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Interpreting Revelation

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Interpreting Revelation. Vern Sheridan Poythress. Westminster Theological Seminary ... Strengthening the heart, not tickling the fancy. ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Interpreting Revelation


1
Interpreting Revelation
Vern Sheridan Poythress Westminster Theological
Seminary
2
Issues in Interpretation Outline
  • A. Dangers and Rewards
  • B. Four Major Schools of Interpretation
  • C. Clarity of Revelation
  • D. Symbolism
  • E. A Positive Approach
  • F. Insight of the Roman View
  • G. Insight of the Final Crisis View
  • H. Insight of the Repeated Pattern

3
A. Dangers and Rewards
4
Extreme Responses
  • Repulsion
  • Unhealthy interest

5
Dealing with Disputes
  • The interpretive challenge (Swete, p. ccvii)

calls for
Spiritually challenging.
  • humility (Prov. 112)
  • and patience (Prov. 1415)

6
Encouragements about Rev.
  • Revelation is inspired Scripture.
  • God knew the difficulties.
  • Profitable, 2 Tim. 317.
  • For servants of Christ, Rev. 11.
  • With explicit blessing, Rev. 13.

Letsgetgoing!
7
Relevance to Our Time
  • It always speaks to people under persecution.
  • Dispensationalism needs a positive answer.
  • It attacks modern sins.

8
Attack on Sins
  • Symbolically deep
  • Supernatural
  • Theocentric
  • Exposing sin
  • Exposing idolatry
  • Disp. Literalism
  • Modernist unbelief
  • Secularist atheism
  • Hedonism
  • False religion

9
Resources in Scholarship
10
Renewing Your Mind
Western Culture
11
Envisioning the Future
  • Dealing with bewilderment
  • Grasping possibilities
  • Gods mind
  • Cosmic framework
  • New values

View offuture
Robert Scholes (Structural Fabulation, p. 19),
quoting Olaf Stapledon, preface to Last and First
Men
12
Beauty of Revelation
  • Within this elaborate plan of 7 7s is
    developed the action of a prophetic poem
    unsurpassed in sacred or profane literature in
    either the grandeur of its poetic imagery, or the
    superb sweep of its prophetic vision. (B. B.
    Warfield Selected Short Writings 286).

13
B. Four Major Views about Interpretation
14
Why Look at Others Views?
  • Learn from others.
  • Dont blindly adopt an approach.
  • Ones choice affects all of Revelation.
  • No one view fits all the Scripture.

15
Time of Fulfillment
When is the primary fulfillment?
?
First Coming
Second Coming
  • The four views differ about the primary time of
    fulfillment of Revelation.

16
Roman Empire View (Preterist)
  • Beckwith (pp. 334-35) fulfilled in the
    destruction of Jerusalem and the fall of the
    Roman Empire.

All in the past.
17
Two Strands ofRoman Empire View
  • Modernist extreme wholly in first century.
  • Moderate first century is chief focus.

18
Final Crisis View (Futurist)
  • Fulfillment occurs in the events of the final
    crisis immediately preceding the Second Coming.

All in the future.
19
Two Strands of Final Crisis
20
Church History View (Historicist)
  • Morris (p. 17) setting out the history of
    western Europe until the second coming of
    Christ.
  • Rev 6-19 is in chronological order.

21
Two Strands of Church History
  • Straight-line historicist treats Rev 6-19 as in
    chronological order.
  • Recapitulationist finds a number of
    recapitulations and nonchronological order in Rev
    6-19.
  • But recapitulationist is really a fifth view.

22
Repeated Pattern View (Idealist)
  • Tenney (p. 143) represents the eternal
    conflict of good and evil which persists in every
    age.

23
Two Types of Repeated Pattern
  • Consistent idealist Eternal conflict, with no
    reference to specific events.
  • Moderate idealist repeated fulfillment

24
Summary of Views
25
C. How the Four Major Views Work in Practice
26
Interpreting Rev 131-8 (Beast)
  • Roman Emperor/Empire
  • Final Antichrist
  • The Pope
  • Persecuting dominion wherever it appears
  • Roman Empire
  • Final Crisis
  • Church History
  • Repeated Pattern

27
Locusts of Rev. 91-11
  • Roman decadence
  • Future locusts or evil powers
  • Islamic invasion
  • Roman Empire
  • Final Crisis
  • Church History
  • Repeated Pattern

28
Interpreting Rev 91-11 (cont.)
  • Islamic invasion
  • Church History
  • crowns
  • womens hair
  • five months

29
Interpreting Rev. 91-11 (cont.)
  • Roman decadence
  • Future locusts or evil powers
  • Islamic invasion
  • Roman Empire
  • Final Crisis
  • Church History
  • Repeated Pattern
  • Powers of evil in the wicked at all times

30
Strengths of Different Views
  • Relevance to 7 churches.
  • Climax at Second Coming (2220 1911-21).
  • Draw a line between the two dates.
  • Seize common principle Satan as unoriginal.
  • Roman Empire
  • Final Crisis
  • Church History
  • Repeated Pattern

31
Transition from Roman Empire to Final Crisis View
  • Add a second fulfillment

32
Transition from Final Crisis to Roman Empire View
  • Add a foreshadowing

33
Transition from Church History to Final Crisis
View
  • Compress the time line

34
Transition from Church History to Repeated
Pattern View
  • Recapitulate

35
Transition from Repeated Pattern to Another View
  • Find a primary fulfillment of the pattern

36
Variant Views
  • Early Roman Empire Fulfillment in the fall of
    Jerusalem
  • Recapitulationist.Revelation portrays the entire
    course of history from Roman times to the Second
    Coming, with the symbols possibly having more
    than one em-bodiment and with several
    recapitulatory accounts of this period.

37
D. Clarity of Revelation
38
Revealing (11)
The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave
him to show his servants the things that must
soon take place. He made it known
39
Blessing for Reading (13)
Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of
this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear,
and who keep what is written in it.
  • The only book of the Bible with an explicit
    blessing for reading. Extra encouragement.
  • Keep means its practical. Strengthening the
    heart, not tickling the fancy.

40
Are Its Symbols Difficult?
Yes
No
  • Unfamiliar
  • Apocalyptic
  • Need OT background
  • Its obvious.

41
Its Simple
  • A picture book, not a puzzle book.
  • For children also.

42
See the Whole
Hmm. Lets see now. What does the locust of
Rev. 9 mean? The horse part must refer to one
of the months of the Chinese calendar. Crowns
of gold must refer to Babylonian kings.
Womens hair surely suggests that it is women
who will bring about the final downfall of
mankind. Scorpion tails hmm... Now let me
see.
College Student
43
Confidence in God
Dont be the expert.
You cant possibly understand without my help!
Youre right. I give up.
44
The Majesty of Christ
  • Christ is our friend (John 1514-15).
  • He is also our majestic, awesome king!

45
E. Symbolism
46
Why the Dispute over Revelation?
clear
controverted
and yet
?
47
Meaning of a Symbol
48
Two Approaches to Symbols
1. Code
  • One referent
  • Meaning referent
  • Isolated
  • Multiple allusions
  • Multifaceted impact
  • Holistic

49
Decoding by the Schools
Beast
Future Antichrist
Beast
Pope
Idolatrous Government
Beast
50
Prophecy is Poetic
Day of the Lord
Locust Plague (Joel 1-2)
51
Expanded Understanding of Prophetic Fulfillment
A
  • Adapted from Irving Jensen, Bible Study Charts

52
Olivet Discourse (Luke 21)
fall of Jerusalem 70 A.D.
tribulation
Double Perspective of Olivet Discourse
Adapted from Irving Jensen, Bible Study Charts
53
Rev. 179 Has Two Referents
7 heads of the Beast
54
More Than Two Planes of Interacting Meaning
Beast
For
  • Referent (Roman Emperor?).
  • Hideous monstrosity (repulsiveness).
  • Combination of beasts from Daniel 7.
  • With background of Genesis 1-3, where beasts are
    subordinate to man.

55
God-Centered Symbolism
God
God in theophany is rich, multifaceted,
nonexhaustible, Trinitarian.
56
Schools Decoding is Inadequate
Beast
Future Antichrist
Beast
Pope
Idolatrous Government
Beast
57
F. A Positive Approach
58
Attractions of the Schools
Im not sure. They all look good.
RE
FC
Insightful!
CH
RP
59
God Is Involved with Us
  • Roman Empire
  • Final Crisis
  • Application NOW
  • Repeated
  • God loves 7 churches.
  • God will come.
  • God loves us NOW.
  • God is the same at all times.

God is central.
60
Satans Repeated Pattern
Nothing new here.
Gods character
Satans Pattern
  • Satan as a creature must imitate God he cannot
    create anything new.
  • Since God is the same, Satanic counterfeiting is
    the same for all times.
  • Spiritual war shows a constant pattern.
  • Satan suffers repeated defeats.

61
Some Truth in All Four
  • God is always the same.
  • God rules all history.
  • Spiritual warfare is always the same.

All apply the same spiritual principles.
62
Evidence for Multiple Fulfillment
  • Flexible imagery.
  • Speaks to people in all times.
  • Evidence for all.
  • Necessity of repeating counterfeiting.

63
Starting with Repeated Pattern
Symbol
General principle
64
From Symbol to Application
Symbol
65
From Symbol to Application in Repeated Pattern
View
Generalized truth
Contemporary application
Symbol
66
Fourfold Interpretation
A Symbol
represents
  • First century embodiment
  • Final embodiment
  • Embodiment NOW
  • A general principle
  • Roman
  • Final
  • Church
  • Repeated

67
G. Insight of Roman Empire View
68
Evidence for Roman View
  • Rev. 2-3.
  • General principle of relevance to original
    audience.
  • Nearness of the time, 11, 3 2210.
  • Christ threatens to come in 25, 16 311.

69
H. Insight of Final Crisis View
70
The Endpoint of Fulfillment
  • Endpoint when Christ comes, 2212, 20.
  • For NT church, the Second Coming is next on the
    calendar, 2 Thess. 1-2.
  • 2210 is prayer associated with Second Coming
    (cf. 1 Cor. 1622).

71
Does Revelation Focus on an Earlier Coming?
  • Rev. 25 216 311 speak of Christ coming
  • He judges the churches, short of final judgment
  • This context qualifies 25, etc., but not 17
    212-17 1118 227, 20 etc.
  • Rev. as a whole offers a cosmic context.

72
Nearness of Second Coming
  • Preliminary judgments foreshadow the climactic
    judgment.
  • Nearness is structural 1 John 218.

73
Nearness
74
I. Insight of Repeated Pattern View
75
Universal Revelance
  • Revelation is canon, relevant to now (2 Tim.
    317).
  • Addresses servants of God, 11 226, 18.
  • he who has an ear, 27, 11, 17, 29 36, 13,
    22.
  • Pattern of spiritual war is constant.
  • Flexible symbolism.
  • Rev. 11 references Dan. 245.

76
Dan. 245 and Rev. 11 41
what must takeplace a dei gene/sqai meta\
tauta (Rev. 41)
a dei gene/sqai meta\ tauta (Dan. 245
Theodotion)
  • What? The eschatological kingdom of God.
  • OT eschatological prophecy, in the process
    of realiz- ation (inaugurated eschatology)

77
Daniel and John
LXX inthe last days
Eschatological fulfillment
Daniel
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