PMW 2021-023 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.
As noted in the two previous postings, Jay Rogers and I will soon be re-publishing Milton S. Terry’s commentary on Revelation. As Christians who are deeply interested in Revelation, it is with great pleasure that we will soon be releasing it as a stand-along commentary. Since its initial composition in 1898, it has always appeared as a part of his larger volume dealing the leading apocalyptic passages in Scripture: Biblical Apocaclyptics: A Study of the Most Notable Revelations of God and of Christ in the Canonical Scriptures.. The commentary was the largest chapter in that work, consuming almost fifty percent of the book: 228 pages of its 512 pages.
Terry’s The Apocalypse of John is deeply-exegetical, tightly-argued, and clearly-presented. It has been in print for many years due to its strength and clarity. He makes a powerful case for the preterist approach to Revelation. And in doing so, he presents some important angles that are often overlooked even by preterist interpreters of the book. It is time for Terry’s book to gain a contemporary hearing in the ongoing Revelation debates.
Some of the distinctive elements in Terry’s approach to Revelation are the following.
First, his commentary is a distinctively preterist work. Preterism holds that the great majority of the prophesied events in Revelation were future when John wrote them, but now are in our past. The word “preterist,” in fact, means “passed by.” Most modern-day interpreters view Revelation as futurist in orientation. But John was writing to a first-century church which desperately needed Revelation’s message about events “which must soon take place” (Rev. 1:1; 22:6).
Before Jerusalem Fell Lecture
DVD by Ken Gentry
A summary of the evidence for Revelation’s early date. Helpful, succinct introduction to Revelation’s pre-AD 70 composition.
See more study materials at: www.KennethGentry.com
Second, he carefully presents the case for the early dating of Revelation. That is, he shows that it was written prior to the AD 70 destruction of the temple by the Romans. This view was the dominant understanding in the 1800s and the opening decades of the 1900s. Though it lost its dominance in the mid-twentieth century, nevertheless in the past thirty years it has started to press its way back into scholarly discussions.
Third, he recognizes that Revelation’s theme verse in Revelation 1:7 speaks of Christ’s judgment-coming against Israel. This is against the view of most commentators today — including preterist ones — who view it as referring to the Second Coming at the end of history. But Terry presents some strong evidence for position, which deserves a hearing today.
Fourth, he highlights the important fact that the phrase “the earth [Gk., tes ges]” may and should often be translated “the land,” i.e., the Promised Land. This observation throws a flood of light on the whole theme of Revelation and highlights its strong Israel-judgment focus. Most preterist commentators hold that John is focusing almost equally on two first-century enemies of God’s people, Jerusalem and Rome.
Fifth, he presents a strong case for the beast of Revelation being the Roman emperor Nero. Nero was the first imperial persecutor of the early church. He was encouraged to attack the church partly due to the instigation of the Jews, who vehemently opposed Christianity.
Sixth, he argues that the Babylonian harlot is an image of corrupt, first-century Jerusalem. He does this rather than applying it to ancient Rome or some distantly future phenomenon. By doing this, he is showing how the theme verse applies to the Jews who rejected Jesus as their Messiah. He believes John picked up the harlot imagery from Old Testament denunciations of Israel’s idolatrous sins.
Seventh, he is postmillennial in his eschatology. Like preterism, postmillennialism was once dominant in the past (1600s-early 1900s). Postmillennialism and the preterist approach to Revelation fit together nicely, thus encouraging the simultaneous rising of the fortunes of both.
The Book of Revelation and Postmillennialism (Lectures by Ken Gentry)
In the first of these three 50-minute lectures Gentry explains Revelation’s judgments to show they do not contradict postmillennialism. In the next two lectures he shows how the Millennium and the New Creation themes strongly support the gospel victory hope found in postmillennialism.
See more study materials at: www.KennethGentry.com
Eighth, he recognizes that though Revelation is greatly concerned with first-century events, it is not focused exclusively on those events. He points out that in the last chapters of Revelation John glances to the distant future. This shows the long-term consequences of the first-century events prophesied in Revelation.
Terry presents a powerful preterist interpretation, with which we agree. Though we do not agree with every position that he presents, we will not “correct” him with our own views. So the reader will have the exegetical arguments as Terry originally presented them. Our views can be found elsewhere.