Preterists commonly accuse (mock) futurist commentaries on the book of Revelation for sensational interpretations. Admittedly, there are more than a few popular pretrib commentaries on Revelation that rightly are “way out there.”
However, David Chilton’s postmillennial and preterist commentary on Revelation rivals the most kooky and far-fetched interpretations on the book of Revelation: The Days of Vengeance: An Exposition of the Book of Revelation (Ft. Worth: Dominion Press, 1987).
So much so, that the noted theonomist and postmill-preterist scholar Greg Bahnsen was compelled to distance himself from his book writing a devastating review-critique of Chilton’s commentary.
If you can, find some time to read this review from Bahnsen. Here are a couple of snippets:
Nevertheless, the hermeneutical excesses and errors of the commentary will prove far more detrimental to postmillennialism than any of its isolated virtues can redeem. Consider three fatal flaws…
David’s IM moves from the arbitrary to the outrageous when, in explaining the “seal” placed upon the foreheads of the 144,000 (Rev. 7:3-4), he alludes to the protective marking of Ezekiel 9:4 and claims that it symbolized “the sign of the cross”! Error is laid upon error to reach this height of imagination. (1) the philological error (exposed by Fairbairn: Ezek. 9:4 speaks of an indefinite “mark,” not the Hebrew letter tav. (2) the orthographic error: if the ancient tav was different from what we recognize today, it was shaped more like an x, not an upright t(cross). (3) the historical error: Jews of Ezekiel’s day would have in mind a form or shape associated with Roman crucifixions of a later age. (4) the hermeneutical error: there is no legitimate category of “quasi-prophecy”; this is simply Tertullian’s reading something back into the text. (5) the liturgical error: the Bible does not condone the “sign of the cross” as having religious (superstitious) significance for Christians anyway…
Here is another example of an amazing chain of dubious reasoning (pp. 20-24). Revelation follows Ezekiel “step by step” [as well as Lev. 26 and Matt. 24?]. Such “level pegging” is a feature of lectionary use. Both Ezekiel and Revelation can be divided into “about fifty units” [fifty? Previously it was five, then four]—which is also about the number of Sabbaths in the years. Therefore, Revelation was intended for lectionary use as a series of liturgical readings in the church through the year, accompanying the reading of Ezekiel! Even if we forgive the mathematical inaccuracies (52 sabbaths per year) and arbitrariness (why 50 units instead of 40 or 55?), how does it follow from the rough numerical correspondence of literary units to weeks in a year that Revelation is a liturgical lectionary? This may be suggested by the interpreter’s personal interests and life-setting, but it is not suggested by the text of Revelation itself! There is quite a logical leap from saying Revelation was read aloud in church (Rev. 1:3, like Colossians, cf. 4:16 to saying it was read as a liturgical lectionary!
Bahnsen concludes, “So then, I cannot recommend my friend David’s commentary on Revelation. (1) It embodies an unsound, imaginative hermeneutic. (2) It is confused about the book’s structure and meaning. (3) It is guilty of considerable errors in history and interpretation.”
Chilton’s commentary on Revelation is an illustration of how not to interpret Revelation. It is a clear biased commentary where he approaches the book already with preconceived notions.
Preterists can be just as guilty as the Tim Lahaye-type commentaries.
How do you like that for a title of a post?
But I am being sincere, not sensational. I have never, ever had an amiller or postmiller respond with any meaningful answer to this argument.
You—yes, you premiller—can use this same argument on your amill and postmill friends.
And it works.
What is this biblical argument you ask?
It is found in my first session I gave at the Future Israel, Future Millennium Conference earlier this year held in Glendora, California. Purchase it here, learn it, use it. (I will have a forthcoming academic journal article published on this argument, but you can get it in popular form right now.)
Here are the other sessions from the conference:
Session 1: Future Millennium and the Binding of Satan – Alan E. Kurschner
Session 2: Premillennialism Answering Amillennialism – Alan E. Kurschner
Session 3: Understanding the Biblical Covenants – Joel Richardson
Session 4: Romans 11, Israel’s Fulfillment, and Her National Salvation – Joel Richardson
Session 5: Israel – Identity Theft Victim, Romans 4:13 – Barry E. Horner
Session 6: Eternal Israel – Forever with the Lord, Matthew 19:28 – Barry E. Horner
The conference this weekend was such as blessing. God was glorified in the proclamation of his promise of faithfulness to Israel in their future salvation and their future land. God is not a promise-breaker as supersessionism (a.k.a replacement theology) essentially teaches. God’s gifts and calling are irrevocable.
Be sure to purchase the conference audio to learn to respond to both amillennialism and supersessionism, aberrant theology that plagues most of the church today worldwide. Barry Horner and Joel Richardson gave excellent talks on various issues of future Israel, as I gave two talks on the future millennium.
I want to thank Bruce Biller for the logistics behind the scenes. The conference would not have been successful without his hard effort.
Premillennialism teaches that at Jesus’ second coming he will deliver the righteous and judge the ungodly. Then the righteous will enter into a period—the millennium—of peace and righteousness where Jesus establishes on earth his physical reign of all nations—including a restored nation of Israel who recognizes him as the Messiah. All nations will worship Jesus as King and Lord. The future millennium will be characterized socially, politically, ethnically, and spiritually. This is why Christians pray to the Father, “May your kingdom come.”
I believe premillennialism is the correct biblical view because the narrative in Revelation 19:11–20:3 indicates this. Traditionally, interpreters have mistakenly started the millennial debate at chapter 20. But the narrative context begins before Revelation 20. There is a cause and effect action where the victory of Jesus at the battle of Armageddon will cause the defeat of the three enemies of God: the beast (i.e. Antichrist), the false prophet, and Satan. The passage states that Satan’s immediate punishment will be his binding in the abyss for 1,000 years (i.e. the millennium). In short, since Jesus’ battle victory occurs during his future second coming, the binding of Satan must begin at the second coming.
Interpreters who approach Bible prophecy with frameworks that preclude a future reality of key prophecies either collapse biblical prophecies as already happened in the past (preterism), throughout church history (historicism), or making it all merely ideas (idealism). Premillennialism takes the warnings of the Bible seriously as they relate to the future intervention of God’s Son with humankind at the end of the age.
I gave four reasons why holding to the premillennial view is important, and thus why the millennial debate is significant.
First, Satan is not bound during the church age (contra Amillennialism), but instead he is “a roaring lion . . .on the prowl looking for someone to devour” (1 Pet 5:8). Premillennialism takes seriously the spiritual battle that the Bible portrays within the spirit world, especially as it will escalate just before Christ returns.
We are also not living in the blessed millennial age. We are living in a wicked age where injustice, immorality, and no fear of God dominates this world. We long for the day when our righteous King returns to defeat his enemies and “break them with an iron scepter; [and] smash them like a potter’s jar!’” (Ps
Second, premillennialism rightly takes into consideration the complex nature of God’s dealings with his people. Amillennialism, on the other hand, views the return of Christ as an overly simple event, monochromatically. That is, there is no emphasis on the events leading up to the return of Christ; basically, in their schema, the return of Christ will happen in a single day, and we will all be suddenly ushered into the eternal state.
This is not what the Bible depicts. Instead, the premillennial view rightly views a complex-comprehensive whole in which God will fulfill his redemptive purposes through stages: Antichrist’s great tribulation, eschatological suffering of the church and Israel, resurrection, rapture, the day of the Lord’s wrath (itself a complex series of events), salvation of Israel, new heavens and earth, the complex social, ethnic, political, material aspects of the millennium, Satan’s final defeat—then finally the eternal state.
Third, premillennialism does not believe that the world will increasingly get better before Christ returns (contra postmillennialism, Pat Robertson, Gary DeMar, et al.). There are many postmillennial churches that are misleading God’s people teaching that God will use politics as a means to better this world and prepare the world for the gospel.
Premillennialism teaches, instead, that the Bible shows the world will increasingly become more wicked before Christ returns, and that only Christ himself will usher in the age of righteousness (1 Thess 1; Mark 13, Luke 17, 21; Matt 24; Revelation; the Old Testament passages are too numerous to list here).
Fourth, premillennialism (at least most) affirms the unconditional promises to national Israel. God will remain faithful to his promise to Israel. Amillennialism and postmillennialism denies a future reconstituted national Israel, and thus denies God’s faithfulness to his promise to Israel. This is important to the millennial debate because it relates to one’s fundamental approach to biblical interpretation. In addition, it will distort their theology of the nature of the church and its role in God’s redemptive purposes.
I talked about what the millennial debate is not about, and what it is about. Many interpreters frame the wrong question when they engage the millennial debate. This allowed me to introduce the most fundamental principle of interpreting the Bible, which is to ignore chapter breaks. I also gave a brief history on who introduced chapter divisions and how it has influenced our interpretations, especially amillennialists regarding the unfortunate chapter break at Revelation 20. This helped to set up my main topic by explaining that Revelation 19:11–20:3 supports premillennialism, not amillennialism. The binding of Satan will happen—not already at the first coming of Christ—but at the second coming of Christ. In my view, the argument I used is one of the best biblical arguments for premillennialism. Every premillennial student of prophecy should be competent to use this to defend their position.
In a couple of weeks I will have a Q&A episode, so be sure to leave a recorded question at the bottom of the contact page.
(hat tip: Joel Richardson)
Don Preston is not your typical preterist. He is a hyper-preterist, believing that the resurrection has already taken place. But the debate is on future Israel: Will there be a future reconstituted Israel or not?
James White will be moderator.
At first I was concerned that there would not be cross-examination in the debate, but I was just informed by James White that, yes, there will be some cross-examination. As you all know, I believe you cannot have a debate without cross-examination; otherwise, it becomes two monologues.
I look forward to listening to this debate.
See also Brown’s refutation of Steve Wohlberg:
Thankfully, more and more Christians everyday are ignoring this illusory mantra and listening to what the Bible clearly teaches on this issue.
And then we have the preterist and historicist amillers and postmillers doubling down on their stone-age hermeneutic claiming that the mark of the Beast is only “symbolic.”
Let’s block out these false voices and listen for once what God has to say:
“A third angel followed the first two, declaring in a loud voice: “If anyone worships the beast and his image, and takes the mark on his forehead or his hand, that person will also drink of the wine of God’s anger that has been mixed undiluted in the cup of his wrath, and he will be tortured with fire and sulfur in front of the holy angels and in front of the Lamb. And the smoke from their torture will go up forever and ever, and those who worship the beast and his image will have no rest day or night, along with anyone who receives the mark of his name.” This requires the steadfast endurance of the saints—those who obey God’s commandments and hold to their faith in Jesus.” (Rev 14:9–12)
[A word of clarification. I do not believe the technology is in itself the mark of the beast. It will become the mark of the beast in how it will be employed by the Antichrist—i.e. his religious application.]
God does not break his promises. Let me repeat this: God does not break his promises. Acts 3:18 says,
“But the things God foretold long ago through all the prophets—that his Christ would suffer—he has fulfilled in this way.” (Acts 3:18 emphasis mine)
Acts 3:18 provides us a crucial hermeneutical principle for interpreting Old Testament Messianic prophecies:—Just as it said they would be fulfilled. “But the things God foretold long ago through all the prophets” [i.e. What the OT predicted.] “that his Christ would suffer—he has fulfilled in this way” [i.e. Not in any other way].
This principle needs to be consistently applied to God’s prophecy of a future, reconstituted national Israel at the consummation. There is no warrant to “reinterpret,” “spiritualize,” “flatten,” “reread” or “replace” the promises God make to national Israel in the Old Testament. But many feel the need to do this in order to maintain their faulty preconceived theological constructs (e.g. historic premillennialism, amillennialism, postmillennialism).
Darrell Bock speaks briefly on this point here:
What (if any) future role does the physical nation of Israel yet have to play in God’s plan?
God’s covenantal commitment to Israel is honored when he restores Israel in the future as Romans 11 teaches and as Acts 3:18-22 declares by calling people to look to what the OT says to understand what Jesus will do when he returns. It does not say to reread or change the way you read those texts.
Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth: In the age when all things are renewed, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you [the twelve disciples] who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” (Matt 19:28; cf. Rev 7:1–8)
Sometimes the truth is so obvious that it is dismissed—because “the truth cannot be that obvious!” Those who say that there will not be a future reconstituted nation of Israel after the Lord comes back must spiritualize this text (or some claim it is even happening right now!), vitiating its clear meaning.
The presupposition that there will not be a future reconstituted nation of Israel after Jesus returns is so deeply encrusted that when they encounter this prophecy of our Lord, the natural reading is dismissed as “that is not really what it means.”
Premillennialists do not have to contort the plain meaning of this prophecy—its sense is straightforward.
You can lead amillennialists and postmillennialists to water but you cannot make them think.
“The moment Jesus comes back there will never again be the possibility of any person’s conversion, so we really shouldn’t be that eager for the end to come.” —Craig Blomberg
I want to comment on Blomberg’s aberrant statement.
1. It is unbiblical.
Nowhere in the Bible does it teach Christians not to be “that eager” for the end to come, let alone for the reason to see more converted. Just the contrary. Scripture’s support is copious, but a few references will suffice. “But our citizenship is in heaven—and we also await a savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Phil 3:20). “So that you do not lack any spiritual gift as you wait for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Chris.” (1 Cor 1:7). “Therefore, get your minds ready for action by being fully sober, and set your hope completely on the grace that will be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed” (1 Pet 1:13). “Maintain yourselves in the love of God, while anticipating the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that brings eternal life” (Jude 1:21).
2. Salvation is not a “possibility.”
People who will be saved will not be able to say that they were in the right place at the right time when they got saved. Nor will those who will be in hell one day be able to say that they were not in the right place and at the right time to get saved. Salvation is all of God, and none of ourselves.
Salvation is a decree by our sovereign Lord according to his all-wise, free grace. “We know, brothers and sisters loved by God, that he has chosen you” (1 Thess 1:4). “But we ought to thank God always for you, brothers and sisters loved by the Lord, because God chose you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth” (2 Thess 2:13).
3. Similarly, only when all of God’s elect enter his salvific fold will he come back.
“Now, dear friends, do not let this one thing escape your notice, that a single day is like a thousand years with the Lord and a thousand years are like a single day. The Lord is not slow concerning his promise, as some regard slowness, but is being patient toward you, because he does not wish for any to perish but for all to come to repentance” (2 Pet 3:8–9).
Interestingly, a couple of verses later do we find another objection to Blomberg’s statement not to be “that eager” for the end to come.
“while waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God? Because of this day, the heavens will be burned up and dissolve, and the celestial bodies will melt away in a blaze! But, according to his promise, we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness truly resides” (2 Pet 3:12–13).
4. Blomberg implies a false dichotomy.
That is, if you have too much eagerness for our Lord’s return, then you are not that really concerned about the lost being converted. In reality, it is just the opposite. When we fully realize what lies ahead for the fate of the lost, then that should spur us to eagerly proclaim the gospel to the lost in this age! In other words, a lack of eagerness for the age to come, will diminish an eagerness to see the lost converted.
So do not allow your eager-hope to be deflated!
“The one who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon!” Amen! Come, Lord Jesus!” (Rev 22:20)