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1824: Galt: The Bachelor's Wife

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1865: Desprez: Daniel (Renounced Full Preterism)

1870: Fall of Jerusalem and the Roman Conquest

1871: Dale: Jewish Temple and Christian Church (PDF)

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1888: Henty: For The Temple

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1917: Morris: Christ's Second Coming Fulfilled

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A Study in the Book of Revelation

Ralph E. Bass, Jr., Th. D.

Living Hope Press
Ralph E. Bass, Jr., 100 Iverson Street, Greenville, SC 29615.

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form
without permission in writing from the author.

A Study in the Book of Revelation

Table of Contents
(Check Back for Additional Content)


 Methods of Interpretation11
 The Author and Date20
 The Message, Purpose or Theme of the Book29
 The Purposes of this Judgement Coming34
 Its Message to the Current Church42
 The Audience of the Book - The Seven Churches in Asia Minor42
 The Book of Revelation and Its Relationship to the Olivet Discourse45
 The Outline of the Book48
 Chapter 1-Vision of the Son of Man51
 The Revelation of Jesus Christ51
 Message to the Seven Churches64
 The Patmos Vision84
 Chapter 2-The Seven Letters98
 Message to Ephesus99
 Message to Smyrna108
 Message to Pergamum113
 Message to Thyatira120
 Chapter 3-The Seven Letters 128
 Message to Sardis128
 Message to Philadelphia134
 Message to Laodicea141
 Chapter 4-The Throne Room149
 Scene in Heaven149
 The Throne and Worship of the Creator155
 Chapter 5-The Book and the Lamb163
 The Book with Seven Seals163
 Angels Exalt the Lamb171
 Chapter 6-The Opening of the Seals174
 The Book Opened; The First Seal-Conquest174
 The Second Seal-War177
 The Third Seal-Famine179
 The Fourth Seal-Death181
 The Fifth Seal-Martyrs183
 The Sixth Seal-Terror188
 Chapter 7-The Great Tribulation199
 An Interlude199
 A Remnant of Israel-144,000202
 A Multitude from the Tribulation207
 Chapter 8-The Seven Trumpets214
 Prelude to the Seven Trumpets214
 First Trumpet: Vegetation Struck221
 Second Trumpet: The Seas Struck222
 Third Trumpet: The Waters Struck227
 Fourth Trumpet: The Heavens Struck230
 Chapter 9-Trumpets Five and Six 234
 The Fifth Trumpet-the Bottomless Pit234
 The Sixth Trumpet-Army from the East241
 Chapter 10-The Mighty Angel and Eating the Little Book247
 The Angel and the Little Book247
 Chapter 11-The Two Witnesses and the Seventh Trumpet261
 The Two Witnesses261
 The Seventh Trumpet-Christ's Reign Foreseen277
 Chapter 12-The Woman, the Red Dragon
and Michael
 The Woman, Israel281
 The Red Dragon284
 The Male Child, Christ285
 Chapter 13-The Beast from the Sea and from the Land300
 The Beast Out of the Sea300
 The Beast out of the Land310
 Chapter 14-The Lamb and the 144,000 on Mount Zion319
 The Lamb and the 144,000 on Mount Zion319
 Vision of the Angel with the Gospel324
 Doom for Worshipers of the Beast328
 The Reapers333
 Chapter 15-The Seven Last Plagues343
 A Scene of Heaven343
 Chapter 16-Pouring out of the Bowls349
 Six Bowls of Wrath349
 First Bowl: Loathsome Sores349
 Second Bowl: The Sea Turns to Blood351
 Third Bowl: The Waters Turn to Blood352
 Fourth Bowl: Men Are Scorched354
 Fifth Bowl: Darkness and Pain355
 Sixth Bowl: Euphrates Dried Up357
 Seventh Bowl: The Earth Utterly Shaken366
 Chapter 17-Babylon Remembered374
 The Doom of Babylon374
 Victory for the Lamb392
 Chapter 18-The Fall of Babylon398
 Babylon Is Fallen398
 Lament for Babylon404
 Chapter 19-The Heavenly Conqueror 411
 The Fourfold Hallelujah411
 Marriage of the Lamb414
 The Coming of Christ419
 The Doom of the Beast and False Prophet428
 Chapter 20-The Millennium431
 Satan Bound431
 Satan Freed, Doomed447
 Judgement at the Throne of God455
 Chapter 21-All Things Made New462
 The New Heaven and Earth462
 The New Jerusalem478
 Chapter 22-Eternal Reign in Glory489
 The River and the Tree of Life489
 The Final Message493
 A Coming Judgement Against Israel502
 The Purposes of this Judgement Coming503
 But Preterism Robs the Church of its Eschatology509
 Eschatology Affects your Worldview511
 Appendix A513
 A Study in Greek Vocabulary513
 Appendix B515
 The Mark of the Beast and the Number of the Name?515
 Bibliography 522
 The Author 537


The Book of Revelation has been described as "a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma, and that efforts to understand it are a waste of time." Such a view hardly suggests any real hope in understanding its contents. The fact of the matter is any book taken out of its original context becomes difficult to understand, and no book in the entire Bible has suffered more from being removed from its historic context than the Book of Revelation. The contention of this study is that the Book of Revelation is virtually without meaning if its historical context is not given center stage. However, when it is given this perspective, the pages open to our understanding like petals on a beautiful flower.

Methods of Interpretation

Throughout Christian history, the Book of Revelation has been approached in many different ways.

The Futurists see in this book a prophecy about times that have not yet come and events that have not yet occurred. Although written to seven churches nearly 2000 years ago, they see in it no significant message to those churches, because to the Futurists, this book is about a future rapture, tribulation and millennium. Dispensational Premillennialists dominate the Futurist's camp.

The denominations that commonly subscribe to this position include independent Baptist, the Mormons, the Armstrong Church of God, the Jehovah's Witnesses and the Seventh Day Adventists. In addition, many that use the term "Bible Church" or "Community Church" and most graduates of Dallas Theological Seminary would be advocates of Dispensational Premillennialism. The Dispensational Premillennialist view is that of the Left Behind book series by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins, two prominent Dispensational authors. Some others who share this view are John Nelson Darby, Arno C. Gaebelein, Donald Grey Barnhouse, H. A. Ironside, Hal Lindsey, Henry M. Morris, Charles C. Ryrie, J. A. Seiss, Charles L. Feinberg, M. R. DeHaan, Lewis Sperry Chafer, Gleason L. Archer, Lehman Strauss, Merrill C. Tenney, Dwight Pentecost and John Walvoord.

The Historicists see the message of the book working itself out through the successive eras of history. Generally, each of the seven churches is portrayed as a period of time in church history. Again, this group sees no significant message to the churches to which it was written. Inevitably, advocates of this position tend to see themselves as the last church and generation before Christ comes. Generally, the Reformers of the 16th century were Historicists. One theologian/historian has summed up the weakness of this position by remarking ".while the historicist approach once was widespread, today, for all practical purposes, it has passed from the scene.  Its failed attempts to locate the fulfillment of Revelation in the course of the circumstances of history has doomed it to continual revision as time passed and, ultimately, to obscurity.."

Premillennialists have often been fascinated with the Historicist's position and some have attempted to mix the Historicist's and Futurist's positions into one system. A few Amillennialists still subscribe to the Historicist' position as well. Names in this camp would include Albert Barnes, Robert Caringola, Adam Clarke, E. B. Elliott, Matthew Henry, and Fred P. Miller.

The Spiritualists, sometimes called Idealists, those that advocate a symbolic approach to the book, do not attempt to find individual fulfillments in the visions, but instead take ".Revelation to be a great drama depicting transcendent spiritual realities.. Fulfillment is seen either as entirely spiritual or as recurrent, finding representative expression in historical events throughout the age, rather than in one-time, specific fulfillments." "One group of interpreters holds that there are no historical references in the Revelation at all, hardly even to current events. The symbols represent abstract ideas or general principles which may be seen at work in any age; if there is any reference to current history it is only because figures in current history (like Nero) are good examples of the general principle in question."

And again, this group sees no significant message to the early churches to which this book was written. Amillennialists dominate this view and include Henry Alford, William Hendriksen, R. C. H. Lenski, William Milligan, Earl Morey, Leon Morris, S.L. Morris, Rousas John Rushdoony, H.B. Swete, Edward J. Young, Abraham Kuyper, Anthony A. Hoekema, Lewis Berkhof, G. C. Berkouwer, F. D. Maurice and Geoffrey B. Wilson.

The Preterists are the next group we will consider. Their position is not well known and even the term they use to identify themselves, Preterism, is foreign to the vocabulary of most Christians. "The word comes from the Latin praeteritus ("to go by, pass") which, in turn, is based upon praeter ("that which is beyond, past")." This word was chosen because it makes the point that most of the Book of Revelation has, in their view, been fulfilled in what is now, our past.

The Preterists see the message to the seven churches as having contemporary significance to the generation to which it was written. They understand that the prophecies of the book were determined for the near future, and were substantially fulfilled by the fall of Jerusalem in A.D. 70. As one author clarifies, ".the sustained attempt to root the fulfillment of the divine prophecies of Revelation in the first century A.D. constitutes the preterist 's distinctive approach." Preterists contend, therefore, that because of its first century context, most of the prophecies of Revelation have been fulfilled and are now, two thousand years later, in our past. In other words, "Though the prophecies were in the future when John wrote and when his original audience read them, they are now in our past." In this camp you will find Jay E. Adams, R. C. Sproul, Kenneth L. Gentry, Greg L. Bahnsen, Gary DeMar, J. Marcellus Kik, R. T. France, Morris Ashcraft, Philip Carrington, C. Vanderwall, David Chilton, David S. Clark, J. Stuart Russell, Phillip S. Desprez, Moses Stuart and Milton Terry.

In the Preterists camp are found Amillennialists, Historic Premillennialists and Postmillennialists. In other words, you could be an Amillennialist, a Historic Premillennialist, or a Postmillennialist and also be a Preterist. "Some form of preterism could conceivably be incorporated into all of them." This author writes from the Biblical Preterist (partial or orthodox preterist), position in this commentary. Hence the name of this book-Back To the Future. It is only by going back some two thousand years, do we come to a time when the prophecies in the Book of Revelation were yet future. Preterists believe that if Christ's words in Matthew 24 are correct, then this position is inevitable.

Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. (Matthew 24:34, NASB95)

  • Author Bio: Ralph E. Bass Jr.


    Ralph E. Bass, Jr. has a B.A. in Bible from Bob Jones University, a M.A. in counseling from Webster University, a M.Div. in divinity studies from Erskine Theological Seminary, a Th.M. in theological studies from Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary and a Th.D. in Theological Studies from Reformation International Theological Seminary. An experienced biblical counselor, Mr. Bass is a member of the International Association of Biblical Counselors. He has several years of experience as a biblical counselor and pastor, as well as a teacher and school administrator in several Christian schools. He is married and has five children and twelve grandchildren. This book is an outgrowth of his years of counseling
  • What do YOU think ?

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    29 Sep 2004


    THE 7 TRUMPETS: 1st = Plagues preceding the exodus from Egypt. 2nd = The gift of the law at Sinai, the mountain burning with fire (Dt. 5:23; Heb. 12:18). 3rd = Entrance into the promised land - the idolatrous Israelites' "root that beareth gall and wormwood" (Dt. 29:18). 4th = Collapse of national power resulting from the Israelites' desire for "a all the nations" (1 Sam. 8:4-8). 5th = The Assyrian invaders who tormented but did not kill the nation. 6th = The Babylonian invaders who killed the nation by destroying Jerusalem and the temple (Ezek. 37 describes the nation's subsequent "resurrection"). Also, compare Rev. 9:20,21 with Dan. 9:13. 7th = The nation's final woe, the bad news in AD 30 that Messiah's kingdom was heavenly and spiritual, for the benefit of all nations, rather than earthly and natural, for the exclusive benefit of the Israelites. The wilderness of Rev. 12 = the 40 years AD 30-70, ending with the nation's destruction. The balance of Revelation deals with post-AD 70 events.

    06 Oct 2004


    Is this a full preterist book? If so I would consider ordering. Someone please let me know.

    06 Oct 2004


    This author writes from the Biblical Preterist (partial or orthodox preterist), position in this commentary. Hence the name of this bookóBack To the Future. It is only by going back some two thousand years, do we come to a time when the prophecies in the Book of Revelation were yet future.

    07 Oct 2004


    "Biblical Preterist" position! Nice try on renaming "partial futurism". What decides what is "biblical"? What decides what is "orthodox"? The creeds? Full preterism is "biblical" preterism. It relies on scriptures where the creeds err. Partial preterism remains "partial futurism", and must therefore address its conflicts with scripture. Changing its name doesn't make it true.

    08 Oct 2004


    The basis of God's revelation to man (1 Cor. 15:46) was first the natural things of the Old Testament and then the spiritual things of the New Testament. Thus, all preterist and futurist authors will continue to be in error until they understand that the old, natural Israel and the old, natural world were merely types of the new, spiritual Israel and new, spiritual world that appeared in the first century (but not in AD 70).

    19 Oct 2004


    A few tips for the author's next book:

    1) God is a Spirit and interpreters of the NT must (if they can) view things through God's spiritual eyes and NOT through the faulty natural vision of mankind upon which dispensationalists foolishly rely. Natural eyes mistakenly see the judgment of OT Israel as a natural judgment that occurred in autumn of AD 70; spiritual eyes see that judgment as a spiritual judgment that occurred in the moment of the resurrection of Christ in the spring of AD 30.

    2) The NT is based entirely on the spiritual fulfillment of OT types involving the world and Israel; the man Adam and the man Israel were both types of Christ. All other approaches are "private interpretations."

    3) The seven feasts of Lev. 23 were the basis for OT Israel's elaborate annual rehearsals for the coming of Messiah, and without a careful study of the critically important themes and concepts of those feasts, involving both Israel and the world, the NT cannot be understood.

    4) Because the old, hopelessly fallen, natural Israel (the natural offspring of the man Israel and their natural institutions) AND the old, hopelessly fallen, natural world (the natural offspring of the man Adam and their institutions) could not be perfected, the successful first-century mission of the Son of God resulted in the creation of a new, spiritual and eternal Israel AND the creation of a new, spiritual and eternal world, the latter described in Rev. 21,22. The rejected natural Israel WAS destroyed, the rejected natural world WILL BE destroyed.

    5) Full preterism is wrong for a very simple reason: ALL of the OT scriptures concerned Christ and ALL were designed by God to be spiritually fulfilled (Lk. 24:44) but the first-century spiritual fulfillments of the OT scriptures extended only to the point in OT Israel's history at which OT Babylon was destroyed. 

    03 Jan 2005


    To the "7 Trumpets" post. If each trumpet were referring to events, as you stated (i.e., from the Plagues in Egypt to the time of Christ), then we have a serious problem. John writes Revelation and says these things must SOON take place. How "soon" is PAST??? In other words, he is saying the first trumpet will happen soon when, in fact, it happened long before!

    Date: 25 Jan 2007
    Time: 16:00:09


    My wife and I were pre-trib. We started going to a church that championed this book. After studying this book we went back to pre-trib. Save your money, my copy and my wifes copy went into the trash.

    Date: 17 Dec 2010
    Time: 09:14:40

    Your Comments:

    Ralph does not properly understand Amillenialism. His statement that Amillenialists see "no significant message to the early churches to which this book was written" is not true. Although I can't speak for all Amillenialists I know that Abraham Kuyper, Anthony A. Hoekema, Lewis Berkhof, and G. C. Berkouwer all see Revelation as a message to the church of John's time as well as the church today and in the future. I appreciate how he is trying to put the theological camps into future or past but this does not fit with Amillenialists. It is sad that so few understand our position and that most throw it away without fully examining it. I am not so bold as to say that we hold all truth because when Christ comes again I would not be surprised if he tells all of us that we were wrong. We are humans trying to understand God. Let's make sure that we approach this along with everything else with humility and not ego-centrism.