The futurist takes virtually all of the Book of Revelation and
moves it out into the distant, unknown future. The preterist, on
the other hand, would have all or most of it happening in AD 70.
The debate over which is right and which is wrong has been going
on for many years. The great controversy is not, it seems, over
what is really true, it is over which side has the stronger argument.
Why are preterists so motivated to defend their "cause" (if it
can be named a "cause")? Why are futurists almost ready to wage
war when someone questions their assertion that Revelation was
written AFTER, and not BEFORE, A.D.70? In the case of the
Futurist, the answer possibly is this: if it can be proved that
Revelation was written before AD 70, then many of their future
predictions will be seen to have already happened. The system
of beliefs, therefore, which futurism has built up over the years
since the times of Darby-Scofield, falls like a house of cards.
Thousands of books, articles, sermons, and commentaries become
worthless paper and empty noise.
The salvation of futurism, then, rests in a late date authorship
of the book of Revelation - that is - a post-A.D.70 date. Preterism
teaches just the opposite: that most things happened by the end of
A.D.70. So the battle rages on. Which side is right, and where is the proof?
Dispensationalists [futurists] have nothing going for them
Scripturally, so they lean totally on external evidence. All
arguments in favor of a late date for Revelation rest with the
"integrity and reliability" of the early church fathers, such as
Papias, Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Tertullian, Methodus, Apollinaris,
and others who lived within some three hundred years of the time of
John. A Dispensationalist writes: "We don't have any more reliable
Church tradition than this..." (Hal Lindsey, The Road To Holocaust p 245).
As far as tradition
goes, he may be right. But tradition - even Church
tradition - is a weak shoulder to lean on.
Mr. Lindsey states that, "The correctness of the date [A.D.
96] is also confirmed by all those traditions which refer the exile of John
upon Patmos to his extreme old age, or which describe Revelation as the latest,
or one of the latest, writings in the N.T. (IBID 246).
If this is a defense of a late date for Revelation, then it is by no means a
substantial one. And it is self-contradictory as well. According to "tradition," they say,
John was exiled to Patmos when he was in his extreme old age. But while he was there,
writing the book of Revelation, he was told that he must travel and prophesy to many
peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings. By the way, it is also only by tradition
that Dispensationalists "know" that Revelation is one of the latest writings in the N.T.
"And he said unto me, Thou must prophesy again before many
peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings"
So the question is, how old was John at the time? How old is "extreme?" Since travel in
those days was largely by foot, or by donkey, we can imagine the hardship John
would be exposed to by such a command. Would our Lord expect an extremely old man to
endure such? That, at least to me, is doubtful.
There is no question that John was on the Isle of Patmos when he wrote Revelation; the Bible
explicitly says so. Was he exiled? That is open to question. Was he there after AD70?
There is absolutely no evidence of that. It seems that the case for John being exiled to Patmos
after AD70 is built up of tradition upon tradition. Because there is no clear Scripture available,
Dispensationalists' only recourse is to call upon traditions and external "evidence" to subsantantiate
or confirm what they read into Scripture.
In spite of all the scholarly zeal to prove their doctrine, Dispensationalists fail to
notice some seemingly minor details, and a few major contradictions. John was exiled to
Patmos, they say, because he preached the Word of God, and had the testimony of Jesus Christ.
We are told that this happened under the reign of Domitian, who forced Christians "...to
choose between Christ or Caesar as Lord." (IBID 251).
But if so then there are more problems to consider.
The Scripture verse says,
"I John, who also am your brother, and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and
patience of Jesus Christ, was in the isle that is called Patmos, for the Word of God, and
for the testimony of Jesus Christ"
The Bible tells us why John was on Patmos, though not clearly. The word "for," in this verse,
can be interpreted in either one of two basic ways; either "as a result of," or "for the
Since the wording is similar to Revelation 6:9, "And when he had opened the fifth seal,
I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the
testimony which they held,"
where it is obvious that they were slain because of
the Word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ. Scholars then naturally assume that such must
be the case with John on Patmos. But there are difficulties with that view.
The persecution of Christians for their faith was widespread.
But while John is on Patmos in exile "because of" preaching the Word, Jesus sends a message
by His angel, commanding him to write to seven churches in Asia. He commends some, and
reprimands others. But though all of the churches were by no means perfect in their conduct,
nothing is said of them having renounced faith in Christ, or having ceased to preach the
Word of God, yet we must assume that all these churches, being in that area, were under the
reign of Domitian who forced Christians to choose between Christ or Caesar as Lord, and
persecuted those that didn't.
Under such widespread persecution as futurists describe, all
these churches would have had to renounce Christ to survive. The
Scripture speaks of persecution, but gives no clear sense that
any of those pastors fell in with Rome, nor were any imprisoned
the same as John. So why would John be singled out for exile to
Patmos while the pastors of all these other churches were
permitted to carry on "business as usual," doing the same things
John had been doing; worshiping God, and having the testimony of
Jesus Christ? External evidence, has precious little
to say concerning the seven churches, and how they got by with doing
what John was exiled to Patmos for.
How reliable is external evidence? At least in my opinion, not very.
What about the sayings of the old church fathers, say, those who lived
no later than a hundred years or so after John? How do we really know
what they saw, or heard, or read? Have their writings been preserved
better than the writings of the holy men? The Original Scriptures of
that era had vanished, even though they were inspired by God. After
many copies, and copies of copies, the Word has not been perfectly
preserved, we are told by modern textual critics, who are still
working day and night, finding errors and making corrections. How can
we be certain that the writings of these early Church fathers, which
were not inspired, have been preserved to the extent that they can be
relied upon to support theories which are not found in the Bible?
Satan is a really smart character, and if he had plans to obfuscate any
worthwhile knowledge in the Church, he started early, planting "external
evidence" here and there from the beginning. Paul warned: "For I know
this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you,
not sparing the flock" (Acts 20:29).
So, we must conclude that shortly after Paul left, the wolves -
the false teachers - came in, preaching lies and deceit wherever
they could find careless and gullible Christians to listen. Who
can believe anything outside the Bible, when only by the grace of
God did the inspired Word of God itself escape their crafty
Although Futurists will vehemently deny that John could have been on the
Isle of Patmos FOR THE PURPOSE OF preaching the Word of God, and
worshipping Jesus Christ, reason and common sense demand that such a
probability surely exists. "I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day, and
heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet,"
(Rev. 1:10) The
Revelation took place on the Lord's day, which we suppose to be Sunday.
John may have been on the Isle on a Sunday preaching in the fishing
villages there. Who knows?
Did you know that no one has ever found any real physical evidence that
John was imprisoned on the isle of Patmos? All they have ever found is a
cave, which tradition
says was used by John. Was all this a secret
plot to convince the world that the book of Revelation was written
evidence shows that it was written BEFORE, not after.