Methods of Interpretation
The book of Revelation has also fascinated Bible students, and there have many attempts have been made to understand its message.
FUTURISTIC: Sees the book as a description of events immediately surrounding the return of the Lord Jesus Christ, probably all occurring during a period of intense activity lasting three-and-half years.
HISTORIC: see Revelation filling in the details of significant events that affect believers, starting in John’s day and continuing until Jesus returns. This is the traditional Christadelphian view.
- Contents of the
- The Song of The Lamb #5 Revelation 5
Find also other views:
- Four Views of Revelation by Patrick Zukeran
- The Idealist View:
This view uses the allegorical method to interpret the Book of Revelation. The allegorical approach to Revelation was introduced by ancient church father Origen (AD 185-254) and made prominent by Augustine (AD 354-420).
The symbols in Revelation are not tied to specific events but point to themes throughout church history. The battles in Revelation are viewed as spiritual warfare manifested in the persecution of Christians or wars in general that have occurred in history. The beast from the sea may be identified as the satanically-inspired political opposition to the church in any age. The beast from the land represents pagan, or corrupt, religion to Christianity.
- The Preterist View:
Preter, which means “past,” is derived from the Latin. There are two major views among preterists: full preterism and partial preterism. Both views believe that the prophecies of the Olivet discourse of Matthew 24 and Revelation were fulfilled in the first century with the fall of Jerusalem in AD 70. Chapters 1-3 describe the conditions in the seven churches of Asia Minor prior to the Jewish war (AD 66-70). The remaining chapters of Revelation and Jesus’ Olivet Discourse describe the fall of Jerusalem to the Romans.
Since it is a prophecy of the destruction of Jerusalem, preterists hold to a pre-AD 70 date of writing. According to this view, John was writing specifically to the church of his day and had only its situation in mind.
- The Historicist View:
This view teaches that Revelation is a symbolic representation that presents the course of history from the apostle’s life through the end of the age. The symbols in the apocalypse correspond to events in the history of Western Europe, including various popes, the Protestant Reformation, the French Revolution, and rulers such as Charlemagne. Most interpreters place the events of their day in the later chapters of Revelation.
- The Futurist View:
This view teaches that the events of the Olivet Discourse and Revelation chapters 4-22 will occur in the future.
- Revelation of Christ according Truthnet
- Symbolic or allegorical approach:
anti-millennium view which taught a literal millennium reign of Christ on earth.
- Preterist (Past) Interpretation:
views the Church as the “New Israel” and thereby fulfilling verses applied to Israel in scripture.
- Historic Interpretation:
References to Babylon and the Beast are associated with the Roman Catholic Church and the Pope. Other symbols are viewed as referring to Islamic and Napoleonic wars. The historical approach, like the Preterists, substitute the church for Israel in verses referring to national Israel.
- Futurist Interpretation:
Words mean what they say unless otherwise defined within the context of scripture.
Since the futurist view looks to a future Millennium, the view is Pre-millennial.
The futurist view holds to a dispensational understanding of scripture, allowing for the distinction of Israel and the church in God’s end time program.
1. Interpreting The Book of Revelation
While there is only one OT apocalyptic book (Daniel) and one NT book that demonstrates some features of this type (Revelation), it was a common form of writing in the two centuries before and after the birth of Christ.
Because the Book of Revelation is written in John’s own name, it is related to OT prophecy, perhaps more closely than it is to apocalyptic.
- Futurist: A Blueprint of the End Times
- Historicist: The Road Map of World History + Church Historical: The History of the Church
Some hold that the book deals more with the period prior to the present, some see it as unfolding in the present, and some emphasize the future more. All of the book is a symbolic account of the whole scope of world history, with the “beast” identified with various historical figures or peoples, from the Saracens, to Mohammed, to the Pope, to Adolph Hitler. This view arose in the Middle Ages, and was adopted by most of the Reformers in the 16th century, including Martin Luther who popularized the idea that the “beast” was the Roman Catholic Pope. In turn, Catholic theologians were convinced that Luther was the “beast.”
- Preterist: The First Century Church
- Idealist: Eternal Principles + Theological: An Incarnated Message
3. By which method should we interpret the Book of Revelation? Mike F Blume
“I propose interpretations should be made by comparing scripture with scripture. And that John knew perfectly well what the visions meant. John was not given unknown sights if God did not seal the book from his understanding. He gave John visions that John would immediately recognize as being similar to many, many Old Testament stories and events. And John was directed to recall those similarities and apply the main point of those stories to the visions and figure how they relate to the Church and to Christ crucified for our salvation, and then new Kingdom of a spiritual temple and so on.”
4. Methods of Interpreting Revelation
Determinism was a prominent feature of such literature, which is the idea that any event is determined by an unbroken chain of prior occurrences. In the case of apocalyptic literature, this meant that God has already determined the future by his own counsels, for which reason it was likely viewed as fixed and unalterable.
events predicted can be lined up with real matching events evident in history. The matched events will show a movement of time and events from John’s time to some future time, usually the Second Coming of Jesus, but some may also extend to the end of the coming millennium.
The ultimate purpose of the prophecies of Daniel and Revelation is to build faith in God and explain, through the events of history, that God will ultimately triumph over evil and sin will be destroyed someday, along with death, disease, and war.
The historical method of interpreting the prophecies of the New Testament is based on the belief that these prophecies are concerning the unfolding of events in the whole of the Church age.
According to this method, the seals of Revelation 6 are events in history. The reformation is symbolised by the discovery of the little book in Revelation chapter 10 and by the death and resurrection of the two witnesses in Revelation chapter 11.
This method of interpretation is fascinating and its proponents are convincing. But this method requires a vast knowledge of history which has only been available to few of the generations of Bible readers since the Bible was written! The breadth of information needed to develop this interpretation is not available to most readers in developing nations and so is irrelevant to such readers.
This method of Bible interpretation has fewer proponents in the 20th and 21st centuries, but was quite popular in the 19th century. Whether or not the symbols of Revelation can be tied to specific events in world history, there is no doubt that the Book of Revelation teaches the ways of God in history. Hence, we know that there are changes in the course of history, not merely because men have made a political decision, but rather because Christ opened a seal in heaven.
6. Five Ways to Interpret Revelation by Steve Adler:
4. Idealist: Reluctant to identify anything in Revelation with particular events or people, this approach is perhaps the most different. To the Idealist, John’s visions are symbolic of the all the struggles the church faces between Christ’s first and second comings;
5. Eclectic – This last method is an incorporation of the strengths of the other four approaches. Acknowledging Revelation may be written about specific past and future events, but allowing that the interpretation of some events may apply to the church in all circumstances, this approach seems the easiest and most logical to take – however, the interpreter ends up being able to ascribe many different meanings to the same vision.
- Idealists, Preterists, And Futurists (lynleahz.com)
When you boil it all down there are only three schools of thought for interpreting prophecy. There are idealists, who interpret prophecy symbolically and don’t expect any of it to be fulfilled in the literal sense. Then there are preterists, who see the complete fulfillment of prophecy in past events culminating in the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD. And there are futurists who see the fulfillment of prophecy in events still to come. All the major views fit under one of these headings.
Futurists who adhere to a literal interpretation of Scripture accuse preterists of spiritualizing some prophecies in order to give them a historical fulfillment. For example, most preterists cling to the opinion that God is finished with Israel. They say prophecies that futurists see as pertaining to Israel’s future have been inherited by and fulfilled in the Church. In this they are like others who embrace replacement theology.
- Revelation: The Way it Happened (A Review) (davehershey.wordpress.com)
Studying Revelation with Dr. Lowery opened my eyes to a different way of understanding Revelation, a way that was much more historically grounded, recognizing the book had to mean something to those who first read it, as well as much more challenging, in that it has a message for us today, right now, and not just about the future.
- A Readable Commentary on Revelation (reformedreader.wordpress.com)
Poythress keeps the main point the main point: “God rules history and will bring it to its consummation in Christ. If you read it with that main point in mind, you will be able to understand it. You will not necessarily understand every detail – neither do I. But it is not necessary to understand every detail in order to profit spiritually from it”
- An Overview of the Book of Revelation (godsbreath.wordpress.com)
- The Anti-Church – Great Falling Away (raymondjclements.wordpress.com)
At center stage of the coming global crisis will be a demonized world leader called the Antichrist (1 Jn. 2:18) who develops and then rules over a worldwide system including government, finances and religion. There is much information on this in the scripture.
- LOVE GOD LOVE PEOPLE (Sunday, 25/11/2012) (sionnunukan.wordpress.com)
Revelation is shown in the presence of various forms of vision. The vision presented especially concerning the time of the last days terakhir.Pada this, the powers of evil will oppress the faithful to the teachings of religion, but in the end evil will be destroyed and the believers would be saved through Christ which liberates all human persons.
- Revelation 5: Worthy is the Lamb! (kingdomnewtestament.wordpress.com)
We can tell from the seven seals that the writer of this scroll wants to keep its contents well guarded. John was told at the beginning of chapter 4 that he would be shown what would be coming in the future (4:1), so we assume this scroll contains the future destiny of someone or even the whole world.
- Why the Modern View of the Book of Revelation may be Flawed. (adw.org)
the common modern and majority view is that the context of this book is the persecution against Christians by Domitian (Emperor from 81-96 AD) and the Roman Empire which he headed. John has been arrested and exiled to the Island of Patmos. Thus, the chief context for the majority view is the antagonism of the Roman Empire seeking to force Christians to emperor worship and apostasy from the Christian faith in the one true God. Further, the harlot city is defined in this point of view as Rome.
- Revelation – Historical and Prophetic (Part 4) (revpodcast.org)
Revelation is actually written as much as a study of church history as it is about the end times. As with the entire Bible, each book was written for the benefit of the original recipients, and for each age of the church thereafter.
There are different schools of thought on Revelation and all share some good points about both the end times and our own personal journeys of faith throughout Church history. I believe we just have to be discerning and weed out the good from the bad. Some people believe that all the events in Revelation occurred in the past and I think that is heresy as well. We are still waiting on the ultimate culmination of God’s plan of redemption with His faithful believers.
- Revelation 12: Victory by Faithfulness (kingdomnewtestament.wordpress.com)
Behind the persecutions of the Roman government, the economic embargoes on Christians and their businesses, the ways in which people are making their Christian neighbors feel ostracized and unwanted, behind all of this is the fury of Satan who has been cast out of heaven and is on his way down to the pit of fire. In this cryptic book, this may be the clearest John gets as to why this is happening. For that reason, some commentators have called it the center of the book, which it pretty much is chronologically too.