2 Corinthians 13:11
11 Finally, brethren, rejoice, be made complete, be comforted, be like-minded, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you.
Throughout church history, there have been four different views regarding the book of Revelation: idealist, preterist, historicist, and futurist. The idealist view teaches that Revelation describes in symbolic language the battle throughout the ages between God and Satan and good against evil. The preterist view teaches that the events recorded in the book of Revelation were largely fulfilled in AD 70 with the fall of the Jerusalem Temple. The historicist view teaches that the book of Revelation is a symbolic presentation of church history beginning in the first century AD through the end of age. . . The futurist view teaches that Revelation prophesies events that will take place in the future. . .
Dr. Patrick Zukeran, Four Views of Revelation
I’ve come to believe that if we would try to see what other Christians have observed and taught in different views of Revelation, that we would grow in love and discernment. That’s why the following comment on Puritan Board makes sense. Obviously this can’t mean that all of the views are completely Biblical and therefore of equal value. With one exception, we aren’t speaking about heresy.
PURITAN BOARD forum
THREAD ANSWERING THIS QUESTION:
Comment by “greenbaggins,” Administrator and Staff Member
“While I have some sympathy with the historicist idea that Revelation is a road-map of history, the problem is that historical identifications with elements in Revelation become, if not fanciful, at the very least, highly debatable. It is my opinion (along with Poythress) that Revelation has seven cycles of seven, wherein each cycle crescendos from the previous cycle, thus climaxing each cycle with the second coming.
“Each of the four main interpretive approaches to Revelation has strengths and weaknesses. The strength of the preterist is that John wrote Revelation to a certain audience at a certain time, and any interpretation which fails to take this into consideration will get considerably jumbled. However, preterists go too far when they limit the applicability of Revelation to the first-century (either too much, as in partial preterists, or much too much, as in the heretical full preterists). Revelation is part of the canon. It must apply not only to the first-century audience, but also to the church of all ages. It does speak of the second coming of Christ and the new heavens and new earth, and not just in the last three chapters.
“The futurist approach’s strength is in recognizing the references to the second coming, and giving them full weight. Futurists tend to forget, however, the historical situatedness of Revelation. They also forget (sometimes) Revelation’s canonical status, applying to the church of all ages. They have, therefore, the corresponding and opposite strengths and weaknesses of the preterite positions.
“The strength of the historicist position is in recognizing Revelation’s canonical status, and that therefore it must apply to the church of all ages. The weakness has been already identified above, as its historical identifications are quite tenuous. I find myself thinking, ‘Yeah, possibly, but couldn’t it also mean a dozen other historical events?’
“The strength of the idealist position is in recognizing the cyclical (or better yet, spiral) nature of Revelation. Some idealist positions have a weakness, however, in de-concretizing the imagery of Revelation, and making just about everything quite vague.
“I believe that the strongest interpretation of Revelation will take elements of truth from all the four approaches, while seeking to minimize their weaknesses. As such, there are three main areas of applicability, all of which have to have their day in court: the first century, the history of the church, and the second coming of Christ. This is why I advocate a modified idealist approach wherein the beginning and the end both get full attention, and not just the cycles of how God works in history. I believe that John is describing over and over again (seven times, in fact) the time between the first and second coming of Christ.”
Hattip: Meg’s blog, The Antipas Chronicles
Chart explaining the major distinctive of each view of Revelation:
The Four Views of Revelation
Partial Preterism (orthodox)
Full Preterism (heretical)
(The most recent of the major approaches to Revelation)
Dr. Patrick Zukeran
Dr. Patrick Zukeran presents a summary of four of the major approaches to interpreting the book of Revelation and its meaning for the end times. . . For each, he presents the basic approach, strengths of the approach and weaknesses of the approach. Recognizing that God is the central mover in all of these, he encourages us to keep these questions from dividing Christians in our mission of sharing Christ with the world.
Dr. Cornelis P. Venema
One helpful way to meet the challenge of interpreting the book of Revelation is to become acquainted with some of the main approaches to its interpretation. In the history of the church, five predominant approaches have emerged: the futurist, the preterist, the historicist, the idealist, and the eclectic approach. While these approaches are not necessarily incompatible at every point, they represent distinct views of the message and themes of Revelation. Familiarity with these approaches, though no substitute for a direct reading and interpretation of Revelation, does provide a helpful map of the well-traveled paths that previous interpreters have found illuminating.