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Revelation and the kingdom of Christ

April 14, 2012

In a post on Five Views of Revelation & Rev. 1:1-8, David Bielby mentions the Preterist, Futurist, Idealist, and Historical views, and a 5th view which sees Revelation as “revealing the inauguration of the Kingdom of God.”

In his post Different Approaches to Revelation Snapshot, Bielby cited Stephen S. Smalley, Vern Poythress, G. K. Beale as scholars who employed this approach. He notes, “This emphasis on the inauguration of the Kingdom of God is what binds Smalley, Poythress and Beale’s approach to Revelation together.”

Bielby’s position contrasts with the approach of Phillip J. Long in Interpreting Revelation – Modified Futurism, which is “reading most of Revelation as a prophecy of the second coming of the Messiah.” Prophecies that Long views as future, Bielby interprets as applying to the present age of the church. His article Is Revelation about the future or the past or a mix? addresses the issue.

On the 5th trumpet plague, in the post: The Seven Trumpets (Rev 8-11), Bielby wrote:

Demons are commissioned to torment hardened unbelievers by further impoverishing their soulds and reminding them of their hopeless spiritual plight. (9:1-12)

Bielby’s comments on the two witnesses of chapter 11 are limited to two paragraphs:

The Two witnesses in the middle of this horrible time call the world to repentence and are to warn the world of the coming wrath of God. These two witnesses represent the prophetic power packed testimony that the gospel of the Kingdom is true and that Jesus Christ is the savior and just judge of the world.

If the two witnesses represent the church, then the death of these two witnesses represents the death of the visible church at the end of her time to be a witness to the world.

Bielby’s position on Millennialism is presented in The Great Promise (Revelation 20:1-10). In the post he stated: “The Millennium started for deceased saints during the church age by the resurrection of their souls, placing them in the heavenly condition of having authority with Christ as priests and kings over spiritual death.”

For John, reigning with Christ is a privilege restricted to those who are beheaded, and who do not worship the beast. Beheaded is not meant literally, but has a spiritual meaning. Almost all commentators agree that the meaning of beheaded is not those saints who died by literal beheading with an ax, but most commentators fail to consider its spiritual meaning; the expression does not refer to martyrs. Taken literally, it would exclude those saints who were crucified, or burned at the stake, or killed by wild animals, or in other ways. Saints who died of sickness or old age would be excluded. I suggest the spiritual meaning of beheaded is connected with Paul’s teaching about the “renewing of your mind” in Romans 12:2 and Ephesians 4:23. This agrees with the interpretation of the first resurrection as being raised up with Christ in a spiritual sense, pictured by baptism, and applies to every genuine Christian, not just martyrs. Paul wrote:

Romans 6:4
Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.