Theories of Interpreting Revelation

Spiritualist—Revelation is a highly symbolic book about Christianity, the church, and the world to come. 
Continuous historist—views Revelation as history written in advance.  Revelation is largely figures of history from the time of John until the end of the world.  These are just a special case of the spiritualists. 
Futurist—includes premillennialists like Hal Lindsay and the Left Behind novels 
Preterist/Preterit—Revelation (and all Bible prophecy) was a prophecy of the wrath of God visited upon the Jews in the Destruction of Jerusalem (DOJ).  Full preterists say nothing in prophecy remains to be fulfilled.  Partial preterists say that most of Revelation except for Rev 21-22 was fulfilled in the DOJ. 

Truth about Revelation—Revelation is a book showing the complete power of the Lamb over all creation.  

Chapter 1 shows Christ as High Priest.  

Chapters 2 and 3 show Christ as King.  

Chapter 4 shows the throne of God as it was before the Coronation of Christ.  

Chapter 5 shows the Coronation of Christ.  

Chapters 6 and 7 show the opening of the first six seals that show Christ’s power over heaven and earth.  

Chapters 8-20 describe the seventh seal wherein Christ is given power over the course of human history.  The description of His power over history is broken into three segments:  the fate of the Jews (8-14), the fate of the nations (15-19), and the fate of the church (19-20).  

Chapters 21-22 show the reward of the righteous. 

Problems with various theories: 

Spiritualists—their explanation of the supposed symbology in Revelation is based almost entirely upon the imagination of the expositor.  The explanations offered have no basis in scripture to establish the interpretations.  This approach is worthless unless the explanation rests upon a key in the Bible where the figure is explained (e.g. Rev 1:20, 12:9). 

Continuous historists—since this view is a special case of the spiritualists, it suffers from the same deficiencies.  No basis can be found for the explanations except in the mind of the expositor.  It is largely worthless unless based upon Bible keys (e.g. Dan 2:38-39) 

Preterists—they take the position they do based upon problems they have with difficult scriptures such as “some standing here will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God come with power” (Mk 9:1).  The objections they raise can be satisfactorily answered.  Their theory founders on very serious objections: 

1) Full preterism leaves Christianity with no hope.  Every man is destined to die and even if the world eventually becomes a utopia, as they believe, men will still have to die and leave it.  Full preterism has no hope of the resurrection of the dead for it is past already. 

2) Revelation was written in AD 96.  The writing of the book was AFTER the DOJ and cannot be a prophecy of the end of the world 

3) Preterism is another special case of the spiritualist methodology.  It rests upon the imagination of the expositor and has no basis in scripture.  It is a completely specious theory. 

Futurists—These expositors view the Revelation as largely a revelation of the end of the world.  They are correct in that aspect of their theory.  However, they believe that Christ will return to reign for only 1000 years based on Rev 20:4.  The problems with their view are: 

1) They do not believe Jesus is king now whereas the Bible teaches that He is (Rev 19:16, Mt 28:18) 

2) They believe that Christ will return to earth, reign for 1000 years and lose His kingdom at the burning of the earth (II Pet 3:12).  However, the Bible teaches that Christ will reign forever when He sits on the throne of David (Isa 9:7, Ezek 37:25, Lk 1:32-33).  

3) The premillennialists teach that people will be saved through the 1000 years after the Second Coming.  The Bible teaches that when Christ comes He will raise the righteous and burn the earth, and all flesh will die (I Thes 4:13-17, II Thes 1:7-9, Isa 13:12, Isa 66:16, Jer 25:31).  

4) The premillennialists teach that the thousand year reign of Christ is on the earth, while Rev 20:4 shows that His 1000 year reign is in heaven and occurs before the resurrection of the righteous on the Last Day (I Thes 4:16), because He reigns while spirits in heaven are still there as disembodied spirits before they receive their resurrected bodies (Rev 20:4).  While Christ reigns in heaven (Rev 3:21) the souls of the righteous dead are there with Him before they are resurrected (Rev 20:4, cp I Cor 5:3, 5, Php 1:23).

About James Johnson

Bible student for 60 years. Preacher of the gospel for over 40 years. Author of commentary on Revelation, All Power to the Lamb. Married with children. Worked in aerospace and computer engineering for over 40 years.
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