Category Archives: Interpretation

WHAT DO REVELATION 1:1 AND 1:3 MEAN? (5)

PMW 2020-064 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.

This is my fifth study in a survey of the scholarly options for interpreting the introductory verses of Revelation. Those verses are Revelation 1:1, 3. And they 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 have looked at seven options among scholars. We are now ready for three more!

8. John speaks from the future

George Beasley-Murray emphasizes “imminence” (Revelation, 168) and “no more delay” (170) but not for the original audience. Actually “in his vision John stands near the close of the period of messianic judgments” (Beasley-Murray 170). Thus, he sees John as speaking from within the future context when the events are about to explode on the seen. Continue reading

WHAT DO REVELATION 1:1 AND 1:3 MEAN? (4)

PMW 2020-063 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.

I am continuing a survey of the various interpretations of the first three verses of Revelation. These are crucial for understanding what John’s mysterious book involves. Those 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 two more interpretations that are found among scholars. And dispensationalists.

6. The events are always imminent

The events are imminent in that they could theoretically occur at any minute. Premillennialist Robert Mounce (Revelation, 41) takes this approach: “John writes that the events that constitute the revelation must ‘soon take place.’ That almost 2,000 year of church history have passed and the end has not yet come poses a problem for some. . . . The most satisfying solution is to take the expression ‘must soon take place’ in a straightforward sense, remembering that in the prophetic outlook the end is always imminent. Time as a chronological sequence is of secondary concern in prophecy. This perspective is common to the entire NT.” Continue reading

MORE ON THE DISCIPLES’ CONFUSION

PMW 2020-056 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.

Over the past few months I have written several articles on the disciples’ questions to Jesus in Matthew 24:3. Their two questions are: “Tell us, [1] when will these things happen, and [2] what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?” Thus, their two questions are asking “when” (Gk. pote) and “what” (Gk. ti). Understanding their questions and their state-of-mind is important for us if we ourselves want to understand the Olivet Discourse (known in academia as the “Eschatological Discourse”).

In those earlier articles I pointed out that the disciples were frequently confused at Jesus’ teaching, which often caused them to misunderstand it. I noted that their tendency to confusion explains why they ask him about his “coming [Gk.: parousia] and the end of the age [Gk.: sunteleias tou aiōnos],” when he prophesies the destruction of the temple (Matt. 24:2). They obviously assumed that the temple’s destruction would occur at his Second Advent at the end of history. And they were mistaken in this Jew-centric supposition. Continue reading

REVELATION AND LITERALISM? (2)

Literal butterflyPMT 2016-031 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.

This is part two of a two-part study on the question of literalism in Revelation. Despite televangelists and rapture-predictors, Revelation is not to be interpreted literalistically. I examined three reasons why this is so in the previous article. I now would like to present one final argument against literalism:

Even if we set aside John’s own opening announcement regarding the symbolic nature of his prophecy, and his explanation of his very first vision, and his interpretive practice elsewhere in Revelation, we should avoid literalism on the basis of common sense. Consider the following absurdities that would arise on the literalist approach. Continue reading

REVELATION AND LITERALISM (1)

Literal hand soapPMW 2020-043 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.

By all accounts, Revelation is a difficult book. But naive Christians make it even more difficult than it needs be. A serious problem tripping up the modern would-be interpreter is the assumption of literalism when approaching Revelation. Too many contemporary prophecy students resist the symbolic approach to John’s glorious prophecy. “Literalism!” becomes the rally cry for those who believe Revelation lies in our approaching future.

I would point out that despite the popular claim of literalism: no one takes Revelation literally. We take it as God’s truth, to be sure. And it certainly deals with factual historical events. But we cannot take it as God’s truth in literal form. Let us see how this is so. Continue reading

DISPENSATIONALISM’S LITERALISM FRAUD (1)

PMW 2020-037 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.

Dispensationalists pride themselves in being consistent literalists. Not only so, but they warn that taking a non-literal approach in Scripture involves one in “encroaching liberalism. For instance, Charles Ryrie writes:

Although it could not be said that all amillennialists deny the verbal, plenary inspiration of the Scriptures, yet, as it will be shown later, it seems to be the first step in that direction. The system of spiritualizing Scripture is a tacit denial of the doctrine of the verbal, plenary inspiration of the Scriptures. . . . Thus the allegorical method of amillennialism is a step toward modernism. [Ryrie, The Basis of the Premillennial Faith, 34, 35, 46.]

Alleged literalism is probably one of the most important arguments for keeping dispensationalism alive and well on Planet Earth. It seems so obvious; it takes so little effort to understand. We need to lovingly confront our dispensational friends with a reality check. In this and the next article I will be focusing on dispensationalism’s literlism errors. Continue reading

HISTORICISM, REVELATION, AND THE REFORMATION

Historicism and RevelationPMT 2015-120 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.

My computer is getting lighter as I remove more of the questions that have been sent to me by readers. Today’s question regarding the Book of Revelation, one of my favorite pastimes!

Reader’s question:

You are committed to the Reformed faith, yet you don’t take the historicist approach to eschatology which was widely held among the Reformers. Why do you not follow the Reformers in this part of their theology.

My response:

Thank you for your inquiry. You are correct that I am committed to Reformed theology. However, I differ from the Reformers in that I take a preterist approach to Revelation rather than an historicist approach. I do so for the following reasons: Continue reading