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Q25 : Global Context of Revelation 13

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Q25 : Global Context of Revelation 13

I'm currently working my way through issues related to preterism. In a review of La Haye and Ice's The End Times Controversya [within which Andy Woods contributed the chapter titled, "Revelation 13 and the First Beast"] preterests respond:

Woods forces ge to mean the entire globe in Rev. 13:3 to claim that there is not a local fulfillment; . . . there is no grounds for making ge global except by begging the question. He admits the word can have a local meaning, but claims that a global nuance is added by the word "whole" and by the delimit in 13:7 of "every tribe, people, language, and nation" — never mind that contextually, this describes adequately the "whole land" of the Roman Empire and all its tribes, peoples, languages and nations. . . .1

I'm inclined to agree . . . that Rev.13:3 and 13:7 may not have a global scope in mind. Preterists say this describes adequately the whole land of the Roman empire and all its tribes, peoples, languages and tongues. Futurists can't simply assert it has a global referent.

It may do so but we can't from the context establish that it does without begging the question. In fact futurist Hal Harless2 believes that Rev 13:7-10 does not have a global scope. He says it seems to imply a world-wide rule - "authority over every tribe and people and tongue and nation was given to him," and "all who dwell on the earth will worship him." But he concludes that since other spheres of power are mentioned in prophecy (the kings of the east, Gog and Magog, etc.) and the beast's realm has already been shown to be a revived Roman Empire, this poses a problem. He points out that Thayer notes that pas, "every" can mean every kind which would mean that the beast's kingdom will be multi-national and multi-ethnic, ie. an empire but not coextensive with the entire globe. He cites Keener who argues that "all the earth" was used in other texts of John's time to mean all the civilized earth, all that was under a mighty empire. Thus he thinks the beast's realm may consist only of the area of the revived Roman Empire. This makes sense to me especially since we are told there will be opposition from other powers to the beast.

It seems to me therefore that we are best to treat such phrases as "all kindred, tongue," etc as context determined. But what about the other passages?

  • Rev 5:9 is sung in heaven so why assume that the 24 elders would still be limited in their awareness? Rev. 5:13 refers to every creature in heaven, on earth and under the earth and sea praising God. Preterists could respond that John 's focus is on the Roman empire although it wouldn't preclude creatures outside the empire praising God. But the language suggests it is exhaustive. Is heaven localised? John surely has in mind that everything everywhere that has existence is praising God. His geography is thus not limited to the Roman Empire.
  • Rev. 7:9 says there was a great multitude from many nations, tribes and tongues. The angel says they come out of the great tribulation (Rev. 7:14). Preterists would say this refers to the events surrounding AD70 and describes the multiracial members of the Roman empire. It would then have to refer to christians from many nations who survived that event. But it was primarily Jews (christians and non-christians) not christians from many nations in Jerusalem at the time. Rev. 7:9 therefore suggests a global scope. In
  • Rev. 10:11 the mention of kings suggests it is referring to more than the Roman empire and more than just Nero and Vespasian. Rev 16:14 refers to demons which go out to the kings of the whole world to gather them to battle at Armageddon. The word 'world' is oikoumene. But who do the kings of the east represent? This suggests that more than the Roman Empire is in view. Preterists would accept this because they recognise that oikoumene can embrace more than the Empire but what does this refer to? Elsewhere in Scripture the east refers to the Assyrians and Babylonians (eg Mt 2:1; Is 46:11). But when did these nations come together in this way before AD 70? This suggests a global referent. Also preterists would accept that the four corners of the world in Rev 20:8 refer to the whole world so it follows that Rev 7:1 does too. Here the four angels hold back the four winds of the earth. This also suggests a global referent.
Do you think I'm on the right track here?


1 www.tektonics.org/pretice2.html

2 halharless.home.comcast.net/papers/beast.htmb


A25 : by Andy Woods

Thanks for your interest in Eschatology and your willingness to defend futurism. I agree with most of your points. However, I still maintain that there is nothing in the context of Rev 13:3, 7 that would advocate a local interpretation. The mere existence of the word ge does not automatically yield a local interpretation because this same word can carry a global nuance elsewhere (Gen 1:1 in the LXX). There is simply nothing in the context of Rev 13 that limits the scope to local, ancient Rome. When Rev 13 is allowed to speak for itself rather than being subjected to ideas from outside the context, the global interpretation is the only logical conclusion.

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