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Insight #23 — Revelation and the Early Christians

Some think that the early Christians would not have found meaning in the book of Revelation unless its fulfillment came in the first century. What consolation, they say, would those Christians have found in a deliverance that was centuries in the future?

Do such arguments help to determine the time frame for the fulfillment of the prophecies in Revelation? I think not.

Reason one — Long-range prophecy is one of the greatest proofs that the Bible is the Word of God. By its very nature, long-range prophecy requires one generation receiving it for the benefit of a future generation. That is precisely what the inspired apostle Peter explained regarding the Gospel: “Of this salvation the prophets have inquired… searching what, or what manner of time, the Spirit of Christ who was in them was indicating… To them it was revealed that, not to themselves, but to us they were ministering the things which now have been reported” (1 Peter 1:10-12). The prophets wanted to understand their own words. They were told, “No; you are serving future generations.”

Reason two — No matter what the time frame for the fulfillment of Revelation may be, Christ’s victory shines through the entire book. Thus the book has great value for believers of all times. If we understand nothing of the specific fulfillment of Revelation, we can still grasp that Satan will finally be overcome and that Jesus of Nazareth will triumph as “King of kings and Lord of lords.”