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SS: "The Book of Revelation"

March 18, 2018 Series: The Book of Revelation



  1. The Main Purposes for the Book

William Hendriksen, More Than Conquerors   (See intro on p.7)                                                             The book of Revelation was written to:

  • To comfort the militant Church in its struggle against the forces of evil
  • To assure them that God sees their tears (7:17; 21:4)
  • To assure them that their prayers are influential in world affairs (8:3,4)
  • To assure them their death is precious in His sight and their final victory is guaranteed (15:2)
  • To assure them that their blood will be avenged (19:2)
  • To assure them that their Christ lives, reigns and governs the world in the interest of His Church (5:7,8)
  • To assure them that He is coming again to take them to himself in the marriage supper of the Lamb, and to live with them forever in a rejuvenated universe (21:22)
  1. The Main Approaches to Interpret the Book of Revelation

Revelation can be divided into three general sections:

Revelation 1-3 Contain letters to the Seven Churches in Asia Minor

Revelation 4-19 Contain the bulk of the apocalyptic prophetic vision

Revelation 20-22 Contain the “millennium”, judgment, Return of Christ, and the End of Time

  1. The Preterist Approach
  2. The Historicist Approach
  3. The Futurist Approach
  4. The Idealist Approach
  5. The Eclectic Approach


  1. The Preterist Approach:

Preterism derives its name from the Latin for “past.”  It holds that the prophecies  primarily refer to events that occurred in the past, either in the period prior to the destruction of the Jerusalem temple in AD 70 or in the early Christian centuries leading up to the destruction of the Roman Empire in the 5th c. AD. The events that were imminent at the time of the book’s writing and now lie in the past. Just as the 7 letters to the churches were addressed to actual churches in the first century, so the remainder of the book spoke to the members of these churches of events and circumstances that would soon occur. Only chapters 21–22, the vision of the new heaven and earth, lie in the future. Note that there are two kinds of preterists:  partial preterists and full preterists. Full (consistent) preterists hold that every mention of Christ’s ‘coming’ occurred before 70 A.D. ‘All’ prophecy is already fulfilled.

  1. The Historicist Approach

Historicism:  It interpreters the visions as a presentation in chronological order of the most significant developments in the history of redemption, from the time of its writing until the second coming, the millennium, the last judgment, and the final state. These visions correspond to actual events, institutions, or people that play an important role in the historical accomplishment of God’s redemptive purposes.  

      A well-known example: The Reformers identification of the harlot Babylon in Chap.17 with the Roman Catholic Church and the papacy. A less well-known historicist interpretation is the medieval church’s identification of the Beast from the sea in Chap. 13 with the rise of Islam.


  1. The Futurist Approach

Futurism: This approach regards the visions of chapters 4–22 as referring to events that lie in the future, (our future)-events that will occur immediately prior to Christ’s second coming and the end of history.  Many, though not all, futurists are premillennialists and dispensationalists.                                                 

      For dispensational futurists, most of the events in the visions of Revelation will occur during a future period of tribulation subsequent to the rapture (the removal of the church from the earth), during which God’s program for national Israel will resume. For example, many dispensationalists believe the vision of Satan’s defeat in Chap. 12 does not describe the inauguration of Christ’s kingdom at His first coming but Satan’s defeat at the midpoint of a future seven-year period of tribulation after the church is raptured.


  1. The Idealist Approach

Idealism: The idealist approach is reluctance to identify any particular historical events, institutions, or people with the visions but approaches the visions as a portrayal of the church’s struggle throughout the entire period between the first and second comings of Christ. We learn moral lessons from the symbols in the book. Idealism acknowledges that the book of Revelation was originally written to encourage the early church in its struggles under religious and political persecution. But it also maintains that the letters to the seven churches and the visions reflect circumstances that characterize the entire church age, from Christ’s first coming until His return at the end of the present age.

       Whereas preterists, historicists and futurists, identify the harlot Babylon in Chap. 17 with an end-time,  1st c.,  or historical figure, idealists argue that Babylon symbolizes a variety of political and religious forms of opposition to the church and the gospel that recur throughout history.




  1. The Eclectic Approach

Eclecticism: This approach interprets the book of Revelation in a way that aims to incorporate the strengths of each of the other main approaches.  It acknowledges elements of truth in all of the approaches identified thus far.

Preterism rightly insists that the visions reflect events and circumstances contemporaneous with its writing or the period immediately thereafter. But preterism fails to adequately account for the way Revelation also reveals events and circumstances that characterize the struggles of the church throughout the entire interadvental age.

Futurism partially solves the problem of preterism by emphasizing the way the visions portray events that will take place shortly before the end of history. But in doing so, futurism exaggerates the future orientation of the book. As for historicism, although the events portrayed in the visions may have occurred in the past or may recur at various points in history, these events are not limited to a particular time in the past, present, or even future.

The strength of Eclecticism is its ability to incorporate the primary emphases of the other approaches without the one-sidedness that often characterizes alternative views. The weakness of the approach may be its tendency to ascribe different meanings to the same vision. In doing so, the eclectic interpreter can make the vision mean almost anything.

More in The Book of Revelation

August 26, 2018

Do Not Seal Up The Words of this Prophecy!

August 19, 2018

I Am Making Everything New!

August 12, 2018

The Binding of Satan