Over the next few weeks we will continue to share with you the opinions of 13 Bible prophecy experts concerning various questions related to the book of Revelation. The remaining members of our panel of Bible prophecy experts will continue to address:
#4. Is the book of Revelation history or prophecy?
This question regarding the book of Revelation is a very important one. It has to do with a very strange interpretation of the book of Revelation that's called Preterism. That word is based a Latin word that means "past tense," and thus, a Preterist is a person who believes that most of the prophecies in the book of Revelation were fulfilled in 70 AD when the Romans destroyed Jerusalem. Extreme Preterists even believe that the Second Coming of Jesus occurred at that time.
In summary, Preterists believe the book of Revelation was written before 70 AD and that it contains prophecy that has been fulfilled rather than prophecies that relate to the future. So, the question for our Bible prophecy experts is really more on how they would respond to the Preterist argument that the book of Revelation is history rather than prophecy.
Tom McCall, Tom McCall Ministries
The Preterists believe that the Second Coming of Christ occurred before or at 70 AD. Well, that means they've got to get everything in the New Testament including the writing of the book of Revelation occurring before 70 AD. But, that just doesn't stand up to history. That would mean that John would have been put into prison on Patmos during the time of Nero. Nero was very concerned about Christianity in Rome, but one never reads about him persecuting Christians outside of Rome. So, how would that fit in? It just doesn't make sense. We do see that the emperors later were very concerned about Christianity all throughout the Roman Empire. That would have fit very well with the scenario of John being on Patmos and writing the book of Revelation in the 90's. That's the traditional view and it fits into history, and that's the better view by all means.
Nathan Jones, Lamb & Lion Ministries
With all due respect to our brothers and sisters in Christ who follow the Preterist view, but they've got to be blind. I mean, Israel is a nation again. After almost 1,900 years of Israel being exiled and roaming the world, they became a nation again in May of 1948. They're not just any nation either; Israel's the nation of the Bible. So, clearly God still has a purpose for them.
The Preterist view is based on the fact that the Temple was destroyed in 70 AD and so the book of Revelation must have been written before 70 AD. But, Irenaeus who was one of the Early Church Father's stated that at the end of Domitian's reign, which was 81-96 AD, that that's when John wrote the book of Revelation. So, about 95 AD. Clearly the references to the Temple in the book of Revelation are to a future temple, not the Temple which was destroyed in 70 AD. I think between those two facts it is very obvious that Preterism isn't a correct interpretation of end time prophecy.
Don McGee, Crown and Sickle Ministries
There are some reasons why I believe that the book of Revelation was written at a late date. Irenaeus was an Early Church Father. He lived during the Second Century. He said that Revelation was written in the last part of Domitian's reign. Domitian died about AD 96.
If you look at the structure of the book you can see that there is a flow of events there. The seven letters written to the Seven Churches were written at a time when the Seven Churches were in decline. If we place Revelation before 70 AD at the early date, those churches were not in decline. During the time of Paul the churches were doing pretty well. During the time of Nero the first generation of those Church leaders were still there. They were conservative and they were very fundamental in both doctrine and theology. But, by the time of Domitian, the second generation was there. Because of the influence of the Greek and Roman world, that second generation of leaders had changed their thinking concerning doctrinal kinds of things. So, the letters written to the Seven Churches were written to correct those faltering. They could not have been written during the time of Nero.
Lastly, if you look at the book there are some things that are clearly and plainly addressed that must be relegated to a future date.
Ed Hindson, World Prophetic Ministry
Revelation says that it is prophecy. The book itself calls itself a prophecy. It is a revelation of what will come here after in the future, not in the past. Next, trying to date the book in the 60's is virtually impossible. None of the Early Church Father's thought that. Preterists argue that the Antichrist figure in the book who is the beast is Nero, and yet for the first 500 years of Church history not one person in print suggests Nero was the Antichrist. If the people living closest to the time of Nero did not think he was the Antichrist, why in the world should we think that 21 centuries later?
Jack Kinsella, The Omega Letter
I think there is plenty of evidence which says the book of the Revelation was written well after AD 70. But, whether or not it was is really irrelevant, because the events that are described in the book of Revelation have not been fulfilled in history, or even come close to being fulfilled in history. Not the least of which, the events described in the book of Revelation is the Second Coming of Christ. So, if Revelation is all history, then well that certainly doesn't make any sense.
Ken Humphries, Treasured Truth Today Ministries
I believe the Lord came in judgment in AD 70, although not visibly. But, He did not come in His kingdom. To me that's the big part of this question.
I was researching this and found there are actually ten amazing thoughts about when Christ comes in His kingdom. Number one, He will return to earth and be seen by every eye. Now that did not happen in AD 70. When He comes in His Kingdom, the Jewish people will be regathered. That didn't happen in AD 70. When He comes in His Kingdom there will be no wars on earth. That didn't happen in AD 70. When He comes in His Kingdom the Kingdom will be restored to Israel. That didn't happen in AD 70. When He comes in His Kingdom it will be a time of great deliverance. That didn't happen in AD 70. And when He comes in His Kingdom God's Sanctuary which is His Temple will be in the midst of His people. That didn't happen in AD 70. When Jesus comes in His Kingdom there will be a priesthood operative again in the Temple. That didn't happen in AD 70. When He comes in His Kingdom the Jews will posses their land again. That didn't happen in AD 70. When He comes in His Kingdom there will be a message of good news declared to Jerusalem. That certainly didn't happen in AD 70. And, when Jesus comes in His Kingdom there will be joy and gladness brought to the people of God. That didn't happen in AD 70. I believe this didn't take place in AD 70 because the Jews were fortunate enough to survive the Roman invasion, yet they didn't have joy and gladness. They didn't have anything other than sorrow, and real depths of sorrow after that.
In the next part of this series on reading and understanding Revelation, the members of our panel of Bible prophecy experts will answer the fifth question, "Can the Rapture of the Church be found in the book of Revelation?"