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Revelation Chapter 1. The Preterist Interpretation. Typical Outline: Revelation 1-3 records messages to 7 literal churches of the 1 st century Revelation 4-20 symbolizes the 1 st century church’s immediate past, present, and immediate future

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the preterist interpretation
The Preterist Interpretation

Typical Outline:

  • Revelation 1-3 records messages to 7 literal churches of the 1st century
  • Revelation 4-20 symbolizes the 1st century church’s immediate past, present, and immediate future
  • Revelation 21-22 symbolizes the church and/or heaven

It is recent in origin

It is a minority view

why we will not take this view
Why we will not take this view

It does not seem to work well with passages throughout the book that present “end of the age” imagery

The extreme version that denies a future second coming of Christ is an unnatural reading

A reasonable interpretative method will listen to the preterist emphasis upon the 1st century context, but will not limit the book

futurist interpretation
Futurist Interpretation

Typical outline

  • 1-3 records messages to 7 literal churches of the 1st century and symbolizes 7 successive periods of church history
  • 4-19 depicts a 7 year period of “Great Tribulation”
  • 20 depicts a 1,000 year millennial reign for Christ and the nation of Israel
  • 21-22 depicts heaven

Not popular until recently

Used by some Protestant Reformers

why we will not be using it
Why we will not be using it

Dose not work well with the emphasis in the opening chapter that the message of Revelation is relevant to its 1st century readers

Conclusions constantly being revised

Strong liberal hermeneutic of this view does not fit apocalyptic literature

Too elaborate unless you take the dispensational premillennial view

historical interpretation
Historical Interpretation

Typical Outline:

1-3 records messages to 7 literal churches of the 1st century

4-19 depicts key historical events and periods from the 1st century to Christ’s return

20 depicts a 1,000 year millennial reign on earth from Christ and the nation of Israel (or spiritual Israel)

21-22 depicts heaven

general observations
General Observations

Goes back to the Middle Ages

why we will not use this method
Why we will not use this method

Conclusions drawn form this methodology are constantly being revised as history continues

Does not work well with passages that introduce events out of chronological order

Minimal relevance to the original 1st century readers

If you are not a dispensational premillenialist it does not work well

spiritual or idealist interpretation
Spiritual or Idealist Interpretation

This approach emphasizes the symbolism of Revelation as teaching spiritual lessons rather than expecting literal fulfillment.

The prevailing lesson pertains to the constant warfare between good and evil, both in Heaven and on earth.

general observations1
General Observations

Very popular with some throughout history

What is the problem with this?

Does not see the future aspects or the historical aspects that are evident

cyclical interpretation
Cyclical Interpretation

Typical Outline

1-3 messages to 7 literal churches of 1st century

4-20 symbolizes the conditions in which the church must always live and minister (done is six different ways)

21-22 symbolizes the ultimate destiny of the church (heaven)

general observations2
General Observations

Apparent in the early Church

Augustine made it very popular (354-430 AD)

why we will take this view
Why we will take this view

Best accounts for the apparent repetition of events throughout the book

Follows precedent of the other prophetic passages in which God uses repeated visions with different story lines to tell the same basic idea

Seems best to fulfill the intent of the book that it is relevant to the 1st century reader and to the all subsequent readers

bottom line
Bottom Line

Purpose of the book:

The emphasis of the book is to encourage Christians to persevere in their commitment to Christ even in the midst of suffering

Key text is Rev. 1:9

It is both a promise and a demand

Promise of His Providence

Demand to be His witnesses

what not to expect
What Not To Expect

First, one ought not to expect to receive here a guaranteed, valid interpretation of all figures. God cannot tell us of the future with such a certainty that takes away the freedom of man’s will as he lives out his period of probation

what not to expect1
What Not To Expect

Second, one should not to expect to put the figurative on a literal screen.

Finally, one should not expect for everyone to agree

what to expect
What To Expect

First, a focus on the main point of God’s purpose in revealing the truths recorded in Revelation.

Second, one should expect to think and imagine.

Third, one should be encouraged to be alert to the signs of the time.

Last, one should expect to apply the principles urged in the book of Revelation to one’s own life

some key messages in revelation
Some Key Messages In Revelation

God is awesomely majestic, as well as sovereign in our troubles

The sacrifice of Jesus as the Lamb of God ultimately brings complete deliverance for those who trust Him

God brings judgment on the world to avenge His people

In the end God will judge, no matter how it looks now


God is not dependent on world powers, we should not be either

We can view our early sufferings from a different perspective from heaven

When we proclaim Christ, persecution is not far behind in this age

Christ is worth dying for

There is a great contrast between God’s Kingdom (the bride, the new Jeruslem) and the world’s values (the prostitute and Babylon)


Something greater is coming

God will include all people groups of all times in His plans

revelation 1 1 2
Revelation 1:1-2

The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show His servants—things which must shortly take place. And He sent and signified it by His angel to His servant John,

2 who bore witness to the word of God, and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, to all things that he saw.

the apokalupsis
The apokalupsis

To reveal

Tells us that symbolism is going to play a large role.

communicated it
“Communicated it”

To communicate with signs and symbols

John 12:32-33 And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me. This he said, signifying what death he should die.

John 21:18-19 "Most assuredly, I say to you, when you were younger, you girded yourself and walked where you wished; but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish.“ This He spoke, signifying by what death he would glorify God. And when He had spoken this, He said to him, "Follow Me."

things that must soon take place
“things that must soon take place”

Daniel 2:28 But there is a God in heaven who reveals secrets, and He has made known to King Nebuchadnezzar what will be in the latter days So he came near where I stood, and when he came I was afraid and fell on my face; but he said to me, "Understand, son of man, that the vision refers to the time of the end."

Daniel 11-12

soon take place
Soon Take Place?

God’s time is not our time 2 Peter 3:8

He may well be waiting patiently for more to come to Him Matt. 24:14; 2 Peter 3:9, 12

We should be ready at any time Mark 13:32-37; 1 Thess. 5:2

However, we should not set deadlines on God’s plan

revelation 1 3
Revelation 1:3
  • Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written in it; for the time is near.
seven beatitudes of revelation
Seven Beatitudes of Revelation

1:3 Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written in it; for the time is near

14:13 ‘Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.’

16:15 Blessed is he who watches, and keeps his garments, lest he walk naked and they see his shame.

seven beatitudes of revelation1
Seven Beatitudes of Revelation

19:9 ‘Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb!’

20:6 Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years.

22:7Behold, I am coming quickly! Blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book.

seven beatitudes of revelation2
Seven Beatitudes of Revelation

22:14 Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city.


Luke 11:28 But He said, "More than that, blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it!"

James 1:22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.

Acts 13:15 And after the reading of the Law and the Prophets, the rulers of the synagogue sent to them, saying, "Men and brethren, if you have any word of exhortation for the people, say on."

revelation 1 4
Revelation 1:4

John, to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace to you and peace from Him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven Spirits who are before His throne

Significance of the number 7

Colossians 4:16 Now when this epistle is read among you, see that it is read also in the church of the Laodiceans, and that you likewise read the epistle from Laodicea.

greeting to the trinity
Greeting to the Trinity

Father Exodus 3:14-15

Seven Spirits

Isaiah 11:2-3 The Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon Him, The Spirit of wisdom and understanding, The Spirit of counsel and might, The Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD. His delight is in the fear of the LORD, And He shall not judge by the sight of His eyes, Nor decide by the hearing of His ears

zech 4 2 6
Zech. 4:2-6
  • And he said to me, "What do you see?" So I said, "I am looking, and there is a lampstand of solid gold with a bowl on top of it, and on the stand seven lamps with seven pipes to the seven lamps. "Two olive trees are by it, one at the right of the bowl and the other at its left." So I answered and spoke to the angel who talked with me, saying, "What are these, my lord?" Then the angel who talked with me answered and said to me, "Do you not know what these are?" And I said, "No, my lord." So he answered and said to me: "This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ Says the LORD of hosts.
revelation 1 5 6
Revelation 1:5-6

and from Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the first-born of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood

and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.


Why do you think he put Jesus last in the list?

the faithful witness
“the faithful witness”

The word is marturia

Jesus was the original marturia

Pilate said to him, "So you are a king?" Jesus answered, "You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I have come into the world, to bear witness to the truth. Every one who is of the truth hears my voice.“ Pilate said to him, "What is truth?"

firstborn of the dead
“firstborn of the dead”

What does this mean?

He was the first with immortality

We will be the second

This is a passage of hope

Col. 1:18 He is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning, the first-born from the dead, that in everything he might be pre-eminent.

1 Cor. 15:20 But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep.

ruler of the kings of the earth
“ruler of the kings of the earth”

He conquered death and won the victory

Why would this be comforting to readers? Why would it be for us?

philippians 2 9 11
Philippians 2:9-11
  • Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
psalm 89 27 37
Psalm 89:27, 37

Also I will make him My firstborn, The highest of the kings of the earth.

It shall be established forever like the moon, Even like the faithful witness in the sky." Selah

a doxology
A Doxology

Speaks of the blood redeeming

He says we are a kingdom of priests

Exodus 19:6 ‘And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words which you shall speak to the children of Israel."

1 peter 2 5 9
1 Peter 2:5, 9

you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;

the kingdom
The Kingdom

How would you define a kingdom?

What is needed to have a kingdom?

Is the kingdom in place right now?

Col. 1:13 He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love

Notice that verse 6 says made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father

priesthood of all believers
Priesthood of all believers

What does it mean to be a priest?

What is the role of a priest?

Hebrews 13:15 Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name

Hebrews 13:16 But do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.

priesthood of all believers1
Priesthood of all believers

Romans 15:16 that I might be a minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, ministering the gospel of God, that the offering of the Gentiles might be acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit.

Philippians 2:17-18 Yes, and if I am being poured out as a drink offering on the sacrifice and service of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all. For the same reason you also be glad and rejoice with me.

priesthood of all believers2
Priesthood of all believers

Romans 12:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.