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                         "THE TIME OF THE END"

                         The Book Of Revelation


1. The Book of Revelation is often used to support various end-time
   a. Especially by dispensational premillennialists
   b. Who view Re 4-20 as yet to be fulfilled

2. The Book of Revelation is used to support things found nowhere else
   in Scripture...
   a. The millennium - mentioned only in Re 20:1-6
   b. Separate resurrections - also only in Re 20:1-6

3. While there are many diverse views regarding Revelation...
   a. There are reasons to believe it has mostly been fulfilled
   b. Especially Re 4:1 to Re 20:7

[This study will present introductory material to the book that offers
such a view (see here for more material on the Book of Revelation)...]


      1. Different from other books of the New Testament
      2. Different from styles of writing commonly used today

      1. The word 'revelation' in Greek is apokalupsis
         a. Which means 'an uncovering' or 'unveiling'
         b. Thus a book intended to reveal, not conceal
      2. The book is an example of apocalyptic literature
         a. A literary style popular from 200 B.C. to 200 A.D.
         b. Known for highly symbolic or figurative language
         c. Written normally during times of persecution
         d. Usually depicting the conflict between good and evil
         e. Intended to encourage the righteous to persevere
         f. Other examples:  parts of Ezekiel, Daniel, Zechariah, and
            Matthew 24

      1. Not to the early church
         a. They were familiar with the apocalyptic style and OT
         b. They were familiar with the historical circumstances
            prompting the Revelation
         d. It evidently was intended to be understood by simply
            listening - cf. Re 1:3
      2. But to people today
         a. Who are unfamiliar with apocalyptic literature and OT
         b. Who are unfamiliar with the historical background of the
         b. Who are prone to take things literally

[To properly interpret the book, we must understand its historical
context.  We must also interpret it in a manner that would have been
meaningful to those to whom it was addressed...]


      1. The preterist view
         a. The book refers to events that were fulfilled in the first
            century A.D., or shortly thereafter
         b. It was written primarily to encourage the original readers
         c. Its value for today would therefore be didactic (teaching
            the value of faithfulness to God)
      2. The historicist view
         a. The book provides a panoramic view of the future of the
            church from as it goes through history
         b. This view finds in the book such events as the rise of
            Catholicism, Islam, the Protestant reformation, world wars,
            etc., ending with the return of Christ
         c. As such it would encourage Christians no matter when they
      3. The futurist view
         a. Apart from the first few chapters, the book depicts events
            which immediately precede the  second coming of Christ
         b. Therefore most of the book has yet to be fulfilled (or is
            being fulfilled now)
         c. Its value is primarily for Christians who will be living at
            the time Jesus returns
      4. The idealist view
         a. The book does not deal with any specific historical
         b. It simply illustrates the principle that good will
            ultimately triumph over evil
         c. As such the book is applicable to any age

      1. Mostly a preterist view
         a. That most was fulfilled (or was started) in the first three
            centuries - Re 1:1-20:6
         b. With some futurist elements (the eternal destiny of the
            redeemed) - Re 20:7-22:5
      2. Reasons for the preterist view
         a. The book was written specifically to seven churches in Asia
            - Re 1:4
         b. It was to uncover "things which must shortly come to pass"
            - Re 1:1,3; 22:6,10
         c. John was told, "Do not seal the words of the prophecy of
            this book, for the time is at hand" - Rev 22:10
      3. Compare the last point with Dan 8:26
         a. Daniel was told to "seal up" his vision, "for it refers to
            many days in the future"
         b. Yet we know that his vision was fulfilled within several
            hundred years
         c. John, however, was told "do not seal" what he had seen "for
            the time is at hand"
         d. How could this be, if most of Revelation refers to what has
            yet to occur almost two thousands later?
      4. Place yourself in the position of the Christians to whom the
         book was addressed
         a. The book was written to comfort them, to reveal things
            "shortly come to pass"
         b. If the futurist view is correct, how do events at least 2000
            years later help them?
         c. Imagine if someone wrote you of things soon to take place,
            but in reality they were not to occur until 4000 A.D. --
            Would that be of any real comfort?

[Such is the problem I see with the "futurist" view of dispensational
premillennialism.  Now for some thoughts related to...]


      1. The early date, around 64-68 A.D. during the reign of Nero
         a. The Syriac version of the New Testament (dating back to the
            2nd century A.D.) says the book was written during the reign
            of Nero
         b. The Muratorian Fragment (170-190 A.D.) and the Monarchian
            Prologues (250-350 A.D.) claim that Paul wrote to seven
            churches following the pattern of John's example in
            Revelation, placing the book of Revelation even before some
            of the Pauline epistles(!)
         -- Expositor's Bible Commentary, Vol. 12; p. 406
      2. The late date, around 95-96 A.D. toward the end of the reign of
         a. Appeal is often made to a statement of Iraneaus who lived in
            the late 2nd century A.D.
         b. Irenaeus (185 A.D.) stated that the apostle John "saw the
            revelation...at the close of Domitian's reign (A.D. 81-96)"
            - Contra Haereses 5.30.3; ANF, 1:559-60
         c. His statement is rather ambiguous, however, and can be
            understood in several ways (see Redating The New Testament,
            by John A. T. Robinson, for a detailed examination of
            Iraneaus' quotation)
         d. Besides, if the book were written toward the end of
            Domitian's reign wouldn't that make it a rather belated word
            of comfort?

      1. The spring of 70 A.D., during the reign of Vespasian
         a. Before the destruction of Jerusalem
         b. Which occurred in the fall of 70 A.D.
      2. The internal evidence:
         a. The eight kings mentioned in Re 17:9-14
            1) If the kings were emperors, and if we start with
            2) ...the first five are Augustus, Tiberius, Caligula,
               Claudius and Nero (who died June 9, 68 A.D.
            3) Nero's death left the empire in an uproar (this may be
               the "deadly wound" in Re 13:3,12,14)
            4) Three men (Galba, Otho, and Vitellius) tried vainly to
               consolidate power over the empire, but it was Vespasian
               who restored order in 70 A.D.
            5) Thus, the "deadly wound" was healed, and Vespasian would
               be the sixth "king" (or the "one is" in Re 17:10)
            6) This would make Titus the seventh and Domitian the eighth
         b. Notice carefully what is said about the beast in Re 17:8,11
            1) John was told that the beast "is not"
            2) It "was" and "is about to ascend" (ESV)
            3) At the time Revelation was given, the beast "is not"!
            4) If we understand (as I do) that the "beast" represents
               imperial Rome as personified in its emperors Nero and
               Domitian, then Revelation could not have been written during
               the reigns of either Nero or Domitian!
         c. The condition of persecution in Asia Minor as mentioned by
            1) Peter also wrote to Christians in Asia Minor, just a few
               years before - 1Pe 1:1
            2) They were suffering similar persecution - 1Pe 1:6; 4:12;
               a) Persecution by the Jews with the help of Roman
                  authorities - Re 2:9; 3:9
               b) Going on since the days of Paul's missionary journeys
                  - Ac 13:50; 14:5,19; 17:5-8,13; 18:12
      3. Thus I agree with Jim McGuiggan, and with Philip Schaff who
         wrote concerning the date of 70 A.D., in the spring, during the
         reign of Vespasian:
         a. "The early date is best suited for the nature and object of
            the Apocalypse, and facilitates its historical understanding.
            Christ pointed in his eschatological discourses to the
            destruction of Jerusalem and the preceding tribulation as
            the great crisis in the history of the theocracy and the
            type of the judgment of the world.  And there never was a
            more alarming state of society."
         b. "The horrors of the French Revolution were confined to one
            country, but the tribulation of the six years preceding the
            destruction of Jerusalem extended over the whole Roman empire
            and embraced wars and rebellions, frequent and unusual
            conflagrations, earthquakes and famines and plagues, and all
            sorts of public calamities and miseries untold.  It seemed,
            indeed, that the world, shaken to its very center, was
            coming to a close, and every Christian must have felt that
            the prophecies of Christ were being fulfilled before his
         c. "It was at this unique juncture in the history of mankind
            that St. John, with the consuming fire in Rome and the
            infernal spectacle of the Neronian persecution behind him,
            the terrors of the Jewish war and the Roman interregnum
            around him, and the catastrophe of Jerusalem and the Jewish
            theocracy before him, received those wonderful visions of
            the impending conflicts and final triumphs of the Christian
            church. His was truly a book of the times and for the times,
            and administered to the persecuted brethren the one but all-
            sufficient consolation:  Maranatha!  Maranatha!"
         -- History of The Christian Church, Vol. I, pp. 836-837

[Now for some thoughts regarding...]


      1. Stated at the beginning of the book - Re 1:1,3
      2. Stated at the end of the book - Re 22:6,10

      1. In particular, it is a revelation from Christ concerning the
         judgment to come upon those who were persecuting His people
         - Re 6:9-11; 16:5-7
      2. This judgment was directed especially toward two enemies:
         a. Babylon, the harlot - Re 17:6; 18;20,24; 19:2
            1) Many think the harlot is the city Rome, but I believe it
               was Jerusalem
            2) If so, then Revelation describes the fulfillment of
               Jesus' prophecy found in Mt 23:29-39; Lk 21:20-22
         b. The beast which supported the harlot - Re 17:7-13
            1) I believe it to be the Roman empire when led by her
               persecuting emperors (e.g., Nero, Domitian), which at
               first supported the "harlot" in her persecution of God's
               people, then turned on her (cf. the destruction of
               Jerusalem, 70 A.D.).


1. The purpose of Revelation was to make known how Christ would bring
   judgment on Jerusalem and Rome for their having rejected God and
   persecuted His people...
   a. This judgment began with the destruction of Jerusalem in the fall
      of 70 A.D.
   b. It continued until the final cessation of persecution by Rome in
      313 A.D., when Constantine became an emperor supportive of
   c. As Philip Schaff said of John:  "Undoubtedly he had in view
      primarily the overthrow of Jerusalem and heathen Rome, the two
      great foes of Christianity at that time."

2. In fulfilling this purpose, the book was designed to both warn and
   a. For erring disciples, it was a book of warning (repent or else)
      - Re 2:5,16
   b. For faithful disciples, it was a book of comfort (blessed are
      those who overcome) - Re 1:3; 2:7; 3:21; 14:13; 22:14

3. Yet, there are elements in the book that are still future...
   a. The ultimate defeat of Satan - Re 20:7-10
   b. The final judgment - Re 20:11-15
   c. The eternal destiny of the redeemed - Re 21:1-22:5
   -- For such would have further encouraged the Christians in Asia
      Minor to remain faithful

And so it should encourage us today.  But if we are willing to let the
Book of Revelation speak for itself, and study it in the context of its
historical and biblical setting, we shall not misapply it to support
end-time scenarios that flatly contradict the clear teachings of other

For further study, I strongly recommend this book:  Worthy Is The Lamb,
by Ray Summers
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