Bible Study Certificates

Revelation Views

Four Views on Revelation

One of the most intriguing books of the Bible is the book of Revelation. The imagery of the cosmic battle in heaven and on earth makes it a fascinating book to study. However, much debate surrounds the proper interpretation of this apocalyptic work. Is this book a prophecy of future events yet to take place, or have the prophecies of this book been fulfilled?

Throughout church history, there have been four different views regarding the book of Revelation: Idealist, Preterist, Historicist, and Futurist. The idealist view teaches that Revelation describes in symbolic language the battle throughout the ages between God and Satan and good against evil. The preterist view teaches that the events recorded in the book of Revelation were largely fulfilled in AD 70 with the fall of the Jerusalem Temple. The historicist view teaches that the book of Revelation is a symbolic presentation of church history beginning in the first century AD through the end of age. The prophecies of Revelation are fulfilled in various historic events such as the fall of the Roman Empire, the Protestant Reformation, and the French Revolution. The futurist view teaches that Revelation prophesies events that will take place in the future. These events include the rapture of the church, seven years of tribulation, and a millennial rule of Christ upon the earth.

Each view attempts to interpret Revelation according to the laws of hermeneutics, the art and science of interpretation. This is central to the debate about how we should approach and interpret Revelation. The idealist approach believes that apocalyptic literature like Revelation should be interpreted allegorically. The idealist view, or the spiritual view was introduced by ancient church father Origen (AD 185-254) and made prominent by Augustine (AD 354-420). The preterist  (derived from latin, Preter, which means “past”) and historicist views are similar in some ways to the allegorical method, but it is more accurate to say preterists and historicists view Revelation as symbolic history. The preterist views Revelation as a symbolic presentation of events that occurred in AD 70, while the historicist school views the events as symbolic of all Western church history. The futurist school believes Revelation should be interpreted literally. In other words, the events of Revelation are to occur at a future time.

The goal of this brief introduction is to present a brief overview of the four views of Revelation and encourage each student to research (Google Search) on his own each of the four following topics:

The Idealist View on Book of Revelation

The Preterist View on Book of Revelation

The Historicist View on Book of Revelation

The Futurist View on Book of Revelation

It is important for the Bible student to understand that many Bible scholars use their understanding of Revelation to interpret the other books of the Bible. Therefore writers, such as Tim LaHaye writes a fictional account based on his theological position that the events of Revelation will occur in the future. His "Left Behind" series has drastically influenced many people’s understanding of the Bible, especially the last days.

Four Soils Ministries' last study module "Revelation Study" in our certificate programs exposes our students to these four methods.