The Chronological Interpretation of Revelation 2-3 -- By: Robert L. Thomas

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 124:496 (Oct 1967)
Article: The Chronological Interpretation of Revelation 2-3
Author: Robert L. Thomas


The Chronological Interpretation of Revelation 2-3

Robert L. Thomas

[Robert L. Thomas, Professor of New Testament Language and Literature, Talbot Theological Seminary, La Mirada, California.]

Widespread interest has been attached to the interpretation of the seven church messages of Revelation 2–3, and each approach is usually an outgrowth of the time period or periods to which these messages are assigned. Viewpoints varying from past to future application have been advanced, but the most prominent may be discussed under three headings: the prophetical, the historico-prophetical, and the historical.

The Prophetical Interpretation

The prophetical interpretation looks upon these seven messages as being entirely future in their significance. There is absolutely no historical meaning in them; their import is intended for assemblies yet to be established on the earth. They are Jewish in their makeup, and are not to be identified with the body of Christ. The seven will occupy their places on the earth during the eschatological day of the Lord.1

Support mustered for this view includes the following arguments:

1. Verse nineteen of chapter one testifies to the unity of the Apocalypse, not to its twofold or threefold division, and therefore chapters 2–3 relate to the future just as do the portions beginning with chapter 4 .2 One’s acceptance of this proof must hinge upon his understanding of Revelation 1:19, and there is no unanimity in regard to this verse. For example, many

hold that this verse expresses a threefold division, not a single entity.3 Still others see a twofold division. Consequently, the unity of the verse becomes of doubtful value in supporting the prophetic view.

2. It is the further argument of this viewpoint that the angels of Revelation 23 necessitate a connection with Israel rather than with the Christian church. With this the case, it is proposed, these churches must exist after the Gentile church is removed, i.e., in the future day of the Lord.4 Here, once again, the answer lies in questioning the premise of the argument: are angels never mentioned in relation to the church? The answer must be negative in light of...

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