PMW 2023-031 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.

This is the final installment in a three-part study of seven “letters” to the seven churches in Revelation. I have been arguing that they are not really letters at all. Rather they are judgment oracles. This fits perfectly with the preterist understanding of Rev as a covenant lawsuit against Israel. In the previous article I offered the first two arguments for the oracular nature of these seven messages. In this article I will complete my argument by presenting my final three points.

Third, the oracles are a part of the crucial, introductory vision of the Son of Man and even flesh out this visionary unit that extends from 1:9 all the way through to 3:22. The oracles are not separate, free-standing material. Unfortunately, this is obscured by the modern chapter divisions imposed upon the text. But we can see the unified nature of this larger section from several lines of evidence:

(1) The initial portion of the vision of the Son of Man ends with a statement regarding the seven churches (1:20). Then it immediately begins presenting oracles to those very churches: “to the angel of the church in Ephesus write” (2:1a). This by itself should compel us to recognize this material as a related unit.

(2) The Son of Man in the vision is repeatedly declared to be the very one who is charging John to write (1:11, 12, 17, 19; cp. 1:3): this continuing charge is carefully repeated in introducing each of the seven oracles (2:1a, 8a, 12a, 18a; 3:1a, 7a, 14a). Thus, John is evidently still in the presence of the visionary Son of Man and continues to hear him speaking (which speaking began in 1:12) in the authoritative oracles: “the One who . . . says” (2:1b; cp. 2:8b, 12b, 18b; 3:1b, 7b, 14b).

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:

(3) The descriptions of the Son of Man in the vision (1:12–20) are repeatedly brought into the oracles to underscore the fact that he is the one who continues to speak. For instance, in 2:2 he is presents himself as “the One who holds the seven stars” which reflects the vision of 1:20. In 2:8b he calls himself “the first and the last” which is based on 1:17c. And so on (see more on this below).

(4) John provides no internal break, no textual clue to suggest that he has left his visionary experience (1:10). That is, we do not hear such transitional statements as “after these things” (4:1; 7:9; 15:5; 18:1; 19:1). Interestingly though, the actual name “Jesus” or “Christ” is never given in the oracles, though it appears in 1:1, 2, 5, 9; 11:15; 12:10, 17; 14:12; 19:10; 20:4, 6; 22:16, 20, 21)

Thus, regarding the importance of the seven oracles, we must recognize that they are a part of the all-important, opening vision of the risen, death-conquering Christ who will dominate the entire story of Rev. They are therefore important as introductions to the judgment/salvation visions to follow. All of this “is very important” in that by recounting “this vision as he does at the beginning of the work” he “established, in the customary fashion of Judaeo-Christian rhetoric, his ēthos as a prophet — the trustworthiness of character that Aristotle identified as perhaps the most effective source of rhetorical proof” (John Kirby).

Fourth, as historically-focused oracles they anchor Rev in the first century, which we should expect in light of John’s near-term indicators (1:1, 3; 22:6, 10). John opens his book with a vision of the Son of Man (1:12–22) among those particular churches (1:4, 11, cp. 2:1, 8, 12, 18; 3:1, 7, 14), then immediately applies this vision to the real circumstances of his original audience. The preterist approach sees these messages as providing strong evidence for its understanding of the overall point of Rev.

Fifth, the presence of the oracles as microcosms of John’s larger story is also helpful for our understanding a very practical matter: the relationship of the seven churches to the drama therein. After all, the redemptive-historical preterist sees the main focus of Rev to be on Israel’s AD 70 judgment (1:7). If John is writing to Asia Minor churches about the approaching fall of Jerusalem over 450 miles across the Mediterranean Sea to the southeast how is Rev important for its original recipients? I would point out the following.

The Beast of Revelation (246pp); Before Jerusalem Fell: Dating the Book of Revelation (409pp); Navigating the Book of Revelation: Special Studies on Important Issues (211pp).

In the Logos edition, these volumes by Ken Gentry are enhanced by amazing functionality. Important terms link to dictionaries, encyclopedias, and a wealth of other resources in your digital library. Perform powerful searches to find exactly what you’re looking for. Take the discussion with you using tablet and mobile apps. With Logos Bible Software, the most efficient and comprehensive research tools are in one place, so you get the most out of your study.

For more study materials, go to:

John writes to the seven churches of Asia but through them to all the churches: note that the Son of Man “holds the seven stars” in his hand (2:1), each of the oracles speaks to “the churches” (2:7, 11, 17, 29; 3:6, 13, 22), and at one place we specifically hear that “all the churches” are to learn from the experience of one (2:23). Thus, “these seven churches have been singled out to complete the sublime number that figures so prominently in the symbolism of the book, and thus to epitomize the first-century church as a whole” (Kirby). The smaller story of the seven churches plays out on the larger canvas of the judgments closing out the old covenant in the fall of Jerusalem and the permanent collapse of the Jewish temple as a redemptive-historical act in establishing the new covenant. The larger story to unfold in Jerusalem is not irrelevant to the local churches far away in Asia Minor.

THE TWO AGES AND OLIVET (advertisement)Goodbirth logo color
I am currently researching a study of the Two-Age structure of redemptive history. My starting point is based on the disciples’ questions to Jesus in Matthew 24:3. Much confusion reigns among those unacquainted with the Two-Age analysis of history, which was promoted by Jesus (Matt. 12:32; Mark 10:29-30) and by Paul (Gal. 1:4; Eph. 1:21). The Two Ages are not the old covenant and the new covenant, but world history since the fall and the consummate order following the Second Coming and the Final Judgment.

If you would like to support me in my research, I invite you to consider giving a tax-deductible contribution to my research and writing ministry: GoodBirth Ministries. Your help is much appreciated!

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  1. Mr.Mike April 19, 2023 at 8:17 pm

    Hi Mr. Ken
    So the 2 ages are not being talked about in Hebrews?
    A Better History?
    A better Country?
    With a better high priest?
    So at the Appointed Time in history?
    Was He a Mediator of a New History?
    Or a New Covenant Age?
    What is not Better about better?
    More Better ,even.
    Or did the Perfect Come then. Not now.
    But Now Once At The End Of The AGES or History?
    To die once!
    To those (who eagerly wait for Him). Yes? Those people are _________? Eager. Then? Now?
    He WILL and did? Apart from sin.
    Wow. For Salvation!!!!
    Are THOSE He is talking to in Hebrews?
    Or is He talking to anyone who wants Him. Eagerly. For Salvation.?

  2. Kenneth Gentry April 25, 2023 at 6:08 am


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