Four very different approaches to the Book of Revelation – Resources



2 Corinthians 13:11

NASB

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.


Intro

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:

Historicist Hermeneutic: No Longer Feasible?

Comment by “greenbaggins,” Administrator and Staff Member

[Emphasis added]

“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

SO FAR MUST THE BEAST HAVE A HAND IN IT


RESOURCES

Chart explaining the major distinctive of each view of Revelation:
Historicism.com

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The Four Views of Revelation

Preterism

Partial Preterism (orthodox)

Full Preterism (heretical)

Futurism

Historicism

Idealism

(The most recent of the major approaches to Revelation)


Four Views of 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.


Interpreting Revelation

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.


 

Go read! Oral Collins

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The following article by Dr.  Collins is really helpful. (I only had one quibble with him!) He is also the author of The Final Prophecy of Jesus: An Introduction, Analysis, and Commentary on the Book of Revelation. Here is a quote taken from this article on interpreting prophecy:

“The serious student will want to study the bib­lical text and develop his personal understanding with some assurance.  To do this, it is absolutely necessary to know and to apply sound principles of biblical interpretation.”

Oral E. Collins

THE INTERPRETATION OF BIBLICAL PROPHECY

http://www.historicism.com/Collins/interp.htm

Historicism.com

The Millennium will follow the Lord’s return – an explanation by H. Grattan Guinness

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“The millennium will be a peculiar period, unlike any period that has as yet been known on earth. If it were immediately to precede the coming of Christ, it would surely have been mentioned among the signs of that great event which we are exhorted to note. But it is never so mentioned; it is never mentioned at all in connection with an advent following it. In no one single passage of Scripture can the two events be found in this order; nor can a single text be produced in which the second advent of Christ is spoken of, in connection with a preceding millennium. We must therefore conclude that the millennium is to follow the coming of Christ…

“… This book [Revelation] presents the church as exposed to tribulation, and having need of patience, as bearing a painful and dangerous testimony to Christ, and as enduring temptation and persecution, right up to the time of the advent. Its author was, in his own person, a representative of the church in these respects. ‘I John, who also am your brother, and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was in the isle that is called Patmos, for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ.’ Never in the whole course of the book do we see the saints exalted and reigning, until after the second advent …”

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The Approaching End of the Age – Viewed in the Light of History, Prophecy and Science by H. Grattan Guinness (1879)

Published at Historicism.com

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Resources on Bible prophecy from The Antipas Chronicles website

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Eschatology Resources

This page is a work in progress.  It contains a list of resources that may be of assistance while researching the historicist point of view.  Please note that these resources are listed for educational/research purposes only.  Inclusion of a resource on this list in no way indicates a necessary endorsement of any or all of the resource’s contents or opinions.  Not all of these resources are from a historic Protestant point of view (Historicism.com, Presents of God, etc.).

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Starting Points:

  1. John’s Revelation Unveiled by Rev. Dr. Francis Nigel Lee (pdf)
  2. W.J. Mencarow’s sermons on the book of Revelation
  3. The Papacy is the Antichrist: A Demonstration by J.A. Wylie (pdf)
  4. The Rise and Fall of the Papacy by Robert Fleming

Historicism Information:

  1. Berean Beacon
  2. Christian Watch
  3. European Institute of Protestant Studies
  4. Historicism Research Foundation
  5. Historicism.com
  6. Historicism.com archives
  7. Historicist.com
  8. Iconbusters  …

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For the rest of the resources gathered by the authors of the site, go to their “Eschatology Resources” page: 

http://theantipaschronicles.wordpress.com/resources/

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Resources for studying Daniel’s prophecy of the Seventieth Week

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Daniel 9:24-27

King James Version

24 Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy.

25 Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times.

26 And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined.

27 And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.

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Luke 4:17-21

17 And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Esaias. And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written,

18 The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised,

19 To preach the acceptable year of the Lord.

20 And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him.

21 And he began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.

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Matthew 26:27-28

27 And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it;

28 For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.

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God is not the author of confusion in our worship, or doctrine (1 Cor. 14:32-34). So how are we to understand the fact that Christians who love the Lord, and seek to understand and obey His Word, disagree about important things? Perhaps what Jesus said in the parable of the wheat and the tares, applies here: “An enemy has done this” (Matt. 13:24-30).

One thing on which we disagree is the Seventieth Week of Daniel. Some believe that its events are yet to be fulfilled in a final seven-year Tribulation, and some believe they were fulfilled by Jesus at His first coming – two completely different views. 

The important thing isn’t what we have been taught by those we respect, or what we have always believed. Or what the majority view is in our day, or what it was for earlier Christians. What is important is what God has revealed to us for our instruction and edification in His Word.  

Take heart, for the Lord promised that the Holy Spirit would guide us into all truth!

John 16:13

Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.” 

Studying the Seventieth week of Daniel can be a lifelong project. Forgive me and correct me if you believe I have got it wrong.

Because of my interest in the Papacy, in the last year I began to study a view of prophecy called Historicism, the view that prophecy has been fulfilled, and is being fulfilled throughout history. During this same time, I learned that the other two views of prophecy, Futurism (the view that most prophecies will be fulfilled during a final seven-year tribulation) and Preterism (the view that almost all New Testament prophecy was fulfilled with the destruction of the Jewish Temple in 70 A.D.), were the brain-children of Jesuit authors (Ribera and Lacunza; and Alcazar).

These men invented these views, which became the popular ones, in order to prove that the Pope could not be the man of sin, as Christians declared, for the man of sin was one of two entities: someone who would appear at the very End of the Age, or the Emperor Nero. For me, the Jesuit origin of Futurism cast suspicion upon the whole scenario of a seven-year Tribulation at the End of the Age – the “postponed” Seventieth Week of Daniel.

So, if you believe that the Seventieth Week lies in the future, or if you are a Preterist, I invite you to look at the Biblical evidence again. Being a Berean is a necessity. 

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Online articles

The Seventy Weeks

Interpreting Daniel – A Premillennial Historicist Study of the Book of Daniel

Confirming The Covenant – Who Confirms the Covenant?

Shutting, sealing, and covering – or Messiah’s glorious work by Charles Spurgeon (Daniel 9:24) (pdf download)

John Wesley’s Notes on the Bible – Daniel 9

The Rapture of the Saints by Duncan McDougall

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A video presentation

Paul Flynn’s video “Daniel’s Seventieth Week – A Past or Future Event?” examines the Biblical basis for knowing that these prophecies have been fulfilled. It is a long video – Paul takes his time explaining things. He is a member of Arann Reformed Baptist Church in Dublin.

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