The revelation of Jesus Christ…. (Revelation 1:1, NIV 1984)
My Musings – The word revelation used here is the English translation of the Latin term revelo, which means to uncover or disclose (i.e., reveal). Revelation is also called the Apocalypse from the Greek word (apokalyptō) for revelation. While it is only one word, it conveys two fundamental truths. The first, and most obvious, is that what is being revealed was previously concealed or unknown (the secret), a mystery. Second, but not quite so obvious, is that despite being previously concealed, what is now being revealed has been true all along (the fact). Thus, in Revelation, the last book of the New Testament, God is revealing something that has always been true and known to Him but was previously hidden from man.
There are five primary views on how one should interpret what is being revealed. The first is the Preterist view – most, if not all, of the events revealed in the book were fulfilled (past) in John’s day. Thus, the book was about and for the first century church. The second view is the Historicist view – the book reveals a panorama of church history that is being fulfilled (present) from the first century until the end of the age. The third view is the Futurist view – the book reveals what will be fulfilled (future) at the end of history just before the second coming of Jesus Christ and the establishment of His kingdom. The fourth view is the Idealist/Allegorical view – the book is not to be taken literally, but rather is symbolic of timeless truths primarily concerned with the age-old conflict between good and evil. As a result, people or events referenced have not (Preterist), are not (Historicist) and will not (Futurist) be fulfilled literally. Rather, the message is merely a symbolic revelation that God will ultimately triumph over all that is evil (never in doubt – always been true).
In general, those attempting to interpret the overall message that the Apostle John recorded in the book of Revelation will likely align themselves almost exclusively into one of these four views. But they do not necessarily need to be considered mutually exclusive. On the contrary, they might be able to coexist in harmony with one another to a certain degree. For example, in the Olivet Discourse (Matthew 24–25; Mark 13; Luke 21:5-36) Jesus responded to a compound question: “when will this (destruction of the Temple) happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age (last things)?”
While it is quite possible that the disciples believed they were asking about events that would happen concurrently (and soon), it is now quite evident that things did not entirely work out that way. The first part of the question was fulfilled in 70 A.D. when Titus invaded Jerusalem and destroyed the Temple (Preterist view). But that did not usher in the end of the age and Jesus’ return. These events, quite obviously, are yet to happen (Futurist view). In between, many events have transpired in world and Church history, which will ultimately climax, as promised, with Christ’s physical return (Historicist view).
My Advice – While Christ’s first coming was revealed throughout the Old Testament, He was largely rejected by the people because He did not meet their expectations of what the Messiah would be like when He came. When studying Christ’s second coming, while revealed largely in the New Testament book of Revelation, one must be careful to not be too dogmatic in their interpretations, as how things actually transpire may not meet their expectations.
Achtemeier, P. J., Harper & Row and Society of Biblical Literature. (1985). In Harper’s Bible dictionary (1st ed., p. 867). San Francisco: Harper & Row.
Powell, M. A. (2011). Revelation, book of. In M. A. Powell (Ed.), The HarperCollins Bible Dictionary (Revised and Updated) (Third Edition., p. 879). New York: HarperCollins.
Brand, C., Draper, C., England, A., Bond, S., Clendenen, E. R., & Butler, T. C. (Eds.). (2003). Revelation, Book Of. In Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary (p. 1387). Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.
One thought on “Revelation Of Jesus Christ”
Thanks for this post – for dong the work. The summary of the views – helps. I think we agree that there is elements of all the views to be considered at the same time. (Look forward to anything else you might look at in this balanced way) 👍
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