Studies In The Apocalypse (Part 1- Introduction)

   This is the first entry in a series of articles I’ll be doing on the book of Revelation, otherwise known as The Apocalypse. The series will occupy several months, though I hope (the Lord willing) to be able to have it finished within a year. Heaven knows I’ve studied the book from different angles, and cannot propose to solve all the difficulties of interpretation. Hence these studies, while containing as much depth as my researches have afforded me, can only stand as a “commentary,” and not as an “exposition.”

   What I plan to do, however, is something somewhat unique for this age–that is, to integrate views of the early church with my own opinions, as well as with those of the Dispensational school, and see if I can come up with something like a composite outline of interpretation which has a sound basis of historicity and yet adheres to the Pre-Millennial (Futuristic) understanding of John’s inspired visions. In areas where my mind is not made up, I’ll either leave “well enough alone,” or give the opinion which I feel most likely to be the truth.

   Thus, during these studies I hope to learn as I go along, not being dogmatic in my views, but leaving latitude to allow me to amend my views whenever fresh light is shed on God’s word. These studies, then, may be aptly termed “Adventures In The Apocalypse”-though, in a more constrained spirit, and with somewhat greater reverence, I have termed them, “Studies in the Apocalypse.”

   These studies will take the book of Revelation verse by verse. Due to my own limitations and the scope of these articles, I will not be exhaustive, but will instead offer a “summary in essence” of what I believe each verse teaches, at the same time keeping a steady eye on any spiritual truth which the verses contain. Hopefully I will not be found deficient in these matters.

   For reasons of preference, I am using the King James translation. However, I will be frequently consulting alternate translations, as well as the original Greek text. My purpose, though, is not to approach the text as a critic, but as a humble student of God’s word. Due to my scanty knowledge of Greek, I must rely on the labors of those who have gone before me, assuming (as I have a right to do) that they have done their job in a way sufficient to meet any critical examination.

   I should also mention, before I begin, that I implicitly and unhesitatingly adhere to the “late date” of composition of the Apocalypse, which places authorship by John about the year A.D. 96. The Preterist theory which argues otherwise on the basis of alleged “internal evidence,” adopts the curious tactic of allowing the interpretation to fix the date, and then the date to determine the interpretation–a method that doesn’t surprise us, as it is in keeping with the “a priori” methods of reasoning which Preterists insist on using, regardless of their inability to lead one into the paths of truth.

   As a concession, however, to the Preterist view, I freely admit that much of the dramatic activity of the book involves the city of Jerusalem and the environs thereof. My main point of dissent involves the time John’s prophecies were to have their fulfillment. I am prepared to show that the visions transcribed by John do not detail events which happened during the devastations of Jerusalem by the Roman armies in A.D. 67-70, but were to occur upon the reconstitution of the Jewish polity towards the “consummation of the age”–a period which is rapidly approaching, and seems, now more than ever, to be “nigh at hand.”

   This confusion, or failure to distinguish between the events of Jewish dispersion and the period consequent upon the regathering of the Jews to the their own land, seems to account for much of the abuse heaped upon the book by interpreters of the Preterist school. Clearing the cobwebs of their errors, then, is one of the primary reasons why I have undertaken these studies. Let us pray that God’s truth prevails.

   An additional word ought to be said concerning the mode of interpretation which I have employed. I think it is true that the book is highly symbolical in nature. I think it is equally true that the book is really a “revelation,” or “unveiling” of the truths regarding the Pre-Millennial advent of Jesus Christ. Therefore, it must admit of some comprehension at the common level, and cannot be so abstruse as to elude any analysis at all. The subjective manner in which some have treated this book have caused many to lay it aside in dismay. Thus, any breaking down in simplicity of the truths contained therein will prove invaluable.

   Now, I send forth these studies to all stewards of the Kingdom, in the hope that others will derive nourishment and strength therefrom. All articles may be freely quoted, or republished in part or in full. I only ask that full credit be given to the author, which is myself. As to the views contained in these articles, I claim no originality, nor do I wish to be known as an inventer of newfangled views. My primary wish is to understand the Apocalypse in light of past scholarship, and with an eye in regard to recent advances in Pre-Millennial understanding. While I am a Chiliast, and not a Dispensationalist, I feel the Dispensational school has, in many areas, done more to point the way to the true meaning of the Apocalypse, than has any other eschatological school. In any event, I intend to give credit where credit is due.

   Finally, as implied above, it is no secret that I believe we are fast approaching the “consummation of the age.” As troublesome times continue, and as the timult of the nations increases with each passing month, I feel it is essential that a renewed interest be taken in Bible prophecy. A more enlightened view, purged of all fanciful accretions and novel contraptions, may be just what the doctor ordered. And if I can, in any way, serve Christ’s church by illuminating, ever so faintly, the pages of this book, then I’ll consider the time spent in these studies to have been worthwhile. Let the labor be ours, and the glory be His!

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