A Good Word By David Wilkerson On Enduring Faith

David Wilkerson was the founder of Teen Challenge, author of multiple books including “The Cross and the Switchblade,” and the pastor of Times Square Church in New York City. He passed away almost 10 months ago in a car accident while traveling in Texas, leaving behind an admirable legacy of decades of contribution to the kingdom of God. I don’t agree with every one of his teachings and prophecies, but there is much in the way of his teachings and ministry (especially to outcasts, gang members, etc.) that I deeply appreciate and that has had an impact on me. He often wrote and spoke with great passion and a deep care for those whom God had entrusted to him to lead and influence.

One of his sermons, titled “The Limitations of the Miraculous,” was re-posted on the World Challenge website on January 17, 2012 (SOURCE). What he said is very thought-provoking to me, and contains much truth. I believe it’s worth re-posting here as well. I hope that other readers will also be challenged by this message on having faith that endures and perseveres:

Nobody had ever seen as many supernatural works as Israel. God provided miracle after miracle for them—and yet each work left the people as faithless and unbelieving as before! You would think that the ten plagues on Egypt would have produced faith in the Israelites. When Egypt was afflicted with flies, none were found in Israel’s camp. When Egypt fell under total darkness, there was no darkness in Israel. Yet none of these plagues produced faith of any kind!

Even after God opened the Red Sea, Israel’s faith lasted only three days. Scripture says: “They did not remember the multitude of Your mercies, but rebelled by the sea—the Red Sea” (Psalm 106:7).

The psalmist is saying here: “They even doubted God at the Red Sea—the place where He performed His greatest miracle!”

We are so like Israel. We want God to speak a word, grant us a miraculous deliverance, quickly meet our needs, remove all our pain and suffering. In fact, you may be saying right now, “If God would just get me out of this mess—if He’d give me this one miracle—I would never doubt Him again!” Yet, what about all the miracles He has performed for you? They haven’t produced in you any faith to help you in your present trouble!

Two precious men of God from the Zulu tribe in Africa visited Times Square Church. An incredible revival was taking place among the eight million Zulus, and God was doing miraculous things among them.

Yet that is not what these men wanted to talk about. Rather, what impressed them most about the revival were the “overcomer Zulus”—those who stood for Christ, burning witchcraft books and witnessing boldly, even though they were being tested and tried severely. These people were once evil, with murderous spirits, and they were being transformed into the image of Jesus!

I believe the greatest sign or wonder to the world in these last days is not a person who has been raised from the dead. No, what truly makes an impact on the mind and spirit of the ungodly is the Christian who endures all trials, storms, pain and suffering with a confident faith. Such a believer emerges from his troubles stronger in character, stronger in faith, stronger in Christ.

My one exception to this sermon is that I don’t believe we are currently living in “the last days,” as I have written elsewhere. That point aside, though, I believe this is an excellent study. As the apostle Paul said in I Corinthians 10:11, what happened to Israel is meant to be an example to God’s people living under the New Covenant. May we not be quick to forget what God has done for us, and easily fall victim to doubt, worry, fear, or stress. May we also allow any difficult circumstances in our lives to shape us, refine us as gold is purified in the fire (I Peter 1:6-7), and help to produce in us (constantly and increasingly) a faith in God that endures and perseveres. May the joy of the Lord be our strength (Nehemiah 8:10) even when, in the natural, it doesn’t seem likely.

I have said these things to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

(Jesus, in John 16:33)


Revelation 20: Premillennial Viewpoint

Revelation 20: An Introduction to the Premillennial View 

Rod: January 27, 2010

Scripture text for this study: Revelation 20:1-15

Introduction (by Adam)

On January 27th, our Bible study group met as we usually do on a weekly basis, and studied Revelation 20, the classic text on “the Millennium.” That night three of us took a limited amount of time to present three different views of the Millennium: [1] premillennialism (Rod), [2] postmillennialism (Dave), and amillennialism (myself). This subject of the Millennium requires more coverage than we were able to give it in just one meeting, so we have turned this into a project of sorts, as I wrote in our Introduction and Outline of Revelation 20. That outline provides links to all of our posts on the subject of the Millennium and Revelation 20. Neither Rod (the author of this post) nor I hold to the premillennial position, but this material is being presented in order to give coverage to multiple viewpoints. Both Rod and I lean toward the amillennial viewpoint.


Primary sources for this post:

[1] Steve Gregg, “Revelation: Four Views (A Parallel Commentary),” pp. 457-483.
[2] Sam Storms, the founder of “Enjoying God Ministries”:

[a] http://www.enjoyinggodministries.com/article/the-kingdom-of-god-already-but-not-yet-part-i/
[b] http://www.enjoyinggodministries.com/article/the-kingdom-of-god-already-but-not-yet-part-ii/

Premillenialism, which is usually associated with a futurist viewpoint on the book of Revelation, teaches that Christ will return bodily in power and glory before the “thousand years” (millennium) to defeat and destroy the beast and the false prophet in the battle on the “great day of God the Almighty” at Armageddon (16: 14-16; 19:11-21). This battle will result in the binding (but not destruction) of Satan, which will keep him from deceiving the nations for one thousand years (Gregg, pp. 458-459). This period is interpreted by most premillennialists to be a literal one thousand years.

During that time Christ’s saints, having received their immortal bodies either by being resurrected from the dead (or, if they were still alive, being instantly transformed–1 Thess 4:13-18), will reign with Christ on the present earth, still surrounded to some degree by sin and sorrow but relieved to a significant degree of sin’s societal and physical consequences. According to this viewpoint, sin, sorrow, and death will not be eliminated until the new heaven and earth displace the first heaven and earth (Rev 21:1-4). The descendants of those who survive the battle of Armageddon will remain on the earth, ruled by resurrected saints and living to extraordinary ages (Isaiah 65:20-25).

The following is a brief summary of variations within the premillennialist camp:

Dispensational premillenialists believe that Old Testament prophecies of Israel’s restoration to political and material blessedness will happen during this millennial kingdom reign. At the end of the one thousand years, a second rebellion against Jesus’ reign will provoke another war, at which time the dragon (Satan) will be defeated and finally destroyed. The wicked at this time will be raised bodily to face God’s last judgment and eternal wrath. They will be thrown into the lake of fire, which is the “second death” (20:6, 11-14). The old heaven and earth will be replaced by a new heaven and earth where curses, sin, sorrow, suffering and death will no longer exist for those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life (Rev. 21, 22).  Dispensational premillenialism expects that the millennium will witness a virtual restoration of the OT economy: temple, worship, priesthood, sacrificial system, etc.

Classic Premillenialism expects a future one thousand year reign of Christ on earth with believers and non-believers, prior to the final judgment. Therefore, it expects Christ will return before the one thousand years, but after a great tribulation before Christ returns (this is the post-trib rapture view). Classical premillenialists differ over whether the renewed earth will begin the millennium or the eternal state.

Pretribulational Premillenialism also expects a future one thousand year reign of Christ on earth, but it expects that Christ will first come secretly to take believers from the earth before a “great tribulation” of seven years. After this tribulation period, it expects that Christ will come back publicly to reign on the earth and that He will bring back believers at that time. There is often much overlap between pretribulation premillennialism and dispensational premillennialism.

A quick overview (Gregg, pp. 460-482):

1. Premillenialists (PMs) see chapter 20 as happening directly after the events of chapter 19, which is interpreted to be a description of the second coming of Christ.
2. The unnamed angel in Revelation 20 is most likely Michael (as in Rev. 12 and Jude 9).
3. The bottomless pit is thought to be a location on earth, and the star mentioned in chapter 9 was given the key to this pit.
4. The dragon is bound for one thousand years, and this disabling is very thorough. Satan is thrust into the pit and sealed away for one thousand years (although it is said that sin will still exist during this time). Because of Satan’s continued influence in the world today, this vision is yet future for premillennialists.
5. Satan will be released after the one thousand years of Christ’s peaceful reign for one final rebellion before the new eternal creation will come.
6. The identity of those who sit on the throne is unknown–perhaps God, Christ and the angels, 24 elders, the martyrs who did not worship the beast, or saints from the Old Testament and New Testament.
7. Verses 4-6 point to the resurrection of the saints who will reign on earth with Christ during the one thousand years. The PM would see this resurrection as a physical one, not a spiritual resurrection as  the postmillennialist or amillennialist sees it [This is a key difference, because only the premillennialist sees two general resurrections, separated by 1000 years, the first one for the righteous and the second one for the wicked. The premillennialist also only sees this 1000-year separation taught here in Revelation 20, and nowhere else in Scripture where the doctrine of the resurrection is taught].
8. One is particularly blessed who takes part in the first resurrection, as they will live in the millennium and escape the second death to live in the New Jerusalem in the new creation, becoming priests of God.
9. Satan will rise up in rebellion, and raise up the nations not under Christ’s rule (designated as Gog and Magog) to go to war (see also Ezekiel 38-39, and our post on the subject of Gog and Magog). This attack is said by premillennialists to target the literal city of Jerusalem.
10. God rescues the city with a great hail of fire and brimstone. The final judgment occurs and Satan is then tossed into the lake of fire.
11. The throne is thought to be the same throne as in Rev. 4:2. The one seated could be God or Christ, but the speaker is Christ.
12. The old heavens and earth “flee away” to make way for the new heavens and the new earth.
13. The dead are seen as those who did not experience the first resurrection.
14. There are two books: one containing the judgments for the dead and the other the book of life. It is interesting to note that there are books (plural) with judgments for the dead.
15. No one escapes the final judgment as in accordance with the prophecy in Isaiah 26:21.
16. Death and Hades were found riding a pale horse and slaying a fourth of mankind in Rev 6:8. Here they are personified as having held the dead captive, but now releasing their prey, as predicted by Paul in I Corinthians 15:26.

According to Steve Gregg, who summarized the premillenialist viewpoint:

“In the view of premillennialists, the golden age of peace and righteousness will not and cannot be realized until Jesus personally returns. He will then bind Satan for 1,000 years and reign over the earth with a rod of iron. The saints who rule with Him will be the righteous who have experienced resurrection earlier at his coming. Satan will be given one last chance at the end of this time and will deceive many people, but his rebellion will be supernaturally crushed and he will be eternally judged” (Gregg, p. 483).

According to non-dispensational premillenialists:

One purpose of the millennial kingdom would be to serve as the time and place (at least initially) wherein the OT promises of God’s earthly rule over His people will be fulfilled, and another purpose of the millennium would be that Christ’s kingdom will be disclosed in history.

To note some key differences between premillennialism and amillenialism (the viewpoint which held sway through most of Church history), compare this post with some of the following resources:

[A] Our posts on amillennialism:

Part 1 (a verse-by-verse study),
Part 2 (a verse-by-verse study continued),
Part 3 (two articles: [1] “Why the Early Church Finally Rejected Premillennialism” [2] “A Return to Types and Shadows in the Millennial Age?”,
Part 4 (two articles: [1] “Has the New Covenant Arrived Yet?” [2] “Problems with Premillennialism” by Sam Storms

[B] http://www.enjoyinggodministries.com/article/the-amillennial-view-of-the-kingdom-of-god/ (Sam Storms; some of the material in this article is also referenced in our posts on amillennialism)

Sam Storms is an amillennialist (as well as a Historicist), and has the following to say in his summary of some of the tenets of premillennialism:

1. PMs insist that the relationship between the events of Rev. 19:11-21 and the events of 20:1-3 is one of chronological and historical sequence – which means the binding of Satan for a thousand years comes directly after the second coming of Christ.
2. PMs insist that the NT evidence concerning the activity of Satan in this present age does not line up with the description of the restrictions placed on Satan’s power by the angel in 20:1-3. Since Satan is not bound, then the events of verses 1-3 must be future, they say.

**Sam Storms lays out an argument against these claims, saying that the phrase “I saw” does not necessarily indicate the order in which the visions were to play out in history, but is only an indication of the order in which he received them. A second objection follows with Sam pointing out that in 16:13-16 the nations were deceived, and then were destroyed in 19:19-21.

PMs believe there will be two age-transitioning wars: one before the millennium (Armageddon: Rev. 16:17-21; Matt 24:29) and one after the millennium (Gog-Magog, Rev. 20:9-11). However, a reading of Hebrews 12:26-27 would seem to indicate that there was to be only one such war.

Sam Storms believes that there is evidence from Ezekiel 39:17-20 that the battle of Armageddon (Rev 19) and the battle of Gog-Magog (Rev 20) are one and the same…and NOT two battles separated by one thousand years. PMs point to the fact that according to Rev 20:10 Satan is cast into the lake of fire where the Beast and False Prophet already are. So these two entities must have been cast into the lake of fire before the millennium started (19:20). [Again, for a thorough discussion regarding Gog and Magog, and the relationship between Ezekiel 38-39, Revelation 19 & 20, please see our own post on this subject.]

**Sam Storms argues that a better understanding of the verbs used would tell of the devil being cast into the lake of fire along with the Beast and False Prophet…which would be at the conclusion of the war (Armageddon/Gog Magog). So historically these events happen at the same time, but John received two different visions subsequently offering two different vantage points.

PMs insist that the binding of Satan as stated in Rev 20:1-3 is not compatible with the dimensions of Satan’s present activity as portrayed throughout the NT. PMs insist that Satan must be bound from being able to carry out ANY activity.

However, verse 3 states that Satan was bound so that he could no longer deceive the nations. Then in verse 8 he is released so that he can deceive the nations which are the four corners of the earth. John does not say that Satan cannot persecute Christians or prowl about like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour, disrupt church unity, disguise himself as an angel of the light, etc. He was bound only to the extent that he could not rally the nations to war in unity against the city of God (the Church, the New Jerusalem–e.g. Hebrews 12:22, Gal. 4:24-26) until the millennium comes to an end. See our first post on amillennialism for a more thorough treatment of this subject.


In the following post, we will examine several minority viewpoints on the millennium, views which fall outside of the traditional “big 3” (a-, post-, and pre-millennialism).

All of our Revelation chapter-by-chapter studies, and any other posts related to the book of Revelation, can be found here.

Revelation Chapter 1

The following study on Revelation 1 was prepared for our group’s weekly Bible study. This post can also be found here, where all of our chapter-by-chapter studies on Revelation will be posted in the coming months: https://kloposmasm.wordpress.com/revelation/.



Adam Maarschalk: June 25, 2009

Scripture text for this study: Revelation 1:1-20

[New notes were added on October 14th, and are in blue font. They are based in part on Steve Gregg’s book “Revelation: Four Views (A Parallel Commentary).”]

A. Prologue (1:1-3)

Verse 1: The purpose for the giving of the “revelation of Jesus Christ” is stated in the first verse. His servants were to be shown “the things that must soon take place.” This revelation was delivered to John, one of Jesus’ 12 disciples, through an angel. A good exegetical question is this: How would John’s first century readers have understood and interpreted the phrase “things that must soon take place“? This will be discussed shortly.

Steve Gregg (p. 52) notes that the Greek language behind the expression “The Revelation of Jesus Christ” could either indicate that Jesus is [1] the subject being revealed or [2] the One doing the revealing. The first option certainly resonates with the reader when John vividly describes Jesus in chapters 1, 5, 14, and 19. Gregg says the second alternative “seems to agree with the rest of the verse, which suggests that the material of the visions was revealed first to Christ by God (the Father), then by Christ to an angel, who passed it along to John [who then bore witness to the visions].”

Verses 2-3: “Forty-four times in this book John wrote ‘I saw’ (1:12-13; 4:1, 4; 5:1, 2, 6, 11; 6:1, 2, 4, 5, 8, 9, 12; 7:1, 2, 9; 8:2, 13; 9:1, 17; 10:1; 13:1, 3, 11; 14:1, 6, 14; 15:1, 2, 5; 16:13; 17:3; 18:1; 19:11, 17, 19; 20:1, 4, 11, 12; 21:1, 2, 8).” [Source: Dr. Thomas Constable]

Q: When verse 2 says that John bore witness to the testimony of Jesus Christ, is this referring to the vision He received as recorded in this book, or does it refer to the things Jesus taught during His incarnation? Or both?

John states that what he is about to record are “things that must soon take place” (verse 1), and that “the time is near” (verse 3). There are two ways this is commonly interpreted: [1] that these things were going to take place soon after they were written, i.e. during the first century [2] that once these events would commence all would be finished quickly. Interestingly, Daniel, who received some similar revelations, was told to seal his book (Daniel 12:4, 12:9) because what he saw was still far off (Daniel 8:26, 10:14), but John was told that what he saw was about to take place  and thus he should not seal his book (cf. Revelation 22:10). This makes a case for the first interpretation being the correct one. If the fulfillment of these visions has still not come in our day, how do we account for these different instructions, when one set of prophecies was given about 2550 years ago (to Daniel) and the other set about 1950 years ago (to John)? As Kenneth Gentry likes to ask, “If these phrases [‘soon’ and ‘near’] don’t truly indicate nearness in time, because they are spoken from God’s perspective and not ours, what other words would God possibly use to communicate such concepts to us?” As I wrote elsewhere,

John wrote the book of Revelation in such a way that the subject matter of the entire book, not just his letters to the churches, was urgent for and relevant for those churches. At the end of the book, Jesus said, “And behold, I am coming soon. Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book” (Revelation 22:7). God, speaking in terms that man would understand, spoke through John saying, “The Revelation of Jesus, which God gave him to show his servants the things that must soon take place…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, for the time is near” (Revelation 1:1-4). We see that the seven churches who received this writing were encouraged to read the entire book aloud in their assemblies, and to keep what was written in it. We can also note that the Greek word used for “soon” here is the same one Jesus used when He said His time to be crucified was “at hand” (Matthew 26:18), and when John said “the Jews’ Feast of Booths was at hand” (John 7:2), events that no doubt were literally near. Four times Jesus said, “Behold, I am coming quickly” (Revelation 3:11; 22:7, 12, 20). In some translations, “soon” is used instead of “quickly.”

John’s words in verse 3 seem to express urgency. The original recipients of this book (the seven churches in Asia) were to receive a blessing if they read the words of this prophecy aloud as they assembled together, and also if they would hear and keep what was written.

B. Greeting to the Seven Churches (1:4-8)

Verse 4: Steve Gregg reminds us that Asia in John’s time “was not, as now, the name of a continent, but of a Roman province, identified with modern Turkey” (p. 54). Dr. Thomas Constable remarks, “The phrase ‘seven Spirits’ may refer to seven principle angelic messengers (cf. v. 20; 8:2, 6; 15:1; 1 Kings 22:19-21; Heb. 1:14). Another possible view is that the phrase refers to the Holy Spirit in His fullness (cf. Isa. 11:2-3; Zech. 4:2-7).”

Verses 5-6: Jesus is called [a] the faithful witness [b] the firstborn of the dead (cf. Colossians 1:18) [c] the ruler of kings on earth. He [a] loves us [b] freed us [c] made us a kingdom (corporately) [d] made us priests (individually), and all glory and dominion belongs to Him forever. Steve Gregg adds (p. 56), “The reference to Christ’s God and Father (v. 6) calls to mind the words of Christ recorded elsewhere by the same apostle: ‘I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God’ (John 20:17).” Regarding the expression “kings and priests,” also found in Rev. 5:10 (and echoed in Rev. 20:6), Gregg comments (pp. 55-56), “This is one of the many New Testament verses that give to the church titles originally applied to Israel (cf. I Peter 2:9-10), suggesting that God’s kingdom is now to be associated with the church rather than Israel.”

Verse 7: This verse begins with the phrase, “Behold He is coming with clouds…” Steve Gregg writes, “The comfort that this promise contains for the suffering believers, and the warning for the obstinate, will be elaborated upon throughout the remainder of the book” (p. 56). Constable (a Dispensationalist) believes that the phrase “every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him” either refers to Jews living in the final generation (based on Zechariah 12:10-14), or that this imagery could stand for all of Jesus’ enemies up until the Second Coming (the event which he believes is in view here). Personally, I believe that it refers to the very individuals who pierced Christ at the cross (and those who, looking on, approved), meaning that some of them would have still been alive to see this prophecy fulfilled in 70 AD.[1] The following two quotes reflect this same position:

QUOTE: “Another theme that permeates the book is the concept of Jesus’ soon coming. But note in the passages below what ‘kind’ of coming is in view [i.e. Is it a reference to Christ’s Second Coming, or to His coming in judgment (cf. Rev. 2:5, 2:16, 3:3)?]. Again, note the similarity in the first and last chapter of the book.

Rev 1:7 Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him. Even so. Amen.

22:12 Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay everyone for what he has done.

Note that this [coming is] directed at ‘those who pierced’ him and that it involves his recompense, his retribution. One can stretch the meaning of those who pierced Him to be any one sinner in history metaphorically, but the most obvious and ‘literal’ rendering would be of those who physically put Him to death, which would be the Jews and Rome… There is no mistaking the ‘soon’ nature of the passages. Some have tried to argue that the phrase ‘quickly’ is in reference to when the events do start to happen, that they will happen quickly. This does nothing to answer the immediacy of the expectation and those expected to be still alive when these events take place.”

[Source: David Lowman, http://low5point.wordpress.com/2009/02/17/revealing-revelation-the-early-date-theory-part-1/]

QUOTE: “Most writers consider the theme of the book to be Revelation 1:7. This verse is very similar in context to Matthew 24:30.

Revelation 1:7, ‘Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds [Greek word #5443] of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen.

Matthew 24:30, ‘And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes [Greek word #5443] of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.

…Zechariah 12:10-14, ‘And I will pour upon the…inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only sonIn that day shall there be a great mourning in JerusalemAnd the land shall mourn, every family apart; the family of the house of David apart, and their wives apart; the family of the house of Nathan apart, and their wives apart; The family of the house of Levi apart, and their wives apart; the family of Shimei apart, and their wives apart; All the families that remain, every family apart, and their wives apart.’

Obviously, this is the foundation for John’s statement that ‘every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth (or land) shall wail because of him.’ So, in essence, Zechariah was saying that the ‘tribes of the land’ would mourn for Him whom they had pierced. Who were those tribes? ‘The inhabitants of Jerusalem.’ This also helps us identify the ‘earth’ in Revelation 1:7. According to Zechariah, the ‘earth’ is the land of Palestine, specifically, Jerusalem. Also, it is those tribes, i.e., the nation of Israel, who would ‘look upon Me whom they have pierced.’ And because of that, ‘the mourning in Jerusalem’ would be great. With all of this information, we can see that the ‘tribes of the earth’ in Revelation 1:7 are the nation of Israel. The ‘earth’ is Palestine. The land that would mourn is Jerusalem.

So, the main purpose of Revelation would be to reveal Jesus to the nation of Israel. The place of this revealing would be Jerusalem. Lastly, this revealing would be to those who pierced Him, i.e., the Jews.”

(Source: Richard Anthony, http://ecclesia.org/truth/revelation.html)

Steve Gregg (p. 57) articulates the position of some preterist commentators:

[They]  suggest that the passage does not predict the literal Second Coming, but is a figurative description of Christ’s coming in vengeance to destroy Jerusalem, not in person, but using the Roman armies in A.D. 70… Such interpreters note the following considerations: The principal features of the prediction are (a) Christ coming, (b) His coming with clouds; (c) every eye will see Him, even they who pierced him; and (d) all the tribes of the earth [or land] mourning at His coming.
(a) The expression coming of the Lord is used in many contexts that do not appear to be referring to the Second Coming (e.g., Rev. 2:5; 3:20; cf. Deut. 33:2; Isa. 19:1; Zech. 1:16; Mal. 3:1-2; Matt. 10:23), thus leaving open the possibility of another meaning here;
(b) The specific language of the Lord coming with clouds is used in the Old Testament with reference to historic judgments not associated with the end of the world (Isa. 19:1; Ps. 104:3) and may be so understood here as well;
(c) Jesus placed the time of His “coming with the clouds” within the lifetime of some of His contemporaries (Matt. 16:28; 24:30, 34; 26:64). This would allow one to understand they who pierced Him as the actual generation that crucified Christ, which would be the natural understanding to the literalist…
(d) The judgment of Jerusalem is implied by the expression all the tribes of the earth (which can be translated, “all the tribes of the land [Israel]”) will mourn. The Old Testament passage which is alluded to is a prophecy concerning “the inhabitants of Jerusalem” (Zech. 12:10). This view finds further support in the fact that Israel is divisible into tribes, whereas the earth is generally divided into nations.

[As we continue in our study of Revelation, we will suggest that many of the references to “the earth” in the book of Revelation are not meant to be taken as worldwide in scope, but as dealing instead with the land of Israel/Palestine. In a 3-part study on this subject beginning with this post, I have outlined nearly 20 instances where this appears to be the case.]

Verse 8: For the second time, God is referred to as the One “who is and who was and who is to come.” The speaker here appears to be Jesus.

C. Vision of the Son of Man (1:9-20)

Verse 9: John was in Patmos, a Roman prison island off the coast of modern Turkey. It was located in the Aegean Sea southwest of Ephesus. Steve Gregg notes (p. 57) that “Patmos is a rocky, crescent-shaped island about 37 miles southwest of the mainland of Asia Minor (modern Turkey), where the seven recipient churches were located.” Only the Romans could banish their subjects to Patmos, so in what sense was John a “partner in the tribulation” with the seven churches? Until Nero’s campaign of persecution from November 64 AD – June 68 AD, the Church experienced persecution primarily from the Jews. When John wrote Revelation, though, they were apparently also under a significant Roman persecution. No Roman Imperial persecution was as intense as the one under Nero.[2] As I wrote here,

John wrote to seven historical churches in Asia Minor (Rev. 1:4, 11) which were going through a time of great trouble and tribulation, just as he was (Rev. 1:9, 2:3, 2:9-10, 2:13, 3:10). What better candidate was there for such an intense time of trouble than the first and greatest imperial persecution of Christianity initiated by Nero from late November 64 AD until his death in early June 68 AD?

Verse 11: John was instructed to get these writings into the hands of the believers in seven locations. Each of the seven churches received not only the statements that were directed to them, but the entire book of Revelation. This means that the subject matter of the entire book of Revelation was urgent for and relevant to these churches. The same tribulation and persecution spoken of in chapter 1 is alluded to time and time again throughout the book. As Kenneth Gentry says, “Put yourself in first century sandals: Would you think John might be speaking of events occurring untold centuries after the collapse of the Empire which was presently persecuting you? Would you surmise that he was not really relating a message about Imperial Rome?”[3] Steve Gregg notes how the seven churches are listed and then remarks:

The cities are listed in the logical order in which they would likely receive the letter. Assuming Ephesus would receive the letter first, it would travel northward then east and southward again in a horseshoe-shaped route.

Seven Churches 1

Verse 12: Steve Gregg writes (p. 59),

The first thing that caught [John’s] attention was the seven lampstands of gold, recalling the seven-branched lamp, by whose light the priests offered their incense in the tabernacle. As verse 20 informs us, these lampstands represent the seven churches addressed in the letter. The church is the light of the world (Matt. 5:14; Phil. 2:15; Eph. 5:8-13). It may be significant that John’s vision of Christ was set in the midst of the churches (v. 13), suggesting that it is in the gathered assemblies of Christians that the presence of Christ resides on earth today (Matt. 18:20).

Verse 13: John Piper notes, “The word translated ‘robe reaching to the feet’ is not used anywhere else in the New Testament, but in the Old Testament it almost always refers to the robe of the high priest. And the gold band across his chest shows two things: the fact that it is high—not around the waist but around the chest—and the fact that it is gold, show that the priesthood that he holds is very great” (Source: http://www.desiringgod.org/ResourceLibrary/Sermons/ByScripture/17/822_A_YearEnd_Look_at_Jesus_Christ/).

Verse 14: “His head, even His hair, was very white, as Daniel described the Ancient of Days in Daniel 7:9 (i.e., God the Father). White hair often represents wisdom and the dignity of age in Scripture. John referred the images of God the Father in the Old Testament to Jesus Christ, thus granting to Jesus the attributes and titles previously reserved for the Father (cf. v. 18; 2:8; 5:12; 22:13). This is one way of stressing the equality of Jesus with the Father, here specifically His eternal pre-existence.” (Source: Dr. Thomas Constable, ibid.)

Verse 15: Steve Gregg asserts (p. 60) that the description of Jesus’ feet being “like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace” is given to “suggest the irresistibility of His judgment as He will later tread the ‘great winepress of the wrath of God’ (Rev. 14:19).”

Verse 16: The image of Jesus having a “sharp two-edged sword” coming out of His mouth is depicted again in Revelation 19:15 when He goes out to war against the nations. Steve Gregg (p. 60) is of the opinion that this image “can hardly refer to anything other than His word (Heb. 4:12; Eph. 6:17).” John sees the face of Jesus as “the sun shining in full strength.” Steve Gregg remarks (p. 60) that His shining face is “reminiscent of that which John had seen on the Mount of Transfiguration decades earlier (Matt. 17:2). As for the seven stars Jesus held in His right hand, verse 20 tells us that they were “the angels of the seven churches.”

Verse 17: John fell “as though dead” at Jesus’ feet when he saw Him. This is similar to Daniel’s experience in which he “retained no strength” and “was in a deep sleep” on His face (Dan. 10:8-9).

Verse 18: Jesus identifies Himself as “the first and the last, the living One.” He spoke of His death and resurrection, and His victory over death and the grave.

Verse 19: John is told to write about [1] things he had already seen [2] things which were presently taking place, and [3] things which had not yet taken place.

Verse 20: Steve Gregg comments (pp. 61-62):

Whether the “angel” of each church refers to a heavenly being, like a guardian angel, or to an earthly messenger (Gr. angelos simply means messenger), like a pastor or bishop, has been disputed. In each of the letters that follow, the angel of each church is addressed as the recipient. Since these angels are expected to pass along to the churches the information communicated to them by Christ, many commentators feel that they must be visible, human messengers in contact with the congregations. We may justly conceive of the communication between God and His heavenly angels as being somewhat more direct than to require letters posted by apostles.


Our study of Revelation 2 (Part 1) can be found here: https://kloposmasm.wordpress.com/2009/08/26/revelation-chapter-2-ephesus-and-smyrna/.

[1] Regarding the topic of Jesus’ coming in judgment in 70 AD, when Jerusalem and apostate Israel were destroyed as Jesus had predicted, please see the following posts: [1] https://kloposmasm.wordpress.com/2009/08/15/pp11-did-jesus-come-in-70-ad-part-1/ [2] https://kloposmasm.wordpress.com/2009/08/15/pp12-did-jesus-come-in-70-ad-part-2/.

[2] See this post for further details: https://kloposmasm.wordpress.com/2009/08/14/pp6-internal-evidence-for-an-early-date-revelation-part-3/.

[3] See here for further details: https://kloposmasm.wordpress.com/2009/08/14/pp7-internal-evidence-for-an-early-date-revelation-part-4/.

PP10: Jerusalem’s Destruction Foretold in the Olivet Discourse

This is now the tenth post in our series on “A Partial-Preterist Perspective on the Destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD.” This is the same title as a term paper I recently submitted to Northwestern College. All the previous posts can be found here, and it’s recommended that they be read in order before reading this post:

[1] https://kloposmasm.wordpress.com/2009/08/13/brief-explanation-of-partial-preterism/
[2] https://kloposmasm.wordpress.com/2009/08/13/pp2-references/
[3] https://kloposmasm.wordpress.com/2009/08/13/pp3-external-evidence-for-an-early-date-revelation/
[4] https://kloposmasm.wordpress.com/2009/08/14/pp4-internal-evidence-for-an-early-date-revelation-part-1/
[5] https://kloposmasm.wordpress.com/2009/08/14/pp5-internal-evidence-for-an-early-date-revelation-part-2/
[6] https://kloposmasm.wordpress.com/2009/08/14/pp6-internal-evidence-for-an-early-date-revelation-part-3/
[7] https://kloposmasm.wordpress.com/2009/08/14/pp7-internal-evidence-for-an-early-date-revelation-part-4/
[8] https://kloposmasm.wordpress.com/2009/08/14/pp8-daniels-70-week-prophecy-part-1/
[9] https://kloposmasm.wordpress.com/2009/08/15/pp9-daniels-70-week-prophecy-part-2/

In this post we will begin to examine the three New Testament accounts of the Olivet Discourse, delivered by Jesus and recorded in Matthew 24, Mark 13, and Luke 21.

Adam Maarschalk


E. Jerusalem’s Destruction Foretold in the Olivet Discourse

Futurists and Preterists alike seem to agree that there are remarkable parallels between the revelation given to John and the teachings of Jesus in the Olivet Discourse (Matthew 24-25, Mark 13, Luke 21). After all, Jesus speaks of His prophesied events as “great tribulation” (Matthew 24:21) and John uses the same phrase (Revelation 7:14). One’s preconceived ideas can lead to vastly different assumptions about these details. For Futurists, the bulk of what Jesus shared in the Olivet Discourse refers to events which have not yet taken place, and this is in keeping with their view that the bulk of the book of Revelation is also not yet fulfilled. For Preterists, Jesus spoke far more in Matthew, Mark, and Luke regarding 70 AD than Futurists give Him credit for, and this is in keeping with the Preterist view that the parallel events found in the book of Revelation took place by 70 AD.

It can be noted that the Olivet Discourse, as it is recorded in Luke, is somewhat different than its parallel account in Matthew and Mark. Mike Rusten (2009 [1]), Associate Dean of The Bethlehem Institute and formerly an elder at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, observes, “Whereas in Matthew the disciples ask two questions, ‘Tell us, when will these things happen (i.e. the destruction of the temple), and what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?’ Luke only records the disciples asking about the time of the destruction of the temple.” He further notes that unlike Matthew and Mark, Luke does not make reference to false prophets, an increase in lawlessness, enduring until the end[1], or the abomination of desolation spoken of by Daniel. On the other hand, Matthew and Mark do not explicitly mention Jerusalem being surrounded by armies, the days of vengeance upon Israel, Jerusalem being trampled underfoot by the Gentiles, or the Jews being led captive into all the nations.

Mike Rusten concludes that “the times of the Gentiles,” as mentioned in Luke 21:24, refer to the nearly 2000 years which have transpired since the destruction of the temple in 70 AD (Luke 21:20-24a) and the Second Coming of Christ (Luke 21:25-27), which we currently await. If this is true, though, one must still grapple with the fact that Matthew 24:4-28 and Luke 21:8-24 are parallel passages to a very large extent. In both passages readers are warned of [1] imposters claiming to be Christ [2] wars and rumors of wars [3] nations and kingdoms clashing [4] earthquakes [5] famines [6] persecution and martyrdom [7] betrayal and hatred [8] a signal indicating the need to flee to the mountains without the slightest delay [9] the difficulties for pregnant woman and those who will be nursing infants in those days [10] great distress and tribulation.

Matthew 24:29-31 and Luke 21:25-28 are parallel passages as well. The difference is that Matthew says the coming of the Son of Man would immediately follow “the tribulation of those days,” while Luke does not use the same phrase but instead refers to the slaughter and captivity of the Jewish people, the trampling of Jerusalem, and the times of the Gentiles. Futurists generally agree with Preterists that Luke indeed refers to 70 AD at this point, but they place a multi-century gap in Luke 21:24a so that verses 25-28 are yet future. Futurists can’t place any gap before Matthew 24:29, however, because Matthew uses the word “immediately.” So they consign “the tribulation of those days,” described in verses 15-28, to the future as well. They have no choice but to do so, if Matthew 24:29-31 is yet future. The Futurist interpretation then is left to explain why the above 10 warnings refer to two entirely different time periods, depending on the book in which they are found; i.e. in Luke they refer to a time period in the first century, and in Matthew (as well as Mark) they refer to a time period no sooner than the 21st century.

This leads to a dilemma when we come to the next set of parallel verses, Matthew 24:32-35 and Luke 21:29-33. In both cases Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place.” For the Futurist, this means that all the things Jesus prophesied will take place in one future (or present) generation which will see them begin. At first glance, this seems to work in Matthew’s account of the Olivet Discourse because, says the Futurist, the vast majority of Matthew 24 must refer to a generation alive in the 21st century. This line of reasoning falls apart with Luke’s account, however, because the Futurist admits that the “great distress” in Luke 21:20-24a took place around 70 AD. By any reckoning, a “generation” is far shorter than 1939 years.

Mark’s account of the Olivet Discourse is interesting in this regard. After Jesus prophesies of the impending overthrow of the temple (Mark 13:1-2), Mark records the disciples asking Him only one question (verses 3-4, “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign when all these things are about to be accomplished?”) Jesus then articulates all of the same 10 warnings which were noted above in the accounts of Matthew and Luke. In Mark’s account, verses 24-27 are parallel with Matthew 24:29-31 and Luke 21:25-28. Mark’s transition is more similar to Matthew’s use of “immediately” in that he says, “But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun will be darkenedAnd then they will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory.” (Mark 13:24, 26). This is significant because Mark is only addressing the question of the temple’s overthrow, and the signs which would show it was about to happen. We know without any doubt that it happened in 70 AD.

It may be possible to account for the different details highlighted by each author by considering the audiences to which they were writing. For example, Luke, a Gentile doctor, may have repeatedly made specific references to Jews and Gentiles because he expected his audience to be Gentile. Matthew, however, may have chosen not to do so because his audience was primarily Jewish. By this way of thinking, Luke perhaps omitted any explicit reference to the abomination of desolation spoken of by Daniel because such a reference was less likely to resonate with his Gentile audience.

In any case, it’s even more interesting that John, in his gospel account, omits the Olivet Discourse entirely, even though he was no doubt present when Jesus spoke those things. From the Preterist viewpoint, one likely reason for this curious fact is that the book of Revelation, which he authored, actually functions as his exposition of the Olivet Discourse, albeit in a more detailed manner. Therefore, he felt no need to include the Olivet Discourse passage in his gospel account, especially if the book of John was written after the book of Revelation.

Regarding the notion that the question posed by the disciples in Matthew 24:3 is different in nature than the question posed in the other two accounts, the Preterist view is that there is no division of questions. The disciples did not ask about the end of the world, but rather the end of the age (i.e. the Jewish age) as spoken of by Daniel and other Old Testament prophets. So what appears to some to be a 3-part question is simply the disciples asking questions about the same event; i.e. the destruction of the temple, the coming of Christ in judgment, and the end of the age. Thomas Newton, in 1754, said (Todd Dennis [20], 2009), “‘The coming of Christ,’ and ‘the conclusion of the age,’ being therefore only different expressions to denote the same period with the destruction of Jerusalem, the purpose of the question plainly is, when shall the destruction of Jerusalem be, and what shall be the signs of it?” Kevin Daly (2009) likewise remarks:

It is Jesus’ emphatic confirmation of the Temple’s fate that leads to the disciples’ question: ‘When will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?’ While some argue this to be three separate questions – so that Jesus’ answer in the subsequent verses must be unraveled and applied to three different events – this is not supported by the parallel accounts in Mark’s and Luke’s gospels: ‘Tell us, when will these things happen? And what will be the sign that they are all about to be fulfilled?’ (Mark 13:4); ‘Teacher,’ they asked, ‘when will these things happen? And what will be the sign that they are about to take place?’ (Luke 21:7). What Jesus prophesied against the Temple would happen at our Lord’s coming in judgment and would also, by implication, bring about the end of that age.

[1] One could say, though, that those spoken of in Luke 21:8 are false prophets, and that Christ does speak of endurance leading to salvation in verse 19.