Category Archives: Revelation

THE CONQUERING CHRIST AND THE MILLENNIUM

PMW 2021-009 by Milton S. Terry

Milton Terry (1840–1914) has many valuable insights into the Book of Revelation, some of which highlight his postmillennialism. In this and the next few articles, I will be highlighting some of these. Interestingly, though he rightly notes Revelation’s focus on first-century events, he also recognizes a few brief glances into the distant future (as do I!).

I will be citing the Revelation commentary section of his Biblical Apocalyptics as providing interesting and important insights for postmillennialists. Once it is introduced, all of the following material will be a direct citation from his book, although I have broken it into smaller paragraphs. Older writers (from the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries) apparently saw no need for a paragraph ever to end! And writers even older than Terry, such as John Gill (1697–1771), saw no need for a sentence to end — especially since they enjoyed the use of the semi-colon. Fortunately, they did not follow first century practice of not even having spacing between words so that a word itself would never end! Continue reading

REVELATION’S DATE: EXTERNAL EVIDENCE (2)

PMW 2020-109 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.

As I continue my series on the dating of Revelation, I will present two of the leading external witnesses for the late date: Irenaeus and Origen.

Irenaeus (A.D. 130-202)

Undoubtedly the most commonly used and strongest external objection to the early date of Revelation is the famous statement by Irenaeus (ca. A.D. 180) in book 5 of his Against Heresies. This statement is very early and seems clear and to the point. It occurs at the end of a section in which he is dealing with the identification of Revelation’s “666,” which Irenaeus applies to the Antichrist:

We will not, however, incur the risk of pronouncing positively as to the name of Antichrist; for if it were necessary that his name should be distinctly revealed in this present time, it would have been announced by him who beheld the apocalyptic vision. For that was seen no very long time since, but almost in our day, towards the end of Domitian’s reign.

Nevertheless, several problems reduce the usefulness of this statement for late date advocacy. Continue reading

REVELATION’S DATE: EXTERNAL EVIDENCE (1)

PMW 2020-108 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.

I am continuing a study on the dating Revelation. In this article I will I provide some evidence from church history and tradition. I will begin with the positive indicators for an early date. After that, in the next article I will review the contrary evidence, which is so influential in the late date argument.

The Shepherd of Hermas

1. The Shepherd of Hermas is little known among evangelical laymen today. But in the first three centuries of the Christian era it was so influential that Irenaeus, Origen, Jerome and many others deemed it canonical. [1] It even appears in the Codex Sinaiticus, one of the best preserved ancient copies of the whole Bible.

Virtually all scholars agree that The Shepherd of Hermas draws upon Revelation as the source of its imagery — even late date advocates like H. B. Swete, R. H. Charles, and Robert Mounce. This would demand that Revelation be written, copied, and circulated prior to the composition of the Shepherd. Continue reading

REVELATION’S DATE: INTERNAL EVIDENCE (3)

PMW 2020-107 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.

The final evidence from Revelation’s self-witness that I will mention focuses on the relationship of the Jew to Christianity in Revelation. And although there are several aspects of this evidence, I will just briefly introduce it. We may illustratively refer to two important passages and their implications regarding:

Christianity and Israel

First, when John writes Revelation, by all appearances Christianity is in its early, formative, “Jewish” stage. Initially Christians tended to mingle with the Jews (since most of them were Jewish), considering themselves members of the true Israel, the “continuing Israel,” as it were. Continue reading

REVELATION’S DATE: INTERNAL EVIDENCE (2)

PMW 2020-106 Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.

In Revelation 17:9-10 John records a vision of a seven-headed Beast. In this vision we discover clear evidence that Revelation was written before the death of Nero (June 8, A. D. 68), well before the temple’s destruction in August, A.D. 70:

Here is the mind which hath wisdom. The seven heads are seven mountains, on which the woman sitteth. And there are seven kings: five are fallen, and one is, and the other is not yet come; and when he cometh, he must continue a short space.

Perhaps no point is more obvious in Revelation than this: Rome is here symbolized by the seven mountains. After all, Rome is the one city in history that is recognized for its seven hills: the Palatine, Aventine, Caelian, Esquiline, Viminal, Quirinal, and Capitoline hills. The Roman writers Suetonius and Plutarch refer to the first century festival in Rome called Septimontium, i.e. the feast of “the seven hilled city.” The Coin of Vespasian (emperor A.D. 69-79) pictures the goddess Roma as a woman seated on seven hills. The famed seven hills of Rome are mentioned time and again by ancient pagan writers such as Ovid, Claudian, Statius, Pliny, Virgil, Horace, Propertius, Martial, and Cicero, as well as by Christian writers, such as Tertullian and Jerome. Indeed, “there is scarce a poet that speaks of Rome but observes it.” Continue reading

REVELATION’S DATE: INTERNAL EVIDENCE (1)

PMW 2020-105 Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.

As I open my argument for the early dating of Revelation, I will first engage the internal indicators of time discoverable in Revelation. This engages the evidence from Revelation’s self-witness. In that I hold to the full inspiration and inerrency of Scripture, I am convinced that these are the most fundamental evidences. Later I will consider the external evidence, the material derived from church tradition. Generally, the late-date advocates begin with the evidence from tradition, and the early-date advocates with the evidence from self-witness. I am convinced that the late-date reliance upon external indicators is methodologically flawed in this book containing so many historical and cultural indicators. Continue reading

INTRODUCTION TO REVELATION’S DATE

PMW 2020-104 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.

Although this topic is basically an academic one, its ultimate issue is extremely practical — hence the popular flavor of my presentation. Resolving the question of Revelation’s compositional date is one of the most — if not the most — important issues facing the interpreter. We may see its significance both regarding the interpretive and the practical questions revolving around the book.

Dating and Interpretation

First, interpretively, Revelation’s date exercises a tremendous influence upon its proper understanding. The current majority of biblical scholars is in fundamental disagreement with the majority of the scholars from 75 years ago and earlier. The current opinion — the late-date view — is that John wrote Revelation while in exile during the closing days of the reign of Domitian Caesar, in about A.D. 95 or 96. This contradicts the nineteenth century view — the early-date view — which held that Revelation was written by John prior to the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple in A.D. 70. This position was held by such worthies as B. F. Westcott, F. J. A. Hort, John Lightfoot, Alfred Edersheim, Philip Schaff, Milton Terry, and others. Continue reading