Revelation, Book of (historical exegesis)
Such an historical interpretation would have been completely intelligible to Old Testament literate first century Christians after John's release from exile on Patmos, and would have been seen by them as a great encouragement and consolation from God during periods of persecution. One of the fundamental principles of current Christian scholarship holds that each book of the Bible is more fully understood when it is seen through the eyes of those who first received it. But this is only possible with a thorough knowledge of all the scriptures of the Old and New Testaments and of the history of the whole of the ancient period from 1000 B.C. through A.D. 100, together with a knowledge of first century Christianity under the persecution of pagan Roman authority. An historical exegesis of the Book of Revelation from this point of view thus seeks to represent an interpretation of its original meaning according to the "literal sense of scripture".
This article will include a brief description of the 12 main schools of interpretation, as a means of clearly contrasting and clarifying the method of an historical exegetical interpretation of the Book of Revelation. It is a form of what conservative Christian biblical scholars call the lower criticism, or legitimate textual criticism—the technical term "criticism" simply meaning "analysis". After a summary of the 12 common approaches to interpreting the Revelation, an example of an historical exegetical interpretation is provided for clarification, including links to Bible passages, followed by a table of historical and scriptural parallel correspondences.
See Historical-critical method (Higher criticism) for an explanation of legitimate textual criticism.
- 1 Historical Method
- 2 12 schools of interpretation
- 3 Interpretive controversy
- 4 Pattern of History
- 5 The Last Hour and the End of Time
- 6 The Resurrection Body, and the Destruction of the Universe by Fire
- 7 The Interpretive Context of an Historical Exegesis
- 8 Antichrist
- 9 Perseverance
- 10 Three major divisions in the Book of Revelation
- 11 Significant differences in interpretation
- 12 Rapture
- 13 Millennium
- 14 Catholic interpretation
- 15 How an historical exegesis differs from the main schools of interpretation
- 16 Historical exegetical outline of chapters 6 through 16 of Revelation
- 17 Historical exegesis of the Book of Revelation: A concise summary of scriptural and historical parallels
- 17.1 Dilemma: The crisis of understanding at the time of John
- 17.2 "What you see": Vision of the history of the people of God
- 17.3 Old Testament
- 17.4 Maccabees
- 17.4.1 Seal seven: Jaddua to Onias, high priestly intercession
- 17.4.2 The censer, the judgment of corruption, and the first four trumpets
- 220.127.116.11 The First Trumpet: Alexander the Great
- 18.104.22.168 The Second Trumpet: Death of Alexander, the Seleucid-Ptolemaic Wars
- 22.214.171.124 The Third Trumpet: The Corrupt High Priest Jason and the Poison of Hellenism
- 126.96.36.199 The Fourth Trumpet: Assassination of Onias III, The Darkening Suppression of Jewish Doctrine
- 17.4.3 Antiochus IV Epiphanes and the Syrian persecution
- 17.4.4 The angel wrapped in a cloud, and the seven thunders: the Maccabean martyrs
- 17.4.5 The temple given over to the Syrian Greeks to trample 42 months: three and a half years
- 17.4.6 The Two Witnesses: Judas Maccabeus and Jonathan Apphus: 1260 days, three and a half years
- 17.4.7 The Seventh Trumpet: Hasmonean rule: "The kingdom of our Lord and of his Anointed"
- 17.5 Interval: From John Hyrcanus to the death of Herod
- 17.6 New Testament
- 17.6.1 The woman clothed with the sun, and the dragon: Roman oppression and the birth of Christ
- 17.6.2 The beast from the sea and the beast out of the earth: Coponius, Archelaus, Pontius Pilate
- 17.6.3 The number of the beast: NRWN QSR 666: the covenant with Rome
- 17.6.4 The Lamb of God on Zion, the 144 thousand, and the three angels proclaiming judgment
- 17.6.5 Holy Week, the Crucifixion of Christ, and the Preaching of the Gospel
- 188.8.131.52 Chapter 15: The cleansing of the temple
- 184.108.40.206 Chapter 16: The Seven Plagues
- 220.127.116.11.1 The First Plague: the Hypocrisy and Corruption of the Priests
- 18.104.22.168.2 The Second Plague: the Inner Uncleanness of the Sadducees, Scribes and Pharisees
- 22.214.171.124.3 The Third Plague; the Bloodguilt of Jerusalem
- 126.96.36.199.4 The Fourth Plague: Destruction of Jerusalem, Fiery Judgments on the Nations
- 188.8.131.52.5 The Fifth Plague: Kingdoms and Nations in Darkness and Agonizing Turmoil
- 184.108.40.206.6 The Sixth Plague: the Irrevocable Parthian Attack and the Roman Response
- 220.127.116.11.7 The Seventh Plague: the Crucifixion of Jesus and the Earthquake
- 18.104.22.168.8 The three-fold division of mankind into Jew, Pagan, and Christian
- 22.214.171.124.9 Vesuvius, and the Christian condemnation of sin
- 17.7 "What is": the Present Persecution in Light of the Past
- 17.8 The future: "What is to happen hereafter"
- 17.9 What John is not shown: the future announced and described but not seen
- 17.10 The things that have been, are now, and will be
- 17.10.1 The Marriage Supper of the Lamb
- 17.10.2 The conquering Word of God and the armies of heaven
- 17.10.3 The first resurrection
- 17.10.4 What John does not see
- 17.10.5 The loosing of Satan, and the Second Death
- 17.10.6 The destruction of the whole universe by fire is not described
- 17.10.7 The new heaven and the new earth: the city of God, the body of Christ
- 17.10.8 The Warning
- 18 Strengths and weaknesses
- 18.1 The main strength of this interpretive exegesis
- 18.2 Weaknesses of this approach
- 18.2.1 Textual Criticism (The Lower Criticism)
- 18.2.2 Grammatical objections: future interpreted as past
- 19 Many legitimate approaches to interpretation
- 20 Table of historical parallels to the rest of scripture in the Book of Revelation
- 20.1 What Was: The Past: Seven Seals, Seven Trumpets, Seven Plagues: Chapters 6 through 16: Pattern of Salvation History
- 20.2 What Is: The Present: The Lord's Day on Patmos, in the Spirit: Chapters 1 through 5: the Vision of Jesus, and the Angel
- 20.3 What Shall Be, and What Is: The Future and the Present, on Patmos: Chapters 17 through 22: Rome, and the Church
- 21 References and notes
- 22 See also
- 23 External links
- 24 Resources
The process of developing an historical interpretation of The Revelation by the method of textual exegesis is basically as follows:
In reading the Apocalypse/Revelation to John, the reader or exegete thoroughly familiar with the whole of the Bible may spontaneously note that the words of a passage or verse seem to read as a suggestive parallel to a particular text in the Old or New Testaments.
- For example, the words of Revelation 7:14 "These are they who have come out of the great tribulation" can be seen as a parallel to the texts of Deuteronomy 4:30 "when you are in tribulation", Ezra 1:4 and Ezra 6:20, and Nehemiah 7:6 "These were the people...who came up out of the captivity".
- And John 19:30, "It is finished", can be seen as a parallel to Revelation 16:17 "and a great voice came out of the temple from the throne, saying, 'It is done!' "
The reader then forms the hypothesis: If the spontaneously suggestive parallel correspondences noted do in fact indicate a more complete correspondence of the text of the Revelation to the whole of the Old and New Testaments, then a thorough and careful reading of the entire Book of Revelation with this approach in mind will disclose an exact one-to-one correspondence between it and the entire history contained in the whole of the Bible. And this may (or may not) improve understanding and appreciation of the message of the book.
The reader then tests the hypothesis, section by section, chapter by chapter, verse by verse and line by line, even checking the variant meanings of particular words. If difficulties are encountered, a review of possibly erroneous assumptions is made; and if these can be reasonably revised or corrected and the difficulties can be resolved in support of the hypothesis, the reader proceeds with the experiment. And if through careful and respectful analysis of the content of the text exact one-to-one correspondences are found, then the approach of this method may be deemed by the reader-researcher to be sound.
The reader-researcher may or may not then choose to publish the result of this Bible study. If it is published, the proposed findings, and conclusion (if any), are then subjected to careful peer review by biblical scholars, who then accept or reject the results of the research or study. Commentary by various writers follows, their critique analyzing the methodology the author used, and defending or attacking the conclusions of the study. A publication of the author's historical interpretation through the forum of the popular press or electronic media may or may not meet with general acceptance by the population. The Christian community as a whole will accept or reject it, and may be divided in its opinion of the work.
The method of historical exegetical interpretation views the Revelation as a visionary exposition of the whole of salvation history; beginning most probably with the law of Moses and the kingdom of David and Solomon; and then through the tribulation of the conquests and bloodshed and sieges of Assyria and Babylon and the fall of Jerusalem around 587 B.C. and the return from exile at the time of Ezra and Nehemiah and Esther; and then through the Maccabean and New Testament periods; and up through the time of John in exile on Patmos during the persecution of Christianity by Domitian around A.D. 95.
The Revelation is viewed as concluding with both a prophetic announcement of the future downfall of the Roman empire, as the destruction to come of the harlot of Babylon, and a spiritual vision of the glory of the Church as the New Jerusalem, the bride of the Lamb. The Church is revealed as the dwelling of God with men, which ever since her beginning on the day of Pentecost unceasingly comes down out of heaven from God, a city with an impregnable wall of salvation, transparent as glass or crystal illumined with fire, like a precious gem (Isaiah 28:16, Tobit 13:15-18), adorned with the beauty and richness of salvation and priestly holiness (1 Peter 2:4-9, Exodus 19:6, 1 Chronicles 16:23-36); and within it the throne of God and the Lamb, from the midst of which flows the river of the water of life through the street of the city with the tree of life on either side of the river, producing year-round spiritual nourishment, and light and healing for the nations; whose gates are never shut, and nothing unclean shall enter her (Ephesians 5:5). Nations throughout Christian history since the time of Constantine have brought their wealth and glory into it.
John is told to not seal up the words of the prophesy of this book, because the time is near. The angel who reveals the Revelation to John tells him to let the evildoer still do evil, the filthy still be filthy, the righteous still do right, and the holy still be holy (Matthew 13:30). Jesus is coming, to repay every one for what he has done. Outside are dogs, sorcerers, fornicators, murderers, idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices deceit. All who desire to do so are invited to take the water of life without price. All who hear the book read to them are blessed, and are warned not to add to or take away from its words.
An historical exegetical interpretation sees the imagery presented to John on Patmos as a form of divine metaphor, not as symbols of poetic allegory. Taking each image as a living metaphor of its spiritual reality is a means of interpreting its most literal sense. Therefore, in this method of interpretation John actually saw what he describes, and the images he saw are genuine manifestations of the true spiritual natures of what he saw. They are not symbols.
- For example:
- a male terrorist who is a vicious lion or poisonous serpent in hiding waiting to strike.
- This description is not symbolical but metaphorical in its accurate description of the obvious character of the man. A survivor of a militant extremist attack, when asked what she saw, might say, "I saw a mad animal killing innocent people." No one says she is using symbolic language or that she actually saw an animal acting as an allegorical symbol of a man.
John's descriptions also do not employ simile. The angel does not say the images he saw are "like" real events or individuals, but their appearances are interpreted by the angel as being what they are in reality. The seven stars in the hand "are" in fact the angels of the seven candlesticks or lampstands which "are" in fact seven churches in Asia Minor. He is seeing their spiritual reality. The harlot on the scarlet beast "is" in fact that city at the time of John which dominated the kings of the earth throughout Europe and the Middle East, and the image of her appearance which he saw is an accurate manifestation of her essential inner character. This is the literal sense. The literal sense should not be confused with a literalist interpretation. And likewise, an exegetical interpretation should not be confused with an evangelical interpretation, although some exegetical interpretations may in fact be evangelical.
Because of its literal (not literalist) approach to understanding the historical content and message of the book, an historical exegetical interpretation, according to the method of conservative Christian textual analysis by means of the Lower Criticism or Textual Criticism, differs significantly from the interpretations of the 12 main schools of interpretation of Revelation common today in America, and it should not be confused or identified with any one of them.
12 schools of interpretation
The most common schools of biblical interpretation of the Book of Revelation include
Each of these approaches will be briefly described in sections below.
An interpretive historical exegesis of Revelation should not be confused with the "historicist" school of interpretation. And while the school of "partial preterism" appears in some points to more closely approximate an historical exegetical interpretation, there are also some important differences in the two approaches, which distinctly separates them.
Controversy and debate, and sometimes even violent academic and theological opposition, has historically attended every one of the interpretive views of each of the 12 schools of interpretation since before the time of the Reformation and well into the 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries. This one is no exception.
Pattern of History
Christians in times of persecution have been able to draw from this book increased consolation and hope to remain faithful, both from the promises and warnings it contains from Jesus himself, and from the pattern of history as more clearly revealed by the angel sent to John with this revelation from Jesus, who received it from God the Father.
Moreover, those struggling Christians who were tempted to commit apostasy—"the cowardly, the faithless" Revelation 21:8—and those who practiced impurity—"the polluted", Jude 4; Revelation 21:8—had also clear warning from God through Christ in this book that if they turn away from him their lot would be with "murderers, fornicators, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars...in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death": Revelation 21:8, see 22:14. Such a warning is motivated solely by the compassion of the Lord: "... not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance." (2 Peter 3:9; compare Deuteronomy 30:19-20). See Hebrews 9:27.
In an historical exegetical interpretation of the Revelation to John, the visions presented to him reference the past history of both Israel and the Church as examples of patience and endurance for the present, and for the future. This is wholly consistent with those multiple passages in the New Testament which reference the past as examples of perseverance, offering lessons of encouragement and hope firmly grounded on faith:
- The Epistle to the Hebrews, in particular Hebrews 11 and Hebrews 3:5–4:13
- Romans 4:16-25 and 11:17-22
- 2 Timothy 3:9, in the context of verses 1-15
- James 5:7-11 and 17-18
- 2 Peter 2:1-16 and 3:3-18
- Jude 5-23.
In the Bible in the Old Testament Book of Judges 2:7-19 a repeated historical pattern is revealed. The pattern of history and tribulation revealed to John by the angel of Jesus in the Book of Revelation has similarly been seen as repeated many times over the past three millennia including periods of severe tribulation. St. Paul himself declared that "through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God." Acts 14:22. And Jesus told his apostles, "you will be delivered up to tribulation" Matthew 24:9 and 36. He also said, "In the world you will have tribulation" John 16:33. Nevertheless, Christians expect one last great final time of tribulation that will come upon all who dwell on the face of the whole earth before the definitive culmination and climax of history at a time predetermined by and known only to God the Father (Matthew 24:21; Luke 21:35). Jesus himself said, "It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has fixed by his own authority." (Acts 1:7). See Mark 13:35-37.
The Last Hour and the End of Time
Many passages in the New Testament at the time of writing declare that the time of Jesus and the apostles on earth is the final hour, the end of the ages, the time of the end or end of time. When these are not understood according to the tradition of the Church and are taken out of that context, their meaning is distorted and misrepresented. Warnings against this appear in the New Testament (for example, 2 Peter 3, in particular verses 16 and 17, and 2 Thessalonians 2:1-2 and 15).
See the following passages:
Matthew 4:17 the Messiah as the culmination of history and commentaries
Mark 1:15 and commentaries
Luke 4:21 and commentaries
John 12:31 and commentaries
1 Corinthians 7:31 and commentaries
1 Corinthians 10:11 and commentaries
Hebrews 9:26 and commentaries
1 Peter 4:7 and commentaries
1 John 2:18 and commentaries
Jude 14-18, in particular verse 18 and commentaries
An historical exegetical interpretation of the Revelation sees the book as written within the context of the whole of the Bible, God the Holy Spirit Himself the primary Author. See 2 Timothy 2:13-18.
The Resurrection Body, and the Destruction of the Universe by Fire
The Resurrection Body
The Book of Revelation does not include explicit descriptions of the spiritual body of those who are resurrected from the dead. "Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven." (1 Corinthians 15:49 and commentaries.)
The historical exegete can arguably point out that within the context of the book itself John testifies that he saw that the "souls" of those who had been beheaded "came to life", but that he does not say that their "bodies" came to life. And that he also does not testify that those who "came to life, and reigned with Christ a thousand years", shone like the stars and the sun in radiant brightness. The text of Revelation 20:4 is taken as an affirmation of new life in baptism (see 1 Peter 3:21 and commentaries). While this is true of the text, and cannot be denied, that is, that this passage does not say their bodies were raised to life, Christian tradition includes the final resurrection of the body itself, and the radiance of it, at the last judgment, as implicit in this passage of the Revelation, within the context of the whole of the New Testament.
|“||Lo! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable nature must put on the imperishable, and this mortal nature must put on immortality. (1 Corinthians 15:51-53 RSVCE)||”|
The Destruction of the Universe by Fire
The Book of Revelation does not include explicit descriptions of the destruction of the physical universe by fire.
|“||But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist have been stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.... But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a loud noise, and the elements will be dissolved with fire, and the earth and the works that are upon it will be burned up. Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of persons ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be kindled and dissolved, and the elements will melt with fire! But according to his promise we wait for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. (2 Peter 3:7, 10-13 RSVCE)||”|
Revelation 20:7-15 describes the destruction of the nations, Gog and Magog, by fire, and states that Death and Hades and anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life were thrown into the lake of fire. But it does not explicitly state that the whole entirety of the heavens and the earth and the elements of the physical universe will pass away and melt with fire at the last judgment. The historical exegete can point out that this is nowhere found within the Book of Revelation, and that it is not in fact the main message of the book. It is a certainty that those who have absolutely rejected God will be condemned to be thrown bodily into the lake of fire, the second death, but the Revelation does not speak directly of the destruction of whole of the heavens and the earth and the elements of the universe with fire. John is not shown this, and it is not described by the angel. Nevertheless, Christian tradition sees this final cataclysm as implicit in the fulfillment of Revelation 21:1 "Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more."
The historical exegete points out that God then says in John's hearing, "Behold, I make all things new!". This is taken as parallel to the teaching of God himself through St. Paul in 2 Corinthians 5:17 and Galatians 6:15. See Romans 6:6, 1 Corinthians 5:7-8, Ephesians 4:22, Hebrews 8:13, Matthew 9:16-17.
The Christian who has come to life in Christ Jesus as a member of His body sees the whole of existence new, and all that had been before has now passed away. The Christian is a new creature of God and all of life has been transformed. This is the literal sense of scripture drawn from the text by an historical exegesis of its context. This is not the final destruction of the heavens and the earth and the melting of the elements of the whole of the universe on the final day of judgment. That final cataclysmic destruction is included by the biblical exegete within the allegorical and anagogical senses of scripture in the reading of the Revelation; but it is not taken as part of an historical exegesis of its most literal sense, as the primary message of the book. The destruction of the whole of the universe itself with fire is not included explicitly in the Book of Revelation. Nevertheless, it is a part of Christian tradition, as included elsewhere in the New Testament.
The Interpretive Context of an Historical Exegesis
Just as in the science of biblical hermeneutics it is illicit to take any one verse or passage of scripture out of the context of the book of which it is part, and interpret its meaning in isolation (Prooftext), so a truly valid exegesis of any book of the Bible is made only within the context of the entire Bible. By the same principle, any interpretation and exegesis of the Bible as a whole, outside of the context of the understanding of ancient first and second century Christianity as a whole, is defective, and a violation of its meaning. See Galatians 1:6-9 and 2 Thessalonians 2:15. This is a priori (from the first) the principle informing the interpretive approach of an historical exegesis of the Book of Revelation. Those passages of scripture which declare the time of the end and the last hour as concurrent with the Church, are principal to the understanding of any historical exegetical approach to interpreting the Apocalypse of John, within the context of the Bible and the community of the ancient apostolic Church of the first and second centuries.
See article Scripture interprets scripture.
The word "antichrist" does not appear in the Book of Revelation. The author of the First Letter of John in the latter half of the first century declares that the very time the letter was written was the last hour, because even then there were many antichrists 1 John 2:18. These are people who finally denied Christ and left 1 John 2:19.
|“||Who is the liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, he who denies the Father and the Son. No one who denies the Son has the Father. He who confesses the Son has the Father also. Let what you heard from the beginning abide in you. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, then you will abide in the Son and in the Father. And this is what he has promised us, eternal life. 1 John 2:22.||”|
According to an historical exegetical interpretation this is the same message as the message of the Revelation. Compare Jesus' words in John 14:23 with the words of the great voice from the throne in Revelation 21:3.
Jesus told his disciples, "Because wickedness is multiplied, most men's love will grow cold. But he who endures to the end will be saved." Matthew 24:13 "By your endurance you will gain your lives." Luke 21:19
The Book of Revelation contains the same message, in passages in which the Spirit of Jesus gives the faithful both encouragement and powerful incentive to persevere in the faith:
- Revelation 2:7, 2:11, 2:17, 2:26, 3:5, 3:12, 3:21, 13:10, 14:11, 14:12, 14:13, 20:4, 20:6, 20:15, 21:3, 21:6, 21:7, 21:27, 22:12, 22:14
This is the primary purpose and value of this book to Christians. Compare 2 Peter 3:9.
Three major divisions in the Book of Revelation
John in obedience to Jesus' command wrote down in a book the three divisions of history revealed to him (Revelation 1:19):
- "what you see"
- "what is"
- "and what is to take place hereafter"
"What you see"
According to an historical interpretation of the Book of Revelation, "what you see" is not only all of the vision presented to John on the island of Patmos, but more especially the visionary representation which was shown to him of the history of the people of God from the time past through to the time of the preaching of the Gospel in his own time during the first century:
- chapters 6 through 16.
According to an historical interpretation of the Book of Revelation, "what is" pertains to the time of the persecution of Christians by the Jews and by the pagan Roman Empire under the emperors from Nero through Domitian during the lifetime of John:
- chapters 1 through 5,
- chapter 17, and
- chapters 21 through 22.
"What is to take place hereafter"
According to an historical interpretation of the Book of Revelation, "What is to take place hereafter" is a revelation of the inevitable judgment and future destruction of the pagan Roman Empire and the triumph of Christianity:
- chapters 18 through 20.
Significant differences in interpretation
It is evident that an exegetical historical interpretation such as the one outlined above differs significantly from the interpretation of Dispensationalists and other Fundamentalists, and that it also differs significantly from the interpretations of liberal Christians and the distorted views of some researchers who abuse the legitimate tools of higher criticism to advance their own agenda.
Five common methods of interpretation
Five main methods of interpreting the Book of Revelation are commonly used: idealism, preterism, partial preterism, futurism, and historicism.
- Idealists view the prophecies of both Daniel and Revelation as symbolic representations of eternal truths about good and evil, and try to create spiritual lessons from the text for themselves and for their readers and students and congregations. There are probably as many idealist interpretations of these materials as there are interpreters. Because of their tendency to focus on the broad outlines of the prophecies rather than the fine details, idealists also reapply prophecies to their own time, depending on the situation at hand. In general the idealist view is marked by a refusal to identify any of the images with specific future events, whether in the history of the church or with regard to the end of all things.
- Richard Goswiller and C. Wilson say that the idealist view originated with the Alexandrian School of Theology represented by Clement and Origen, who (consistent with their other teachings) taught that the "true spiritual interpretation" of the book could only be discovered through an allegorical interpretation.
- Alan Johnson says that, as a system of interpretation, idealism is more recent than the three other schools, preterist, futurist and historicist, and somewhat more difficult to distinguish from earlier allegorizing approaches of the Alexandrians (Clement and Origen).
- Robert H. Mounce and Grant R. Osborne provide representative summaries of the idealist interpretation.
- The preterist method views most everything in Revelation as relating to John's time and usually rejects continuous divine involvement in human affairs. For those who believe in this method there is no prediction of the future in Revelation: God did not tell John the future. According to Johnson the system first appeared in connection with a Spanish Jesuit named Alcasar (ca. 1614) who initially developed some of its particulars. It is held by a great number of scholars today, including those from a more liberal perspective.
- For some adherents of this method (a minority), there is no God to foretell the future, so that ipso facto (by that fact) for them it is a priori impossible for prophecy to accurately predict the future, and therefore, prophetic writings constitute only commentary about the present time of the prophets in their day. Thus everything in the Book of Revelation was completely fulfilled in the first century, including the Second Coming of Christ, the resurrection of the dead and the Last Judgment. This view is represented by the writings and opinions of liberalist scholars ranging from Marcus Borg to Raymond E. Brown.
- Preterism has been excluded and condemned by the historical creeds of the Christian Church. See article Preterism (Theopedia.com)
- See also conservative evangelical article Preterism a Damnable Heresy (letgodbetrue.com) citing abundant scriptural refutations of preterism.
- Compare defense of preterism in article What About the Creeds and Church History? by Don K. Preston. As a representative of the full preterist position, he presents an analytical discussion of preterist rejections of the meanings of scriptures used to refute preterism, preterist rejections of traditional Christian understandings (readings) of scripture regarding the Parousia (Second Coming); preterist rejections of the historical creeds of the ecumenical councils as doctrines not generated by the promised continuing guidance of the Holy Spirit (John 16:13) through the leaders of the Church (Hebrews 13:17); preterist rejections of the authority of the Catholic magisterium; preterist rejections of the doctrines of the Reformers and of mainstream Reformation Protestant theology; and he discusses both the charge that "preterism claims the Church has been in error since the end of the first century", and the claims that preterism is not supported by the Bible.
- A modified stance called Partial Preterism is held by the Catholic Church and most mainstream Protestant denominations in the 21st century, according to which almost all of the Book of Revelation has been or is now fulfilled, and only the Second Coming of Christ and the general resurrection of the dead and the final judgment remains to be realized in fullness at the End of Time. See Partial Preterism (christianeschatology.com)
- An example of the view of Partial Preterism can be found in the USCCB online New American Bible, Revised Edition (NABRE) in the footnotes to the Book of Revelation (usccb.org.)
- Believers in this method have exactly the opposite interpretation of the Preterists. Futurists see almost everything in Revelation as occurring just before the Second Coming of Jesus and onward. These events have not yet happened, but are about to happen, very soon.
- “The Futuristic School, founded by the Jesuit Ribera in 1591, looks for Antichrist, Babylon, and a rebuilt temple in Jerusalem, at the end of the Christian Dispensation...[By contrast] The Praeterist School, founded by the Jesuit Alcasar in 1614, explains the Revelation by the Fall of Jerusalem, or by the fall of Pagan Rome in 410 A.D.”
- “Ribera thrust the Antichrist into the future, confined to 3 1/2 literal years; Alcazar pushed Antichrist back into the early centuries—Both of them outside the Middle Ages and the Reformation period, designated by all Protestants for Antichrist’s reign of 1260 literal years.”
- A classic example of futurist interpretation is found in the doctrine of Dispensationalism as expressed in Scofield's Reference Notes by Cyrus I. Scofield, in what is commonly called the Scofield Reference Bible, and more recently in the frequently revised and updated editions of the best-selling 1970 book The Late, Great Planet Earth by Hal Lindsey with Carole C. Carlson, and first published by Zondervan. The book was adapted by Rolf Forsberg and Robert Amram in 1976 into a movie narrated by Orson Welles and released by Pacific International Enterprises. Lindsey and Carlson went on to write several sequels, including Satan is Alive and Well on Planet Earth and The 1980s: Countdown to Armageddon. Others include Hebert W. Armstrong of the Worldwide Church of God, and Harold Camping of Family Radio who famously announced that the Second Coming of Christ and Judgment Day would occur on or about September 6, 1994. Camping later predicted that Jesus Christ would return to Earth on May 21, 2011, that the saved would be immediately taken up to heaven in the rapture, and that there would follow five months of fire, brimstone and plagues on Earth, with millions of people dying each day, culminating on October 21, 2011, with the final destruction of the world.
- A notable corollary to the doctrine of futurism is the fact that statistically its adherents as a whole are not especially noted for building and contributing to the support of hospitals, orphanages and nursing homes to care for the sick, the weak, the poor, the helpless, and the dying. In contrast to this, cities throughout the entire United States and its territories, and throughout Europe and Africa, have reputable Catholic, Lutheran, and mainstream Evangelical Christian Social Services centers explicitly established and funded by church donations, regularly collected monthly and annually, to minister to the needs of individuals and their families, frequently in coordinated efforts involving civil, state and federal relief agencies and care facilities, which futurists sincerely regard as Satanic.
- According to the historicist viewpoint, Daniel and Revelation were symbolic presentations of future history spanning either from the days of Daniel until the end of the millennium after the second coming of Jesus, or from the days of John until the end of the millennium after the second coming of Jesus. Historicists see history represented in Daniel and Revelation as an ongoing progression through time, graphically demonstrated and presented through symbolic means. They see a matching correspondence between these symbols and the actual events of history that progresses through time. In this view the Revelation presents a chart of all of church history, excluding the Old Testament history of Israel. Different groups and stages of history are represented through the whole book showing the progress of human history from John’s time until the return of Christ. Some interpreters who follow this view believe that the seven churches are not necessarily restricted to seven local churches in John’s day in Asia Minor but are paradigmatic of churches throughout the ages until the return of Jesus.
- Interpretations in this view often include key events. One example of historicist interpretation during the Middle ages is the medieval church’s identification of the Beast from the sea in Revelation 13 with the rise of Islam. A later historicist method of interpretation understands the events described in the Book of Revelation as referring to actual events from the beginning of the church until the time of the interpreter. This understanding was adopted and applied by the Protestant reformers. A widely-known illustration of an historicist reading of the Book of Revelation today is the Reformation identification of the harlot Babylon in Revelation 17 with the Roman Catholic Church and the papacy. The historicist method itself, as a particularly distinct methodology of interpretation, apparently had a somewhat spurious beginning with a monastic named Joachim of Floris (d. 1602).
- As successive decades and centuries presented newer crises, the historicist method was applied and reapplied and interpretations were updated, to show that the time of the end is identified with the time of the current historicist interpreter. According to Robert H. Mounce, in the historicist view, "the Apocalypse was held to sketch the history of western Europe through the various popes, the Protestant Reformation, the French revolution, and individual leaders such as Charlemagne and Mussolini." An example of this view can be seen in the 19th century preaching of the Millerites culminating in the Great Disappointment, which was afterward modified to exclude specific dating of the end and today is found in the doctrine of the Seventh Day Adventists, Jehovah's Witnesses and many fundamentalist Christian denominations.
The eclectic approach aims to incorporate the strengths of each of the other main approaches in its interpretation of the book of Revelation. It sees elements of truth in all of the approaches identified above.
- Idealism is seen as valid in its understanding that the Revelation is a symbolic presentation of eternal truths about good and evil, and in trying to create spiritual lessons from the text reliably applicable to any time and circumstance of both the world and the individual. But idealism ignores the fact that the Revelation does reflect the real events of history occurring in the past and that as prophesy from God it does apply to coming future events in the End Times as foretold by Jesus in the Gospels.
- Preterism is viewed as rightly insisting that the imagery of Revelation reflects events and circumstances contemporaneous with its author, or with the period immediately afterward. But preterism does not adequately account for the way Revelation also reveals events and circumstances that characterize the struggles of the church throughout the entire age between the first and second advents of Jesus Christ, between the first century and the day of his Second Coming.
- Futurism appears to partially solve the insufficiency of preterism by emphasizing the way the visions of Revelation portray events that will take place shortly before the end of history. But futurism consequently exaggerates the future orientation of the book, removing from it any relevant application to the present age, and drawing its adherents away from involving themselves in the present struggles of the human community in dealing with political corruption, poverty, sickness, and disease.
- Historicism's weakness in the eclectic view lies in the fact that, although the events seen by John in the visions of the Revelation may have occurred in the past or may recur at various points in human history even up to the present, these events are not seen as limited to a particular time in the past, present, or even future.
Eclecticism enables the interpreter to incorporate the primary emphases of the alternative approaches without the one-sided view that so often characterizes them. This is its obvious strength. But eclectic interpreters also have a resulting inclusive tendency to ascribe different meanings to the same vision. Thus the eclectic approach allows the interpreter to make the vision mean almost anything, and this may be its main weakness.
Varied meanings of the Rapture of the Church relative to the Book of Revelation
In Christian eschatology before the 19th century the word rapture refers to the belief that simultaneously with the Second Coming of Jesus Christ to earth believers who have died will be raised, and believers who are still alive and remain shall be caught up together with the resurrected dead believers in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.  
This belief is also referred to as translation, that believers living and dead will be translated to heaven at the Second Coming of Christ in an event similar to the translation of Enoch to heaven in the Book of Genesis and the translation or ascension of Elijah in the Second Book of Kings.
The concept has its basis in various interpretations of the biblical book of First Thessalonians and how it relates to interpretations of various other biblical passages, such as those from Second Thessalonians, Gospel of Matthew, First Corinthians and the Book of Revelation. The exact meaning, timing and impact of the event are disputed among Christians and the term is used in at least two senses: Posttribulationist and Pretribulationist.
Post-tribulationism, Pre-tribulationism, and Mid-tribulationism
- The older use of the term "Rapture" is simply as a synonym for the final resurrection generally, without a belief that a group of people is left behind on earth for an extended Tribulation period after the events of 1 Thessalonians 4:17 and Revelation 20:5.
- This distinction is important, as the more ancient and traditional types of Christianity never refer to "the Rapture" in religious education, but might use the older and more general sense of the word "rapture" in referring to what happens during the final resurrection. The word 'rapture' can be found before 1830. But before 1830 it always referred to a post-tribulation rapture. Revelation 20:5 describes the "first resurrection" as taking place after the great tribulation described in chapters 6:1 through 20:4.
- Beginning around 1824, with the preaching of John Nelson Darby and the Plymouth Brethren in England, a new doctrine of a pre-tribulation rapture was first introduced, a doctrine never mentioned or debated in all the prior centuries of Christianity. Christians aware of its novelty and citing Galatians 1:6-9 and 2 Timothy 4:3 and Titus 3:10 utterly rejected this doctrine as false.
- In the pre-tribulation view, a group of people will be left behind on earth after another group literally leaves "to meet the Lord in the air." This is now the most common use of the term "Rapture", especially among fundamentalist Christians in the United States. They believe that true Christians will not be punished with the wicked on earth, but that God will "catch them up" so that they will not have to go through, or endure, or suffer, the great tribulation, that day which will come upon all who dwell on the face of the whole earth Luke 21:35. (Compare Revelation 7:14, which states that they had "come out of the great tribulation", not that they had "escaped the great tribulation".)
- To the objection that the "first resurrection" in Revelation 20:5, and 1 Thessalonians 4:16 and 17, comes only after the events of the great tribulation (chapters 6:1 through 20:4), Pretribulationists respond by citing Revelation 7:14 and the example of Lot being brought out of Sodom before it was destroyed in Genesis 19:16, and by teaching that the events in the Book of Revelation are not necessarily presented in chronological order.
- Mid-tribulationists hold that Christ will rapture the saints midway through the tribulation and before the seven bowls of wrath are poured out on the inhabitants on the earth. According to those who preach the doctrine of mid-tribulationism the following sequence of events will surround the return of Christ:
- First. The signs of the end will precede the events of the end, a twofold division indicated in the Eschatological Discourse of Christ to his disciples (Matthew 24:1-18, 29-31; Mark 13:1-23, 24-27; Luke 21:5-24, 25-28). This division is seen as paralleled in both Daniel (Daniel 7:25, 9:24-27, 12:7-12) and in Revelation (Revelation 11:2-3, 12:6, 12:14, 13:5). The division is also seen as represented by the distinctive narratives contained in the scroll (Revelation 5:1) and the little scroll (Revelation 10:1-2). The first scroll describes the signs of the end, in which the seven seals (Revelation 5–9) are seen as a precise parallel to the signs of the end in the Eschatological Discourse; and the little scroll describes the events of the end (Revelation 10–22).
- Second. The tribulation will be inaugurated by the signs of the end, the seven seals and the seven trumpets (Revelation 5–9). For believers and unbelievers alike, the tribulation will involve suffering and difficulty, but Christians will be spared the wrath of God (Romans 5:9). This tribulation will last three and one half years (Daniel 7:25, 9:24-27, 12:7-12, Revelation 11:2-3, 12:6, 12:14, 13:5). Mid-tribulationists acknowledge the possibility that the three and one half years may symbolize an indefinite period, although the explicit accounts in the text seem to designate a very specific period even to the number of days. It is a certainty that there will be a period predetermined for the tribulation.
- The signs of the end are events that happen periodically to some degree at all times in human history, so even those who are actually undergoing the final tribulation will not clearly see the precise moment it begins. We may be in the tribulation now. The beginning of the tribulation would not necessarily be clearly noticed. Like a frog in a slowly heated pot, those undergoing the events of the tribulation may not discern the meaning of the events, thus no one would be able to set accurately the date of the events of the end based on the date of a clearly evident beginning of the signs of the end. The gradual worsening of events may be suggestive but not determinative of being in the time of the tribulation. The return of Christ can thus be expected as immanent at any time.
- Third. When all the signs of the end in all the eschatological passages (Daniel, the Eschatological Discourse of Christ, Thessalonians, and Revelation) have been fulfilled, the events of the end will begin. They will be inaugurated with the shout of the archangel, the return of Jesus Christ in clouds with great glory, and the premillennial rapture of the church. The striking similarity of language and events in Revelation 14, Daniel, the Eschatological Discourse, and 1 Thessalonians makes it clear to many mid-tribulationists that this is where scripture places the rapture.
- Other mid-tribulationalists place the rapture at the sounding of the seventh trumpet (Revelation 11:15). They cite the evidence that in previous songs praising Christ, He has been described as "He who is, who was, and who is to come" (Revelation 1:4, 8), "who was, and is, and is to come" (4:8). But now the elders praise Him as "He who is, and was" (Revelation 11:17) and omit "who is to come", suggesting that He has already come at that point in the narrative (the KJV translators inserted this omitted phrase, which is not found in any of the manuscript evidence). The mid-tribulational view placing the rapture in Revelation 14:1-5 would similarly take this verse (11:17) as an accurate indication that the events which are taking place in the immediate context of the narrative suggest the events surrounding the return of Christ. However, the end of the prophesy in Revelation 22:6-7, 12, 20 says that He will come.
- Fourth. When the first three and one half years of the tribulation period have been completed, the seven bowls of wrath will be poured out on the unbelievers who remain on the earth (Revelation 14:17–18:24), while the saints enjoy their rest. This is the Great Tribulation, with plagues similar to those which were poured out on guilty Egypt before the exodus. The Great Tribulation will span the second three and one half years, a length of time which again may be literal or symbolic.
- Fifth. After the Great Tribulation, Christ will come again in the second (or third) advent to establish His millennial reign, perform the final judgment, and usher in the eternal destinies of heaven and hell. The first advent was his first coming in his ministry and sacrifice and resurrection, the second advent is his coming in the rapture, and the third will be his coming in the millennial reign and the final judgment. There is disagreement over the Rapture as the Second Coming of Christ in the air or the Post-tribulation Millennial Reign as the Second Coming of Christ on earth.
Millenarianism: Millennialism, Pre-Millennialism, Post-Millennialism, and Amillennialism
- Millennialism (from Latin millennium thousand years + ism doctrine), or chiliasm in Greek, is a specific form of Millenarianism: a belief, held by some Christian denominations, in a future Golden Age or Paradise on Earth in which "Christ will reign" for exactly one thousand years, prior to the final judgment and future eternal state of the "world to come" of the New Heavens and New Earth. This belief is derived primarily from Revelation 20:1-6.
- Premillennialism (pre- before + millennium thousand years + -ism doctrine) is a premillennialist teaching of the belief that Jesus will physically return to the earth to inaugurate a literal thousand-year golden age of peace, the Millennium, a return called the Second Coming. This doctrine holds that Jesus' physical return to earth will occur prior to the Millennium. It is based upon a literalist interpretation of Revelation 20:1-6 in the New Testament, which describes at the end of an apocalyptic period of tribulation (Revelation 6:1 through 20:5) the first resurrection of those who come to life and reign with Christ for 1000 years, a literal interpretation which holds that the Lord will be on earth during the 1000 years. It views this future age as a time of fulfillment for the prophetic hope of God's people as given in the Old Testament, and assumes that Jesus must be physically present on the earth to reign.
- Postmillennialism is a doctrinal interpretation of chapter 20 of the Book of Revelation which holds that Christ's second coming occurs post- (Latin "after") the "Millennium", a Golden Age in which Christian ethics prosper. It holds that Jesus Christ establishes his kingdom on earth through his preaching and redemptive work in the first century and that he equips his church with the gospel, empowers her by the Spirit, and charges her with the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19) to make disciples of all nations, baptizing them. Postmillennialism confidently expects that the vast majority of mankind living will eventually be saved. According to this doctrine a gradually increasing and inevitable success in the preaching of the gospel of Jesus Christ produces a time in history in which faith, righteousness, peace, and prosperity will prevail in the affairs of all mankind and all nations prior to Christ's return. After an extensive era of such Christian spiritual-religio-politico-socio-economic reign Jesus Christ will return visibly, bodily, and gloriously, to end history with the general resurrection of all the dead and the final judgment, after which the eternal order follows. See Matthew 24:14, and Social Gospel and Christian socialism.
- Amillennialism (Greek: a- "no" + millennial + -ism) is the belief that denies that Jesus himself will have a literal, physical, thousand-year-long reign on earth, seated on a physical throne in Jerusalem and wearing a physical crown, before the final judgment at the end of time. The amillennial view instead regards the "thousand years" mentioned in Revelation 20 not as a literal description but as a symbolic number. This was the view of St. Augustine. The 1000 years is taken as a synecdochic figure of speech common at the time of the apostles which conveys the meaning of totality. Amillennialists hold that the millennium has already begun with the day of Pentecost in A.D. 33 and is now identical with the current church age, past and present. Amillennialism holds that while Christ's reign during the millennium is spiritual in nature (John 18:36), his reign is now present within the whole community of the body of Christ, in the midst of Christians, the Church, and that at the end of the church age Christ will return in his Second Coming for the general resurrection of the dead and the final judgment at the end of time and establish a permanent reign in the new heaven and new earth. See Ephesians 2:6, in context of Ephesians 2:4-7, and Revelation 20:4-6 and 1 Peter 2:9.
- The general interpretation of the Revelation or Apocalypse of John by the Catholic Church may be characterized as representative of:
- Partial Preterist,
- This is the most prevalent view of the Christian Church in the East and the West before the Protestant Reformation.
How an historical exegesis differs from the main schools of interpretation
It is evident that an historical interpretation of the Book of Revelation according to the three major divisions of "what you see", "what is", "and what is to take place hereafter", should not be confused with Historicist interpretations, which are also sometimes called Historical interpretations. An historical exegesis more closely exemplifies the approach of what is called Textual Criticism or Lower Criticism, which represents a conservative Christian analytical method which takes the book seriously as a genuine revelation from God by seeking to establish as accurately as possible from the manuscript evidence the actual content and message of the original text of the book, and then to understand it from the point of view of the first and second century Christians to whom it was first addressed. No book of the Bible is fully understood until it is additionally also seen through the eyes of those who first received it.
"none of the above"
From this it is evident that the method of historical exegetical interpretation is not Idealist, Preterist, Futurist or Historicist, and also that it does not exactly correspond to Post-tribulationist and Post-millennialist, or even A-millennialist interpretations as formulated in past centuries, although many elements of an historical approach to understanding can be found in them. And it also does not represent Pretribulationist and Premillennialist interpretations which came later in the 19th and 20th centuries.
Partial Preterism: how it differs from an historical exegesisThe view of Partial Preterism appears to be most approximate to an understanding drawn from the approach of an historical method of interpretative exegesis, but it should not be confused with it, and is not identical to an historical exegetical interpretation. The difference is evident in the fact that many events which partial preterism identifies with occurrences around the time of the first century during John's lifetime are seen historically instead as events in the more distant past which affected the people of Israel. This is illustrated by the following example:
Preterists and partial preterists usually understand "the souls of those who had been slaughtered because of the witness they bore to the word of God" (Revelation 6:9) as a reference to the souls of Christian martyrs put to death first by the Jews and then by decree of the Roman emperors in the first century because of their evangelical witness to Jesus the incarnate word of God. Compare multiple commentaries on Revelation 6:9.
An historical exegesis of Revelation as a metaphoric presentation of the whole history of salvation sees the same passage as a reference to the souls of the faithful sons of Israel, those who were put to death by apostate Jews (1 Kings 18:13, 21:19), by the conquering Assyrians (2 Kings 18:13–19:19), by Manasseh son of Hezekiah (2 Kings 21:16), and by the conquering Babylonians (2 Kings 24:10–25:21, Jeremiah 52:24-30), because they would not violate the word of God delivered to them by Moses from Mount Sinai; and it sees verse 10 as the cry of the souls of those faithful Israelites, "How long will it be, holy and true master, before you sit in judgment and avenge our blood on the inhabitants of the earth?" (see Habakkuk 1; also Genesis 4:10 and Luke 11:51).This interpretation thus appears to offer a resolution of the dilemma of those who cannot reconcile with the mercy of the Gospel of Christ (John 3:17) what they perceive as a vindictive cry for revenge from the souls of Christian martyrs. Compare Matthew 5:38-48, Luke 9:51-56 and Romans 12:14
Most interpreters of Revelation understand "the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ" (Revelation 11:15) as a reference to the Christian Church both on earth and in heaven together as the kingdom of God and of his Anointed Son Christ Jesus, after he had ascended to the Father and had sat down at the right hand of the majesty on high Hebrews 1:3 and had sent down the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost. He has already begun his reign as king of kings and lord of lords, according to St. Peter Acts 2:32-36. "For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet." 1 Corinthians 15:25
An historical exegesis of Revelation sees the same passage (11:15) within the context of the timeline of Old Testament history. It appears before the birth of the Messiah in Revelation 12:5, and is thus seen by the historical exegete as referring to the foreshadowing rule of God's anointed high priest (a legitimate Christ ) over the people of God in the kingdom of Judea since 142 B.C. 1 Maccabees 13:41–14:19. The theocratic kingdom of Judea under the Hasmoneans is preparatory to the advent of the one supreme Christ, whose personal high priestly self-sacrifice on the altar of the cross uniquely takes away the sins of the world, the high priest according to the order of Melchizedek to whom "all authority in heaven and on earth has been given". The foreshadowing grace or blessing of a Judaic theocratic kingdom of God under the high priest of God is vastly superceded by the continuity of the greater grace or blessing of the catholic ("universal") theocratic kingdom of God under the high priesthood of the Son of God, which fulfills and completes it. See John 1:16. Compare Zechariah 6:13, Matthew 13:32, Haggai 2:21-23, and Zechariah 4:10. In contrast to the surrounding pagan nations, the beginning of the spiritually superior theocratic reign of the anointed high priest of God seated on the throne in Judea is interpreted as the beginning or type of the reign of God's Christ on earth for ever and ever, its supreme antitype. "For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet." 1 Corinthians 15:25
The following sections will clearly demonstrate an historical exegetical conservative understanding of the pattern of history in the Book of Revelation.
Historical exegetical outline of chapters 6 through 16 of Revelation
An historical exegesis of Revelation sees in chapters 6 through 16 a visionary presentation of the past history of salvation, from the time of the Kingdom of Judah to the preaching of the Gospel in the first century.
- Chapter 6: The Assyrian and Babylonian conquests, the siege and fall of Jerusalem, the cry of innocent blood for justice, the exile to Babylon, the Persian conquest, and the decree of Queen Esther and Mordechai against the enemies of the Jews.
- Chapter 7: The return of the exiles to Jerusalem, and the celebration of Passover and the Feast of Booths before the altar, at the time of Ezra and Nehemiah.
- Chapter 8: The period from Jaddua the high priest through Onias III the high priest, the conquests of Alexander the Great, the assassination of Onias and the introduction of the evils of Hellenism into Judea by the high priests Jason and Menelaus.
- Chapter 9: The rebellion of the deposed high priest Jason, the invasion and occupation of Judea by Syrian armies under Antiochus IV Epiphanes, the Maccabean revolt beginning 166 B.C. under Mattathias and continued by Judas Maccabeus, the Syrian general Apollonius, and after him the four Syrian generals assigned to eliminate all resistance with all their combined armed forces: Lysias, Ptolemy, Nicanor and Gorgias.
- Chapter 10: The Maccabean martyrs Eleazar and the seven youths tortured to death, and the commission given to John by the messenger spirit (angel) of Eleazar to prophesy again.
- Chapter 11: The rebellion led by Judas Maccabeus and Jonathan, priests of the family chosen by God as his two witnesses, who after three and a half years restored and dedicated the temple, and afterward were slain, the rejoicing of the pagan nations at their deaths, and the revival of the spirit of the Jews when Simon their brother assumed the high priesthood and leadership of the nation, the removal of the yoke of the Gentiles, and the establishment of the high priestly Hasmonean dynasty ruling the independent nation of Judea under the law of Moses, which ended because of internal strife and the entry into Jerusalem by the Roman general Pompey with his forces.
- Chapter 12: Roman occupation, oppression of the Jews, the birth of the Messiah bringing salvation and the defeat of Satan, attempts by representatives of the Roman empire to kill Mary's child and those spiritually faithful to God, in the days of Herod, king of Judea, and the establishment of the residence of the Roman governor at Caesarea Maritima 6 B.C.
- Chapter 13: Arrival of the Roman governor representing the power of the Roman empire, with authority to crush all resistance to its rule, the arrival of another governor, Pilate, bringing the images of the emperor into Jerusalem, and having authority to speak with his voice, his reprisals against the Jews, his authorization to continue the use of coin stamped with the emperor's image and name as the commercial medium of exchange for buying and selling, with the requirement of a covenant of trade with pagan Rome and its god-emperor, and the letters of the name of the emperor beast Nero Caesar enumerated by the system of gematria as totaling 666.
- Chapter 14: The preaching of the Gospel, and the divinely ordained and coming irrevocable judgment by Jesus on Jerusalem for its failure to recognize him, and for its guilt for all of the blood shed since the foundation of the world.
- Chapter 15: The cleansing of the temple, the joy of the faithful, and the impending judgments to come.
- Chapter 16: Holy Week, the exposure by Jesus in the temple of the corruption of the Jewish establishment, of the priests, of the scribes and Pharisees; his announcement to the disciples on the hill outside of Jerusalem of the bloodshed to come of the destruction of Jerusalem in the tribulation of the fall of the city under the Romans, the wars to follow, the failures of people and nations to repent, the coming invasion of the Parthians and the responses of the Roman authorities against them and their gathering for battle; and after the disclosure of these things to the disciples, his crucifixion with the cry "It is finished!", and the earthquake that happened; and the division of mankind into pagan, Jew, and Christian, the fall of the cities of the world from power because of the authority of Christ, the certain doom of Babylon-Rome to come, and the witness to the gospel and warning of condemnation for sin from heaven by the living stones of God's temple, Christians and Christian missionaries, whom unrepentant sinners curse for speaking the truth.
It is the interpretation of these 11 chapters, as a visionary disclosure of the history of the Old and New Testaments of the whole of the Bible and the Intertestamental Period, as outlined above, which primarily distinguishes an historical exegetical interpretation from other interpretations.
A summary of this exegetical viewpoint follows, with brief commentary, including some key biblical references. A critique of this interpretation is also provided, and a table of historical parallel correspondences with links to Bible texts.
Historical exegesis of the Book of Revelation: A concise summary of scriptural and historical parallels
Dilemma: The crisis of understanding at the time of John
"What you see": Vision of the history of the people of God
John relates that during his exile on the island of Patmos, on the Lord's day, when he was "in the spirit"—which normally means "in ecstasy", "in contemplation" or "in a dream"—he heard a loud voice behind him speaking to him. This passage is seen as suggestive of the word of God spoken through the prophet: "Your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, 'This is the way, walk in it', when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left." (Isaiah 30:21.)
Strong historical evidence indicates that John's exile was during the period of violent persecution and extermination of Christians when Domitian was emperor of Rome, about A.D. 95. He states clearly that he is already participating in "the tribulation" (suffering) with his fellow brother Christians. Revelation 1:9. The sending of an angel to him is taken by a conservative historical exegesis of the text as an actual event, similar to the sending of the angel Gabriel to Daniel to explain the fulfillment of the mystery of the plan of God in the scriptures (Daniel 7–12). It is not taken as a poetic, literary device.
The approach of an historical exegetical interpretation of the Revelation sees support in the fact that in the New Testament the tribulation is found in the past, the present, and the future. Strong's Exhaustive Concordance lists 19 occurrences of the KJV word "tribulation", keyed to 2 words in The Greek Dictionary of the New Testament, 1 word used 18 times, the other only once:
- Greek 2346 thlibo 1 occurrence. 1 Thessalonians 3:4
- Greek 2347 thlipsis 18 occurrences. Matthew 13:21, 24:21, Mark 13:24, John 16:33, Acts 14:22, Romans 2:9, 5:3, 8:35, 12:12, 2 Corinthians 1:4, 7:4, 1 Thessalonians 3:4, 2 Thessalonians 1:6, Revelation 1:9, 2:9, 2:10, 2:22, 7:14.
The Lamb, the stars, the lampstands
John next sees Jesus in a vision presenting graphic visual images and signs of spiritual reality. Christ is in the midst of the churches, which are "lights", suggestive of Jesus' words in the Sermon on the Mount, "you are the light of the world" (Matthew 5:14-16), also suggestive of the high priest before the seven-branched candlestick in the tabernacle in the wilderness. He holds seven stars in his hand. Out of his mouth comes the word of God, living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. Hebrews 4:12. The meaning of the churches and their messengers is plainly explained. Jesus then dictates letters to be sent to each of the chief shepherds of seven churches in Asia Minor, each one the "angel", that is, the aggelos (Greek word Άγγελος) "messenger" of God, of each of these churches, addressing each one of them directly. These angels are seen as his own human representatives and spokesmen, not as heavenly spirits, but as the anointed and appointed leaders or heads of their congregations, of their assemblies, men who are responsible for the souls of their people during the time of persecution throughout the empire (see Hebrews 13:7 and 17; Philippians 2:15). Compare the parallel text in Daniel 12:3.
The reader does well to ask: if the word "angel" here in Revelation means an angelic spirit from heaven, how are the letters dictated to John to be posted and delivered into the hands of the angels? And if the word "angel" means a spirit from heaven, why does Jesus the Lord of heaven dictate to his human disciple on earth a letter addressed to an angel from heaven?
"What must take place": the Throne in Heaven, the Lamb and the Scroll with seven seals
The first voice that spoke to John next declared that he would show him what must take place "after this". In this interpretation this is taken to mean "after the revelation is given to him and he has written what he has seen in a book and sent it to the churches". What must take place after he has done this is the fulfillment of the judgment of the great harlot, "drunk with the blood of the saints and the blood of the martyrs of Jesus", pagan imperial Rome, as described by the angel in chapters 17 and 18, the judgment to come.
In the spirit, John sees the throne in heaven and him who sits on it as a present reality.
An historical interpretation takes the present reality of the twenty-four elders in Revelation chapter 4 as also suggestive of the time of David, representing the present heavenly reality of the pattern of the twenty-four "courses" or divisions of the sons of Aaron in the Jewish priesthood, as organized by him with the help of Zadok of the sons of Eleazar and Ahimelech of the sons of Ithamar, and listed in 1 Chronicles 24:1-19. The present reality of the heavenly throne room is also suggestive of the vision of Isaiah after the death of King Uzziah (Isaiah 6:1-3) and of the pattern of the temple divinely given to David (1 Chronicles 28:19) and of the tabernacle in the wilderness under Moses (Exodus 25:9). The present reality of the seven torches of fire, the seven spirits of God, are taken as a parallel to the passage in the Book of Tobit, where the angel identifies himself, saying, "I am Raphael, one of the seven holy angels who present the prayers of the saints and enter into the presence of the glory of the Holy One." (Tobit 12:15; compare Zechariah 4:2 and 10). The four living creatures as a present reality are also suggestive of the living creatures seen by the prophet Ezekiel who had been exiled before the second siege of Jerusalem (Ezekiel 1 and 24; 2 Kings 24–25).
The present reality of the sealed scroll containing the law of God and the conditional judgments on the nation and the words of prophesy (see Deuteronomy 17:14-15 and 18-20), is seen as also suggestive of the sealed scroll given to the prophet in Isaiah 29:11. "And the vision of all this has become to you like the words of a book that is sealed. When men give it to one who can read, saying, 'Read this,' he says, 'I cannot, for it is sealed'." And the scene of the opening of the seals of the book is also suggestive of the opening of the books in chapter 7 of the vision of the prophet Daniel (7:10). Compare Revelation 22:1.
The opening of the meaning of the scriptures
In this interpretation, the first event that "must take place soon" (Revelation 22:6), after the revelation is given to John, is the opening of the scroll and its seven seals and the judgment of the harlot of Babylon (Rome). Parallel to the opening of the seals are those passages in the New Testament which relate the opening by Christ of the minds of the disciples to understand the scriptures (Luke 24:45) and declare that only in Christ is the veil taken away that lies over the minds of the Jews when they read the scriptures (2 Corinthians 3:14-16; Revelation 5:5). Thus the first apocalyptic event after the revelation is given is seen as the opening by the spirit of Christ of the true meaning of the scriptures of the Old Testament in the Church, as shown in chapters 6 through 11 of the Book of Revelation in the vision of the seven seals and the seven trumpets, and of the true meaning of the scriptures of the New Testament, as shown in chapters 12 through 16 of the Book of Revelation in the visions of the war in heaven, the dragon, the two beasts, the 144 thousand virgins, the angels with the gospel, the reaping of the harvest with the sharp sickle, the seven bowls full of wrath poured out on the earth, the cry "It is done!" (John 19:30), with the earthquake and the dividing of the city into three parts, and the heavy crushing stones coming down from heaven on men on earth and their reaction. Matthew 21:42-44, 1 Peter 2:4-8.
The office of the teaching ministry of the church in Christ has been fulfilling this opening and explaining of the truth of the plan of God contained in the scriptures in sermons, homilies, and scriptural studies since the time of John. 1 Corinthians 12:8, 2 Corinthians 4:1-6, 5:20.
Seals one through four: Sennacherib, Nebuchadnezzar, the Siege of Jerusalem
An historical interpretation takes the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse in chapter 6 as representative of the conquests by Sennacherib (Assyria) and again by Nebuchadnezzar (Babylon), each with their bow in hand, mounted on the white horse of victory, and of the sword and bloodshed of rebellion, and of the siege of Jerusalem and the resulting famine and pestilence and death within, all suggestive of the words of the prophet Jeremiah, "I will appoint over them four kinds of destroyers".
Jeremiah 15:3, 27:8 and 32:36; compare Isaiah 51:19, 66:16; Jeremiah 5:17, 11:22, 14:12, 16:4, 18:21, 19:7, 21:7, and 9, 24:10, 27:13, 29:18, 32:24, 34:17, 42:17, 44:13, Baruch 2:24-26.
Seal five: the blood of righteous Israelites
The opening of the fifth seal is taken as the souls of the righteous ones of Israel who were slain for their faithful witness and fidelity to the lawful covenant of Moses as the word of God.
2 Kings 21:16, Habakkuk 1:2, Daniel 9:19; also Genesis 4:10 and Luke 11:51; compare Psalms 79:1-7 and 10, 94:1-3, 106:34-39, Isaiah 26:20-21, and Jeremiah 2:34-37, 51:34-37.
Seal six: the Fall of Jerusalem, Exile, Cyrus the Persian, and Return
The opening of the sixth seal is taken as the fall of Jerusalem, and the stars fallen to the earth as those Jews who were slain and those taken into exile (Genesis 22:17, Nahum 3:12 "figs"). The terror of the nations threatened by the conquests of Nebuchadnezzar and of Cyrus the Persian (the earthquake), understood by the prophets as the judgment of God (Jeremiah 51), includes the giving of authority afterward by King Ahasuerus to Mordechai and Esther in Persia to authorize the Jews to kill their enemies throughout the empire who desired their extermination (Esther 8:15–9:5).
In this historical interpretation the "Lamb" here is seen as Mordechai, in his first year of authority, metaphorically "a ram of the first year old enough to butt" ("kebes"). See Strong's number 3532 כֶּ֫בֶשׂ "kebes" (lamb), Esther 10:1-3. The "wrath of the Lamb" is represented by the decree of Mordechai authorizing the Jews to take up arms in a preemptive defense against those who hate them and the resultant "dread of the Jews" (Esther 8:17), here seen as a parallel to Revelation 6:15-17.
|“||...the fear of Mordecai fell upon them. For Mordecai was great in the king's house, and his fame went out throughout all the provinces: for this man Mordecai waxed greater and greater. Thus the Jews smote all their enemies with the stroke of the sword, and slaughter, and destruction, and did what they would unto those that hated them.||”|
Revelation 7:1-8 parallels Ezra 1–2 in the period of peace under Cyrus king of Persia, and the multitude of the thousands sealed out of every tribe of the sons of Israel. Compare Ezekiel 9 "touch no one upon whom is the mark" and 1 Kings 8:46-53. Compare Malachi 3:16-17.
The unnumbered multitude in chapter 7 who came out of the great tribulation is understood as the several multitudes of the exiles who returned to Jerusalem with Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel and Jeshua the high priest the son of Jozadak, those who celebrated the feast of booths before the altar with palms in their hands. See Nehemiah 7:6 "These were the people...who came up out of the captivity". And it is understood as the time of Ezra, on the occasion when the holy law was read to the people, and they wept when they were enabled to understand it, and they were consoled by the priests and levites and told not to weep.
Deuteronomy 4:30, Leviticus 22:3-6, 23:33-43, Ezra 1:3-4, Ezra 3, and Ezra 6:19-20, and Zechariah 2:10-12. See Nehemiah 8:9-12.
The events of chapters 8 through 11 are interpreted as representing the time of the Maccabees, which Catholics and Orthodox view as included within the Old Testament period, and Protestants view as occurring during the Intertestamental Period (between the Testaments).
Seal seven: Jaddua to Onias, high priestly intercession
The seventh seal with silence in heaven (Revelation 8:1) corresponds to the words of the prophet Zechariah 2:13 in the second year of Darius I. It is also interpreted as the period of (relative) peace from the time of Jaddua the high priest (Nehemiah 12:10-11) through to the high priesthood of Onias III (2 Maccabees 3:1-3).
See 2 Maccabees 3:4–5:27.
The censer, the judgment of corruption, and the first four trumpets
Revelation 8:5 appears as possibly parallel the events related by Josephus, Antiquities 12.2.5–12.4.2 (163), The corrupt greed of Onias II son of Simon, "one of a little soul, and a great lover of money", who cast down the dignity of the high priesthood, is possibly parallel the passage in Revelation 8:5: "Then the angel took the censer and filled it with fire from the altar and threw it on the earth; and there were peals of thunder, loud noises, flashes of lightning, and an earthquake."
Revelation 8:5-13 is seen as perhaps parallel the events summarized in 1 Maccabees 1:1-9 and in Josephus, Antiquities 12.1.1–12.4.11. See also Daniel 11:2-22 understood as the struggles of the Ptolemies (king of the south) and Seleucids (king of the north) as they vied for control of the Levantine lands including Judea. Compare 2 Maccabees 3:1–4:50.
The First Trumpet: Alexander the Great
The Second Trumpet: Death of Alexander, the Seleucid-Ptolemaic WarsRevelation 8:8 is taken as parallel to the death of Alexander the Great. Revelation 8:8 is also seen as suggestive of Zechariah 4:7 and Jeremiah 51:25:
"What are you, O great mountain? Before Zerubbabel you shall become a plain".
"I am against you, O destroying mountain, you who destroy the whole earth," declares the LORD. "I will stretch out my hand against you, roll you off the cliffs, and make you a burned-out mountain."Compare 1 Maccabees 1:1-6. Alexander believed himself to be a god. See Isaiah 14:4-21 and Ezekiel 28:1-19.
Revelation 8:9 in this view is then taken to be parallel to the Seleucid-Ptolemaic intrigues and conflicts of the 4th through 2nd centuries B.C.. See Daniel 11:2-22 historically interpreted as the struggles of the Ptolemies and Seleucids in, for example, the NABRE version. Compare 2 Maccabees 3:1–4:50.
The Third Trumpet: The Corrupt High Priest Jason and the Poison of Hellenism
Verses 10 and 11 of Revelation chapter 8 are seen as the corrupt appointment through bribery of Jason as high priest and his favoring of the Syrian Greek teachings of Hellenistic philosophy.
See 2 Maccabees 4:7-17 and Jeremiah 9:15 "I will feed them with wormwood".
The teaching of doctrine and the instruction of youth is as water flowing out to the nation, and the sea of doctrine as the Torah of Moses, but Jason made the waters and the sea bitter.
Compare Sirach 24:34-47 in the context of Sirach 24, Malachi 2:7-9, Jeremiah 8:8, John 7:37-39.
The "great star...blazing like a torch" might be interpreted by some historical exegetes as the righteous and fiery rebel leader Judas Maccabeus who, falling on the infidels (2 Maccabees 8:5-7), made the lives of oppressive pagans and apostate Jews "bitter", as Moses made the Israelites drink bitter water as punishment for their sin with the golden calf (Exodus 32:20). But the fact that this "great star fell from heaven" is more consistent with the imagery in Isaiah 14:12-15. This corresponds more closely to the character of Jason.
The Fourth Trumpet: Assassination of Onias III, The Darkening Suppression of Jewish Doctrine
Verse 12 is speculatively seen as possibly the assassination of Onias III the deposed righteous high priest, or alternatively as possibly the death of Antiochus III the Great (2 Maccabees 4:30-50; compare Daniel 11:20-22). Either or both of their deaths would be a source of uncertainty and grief to the nation, as their deaths marked an immediate decline in tolerance toward the traditional religious culture of the Jews. Their future was suddenly overshadowed with doubt and foreboding, and the light of true doctrine was dimmed by the persecution and death of faithful teachers and wise men (verse 13).
Compare Daniel 12:3.
Antiochus IV Epiphanes and the Syrian persecution
The Fifth Trumpet: the first woe: Jason's Revolt, and the Syrian Response
The star fallen from heaven and opening the shaft of the bottomless pit is taken as the image of the traitorous high priest Jason, who had opened Judea to the active influence of Hellenism, was deposed by Menelaus, and now leads a revolt (2 Maccabees 5:1-26). The locusts are seen as the armies of Syria, human, sent by the thousands into Judea having the power to execute Jewish resisters as their sting of death (compare Joel 1:6). Revelation 9:5-6 is seen as suggestive of the cry of the priest Mattathias the father of Judas Maccabeus. 1 Maccabees 2:6-14. Greek warriors shaved their faces smooth and wore their hair long, which in the eyes of bearded Jews made them resemble women. Revelation 9:7.
The Sixth Trumpet: the second woe: Apollonius, and The Four Authorized Destroyers with their Armies
The four angels at the Euphrates are taken as the four Syrian generals and authorized representatives (angels) of Antiochus the king, released by him from their postings in the east to destroy the Jews: Lysias, Ptolemy son of Dorymenes, Nicanor, and Gorgias (1 Maccabees 3:27-40).
The heads of the horses are seen as the commanders or heads of the Syrian cavalry, like lions (Psalm 22:21; 57:4)
"The power of the horses is in their mouths and in their tails; their tails are like serpents, with heads, and by means of them they wound." See Isaiah 9:15. Their "tails" are seen as the apostate Jewish governors and leaders over the people imposing Hellenism and "speaking for" Antiochus IV (Greek prophetes, from pro for + phetes show, representative).
These "tails" are like serpents. Compare Matthew 23:33 and Mark 4:13, Genesis 3.
The angel wrapped in a cloud, and the seven thunders: the Maccabean martyrs
The mighty messenger from heaven with the little scroll, who called out like a lion roaring (Amos 3:8; Isaiah 31:4; Jeremiah 49:19, 50:44; Hosea 11:10), is seen as the elderly scribe Eleazar "of noble presence", who reproached his tormenters before he died as an inspiring example of courage to the youth and the great body of the nation of the Jews. 2 Maccabees 6:18-31. The cloud, the rainbow, and pillars of fire, and his face radiant like Moses' face (Exodus 34:35), suggest both the covenants of God, and the reality that Eleazar metaphorically embodied in his own person the knowledge of the sacred scriptures.
The seven thunders are parallel to the seven Maccabean martyrs, each of whom refused to accept release, that they might rise again to a better life 2 Maccabees 7 (compare Hebrews 11:35 and Mark 3:17). John is told to seal up what they said and not to write it. In this instruction is seen, in an historical exegesis of this passage, the fact that the words of the seven are already known from the Second Book of the Maccabees, but possibly also as an indication of the secret mystery that what the seven martyrs uttered holds the profound mystery of the expectation of the resurrection, before the time of Christ. See Luke 20:27, Colossians 1:26.
John and the little scroll (in the present)
John is told to go to the messenger holding the open scroll (taken to be the glorified spirit of the Maccabean martyr Eleazar) and take the open scroll. Compare 2 Maccabees 15:12-16. When he does so he is told by the messenger with the scroll to take and eat it, that it will be sweet as honey in his mouth, and bitter in his stomach. This is suggestive of the mission of the prophet of God (Psalm 119:103, Ezekiel 2:8, 3:3, Jeremiah 1:10, 2:19 and Tobit 2:6). Then he is told that he must again prophesy about many peoples and nations and tongues and kings (see Luke 10:24, 21:12; compare Acts 9:15). This is suggestive of John the Evangelist who, according to tradition, already prior to A.D. 95, when he was younger, had preached the good news of repentance with his apostolic companions during Christ's ministry before his passion and resurrection (Matthew 10:14-41), and had written the Gospel of John, and perhaps as "the Elder" the letters of First, Second, and Third John.
In this particular revelation addressed directly to John himself is found the consoling implication that he will be released from his exile on Patmos to fulfill the prophetic mission he has just been given. Compare Acts 23:10-11.
The temple given over to the Syrian Greeks to trample 42 months: three and a half years
Revelation 11:1 is suggestive of the revelation to the prophet in Ezekiel 40:1–44:14. The temple was trampled by the pagan Greeks for forty-two months, three and a half years, 168 B.C. to 164 B.C. (1 Maccabees 1:43-54, Revelation 11:2). This interpretation assumes a period of six months of defilement of the temple beginning in the 144th year (168 B.C.), six months prior to the erection of the desolating sacrilege "in the one hundred and forty-fifth year", and completed when the temple was cleansed and dedicated in December "in the one hundred and forty-eighth year" (4:36-58). This is from the latter half of the 144th year, 168 B.C., to the winter of the 148th year, (December) 164 B.C., a period of three and a half years.
See John 10:22 which refers to the Jewish observance of "the dedication" now called "Hanukkah".
The Two Witnesses: Judas Maccabeus and Jonathan Apphus: 1260 days, three and a half years
The two witnesses, olive trees and lampstands (Zechariah 4:11-14,) are seen as representative of the divinely chosen (1 Maccabees 5:55-62) priest-leaders Judas Maccabeus, who cleansed and rededicated the temple (164 B.C.), and Jonathan called Apphus, who was later made legitimate high priest, both of whom were slain and not buried by their enemies, and whose bodies lay in the street of the city which the prophets called Sodom and Egypt, meaning Jerusalem as representative of the whole territory of Judea, where their Lord was also (later) crucified. See Isaiah 59:14-15
"Egypt"—Jeremiah 9:25-26, 11:3-13, 25:17-29, 44:2-29; Ezekiel 20:2-44, Ezekiel 23; and Amos 3:1.
God had granted them power to lead the primary revolt for 1260 days, three and a half years: from 166/5 B.C., after Mattathias died, to 162 B.C., when Antiochus IV died; and afterward they continued to defend the nation. Compare Revelation 11:3-10 and 1 Maccabees 3:3-9. The pagan nations around Judea rejoiced at their death because these two had been a torment to them. 1 Maccabees 12:52-54. When their brother Simon called Thassi became leader and high priest the nation revived, and great honor was conferred on Judas and Jonathan by large memorial monuments erected to exalt them, with praises also extolling them to the height of heaven (1 Maccabees 3:1-9). And great fear fell on the nations who saw this (1 Maccabees 12:52–13:53). Compare Revelation 11:1-14.
At this point John was told, "the third woe is soon to come" Revelation 11:14.
The Book of Revelation does not explicitly state anywhere that the third woe has passed.
The Seventh Trumpet: Hasmonean rule: "The kingdom of our Lord and of his Anointed"
The nation became an independent kingdom ruled by the anointed (christened) high priest under God and obedient to the Torah of Moses, seen as the kingdom of our Lord and of his christ (Greek christos Christ, anointed) 142 B.C..
Revelation 11:15-18, 1 Maccabees 13:41-42. See 1 Maccabees 14:41-47.
The Hasmonean dynasty of high priestly rulers of Judea in the line of Aaron properly begins with John Hyrcanus 134 B.C. "in the one hundred and seventy-seventh year, in the eleventh month, which is the month of Shebat" 1 Maccabees 16:23-24.
Interval: From John Hyrcanus to the death of Herod
Revelation 11:16–12:17 parallels events related in far greater detail by Josephus in his Wars of the Jews Book 1. The woman clothed with the sun who was with child and cried out in her pangs of birth, in anguish for delivery, is seen as Judea in the period from 134 B.C. to about 6 B.C., the year when the Romans annexed Judaea, and made Caesarea Maritima on the shore of the Mediterranean the headquarters of the provincial governor and his administration. Compare Isaiah 37:3.
The woman clothed with the sun, and the dragon: Roman oppression and the birth of Christ
The woman clothed with the sun in chapter 12 is seen as the chosen people, Jerusalem, suggestive of the bride betrothed to her maker (Isaiah 62:1-5), clothed with the patriarch Israel, with the throne of David as a firm foundation under her feet (Psalm 89:34-37), and on her head the twelve patriarchs as a crown of twelve stars (Genesis 37:9), endowed by God with a beauty radiant as the sun (Ezekiel 16:10-14; Genesis 37:9-10), who groaned to be delivered, and whose child, the son of David, was in danger of being devoured by Rome, the red dragon, represented by Herod. The Catholic and Orthodox churches also take her to be the Virgin Mary, Theotokos ("God-bearer"), mother of Jesus. But in spite of their plots against her child, we know he was caught up (later) into heaven after he had risen from the dead and ascended to his Father. This passage is also suggestive of Genesis 5:24. With his birth salvation has come forth!
Michael and his angels then fought against the dragon and his messengers, and defeated them, and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. The authority of the great dragon, the ancient serpent who is called the Devil and Accuser, the deceiver of the whole world, was removed and he was thrown down, raging with anger against the human race. Daniel 12:1. Those who faithfully represented Israel's true spiritual and religious identity fled into the wilderness, whom some might identify with the Essenes, and others with the Holy Family who made their exodus to Egypt. The Roman Empire, the very image of the dragon, persecuted her descendants, as described by Josephus, Wars 2.1.1-3 (1-13). The image of the earth opening her mouth and swallowing the flood of armed oppression is suggestive of the fate of those who rejected the authority of God's christed representatives on earth in the rebellion of Korah and Dathan and Abiram in the Book of Numbers 16:28-33 (compare Josephus, Wars 2.8.1–2.9.4). This image in Revelation 12:15-17 is seen as parallel to the persecutions at the time of both Herod himself and the sons of Herod, Philip, and Herod Antipas (who married Philip's wife Herodias). Matthew 2, Luke 13:31, Acts 12:1-3.
The name of Jesus does not appear in Revelation 6:1 through 12:16
The name of Jesus is not heard in the opening of the seven seals and the sounding of the seven trumpets, 6:1 through 12:16. This accords with an historical exegetical interpretation of these chapters of the Revelation as showing the past history of Israel from the conquests of Assyria and Babylon to the birth of Christ.
Verse 12:17 in this view thus represents the "beginning of the gospel" as parallel with Matthew 1:21, Mark 1:1, Luke 1:31, John 1:17, Acts 4:12, Galatians 4:4, Ephesians 1:21, and Philippians 2:9 and 10.
The beast from the sea and the beast out of the earth: Coponius, Archelaus, Pontius Pilate
When Herod died, a (first) beast came from the sea, probably Coponius, the Roman ambassador, speaking with the authority given to him by the dragon, whose imperial residence stood at Caesarea Maritima (Caesarea on the sea) near the Mediterranean Sea  Revelation 13:1. Wars 2.8.1 (117).
The second beast rising up "out of the earth", instead of coming "from the sea", suggests the alternative interpretation of it as being more probably Herod's son Archelaus, arising within the land of Israel, before the arrival of Pilate. Matthew 2:19-22.
See Wars 2.1.1-3 (1-13), 2.6.1-2 (80-91) and 2.7.3 (111).
The number of the beast: NRWN QSR 666: the covenant with Rome
The only currency authorized for doing major business throughout the empire was coin stamped with the image and name of the god-emperor. Those who needed Rome's approval to conduct trade through the empire made a covenant, or trade compact agreement, with Rome and with the god-emperor, receiving payment in hand in a perverse image of the covenant of the Jews with God:
"And you shall bind them as a sign upon your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes."Compare the expression of merchants in the ancient world when agreeing with the buyer to complete a transaction not with barter but with money: "Cross my palm with silver."
"You shall therefore lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul; and you shall bind them as a sign upon your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes." Deuteronomy 6:8; 11:18.
The (third) Beast is taken as Nero, who was called "a beast" by the pagan writer Apollonius of Tyana, a contemporary of Nero, who said of the Tyrant, "I know not how many heads it has...". And according to the system of gematria, one calculation of the numerical value of the letters for NRWN QSR (NiRoN QaiSaR), or Nero Caesar, at the time of the Roman Empire is 666. Nero's likeness and various different forms of his name were stamped on coins of the empire.
Compare Matthew 22:15-22, Mark 12:13-17, Luke 20:20-26, Genesis 1:26-27. No pagan god-image was allowed in the temple. This was the original reason for exchanging the ritually unclean Roman coinage for silver Tyrian half-shekels which were designed and minted without the image of the emperor: for use in the temple, for both monetary sacrificial offerings given to the priests and levites, and for the purchase of animal sacrifices. With the approval of the high priest and the council of elders of the Sanhedrim, the money-changers set up their tables of exchange within the court of the Gentiles as a convenience, where unclean non-Jews were admitted, and unclean coinage could be converted.
The Lamb of God on Zion, the 144 thousand, and the three angels proclaiming judgment
Chapter 14 is a metaphorical (not symbolical) vision of the preaching of the kingdom of God by Christ and his wholly dedicated followers in Israel, who are "virgins" because they have not accommodated their faith by compromise with the culture of the world; and of the preaching of Peter, and of James, and of Jude among those angels (messengers) sent out by him. A parallel is seen between 2 Peter 3 and Revelation 14:6-7—and between James 4:1–5:6 and Revelation 14:8—and between Jude 5-23 and Revelation 14:9-11. In this is a call for the endurance of the saints.
Verses 14 through 20 are seen as paralleling
—the Transfiguration on the mount, with "the one like a son of man", the white cloud, and the subsequent reaping of the harvest (2 Peter 1:16-18; Matthew 9:36-38, John 4:35-38)
—and the prophesy of the inevitable coming destruction of Jerusalem by Jesus as he approached the city, when he wept and said Luke 19:41-44 :
|“||Would that even today you knew the things that make for peace! But now they are hid from your eyes. For the days shall come upon you, when your enemies will cast up a bank about you and surround you, and hem you in on every side, and dash you to the ground, you and your children within you, and they will not leave one stone upon another in you; because you did not know the time of your visitation.||”|
This interpretation of verses 17-20 as the word of Jesus, spoken in A.D. 33 beforehand, and seen as being already infallibly accomplished at this point in John's narrative, fully accords with the words of the Lord in the Book of Isaiah 55:11: "so shall my word be that goes forth from my mouth...it shall accomplish that which I purpose." Isaiah 40:5: "for the mouth of the Lord has spoken."
Jesus afterward during the holy week reiterated the coming inevitable judgment on Jerusalem as he sat on the Mount of Olives, as presented in Matthew 24:15-22, Mark 13:14-20, and Luke 21:20-24. "For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be." Compare Josephus Wars, Books 5 through 7.
|“||Accordingly the multitude of those that therein perished exceeded all the destructions that either men or God ever brought upon the world; for, to speak only of what was publicly known, the Romans slew some of them, some they carried captives, and others they made search for underground, and when they found where they were, they broke up the ground and slew all they met with. —Josephus, Wars, 6.9.4 (429) Whiston tr. (boldface emphasis added)||”|
Holy Week, the Crucifixion of Christ, and the Preaching of the Gospel
Chapters 15 and 16 are taken as the condemnation of the world and of the faithless Jews by Christ during Holy Week in his preachings in the temple and on the hill outside of Jerusalem.
Chapter 15: The cleansing of the temple
Chapter 16: The Seven Plagues
The First Plague: the Hypocrisy and Corruption of the Priests
Revelation 16:1-2 The First Bowl of Wrath parallels the exposure of the hypocrisy and corruption of the priests of the temple: Matthew 21:23-46, Mark 11:27-12:12, Luke 20:1-20. Compare 2 Timothy 3:8-9, Exodus 9:8-11, and Leviticus 15.
The Second Plague: the Inner Uncleanness of the Sadducees, Scribes and Pharisees
Revelation 16:3 The Second Bowl of Wrath parallels the hidden interior uncleanness of the hypocrisy of the scribes and pharisees Matthew 23:25-28, Mark 12:38-40, Luke 20:45-47. Compare Exodus 7:17-21, Revelation 16:6, and Hebrews 9:6-9. The "sea" is here seen as the great basin or laver standing before the temple of the Lord in the court of the priests, in which the priests and levites washed themselves ritually clean for the preparation and offering of the sacrifices of Israel 1 Kings 7:23-26, Exodus 40:30-32. Compare Haggai 2:11-14, Malachi 2:1-9, Romans 2:17-29, and Hebrews 10:11. Because of the uncleanness of the priests and levites like beautiful sepulchres full of death, and because everything they touched became unclean through them, the water in it was as unclean as the blood of a dead man, and all of them who followed their ways and who washed in the great ritual laver sea, maintaining their ritual hypocrisy, died spiritually because they had rejected the Lord. Compare Isaiah 1:12-15 "your hands are full of blood". Compare Matthew 23:15.
The Third Plague; the Bloodguilt of Jerusalem
Revelation 16:4-7 The Third Bowl of Wrath parallels the judgment coming on Jerusalem for all the blood shed by the Jews and by their fathers since the foundation of the world. Matthew 23:29-36, Luke 11:47-51. Compare Ezekiel 22 and Jeremiah 25:27-38.
The Fourth Plague: Destruction of Jerusalem, Fiery Judgments on the Nations
Revelation 16:8-9 The Fourth Bowl of Wrath parallels the warning given by Jesus on the Mount of Olives concerning the coming judgment on Jerusalem, and the wars of nations surrounding her: Matthew 24:4-28, Mark 13:5-23, Luke 21:8-19. Compare Deuteronomy 28:15-24, Psalm 121:5-6 and Malachi 4:1-3. The scorching with fire and the sun's heat in verse 8 suggests a parallel to those fiery judgments pronounced by the Old Testament prophets: Isaiah 1:7, 4:4-5, 5:24-25, 9:18-20, 10:16-17, 26:11, 29:5-6, 30:27-33, 31:9, 33:10-14, 37:18-19, 42:24-25, 64:11, 66:15-16, 66:24; Jeremiah 4:4, 11:16, 15:14, 21:10-14, 23:29, 34:2, 34:22, 37:8-10, 48:45, 49:25-27, 50:31-32, 51:58; Lamentations 1:13, 2:3-4, 4:11; Baruch 4:31-35; Ezekiel 5:1-8, 10:2, 15:6-7, 16:40-41, 19:12-14, 23:25, 23:46-47, 28:18, 30:14-16, 38:19, 38:22, 39:6; Daniel 3:4-6, 7:9; Hosea 7:6-7, 8:14; Joel 1:19-20, 2:3-5; Amos 1:4, 1:7, 1:10-15, 2:2, 2:5, 5:6-7, 7:4; Nahum 1:6, 3:13-15; Zephaniah 1:18, 3:8; Malachi 3:1-2.
The Fifth Plague: Kingdoms and Nations in Darkness and Agonizing Turmoil
Revelation 16:10-11 The Fifth Bowl of Wrath parallels the warning given by Jesus on the Mount of Olives concerning what will follow the destruction of Jerusalem: distress of nations in perplexity (their understanding will be darkened), fainting with fear and foreboding; all the great powers that men exalt to heaven will be shaken, traditional societies will be unstable and uncertain. The kingdoms of mankind will be "in the dark", and in great social and political anguish and pain, like condemned victims of crucifixion gnawing their tongues, in the years and centuries of turmoil following the destruction of Jerusalem Matthew 24:29, Mark 13:24-25, Luke 21:25-26. "The seat of the beast" is taken to be the city of imperial Rome as the seat of power of the emperors. Compare Revelation 17 and 18. See Year of the four Emperors.
See also Suetonius, The Twelve Caesars, 3 through 12, Tiberius through Domitian.
The Sixth Plague: the Irrevocable Parthian Attack and the Roman Response
Revelation 16:12-16 The Sixth Bowl of Wrath parallels the warning given by Jesus on the Mount of Olives concerning the nations on earth. Matthew 24:30-34, Mark 13:26-30, Luke 21:27-32. His word rendered insignificant all those natural barriers to invasion from the east and prepared the way for the kings from the east to attack and invade Roman territory. The Roman empire (the dragon) and its emperors (the beast) and the Roman consuls, legates and commanders (the false prophet) issue decrees and plans for war, going abroad to kings subject to Rome to assemble for battle against the invader. This corresponds to the Parthian War of A.D. 58 to 63, with the activities of Corbulo, Ummidius Quadratus and Paccius Orfitus, and the sending forth of "three foul spirits like frogs" (covering the land, see Exodus 8:1-14) corresponding to the deployment under Corbulo of three "demonic" legions, III Gallica, VI Ferrara, IV Scythia.
Armegeddon (literally "hill of Megiddo") was the iconic image of the focus of battles between ancient nations vying for control of the Middle East, in decisive historical confrontations the prophets of God called the "day of the Lord" (Zephaniah 1:14). Political and international upheaval is consistently seen by the prophets of Israel in the Old Testament as the frequent shaking of the social order (earthquakes) and as signs in the heavens. People will see ominous signs in the sky and sea and earth that profound changes are taking place. But Christ will come. He tells his disciples to keep awake and clothed (in righteous deeds Revelation 19:8) so they will not be naked and be exposed (as hypocrites).
Revelation 16:15 parallels Revelation 3:15-19 and Matthew 24:45-51, Mark 13:33-37, Luke 21:34-36. The angels (lit. "messengers") gathering his elect from the four winds is seen as the ongoing fulfilling of the Great Commission in the missionary effort in all the centuries of the Church since the day of Pentecost to bring people everywhere to Christ.
The Seventh Plague: the Crucifixion of Jesus and the Earthquake
Revelation 16:17-18 The seventh angel pouring out the Seventh Bowl into the air is seen as the crucifixion of Jesus. Verse 17 parallels the moment when he said in a great (loud) voice, from the depths of his being, out of the temple (his body being the temple John 2:19-21), "It is finished!" "It is accomplished!" "It is done!". John 19:30, Matthew 27:50, Mark 15:37, Luke 23:44-46.
An earthquake split the rocks. Matthew 27:50-54. His heart was pierced with a lance, the veil of the temple being his flesh and the pericardium of his heart "torn in two from top to bottom without being divided", like the sacrifice of the yonah (Hebrew for dove, Jonah) in Leviticus 1:17. This earthquake signified something greater than had ever happened before. The Gospel according to Matthew testifies that some of the saints rose and went into the holy city and appeared to many.
See Matthew 27:51-54 NABRE.
The three-fold division of mankind into Jew, Pagan, and Christian
Revelation 16:19-21 The great city of man was divided into three parts: the Jew, the Pagan, and the Christian. The authority of the cities of the nations all fell from power because Christ is now Lord, and God's judgment fell on great Babylon, which is taken to be Rome. Compare Exodus 9:17-26 and Jeremiah 51 NABRE.
Vesuvius, and the Christian condemnation of sin
Soon afterward, 24 August A.D. 79, Mount Vesuvius erupted and buried the resort towns of the Roman elite, Pompeii and Herculaneum, under pumice and lava turned to stone. Even pagan writers, such as Cassius Dio, saw this as a form of divine wrath or retribution.
This occurred about 16 years before the persecution of A.D. 95 under Domitian. "Every island fled away and no mountains were to be found." Steep high mountains, and self-contained and heavily fortified islands, were anciently regarded as places of security difficult to assail, resistant to invasion and conquest, but were so no longer. This is taken as parallel to the teaching in Psalm 139:7-12, John 15:22, and Hebrews 4:12-13. The hailstones of a hundredweight dropping from heaven are taken as the missionary effort of Christians calling for repentance among the pagans and Jews. This is made clearer by the fact that a "hundredweight" is the weight of a full-grown man or woman: Revelation 16:21. For, as Jesus is the stone which the builders rejected, whom if it falls on anyone will grind him to powder, and, as Peter declared, Christians are "living stones" (1 Peter 2:4-10), whose birth is in heaven (John 1:12-13 "born of God", 3:3 "from above"), so the apostles and missionaries also preaching the Gospel of salvation are living stones dropping from heaven on men with condemnation of wickedness and warning of the destruction of sinners who refuse to repent, and offering salvation in Jesus—and instead, men curse ("blaspheme" KJV) God, by slandering, persecuting, assaulting, killing and burning Christians (Acts 13:44-45, Wisdom 2:12-15). The plague of hail in Egypt also killed all who did not heed the warning of Moses Exodus 9:18-26.
Compare Matthew 22:41-46; Luke 12:10 and 22:65; John 15:18;
Acts 4:26-31; 5:17-18; 5:30-33; 5:40-42; 6:8-14; 7:51-54; 8:1-3; 9:1; 9:22-23; 9:28-29; 12:1-4; 13:44-45; 13:49-50; 14:2-7; 14:19; 16:16-24; 17:4-8; 17:30-32; 18:6; 19:8-9; 20:3; 21:27-36; 22:17-22; 23:9-10; 23:12-13; 26:9-11;
1 Timothy 1:13.
"What is": the Present Persecution in Light of the Past
The scriptures having been opened, the pattern of history is revealed. The revelation of the meaning of the plan of God in the sacred scriptures was one of the things that "must take place soon" (Revelation 22:6) so that the faithful may not lose their confidence in the hope of the promised resurrection. Since the time of John the meaning of the scriptures of the Old Testament has been clearly opened by Christ in his church. "I will build my church" Matthew 16:18 2 Peter 1:19 Luke 24:45 2 Corinthians 3:14-16 Revelation 5:5. See Colossians 3:24 and 2 John 8.
The future: "What is to happen hereafter"
The Judgment on Pagan Rome, the Harlot of Babylon
The angel then shows John what is to happen hereafter.
In chapter 17 the coming judgment of the great harlot, taken to be pagan imperial Rome, is revealed. Much of the metaphoric imagery shown to John is explained by the angel. Revelation 17:7. The Roman harlot has the power of law, ten horns opposing ten commandments, horns being a semitic image of power and might, seated on the seven hills of Rome, the beast with seven heads. Nero (one of the heads) had died, but there was a rumor that he was alive again; and history records that there were several pretenders who presented themselves as Nero, claiming his throne.
Apollonius of Tyana had described Nero as a beast: "I know not how many heads it has".
Nero may be taken as one particular embodiment of the scarlet beast, the most iconic, fully representing the sensually luxuriant, morally corrupt, bloodthirsty character of the oppressive Roman empire, full of blasphemous names, having seven heads and ten horns. This is parallel to the vision of the fourth beast with ten horns on its head in Daniel 7:19-27.
The first century pagan cult of emperor-worship saw embodied in the Caesars the very seat of Roman power. And the harlot of the Roman Babylon, seated upon him, whose culture included the celebration of the rites of the mystery religions of Egypt and the East, was arrayed in imperial splendor. Revelation 17:4. Her harlotry is parallel those passages in the Old Testament using the image of a harlot to characterize the multitude of alliances with other nations and cultures of the world. Ezekiel 16. Jerusalem had been brought under severe judgment and condemnation for its harlotry. So Rome, the harlot of Babylon, is also under the same condemnation as a filthy corrupter of "peoples and multitudes and nations and tongues" on whom she sits as a queen. Isaiah 47. Nero is also taken to be the beast that "was" (he was emperor), and "is not" (he killed himself), and is to "ascend" (again and again) from the bottomless pit as a false deliverer—the same beast in each of those imposters who claimed to be Nero come again from the dead, and those political disciples who by imitating his despotic methods sought his throne—and then (like all of them) "go to perdition". Only those who do not love God will marvel to behold them. This is not taken by the historical exegete as a statement of the future but of the fact that there are many throughout the centuries who admire and marvel at the lives and power of the Caesars of Rome, without seeing them for what they are, who have no love of purity, virtue and goodness. Many have marveled, many do marvel, and many will marvel at the persistence of this beast, just as there are undoubtedly many in generations to come who will marvel with wonder at Napoleon, Wilhelm I, Adolf Hitler, Mao tse Tung, Saddam Hussein, and Osama Bin Laden. John 3:19. The mind of wisdom sees in the seven heads a metaphor for the seven hills as the seat of the woman, Rome.
In each of these intriguers can be seen the beast that was and is not and is to come (again and again), each of them being an eighth beast, and in reality belonging to the evil that is represented by "the seven", the seven-headed beast of Rome, each of them an eighth beast that goes "to perdition", as they all do. The seven heads, seven hills of Rome, the seat of Roman power, represent "seven kings, five of whom are fallen, one is, the other has not yet come, and when he comes he must remain only a little while." Historically these can be taken at the time of John as being the five emperors after Nero, Galba, Otho, Vitellius, Divus Vespasian, and Divus Titus, who fell (died or assassinated), preceding the one emperor who "is" at the time of John's exile on Patmos—Domitian.
And "the other who has not yet come" is taken generically as simply being any and all of those who became emperors of pagan Rome after Domitian, who remain only a short time before they too die or are assassinated, in the sense of the weary sentiment, "there will be another one after this one". None of them after Domitian before A.D. 200 reigns more than 23 years, and none of them is immortal. The language of the angel as reported in this passage is an example of the divine ironic speech of God the Father to Jesus in the Revelation to John (John 14:24), portraying the pagan reign of the Roman emperors as a perverted imitation of the reign of Christ himself, God, "who was, and is, and is to come". In the New Testament the illegitimate and false claims of the temporal kingdom of the State with its emperor-cult are presented in contrast to the divine reality of the legitimate and true claims of the eternal kingdom of God with the cult of his Christ. Revelation 17:16 is taken in part as an historical reference to the famous burning of Rome first by Nero, but more generally to those inevitable conflagrations inflicted on her in wars with other nations on the borders of Rome in subsequent centuries.
The angel explains to John that the woman sitting on the scarlet beast is the great city which has dominion over the kings of the earth, which is here taken to be pagan Rome.
And as Jeremiah was charged to curse Babylon (Jeremiah 51) so Rome as Babylon is cursed in the divine judgment presented in chapter 18 in imagery used before by the prophets of God in the scriptures. The only ones who will mourn over her destruction will be those merchants who made their fortunes in trade with Rome. Compare Isaiah 3:18-26 and Ezekiel 27:12–28:19. What happened to pagan empires in the past will unfailingly happen to the pagan empire of Rome.
Modern scholarship, using the tools of higher criticism (analysis) has dated the writing of the Revelation in its present form to probably near the end of the reign of Domitian (A.D. 81-96). This substantiates the claim that John actually prophesied the future of the pagan Roman empire.
What John is not shown: the future announced and described but not seen
This interpretation sees significance in the fact that in Revelation 17:1–19:10 the angel shows John the great city which has dominion over the kings of the earth, but John does not see the events the angel describes in the explanation of what will happen to her. In chapter 18 another angel comes down having great authority, the earth is made bright with his splendor, declaring that Babylon has fallen. John does not see the event. Another voice from heaven declares that she will be burned with fire, and shall be thrown down. The destruction in the burning of Rome, and of Pompeii and Herculaneum in one day, is then seen by the historical exegete as represented in the vision of 18:17-19: "in one hour". The burning of Rome under Nero has already happened, and the devastation by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius has already occurred. John sees the city burning, the smoke rising (see Genesis 19:27-28), and he hears the call for rejoicing over the judgment God has given against Rome. Then a mighty angel takes up a stone like a great millstone and throws it into the sea, saying, "So shall Babylon the great city be thrown down with violence, and shall be found no more..." (compare Jeremiah 51:60-64). What will happen is described by the angel, but John does not see the event the angel describes.
What has happened already, and what happens in the present, has been seen by John. But what is to happen in the future is proclaimed by description to him. It is not seen in the vision. From this evident fact in the narrative itself, an historical exegetical interpretation of Revelation thus sees in the book an overview of history from the kingdom of Judah and the Babylonian exile through the missionary period in the first century as shown to John in the vision. The assurance of the coming destruction of pagan Imperial Rome is announced and described but not seen. The announcement of the certainty of the judgment of God upon the great city is celebrated with shouts of joy from a mighty multitude in heaven, from the 24 elders bowing down and the four living creatures, and from a voice coming from the throne. Then the voice of a great multitude, like the sound of many waters and mighty thunderpeals, cries out with joy because God reigns, the marriage feast of the Lamb has already come, and the Bride is ready (Matthew 25:1-13, John 3:29, 2 Corinthians 11:2).
The things that have been, are now, and will be
The Marriage Supper of the Lamb
The righteous rejoice that the oppressive pagan empire of sin is doomed to be forever destroyed (Proverbs 28:28), and they for their part are already triumphant participants in the marriage supper of the Lamb, Jesus Christ with his bride, his people, the Church, clothed in the fine white linen which is the righteous deeds, the works, of the saints (priestly garments in Israel were linen).
The conquering Word of God and the armies of heaven
The Word of God, Jesus, goes forth conquering, striking down with truth armies of opposition. Revelation 17:14, 19:15. The beast of worldly government and its spokesman, the false prophet, who speaks for it and who astonishes the people with the exercise of temporal material power, who deceives those who make covenant with it for profit and worship it rather than God, are seen as already thrown into hell, the lake of fire that burns with sulfur. The kings, captains, mighty men, the armies of the free and the slave will always die and be consumed by carrion eaters on the battlefields of history. This is as certain as the proverbial fact that where the dead body is, there the vultures will gather Luke 17:37. It is the meek who finally inherit the earth when the armed forces of oppression die Matthew 5:5. Satan will be bound and there will be a period of peace afterward.  The shepherds of the Church, "those to whom judgment was committed", will (continue to) "sit on twelve thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel", (Matthew 18:18, John 20:21-23, 1 Corinthians 6:2-3, 2 Corinthians 5:18-20; see Apostolic succession).
The first resurrection
John saw the souls of those who were beheaded for their testimony to Jesus and for the word of God. They include John the Baptist (Matthew 14:10, Mark 6:16, Luke 9:9), St. James (Acts 12:2) and St. Paul who was a Roman citizen and who, as a privilege of his citizenship  was beheaded, not crucified , and many others having likewise the rights of Roman citizenship, who became Christian martyrs during the persecutions under the emperors Nero through Domitian and were beheaded as Romans instead of being crucified as slaves, because they had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or on their hands in a covenant with the State. They came to life in Christ and they reign with him. This is taken as parallel to those passages in the New Testament which say that those in Christ do not die: John 6:47, John 8:51,John 11:25-27; compare also Matthew 22:31-32 and 2 Maccabees 15:11-16, and see 2 Peter 1:13-15 with emphasis on the meaning of verse 15. Those who have come to life in baptism will reign with them (as they always do) in triumph over death in the first resurrection as a priestly people of God and of Christ, and the second death will have no power over them ("we are more than conquerors" Romans 8:31-39); but others do not come to life before this period has ended.
What John does not see
John significantly does not say that he saw with this first resurrection "the Lord himself descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the archangel's call, and with the sound of the trumpet of God". Compare Revelation 20:4-6 and 1 Thessalonians 4:14-17. John does not say that he saw those who came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years "shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father", and "like the brightness of the firmament and like the stars for ever and ever". Compare the same passage of Revelation 20:4-6 with Matthew 13:43 and Daniel 12:3. According to Christian tradition, these phenomena belong to the general resurrection and final judgment at the end of time.
The loosing of Satan, and the Second Death
Then, after this first resurrection of souls who came to life and reign with Christ, Satan the Devil will be loosed for a short time to deceive those on earth who do not love the truth (2 Thessalonians 2:9-15), and they with him will prepare for battle and surround the body of Christ, the Church on earth, the city of the saints built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets—but the judgment of God, the fire of truth, will come down on them from heaven and consume them. This crisis has occurred several times throughout the history of Christianity, and we are facing one in the 21st century in the form of violent militant extremists who hate all Christians and Jews, murder them, behead them, and seek their total annihilation (John 16:1-4; see Wisdom 3:1-8). The time will come when they and the devil who deceived them will be condemned to torment for ever and ever, as in fact they are already irrevocably condemned, unless they repent. The period of peace during which Satan is bound, after which he is loosed from his prison to come out and deceive the nations again, is seen in an historical exegesis of this passage as parallel the purpose set out in the Book of Judges 3:1-4 .
It is an inevitable certainty that the judgment of God will consume forces gathered against "the beloved city". Compare Ephesians 2:19-22 and Romans 8:31-39. All will be judged, living and dead, and are even now judged in the light of the truth of Christ in God. And finally Death and Hades, the realm of the dead, will be subject to the second death. They are even now tormented day and night for ever and ever. Isaiah 57:20-21. See 1 John 2:9-11, 3:13-18, 4:16-18, 5:18-19.
The destruction of the whole universe by fire is not described
The Revelation to John does not state that the whole entirety of the heavens and the earth and the elements of the physical universe will pass away and melt with fire at the last judgment. Compare 2 Peter 3:10-13.
The new heaven and the new earth: the city of God, the body of Christ
John is then shown the present reality of the new heaven and the new earth.
The holy city that comes down out of heaven from God is seen in this interpretation as the Church, "yesterday, today, and for ever" coming down out of heaven from God. James 1:17. When John sees this, and the angel explains what he sees, God then says in John's hearing, "Behold, I make all things new!". This is taken as parallel to the teaching of God himself through St. Paul in 2 Corinthians 5:17 and Galatians 6:15. See Romans 6:6, 1 Corinthians 5:7-8, Ephesians 4:22, Hebrews 8:13, Matthew 9:16-17.
The city is seen in the form of a cube. In antiquity, a perfect cube was a mathematical symbol of perfection and of architectural stability. As the holy of holies in the tabernacle in the wilderness and in the temple of Solomon in Jerusalem each had the dimensions of a cube according to the pattern shown to Moses on the mountain and revealed to David in Jerusalem (Exodus 26:1-6 40 cubits total, divided in two sections 20 cubits and 20 cubits, and 1 Kings 6:19-20, 1 Chronicles 28:19-20 20 cubits by 20 cubits by 20 cubits), so likewise the metaphorical vision of the holy city, the new Jerusalem, always coming down out of heaven from God (Revelation 3:12 "which comes down", not "will come down", and Revelation 21:2-3, "coming down" present tense, not "will come down" future tense, also James 1:16-17 "coming down"), presents to John the spiritual reality of the absolute perfection of the Church, the body of Christ. The visible immensity of the city in size presents the metaphorical reality of its overwhelmingly infinite capacity as the dwelling of all the redeemed. To say that John was using allegorical language, to express a truth, is to deny that he actually saw this reality in a genuine revelatory vision shown to him by the angel sent from Jesus, who received it from God the Father (Revelation 1:1).
Since the day of Pentecost she has always been "the dwelling of God with men" (John 14:23), the bride (Isaiah 62), the wife of the Lamb (2 Corinthians 11:2), her foundations the twelve apostles (Ephesians 2:19-22), her members the living stones of the temple of God with Christ himself the capstone (1 Peter 2:4-10), her twelve gates Christ the door (John 10:1-16), who is himself the one pearl of great price (Matthew 13:45-46, 19:29), beautiful, impregnable, holy, illuminated with the more sure word of prophesy (2 Peter 1:19), radiant with the glory of God and the Lamb, Jesus Christ in her midst (again James 1:17), her street and way pure as purest gold (Isaiah 35:8-10), real, but transparent as glass (see Luke 17:21). This is parallel to the city described in the Book of Ezekiel, chapters 40:1 through 47:12. Nothing unclean can be in it (Mortal sin), and nothing accursed. See Hebrews 12:22-24 and Isaiah 2:2-4 as a present reality in the first century. Outside of it are the cowardly, the faithless, the polluted, murderers, fornicators, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, all who are doomed, all who refuse to enter through the door (John 10:1-16). This has always been true, from the day of Pentecost to the present day. By its light, the doctrine of Christ (John 9:5), all the nations will (eventually) walk, and the rulers of the earth will bring their glory into it, as they did for more than a millennium in Christian Europe and the Byzantine Empire, and the gates to salvation shall never be shut, and have never been shut since the day of Pentecost. John 6:37. The water of eternal life flows out from the throne, from Jesus, through the middle of the way (John 7:37-39). The tree of life on either side of the river with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month, is suggestive of the kingdom under Solomon (1 Kings 4:7-34) and is Jesus himself, the throne and the vine. The leaves for the healing of the nations are the righteous, as declared in the Book of Psalms, Psalm One. There is no more darkness, because the saints of God do not depend on nature, the light of lamps or the sun, for God is their light, and they will reign for ever and ever. According to St. Paul they are already reigning for ever and ever in heaven even while still alive on earth: God, who is rich in mercy, has "raised us up with him, and made us sit with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus" (Ephesians 2:6). What has already begun with them on earth will continue forever through eternity, in life and in death and in the resurrection. This historical exegetical interpretation of Revelation 21 and 22 as the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12, Hebrews 12) is also the view of both preterists and partial preterists.
John and the Angel of Revelation
John is so grateful to the angel for the knowledge and understanding shown to him in exile and in what he has been told that he fell down to worship the angel who revealed these things to him, but the angel told him that he must not do that, and states that he is John's fellow servant together with the prophets and those who keep the words of this book he is commanded to write: the messenger told him, "Worship God." Compare Acts 10:19-26
John is then emphatically commanded, "Do not seal up the words of the prophesy of this book, for the time is near." (It is not in the distant future.) "Let the evildoer still do evil, and the filthy still be filthy, and the righteous still do right, and the holy still be holy." The day is coming when Jesus will come in glory to repay every one for what they have done. Compare Revelation 22:12, 1 Corinthians 15:24-28 and 2 Peter 3:11-13. See Matthew 13:37-43, Philippians 2:15, Daniel 12:3. The invitation is issued to come to the water of baptism and be washed clean. The water is also seen as the refreshing and life-giving doctrine of truth and the Holy Spirit flowing from Christ and from his apostles and springing up within his people. John 7:37-39 and 4:13-14. Compare Isaiah 44:1-4; and Jeremiah 17:7-8 and 12-14.
The BookJohn warns everyone who hears this book, to add nothing to it and subtract nothing from it, understood by historical exegesis as applicable to anyone who changes the meaning of its message either by imposing meanings that it does not have (eisegesis) or by dismissing or obscuring those meanings that it does have as if they were irrelevant or unimportant (Revelation 22:18-19). One example of this abuse of doctrine before the writing of the Revelation is found in St. Paul's Second Letter to Timothy 2:11-18: "Hymenaeus and Philetus, who have swerved from the truth by holding that the resurrection is past already. They are upsetting the faith of some." They seem to be the first century parallel to today's preterist interpreters, holding that all that was prophesied was completely fulfilled in the first century. This was not the tradition of the apostles which was handed on to their successor bishops within the church who have preserved it through the centuries and handed it on to the present generation. The warning in the Revelation against adding to or taking away from the words of that book is parallel to the warning found in 2 Peter about the meaning of the sacred scriptures, including Paul's letters:
"Paul wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, speaking of this as he does in all his letters. There are some things in them hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other scriptures. You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, beware lest you be carried away with the error of lawless men and lose your own stability. But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen." 2 Peter 3:15b-18 RSVCE
An historical exegetical interpretation of the Revelation as exemplified in this article is valid only if it does not change the primary meaning and message of that book as read within the context of the whole of the Bible and within the tradition of the understanding of ancient apostolic Christian doctrine.
Strengths and weaknesses
The main strength of this interpretive exegesis
The main strength in favor of an historical exegetical interpretation of the Book of Revelation, such as the example above, is that it makes sense against the backdrop of history and the experience of the Church. It has the advantage of reasonable interpretation of points in the vision that have seemed in alternative traditional approaches mysterious and uncertain of meaning.
Weaknesses of this approach
Textual Criticism (The Lower Criticism)
Traditions of interpretation
The primary objection that can be raised against this historical interpretation is that it does not represent any particular Christian traditional understanding, Catholic, Orthodox, Independent Eastern, Orthodox Ethiopian, Protestant, and that it so clearly utilizes the interpretive principles of Textual Criticism (analysis) of the content of the book.
Negative perceptions of Textual Criticism
One of the main objections against modern biblical scholarship is the popular perception that current biblical researchers "tend to reject the inspiration of the scriptures as actually being the inspired word of God". This perception is based on widely published notorious abuses of the legitimate tools of the Historical-critical method (Higher criticism) by liberals and atheists and the exposure given them by critical reviewers and by reactions of conservative observers.
This negative perception, while understandable, has proven in fact to be an unjust assessment of the whole discipline of Hermeneutics. Most exegetes quietly go about their task with reverence and sincerity as believers in Jesus Christ and in the Holy Spirit as the fundamental author of the Bible. And an historical exegetical interpretation as presented here accepts the testimony of the author, by taking him at his word.
Grammatical objections: future interpreted as past
The future tense in context
Another potential argument highlighting an obviously apparent weakness in an historical exegesis, is that any interpretation of the events in the opening of the seals as having occurred in the past utterly ignores the fact that John says they "will" happen, apparently indicating their future occurrence. For example, the following passages:
- Revelation 4:1 "Come up hither, and I will show you what must take place after this." Almost all readers take this as referring to those events which John sees when the Lamb opens the seals, not as referring to the act of the Lamb opening the seals to reveal the pattern of the plan of God as it was manifested in the past.
- The phrase "after this" has been the sole basis for interpreting the whole of the Book of Revelation as a disclosure of the future history of the Church beginning with the time of John, and as having no direct relevance or reference to the past history of Israel before the birth of Christ. The New Testament writers frequently referenced the past as lessons for the present and for the future of Christianity.
- The events seen by John are almost always described in the present tense and future tense, not the past tense. John uses the past tense to describe what he had seen on that day, and what had happened as he watched.
- Most of those things which were to "shortly come to pass" are described as having already happened as he watched, not as things that will happen in the future.
- Revelation 11:3 "I will grant my two witnesses power to prophesy for one thousand two hundred and sixty days..."
- Revelation 11:7-8 "And when they have finished their testimony, the beast that ascends from the bottomless pit will make war upon them...and their dead bodies will lie in the street..."
- Revelation 11:10 "...and those who dwell on the earth will rejoice over them..."
- Revelation 11:14 "...behold, the third woe is soon to come."
- See the context of 12:3—13:15 including the birth of Jesus, already past and present.
- Revelation 20:6 "...they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and they shall reign with him..."
- See the context of 20:3-15 past and already done, and also present now and for all future years.
- Revelation 22:3-5 "There shall no more be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and his servants shall worship him; they shall see his face, and his name shall be on their foreheads. And night shall be no more;...the Lord God will be their light, and they shall reign for ever and ever."
- See the context of 21:1-2 past and present, and 22:1-2. Understood as the Church, the body of Christ, and the gift of salvation, "sitting in heavenly places in Christ" (Eph. 2:6), completely cleansed of all that is "accursed" (Eph. 5:26-27), "the darkness is past" (1 John 2:8-10), present and already happening as he watched. And this has always been true, then and now, and for all future ages.
Semitic forms of expression: no past, present, future tenses
Any objection pointing out the use of the future tense in Greek and in English translation in Revelation does not take account of the fact that John was a Jew, not a Roman and not a Greek, and that the Aramaic and Hebrew forms of speaking and writing in ancient times do not have past, present, or future tenses as does English, and Modern Hebrew. Even in another language, not native to the speaker or writer, the characteristic Semitic way of describing an event will generally be retained, so that what actually happened in the past, and remains always relevant now and in the future, can be expressed as a future event that is present now.
Biblical Hebrew is not a "tense" language. Modern grammarians recognize that it is an "aspectual" language. This means that the same form of a verb can be translated as either past, present, or future depending on the context and various grammatical cues . Thus what John saw and described in Greek as an event that "will happen" is historically an event that has already significantly happened in the (distant) past in actuality, and was relevant then, is relevant even now, and will remain relevant in the future. Preterists apply this fact even to the Second Coming, the Resurrection of the Dead, and the Final Judgment. Partial preterists do not go so far.
Many legitimate approaches to interpretation
What should be noted here apart from its strengths and weaknesses is that an historical exegetical interpretation of the Book of Revelation is one among many legitimate approaches to probing, and hopefully discerning and rightly interpreting, the true meaning of its visionary message as the revealed word of God. It is proposed as a method of representing the most "literal sense of scripture" of the Book of Revelation, from which can be drawn the other three senses of scripture, the allegorical, moral, and anagogical (future) senses.
Assessing the method of an historical exegetical interpretation of Revelation
What then can be said conclusively in light of the strengths and weaknesses of all the various approaches to interpreting this book? An eclectic approach cannot include them all in any kind of recognizably harmonious synthesis. An extreme preterist view sharply opposes an historicist view, and both of these views are dismissed by a futurist view which cannot be reconciled to any partial preterist understanding. The partial preterist view does not see the visions of Revelation as inclusive of events that occurred centuries before John, and the idealist does not see any relevance in seeking historical referents. Certainly the book's message of perseverance in the face of trials and tribulations, in the sure hope of the resurrection and the full expectation of the triumph of Christ, is solidly based on the truth of the Gospel, and meets with acceptance by almost all students of the main schools of interpretation.
An historical exegetical interpretation in accord with sound conservative critical methodology can offer much as an informed approach to dispel most of the mystery of the meaning of the symbolic visions shown to John as recorded by him, without removing from the book its beauty and value, its relevance and truth as the inspired word of God. It is wholly consonant with the Gospel call for repentance, patient perseverance, and the sure and certain hope in the coming final bodily resurrection of the dead and salvation from wrath with the gift of eternal life in Jesus Christ alone. In this it can be said that this interpretation at least does not add to or take away from the words of the Revelation in what is generally understood by the majority of the Christian community of the Church to be its general and fundamental message. The great strength of this interpretation is in its explanatory power for understanding the meaning of the mysterious images presented to John in the Revelation.
Responsible exegesis, and personal accountability
One answer is clear. While all of these approaches together may (or may not) help to discover the fuller meaning of the Book of Revelation, none of them absolves contemporary readers from the hard task of interpreting the book in an exegetically responsible manner. This includes the warning given by Christ to his followers on the mount outside of Jerusalem:
The Son of man in his glory, and all the angels with him, being seated on his glorious throne, does not ask how any individual or group or people read or interpreted the Bible. Romans 2:6-11.
Table of historical parallels to the rest of scripture in the Book of Revelation
The historical interpretation represented in the table below presents some variations from the historical exegesis already presented above in this article. This is not unusual. Every school of interpretation of the Book of Revelation, listed above in this article, includes some variety of interpretations among its writers, and this is no exception.
The table presented here for comparison is one representative example of how historical exegetical interpretations may vary. Both the historical exegetical interpretation above and the table of historical parallels below are presented here as adequate collective summary representations of this method of exegesis. Neither one of them should be held as offering the one definitive interpretation of an historical view of Revelation.
The table will be divided into 3 sections as follows:
- What Was: The Past: Chapters 6 through 16: Seven Seals, Seven Trumpets, Seven Plagues
- What Is: The Present: Chapters 1 through 5: The Lord's Day on Patmos, in the Spirit: the Vision of Jesus, and the Angel
- What Shall Be, and What Is: Chapters 17 through 22: The Future and the Present, on Patmos: Rome and the Church
What Was: The Past: Seven Seals, Seven Trumpets, Seven Plagues: Chapters 6 through 16: Pattern of Salvation History
|Historical Books||Historical Parallel Event||Book of Revelation|
2 Kings 18:13–19:28
One: The conquests of Assyria and of Babylon.
compare key verse
|2 Kings 24:1-4, 10-20||Two: The Sword and Bloodshed
"they shall destroy with the sword"
compare key verse
|2 Kings 25:1-3||Three: The Siege of Jerusalem and Famine
"their sons and their daughters shall die by famine"
see also 2 Kings 6:24-30
compare key verse
|Lamentations 2||Four: Pestilence and Death
"They shall die of deadly diseases."
compare key verse
|2 Chronicles 36:11-21
2 Kings 25:4-26
|Five: The Cry of Innocent Blood, The Fall of Jerusalem, and Exile||Revelation 6:9-11
compare key verse
|Daniel 9:1-19||Six: Exile, Cyrus the Persian, and Return to Jerusalem
"These are they who have come out of the great tribulation"
"And all the angels stood round the throne..."
2 Maccabees 3:1-3
|Seven: Jaddua to Onias, high priestly intercession, God is silent
Compare 1 Thessalonians 5:3
|1 Maccabees 1:1.||Alexander the Great, Darius II, and Jaddua the high priest
The seven angels and seven trumpets given to them
"Then the angel took the censer and filled it with fire from the altar and threw it on the earth; and there were peals of thunder, loud noises, flashes of lightning, and an earthquake."
Daniel 7:6 "four heads": Alexander's 4 generals (?), his successors (?)
See also: especially relevant to an historical exegetical interpretation:
compare key verse
|1 Maccabees 1:1-4.||Trumpet One: Conquests of Alexander the Great
"hail and fire, mixed with blood, which fell on the earth; and a third of the earth was burnt up, and a third of the trees were burnt up, and all green grass was burnt up."
compare key verse
|1 Maccabees 1:5-9||Trumpet Two: Death of Alexander, his successors
|2 Maccabees 3:1–4:50||Trumpet Three: Onias III, his assassination, Jason, and Menelaus
compare key verse
|1 Maccabees 1:10-19
2 Maccabees 4
|Trumpet Four: Antiochus IV, Menelaus, Lysimachus, Civil Unrest||Revelation 8:12-13
compare key verse
|2 Maccabees 5:1–8:7
1 Maccabees 1:20–3:10
|Trumpet Five: Revolt, Invasion, Persecution, Apollyon
The star fallen from heaven opening the shaft of the bottomless pit is here taken as the deposed high priest Jason who initially opened Judea to the active influence of Hellenism and now leads a revolt, which provokes a military response.
"Apollonius" and "Apollyon", taken to be a paronomasia—"his name in Hebrew is Abaddon, and in Greek he is called Apollyon" (destroyer) Revelation 9:11
|1 Maccabees 3:10–4:35
2 Maccabees 8
|Trumpet Six: The Four Angels Bound at the Euphrates
Four messengers of death: Lysias, Ptolemy, Nicanor and Gorgias
"Lysias chose Ptolemy the son of Dorymenes, and Nicanor and Gorgias, mighty men among the friends of the king, and sent with them forty thousand infantry and seven thousand cavalry to go into the land of Judah and destroy it, as the king had commanded."
|2 Maccabees 6–7||The Maccabean Martyrs: The Angel, the Scroll, and Seven Thunders
Commission to John to prophesy about peoples, nations, tongues, kings.
The mighty messenger from heaven with the little scroll, who called out like a lion roaring, is seen as the elderly scribe Eleazar of noble presence, who reproached his tormenters before he died as an inspiring example of courage to the youth and the great body of the nation of the Jews.
The seven thunders parallel the seven Maccabean martyrs.
John is told to go to the messenger holding the open scroll (taken to be the glorified spirit of Eleazar in the present time) and take the open scroll.
John is commanded to prophesy about many peoples and nations and tongues and kings.
|2 Maccabees 8–15
1 Maccabees 3:42–13:30
|The Temple is Given Over to the Greeks to Trample for 42 Months
The Two Witnesses: Judas Maccabeus and Jonathan Apphus
See 1 Maccabees 6:1-16, 2 Maccabees 9:1-28, Daniel 7:26, 11:44-45, 12:11.
|2 Maccabees 15:37
1 Maccabees 13:31–16:24
|Trumpet Seven: The Kingdom of Our Lord and His Anointed (Christ)
The Independent Kingdom of Judea and
The Hasmonean Dynasty of Anointed High Priests (Christs)
Ruling the 24 Divisions of the Priesthood and the Nation of the Jews
see Strong's numbers
see Strong's numbers
Compare the following
Compare 2 Corinthians 1:21-22.
|not recorded in the scriptures||Hyrcanus to Pompey's Subjugation of Judea 63 B.C., and Herod
"and there were lightnings, and voices, and thunderings, and an earthquake, and great hail."
"This family was a splendid and illustrious one, both on account of the nobility of their stock, and of the dignity of the high priesthood...but these men lost the government by their dissensions one with another, and it came to Herod, the son of Antipater...And this is what history tells us was the end of the Asamonean family." Ant. 14.16.4 (490-491) Whiston tr.
compare 2 Maccabees 2:1-8 Douay and 2 Maccabees 2:1-8 NABRE
See also Literalist Bible chronology: 2 Maccabees 1:10-12—Aristobulus II 66–63 B.C.—probable historical period of Zechariah and Elizabeth, and the birth of Joseph, and later of Mary in Judea (Matthew 1, Luke 1).
| Luke 1:5–2:38
|The Woman Clothed With The Sun, and the Great Red Dragon, Rome
63 B.C. to 1 B.C.
"Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God."
The woman clothed with the sun in chapter 12 is seen as the chosen people, as Jerusalem, the bride betrothed to her maker (Isaiah 61:10–62:5). She is clothed with the patriarch Jacob-Israel, with the throne of David as a firm foundation under her feet (Psalm 89:34-37, 1 Chronicles 28:2, 2 Chronicles 9:18), on her head the twelve patriarchs sons of Israel as a crown of twelve stars (Genesis 37:9, compare Luke 1:46-55). She is endowed by God with a beauty radiant as the sun (Ezekiel 16:10-14; Genesis 37:9-10), but she groans to be delivered (Micah 5:3-4), and her child, the son of David, is in danger of being devoured by the red dragon of Rome, represented by Herod. But we know he is caught up (later) into heaven after he has risen from the dead and ascended to his father.
"nourished for one thousand two hundred and sixty days", three and a half years. This is the period of oppression until the cleansing of the temple.
"on the sand of the sea" Caesarea Maritima ("by the sea"). 12:17
|The Roman empire, the Roman Procurator, and the number of the beast: NRWN QSR 666
When Herod died, a (first) beast came from the sea, the Roman ambassador speaking with the authority given to him by the dragon, whose imperial residence stood at Caesarea Maritima (Caesarea on the sea) near the Mediterranean Sea
 Revelation 13:1.
The power of imperial Rome equaled the combined power of each of the four great empires before it, which also fell: Babylon, Media, Persia, Greece.
"there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed/enrolled"
A lack of knowledge of the historical and political milieu has allowed many to see the apparent (specious) absence of a universal imperial decree as evidence of an historical error in Luke's Gospel. Liberals and atheists use this as grounds for rejecting its historicity and for seeing the scripture as a fabricated myth, relying for popular support of this assertion on the historical ignorance of the average reader of the Bible. See 2 Peter 1:16
It may be pointed out that a government-mandated enrollment of citizens of Judea and surrounding regions at that time did not of itself (ipso facto) automatically mean payment of a poll tax (head tax), and this may have been the case at the time when Mary was betrothed to Joseph. But according to the law of Moses, a redemption or ransom for their lives must be paid by each one of the Israelites when they are numbered. See Exodus 30:11-16 and 1 Chronicles 21. On this occasion the people were taxed: if not by Rome, then by the Temple. See Matthew 17:24
"One of its heads seemed to have a mortal wound, but its mortal wound was healed."
During the reign of Tiberius another (second) beast "rose up out of the earth", probably Archelaus, who was notorious for his destructive reprisals against the Jews. After him there also rose up in the land Herod Antipas, tetrarch of Galilee, also notorious for supporting Rome. The second beast could also probably be Pontius Pilate instead, who was also notoriously hostile to the Jews.
"and it was allowed to exercise authority for forty-two months"
Verses 11 through 17 of chapter 13 are seen as referring to the Roman Procurator, Pontius Pilate, who was commissioned by Rome to be the regional living representation of the emperor's authority and presence and voice to the people of Judea, completely subordinate to the wishes of the emperor in order to further his own ambition. The procurator had "two horns like a lamb, and it spoke like a dragon. It exercises all the authority of the first beast in its presence..." He demanded against the protests of the Jews that the image of the emperor be displayed for worship within Herod's temple in Jerusalem: Wars 2.9.2–2.9.3 (169-174); Antiquities 18.3.1-2 (55-62). He spoke for Caesar, his "shepherd", thus giving breath and voice to the image of Caesar. It was by his power that he authorized the (continued) medium of exchange which Rome demanded and caused to be used in Judea.
The only currency authorized for conducting major trade throughout the empire was coin stamped with the image and name of the god-emperor. Pagan coin was not accepted for offerings in the temple in Jerusalem because the emperor's image and name was stamped on it, and money-changers in the court of the gentiles offered Jewish coin in exchange for a fee, and ritually pure animals for purchase for sacrifices.
Throughout the empire those who needed Rome's approval and license to conduct business made a covenant with Rome and with the god-emperor, receiving payment in hand in a perverse image of the covenant of Israel with God.
The number of the Beast is taken as a title of Nero, called "a beast" by Apollonius of Tyana, a contemporary of Nero, who said, "I know not how many heads it has...". According to the system of gematria at the time of the Roman Empire, one calculation of the numerical value of the letters for NRWN QSR (NiRoN QaiSaR), or Nero Caesar, is 666 "the number of a man". Nero's likeness and other forms of his name were stamped on coins of the empire.
Nero the beast "of many heads" is here understood as the one definitive representative and embodiment of the office of Roman Emperor which has been given the power and throne and authority of the ancient dragon, Satan. The office of the pagan Roman emperor is seen as eternally identified with Nero and the rule of Satan.
compare key verses
| Matthew 5:1–8:1
|The preaching of the kingdom of God by Christ and his pure followers who follow him completely.
The preaching of Peter, James and Jude among those angels (messengers) sent out by him.
Announcement of the destruction of Jerusalem for all its blood guilt.
Compare Matthew 10
Verses 14 through 20 are seen as paralleling
As understood by an historical exegesis of the Revelation, those events which have already occurred in the past are graphically presented in the vision and witnessed by John, but those which have not already occurred are "shown" to him as certain to occur by the descriptive prophetic testimony of angels (Revelation 17–18), and are not witnessed by him in the vision.
Jesus afterward during the holy week as he sat on the Mount of Olives reiterated the coming inevitable judgment on Jerusalem.
When this was shown to John on Patmos, the destruction of Jerusalem had already occurred in the past, and he sees it occur in all its spiritual reality exactly as Jesus had decreed at this point in the timeline within the vision. Revelation 14:19-20.
Compare also Luke 22:44 (Luke 22:39-44) and Matthew 26:36.
The cleansing of the temple
| Matthew 21:23–22:33
First Plague: Exposure of the Hypocrisy and Corruption of the Priests of the Temple
compare key verse
Second Plague: The Interior Uncleanness of the Scribes and Pharisees
At the end of a day of ritual sacrifices in Jerusalem, the water in the great laver sea in the court of the priests before the temple would have become stained with blood from the hands of the priests and levites who washed there after offering the animal sacrifices prescribed by the law of Moses, and it would appear to be a sea or laver full of blood.
Third Plague: The Judgment Coming on Jerusalem for All the Blood Shed by the Jews and by Their Fathers Since the Foundation of the World
compare key verse
Fourth Plague: The Warning Given by Jesus on the Mount of Olives Concerning the Coming Judgment on Jerusalem, and the Wars of the Surrounding Nations
| Revelation 16:8-9
compare key verse
Fifth Plague: The Warning Given by Jesus on the Mount of Olives Concerning What Will Follow the Destruction of Jerusalem
Revelation 16:10-11 is parallel Jesus' word:
This was fulfilled in the ongoing general political and spiritual condition of the nations after Jerusalem had been destroyed, a condition begun decades before John was exiled on Patmos, and continuing for centuries afterward.
Sixth Plague: The Warning Given by Jesus on the Mount of Olives Concerning the Nations on Earth
The Euphrates: "its water was dried up, to prepare the way for the kings of the east."
The Roman empire (the dragon) and its emperors (the beast) and the Roman consuls, legates and commanders (the false prophet) issue decrees and plans for war, going abroad to kings subject to Rome to assemble for battle against the invader. This corresponds to the Parthian War of A.D. 58 to 63 and the deployment of 3 legions (III Gallica, VI Ferrara, IV Scythia) under Corbulo. This provokes an assembling of all the kings with their armies for battle.
Armageddon (literally "hill of Megiddo") was the focus of battles between ancient nations vying for control of the Middle East, in decisive historical confrontations the prophets of God called the "day of the Lord". Political and international upheaval is consistently seen by the prophets in the Old Testament as the shaking of the social order (earthquakes) and as signs in the heavens. People see ominous signs in the sky and sea and earth that profound changes are taking place. But Christ will come. He tells his disciples to keep awake and clothed (in righteous deeds Revelation 19:8) so they will not be naked and be exposed (as hypocrites).
compare key verse
Seventh Plague: the crucifixion of Jesus, the three-fold division of mankind into Jew, Pagan, and Christian
Eruption of Mount Vesuvius
Christian Condemnation of Sin and Call for Repentant Conversion
Revelation 16 verse 17 parallels the moment when Jesus said in a great (loud) voice, (his body being the temple John 2:19-21), "It is finished!" "It is accomplished!" "It is done!".
An earthquake split the rocks, his heart was pierced, the veil of the temple being his flesh and the pericardium of his heart "torn in two from top to bottom without being divided", like the sacrifice of the yonah (Hebrew for dove, Jonah) in Leviticus 1:17.
This earthquake signified something greater than had ever happened before. The Gospel according to Matthew testifies that some of the saints rose and went into the holy city and appeared to many. Matthew 27:51-54. This one is utterly unique. The magnitude of the earthquake of Revelation 16:18-19 is not here simply taken as a monster quake greater than 9.0 on the Richter Scale.
24 August A.D. 79 Mount Vesuvius erupted and buried the resort towns of the Roman elite, Pompeii and Herculaneum, under pumice and lava turned to stone. This occurred about 16 years before the persecution of A.D. 95 under Domitian.
"Every island fled away and no mountains were to be found."
The hailstones of a hundredweight dropping from heaven are taken as the effect of the missionary effort of Christians as living stones calling for repentance among the pagans and Jews. A "hundredweight" is the weight of a full-grown man or woman: Revelation 16:21. Jesus is the stone which the builders rejected, whom if it falls on anyone will grind him to powder, and, as Peter declared, Christians are "living stones" 1 Peter 2:4-10, whose birth is in heaven John 3:3 "from above". The apostles and missionaries preaching the Gospel of salvation are living stones dropping from heaven on men the just condemnation of wickedness and warning of the destruction of sinners who refuse to repent, and offering, with compassionate love, salvation in Jesus from "the wrath to come"—and instead, unrepentant sinners curse God. Acts 13:44-45. See Wisdom 2:12-16 "the very sight of him is a burden to us". The plague of hail in Egypt also killed all who did not heed the warning of Moses Exodus 9:18-26.
___________________________________________________________ Here ends the vision of the past from the days of the kings of Judah to the spread of the Gospel during imperial Roman persecution.
An historical exegetical interpretation of the Book of Revelation takes chapters 6 through 16 as an overview of salvation history containing lessons of warning and encouragement from the past for the present and the future. Luke 24:32, 24:45, John 5:39, Acts 7:2-60, Romans 15:4, 16:25-26, 2 Timothy 3:14-15 ___________________________________________________________
A brief introduction to the following sections of this table.
According to an historical interpretation of the Book of Revelation, "what is" pertains to the time of the persecution of Christians by the Jews and by the pagan Roman Empire under the emperors from Nero through Domitian during the lifetime of John. This is seen in the vision at the beginning of the book. The current time of trouble during which John is exiled on Patmos is represented in
The table above pertains to the past (chapters 6 through 16). The table following represents John's present time (1–5 and 17 and 21–22).
What follows the table of parallels in chapters 1–5, is a table of the parallels of the present vision of Imperial Pagan Rome in chapters 17 and 18, and its coming irrevocable judgment and destruction in the future, which John is not shown, but which the angel describes, to show him what is to come.
In chapter 19 John sees what is taken to be the present reality in his day of the armies of heaven, the people of God, led by the King of kings and Lord of lords with the living word of God, the defeating and binding of the Devil and the false prophet by the power of the word of truth, and the judgment of both the living and the dead brought out of the books that are opened.
In chapter 20 John sees what is taken by this interpretation to be the present authority even in his day of those to whom Christ has committed the keys of the kingdom, and the long period of the reign of the Church entrusted to them, and the present reality even in his day of the hostile gathering of the world and the Devil to surround and stamp out Christianity, "the camp of the saints and the beloved city". The reference to the "camp" is a parallel to the sojourning wilderness period of Israel before their arrival in the promised land, but it is also the present "beloved city" of God. Hebrews 11–12, and 13:14
In chapter 21 the angel then shows John a consoling vision of the reality of the New Jerusalem, the Church, the whole body of Christ himself, taken by this interpretation as already present in his day as a good and perfect gift which comes down out of heaven from the Father of lights (James 1:17), clear and transparent as glass or crystal (4:6, 15:2, 21:18, 21:22. She is the secure dwelling of God with men, illumined with the light of God. The invitation is issued to come and partake. Outside are the wicked. Hebrews 12:18-29, Ephesians 2:1-7, 17-22, see Isaiah 60 and Tobit 13 ___________________________________________________________
All of this is set out more particularly in the following sections of the table.
What Is: The Present: The Lord's Day on Patmos, in the Spirit: Chapters 1 through 5: the Vision of Jesus, and the Angel
|Historical Books||Historical Parallel Event||Book of Revelation|
Revelation 2:6 and 13
John in Exile on the Island of Patmos circa A.D. 95
The period of persecution following the missionary spread of the Gospel.
"I, John, your brother, who share with you in Jesus the tribulation and the kingdom and the patient endurance, was on the island called Patmos on account of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus."
This is a significant statement, taken by an historical exegetical interpretation of Revelation as indicating that the great tribulation had already begun in the first century with the traumatically devastating destruction of Jerusalem and the persecution of the Church by Rome.
John relates that on the island of Patmos, on the Lord's day, he was "in the spirit"—and he heard a loud voice behind him speaking to him.
A conservative historical exegesis according to the principles of textual criticism takes the angel sent to John in the Book of Revelation as if it were an actual event. It is not taken as a poetic, literary device. In contrast to the liberalist abuse of the legitimate methodology of higher criticism, the vision is not treated as a creative literary framework composed by the writer himself as an effectively dramatic fictional means of presenting the message he wished to deliver. Instead, it is assumed for the sake of analysis to be a genuine experience, which John faithfully recorded afterward and sent out to the chief pastors of seven churches in Asia Minor in sincere obedience to the command of Jesus Christ himself. The content of the book is analyzed within the context of the whole of the Bible, within the larger context of the whole of Christian revelation.
The Lamb, the stars, the lampstands.
John sees Jesus in the midst of the churches, which are "lights", suggestive of Jesus' words in the Sermon on the Mount, "you are the light of the world" (Matthew 5:14-16). This suggests the high priest before the seven-branched candlestick in the tabernacle in the wilderness. He holds seven stars in his hand. Out of his mouth comes the word of God, living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. Hebrews 4:12. See also
The true meaning of the stars and candlesticks as churches and their messengers is plainly explained. Those who hear this book are thus alerted to the fact that all that John sees in the spirit has a fundamental reality far deeper than its immediate outer appearance, which is directly expressive of its inner nature as a visual metaphor requiring intuitive understanding. See John 7:17 and Mark 4:10-13.
|John 16:12||The Seven Letters to the Seven Churches
Jesus then dictates letters to be sent explicitly to each of the chief shepherds of seven churches in Asia Minor, each one the "angel", that is, the aggelos (Greek word Άγγελος) "messenger" of God, of each of these churches, addressing each one of them directly. These angels are the leaders or heads of their assemblies, not heavenly spirits, who are responsible for the souls of their people, especially during the time of persecution throughout the empire.
This raises an obvious question: If the word "angel" means only a spirit from heaven, why does Jesus the Lord of heaven dictate to his human disciple on earth a letter to be sent by mail to an angel from heaven?
The one "who hears this book" (Rev. 1:3), and the student and the professional exegete, is here alerted to the possibility that a false interpretation of the text can be inadvertently obtained, by unconsciously limiting the meaning of a word or phrase in the Bible to the common usage as defined by his or her own cultural background (often called the "plain meaning"). See Eisegesis. 2 Peter 3:16.
1 John 4:1
|"What must take place":
the Throne in Heaven, the Lamb, and the Scroll with Seven Seals
The first voice that spoke to John next declared that he would show him what must take place "after this". This is taken to mean "after the revelation is given to him".
In the spirit he sees the throne in heaven and him who sits on it.
Throughout the scriptures the Holy Spirit uses the metaphor of Rock for the Savior and God of Israel. John does not say God is a rock, but testifies that the one who sat on the throne appeared like rock, the color of flesh and blood. Jesus, body and blood, is the rock of salvation, the stone rejected by the builders. In the context of what John wrote, as the report of what he actually saw, this is no allegory, but a visual metaphor of the spiritual reality shown to him by God, and used by Jesus Christ himself during his earthly ministry.
An historical interpretation takes the twenty-four elders in Revelation chapter 4 as representing the eternal heavenly reality and prototype pattern of the twenty-four earthly "courses" or divisions of the Jewish priesthood, as organized by David with the help of Zadok and Ahimelech, and listed in 1 Chronicles 24:1-19. See 1 Chronicles 28:19.
The heavenly throne room is parallel the vision of Isaiah, of the pattern of the temple divinely given to David, and of the tabernacle in the wilderness under Moses.
The seven torches of fire, the seven spirits of God, are taken as a parallel to the passage in Tobit, where the angel identifies himself: "I am Raphael, one of the seven holy angels who present the prayers of the saints and enter into the presence of the glory of the Holy One." Tobit 12:15.
"and before the throne there is as it were a sea of glass, like crystal"
The four living creatures suggest the living creatures seen by the prophet Ezekiel who had been exiled with Jehoiachin/Jeconiah before the second siege of Jerusalem.
John 16:1-4, 12-14
John 16:33 "In the world you have tribulation"
|The opening of the meaning of the scriptures
"And I saw in the right hand of him who was seated on the throne a scroll..." 5:1
The sealed scroll containing the law of God and the conditional judgments on the nation and the words of prophesy, are seen as suggestive also of the sealed scroll given to the prophet in Isaiah 29:11. "And the vision of all this has become to you like the words of a book that is sealed. When men give it to one who can read, saying, 'Read this,' he says, 'I cannot, for it is sealed'."
The opening of the seals of the book parallels the opening of the books in Daniel chapter 7.
The first event that "must take place soon" (Revelation 22:6), after the revelation is given to John, is the opening of the scroll and its seven seals.
Thus the first apocalyptic event after the revelation is given is interpreted as the opening by the spirit of Christ of the true meaning of the scriptures of the Old Testament in the Church, as shown in chapters 6 through 11, and of the true meaning of the scriptures of the New Testament, as shown in chapters 12 through 16, according to an historical exegetical interpretation of Revelation. The office of the teaching ministry of the church in Christ is seen as obediently striving in Christ—through him, with him and in him—to fulfill this opening and explaining of the truth of the plan of God contained in all the sacred holy scriptures of the Bible, in sermons, homilies, and scriptural studies since the time of John (often called "breaking open the scriptures" and "rightly dividing the word of truth"). See Hermeneutics.
What Shall Be, and What Is: The Future and the Present, on Patmos: Chapters 17 through 22: Rome, and the Church
|Historical Books||Historical Parallel Event||Book of Revelation|
The future: "What is to happen hereafter":
The Judgment on the Harlot of Babylon, Pagan Rome.
According to this interpretation, the meaning of the past, showing the sovereignty of God and the infallible fulfillment of all his promises of reward and punishment of the nations, has been opened up and revealed to John.
In chapter 17 the angel shows John what is to happen hereafter. This is taken to be directly related to the statement the angel made in chapter 4 verse 1.
This harlot has the power of law, ten horns opposing ten commandments, horns being a semitic image of power and might, seated on the seven hills of Rome, the beast with seven heads, the image of the empire.
Compare Daniel 7:2-3
Apollonius of Tyana had described Nero as a beast: "I know not how many heads it has". Nero (one of the heads) had died, but there was a rumor that he was alive again.
Nero is seen as the embodiment of the scarlet beast, full of blasphemous names, having seven heads and ten horns.
1 Peter 5:13 is seen by many exegetes as referring to the church in Rome, "she who is at Babylon, who is likewise chosen", both because Rome was as full of iniquity as ancient Babylon and because St. Peter was at Rome. Compare St. Paul's Letter to the Romans 1:7-32
The cult of emperor-worship saw embodied in the emperor the very seat and genius of Roman power. And the harlot of the Roman Babylon seated upon him, whose culture included the mystery religions of Egypt and the East, such as Cybele and Attis at Pergamum ("Satan's throne"), was arrayed in imperial splendor. Revelation 17:4. Her harlotry is parallel those Old Testament passages using the image of a harlot to characterize corrupt alliances with other nations and cultures of the world. Ezekiel 16. Just as Jerusalem had been brought under severe judgment and condemnation for its harlotry, so Rome, the harlot of Babylon, is also under the same condemnation as a filthy corrupter of "peoples and multitudes and nations and tongues" on whom she sits as a queen. Isaiah 47. She is drunk with the blood of the saints, in the image of Babylon. Isaiah 13, 14, Jeremiah 51.
Nero is taken to be the beast that "was" (he was emperor), and "is not" (he killed himself), and was to "ascend" from the bottomless pit as a false deliverer. Each of those imposters who claimed to be Nero come again from the dead, and those political disciples who by imitating his despotic methods sought his throne (like all of them) "go to perdition". After Nero's suicide in 68, there was a widespread belief, especially in the eastern provinces, that he was not dead and somehow would return. This belief came to be known as the Nero Redivivus Legend.
At least three Nero imposters emerged leading rebellions.
Revelation 17:8. Only those without God in Christ marvel to behold these embodiments of the beast Nero (Caesar).
In each of these imposters and each of the succeeding emperors is seen the beast that was and is not and is to come (again and again). Each of them is an eighth beast in reality belonging to the evil represented by the seven, the seven-headed beast of Rome. Each of them goes into perdition, as they all do.
And "the other who has not yet come" is taken as any and all of those who became emperors of pagan Rome after Domitian, who will remain only a short time before they too die or are assassinated, in the sense that, "there will be another one after this one". None of them after Domitian before A.D. 200 reigns more than 23 years, and none of them is immortal.
The language of God through the angel thus portrays the pagan reign of the Roman emperors as a perverted imitation of the reign of Christ the Son himself "who was, and is, and is to come". The Holy Spirit through the New Testament consistently contrasts the illegitimate and false claims of the temporal kingdom of the State and its emperor-cult with the divine reality of the legitimate and true claims of the eternal Kingdom of God with the cult of his Christ, his Anointed.
Revelation 17:16 is taken in part as an historical reference to the famous burning of Rome first by Nero, an historical foreshadowing of the judgment to come on Rome, and more generally to those inevitable conflagrations inflicted on her in wars with other nations on the borders of Rome in the centuries to come. The angel then explains to John that the woman sitting on the scarlet beast is the great city which has dominion over the kings of the earth, taken here to be pagan Rome.
As Jeremiah was charged to curse Babylon (Jeremiah 51) so Rome as Babylon is cursed in the divine judgment presented in chapter 18 in imagery used before by the prophets of God. The only ones who will mourn over her destruction will be merchants who made their fortunes in trade with Rome. What happened to pagan empires in the past will unfailingly happen to the pagan empire of Rome.
The word "show" does not always mean "display to view" as a visual presentation or image. The context in this passage of the Revelation shows that the word deiknuo is used in its metaphoric sense for John to understand, not literally as a visual display for John to see:
see Strong's Greek 1166 deiknuo show, demonstrate, explain
A common mistake made by English-speaking students of the Bible is to take the English Bible translation of a Hebrew or Greek word as if it is the original inspired word of holy scripture and then to "understand" its meaning according to the most literal modern English usage current today. This is virtually the same as an illicit eisegetical interpretation of scripture, which the Bible itself condemns. This is how "the foolish and unlearned or ignorant and unstable twist or wrest" the scriptures, sometimes even to their own destruction (2 Peter 3:16-17, compare 2 Timothy 2:14). Hebrew-English, Aramaic-English and Greek-English Bible dictionaries, concordances, and commentaries are necessary for an appropriate understanding of the biblical text. Nevertheless, without an understanding of the grammar and modes of speaking and the culture of the original tongues, errors in interpretation can still be made, even with these useful helps.
In chapter 18 another angel comes down having great authority, declaring that Babylon has fallen. John does not see the event. Another voice from heaven declares that she will be burned with fire, and shall be thrown down. The destruction of Pompeii and Herculaneum in one day is seen as represented in the vision of 18:16-20: "in one hour". The burning of Rome under Nero and the devastation by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius has already occurred. John hears the call for rejoicing over the judgment God has given against Rome.
According to the view of an historical exegetical interpretation, what has happened already, and what happens in the present, has been seen by John. What is to happen in the future is proclaimed to him, and is seen with believing understanding, but is not seen with his eyes in the vision as a dramatic sight to behold. The assurance of the coming destruction of pagan Imperial Rome is announced and described but not seen.
The announcement of the certainty of the judgment of God upon the great city is celebrated with shouts of joy from a mighty multitude in heaven, from the 24 elders bowing down and the four living creatures, and from a voice coming from the throne.
compare key verses
| Matthew 28:18-20
|The Armies of Heaven: The Spread of the Gospel of Jesus Christ
The things that have been, are now, and will be
The righteous rejoice that the oppressive pagan empire of sin is doomed to be forever destroyed (Proverbs 28:28).
The Word of God, Jesus, goes forth with his armies of the faithful conquering, striking down with truth armies of opposition.
The beast of worldly government and its spokesman, the false prophet, who speaks for it and astonishes the people with his material power, the deceiver of those who covenant with it for profit and worship it rather than God, are seen as already thrown into the lake of fire burning with sulfur.
Kings, captains, mighty men, armies of the free and the slave always die and are consumed by carrion eaters on the battlefields of history.
|The Church Age: The Authority of the Priests of God and of Christ
Satan Is Bound, The First Resurrection, The Thousand Years' Reign
Great Opposition, The Great White Throne Judgment, The Second Death
"holding in his hand the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain" Revelation 20:1
The shepherds of the Church, "those to whom judgment was committed", will (continue to) "sit on twelve thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel"
John saw the souls of those who were beheaded for their testimony to Jesus and for the word of God.
Those who have come to life in Christ in baptism will reign with them (as they always do) in triumph over death in the first resurrection as a priestly people of God and of Christ. The second death will have no power over them.
John not say that he saw here "the Lord himself descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the archangel's call, and with the sound of the trumpet of God".
After the first resurrection (20:4-6), Satan the Devil will be loosed for a short time to deceive those on earth who do not love the truth (2 Thessalonians 2:9-15). They with him will prepare for battle and surround the body of Christ, the Church on earth, the city of the saints built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets. But the judgment of God, the fire of truth, will come down from heaven and consume them.
The primary objection brought against this historical exegesis is represented by the futurist and historicist schools of interpretation which firmly hold that the thousand years during which Satan is bound is a literal and continuous period to come of total peace on earth (a doctrine called chiliasm), followed by an intensive Satanic program of deception and rallying of the nations of the world against Christians the like of which has never yet been seen, to do battle (a liberalist and atheistic pogrom and final solution). But this operation is aborted by their final defeat and the last judgment, which has never yet occurred in the past or the present in the history of Christianity to this day, but will happen.
The Church in the East and West early rejected the doctrine of chiliasm, the literal 1000 year physical reign of Christ on earth. The Lutheran Augsberg Confession of 1530, last article, was the first officially explicit doctrinal condemnation of chiliasm as a heresy.
Historically, the thousand-year period of European Christian unity extending from A.D. 500 to A.D. 1500 ended with the Protestant Reformation.
It is an inevitable certainty that the judgment of God consumes all forces gathered against "the beloved city".
John does not testify here in 20:11-15 in the vision of the great white throne that he saw "the Lord himself descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the archangel's call, and with the sound of the trumpet of God".
All will be judged, living and dead, even the dead in the sea and held by Death and Hades (the grave and hell), and are even now judged in the light of the truth of Christ in God.
An historical exegesis of the literal sense of the revelation given to John does not preclude, exclude or deny the Christian tradition which asserts that valid allegorical and anagogical senses of Revelation 20:4-5 and 11-16 include the reality of the descent of the Lord at the final judgment and the radiance of the bodies of the resurrected righteous dead redeemed from the earth. The historical exegete can point out that the expected descent of the Lord and the general resurrection of the dead, with the bodies of the righteous gloriously radiant at the end of time, may be drawn from the text allegorically, morally and anagogically, and that John was shown a present prefigurement of that distant, ultimate culmination of history which had already begun in his day (1 John 2:18), and is ongoing in our own time, as a means of explaining why he did not see these ultimate phenomena manifested to him in the vision of "what must take place soon". The reader does well to ask why John did not see the descent of the Lord and the radiance of the righteous as set forth in Matthew, 1 Thessalonians and Daniel, as discussed above. What John was shown was a reality then, is a reality even now at the death of each person (Hebrews 9:27), and will have its full, complete, overwhelming, and culminating reality and total fulfillment when the Lord descends and every eye will see him and all things are exposed at the end of time. The literal sense of this passage, according to an historical exegesis of the message from the Father to Jesus through his angel to John and to the churches, does not include the definitive and ultimate final judgment which will take place at the end of time, when the whole universe and the elements will be dissolved by fire. This differs from the traditional reading, which is primarily allegorical and anagogical in looking to the distant and immanent future, and is not historically literal according to the time of John in which he was to the persecuted churches "your brother and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ". John was not shown the ultimate final judgment which will include the descent of the Lord and the radiance of the righteous just, but was shown even now the current ongoing judgment as a consoling foregone conclusion and inevitable outcome of history. A choice must be made, either for the Lord or against him, and the doom of those who reject him is certain. What was past reality is also present reality and will be reality in the future.The clear meaning of the holy scriptures, opened by the preaching of the gospel, makes clearly evident who is justified and who is condemned.
"And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Also another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, by what they had done."
Compare Hebrews 9:27, 4:13, and Exodus 32:33, and John 5:45 in the context of John 5:39-47.
|The Church as the New Jerusalem:
The New Heaven and the New Earth as a Present and Future Reality
The City of God
John is then shown the present reality of the new heaven and the new earth.
"and the sea was no more"
In this interpretation it is taken as significant that the Revelation to John does not state that the whole entirety of the heavens and the earth and the elements of the physical universe pass away and melt with fire at the last judgment in preparation for the new heaven and the new earth.
The holy city that comes down out of heaven from God is seen in this interpretation as the Church, "yesterday, today, and for ever" coming down out of heaven from God. James 1:17. When John sees this, and the angel explains what John sees, God himself then says in John's hearing, "Behold, I make all things new!". This is taken as parallel to the teaching of God the Holy Spirit through St. Paul in 2 Corinthians 5:17 and Galatians 6:15. See Romans 6:6, 1 Corinthians 5:7-8, Ephesians 4:22, Hebrews 8:13, Matthew 9:16-17.
The new Jerusalem is shaped like a gigantic cube, a symbol of perfection. The measurements of the city and its wall are multiples of the symbolic number twelve. Since the day of Pentecost she has always been
This is parallel to the city described in the Book of Ezekiel, chapters 40:1 through 47:12. Nothing unclean can be in it (Mortal sin), and nothing accursed (see 1 Corinthians 3:10-15).
compare key verses
| John 10:16
|The Temple of the City: the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb
The River of the Water of Life,
"the throne of God and of the Lamb"
An historical exegetical interpretation views the text of the Revelation in the light of the documented apparent doctrine of Christianity at the end of the first century and in the early decades of the second century to A.D. 200. The exegete looking to the historical milieu asks how Christians of the period during John's last years of life and immediately after his death most probably understood the meaning of this vision as addressed to them, before the development of the theological reflections and doctrinal speculations put forth in succeeding centuries. This is found in the writings of the disciples of the Apostles, and of their own disciples immediately after them. The historical exegete seeks dispassionately and objectively to present the evident view of the writers of that time consistent with the content of the text of the Revelation itself, without necessarily agreeing with their understanding of the fuller meaning of the book.
See the following articles:
"and its lamp is the Lamb"
"and its lamp is the Lamb"
"I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty..."
It is a fundamental characteristic of sacred scripture that each of the writings in the Bible has a doctrinal basis in the revelation of God to mankind.
In light of the doctrines of the key Protestant reformers such as Hus and Wyclif, and Luther and Melanchthon, and Calvin and Zwingli and Knox, much of the authenticated documentation disclosing first and second century Christian doctrine is disputed or has been firmly denounced as "fraudulent attempts to support the false doctrines of Catholicism and Orthodoxy". Thus, any historical exegesis of the Book of Revelation as interpreted through the worldview of ancient orthodox Christianity, will always be a target of controversy, in particular by those who see in this approach a form of partial preterism which they firmly reject.
Atheists and liberals for their part have consistently seen the views of early Christians as naïve and superstitious, and approach the Book of Revelation as one example of the genre of allegorical apocalyptic literature solely expressive of the immediate concerns of the author at the time of its writing.
2 Peter 3
|John and the angel at the close of the Revelation
"I John am he who heard and saw these things. And when I saw them, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who showed them to me."
Whoever keeps the words of this book is blessed. Whoever alters the words in it (taken to be their meaning) will be punished by God himself, either with the plagues in this book added to him or her, or with loss of a share in the tree of life and the holy city, taken here to be the Church, the body of Christ. 1 Timothy 3:15, 1 Corinthians 12:27, 2 Peter 1:4.
A truly literalist understanding of the warning in 22:18-19 would require that the book should not be translated, so that the words may not be changed in any manner whatsoever. A devout literalist reader is tasked in principle with accessing the most accurately reliable published copy of the Greek manuscript text of the Apocalypse, and reading it with a profound knowledge of the Greek language of the period in which it was first written, so that no misinterpretation of the words may occur in his or her understanding of their meaning. This is beyond the ability of most Christians.
A translator of necessity must render the meaning of words in Greek as accurately as possible without changing the message they relate (Hermeneutics). An interpreter or commentary writer who reads into the words meanings that they do not actually have falls under the curse pronounced in the book. Therefore, a literal (not literalist) interpretation must be the primary aim of any exegete analyzing the content of the text of the Revelation to John.
Several well-known exegetes writing commentaries of the Bible have stated that they preferred to not take up the task of interpreting and commenting on the meaning of the Book of Revelation.
|Revelation 1:9||Commandment: "Do not seal up the words of the prophesy"
John in exile during the persecution is told to publish this book, sending copies of it to seven churches in Asia Minor: Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea.
3 John 1
2 John 1-3
1 John 1:1-4
2 Peter 1:1-2
1 Peter 1:1-5
|The epistolary address to the seven churches in Asia
Revelation 1:4-7 is probably the last portion of the book to be written by John, after the whole of the vision had been revealed to him and recorded afterward by him in writing as in a journal to be published. He had been told that he would "again prophesy about many peoples and nations and tongues and kings." This was fulfilled.
Modern scholarship, using the tools of higher criticism (analysis) has dated the writing of the Revelation in its present form to probably near the end of the reign of Domitian (A.D. 81-96). This supports the claim that John actually prophesied the future of the pagan Roman empire. ___________________________________________________________
The opening verses of the Revelation 1:1-3 read as having been added (shortly) afterward as an authorized introduction to the whole work. This introduction refers to John in the third person. ___________________________________________________________
"And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, by what they had done." 19:12
- --Michael Paul Heart
References and notes
- This article accordingly should not be taken as an explicit or implicit endorsement of this form of interpretation of the Book of Revelation by either the original author of the article or the Administrators of Conservapedia. Every effort has been made here to present the topic neutrally and objectively, drawn from a wide range and spectrum of reliable sources, so that this method of historical exegesis and the resulting historical interpretations of the Book of Revelation based on that method as represented here may be assessed solely on the evident basis of merit alone. Opinions regarding the material may be noted and discussed on the Talk Page.
- See The senses of scripture CCC 115-119
- "A.D. 95" is not accepted by all, but by the majority of researchers. Many hold firmly to a time before A.D. 70 when John wrote the Revelation. See the following articles:
- The King and I: Exiled to Patmos, Part 2, by Gordon Franz, M.A. (biblearchaeology.org) This article was first published in the Fall 1999 issue of "Bible and Spade".
- The Apostle John (biblepath.com)
- Amazing Bible Timeline with World History: John Exiled to Patmos
- Was John Exiled to the Isle of Patmos? (tribulationhoax.com)
- Compare Revelation 15:2 and 21:18 and 21, and Luke 17:21 and 24. In this view, the New Jerusalem is here even now as the dwelling of God on earth with the human race ever since the day of Pentecost and will exist forever in eternity, but it cannot be seen with physical eyes but only spiritually discerned as solidly established and real. Compare Ephesians 2:19-22 and Hebrews 12:18-29. However, it should also be noted here that those who reject this interpretation also cite Hebrews 13:14. This appears to set scripture against scripture.
- Compare Acts 26:18, Romans 2:19, 1 Corinthians 5:12, 2 Corinthians 6:14, Ephesians 6:12, Colossians 4:5, 1 Thessalonians 4:12, 5:4, 5:5, 1 Peter 2:9, 1 John 1:6, 2:8, 2:9, 2:11
- Compare "outer darkness", the darkness "outside" and "in the dark" Matthew 4:16, 8:12, 10:27, 22:13, 25:30, Luke 1:10, 1:79, 12:3, John 1:5, 3:19, 8:12, 12:35
- Compare 1 Timothy 1:20 and 2 Peter 2:4.
- Compare John 4:10, John 7:37, "without cost, without price" Matthew 10:8, 2 Corinthians 11:9.
- Revelation 1:1; 22:8
- Goswiller, n.d., p. 5; Wilson, n.d., p. 15. (see Resources, below)
- Alan Johnson, Revelation, in The Expositors Bible Commentary, ed. Frank E. Gaebelein, vol. 12 (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1981), 409.
- Mounce and Osborne
- Robert H. Mounce, The Book of Revelation (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. (November 7, 1997) 475 Pages. ISBN 978-0-8028-2537-7 | p. 43.
- Grant R. Osborne, Revelation (Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament series), Baker Academic (November 1, 2002) 896 pages. ISBN 0801022991 ISBN 978-0801022999 | p. 20.
- See the following:
- A review of Brown's book An Introduction to the New Testament first appearing in Faith and Mission 15/2 (1998) posted with permission. , by Raymond E. Brown. New York: Doubleday, 1997. Pp. xxxvii + 878. (biblicalfoundations.org).
- Was Fr. Brown liberal, modernist...? (socrates58.blogspot.com)
- Father Ray's quotables
- G.S. Hitchcock, (Roman Catholic), The Beast and the Little Horn, p. 7.
- L.Froom, The Prophetic Faith of Our Fathers, Vol II, p. 508.
- Camping is notable for issuing multiple failed predictions of dates for the End Times, which temporarily gained him a global following and millions of dollars of donations.
- Nelson, Chris (June 18, 2002). A Brief History of the Apocalypse; 1971 – 1997: Millennial Madness. Retrieved on June 23, 2007.
- "Harold Camping Says End did come May 21, spiritually; Predicts New Date: October 21". International Business Times. Retrieved May 23, 2011.
- YouTube: "Did Harold Camping Ever Teach The End Was Coming In 1994?". July 30, 2009. Retrieved December 16, 2012.
- "Biblical scholar's date for rapture: May 21, 2011". San Francisco Gate. January 1, 2010. Retrieved June 29, 2013.
- Harold Camping silent after Doomsday dud. International Business Times (May 22, 2011). Retrieved on June 29, 2013.
- Followers of rapture evangelist lost millions. People's World (May 23, 2011). Retrieved on June 29, 2013.
- Elizabeth Tenety. "May 21, 2011: Harold Camping says the end is near", Washington Post, January 3, 2011.
- Kimberly Winston. "Judgment Day: May 21, 2011", Washington Post, March 23, 2011.
- "Rapture apocalypse prediction sparks atheist reaction", BBC News, May 21, 2011.
- Judgment Day is coming May 21, 2011 – The Bible Says No Such Thing said Kenneth Lewis the President of ChristianNewsToday.com. Christian News Today. Retrieved on June 26, 2011.
- "Radio host says Rapture actually coming in October". Globe and Mail. May 23, 2011. Retrieved May 23, 2011.
- "not especially noted"
- Faith healing: Small, generally fundamentalist Christian groups that promote faith healing. (religioustolerance.org)
- Peter Kreeft, "Fundamentalists" (catholiceducation.org).
"First, Catholics also emphasize the Church's this-worldly tasks — social justice and the corporal works of mercy such as building hospitals and feeding the poor. Fundamentalists say the Church "shouldn't get involved in politics" (though many of them are thoroughly politicized on the far right). And when did you last see a fundamentalist hospital." Peter Kreeft
- Mounce, Robert H., Revelation, Eerdmans, William B. Publishing Company 11/28/1997 New International Commentary on the New Testament Series, Revised Edition. ISBN 9780802825377. pages 439 | p. 42.
- McKim, Donald K (2014-04-09). The Westminster Dictionary of Theological Terms, Second Edition: Revised and Expanded. Presbyterian Publishing Corporation, 261–. ISBN 9781611643862. Retrieved on 26 December 2014.
- (2005) Encyclopaedic dictionary of religion: Q-Z. Delhi: Isha Books, 638. ISBN 81-8205-203-3. Retrieved on 6 April 2015.
- (2009-05-26) Dictionary of Biblical Prophecy and End Times. Zondervan, 692–. ISBN 9780310571049. Retrieved on 26 December 2014.
- (1990) Mercer Dictionary of the Bible. Mercer University Press, 736–. ISBN 9780865543737. Retrieved on 26 December 2014.
- Michael D. Guinan, "Raptured or Not? A Catholic Understanding", Catholic Update, October 2005.
- Beginning in the 17th century, the same century in which it was published, Protestant scholars, orientalists, hebraists and linguists began pointing out defects in the Authorized King James Version. See Isaac H. Hall. The Revised New Testament and History of Revision (1881) "Defects of the King James Version"
- "Our translators of the seventeenth century, in a great many instances, misunderstood the sense."
- "synecdochic": See Synecdoche Definition and Examples (literarydevices.net). Compare Psalm 50:10 "'the cattle on a thousand hills".
- The Greek word for anointed is "Christos": those anointed (Christ, Messiah) in the Old Testament included the Patriarchs, Moses, Aaron, David, the Prophets. Psalm 105:15
See Strong's numbers linked both here, and below, in this article: Hebrew 4886 mashach and 4899 mashiyach (mashiach), and Greek 5547 christos, 5548 chrio and 3323 messias.
- It is worthy of note, in accordance with this historical interpretation, that about the same time that Pompey subjugated Jerusalem in 63 B.C., and the rule of Judea was taken from the Hasmonean dynasty of the high priests, Joseph, son of David, the husband of Mary, was most probably born. See Literalist Bible chronology: 2 Maccabees 1:10-12—Aristobulus II 66–63 B.C. —the probable historical period of Zechariah and Elizabeth, and the birth of Joseph, and later of Mary in Judea.
- Saint Augustine, bishop of Hippo, north Africa, wrote that "angel" means "messenger", that the nature of the angels of heaven is that of spirit, but their office is that of angel. This is expressed in Hebrews 1:7 "...he makes his messengers winds, and his officers flames of fire." The prophets were angels. The visible manifestations of God himself (theophanies) are the Angel of the LORD himself to the patriarchs and to Moses and the people. Jacob-Israel declared that God himself is the Angel who redeemed him, in Genesis 48:15-16 KJV and in multiple translations of verse 16. Jesus himself according to ancient tradition has been called the Angel of great counsel and the Angel of salvation. It is because of the common usage of the word in popular culture, and an ordinary ignorance of history and the Bible as a whole, that the understanding of the meaning of "angel" is strictly limited to created spirit beings from heaven in the minds of the majority of ordinary Bible readers, including believers and nonbelievers. See 2 Peter 3:14-16 and 1 Timothy 1:7 in the context of verses 3-7. It is not impossible that the "messenger" Jesus sent to John on Patmos is a human being entrusted with the revelation given him from God to be shown to John to show his servants "what must soon take place", which will directly affect them, not what lies far off in a distant future that they themselves will never see. Compare Revelation 22:6-11 and Acts 10:25-33.
- "teaching ministry of the church". In Catholicism this office of ministry is called the "magisterium".
- "earthquake": See Isaiah 13:13 in the context of Isaiah 13 and Jeremiah 51
- An objection may be raised that the Lamb in Revelation 6:16 "the wrath of the Lamb" could only be Jesus the Lamb of God. However, the Bible itself uses the term far more broadly, to characterize leaders, governors, administrators, ministers and princes both of Israel and of the nations around her. Isaiah 60:7, Jeremiah 51:40, Ezekiel 39:18 and 34:1-31. Of these rams and young rams (lambs), only Jesus is the one Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world John 1:29. Compare commentaries on John 21:15-17. However unfamiliar it may seem to the reader, an interpretation of Mordechai as the wrathful Lamb of Revelation 6:16, within the context of the post-exilic history of Israel, as interpreted through the chronological framework of an historical exegetical interpretation of Revelation, is wholly consonant with the inspired usage of the language of the prophets of God in the Bible. Limited and restrictive understandings of biblical terms have often obscured the message of the word, while unrestricted and unlimited interpretations reflective of particular schools of liberal interpretation likewise frequently undermine the message of the word. Biblical scholarship often faces the challenge of seeking a balance between extremes of textual analysis ranging from legitimate exegesis to the narrow-minded and illicit eisegesis of both extremist fundamentalists and most liberals. The sole intent of this article is to present this method of arriving at an historical exegetical interpretation of the Book of Revelation as one among many possible methods of interpreting the meaning of the text available to readers, students and researchers.
- Genealogies of the high priest from Jaddua to Onias:
- Simon the Just (jewishencyclopedia.com)
- ONIAS (Ονίας, from Hebrew נחוניו = חוניו ) by Richard Gottheil, Samuel Krauss (jewishencyclopedia.com)
- Alexander the god (livius.org)
- "perhaps". The authenticity of John's authorship of all five works is disputed by most modern liberal scholars, who reject identifying him as the same author of the Gospel and of the Letters called by the name of John and the Revelation, on the grounds that the style of writing is too varied for all of them to be from one man. They are apparently unwilling in this particular instance to acknowledge that the purpose of a writing, a formal treatise as distinct from an informal personal letter, a serious communication in response to a crisis, or a detailed account of a profound spiritual event, will dictate the use of differing styles and tone or expression by the same author, also that differences in an individual's age and maturity through the years and a profoundly increased depth of understanding will alter an individual's literary style, yet they will accept this as a fact for other writers. For example, in contrast to the liberalist assertion, The Navarre Bible: Revelation and Hebrews and Catholic Letters, 2006, commentary by the Faculty of the University of Navarre, pages 13-15 and 421-423, defends the tradition that the apostle John who leaned his head on Jesus' breast at the Lord's last supper is their author, by citing reputable sources from the second through the sixteenth centuries. This has been the constant Christian tradition, of popes and councils of the Catholic Church from the 5th century to the Council of Trent in the 16th century, of the unchanging tradition of the Orthodox churches in the East, and the constant conservative tradition of Protestant Christianity.
- When Judea was ruled by the Romans, the prefects or governors resided in Caesarea. "The Romans annexed Judaea in 6 B.C., and made Caesarea the headquarters of the provincial governor and his administration. Of these governors Pontius Pilate was one. At first the province was known as Judaea, later Palestina." (G.S.P. Freeman-Grenville, The Holy Land: A Pilgrim's Guide to Israel, Jordan and the Sinai, January 1, 2002 by Carta. p. 135. ISBN 9652203343 ISBN 978-9652203342).
- See the following:
- Jewish Encyclopedia | Archelaus. By: Richard Gottheil, Louis Ginzberg (jewishencyclopedia.com)
- Encyclopedia Britannica | Herod Archelaus: biography - King of Judea (britannica.com)
- Catholic Encyclopedia | Herod, Herod the Great, Archelaus, Antipas, Agrippa I, Agrippa II
- Coins of Herod Archelaus and Herod Antipas: images (bing.com)
- Idiom: to "cross palm with silver" is payment with cash. (TheFreeDictionary.com) See also
- Apollonius of Tyana specifically mentions that Nero was called a "beast": "In my travels, which have been wider than ever man yet accomplished, I have seen many, many wild beasts of Arabia and India; but this beast, that is commonly called a Tyrant, I know not how many heads it has, nor if it be crooked of claw, and armed with horrible fangs.... And of wild beasts you cannot say that they were ever known to eat their own mother, but Nero has gorged himself on this diet."
See the following sources:
- Brainy Quote: Apollonius of Tyana Quotes source not cited, in the public domain
- The Mark Of The Beast, Richard Anthony (ecclesia.org) source of quote not cited, in the public domain
- The Life of Apollonius of Tyana by Philostratus, translated by F. C. Conybeare (1912), Chapter 38, p. 438-439
- Philostratus, Life of Apollonius 4.38, paragraphs 4-5 (livius.org)
- Apollonius of Tyana (livius.org)
- Philostratus, Life of Apollonius (livius.org) A.D. 217 third century biography of a charismatic teacher and miracle worker from A.D. the first century, who is often falsely likened to Jesus of Nazareth.
- Apollonius of Tyana and Jesus - Tekton Apologetics (tectonics.org)
- Apollonius of Tyana the Nazarene, by Dr. R. W. Bernard (1964)
- Apollonius of Tyana: The Philosopher Explorer and Social Reformer of the First Century AD, by G. R. S. Mead.
- Vol. 2 - The Coins of Rome: Nero at dielleditore.com.
One possible form of the name of Nero Caesar which does not appear on his coins fits the gematria code number "666." Using this code, his name could be rendered as "NRWN QSR". The number values are:
- N = 50
- R = 200
- W = 6
- N = 50
- Q = 100
- S = 60
- R = 200
See analysis Gematria and the Number of the Beast 666 (agapebiblestudy.com)
- See the following:
- Compare the following:
- Who Are the 144,000 of Revelation 7 and 14? by Wayne Jackson (christiancourier.com)
- Who Are the 144,000? Grace Communion International (gci.org)
- Revelation chapter 14: A verse by verse explanation of the 144 000 using the KJV of the Bible (come2jesus.info) this is an Adventist site
- Victims of crucifixion often bit their tongues multiple times in their agonies, and sometimes their tongues were cut out so the ears of the gods would not be assailed by their curses. Pierre Barbet, A Doctor at Calvary (June 1979), Doubleday. 213 pages. ISBN 0385066872 ISBN 978-0385066877
- See article Roman-Parthian War of 58-63
- See article in Biblical Archaeology Vol. 36. Issue 4 "The Destruction of Pompeii—God’s Revenge?" By Hershel Shanks
- When in World War II the Japanese refused to surrender to the Allies of the primarily Christian West, even when warned of a terrible weapon that would be deployed against their island if they did not, two towns, Hiroshima and Nagasaki, were devastated, each with a single bomb, August 1945.
- Numbers in the Bible: 10. (biblestudy.org), Numbers in the Bible: 7. (biblestudy.org). The number 7 here associated with Pagan Rome is the inverted completeness or perfection of evil and of corruption and opposition to all that is holy. See Romans 1:18-32
- Vatican hill was outside Rome and was not one of the famous seven hills on which Rome was built, the seat of Roman power. The seven hills are these:
- The Seven Hills Of Early Rome:
- The Seven Hills Of Later Rome:
- Aventinus (Aventine)
- Caelius (Caelian)
- Capitolium (Capitoline)
- Esquiliae (Esquiline)
- Palatium (Palatine)
- Quirinalis (Quirinal)
- Viminalis (Viminal)
- The Seven Hills Of Early Rome:
- Suetonius, The Twelve Caesars, Nero, 57. Tr. Penguin Classics, c. 1957 by Robert Graves. page 241. ISBN 978-0-140-45516-8
- The parallel of the ten horns in Daniel with the ten horns in Revelation prompted some Historicist interpreters to see Rome as the fourth beast of Daniel, on the assumption a priori that the spirit indwelling her is Satan, the Devil, and the "prince of the covenant" in Daniel 11:22 is Jesus. An historical exegetical interpretation as presented in this article understands the fourth beast in Daniel as the Seleucid Greek empire and the little horn of the fourth beast in Daniel as the Seleucid tyrant Antiochus IV Epiphanes, and the "prince of the covenant" as Onias the high priest of 2 Maccabees 4:34 (see 2 Maccabees 3–4). The parallel image in Revelation of a beast with ten horns is seen as the metaphoric reality of Rome at the time of Domitian as an oppressor of the people of God identical in nature and just as vicious as the Greek oppressor of Judea in the time of Antiochus 250 years before. This parallel imagery implicitly includes an understanding of the inevitable defeat of Rome by the people of God as the Greeks were inevitably defeated by the people of Israel loyal to the covenant.
- After Nero's suicide in 68, there was a widespread belief, especially in the eastern provinces, that he was not dead and somehow would return (Suetonius, The Lives of Twelve Caesars, Life of Nero 57; Tacitus, Histories II.8; Cassius Dio, Roman History LXVI.19. This belief came to be known as the Nero Redivivus Legend. The legend of Nero's return lasted for hundreds of years after Nero's death. Augustine of Hippo wrote of the legend as a popular belief in 422 (Augustine of Hippo, City of God XX.19.3). At least three Nero imposters emerged leading rebellions. The first, who sang and played the cithara or lyre and whose face was similar to that of the dead emperor, appeared in 69 during the reign of Vitellius. After persuading some to recognize him, he was captured and executed (Tacitus, Histories II.8). Sometime during the reign of Titus (79–81), another impostor appeared in Asia and sang to the accompaniment of the lyre and looked like Nero but he, too, was killed (Cassius Dio, Roman History LXVI.19). Twenty years after Nero's death, during the reign of Domitian, there was a third pretender. He was supported by the Parthians, who only reluctantly gave him up (Suetonius, The Lives of Twelve Caears, Life of Nero 57) and the matter almost came to war (Tacitus histories I.2).
- Suetonius, The Twelve Caesars, Tr. Penguin Classics, c. 1957 by Robert Graves. Otho through Domitian, pages 242-310. ISBN 978-0-140-45516-8
- Lists of Roman Emperors:
- "cult": from French culte, from Latin cultus, from colere to cultivate, cherish, worship. The Reader's Digest Great Encyclopedic Dictionary, including Funk & Wagnalls Standard College Dictionary, 1966, The Reader's Digest Association, Inc. page 327a
- See 6 Famous Sacks of Rome
- The New American Bible, New Testament, The Book of Revelation: Introduction.
- Many commentaries assume that Seraiah did not have multiple exact copies made of the book before he read out the original and threw it into the Euphrates. They then assume that we do not have the original words of the text as written by Jeremiah.
- And there was in fact a cessation of the (then current) savage persecution of Christians when the emperor Domitian died and after John was released from exile. The Emperor Constantine made Christianity the state religion, and was baptized before his death. After the later reign of Julian the Apostate, Rome has always remained Christian.
- see Acts 16:35-39, Acts 22:24-29
- Crucifixion, first used by the Persians, was adopted by Rome as a state punishment and legislated by the Senate as reserved solely for barbarians and slaves, regarded by Romans as the lowest of the social classes in the Empire, who did not have Roman citizenship.
- For example, beheadings and slaughter by Barbarian invaders, Islamic armies and Sultans who practiced beheadings, the French Revolution's Reign of Terror with the guillotine, the Christian Armenian Genocide committed by Turkey under the Young Turks prior to World War I and its beheadings, the Nazi Holocaust which also used the guillotine more than did the French Terror, the Communist purges and executions removing the leaders or heads of underground resistance, and currently the Islamic fundamentalist criminalization of Christianity as a capital offense which includes public beheadings.
- This interpretation of Satan being bound and then loosed again as a recurring cycle to teach resistance to evil is viewed as disheartening to many, but that has been in fact the experience of the church throughout the periods of history: cycles of violent repression are followed by periods when Satanic forces are kept at bay, and then it begins again when the same forces are loosed again for a short time to mount another attack. The lesson proposed by an historical exegesis of this passage is perseverance until Christ comes. It is through these tribulations that Christians know whether they are fully willing to remain in Christ. According to Hebrews 6:4-12 it is possible for Christians to fall away and bear no good fruit if they are not patient.
- See the following Catholic sources: The New American Bible (1970) footnotes on Revelation 21:15, 16, 17; also The Navarre Bible: Revelation and Hebrews and Catholic Letters (2003). The city, like the holy of holies, is cubic in form, a symbol of perfection. The city's measurements are multiples of the symbolic number 12. The 12,000 stadia, about 1500 miles, 2414.016 kilometers, or 12,000 furlongs, in length and breadth and height (literally reaching above the stratosphere into the vacuum of space), twelve multiplied by 1,000 signifies the numerous immensity of the number of Christians, which includes the chosen people with its twelve tribes and the whole multitude of gentile nations which make up the new people of God. The wall is measured "by a human measure, the measure of an angel (agglos, messenger)". The point is made that the measurements of the wall, multiples of twelve, are human ones, despite the fact that it is an angel that does the measuring.
When calculated according to a literalist reading of the text, the new Jerusalem is over half the size of the Moon in volume, at 3,375,000,000 cubic miles, 14,067,613,660.8 cubic kilometers (1500 x 1500 x 1500 miles = 3,375,000,000 cu.mi.; 2414.016 x 2414.016 x 2414.016 = 14,067,613,660.8 cu.km.). See illustrated article "Size of the New Jerusalem".
- This is in stark contrast to the commandment given to the Old Testament prophets: Isaiah 8:16-17 and Daniel 12:4. The tone of the Greek text emphasizes the urgency of the message to be given immediately to the churches in the first century.
- See the dogmatic Catholic point of view in the Catholic Encyclopedia online article "Revelation" (catholic.com).
See the Protestant point of view competently presented in A History of Christian Doctrine: the Post-Apostolic Age to the Middle Ages A.D. 100-1500, Vol 1, 1995, David K. Bernard, Word Aflame Press pdf. (ntslibrary.com) ISBN 1-56722-036-3.
- Hebrew Tenses (jewsforjesus.org)
- source: Interpreting Revelation, by Cornelis Venema (ligonier.org). See External links below.
- Whiston, William, A.M., (1736) The Works of Josephus, The Antiquities of the Jews, Book 11, chapter 8, footnote a (in several printed editions 19th through 20th centuries).
- See The Works of Josephus, Complete and Unabridged in One Volume, New Updated Edition, Translated by William Whiston, A.M., (1987) Hendrickson Publishers, Inc. Peabody, Massachusetts 01961-3473. ISBN 0-913573-86-8.
- "Apollonius" and "Apollyon": Semitic and biblical play on words called paronomasia. See article Paronomasia or a Play on Words (www.biblicalresearch.info)
- "time no longer": This is distinctly different from the more popular rendering, "When the trumpet of the Lord shall sound, and time shall be no more...". (Hymn: "When the Roll is Called Up Yonder", James M. Black, 1893).
Revelation 10:6 is not here taken as a reference to the end of time with the final judgment and the beginning of eternity with God.
- See multiple commentaries differing on the interpretation of Daniel 12:7.
- "unsealed." If the Book of Daniel had not been unsealed we should know nothing of its contents to this day, according to a literalist reading of the plainly explicit meaning of Daniel 12:4 and 9, because the book is sealed "even to the time of the end", "for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end", just as the heaven-sent messenger said. KJV. According to this literalist reading, the "time of the end" had occurred, because the book was opened and its words could finally be read, even as we read the Book of Daniel today in the Bible. (2200 years later.) See Isaiah 29:11-12
A literal historical reading, in contrast to a literalist reading, is able (with caution) to see the "time of the end" as perhaps the end of the political and military dominion of the gentiles over Judah and the establishment of an independent theocratic government of the jewish high priest officially acting as the ruler of the people of God in the name of the one true God according to the Torah, until the days of Joseph and Mary. The words given to Daniel, and written and sealed up by him long before the events had taken place, have been proven true.
A third reading (literal) of the meaning of the words of Daniel holds that, even if they can be read, their meaning remains veiled and sealed away from our understanding, not opened to us (Luke 24:45; 2 Corinthians 3:12-16; Acts 1:7), and, according to this reading, their meaning will remain so sealed until the last day, until the parousia, until the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. Literal historical readers will not listen to people who claim to know the exact hour and day of the time of the end. Matthew 24:36; Mark 13:32-33; Luke 12:40.
All this being said, it remains that a literal historical reading of the plainly explicit words of the text places the open reading, publication and distribution of copies of the unsealed book in the historical period to which the earliest extant manuscripts can be traced, at the time of the Maccabees (which has nothing to do with when it was originally written), and therefore, on this basis alone, its "unsealed" placement chronologically belongs here in the table at that time.
See Associates for Biblical Research: New Light on the Book of Daniel From the Dead Sea Scrolls.
See also definition: "posthumous (example: posthumously published)".
- The canon of the Jewish Bible lists the Book of Daniel among the Ketuvim (Writings), not among the Nevi'im (Prophets), because the rabbinical authorities counted it as having been written after the time of Ezra. See Canons of the Hebrew Bible and Jewish Encyclopedia: Daniel, book of.
- How Long Was Jesus's Earthly Ministry? (homepage.ntlworld.com)
- Book of Romans Study. Background - Part 1 Rome and Judea (yashanet.com)
- "specious": apparently good, but when examined found to be without substance or merit.
See "specious" at dictionary.reference.com
See also examples of usage in a listing of articles in Conservapedia using the term.
- Suetonius, The Twelve Caesars
- "42 years (44 years)". See Literalist Bible chronology: 2 Maccabees 1:10-12—Aristobulus II 66–63 B.C.
- See above, Revelation, Book of (historical exegesis): The Lamb of God on Zion, the 144 thousand, and three angels proclaiming judgment
- footnote Revelation 15:3-4 RSVCE
- "Day of the Lord" Isaiah 2:12; Jeremiah 46:10; Lamentations 1:12; Ezekiel 7:7-19; Joel 1:15; Amos 5:18; Malachi 3; Zephaniah 1:7-18. See multiple versions of Zephaniah 1:9 and commentaries and Zephaniah 1:18 and commentaries
Compare the following:
- The Day of the Lord, John F. Walvoord (bible.org) http://www.walvoord.com/
- Day of the Lord | Resources | American Bible Society (bibleresources.americanbible.org)
- The Day of the Lord, Jeffrey E. Miller (bible.org)
- How Does the Day of the Lord Relate to the Rapture? (whenistherapture.com)
- What is the Day of the Lord? - Bible Questions Answered (www.gotquestions.org)
- Bible Search. Day of the Lord (biblehub.com)
- "We are but of yesterday, and yet we have filled all the places that belong to you — cities, islands, forts, towns, exchanges; the military camps themselves, tribes, town councils, the palace, the senate, the market-place; we have left you nothing but your temples." Tertullian, Plea For Allegiance.
- "from above": International Standard Version (ISV), New English Translation (NET), God's Word (GW), Jubilee Bible 2000 (JUB), Young's Literal Translation (YLT), New American Bible (NAB), New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE).
- See also the Catholic Encyclopedia online version:Church History (Book II) (newadvent.org)
- See Preterism above, this article.
- See the following:
- Baker's Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology: Angel
"But these two terms [Heb. malak, Gr. angelos] also apply to human beings as messengers." (biblestudytools.com).
- Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) number 329 Who are they? Quote of St. Augustine: "...their office is angel...".
- Baker's Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology: Angel
- Jasper Gemstone Information (includes color photographs) (gemselect.com)
- See the following:
- Carnelian Gemstone Information (includes color photographs) (gemselect.com)
- Bloodstone information (includes color photographs) (gemselect.com)
- Compare 1 Kings 7:38-39. See Exodus 25:40 and 1 Chronicles 28:19
There is a heavenly sea-laver for washing before the temple of heaven, real, transparent, invisible to the eyes, full of light and fire, for baptismal purification, and there was a copy, a physical sea, placed before the temple of Solomon and the temple of Herod in Jerusalem, used by the levites and priests of Aaron for sacrificial and ceremonial washings.
See Mark 10:38-39, Hebrews 1:3.
"what appears to be a sea of glass mingled with fire" Revelation 15:2 is the spiritual reality of the baptismal font of fire—"baptized with fire"—the purifying birth of water and the spirit announced by both John the Baptist and Jesus: Matthew 3:11, Luke 3:16, John 3:5-6.
A holy God will not allow sin in His presence. Revelation 21:27, Exodus 30:20 and 21, Hebrews 9:23.
See Matthew 22:8-13, and Revelation 19:7-9 and 22:14, and commentaries on 19:8 and commentaries on 22:14.
(See also notes on Revelation 22 NABRE)
Numbers 19:20 (see notes on Numbers 19 NABRE)
Titus 3:3-5 "the washing of regeneration"
Hebrews 9:8-14, 10:22
1 Peter 1:2, 3:18-22 "baptism doth also now save us"
2 Peter 1:5-11 "forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins"
1 John 1:7, 5:6-8,
See Acts 22:16, and Matthew 28:19 and commentaries. See notes on Matthew 28:16-20 NABRE.
- "teaching ministry of the church". In Catholicism this office of ministry, exercised by the Pope and bishops together, is called the "magisterium", which sees itself as tasked with faithfully guarding and preserving the "deposit of faith" handed down from the apostles—the Scriptures and the Apostolic Tradition together seen as constituting the whole of Christian doctrine (2 Thessalonians 2:15, Galatians 1:8, 2 John 8-11, 2 Peter 3:14-18, John 16:12-14). The Protestant denominations of Christianity including the independent non-denominational churches and fellowship assemblies also likewise since the beginning of the Reformation have their own particular traditions of interpretation of the Bible as developed within their faith communities, which they have safeguarded and handed down, either officially formulated or unofficially simply understood as assumed. See Heresy and Apostasy.
- Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Completely Revised, Updated and Expanded, General Editors Chad Brand, Charles Draper, Archie England; Associate Editors Steve Bond, Ray Clendenen; General Editor, Holman Bible Dictionary, Trent C. Butler, copyright 2003, Holman Bible Publishers, Nashville, Tennessee. ISBN 978-0-8054-2836-0. page 782b | "horn".
- Evidence that Peter was in Rome and presided over the church there has been established beyond reasonable doubt. Many Protestant apologists have long disputed this claim of Catholicism. See the following:
- Bishop of Rome (catholicapologetics.org)
- Religion and Spirituality. Was Peter Ever In Rome? (vision.org)
- Did the Apostle Peter Ever Visit Rome? (hope-of-israel.org)
- Was Peter Ever In Rome? Fred Zaspel (biblicalstudies.com)
- Was Peter Ever In Rome? A. Allison Lewis (christianbeliefs.org)
- Suetonius, The Lives of Twelve Caesars, Life of Nero 57; Tacitus, Histories II.8; Cassius Dio, Roman History LXVI.19
- This is the primary defect of Cruden's Concordance, which takes each English word of the King James Version as the original inspired word of the Bible. Strong's Concordance proved to be a welcome corrective to this approach by assigning numbers (known today as "Strong's numbers") to each of the basic Hebrew and Greek words of the Old and New Testaments underlying the English words adopted by the King James translators for the Authorized Version. The KJV word "work", for example, is a translation of Hebrew numbers 4399, 4639, 5656, 5647, 3027, 4640, 6213, 5627, 4749, 6467, 7639, 1697, 5673, 3018, 6466, 6603, 6468, 6381, 5950, 7553, 3336, 731; and a translation of Greek numbers 2038, 2041, 1411, 2040, 3433, 2480, 1754, 4903, 3056, 2039, 2716, 4229. Each of these words has multiple meanings and multiple applications.
- See list of articles online: Rejection of Chiliasm in the East and West since A.D. 381
- See the following two sources:
- Paper: Constantinople in Byzantine Apocalyptic Thought, Andras Kraft (academia.edu) a published paper online.
- Book: Tudor apocalypse: sixteenth century apocalypticism, millennarianism, and the English Reformation: from John Bale to John Foxe and Thomas Brightman: illustrative texts from the lanterne of lyght [and others], Author: Richard Bauckham, Publisher: Oxford [England]: Sutton Courtenay Press, [1978?]. ASIN: B0013KBT6U
- "the false prophets have all died"—There is a form of literalist thinking which looks at the statement "the false prophets have all died" as an assertion that no more false prophets will rise, because it says they "have all died". A more rational approach to the same statement understands that all who were false prophets in the past have all died, and that all those yet to come will also die, and their false doctrines too will also be exposed as wrong. Most literalists confidently see the events of chapter 20 as occurring once, in the future, definitively and finally, and then no more for ever. An historical exegetical interpretation is more in accord with the partial preterist expectation, that what is seen in chapter 20 is representative of the ongoing activity of the Church, and of Satan and the unbelieving nations opposing her, throughout the whole history of Christianity, as has been seen demonstrated multiple times in every period from the first century to the present day. An historical exegetical interpretation of Revelation 20—22 thus sees the events reported in these chapters as an ongoing reality, past, present, and future, until the Second Coming and final judgment at the end of time. The lessons of the past in the scriptures and the vision given to John are presented, according to this interpretation, as encouragements in every generation to whom the scriptures have come, to persevere in the faith and confident hope of the Gospel "until I come"—Revelation 2:25. (See Revelation 2:7, 11, 17, 25; 3:5, 12, and 21.)
- "foundations" 21:19. See multiple Protestant commentaries on 21:19 (biblehub.com) and the Catholic NABRE Bible 21:19-21 with footnotes to chapter 21
- Christian tradition has consistently seen the divine authority of the twelve apostles metaphorically present here as the foundation of the temple of the Lord, Ephesians 2:20-22, to whom Christ has entrusted the authority of the judgments of God, Luke 22:28-29, Matthew 18:18, Matthew 16:18, Exodus 28:15-30.
Compare John 20:21-23, 1 Corinthians 5:1-5, 6:2, 3, 2 Corinthians 5:20, 10:2-11, 13:1-4, 1 Timothy 1:18-20, 1 Timothy 4:6–5:22, and Titus 2:15.
See Apostolic succession.
- Christian tradition has consistently seen the divine authority of the twelve apostles metaphorically present here as the foundation of the temple of the Lord, Ephesians 2:20-22, to whom Christ has entrusted the authority of the judgments of God, Luke 22:28-29, Matthew 18:18, Matthew 16:18, Exodus 28:15-30.
- "the light of lamps or the sun, the light of science or emperors and kings": interpreted Biblical metaphor. Compare the language in Genesis 37:9-10, Psalm 89:36-37, Ecclesiastes 4:1, Isaiah 24:23, Habakkuk 3:11-16, John 5:35, 2 Corinthians 11:14-15, Revelation 16:8-9
- "milieu": Environment, surroundings, from Old French mi middle (from Latin medius) + lieu place, from Latin locus. The Reader's Digest Great Encyclopedic Dictionary, 1966, p.858. The phrase "in lieu of ___" means literally "in place of ___". Reference also the exegetical term "sitz im leben" (German, "life setting or life situation") Oxford Biblical Studies Online: Sitz im Leben (oxfordbiblicalstudies.com).
- These are listed in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) no. 1832
- See the following:
Commentaries verse by verse
- Revelation: An Exegetical Study of the Greek Text (theology.edu). The first three chapters of Revelation.
- BibleHub multiple commentaries (biblehub.com) includes access links to: • Alford • Barnes • Bengel • Benson • BI • Bonar • Cambridge • Clarke • Darby • Ellicott • Expositor's • Exp Dct • Exp Grk • Gaebelein • GSB • Gill • Gray • Guzik • Haydock • Hastings • Homiletics • ICC • JFB • Kelly • KJT • Lange • MacLaren • MHC • MHCW • Meyer • Newell • Parker • PNT • Poole • Pulpit • Sermon • SCO • TTB • VWS • WES • TSK
- New American Bible, Revised Edition: Book of Revelation (usccb.org)
- Scofield Reference Bible Notes: Revelation (biblestudytools.com)
- Book of Revelation. eCampus.com at (biblestudytools.com) Table of contents outline with links to particular sections of the book of Revelation. Each accessed link to the NIV text offers links to several online classical commentaries on that particular passage.
- Book of Revelation: Introduction, by Jim Seghers Totus Tuus Ministries (totustuus.com)
- David M. Williams, Four Interpretations of the Book of Revelation (oocities.org)
- Methods of Interpreting Revelation (666man.net)
- Interpretive Models of the Whole Book of Revelation. Greg Herrick (bible.org)
- Interpretive Models for the Book of Revelation as a Whole. Jeanie C. Crain (crain.english.missouriwestern.edu)
- Revelation: 4 schools of interpretation. Timothy Bertolet (thevoyages.blogspot.com)
- Wesleyan/Holiness Methods of Interpreting Revelation. Asbury Bible Commentary (biblegateway.com)
- 3 Methods of Interpretation: Futurism, Preterism, and Historicism Compared (plazanow.com)
- What are the main ways of interpreting the book of Revelation? Bob Pritchard (housetohouse.com)
- Four Approaches to Interpreting Revelation. David R. Carter (ezinearticles.com)
- Interpreting Revelation, by Merrill C. Tenney (accessible text) (books.google.com)
- Interpreting Revelation, by Cornelis Venema (ligonier.org)
- "The Interpretation of the Bible in the Church" Presented by the Pontifical Biblical Commission to Pope John Paul II on April 23, 1993 (as published in Origins, January 6, 1994) (catholic-resources.org)
- CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA | Apocalypse (newadvent.org)
- The New Vulgate text of the Bible (vatican.va.archive)
- Luther's Treatment of the 'Disputed Books' of the New Testament - Antilegomena (bible-researcher.com) - includes:
- Preface to the Epistles of St. James and St. Jude (1522)
- Preface to the Revelation of St. John (1522)
Rejection of Chiliasm in the East and West since A.D. 381
- The Inconsistency of Chiliasm (Orthodox). The Second Ecumenical Council (381) and the Condemnation of Apollinarius (orthodoxphotos.com)
- The Inconsistency of Chiliasm, Bishop Alexander (Mileant) - Russian Orthodox (pravoslavie.ru)
- Orthodox America: 381 - The Second Ecumenical Council - 1981. From the "Last Farewell" of St. Gregory the Theologian to the 150 Fathers of the Second Ecumenical Council (on his resignation as Patriarch) (roca.org)
- Fides et Historia 36:2 (Summer/Fall 2004): 83-95. Millenialism and the Early Church Councils: Was Chiliasm Condemned at Constantinople?, by Francis X. Gumerlock, Saint Louis University (francisgumerlock.com)
- Catholic Encyclopedia: Millenium and Millenarianism (newadvent.org)
- The Phantom Heresy: Did the Council of Ephesus (431) Condemn Chiliasm?, Michael Svigel
- Catholic Encyclopedia: Second Council of Constantinople (553) Fifth Ecumenical Council (newadvent.org)
- Georg Albert Schieferdecker 19th century (condemnation) Lutheran (zoominfo.com)
- The Project Gutenberg eBook of The Transformation of Early Christianity From an Eschatological to a Socialized Movement. Lyford Patterson Edwards, D.D., The University of Chicago. 1919 (gutenberg.org) - Apollinarianism
- "The History of Chiliasm", William Masselink (the-highway.com)
- There Is No Future Physical Millenium, Mike Blume (mikeblume.com)
Berkhof, L. 1975 (1937). The History of Christian Doctrines, Baker Book House, Michigan.
Cho, P. Y. 1991. Revelation, Word Books, Milton Keynes.
Deere, J. 1993. Surprised by the Power of the Spirit, Zondervan, Michigan.
Foster, T. 1983. Amazing Book of Revelation Explained!, Crusade Centre, Victoria.
Gentry, K. L. n.d. The Beast of Revelation Identified, Southern California Centre for Christian Studies, California.
Glasson, T. F. 1965. The Revelation of John, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
Goswiller, R. n.d. Revelation, Pacific Study Series, Melbourne.
Horton, S. M. 1994. "The Last Things", in Systematic Theology: A Pentecostal Perspective, ed. S. M. Horton, Logion Press, Springfield.
Jensen, I. L. 1981. Jensen's Survey of the New Testament, Moody Press, Chicago.
Mickelsen, A. B. 1963. Interpreting the Bible, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Michigan.
Morris, L. L. 1980. "Revelation, Book of", in The Illustrated Bible Dictionary, ed. F. F. Bruce, Inter-Varsity Press.
The Navarre Bible. Editorial Committee: Jose Maria Casciaro, General Editor, Gonzalo Aranda, Santiago Ausin, Tomas Belda, Klaus Limburg, Gozalo Landaburu, Secretary, The Navarre Bible: Revelation, Hebrews & Catholic Letters, in the Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate, with a commentary by members of the Faculty of Theology of the University of Navarre: Reader's Edition, copyright 2003 Four Courts Press and Scepter Publishers.
Thomas Nelson publishers, 2008, The Orthodox Study Bible: Ancient Christianity Speaks to Today's World,
Ryrie, C. 1978. The Ryrie Study Bible, Moody Press, Chicago.
Stern, D. 1992. Jewish New Testament Commentary, Jewish New Testament Publications, Inc., Maryland.
Walvoord, J. 1978. The Rapture Question, Zondervan, Michigan.
Willmington, n.d. Willmington's Guide to the Bible, Pacific College Study Series, Melbourne.
Wilson, C. n.d. The Book of Revelation, Pacific College Study Series, Melbourne.Zoba, W. 1995. "Future Tense", Christianity Today, vol. 39, no. 11.