3 Mistakes Most People Make When Reading Revelation

3-mistakes-revelationSome people will never tire of spreading a transparency of the text of Revelation over today’s newspaper to look for coincidental correlations, or of gazing into it as though it were some window into an as-yet-future (or in-progress) “seven last years,” attempting to “predict” how those events will play out in our world. This post is not for them.

It is for those who are tired of playing games with Revelation; who are ready to approach it in a new way – as Scripture – and to seek out its word to us in line with best practices in listening to the rest of Scripture. Because Scripture ought to be considered first and foremost as a word to those for whom it was written, from the Lord to give them much-needed guidance. I have found this approach lends itself far better to biblical preaching and to the difficult task of discerning the challenges facing Christians in their settings worldwide.

Mistake #1: Reading Revelation as if it is all about us.

Just as Paul wrote all of his letters to address the challenges facing particular congregations, so John wrote Revelation to address the challenges facing seven real churches in late first-century Roman Asia Minor: “John to the seven churches that are in Asia: Grace to you and peace.” (Rev. 1:4) Comparing this verse to the openings of almost all New Testament letters shows us something important: Revelation is also a letter, and asks to be read as such.

Revelation will speak a word to us as well, of course, but it speaks the clearest and most reliably when we read as we would 1 Corinthians or 1 Peter: when we think about it first as a pastoral word to the actual churches the author cared about, a word that was to be understood by them, to shape their perceptions of their everyday realities, and to motivate faithful responses to their circumstances.

Mistake #2: Reading Revelation as if it is all about our future.

John speaks of his work as “the words of this prophecy” (Rev. 1:3; also 22:7, 10, 18, 19). The first instinct of many interpreters is to think of “prophecy” as “murky prediction about some future event.” Revelation has been read as “prophesying” events in John’s own immediate future (the preterist reading); events spanning the whole time between John’s own and the future, second coming of Jesus (the historicist reading); or events chiefly still yet-to-come for the modern interpreters (the futurist reading). These three approaches share the assumption that, by “prophecy,” John primarily indicates that he is communicating predictions about specific events that will unfold at some point in his first audience’s future, and that his predictions are the interpretative key to the book.

However, if we were to canvass the prophetic utterances of the Hebrew Bible and the phenomenon of prophecy within the New Testament and early Christian worship, we might instead arrive at the conclusion that, while prophecy could include a predictive element, it was primarily a declaration of God’s action in the present. In these cases, prophecy served as an announcement of God’s evaluation of the present actions of God’s people, diagnosing problems and calling for realignment with God’s values.

Prophecy was essentially a “word of the Lord” breaking into the situation of the Lord’s people who need guidance, encouragement, or a call to repentance and recommitment; it was also a regular experience in the worship life at least of the Pauline churches (Rom. 12:6; 1 Cor. 12:10, 28-29; 14:3-4, 23-25, 29-31; Eph. 4:11). Prophecy was the revelation of God’s perspective on a situation that invited a radical re-orientation to one’s circumstances, practices, or pursuits.

In Revelation, the seven so-called “letters”—I prefer the seven “oracles,” as each follows more the pattern of “Thus says the Lord”—to the seven churches are a prime example of early Christian prophecy. The risen and glorified Lord speaks a word to the churches through the prophet John, affirming their strengths, diagnosing their weaknesses, calling them to faithful action, threatening judgment upon the recalcitrant and promising favor for the penitent and faithful. In short, they do precisely what so much of the prophetic corpus of the Old Testament sought to do for the communities of Israel and Judah.

Where a prophet speaks of the future, he or she usually limits the prediction to the immediately forthcoming future, not the distant future: “Yet forty days, and Nineveh will be destroyed”; “There will not be dew nor rain for the next three years”; and the like. John remains within this range, seen in his emphasis on the “imminence” of the confrontations and events he narrates, his conviction that he speaks about “what must soon come to pass” (Rev. 22:6; cf. 1:3, 19; 4:1; 22:7, 10, 12, 20).

Mistake #3: Reading Revelation as a mysterious code, one that we’re in a better position to unlock than anyone else.

On the contrary, we are in a far less privileged position than the Christians in Ephesus or Pergamum when it comes to reading Revelation. Indeed, the realities with which Revelation interacts—the features of a landscape very familiar to its first audiences—are for us elements of a quite distant and foreign landscape. As for being written in “code,” I am convinced that, if a copy of Revelation fell into the hands of a Roman official of even modest intelligence, the subversive intent of its imagery would not be difficult to grasp in the least (especially with dead giveaways like 17:18).

From the very first word of his book (Apokalypsis) John identifies his work as an “unveiling,” not a “cryptic encoding.” Revelation was not sent to those seven churches as a mysterious text needing to be interpreted: it was sent to interpret the world of those readers. The first readers and hearers did not need a special “key” to unlock Revelation; Revelation was the key by which they could unlock the real meaning of what was going on around them, and so respond to it faithfully. Revelation “lifted the veil” from prominent features and persons in the audience’s landscape so that those Christians could see things in their world as they “really were” in light of the bigger picture of God’s purposes for the world, and the larger picture of the great revolt against God, which God would ultimately crush.

Like similar “apocalypses” written in the centuries around the turn of the era, Revelation pulls back the curtain on the larger landscape in terms of heavenly and infernal spaces and personnel and in terms of “how we got here” and “where things are heading,” so as to put the seven churches’ present realities within the interpretive context of a larger, invisible world and a sacred history of God’s activity and carefully defined plan. The gift of the genre is to illumine the moment for the ancient audience: it puts their mundane reality, along with its challenges and options, in its “true” light and proper perspective, so that the faithful responses become evident and advantageous.

How then should we read Revelation?

Reading Revelation as pastoral letter, early Christian prophecy, and apocalypse orients us toward Revelation in a very different way from those who read it as a road map for our future or as a countdown to the end. It orients us to a way of reading, moreover, that coheres better with how we read the rest of Scripture; to a way that helps us hear more of Revelation’s challenge to us in our situation apart from the distracting conversation about determining if or when some “countdown” has begun.

This approach to Revelation summons us to immerse ourselves in the situations of the congregations addressed by John so that we can discover the following:

  1. What practices around and within the churches he found to be objectionable
  2. Whether the churches’ responses to the challenges of living under Christ’s lordship were commendable or objectionable
  3. How communities of disciples could live more fully in line with God’s purposes, seeking justice and wholeness for all people

This gives us a basis from which to discern what questions and challenges John would pose to us as communities of disciples living in the midst of the contemporary social, political, economic, and global orders. Understanding how John brought the resources of Scripture, prayer, and worship to bear on the situations of his congregations gives us direction for our own process of discernment and our task of proclamation.

Ultimately, this enables us to move closer to seeing our world from God’s point of view and, therefore, to knowing how to respond to its challenges and entanglements in a way that reflects more closely our primary allegiance to the “kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ.”

***

desilva-headshotDavid deSilva is a Trustees’ Distinguished Professor of New Testament and Greek at Ashland Theological Seminary. Learn more about this approach to Revelation in his book Unholy Allegiances: Heeding Revelation’s Warning, and in his new Mobile Ed course Introducing the Epistles and Revelation: Their Setting and Message, now on Pre-Pub!

Comments

  1. Eric Theiss says:

    I am saddened, shocked and even frightened that Logos would allow such a narrow view of scriptural interpretaton to be presented as the only view. The tone is insulting, mocking. extremely arrogant, and full of rhetorical fallacies. The scriptural foundation is extremely thin, relying primarily on some quasi-scientific percentage of who the bible was written for.

    To any bible student reading this, consider that Logo’s view is definitely not the only view. This is a hyper-liberal interpretation, and it provides the Preterist the ability to deny any moral stricture. This is a Nicolaitan (above the laity, the laity is stupid if it believes anything else) view, which Revelation says that Jesus hates. Consider the following:

    2Pe 3:3 — 2Pe 3:11 (KJV)
    Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation. For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water: Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished: But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.
    But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
    But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness,

    2Ti 3:1 — 2Ti 3:5 (KJV)
    This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.

    • Holly Marr says:

      Thank you for your thoughts. I would like to respectfully point out that this does not represent Logos’ view point, but merely the view of the author, which was not intended to be considered as the only view; but simply as a view. Indeed the vast field of theology is rife with differing viewpoints, perspectives, and interpretations. Each person is entitled to his or her own perspective, and of course, is entitled to find some perspectives he or she disagrees with. But we did not intend this post to represent some authoritative, final statement endorsed by Faithlife. We’re only sharing the thoughtful perspective of one man, with whom all are welcome to agree or disagree. Thanks again for your response and God bless!

      • Eric Theiss says:

        I don’t understand. This article was featured extremely prominently, as soon as I opened the Logos software. Are you saying that neither the author nor the article was vetted by Logos? If not, then do I get to write my own article, which could be extremely incendiary (but nonetheless biblically accurate in my opinion) and Logos would feature it as prominently and without edits?

        • Tyler Smith says:

          Hi, Eric.

          We’ve been inviting a number of evangelical scholars to contribute Mobile Ed courses, and Dr. deSilva is one of them. We invited Dr. deSilva to write a blog post connected to the subject of his course.

          I also just wanted to let you know that we appreciate your feedback and are taking it under consideration.

          All my best,

          Tyler Smith
          Editor, LogosTalk

      • Mike Hardester says:

        Holly,
        I appreciate your position and understand somewhat what you are trying to say. However, it sounds like political correctness to me. It would be a shame that we as evangelicals fall into the same muck and mire that we find our political system in by allowing ourselves to be open to all and every theological concept that man can come up with.

        I understand that your software is used by many different denominations who have variant interpretations on theology. You provide a wide variety of books and resources that every denominational theologian can use in their churches and Bible studies. However when you allow your editorial home page to be a platform for viewpoints that espouse doctrine that is subject to great disagreement you run the risk of people of all theological persuasions questioning your credibility as a reliable and stable source of Bible study materials

        I do believe that Evangelical Christianity should and can disagree without being disagreeable because there are portions of scripture that leave room for interpretation among Bible students. I noticed that the author of this article responded to two individuals who disagreed with him and I was somewhat surprised with his reply to these individuals. I sensed a attitude of defensiveness that he was being criticized for his article. If a person writes on a very controversial topic, they should expect disagreement and should be gracious enough to respect another persons viewpoint without denigrating that persons viewpoint.

        • Tyler Smith says:

          Mike,

          Thanks for your feedback. We truly appreciate it and are taking it under consideration. Please feel free to share your thoughts with us any time.

          Best,

          Tyler Smith
          Editor, LogosTalk

        • David deSilva says:

          Greetings, Mike. I am going to reply to your post as well. I expect disagreement, but I do not expect my view to be labeled “Nicolaitan” or claims that Jesus “hates” such a viewpoint as I present (yes, Eric actually says this above) or having 2 Peter’s warning against false teachers quoted against me for promoting a well-grounded approach to Revelation that is hardly novel. So, yes, I will respond defensively to such offensive attacks, and, no, I do not respect the viewpoint that I am in league with the Nicolaitans. As for Juli, I certainly didn’t denigrate her viewpoint — I AFFIRMED it and went on to explain my reason for focusing so fully on the meaning of Revelation in its context of utterance. So these two replies were not at all alike.

    • Gordon Johnson says:

      Hmm, reread the article and then read your comments. Which one sounds extremely arrogant and narrow? The author simply put forth his understanding of what the text of Revelation says. Isn’t that what we are supposed to do? Disagree, by all means. But be nice about it.

    • Fred Robbins says:

      It amazes me how so many people can overlook and see only what they want to see in a verse.

      2 Timothy 3:1–5 (NIV84)

      3 But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. 2 People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, 4 treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— 5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them.

      2 Timothy 3:5 (ESV)
      5 having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.

      2 Timothy 3:5 (LEB)
      5 maintaining a form of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid these people.

      2 Timothy 3:5 (HCSB)
      5 holding to the form of godliness but denying its power. Avoid these people!

      If this verse speaks of a time one hundred or even two thousand years later how could Timothy AVOID THESE PEOPLE? Paul is telling Timothy to have nothing to do with the people he just described.

      One must carefully observe each verse to get to the truth.
      Blessings

  2. I agree with you that this should be the first way of approaching Revelations. However, I disagree on some of what you say since the entire old testament was a prophetic utterance about the coming Messiah even while it was written to be understood in the present. I personally believe that God’s Word in it’s parts and as a whole is all three of the interpretations you described precisely because He is the Beginning and the End. I am not a theologian or scholar but have studied His Word for over 35 years and have come to the conclusion that only the true God of creation could write an inspired book about His creation that is all encompassing and entails the totality of human existence from beginning to end whether we can cognitively comprehend it or not. There being a revelation of future events regardless of how they are interpreted by some are there so that those who are true followers will see the signs the time is near for Christ’s return. This produces an urgency in every generation to reach souls. God is God precisely because He is in control of the beginning and the end. John 14:29 is a perfect reference for my point. I realize one can argue that somehow I am taking it out of context but the God I know requires me to study His word where it applied to those it was written too, the generation I am in, and the future he holds in His hands. Revelations is the Great Revealing of time past, present, and future, and it is opened up to Gods people as time moves forward and the coming of Christ gets closer and closer.

    May our Lord continue to Bless you with His wisdom and discernment.

    Most Sincerely.

  3. David A. deSilva says:

    No, Eric, I am not a Nicolaitan, and you are beyond presumptuous to write as you do about me and my reading. I have presented this to laity many times, and they always “get it” — not to say that I think your etymology of “Nicolaitan” as “above the laity” has any merit whatsoever. I’m all about “moral strictures” and not at all Preterist (or Historicist or Futurist or Idealist). And liberals would be deeply insulted to have you group me, a frightfully evangelical scholar passionate about God and Christ’s Church, among them.

    Juli, there’s certainly a place for the “fuller sense” reading of Revelation in line with the “fuller sense” reading of the OT prophecies that you point out. I write as I do because I find so few people willing to read Revelation in its “first sense” as a word to be understood and to reveal something of great importance to the first-century Christians wrestling with the challenges of their Roman imperial setting. How long it was before I ever read Isaiah in its “first sense” as well, as opposed to reading it ONLY as messianic prophecy.

  4. The best way to study Revelation is to first have a good understanding of the book of Daniel.
    (I know saying this might start World War 3)
    1. Read from the KJV of the Bible.
    2. Have a understanding of the 70-weeks of Daniel
    3. Understand that the Church and Israel did not replace each other.

  5. Kenny Ngai says:

    I think when reading Revelation, it would be helpful to try and answer at least the following questions:

    1. Who did John write to?
    2. For what purpose did he write to them?
    3. How did John’s intended audience understand what he wrote? Or how did John’s intended audience understand what they heard John wrote when someone read it aloud in the church? (Quite likely, Revelation would have been read all at once to a congregation of that time).
    4. How might these first-century Christians who heard Revelation have responded to John’s message? What thoughts, actions or attitudes might they have changed or taken on as a result of hearing Revelation read?

  6. The events in Revelations took place in the past. However, these events are still relevant today and will continue to be relevant in the future. Trying to form an argument for just one time period doesn’t make sense. To break the “code” I invite you to study the sacred liturgy of the mass and compare it to the events in Revelations. No matter what, always pray for the Holy Spirit to enlighten your studies.

  7. Actually, the FIRST mistake that the confused-looking, open-mouthed, Revelation student (pictured at the start of this article) is making is that he is not in the book of Revelation. ;-)

  8. What a great post:
    – Encouraging us to approach the Book of Revelation as we do other Scriptures.
    – Encouraging us to first ask what it meant for them before we ask what it means for us.
    – Encouraging us to be open to how others have understood this book.
    – Encouraging us to appreciate the book’s genre and purpose.
    That’s a breath of fresh air.
    I’ll be teaching Revelation next year, and I might even use this post as an orientation handout if you don’t mind, David.
    Thanks.

  9. It is refreshing to hear a perspective on Revelation which points to the need of John’s audience to understand the severe trials going on around them. It takes a lot of courage to fight off the fiction of the “Left Behind” book series that has miss lead generations of people about the book, (that began a new chapter after the old “Garner Ted Armstrong radio program – “The World Tomorrow”.
    This concept helps us understand that those first century Christians were living in “the last days” just like we are. It makes sense of the passage in the first few verses of Revelation where it says, “these things are soon to take place” (and ends with the same phrase).
    It is truly a revelation that reveals to the people of John’s day and is not a play ground for the most creative minds to “run with the ball” of the misnomer of “modern prophets” of the 21st Century.

  10. Carmen Gauvin-O'Donnell says:

    I’ll keep it simple: Amen, David! Well said. As someone once said, “those who believe in reading between the lines… should read the lines themselves!” :-)

  11. Lawrence Hickerson says:

    I found this a very clear and well written article. I must agree with the points presented based on my readings within Zondervan Handbook to the Bible and John MacArthur’s Bible Handbook.

    As with so many comments about Revelations, they usually bring unwanted discourse.

    Thank you; i enjoyed the blog.

  12. This was a good article except for the beginning which is condescending towards those who take a futurist approach to prophetic interpretation. It is not preterists alone who take hermeneutics seriously.

    • Futurist approach is the only approach if you rightly divide the word of truth.

    • David deSilva says:

      I didn’t catch that I was being condescending in that paragraph, but I can see that now. I’ll be more careful as I present my take on “prophecy” in this regard in the future.

      Harry, whenever I think I’m certain about something I remind myself of Paul’s own humility expressed in 1 Cor 13:12. If Paul admitted that to himself, his congregation, and posterity, can we do less?

      • 2 Tim 2:15 (KJV)Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

        But you will not find it in the NIV or EVS. Also Paul did not have the full word of God like we do today. People nowadays cannot read and think for themselves. The only away a person could hold to an non-futurist approach is because it was thought to them by man and not from studying the bible on their own.

        • Fred Robbins says:

          I must say that Paul had a greater understanding than anyone today. Can anyone today put themselves above Paul?

          No one after the Apostles can compare with Paul’s wisdom and knowledge. He wrote and spoke under inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

          Modern wisdom is not even close to the Apostles.

          Blessings

  13. It’s weird to say that a book of cryptic oracles isn’t meant to be “decoded.”

    A wide swathe of scholars have recognized that Revelation is meant to be interpreted symbolically, and you can’t just dismiss this dimension of the book because some people read it poorly or irresponsibly.

    If Revelation wasn’t meant to be further interpreted (as the author of this blog explicitly argues), there wouldn’t be repeated invitations throughout the seven oracles and the remainder of the book inviting readers with “eyes” and ears to investigate further. That’s like saying the parables of the New Testament have no deeper meaning.

    Other than that, the points in this article were pretty solid.

  14. So, then, would you say the Millennial Kingdom is a future event or an event that has already “spiritually” occurred? In Chapter two, when it says to, “write what you have seen, the things that are, and the things to follow these,” was Christ speaking to John about “things” only to come within a few days…or no more than the next 50 years or so?

  15. Mike Hardester says:

    The author of this article wants us to read and interpret the book of Revelation just as we would any of the Pauline Epistles. My approach to reading the whole word of God is to interpret it literally and even when symbolic examples are given we are to interpret them literally.

    The Preterist viewpoint fails to accurately interpret the whole of the book of Revelation because they choose allegory over literal interpretation. If we read no further than the 7 seals we see that over one quarter of the inhabitants of the earth will be killed or die as a result of the judgments of God upon the world. If we read through Revelation chapters 8-9 we see that an additional one third of all inhabitants die. Totaling those percentages up brings us to a total of one half of all inhabitants of earth die as a result of God’s judgment on the world. When in all of history has something like this ever occurred? Surely our history books would not be silent on such catastrophic events that supposedly took place in the first century AD.

    Would the Preterist say that the numbers of people who die in Revelation 6-9 are not valid? To say so is to take away from the Word of God. The only conclusion is that the Futurist view of Revelation is preferable to accurately interpreting apocalyptic scripture.

    I am surprised that Faithlife would allow this article to be printed thereby implying that it is scripturally accurate. We can not allow mans wisdom and knowledge to guide us in interpreting scripture. We must rely on the wisdom of the Holy Spirit to guide us into all truth. Mans wisdom can’t explain the ways of God. This leaves us the only option that we have which is to rely upon a literal interpretation when reading God’s Word, however difficult that may be for our limited minds to comprehend.

    To allow ourselves to interpret God’s word by changing its meaning to satisfy our finite ability to explain and interpret difficult and spectacular events in scripture is dangerous and is in effect adding to or taking away from His Word.

    • larry farrell says:

      Thanks, Mike
      Briefly – it’s good to hear from one who steers clear of the false intellectual view, and tells it as it really reads beyond chapter 3.

  16. Eric Theiss says:

    You call me arrogant, but why? Because I speak against an extremely narrow and dangerous dogma? No, I defend the Gospel. Dr. deSilva can have his view but has no right to mock others by saying it is the only reasonable view.

    I ask you to look at the article, even just the title: isn’t saying that “Most People” make “Mistakes” even a little presumptuous? There are lots and lots of theologians, and simply being “A” theologian does not give the author the right to demean and ridicule every other theologian, pastor and believer that disagrees with his interpretation. The article is obviously dripping with sarcasm, and it discredits anyone who tries to deny it.

    The author may pretend that his view doesn’t allow for the reader to reject anything that the OT and NT says simply because it was written for someone else a very long time ago, but its obvious that his interpretation can and does invite liberality. He’s obviously not Futurist or even Historicist, so if he’s not Preterist then he claims some kind of neutrality?

    My point is that the author’s view is narrow and liberal, and Logos, as a supposedly neutral organization that should not be encouraging division, should never have allowed this narrow and historically recent view to be presented so prominently, without balance or disclaimer. The author’s own title makes it obvious that he is in the minority, and he disagrees with “Most” believers. Logos has lost my business (I want none of this cynical liberality to creep into my study) and they will lose others as well.

    I have tried to present this rebuke of Logos while still being humble about my understanding of the Word of God. Many liberal theologians (pastors, etc) would have the world believe that only they can understand the bible, and enjoy nothing more than to mock those would disagree (Nico=conquer or command, Laitan=the people: its a common and very credible interpretation worthy of respect, not further mockery). Logos has gotten confused about how mainstream this teaching is. And anyway, if I can deny anything that the bible says through this teaching, who’d want to read the bible or buy Logos? His view obviously makes the bible utterly boring and inaccessible. If a person has no idea what the elite would say it makes the bible irrelevant and indecipherable in the life of the believer. Many have noted the correlation between the rise of liberalism and the closure of churches. People say “I don’t need it”, which I interpret to mean that they don’t need some fallible (mocking, prideful, fallible) human telling them what to think: they want to hear the Word without man’s corrupting influence. The un-Churched aren’t stupid; its the Church that has failed them.

    I understand full well that this debate will go on and on, and I will never convince some of you. I have done what I believe the LORD would wish me to do considering how many souls could be misled. I believe what I said is accurate, and will leave this to the LORD to show you further.

    “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge”
    Proverbs 1:7a

    • The problem with Bible Colleges these days is that they have moved a way for studying the word of God. This has lead to false teaches like in the article above and replacement theology and amillennialism (But these are common teaches in the United Methodist Church outside of places like KY and TN)

  17. Cynthia Feenstra says:

    I do agree with Eric Theiss to the extent that this article does sound as if it is the view of Logos, (which more and more I am convinced is the case) and clearly presents one approach. I fail to see where the author offers other approaches, so his view does seem to declare his view to the THE approach.

    Secondly, for Julie, Nick, and any others, I BEG YOU! It is NOT the book of RevelationS… It is the book of Revelation! ONE Revelation.

    Revelation 1:1-3 NASB

    1 The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show to His bond-servants, the things which must soon take place; and He sent and communicated it by His angel to His bond-servant John,
    2 who testified to the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, even to all that he saw.
    3 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.

    It’s hard to seriously take anything you share after reading that blunder.

    • David deSilva says:

      You know, I was just invited to write a guest blog for Faithlife, and this seemed like a good topic. I wish now that I hadn’t.

      Cynthia, what blog presents all points of view fairly? Anywhere? Since when is the goal of a blog the same as that of an entry in a reference work? Blogs all seem to me to be more or less informed “op ed” pieces. And that’s all I’ve tried to do here — present MY best advice on how to read Revelation in a way that respects the fact that almost all Scripture is written contextually and that understanding the situation/environment to which a text is speaking helps us hear the text on its own terms, and that might get us thinking about fresh ways in which this text challenges us to engage our world and discover our witness. Yes, I believe my approach is better than the typical one that so many respondents here seem to favor, for all the reasons I give in the article, or else it wouldn’t be the approach I have followed in several books and a dozen journal articles. No apologies for that; it’s a position at which I’ve arrived only after decades of investment (and, yes, I’ve read the futurist material ad nauseam; indeed, I started out on that fodder when still a teenager).

      But, to all of you who are doing so, please stop blaming Faithlife for inviting me to do a guest blog (and stop blaming them for being open to more well-grounded takes on Revelation that you are comfortable with); blame me for saying “yes” and taking the time to create something for Faithlife’s readers, thinking to do Faithlife a kindness and all of you all a free service.

      • “more well-grounded” Come now.

        I have no problem with Faithlife acting you to write this but you should be ready for when others can prove your off track by rightly dividing the work of truth. (If you cannot find that verse….try looking at a KJV bible)

      • David deSilva says:

        clarifications:

        1. by “a guest blog” I really meant “a guest post” on the blog. I’m sure Faithlife will have other guest posts on Revelation that present a view that the more virulent respondents would approve — and may already have done so! So I’m sure Faithlife’s BLOG is overall quite well-rounded and neutral; my objection is that Cynthia shouldn’t expect my one post to be.

        2. by “more well-grounded takes on Revelation” I mean “a larger number of well-grounded takes on Revelation.” That didn’t come out clearly at all.

      • Fred Robbins says:

        Well said David!

      • Dean Poulos says:

        Dear Dr. deSilva,

        Please accept my apologies. When I first came upon this thread, unfortunately I was unable to read every word of every comment except yours. A scan of most comments revealed what I saw as “negativity towards you simply based on your views,” “people quoting multiple verses of scripture out of context, proceeding with the idea such quotes are of use” and I lastly, I did notice the term “liberal exegesis” was leveled at you.

        I finally had the chance to check in on this thread again and after I saw Ken Allen’s excellent comment, I took the time to read every word of every single post. I can see the examples I provided in defense of you Brother David, were somewhat inadequate.
        Ken Allen made an excellent suggestion and others made some good comments against the attacks, but with the words of each and every post now fresh in mind, as a 26-year Apologist dealing with atheists and agnostics, (some of the direct attacks and accusations made against you are similar in tone to what I’ve heard over the years, excepting the obscene language atheists seem to enjoy).

        The biblical verses being bandied about to support both views, reminded me of a FOOL like Clinton Dawkings who has a habit of quoting what he calls the OT Canaanite massacres. He does it when backed into a corner. I believe I am still with the directives of 1 Pt. 3.15-16:

        15. Sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts and always be ready to provide a reasoned defense to anyone who asks how you possess this blessed hope; calmly and respectfully, 16. holding to integrity, so those who slander your noble manner in Christ, are buried in humiliation when they attempt to accuse you. [Emphasis in the Greek, is feebly accuse], but I do not add words to scripture.

        I can call Dawkins a FOOL, since: “The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.”” I meant Richard Dawkins, Clinton is his first name and he can’t stand it. I think he has some “daddy issues.” ; – )

        What was disturbing Davif, with one exception, is many of these attacks came from believers. Also, one person who does not seem like a believer, did not attack you. (perhaps his post was made with more than just typos and in haste I hope). We’ll see.

        The few things I pointed out David, e.g., that an author I respect and agree with almost 3/4 of the time, Michael Eisner, also recently posted a similar commentary and I simply pointed out, I did not agree with his or your viewpoint. I also defended your method of exegesis in general, and stated I believe to demean the posts or people, in and of itself should be avoided, and to go head to head on an exegesis of Covenant vs. Dispensational Theology as a whole and again, to try to throw out scripture quotes never works. In ending, I said: “let’s remember who our master is and His command on how to treat our brothers and sisters in Christ, if we agree on all points or not.

        Then I read the comments and I saw attacks for the most part, no coherent counter arguments except bible verses and most unrelated to your commentary.

        I do hope my friend Tyler does not “look into anything,” since there is nothing to look into. ; – ) He has to be diplomatic, he works for Logos, I don’t. He’s also a very nice person.

        Your commentary is yours Dr. Silva and I would think less of Logos if they do not encourage you and others to make contributions. Those who disagree should present respectful and valid arguments, not diatribes, insults and not name calling.

        Wait to complain about a guest commentator, if Logos ever has Rob Bell or some other emergent make one (which I seriously doubt).

        Lastly, it seems some people here don’t get it. A large percent of Christendom (Protestant and Greek Orthodox) still cling to the early dating and Covenant Theology, which means they would accept Dr. daSilvas’ reading. Some of the most Conservative Calvinists cling to Covenant. OK, I admit, I don’t understand why the Roman Catholic Church would agree with the late date, they invented Covenant Theology. Perhaps the correct latte dating is too ingrained in their tradition.

        Anyway, my intent is not to rehash that discussion, it was to make clear Christians should not be attacking fellow Christians, leave that to the atheists. Disagree, learn the facts and debate, but don’t attack.

      • Cynthia Feenstra says:

        Hello Dr. deSilva:

        I just read your responses to my post. By the tone of your response to my post, I realize that I failed to convey my meaning. It’s so very difficult in words. Let me try again.

        I was not referring to your approach (although I don’t wholly agree with it). The point I was trying to make (and obviously failed), is that when an author is invited to guest write, and writes on a COMPANY’S Blog, and present only one approach, it makes it sound as if THAT is the Company’s viewpoint as well. That’s all I was saying. So, you are certainly entitled to your view point, and on your own personal blog, I never would have though anything of it. However, since you are writing FOR Faithlife, and you only mentioned ONE approach, it sounds as if that is Faithlife’s approach as well. That’s all I was saying.

        I am TRULY SORRY that you feel attacked here, as you certainly are. I find several of the responsive posts flat out inflammatory and rude and disrespectful to you and your faith, and if you in any way felt I should be lumped in that group, that was certainly not my intent and I ask, from the very depths of my heart, for your forgiveness. That was not my intent at all. I clearly did not use nor choose my words wisely, and I regret any hurt or frustration I caused in any way.

        I’m sorry.

  18. Fred Robbins says:

    I think David deSilva makes some great points. How can one place the events of Revelation into the future when at the beginning and ending of the book says this?

    Revelation 1:1 (NIV84)
    1 The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John,

    Revelation 1:3 (NIV84)
    3 Blessed is the one who reads the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near.

    Revelation 22:7 (NIV84)
    7 “Behold, I am coming soon! Blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy in this book.”

    Revelation 22:10–11 (NIV84)
    10 Then he told me, “Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, because the time is near. 11 Let him who does wrong continue to do wrong; let him who is vile continue to be vile; let him who does right continue to do right; and let him who is holy continue to be holy.”

    Revelation 22:12 (NIV84)
    12 “Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done.

    I take that literally!

  19. Ted Brassard says:

    After reading, with much interest, both the article and the comments, I find myself wondering if I have been overly simplistic in my interpretation of Revelations. I am in full agreement with the author’s view that there are many christians that fail to read revelations in the “first sense.” This, I believe is due to the fact that most modern writers have taken a purely futurist view of Revelations and produced “thrillers” rather than scholarly works.

    In one of his responses the author speaks of there being room for a “fuller view” of the book. What I would consider the “fuller view” has for me been very simple in that I have always read Revelations with the understanding of “prophetic double reference.” I believe that the book was written to John’s generationas a pastoral epistle while having, within its words a prophetic message for future generation. As it was read to the churches of the day the words of John would have had very powerful implications to their current state and they would not have necessarily viewed those words as a prophecy. As history unfolds see the prophetic value of John’s words.

  20. Thank you David. Much appreciated! Especially the final section on “How then…”
    It seems to me that what you have written is the proper way to interpret scripture. Instead of speaking our thoughts into scripture we should be humble and let scripture speak for itself. We cannot rush to application until we have done a good amount of background checks on the text. How can we say this is what Revelation is about if we haven’t a clue as to the writer, audience and the situation they faced? Undertaking proper exegesis gives merit to the message of the book.

  21. Dean Poulos says:

    I steer clear of making comments to posts on the book of Revelation with respect to book itself. I’ll explain why with the hope it makes sense to Dr. Silva, and to those who have objections to his post. Two quick points first. I am not implying the post should not have been made and to those who seem to be saying David’s method of exegesis [in and of itself] is inaccurate, are wrong. A social-scientific analysis, bearing in mind the culture of the time is NOT an inherent liberal hermeneutic. If condensed to even one simplistic benefit, it is how we know there are no contradictions in the book of James. We first ask: Who is James writing to? Certainly not to 12 unnamed Native American tribes. James was writing to Jewish Believers (Jas 1.1, to the twelve tribes scattered or dispersed among the Gentiles).

    Michael also posted a commentary on the book of Revelation a short time ago, and I agree with 67.5% of what Mike says, (e.g., most of the content in his recent books “The Unseen Realm,” in particular for me, combined with his excellent contributions to the Faithlife Study Bible). He has also greatly helped my continued struggle some of the more obscure nuances of Hebrew.

    That said, I no more agree with Mike’s post on the book of Revelation than I do David’s.

    However, I believe to demean the posts or people, in and of itself should be avoided, and to go head to head on an exegesis, or try to quote scripture never works. In fact, the way Dr. Silva outlined his post is interesting to say the least and those points I will address.

    However, in the end I will make ONE single argument that has nothing whatsoever to do with specific passages, and add a short outline of the first two parts of the book to illustrate my contrast to David’s outline. That’s it.

    Unfortunately, so far NO ONE has been able to overcome the ONE single argument I will present and the manner in which I will support it here, contains only tiny fraction of the data to back it up.

    I’m also not sure I can claim a doctrinal bias. I’m a Premillennial Reformed Baptist. Over the last 5 years more and more of my reformed brethren are casting aside the Romanist Theology most still cling to. The reason I am given by friends who I then call “Old Calvinist Converts” is when they view the awesome power of a Sovereign God, this Power and Sovereignty to work all things according to His plan is best explained when His Word speaks for itself and is not interpreted by playing exegetical acrobatics and “spiritualizing” or “Originizing,” the text.

    I suppose this brings us to my one argument.

    Origin (Mr. Allegory himself) is one of the church Fathers on record who of course agreed with the Domitianic and NOT the Neronic dating. So, the reason I do not comment on the book of Revelation is because that is not where the true argument lies.

    First, anyone commenting on the book IMHO should first address and attempt to defend the earlier dating to Nero, (A.D. 54–68) or the Neronic dating, as opposed to the correct dating, when Emperor Domitian sent John to the island of Patmos where the book of Revelations was written (A.D. 95–96).

    Thus, barring someone making a very, very large post attempting to defend all aspects of Covenant Theology compared to Dispensational Theology, discussing the book of Revelation without the dating being first defended I believe is fruitless.

    Before I forget, Eric, you made an interesting comment which will relate to part of what I have to say.

    “This is a Nicolaitan (above the laity, the laity is stupid if it believes anything else) view, which Revelation says that Jesus hates.”

    The verses you posted have nothing to do with the Nicolaitans and I am not saying you meant them to. May I ask where you came up with such a meaning? It is rare for people to get it right, the only reason the meaning you cited (better rendered as “Ruler(s)” “Above” the “Laity”) came natural to me is because it is composed of three Greek nouns and I was born Greek Orthodox. The rest of the explanation is too long and complicated, however, a web search with the following terms will reveal much:

    Google: “Greek Orthodox (Laity). Yep, they still call them that.

    Just curious Eric, didn’t mean to digress.

    OK, so why is the early date wrong?

    Dr. Silva, I am going to use a few of your quotes first since I agree with some.

    “Some people will never tire of spreading a transparency of the text of Revelation over today’s newspaper to look for coincidental correlations, or of gazing into it as though it were some window into an as-yet-future (or in-progress) “seven last years,” attempting to “predict” how those events will play out in our world.”

    David, what you have said above is a problem that can happen when silly people make “Left Behind” movies and some Christians actually watch them, or worse, take them seriously.

    People who truly understand the Book of Revelation and the bible as revealed by God have no need to “gaze” or speculate about any 7 years (the “time of Jacob’s troubles,”) since we won’t be here when they take place.

    Also, your quote does NOT happen when you read, as one example, Lewis Sperry Chafer’s 8 volume Systematic Theology. Or, Dr. Charles Ryrie who went home to be with the Lord earlier this year. Countless more, however, the single best is Chafer. He outdid Schofield, his teacher.

    Now, let me respectfully address your three points, Dr. Silva and provide my timeline as well as very simple defense of the dating of the book.

    “Mistake #1: Reading Revelation as if it is all about us.”

    I’m not sure if I agree with your first point the way you put it. If you had said the letters to the churches were not directed to us, but each church is related to a TYPE of church as we have passed and are passing through the age of Grace, for example, based on the current state of the church today, I’d say we’re a mirror of Laodicea.

    By TYPE I mean the Passover Lamb, as a TYPE for Christ, Melchizedek king of Salem, as a TYPE of Christ Heb. 7.1-3 “For this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God, met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him, 2 and to him Abraham apportioned a tenth part of everything. He is first, by translation of his name, king of righteousness, and then he is also king of Salem, that is, king of peace. 3 He is without father or mother or genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but resembling the Son of God he continues a priest forever.

    BTW Brother David, I do have a sense of humor with my reformed Brethren. While I the quote ESV at times, and think it’s a decent translation, (a bit wordy in some parts) most of my reformed Brethren love the ESV. I have yet to find an English version I really like, the KJV is nice for its poetic reading pleasure. It was also the first English bible I read, but I am a major fan of Bruce Metzger (who also dated Revelation to A.D. 95-96), but where the humor comes in is when I enjoy the opportunity to quote the opening summary to the Book of Revelation in their beloved ESV:

    “The revelation of Jesus Christ” (1:1) was written by the apostle John while in exile on the island of Patmos, off the coast of present-day Turkey. It was addressed to seven actual churches. Revelation begins with letters from Christ himself to these churches, letters that include commendation, criticism, and comfort. Then comes a long series of visions of judgment on the wicked, all in highly symbolic language. The church is depicted under great distress but is assured of the final triumph of Jesus as “King of kings and Lord of lords” (19:16), bringing to an end the rebellion of humanity and ushering in “a new heaven and a new earth” (21:1), where God himself will reign forever and ever (11:15). Revelation was probably written A.D. 95–96.”

    There is one problem with the above description, this quote: .

    “The church is depicted under great distress but is assured of the final triumph of Jesus as “King of kings and Lord of lords” (19:16)”

    Where is the church depicted under great distress? The words “church” or “churches,” (mentioned 19 times) 18 in chapters 1-3, not ONCE AGAIN until almost the end of the book in Rev. 22.16. The body of Christ will not see wrath.

    “Mistake #2: Reading Revelation as if it is all about our future.”

    I agree but if someone can’t discern that Christ is also speaking to the 7 churches in Asia at the time, should stop reading Revelation and begin with 1st John. .

    “Mistake #3: Reading Revelation as a mysterious code, one that we’re in a better position to unlock than anyone else.”

    Absolute AGREEMENT on Revelation NOT being a mysterious code. It’s fairly simple. Here is how I break it down and how I also prove the dating (just one of many ways)

    Breakdown is three parts (with a focus on the 1st two since after that, it’s ALL ABOUT THE FUTURE. :

    1. What John saw immediately: Rev 1.1-20 which ends with the command to write: 1.19, 20

    2. Events which were taking place in the present time and Types (not a major topic for this discussion) all written to the churches Rev 2.1-3.22.

    OK, I would like anyone’s opinion on “Spiritual Conditions,” however this is minute point when set against the written testimony of church fathers, combined with the exegetical acrobatics one must rely on not only in a commentary on the book of Revelation, but what in my opinion must be the first point of discussion as I alluded to above.

    A complete exegesis (with no deviations) of Covenant Theology (including its origin in the Roman Catholic Church), must be placed side by side with a complete exegesis (with no deviations) of Dispensational theology.

    That is the only way people of good will who are brothers and sisters in Christ should be discussing this topic for a full picture. While many claim the difference is between a purely literal and allegorical approach to hermeneutics, this is NOT accurate.

    Dispensational theology more easily can see allegory, poetry, figures of speech, etc., since it reads the bible as written, however, a careful study of the original language and a proper use of grammar must be employed. The last thing which should ever be done is to read the New Testament into the Old. This of course does not mean, for example, understanding the prophesies of Christ, which Covenant theology does not deny, nor does Covenant theology deny many OT prophesies are not completely fulfilled. That is unless they wish to deny any second coming at all and they do not.

    Also, when I say a “proper use” of the grammar, I am not limiting myself.

    Verbal Clauses, as one small example cannot simply set aside differences between temporal and conditional clauses. Aspect, form, and tense must not be altered, to “spiritualize” a text, which is one way an exegesis can claim Israel has been set aside and is now the church (replacement theology).

    Here is an excellent quote from a paper written by Steve Runge, whose Logos’ employee blog is called NT Discourse. Dr. Runge is Scholar-in-Residence at Logos Bible Software and this paper is titled:

    “The Verbal Aspect of the Historical Present (HP) Indicative in Narrative.”

    For example, the following quote in regards to the Koine a mixed tense/aspect language (any emphasis is mine):

    “The remarkable consistency exemplified by the distributional data calls for a wider analysis of the usage not only in the NT, but more broadly in Koine. Decker states, [[“an approach which attempts to minimize semantic exceptions and which simplifies grammatical explanation (without sacrificing precision) is to be preferred.”]]75

    75 Decker, Temporal deixis, 39. (Steven Runge, http://www.ntdiscourse.org).

    The paper with the above quote and so very much more which Dr. Runge authored may be downloaded by anyone with an interest: http://www.ntdiscourse.org/docs/ReconsideringHP.pdf

    I believe what is outlined above is crystal clear when applied and may be condensed to simply:

    “Let scripture interpret itself.” Or, perhaps the Occam’s razor of hermeneutics. “Simplification of grammar, is to be preferred, w/o the sacrifice of precision.”

    Quick Disclaimer: I never have, nor ever would ask Dr. Runge anything about his theology. The inclusion of a quote and link to a paper he authored is simply that. An excellent paper. Although the quote I cited in part supports my hermeneutical approach, this in no way is a comment on the beliefs of Dr. Runge. Frankly, Steve’s theology would not matter to me in either case, he is a brilliant man and I’ve learned much from reading his work. Even as a native Greek, with 10++ years of Koine, I have yet to even ask Steve a question. He’s operating on a different level IMHO. Lastly, because my own doctrinal beliefs are Reformed, it also does not mean I do not have the highest regard for someone like RC Sproul, Sr. who holds to Covenant Theology. (Praise the Lord he is doing well).

    I digressed, but the minute point I wanted to make concerning “events taking place in the present time” when it concerns the very few who still fight to advocate for an earlier date to Nero, (A.D. 54–68) or the Neronic date, can come up with no coherent explanation for the spiritual decline in most of the churches.

    QUESTION: If the Neronic dating of the 54-68 is accurate, someone would need to come up with some very convincing logic to explain Paul. The short amount of time between Paul’s missionary journey to Asia Minor and the end of Nero’s reign is way too short for what is being said of the spiritual decline. The later date also explains how the Nicolaitans (Rev. 2.6,15) (or better put, a Nicolaitan order) came to power.

    Why are the Nicolaitans in none of Paul’s letters? Not even to the Ephesians????

    No scholars on either side have issues with the dating of Paul’s letters and this presents the few advocates of the Neronic dating with one of the most powerful hurdles to jump.

    QUESTION: How does dating Revelation during Nero’s reign allow enough time for John’s ministry in Asia Minor to get to the point where the authorities had to expel him?

    Or, was he on Patmos 28 years? How, since Domitian put him there?

    Domitian’s reign came to an end in 96 A.D. when he was assassinated and succeeded the same day by Nerva.

    “With the Christians, [Nerva] ignored those who wanted them persecuted and, instead, treated them like other citizens, punishing them only when they deserved it. http://www.pbs.org/empires/romans/empire/nerva_trajan.html.

    “The well-known reference book Foxe’s Book of Martyrs says that the apostle John, as punishment for being a believer in Christ, was thrown into a cauldron of boiling oil. The Emperor Domitian then (as if that were not enough) sent John to the island of Patmos (which is near the coast of Asia Minor and the city of Ephesus). It was during his time on the island that John, likely around 95 A.D., wrote the book of Revelation. When Emperor Nerva came to power he released John from his island imprisonment. John seems to have been the only one of Jesus’ original twelve apostles who escape a violent death.” http://www.biblestudy.org/question/how-did-apostle-john-die.html

    The book “Got Questions” is also available digitized now on for Logos.

    FINAL questions for Brother David or anyone:

    What does the correct dating of the book of Revelation do to any commentaries that think it was written for Christians only for up to A.D. 70 (AKA Covenant Theology)?

    I’d love to go on with so much more, the early church father references etc., but really, the bit of Logic using Paul who wrote Ephesians when in a Roman jail about A.D. 60-61 seems to present a major problem.

    The few who advocate the early date have such a wide range of other reasons I can certainly get into if needed, however, the range being 54-68 A.D. must immediately change to 62-68 A.D. and it can’t (other problems not for this post)

    BUT, If that change to at least 62-68 is not made, early date advocates must claim that Paul’s beloved Ephesians could have been in this state as late as 8 years BEFORE his letter.

    1. Abandoned their first love
    2. Fallen; needing to repent, and do the works they did at first. FIRST WHEN?
    3. Or, they lost their lampstand from its place, unless they repent. BUT:
    4. Yet this you have: you hate the works of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate

    Again: FIRST WHEN?

    Lastly:

    Did Paul just miss what is basically the ecclesiastical power structure which began to develop and begin to consider the Laity (or the Members of the Body of Christ) to be inferior to the chain of command?

    Not only was the spiritual state of the Ephesian church not anywhere close to how it is described before Paul wrote the letter, it never would have made it to such a state in 6 short years.

    We are talking about the early churches, not the time of a Pope in power.

    The thing of it is, with all the arguments back and forth, how Covenant Theology Spiritualizes and even must disregard the most crystal clear words of Christ about His 1,000 year Davidic reign on earth. However, what’s pushing it is, during this reign is is said the nations will still be around, it’s not yet time for the new earth. There are also NOT two second comings, there are only one. It begins with the 1,000 year reign, a remnant of Jews (as always) are saved and the Kingdom promise is kept. During what is an “earthly reign” people don’t just sit there, they iive and Christ must rule with an Iron Rod because there is still sin even with Satan locked up.

    So, why is he released for just a little while, with just enough time to get the Nations together for the final battle which is QUICK. Done, new heaven and new earth.

    See how scripture harmonizes so easily, no jumping through hoops, no ignoring blocks and locks of text as allegory, when it’s so technically specific (by technically I mean the grammar) when the words are just read.

    If anything I hope people can see why I don’t like to comment on just the book of Revelation, until it’s dated at the very least and then that date would need to be, well, I already went over that.

    In ending, let’s remember who our master is and His command on how to treat our brother and sisters in Christ, if we agree on all points or not.

    In His name,

    Dean

  22. Ken Allen says:

    I am going to be leading a small group study of the book of Revelation this fall. When this post came up in my reading this morning it caught my attention. I read the article and was not particularly offended at the content. After reading a few of the comments, I went back and re-read the article and then read all of the posts.

    After reading all the comments I must say that the only word that comes to mind is sad. I am sad that fellow Christians feel the need to be so defensive.
    I can agree with Mr. Theiss, that maybe different words could have been chosen for the head line. Maybe the article could have been worded differently but I understood from context of where I found the article and from who the author is that this is one person, presenting one idea / methodology / context for the interpretation of one book of the bible.

    The commentary responses to the Author and to each other really do make me sad. It is from this kind of reaction that relationships and therefore churches split and the work of the Holy Spirit is hindered in the world. If you disagree say so. If you have another way, say so. At the end of the day pray for healing and patience and the ability to work along side someone that you may strongly disagree with.

    In the world of social media that we live in, it has come to be common practice to say anything that happens to run across our brain, how ever painful it might be to someone else. Please try to remember in the online world non of us have the opportunity to look into the face of the person we are addressing, to ask questions or clarify why someone used the words they did or see beyond the written word. If we could maybe we would not be so harsh in our judgments.

    I will be adding a prayer for tolerance and better communication to my prayer list.

    • Churches split because people do not rightly divide the word of truth (2 Tim 2:15). If people would do this there would be fewer church splits.

  23. I have one simple question…..If Revelation has already happened why is there whales and fish in the ocean.

    The second angel poured out his bowl into the sea, and it became like the blood of a corpse, and every living thing died that was in the sea.
    Revelation 16:3 ESV

  24. I do not agree with this article at all. However we all make up the body of Christ. Are we praying for each other? do we love each other? Are we provoking one another unto love or strife? We will never agree on everything. but lets agree to disagree and pray for God to bind us together in unity and love. We need unity to survive.
    God bless you all!

    Not all who cry Lord Lord will enter the kingdom of Heaven, but only those who do the will of my father.

    • Rom 16:17 (KJV) Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them

      The preterism, postmillennialism, and amillennialism views are false teachings. Anyone that righly divided the word of truth like they are command to in 2 Tim 2:15 (KJV) can see this.

  25. Fred Robbins says:

    Well Dean, your post was awesome, your certainty is astonishing and your reliance on the church fathers is hilarious.

    In my opinion, the church fathers were overrated philosophers attempting a power grab for their own benefit.

    The first 400 years after the apostles were just plain terrible in the so-called church history and it kept going down hill since.

    No one can be certain when the book of Revelation was written let alone what it means.

    Like the rest of the NT books, the book of Revelation had importance to those who it was written to.

    Revelation 1:3 (NIV84)
    3 Blessed is the one who reads the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near.

    Revelation 22:10 (NIV84)
    10 Then he told me, “Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, because the time is near.

    Revelation 22:18–19 (NIV84)
    18 I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book. 19 And if anyone takes words away from this book of prophecy, God will take away from him his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.

    The Bible is not a crystal ball to tell “US” what the future will be. It was telling those first century Christians what God was doing and to exercise endurance and patients for what shortly was about to happen. If you take away from that church what was meant for them then you show a disrespect for them and an utter ignorance for the word of God.

    Our lack of understanding the book of Revelation stems from time, culture and language plus it was not written to us.

    People can have whatever idea they want about the book of Revelation but if the full truth is ever revealed people with humble hearts and attitudes will know it. The understanding will not be expressed in a dogmatic, righteous I know all, attitude. Until then I hope a pleasant discussion and debate for the truth can happen.

    Blessing

  26. Fred Robbins says:

    I guess I have to rant here. It has been many years since I have partaken in an online discussion. I guess the response to David deSilva’s blog entry hit me at the wrong time. I stopped engaging in online forum discussions because they were so rude and unkind and it was rubbing off on me so I had to stop being like others and that meant not voicing my opinions to others. I would still browse the posts shaking my head at the meanness that was expressed by those who were to love their brothers and sisters.

    I used to argue over the pre, mid, and post tribulation rapture along with other Calvinist and Arminian theology, thinking I had a good outlook on the issues. How deceived I was and didn’t even know it at the time. I didn’t like what I had become, arrogant, dogmatic and trying to suppress other views that weren’t mine.

    What I find in this discussion is the same as so many other ones. The futurist makes their arguments, not on Scripture, but condemning others as heretics trying to degrade other views and people who hold them. Since the church fathers, there has been those who try to suppress the opposing views.

    They may quote a verse but without comment thinking that will solve the problem. Well is doesn’t. I have presented in some of my posts verses with a short comment yet none has made an effort to respond. Why is that?

    What were the last days in the Bible? The last days of what? How long do last days last? The last days of one’s life are not that long. The last days of a company or industry are not that long. So many believe that the last days refer to the end of the world. Where does it say that in the Bible? The last days would be 2000 years plus? That doesn’t make much sense. To some, the Bible doesn’t have to make sense.

    Can I get a response to the verses I have quoted in my other posts? Does anyone really want to get into a real discussion of the book of Revelation or do you just want to make snide comments?

    Put forth your Scriptures with comments and see how they will hold up to scrutiny. I have. I know this is not the place for that kind of discussion it is just used to put down others.

    Blessing

  27. Dean Poulos says:

    Harry, you commented:

    “2 Tim 2:15 (KJV)Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
    But you will not find it in the NIV or EVS”

    Harry, what is the EVS? The “Eternal Version Synthesized?” : – ) It’s not the DPV that’s for certain…You may mean the ESV, which is odd, since that version employs many figures of speech and can be so brutally literal, it gets clumsy.

    Anyway, you made me look Harry, since to me the Greek the word is a figure of speech for cutting, or maybe cutting a straight road, used in the NT but mostly in the LXX and other sources.

    Both versions you mention it seems render ὀρθοτομέω as handling. I don’t care how many of my Reformed Brethren like the ESV, and while I don’t mind it compared to some others, I’ve never read the 2 Tm 2.15 verse in English in those versions. It’s wrong in both.

    A more accurate translation (only in some places) but still wrong, (and really, really wordy) is the NET which renders the passage:

    “Make every effort to present yourself before God as a proven worker who does not need to be ashamed, teaching the message of truth accurately.

    Interestingly, the NET does shares the same syntactical rendering of the KJV. It also placed the word where at least the meaning makes more sense.

    Accurately = ὀρθοτομέω, but it fails to get to the “root” (no pun intended) of the problem (ὀρθός, τέμνω).

    From BDAG:

    “In the NT Pr 3:6; 11:5, where it is used w. ὁδούς and plainly means ‘cut a path in a straight direction’ or ‘cut a road across country (that is forested or otherwise difficult to pass through) in a straight direction’, so that the traveler may go directly to his destination (cp. Thu. 2, 100, 2 ὁδοὺς εὐθείας ἔτεμε; Hdt. 4, 136 τετμημένη ὁδός; Pla., Leg. 7, 810e; Plut., Galba 24, 7; Jos., C. Ap. 1, 309). Then ὀρθοτομεῖν τὸν λόγον τῆς ἀληθείας would mean guide the word of truth along a straight path (like a road that goes straight to its goal), without being turned aside by wordy debates or impious talk 2 Ti 2:15.”

    The spiffy, get to the point translation could be something like:

    Let your study demonstrate you as one approved of God, with no shame as you (cut a straight path through) or (rightly divide) the Word of truth. “Rightly Divide” is less words and means the same thing. I like the Occam’s razor approach: “Rightly Divide.”

    Those two versions that use “assemble” I don’t think is intentional, what would be the point? The translator just wasn’t “thinking in Greek” for that verse.

    1 Biblical Studies Press, The NET Bible First Edition; Bible. English. NET Bible.; The NET Bible (Biblical Studies Press, 2005), p. 2 Ti 2:15

    2 Arndt, William, Frederick W. Danker, and Walter Bauer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000), p. 722

  28. Dean Poulos says:

    Fred Robbins , thank you!

    I found one of your comments insightful and refreshing. (the other comments you made, which I first read as incoherent, I apologize, I took out of context. Having read your primary premise, would lead to the other comments falling in line with your world view). That said:

    I did not realize Logos had such a far reach.

    “Well Dean, your post was awesome,”

    I KNOW IT WAS FRED, but it was NOT my post. Any knowledge or talents I may possess, are not my own, but gifts of God. I personally, know nothing, nor am I anything in this world, I glory as a servant of Christ, and He gets that glory as well. .

    “your certainty is astonishing and your reliance on the church fathers is hilarious. In my opinion, the church fathers were overrated philosophers attempting a power grab for their own benefit.”

    Just curious Fred, which church Fathers (plural) was I reliant on? I used Pauline logic and treated the issue as an apologetic. I mentioned only one person from the early church, (Origin, who was NOT an early church father) and I mentioned him in a negative sense, since he interpreted the book of Revelation in a Preterist Amillennial manner, the same way the book is being viewed in this post. Yet, due to his proximity (185 A.D. – 254 A.D.) to what I kept referring to as the “early church fathers” even he knew the dating of the book of Revelation.

    Suggestion Fred: Go look up Polycarp. John’s disciple and witness to dating of Revelation, and then look-up Polycarp’s young student, Tertullian, who writes about the A.D. 95 dating of the Apocalypse and one and on, you need not go past 6 people and 175 A.D. for the dating.

    “The first 400 years after the apostles were just plain terrible in the so-called church history and it kept going down hill since.”

    Most atheists agree with you, since from 300-400 A.D. the doctrine of the Trinity was challenged as was the divinity of Christ and people like Athanasius (an overrated philosopher) destroyed the Arian heresy and Christians today all benefit from the work of these overrated philosophers.

    “No one can be certain when the book of Revelation was written let alone what it means.”

    Please attempt to write accurately Fred. What you meant to say is:

    I FRED, can never be certain when the book of Revelation was written let alone what it means.

    I AGREE. Now, here comes the best of the best from you Fred.

    “Like the rest of the NT books, the book of Revelation had importance to those who it was written to.”

    Hmm. Guess what Fred? A much younger “overrated philosopher” is going to put in plain syllogistic logic what you have told everyone. Let’s bring everything together first and to simplify make it one sentence, with no change to YOUR WORDS.

    Quoting you Fred:

    “No one can be certain when the book of Revelation was written let alone what it means, like the rest of the NT books, the book of Revelation had importance to those who it was written to.”

    Let’s see if I have this right:

    Minor Premise I: The book of Revelation is part of the New testament books.

    Minor Premise II: No one can date the book of Revelation like ALL THE REST of the New Testament books

    Minor Premise III: The book of Revelation and all the books of the new testament only had importance to the people they were written to, AND at the time they were written.

    Minor Premise IV: None of the New Testament has any meaning to us today, we cannot date any of it, nor is any of the New Testament meant for us anyway..

    Conclusion based on Fred: None of the NT can be dated, nor does it have any meaning or importance to any of us today.

    Excellent. Join Dawkins on the debate circle. Once more, your own words:

    (“like the rest of the NT books, the book of Revelation had importance to those who it was written to.”)

    OK brother Fred, now that I went through your post, I no longer think you’re NOT a believer, despite that what you have said above sounded like a bad rant of the deceased Christopher Hitchens. However, Hitchens was at least funny, he had that British accent thing going, was a bit of a wordsmith, but still could never once formulate a coherent argument in a debate with anyone.

    I suggest you meditate on Proverbs 17.28 Fred and apply its meaning to your written word in the hopes you will chose your next statements more carefully and BTW spend a few bucks on Lighfoots’ early church Fathers, I think it’s in English by now: Learn something. Early Church Fathers = “Apostolic Fathers.”

    TABLE OF CONTENTS
    THE EPISTLES OF CLEMENT OF ROME
    THE GENUINE EPISTLE TO THE CORINTHIANS
    Introduction
    Translation
    AN ANCIENT HOMILY, COMMONLY CALLED THE SECOND EPISTLE
    Introduction
    Translation
    THE EPISTLES OF S. IGNATIUS
    Introduction
    Translation
    THE EPISTLE OF S. POLYCARP
    Introduction
    Translation
    THE MARTYRDOM OF S. POLYCARP
    Introduction
    Translation
    THE DIDACHE, OR TEACHING OF THE APOSTLES
    Introduction
    Translation
    THE EPISTLE OF BARNABAS
    Introduction
    Translation
    THE SHEPHERD OF HERMAS
    Introduction
    Translation
    THE EPISTLE TO DIOGNETUS
    Introduction
    Translation
    THE FRAGMENTS OF PAPIAS
    Introduction
    Translation

    THE RELIQUES OF THE ELDERS PRESERVED IN IRENÆUS
    Translation

    SYMBOLS AND ABBREVIATIONS EMPLOYED
    INDEX OF SCRIPTURAL PASSAGES
    MAP TO ILLUSTRATE THE EPISTLES OF S. IGNATIUS

    “Lightfoot, Joseph Barber, and J. R. Harmer, The Apostolic Fathers (London: Macmillan and Co., 1891), pp. xi – xii”

    • Fred Robbins says:

      Well Dean, you made my point. These discussions never focus on the Scriptures but just beating each other up.

      You have your idea of Revelation but you will not put it to the test. You won’t talk about the Scriptures.

      Do you people see how this turns out? I commented on Scriptures yet no one took up the challenge. Do you see how fast I shut you up when it comes to the Word?

      These posts are just insults and this is the church???