Are the Epistles to the Seven Churches (Rev. 2 & 3) properly Prophetic?

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dildaysc

Puritan Board Sophomore
I just finished revising the translation of Poole's Synopsis on Revelation 1:20. It deals largely with the question of whether the Epistles to the Seven Churches are properly prophetic. If you are interested in such things, you might want to have a look, and spend some time with Poole.

If you are interested in the Book of Revelation and the hermeneutical principles involved in its proper interpretation, join us for our study in Revelation 1 ("Week 3" will probably be particularly interesting; "Week 28" [the video should be posted within a few hours] reviews and summarizes many of the principles gleaned from the previous studies).
 

Ask Mr. Religion

Flatly Unflappable
"Now, the seven most famous Churches were adduced for a type, since all Churches are of this sort. Now, whatever is said to those is to be applied to others, either literally, or by turning it into other things of the same sort, as, for example, by Balaam, Jezabel, etc., are to be understood whatever heretics, seducers, and scandalous men (Cotterius)."​

Interesting to note that among these seven Churches, there are some that would claim a false church exists among them given some of the descriptions. Yet we do not find in Scripture such a claim.

I think the point is relevant to discussions about what actually constitutes a false church, one not actually instituted by Christ, especially given such as those in Poole's treatment from Revelation.
 

Jerusalem Blade

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
I do appreciate a cogent presentation of the historicist interpretive approach, even if I differ, though it does appear that this presentation, in reviewing the four approaches, does not give proper credit to the idealist view. Or, perhaps, Dr. Dilday thinks William Milligan's views of idealism in the 1800s are definitive concerning idealism, whereas the work done in what is called "modified idealism" or "eclectic idealism" by G.K. Beale and others in that school show a more comprehensive approach.

Indeed Milligan, the first modern idealist, did present the case that there are no historical referents in Revelation's prophecies, just recapitulating dynamics, intensifying as the age draws near its end. This was a breath of fresh air from the stale historicism of primitive eschatology. Yet even modern idealists such as Beale, Dennis E. Johnson, William Hendriksen, et al, do not identify historical referents (save the letters to the seven churches) while allowing that there may be some.

I give an example of one such historical fulfillment in my paper (rather chapter from the book, A Great And Terrible Lovein paperback here) "New Insights in Amillennial Eschatology". An excerpt:
____

I will argue in this paper that a lack of understanding concerning the word “sorceries” (Greek, pharmakeia) and its cognates in The Book of Revelation have led to overlooking key elements in some of its prophecies, and thus inability to appreciate their import and relevance to the times. It is accepted that the “eclectic” or “modified idealist” view (Beale) allows some departure from the idealist, though as to where the line is drawn there is no clear consensus. Beale himself says, “...certainly there are prophecies of the future in Revelation. The crucial yet problematic task of the interpreter is to identify through careful exegesis and against the historical background those texts which pertain respectively to past present and future.” Please note this is not an academic presentation, but aimed rather at a popular audience as well as academics, so don’t hold it to the precise standards of strict academic formatting.

Basically my view is this: the pharmakeia of Revelation 18:23 and 9:21 (a variant in the latter reading pharmakon– drugs – does not affect translation) are the very drugs used and heralded by the sixties and seventies counterculture that were exported into most of the world and which – in retrospect – are seen to constitute a prophesied event clearly depicted in Scripture. The Greek pharmakeia is generally translated “sorceries” in the New Testament. Geerhardus Vos, although speaking of discerning the Antichrist, enunciated a principle applicable here,

“[It] belongs among the many prophecies, whose best and final exegete will be the eschatological fulfillment, and in regard to which it behooves the saints to exercise a peculiar kind of eschatological patience.” (The Pauline Eschatology, p. 133)​

O.T. Allis in his book, Prophecy and the Church, expressed the same sentiment:

“The usual view on this subject [‘the intelligibility of prophecy’] has been that prophecy is not intended to be fully understood before its fulfilment, that it is only when God ‘establishes the word of his servants and fulfills the counsel of his messengers,’ that the meaning and import of their words become fully manifest.” (p 25)​

Stuart Olyott in his, Dare to Stand Alone: Daniel Simply Explained, thinks likewise:

“We must realize that some of the Bible’s teachings relating to the very last days will not be understood until we are inthose days. That is why it is both unwise and dangerous to draw up detailed timetables of future events. Some parts of the Word of God will not become obvious in their meaning until the days of which they speak have dawned.” (p 166)​

[These three men are all of the Amillennial school of eschatological interpretation.] The reason this has not been widely recognized is that those who live godly have no notion what the dark practice of sorcery entails, a practice that astonishingly became a national and even global recreation of sorts, and for many also having a spiritual or psychic aspect. In short, what was Biblically termed sorcery became widespread and accepted. In 2016 one of these substances, marijuana, is quickly gaining legal and cultural approval across the United States (and elsewhere in the world as well).

[end excerpt]
____

I attach a copy of the paper here:
 

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Dachaser

Puritan Board Doctor
I do appreciate a cogent presentation of the historicist interpretive approach, even if I differ, though it does appear that this presentation, in reviewing the four approaches, does not give proper credit to the idealist view. Or, perhaps, Dr. Dilday thinks William Milligan's views of idealism in the 1800s are definitive concerning idealism, whereas the work done in what is called "modified idealism" or "eclectic idealism" by G.K. Beale and others in that school show a more comprehensive approach.

Indeed Milligan, the first modern idealist, did present the case that there are no historical referents in Revelation's prophecies, just recapitulating dynamics, intensifying as the age draws near its end. This was a breath of fresh air from the stale historicism of primitive eschatology. Yet even modern idealists such as Beale, Dennis E. Johnson, William Hendriksen, et al, do not identify historical referents (save the letters to the seven churches) while allowing that there may be some.

I give an example of one such historical fulfillment in my paper (rather chapter from the book, A Great And Terrible Lovein paperback here) "New Insights in Amillennial Eschatology". An excerpt:
____

I will argue in this paper that a lack of understanding concerning the word “sorceries” (Greek, pharmakeia) and its cognates in The Book of Revelation have led to overlooking key elements in some of its prophecies, and thus inability to appreciate their import and relevance to the times. It is accepted that the “eclectic” or “modified idealist” view (Beale) allows some departure from the idealist, though as to where the line is drawn there is no clear consensus. Beale himself says, “...certainly there are prophecies of the future in Revelation. The crucial yet problematic task of the interpreter is to identify through careful exegesis and against the historical background those texts which pertain respectively to past present and future.” Please note this is not an academic presentation, but aimed rather at a popular audience as well as academics, so don’t hold it to the precise standards of strict academic formatting.

Basically my view is this: the pharmakeia of Revelation 18:23 and 9:21 (a variant in the latter reading pharmakon– drugs – does not affect translation) are the very drugs used and heralded by the sixties and seventies counterculture that were exported into most of the world and which – in retrospect – are seen to constitute a prophesied event clearly depicted in Scripture. The Greek pharmakeia is generally translated “sorceries” in the New Testament. Geerhardus Vos, although speaking of discerning the Antichrist, enunciated a principle applicable here,

“[It] belongs among the many prophecies, whose best and final exegete will be the eschatological fulfillment, and in regard to which it behooves the saints to exercise a peculiar kind of eschatological patience.” (The Pauline Eschatology, p. 133)​

O.T. Allis in his book, Prophecy and the Church, expressed the same sentiment:

“The usual view on this subject [‘the intelligibility of prophecy’] has been that prophecy is not intended to be fully understood before its fulfilment, that it is only when God ‘establishes the word of his servants and fulfills the counsel of his messengers,’ that the meaning and import of their words become fully manifest.” (p 25)​

Stuart Olyott in his, Dare to Stand Alone: Daniel Simply Explained, thinks likewise:

“We must realize that some of the Bible’s teachings relating to the very last days will not be understood until we are inthose days. That is why it is both unwise and dangerous to draw up detailed timetables of future events. Some parts of the Word of God will not become obvious in their meaning until the days of which they speak have dawned.” (p 166)​

[These three men are all of the Amillennial school of eschatological interpretation.] The reason this has not been widely recognized is that those who live godly have no notion what the dark practice of sorcery entails, a practice that astonishingly became a national and even global recreation of sorts, and for many also having a spiritual or psychic aspect. In short, what was Biblically termed sorcery became widespread and accepted. In 2016 one of these substances, marijuana, is quickly gaining legal and cultural approval across the United States (and elsewhere in the world as well).

[end excerpt]
____

I attach a copy of the paper here:
the Book of revelation would have both immediate applications to the time of John, applications to all Christians going forward into History, but also have a future prophetic element.
 
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