Revelation 20–Final Judgment?

> Tom Couchman wrote:
>
> Tom Couchman to James Johnson …
>
> I must say I have never encountered an eschatological
> hypothesis like yours. I can immediately see several
> reasons to doubt that you are correct; however, as it
> is a new take on the prophecies in question I will
> give it some thought and study before I respond.
>

Tom, It is nice to meet you and I appreciate the fact that you have not
rejected out of hand what I have to say.

With regard to my eschatological views there is a story. Several years
ago I recognized that none of the views put forth by any of the expositors
I had ever read were satisfactory. As Foy Wallace had shown in the 30s,
premillennialism is unsatisfactory, for it displaces the Lord from the
reign that He certainly has (Acts 2:34-36, I Cor 15:24-26). However,
brother Wallace’s explanation of Revelation where he taught that
Revelation was all fulfilled in the Roman’s destruction of Jerusalem (the
so-called preterist view) resorted to making large portions of
Revelation that appear to be straightforward narratives of future events
into figures of speech, for which he presumed to find satisfactory
explanation and for which no real evidence was adduced other than he said
so. The preterist interpretation deals with text it cannot harmonize by
assuming it is symbolic. The result is a forced explanation for the text
that also suffers from many inconsistencies as the preterists attempt to
deal with the supposed figures in Revelation.

Other writers, like Beckwith who championed the continuous historical
method, suffer from the same inadequacies as the preterists. The
historical examples offered as explanations of the figures by the
continuous historists are as arbitrary as are those of the preterits. The
proffered explanations are purely the subjective opinions of scholars as
to which historical event might explain a figure. The explanations
offered by this school of interpretation, like the theory of evolution,
are constantly in revision. Such an uncertain, inconsistent, and
arbitrary handling of scripture cannot be correct.

Very anciently, the literal interpretation advocated by Justin Martyr
was the dominanant theory of interpretation of Revelation. His view
prevailed until about the 5th Century. It was then largely abandoned by
the brethren due to the influence of Augustine who favored a very
spiritual interpretation of all aspects of the text, most of which he
assumed to be symbolic. Modern expositors, such as Hendriksen and to a
certain extent Hailey, have taken the preterit and historical approach one
step further. They follow the spiritual approach first developed by
Augustine and have advocated applying the book primarily in a symbolic
sense to the church. Hailey, for example, sees the victory of the saints
being fulfilled in the days of Emperor Constantine when Christianity
became the official religion of Rome. This approach suffers from the same
inadequacies as the preterit and continuous historical. The approach is
both arbitrary in the explanation of symbols and inconsistent in the
handling of scripture.

It is no wonder that brethren, faced with the choices above, have
essentially thrown up their hands in despair at ever coming to an
understanding of the book. Using the above approaches as a philosophical
paradigm, the reader is lead to hopeless confusion and most often despairs
of making any sense from the book. That was my state of mind and my
motivation for a study of the book. I realized that no approach I had
ever read held up under examination. They were all arbitrary and
inconsistent. I concluded that I knew next to nothing about Revelation
and commenced an earnest study, without reference to commentators, to
attempt to discover, if possible, what God was telling me. My eschatology
has grown out of that study.

> Thanks for your efforts and for the work you put into
> your analysis.

Tom, thank you so much for your kind words here. I believe that the
explanation that I set forth regarding Revelation is the only consistent
view of Revelation that I have ever read. It handles the fact that Jesus
is ruling in heaven now and the Isaiah prophecies of a luxurious and
verdant new earth without violating clear meaning of texts, resorting to
multiple comings of Christ, requiring figurative explanations for plain
text, and invoking imaginary explantions for text that is merely assumed
to be figurative. The resultant eschatology is consistent with the
principles of good hermeneutics and the meaning of OT prophecies with
which it harmonizes very well.

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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