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Revelation begins with

"This is the revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show His servants what must soon come to pass." (Berean Study Bible)

The word 'soon' here is 'tachei', meaning

"Strong's Greek 5034: Quickness, speed; hastily, immediately. From the same as tachus; a brief space, i.e. in haste."

Similarly, Revelation 1:3 says

"because the time is near."

How do futurists regarding the prophecy of Revelation reconcile these apparently clear time statements with an ~2,000+ year time frame for the fulfillment of the prophecies in Revelation?

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  • Revelation starts in the first three chapters with the then present day churches. But, those chapters also reflect church history. A Jewish ‘pescher’, something that applies [both] to the present, but also to more than just that. So by the time of the 7th church, we have around 2000 yrs, then chapter 4 starts ....
    – Dave
    Mar 23 at 19:00
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    If you want the view of a particular group such as futurists, then ask that on Christianity SX. Here you will only get what the Bible says.
    – Dottard
    Mar 23 at 19:34
  • @Dave I don't quite understand your comment. Are you saying the prophecies are running up the centuries until the 7th church which is 2 millenia after? Mar 23 at 20:32
  • @Anthony Burg ‪Yes. They were all literal churches in the time of John. BUT each church [also] both represents, and describes a part of of the church age. Ephesus the first/early church, ‬and each church represents a ‘stage’, e.g Thyatira = Roman Church [until Luther], etc, etc, with Laodicea representing the current church‪ - which will end [shortly?]. So chapter 4 chronologically occurs, carries on after 2000 years of the church age ends.
    – Dave
    Mar 24 at 3:04
  • And of course a simple answer to this question is "we are all still hear!" so clearly the prophecies in the Rvelation timeline are not yet complete. I haven't yet heard the shout of the Archangel or the arrival of the messiah coming in the cloud of heaven yet, has anyone else? (The bible says it is to be a loud and worldwide event and every eye shall see Him).
    – Adam
    Apr 7 at 21:38
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In the book of Revelation, we haver the following occurrences:

  • The noun τάχος (speed, quickness) occurs in just two places - Rev 1:1, 22:6
  • The cognate adverb ταχύ (quickly) occurs six times in Rev 2:16, 3;11, 11:14, 22:7, 12, 20.

The meaning of Rev 1:1, "what must soon come to pass" must be understood in terms of the what the book says about itself in Rev 1:19 -

Therefore write down the things you have seen, and the things that are, and the things that will happen after this.

Thus, the book of Revelation, by its own declaration is about things as they were in John's time and what would take place later. Generally, this could be understood to mean that the seven-fold vision of the seven churches were about real churches in John's time and the later parts of Revelation are about later events.

Thus, Rev 1:1 is entirely consistent with this theme.

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  • Revelation 1:1 doesn't seem to bifurcate the contents, though. 'Soon' isn't 'things that are', it's 'things that will happen'. Can you clarify if you think there are grounds within Revelation for this bifurcation? Mar 23 at 20:30
  • @AnthonyBurg - I quoted Rev 1:19 as explained above.
    – Dottard
    Mar 23 at 20:38
  • I still don't understand this. Are you saying the "what must soon come to pass" is to be identified with "the things that are"? Mar 23 at 20:57
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    @AnthonyBurg - yes - the things that are as distinct from the things that will take place later.
    – Dottard
    Mar 23 at 21:02
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How can 'what must soon come to pass' be reconciled with ~2000+ years?

The OP's question if very interesting because it parallels the words of Peter:

2 Peter 3:3-4a: "Know this [that] in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts, 4and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming?'" (emphasis added).

Unfortunately, I can only scratch the surface of this subject. Recall what is said in dozens of passages, including these:

1 Thessalonians 4: “Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord.”

1 Thessalonians 5:2: “For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night.”

Luke 12:39: “But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into.”

Everyone who is saved will meet the Lord in the air at the same time exactly as we're told -- as I'll describe in a moment. The Lord’s Return represents the eventuality of all the faithful, presumably including Adam and Eve, dating back to the beginning of the human race. Preferential treatment seems especially unlikely; one way or another, everyone is a descendant of our great ancestor, Adam, and “[All] have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). Moreover, God does not play favorites; it would be egregiously unfair that a single generation, say, in the year 3000, would be the only one to witness arguably the greatest event in the history of the world.

I've included a figure below intended to depict how every faithful soul is immediately ushered into the Presence of the Lord, clothed with immortality, and, the encounter coincides with Christ's Return: “We will be caught up together to meet Him in the air.”

You see, as far as we on Earth are concerned, time continues to forge onward for those who remain. However, it must be emphasized that, for the faithful who have departed this world, there is no longer any passage of time –- an irresistible consequence of timelessness. Again, although these conditions represent a future event to us, no saved soul will exist as a disembodied spirit without physical form. One might conceptualize the proposed circumstances this way: our individual death and Christ’s return are essentially synonymous. (Yeah, I know.)

An analogy might suffice: Suppose we see our close relatives off on a railway journey to another city. But, as soon as they arrive, they are thrilled to discover that we are on the train with them. The reason that no one is yet in heaven (Acts 2:34, etc.) is that we are not yet there either. But as soon as we arrive, all of the faithful dating to the end of physical time will be there along with us in that same eternal moment!

Christ could return in five minutes, since no one can know when the event will occur, despite the fiction by many modern-day “prophets” who adamantly claim otherwise. Besides, if my calculations are correct -- all based entirely on Scripture -- "when" Christ returns is completely irrelevant: we will all see the event indistinguishably from one another. To date, I've discovered over 150 passages (I understand there are over 300) detailing the Lord's Return, probably the central theme of the New Testament.

What is crucial to understand is the great distinction between time in this world and the timelessness of eternity. I'm sure you are aware of the phrase that the New Testament uses to describe Christ's Return, "As a thief in the night" (Mk. 13:32, Lk. 12:39, 2 Pet. 3:10, 1 Thess. 5:2, Rev. 16:15)?

Well, let's think carefully about that. What event in everyone's life comes to them suddenly without warning? Think of how you might encounter some fatal accident. Or consider someone who has been bedridden for months, each day expecting everything to be at it was so many days prior: all without incident. That is until we each experience our last day: the end of our physical life on earth. This is the day we step into eternity, a realm where time ceases to elapse (certainly, as we now recognize it). Nowhere does the Bible teach that Christ will ever set foot on Earth again; no, we will step into His Presence in the clouds (Acts 1:11, 1 Thess. 4:17).

The Figure I've embedded is meant to depict the emergence of the human spirit into one of two destinations: Paradise above or Hades below. Note that Earth history proceeds horizontally in increments of approximately 200 years. It is likely that those in Hades continue to experience the passage of time in agony (Lk. 16:19+). [Figure by Xenolithic]

This is the way I believe we should view our lives outside of time: We enter the eternal realm at the same timeless instant (if we are saved) as everyone else. I do not believe this is true for those who are lost (Luke 16:19ff) and are currently suffering the torment of fire (i.e. "spirits in prison", 1 Pet. 3:19, 2 Pet. 2). But note that Lazarus was in "Abraham's Bosom." Where is that, exactly? After all, Noah died long before Abraham was born. I submit to you that Abraham's Bosom is heaven itself. That is why I believe we never hear Lazarus in that famous exchange -- he is entering paradise, but not quite there yet. As well, Abraham was looked upon by the Jews as their father. I suggest that "Abraham" in that narrative is actually God.

I can elaborate further in the future if you'd like. There is so much more than this that it's truly breathtaking.

Xenolithic

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  • This answer contradicts the Word in so many places I won't have space to list them all. The dead are dead until resurrection. There are specific resurrection events listed in the Word where entire groups of people are raised. Without resurrection there is no life from the dead. David is in his grave to this day, he has not ascended into heaven. The first event of Christ's return is to meet his church in the air. He returns to the earth later for Israel and ushers in his Kingdom on earth. It is literal and is the hope of Israel. Jun 11 at 21:23
  • @ChristianDoulos As I mentioned, we will disagree on many biblical topics because we each approach them from a different perspective. I am contrasting finite time with the timelessness of God. This is a very difficult concept to convey; you are certainly not the first to express difficulty. So, was Christ lying in Jn. 8:51, 11:26? It's not clear to me where I've made any mistakes in the texts I've cited. As you wrote, "This answer contradicts the Word in so many places I won't have space to list them all." Unfortunately, it is probably unnecessary (and counterproductive) for you to try.
    – Xeno
    Jun 11 at 22:31
  • @xeno this is some thinking way outside the box I've never heard of anything like this before.
    – Muriel
    Sep 9 at 6:24

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