Monday, October 06, 2008

Was the Book of Revelation Fulfilled in the First Century?

Part of a discussion in MennoDiscuss:

According to the preterist interpretation, there are two events in the first century that could be called Jesus' parousia (coming):
a. Jesus' coming to the Father to take up his authority over the universe. This is described in Rev. 5.
b. The destruction of Jerusalem by Titus in 70AD, which is the judgment of Jesus against those who persecuted him and his church.

While the Book of Revelation might allow for this, I don't believe that Jesus does, for the following reasons:

1. Jesus said that "every eye shall see him", and "as the lightning flashes from the east to the west", meaning that the coming would be obvious to everyone, without dispute. Yet for every event that has been declared to be the "coming of Jesus" in the first century (or every century since then) there has been great dispute as to whether Jesus actually returned or not. And the early church after 70AD was still expecting Jesus to return-- they didn't give up on the parousia after Jerusalem was destroyed.

2. After Jesus' return, Jesus said that the people of God will be gathered to him from the four corners of the earth (Matt 24:31). This has never happened, but rather the diaspora has just become more distinct with each age.

3. When the Master comes, Jesus said, all the hypocritical leaders of the church will be cut into pieces (Matt 24:50-51), and yet we find hypocrites just as abounding in the church after 70AD as before. If not more so.

4. Jesus said that when the Son of Man comes all nations would be gathered to him to be judged according to their hospitality to the brethern. (Matt 25:31ff). Every good person will be separated from every bad person (Matt 13:49-50) This has not yet occured, but the judgment is still to come. The majority of the world will still be surprised on the judgment day as to who will be on the "good" side an who will be on the "evil" side.

Thus, I think that we need to admit that the final coming has not yet occured. Thus, Revelation is not competely fulfilled.

This does not mean that the preterist argument doesn't have some excellent points. Matt 24/Mark 13 was certainly talking about the 70AD judgment, and Revelation is certainly talking about the judgment of Roman emperors. But just because things have occured in the past at one point doesn't mean that it won't happen again.

Daniel's abomination that causes desolation was certainly speaking of Antiochus Epiphanes. That was fulfilled long before Jesus, yet Jesus said that the abomination would be fulfilled later. The reason is that not all of Daniel was fulfilled-- much of it still had to come to pass. Even so with Jesus' apocalypse and Revelation. Although much of it is already fulfilled in the first century and other centuries, there is still some that must need be fulfilled. Therefore we can expect more fulfillment in the future.

Thus is my hope. Should the eschatalogical hope have already been fulfilled, then I am sorely disappointed. But as it stands, there is much of Jesus' words that have yet to be fulfilled and I expect that to happen any minute.


rlsmith said...

the book of revelation was NOT SEALED
Rev 22:10 and it was AT HAND. Therefore, it is impossible to put any prophecies into the FUTURE. God told us the meaning of AT HAND in Mat 26:45 saying "MY TIME is AT HAND , and the Son of MAn is betrayed into the hands of sinners. If you want to
put the Book of Revelation into the FUTURE, then you have to put the crucifixion into the future as well.
Nevertheless many christians have MESSIANIC expectations and this gives rise to Jewish State WARS and
kills Millions. These are the fruits of FUTURISM, and is leading to global slavery under the NEW WORLD ORDER. Get ready for global starvation as the DOLLAR implodes.
I am getting prepared bying FOOD and GOLD. Otherwise you will be swept away by the WAR on TERROR.
We the common people are the terrorists and the victims of these
criminal monsters who have an 80% population reduction program.
Repent Repent Repent before it is too late. AMEN

Steve Kimes said...

Well, I am planning on my new blog being an illustrated commentary on the book of Revelation. This will be in conjunction with my current teaching series on that book.

Looks like the responses will be exciting. Or at least interesting.

I do want to say that since the fruits of preterism and amillenism were the crusades and the inquisition, that it doesn't seem to matter what interpretation of the book we come up with. Evil people will always find a reason to do evil deeds.

Melinda said...

No one needs a teacher if they have the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit will lead them into all truth.