HELP FROM JOHN’S AUDIENCE

PMT 2017-069 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.

In my last article I noted the significance of John’s opening time-indicators for interpreting Revelation. These powerfully demonstrate the preterist (past tense) approach to Revelation. That is, that the vast majority of Revelation’s event lie in our distant past and in John’s approaching future.

If you want to explain Revelation to a friend, the first thing you need to do is have them read the first three verses. Then point out to them the near-term indicators (as per my last article). Then you need to point out to them the fact that he is writing to a real, historical audience who would not be inclined to overlook those indicators.

In this article I will point out the significance of John’s original audience to interpreting his dramatic book. He emphasizes the nearness of his prophetic events, in a way most relevant to his original recipients. In fact, to delay the prophetic events thousands of years would contradict his whole point in writing Revelation.


Four Views on the Book of RevelationFour View Rev
(ed. by Marvin Pate)

Helpful presentation of four approaches to Revelation. Ken Gentry writes the chapter on the preterist approach to Revelation, which provides a 50 page survey of Revelation .

See more study materials at: www.KennethGentry.com


First, John writes to seven historical churches. Immediately after twice declaring the nearness of the events (1:1, 3) we read: “John to the seven churches that are in Asia” (1:4a). In 1:11 and 2:1–3:22 he specifically names the churches. John informs these first century churches of events ‘soon’ (1:1) to come to pass because “the time is near” (1:3). How could they have understood John to really mean that either 2,000 years would elapse before the events broke out or that they would drag on and repeat themselves for 2000 years?

Second, studies by William Ramsey and Colin Hermer show how intimately Revelation addresses those specific churches regarding their histories, settings, and struggles. The seven letters are occasional letters designed specifically for their concerns.

Third, within these letters we also find temporal qualifiers suggesting those churches would experience the shock waves from the events of Revelation (2:5; 2:16; 3:11; 22:12, 20). One of them was “about to” be tried by Satan (2:10; cp. 1:19 Gk.). To another Christ is “coming quickly” in judgment (2:16; cp. 1:1). To still another He promises: “I also will keep you from the hour of testing, that hour which is about to come upon the whole world [oikumene]” (3:10; cp. 1:19 Gk.). Indeed, a church must “hold fast” for awhile in that Christ’s judgment-coming will trans transpire “quickly” (3:11; cp. 1:1).


Great Tribulation: Past or Future?
(Thomas Ice v. Ken Gentry)

Debate book on the nature and timing of the great tribulation. Both sides thoroughly cover the evidence they deem necessary, then interact with each other.

See more study materials at: www.KennethGentry.com


Fourth, John wrote Revelation while these churches were enduring stressful times: “I, John, your brother and fellow partaker in the tribulation and kingdom and perseverance which are in Jesus” (1:9a). Revelation promises quickly to vindicate the martyrs who cry: “How long?” (6:9). The were told “they should rest for a little while longer” (6:10-11; cp. Lk 18:7-8). In fact, later in Revelation, we learn “there shall be delay no longer” (10:6). Yet, on the non-preterist interpretation, their vindication was not after “a little while,” and the events await an enormous delay.

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One thought on “HELP FROM JOHN’S AUDIENCE

  1. howarddouglasking August 25, 2017 at 2:51 pm

    Great stuff! Keep it coming.

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