IS REVELATION PAST? (4)

PMW 2021-029 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.

I am now drawing to the conclusion of my four-part series on the reasoning behind a preteristic understanding of Revelation. Many deem the great judgments and upheaval of Revelation as undermining the glorious postmillennial hope. This is mistaken in that the bulk of Revelation was fulfilled in the first century. As we have been seeing.

I am now ready for my concluding article with the: Thematic Indicators

As mentioned in previous articles, the theme of divine judgment on Israel fits perfectly with the Olivet Discourse. Virtually all commentators note the remarkable parallels between Matthew 24 and Revelation 6. These parallels are sufficient alone to suggest the same theme, but other correspondences exist.

In Matthew 23 Christ scathingly denounces Israel’s leadership as he approaches the dramatic conclusion of his earthly ministry. He notes that Israel’s present failure is not an isolated event, but the culmination of a lengthy historical pattern — as do Stephen (Ac 7) and Paul (1Th 2:14-16). He concludes his rebuke with a prophecy that Israel will “fill up” (Mt 23:32) her guilt in “this generation” (23:36) when she “persecutes” those Jesus is “sending” (23:34; cp. Ac 8:1; 1Th 2:14-16).


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


Thereupon, Jesus weeps over Jerusalem (23:37), declares her temple “desolate” (23:38), and ceremoniously departs from it (24:1a). When the disciples express confusion at his rejection of the temple (24:1b), He prophesies its utter destruction (24:2). This specific prophecy prompts the disciples’s questions about the time of this judgment (24:3). Jesus responds with his Olivet Discourse. The first portion of the discourse (24:2-34) focuses particularly on the temple (Mt 24:2) in Judea (v. 16) during that “this generation” (v. 34),1 just as John’s Revelation focuses on the Jews (1:7; 2:9; 3:9) and the temple (11:1-8) in the near future (1:1, 3; 22:6, 10). As noted above, both John and Jesus merge Zechariah 12:10 and Daniel 7:13 in this context of approaching judgment upon Israel (Mt 24:30; Rev 1:7). Both prophecies warn of A.D. 70.

Furthermore, several other NT passages warn of the Jerusalem’s judgment in A.D. 70:

“Truly I say to you, there are some of those who are standing here who shall not taste death until they see the kingdom of God after it has come with power” (Mk 9:1).

“The Jews, who both killed the Lord Jesus and the prophets, and drove us out. They are not pleasing to God, but hostile to all men, hindering us from speaking to the Gentiles that they might be saved; with the result that they always fill up the measure of their sins. But wrath has come upon them to the utmost” (1Th 2:15-16).

“Not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more, as you see the day drawing near” (Heb 10:25).

“You too be patient; strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand” (Jas 5:8-9).

“The end of all things is at hand; therefore, be of sound judgment and sober spirit for the purpose of prayer” (1Pe 4:7).

Keys to Book of Revelation 2

This all fits well with an AD 70 focus. This all supports the preterist analysis of Revelation.


Keys to the Book of Revelation (DVDs by Ken Gentry)

Provides the necessary keys for opening Revelation to a deeper and clearer understanding.

See more study materials at: www.KennethGentry.com


IS REVELATION PAST? (3)

PMW 2021-028 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.

This is my third installment on the question of the evidence that Revelation was fulfilled in the first century. As surprising as this conclusion is for the modern evangelical, the proof is in Revelation itself. In this article I will consider the Historical Indicators for preterism.

I agree with the Puritan Talmudic scholar, John Lightfoot: Revelation appears to prophesy Christ’s judgment upon the Jews in A.D. 70. John’s opening statement of purpose (1:7), the seven letters (2:9; 3:9), and the body of Revelation (4-19; e.g., 7:1-8; 11:1-8) all reflect this truth.

Just after mentioning the nearness of the events (1:1, 3) and just before alluding to the dire circumstances of his original audience (1:9), verse 7 warns: “Behold he comes with the clouds, and will see him every eye and those who him pierced, and will wail over him all the tribes of the land. Yes, amen” (Alfred Marshall, The Interlinear Greek-English NT; cp. Robert Young, Literal Translation). Though this sounds like a Second Advent reference, the following evidence points to A.D. 70.

Coming with the Clouds

Cloud-coming language often speaks of historical divine judgments. For instance, Isaiah 19:1a warns: “An oracle concerning Egypt: See, the LORD rides on a swift cloud and is coming to Egypt” (cp. Ps 18:7-15; 104:3; Joel 2:1,2; Na 1:2ff.; Zep 1:14,15). This speaks of the Assyrian king Esarhaddon conquering Egypt in 671 B.C. As Young notes: “The scene does not necessarily suggest that the Lord comes from the Temple at Jerusalem nor from heaven, but merely that He comes as a judge” (Isaiah, 2:14), i.e., providentially, not personally.

Interestingly, John follows Jesus in merging Zechariah 12:10 and Daniel 7:13. Like John, Jesus mentions the “coming on the clouds” (cp. Mt 24:29-30) against Israel (Mt 23:36-24:2, 16). And like John, Jesus ties the events to the near future: “all these things shall come upon this generation” (Mt 24:34).

Those Who Crucified Christ

Christ’s judgment-coming is against: “they who pierced him.” Jesus blames the Jews for his death: “Christ began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed” (Mt 16:21; cp. Mt 20:18-19; 21:33-43; Mk 8:31; Lk 9:22). The apostles also lay the covenantal blame for his crucifixion upon Israel: “Then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified” (Ac 4:10a; cp. Jn 19:5-15; Ac 2:22, 23, 36; 3:14, 15; 4:8-10; 5:30; 10:39; 1Th 2:14-16). Revelation 1:7 must refer to the first century in that those who “pierced him” are now long since deceased.


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The Tribes of the Land

This judgment brings mourning upon “all the tribes of the land” (1:7; Marshall’s Interlinear). These “tribes” (phyle) must be the tribes of Israel (cf. Mt 19:28; Lk 22:30). TDNT notes that the Septuagint “with few exceptions . . . has phyle, so that this becomes a fixed term for the tribal system of Israel” (9:246). Revelation clearly mentions those Jews who were saved out from “the tribes” of Israel (7:4-8; cp. 21:12); and John sets these over against other “tribes and peoples” beyond Israel (7:9; cp. 11:9).

What is more, John associates these “tribes” with “the land” (tes ges), the well-known Promised Land (cp. Lk 21:23). As Edersheim observes: “Palestine was to the Rabbis simply ‘the land,’ all other countries being summed up under the designation of outside the land.”1 Indeed, the OT mentions “the tribes” and “the land” together in numerous instances (e.g., Ge 49:16; Nu 26:55; Jos 14:1; 19:51; Eze 45:8; 48:29).

In the seven letters John specifically mentions the defection of the Jews from God. He even informs the churches that Christ will vindicate them by judging the Jews:

• “I know your tribulation and your poverty (but you are rich), and the blasphemy by those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan.(2:9)

• Behold, I will cause those of the synagogue of Satan, who say that they are Jews, and are not, but lie, behold, I will make them to come and bow down at your feet, and to know that I have loved you.” (3:9)2

Surely this humiliation of the Jews was in the lifetime of the recipients of Revelation — in A.D. 70 when the Jews were “cast out” (Mt 8:10-12) and the kingdom was given to the gentiles (Mt 21:40-43).

The Temple and Holy City

Revelation expressly mentions the coming destruction of the temple, and with language drawn from the Olivet Discourse.

“Jerusalem will be trampled on by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled” (Lk 21:24b).

“But exclude the outer court; do not measure it, because it has been given to the Gentiles. They will trample on the holy city for 42 months” (Rev 11:2).

Note that both of these passages inform us that the “holy city/Jerusalem” will be “trampled” by the “gentiles.” And both appear in prophecies confined to the short term (1:1, 3; 22:6, 10; Lk 21:31-32). Evidently, these texts are referring to the same events, with John deriving his cue from Christ’s discourse about A.D. 70 (Lk 21:6-7).


Blessed Is He Who Reads: A Primer on the Book of Revelation By Larry E. Ball

A basic survey of Revelation from an orthodox, evangelical, and Reformed preterist perspective. Ball understands John to be focusing on the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple in AD 70. Insightful. Easy to read.

For more Christian studies see: www.KennethGentry.com


Interestingly, the time of the formal imperial engagement of the Jewish War until the destruction of the temple was forty-two months. According to Bruce, after the initial Jewish uprising in A.D. 66, Vespasian “arrived the following spring [A.D. 67] to take charge of operations. . . . Titus began the siege of Jerusalem in April, 70. The defenders held out desperately for five months, but by the end of August, the Temple area was occupied and the holy house burned down, and by the end of September all resistance in the city had come to an end.”3 From Spring A.D. 67 to September A.D. 70, covers a period right at forty-two months. This is a remarkable correspondence which fits relevantly with all the other data.

And now: three down, one more to go! My next article will conclude this series.

IS REVELATION PAST? (2)

PMW 2021-027 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.

In my last article I introduced the first of four arguments for approaching Revelation from the preterist perspective. The first article focused on the temporal indicators that John places in Revelation. Lexically, it is clear that he expected the events to “soon” take place (Rev 1:1) because “the time is near” (Rev 1:3).

But after placing that argument as the foundation stone for the preterist house, we need to notice that there are other indications as well. In this installment I will consider Audience Indicators. Revelation did not fall down out of heaven as book of concepts. It was given in a real, historical context. It is what scholars call, “occasional literature.” That is, it was written regarding a certain occasion, which I believe to be the fall of Jerusalem and the temple in AD 70.

Technical studies on key issues in Revelation, including the seven-sealed scroll, the cast out temple, Jewish persecution of Christianity, the Babylonian Harlot, and more.

Navigating the Book of Revelation: Special Studies on Important Issues

Navigating the Book of Revelation (by Ken Gentry)

Technical studies on key issues in Revelation, including the seven-sealed scroll, the cast out temple, Jewish persecution of Christianity, the Babylonian Harlot, and more.

See more study materials at: www.KennethGentry.com



First, John writes to seven historical churches. Immediately after twice declaring the nearness of the events (1:1, 3) we read: “John to the seven churches that are in Asia” (1:4a). In 1:11 and 2:1–3:22 he specifically names the churches. John informs these first century churches of events ‘soon’ (1:1) to come to pass because “the time is near” (1:3). How could they have understood John to really mean that either 2,000 years would elapse before the events broke out or that they would drag on and repeat themselves for 2000 years?

Second, studies by William Ramsey and Colin Hermer show how intimately Revelation addresses those specific churches regarding their histories, settings, and struggles. The seven letters are occasional letters designed specifically for their concerns.

Third, within these letters we also find temporal qualifiers suggesting those churches would experience the shock waves from the events of Revelation (2:5; 2:16; 3:11; 22:12, 20). One of them was “about to” be tried by Satan (2:10; cp. 1:19 Gk.). To another Christ is “coming quickly” in judgment (2:16; cp. 1:1). To still another He promises: “I also will keep you from the hour of testing, that hour which is about to come upon the whole world [oikumene]” (3:10; cp. 1:19 Gk.). Indeed, a church must “hold fast” for awhile in that Christ’s judgment-coming will trans transpire “quickly” (3:11; cp. 1:1).


Perilous Times: A Study in Eschatological Evil (by Ken Gentry)

Technical studies on Daniel’s Seventy Weeks, the great tribulation, Paul’s Man of Sin, and John’s Revelation.

See more study materials at: www.KennethGentry.com


Fourth, John wrote Revelation while these churches were enduring stressful times: “I, John, your brother and fellow partaker in the tribulation and kingdom and perseverance which are in Jesus” (1:9a). Revelation promises quickly to vindicate the martyrs who cry: “How long?” (6:9). The were told “they should rest for a little while longer” (6:10-11; cp. Lk 18:7-8). In fact, later in Revelation, we learn “there shall be delay no longer” (10:6). Yet, on the non-preterist interpretation, their vindication was not after “a little while,” and the events await an enormous delay.

And there is more! But you will have to wait for the next article in this series.

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


UNDERSTANDING POSTMILLENNIALISM

PMW 2021-025 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.

Postmillennialism is perhaps the easiest eschatological position to misunderstand in our era and therefore inadvertently to misrepresent. Consequently, we must remind our brothers in the debate of postmillennialism’s actual claims. In a Westminster Theological Journal article I wrote a few years ago, I caution non-postmillennialists regarding three faulty assumptions that they must avoid when responding to our eschatological system. And though few competent theologians would intentionally apply these conditions to postmillennialism, I fear that these sometimes lurk unrecognized in the subconscious.

First, postmillennialism neither teaches nor implies universalism. Postmillennialists do not argue that at some point in temporal history each and every individual then living will be saved. Consequently, even at the very height of the postmillennial advance, unbelievers will remain among us, though in a minority status—some as false converts to the faith, others as openly unrepentant resisters. Jesus clearly teaches this in his Parable of the Tares among the Wheat (Matt 13:30), just before declaring the enormous victory of the faith in all the world (Matt 13:31-33). This is a part of the “mysteries of the kingdom” (Matt 13:11): the glorious kingdom of God does not overwhelm the world catastrophically (but grows gradually like a mustard plant and penetrates little-by-little as does leaven) and it will not conquer the world absolutely (but grows to a majoritarian dominance like wheat in the field).


The Truth about Postmillennialism
By Ken Gentry

A group Bible study guide for explaining the optimistic prophetic hope for this world to be accomplished before Christ’s Second Coming. Establishes the postmillennial system in both the Old and New Testaments. Touches on key eschatological issues, such as creation, covenant, interpretive methodolgy, the great tribulation, the Book of Revelation, the Jewish Temple, and more. It presents and answers the leading objections to postmillennialism.Twelve chapters are ideal for one quarter of Sunday School.

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Second, postmillennialism neither teaches nor implies perfectionism. Postmillennialists do not argue that at some point in temporal history Christians then living will be perfected. Despite the worldwide victory of the Christian faith, Christians will remain sinners—sanctified sinners, of course, but redeemed vessels of mercy suffering the complications of indwelling sin. Just as no current evangelical church is perfect, neither will an evangelical world be perfect. But if the majority of the human race were conducting themselves as the average church-going, born-again Christian of today, the world would certainly be a different and much better place—despite this lack of perfection.

Third, postmillennialism neither teaches nor implies satisfactionism. Postmillennialists do not argue that Christ’s people should prefer temporal, earthly conquest through gospel dominion over eternal, heavenly victory in consummational glory. Any believer with even a modicum of spiritual sanctification and biblical understanding must recognize the surpassing glory that awaits him in the resurrected estate. Then—and only then—will we see God face-to-face, experience the transformation of our bodies from mortality to immortality, enjoy freedom from temptation and sin, live forever in blessed circumstances, and be reunited with our saved loved ones. The glory of Christian dominion in the earth pales in comparison to the glory of resurrection majesty in the new earth.

In addition to these three clarifications, postmillennialists endure dissenters reminding us of present world conditions as evidence against our expectations. Consequently, we must insist that our eschatological system be properly defined: nowhere in the definition of postmillennialism do we declare that by the year 2016 we will witness the glorious blessings of worldwide gospel conquest. Until the moment the Lord returns postmillennialism cannot be disproved by evidences from cultural decline and social chaos in the world. Who knows how long God will take to effect the glorious transformation? Just as Christians should not doubt the second coming of Christ because it has not occurred yet (2 Pet 3:4), neither should evangelicals discount the cultural dominion of Christ because it is not full now. All our system requires is that the world be Christianized before the Lord returns—and we do not know when that will be (Matt 24:36; Acts 1:7).


Postmillennialism Made Easy

Postmillennialism Made Easy (by Ken Gentry)

Basic introduction to postmillennialism. Presents the essence of the postmillennial argument and answers the leading objections. And all in a succinct, introductory fashion.

See more study materials at: www.KennethGentry.com


EDITING MILTON TERRY’S COMMENTARY

PMW 2021-024 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.

In my previous three postings I have been noting the significance of Milton Terry’s commentary as I plan to bring it back into print. Thankfully, Biblical Apocalyptics has remained in print over the years and has included “The Apocalypse of John” as a major portion of it. But the published versions have been created by merely scanning the original text, then printing it “as is.” No attempt at resetting the type was engaged. Thus, the quality of reproduction was quite low.

Though we are not changing any of Terry’s positions, we are editing it for a modern readership. In our newly typeset version of Terry’s The Apocalypse of John the reader will find the following improvements. Continue reading

SIGNIFICANCE OF TERRY’S REVELATION COMMENTARY

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. Continue reading