IS REVELATION PAST? (1)

Due to the widespread influence of dispensationalism, the preterist approach to Revelation shocks many Christians. So it is important to carefully introduce them to the exegetical rationale for this approach.

I believe we should present a four-fold exegetical justification for preterism in Revelation. These justifications are rooted in interpretive demands derived from the text itself, not from theological predispositions (e.g., anti-premillennialism) or from traditional predilections (e.g., Moses Stuart, Milton Terry).

So I will begin with in this first article with: Temporal Indicators.

The leading preterist evidence derives from John’s temporal delimitations, which he emphasizes by strategic placement, didactic assertion, frequent repetition, and careful variation.

He strategically places them twice in his introduction (1:1, 3) and five times in his conclusion (22:6, 7, 10, 12, 20), thereby bracketing the highly wrought drama within (4:1–22:6). In these didactic passages John employs two terms demanding preterism: tachos / tachu (1:1, cp. 22:7, 12, 20) and eggus (1:3; cp. 22:10). For example:

The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show to His bond-servants, the things which must shortly [tachos] take place. . . . 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 [eggus]. (1:1a, 3)

John immediately impresses upon his reader the nearness of his prophetic events.


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


Lexicographers agree on the temporal significance of tachos in Revelation: The Baur-Arndt-Gingrich-Danker Lexicon (BAGD) notes that en tachei means: “soon, in a short time Lk 18:8; Ro 16:20; 1 Ti 3:14 v.1; Rv 1:1; 22:6; 1 Cl 65:1; shortly Ac 25:4.” Thayer offers the following range of meanings: “quickness, speed and quickly, shortly, speedily, soon,” listing Revelation 1:1 and 22:6 with the “speedily, soon” entries. Abbott-Smith concurs: 1:1 and 22:6 mean “quickly, speedily, soon.”

Greek text editors F. J. A. Hort, Kurt Aland, and Howard Marshall agree. Hort translates it “shortly, soon.” Aland comments: “In the original text, the Greek work used is tachu, and this does not mean ‘soon,’ in the sense of ‘sometime,’ but rather ‘now,’ immediately.” Marshall cites Revelation 1:1 and 22:6 as evidence that the normal use of the phrase en tachei “suggest[s] that soon is the meaning.”

In fact, all English versions translate it either as: “soon” (NIV, RSV, Beck, NRSV, NAB, CEV), “shortly” (KJV, ASV, Weymouth, NEB, NASB, NKJV), or “very soon” (Moffatt, Phillips, Williams, TEV). Tachos obviously indicates temporal brevity elsewhere (e.g., Lk 18:8; Ac 12:7; Ro 16:20). The same is true of its related form tachus (Mt 5:25; Mk 9:39; Lk 15:22; cp. Rev 2:16; 3:11; 11:14; 22:7, 12, 20).

This evidence is reinforced by John’s linking tachos with eggus in the same contexts, as if to provide a two-fold witness (1:1, 3; 22:6, 10). BAGD provides the following entry for eggus: “of time near a. of the future: kairos Mt 26:18; Rv 1:3; 22:10.” The other lexicons cited above concur. TDNT notes that the term means “temporally near at hand” and observes that “like the Synpt., Rev. uses eggus only as a term for the near coming of the kingdom of God. Thus we have ho gar kairos eggus in 1:3; cf. 22:10″ (3:330, 331). The various samples of eggus in the NT all agree: some relating spatial, others temporal nearness (Mt 24:32, 33; 26:18; 13:28, 29; Lk 19:11; 21:30, 31). And again, all translations of Revelation agree; all versions cited above have either “near” or “at hand.”

Perhaps the most interesting proof of the meaning of these terms is the various competing, innovative, counter-intuitive attempts to get around their obvious significance! Indeed, if these terms do not express temporal nearness, what terms could John have used to do so? I am firmly convinced John prophesies the fast approaching destruction of the Temple in A.D. 70.

But there is more. I will engage the second line of evidence in my next article.


The Early Date of Revelation and the End Times: An Amillennial Partial Preterist Perspective
By Robert Hillegonds

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


3 thoughts on “IS REVELATION PAST? (1)

  1. Tim Hanley March 30, 2021 at 4:22 pm

    Always so very helpful insights. Thanks so much.

  2. Robert Cruickshank Jr March 31, 2021 at 5:42 am

    A comparison of Jeremiah 27:16 and 29:10 shows that a lapse of even 70 years is incompatible with the concept of something happening “shortly” or “soon.” How much more so would a lapse of 2,000 years or more be? If Scripture interprets Scripture, John must be speaking of events in the very near future; otherwise, he would have been a “false prophet” by Jeremiah’s standards (Jer. 29:9). Looking forward to the next installment, Ken!

  3. Hercules Collins March 31, 2021 at 3:37 pm

    Hi Dr. Gentry,

    In one of your follow-on posts, could you please address why γίνομαι in “soon *take place* (Rev. 1:1; 22:6)” is in the aorist and not the perfect tense? The intentional use of the aorist in both places seems to indicate a taking place that would soon begin, but would not necessarily conclude or be completed within that same nearness of time, since the aorist denotes an act without respect to duration, or an indefinitely occurring event.

    Thank you.

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