"Thou hast given a banner to them that fear thee, that it may be displayed because of truth." — (Psalm 60:4)
"Lift ye up a banner upon the high mountain, exalt the voice unto them." — (Isaiah 13:2)
Devoted To The Defense Of The Church Against All Errors And Innovations
Vol.VI No.I Pg.3
August 1943

"The Essential Point In Premillennialism"-No. 6

We come now to examine the final passage cited by R. H. Boll in the outline of the Chattanooga, Tennessee, address on Premillennialism-Rev. 20:1-6. Brother Boll says "if there is ever to be such a time as that, then Christ must and will come before that time."

The generally accepted principle of Bible study, fundamental to learning even the elementary lessons of God's word, is to always consider "by whom and to whom" the particular language was spoken or written. This principle, generally applied to all other sections of the scriptures, has apparently not been applied to the book of Revelation.

The book of Revelation was addressed to the seven churches of Asia and it was evidently written especially for the churches named in the first chapter of the book. The early church was facing immediate persecution and trial, and the book was written for their comfort and encouragement. They were certainly in a better position to know and apply the meanings of the many symbols used than anyone could be today. Due to their position among pagan people and under pagan persecutors the things that were "signified" unto them, or set forth in signs or symbols, could not be put in plain, literal words. To have done so would have created greater opposition and would have precipitated a more immediate persecution.

A similar situation existed in the teaching of Jesus during his earthly ministry. He addressed the Jews in parables because he knew they would not make the right use of the information, and would use the teaching to further their own evil designs. But he explained the teaching to his disciples privately in plain words, "because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given." (Matt. 13:11) That was certainly true of the persecutors of the church. But John had lived and labored with the churches to whom the Revelation is addressed and he must have known that they would understand the signs and symbols used, and that they would know the imminent nature and ominous import of his apocalyptic language.

There are many indications in the book of Revelation that the things portrayed were fulfilled in the experiences of the churches addressed. Repeatedly Jesus said, "hold fast that which thou has till I come." This could not refer to the second coming of Christ--for that coming would take place during the life of the church named, while they were "holding fast" the things referred to. The Lord would come to them in the experiences through which they were passing and he therefore exhorted them to "hold fast" till he should come then--not his final personal coming.

It can hardly be denied that the conflict of the early church with the pagan persecuting powers is pictured, and both their struggles and triumphs are set forth in symbols. The persecutors are described under the imagery of beasts with multiple heads and tails and toes and hoofs and horns. The persecutions are set forth in figures of pestilence, scourge and famine; the pouring out of the contents of vials on the land and on the sea; wars, upheavals and disaster--setting forth all the fury of the persecutions that pagan rulers could hurl against the cause of the early Christians.

In the sixth chapter there is the vision of "the souls under the altar"--the souls of the slain, those who had been beheaded" for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held." Under the altar John saw souls... It was the vision, or scene, of defeat--the souls were under the altar, their cause despised, put down and defeated. The scenes and symbols continue until in the 20th chapter where the same souls--"the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God" were envisioned on thrones. That was the scene of triumph and victory. Taking the souls out from under the altar, the scene of defeat, and elevating them to thrones, the scene of victory, is described as a resurrection--the resurrection of their cause. And the closing chapters of the book present the glory and ecstasy of the triumphant church, emerging in the garbs of victory out of the experiences of the period described. It is then that the Lord repeated the mission and task of the glorious church of Christ in what may be appropriately called the second great commission and the second great invitation: "The Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely." John then closes the Revelation with the words: "He that testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come Lord Jesus." There is no evidence that this refers to the final personal coming of Christ, but rather to his promise to come to them "quickly"--to the churches addressed--in the experiences through which they should "shortly" pass. He did come to them in those experiences, One of the best proofs that the contents of the book of Revelation have no direct or immediate application to us now, lies in the fact that vital truths, truths essential to salvation, or to Christian life and duty, are not wrapped in mystic folds nor reserved for apocalyptic disclosure. There is no plain teaching of any of the apostles in any of the epistles to us along such lines, which is evidence enough that the contents of the book of Revelation were of special significance then and not for general application. As for "prophecies" that have been made in every age and generation since, purporting to be founded on the contents of that book, they have all one by one, turned out to be erroneous interpretations. History has ever believed and falsified them, and will continue to do so.

The theory that Jesus Christ will return to the earth, establish an earthly throne and kingdom and reign in his personal presence on the earth for one thousand years certainly has no support in the book of Revelation, which means that it has none any where else. The Pope of Rome sits on a literal throne and rules over the Catholic world. The king of England sits on a literal throne and rules Britain and her dominions. And there are those who think that they believe that Jesus Christ will come again in the flesh to sit on such a throne in Jerusalem!