4 Ways to View Revelation…
Historicists – draw parallels between John’s vision and significant historical events. They seek to place major events of history within John’s writing like, the rise of the papacy, the protestant reformation, etc.
Futurists – interprets the book of Revelation as literally as possible. This view leaves little room for symbolism. In fact, symbolism is only considered when something cannot be understood in a strictly literal fashion. Therefore, for the Futurist, the vast majority of Revelation has yet to take place. Futurism is most concerned with the time and the signs immediately preceding the return of Christ, and the state of God’s people at that future point.
Idealists – see Revelation through more of an allegorical representation of the types of things or events believers may expect in the time between the inauguration of Christ’s kingdom and its consummation. This story is of the struggle of the Christian church in the world, and God’s continued preservation of his people through it.
Preterists – approach to Revelation understands that most of the book was fulfilled in the decades immediately following the establishment of the church. Though the book of Revelation does briefly address the distant future, most notably the return of Christ and final judgment, the majority of the book is concerned with the original readers’ present reality. Therefore, from where we are sitting, Revelation describes much of what has already taken place
Summary of the View
Postmillennialism – Christ’s physical return will not occur until “after” the millennium. Although they differ from Amillennialists in their interpretation of the nature of the millennium, sometimes it’s easier to think of postmillennialist as optomistic cousins to Amillennialists. meaning they are both partial preterists, and both view Revelation through an Idealist and Preterist lens.
Where Amillennialists would say that Christ is ruling “in the hearts of his people”, postmillennialists believe that through the progress of the gospel, and the growth of the church, a larger and larger proportion of the world’s population will become saved. This will result in significant Christian influences upon the world and culture. Through this, society will begin to operate more in line with God’s standards and the millennium will gradually become realized on the earth. Postmillennialists generally do not understand the millennium to be a literal 1,000 years, but believe it will last for a long period of time as the gospel permeates the world. Thus, the church rules alongside Christ during the millennium as the gospel affects society – consider it a golden age of gospel influence, where the vast majority of people become believers. At the end of the millennium, Christ will return, there will be a resurrection, and judgment will occur as people enter the eternal state.
Rapture – if held to, it occurs just prior to the general resurrection.
Tribulation – occurred within the context of the fall of Jerusalem; 33-70AD.
Antichrist – most identify him as a figure associated with the Roman conquest of Jerusalem. However, strong Idealists may interpret the Antichrist as an individual (1 John 2.18-19).
18 Children, it is the last hour, and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. Therefore we know that it is the last hour. 19 They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us. – 1 John 2.18-19
Apostasy during the last days – a divided view, some hold to this and others do not.
- Optimistic – the Great Commission and mission of the church are most realized under postmillennialism.
- ignores imagery of a sudden return
- ignores imagery of being ready/watching
- At this point, Postmillennialists would have to say that we are no where close to Jesus coming back. We have a long way to go.
- inconsistent view of end-time apostasy (Matt. 24.12; 1 Tim. 4.1-3; 2 Thess. 2.3)
- difficult to reconcile with Bible verses on suffering.
- difficult to reconcile with a realistic observation of the world in which we live.