Problems with the Preterist View of Revelation


Posted by Matt Postiff November 27, 2007 on Matt Postiff's Blog under Dispensationalism 

The preterist view of Revelation basically teaches that most, if not all, of the book of Revelation was fulfilled in 70 A.D. with the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans. There are several sources that the reader may visit to become more familiar with this view:

There are a number of severe problems with this interpretation of Revelation. The first is that it depends on a very particular date of composition. If Revelation was composed by the apostle John after 70 A.D., as many conservative scholars understand, then the preterist view falls apart. A date of 68 A.D. or so must be assigned for the preterist view to be viable.

The second major problem is that there are parts of the book which are unequivocally predictive of future events--events which have not yet occurred as of the writing of this blog. Consider a couple of them in the following paragraphs. We will work backwards from the end of the book.

Chapters 21 and 22 are unquestionably future predictions that have not yet been fulfilled. The new heaven and new earth have not yet made an appearance. The New Jerusalem has also not been seen as of yet. The elimination of death, sorrow, crying, and pain in 21:4 has obviously not yet occurred. We have not yet been spared from everything that defiles or causes a lie or has to do with unbelievers (21:27). No church on earth has those qualities, much less the world at large. Chapter 22 follows chronologically after chapter 21 and explains the presence of the tree of life, another thing which has not yet come to pass.

Moving backward from chapter 21, we see also many features of chapter 20 that prohibit it from being interpreted as a record of now-past events. Satan does not seem to be bound in any way during the present age. However the 1000 years are understood, either literally or as a very long time, it is apparent that Satan has not been on any kind of severe restriction for that length of time. There is a first and second resurrection (the first is mentioned in 20:5b-6, the second in 20:5a and 20:12), yet there have been no mass resurrections of dead people in history up to this point. The Great White Throne judgment has not happened. When it does, something very serious will happen to the old heaven and earth (20:11). Also, many dead will stand before God and be judged. The unbelieving among them (it turns out that all who appear there will be unbelievers, but let us not get hung up on that point) will be thrown into the Lake of Fire (20:15). None of this has yet happened.

It should hopefully be fairly obvious that at least the last three chapters of Revelation cannot be correctly interpreted as having happened in the past. We will have to consider the other chapters of Revelation in another blog entry. But the reader might in the meantime consider that in chapter 19 Christ returns so that he can be present to reign in his kingdom in 20:4. The second coming of Christ has also not yet occurred, except in those systems of interpretation that suggest a secret coming at some past date. Such interpretations ring hollow when compared with the Revelation.

There are a number of severe problems with this interpretation of Revelation. The first is that it depends on a very particular date of composition. If Revelation was composed by the apostle John after 70 A.D., as many conservative scholars understand, then the preterist view falls apart. A date of 68 A.D. or so must be assigned for the preterist view to be viable.

The second major problem is that there are parts of the book which are unequivocally predictive of future events--events which have not yet occurred as of the writing of this blog. Consider a couple of them in the following paragraphs. We will work backwards from the end of the book.

Chapters 21 and 22 are unquestionably future predictions that have not yet been fulfilled. The new heaven and new earth have not yet made an appearance. The New Jerusalem has also not been seen as of yet. The elimination of death, sorrow, crying, and pain in 21:4 has obviously not yet occurred. We have not yet been spared from everything that defiles or causes a lie or has to do with unbelievers (21:27). No church on earth has those qualities, much less the world at large. Chapter 22 follows chronologically after chapter 21 and explains the presence of the tree of life, another thing which has not yet come to pass.

Moving backward from chapter 21, we see also many features of chapter 20 that prohibit it from being interpreted as a record of now-past events. Satan does not seem to be bound in any way during the present age. However the 1000 years are understood, either literally or as a very long time, it is apparent that Satan has not been on any kind of severe restriction for that length of time. There is a first and second resurrection (the first is mentioned in 20:5b-6, the second in 20:5a and 20:12), yet there have been no mass resurrections of dead people in history up to this point. The Great White Throne judgment has not happened. When it does, something very serious will happen to the old heaven and earth (20:11). Also, many dead will stand before God and be judged. The unbelieving among them (it turns out that all who appear there will be unbelievers, but let us not get hung up on that point) will be thrown into the Lake of Fire (20:15). None of this has yet happened.

It should hopefully be fairly obvious that at least the last three chapters of Revelation cannot be correctly interpreted as having happened in the past. We will have to consider the other chapters of Revelation in another blog entry. But the reader might in the meantime consider that in chapter 19 Christ returns so that he can be present to reign in his kingdom in 20:4. The second coming of Christ has also not yet occurred, except in those systems of interpretation that suggest a secret coming at some past date. Such interpretations ring hollow when compared with the Revelation.

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