PMW 2020-062 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.
This is a third installment in my series presenting the various scholarly approaches to John’s all-important opening verses to Revelation. These verses are too easily overlooked by the average Christian trying to get to “the good stuff” about the Beast and the Harlot. But to jump over these is to miss John’s point.
How are we to understand Revelation 1:1 and 3? What else have the scholars attempted with these verses?
These verses read:
1 The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show to His bond-servants, the things which must soon take place; and He sent and communicated it by His angel to His bond-servant John, . . . 3 Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of the prophecy, and heed the things which are written in it; for the time is near.
We are now ready for the fourth and fifth approaches.
4. The events will occur rapidly
The events will unfold rapidly whenever they begin to occur. Dispensationalist scholar John Walvoord (Revelation, 35) understands Rev’s opening comment thus: “That which Daniel declared would occur ‘in the latter days’ is here described as ‘soon’ (Gr. en tachei), that is, ‘quickly or suddenly coming to pass,’ indicating a rapidity of execution after the beginning takes place. The idea is not that the event may occur soon, but that when it does, it will be sudden (cf. Luke f18:8; Acts 12:7; 22:18; 25:4; Rom. 16:20). A similar word, tackus, is translated ‘quickly’ seven times in Rev.” Charles Ryrie (Revelation, 13) also holds this view.
This interpretation does not offer any encouragement whatsoever. If the Church must wait hundreds and hundreds of years before the events occur, what is the significance of their finally arriving rapidly? Besides the soon-ness embodied in this phrase occurs again in other expressions in 1:3, 19, and elsewhere. F. D. Mazzaferri well argues: “Though tachos may connote speed rather than imminence, the former makes little sense in terms of 22:10, or in context with engus. Likewise, Jesus’ promise erchomai tachu, is scarcely intelligible, let alone a motivation for perseverance, except in the sense of imminence.” He even notes that in 1:7 “the pres. tense eloquently speaks of imminence in its own right” (Genre of the Book of Revelation, Mazzaferri, 237).
This book presents a strong, contemporary case in support of the early dating of Revelation. He builds on Before Jerusalem Fell and brings additional arguments to bear.
See more study materials at: www.KennethGentry.com
5. John is speaking of God’s time
The events will occur soon according to the eternal God’s measure of time. Dispensationalist Robert L. Thomas (Revelation, 1:55) recognizes the weakness of Walvoord’s position noting that “to say that relief will come ‘suddenly’ offers no encouragement but to say that it will come ‘soon’ does.” He argues that “when measuring time, Scripture has a different standard from ours. . . . It must be kept in mind that God is not limited by considerations of time in the same way man is (cf. 2 Pet. 3:8).”
Leon Morris (Revelation, 46–47) holds a similar view: “We must bear in mind that in the prophetic perspective the future is sometimes foreshortened. In other words the term may refer to the certainty of the events in question. The Lord God has determined them and he will speedily bring them to pass. But this refers to his time, not ours, to the quality of the time rather than the quantity. With him one day is as a thousand years and a thousand years as one day (2 Pet. 3:8).”
In fact, Henry Alford (Alford’s Greek Testament, 4:545–46) warns that this statement “must not be urged to signify the events of apocalyptic prophecy were to be close at hand.” According to Craig Keener (61) “Revelation functions, therefore, as a “summons to readiness.” Grant Osborne (797) agrees: “to God the period between John’s time and ours still connotes ‘soon.’” See also Ocemenius (22), H. B. Swete (2), Henry Alford (4:535), Marvin Vincent (2:407), A. T. Robertson (283), Robert Mulholland (9), David Hall (11), and Ranko Stefanovic (57).
An Eschatology of Victory
by J. Marcellus Kik
This book presents a strong, succinct case for both optimistic postmillennialism and for orthodox preterism. An early proponent in the late Twentieth-century revival of postmillennialism. One of the better non-technical studies of Matt. 24. It even includes a strong argument for a division between AD 70 and the Second Advent beginning at Matt. 24:36.
For more Christian educational materials: www.KennethGentry.com
How this offers any more encouragement to a severely persecuted Church than Walvoord’s view is not clear. After all, on this view John would be stating: “The events within are imminent, but may in fact take 2000 years before they occur.” In addition I would make a three-fold rebuttal to the possibility that John is speaking of time as does Peter in 2 Peter 3:8:
In the first place, Peter expressly states the fact that God views time differently from man. John does not. We cannot go about interpreting all temporal indicators by God’s estimation of time. Secondly, Peter is talking about God, whereas John is giving directives to men. Peter makes a theological statement regarding God and his perception of time; John provides an historical directive to men regarding their unfolding hardships. We must not confuse theological truth about God with historical directives to men.
Thirdly, Peter is expressly dealing with the objection that certain prophecies have failed because they have yet to occur: “Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts, and saying, ‘Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation’” (2 Pe 3:3–4). Peter is facing the slowness of God’s judgment. John, however, is warning suffering Christians (among which he numbers himself, Revelation 1:9) about what they must expect. He dogmatically declares repeatedly and in various ways that his prophecies “must soon take place” because “the time is near.”
To be continued! I hope you will join me.