PRI Articles

Guest Article: 1,000 Years is A Long Time!

The millennium is one of the most hotly contested theological doctrines. All three futurist views insist that the term "chilia" meaning 1,000 must of necessity mean at the very least, 1,000 years. Both the amillennial and postmillennial camps claim that the millennium is referent to the Christian age- spanning so far, 2000 years. My friend Frank Speer offers some excellent insights into the millennium that are truly excellent. Take a look and pass this along!  (All emphasis is Frank's)

Don K. Preston

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1,000 YEARS IS A LONG TIME

By Frank Speer

*Parenthesis in Scripture quotations are mine.

It seems to me that the oft debated time frame of the 1,000 years mentioned in Revelation chapter 20 can reasonably be understood as simply a symbolic reference to the “LONG TIME” referred to by Jesus is His Parable of the Talents…

(Mat 25:19)  "Now after A LONG TIME’ the master of those slaves came and settled accounts with them.

Notice that in the parable the Master (Jesus) returns to THE VERY SAME WORKERS that He left behind years beforehand. This is crucial. The Master does not return to settle accounts with A COMPLETELY DIFFERENT GROUP OF WORKERS. Messiah-Jesus’ parable clearly describes a boss returning to THE SAME GENERATION of his own workers…

(Mt 25:20) "And THE WORKER WHO HAD (at the time of the Master’s departure) RECEIVED the five talents came up (to the Master upon his return)…”

Now, we know from 2 Peter 3 that there existed first century ridiculers who were disbelieving and contradicting Messiah Jesus’ soon return for divine sentencing upon national Israel - they were denying any such “Day of The Lord” by saying, “IT’S BEEN WAY TOO LONG NOW!”

(2 Pet 3:3)  “Know this first of all (just as Jesus said would happen – vs. 2), that in the last days mockers would come with their mocking, following after their own lusts, and saying, "WHERE IS THE PROMISE OF HIS COMING?”

First, notice that it was unmistakably the first century apostolic teaching that Messiah-Jesus would be returning to THAT SAME GENERATION else these cynics would not be rejecting the claim. These false teachers were outright contradicting the first century expectation of the “Day of The Lord” which Jesus and His apostles plainly and continually taught.

Second, notice that these scoffers concluded that ‘TOO MUCH TIME’ had already passed (some 35 years) and so, according to them, the teaching that Messiah-Jesus would return was proven to be a false teaching. The Apostle Peter’s response to these pompous deriders is to quote Moses in Psalm 90:4…

(2 Pet 3:8-9)  “But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved (Israel), “WITH THE LORD ONE DAY IS LIKE A THOUSAND YEARS, AND A THOUSAND YEARS IS LIKE ONE DAY.” So, (despite what these cynics say) the Lord is not SLOW’ concerning His promise (to return soon), according to what these mockers call ‘slowness’, but (rather) The Lord is (mercifully) being patient toward you (this generation), not wishing for any of you to perish (in the upcoming time of divine retribution - Jn 3:16 etc) but God desires all (who will) to come to repentance (so as to avoid the approaching day of judgment).”

In essence the Apostle Peter is saying…

“God is not running on the schedule of these mockers! It doesn’t matter one iota if they think God is ‘TAKING TOO LONG’! Don’t you remember what Moses wrote in Psalm 90? He tells us Jews that God exists outside the limitations of time and while time may seem ‘long’ or ‘short’ to people, God is not controlled by man’s expectations. It's like Moses was saying, ‘There's no difference to God between one thousand years or one single day – one is not long and the other short for God -  all that matters is that God gets the job done in His perfect time.’ Therefore, there is no ‘late’ or ‘early’ with God. Yes, of course God operates with man according to the clock, but God goes by His own calendar not ours. When God says “soon” it means soon as man understands soon, but God is under no obligation to meet any human deadline! So, these mockers only demonstrate their stupidity when they make such statements as, ‘GOD IS TAKING TOO LONG!’ That’s a man thought - not a God thought. Messiah-Jesus will return in this generation, just as He promised, and what these mockers are calling ‘DELAY’ God is calling ‘MERCY’ for those yet to believe the gospel!”

For these reasons, my suggested explanation of the “1,000 years” of Rev 20 is this:

  • · The “thousand years” of Psalm 90:4 is used to refer to A LONG TIME”.

  • · Jesus stated in His parable of the Talents that He would be away for A LONG TIME”.

  • ·

Therefore, when we come to Revelation chapter 20, I believe we can offer simple and solid scriptural reasoning for suggesting that the 1,000 year time frame simply refers to the LONG TIME” that Jesus would be “away” – i.e. the 40 year time period between his Ascension and His Parousia (40 years is equals Biblical “generation” as well as a Biblical period of “testing”).

In light of these things here is Revelation 20:1-4…

“And I saw a messenger coming down from heaven, having the key of the abyss and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold of the dragon, the serpent of old, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for A THOUSAND YEARS, and threw him into the abyss, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he should not deceive the nations any longer, until THE THOUSAND YEARS were completed; after these things he must be released for a short time. And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given to them. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of the testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received the mark upon their forehead and upon their hand; and they came to life and reigned with Christ for A THOUSAND YEARS.”

Here is my suggested explanation…

(Rev 20:1-4)  “And I saw (in my supernatural vision of allegory) a messenger (of God) coming down from heaven (a position of authority), having the key (authority over) of the abyss (the abode of evil ones) and a great chain (restraint) was in his hand. And this messenger of God laid hold of the dragon (an adversarial leader – i.e. the first century political/religious Jewish leaders), the serpent of old (an enemy of God), the one who is the devil (an accuser) and Satan (an adversary), and bound (restrained) him for A THOUSAND YEARS (the “long time” of Jesus absence), and threw the dragon into the abyss (the abode of evil ones), and shut it and sealed it over the enemy, this was done so that this Opposer should not deceive the nations any longer (i.e. the dispersed first century Jewish peoples living in the surrounding nations – See Acts 2:5), not until THE THOUSAND YEARS (the “long time” of Jesus absence) were completed; after that time (the “long time” of Jesus absence) the accuser must be released (unrestrained) for a short time period (as opposed to the ‘long time’ - Aprox 66-70 AD). And then I saw thrones (a courtroom scene), and they (The 12?? See Mt 19:28) sat upon them, and judgment was granted to them. And there I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded (murdered) because of their testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God (which The 12 lived and preached), and those who had not worshiped the beast (enemy leader – Imperial Rome) or his image (an idol – i.e. Caesar as god), and had not received the mark upon their forehead and upon their hand (worshipped the beast); and these martyrs came to life (resurrected from the dead) and reigned (co-ruled) with Christ for A THOUSAND YEARS (the “long time” of Jesus absence).”

It is extremely likely that the original readers of the Book of Revelation had also read the Second Letter of Peter and therefore would have undoubtedly grasped John’s use of Peter’s “thousand year/long time” motif. In other words, the Apostle John may very well have been ‘playing off’ of the pattern used by the Apostle Peter in 2 Peter 3.

What do YOU think?

Guest Article: The Crown of Life

My friend Jim Nicolosi recently sent this article to me for my consideration. I find it more than a little intriguing and challenging, and want to share it with our visitors. It has some great thought in it!

Don K. Preston

 

Crown of Life

Jim Nicolosi

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The Gospels writers, except for Luke, record the event of Jesus being given a crown of thorns.

Matthew 27:29 - And when they had platted a crown of thorns, they put it upon his head, and a reed in his right hand: and they bowed the knee before him, and mocked him, saying, Hail, King of the Jews! (KJV)

Mark 15:17- And they clothed him with purple, and platted a crown of thorns, and put it about his head, (KJV)

John 19:2 - And the soldiers platted a crown of thorns, and put it on his head, and they put on him a purple robe, (KJV)

John 19:5 - Then came Jesus forth, wearing the crown of thorns, and the purple robe. And Pilate saith unto them, Behold the man! (KJV)

Jesus Himself makes no mention of any other type of crown in the Gospels to His apostles or other disciples.  None of His apostles or disciples inquires about a crown during His earthly ministry.  Other than the four instances cited above, the Greek word for crown, stephanos, (Strong’s # 4735) does not appear elsewhere in the Gospels.

In the subsequent books of the New Testament other than the book of Revelation, it appears six times as follows:

1 Cor 9:25 - And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible (crown- mine added to complete the thought). (KJV)

Phil 4:1 - Therefore, my brethren dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved. (KJV)

1 Thess 2:19 - For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming? (KJV)

2 Tim 4:8 - Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing. (KJV)

James 1:12 - Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him. (KJV)

1 Peter 5:4 - And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away. (KJV)

Now the obvious issue at hand is that Paul, James, and Peter are now using the term “crown” in their writings. This is in spite of the fact that Jesus made no such promise or use of the term during His earthly ministry.  In his letters to the Thessalonians and Timothy, Paul even goes so far as to associate the receiving of this crown with the “coming” or “appearing” of our Lord, which is a direct reference to His Parousia, or as more commonly called, the Second Coming.  Peter makes the same assertion.  James goes even further as he writes “the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised”.

It has been demonstrated that Jesus made no such promise about a crown in His earthly ministry as evidenced by the absence of any mention in the Gospels.  Yet Paul, James, and Peter speak freely of such a crown as has just been shown even though the Lord made no mention of such in the Gospels.

The remaining instances in the New Testament scripture where the Greek word stephanos is found are in the book of Revelation.  The first one is in second chapter of the book.  Here Jesus states the following to the church at Symrna as written by the Apostle John:

Rev 2:10-11 - Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life. (KJV)

In examining this statement, it should be noted that the term “crown of life” is found only one other place in the Bible, that being the previously identified sentence in the book of James (Chapter 1:12…“the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised”).  The next instance is Jesus’ admonition to the church at Sardis as recorded by John.

Rev 3:11 - Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown. (KJV)

It becomes intuitively obvious that Jesus’ mention of and promise of a “crown of life” as found only in the book of Revelation has implications as to when the book of Revelation was written.  As James used this term in his letter and it is generally accepted that James died circa 62 AD, it stands to reason that James read or heard of John’s teaching or writing concerning the Revelation of Jesus Christ.  This implies that the book of Revelation must have been written prior to James’ death circa 62 AD.  It should be remembered that this is the only place (Rev 2:10-11) that Jesus promised the “the crown of life” as it was conspicuous by its absence in the Gospels as has already been demonstrated.  Furthermore, Paul and Peter associated this receiving of the crown with the “coming” or “appearing” of our Lord, which is His Parousia.  For the same reason as James, the implication is that Paul and Peter must have read or heard about this “crown of life” from John’s teaching or writing on the Revelation.  As Paul and Peter are assumed to have died in the late 60s AD, it is concluded that the book of Revelation was at least taught, if not written prior to the deaths of these three Apostles (James, Paul, Peter).

NT:4735: stephanos (stef'-an-os); from an apparently primary stepho (to twine or wreathe); a chaplet (as a badge of royalty, a prize in the public games or a symbol of honor generally; but more conspicuous and elaborate than the simple fillet, NT:1238), literally or figuratively: KJV - crown.  (Biblesoft's New Exhaustive Strong's Numbers and Concordance with Expanded Greek-Hebrew Dictionary. Copyright (c) 1994, Biblesoft and International Bible Translators, Inc.)

Peter and Revelation: A Comparative Study

 

The dating of Revelation continues to be of great interest and importance to Bible students. Clearly, if Revelation was written after AD 70 then the preterist paradigm is suspect, to say the least. I am glad to share with our visitors a guest article by my friend Doug Wilkinson. This article develops some of the correlations between Peter's epistles and the book of Revelation.

Most scholars accept 1 Peter as pre-AD 70, and most conservative scholars accept 2 Peter as pre-AD 70. In his article, Wilkinson shows that Peter is almost assuredly drawing directly from Revelation.Clearly, if Peter was echoing Revelation, then Revelation was written prior to AD 70.

I have developed some additional connections between Peter and Revelation in my Who Is This Babylon book, and recommend that for further study.

With the caveat that I do not believe Peter affirmed that God does not see time like man does-- which I develop extensively in my Babylon book, I highly recommend Wilkinson's article. It will challenge any thoughtful student to rethink a committment to the late date of Revelation.

Don K. Preston

 

 

Peter's Final Message:

Don't Let the Book of Revelation Get You Down

Doug Wilkinson


The epistle of 2nd Peter is one of the last books of the New Testament to be written. Presuming that Revelation was written in about 66AD, 2nd Peter was likely written a year or two later. Peter expects to be martyred in the very near future, so his final letter is to pass on last minute advice and reinforce the basics. I think that a topical outline of the epistle will demonstrate that Peter has recently read the book of Revelation, and he wants to pass on his ideas on the important points.

Peter opens with a seven point progressive sanctification scheme, the final stage of which is love. This program of progressive sanctification, if followed, will be successful in ensuring the salvation of his readers. His first substantive topic matches perfectly the crisis in the first church addressed in Revelation. In Ephesus, Christ criticizes them for not having love. Peter has considered this, and is giving his audience an antidote to make their "call and election sure."  Just like Revelation, Peter promises salvation for those who endure and destruction for those who fall away.

Peter then moves on to talk about the Transfiguration as a prophetic vision of the parousia. He reassures them that his is a reliable prophetic understanding. He warns his audience against false prophets who have existed since the Old Testament. Peter makes reference to Balaam as a typical false prophet who uses immorality in his ministry.  In the letter to Pergamum (the third letter to the churches), Christ scolds the church for having fallen under the spell of the teaching of Balaam, an Old Testament prophet. Balaam taught the enemies of Israel to turn Israel from God by seducing them with foreign women. Peter incorporates this by declaring that the false prophets in his day had "eyes full of adultery" and that they were "enticing unstable souls". Just like Christ's admonition to Pergamum, Peter makes sure that his audience knows that God will punish these immoral people at his coming, while at the same time rewarding the faithful followers.

Peter then moves on to important, confusing information from the end of Revelation. Just as the prophets had predicted, Paul warned about in 2nd Timothy, and Jude acknowledges, the last day scoffers were on the scene in the first century. They were saying that God would not come through on his promises. Peter reminds his readers that just like the creation of old was judged, God was preparing to judge that creation. He points out that from God's point of view, a day is as a thousand years and vice versa.  So, Peter argues that regardless of the rhetoric involved, God will be faithful in his promise to bring judgment.

In Revelation 20, the judgment would come after a one thousand year reign of Christ from heaven. In that reign, martyred saints and unnamed characters on thrones would participate in determining the destiny of the earth. In Revelation 6-7 we see those martyred saints actually participating in the reign described in Revelation 20. The martyrs are crying for vengeance. Christ is telling them to wait just a bit longer until the maximum number of people are brought into the kingdom. Back in 2nd Peter, he makes the same point by saying that Christ is longsuffering, trying to give as many people as possible a chance for repentance. A bit later, Peter describes the result of the prayers of the saints in Revelation 6 and the conclusion of the thousand years in Revelation 20: Fire from heaven.

But, what about the thousand years? When Peter read Revelation he learned that the ongoing heavenly reign was going to last a thousand years. This obviously contradicts the teaching he'd received, and that he and all of the New Testament writers had passed on, in which the promise of the return of Christ was to be within that generation. So, Peter clarifies the point made in Revelation by reminding the reader that from God's point of view a thousand years might just mean a day. Why then did John call it a thousand year reign? The reason was to imply something about the kingdom itself. The term "thousand" in scripture is meant to define a large, though indefinite, quality as well as quantity.  In the sense of quality, we're talking here about the Kingdom of God.  We'd have to in some way describe it as the maximum kingdom.  Symbolically, the term "thousand" can take on this meaning.  In the sense of quantity, we have a very hard time quantifying what time looks like from God's point of view. Given the assumption from a human point of view that God, and thus in some way heaven, is either timeless or has an altered experience of time, the "thousand year" description of the heavenly kingdom going on during the first century was meant simply to imply that the kingdom itself was on "God time."  Peter makes sure to clear up how to reconcile "God time" with "human time" by saying that they essentially have no relation to each other.  The use of "thousand" in this way precludes the kingdom from being an earthly one.

After clarifying this, following the chronology of Revelation 20, Peter continues with the description of the events surrounding the Day of the Lord. He says that it will happen with suddenness and fire. This description matches the climax of the Gog and Magog revolt in Revelation 20. In Revelation 20, Jerusalem is surrounded by armies immediately before fire comes from heaven. It is usually assumed that this fire destroys the invading Gog and Magog army. However, the nearest antecedent to the destruction in the passage is actually the "the camp of the saints (or holy ones, hagios) and the "beloved city." In a matching passage, Daniel 12:7, we find that the end of eschatology is defined as the shattering of the power of the holy people (hagios in the Septuagint). With this additional witness it is clear that the fire coming from heaven is against the "hagios" and the city, which is exactly what happened in the sacking of Jerusalem in 70AD.

By comparing the synchronized passages about this destruction of the holy people we learn that the "elements" that are destroyed in 2nd Peter are tied directly to the city that is destroyed. A quick look at the seven uses of the Greek term that is described here as elements (stoicheia) shows that in every clear case, it is talking about components of the Mosaic/Levitical Law worship system. The few ambiguous examples can easily be interpreted in the same way, shining light on the meaning of those passages. As the city is metaphorically destroyed by fire from heaven (which was literally accomplished by the armies surrounding it) the Mosaic/Levitical Law worship system is destroyed as well. This makes way for a new paradigm in which actual righteousness can be accomplished.

Peter then reemphasizes that the Christian's responsibility is to put maximum effort into his personal holiness in order to be worthy of the New Heaven and New Earth "in which righteousness dwells". In Revelation 21, John describes the definition of the New Heaven and New Earth, and the characteristics of the New Jerusalem. The New Jerusalem is described several in several places as a city in which no sin can be found. Sinners of various types are said to not be able to enter and are explicitly left outside of the gates.

Peter finishes by admonishing people to read Paul's letters in light of what he has said in this one (and by extension, Revelation). Paul had written quite a bit about eschatology, with some of his oldest writings (and some of the oldest of any Christian writings) being the letters to the Thessalonians. Christians of the era would only have heard the phrase "as a thief" in 1st Thessalonians until 2nd Peter and Revelation were written. It's Paul's understanding of eschatology that people are encouraged to study, though it is confusing to some because they are "untaught and unstable."

In comparing 2nd Peter and Revelation we find that Peter does not significantly vary from the sequence of events in Revelation. He took the high points of Revelation and expanded on them when necessary for admonishment and edification. He sees personal holiness and endurance as critical to taking advantage of the promise of salvation. He is clear that failure of endurance by his readers will jeopardize their salvation. He then switches to the promise itself: The Day of the Lord and The New Heaven and New Earth. He makes it clear that regardless of the use of the term "thousand", Christ is faithful to his promise to judge his enemies within that generation. When he does so, just like Revelation, he'll do so through sudden fire. The final result is a Kingdom in which righteousness dwells.

Babylon on Seven Hills -- Food For Thought

It is commonly assumed that Babylon in Revelation must be Rome. This is a false view, however, as I demonstrate in my book Who Is This Babylon.

One of the key "arguments for the Rome = Babylon view is that Revelation says the Harlot city sat on seven hills. Now, of course, no one doubts that Rome sat on seven hills, but, as food for thought, it needs to be considered that Jerusalem also sat on seven hills!

Ted Pike, an opponent of modern day Israel and her exaggerated influence on American politics, has sent out an email identifying Israel as Babylon. I reject Pike's modern futurism, and have even offered to debate him, but he refused.

Nonetheless, in his mailer, he does present some interesting and important information about the identity of Jerusalem as Babylon in the first century. I am cutting and pasting part of that article here as "food for thought."

Begin Quote: Yet even from earliest post-apostolic times, Christians have misread Revelation’s prophecy. They thought Babylon the Great meant Rome, which has traditionally been described as sitting on seven hills. Yet the city of Rome encompasses many more than seven hills. This is not true of Jerusalem. Ernest L. Martin, Ph.D. points out: the City of Jerusalem as it existed in the time of Christ Jesus was also reckoned to be a 'City of Seven Hills.' This fact was well recognized in Jewish circles. In the Pirke de-Rabbi Eliezer, an 8th century A.D. midrashic [Talmudic] narrative (Section 10), the writer mentioned without commentary (showing that the understanding was well known and required no defense) that, "Jerusalem is situated on seven hills." ("The Seven Hills of Jerusalem” http://www.askelm.com/prophecy/p000201.htm (End of Quote).

What is important for the modern student to do-- as much as is possible-- is to get into the mind of the first century audience and writers. While this citation is not definitive proof, it is nonetheless intriguing and worth consideration. For more on this, be sure to see my book on Babylon.

 

The Dating of Revelation: Guest Article

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I am glad to publish here an article by my friend Jim Gunter. The dating of Revelation is critical to a proper understanding of the book. The late date is so often assumed, wtih no real proof offered. Jim's article will shed a lot of good light on the issue.

Don K. Preston

When Was The Book of Revelation Written?

By Jim Gunter

The book of Revelation, also known as the Apocalypse, is the product of the inspired pen of the beloved apostle, John, who had been exiled to the Isle of Patmos by the Roman Emperor.  It is agreed by most disciples and bible scholars alike, that due to the enormity of the signs and symbols, along with the very highly-charged apocalyptic language used in the book, that it is considered to be perhaps the most difficult to understand of all the inspired writings in the new covenant scriptures. The purpose of this article will not be to discuss in detail the subject matter of the epistle, but as the title suggests, to learn as best we can, the point in time at which the book was written.

Because of the language used, and complexity of the book, many disciples tend to not include the book in their bible studies. And I will confess to you that for many years, I, too, spent very little time there. The reason for that was because from the eschatological perspective which I then approached the book (amillennial), there was much confusion and uncertainty, thus making comprehension of its message a most difficult thing. However, after a change in my eschatological perspective in the past nine or ten years (preterist), do feel that I now have a much better grasp on its contents.

I also believe there is understanding to be gained by establishing the correct time-frame in which John wrote this epistle. I once thought, as do many other believers, that it was written somewhere from 92-96 A.D. However, in recent years, my view of that has changed. I am now persuaded that it was written prior to the 70 A.D. destruction of Jerusalem---perhaps 65-68 A.D. I have also learned where many well-known scholars (such as Phillip Schaff), also changed their view to a pre-70 A.D. date. So, if you would be so kind as to bear with me for a little bit, I would like to present my reasons as to why I believe the 65-68 A.D. time-frame for not only its writing, but for  its fulfillment as well.

I would like to begin this search by first considering the “external evidence” (i.e, evidence outside the scriptures) of just when the book may have been written. Those who support the “late” date of its writing (92-96 A.D.) seem to base their belief on the grounds of a solitary quote of Irenaeus who lived from 125-202 A.D. The late Foy E. Wallace Jr. (who supported the “early” date of its writing), in his book titled, “The Book of Revelation,” quotes that statement by Irenaeus. It reads as follows:

“If it were necessary to have his name distinctly announced at the present time it would doubtless have been announced by him who saw the Apocalypse; for it was not a great while ago that (it or he-emphasis by FEW) was seen, but almost in our own generation, toward the end of Domitian’s reign,” (Irenaeus, Against Heresies 5:30:3, quoted in, The Book of Revelation, Foy E. Wallace Jr., p. 25).

As we can see here, the key phrase in Irenaeus’ statement is, that was seen!” The

question then becomes: Was it 'he' (John?) or 'it' (Revelation?) that was seen? In the

English, it could be either one! Then there other scholars who comment on both

Irenaeus and also his statement:

D. Ragan Ewing writes:

“The difficulty arises in Irenaeus’ statement, as translated, “… that was seen …” The Greek text simply reads eJwravqh. The subject of the statement is simply subsumed in the verb, and there is therefore no grammatical indicator as to the referent; it could be the Apocalypse, or it could be John himself. In other words, the English could just as easily be, “… he was seen …”

Ewing further writes:

“Nevertheless, there remains another problem with the Irenaean witness. To what extent are we to take as trustworthy Irenaeus’ historical claims… In one place he portrays James the Apostle as the same person as the brother of the Lord, and in another, he astonishingly informs us that Jesus lived to be between forty and fifty years old! Lapses like these have understandably led to assessments such as Guthrie’s caution that Irenaeus’ historical method is “uncritical,” as well as Moffatt’s comment, “Irenaeus, of course, is no great authority by himself on matters chronological.” Such being the case, should we really place the great confidence in this testimony that many scholars have?”

Kenneth Gentry quoting Irenaeus:

Irenaeus said of the age of Jesus, “but the age of 30 years is the first of a young man’s mind, and that it reaches even to the fortieth year, everyone will allow: but after the fortieth and fiftieth year, it begins to verge towards elder age: which our Lord was when He taught, as the Gospel and all the Elders witness…” (Quoted in Before Jerusalem Fell, Kenneth L. Gentry, p. 63) Can we trust the testimony of a man that says Jesus taught for 15 years and was fifty years old when he died? Yet, it is largely his testimony alone, for the latter date!

Burton Coffman writes:

“His (Eusebius’) quotation (of Irenaeus’ statement) does not even mention “the writing” of Revelation, but refers solely to the time when certain unnamed persons are alleged to have seen either the apostle or the prophecy, nobody knows which. This proves nothing. Besides that: If he meant the Apocalypse was seen, and if it had been originally composed in quotation, could have reference to the Greek translation, if indeed it referred to the Revelation at all. There goes the whole case for the latter date,” (Commentary on Revelation, Burton Coffman, p 4).

William Bell writes:

“Concerning the above statement (Irenaeus’ statement), scholars have long recognized that it is not possible to determine whether Irenaeus meant to say John was seen by Irenaeus’ tutor, Polycarp, or that “the Apocalypse” was seen toward the end of Domitian’s reign. Such ambiguity destroys this argument as evidence. Even Eusebius, who recorded this statement, doubted that John, the apostle, even wrote the book of Revelation. The point here is this, if the statement was not strong enough to convince Eusebius that John even wrote Revelation, why do so many think today that it is strong enough to convince one that the apostle saw it (the Apocalypse) during Domitian’s reign (A.D. 95)? It is weak to say the least.”

Finally, is support of the “early” day of the Apocalypse, are the words of Robert Young, author of “Young’s Analytical concordance of the New Testament,” and “Young’s Literal Translation of the Holy Bible.” In his remarks, you will see that he contends that a mistake has been made on the part of other early writers who quote Irenaeus’ statement. As you will see, it is his belief that the other early writers actually (mis)quote Irenaeus as to the name of the Roman Emperor who was ruling at the time of his statement, and succeeding writer simply followed their lead!

Robert Young (late 1800s) writes:


"It was written in Patmos about A.D.68, whither John had been banished by Domitius Nero, as stated in the title of the Syriac version of the Book; and with this concurs the express statement of Irenaeus (A.D.175), who says it happened in the reign of Domitianou, ie., Domitius (Nero). Sulpicius Severus, Orosius, &c., stupidly mistaking Domitianou for Domitianikos, supposed Irenaeus to refer to Domitian, A.D. 95, and most succeeding writers have fallen into the same blunder. The internal testimony is wholly in favor of the earlier date." (Concise Critical Comments on the Holy Bible, by Robert Young. Published by Pickering and Inglis, London and Glasgow, (no date), Page 179 of the "New Covenant" section. See also: Young's Concise Critical Bible Commmentary, Baker Book House, March 1977, ISBN: 0-8010-9914-5, pg 178.)

Now that we have looked at the external (outside the scriptures) evidence, most of which opposes the “late date” of the book (92-96 A.D.), I would now like to offer what I understand as internal (inside the inspired scriptures) evidence for why I believe the “early date” (65-68 A.D.) to be the more accurate date for its writing.

Many scholars now believe Revelation to have been written just prior to “the fall of Jerusalem,” perhaps 65-68 A.D. One bit of internal evidence is found in Revelation 11:1-2. Here, John was instructed by the angel to “measure the temple of God.” However, if the time in which John wrote was the later date (92-96 A.D.), then the temple would not have still been standing! Not only that, but the city of Jerusalem and the Jewish nation would all have been destroyed for a quarter century by then! Good folks, please consider this with me: If John wrote the epistle in 92-96 A.D, which would have been after the fall of Jerusalem, the temple, and the Jewish nation, how could it possibly be, that there would be absolutely no mention whatsoever in the Apocalypse about these things? In my view, this is just simply inconceivable! I would even go one step farther and say: If “any one of the epistles, or the gospels, or the book of Acts, had been written after 70 A.D, can you imagine the odds that not even one word being written by at least one of those inspired writers, about the destruction of Jerusalem, the temple, or the nation? But as you know, there is not one single word! Please let us not forget that the destruction and burning of the temple and the city of Jerusalem, the slaughter of more than a million Jews, and the enslavement of almost another million; why, this was one of the most monumental and historic events in the history of the world! Our Master prophesied of the things of the 70 A.D. judgment in great detail in Matthew 23, 24, & 25, Mark 13, and Luke 17, 19, & 21. and He said that it would all take place in that same generation [Matt. 24:34; Mk. 13:30; Lk. 21:32]. And personally, I just simply cannot fathom the likelihood of the fulfillment of these things never even being mentioned anywhere in all of the new covenant scriptures, if any one of them was written after 70 A.D! Folks, am I making sense here? Moreover, it is my understanding that the period of The Spirit’s revelatory work, (i.e, His inspiring of men to write scripture) also ended with the fall of Jerusalem, the temple, and the Jewish nation [See Zechariah 13:1-3; 1Corinthians 13:8-13].

When The Things Shown to John Were Fulfilled:

Other internal evidence of the earlier date for the writing of the Apocalypse, would be the words of both John and the angel that was sent to him by the Lord. And please, let us not forget; these things that John wrote had to mean something, first and foremost, to the 1st century disciples; the ones to whom the epistle was written! Folks, I believe this is critical to a proper understanding of the message being conveyed therein! For example:

[1.] In Revelation 1:1, John makes it very clear that the things the Lord

showed him were, “things which must shortly take place.”

[2.] In Revelation 1:3, John further spoke of the blessings to come to those 1st century disciples to whom he prophesied. They (1st century disciples) were to, “keep those things which were written” in that prophecy because, as he said, “for the time is near.”

[3.] In Revelation 1:9, John declared to those 1st century disciples, that he was their brother and companion, in the tribulation…”

So, it should be noted here that these words were written to John’s brethren who were presently, “in the tribulation.” Certainly, it is not “we 21st century disciples” that he is talking about! According to history, the most severe days of that “great tribulation” began in the spring of A.D. 67, and of course culminated with the destruction of the city of Jerusalem and the temple in the fall of 70 A.D; a period of 3-1/2 years---a time, times, and half a time---42 months---1,260 days [See Daniel 12:7].

[4.] In Revelation 2:25, Jesus told the Church at Thyatira, “…hold fast until I come.” Folks, the

church at Thyatira has been extinct for 2,000 years now. Therefore they cannot still be, “holding

fast.” So, did Jesus keep His promise to come to them? I sincerely believe that He did!

[5.] In Revelation 22:7, Jesus said “Behold, I am coming quickly.”

[6.] In Revelation 22:10 John was told by the angel, Do not seal the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is at hand.”

[7.] In Revelation 22:12, Jesus further told these disciples of the 1st century: “And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work[See also Matthew 16:27-28].

[8.] In Revelation 22:20, again, Jesus closes by saying to them, “…Surely, I come quickly.”

Under Item No. 6 above, there is something I find very interesting about verse 10 as it relates to the time-frame for the fulfillment of “all the things” Jesus and the angels have shown John throughout this marvelous epistle. I believe a comparison of this prophecy to a prophecy found in Daniel 8:23-26, would be helpful in establishing the time-frame for the fulfillment of all the prophecies in the Apocalypse, including our Lord’s promised coming (parousia). Here is that comparison:

The fulfillment of the prophecy of Daniel 8:23-26:

[Daniel 8:26---KJV-King James Version] “…shut thou up the vision; for it shall be for many days.”

[Daniel 8:26---NASB-New American Standard Bible] “…But keep the vision secret, for it pertains to many days in the future.”

The fulfillment for all the prophecies in Revelation---Rev. 22:10:

[Revelation 22:10---KJV]Seal not the sayings of the prophecy of this book: for the time is at hand.”

[Revelation 22:10---NASB]“...Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is near.”

Brothers and sisters, when juxtaposing these two prophecies, there emerges a most conspicuous and salient point when comparing the time-span covered by each of the two prophecies. First, most scholars agree that the prophecy of Daniel 8:23-26 is a prophecy of the Seleucid King, Antiochus Epiphanes, who reigned from 175-164 B.C.

In vs. 26 of this prophecy, Daniel is told by the angel to, seal up the vision.” And as we can see, the reason for this was because, “it would be for many days in the future[vs. 26]. What’s so interesting here is that the time period for this vision, that is, from the time the angel showed it to Daniel till its fulfillment, covered a time-span of approximately 386 years. This fact is very important as we shall see shortly!

Now, please let us contrast this with what the angel in Revelation 22:10 said to John, Do not seal up the vision. The angel then gives John the reason for this command. It was because, the time is (was) at handat the time John penned the Apocalypse! There was a time in my past when I understood the fulfillment of all the things in Revelation to be yet in our future. This was in spite of the fact that more than 2,000 years have passed, and in spite of the fact that the angel told John, Do not seal up the vision, for the time is (was) at hand.” However, I now believe that my former reasoning was flawed and inconsistent with our Father’s word! For example, how could it be possible for 386 years in the Daniel 8:23-26 prophecy to be considered, many days in the future,” from the time it was prophesied; and yet the 2,000+ years (and counting) in the Revelation 22:10 prophecy considered as, the time is at hand? I’m sure you can see my point! This is the reason that I believe the Apocalypse and the things written therein, came to pass in the 1st century, by 70 A.D. And I further believe that God’s Judgment on Jerusalem and the unbelieving Jews is central to the message in the book, and not the judgment on the Roman Empire, as I once believed.

Please bear with me as I give a little illustration similar to one I heard many years ago. Let’s just imagine ourselves back about 2,000 years in the past, O. K? So, here we are, living in the days of the apostle John. As a matter of fact, we know the beloved apostle very well, having both seen and heard him speak on a number of occasions. You see, we are among those seven churches of Asia. So not only do we know John quite well, but we have read all four of his other books! J

And so there we are on a Sunday morning in one of our little assemblies, singing, praying, and eating the Lord’s Supper. Now let’s just suppose that while we are standing and singing, the front door suddenly opens, and in comes an elderly figure. We can see now that it’s the beloved apostle! Obviously, we’re all both excited as well as shocked at what we see! And so, while we are singing, John slowly makes his way down the aisle to one of the front pews. He continues to stand there and sings along with us until the song is finished. But after the song, instead of sitting down, John remains standing and he turns around to face the audience, and immediately begins to address us disciples.

As he begins to speak, he unrolls a big roll of parchment and begins to read to us many truly marvelous, yet frightening things that the Lord has shown him! John informs us that these are things from the Master Himself, and that Jesus had instructed him to pass this information on to us. As you can well imagine, John really has our undivided attention by this time! We are all just excited beyond belief! And now, as every eye in the building is riveted on John, he says to us that Jesus had His angel to communicate to him, that these things he has written to us are things, “which must shortly come to pass.” And the angel said that we were to “read those things and take heed to them, because the time for all these things to come to pass, “is near; yes, it’s even at hand!”

John continues to read and speak to us for the next couple of hours or so, showing us the things in the great scroll. Finally, he reaches the end of his letter and begins to roll up the scroll, leaves it on the table up front and then begins to make his way up the aisle and out the door. However, before any one of us can say anything, the door suddenly opens once again. And wouldn’t ya know it; it’s John again! He sticks his head through the door jam and says in a very stern but loving voice and says, “Now don’t you folks forget that these are things that must shortly take place. And don’t you forget that Jesus said, ‘Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me! And I want you to know that you are not to seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, because as the Lord has already said, the time is at hand. It’s near!”

Good folks, I said all of that simply to ask this: If you and I had really been there, and these things had happened in our presence, do you believe for one minute that we would have reasoned: “Oh well, there’s really nothing that we should be all that concerned about. After all, the things John just showed us, well, surely, they’re not going to happen in our lifetimes anyway. In fact, they won’t happen for at least another 20 centuries or more!” Folks, what do you think? Do you really think anything like that would have even crossed our minds? Why, of course not! Never in a million years would we have reasoned in such a fashion! If you’re anything like myself, you would have been trembling! Why, there would have been no question that we would have understood that John was speaking of things that were going to happen soon; in our own lifetime; in our1st century generation for sure! Would you not agree? This I believe, begs the question: If we don’t believe, that had we lived back then, and received this letter from John, that we would have been so foolish as to reason in that manner, then why should we not recognize the fact that those 1st century disciples would have been no different? They certainly knew that the epistle was written to them!

One more question: If John wanted the disciples to understand that their Master was indeed coming in their generation (that 1st century generation), and that all the things he was shown by the Lord were also going to come to pass in that generation, just what would you suppose John could have said to convey such a message? Well, good folks, please don’t think I’m trying to be cute here, but wouldn’t he most probably say something like, “the time is near, or the time is at hand, or Yes, I am coming quickly, or these are things that must shortly come to pass!” I’m sure you can see my point! Yes, good folks, you judge for yourself, but as for me, I am fully persuaded that all the things written in this marvelous epistle were both written and fulfilled in the 1st century!

Before closing, I would like to proffer just one more little illustration, which I believe further supports my conviction that the Apocalypse was in fact written during the early date (65-68 A.D.). In other words, it was written and fulfilled prior to the 70 A. D. “ Judgment (destruction) brought on Jerusalem, the temple, fleshly priesthood, Judaism, and the Jewish nation.” Moreover, it is my understanding that the Judgments mentioned above, were central to the message in the Apocalypse. Now, would you please consider that illustration with me?

Let us use our sanctified imaginations and once again project ourselves back into the 1st century. Only this time, we find ourselves in the year 94 A.D. I’m using 94 because that would be midway of that later date of 92-96 A.D, when many disciples think the book was written. As I’m sure you have already surmised, this date would have been after the destruction of Jerusalem, the temple, Judaism, the fleshly priesthood, and the Jewish nation. Yes, all of those things are now no more; they’re all “gone; they have ceased to exist!

Now let’s just say that John goes through the same procedure we used in the first illustration. He thoroughly explains to us just what the Lord and the angel had shown him, the results of which would be no different from sending out the epistle. And let’s just say that after spending that long two hours explaining these things to us so that we can clearly understand the message, he says goodbye, and departs. Good folks, totally setting aside all of the things that John explained to us that were written in the book, here is the big question I have: For those who do insist that the book was written in 92-96 A.D, just what do you suppose the odds would be, that John would have spent all that time teaching us on all of these many things, and yet not once mention anything whatsoever about the holy city, Jerusalem, the temple, or the Jewish nation having all been destroyed? Folks, I really believe that to ask that question is also to answer it! I hope you can truly see now, why I believe the book was written in the early date (65-68 A. D.).

I would like to close now by saying that in all of the above 8 passages from the last chapter of the Book of Revelation, we have seen the great “urgency” in the words of The Lord, the angel, and the apostle John. And we have also seen that every one of these passages express an “imminent” coming (Parousia) of Jesus. But please let us not be mistaken; this urgency and these warnings were spoken to 1st century disciples and not to us in the 21st century. The apostle John and all the other apostles were told by Jesus, personally, while He was yet with them, that He would be returning soon. He had forewarned them in Matthew 16:27-28:

“For the Son of Man is going to (Gr. mello; “about to”) come in the glory of His Father with His angels; and will then recompense every man according to His deeds. Truly I say to you, there are some of those who are standing here, who shall not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom.”

He had further told them in Matt. 10:23:

“But whenever they persecute you in this city, flee to the next; for truly I say to you (apostles-jg), you shall not finish going through the cities of Israel, until the Son of Man comes.

I wish to thank you for investigating these things with me, and I hope that you will simply consider them, and see if they are consistent with our Father’s marvelous word. May the Lord richly bless you all with His grace and peace.

Yours in Him,

Jim Gunter


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