Research insights into the Date of Revelation, Part VI

Did the Early Church Fathers give credence?

Some of the other Early Church Fathers give credence to a late date. Jerome, Sulpicius Severus, and Hippolytus all thought that John was exiled to Patmos under Domitian, where he saw the visions and wrote the Apocalypse. Another was Clement of Alexandria, who was an “Ante Nicene Father.” In his work, “Who is the rich man that shall be saved? XLII,” he gives credence to a late date too. So say many Futurist scholars. But, when the text is examined,

the Apostle John. For when, on the tyrant’s death, he returned to Ephesus from the isle of Patmos, he went away, being invited, to the contiguous territories of the nations, here to appoint bishops, there to set in order whole Churches, there to ordain such as were marked out by the Spirit…

The key is how you translate the phrase the tyrant’s death, because it could be Domitian as this theory argues, but it could be someone else like Nero. Jerome also stated in his Book of Illustrious Men that during the final reign of Domitian, he instigated the biggest persecution of all, even greater than Nero’s. Therefore, this sets up the situation for Revelation. However, these statements can easily be cross-examined and refuted because of contextual issues similar to the Irenaeus refute. Thus, these late date theories may come out of interpretative errors by their scholars, from reading into a theory and grasping for any evidence, or that the historians just could not recognize how Christ’s statements applied to the audience as he said they did.

The other main theory for a late date is when the events recorded in the book of Revelation take place in Domitian’s reign (81- 96 AD), the contention is that it is in the future after the date of around 82 to 96 A.D. This is backed up by the early church historian, Eusebius (A.D. 300-340), who actually did not state the date but just gave a general connection between John and Domitian, which could just mean John was still alive in Domitian’s reign.

Keep in mind that a Futurist view will require that the date for Revelation be after 70 A.D.

When I originally wrote this fifteen years ago, I was seeking to research and perhaps prove a late date, but the investigative study proved to have too many holes. However, as I said in the beginning, Revelation does not come with a date and time stamp, so scholars and Bible students need to make a reasonable, logical investigation before an assumption can be made about the date and views. Although I personally lean toward an early date now, I am not an advocate of it nor am I totally convinced. Why? Because Revelation has more to do with how we live than what will come. Thus, having a Preterist or Future view or even something else is not as important as what the beasts in our lives are, as well as in whom and where our hope is (which is more of a Spiritualist view, but I can’t hold to that—I am Reformed! lol)

Advertisements

Amillennialists View of the Millennium

Second is the Amillennialists view, and believes that Jesus is reigning now since His resurrection, that there is no literal thousand-year millennium before or after Christ returns to earth (Rev. 20:1-6).

People with this view usually subscribe to the Historicist view. They see an allegorical or symbolic approach to prophecy. The major proponents are Covenant and Reformed theologians, and most mainline denominations. Since there is no literal thousand-year reign, Millennium refers to the preeminent reign of Christ in this age, covenant, or dispensation (Rev. 6:9-10; 20:5).

The resurrection of the Christians refers to the new life in Christ and/or their life in eternity of Heaven (Rom. 6:8-11; Eph. 2:6; Col. 3:1-4). They believe that Satan is bound already and is limited in his activities here on earth (John 12:31; Col. 2:15). They believe that the rapture and the Second Coming are simultaneous events and realities to come as Christ returns to earth before the millennium.

There is a splinter group, Dispensational Premillennialism, which believes that the Second Coming occurs in two stages; the first is the rapture of the church, then after seven years, Christ returns with his church to rule on earth. This view has a literal interpretation of prophecy.

Exegetical look at Matthew 24, Part VI

Vs.36-50: No one knows…angels, or the Son… Why did Jesus not know, when He is the omnipresence God? God keeps most of His plans secret for good reason (Deut. 29:29; Zech. 14:6-9). We would become preoccupied with them and miss our purpose for being here on earth. Just look at some Catholics and how they are overzealous with artifacts; in fact there are enough so-called pieces of the cross of Christ in European Cathedrals to build a large church! There is also the obsession for the Holy Grail (the cup of Christ in His last supper). They look to “stuff” and not to substance!

· This is one of the “hard saying of Jesus.” Scholars debate whether Jesus, being also fully man, could not predict His second coming because either He did not know, or the time was not yet set up. These two views seem to nullify His omniscience. According to Catholics, and some Protestants, the knowledge was too high for Jesus to communicate to mere humans (St. Thomas Aquinas). Luther said the divine nature was unable to communicate this to the human nature. The Reformed view is that there is no distinction or confusion between the divine and human natures, as Jesus was fully God and fully man. Jesus had all knowledge, but when He was in human form, only the Father had this knowledge. In addition, the Father has knowledge that the other members of the Trinity do not have.

· Even the Holy Spirit did not have this knowledge. So, if someone says, “the Holy Spirit told me the day and time,” they are either being dishonest or are deluded—to which this passage attests!

· Son refers to Jesus the Divine Person, a part of the Godhead of the Trinity—one God, three manifestations. The Son is the manifestation that lives on behalf of us and redeems us before the Father. The Spirit convicts the unbeliever to know God and paves the way for Christ’s work (see doctrine channel at http://www.intothyword.org and article on the Trinity).

· Days of the flood refers to people carrying on their daily lives, unconcerned with God—only focused on self. This also refers to the evil, sinful nature of people!

· Taken refers to being taken to Judgment (Jer. 6:10-12)! Most people think this is the rapture, but, it is never explicitly taught or illustrated, although the text does “allow” for such as view. (What is my view? I do not have one. After 20 years of carefully studying the books of Revelation and Daniel, I am not ready to publicly form one; I still need more study!)

· Israel, as a nation, had rejected their Messiah and thus would be forced, by their own will, to go through a great tribulation.

· Thief will come literally means to “break in,” as to dig into the clay and brick sides to get inside the home. This could only happen if the people were not there—as in not ready (Ex. 22:2-3).

· Watch…be ready refers to being active, in faith and practice, and not be waiting, sitting and doing nothing. Do not be distracted from that which Christ has called you! Do not waste your time in the particulars of eschatology; it really is not that important for us to know or to teach!

· Servant. Wealthy people had servants whose job it was to watch for their return, as they had many homes for winter and for summer. The servants were to be ready, so food, provisions, and the chores needed to have been done. Those who failed, who were lazy or took advantage of others and their master’s things, were fired or imprisoned. Thus, they could only be abusive if the master was not present. Our Master is always present!

The study of eschatology is important, but, compared to issues such as prayer, Bible study, who Christ is, basic doctrine, faith development, living in the Spirit, and growing in character and service to our neighbors and people in need, it really is not that important for us to know or to teach! Do you agree or disagree, and why? (It is OK to disagree with non essential doctrine, as long as we do not divide over it!)

Will There Be a Rapture?

Yes and no! Yes, Christ is coming back and we will meet Him and it will be spectacular and no words or speculations could ever describe it effectively, especially not in the way most books and TV preachers have sensationalized it. There has been a lot of debate over what the rapture is all about. Most Christians today think it is fact and only seek to argue its particulars or just go by feelings. However in fact, it is not a biblical idea or even a word in the Bible. In fact, even the concept is not in the Bible although it seems so from a simple English reading of the 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17 passage.

Do you believe in the rapture? “What’s that,” he said? …that we are all going to rise up in the air and be taken to heaven? “Really? Where is that in the Bible,” my professor responded. A seminary professor told me this years ago and I thought he was nuts! At the same time, I was the deer in front of the headlights. So, I did my research and tried for months to prove him wrong—to no avail. After all, most of my mentors on this subject, like Ray Steadman and Walter Martin, were confident and assured that a seven year tribulation and a Rapture would occur; the only debate, as they and I saw it, was what the order and timing was. My other main mentor, Francis Schaeffer, did not consider this a worthy subject; he was an Amillenialist and Reformed and left it there for more effectual pursuits. Perhaps I should have done the same, but I could not leave this alone. It has to be true; if not, why are so many good people teaching this?

So I engaged this subject enthusiastically and aggressively. I wanted to see for myself. I read all the passages and the books on the Rapture I could. I could not find where in the Bible we could get a Rapture.

Yes, I know the passages that Hal Lindsey and others like Scofield used, the ones taught by so many preachers as dogmatic and even essential. The passages used to support a Rapture and a seven year tribulation said nothing to support this. “Why,” I asked, “were they teaching this? How can they rationalize it?” I came to the conclusion, after a lot of homework, that they just did not do their homework well. I found that the only way to come up with a Rapture was to read it into the Bible, because it just is not there. Yes, I was disturbed and confused.

So I spent months in the Fuller Library pouring over all the books—original Greek, scholarly references, and all that anyone had ever said of it. I hunted what is clearly said in God’s Word, using the Inductive techniques I taught in seminars at that time. I wanted to find not what was popular in my theological tradition, but what was biblical and effectual for our faith. Yes, this was tough; a lot of sleepless nights and struggle were spent to look at what I thought I already knew so well. And, this did not stop as a paper; I then spent another ten years carefully researching all the popular end-times scenarios.

What is “Popular” Eschatology?

What is the hot view of Eschatology today?

We have the Dispensational views, the Reformed view, the other variations of Protestant views, and then there is the Catholic and so many subsets of each of these theologies. It should be clear, because God’s Word is clear when we take the time to see eschatological passages in their context, language, and genre structure. We need to see what is actually there, not what we want to be there. Like any other reading pursuit, you do not use a textbook for poetry or poetry for a lecture in biology or give a lecture at a wedding or a lullaby at a deposition in a court of law. That transpires in how you read a text: a novel versus a technical paper or directions.

A textbook is read and examined and notes taken whereas a novel is enjoyed and even skimmed. Language is predicted by its usage, meaning of context, and situation to name a few. This is true for any work of literature, including the Bible as it is a collection of literature, but also God’s Word. If we get this point we can get Eschatology, as the Church has for the most part. But in the last one hundred and fifty years and mainly in the last few decades, many new views of Eschatology have come about. Mainly from the absence of knowing and being willing to learn about the Bible, many factions and infighting and fringe groups have developed.

All because people claiming to know Christ as Lord no longer are effectively reading His Word the Bible; rather, they read into the Bible instead of reading from the Bible. They place into the Bible what they want it to say instead of taking out of the Bible what God actually says.

So people come to His most precious Word and seek what they want instead of what He has for us. These are most of the popular views; they can be fun and make for invigorating discussions. By the way, what is actually there is much more effectual and wondrous than any of our wild popular theories. Thus, when most Christians today get into the subjects of Biblical prophecy, eschatology, end times, and the Second Coming of Jesus, they get it wrong and in so doing make up theories and claim them as dogmatic fact, saying there will be a Rapture, what Israel’s role must be, the rise of an specific Antichrist and what he must do, a Seven year Tribulation, all that “must happen” for or before a Millennial reign and/or Christ Second Coming, and other various sub topics. And their only debate is not their biblical right for these things to exist, but what order, sequence, and what I heard Francis Schaeffer say to me on this, the particulars of nonsense.

Thus, what we have is a multitude of diverse opinions about what Biblical Eschatology is and how it relates to end times and how it affects the Church and Christ’s Second Coming.