As a student of scripture I was initially influenced to accept as fact many things that I later discovered were merely unsubstantiated opinions. A growing majority of secular educators today are likewise guilty of unduly influencing their students by presenting the THEORY of evolution as an established FACT, even though there remains a very significant “missing link” in the proposed chain of necessary proof. Theologically, the inception of the modern Dispensational View of Eschatology (first introduced in the early 19th century) is entirely based upon an erroneous assumption that the book of Revelation was definitely written sometime during the last decade of the 1st century.
Such assumptions completely ignore (or pretend to have settled) the thousands of years debate among biblical scholars as to the actual legitimate dating of authorship. Indeed, prior to the introduction of Dispensational Eschatology, the prevailing consensus among theologians was in favor of a much earlier date. Historical evidences, combined with more basic logical applications, supported an earlier date throughout the ages, although even today, the truly honest scholar must admit the earlier dating also evades absolute certainty.
This simple truth remains: there are differences of opinion among theologians as to when this book was actually written. These can be generally summed up as the “late date” and the “early date” theories. Careful, prayerful consideration of both should be the sincere objective of every student of scripture because so much of one’s understanding and beliefs about what Revelation actually reveals depends entirely upon what one accepts as the true dating of its authorship.
Many who hold to the “late date,” believe Revelation was written during the time of Domitian Caesar (95-96AD). This date has been largely determined from the following statement by Irenaeus (130-202AD), as quoted by Eusebius, a church historian, in 325AD: “We will not, however, incur the risk of pronouncing positively as to the name of Antichrist; for if it were necessary that his name should be distinctly revealed in this present time, it would have been announced by him who beheld the apocalyptic vision. For that was seen no very long time since, but almost in our day, towards the end of Domitian’s reign.”
Note these three things: 1) Irenaeus was NOT an eyewitness. He referred to Polycarp (who supposedly knew the apostle John). 2) the key phrase — “it is not long since it was seen” — is ambiguous. According to Irenaeus recollection, Polycarp saw “it” sometime between 95-96AD, during the last part Domitian’s reign. 3) we do not know if the “it” Polycarp was referring to was: the visions, the name of anti-christ, or the book itself; and it is NOT clear if he meant that the book was written at THAT time. Furthermore, the information comes through THREE people separated by THREE centuries. Simply put, this is merely hear-say, and therefore, NOT considered an acceptable source of reliable evidence.
The statement, with all of this uncertainty, is amazingly the ONLY evidence used to support the “late date” theory. It has subsequently been accepted by millions of people in our time without really questioning it or examining it in light of the book itself. The late date has been passed on to this generation in the same way it was passed on to Eusebius, “…handed down by tradition…”
Tradition is NOT a “stand alone” evidence nor is its universal acceptance a scholarly way to conclude any proper interpretation of scripture. In fact, there are more traditions today based upon misinterpretation than there exist ones founded upon sound doctrine.
Irenaeus seems to further indicate an earlier date also when he speaks as follows concerning the Apocalypse of John and the number of the name of the Antichrist: “As these things are so, and this number is found in all the approved and ANCIENT copies.” Domitian’s reign was almost in his own day, but there he speaks of the Revelation being written in ANCIENT copies. This presents doubt as to the “vision” being seen in 95-96 AD, and suggests a time some time BEFORE his own day for him to consider the copies available to him as ANCIENT.
In contrast, an important note to consider in favor of the “early date” is the fact that John was told that he “must prophesy again before many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings” in Rev. 10:11. If Revelation was written in 95-96AD, John would have been over 90 years old by then and it would have been quite difficult for him to travel to the various “nations and…many kings” to prophesy. However, if Revelation was written decades earlier, John would have been merely in his sixties, and at that age, his traveling would have been much more feasible.
John also wrote Revelation to a specific group of churches in Asia (Rev. 1:4). The importance of this statement cannot be overlooked (even though it has been by many scholars). Historically, there is only one small window of time in which there were only seven churches in Asia – the early 60’s. The apostle Paul established nine churches in that area, but only seven were addressed in Revelation. The reason for this is that the cities of Colossus, Hierapolis, and Laodicea, were all destroyed by an earthquake around 61AD. Laodicea was rebuilt soon afterwards, but the other two cities were not. This left only seven churches in Asia during the five years just prior to the beginning of the Roman/Jewish war, which culminated with the destruction of Jerusalem in 70AD.
Of additional importance is the message to the church of Philadelphia.
“And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write, ‘These things says He who is holy, He who is true, He who has the key of David, He who opens and no one shuts, and shuts and no one open, I know your works. See, I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it; for you have a little strength, have kept My word, and have not denied My name. Indeed I will make those of the synagogue of Satan, who say they are Jews and are not, but lie—indeed I will make them come and worship before your feet, and to know that I have loved you. Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth. Behold, I am coming quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown. He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go out no more. I will write on him the name of My God and the name of the city of My God, the New Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God. And I will write on him My new name. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” – Rev. 3:7-13
Christ told John to inform them that an “hour of temptation” was “about to come upon all the world,” (at that time the world=the Roman Empire). Christ told them that He was coming quickly and that they should hold fast. This was directed to an actual church in the 1st century and according to secular historians, the first persecution of Christians took place under Nero Caesar in 64AD. Therefore, these letters must have been written during that period of time.
One of the most compelling proofs that Revelation was written before Jerusalem was destroyed is the fact that the Jewish temple was still standing.
“And there was given me a reed like unto a rod: and the angel stood, saying, Rise, and measure the temple of God, and the altar, and them that worship therein. But the court which is without the temple leave out, and measure it not; for it is given unto the Gentiles: and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months” – Rev.11;1,2.
Early in the 19th century, Dispensational eschatology introduced a theory that at some time (yet future) a third temple will be built and it is the destruction of THAT temple to which the prophecy relates. Which temple the prophecy is referring to obviously determines whether one’s view of Revelation is as a primarily historic account (like Acts and several OT books), with a few prophecies yet to be fulfilled, or a totally prophetic book spanning over 2000+ years into the future, with ALL prophecies still unfulfilled.
Other than within the teachings of Dispensational Eschatology, there is no evidence in support of such dogma. Scriptures that they quote actually refer to Herod’s temple, rebuilt by the exiles from Babylonian captivity. Those are the only references to to any commission to rebuild (Ezek. 40-48 & Dan. 9)
While Dispensationalists teach that the 70 weeks of the prophesies were stopped at 60, and that the last week remains in the near future, history reveals that ALL of that which was prophesied has ALREADY been fulfilled. The Roman /Jewish war was seven years. Within the book of Revelation itself, from all the collective internal evidence, it appears to have been written before the destruction of Herod’s temple and the city of Jerusalem in 70AD.
Notice that Jesus told the disciples that they would see these events. They had asked Him about their temple (Lk. 21: 5), and Jesus told them it would be destroyed BEFORE their generation passed away (Lk. 21:32). Notice again what Jesus said in Lk.21: 24, “Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles.” This is the same thing Christ told John in Revelation 11:2. Therefore, since the disciples’ generation entirely passed away during the 1st century, Revelation must have been written before the nations trampled Jerusalem under foot and utterly destroyed the temple in 70AD.
Most theologians consider the theme of the book is cited in Rev. 1:7, which is thought to be by many a cross reference to Mt. 24:30. “Behold, he comes with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of Him. Even so, Amen.” ALSO – “And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.”
In the passages quoted above, both English translations (“kindreds” & “tribes”) are from the SAME Greek word “phule”. Based on the language, a legitimate case has been made that the two verses are speaking of the SAME event. Both passages within their original context foretell the events related to the fall of Jerusalem which happened according to factual reports by secular historians in 70 AD.
Dispensational Eschatology teaches that although God took His anointing from the nation of Israel and poured it out among the Gentile nations, at the culmination of the ages God will restore His anointing to Israel (the Hebrews, the Jews). This supposed restoration includes a proposed rebuilding of the physical temple in Jerusalem and return to ritual animal sacrifices there.
The very biblical book that bears their name (Hebrews) proclaims that such a scenario will never take place. “For [Jesus Christ] such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and higher than the heavens; who needs NOT daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for His own sins, and then for the people’s: for this He did ONCE, when He offered up Himself. For the law made men high priests which have infirmity; but the word of the oath, which was since the law, makes the Son, who is consecrated for EVERMORE” – Heb. 7:26-28. Christ’s sacrifice is the ONE and ONLY necessary and acceptable sacrifice for ALL TIME! There is NO need for a return to any rituals contained within the old covenant (OT). Christ has fulfilled the WHOLE.
“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.” – Mt. 24:30
Scripture also declares regarding ANY temple: “Know you not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” – 1Cor.3:16. ALSO: “for ye are the temple of the living God; as God has said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people” – 2Cor. 6:16. AND AGAIN, THERE IS THIS: “And I saw NO temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it” – Rev. 21:22. Finally, consider this verse: “We heard Him [Christ] say, I will destroy this temple that is MADE WITH HANDS, and within three days I will build another made WITHOUT hands” – Mk. 14:58. AND “Howbeit the most High dwells NOT in temples made with hands” – Ac. 7:48.
Most theologians view the majority of declarations by Christ as directed specifically to the Jews of the old covenant, NOT Gentile believers who would come after His crucifixion and resurrection. Therefore, the “kindreds” and “tribes” afore mentioned were direct references to Israel’s literal twelve tribes.
The language of Revelation 1:7 speaks of those who “pierced Him.” Although we know that the Romans literally crucified and pierced Him, the apostles accused the Jews of it. In Acts 2:23,36, Peter says that they crucified Jesus. He continues to state this in his following sermons (Acts 3:15; 4:10; 5:30). Stephen, in Acts 7:51-52, calls them murderers. And Paul, in 1 Corinthians 2:8, speaks of the Jews killing the Lord. And also in I Thessalonians 2:14-15, he speaks of the Jews that killed both the Lord Jesus and the prophets. So perhaps the book of Revelation, like Hebrews, also concerns itself primarily with the nation of Israel, and NOT the greater Gentile nations of the planet who embraced Christ AFTER His ascension.
A direct allusion to the Jewish tribal system from Scripture, reveals who those “tribes” were in the book of Zechariah. Keep in mind this simple rule of interpreting the Bible: let Scripture interpret Scripture. “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 mourns for his only son…In that day shall there be a great mourning in Jerusalem…” – Zech. 12:10. Zechariah spoke only to the Jews; never to Gentiles.
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” of Israel would mourn for Him whom they had pierced, NOT the entire planet.
Zechariah also helps identify references to the “earth” in Revelation 1:7. According to his prophecy, the “earth” is the land of Palestine, more specifically – Jerusalem. Also, it is THOSE very tribes, (the nation of Israel), who would “look upon Him whom they have pierced.” And because of that, “the mourning in Jerusalem” would be great. In light of this information, it should be clear that the “tribes of the earth” mentioned in Revelation 1:7 refer to the nation of Israel. The “earth” is the land of Palestine, the exact place in which they would mourn, is Jerusalem.
Consideration of these facts propose that the main purpose of Revelation was to reveal Jesus as Lord primarily to the nation of Israel. The place of this revealing would be Jerusalem. Lastly, this revealing would be specifically to those who pierced Him, the Jews. This was not a general reference to the prior generations of the Jewish nation, but directly to Christ’s contemporary generation. THAT generation was destroyed in 70AD, by the Roman Legions. Therefore, it is a reasonable conclusion that the book of Revelation had been written before that event.
The abomination of desolation (or desolating sacrilege) is a term found in the book of Daniel (9:27; 11:31; 12:11) and the Gospels (Mt. 24:15; Mk. 13:14; Lk. 21:20). In both original biblical languages (Hebrew & Greek) the word “abomination” is a familiar term for an idol. Therefore, it may well have the same application, which should accordingly be rendered in agreement with Ezra 9:1-4, “motionless abomination” or, “appalling abomination”.
The rabbinical consensus is that the expression refers to the desecration of the second temple (Herod’s Temple) by the erection of a statue of ZEUS in its sacred precincts by Antiochus IV Epiphanes (215-164BC). Some rabbis, however, see in it an allusion to a king of Judah – Manessah, (687-642BC), who set up “a carved image … in the house of God”. Of course both of these predate Christ’s incarnation in the 1st cenury, so Revelation must be referring to something else. But these show how the interpretation of the “abomination ” were considered apart from any “anti-christ” claiming to be god.
Many Christian scholars relate the prophecy to the actions of the Roman Emporer Caligula (40AD) when he ordered that a golden statue depicting himself as Zeus incarnate be set up in the temple in Jerusalem. This prospect however, never came to fruition since he was assassinated in 41 AD along with his wife and daughter.
Some scholars view it as a figurative expression which focuses on Christ’s death and Jerusalem’s destruction, the best explanation for “the desolating sacrilege…standing in the holy place” is the crucifixion of Jesus at Golgotha. Jesus is the “desolating sacrilege” and Golgotha is “the holy place”.
In a broader explanation, early church leaders understood the prophesies to refer merely to the armies that surrounded Jerusalem and the factions fighting within it which preceded the destruction of the entire city in 70AD.
Whether or not any of these events were the actual literal fulfillment of the prophesies, any of them are as reasonable an explanation as offered by Dispensational dogma of nebulous future ideas.
John also wrote that he saw a “woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus” (Rev. 17:6). The “woman” had this name written on her forehead: “MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH” (17:5). The angel said that “the woman” was a poetic SYMBOL of “that great city” (17:18); in whom “was found the blood of prophets, and of saints, and of all that were slain upon the earth.” (18:24). Then John wrote, “Rejoice over her, thou heaven, and ye holy apostles and prophets; for God hath avenged you on her… Thus with violence shall that great city Babylon be thrown down, and shall be found no more at all.” (18:20, 21).
The identity of this woman and great city is key to rightly understanding the meaning of the prophecy. John reveals what city, “And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which SPIRITUALLY is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified.” – Rev. 11:8. Our Lord was crucified in Jerusalem. This should prove that John was referring to the Jerusalem of his day.
John wrote that Sodom and Egypt are “figurative” names, which means that they are NOT the actual names of the city, but to expose their spiritual condition. Once more, allowing the Bible to interpret itself, this obviously is a reference to physical Jerusalem prior to 70AD. In Isaiah, chapter 1, after declaring that he had a “vision…concerning Judah and Jerusalem,” Isaiah wrote, “Hear the words of the Lord, you rulers of Sodom.” Also, in Jeremiah 23:14, because of the adulterous prophets, God said that Jerusalem and her inhabitants were “all of them unto me as Sodom.”
Although no where throughout scripture is Jerusalem specifically called Egypt, the first century generation was also in an exodus. While Old Testament Israel’s literal exodus was from the bondage of Egypt, the New Testament Israel’s spiritual exodus was from the bondage of the Old Covenant Law.
The most recognizable passage that depicts this “new exodus” is found in I Corinthians 10:1-11. Paul wrote, “Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.” His contextual foundation for this statement was the OT exodus from Egyptian bondage. He wrote that they had passed through the sea. They ate manna and drank from the rock. He then recalls how they wandered in the wilderness, became idolaters, tried the Lord and were destroyed by serpents. This indicates that, just like the “type and shadow” of the OT and their deliverance from bondage, the NT saints were undergoing the same exodus. The difference was that Paul’s NT generation was the reality to which OT example (shadow) pointed.
Furthermore, in Luke 13:33-34, Jesus said, “today and tomorrow, and on the following, I must travel on, because it is not possible a prophet to perish outside Jerusalem. Jerusalem! Jerusalem! killing the prophets, and stoning those having been sent to her.” In Matthew 23:29-37, Jesus again blasted the Jews of His day for killing the prophets and the apostles. He declared that they are the children of their fathers who also killed the prophets. Jesus said that they would complete the sin that their fathers started.
But the most crucial evidence is when Jesus said, “upon you (the Jews of His day) may fall the guilt of all the righteous blood shed on the earth.” Then He said, “I tell you the truth, all of these things will happen to you people who are LIVING NOW. Jerusalem, Jerusalem! You kill the prophets and stone to death those who are sent to you”. In both passages, Jesus told the Jews of His day that they were guilty of “ALL the righteous blood shed upon the earth” (see also Acts 7:51-52).
As noted above, “the woman” John saw was most likely the literal city of 1st century Jerusalem. The “kings,” therefore, must have been referring to actual rulers of the known world in John’s day, (the Roman Empire). The “kings” were not ruling at the same time, for the text stated “five fell,” meaning that five of those kings had already come and gone. Then “one is,” refers to the “king” who was ruling at the time Revelation was written. There in that verse, is one of the clearest proofs for dating this book. A prayerful, simple examination of the historical list of Roman Emperors, will reveal who this sixth king was, and subsequently, at what time the book of Revelation must have been written.
The six Roman Emperors were: Julius Caesar; Augustus; Tiberius; Gaius (Caligula); Claudius; and the sixth emperor was Nero. Nero reigned from 54AD to June of 68AD, with Galba to follow, (who reigned only six months). There we find the terrible persecutors of Christianity (at whose hand Peter an Paul were martyred), whom God used to also destroy the Jews. Nero was in power and he gave the command to his general Vespasian to destroy Jerusalem. Nero was the sixth king, proposing that, along with all other historic evidence, beyond any reasonable doubt, Revelation was written PRIOR to the Roman/Jewish war (66-73AD).
In conclusion, a sincere and prayerful final consideration void of preconceptions should be given to this as well. To those few who are familiar with the Law of Moses and Jewish tradition, Revelation 15:2,3should have important meaning. It says that those martyrs “who had come off victorious from the Beast” were singing “the Song of Moses.” Very few Christians today know how to sing this song. If the martyrs are supposed to be Christians living 2,000+ years AFTER Christ (as Dispensational Eschatology teaches), one must ask, why would today’s contemporary Christians be singing the Song of Moses?
The Jews were to sing this song to remind themselves of what would befall them “in the latter days” (Deut. 31:5-41). The song talks about “their end” – the Jews, and details their destruction by a consuming “fire”, “famine”, “plague” and “bitter destruction”. God calls them a “perverse generation”, and says He will “render vengeance” upon them and “vindicate His people”. There is no reasonable explanation why Christian martyrs of the 21st century would be singing this song, when the song has specific reference only to the Jews living in the 1st century.
These same martyrs cried out earlier, “How long, O Lord, wilt Thou refrain from judging and avenging our blood” (Rev. 6:10). As noted earlier, it was the Jews who had all the “blood of the righteous” martyrs imputed against them. Clearly, it is Christians who had kept their faith in Jesus, in spite of intense persecution, and “had come off victorious from the Beast.” (See also: Mt.23:35 and Lk. 13:33). This passage in Revelation 15:2,3 points very clearly to followers of Christ living in the 1st century, NOT some 2000+ years later!
In Revelation 16 it says that the people in the Beast’s kingdom “gnawed their tongues because of pain”. They had great sores on their bodies along with other plagues that had been poured out on them. We know from the Jewish historian Josephus that the Jews literally gnawed their tongues for lack of food during the siege of Jerusalem in 70AD. Josephus even calls the Jewish Zealot forces a “wild beast“ in several places (SEE: Wars V.1.1; IV.7.4; IV.9.8; V.2.5). This point is emphasized even more by the fact that the whole context of the Song of Moses is full of references to “beasts,” “serpents,” and “dragons” (Lev. 26; Deut. 28-32; 32:24,33).
The original intent of the author combined with the cited expectations of Christ within the text necessitates a reasonable interpretation of the time-table involved. John informed his readers that the contents of this volume “must shortly come to pass.” John did not write that merely SOME of the events, or even most of the events must shortly take place. He wrote that ALL of the events contained in Revelation “must shortly come to pass” because “the time is at hand.” Specifically, at hand for the literal seven churches of Asia, and in general, to the universal spiritual church (the body of Christ) of the 1st century . The time for “The Revelation of Jesus Christ” was at hand. This is the main purpose of the book, especially when accepted as written primarily to Jews in preparation for their soon demise.
To clarify, it was the Jews who as a group rejected Christ. surely many individual Jews accepted Him and therefore would have become members of the universal spiritual church and NOT under condemnation. But to those Jews who were still expecting a physical kingdom led by a physical king to conquer the Romans (which is why they failed to accept Jesus), the Revelation was given to open the old prophesies to their ubderstanding. But they neither had “eyes to see” nor “ears to hear”.
John expressly wrote that the Lord sent an angel to him “to show unto his servants the things which must shortly be done.” – Rev. 22:6. There, at the end of the book, John recorded the exact same message that he did in the 1st chapter. This again emphasizes that ALL of the events contained in the complete Revelation were about to take place in John’s time — the 1st century — not stretched throughout time, for some distant future generation.
The angel of the Lord said to John, “Seal not the sayings of the prophecy of this book: for the time is at hand.” – Rev. 20:10. Here again is considerable proof that the events of Revelation were to take place in the 1stcentury. Another element was added to this warning. The angel told John NOT to seal the Scroll.
Revelation is essentially a retelling (or opening) of the book of Daniel.
Centuries before, after Daniel had received visions concerning his people (the nation of Israel), he was told, “thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book” (Dan. 12:1). He is then told how they would be rescued — by resurrection, some would be rewarded with “everlasting life”, but others with “everlasting contempt”. But then, he is told something very peculiar, “shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end.”
Please make a thoughtful note that this verse says the “time of the end”, and NOT “the end of time”. There is a significant difference between the end of time and the time of the end. Daniel’s visions specifically concerned the nation of Israel, not all mankind in general. Daniel was a Hebrew prophet, speaking exclusively to Hebrews.
Daniel saw two angels talking about the fulfillment of all that he had seen. One asked the other, “How long shall it be to the end of these wonders?” The answer was, “when he shall have accomplished to scatter the power of the holy people, all these things shall be finished.” – Dan. 12:6, 7. Daniel could not understand what they meant, so he asked again, “When?” The angel answered “Go thy way, Daniel: for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end.”
There is only one other place in scripture where a sealed book is referred to – – – Revelation 5. Revelation is the opening of Daniel’s sealed book. Daniel’s visions were concerning the “time of the end” of Israel, Not the whole of mankind. Revelation is about God’s judgment on Israel alone. They are one and the SAME.
Daniel was told to SEAL his book concerning the end “for it pertains to many days in the future” – Dan.8:26. In contrast, John was told NOT to seal his book “because the time is at hand” – Rev. 22:10. The end of Old Covenant Israel was at hand. All things written had to be fulfilled by the time Jerusalem fell in 70AD (see Lk. 21:20-22). Therefore, since Revelation is the opening of Daniel, it is quite reasonable to conclude that it must have been fulfilled by the destruction of Jerusalem in 70AD.
Yet another conflict continues to be debated over the proposed timing of events due to Christ’s final statement, “behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me“ – Rev. 21:12. Jesus did NOT say that “when I come, I will come quickly,” He emphatically said that He was coming “quickly” (meaning very soon). Some state that this has NOT happened yet. However, we should let Scripture interpret Scripture.
According to the three gospel records in Matthew. Mark, and Luke Jesus said, “There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom.” – Mt. 16:27-28; Mk. 8:38-9:1; Lk. 9:26-27. Notice that Jesus tied His coming to the lives of His disciples. He said that some of his listeners would not die until He came. Jesus said that His “coming” would be in the 1st century; the LAST generation of Israel (MT. 24:34; Mk .13:30; Lk. 21:32).
Daniel told us that the “rewards” would be that some would be resurrected to “everlasting life”, but others to “everlasting contempt”. Jesus said He was coming and He was going to reward each according to his works, and that some of the disciples wouldn’t die until they saw this take place. Therefore, since all of the disciples are dead, Jesus must have already returned and rewarded each according to his works. Furthermore, in Revelation, He said the same thing, therefore it must already have been long since fulfilled.
Understanding that the book of Revelation is written in mostly allegorical prose, there is a definite distinction to be realized between the actual, physical bodily return of Christ to the literal planet and the spiritual manifestations of Christ to His true followers through the Holy Spirit’s residency in the born again experience. While the actual appearance of Christ in physical form returning to this literal planet seems to be implied by the testimony given at the event of His bodily ascension into heaven, further prayerful study should be given to the exact phrase, “this same Jesus which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come IN LIKE MANNER AS YOU HAVE SEEN Him go up into heaven” Ac. 1:11.
Many contend that because there are no reports known to exist of any such sightings of a physical return of Christ since that event, that His return is still yet to happen. Rational consideration seems to allow for no other conclusion. However, when emphasizing “THIS SAME JESUS” rather than “IN LIKE MANNER”, the obvious coming of Christ to each individual true believer in His Spirit (the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Christ) can well be the fulfillment of such expectations. Especially if an allegorical interpretation is applied.
But the phrase is from historical content, NOT prophetic. Therefore, a more literal interpretation is called for. Such demands that the phrase “IN LIKE MANNER” be properly considered in its original light. Naturally, the most obvious realization is to assume Christ’s return to be literally a physical appearance SEEN by observers with their physical eyes just as they that saw Him physically ascend.
However, in any strictly literal physical sense, it would be virtually impossible for every eye (all people on physical earth) to view such a physical return (unless via video tape). Such video could be too easily counterfeited, and must therefore be dismissed. The only possible literal appearance of Christ in “like manner” would have to be confined to a similar SMALL setting, as was the event of His ascension. It was NOT a global manifestation, visible to the entire world, but only to His faithful eleven disciples.
Sincere prayerful consideration of such things reveals that perhaps it was the secluded place and small number of true believers of the event to which the phrase “in like manner” rightly refers. In a similar setting, Christ will return again.
Now prayerfully recall the scenario recorded in the second chapter of Acts. AFTER Christ’s ascension, the Holy Spirit descends upon a small, secluded group of faithful belevers and the new church is introduced to the world with miraculous manifestations. Far better than being confined to a single physical body, Christ returned to complete His commission to preach the gospel to ALL nations, now through multiple physical bodies unified by His mystical spiritual and universal Body of Christ – the church.
Perhaps such a return is exactly what John reports. “I turned to see the voice that spake with me and being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks and in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle” – Rev. 1:12,13. Also, the encounter by Saul (later Paul) on the Damascus road recorded in Acts 9 would be a similar “return”of Christ.
Certain other of John’s visions pertain to possible fulfillment of statements usually associated with Dispensational Eschatology’s errant teaching regarding a yet future return of Christ. Perhaps John would count these as already fulfilled. “I looked, and behold a white cloud, and upon the cloud one sat like unto the Son of man, having on his head a golden crown, and in his hand a sharp sickle” – Rev. 14:14.
That the “late date” is supported solely by assumptions gleaned from the reading of third century church leaders while the “early date” is suggested by a compilation of related scriptural texts and comparative historical events, it is hard to comprehend that Dispensational Eschatology has gained such popularity in the 20th & 21st centuries. All of its teaching rely entirely upon the “late date” writing being an indisputable fact. That such eschatological views were never held by believers until the 19th century, should be cause for great concern.
Further contemplation of the many erroneous predictions constantly readjusted to fit their personal eschatological convictions should also be received as severe warnings that these ideas do NOT come from God. “when a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if the thing follows NOT, nor comes to pass, that is the thing which the Lord has NOT spoken” – Deut. 18:22.
Time and again teachers of the “late date” theme have wrongly proposed dates and indentified prospective personalities as their expected soon to be revealed personal antichrist. When these declarations do not come to fruition, they claim a mis-calculation and mertely introduce their new prognosis. Yet they maintain great prosperity from a faithful following, without any godly rebuke.
From the yet to be renewed anointing of a Jewish nation, to the rebuilding of a 3rd temple, and a reinstituting of a sacrificial system during some arbitrarily fixed seven-year period of tribulation culminated by the setting up of a world-wide physical reign of Christ on earth, these things can only be possible if the “late date” (95-98AD) writing of Revelation is an indisputable fact. Otherwise, a more careful study of actual related historical events demands an alternative belief.
Please study, research and seek the Lord about these things before embracing ANY convictions regarding eschatology. Popularity or wide-spread acceptance of an idea does NOT make it right. “Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it” – Mt. 7:13, 14..
A proper interpretation of the first three verses of Revelation regarding the near expectation of the events, forms the foundation upon which subsequent beliefs about the rest of the book are established. If a person is unwilling to accept the obvious time constraints of the text, the rest of the document can mean anything that the reader desires.
An ancient inscription to the book of Revelation, in the Syrian version, first published by Deuteronomy Dieu, in 1627, and then afterwards in the London Polyglot, states the following: “The Revelation which God made to John the evangelist, on the Island of Patmos, to which he was banished by Nero Caesar.”
The internal evidence when compared with secular history indicates that the Apostle John was banished to Patmos under the reign of Nero. Such facts completely support that it was during his time on Patmos that he wrote the book of Revelation, which was after the death of that emperor (about 68-69AD); the gospels and epistles were written some years later. One of the oddest facts about the New Testament is that what on any showing would appear to be the single most datable and climatic event of the period — the fall of Jerusalem in 70AD — is never once mentioned as an already PAST fact in any NT text. But never has mere omission confirmed valid proof.
Compare that to the idea of reading a scientific journal prior to 1969, opposed to a jounal published after man landed on the moon. Knowing when the moon landing ocurred (1969) would immediately allow the reader to properly date each journal as to whether they were written before or after the event.
Because these things are for some too hard to ponder, many have rejected the book of Revelation altogether. The eastern Christian churches, and a few others do not include Revelation in the cannon of their Holy Scriptures. Other churches refuse to teach or give commentary on the book, while still other sects go rather overboard on private interpretations of it to lure unsuspecting followers into their fellowships.
“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears” – 2Tim. 4:3.
As has been requested numerous times within this article, please prayerfully consider these things. Seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Be willing to forsake wrong preconceptions and previous false doctrines. Scripture has promised, “Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come” – Jn. 16:13. Trust Him.