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D. Schools or Methods of Interpretation   1. The Preterist View   The word “preterist” comes from the Latin word praeteritus which means “gone by” or “past”. Proponents of this view thus contend that “the closer we get to the year 2000, the farther we get from the events of Revelation” (Gentry, Four Views, 37). The major prophecies of the book, so they argue, were fulfilled either in the fall of Jerusalem in 7...Read More

The view presented below is held by premillennialists (those who believe in a 1,000 year earthly reign of Christ between his second coming and eternity), amillennialists (those who believe the millennium is occurring now, in heaven, among the saints with Christ, and who believe the second coming will be followed immediately by the eternal state), as well as some postmillennialists. Although these groups disagree over the nature and timing of the millennium, they are in a...Read More

As I sit writing this meditation, I need only turn my head slightly to the left and gaze out the window of my hotel room for a stunning view of the Washington Monument in our nation’s capital. Two days earlier, on my way from the airport to the annual meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society, I was deeply moved by the site of the Lincoln Memorial, and later that night by the stunning profile of the Capitol building. People react differently when visiting Was...Read More

D. Important Texts (A more extensive analysis of Romans 11 is also found in two parts elsewhere in the material on Eschatology.) 1. Romans 11 - There is but one olive tree (cf. Jer. 11:16; Hosea 14:6), Israel, the people of God in the old dispensation. The branches = individual Israelites. Because of unbelief (rejection of Messiah) most of the natural branches were broken off (v. 16). This does not mean, however, that God has cast off his people (vv. 1-2), nor that he ...Read More

To whom do you look for strength when life is on the verge of imploding and there seems to be no avenue of escape? In what do you place your trust? On what beliefs have you staked your future? How do you persevere? Unless you’ve experienced an incredibly insulated life, these are questions that cannot be avoided. They were certainly questions racing through the minds of the believers in Smyrna. Their past had been painful and their immediate future didn’t lo...Read More

Aside from the book of Revelation, there is hardly a more important section of Scripture on the subject of biblical eschatology than Matthew 24, the famous Olivet Discourse delivered by Jesus to his disciples shortly before his betrayal by Judas. Many Christians simply assume that Jesus is describing the end of human history and his second advent. But could it be that Jesus was actually describing, in response to his disciples’ question, the fall of Jerusalem and t...Read More

What I Deserve vs. What I Get The timing of this meditation is significant. I’m writing it on the day before Thanksgiving, 2006. Like most of you, I’ll soon be seated with my family around a table laden with more food than many people will see in a month. Thousands will die today of starvation. Tens of thousands will scrounge for a few kernels of corn or a handful of grain. No, I’m not trying to rob you of joy at this time of year. In fact, I’m ...Read More

By God’s providential design, my wife and I live in Kansas City, Missouri, known as “The City of Fountains.” Before this, we lived in Chicago, “The Windy City” (well, to be more accurate, we lived in Winfield, a suburb of Chicago). Paris, France, is called “The City of Lights” and New York is often described as “The City that Never Sleeps”. We have friends who live in Las Vegas, infamously (but justifiably) referred t...Read More

In continuation of part one . . . 24:15 With v. 15 we come to a critical juncture in the discourse. To this point Jesus has referred to general signs that would characterize the period preceding Israel's collapse. Here in v. 15, though, he refers to one sign that unmistakably signals that the prophesied destruction is at hand. It would serve to alert the people of that generation as to the proximity of Jerusalem's ruin. In response to the question, "When will these thi...Read More

The letter to the church at Pergamum consists of “the words of him who has the sharp two-edged sword” (Rev. 2:12; more literally, “these things says the one who has the sharp two-edged sword”). When we hear or read of someone who has a “sharp two-edged sword” we typically envision it in his hand, to be wielded either in defense against an on-coming attack or used offensively to slay his enemies. But in the case of Jesus, the sword pro...Read More

I argued in parts one and two of our study in Mt. 24 that the Olivet Discourse is concerned primarily with the prophesied destruction of Jerusalem and its temple, both of which occurred in 70 a.d. The issue that must next be addressed is the problem posed by vv. 29-31. Here it appears that Jesus says his second coming will occur "immediately after" the tribulation just described in vv. 15-28. Mark renders it, "But in those days, after that tribulation" (13:24). The prob...Read More

A.        A Definition of Postmillennialism   “We have defined Postmillennialism as that view of the last things which holds that the Kingdom of God is now being extended in the world through the preaching of the Gospel and the saving work of the Holy Spirit in the hearts of individuals, that the world eventually is to be Christianized, and that the return of Christ is to occur at the close of a long period of righteousness...Read More

There was in the church at Pergamum a strange and unacceptable paradox, an inconsistency that Jesus simply will not tolerate, then or now. Let’s not forget where they lived. Whereas it is true that “the whole world lies in the power of the evil one” (1 John 5:19b), Pergamum was especially vulnerable to Satan’s influence. In some sense, as previously noted, this was his city. Pergamum was the center of his authority, the place of his throne, the f...Read More

Why does the Amillennialist reject the Premillennial interpretation of Scripture? In my own case, further study of what the NT said would happen in conjunction with the second coming/advent of Christ led me to conclude that a post-Parousia millennial reign upon an earth still under the influence of sin, corruption, and death was impossible. I will now briefly examine those texts.   1.         1 Corinthians 15:22-28   ...Read More

Unfortunately, the discussion of this passage has been muddled by statements such as: “The premillennial interpretation of Revelation 20 is superior because it is literal, whereas the amillennial interpretation spiritualizes, and therefore dishonors, God’s Word.” Suffice it to say, in the words of Arthur Lewis, that   "the essential and concrete aspects of the text may not be 'spiritualized' out of existence. The martyred and enthroned saints are...Read More

Although grace is surely amazing, it is also subject to distortion, especially by those who use it to excuse loose and licentious behavior (see Galatians 5:13; Jude 4). The justification comes in a variety of forms. For example: “If all my sins have been forgiven, they are now of little consequence.” Or again: “If I can’t be saved by works, I need not be concerned with their absence in my life.” Still others say: “If Jesus has set...Read More

We now come to the focal point of the eschatological hostilities which divide Premillennialists from Amillennialists, namely, the meaning of the “first resurrection”. Although for many years a PM, I am now persuaded that Rev. 20:4-6 is concerned exclusively with the experience of the martyrs in the intermediate state. Notwithstanding their death physically for disobedience to the beast, they live spiritually through faith in the Lamb. Although a number of AMs...Read More

I suggested in the previous meditation that purity often comes with a hefty price tag. It may cost us “good feelings” and appear to be less than “loving” when we insist on repentance and moral rectitude. There’s no way around the fact that “peace” and “harmony” may suffer when we are committed to living out the ethical implications of the gospel of grace. But, as I said, it’s a price we must be willing to pay. ...Read More

It is one thing to offer a critique of a cherished and widely held view of the millennium. It is something else to construct in its place a cogent and persuasive alternative. In the minds of many PMs this has been the principal deficiency in the vast majority of amillennial treatments of eschatology. Whether or not this criticism is justified, I offer this lesson as an attempt to supply what PMs insist has been conspicuous by its absence: an amillennial explanation of th...Read More

The “white stone” in Revelation 2:17, given to those who “conquer” or “overcome,” has been subjected to as many differing interpretations as have the “two witnesses” of Revelation 11. That doesn’t mean we are hopeless in our efforts to understand what Jesus meant, but it does suggest that we should be cautious and avoid dogmatism, regardless of whichever view we ultimately embrace. Some argue that the white stone sig...Read More

This chapter is generally the subject of more interpretive disagreements than any other in the book of Revelation. It is also one of the more important chapters in determining the overall purpose of the book. Vv. 1-2 Let’s begin by noting the more popular interpretations not only of vv. 1-2 but of the entire paragraph (11:1-13). (1)       According to the preterist interpretation, the temple, the altar, and the outer court all refer...Read More

A continuation of part one . . . Vv. 3-4 Here we read of two prophets who, I believe, represent or symbolize the prophetic witness to the world of the entire church during the course of the inter-advent age (the 1260 days; see above). There are several possibilities for who might have served as models for the “two witnesses”, among which I mention: ·Enoch and Elijah – This view is based on the belief that Enoch (Gen. 5:24) and Elijah (2 Kin...Read More

Many postmillennialists and even some amillennialists agree with premillennialists that Paul is indeed affirming a future restoration of ethnic Jews to salvific blessing and favor. Of course, neither postmillennialists nor amillennialists who hold to this interpretation envision Israel as a second people of God, separate from the church (nor, for that matter, do some premillennialists). They insist that the salvation of the nation as a whole will not be for the purpose o...Read More

Consider this challenge that I regularly put to myself and now put to you. Recall to mind the early days of your Christian life, perhaps the first year or so after your conversion. Do you remember the zeal for God and fascination with all things biblical you felt in the wake of saving grace? Think back on your evangelistic zeal and the courage you displayed in sharing your faith with unsaved family members and friends. Think back on the time and energy expended in servic...Read More

We are now prepared to examine vv. 25-27 in which are found the most important statements in Romans 11. It is here that the exegetical and theological battle is waged in all its fury. We begin with Paul’s declaration in v. 25 that “a partial hardening has happened to Israel.” As it turns out, this is one of the few statements on the meaning of which almost all agree. Israel’s hardening “in part” does not refer to the degree or time bu...Read More

How tragic, after reading of the splendid qualities in Thyatira, to discover that moral compromise was present in the church. “I have this against you,” said Jesus, “that you tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess and is teaching and seducing my servants to practice sexual immorality and to eat food sacrificed to idols” (Revelation 2:20). John Stott put it bluntly: “In that fair field a poisonous weed was being allowed ...Read More

I’m constantly stunned by the gracious and longsuffering character of our Lord Jesus Christ. Listen to his words in the letter to the church at Thyatira: “I gave her time to repent, but she refuses to repent of her sexual immorality. Behold, I will throw her onto a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her I will throw into great tribulation, unless they repent of her works, and I will strike her children dead” (Revelation 2:21-23a).  What a...Read More

Our Lord clearly states that the casting of Jezebel on a sickbed and the infliction of her children with great tribulation, to the point of physical death itself, will be an unmistakable sign to all that nothing escapes his gaze or slips in beneath the radar, so to speak. But how does Christ’s judgment against the unrepentant reveal to all Christians everywhere that he has exhaustive and altogether accurate knowledge of the hearts and minds of everyone? Look again...Read More

How is it that this woman called “Jezebel” came to exert such incredible power over the lives of Christians in Thyatira? What accounts for the authority she possessed to convince the followers of Jesus to abandon their commitment to ethical purity and engage in sexual immorality and other forms of compromise with the surrounding culture?   There’s no indication that she held an ecclesiastical office. She wasn’t an Elder or Pastor or Apostle...Read More

One of the more divisive issues in biblical eschatology is the subject of the people of God. What precisely is the relationship between Israel and the Church? Revelation 7, with its portrayal of the 144,000 and the Innumerable Multitude goes a long way in answering that question. We are concerned with three issues in Revelation 7. First, what is the relationship of chapter seven to the structure of the book? Second, who are the 144,000 and what significance to do they h...Read More

Much of the Church today is suffering from an advanced case of what I call spiritual osteoporosis. It’s not widespread throughout the “body” of Christ, but is concentrated along the spine. What I have in mind is the Church’s loss of its theological backbone! We see this in any number of ways. For example, some have begun to fudge on the ethical status of homosexuality. Fearful of being labeled “homophobic,” they’ve adopted a &ld...Read More

So, who are the 144,000? Are they different from or one and the same with the innumerable multitude? (1) Most dispensational, pre-tribulational, premillennialists, i.e., most who read the book in a futurist sense, understand the 144,000 to be a Jewish remnant saved immediately after the rapture of the Church. Many then argue that, in the absence of the Church, they serve as evangelists who preach the gospel during the Great Tribulation. In other words, these are literal...Read More

John’s focus in this chapter is the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, at the time of his parousia (or, “presence”) or second coming. In conjunction with that day John also describes the wedding feast of the Lamb and the destruction of his enemies at the so-called “war” of Armageddon. vv. 1-2 We must first determine who this “great multitude” is in heaven shouting praise to God. Some argue that t...Read More

I know that’s a provocative question, perhaps even incendiary to some of you! But let’s look closely at the promised reward in this letter to the church in Thyatira: “The one who conquers and who keeps my works until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron, as when earthen pots are broken in pieces, even as I myself have received authority from my Father. And I will give him the morning star. He ...Read More

This is a continuation of the study of Revelation 19, picking up with v. 11 . . . vv. 11-16 Here we see what is undoubtedly a vivid and highly symbolic portrait of Jesus at his parousia (second coming). Following is a list of each declaration. ·One sitting upon “a white horse” (v. 11). This rider, obviously Jesus, is not to be identified with the rider who is the first seal judgment in 6:2. The latter is likely a satanic parody of Jesus. ·H...Read More

One of the more important lessons I’ve learned through the years, especially when it comes to church life, is that seeing isn’t always believing. I don’t want to sound cynical or pessimistic, but you shouldn’t always trust your eyes. What I’m trying to say is that I’m not as impressed as I used to be when I hear of a church with a surging membership, multi-million dollar budget, expansive facilities, and a reputation for programs, mini...Read More

I can’t think of anything more important for the understanding of eschatology than the biblical doctrine of the new heavens and new earth. One of the greatest misconceptions of amillennialism, of which I am an advocate, is that it empties the Old Testament land promises of all meaningful content, either by spiritualizing a wide array of passages or interpreting them as figurative of some ethereal existence in the clouds. Nothing could be further from the truth. Ant...Read More

2.            the description of the city – 21:9-22:5 Three introductory observations: First, the description of the city in 21:9-22:5 is largely based on the vision of the temple and city in Ezek. 40-48. What will become clear is that the consummate fulfillment of the latter is found in the former. Second, there is an obvious contrast between the vision of the harlot in Rev. 17 and that of the bride in R...Read More

If the surrounding culture declares that we are alive but Jesus says we are dead (Rev. 3:1), something’s seriously wrong with our standard of success. Our discernment is seriously flawed. Worse still is when we ourselves think we’re alive but in fact are dead. All too often, the criteria by which we judge success and the criteria employed by God are vastly at odds. What constitutes good, effective, Christ-exalting ministry is one thing to the world, even the ...Read More

The Epilogue – 22:6-21  These verses serve as a formal conclusion to the book and are linked with Rev. 1:1-3 by a number of verbal similarities. Note, however, that whereas the introduction to Revelation pronounced a blessing on all who obey the words of this book, the conclusion declares a curse on all who disobey. A.The Testimony of the Angel – 22:6-15 1.the conclusion introduced – 22:6-7 Cf. Rev. 1:1-3. Of special interest here is the refere...Read More

Let’s get right to the point. This letter to the church in Sardis ought to alert us to the fact that a church can be confident of its place in the community, increasing in membership, energetic in its religious activities, liquid in its financial assets, fervent in its outreach to the broader culture, and yet dead! I fear it is precisely those reading this who say, in response, “Yes, but that’s not us,” who are particularly in jeopardy. It is the...Read More