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Posts Tagged ‘Ken Gentry’


Talking about Revelation is fraught with danger. People often have very strong opinions. Some try to be clear where Scripture is clear, and hold opinions loosely where it isn’t.

In the last year and a half I have read far too many commentaries on Revelation. Here are my thoughts on them.

The Book of Revelation (NIGTC) G.K. Beale.  I bought this on the recommendation of another pastor. This is one expensive volume. This is worth the money you will spend. This is over 1,000 pages of commentary on Revelation. Beale exhaustively chases down all the OT allusions, background and quotes in the Revelation. In other word, he puts the last book of the Bible into the context of the rest of the Bible. There are parts of the commentary that are quite technical, but you don’t have to know the original languages.

Revelation: A Mentor Expository Commentary by Douglas Kelly. I saw this last summer, and was excited to see that Dr. Kelly took a partial-preterist, amillennial approach to Revelation. This is essentially my current understanding of Revelation. Instead of being an academic commentary like Beale’s it is an expository commentary. This means it was adapted from sermons that Dr. Kelly preached years ago. As a result this volume has a number of great illustrations that I have used in teaching a SS class on Revelation. One downside of those illustrations is that many concerned the Civil War. His appreciation for some key figures in the South could be a stumbling block for some people. While I do not doubt their piety, I do know they sinned in certain matters. Some people will struggle (rightfully) with them being used as role models (so to speak) in other areas. All our “heroes” are sinners and have feet of clay. But I completely understand if someone struggles with this aspect of the commentary. There were also a few sections of Revelation that were not covered in the sermons. Just a few. Some passages are covered more than once to draw out different aspects. Since this is an expository commentary, there is a healthy emphasis on application that you don’t often find in more academic commentaries.

The Returning King by Vern Poythress. This short book is one of my favorites. I found it be to quite helpful in observing the larger patterns of the book: recapitulation, counterfeiting etc. Poythress also takes an amillennial position, and advocates for the idealist or “spiritual” (I hate this term since it is grossly misleading) interpretation. It is quite readable, and immensely helpful. This is not the book for you if you want verse by verse commentary, but it does help you see how those verses fit into the whole.

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A Good Response to Ed Steven

I’ve begun preparing a Sunday School series on The Revelation (note to all Hollywood screenwriters, there is not “s” on the end!).  This is no simple undertaking.  There are so many presuppositions that play a role in interpreting Revelation that is just is insane.

One of the things I’m doing early on is to address the four primary views of Revelation: historicist, futurist, preterist and idealist.  These views feed into millennial positions, but are foundational.  They include presuppositions and interpretative issues.  Though I am a partial preterist and idealist (yes, I use bifocals in looking at Revelation), I wanted to spend some time trying to understand the full preterist position.

Why?  I ask myself that same question.  It is such a minority viewpoint that it seems pointless.  But, sometimes I do crazy things.

Years ago I worked my way through someone’s personal library after their death.  It had been willed to a few people, one of whom I knew, who no longer lived in the area.  They asked me to catalog it in exchange for the books they did not want.  Oddly, they didn’t want the eschatology.  The deceased had a thing for eschatology, but not the Hal Lindsey thing.  He liked full preterism.  So I kept those.

This past week I spent some of my spare time going through What Happened in A.D. 70? by Edward Stevens.  It is a booklet.  In this booklet, the author seeks to demonstrate that all of the prophecies regarding the end of time and the return of Jesus were fulfilled in AD 70 with the destruction of Jerusalem.  I know, most of you are not just thinking, but saying out loud, “Is that guy crazy?”

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The subtitle of R.C. Sproul’s book The Last Days According to Jesus is When Did Jesus Say He Would Return?.  That seems a bit misleading.  But first…

I think this is the first Sproul book I’ve read since I was fired from Ligonier in 1998.  This is also the first time I’ve read a book in less than 24 hours in quite some time.  Some guys (Al Mohler & Gary North) do this regularly.  I don’t.

This book is about defending the authority of Jesus (and therefore legitimacy of Christianity) from attacks that Jesus was wrong with regard to the timing of events mentioned in the Olivet Discourse.  Sproul was talking about this in his Systematic Theology III class back in the early to mid 90’s. 

In this book he lays out the case for partial preterism.  What this means is that most/all of the Olivet Discourse was fulfilled in the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70.  Most people probably haven’t heard of this idea unless they inhabit  the nerdy world of people like me.  But plenty of people use the Olivet Discourse (Matthew 24 in particular) to prove Jesus is coming back soon.  They fall into the hands of higher criticism and atheists like Bertrand Russell.  So, this book is important.

Sproul does what he does well.  He explains what James Stuart Russell, Ken Gentry and others have argued, though in considerably fewer pages and in terms the average guy can understand.  He ablely does this through the first 3 chapters.  His work on the Olivet Discourse is good, as is chapter 5 (What Did John Teach in Revelation?).

Where he lost me, in the sense that I didn’t agree with him, was in applying preterism to Paul’s instruction.  Actually, he didn’t seem to argue for it so much as present the arguements of Russell and DeMar.  Many of the events Paul talked about don’t seem to have happened yet (hence, partial preterism).  It was just a confusing chapter.

Sproul does a good job when it gets to the Resurrection in explaining the differences between full and partial preterists, and the very real problems full preterism has.  Yes, there are people like Max King and Edward Stevens who think the whole shebang has been fulfilled.  And former classmates of mine like Keith Mathison and Jonathan Chori Seriah have taken them on.  Truly, far too many trees have been killed on this topic.  I can’t take King & Stevens seriously.

R.C. surveys the topics of the antichrist and the Millennium at the end of the book.  These chapters were not incredibly informative, and deviate (I think) from the overall goal of the book.

I do recommend this book if you want to gain a better understanding of the relationship of the Olivet Discourse to the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70.  This is significant for the broader approach to eschatology, and means that most of the guys you see on tv are wrong, wrong, wrong on this one.

Unfortunately, it didn’t help me prepare my sermon on Revelation 12:7-13 like I’d hoped.

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