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Eschatology and Ecclesiology: Eschatology

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Revelation Commentaries

Fulmillment of Revelation Prophecy

There are several main views on the prophecies in Revelation concerning the timing and manner of their fulfillment: Are they yet to be fulfilled? Have they already been fulfilled? In what way are they fulfilled?

Click through the tabs in this box for explanations of and resources on the futurist, historicist, preterist, and idealist views and how they answer questions like these. The books below present the differing views side by side and compare them.

*Definitions of each method of interpretation taken from "Revelation: Four Views, A Parallel Commentary" by Steve Gregg

"The futurist approach postulates that the majority of the prophecies of the Book of Revelation have never yet been fulfilled and await future fulfillment. Futurist interpreters usually apply everything after chapter four to a relatively brief period before the return of Christ."

Futurism is usually held with premillennialism (see millennium box below).

For the debate on the Rapture, a debate within premillenial/futurist circles, see the "Premillennialism" tab in the millennium box below.

 

 

Books arguing for, or simply written from, a futurist perspective:

An article critiquing R.C. Sproul's preterism and defending futurism:

"The historicist approach, which is the historic Protestant interpretation of the book, sees the Book of Revelation as a prewritten record of the course of history from the time of the apostle to the end of the world. Fulfillment is thus considered to be in progress at present and has been unfolding for nearly two thousand years."

 

Sites devoted to historicism:

"The preterist approach sees the fulfillment of Revelation's prophecies as already having occurred in what is now the ancient past, not long after the author's own time. Thus the fulfillment was in the future from the point of view of the inspired author, but it is in the past from our vantage point in history. Some preterists believe that the final chapters of Revelation look forward to the second coming of Christ. Others think that everything in the book reached its culmination in the past."

Books supporting a partial preterist position:

Articles on preterism:

Pastor Douglas Wilson's introduction to eschatology, which includes a defense of preterism:

"What I [author Steve Gregg] am calling the spiritual approach (often called the idealist or symbolic approach) to Revelation does not attempt to find individual fulfillments of the visions but takes Revelation to be a great drama depicting transcendent spiritual realities, such as the spiritual conflict between Christ and Satan, between the saints and the antichrist tian world powers, and depicting the heavenly vindication and final victory of Christ and his saints. Fulfillment is seen either as entirely spiritual or as recurrent, finding representative expression in historical events throughout the age, rather than in one time, specific fulfillments. The prophecy is thus rendered applicable to Christians in any age."

 

Articles on Idealism:

The Millennium

There are several main views on the meaning of the millennium, that is, the 1,000 years described in Revelation 20: 

"Then I saw thrones, and seated on them were those to whom the authority to judge was committed. Also I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus and for the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection! Over such the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and they will reign with him for a thousand years." (Revelation 20:4-6, ESV)

Click through the tabs in this box for definitions of and resources for the premillennial, amillennial, and postmillennial views. The books below present the differing views side by side.

*Definitions of each method of interpretation taken from "Revelation: Four Views, A Parallel Commentary" by Steve Gregg

 

A roundtable discussion on the millennium moderated by John Piper featuring Jim Hamilton defending Premillennialism, Sam Storms defending Amillennialism, and Doug Wilson defending Postmillennialism:

An Evening of Eschatology - Piper, Hamilton, Wilson, Storms

This video is a discussion regarding the different interpretations of the "Millennium" found in Revelation 20. The three major views throughout church histor...

"Premillennialists (or premillenarians) understand the 1,000 years to follow the return of Christ. Thus, they believe in a premillennial return of Christ (before the Millennium). Among those who hold to this view, there are two major varieties: the dispensational and the historic premillennialists. The principal points of departure between these two groups is that the former believe in a special status of the nation Israel in the redemptive work of God in the end times, resulting in a restored millennial temple in Jerusalem complete with Levitical priests and animal sacrifices, whereas the historic premillenarians see the church, rather than ethnic Israel, as prominent in the millennial period. Dispensationalists also are distinctive in holding that the church will be raptured out of the earth seven years prior to the commencement of the Millennium, whereas other premillennialists see the Rapture of the church as occurring simultaneously with the descent of Christ to earth at the establishment of the millennial order."

Books defending or simply written from the dispensational premillennial position:

Articles defending premillennialism:

One debate particular to premillennialism is the timing of the Rapture. As Alan Hultberg says in "Three Views on the Rapture" (below), "The rapture is a theological term that refers to the 'catching up' of the church to meet the Lord in the air in association with his return and with the resurrection of believers. As Hultberg notes, generally premillennialists believe there will be a seven year period before the millennium often called "the tribulation." As Hultberg explains, "In particular, the debate centers around whether the rapture will occur before, during or after the final seven-year period." This is significant as it pertains to whether or not Christians will undergo the various end times trials of the tribulation. The various views are

1) Pretribulation rapture (the standard dispensational premillennialist view): The rapture will occur before the tribulation. Christians will therfore not undergo the tribulation.

2) Midtribulation rapture: The rapture will occur in the middle of the tribulation.

3) Prewrath rapture: An alteration of the midtribulation view. The rapture will occur after Christians have undergone persecution by the Antichrist but before "the day of the Lord" in which he pours out his wrath. Hence, "prewrath." This view seeks to affirm elements that both pre and posttribulationists argue for and find a middle ground.

4) Postribulational rapture (the standard historical premillennialist view): The rapture will occur after the tribulation and will coincide with the second coming. As Hultberg states, "Christ's coming for his church is equivalent to his return to earth. In this view, the church is caught up to meet the returning Lord in the air and to return immediately with him to the earth in glory." 

Below are some books arguing for different perspectives on this debate:

"Amillennialism, which means "no millennium," takes its name from its denial that there will be a special golden age of literally 1,000 years, either before or after the return of Christ. Revelation 20 is understood symbolically or spiritually, so that the reign of the saints depicts either the vindicated martyrs reigning from heaven in the present age, or earthly believers achieving spiritual victory over personal sin during the same period. The time frame is seen to be the whole time between Christ's first and second advent. Thus the binding of Satan at the beginning of the Millennium is associated with the First Coming of Christ, and the "fire from heaven" at the end of the Millennium is associated with His Second Coming."

Books proposing an amillennial view:

Articles defending Amillennilaism:

Website devoted to collecting resources on Amillennialism:

Podcast episode on Amillenialism:

"Postmillennialists also [along with Premillennialists] find in Revelation 20 a consummation of history in the 1000-year reign of the saints, but they believe that Christ will accomplish this through the church's fulfilling of its gospel mission, prior to His return. The 1,000 years of peace will be accomplished through no other agency than that which is already in the possession of the church, i.e., the Word of God and the Holy Spirit.The world will become christianized, either as the result of worldwide revival and mass conversions, or through the imposition of Christian ideals by converted rulers and Christian governments - or both. The former prospect was suggested by Jonathan Edwards and most early postmillennialists, while the latter is emphasized by many modern postmillennialists, especially of the Christian Reconstructionist variety. It is averred that Christ will return at the end of the Millennium (His coming is thus postmillennial)."

Books with a Postmillennial perspective (either seeking to explicitly defend Postmillennialism or written from this view):

A video presentation of Pastor Douglas Wilson's argument for Postmillennialism:

Pastor Douglas Wilson's introduction to eschatology, which includes a defense of premillennialism:

Podcast episodes on Premillennialism:

History of Postmillennialism:

Miscellaneous Eschatology Books