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One might well argue that Daniel 9:24-27 is both the most complex and the most crucial text in either testament bearing on the subject of biblical prophecy. Its complexity is questioned only by those who have not studied it, or perhaps by those whose conclusions concerning its meaning were predetermined by unspoken theological commitments. That Daniel 9 is as crucial as I have suggested can hardly be denied. For example, dispensationalists have largely derived from Danie...Read More

“The Christian understanding of the Old Testament is determined by the christocentric focus by which the New Testament writers interpreted the Hebrew Scriptures. Therefore it is essential for a Christian to discover the principles and procedures according to which Christ and His apostles understood and expounded the writings of Moses, the Psalms, and the Hebrew prophets. Otherwise he is in grave danger of reading the Old Testament prophecies in an unchristian way a...Read More

  “Prophecy can only depict the future in terms which make sense to its present. It clothes the purpose of God in the hopes and fears of its contemporaries” (Richard Bauckham)   It would appear that Rev. 13:1-18 is temporally parallel with 12:6,13-17 and explains in more detail the precise nature and extent of the Dragon’s (Satan’s) persecution of the people of God. In fact, Rev. 13 describes the earthly governmental, political,...Read More

A continuation of part one . . .   v. 3   John sees the beast with a wound on one of his heads. The word translated “wound” (plege) is used throughout Revelation (11x) for the “plagues” that God inflicts on an unbelieving world. In other words, the likelihood is that God is the one who strikes this blow in judgment against the beast. In Rev. 13:14 it is said to have been the “wound of the sword,” recalling Isa. 27:1 whic...Read More

Dispensational premillennialism (hereafter DP) contends that the Bible cannot be properly understood apart from recognizing distinct periods or eras or dispensations in which the unfolding purpose of God and his relationship with mankind are revealed. All dispensationalists recognize at least three dispensations: (1) the period before Pentecost (the age of the Mosaic Covenant); (2) the period between Pentecost and the return of Christ (the Church age); and (3) the period...Read More

Typology   A.        Definition of Typology   The following two definitions together express the essence of typology:   “In typology the interpreter finds a correspondence in one or more respects between a person, event, or things in the Old Testament and a person, event, or thing closer to or contemporaneous with a New Testament writer. It is this correspondence that determines the meaning in the Old Testame...Read More

Symbolism In Rev. 1:1 we are told that God “made known” to John the contents of the book through an angel. Whereas the verb semaino often simply means “make known, report, communicate,” its “more concrete and at least equally common sense is ‘show by a sign,’ ‘give (or make) signs (or signals),’ or ‘signify.’ . . . Semaino typically has this idea of symbolic communication when it is not used in the genera...Read More

Seven Foundational Principles These foundational principles are all interrelated and to some degree overlap. 1. The fulfillment of Israel’s prophetic hope as found in the OT documents is found in the person and work of Jesus Christ and the believing remnant, i.e., the Church, which he established at his first coming. The point is that Jesus Christ and his Church are the focal and terminating point of all prophecy. 2. Whereas the OT saw the consummation of God&rs...Read More

("Let us consider this settled," said Calvin, "that no one has made progress in the school of Christ who does not joyfully await the day of death and final resurrection" [Institutes, 3.10.5].) Biblical eschatology is a vast field of study encompassing far more than merely "end-time" events, or what we customarily speak of as "prophecy". Also included within the discipline of eschatology is the destiny of the individual, most often conceived as entailing 4 phases or expe...Read More

“Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and heed the things which are written in it; for the time is near” (1:3)   It is crucial for every student of the book of Revelation to read and meditate upon this statement in 1:3. Revelation was written in such a way that it should be not only intelligible to any Christian who reads and/or hears its words, but also a blessing to the person who obeys and believes what it says. S...Read More

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Having described the seven trumpet judgments, but before explaining the seven bowls, John inserts three parenthetical chapters (12-14). The purpose of chapter 12 is to provide us with a deeper perspective on the spiritual conflict between the world and the church. It develops, interprets, and expands on a number of the principles already articulated in chapters 1-11. At the heart of its message is that, although Satan is the principal source of the persecution of God&rsq...Read More

B.        War in Heaven and Victory on Earth (12:7-12) Vv. 7-12 are introduced by John to explain why the Woman had to flee into the wilderness (vv. 1-6). The reason why Satan's fury is now unleashed against the church of Jesus Christ on earth is that he has lost his place and position in heaven; his power has been curtailed. vv. 7-10 For the idea of conflict and war between angelic and demonic beings, see especially Daniel 10:1-21. ...Read More

Revelation 10 is one of the less famous portions of the most famous book in the Bible. That is unfortunate, for it tells us much of the eschatological purposes of God, not to mention the mystery of the seven thunders. One other important element to note is the place of the chapter in the structure of the book. We earlier saw that a parenthesis or dramatic interlude (7:1-17) stands between the sixth and seventh seal judgments. Here, too, we have a parenthetical pause or ...Read More

In Revelation 17:1, John was promised that he would be shown “the judgment of the great harlot”. Although he was given a brief glimpse in 17:16, the full story is now told in chapter 18. A working outline for this chapter is as follows: (1) the prediction of Babylon’s fall (vv. 1-3); (2) an exhortation to God’s people to separate from Babylon before judgment comes (vv. 4-8); (3) the lament of those who cooperate with Babylon (the kings of the ear...Read More

Revelation 17:1-19:10 “is a large interpretive review of the sixth and seventh bowls, which have foretold the judgment of Babylon” (Beale, 847). They explain in considerable detail what that judgment entails and how it will be effected. It would appear that what is portrayed in these chapters is again an answer to the prayer of the saints in 6:10 that God judge their persecutors for having shed their blood. vv. 1-2 The language used here is clearly drawn fr...Read More

This is a continuation of part one in which I examined vv. 1-8. vv. 9-11 There are two primary interpretive approaches to this difficult passage: the historical view (within which are two options) and the symbolic view The Historical Interpretation (1)The first approach believes that the city and empire of Rome are principally in view. The “seven mountains” (v. 9) are a reference to the seven hills on which Rome sat (Palatine, Capitol, Aventine, Caelian, ...Read More

Revelation 6:1-17; 8:1-5 There can be no mistake concerning the similarities between the Olivet Discourse (Mt. 24; Mark 13; Luke 21) and the seal judgments of Rev. 6 and 8. Note the following common themes that are addressed in both: Wars – Mt. 24:6 / Rev. 6:2 (1st seal) International strife – Mt. 24:7a / Rev. 6:3-4 (2nd seal) Famines – Mt. 24:7 / Rev. 6:5-6 (3rd seal) Pestilence –Lk. 21:11 / Rev. 6:7-8 (4th seal) Persecution and martyrdom &...Read More

Revelation 6:1-17; 8:1-5 The Fifth Seal – 6:9-11 The fifth seal focuses on the oppression and martyrdom of God’s people. Unlike the first four seals, the fifth says nothing of an angelic decree of judgment or suffering but rather a human response to it. There is theological significance in the fact that believers are portrayed as consciously alive and present in heaven following death on the earth. This is what we typically call the intermediate state (...Read More

The Trumpet Judgments (1) Revelation 8:6-9:21; 11:14-19 One of the fascinating things in Revelation is the way it portrays the experience of the people of God in terms very similar to what transpired for Israel in Egypt and the ten plagues of judgment. For example, 1) prominence of the Red Sea(Ex. 14:1-31) // 1) prominence of glassy sea (Rev. 15:2) 2) song of deliverance (Ex. 15:1-18) // 2) song of deliverance (Rev. 15:2-4) 3) God’s enemy: Pharaoh // 3) God&rs...Read More

The Trumpet Judgments (2) Revelation 8:6-9:21; 11:14-19 The Fifth Trumpet (9:1-11) That the “star” in v. 1 is a personal being of some sort is evident from the fact that the key to the bottomless pit is given to “him” (9:1) and “he” (9:2) opens it. Most believe that the “star” is symbolic of an angel (as was the case in 8:10; cf. 1:20), but is it good or evil? Satan’s judgment is described by Jesus in terms of his ...Read More

The Trumpet Judgments (3) Revelation 8:6-9:21; 11:14-19 First Explanatory Interlude (9:12) In saying that “the first woe has passed” John does not mean “that the events have already transpired in history but only that the vision containing them is now past” (Beale, 505). The Sixth Trumpet (9:13-21) vv. 13-15 Whose “voice” is it that John hears? Is it that of Jesus (as in 6:6), or an angel (as in 16:7), or God the Father? The f...Read More

A close look at the trumpet and bowl judgments will reveal their inescapable similarities. The only place where this is less than explicit is with the first in each series. But even then, there is similarity of language.   (1)        With the first trumpet there is hail and fire mixed with blood thrown to the earth; 1/3 of the earth, trees, grass burned (1/3 denoting a partial or limited judgment). With the first bowl the earth a...Read More

The Bowl Judgments (2) Revelation 16:1-21 The Third Bowl (16:4-7) Similar to the third trumpet in 9:10-11, this bowl judgment figuratively portrays the suffering and death incurred by those who rely on maritime commerce. See the parallel between 16:6 and 18:24 for support. Aune contends that this verse (v. 5) “assumes a cosmos in which the various material elements are presided over by, or are personified by, particular angelic beings" (2”884). However, ...Read More

Recently a friend wrote to me, asking my opinion on whether or not Israel has a biblical right to the Holy Land. That is to say, can Israel appeal to the covenant made with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as grounds for their presence in and possession of the land of Palestine? My friend wondered if the view I espouse is what many have called “Replacement” theology. Let me take this opportunity to address the point. Before I do, two words of introduction are neede...Read More

In Parts One and Two of this study I argued that the New Testament provides us with an expanded definition of what constitutes an “Israelite” or a “Jew”. Or perhaps we might say that the NT provides us with a “Christified” perspective on the people of God. Ethnicity is no longer the primary concern. Having Abraham’s blood in one’s veins is not the primary consideration, but rather having Abraham’s faith in one’s...Read More

There are numerous passages in the NT where OT prophecies concerning Israel’s regathering and restoration are applied to the Church, indicating that the latter is the “true Israel” comprised of both believing Jews and believing Gentiles in whom the promises will be fulfilled. Or, to put it in other terms, the Church does not replace Israel but takes up and perpetuates in itself the believing remnant within the nation as a whole. The “true Israel&...Read More

Virtually all who espouse amillennialism embrace the principles articulated in our lesson on the Historic or Non-Dispensational view of the Kingdom of God. Therefore, what follows is built upon the understanding of the people of God and the kingdom as outlined in that study.   A. A Definition of Amillennialism   Amillennialism (hereafter cited as AM) has suffered greatly in the past because of its seeming negative character. In other words, definitions of A...Read More

The 144,000, Eternal Punishment, and the Wrath of God: Insofar as the majority of chapters 12-13 focused on the persecution of believers by the Dragon (Satan) and his earthly agents, the sea-beast and the land-beast, it is understandable that chapter 14, together with 15:2-4, should describe the reward of the persecuted faithful and the final punishment of their enemies. In other words, “chapter 14 briefly answers two pressing questions: What becomes of those who ...Read More

This is a continuation of part one. vv. 6-7 Is the “gospel” preached by this angel designed to lead to conversion? Or is it simply the declaration of final judgment on those who have rejected it? Those who favor the latter point to what follows: vv. 8-11 proceed to describe the eternal judgment of unbelievers. They also point to the similarity between this angel and his gospel, on the one hand, and the messenger of the three woes in 8:13. Both speak “...Read More

This is the final installment of our study of Revelation 14-15. vv. 12-13 These verses provide a motivation to believers to persevere, whether by pointing to the reality of judgment (v. 12) or to the promise of reward of eternal rest (v. 13). As for the meaning of v. 12, Keener says that “either they should be encouraged because this judgment is their vindication . . ., or they should be exhorted to fill their role as martry-witnesses so that more people may...Read More