Six Points Refuting the Early Writing of Revelation
By Bill and Sandy Kalivas
Jesus said in John 8:32 And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. (KJV) The quest for truth in the walk of a Christian is a life long process. Hopefully, as the years pass, we see growth and progress. We see things differently as we pass from "baby" to "adolescent" to more mature Christians. One area for more maturity in the Body of Christ is in the realm of prophetic interpretation.
We would like to start by defining our terms.
* Futurism is the school of interpretation contending that the last week of "Daniel's 70 Weeks" did not follow the 69th week, but is somehow delayed, that most of the prophecies in the book of Revelation are still unfulfilled. Most Futurists believe the book of Revelation was written late in the first century (96 A.D.).
* Praeterists believe that the prophecies of Revelation concern themselves with the fall of Jerusalem (70 A.D.) and the judgment by Pagan Rome. Praeterists believe John wrote the Revelation in 64-68A.D., during Emperor Nero's reign.
* Historicism is the progressive Revelation of Jesus Christ in the Christian Age. The Historicist view holds that the book of Revelation is almost completely fulfilled, except for the fall of Mystery Babylon. The term in Rev 1:1, "shortly come to pass", means simply the prophecies in the book will soon begin to happen, not "shortly be fulfilled", as some would have the phrase mean. Historicists generally agree that Revelation was written around 96 A.D., during Emperor Domitian's reign.
A lot has been said and written about the Futurist School of prophetic interpretation, we find it lacking in many respects. The traditional Protestant Historical interpretation of Revelation and Daniel we find is historically and biblically sound. This school of thought was held by men like Luther, Wycliff, Huss, Sir Isaac Newton, and many other Godly men. We knew little of Praeterism and were challenged to learn more about this school of prophecy, which is held by many in the Reconstructionist Movement, as well as some in Identity Assemblies. Being good Bereans, we were led to The Days of Vengeance by David Chilton (a Reconstructionist). In the Publisher's Preface by Gary North we read "I am throwing down the gauntlet to the opponents of the Christian Reconstruction movement. I am challenging all comers, and I am doing it the smart way: 'Let's you and Chilton fight.'... Specifically, someone had better be prepared to write a better commentary on Revelation than The Days of Vengeance. I am confident that nobody can. From this time on , there will be only three kinds of commentaries on the Book of Revelation: Those that try to extend Chilton's, those that try to refute Chilton's, [and] those that pretend there isn't Chilton's." (pg. xxxii)
On the subjects of Restoration and Christian Civil Government, men like Gary North and David Chilton have done good work. However, on this matter of prophetic interpretation, we feel they are in error.
We do not pretend to be scholars of the caliber of Gary North or David Chilton. However, there is a better commentary on Revelation, written in the 19th century, which not only present the Historical Interpretation of prophecy but also refutes Praeterism and Futurism, which were at that time just taking root in European Christian circles. The work to which we refer is Horae Apocalypticae by Rev. E.B. Elliott, first published in 1844. Through the study of this work we realize that this "fight" was not started recently. It has been a topic of debate for the last three centuries.
We contend that the Praeterist's interpretation of Revelation hinges on the date on which it was written; for only if it was written during the latter part of Nero's reign (64 - 68 A.D.) can it hold true. It is on this point we wish to debate, for there is sufficient controversy on this point alone for the open-minded to reconsider this prophetic view. We are using Elliott's work because it appears to be well documented and thorough. He also encountered Praeterists of his time (Moses Stuart, for one) and had this to say of the date "As to the date of the Apocalypse, how unfortunate are these Christian professors and Critics... if this their foundation fails; and on what mere quicksand, in this respect, their structure is raised and in what imminent danger of being engulfed, the readers of my sketch of evidence on the Apocalyptic date will, I think, soon see." (vol. IV, pg. 503)
There are six points in Chilton's work in the defense of an earlier date. We will examine each one separately and refute it using Elliott's work and other sources.
"St. John's intimate acquaintance with the minute details of Temple worship suggests that 'the Book of Revelation and the Fourth Gospel must have been written before the Temple services had actually ceased.'" (p.3)
Chilton leads with this argument, which we feel is weak in the following respects: it assumes that St. John must rely on his own knowledge and immediately current memories of the temple and its articles in order to discuss them in the Revelation with the correct detailing as he has done. Who are we to limit God and His ability to lay before John all he needed to see and the ability to correctly relay it? And if as Chilton argued in the paragraph preceding Point One in his book that John had "become so intimately conversant with its details, that they came to him naturally, as part of the imagery he employed.", what difference the intervening months or years may make is shear speculation! It should also be noted that all the temple imagery found in Revelation is recorded in Ezekiel, Daniel, Zechariah, Joel, etc.
Elliott, in his century also encountered similar arguments about this "proof" of an earlier date and addresses them from another angle. In the following quotes, he points out that the temple images were not to be taken literally, but as symbols which would aid John in the interpretation of other symbols presented to him in the vision. This would also tend to be supported by the common understanding that the book of Revelation was given to John in signs and symbols and not to be taken literally. (Chilton seems to agree with this, when he states on p. 53 of The Days of Vengeance "It is a book of signs, symbolic representations of the approaching events. The symbols are not to be understood in a literal manner." However, just as in this case, he will contradict himself throughout his book again and again.)
"A secondary class of arguments from internal evidence, derived from the allusions that we find in the Apocalypse to the Israelitish tribes and the Holy City, temple and altar,-- as if, say they, the Jewish city, temple, and altar were still standing, -- is even yet more obviously inconclusive. For it takes for granted that those expressions are meant literally of the old Jerusalem and Israel, not figuratively, of the Christian Church: a point which not only have they not proved, but which, I am well persuaded, (and we shall soon see that the persuasion exprest is not without reason, ) they never can prove." (vol. I, p. 44)
Elliott expands this idea in another chapter, pointing out that Christ is using the temple articles to point to their fulfillment in the Christian church:
"Now the temple scenery thus presented to view, with Christ's own authoritatively attached Christian explanation of its chief article of furniture, was precisely that which might best prepare the Evangelist for the similar application to the Christian Church of similar symbols, borrowed from the old Jewish tabernacle or temple; should they appear, as in fact they did appear, in the visions of the future. --In the same way the emblem here seen of the seven stars that Christ held in his hand, coupled with his explanation of them as meaning the seven angels or rulers and presiding ministers of the churches, would prepare St. John to interpret the symbol of stars (should they occur in the subsequent visions), of ecclesiastical rulers, where ecclesiastical things were concerned; as also of secular rulers, I may add, where the subject was of secular things." (vol. I, p. 73)
"Although some scholars have uncritically accepted the statement of St. Irenaeus (A.D. 120-202) that the prophecy appeared 'toward the end of Domitian's reign' (i.e., around A.D. 96), there is considerable room for doubt about his precise meaning (he may have meant that the Apostle John himself 'was seen' by others). The language of St. Irenaeus is somewhat ambiguous; and, regardless of what he was talking about, he could have been mistaken." (p. 3)
External evidence to the dating of John's Revelation comes from writings from early church fathers and historians. There are no second or third century writings which mention or even point to a dating of Revelation during the reign of Nero. There are however, several extant writings which support the later writing, during Domitian's reign. The statement of St. Irenaeus is the primary and earliest support. It is not surprising that Praeterists, having no strong witnesses of their own, must discount Irenaeus' statement. However, they do not stop there, but also subtlely attack his character by implying that he might not have known what he talking about and, further, allows this mistake to be recorded. Elliott thinks highly of St. Irenaeus as a scholar and church father as he states in the following passage:
"And considering Irenaeus' own very early era, relation to St. John, and character, -- that he was an Asiatic Greek, born nearly about the time of St. John's death, --that he was a disciple of Polycarp, which latter was a disciple of St. John, -- and that he was moreover one of the most learned, as well as most devoted of the Christian bishops of the age..." (vol. I, p. 2)
Of course, the statement itself comes under heavy scrutiny by those who cannot accept the later dating. It must! The original statement was given in Greek. The very construction of the sentence is taken apart and there are those who will claim it had not been interpreted correctly for centuries. Elliott is vehement in his opposition to this type of attack. He gives us the commonly held interpretation of the passage.
"For the testimony of Irenaeus -- Polycarp's disciple, let it be again remembered, who was himself the disciple of the apostle John, -- is as express to the point in question as it is unexceptionable. Speaking of the name and number of the Beast in the Apocalypse, he says, that had this been a matter then to be made known, it would have been disclosed by him who saw the Apocalypse: 'for it [the Apocalypse evidently] was seen no very long time ago; but almost in our age, toward the end of the reign of Domitian.' " (vol. I, p. 32)
In a footnote, Elliott proceeds to re-quote the statement in the original Greek and explain why St. Irenaeus could only be referring to the vision John saw and not to John himself.
In another footnote in his book, Chilton invites us to read Moses Stuart's work on Revelation to find early writers supporting a Neronic date. Would he also be interested to know what Professor Stuart thought about the construction of St. Irenaeus' statement? Elliott comments as follows "And here, in his opening summary, Professor Stuart admits distinctly in the first instance the futility of the attempts that have been made to get rid of Irenaeus' famous testimony asserting the Domitianic date, by supplying another nominative case... And really the true construction ... is so palpable, that one is astonished at this time of day to find any respectable writer so bewildering himself, as to attempt the revival of the absurdities that professor Stuart thus rejects." (vol. I, p. 534)
Further evidence from Irenaeus comes from his book Against Heresies as he discusses the number 666 and its interpretation. He, writing after 177 A.D., speaks of the embodiment of the number 666 as yet future to them.
"But knowing the sure number declared by Scripture, that is six hundred sixty six, let them await, in the first place, the division of the kingdom into ten; then, in the next place, when these kings are reigning, and beginning to set their affairs in order, and advance their kingdom,[let them learn] to acknowledge that he who shall come claiming the kingdom for himself, and shall terrify those men of whom we have been speaking having a name containing the aforesaid number, is truely the abomination of desolation".(Book 5 Chpt. 30, Sec. 2)
"(St. Irenaeus, incidentally, is the only source for this late dating of Revelation; all other 'sources' are simply quoting from him. It is thus rather disingenuous for commentators to claim, as Swete does, that 'Early Christian tradition is almost unanimous in assigning the Apocalypse to the last years of Domitian.') Certainly, there are other early writers whose statements indicate that St. John wrote the Revelation much earlier, under Nero's persecution." (p. 4)
There are many early church fathers and historians who have commented on dating of the book of Revelation. In this point, Chilton attacks all persons who would support the later date as being mere sounding boards to one early church father who 'may have been mistaken.' Yet as we read Elliott's work we find a wealth of information regarding early supporters as well as dissenters to an A.D. 96 date. We wish to note that in most all cases Elliott footnoted not only the work in which he found these opinions but additionally repeated the comments verbatim in the original Greek or Latin. This section will be long, but we feel necessarily so, in order to acquaint the readers with a full picture of the witnesses on both sides. We add a little background information for each man discussed which we found in "Prophetic Faith of Our Fathers" by LeRoy Edwin Froom.
Tertullian is the first support mentioned. He lived from approximately 160-240 A.D., born in North Africa at Carthage, and converted to Christianity when he was 30-40 years of age. He became the father of Latin theology and creator of the church language in the Latin tongue. Tertullian's support of a 96 A.D. date is based on his references to persecutions of the apostles; Paul and Peter were put to death by Nero yet no mention of John and his banishment is mentioned as occurring during this time.
-- "First, Tertullian seems in no dubious manner to indicate this view of the Apocalyptic date. For in his Apology, after specifying Nero's as the first imperial persecution, and this one by the sword, (wherein, as he elsewhere says, Paul and Peter suffered, no mention being made of John,) he proceeds to notice Domitian's as the next persecution, and this as one in which Christians suffered by banishment, the well-known punishment inflicted on St. John. It is evident that Eusebius thus understands Tertullian; I mean as alluding to St. John's banishment as the act of Domitian." (vol. I, p. 33)
Titus Flavius Clemens or Clement of Alexandria lived from approximately 150-220 A.D. He was originally a pagan philosopher converted to the Christian church. He sought instruction from the most eminent teachers, traveling extensively to Greece, Italy, Egypt, and Palestine. He was a pupil of Pantaenus at Alexandria and was made presbyter in the church of Alexandria. Clement's support to a later date is found in story involving St. John after he returned from Patmos. The point being made that John was quite an old man when it occurred.
-- "Next Clement of Alexandria indirectly, but I think clearly, confirms the statement. In relating the well-known story of St. John and the robber, he speaks of it as acted out by the apostle on his return from exile in Patmos, 'after the death of the tyrant;' and represents him as at that time an infirm old man. Now 'the tyrant,' whose death is referred to, must necessarily be either Nero or Domitian; as these were, up to the end of the first century, the only imperial persecutors of the Christian body. And Nero it can scarcely be: since, at the time of Nero's persecution, St. John was by no means an infirm old man; being probably not much above, if indeed so much as, sixty years of age.
Thus it must rather have been the tyrant Domitian. So, in fact, Eusebius expressly explains Clement to mean. " (vol. I, p. 33-34)
Victorinus, who died in 303 or 304 A.D., was the bishop of Pettaw in Upper Pannonia, near modern Vienna. He wrote commentaries on several Old Testament books, Matthew and Revelation.
-- "Thirdly, Victorinus, Bishop of Pettaw, and martyr in Diocletian's persecution, in a Commentary on the Apocalypse written towards the close of the third century, says twice over expressly, and in a part that bears no mark of interpolation, that the Apocalypse was seen by the Apostle John in the isle of Patmos when banished thither by the Roman Emperor Domitian." (vol. I, p. 34-35)
Eusebius Pamphili lived from approximately 260-340 A.D. He was bishop of Caesarea and wrote Ecclesiastical History. In this work he relates events in the early church and his chronology places St. John on Patmos during Domitian's reign.
-- "To the same effect, fourthly is the very important testimony of Eusebius...on the date of St. John's banishment to Patmos, he distinctly intimates more than once his agreement with the tradition of the ancients, that referred it to Domitian's persecution: and indeed implies, as is perfectly evident, that he knew of no other tradition whatsoever as to the time of St. John's banishment to Patmos." (vol. I, p. 35-36)
-- "The same is the recorded judgment of Jerome; the same of Augustine's friend, Orosius; the same of Sulpitius Severus. Once more, we find an unhesitating statement of similar purport in Primasius; an eminent Augustinian commentator on the Apocalypse, of the sixth century. In his Preface to this Commentary, he speaks of the Apocalyptic visions having been seen by St. John when banished and condemned to the mines in Patmos by the Emperor Domitian." (vol. I, p. 36)
Jerome lived from approximately 340-420 A.D. He is most well known for his revision of the "Old Latin" translation of the Bible into what is known as the Latin Vulgate. He also wrote commentaries on many books of Scripture. Sulpitius Severus who lived from approximately 363-420 A.D. was an ecclesiastical historian born in Aquitania. He spent his later years in monastic retirement at Toulouse, in Aquitania.
We learn from Elliott, a scholar who read all the statements from the early historians that they did not merely mimic St. Irenaeus, but that they were themselves scholars and their statements are the result of their own research into this matter.
"Such is the later and subsidiary Patristic testimony still extant, to the fact of St. John having seen the Apocalyptic visions in Patmos under the reign of Domitian: -- a chain of testimony not to be viewed... as but the repetition of that of Irenaeus, whom indeed for the most part these writers do not even refer to: but as their own deliberate independent judgment, formed on all the evidence which then existed. As to any contrary early tradition respecting the date, if such there was, ...it can scarcely have been unknown the them. And their total silence respecting it is only explicable on one of two suppositions; -- viz. either that it did not exist; or that they deemed it undeserving of credit, and not even worth the notice." (vol. I, p. 36-37)
Next Elliott reviews the early works which placed the writing of Revelation during Nero's reign or earlier. He finds these works to be of questionable value.
-- "Nor can it be wondered at: seeing that as to any contrary statement on the point in question, there appears to have been none whatsoever until the time of Epiphanius, Bishop of Salamis in Cyprus, in the latter half of the fourth century: ...whose chief work, On Heresies, is decried ... as 'full of blots and errors, through the levity and ignorance of the author:' ...For he speaks of St. John having prophesied when in the isle of Patmos, in the days of the Emperor Claudius: --a time when... it does not appear from history that there was any imperial persecution of the Christian body whatsoever..." (vol. I, p. 37)
" ...another testimony to the early date of the Apocalypse. The subscription to a Syriac version of the book, written about the beginning of the sixth century, is thus worded; 'The Revelation which was made by God to John the Evangelist in the island of Patmos, whither he was banished by the Emperor Nero.' But of what value is this opinion, then first broached, as it would appear?" ( vol. I, p. 38-39)
Elliott adds this footnote which explains that Domitian was sometimes given the title of Nero.
"May not the mistake have arisen from Domitian having sometimes the title of Nero given him; and in fact the original writer of the Syriac subscription have meant Domitian, not Nero?" He includes in this footnote further proofs given in Latin of this title applying to Domitian. (vol. I pg. 39, footnote 1)
Arethas born in 860 A.D. was archbishop of Caesarea and had great influence at the Byzantine court. His commentary on the Apocalypse was mostly a compilation, in which he mainly follows Andreas, who questioned the commonly accepted writing date of 96 A.D.
-- "Or again, [what of] the commentator Arethas, promulgated still two or three centuries later, to the effect that the Apocalypse was written before the destruction of Jerusalem; an opinion contradicted indeed elsewhere in the body of his work by himself?" (vol. I, p. 39)
"Alike the one and the other slept unnoticed for centuries. And, if waked up by critics of a more modern age, it has only been ... from the supposed necessity of such dates, in order to [justify] any possible explanation of the Apocalyptic prophecies." (vol. I, p. 39)
So we see that the earliest and most substantive testimony leans heavily in favor of a later, or Domitian date. And as to the contrary opinions supporting a Neronic date they are seen to be fewer in number, written later, and less tangible. It stands to reason, therefore, that the main support by Praeterists for a Neronic date is found by casting doubt on what was meant by the statements of key witnesses. In other words, what Praeterists have done to Irenaeus' statement is also done to the other key statements. Elliott goes into great detail to refute the arguments of this nature, however, we have not included them here for succinctness. (See Horae Apocalypticae vol. I, p. 39, footnote 6 for defense of Eusebius' statement and p. 34, footnote 2 for defense of Clement's story.)
"A good deal of the modern presumption in favor of a Domitianic date is based on the belief that a great, sustained period of persecution and slaughter of Christians was carried on under his rule. This belief, cherished as it is, does not seem to be based on any hard evidence at all." (p.4)
This argument is the one we find most puzzling of all. We do not require a period of slaughter and persecution of Christians under Domitian in order to believe the Book of Revelation was written in that period. In fact, we use the absence of this type of persecution to our advantage in the following manner: Under Nero Christians were more likely to be killed as were Paul and Peter, yet under Domitian, Christians were banished, as was John. Had John been brought before Nero, why was he not put to death as were so many others?
"Our safest course, therefore, must be to study the Revelation itself to see what internal evidence it presents regarding its date. As we will see throughout the commentary, the Book of Revelation is primarily a prophecy of the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans. This fact alone places St. John's authorship somewhere before September of A.D. 70. Further, as we shall see, St. John speaks of Nero Caesar as still on the throne - and Nero died in June 68" (p. 4)
Most scholars do not view the Book of Revelation as primarily a prophecy of the destruction of Jerusalem; and therefore their interpretation of this book does not require a writing date of 64-68 A.D. The Praeterist interpretation, however, cannot exist without an earlier date. We find Chilton's argument in this regard, to be circular.
Considering Chilton's statement "as we shall see, St. John speaks of Nero Caesar as still on the throne - and Nero died in June 68", we find on page 436 of The Days of Vengeance the following statement based on his interpretation of Revelation 17:9-10 "...for there are seven kings; five have fallen: The first five Caesars were Julius, Augustus, Tiberius, Caligula, and Claudius. One is: Nero, the sixth Caesar, was on the throne as St. John was writing the Revelation." We don't wish to proceed with a lengthy discussion of other interpretations of this passage but will include this brief rebuttal from Elliott: "Which last argument also takes for granted, what needs to be proved, that the Beast's heads mean single emperors; contrary to the analogy of Daniel 7:6, 8:22." (vol. I, p. 543)
Here again we must point out that Chilton, by assuming a king means a single emperor, is taking the meaning of the vision in a literal manner. On the other hand, to view the "kings" mentioned as different forms of Roman government is more in keeping with a symbolic interpretation.
"More important than any of this, however, we have a priori teaching from Scripture itself that all special revelation ended by A.D. 70. The angel Gabriel told Daniel that the 'seventy weeks' were to end with the destruction of Jerusalem (Daniel 9:24-27); and that period would also serve to 'seal up the vision and prophecy' (Dan.9:24). In other words, special revelation would stop - be 'sealed up' - by the time Jerusalem was destroyed. The Canon of Holy Scripture was entirely completed before Jerusalem fell." (p. 5)
In order to refute this argument we need to address two issues:
1. Within what time frame does the 'seventy weeks' fall?
2. What was supposed to happen, what prophecy was fulfilled?
We will examine the aforementioned prophecy (Daniel 9:24-27) verse by verse presenting an alternative interpretation from the one referred to by Mr. Chilton.
1. The Time Frame:
Daniel 9:24 -- Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy.
Is the time frame mentioned by Daniel (seventy weeks) literal or symbolic? First, what does the term "seventy weeks" mean? "seventy" is Strong's #7657, "shib'iym". Pronounced Shib-eem. Meaning seventy. This is a multiple of #5651, (shibah or seven ). And "weeks", Strong's # 7620, "shebuah", pronounced sheb-oo-aw. This is a past participle of #7651, sevened i.e., a week.. Seventy Weeks means Seventy Sevens or Weeks, or 490 days. If these were literal days, this prophecy would be fulfilled within a year and one-half. If these are symbolic days, then it would be useful if we were also given a key to understanding them. And in fact, we find such a key given in His word. The word of God states in Matt 18:16 and 2 Corinthians 13:1, that by the word of two or three witnesses is a matter established, and there are two cases given where one day is to represent one year:
And your children shall wander in the wilderness forty years, and bear your whoredoms, until your carcasses be wasted in the wilderness.
After the number of the days in which ye searched the land, even forty days, each day for a year, shall ye bear your iniquities, even forty years, and ye shall know my breach of promise. (Numbers 14:33,34)
And when thou hast accomplished them, lie again on thy right side, and thou shalt bear the iniquity of the house of Judah forty days: I have appointed thee each day for a year. (Ezekiel 4:6)
This is what is known as the "day for a year" principle; and, with this firmly established by scripture, we can move on.
Daniel 9:25 -- Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troubles times.
The starting point is the Decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem. This Decree came about 457 BC under the Medo-Persian monarch Artaxerxes. This will be found in the book of Ezra.
Now this is the copy of the letter that the king Artaxerxes gave unto Ezra the priest, the scribe, even a scribe of the words of the commandments of the LORD, and of his statutes to Israel.
Artaxerxes, king of kings, unto Ezra the priest, a scribe of the law of the God of heaven, perfect peace, and at such a time.
I make a decree, that all they of the people of Israel, and of his priests and Levites, in my realm, which are minded of their own freewill to go up to Jerusalem, go with thee. (Ezra 7:11-13)
The people were to spend 7 weeks, or 49 years in rebuilding and restoring Jerusalem under the administration of Ezra and Nehemiah. They worked for 49 years restoring the civil establishment of the Judeans. This period was from 457 BC to 408 BC. They were then to spend another 62 weeks, or 434 years in awaiting the Messiah. Sure enough, "sixty nine weeks" or 483 years after the Decree of Artaxerxes, in 27AD, ( allowing for the crossing of BC to AD ) the Lord Jesus was baptized by John in the waters of the River Jordan being declared the Son of God with power when the Holy Ghost descended in the form of a dove and the voice from heaven proclaimed:
This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased. (Matthew 3:17)
We have Jesus himself make the following prophetic announcement:
Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God,
And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel. (Mark 1:14,15)
What did He mean by saying "the time is fulfilled?" The fullness of time was mandated by the seventy weeks. The messiah could not appear on the scene until 483 years had elapsed from Artaxerxes decree. This, Jesus fulfilled. The seventieth week had arrived.
Daniel 9:26 -- And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolation's are determined.
"Shall Messiah be cut off" speaks of the abrupt and untimely nature of His death. What follows, "the people of the prince...." is a reference of the destruction of Jerusalem, completely described in Mat. 24, Mark 13, Luke 21. Although the act which is judged (the "jews" rejecting the Messiah) is included within the time frame of the prophecy, the judgment itself (the destruction of Jerusalem) is not.
Daniel 9:27 -- And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease,...
What covenant was Messiah to confirm? Why, none other than the New Covenant, the covenant promised to Israel by Jeremiah.
Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah:
Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the LORD:
But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. (Jeremiah 31:31-33)
When was this covenant confirmed? At Passover, 3 1/2 years after He began His earthly ministry. Before His death He proclaimed in the gospel of Matthew:
And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it;
For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. (Matthew 26:27,28)
Daniel 9:27 -- ....and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.
Again, the prophetic warning of judgment.
Now, what about the remaining 3 1/2 "days" or 3 1/2 years. When does the Seventy Weeks conclude, is it as Mr. Chilton would have us think, at 70 A.D., the destruction of Jerusalem? No, 70 A.D. is well outside the context of the 490 year prophecy. The 70th week starts at Jesus' baptism, in 27 A.D. 3 1/2 years later the New Covenant is confirmed to Israel.
What Peter, John and the rest of the Apostles see that signaled the end of the seventy weeks?
The End of the Week. *
After the death and resurrection of our Lord, there yet remained three and a half years of the prophecy to be fulfilled. Half of the week remained to confirm the covenant with the House of Judah. Before He ascended unto Heaven, Christ commanded His disciples.
Go ye, therefore, and teach all nations. ... (Matthew 28:19)
This commission authorized the disciples to go out into the whole world and preach the good news of the Kingdom. However, they didn't do it immediately. They remained and preached to the Judeans and the Judeans alone. The more they preached, the more they were persecuted. This persecution came to a dramatic head with the death of the martyr Stephen.
In Acts 7:51-59, we read of Stephen's great defense and his condemnation of the Judeans is sharply delivered. "Christ or nothing" was his message. They were cut to the heart, and they killed him.
* My thanks to Robert Caringola for these sections of Chapter 13 of "Seventy Weeks"
The death of Stephen is dated by most scholars three years after the crucifixion, in 33 AD. Some have tried to place the end of the time measure there. I do not believe this is correct. The prophecy stated that the Covenant would be confirmed for seven years exclusively to the Judeans.
I believe we must account for the period of transition into the next year. With the time measure beginning in 457BC, it cannot end until 34AD. Therefore we need to find the event that transpired in this year which signaled the end of the prophecy.
In Matthew 10:5, Jesus instructs His disciples:
Go not unto the way of the Gentles (or Nations ), and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not.
Christ also told His disciples to "go into all the world". This is not a contradiction. The apostles understood that they were restricted by Daniel's prophecy for three and a half years after Jesus' death. At the end of that period they would be free to preach salvation to the gentiles. How do we know this? After the resurrection, Jesus met with two men walking on the road to Emmaus. They did not recognize Him at first. He rebuked them for them for not believing all the prophets had spoken concerning Him. But in Chapter 24:27, Luke makes the following statement:
And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.
We are told that the apostles were instructed in all prophecies pertaining to Christ. Revelation knowledge caused the hearts of these disciples to burn with in them (v. 32) That's why they remained and preached exclusively to the Judeans after receiving the "great commission" Revelation of Bible prophecy is a wonderful thing.
What did Peter and John see that signaled the end of their prophetic restriction and likewise culminated the seventy weeks? When does God make His first recorded move to the gentiles?
The Gospel Preached in Samaria
Then Phillip went down to the city (region) of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them. (Acts 8:5)
Why did Phillip do this? Didn't he know that Christ had forbidden them to preach in Samaria? (Matt 10:15 ) Did he rebel against the Lord's commandment? Did Peter and John also rebel? When they heard that the Gospel was preached in Samaria they departed as a team to establish what Phillip had started. The answer is simple. They did not rebel; they had been released by the Holy Spirit. It was 34A.D., and the seventy weeks had been fulfilled. The Gentiles were, for the first time, receiving the opportunity ( the Kingdom message ). Yes, it is just that simple!
Seven years later, Peter took the Gospel to Caesarea, to Cornelius and his entire household (Acts 10) The message of the New Covenant was proclaimed.
Then in Acts chapter 13, the apostle Paul makes a very emphatic statement to the Judeans in Antioch.
Then Paul and Barnabas waxed bold, and said, It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you: but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles.
For so hath the Lord commanded us, saying,..... (Acts 13:46,47)
Why is it worded that way? Why was it necessary that the New Covenant message be spoken to the Judean first? Because with the Judeans He confirmed His covenant for one week.
As the Angel Gabriel stated: "Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and thy holy city." So the prophecy commenced and ended, encompassing all the necessary predictions. There is no future seven year tribulation period, nor is the seventy weeks some vague indeterminate time period.
2. The Fulfillment of the Prophecy. **
"Daniel's Seventy Weeks" contains six messianic prophecies.
* To finish the transgression, literally to restrain or shut up Israel's rebellion. Isaiah 53: 5 says He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities and the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes, we are healed. Daniel 9:11 says that all Israel has transgressed thy law, but the unmatched transgression occurred at Calvary, when Israel crucified her Messiah. Adam Clark comments that this was to finish or restrain the transgression, which was effected by the preaching of the Gospel, and the pouring of the Holy Ghost upon men.
* To make an end of sins. In Matthew 1:21 we read, "He shall save His people from their sins". Colossians 2:14 says " Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross". Hebrew 9:26 states, "But now once in the end of the world ( aion ) hath He appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. When was the end of the "world"? At the fall of Jerusalem? No, at Jesus' sacrifice. Again quoting Adam Clarke who expounded well on the prophecy, " To make an end of the sin offering, which our Lord did when he offered his spotless body on the cross once and for all". Acts 3:14 says we denied the Holy One, desiring a murderer to be granted unto us. "He was numbered with the transgressors, but he was there for the vast transgressions of His people. It was there that He was wounded for our transgressions and bruised for our iniquities. Who can doubt that His perfect atonement made an end of the need for future sin offerings?
* To make reconciliation for iniquity. In Second Corinthians 5:19, Paul proclaims, "God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself..." Paul states again in Romans 5:10, "For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son (# 2644, katallaso, to change mutually, compound a difference.)
** Again my thanks to Robert Caringola for "Seventy Weeks" Chapter 11, Six Messianic Prophecies, most of the following will be found in this work.
* To bring in everlasting righteousness. Second Corinthians 5:21 states, " For He hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. 1 Corinthians 1:30 states, " But of Him are ye in Jesus Christ, who of God made unto us wisdom, righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption." Isaiah 51:8 states ... my righteousness shall be for ever, and my salvation from generation to generation. Jeremiah 23:5-6 says Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth. 6In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is his name whereby he shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS. Spurgeon declared, "One of the main designs of Christ coming to earth was to bring in everlasting righteousness".
* To seal up the vision and prophecy. Isaiah 29:10-11 states "For the LORD hath poured out upon you the spirit of deep sleep, and hath closed your eyes: the prophets and your rulers, the seers hath he covered. And the vision of all is become unto you as the words of a book that is sealed, which men deliver to one that is learned, saying, Read this, I pray thee: and he saith, I cannot; for it is sealed" The word sealed is used in the same context as did Daniel when writing about the king's seal on the lion's den. ( Dan. 6:17) It means to close up tightly. Because of Israel's refusal to listen and heed the words of the prophets, finally rejecting the Lord Himself , their judgment would be a terrible blindness that would tightly seal up the Scriptures to their understanding. Paul elaborates on this in Second Corinthians 3:14-15 "But their minds were blinded: for until this day remaineth the same vail untaken away in the reading of the old testament; which vail is done away in Christ. But even unto this day, when Moses is read, the vail is upon their heart." Again, because of Israel's cry, "His blood be on us and on our children," Part of their judgment was a blindness to what the prophets wrote concerning the Messiah.
* To anoint the most Holy. The scriptural evidence which points to Christ on this issue is unshakable. Jesus alone fulfilled this prophecy. In Luke 1:35, the scriptures say, " Therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God." Again, in Luke 4;18, " The spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath appointed me to preach the gospel to the poor. In Acts 10:38 it is proclaimed, " God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power."
Why were the Seventy Weeks determined? To finish the transgression; to make an end of sins; to make reconciliation for iniquity; to bring in everlasting righteousness; to seal up the vision and prophecy; and to anoint the most Holy!
Daniel's vision provided his people with a divine timetable of consecutive years for redemption accomplished, not a game of stop the clock for gap filling speculation! This great week of salvation was wrought after the 69th "week" of years, in the middle of the 70th week, by virtue of Christ's death and resurrection. Daniel 9 is good news... Rejoice in it! (Vic Lockman, "Who Stopped the Clock?) Mr. Lockman, a Praeterist, amply defends the "Divine Time Measure" against those who would place a "gap" of almost two thousand years in the Seventy Weeks. Mr. Chilton, by placing the destruction of Jerusalem within the Seventy Weeks Prophecy of the establishment of the New Covenant, also requires a gap of 30 or more years. It cannot be!.
We reviewed six points in Chilton's work, The Days of Vengeance, which he contends support an early dating of the book of Revelation, during Nero's reign, prior to 70 A.D. We assert that the preponderance of internal and external evidence points to a 96 A.D. writing.
1. Chilton suggests that references to Temple worship articles in the detail offered in the Revelation prove that book was written while the Temple was still standing, i.e., prior to 70 A.D. We believe that God provided John with the ability to accurately describe the vision he saw, even articles from a temple no longer standing. Also, as Elliott explains, the purpose of the Temple articles are to point to Christ himself and to prepare John and future readers to use this interpretive aid.
2. External support for the dating of the book of Revelation came from writings by the early church fathers and historians which have been preserved. The chief support which places John on the island of Patmos during the reign of Domitian, around 96 A.D. is a statement recorded by St. Irenaeus. Irenaeus lived in the second century A.D. and was a student of one of St. John's followers, Polycarp. This statement was unchallenged for centuries by church historians. In the past three centuries, however, it has come under scrutiny by Praeterists. They say it has been misunderstood by those church fathers who were masters of the Greek. language. If this is not enough, they also imply that St. Irenaeus has made a careless mistake about the writing date. We stand by Irenaeus' statement and all the learned men who did not try to impeach this source.
3. Many other supports for a 96 A.D. date are found in the writing of early church fathers including Tertullian, Clement of Alexandria, Victorinus and Eusebius. They do not merely repeat what was stated by St. Irenaeus, but were themselves scholars and historians. They reached their conclusion based on all available information, some which may not have survived to this present day. Had there been a contrary opinion it would have been mentioned. However, none appeared until the fourth century and later, all of questionable value.
4. Contrary to Chilton's opinion, the 96 A.D. date is not based on the belief that Christians were slaughtered under Domitian's reign. It is commonly accepted that Domitian often banished Christians for punishment and this was the punishment inflicted on John - he was banished to Patmos where he received the Revelation.
5. Chilton next claims that since the Revelation describes the fall of Jerusalem, it therefore must prove the Neronic date of writing. This is circular reasoning. Early church fathers interpreted the Revelation as then future to them and modern Historicists see its fulfillment through the ages with some parts yet unfulfilled. These interpretations do not hinge on the writing date, while the Praeterist interpretation does.
6. Finally, Mr. Chilton's most important point was that we have some a priori teaching from Scripture itself that the "seventy weeks" was to end with the fall of Jerusalem and that all special revelations given to men also ended by 70 A.D. We have demonstrated in our short discourse that for the "seventy weeks" to have ended at the fall of Jerusalem would have required another "break" in time, similar to how the Futurists view this prophecy. This was proved by applying the "Day for a Year" principle, which is firmly grounded in Scripture. The subject of the Day for a Year is so rich that it deserves a thorough study of its own. The "seventy weeks" concerned itself not with announcing the end of God's revelations to man but rather with the appearance of Jesus Christ, His ministry and the call of the Gentiles or Nations into Salvation. Again, why were the "seventy weeks" determined? To finish the transgression; to make an end of sins; to make reconciliation for iniquity; to bring in everlasting righteousness; to seal up the vision and prophecy; and to anoint the most Holy!
We have looked at one aspect of a very complex and controversial issue. There are many more areas of disagreement between Historicism and Praeterism we could have argued (e.g., the man of sin ). However, the dating of the book of Revelation stopped us up short. This is for Praeterists a foundational issue. We were not surprised, however, at Chilton's light treatment of it. He was preaching to the converted and as we have demonstrated, the evidence for the early date is scanty. We are hoping this paper will reach some with "ears to hear". We hope that those in the Christian Identity and churches who lean toward the Praeterist interpretation simply as a viable alternative to the false doctrines of Futurism will seriously reconsider. Historicism is a satisfying and godly view of Revelation. It allows for God's hand to be seen in our past, present and future. Events which have been considered political in nature are shown to be fulfillment of His recorded word. No other interpretation offers this. Praeterism, placing Revelation behind us and Futurism, placing Revelation before us, put these revealing prophecies out of our present lives.
We have included some background information on Elliott found in The Prophetic Faith of Our Fathers by LeRoy Edwin Froom:
"Edward Bishop Elliott (1793-1875), scholarly prophetic expositor, received his education at Trinity College, Cambridge, graduating in 1816. After traveling in Italy and Greece he was given the vicarage of Tuxford, Nottingham, in 1824, and later was made prebendary of Heytesbury, Wiltshire. In 1849 he became incumbent of St. Mark's Church, Brighton. A member of the Evangelical school, he was an earnest promoter of missionary enterprise and an ardent advocate of premillenialism. Elliott was thoroughly equipped as a scholar and was deeply interested in prophecy, spending a lifetime in investigation and seeking to understand God's mind thereon. His Horae Apocalypticae (Hours with the Apocalypse) [literally 'time with the Apocalypse'] is doubtless the most elaborate word ever produced on the Apocalypse... Begun in 1837, its 2500 pages of often involved and overloaded text are buttressed by some 10,000 invaluable references to ancient and modern works bearing on the topics under discussion.... Perhaps its most unique feature is the concluding sketch of the rise and spread of the Jesuit countersystems of interpretation that had made such inroads upon Protestantism. Holding unswervingly to the Historical School of interpretation, Elliott gives the most complete exposure of these counterinterpretations to be found." (vol. III, pgs. 716-718)
Caringola, Robert. Seventy Weeks: The Historical Alternative. Springfield, MO: Abundant Life Ministries: 1991.
Chilton, David. The Days of Vengeance. Ft. Worth, TX: Dominion Press, 1987.
Elliott, E.B. Horae Apocalypticae (Fifth Edition). London: Seeley, Jackson, and Halliday, 1862.
Froom, LeRoy Edwin. The Prophetic Faith of Our Fathers. Washington D.C.: Review and Herald, 1946.
Lockman, Vic. Who Stopped the Clock? The 70 Weeks of Daniel. Ramona, CA: Vic Lockman.
Suggested course of further study
1. The Present Reign of Jesus Christ - Robert Caringola, C/O Abundant Life Ministries, 157 Park Central Square, Springfield MO. 65806
2. Study in Revelation - Howard Rand, Destiny Publishers, PO Box 177, Merrimac MA. 01860-0177
3. Studies in Daniel - Alan Campbell, New Beginnings, PO Box 228, Waynesville NC. 28786
4. A flood of Light on the Book of Revelation - John S. Fox, New Beginnings, PO Box 228, Waynesville NC. 28786
5. Revelation in History - Daniel Wilhelm, Companion Press, PO Box 310, Shippenburg, PA 17257
6. Horae Apocalypticae - E.B. Elliot Available through Interlibrary loan
7. Approaching End of the Age Gratton Guiness Available through Interlibrary loan
William and Sandra Kalivas
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Rochester Hills MI 48309
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- 03 Apr 2002
so are you saying jesus was wrong in luke 21?
- 15 Aug 2003
Hi, Do you happen to know how to contact Robert Caringola? Thanks, Pat
Date: 26 Jul 2012
Very good, helpful refutation of the spreading error of the foundation of
Keep up the good work.