The Preterist and Futurist Views
A Sermon on the Preterist View and Futurist Views of Revelation
Is the book of Revelation a mere record of what happened in time-past or is it an account of events which will one day take place? In this sermon on the preterist view and futurist views, Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones examines two views of Revelation. First, he briefly examines what is called the “preterist view” which understands Revelation as referring to events that happened in the past. Spending the bulk of his attention on the “futurist view,” he explains that both of these should be rejected. According to the futurist view, the reader is to understand most of Revelation’s application as that which applies to a future generation. According to this view, little of the book’s meaning applies to the lives of the vast majority of Christians who have lived. Dr. Lloyd-Jones first gives the futurist view and then critiques it by showing textual and theological problems. The author of Revelation doesn’t seem to believe that only a portion of the book’s material is about current realities, while other things will only happen in two thousand years. On the contrary, the book is united, complete, and whole. It’s relevant for every age of the church and God’s people have always found strength in these words. Listen and discover the transcendent hope of the book of Revelation.
- The preterist view that all of Revelation has already happened is untenable based on the content and scope of the book.
- The futurist view relegates most of Revelation to the future and a 7-year tribulation. This view has some issues:
- It robs the book of value for the original audience and Christians throughout history. The purpose of prophecy is to strengthen faith through fulfillment.
- It contradicts the analogy of Scripture. The beasts in Daniel span long time periods, not just 7 years. The activity described in Revelation 13 also seems to span a long time.
- It destroys the unity of the book by dividing it into three separate sections. But the book is unified, with the same themes and descriptions of Jesus throughout.
- It postpones the kingdom to the future, but Revelation 1:6 and 1:9 show the kingdom is present now.
- Revelation 1:1 says these things must shortly come to pass, not after 2000+ years.
- Revelation 1:19's division into past, present and future things doesn't require a 2000+ year gap. "Hereafter" means the same in 1:19 as in 4:1 - things following shortly.
- Revelation 12 describes Jesus' birth, so not everything from ch. 4 on is future.
- Revelation 22:6 and 22:10 also say these things will shortly come to pass and the time is at hand.
- The historicist view sees Revelation as symbolic of church history. There are three sub-views: the church historical, continuous historicist, and spiritual historicist. We will consider these views next time.
Great Biblical Doctrines
Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones
Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones (1899-1981) was a Welsh evangelical minister who preached and taught in the Reformed tradition. His principal ministry was at Westminster Chapel, in central London, from 1939-1968, where he delivered multi-year expositions on books of the bible such as Romans, Ephesians and the Gospel of John. In addition to the MLJ Trust’s collection of 1,600 of these sermons in audio format, most of these great sermon series are available in book form (including a 14 volume collection of the Romans sermons), as are other series such as "Spiritual Depression", "Studies in the Sermon on the Mount" and "Great Biblical Doctrines". He is considered by many evangelical leaders today to be an authority on biblical truth and the sufficiency of Scripture.