Preterism Refutation (Part 08) - Revelation and Mystery BabylonSubmitted by Pastor Chad Wagner on Sunday, July 28, 2019.
XI. Other objections/arguments of preterists 1. Argument #1: The things in Revelation were at hand and were to shortly come to pass. A. Preterists believe that the book of Revelation was written prior to 70AD and all of its events were fulfilled in 70AD (although some inconsistent Preterists say that Rev 20 will not be fulfilled until the end of time). i. There is good internal and external evidence that Revelation was written around 96AD. ii. External evidence a. "Irenaeus (A.D. 180), a student of Polycarp (who was a disciple of the apostle John), wrote that the apocalyptic vision “was seen not very long ago, almost in our own generation, at the close of the reign of Domitian” (Against Heresies 30). The testimony of Irenaeus, not far removed from the apostolic age, is first rate. He places the book near the end of Domitian’s reign, and that ruler died in A.D. 96. Irenaeus seems to be unaware of any other view for the date of the book of Revelation." (Wayne Jackson, When Was the Book of Revelation Written?, Christian Courier.com) b. "Clement of Alexandria (A.D. 155-215) says that John returned from the isle of Patmos “after the tyrant was dead” (Who Is the Rich Man? 42), and Eusebius, known as the “Father of Church History,” identifies the “tyrant” as Domitian (Ecclesiastical History III.23). Even Moses Stuart, America’s most prominent preterist, admitted that the “tyrant here meant is probably Domitian.” Within this narrative, Clement further speaks of John as an “old man.” If Revelation was written prior to A.D. 70, it would scarcely seem appropriate to refer to John as an old man, since he would only have been in his early sixties at this time." (Wayne Jackson, When Was the Book of Revelation Written?, Christian Courier.com) c. "Victorinus (late third century), author of the earliest commentary on the book of Revelation, wrote: "When John said these things, he was in the island of Patmos, condemned to the mines by Caesar Domitian. There he saw the Apocalypse; and when at length grown old, he thought that he should receive his release by suffering; but Domitian being killed, he was liberated" (Commentary on Revelation 10:11)." (Wayne Jackson, When Was the Book of Revelation Written?, Christian Courier.com) d. "Jerome (A.D. 340-420) said, "In the fourteenth then after Nero, Domitian having raised up a second persecution, he [John] was banished to the island of Patmos, and wrote the Apocalypse" (Lives of Illustrious Men 9). To all of this may be added the comment of Eusebius, who contends that the historical tradition of his time (A.D. 324) placed the writing of the Apocalypse at the close of Domitian’s reign (III.18). McClintock and Strong, in contending for the later date, declare that “there is no mention in any writer of the first three centuries of any other time or place” (1969, 1064). Upon the basis of external evidence, therefore, there is little contest between the earlier and later dates." (Wayne Jackson, When Was the Book of Revelation Written?, Christian Courier.com) iii. Internal evidence a. The conditions of the churches in Revelation make sense for a later date. (i) Paul wrote to the church in Ephesus while in prison in Rome (Eph 3:1) in the early 60's and commended them for their faith in Jesus Christ (Eph 1:15). 1. By the time Revelation was written, the church at Ephesus had left their first love and was close to having the candlestick removed (Rev 2:4-5). 2. It is unlikely that this would have happened so quickly in only seven or eight years if Revelation was written in the late 60's. 3. It is much more likely that it would have happened in 30+ years in the mid-90's when Revelation was written. (ii) The church in Laodicea had great wealth at the time Revelation was written (Rev 3:17). (iii) "In A.D. 60, though, Laodicea had been almost entirely destroyed by an earthquake. Surely it would have required more than eight or nine years for that city to have risen again to the state of affluence described in Revelation." (Wayne Jackson, When Was the Book of Revelation Written?, Christian Courier.com) b. "Another internal evidence of a late date is that this book was penned while John was banished to Patmos (1:9). It is well known that Domitian had a fondness for this type of persecution. If, however, this persecution is dated in the time of Nero, how does one account for the fact that Peter and Paul are murdered, yet John is only exiled to an island? (Eusebius III.18; II.25)." (Wayne Jackson, When Was the Book of Revelation Written?, Christian Courier.com) iv. Regardless if Revelation was written before or after 70AD, all of its prophecies were not fulfilled in 70AD. v. This will be shown below. B. The preterist clings to the word "shortly" in Rev 1:1 and Rev 22:6, and "quickly" in Rev 3:11 and Rev 22:7, 12, 20. i. The coming to pass shortly of things in Revelation does NOT demand that all of them must have come to pass soon after John wrote them. ii. Jesus coming quickly doesn't mean that the moment of His coming was to immediately occur. iii. Shortly adv. - In a short time; not long after the present or the point reached in a narration; soon. In early use also: With little delay, speedily, quickly. iv. Quickly adv. - In a living or lively manner; with animation or vigour; also, with strong feeling, sensitively. 2. Rapidly, with haste or speed. a. Describing the rate of progress in a motion, action, or process, without consideration of the time at which it begins and ends. b. Denoting that the whole action or process is begun and ended within a comparatively short space of time. v. Speedily adv. - In a speedy manner; with speed or celerity, quickly. vi. Though Christ has tarried now for nearly two thousand years, when He does come He will not tarry (Heb 10:37; Hab 2:3). vii. God bears LONG with His elect. Yet when He does avenge them, He will do so SPEEDILY, i.e., in a speedy manner (Luk 18:1-8). a. The manner of Christ's second coming will be speedy and quick (Rev 22:12, 20). b. "In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye..." (1Co 15:51-52). c. "As the lightning..." (Mat 24:27). d. Christ will come so quickly as to preclude any warning or premonition (Luk 21:35; 1Th 5:1-3). viii. When the end-time events of Revelation begin to transpire, they will do so shortly. ix. The foregoing explanation of "shortly" must be the proper understanding since Rev 20:11-15 gives a vivid description of the resurrection of the dead and the judgment of the wicked (Satan included) that happens on the last day, which matches that given by Christ and the apostles. x. Such did NOT occur in 70AD. C. The preterists also appeal to Rev 1:3 and Rev 22:10 which say that "the time is AT HAND." i. Time must be defined in a unit of measure. a. "The time" can refer to a stretch of space between two moments in time, howsoever long it may be. b. Time n. - 1. A limited stretch or space of continued existence, as the interval between two successive events or acts, or the period through which an action, condition, or state continues; a finite portion of ‘time’ c. Revelation covers a broad spectrum of time including events that occurred before it was written, that were occurring as it was being written, and that would yet occur (Rev 1:19). ii. At hand - Within easy reach; near; close by (Sometimes preceded by "close, hard, near, nigh, ready"). a. We are living in the last time and the ends of the world are come upon us (1Jo 2:18; 1Co 10:11). b. Revelation covers this age from the first coming of Christ to His second coming. c. Therefore, the time of the events of Revelation are indeed "at hand" since those events occur within this last time during which John was writing. d. "The time is at hand" does not demand that everything that John wrote would happen soon after he penned it. 2. Argument #2: Mystery Babylon is Jerusalem. A. The argument goes like this: i. In Mystery Babylon is the blood of the prophets (Rev 18:24). ii. The prophets were killed by the Jews (Mat 23:35). iii. Therefore, Jerusalem and Judaism are Mystery Babylon. B. Refutation i. Mystery Babylon was responsible for the blood of the saints and of all that were slain upon the earth (Rev 18:24). a. The Jews were not responsible for most of the blood of the NT saints, nor for all that were slain upon the earth. b. Rome and the Roman Catholic Church were responsible for most of the blood of the NT saints. c. Rome was also responsible for the deaths of some of the NT prophets such as Paul and Peter. d. Mystery Babylon is a system that has manifestations in Rome, the Roman Catholic Church, Judaism, the occult, etc. ii. It is widely and commonly known that Rome was literally built on seven hills (Rev 17:9). a. There are dozens of other cities including Jerusalem that claim to be built on seven hills. b. "The title City of Seven Hills usually refers to Rome, which was literally founded on seven hills. Ever since, many cities have claimed to be built on seven hills." (List of cities claimed to be built on seven hills, Wikipedia, 5-8-19) c. Rome is the city that most clearly fulfils Rev 17:9. iii. Rome, not Jerusalem, was the city that was reigning over the kings of the earth when Revelation was written in the 1st century (Rev 17:18). a. The Roman Empire, not Jerusalem, was the kingdom that was sitting on many waters (in control of many peoples, multitudes, nations, and tongues) (Rev 17:1 c/w Rev 17:15). b. Jerusalem was under the rule of Rome, not the other way around, when Revelation was written. 3. Argument #3: Tribes of the earth are Israelite tribes (Mat 24:30). A. The argument goes like this. i. The words tribe or tribes always refers to Israel in the Bible. ii. Therefore, Mat 24:30 was referring to only the wicked Jews in Jerusalem that would mourn when they saw Christ come in judgment of them in 70AD. B. Refutation i. Mat 24:30 says all the tribes of the earth will mourn when they see Jesus coming in the clouds. a. It doesn't say all the tribes of Israel. b. All of the tribes of the earth are all of the kindreds of the earth (Mat 24:30 c/w Rev 1:7). c. Tribe n. - 1. a. A group of persons forming a community and claiming descent from a common ancestor; spec. each of the twelve divisions of the people of Israel, claiming descent from the twelve sons of Jacob. d. Kindred n. - 1. a. The being of kin; relationship by blood or descent (occasionally, but incorrectly, by marriage); kinship. 2. a. A group or body of persons related to each other by blood; a family, clan, tribe, etc. ii. It is interesting that Mat 24:30 says that "they" shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. a. This refers to the second coming on the last day when all the tribes/kindreds of the earth will see Christ return (Mat 24:30; Rev 1:7). b. Jesus did NOT say "ye shall see the Son of man coming..." in this passage, which would have indicated that the disciples would see Him coming in the clouds. (i) When Jesus spoke of the destruction of Jerusalem, He used the pronouns "ye" and "your." 1. "when YE therefore shall see the abomination of desolation" (Mat 24:15) 2. "pray YE that YOUR flight be not in the winter" (Mat 24:20) 3. "So likewise YE, when YE shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors" (Mat 24:33) (ii) But when Jesus spoke of His second coming in Mat 24:30, He used the pronoun "they" indicating it would be all the people of the earth that would see Him return and would mourn because of it. c. Even places where Jesus tells those He was speaking to that they would see Him return doesn't mean that His return would be in their lifetimes. (i) Jesus told Caiaphas the high priest (Mat 26:57) that he and those with him would "see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven" (Mat 26:64). 1. Caiaphas was high priest from 18-36AD and died in 46AD (Caiaphas, Wikipedia, 6-6-2019). 2. Caiaphas did not live to see 70AD when the preterists say that Jesus spiritually or figuratively returned in the clouds. 3. Caiaphas didn't live to see the second coming. (ii) Jesus' statement is nevertheless true because Caiaphas will see Christ coming in power on the last day when he is resurrected. (iii) In addition to that, Jesus Himself didn't know the day of His return (Mar 13:32). 1. Therefore, He warned (through those He actually spoke to) all who would read or hear His words that He would return and be seen coming in the clouds. 2. This is why Jesus told His disciples to watch for His return (Mat 24:42; Luk 21:34-36).