BrownBear1Different methods of interpreting Revelation include the Idealist, Preterist, Historistic, and Futurist views. The Idealist, or symbolic, view believes that Revelation does not refer to actual people or events. Idealists think Revelation is an allegory of the spiritual path plus ongoing struggle between good and evil. This is similar to the Sons of Light, which was found in the Quram Scrolls and is the story of good and evil. However, Revelation has much more to it.

The Preterist view is one of the oldest and least qualified thoughts on the Book of Revelation. Basically, it revolves around the fact that it treats Revelation as mostly referring to the events of the Apostolic Era. Preterism is derived from the Latin petra, meaning past. Those with this view believe that the prophecies of the Olivet Discourse (Matthew 24) and the Book of Revelation were fulfilled with the fall of Jerusalem in AD 70, during the first century.

The Historistic view was championed by Bishop Elliott. He is one of my favorite writers even though I do not agree with him. Historistic interpretations say Revelation is a broad view of history. The historicist’s view also communicates that Revelation is a symbolic picture presenting the course of antiquity from the apostle’s life through the end of the world. The symbols and the Apocalypse match the events of Europe, including in the seven churches, the reigns of the Caesars during that period, various Popes and the Protestant Reformation. Seven periods in church history (chapters 4 through 7) symbolize the fall of the Roman Empire. Chapters 8 through 10 represent incursions of the Roman Empire by the vandals, Huns, and so forth.

Other interesting scholars who held the historistic view were John Wycliffe and John Knox. They were main translators of the English Bible. In addition to them were William Tyndale, Martin Luther, John Calvin, John Wesley, Jonathan Edwards, George Whitefield, and Charles Finney, C.H. Spurgeon, and Matthew Henry.

Matthew Henry’s Commentary supports the historistic view and the Popes, or the Antichrist, plus that Revelation was fulfilled all the way up through his time. The problem with the historistic view is that it is dependent upon the person who writes it along with which decade he writes. This view is not correct. The Futurist view teaches that events of Revelation occur in the future and is the most accurate.

Futurists refer to a period known as the Seven-Year Tribulation during which time God’s judgments are poured out upon mankind. They are revealed as seals, trumpets, and vials (or bowls). The futurist view acknowledges the use of figures, symbols, and allegories. Such believers do not deny that some things are purely allegorical and cannot be literal. In the whole, they take the language and context of the meaning in a literal format. Literal interpretation of Revelation finds its roots in the early Church Fathers. One of the earliest explanations of the Book of Revelation is the Futurist Literal View, like those of Clement of Rome, who wrote in AD 96; Justin Martyr wrote in AD 100-165; Irenaeus and Tertullian were also early Church Fathers.

A consistently literal understanding must be applied in accepting the Book of Revelation. Futurists apply Scriptures in a literal sense and only accept the information as symbolic or allegorical when that is the only way it can be interpreted. Sometimes a symbolic or allegorical meaning is the only way it can be taken. Hence, the rules of drama apply. Stay consistent with the historical frame work and the context of the writing. Literal interpretation does not discount figurative or symbolic language.

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