Revelation – How to Approach It

Revelation (Part 3) – Jesus Revealed

How do you approach Revelation?  In order to understand why someone teaches Revelation the way he/she does, it is important to understand the four main ways people approach it. Here is a synopsis of the “Four approaches to Revelation.”

  1. The Spiritual approach – The prophecies of Revelation portray the ongoing cosmic conflict and the central theme of the triumph of good over evil.
  •  Strengths
    • There is a cosmic struggle – Rev 12 woman giving birth and a dragon wants to consume.
    • There is cleansing going on in the world, in which most are punished.
  • Weaknesses
    • It doesn’t hold to a natural reading of the text
    • It misses the point of God’s faithful promises to Israel
    • It misses the role of the church today and in the future Rev 2-3; 19-20

2. The Preterist approach – Revelation was fulfilled during the time of the Roman Empire, some specifically hold to completion by AD 70, or mainly in the first or first few centuries and not prophecy about the end of time.

  • Strengths
    • The judgment on Israel in AD 70 is very significant.
    • There were many challenges the early church had with Rome.
  • Weaknesses
    • It doesn’t hold to a natural reading of the events in the text.
    • It has no prophetic message to the church in the last 2000 years.
    • It misses the point of God’s faithful promises to Israel.
    • It misses the descriptions of Israel’s repentance, cleansing and regeneration during the Tribulation. Rev 6-18

3. The Historicist approach – Revelation is a survey of church history fulfilled in time and approaching the Second Coming of Christ. The churches of Revelation 2-3 describe the synopsis of all church history. 

  • Strengths
    • It declares God’s control of history. The emphasis is on God’s sovereignty.
    • It declares that Jesus is coming back in the future.
  • Weaknesses
    • It forgets the significant promises (covenants) God made to Israel, which will yet be fulfilled.
    • It forgets to let Daniel 2 and Ezekiel provide interpretation to Revelation.
    • It doesn’t recognize Daniel’s 70th week as the Tribulation period, yet to be fulfilled.
    • It declares the Catholic Church as the antichrist, which is erroneous.
    • It forces history as one thread (through Israel, to the Church, to Christ’s rule), but misses the big picture of separate phases of history and why they are unique.
    • It assumes interpretation, without letting Scripture interpret Scripture

4. The Futurist approach – Revelation 2-3 describe trends in the church age and Revelation 4 to the end describe literal events in the future.

  • Strengths
    • It looks at coming future events. This was promoted by the “Left Behind” series.
    • It promotes God is in control of events and is victorious in the end.
  • Weaknesses
    • Too many focus on a Eurocentric interpretation and make Romanism the antichrist. Although some believe this was written to get attention off of Romanism.
    • It leaves the church out of the book of Revelation, because Rev 2-3 ascribes what John saw in the first century, not succeeding centuries.

 

*   The Literal Historico-Grammatical approach to interpreting Scripture 

  • A Literal approach according to the type of writing
  • Historico– according to the history, background and culture in which it is found
  • Grammatical according to the word and verb meanings in their context

You must maintain “Authorial intent

 SO WHAT?

  • God is in control of history. We see struggle, but God is not struggling. He is sovereign. He is not struggling with how people interpret Scripture. Interpretation is part of growth.
  • Your method of Interpretation is everything in understanding Scripture. Everyone needs to learn what their approach is. If you want to grow and influence others, you will need to know how you approach Scripture and HOW YOU EXPECT YOUR BIBLE TEACHER TO APPROACH Scripture.

NOW WHAT?

  • Review your notes and ask, “How is my Bible leader approaching Scripture?”
  • Be a Berean. God knows the outcome.

Questions

  • What are reasons people plunge into the different approaches to Revelation?
  • Are there any dangers in choosing the wrong approach?
  • How would you define or describe what the “Literal Historico-grammatical” approach is?
  • The Literal HIstorico-grammatical approach is often considered difficult. Why?

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