The Evangelical Universalist Forum

Revelation's View of the Future

This four page attachment summarizes my take on what Revelation suggests about our future hope. Your own reactions and views are welcome!What does the Book of Revelation say about the Future.doc (48 KB)

My spellchecker says “realties” in paragraph 1 should be “realities” :stuck_out_tongue: :wink:

Thanks, Alex! What’samatter with my spellchecker? How do I fix it on the posted copy? Do I need to reload a new copy from my computer?

Unfortunately, I think you’ll need to delete the attachment and upload it again…

Thanks Bob for your review. Of the four views of Revelation - Spiritualist, Preterist, Historicist, and Futurist - I too think that the Preterist view is probably the strongest, though I find the Spiritualist view also very compelling. The Historicist and Futurist views are the weakest and require the most reading into John’s visions I think. It being apocalyptic literature without an explanation/interpretation from the author or another biblical authority though opens it up for a wide variety of interpretations, and thus the tendency for us all to see in it what we already believe.

Sherman, thanks! You reflect my sense completely.

What is the difference between historicist and preterist? I really know nothing of these terms. All I knew up till a year ago was pretrib rapture.

I don’t really like labels, but I’d probably place my view as much happened already(preterist/hisoricist?), all is spiritual also, and some is yet to come, -->the feast of tabernacles

Because Revelation is apocalyptic prophetic literature, a series of visions filled with imagery and symbols, it is very challenging to interpret and by its very nature open to a wide range of types and systems of interpretation. It is an enigmatic book filled with mystery and ambiguity and thus difficult to understand and interpret. Theologians typically group this wide variety of interpretations into four basic categories: Preterist, Historicist, Spiritualist, and Futurist. (Though some use five catagories adding “Dispensationalists”.)

The **preterist **view sees the visions of Revelation as having already been fulfilled primarily, if not exclusively, in the destruction of Jerusalem and/or the fall of the Roman Empire. The “beast” is usually understood to be Nero or Domitian, and the Roman government was “Babylon”. Revelation was written to encourage believers that persecution would come to an end, God would deliver his people, and the church would prevail. Some preterist believe that the final chapters of Revelation were fulfilled in the past; and others affirm that these few chapters still look forward to the second coming of Christ, though the rest of the book (plagues, beast, millenial reign, etc.) is fulfilled.

**Historists **interpret Revelation believing that it gives a panoramic view of church historty from the time of John to the present and on to the 2nd coming of Christ. This is the historic Protestant view of the book. They see in the visions the sacking of Rome by the barbarians, the rise of the Roman Catholic Church, the birth of Islam, etc. They see in Revelation the steadfast continuance of the church and the rise and fall of nations throughout history. Fulfillment is present and progressive, and has been unfolding for two thousand years.

Yet others interpret Revelation from a **Spritualist **view, otherwise called Metaphorical, Idealist, or Symbolic. Spiritualist do not look to see in Revelation the rise and fall of nations, but see in Revelation a great drama of spiritual realities such as the conflict between good and evil, Christ and Satan, saints and those who operate in an anti-Christ spirit. These transcending spiritual realities can be seen in historical events throughout this present evil age. The words of comfort and encouragement in this book can thus be applied to Christians of any culture, race, or time.

And the most common view today, especially in Protestant Evangelical circles, is to interpret John’s Revelation from a **Futurist **view, believing that it speaks of things yet to come. Futurists usually interpret everything after chapters four or six to literally and symbolically speak of actual people and events yet to come during a relatively brief period of time just before the second coming of Christ. Some see current day events as fulfillment of some of these prophecies and thus look for the rise of the anti-Christ and the return of Christ to come any day. Failure to take into consideration the apocalyptic syle, its use of vivid images and symbols (dragons, monsters, stars, numbers, pregnant woman, etc.) of Revelation has led to some wacky, outlandish teachings. And of course, some have been so caught up in the Futurist view of Revelation that they’ve even affirmed specific dates for the Lord’s return. Do you remember “88 Reasons Why The Rapture Will Be In 1988”?

Frankly, I believe Revelation can be interpreted from all four perspectives and should be interpreted from all four, or should speak to all four! But It is when we try to nail it down to only speak of one perspective, and use it as proof of our beliefs concerning that one perspective instead of using it to illustrate our beliefs, that we run into major difficulties and start misusing it. And of the four views, the Futurist view is the one that to me is the least clearly defined, most open for broadly differing interpretations, and thus should be the one most lightly held, imo.

Also, I find that in Revelation it is very easy, too easy, to get lost in the details and forget the message of the broader picture. Let us keep in mind that John wrote this book to encourage, inspire believers who were going through seemingly meaningless persecution. Every generation has its Babylon, Antichrist, and the revelation of Gods’ love, the Lamb of God and the hope of His return has inspired believers for 2000 years to give their lives in service of others, to keep loving, to keep sharing, to keep forgiving even when facing the horrors of evil beyond reason!

First and foremost Revelation is about Jesus. He is the glorified Son of God ministering amoung the churches, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End, the one who is, was, and is to come, the Almighty, the First and the Last, the Son of Man, the one who was dead but is now alive forevermore, the one who is holy and true, the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of Creation, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Lamb in heaven with authority to the title deed of the earth, the Lamb on the throne, the Messiah who will reign forever, the Word of God, the King of kings and Lord of lords, the Root and Offspring of David, and the Bright and Morning Star! Let us remember that Revelation is “The Revelation of Jesus Christ!”

btw, this is part of the intro to the chapter on the Lake of Fire in my up and coming book. :slight_smile:


Thanks! I could not improve at all on your excellent introductory summary. Have you see Gordon Fee’s new commentary on Revelation. It fleshes out many of the perspectives that you and I find strongest. What a difference from my non-dispensationalist but futurist training under George Ladd which is fleshed out in his classic Revelation commentary.

Thanks Bob. I appreciate that. I haven’t read Fee’s new commentary on Revelation, though I’d like to. Revelation is a strange book in that people either tend to make everything out of it or nothing out of it. Many believers avoid Revelation because it is so enigmatic. And others study that and other apocalyptic literature so much that they view the rest of scripture, the church, and the whole world through the lense of their beliefs concerning Revelation. I personally have been on the side of not studying Revelation very much because of the abuse and foolish execesses and wrong attitudes that I’ve seen so many people have for whom Revelation is everything. When asked about my eschatology, I say I’m a “Pan-millenialist” because I believe it’s all going to “Pan-out” in the end! What is valuable will stay, everything else will wash away!

You will probably enjoy this Bob.

Read the FFIs from 2002 forward. Jones matches each book of Revelation with the history of the time.

The Unveiling of Jesus Christ … elation-6/

Cloud, I’m glad my paper resonated with Jones’ outlook. I didn’t realize Revelation had more than one “book.” Did you mean chapters?