2015-37-Main Body-Apocalypse Commentaries
Ambrose Bierce (On “Revelation”): “a famous book in which St. John concealed all that he knew. The revealing is done by the commentators who know nothing.” (The Devil’s Dictionary)
Since the Reformation era, objections to the authenticity of the Apocalypse have not been raised until a comparatively recent date. For the discussions of the Reformation period, see WEISS : Introduction. American Edn., Vol. II., p. 52.
The objections turn principally upon the dissimilarity between the language, style, spirit, and doctrine of the Apocalypse and of the Gospel and Epistles of John.
On the question of authorship, critics differ, as follows :
Gospel, Epistles, and Apocalypse, all by John : EICHHORN, HENGSTENBERG, EBRARD, LUTHARDT, GODET, ALFORD, ELLICOTT, SALMON, F. W. FARRAR, MEYER, WESTCOTT.
Apocalypse by John, Gospel and Epistles by another : BAUR, SCHWEGLER, ZELLER, K.OSTLIN, HlLGENFELD, DAVIDSON.
Gospel and Epistles by John, Apocalypse by another : SCHLEIERMACHER, LOCKE, CREDNER, BLEEK, EWALD, DE WETTE, NEANDER, DUSTERDIECK.
Neither by John : KEIM, VOLKMAR, SCHOLTEN, HOLTZMANN, PFLEIDERER, HARNACK, WEIZSACKER.
The authorship of the Apocalypse is assigned to JOHN MARK : So HITZIG, WEISSE.
To John the Presbyter : so CREDNER, DEWETTE, BLEEK, EWALD, MANGOLD, DUSTERDIECK.
Anonymous : RENAN, HARNACK, PFLEIDERER.
A small school of critics, headed by EBERHARD VISCHER, 1885, endorsed by HARNACK, has assailed the integrity of the Apocalypse, maintaining that it was written at different dates and shaped by a redactor. Thus VISCHER holds that it was originally Jewish, and that its Christian form is due to a redactor.
WEIZSACKER, 1890, that it was composed partly in the reign of Galba and Vespasian, and partly in that of Hadrian, and that the different parts were combined by a redactor. VOLTER, 1885, that the original Apocalypse by John underwent three revisions, and received three series of interpolations, which he ascribes to the times of Trajan, Hadrian, and Antoninus Pius.
Similarly, PFLEIDERER, 1887. SPITTA, that it was composed of three or four documents : an original Apocalypse, by John Mark, A.D. 60; a Jewish Apocalypse, in the time of Caligula ; and a second Jewish Apocalypse, when Pompey conquered Judaea. Additions of a redactor in the time of Trajan.
For replies to VOLTER and VISCHER, see REUSS : Geschichte der heiligen Schriften des N. T., 6th Edn., 1887. HILGENFELD: Zeitschrift fur wissenschaftliche
The early and commonly accepted tradition that Asia Minor, and particularly Ephesus, was the scene of John’s later labors, was challenged in connection with the attacks on the fourth Gospel. So KEIM, HOLTZMANN, SCHOLTEN, SCHENKEL.
The tradition is maintained by HILGENFELD, RENAN, WEIZSACKER, MANGOLD, VOLTER, LUTHARDT, WEISS, GODET, ALFORD, MEYER, LIGHTFOOT, WATKINS, WESTCOTT, and others.
There are two opinions as to the date : (i) A.D. 69 or 70, soon after Nero’s death; (2) A.D. 96, close of Domitian’s reign.
The former is the prevalent view. So BAUR, DE WETTE, NEANDER, EWALD, BLEEK, DOSTERDIECK, RENAN, REUSS, WEISS, MANGOLD, HOLTZMANN, DAVIDSON, FARRAR, WESTCOTT, LIGHTFOOT, SALMON, VISCHER.
SPITTA places it A.D. 60. This opinion is based largely on the supposed designation of time by the seven heads of the beast, which are assumed to represent different Roman emperors.
Others, as LIGHTFOOT, WESTCOTT, SALMON, maintain the earlier date on linguistic grounds, arguing that the difference between the Greek of the Gospel and that of the Apocalypse can be accounted for, if they are by the same author, only on the supposition of a long interval of time.
The later date is maintained by HOFMANN, LANGE, EBRARD, HENGSTENBERG, ALFORD, ELLIOTT, GODET, MILLIGAN, and GLOAG. W. M. RAMSAY, in his recent work, The Church and the Roman Empire before A.D. 170, 1892, places it A.D. 90.
See VISCHER : Die Offenbarung Johannes eine Jiidische Apocalypse in christlicher Bearbeitung, 1886. VOLTER: Entstehung der Apokalypse, 2d Edn., 1885; Die Offenbarung Johannes keine urspriinglich Judische Apokalypse, 1886. WEISS : Apokalyptische Studien : Studien und Kritiken, 1869. PFLEIDERER : Das Urchristenthum, 1887 ; The Influence of the Apostle Paul on the Development of Christianity, Hibbert Lectures, 1885. WEIZSACKER : Das apostolische Zeitalter, 1892. A. SABATIER : Les Origines litteraires et la Composition de 1’Apocalypse de St. Jean, 1888. SPITTA : Die Offenbarung des Johannes untersucht, 1889. H. HOLTZMANN : Jahrbuch fur protestantische Theologie, 1891. BLEEK : Vorlesungen iiber die Apokalypse, 1862. W. MILLIGAN : The Revelation of St. John : Baird Lectures, 1885. London, 1886.
Imminence in the Book of Revelation
The Revelation — Preterist Interpretation | Gibbon on Neronic Persecution | The Revelation : Which Interpretation? | The Essene War Scroll | Apocalypse : Frontline PBS | Transcript | The End of the World: Revelation | Fausset on Revelation | Western Tradition | Analysis of the Revelation “..through the prevalence of what may be called the “Nero-theory” of the book, the pendulum swung strongly in favor of its composition shortly after the death of Nero, and before the destruction of Jerusalem (held to be shown to be still standing by Revelation 11), i.e. about 68-69 AD. This date was even held to be demonstrated beyond all question.“
G.R. Beasley-Murray (1974)
“Revelation is probably the most disputed and difficult book in the New Testament.” (The Book of Revelation, in R. E. Clements and Matthew Black, eds., New Century Bible (London: Marshall, Morgan, and Scott, p. 5)
Louis Berkhof (1915)
“3. Present day critical scholars are generally inclined to adopt the Praeterist (zeitgeschichtliche) interpretation, which holds that the view of the Seer was limited to matters within his own historical horizon, and that the book refers principally to the triumph of Christianity over Judaeism and Paganism, signalized in the downfall of Jerusalem and Rome. On this view all or almost all the prophecies contained in the book have already been fulfilled (Bleek, Duisterdieck, Davidson, F. C. Porter e. a.).” (New Testament Introduction)
James M. Enfird (1989)
“There are those who want to find in Revelation a final battle that ends all history. If one examines the text carefully, one finds that no such battle is described and that history continues. If someone wishes to believe that there will be a great battle to end all history, that is fine. But do not read that into the text of Revelation; the idea is not there. It is unfair to any text to read into it ideas that were never intended. That is especially true of the biblical writings.” (Revelation for Today: An Apocalyptic Approach, Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, 1989, p. 101-102)
“There are many people who are extremely disappointed to learn that Revelation does not contain a blueprint for the end of the world, the return of Jesus, and all those other concepts that have become so closely identified with the “end-times.” (ibid., p. 128)
William Hurte (1884)
“That John saw these visions in the reign of Nero, and that they were written by him during his banishment by that emperor, is confirmed by Theophylact, Andreas, Arethas, and others. We judge, therefore, that this book was written about A.D. 68, and this agrees with other facts of history.. There are also several statements in this book which can only be understood on the ground that the judgment upon Jerusalem was then future.” (Catechetical Commentary: Edinburgh, Scotland, 1884)
- Barton Payne(1973)
“The opening verses of the Apocalypse speaks of “things which must shortly,en takhei, take place,” i.e. “before long”; for the time is near,” 1:3 (= 22:10). In 22:7 Christ Himself affirms, “Behold, I am coming quickly, takhu” (= 3:11; cf. 22:16), a phrase which could mean “swiftly, all at once”; but “when the advent of Jesus is hailed as a relief, it is no consolation to say that the relief comes suddenly; sudden or not, it must come soon.” (Encyclopedia of Biblical Prophecy: The Complete Guide to Scriptural Predictions; Grand Rapids: Baker Books; p. 601)
J. W. Roberts
“The great city is that one where the witnesses’ Lord was crucified, that is, Jerusalem.” (The Revelation of John, p. 21)
Steve Singleton (1996)
“John clearly states Revelation’s time frame at both the beginning (“soon” [Revelation 1:1] and “the time is near” [v.31] and the end of the prophecy (“soon” [22:6] and “the time is near” [v.10]). “Soon” and “near” for whom? Not for us, but for the original first-century Christian readers in the Roman province of Asia. How could John have made it any clearer that these events would happen to them quickly?” (“Will Christ Return in Stages?” Gospel Advocate 138. p. 31)
N.I.V. Study Bible (1923)
“Revelation was written when Christans were entering a time of persecution. The two periods most often mentioned are the latter part of Nero’s reign (A.D.54-68) and the latter part of Domitian’s reign (81-96).
- C. Torrey(1941)
“There are indeed very obvious reasons why the Apocalypse should now seem to call for drastic alteration, for it cannot be made to fit the present scheme of New Testament dogma. If the Church in its beginnings was mainly Gentile and opposed to Judaism, this Book of Revelation can hardly be understood. It is very plainly a mixture of Jewish and Christian elements, and the hope of effecting a separation of the two naturally suggests itself It is, however, a perfectly futile dream, as the many attempts have abundantly shown. Every chapter in the book is both Jewish and Christian, and only by very arbitrary proceedings can signs of literary composition be formed. The trouble is not with the book, but with the prevailing theory of Christian origins.’ (Documents of the Primitive Church, p. 77.)
“Its reference here to Jerusalem raises the question whether it should be interpreted of Rome in the rest of the book. If so, we must accept the expedient that this section is from a different source, one which equated the great city with Jerusalem (as Dr. Charles). However, there is something to be said for the identification with Jerusalem throughout Rev., one must not too easily assume that the book is directed against Rome rather than the Jews.” (“Revelation,” in Peake’sCommentary on the Bible; p. 1051)
John F. Walvoord (1966)
“Attempts at its exposition are almost without number, yet there continues the widest divergence of interpretation.” (The Revelation of Jesus Christ (Chicago: Moody, 7)
Henry Alford (1868)
“The close connection between our Lord’s prophetic discourse on the Mount of Olives, and the line of apocalyptic prophecy, cannot fail to have struck every student of Scripture. If it be suggested that such connection may be merely apparent, and we subject it to the test of more accurate examination, our first impression will, I think, become continually stronger that the two (being revelations from the same Lord concerning things to come, and those things being, as it seems to me, bound by the fourfold epcou, which introduces the seals, to the same reference to Christ’s coming) must, corresponding as they do in order and significance, answer to one another in detail; and thus the discourse in Matt. xxiv. becomes, as Mr. Isaac Williams has truly named it, “the anchor of apocalyptic interpretation;” and, I may add, the touchstone of apocalyptic systems.” (Quoted in the Parousia)
“the Book of Revelation and the Fourth Gospel must have been written before the Temple services had actually ceased.” (pp.141f.)
“The successive time periods during which these Seven Seals occurred are as follows. The dates quoted are merely guides, as each period overlapped to some degree with its neighbouring period, and some authorities vary as to the actual event which marks a particular period.
Seal 1. 96 – 180 A.D. Rome Victorious.
Seal 2. 185 – 284. Civil War.
Seal 3. 200 – 250 Taxation & Depression.
Seal 4. 250 – 300 Decay and Death.
Seal 5. 303 – 313 Christian Martyrs.
Seal 6. 313 – 395 Fall of Paganism. ” (The First Six Seals)
Steve Gregg (1997)
“The time frame is that of the fall of Jerusalem in A.D.70.” (Revelation : Four Views; p. 248)
Hank Hanegraaff (2004)
“I am reading the Bible, specifically Revelation — it was written for first-century Christians. I am not relying on some wooden, literal interpretation that is unsupportable.” (Apocalyptic Feud)
Robert Jamieson (On The Early Date of Revelation)
“The following arguments favor an earlier date, namely, under Nero: (1) EUSEBIUS [Demonstration of the Gospel] unites in the same sentence John’s banishment with the stoning of James and the beheading of Paul, which were under Nero. (2) CLEMENT OF ALEXANDRIA’S’S story of the robber reclaimed by John, after he had pursued, and with difficulty overtaken him, accords better with John then being a younger man than under Domitian, when he was one hundred years old. Arethas, in the sixth century, applies the sixth seal to the destruction of Jerusalem (A.D. 70), adding that the Apocalypse was written before that event. So the Syriac version states he was banished by Nero the Cæsar. Laodicea was overthrown by an earthquake (A.D. 60) but was immediately rebuilt, so that its being called “rich and increased with goods” is not incompatible with this book having been written under the Neronian persecution (A.D. 64). But the possible allusions to it in Heb 10:37; compare Re 1:4,8 4:8 22:12; Heb 11:10; compare Re 21:14; Heb 12:22,23; compare Re 14:1; Heb 8:1,2; compare Re 11:19 15:5 21:3; Heb 4:12; compare Re 1:16 2:12,16 19:13,15; Heb 4:9; compare Re 20:1-15; also 1Pe 1:7,13 4:13, with Re 1:1; 1Pe 2:9 with Re 5:10; 2Ti 4:8
, with Re 2:26,27 3:21 11:18; Eph 6:12, with Re 12:7-12; Php 4:3, with Re 3:5 13:8,17:8 20:12,15; Col 1:18, with Re 1:5; 1Co 15:52, with Re 10:7 11:15-18, make a date before the destruction of Laodicea possible. Cerinthus is stated to have died before John; as then he borrowed much in his Pseudo-Apocalypse from John’s, it is likely the latter was at an earlier date than Domitian’s reign. See TILLOCH’S Introduction to Apocalypse. But the Pauline benediction (Re 1:4) implies it was written after Paul’s death under Nero.” (JFB Commentary, Introduction to Revelation)
James M. MacDonald (1870)
“The question whether the Apocalypse was written at an early date or in the very closing period of the apostolic ministration has importance as bearing on the interpretation of the book. A true exposition depends, in no small degree, upon a knowledge of the existing condition of things at the time it was written ; i.e., of the true point in history occupied by the writer, and those whom he originally addressed… If the book were an epistle, like that to the Romans or Hebrews, it might be of contemporary little importance, in ascertaining its meaning, to be able to determine whether it was written at the commencement of the apostolic era or at its very close.
“It is very obvious that if the book itself throws any distinct light on this subject, this internal evidence, especially in the absence of reliable historical testimony, ought to be decisive. Instead of appealing to tradition or to some doubtful passage in an ancient father, we interrogate the book itself, or we listen to what the Spirit saith that was in him who testified of these things. It will be found that no book of the New Testament more abounds in passages which clearly have respect to the time when it was written.” (Life and Writings of John, p. 151-152)
“And when we open the book itself, and find inscribed on its very pages evidence that at the time it was written Jewish enemies were still arrogant and active, and the city in which our Lord was crucified, and the temple and the altar in it were still standing, we need no date from early antiquity, not even from the hand of the author himself, to inform us that he wrote before the great historical event and prophetic epoch, the destruction of Jerusalem.” (Life and Writings of John, p. 171-172)
- D. Michaelis
“If it be objected that the prophecies in the Apocalypse are not yet fulfilled, that they are therefore not fully understood, and that hence arises the difference of opinion in respect to their meaning, I answer, that if the prophecies are not yet fulfilled, it is wholly impossible that the Apocalypse should be a Divine work; since the author expressly declares (Rev. 1:1) that the things which it contains ‘must shortly come to pass.’ Consequently, either a great part of them, I will not say all, must have been fulfilled, or the author’s declaration, that they should shortly be completed, is not consistent with fact. It is true that to the Almighty a thousand years are but as one day, and one day as a thousand years; but if we therefore explain the term ‘shortly,’ as denoting a period longer than that which has elapsed since the Apocalypse was written, we sacrifice the love of truth to the support of a preconceived opinion. For when the Deity condescends to communicate information to mankind, He will of course use such language as is intelligible to mankind; and not name a period short which all men consider as long, or the communication will be totally useless. Besides, in reference to God’s eternity, not only seventeen hundred but seventeen thousand years are nothing. But the author of the Apocalypse himself has wholly precluded any such evasion, by explaining (Rev. 1:3) what he meant by the term ‘shortly,’ for he there says, ‘Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein; for the time is at hand.’ According, therefore, to the author’s own declaration, the Apocalypse contains prophecies with which the very persons to whom it was sent were immediately concerned. But if none of these prophecies were designed to be completed till long after their death, those persons were not immediately concerned with them, and the author would surely not have said that they were blessed in reading prophecies of which the time was at hand, if those prophecies were not to be fulfilled till after the lapse of many ages” (“Introduction to the New Testament,” vol. 4. pp. 503, 504).
J.C. Robertson (1932)
“Perhaps no single book in the New Testament presents so many and so formidable problems as the Apocalypse of John.” (Word Pictures in the New Testament (Nashville: Broadman, 269)
Philip Schaff (1877)
“The destruction of Jerusalem would be a worthy theme for the genius of a Christian Homer. It has been called “the most soul-stirring of all ancient history.” But there was no Jeremiah to sing the funeral dirge of the city of David and Solomon. The Apocalypse was already written, and had predicted that the heathen “shall tread the holy city under foot forty and two months.” (p. 397-398)
- Warren’s Book of Revelation – In this volume we have an attempt at a popular exposition of the Apocalypse. Dr. Warren regards it as a series of “pictorial writings,” for the interpretation of which one must have the “key.” This he finds in the first verse, “Things which must shortly come to pass.” The Apocalypse having been written about A. D. 68, we find the speedy fulfillment of some of its prophecies in the destruction of Jerusalem and the woes that befell the Jews.”
Jay E. Adams (1966)
“The Revelation was written to a persecuted church about to face the most tremendous onslaught it had ever known. It would be absurd (not to say cruel) for John to write a letter to persons in such circumstances which not only ignores their difficulties, but reveals numerous details about events supposed to transpire hundreds of years in the future during a seven year tribulation period at the end of the church age.” (The Time is at Hand, p. 49)
“It is to remain unsealed because ‘the time is at hand.’ That is, its prophecies are about to be fulfilled. The events which it predicts do not pertain to the far distant future, but they are soon to happen. The message is for this generation, not for some future one.” (The Time is at Hand, p. 51)
“The kingdom of this world ended. World empire as well as national theocracy (its Old Testament counterpart) was virtually abolished when the temple was destroyed. This marked the fact that God had set up his own kingdom (the fifth kingdom of Daniel’s prophecy) and had begun to reign. Christianity only became a world religion (or kingdom – to use the biblical term) after it became totally disassociated from Judaism in A.D.70.” (ibid., p. 20)
Dr. Greg Bahnsen (1984)
“The churches, in the midst of inner trials and outward tribulation, are called upon to be victorious in the strength of the exalted Messiah (chapters 1-3). The intense persecution of believers by apostate Judaism, centered in the city of Jerusalem, will be answered with divine retribution as Rome destroys Jerusalem (chapters 4-11). The savage persecution of the church by the Roman Empire will, in turn, meet the same divine vengeance in the overthrow of Rome herself (chapters 13-18). With these obstacles removed the church’s great commission of discipling the nations will experience tremendous prosperity (chapter 19). These various triumphs for Christ’s kingdom can only be accounted for in terms of Satan’s being cast down (chapter 12) and bound (chapter 20), with the result that the nations are no longer under the grip of his deception, but instead the faithful saints exercise (along with their Lord) rule over the nations. Even the final outbreak of rebellion against Christ will be crushed, as the precursor to the consummation of the kingdom and its eternal enjoyment by God’s people (chapters 20-22).” (Hermeneutics in the Book of Revelation)
David Chilton (1987)
“(The Book of Revelation) is about the destruction of Israel and Christ’s victory over His enemies in the establishment of the New Covenant Temple. In fact, as we shall see, the word coming as used in the Book of Revelation never refers to the Second Coming. Revelation prophesies the judgment of God on apostate Israel; and while it does briefly point to events beyond its immediate concerns, that is done merely as a “wrap-up,” to show that the ungodly will never prevail against Christ’s Kingdom. But the main focus of Revelation is upon events which were soon to take place.” (Days of Vengeance, p. 43)
(On Rev 6:15-17) “This passage is not speaking of the End of the World, but the End of Israel in A.D.70.” (Days of Vengeance, p. 148).
Adam Clarke (1837)
(On Revelation 1:7) “By this the Jewish People are most evidently intended, and therefore the whole verse may be understood as predicting the destruction of the Jews; and is a presumptive proof that the Apocalypse was written before the final overthrow of the Jewish state.” (6:971.)
“I believe that the judgment chapters of Revelation (Chs. 6- 19) focus almost exclusively on the events associated with the first imperial persecution of Christianity (AD. 64-68), the Roman Civil Wars (AD 68-69), and the destruction of the Temple and Israel (AD. 67- 70).”
Henry Hammond (1653)
“A Premonition Concerning the Interpretation of the Apocalypse – Having gone through all the other parts of the New Testament, I came to this last of the Apocalypse, as to a rock that many had miscarried and split upon, with a full resolution not to venture on the expounding of one word in it, but onely to perform one office to it, common to the rest, the review of the Translation : Bit it pleased God otherwise to dispose of it ; for before I had read (with the design of translating only) to the end of the first verse of the book, these words, which must come to pass presently, had such an impression on my mind, offering themselves as a key to the whole prophecie, (in like manner as, this generation shall not passe till all these things be fulfilled, Matt. 24.34. have demonstrated infallibly to what coming of Christ the whole Chapter did belong) that I could not resist the force of them, but attempted presently a general survey of the whole Book, to see whether those words might not probably be extended to all the prophecies of it, and have a literal truth in them, viz., that the things foretold and represented in the ensuing vision ; were presently, speedily, to come to passe, one after another, after the writing of them. But before I could prudently passe this judgment, which was to be founded in understanding the subject-matter of all the Visions, some other evidences I met with, concurring with this, and giving me abundant grounds of confidence of this one thing, that although I should not be able to understand one period of all these Visions, yet I must be obliged to think that they belonged to those times that were then immediately ensuing, and that they had accordingly their completion, and consequently that they that pretended to find in those Visions the predictions of events in these later ages, and those so nicely defined as to belong to particular acts and persons in this and some other kingdomes (a farre narrower curcuit also then that which reasonably was to be assigned to that one Christian prophecie for the Universal Church of Christ) had much mistaken the drift of it.” (Preface, Revelation, A Paraphrase and Annotations upon all the books of the New Testament)
The arguments that induced this conclusion where these: first, that this was again immediately inculcated, v.3, for the time is nigh, and that rendered as proof that these seven Churches, to whom the prophecie was written, were concerned to observe and consider the contents of it, Blessed is he that reads, and he that hears, &c. (saith Arethas, that so hears as to practise) for the time, or season, the point of time is near at hand. Secondly, that as here in the front, so c. 22.6, at the close, or shutting up of all these Visions, and of S. John’s Epistle to the Seven Churches, which contained them, ’tis there again added, that God hath sent his Angel to shew to his servants the things that must presently, or speedily, or suddanly ; and immediately upon the back of that are set the words of Christ, the Author of this prophecie, Behold I come quickly, not in the notion of his final coming to judgment (which hath been the cause of a great deal of mistake, see Note on Mat. 24.b.) but of his coming to destroy his enemies, the Jewes, &c. and then, Blessed is he that observes, orvkeeps, the prophecies of this book, parallel to what had been said at the beginning, c.1.3. Thirdly, that v.10. the command is given to John, not to seal the prophecies of the book, which that it signifies that they were of present use to those times, and therefore to be kept open, and not to be laid up as things that posterity was only or principally concern’d in, appears by that reason rendered of it, because the time is nigh, the same which had here at the beginning been given, as the reason that he that considered the prophecies was blessed in so doing.” (A Paraphrase.., In loc.)
Milton Terry (1898)
“No portion of the Holy Scripture has been the subject of so much controversy and of so many varying interpretations.” (Milton S. Terry, Biblical Hermeneutics (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, n.d.), p. 466)
“There is only one city that comes to mind at this specific statement, and that answers perfectly to the description of this verse. Jesus himself said to his disciples “that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed (Matt. xvi, 21; xx, 18; Mark x, 33; Luke xviii, 31).” (Biblical Apocalyptics, p. 371)
“One chief trouble with those interpreters who try to explain away this obvious reference to Jerusalem is that they consider it impossible to identify this “great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt,” with “the holy city” of verse 2. These, they insist, cannot be the same. But others will incline to think that half the ingenuity employed on their own visionary expositions of the place where the Lord was crucified might have shown them that, in strict accord with Old Testament usage, both designations suit Jerusalem. How is it that Isaiah could call this same Jerusalem a “faithful city” and a “harlot” in one breath? The answer is very simple: Once ‘righteousness lodged in her, but now murderers (Isa. i, 21).” (ibid., p. 372)
“The more we study these connections and interpretations, the more things come together. Revelation 17and 18 are not talking about a heathen city or empire; they are talking about Israel, the covenant people who killed the prophets (I Kings 19:10; Lam. 4:13).
Jesus Christ spoke the same language to the rabbis in Matthew 23:29ff, calling them “sons of those who murdered the prophets” (v. 31). “Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers.. that upon you may come all the righteous blood shed on earth (vs. 32,35). The “earth” referred to can better read as a reference to the land of the covenant people.
The same theme appears at the end of Revelation 18: “In her was found the blood of prophets and of saints, and of all to doubt that this blood of prophets and saints was shed by the covenant people? Didn’t Jesus Himself point out that no prophet dies outside Jerusalem? (Luke 13:33).
Yet, interpreters insist on reading Revelation 18:24 apart from the Old Testament and the words of Jesus recorded in the “gospels.” We are told that the killing of prophets and saints is a reference to what Rome or some anti-Christian world power will do.
L.A. Vos has pointed out that there are words of Jesus behind certain passages in the book of Revelation, and that these words can help us with the interpretation of Revelation.. This is hardly a reason for surprise, for the Apocalypse is a “revelation of Jesus Christ,” a revelation in which more of His words are recorded. We hear echoes of Matthew 23-24 in the book of Revelation.” (Hal Lindsey and Biblical Prophecy; St. Catharines, Canada: Paideia Press; pp. 135-136)
“Judah deserves to be called the “faithless one.” When we consider the fact that the prophets repeatedly speak of forsaking the covenant as harlotry and adultery (Is. 1:21; Ezek. 16:22; Hos. 1-3), the pattern in Revelation falls into place. Revelation 17 carries on the line of Jeremiah 4:30 by speaking within the framework of the covenant. Thus the subject is not “Rome” but “Judah.” (Ibid., p. 134)
Foy Wallace (1966)
“The repeated reference to the period of the destruction of Jerusalem is indicative of the author’s inclination towards this view.” (The Book of Revelation, Ft. Worth, TX, Foy E. Wallace Publications, 1966)
“John was no more entranced to write a history of the Latin church and the Dark Ages than he was inspired to prophesy the discovery of the North American continent, the organization of the United States, the formation of the Southern Confederacy or the existence of the United Nations! The historical events of far distant future whether the papacy, the pope, Martin Luther or Alexander Campbell are all outside the scope of Revelation. And we need not go outside the provincial governments of Judea and the Palestinian representatives of the Roman emperor to identify the second beast — the beast of the land — and find the fulfillment of the visions concerning him.” (The Book of Revelation, Ft. Worth, TX, Foy E. Wallace Publications, 1966), p. 295)
“John’s Apocalypse is but an enlargement of our Lord’s eschatological sermon on the Mount of Olives.” (ibid, p. 20)
“The apocalypses of Revelation were but the extension of the twenty-four chapters of Matthew – the Lord’s own forecast of the events preceding and subsequent to the destruction of Jerusalem.” (ibid., pp. 398-399)
“(the prophecies of Revelation 18) do not fit Rome, nor any other city than Jerusalem; where the prophets, apostles and saints were slain. The usual interpretation to bring the apocalypse down through the ages to stage again the historical pageantry of the Roman empire, in the effort to find a future fulfillment, takes all the force out of the words of Christ in Matthew 23 and 24, and robs the apocalypse of its immediate message. The apostate Jerusalem was the object of the visions of Revelation.” (ibid., p. 383)
“There was no basis for a symbol or an analogy in which Rome could have been depicted as having become a harlot, for Rome never stood in the spiritual relation to God as a faithful city, turned to harlotry. The harlot was a city once faithful to God, and only Jerusalem can fulfill the symbolic descriptions.” (ibid., p. 364)
WHAT OTHERS HAVE SAID
“Modern Christianity is crucially weak at three vital points. The first is its compromised, deficient understanding of revelation. Without Biblical historicity and veracity behind the Word of God, theology can only grow closer to Hinduism.” ( Os Guinness, The Dust of Death)
Rivka Nir (2003)
“The very term “apocalypse” is itself a Christian term: it first appears in the introduction to the Revelation of John, the concluding work of the New Testament (“The Apocalypse [or: Revelation] of Jesus Christ”) and the work that provides the most fully developed model for apocalypse in general (cf. the synoptic apocalypse of Mark 13:1ff. and parallels). Apocalypse was born in the bosom of Christianity, which is entirely apocalyptic on all its levels and components.” (Destruction of Jerusalem, p. 11)
“Ideas of the Apocalypse are so widely different that a summary notice of the exegetical literature, mingling all together, would be inexpedient.” (Eduard Wilhelm Reuss, History of the Sacred Scriptures of the New Testament (Edinburgh: T and T Clark, 1884), 155)
(Revelation is) “the most difficult book of the Bible: it has always been the most variously understood, the most arbitrarily interpreted, the most exegetically tortured.” (B. B. Warfield, “The Book of Revelation” in Philip Schaff, ed., A Religious Encyclopedia, 3 vols., (NY: Funk and Wagnalls, 1883), 2:80)
Vincent: “This document has given rise to voluminous controversy.” (Marvin R. Vincent, Word Studies in the New Testament, vol.2: “The Writings of John” (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, rep. 1985 ), 16)
Swete: “To comment on this great prophecy is a harder task than to comment on a Gospel, and he who undertakes it exposes himself to the charge of presumption. I have been led to venture upon on what I know to be dangerous ground.” (Henry B. Swete, Commentary on Revelation (Grand Rapids: Kregal, 1906 [rep. 1977]), p. xii)
Beckwith: “No other book, whether in sacred or profane literature, has received in whole or in part so many different interpretations. Doubtless no other book has so perplexed biblical students throughout the Christian centuries down to our own times.” (John T. Beckwith, The Apocalypse of John: Studies in Introduction (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1919 ), 1)
Ladd: “Revelation is the most difficult of all New Testament books to interpret.” (George Eldon Ladd, A Commentary on the Revelation of John (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1972), 10)
Richardson: “The book of Revelation is not an easy book to interpret. There is a certain obscurity about the book.” (Donald W. Richardson, The Revelation of Jesus Christ: An Interpretation (Richmond, Vir.: John Knox, 1964), 9)
Morris: “Some of the problems of this book are enormously difficult and I certainly have not the capacity to solve them.” Indeed, it is “by common consent one of the most difficult of all the books of the Bible.” (Leon Morris,The Revelation of St. John (Tyndale New Testament Commentary) (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1969), 13, 15)
Johnson: For “the modern reader” Revelation “is the most obscure and controversial book in the Bible.” ( Alan F. Johnson, Revelation (The Bible Study Commentary) (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1983), 9.)”
Pate writes (p. 173): “It seems clear that the central problem of the discussion is: How are we to understand symbolic literature? Or more precisely, does the genre of prophetic/apocalyptic require single, dual, or multiple fulfillments?” He then notes the contribution of his progressive dispensationalism to the Revelation debate: “The progressive dispensationalist sees both perspectives [preterist and futurist] as viable: There is partial fulfillment (the past) as well as final realization (the future) regarding those things in history. Thus the symbolism of Revelation attests to dual fulfillment.” Thus, Revelational judgments occur TWICE — once in the first century, as preliminary and partial fulfillments, and once again in the eschatological end time as final and complete fulfillment.”
(p. 174): “A second key issue generated by Revelation is a theological one — the ‘delay’ of the Parousia. This is the ultimate question raised by Revelation 1:1,3, with reference to the nearness of the fulfillment of the prophecies of the Apocalypse…. How are we to understand Jesus’ and John’s predictions about the signs of the times culminating in the Second Coming?… The progressive dispensationalist argues that there was partial actualization of Jesus’ statements surrounding the fall of Jerusalem in A.D. 70, which serves as the backdrop for their final fulfillment at the end of history.”- Diplopic Tension
The Nature and Method of Revelation
Moses Stuart’s Summation of Apocalypse Exegesis
In his Commentary on the Apocalypse
Spirit-Filled Life Bible
By Jack Hayford
Introduction to Revelation
“All interpretive approaches honoring Jesus Christ and God’s eternal Word are respected in this study Bible. Throughout church history, theories of interpretation have been numerous and widely divergent. These have been classified as the ‘preterist,’ the ‘continuous historical,’ the ‘futurist,’ the ‘dispensational,’ and the ‘spiritual.'”
“The ‘preterist’ or ‘contemporary-historical’ interpretation regards the visions of the book as referring primarily, if not exclusively, to events belonging to the closing decades of the first century, contemporary with the prophet John. The prophecy was concerned with the persecution of Christians instituted by the ‘beast,’ usually understood to be Nero or Domitian, and was continued by the Roman government, called ‘Babylon.’ Revelation was written to encourage believers with the hope that God would intervene, destroy the beast,’ bring deliverance to His people, and establish His everlasting Kingdom. Some preterists advocate that Revelation is concerned solely with the destruction of Jerusalem, the temple, and the old era of apostate Judaism in A.D. 70.”
“Interestingly, many of Pentecostal/Charismatic tradition interpret Revelation and Daniel from the dispensational view, even though such an interpretive approach anywhere other than in prophetic scripture would dictate a denial of the present manifestation of the gifts of the Spirit.”
“As early as the middle of the second century, Revelation was ascribed to John, ‘one of the apostles of Christ’ (Justin, Dial. 81). Other second-century works and writers make the same claim: a lost commentary on Revelation by Melito, bishop of Sardis (c. A.D. 165; see Eusebius, H.E. 4.26.2); Irenaeus (c. 180; Adv. Haer. 3.11.1, 4.20.11, 4.35.2); and the Muratorian Canon (late second century). Whether Papias, an even earlier witness than these (d.c. 130), can be added to this list is disputed, but a good case can be made out that he both knew Revelation and attributed it to John. The evidence of these writers is particularly strong in that two of them (three, if Papias is included) could well be reporting firsthand evidence. Sardis, where Melito was bishop, was one of the churches addressed in Revelation (1:11; 3:1-6). Irenaeus was from Smyrna, also a church addressed in Revelation (1:11; 2:8-11), and claims to have heard Polycarp, who had talked with John the apostle himself. Papias knew John the apostle personally. The early tradition is confirmed by the third-century fathers Tertullian, Hippolytus, and Origen. Not only do these authors ascribe Revelation to John the apostle, they do so without any hint of there being a contrary claim. No New Testament book, concludes Gerhard Maier, has a stronger or earlier tradition about its authorship than does Revelation.” (D.A. Carson, et al., An Introduction To The New Testament [Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 1992], p. 468)
- Archer, Gleason
- Barnhouse, Donald Grey. Revelation: An Expository Commentary Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1971
- Barton, B. B., & Osborne, G. R. Revelation. Life application Bible commentary Tyndale House 2000
- Chafer, Lewis Sperry.
- DeHaan, M. R. (Our Daily Bread. Radio Bible Class).
- Duck, Daymond R., Revelation God’s Word for the Biblically-Inept Series. Lancaster: Starburst Publishers, 1998.
- Feinberg, Charles.
- Garland, Anthony: A Testimony of Jesus Christ
- Gaebelein, Arno C., The Revelation: An Analysis and Exposition of the Last Book of the Bible: Loizeaux Brothers, 1915
- Geisler, Norman.
- Guzik, David. Verse by Verse Commentary: Revelation. Enduring Word Media.
- Ironside, H. A. Lectures on the Revelation: Neptune, N.J.: Loizeaux Brothers, 1920
- Johnson, Alan. Revelation in the Expositor’s Bible Commentary.
- Kaiser, Walter
- Keathley, Hampton
- Lindsey, Hal. There’s a New World Coming: A Prophetic Odyssey: Eugene, Ore.: Harvest House, 1973
- MacArthur, J. Revelation 1-11 and 12-22. Chicago: Moody Press, 1999
- J. Vernon McGee. Thru the Bible With J. Vernon McGee. Thomas Nelson December, 1988.
- Morris, Henry M. The Revelation Record: A Scientific and Devotional Commentary on the Book of Revelation: Tyndale House, 1983
- Newell, William R. The Book of the Revelation: Chicago: Moody Press,1935 (devotional flavor)
- Pentecost, J. Dwight.
- Phillips, John. Exploring Revelation. Chicago: Moody Press. 1874
- Ribeira (1537-91) Jesuit scholar held almost all events are future and apply to the end times
- Ryrie, Charles Caldwell. Revelation: Chicago, Ill.: Moody Press, 1968
- Seiss, J. A. The Apocalypse: Lectures on the Book of Revelation: Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1957
- Smith, J.B. A Revelation of Jesus Christ . Scottdale, Pa.: Herald, 1961. (also dispensationalist)
- Stedman, Ray C. God’s Final Word: Understanding Revelation: Grand Rapids: Discovery House, 1991
- Strauss, Lehman. The Book of the Revelation: Neptune, NJ.: Loizeaux Brothers, 1964
- Tenney, Merrill C. Interpreting Revelation . Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1957.
- Thomas, Robert L. Revelation 1–7: An Exegetical Commentary. Chicago: Moody, 1992.
- Thomas, Robert L. Revelation 8–22: An Exegetical Commentary. Chicago: Moody, 1995.
- Walvoord, John F. The Revelation of Jesus Christ . Chicago: Moody, 1966.
- Wiersbe, Warren. Be Victorious. Wheaton: Victor Books, 1985.
- Barnes, Albert. Revelation in Notes on the New Testament; Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1884–85
- Calvin, John
- Clarke, Adam. Adam Clarke’s Commentary on the Holy Bible: Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1967
- Edwards, Jonathan
- Elliott, E.B. Horae Apocalypticae . 4 vols. Eng. tr. 3d ed. London: Seeley, Burnside, and Seeley, 1828
- Gill, John. Commentary of the Whole Bible.
- Henry, Matthew. Acts to Revelation, vol. 6 in Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible: Old Tappan, N.J.: Fleming H. Revell
- Knox, John.
- Ladd, George E. A Commentary on the Revelation of John . Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1972.
- Luther, Martin
- Newton, Sir Isaac: The Prophecies of Daniel & the Apocalypse. 1733.
- Torrey, R. A. The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge: Old Tappan, NJ.: Fleming H. Revell
- Utley, Bob – Bible Lessons International, Marshall, Texas
- Wesley, John
- Whitefield, George
- Alford, Henry. The Revelation in The Greek Testament, revised by Everett R Harrison (Chicago: Moody Press) 1958.
- Calkins, Raymond. The Social Message of the Book of Revelation. New York: Woman’s, 1920.
- Carrington, Philip. The Meaning of the Revelation . New York: Macmillan, 1931.
- Cleveland: Corpus Books, 1968. Rissi, Mathias. Time and History. Richmond: John Knox, 1966.
- Hendriksen, W. More Than Conquerors . Grand Rapids: Baker, 1940.
- Kiddle, Martin. The Revelation of St. John . MNT. New York: Harper, 1940.
- Kistemaker, S. J., & Hendriksen, W. New Testament commentary: Exposition of the Book of Revelation. Baker House. 1953-2001.
- Lenski, R. C. H. The Interpretation of St. John’s Revelation: Minneapolis: Augsburg, 1943
- Milligan, William. The Book of Revelation . ExB. Hodder & Stoughton, 1909.
- Minear, Paul S. I Saw a New Earth: An Introduction to the Visions of the Apocalypse. Cleveland: Corpus Books, 1968
- Morey, Earl. Notes on Revelation in The Spirit-Filled Life Bible, Jack W. Hayford, Gen. ed: Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1991
- Rissi, Mathias. Time and History . Richmond: John Knox, 1966.
- Vincent, Marvin. Vincent’s Word Studies in the New Testament. Hendrickson Publishers, 1985
- Wilcock, Michael. I Saw Heaven Opened: The Message of Revelation: Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 1975
- Wilson, Geoffrey B. Revelation: Durham, England: Evangelical Press, 1985
- Adams, Jay. The Time is at Hand: Phillipsburg, New Jersey: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Co, 1966.
- Ashcraft, Morris. Hebrews—Revelation The Broadman Bible Commentary v12: Clifton J. Alien, Gen. ed, Nashville: Broadman Press, 1972
- Barclay, William. The Revelation of John. Philadelphia: Westminister Press, 1976.
- Beasley-Murray, G.R. “The Revelation.” NBC rev. Edited by D. Guthrie, et al. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1970.
- Beckwith, Isbon T. The Apocalypse of John . New York: Macmillan, 1922.
- Berkouwer, G. C. The Return of Christ. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1972.
- Bruce, F. F. “The Revelation to John.” In A New Testament Commentary. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1969.
- Byrum, C. S., Parvin S. Unlocking the Mysteries 150 FAQs About Revelation and the End of the World. Nashville: Abingdon, 1999.
- Caird, G.B. The Revelation of St. John the Divine. Harper’s New Testament Commentaries . New York: Harper, 1966.
- Charles, R.H. A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Revelation of St. John . 2 vols. Edinburgh: 1920.
- Chilton, David. The Days of Vengeance: An Exposition of the Book of Revelation: Ft. Worth, Tex.: Dominion Press, 1987
- Ford, J. Massyngberde. Revelation . AB. New York: Doubleday, 1975.
- Gentry, Kenneth. The Beast of Revelation (2002), Before Jerusalem Fell (1998).
- Glasson, T. F. The Revelation of John. The Cambridge Bible Commentary on the New English Bible . 1965.
- Harrington, Wilfred J. The Apocalypse of St. John: A Commentary . London: Geoffrey Chapman, 1969.
- Heidt, William G. The Book of the Apocalypse. New Testament Reading Guide . Collegeville, Minn.: Liturgical, 1962.
- Morris, Leon. The Revelation of St. John . Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1969 (Also categorized as “Spiritual”)
- Mounce, Robert H. The Book of Revelation: New International Commentary on the NT: Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1977 (Note: also categorized as preterist-futurist)
- Metzger, Bruce. Breaking the Code Understanding the Book of Revelation. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1993.
- Pieters, Albertus. Studies in the Revelation of St. John . Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1954.
- Sproul, R. C.: Sproul, R. The last days according to Jesus. Grand Rapids: Baker Books. 1998
- Summers, Ray. Worthy Is the Lamb. Nashville: Broadman, 1951.
- Sweet, J.P.M. Revelation. Philadelphia: Westminster, 1979.
- Swete, Henry Barclay. The Apocalypse of St. John. New York: Macmillan, 1906.