books, and booklets.
6A Eschatology, The Last Things monergism.com
Drafted by Charles E. Whisnant 12 11 06 Proof Read by Charity Whisnant 12 11 06