“BEFORE JERUSALEM FELL” AND A SECOND RESPONSE TO PARTIAL PRETERISM
by J. Parnell McCarter
I have previously critiqued Rev. Brian Schwertley's books "Matthew 24 and the Great Tribulation" and “The Premillenial Deception”. Some of the material in that critique, entitled "A Critique of Rev. Brian Schwertley's The Premillenial Deception and Matthew 24 and the Great Tribulation and A Response to Partial Preterism", will necessarily be repeated in this critique. However, whereas Rev. Schwertley's book focused on Matthew 24, and my critique of his book correspondingly did as well, Dr. Gentry's book focuses on the book of Revelation, and so my critique here will focus on the book of Revelation. I will use the occasion of this critique to outline the flaws and fallacies of partial preterism, as I did in my critique of Rev. Schwertley's book. And likewise, I will take this occasion to outline the veracity of the historic reformed position of historicism. I would recommend the reader first read my critique on Rev. Schwertley’s books before reviewing this one, as some of the material in that book will not be repeated here, yet this book depends upon the former book for certain of its arguments.
In this critique I will first outline some of the fallacies present in Dr. Gentry's book “The Beast of Revelation”, then examine its premises in light of those fallacies, and then make certain observations and conclusions regarding both of Dr. Gentry’s books and the larger topic of partial preterism.
I should preface this examination by explaining what may appear to some to be overly harsh criticisms of Dr. Gentry. It is quite true that I am both deeply perturbed and saddened by the errors he is promoting with his preteristic views. Christ's visible Church on earth has a duty to maintain unity and promote truth. One great means towards that end has been the reformed and Biblical confessions of faith. By rejecting historicism, and especially by rejecting that the Romish Papacy is that Man of Sin of II Thessalonians 2 and the Anti-Christian Beast of Revelation 13, Dr. Gentry is promoting schism and harming unity among the reformed and Protestant churches. The Reformers correctly identified the Romish Papacy, as we even find exemplified in such confessions as the Westminster Standards and the Belgic Confession. This was the almost unanimous stance of historic Protestantism. Dr. Gentry has no right to promote schism and falsehood through his denial of this important insight. Furthermore, as shall be noted later in this critique, his preterist premises logically lead to even more dangerous heresy. Not a few of my own friends have fallen into full preterism, on the heels of embracing partial preterism. While Dr. Gentry may not follow his premises to their logical end, not a few of his readers have.
Historicism, like literal six-day creation, should be considered necessary
tenets of full subscriptionism to the Westminster Confession of Faith.
Dr. Kenneth Gentry has rightly defended literal six day creation as being
a necessary tenet of full subscription to the Westminster Confession
of Faith, against the protest of those who would argue the "little" phrase
"in the space of six days" should not carry so much weight. For example,
in his article "In the Space of Six Days" appearing in the Ordained Servant,
vol. 9, no. 1 (January 2000), pp. 12-16, Dr. Gentry wrote: "The great reformer
John Calvin asserted that "God himself took the space of six days" to create
the world (Genesis, at 1:5). Our church's Confession agrees, declaring
that God created the world "in the space of six days" (WCF 4:1). But recently
this clear temporal affirmation based on the opening narrative of God's
Word has been radically reinterpreted by some reformed theologians. Was
Calvin correct? The divines? Did they "accurately handle" the word of God?
? Or were they naive children of their times? In this article I will
introduce several compelling reasons for interpreting the days of Genesis
1 in a straightforward manner that demands both their chronological succession
and 24 hour duration. Then I will briefly consider common objections to
Six Day Creationist exegesis…"
But we must insist that the same standard be applied to this statement appearing in the Confession: "nor can the Pope of Rome in any sense be head thereof; but is that Antichrist, that man of sin and son of perdition, that exalteth himself in the Church against Christ, and all that is called God." It is quite clear what the Westminster divines, John Calvin, Martin Luther, John Wyckliffe, and virtually all of the Reformers believed concerning the identity of the Papacy with the man of sin and the son of perdition. If we believe differently, then let’s amend the Westminster Standards like so many Presbyterian denominations already have on this point, and not pretend we are full subscriptionist to the original when we are not. But if the original Westminster Confession was correct- and I believe it was- then we must insist upon this historicistic tenet just as we do the six-day creation tenet so ably defended by Dr. Gentry.
But though I note these criticisms here, and elaborate upon them in this critique, I would be remiss if I did not also note the many positive respects in which Dr. Gentry has promoted the reformed faith. Dr. Gentry is a gifted Christian scholar, minister, and author, and he has well employed these gifts to promote the doctrines of grace, six-day creation, Christian civil government, and many other doctrines of the reformed and Biblical faith. He has helped to train new generations of ministers who will defend these doctrines. So my thanks go out to Dr. Gentry where he has fought the fight of faith for the benefit of those of us who are younger, and my request to Dr. Gentry would be to amend those areas where he is amiss in his theology and has strayed from the historic reformed faith.
Let me then begin this examination of Dr. Gentry’s books by outlining
some significant fallacies that affect his interpretation of the book of
Fallacy #1 : Applying the Temporal Indicators (such as 'at hand', 'shortly', ‘quickly’, etc.) of Revelation to 70 A.D.
Dr. Gentry wrote in the July 1997 issue of Chalcedon Report, in an article entitled "A Brief Theological Analysis of Hyper-Preterism" : "I hold that passages specifically delimiting the time-frame by temporal indicators (such as "this generation," "shortly," "at hand," "near," and similar wording) are to be applied to A. D. 70." This is his modus operandi in interpreting the book of Revelation. For instance, Dr. Gentry notes how John insists that “the time is at hand” in Rev. 1:1, 3, 19; 22:6fE, and why we should interpret each of these instances as fulfilled in the first century.
But this preterist approach and working assumption is thoroughly flawed. Let's consider the evidence by considering some events in the book of Revelation which are said to come quickly:
All four of the above verses describe the Second Advent and the Great Day of Judgment. And it would be incredible given the similarity of wording to suggest Rev. 22:12 does not also refer to the Second Advent and the Day of Judgment. According to the wording in all of these verses, they describe a universal judgment of every man, and not simply a localized, earthly, and temporal judgment. They all describe every man being judged according to his deeds, a hallmark of the Second Advent and Day of Judgment.
But we know the Second Advent and the Day of Judgment have not already
happened, even though in Revelation 22:12 it speaks of Christ coming ‘quickly’
to execute this universal judgment. So there is really only one of
two possibilities when it comes to interpreting Revelation 22:12:
We can reject the first possibility
out of hand. The book of Revelation is God's word, as I know Dr.
Gentry agrees. So we are left to accept the second possibility.
Now II Peter 3:8-12 reads: “But, beloved, be not ignorant
of this one thing, that one day [is] with the Lord as a thousand years,
and a thousand years as one day… Looking for and hasting unto the coming
of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved,
and the elements shall melt with fervent heat?” The Greek word translated
here as ‘hasting’ is the same word used in contexts such as Luke 19:5,
when Christ told Zaccheus to make haste to come down from the tree, and
Acts 20:16, when Paul did not stop in Asia Minor because he hasted to arrive
in Jerusalem by a date quickly approaching. The term ‘hasting’ in
II Peter 3:12 is obviously a temporal indicator like ‘quickly’ or ‘shortly’,
denoting ‘coming soon.’This is made the more obvious by the word’s
occurrence in Acts 22:18 where Paul says, “Make haste, and get thee quickly
out of Jerusalem.”
The temporal indicator in II Peter 3:12 must clearly be interpreted by Peter’s explanation of it in II Peter 3:8. In II Peter 3:8 Peter indicates his temporal indicator relating to Christ’s Second Advent should be understood within the context of God’s time and not man’s. In other words, we can not assume the use of a temporal indicator like ‘hasting’ in II Peter 3:12 with reference to the Second Advent refers to some event within the generation of the author, for according to II Peter 3:8 it may take 1,000 years according to human time. But this conclusion is devastating to Dr. Gentry’s assumption which he stated thus: “passages specifically delimiting the time-frame by temporal indicators (such as "this generation," "shortly," "at hand," "near," and similar wording) are to be applied to A. D. 70." First, it is devastating because it suggests how we should interpret the temporal indicators like ‘quickly’ and ‘coming soon’ in Revelation, following the pattern of II Peter. Indeed, II Peter 3 would suggest we should expect such a temporal indicator to be employed regarding Christ's Second Advent, because God wants man ever prepared to meet His Maker. But in addition, II Peter 3 is destructive of Dr. Gentry’s assumption itself. If but one instance can be shown in the New Testament where passages specifically delimiting the time-frame by temporal indicators (such as "this generation," "shortly," "at hand," "near," and similar wording) are not to be applied to the first century, then Dr. Gentry’s interpretive principle is proved fallacious.
Generally speaking then, temporal indicators should be taken literally.
But in contexts which concern the Second Advent, this general rule does
not apply, because God wants man to be ever prepared for the Day of Judgment,
yet God has not chosen to reveal the day when it will occur.
Since the book of Revelation is a record of the coming Second Advent, and
of the events which will precede it, we should not be surprised to find
so many temporal indicators like 'quickly' and 'shortly' assigned in it
to the Second Advent and to the whole Revelation.
Fallacy #2 : Treating Matthew 24:30 as if it Pertains to 70 A.D.
References to Christ's coming in the New Testament do not all have reference to the Second Advent. Sometimes they have reference to divine visitations of judgment on earth, and sometimes they have reference to Christ's coming to the Father and establishing the kingdom with His resurrection and ascension. But its use in the disciples' question to Jesus Christ in Matthew 24:3 refers to the Second Advent which will mark the end of the age. And its uniform use in Christ's response to the disciples' query in Matthew 24:3 is to the Second Advent. Their question concerned the coming, singular, at the end of the age; and Christ remained consistent in His reference to this literal coming in His response to them.
But Dr. Gentry writes: "This coming (Matt.24:30) was to occur in His generation." He describes the coming referenced there as a mere "judicial judgment upon men in history"(p. 26).
Dr. Gentry's assertion is based upon an erroneous exposition of Matthew
24. A more complete list of my reasons for asserting this can be found
in my book "A Critique of Rev. Brian Schwertley's The Premillenial Deception
and Matthew 24 and the Great Tribulation and A Response to Partial
Preterism ". But below I provide an outline of Matthew 24 and a brief
explanation of how it is to be interpreted:
Matthew 24 : Christ’s Eschatological Warnings to His Followers
I. Christ’s description of what would happen to ‘these things’ [ie, the destruction of the Temple in 70 A.D. along with the destruction of the Jewish nation which it implies] (Matthew 24:1-2)
II. The disciples’ questions of Christ regarding when shall 'these things' (ie, the destruction of the Temple in 70 A.D. along with the Jewish nation) be, and what shall be the sign of thy coming and of the end of the age (Matthew 24:3)
III. Christ’s response to the disciples (Matthew 24:4-51) (Note: His response really continues past chapter 24 into chapter 25 with warnings through parables of how we should live in light of the fact that we do not know when the ‘end of the age’ will be.)
A. Christ’s answer to their second question (i.e., what shall be the
sign of thy coming and of the end of the age?), consisting of a description
of the trials, tribulations, and deceptions from the present time (=the
First Advent) to the ‘end of the age’ marked by Christ’s Coming (=the Second
Advent) (Matthew 24:4-31) [Note: The trials, tribulations, and deceptions
are all a sign of Christ's eventual return, for Christ must return to right
these wrongs and injustices and to clean up what is rightfully His. In
addition, they are a sign because events actually come to pass as Christ
prophesied, proving that He should be trusted when He says He will return.
1. Christ’s description of the trials, tribulations, and deceptions- along with the spread of the gospel- from the present time (=First Advent) to the end of the age [= the Second Advent] , and His warnings to His people in light of the dangers and false christs and prophets (Matthew 24:4-14)
2. Christ’s parenthetical description of the destruction of the Temple in 70 A.D. and the pronounced tribulations which will accompany it (Matthew 24:15-22) [Note: This would suggest that even the destruction of the Temple in 70 A.D. should be regarded as a sign to Christ's people that He will eventually return and render justice, just as judgment was herein rendered upon the Jewish nation which had rejected Christ. It may also serve as a pre-figurement of Satan's "last stand" around the beloved city described in Revelation 20:9.]
3. Christ’s warnings resumed regarding deceivers and false christs and prophets which will arise, from the time of the First Advent up to the time of Christ’s Second Advent (Matthew 24:23-28) Christ’s description of His actual coming and of the end of the age (Matthew 24:29-31) [Note: The end of the age is marked by Christ's literal return. The form of the disciples' question implies they understood the end to be marked by Christ's coming, and Christ confirms by His response that the end of the age will be marked by His coming.]
C. Christ’s clarification that we should not confound ‘that day’ (ie, the end of the age marked by Christ’s coming) with the ‘these things’ referred to in verse 34 [because we can know that these things (ie, the destruction of the Temple) shall be in the Apostle’s generation,] but of ‘that day’ (ie, the end of the age marked by Christ’s coming) no man knows when it shall be, so men must always be ready and live in preparation for it. (Matthew 24:36-51)
Careful attention should be paid to the indications in Matthew 24:32
from Matthew 24:31 that there is a shift in the question which Jesus is
answering. For example, notice the dramatic shift in the subjects
being spoken about. In Matthew 24:31 Christ was speaking about gathering
"together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the
other". In other words, He was speaking about the worldwide phenomenon
of gathering His elect at His Second Coming. Previous to that He had spoken
of the wars and tribulations among the nations, alongside the preaching
of the gospel to them. But in Matthew 24:32, Jesus begins speaking about
the ‘fig tree.’ Now the fig tree had previously been a matter which
Christ had addressed with His disciples in such passages as Matthew
21:19-20. Matthew Henry writes concerning the fig tree in that context:
represents the state of the nation and people of the Jews in particular;
they were a fig-tree planted in Christ’s way, as a church. Now observe,
[1.] The disappointment they gave to our Lord Jesus. He came among them,
expecting to find some fruit, something that would be pleasing to him;
he hungered after it; not that he desired a gift, he needed it not, but
fruit that might abound to a good account. But his expectations were frustrated;
he found nothing but leaves; they called Abraham their father, but did
not do the works of Abraham; they professed themselves expectants of the
promised Messiah, but, when he came, they did not receive and entertain
him. [2.] The doom he passed upon them, that never any fruit should grow
upon them or be gathered from them, as a church or as a people, from henceforward
for ever. Never any good came from them (except the particular persons
among them that believe), after they rejected Christ; they became worse
and worse; blindness and hardness happened to them, and grew upon them,
till they were unchurched, unpeopled, and undone, and their place and nation
rooted up; their beauty was defaced, their privileges and ornaments, their
temple, and priesthood, and sacrifices, and festivals, and all the glories
of their church and state, fell like leaves in autumn. How soon did their
fig-tree wither away, after they said, His blood be on us, and our children!
And the Lord was righteous in it."
So there is a shift in subjects, moving from a worldwide focus to a focus on the Jewish nation.
There is also a shift from a response to answering a ‘what’ question to answering a ‘when’ question. Matthew 24:4-31 is a catalogue of descriptions of events and circumstances (i.e., an answer to a 'what' question). But notice in Mattew 24:32-33 the occurrences of the word ‘when’. Christ is explaining when something will happen to the fig tree. The concentration is no longer what will happen (i.e., a detailed description of events), but when it will happen.
This shift can only reasonably suggest that Christ is now beginning to answer the first question the disciples had posed to Him, having already answered the second question they had posed to Him. He is now answering ‘when shall these things be.’ The ‘these things’ in the context of the Matthew 24:33-34, hearkens back to the ‘these things’ referenced in the question of the disciples in Matthew 24:3: ‘when shall these things be’. There it referred to the destruction of the Temple buildings (see Matthew 24:1-2), which we now know occurred in 70 A.D., and the destruction of the Jewish nation which the destruction of the Temple implied. Christ says in Matthew 24:34 that this destruction will occur before the generation then living passes away, thus answering the disciples’ first question.
But beginning in Matthew 24:36 Christ begins correcting what He must have detected was a misconception on the part of His disciples. He explains to them that they must not think that the end of the age marked by His coming (i.e., ‘that day’) is necessarily tied with the destruction of the Temple and Jewish nation (i.e., ‘these things’). He explains that no one knows when ‘that day’ will be except the Father. He warns them to always live as if it could happen very soon, not being wicked and acting as if they can later repair the damage they now do. It is clear that God the Father had no intention of letting mankind know precisely when Christ would return, but He does reveal many of the events that will transpire before this event as a sign to His people that He will return.
The outline above then of Matthew 24 suggests how we can interpret it
without being forced to confound the ‘end of the age’ with the destruction
of the Temple. We can understand Matthew 24:34 as saying that in
the Apostolic generation the destruction of the Temple ("these things")
would occur. We can understand Matthew 24:36 as saying we cannot
know when the Second Advent ("that day") will occur. And we can interpret
the rest of Matthew 24 in accordance with the outline presented above.
All of this requires no twisting of scriptural passages in order to fit
our preconceived notions. Rather, it makes sense internally within
Matthew 24, and it is consistent with the rest of Matthew.
Fallacy #3 : Interpreting Revelation 1:7 as if it did not Refer to
the Second Advent
Revelation 1:7 reads thus: “Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they [also] which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen.”
Regarding this 'coming' in Revelation 1:7, Dr. Gentry writes: "it is obvious that this coming is a judgment coming focusing upon first century Israel...In regard to the Jews (those who “pierced Christ,” Rev. 1:7),the Jewish War with Rome from A.D. 67 to 70 brought about the deaths of tens of thousands of the Jews in Judea, and the enslavement of thousands upon thousands more." (p. 27)
But Dr. Gentry errs to confuse the 'coming' in Revelation 1:7
with the event in Jerusalem in 70 A.D. Matthew Henry rightly comments
regarding this verse:
will be the Judge of the world: Behold, he cometh, and every eye shall
see him, v. 7. This book, the Revelation, begins and ends with a prediction
of the second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. We should set ourselves
to meditate frequently upon the second coming of Christ, and keep it in
the eye of our faith and expectation. John speaks as if he saw that day:
"Behold, he cometh, as sure as if you beheld him with your eyes. He cometh
with clouds, which are his chariot and pavilion. He will come publicly:
Every eye shall see him, the eye of his people, the eye of his enemies,
every eye, yours and mine." He shall come, to the terror of those who have
pierced him and have not repented and of all who have wounded and crucified
him afresh by their apostasy from him, and to the astonishment of the pagan
world. For he comes to take vengeance on those who know not God, as well
as on those that obey not the gospel of Christ."
The mourning described in Revelation 1:7 is
to include “all kindreds of the earth.” This universalistic language corresponds
with Matthew 24:30, which also speaks of events occurring with the Second
Advent. “Every eye shall see him” in the event described in Revelation
1:7, so the only reasonable conclusion is that this does not described
some localized divine visitation of judgment. Rather, it corresponds with
the universalistic judgment language of II Peter 3, where we have already
shown temporal indicators relating to the Second Advent do not necessarily
imply shortness of time in human
terms. So we must conclude
that it does not refer to the judgment on Jerusalem in 70 A.D.
Fallacy #4 : Believing that John Expected the Soon Occurrence of the Events of Revelation
Dr. Gentry writes: "John clearly expected the soon occurrence of the events of Revelation."
There are various reasons we should reject this assertion of Dr. Gentry.
First, the Apostle John had learned from Christ in Christ's Matthew 24 discourse not to confound the end of the age marked by Christ's coming (i.e., Second Advent) with the destruction of the Jewish Temple in 70 A.D. Yet the Second Advent and its aftermath is an important component of the book of Revelation (see Rev 20-22). It is necessary to remember that John did not know the time of Christ’s Second Advent when he recorded this Revelation – how far or how near it would be in time. For remember Christ's words: “But of that day and hour knoweth no [man], no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.” (Matthew 24:36) It was not God’s intention to let men know how quickly the Second Advent would come, neither in the book of Matthew nor here in the book of Revelation. God wants man to be ever watchful that the coming might come soon. “Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come…Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh.” (Matthew 24:42-44) He knows depraved man’s heart if he should know when the Second Advent would occur: “that evil servant shall say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming…” What God wants us to know, according to II Peter, is that in God’s time it will come quickly, and we should always be prepared because from the great perspective of time the event will come quickly. For "a thousand years" are "as one day" to the Lord (II Peter 3:8). John knew that God had not disclosed to him that the Second Advent would be in the first century, so there is no reason to believe he thought it necessarily would occur in the first century.
Second, if anything, the Apostle John would most likely have suspected that the Second Advent was not in the first century, for John knew that the Second Advent would at least be preceded by something he referred to in his Revelation as the millennium, as Revelation 19-20 indicates. In Revelation 19-20 a millennium is described, followed by an event we have already shown in this critique is to be identified with the Second Advent. Given that both this ‘millennium’ followed by the Second Advent are described within the book of Revelation, we should doubt its events will be completed in the first century.
Third, John's writing his book after the pattern of the book of Daniel suggests he did not believe it would necessarily occur in the first century. In many respects the book of Revelation picks up the story of prophetic history where the book of Daniel left off. A perusal of both books indicates that Revelation took its pattern of addressing prophetic revelation from Daniel. Many of the images and much of the language is the same. The use of ‘beasts’ is but one example. Another example is the employment of numbers with various significations. Dr. Francis Nigel Lee has well pointed out these similarities and the relation of the two books. When we interpret the book of Revelation, therefore, we must always ask ourselves what light the book of Daniel sheds on it. One notable feature of the book of Daniel is that it must be interpreted historistically, and not preteristically or futuristically. The prophecies of Daniel- like his prophecy concerning the four beasts – covered the long period of history from Daniel’s time to the time of Christ’s First Advent. It would have been erroneous to interpret the four beasts as four kings that lived in Daniel’s generation. And it would have been erroneous to interpret the 70 weeks as 70 literal weeks. And it would have been erroneous to interpret the four beasts as being four actual kings living in some distant future time, far separated from Daniel’s writing the book. No, these four beasts represented four kingdoms that stretched from Daniel’s time all the way to the time of Christ’s First Advent. Similarly, since the book of Revelation follows the pattern of the book of Daniel, it would be erroneous to interpret it non-historistically. And it would be erroneous to conceive of its beasts as simply an actual leader that lived during the time of John, or its “time, and times, and half a time” in some literalistic fashion.
Fourth, the internal structure of the book of Revelation suggests John did not believe all of its events would occur in the first century. In terms of its internal structure, does it suggest a record of events that would take place in a space of decades or years- which is what many preterists propose- or a record of events which will in all likelihood take centuries to unfold? It speaks of current circumstances involving the churches at the time, kingdoms and kingdoms which come out of these kingdoms, a millennium of a thousand years, and what most partial preterists acknowledge is a description of Christ’s Second Advent ushering in the New Heavens and New Earth. Such elements alone are suggestive of a greater expanse of human time for these events to unfold. In other words, the elements in the book of Revelation are suggestive of an historicistic interpretation, and not a preteristic or futuristic interpretation. They seem to include events in the bookends of the period between the Apostolic era and the Second Advent, as well as elements in between which could very well take some considerable length of time. It would seem very odd to have both bookends if it were a prophecy that either focused upon one end or the other. And it would seem very odd to include in-between elements of such a character as these. It follows the pattern of Daniel, being a prophecy that contains bookends separated by a great span of time, as well as in-between elements like the kingdoms.
So Dr. Gentry's assertion that "John clearly expected the soon occurrence
of the events of Revelation" is simply false.
Fallacy #5: Assigning the Number '666' to a Man instead of to the Kingdom
Dr. Gentry writes: "sometimes the Beast seems to picture a kingdom, sometimes a particular, individual leader of that kingdom. Nevertheless, the number 666 is itself applied to a particular individual king in that kingdom (Rev.13:18)." He feels he is justified in making this claim based upon the wording of Rev. 13:18, which reads: "count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six."
Now Dr. Gentry explains this phraseology by suggesting a shift in assignment
of the beast within Revelation 13, from generic in earlier verses of the
chapter, to particular at least in Revelation 13:18. He sets
forth as an example Revelation 17:10. (Regarding Dr. Gentry’s supposed
proof in the example of Revelation 17:10, refer to Fallacy #6 below.)
But this interpretation is incorrect. Rev 13:18 is not saying that the beast now in view is a man, and this man's number is 666. Rather, it is saying that the number assigned to the beast is a human number, and that number is 666. So Matthew Henry renders it, "the number is the number of a man, computed after the usual manner among men, and it is 666." And so the Robert Jamieson, A. R. Fausset and David BrownCommentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible (1871) comments: “the number of a man--that is, counted as men generally count. So the phrase is used in Rev 21:17 .”
This becomes more obvious when we compare Revelation 13:18 with 21:17,
which uses similar phraseology: "...he measured the wall thereof, an hundred
and forty and four cubits, the measure of a man..." Now this verse
is certainly not saying that the wall was a man of 144 cubits, which would
be analogous to the way Dr. Gentry interpreted Rev 13:18. No! Rev.
21:17 is saying that the human measure of the wall was 144 cubits. So the
Robert Jamieson, A. R. Fausset and David Brown Commentary Critical and
Explanatory on the Whole Bible (1871) comments regarding Rev. 21:17:
. . . forty . . . four cubits--twelve times twelve: the Church-number squared.
The wall is far beneath the height of the city.
measure of a man, that is, of the angel--The ordinary measure used by men
is the measure here used by the angel, distinct from "the measure of the
sanctuary." Men shall then be equal to the angels.”
It is also evidenced by the fact that in Revelation 13:17 it says that he (the lamb-like beast of Rev. 13:11) required all men in his kingdom to have "the number of his name". So the number (666) designates the name of the lamb-like beast of Rev. 13:11, and there is no indication it simply designates one representative manifestation of that beast. In other words, in order to buy or sell one had to have that (the number 666) which identified oneself as a citizen of the beast's kingdom. Citizenship is to kingdom, and not to an individual king, when a kingdom consists of a succession of kings. Therefore we must assign this number 666 to the beast, understood as a kingdom.
Finally, it is evidenced by the fact that there is no indication within the section Revelation 13:11-18 that there has been a shift from the generic to the particular, and it is obviously the case that Revelation 13:11 references the generic kingdom and not just a particular king.
So the number ‘666’ is not assigned to one particular king within the
beastial kingdom, but rather the human number ‘666’ is assigned to the
beastial kingdom of the land beast of Revelation 13.(I will address this
number ‘666’ as it relates to the Beast later.)
Fallacy #6: Failure to Relate Revelation 17:10 with Daniel 7:17in
Identifying the Kings Therein Listed
Revelation 17:10-11 reads: “… And there are seven kings: five are fallen, and one is, [and] the other is not yet come; and when he cometh, he must continue a short space.And the beast that was, and is not, even he is the eighth, and is of the seven, and goeth into perdition.”
Daniel 7:17 reads: “These great beasts, which are four, [are] four kings, [which] shall arise out of the earth.”
Dr. Gentry fails to relate the four kings of Daniel 7:17 with any of the seven kings of Revelation 7:10. But this is unwarranted.As noted often before, the book of Revelation is in many respects a continuation of the prophecy of the book of Daniel. We cannot ignore Daniel when interpreting Revelation.And we should not ignore the beastial kings described in the book of Daniel, which fall one after another, when interpreting the beastial kings of Revelation 17:10, some of which are said to have fallen.
We know that the four kings of Daniel 7:17 are actually four ungodly kingdoms (see Daniel 7:23) in human history which have been special manifestations of Satan’s power on earth.Expositors are agreed that the four kingdoms referenced in Daniel 7:17 are: Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome. Of these four, at the time the Apostle John wrote his Revelation, three of these kingdoms of Daniel 7:17 have already fallen: Babylon, Medo-Persia, and Greece. The one that had not yet fallen as of the Apostle John’s writing was the Roman Empire. That means that there are two kingdoms that were fallen as of the time of John’s writing which were not referenced by the four kings of Daniel 7:17. They would be kingdoms marked by opposition to the people of God. Also, these would have been kingdoms preceding the kingdoms foretold by Daniel. The identity of these two additional kings is a matter of some conjecture, but two likely candidates are the kingdom of Egypt and the kingdom of Assyria. Another possibility may be suggested in Revelation 11:8. Revelation 11:8 reads: “And their dead bodies [shall lie] in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified.” In redemptive history, the kingdoms of Sodom and Egypt were certainly manifestations of Satan’s power on earth and opponents of God’s kingdom. This is why the 'great city' referenced in Revelation 11 were signified by the wicked kingdoms of Egypt and Sodom.
If one of these possibilities is true, as seems quite likely, the five fallen kings referenced in Revelation 17:10 are: Sodom or Assyria, Egypt, Babylon, Medo-Persia, and Greece. Again, each of these kings are really kingdoms which have been manifestations of Satan’s regime on earth and noted for their opposition to the people of God in redemptive history.
Dr. Gentry’s suggestion then that Nero is the sixth king of Revelation 17:10 is not credible.The kings of Daniel 7:17 and Revelation 17:10 are not mere individual kings, but kingdoms. But Nero was only one king of the Roman Empire. And in response to Dr. Gentry’s objections that these kings are kingdoms, please refer to Observation #4 later in this critique.
But that then opens the question: who are we to identify with the seventh and eighth kings of Revelation 17:10? Let’s first consider the identity of the seventh king.
Dr. Francis Nigel Lee, in his excellent historicistic book “John’s Revelation Un-veiled“, well notes regarding the sea-beast of Revelation 13:1-10that he has a mixture of the qualities of the four beasts described in Daniel 7. So Dr. Lee writes: “the Beast mentioned at the beginning of Revelation chapter thirteen, does in fact symbolize all of the successive heathen World Empires of the past (and perhaps all those of the future too). For like all four of Daniel’s Beasts, the First Beast of Revelation thirteen also rose up “out of the Sea”- out of the troubled Heathen World. To stress its continuity with Daniel’s four Beasts, it is recorded in Revelation thirteen that the First Beast there ‘was like a leopard, and its feet were like the feet of a bear, and its mouth like the mouth of a lion- and the Dragon gave it its power.’ This reminds one of Daniel’s Babylonian lion and Medo-Persian bear and Grecian leopard and Roman ‘dragon’ all rolled into one.“ And it should be noted that the lamb-like land beast of Revelation came forth from the sea-beast, having as its ancestor this composite sea-beast. This would indicate that the sea beast of Revelation 13:1-10is a composite picture of the six kings which preceded the seventh king. This would then imply that the land-beast of Revelation 13:11-18is to be identified with the seventh king catalogued in Revelation 17:10.
Now as I showed in my book “A Critique of Rev. Brian Schwertley's The Premillenial Deception and Matthew 24 and the Great Tribulation and A Response to Partial Preterism", the beast (and especially the land-beast) of Revelation 13:11-18 is to be identified with the Man of Sin of II Thessalonians 2.It was noted there how Revelation 13, II Thessalonians 2, and Revelation 13 all tie together to present the picture of a kingdom which was to arise after the time of the Apostle John and Paul which would be a kingdom of false christs and prophets, masquerading as Christian like Judas Iscariot the son of perdition did, arising from the previous beastial kingdom (the fifth kingdom of Rev 17:10, which is the pagan Roman Empire), and based in Rome.
There is only one candidate that fits these qualifications for the seventh beast: the Roman Papacy and its kingdom.
It appears that the Roman Papacy in its manifestation as the lamb-like seventh beast is replaced by its manifestation and evolution as the Papal-Romish Whore who is seated on the City of Seven Hills (Revelation 17:9), and who rides on the eighth beast.
Revelation 17:11 identifies the eighth beast as ‘the beast that was, and is not,” in these words: “And the beast that was, and is not, even he is the eighth, and is of the seven, and goeth into perdition.” Regarding this eighth beast, Revelation 17:8 reads as follows: “The beast that thou sawest was, and is not; and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit, and go into perdition: and they that dwell on the earth shall wonder, whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, when they behold the beast that was, and is not, and yet is.” And Revelation 17:3 describes this as a scarlet beast, while Revelation 17:7 describes this beast as having seven heads and ten horns.
Regarding the eighth beast, A.R. Faussett accurately describes his character thus: “The eighth is not merely one of the seven restored, but a new power or person proceeding out of the seven, and at the same time embodying all the God-opposed features of the previous seven concentrated and consummated; for which reason there are said to be not eight, but only seven heads, for the eighth is the embodiment of all the seven.”
This beast has been variously interpreted, but in my opinion it is Satan himself, who will be released right before the very end preceding the Great Day of Judgment (see Revelation 20:7-10). There are at least four reasons for my interpretation. First, Satan most embodies the seven previous beasts. Second, of Satan it could be most accurately said that he “was, and is not, and yet is.” Third, the description of the eighth beast seems to match the description of him that is described in Revelation 20:1-3, 7-10. In Revelation 20:1-3 we read how it was Satan who for a time is confined in the bottomless pit:
“And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season.”
And in Revelation 20:7-10 we read how Satan will ascend from the bottomless pit, will cause the non-elect to be deceived and wonder at him, and then will be cast into perdition and hell:
“And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison. And shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle: the number of whom [is] as the sand of the sea. And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city: and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them. And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet [are], and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.”
Fourth, this scarlet eighth beast with seven heads and ten horns seems to match the description of the red dragon with seven heads and ten horns described in Revelation 12:3 thus: “great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads.”This red dragon is identified as Satan in Revelation 12:9: “And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.”
It would make sense that the Papal-Romish Whore would sit upon Satan- the red dragon- for so sat the sea beast according to Revelation 13:2: “And the beast which I saw was like unto a leopard, and his feet were as [the feet] of a bear, and his mouth as the mouth of a lion: and the dragon gave him his power, and his seat, and great authority.”
Having thus identified the eight beasts described in Revelation 17:10, it should be apparent enough that Dr. Gentry’s theory that Nero is the sixth beast of Revelation 17:10 is utterly flawed.More could be said about how the order and character of the Roman emperors do not match Dr. Gentry’s theory, but I would refer the reader to E.B. Eliot’s “Horae Apocalypticae” if he would like to go further into those details.
Having now considered some of the fallacies in Dr. Gentry’s book “The
Beast of Revelation”, let’s now consider the starting premises of Dr. Gentry
which he used in his effort to identify that Beast.
Ready, Set, Go
As a youth I ran track. And one principle of track is that you need to have a good start. How one starts can often be the difference between winning and losing, especially in short distance races. And so it is with eschatological interpretation. It is hard- and generally impossible- to recover from a poor start. So it is important to examine Dr. Gentry's starting assumptions in his book with special care.
He lays out those starting premises for determining the Beast of Revelation 13 as follows:
1. The name-number 666 must be that of a man.
2. This man must be someone of an evil, blasphemous, idolatrous nature.
3. He must be someone possessing great authority. He must be a political figure.
4. The name-number must speak of one of John’s contemporaries. This is due to the temporal expectation of John. The events of Revelation are to occur “soon”; John insists that “the time is at hand” (Rev. 1:1, 3, 19; 22:6fE). This principle alone will eliminate 99,970 of the suggestions by commentators.
5. The name must be that of someone relevant to the first-century Christians in the seven churches to whom John wrote (Rev. 1:4, 11). He expected them to give heed to what he wrote (Rev. 1:3) and to calculate the Beast’s number (Rev. 13:18).
Let's examine each of these assertions.
Regarding premise #1, Dr. Gentry claims we can know that the name-number 666 applies to a man based upon Rev. 13:18. Dr. Gentry writes: "it should be understood that the number 666 is itself applied to a particular individual king in that kingdom (Rev. 13:18)". He says we know this because Rev. 13:18 says "for the number is that of a man” (Rev. 13:18). But what does this statement mean? Does it mean it is a human number, or does it mean the number only applies to one man?
In my discussion of Fallacy #5 I dealt with how Dr. Gentry improperly
understands the allusion to a man in Revelation 13:18. Revelation
13:18 is not saying the number '666' applies to a man, but rather is saying
the human number '666' applies to the land-beast. And in the discussion
of Fallacy #6 I showed how Dr. Gentry's proof based upon Revelation 17:10
is unfounded, for the sixth king in Revelation 17:10 is not a mere man,
but the kingdom of the Roman Empire.
Regarding Premise #2, Dr. Gentry asserts this man must be someone of an evil, blasphemous, and idolatrous nature. Setting aside the issue of whether the Beast is a man- which it is not - we should agree with Dr. Gentry that the beast is characterized by an evil, blasphemous, and idolatrous nature. But there are some notable characteristics of this beast which Dr. Gentry has left out. Some of these additional characteristics we can discover in Revelation 13, and some we can discover in parallel passages relating to the Beast in II Thessalonians 2 and Matthew 24.
The similarity of description in the following three eschatological prophecies is too great not to relate to one another:
Matthew 24:9-11, 24 - “Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name's sake. And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many… For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if [it were] possible, they shall deceive the very elect.”
II Thes. 2:3-11 - “Let no man deceive you by any means: for [that day shall not come], except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition…[Even him], whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.”
Revelation 13:11-15 - “And I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spake as a dragon. And he exerciseth all the power of the first beast before him, and causeth the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed. And he doeth great wonders, so that he maketh fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men, And deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by [the means of] those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast; saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast, which had the wound by a sword, and did live. And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed.”
Each of the above passages speak of the deception, trials, and falling away which will come, owing to tyrannical false christs and prophets, who will show great signs and wonders. Of course, in the Revelation 13 passage it speaks of a “beast” in the singular and not in the plural (like false christs and prophets), but we should keep in mind that in Daniel (from which the Apostle John borrowed significantly) a ‘beast’ represents not a mere king, but rather a kingdom of kings. So Daniel 7:23 reads: “…The fourth beast shall be the fourth kingdom upon earth…” And the term “the man of sin” should be understood as an appellation like “the son of perdition” or “the man of God”, speaking of a title and not an actual man. So II Timothy 3:17 reads: “That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” Here as elsewhere in scripture the term "the man of God" is a title, referring to prophets and preachers. Since the term "the Man of Sin"-like the terms "the man of God" or "the son of perdition"- is a title, we should not think that it refers to just one literal man. A title permits and even suggests a plural number of subjects hold the title. All of these passages combined suggest a kingdom of false christs and prophets who will deceive and persecute Christians, leading many professed Christians to fall away.
So here are some additional characteristics we can glean about the Beast of Revelation:
1.He is a kingdom, and not a mere king.
2.He is a lamb-like deceiver who fooled Christians.
3.He is a Judas Iscariot-like (ie, ‘son of perdition’) betrayer of the Christian faith.
4.He is a doer of ‘signs and wonders’ that fooled people.
at least one of his manifestations he is a persecutor of true Christians.
Dr. Gentry asserts that he must be someone possessing great authority,
and that he must be a political figure. We should concur with this, but
add that the description suggests that he is more than just a political
kingdom. He is lamb-like, deceptive kingdom of anti-christs.
Dr. Gentry asserts that the name-number must speak of one of John’s contemporaries. He bases this premise upon the alleged temporal expectation of John, due to the temporal indicators found in the book of Revelation.
But in our treatment of Fallacy #1 and Fallacy #4 we showed the flaws with Dr. Gentry's logic. It is simply not true that 'John clearly expected the soon occurrence of the events of Revelation', if by that is meant that John expected it in the first century A.D. But since his premise is false, it logically follows that his conclusion is false. It is not at all obvious that the Beast must be a contemporary figure of the Apostle John.
Dr. Gentry insists, however: "John repeats and varies his terms as if to dispel any confusion." Gentry argues its frequent and varied occurrence dispels any doubt. But just the opposite is the case. It’s the very unlimited and ubiquitous way in which it is repeated that suggests we must understand the temporal indicators differently with regards to the book of Revelation. If these temporal indicators had just been used to describe the events of several chapters like Revelation 12,13, and 14, then we should be open to the notion that the events described in these chapters occurred in the first century. But the 'at hand' and ‘coming quickly’ time indicators in Revelation permeate the book and refer universally to its contents. Thus Revelation 1:1 reads: “The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass…“ And no event in Revelation is more emphasized as being at hand than the Second Advent and its aftermath, which incredibly is one of the portions of Revelation (Revelation 20-22) which at least some partial preterists say do not occur in the first century. This ubiquitous quality thus forces us to treat the temporal indicators of Revelation in the way they are treated in II Peter 3.
Dr. Gentry is shocked that so many Christian commentators have missed
his (and other preterists') insights into the book of Revelation.
He writes: "[John] places his boldest time statements in both the introduction
and conclusion to Revelation. It is remarkable that so many recent
commentators have missed it literally coming and going!" This
is really very easy to explain. Most orthodox Christian commentators
are not so deceived as to say along with Dr. Gentry regarding the full
preterist Russell: "I highly recommend this well-organized, carefully argued,
and compellingly written defense of preterism to serious and mature
students of the Bible. It is one of the most persuasive and challenging
books I have read on the subject of eschatology and has had a great
impact on my own thinking." Most orthodox Christian commentators
readily know that since the 'at hand' time indicators refer even to the
Second Advent passages therein contained, that it must be we must interpret
the time indicators differently than we otherwise would in most contexts.
Most orthodox Christian commentators realize words can have different
senses in different contexts, even time indicator words. But Dr. Gentry
wrote: "passages specifically delimiting the time-frame by temporal indicators
(such as "this generation," "shortly," "at hand," "near," and similar wording)
are to be applied to A. D. 70." It is both a naive and dangerous
assumption to believe that any word is necessarily used in a uniform manner,
without considering its context. It is an assumption which II Peter
3 cautions against. But Dr. Gentry and other preterists go where
most orthodox Christian commentators wisely avoid.
Dr. Gentry here posits that the name must be that of someone relevant to the first-century Christians in the seven churches to whom John wrote (Rev. 1:4, 11). He expected them to give heed to what he wrote (Rev. 1:3) and to calculate the Beast’s number (Rev. 13:18).
Since we have already established that the events prophesied in the
book of Revelation would span the time between the Apostolic era to the
Second Advent, it is not at all obvious just how much the first century
Christians would understand about Revelation 13. They would have
known certain of the general qualities about the beast described in Revelation
13, but it could not be expected that the first century Christians would
know when the Roman Empire (the sixth beast of Revelation 17:10) would
fall and when the land-beast of Revelation 13 (the seventh beast of Revelation
17:10) and then the Whore riding on the eighth beast described in Revelation
17 would emerge. Just as there were many prophecies of Daniel which
Jewish believers did not fully understand until events unfolded, so there
are many events in Revelation that believers have a hard time understanding
until events unfold. They have certain ideas, but there is some fog as
Conclusions regarding Dr. Gentry’s Premises
In the light of the fallacies outlined earlier, it is clear that Dr. Gentry’s premises upon which he built his search for the Beast of Revelation are fundamentally flawed. Given his erroneous and inadequate search criteria, it should come as no surprise that he erroneously identifies the Beast as Nero. Nero simply does not fit the bill:
But Dr. Gentry is correct in identifying one manifestation of the Beast in human history as the Roman Empire, and he is correct in locating the Beast of Revelation in Rome, the City of Seven Hills (Rev. 17:9).
So what fits the bill, if Nero does not? The Romish Papacy. It is a kingdom. It is a lamb-like deceiver. It is a betrayer of the Christian faith that parades as Christian. It came out of the Roman Empire and in many respects filled its shoes.It purports to do miracles like turning wine into Christ’s blood and bread into His body in the Romish Mass. (And it purports to do many miracles besides this. It even purports to forgive sins.) It has been around for centuries. It has been a persecutor of Christians. And it is based in Rome.
But where do preterist premises and the preterist hermeneutic logically lead us, if we reject historicism? It has already been shown that all of the contents of Revelation are encompassed by temporal indicators like 'shortly come to pass.' It has also been shown that passages like Revelation 22:12 and Revelation 1:7 correspond with passages like Romans 2:5-6 and Matthew 24:30 , respectively. If the former set of verses relate to 70 A.D., then the latter set of verses seem to as well. Indeed, all verses which speak of a judgment of all humanity according to their deeds- including such verses as Matthew 6:26-27 and Romans 14:10-12, can then be associated with 70 A.D. And if Matthew 24:30 relates to a 'coming' of Christ in 70 A.D., then the 'end of the age' reference in Matthew 24 would appear to relate to 70 A.D., as most preterists agree. But if a convincing argument really could be made that the ‘end of the age’ there is really 70 A.D., then there is a compelling argument which could be made that it has similar reference in Matthew 13. But our interpretation of Matthew 13 and Matthew 24 cannot leave our interpretation of passages like Matthew 25 and other gospel passages unaffected. And if passages like II Thessalonians 2:1 are speaking of only the 70 AD event of the destruction of Jerusalem, as most partial preterists assert, then it is not unreasonable to believe passages like II Thessalonians 1:7-10 have reference to the same event. Both of these texts describe His Coming in similar language, and they are certainly close in context and proximity. Now if these references to "the coming of Christ and...our gathering together unto Him" (II Thessalonians 2:1) and judgment (II Thessalonians 1:7-10) are just describing the events of 70 AD, then it is quite reasonable and compelling to believe I Thessalonians 4:17 is also referring to it. Indeed, if the passages in II Thessalonians concerning the Advent relate to 70 A.D., I think it is a very hard case indeed to argue that the Advent passages in I Thessalonians do not also relate to it. But I and II Thessalonians are a gold mine in terms of our understanding of the Second Advent. If this gold mine really belongs to 70 A.D., as well as passages like Romans 2:5-6 and Romans 14:10-12, I think it is hard to imagine our doctrine of the Second Advent can go totally unaffected. Furthermore, if all these verses relate to 70 A.D., it raises significant questions about other allusions to the Advent, especially in the Pauline epistles. Full preterism, with its denial of a future literal return of Christ, is not an unreasonable ultimate conclusion of the partial preterist error in various passages. It is not surprising or illogical that those who have accepted partial preterist assumptions should end up in the full preterist camp, just as partial preterists like Chilton and Hibbard did. But full preterism is quite radical in its implications, affecting even our doctrines of the Lord's Supper and Great Commission. And it represents a significant break with the history of Christian creeds and confessions. Not surprisingly, many partial preterist theologians have sought a way to retain their preterist assumptions yet avoid the consequence of full preterism. This is all done in an understandable effort to retain the historic doctrine of Christ's future literal coming, trying to avoid those radical implications. But this is no way to preserve orthodoxy. The proper course is to recognize partial preterist errors and understand the consistency and reasonableness of historicism.
Clarifying and Concluding Observations
Certain clarifying and concluding observations are now necessary in
order to respond to propositions advanced by Dr. Gentry in his books and
to futher explain historicism in contrast to partial preterism.
Observation #1 : Historicism, and not preterism, offers a more reasonable explanation of the ‘666’ numerology.
Dr. Gentry had set forth as one of his premises that people of John's era should have been able to calculate the Beast’s number and realize who the Beast was. Since he believes Nero is the beast, he came up with the following way to derive it from '666': "A Hebrew spelling of his name was Nrwn Qsr...a first century Hebrew spelling of Nero’s name provides us with precisely the value of 666."
It should first be said, if John thought this method advanced by Dr. Gentry a splendid way to identify Nero to the early church, he failed miserably, for there is no historical record that anyone in the early church so derived Nero from '666'. Rather, the historical record indicates that Irenaeus, in the second century, disciple of Polycarp, John's disciple, explained the number '666' as contained in the Greek letters of Lateinos (L being thirty; A, one; T, three hundred; E, five; I, ten; N, fifty; O, seventy; S, two hundred). So if Dr. Gentry's method was so obvious in the first century, and so obvious to the Apostle John, why did John's disciples not even seem to catch it?
Just as peculiar, why did John use a Hebrew spelling instead of a Greek spelling if his intent was that people may be able to identify Nero as the Beast? How many of the readers of Revelation in the early church at the time of the Roman Empire really knew Hebrew? And "Nrwn Qsr" was not even the common way in the Hebrew to write Nero's name. And so how many really identified Nero by the particular Hebrew spelling of Nero's name mentioned by Dr. Gentry? I daresay if we were to search long enough with anyone's name, plus one of his titles, we could come up with some way to derive the '666' using either Hebrew or Greek numerology.
But the chief error of Dr. Gentry is that he and other preterists are
seeking to find a way to assign '666' to a particular man. But as
already pointed out, this is a fallacy. The '666' pertains to the
beastial kingdom, and not to a particular man. Thus, the title Lateinos,
'Latin', is consistent with the view that the Latin or Romish Papacy is
Observation #2 : There is not evidence beyond a reasonable doubt from the external evidence for the Early Date Theory of the book of Revelation.
There have between two competing theories as to the date in which the Apostle John authored the book of Revelation.The Late Date Theory holds that it was authored during the reign of Emperor Domitian significantly after 70 A.D., whereas the Early Date Theory holds that it was authored during the reign of the Roman Emperor Nero before 70 A.D.
Imagine that you were on a jury and the guilt or innocence of the man depended on whether the Early Date Theory or the Late Date Theory, respectively, was correct. Based upon the external evidence that Dr. Gentry presents, compared with the external evidence of the Late Date Theorists, would you really be prepared to convict the man because you were convinced beyond a reasonable doubt from the external evidence that the Early Date Theory is true?
The answer is surely ‘no.’ There is simply contradicting
external evidence on both sides of this question. E.B. Eliot in "Horae
Apocalyticae" presents strong external evidence for the Late Date Theory,
which would tend to contradict the Early Date Theory. On the other
hand, Dr. Gentry in his book “Before Jerusalem Fell” provides some strong
arguments from the external evidence raising questions and doubts about
the Late Date Theory. I am not going to rehearse the evidence here,
but would refer the reader to these books to understand the varied sides
of this debate. Rather, I would simply note that if the Late Date
Theory is correct, then preterism is unquestionably in error. However,
historicism's veracity is not tied to the date of authorship of the book
of Revelation, whether Late Date or Early Date.
Observation #3 : The alleged internal evidence that Dr. Gentry advances for the Early Date Theory in "Before Jerusalem Fell" is replete with interpretative flaws.
Let’s consider some of these interpretative flaws in Dr. Gentry’s presentation.
Dr. Gentry believes two elements in the book of Revelation are especially
strong proof for the Early Date Theory of authorship. He writes:
“Certain arguments, however, are not only stronger, but virtually certain,
e.g. the contemporary reign of the sixth king and the integrity of the
Temple and Jerusalem.” So Dr. Gentry believes one reason we can be
certain that the book of Revelation was written during the reign of Nero
is that in Revelation 17:10 the sixth king there alluded to must be Nero,
since Nero was the sixth emperor in succession if one counts Julius Caesar
as the first emperor. Now I have already addressed this issue of
the interpretation of Revelation 17:10, but suffice it to say that in Revelation
17:10 the ‘kings’ alluded to there are kingdoms and not particular kings
or emperors. When Revelation 17:10 speaks of five kings that are
would it really be correct to say that Emperor Augustus
because he died a natural death after serving decades as emperor?
Would it be correct to say Presidents Roosevelt and Reagan fell, simply
because they are no longer President of the U.S.? Is it not far more
reasonable to relate this statement with the statements in Daniel regarding
the successive rise and fall of kings (i.e., kingdoms)? Should
we not compare scripture with scripture in our exegesis? The number
of Roman kings up to the time of 70 A.D. does not even fit the catalogue
of kings of Revelation 17:10, as E.B. Eliot well points out. And
besides, the book of Revelation is not just covering the time up to 70
A.D., but rather it covers the time up to the future Second Advent.
Dr. Gentry’s argument about kings rests upon the assumption that the Day of Judgment and the New Heavens and New Earth described in Revelation 20-22 really refer to 70 A.D., primarily because of the temporal indicators of Revelation. But this assumption is dead wrong, and so too is this supposed proof.
Dr. Gentry’s second main reason for adhering to the Early Date Theory relates to the supposed “contemporary integrity of the Temple.” He is referring to allusions to the Temple in Revelation chapter 11, here excerpted:
“And there was given me a reed like unto a rod: and the angel stood, saying, Rise, and measure the temple of God, and the altar, and them that worship therein. But the court which is without the temple leave out, and measure it not; for it is given unto the Gentiles: and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty [and] two months. And I will give [power] unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred [and] threescore days, clothed in sackcloth. These are the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth…And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them… And their dead bodies [shall lie] in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified… And after three days and an half the Spirit of life from God entered into them, and they stood upon their feet; and great fear fell upon them which saw them… And they heard a great voice from heaven saying unto them, Come up hither. And they ascended up to heaven in a cloud; and their enemies beheld them… And the temple of God was opened in heaven, and there was seen in his temple the ark of his testament: and there were lightnings, and voices, and thunderings, and an earthquake, and great hail.”
Concerning this chapter, Dr. Gentry writes: "It is evident that John's Revelation and Luke's Gospel look to the same events. And these events were literal occurrences that happened to historical institutions and structures...The context of Luke demands a literal Jerusalem (Luke 21:20) besieged by literal armies (Luke 21:20) in literal Judea (Luke 21:21)- which as a matter of historical record occurred in the events leading up to A.D. 70." So he contends that in Revelation 11 the 'great city' therein referenced is Jerusalem and the 'temple' mentioned there is the literal Temple in Jerusalem.
Revelation 11 is speaking of a literal Temple in a literal Jerusalem about as much as the two witnesses in the chapter are two literal olive trees and two literal candlesticks- which is to say, not at all. The account of Luke 21:20-21 does not match the account of Revelation 11, and to consider the two as describing the same event is quite erroneous. For example, in Revelation 11:4-13, the killing of the witnesses in these passages cannot refer to the slaughter of the Judaists in the *literal* Jerusalem in 70 A.D., because these witnesses of Revelation 11 were Christians that ascended to heaven (Rev 11:12), and not unbelieving Judaists. Christians were not in Jerusalem in the 70 AD siege, because they fled; whereas the Judaists were the ones killed. Furthermore, when Jerusalem was conquered in 70 A.D., the Romans did not stop in the outer court of the Gentiles, but destroyed the whole. In addition, it is obvious that the temple of Revelation 11:19 is not a literal temple, so why should it be insisted that the temple of Revelation 11:1 is a literal temple? And it is highly suspicious that Jerusalem would be referred to as "great city", "Sodom", and "Egypt". No, the accounts of Luke 21:20-21 and Revelation 11 are quite different.
We are to understand the 'temple' of Revelation 11 as God's elect church on earth. As we read in II Corinthians 6:16, "ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people." And we are to understand the place where "our Lord was crucified" figuratively, as the place where the Wicked rule on earth, especially the Roman Beast. There is much reason to believe neither the 'temple' nor Jerusalem of Revelation 11 is to be interpreted literally.
Besides the previous two noted considerations, Dr. Gentry asserts that the theme of Revelation suggests that the Early Date Theory is correct. He agrees with the full preterist J. Stuart Russell who wrote: “the Apocalypse is nothing else than a transfigured form of the prophecy on the Mount of Olives [i.e., Matthew 24].” Dr. Gentry writes with regards to Russell’s sentiments: “If, as seems likely, Revelation is indeed John’s exposition of the Olivet Discourse, we must remember that in the delivery of the Discourse the Lord emphasized that it focused on Israel (Matthew 24:1,2,15-16; cp. Matt. 23:32ff.) and was to occur in his generation (Matthew 24:34).” I find it interesting that Dr. Gentry leans so much upon a full preterist heretic’s interpretation of Revelation and Matthew 24. I have addressed this topic of Matthew 24 already, so I will not repeat it again. But I would simply remind the reader that only part of Matthew 24 deals with Israel, but much if not most of it is addressing the events leading up to the Second Advent and how we should always be prepared for the Second Advent, for we know not when it will come.Similarly, the book of Revelation addresses the events leading up to the Second Advent, and not simply 70 A.D.Therefore, Dr. Gentry and the heretic J. Stuart Russell are wrong about their themes, and so are wrong that their themes prove the Early Date Theory.
Another consideration that Dr. Gentry cites in “Before Jerusalem Fell” is what he describes as “the contemporary expectation of the author regarding the fulfillment of the prophecies.”I have already addressed this assertion of Dr. Gentry, and shown that there was no such expectation.Since there was no such expectation, this consideration fails as evidence as well.
My main concern with Dr. Gentry's interpretive flaws is not so much the date when the book of Revelation was written (although his internal evidence for the Early Date Theory I regard as almost totally invalid), but rather the conclusion he draws about the book's theme. He believes the theme of Revelation is: "Christ is judging Israel for the sin of rejecting Him." But this completely misses the real theme of Revelation: Christ's triumph over all His enemies worldwide, culminating in His Second Advent which will usher in a New Heavens and New Earth. Dr. Gentry has lost sight of the big picture which Revelation displays.
Observation #4 : The prophecies of Revelation, along with the prophecies in other books of scripture, suggest the Romish Papacy in its various manifestations will ultimately be destroyed, along with the other false religions and movements, ushering in a season of gospel fruit, before the Great Day of Judgment.
We have previously considered the various manifestations of the beastial kingdoms over history. We have also noted how the Romish Papacy and the Vatican have themselves evolved from a lamb-like beast coming forth from a sea-beast into a Whore sitting upon a City of Seven Hills and propped up by Satan himself. This Whore is described as not only a harlot herself, but also a ‘mother of harlots’ which spawns other false religions and movements. And so the world is not only deceived by Romanism, but also movements such as Communism and Fascism and Humanism. Even the Eastern Christian churches were influenced for ill by Rome, for Rome encouraged her use of icons.
At the same time God has used the Muslims as an instrument in history to judge societies which have embraced the Whore and her daughters. Revelation 9 is notable in its description of the Muslim rod: “And there came out of the smoke locusts upon the earth: and unto them was given power, as the scorpions of the earth have power. And it was commanded them that they should not hurt the grass of the earth, neither any green thing, neither any tree; but only those men which have not the seal of God in their foreheads. And to them it was given that they should not kill them, but that they should be tormented five months: and their torment [was] as the torment of a scorpion, when he striketh a man… And the shapes of the locusts [were] like unto horses prepared unto battle; and on their heads [were] as it were crowns like gold, and their faces [were] as the faces of men…” This rod is from the East, for we read in Revelation 9:14: “Loose the four angels which are bound in the great river Euphrates.” It would seem that God has planned in history three great waves of this rod to hit, for in Revelation 9:12 we read: “One woe is past; [and], behold, there come two woes more hereafter.” Each wave appears to be more perilous than its previous one. For example, the next wave is described thus: “And the four angels were loosed, which were prepared for an hour, and a day, and a month, and a year, for to slay the third part of men.” So Revelation not only prophesies the Romish Papacy, but also the eastern hordes of Islam.
But we read of the ultimate destruction of the Papacy, that Anti-Christian Man of Sin, in Revelation 19 and II Thessalonians 2 and Isaiah 11:
Revelation 19 - “For true and righteous [are] his judgments: for he hath judged the great whore, which did corrupt the earth with her fornication, and hath avenged the blood of his servants at her hand…And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him [was] called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war…And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God…And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image.”
II Thessalonians 2:8-9 - “And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming:[Even him], whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders.”
Isaiah 11:4 – “But with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: and he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the Wicked.”
These verses suggest that the Lord will employ the preaching of the word of God by gospel ministers finally to bring down the Papacy and usher in a period of gospel prosperity on the earth. John Calvin noted this relation between Isaiah 11 and II Thessalonians 2:8-9. Two passages addressing the sword of the Spirit include:
Ephesians 6:17- “And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”
Hebrews 4:12- “For the word of God [is] quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and [is] a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”
Dr. Francis Nigel Lee and others have suggested that the beast referenced above in the Revelation 19 passage is the Papacy, and the ‘false prophet’ is a reference to Islam, for Islam is based upon the teachings of the false prophet Mohammed. Once these opponents of Christ are out of the way on earth, Revelation 20 and Psalm 2 suggest what will follow on earth:
Revelation 20 - “And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years and cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season…”
Psalm 2:8-12 - “Ask of me, and I shall give [thee] the heathen [for]
thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth [for] thy possession.
Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces
like a potter's vessel. Be wise now therefore, O ye kings: be instructed,
ye judges of the earth… Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish [from]
the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little.”
The context of the Psalm 2 passage cited above is that following His
resurrection Christ has taken His throne seat at the right hand of God
the Father. The Father then informs the Son that the nations are
now His inheritance. All of the nations and their civil leaders are
warned to submit to Christ, lest they be destroyed by Him. Revelation
19 described that destruction of wickedness which will take place.
And the passages quoted from Revelation 20 above reveal the fruit of the
future binding of Satan to a degree not previously enjoyed: the nations
shall not be deceived like they previously were. There will then
be a season of gospel prosperity on earth, before Christ’s Second Advent
and the Great Day of Judgment. Dr. Lee’s book “John’s Revelation
Unveiled” addresses in detail the circumstances directly prior to the Great
Day of Judgment, including the brief loosening of Satan, so I will not
address those here. But we witness in all of this God’s providence
at work in redeeming the nations, contrary to all ungodly opposition.
Observation #5 : The objections which Dr. Gentry cites as proof against the kingdom interpretation of Revelation 17:10 are invalid.
I have interpreted the ‘kings’ referenced in Revelation 17:10 as ‘kingdoms’, which I explained in some detail in treatment of Fallacy #6. Dr. Gentry posits certain objections to this kingdom interpretation of Revelation 17:10 in his book “Before Jerusalem Fell”, insisting that the ‘kings’ referenced must be interpreted as literal kings and not kingdoms. I will now respond to each of his objections.
His first objection is that the Greek term for ‘king’ found in Revelation 17:10 is a different word from ‘kingdom’. This objection ignores the fact that in the prophecies of Daniel, which set the pattern for the prophecy of Revelation, the term ‘king’ and ‘kingdom’ are used interchangeably. Consider Daniel 7:17-23: “These great beasts, which are four, [are] four kings, [which] shall arise out of the earth… Thus he said, The fourth beast shall be the fourth kingdom upon earth, which shall be diverse from all kingdoms, and shall devour the whole earth, and shall tread it down, and break it in pieces.”
His second objection is that the kings referenced in Revelation 17:10 must all reside in Rome, given the allusion to the Seven Hills in Revelation 17:9. But this fails to note that the beast being described with the Seven Heads, representing the Seven Hills of Rome, is the eighth beast who carries the whore. It is this beast which is described in the phase “was, and is not”, and it is this beast which has the Seven Heads and Ten Horns. The Seven Heads of this eighth beast represent the fact that the eighth beast is the consummate beast of all the seven kings (who are also beasts, as implied in Revelation 17:11) which preceded it, according to Revelation 17:10. But there is no indication in Revelation 17 that all the seven beasts which preceded the eighth beast had Seven Heads. As a matter of fact, neither in Daniel nor in Revelation do any of the beasts described have Seven Heads other than the sea-beast of Revelation 13 from which the land-beast of Revelation 13 came, and the eighth beast described in Revelation 17. The red dragon of Revelation 12 also has Seven Heads, but as previously noted, I believe the red dragon and the eighth beast of Revelation 17 both refer to the same being- Satan himself. Since there is no indication that all the kings referenced in Revelation 17:10 had Seven Heads (and indeed, it would not make sense that any of them had Seven Heads because the Seven Heads also represent the seven kings considered in their totality according to Revelation 17:10), it is therefore erroneous to assert that all the seven kings of Revelation 17:10 necessarily resided in the City of Seven Hills, or Rome.
His third objection is that “the expectation of the book [of Revelation] is that of the events being ‘at hand’ and near’.” Dr. Gentry is suggesting that if the kings really were kingdoms, then this would contradict the idea that the events described in the book of Revelation were in the first century. Well, precisely! Dr. Gentry has it. One reason we should reject that the events of the book of Revelation occurred in the first century is because kingdoms are described in them, which last not years but centuries. We have previously given sufficient other reasons to reject the preterist premise that all the events of Revelation occurred in the first century.
We can therefore conclude that Dr. Gentry’s objection to the kingdom
interpretation are unfounded.
Observation #6 : The Prophecy of Zechariah 12:10 is a prophecy of an event distinct from the event prophesied in Matthew 24:30 and Revelation 1:7.
Zechariah 12:10 reads: "And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn."
John 19:36-37 ("For these things were done that the scripture should be fulfilled...They shall look on him whom they pierced.") indicates Zechariah 12:10 was fulfilled during the events of Christ's First Advent, especially upon Christ's crucifixion when He was pierced, and then quickly followed at Pentecost when there was the Pentecostal outpouring of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:4), including Peter's sermon in Jerusalem in which many Jewish hearts were pricked when they realized what they had done to the Messiah (Acts 2:37).
Matthew Henry correctly points out that the mourning described in Zechariah
12:10 differs from the allusions to mourning in Rev 1:7 and Matthew 24:30:
is a mourning grounded upon a sight of Christ: They shall look on me whom
they have pierced, and shall mourn for him. Here, [1.] It is foretold that
Christ should be pierced, and this scripture is quoted as that which was
fulfilled when Christ's side was pierced upon the cross; see John xix.
37. [2.] He is spoken of as one whom we have pierced; it is spoken primarily
of the Jews, who persecuted him to death (and we find that those who pierced
him are distinguished from the other kindreds of the earth that shall wail
because of him, Rev. i. 7)"
There are at least two respects in which the mourning described in Zechariah 12:10 differs from the mourning described in Matthew 24:30 and Revelation 1:7. First, the mourning in Zechariah 12:10 focuses upon the House of David (i.e, in this context, the Jews); but the mourning in Matthew 24:30 and Revelation 1:7 focuses upon "all the tribes of the earth" and "all kindreds of the earth". Second, the mourning of Zechariah 12:10 has special reference to mourning for those who pierced Christ (i.e., the Jews); but the mourning in Matthew 24:30 and Revelation 1:7 is a more general mourning at the thought of Christ.
This evidence suggests that Zechariah 12:10 was fulfilled at the time
of the events surrounding Christ's First Advent (namely His Crucifixion
and Gift of the Holy Spirit), and not 70 A.D. The piercing of Christ
followed by the gift of the Holy Spirit did not occur in 70 A.D.
And there is no real evidence that in 70 A.D. any previously unconverted
Jews were pricked in the heart and mourned for their crucifying Christ.
Those Jews that remained in Jerusalem during the Roman siege of 70 A.D.
may have been mourning, but it was to no positive effect, and certainly
not resulting in their salvation and the receipt of the gift of the Holy
Spirit. So Zechariah 12:10 does not apply to 70 A.D. The destruction
of 70 A.D. was a judgment of earthly destruction upon the unbelieving Jews.
Observation #7 : Historicism is not a type of ‘Last Days Madness’ in which actual events are assigned prophetical signification in an ad hoc fashion, but is rather an interpretative approach exactly matching the approach which is required to identify Jesus as the Messiah prophesied in the Old Testament.
Centuries had passed since the last inspired Old Testament prophecies were recorded when Jesus arose on the scene in Palestine with His First Advent. Jews had available to them prophecies concerning the coming Messiah in their Old Testament. These gave them various descriptions of who the Messiah would be and what he would be like and what he would do. They also had the prophecy of Daniel which laid out in historicistical fashion the beastial kingdoms which would arise over the course of time before the Messiah arose during the fourth beastial kingdom. They also knew from Daniel’s reference to Seventy Weeks that the Messiah must arise some time before the first century of our era closed. And with this data they were deemed by God to be equipped to identify that Jesus was their Messiah. It was their duty to identify Him as the Messiah and be believers.
Similarly, we are given in the prophecy of John in historicistical fashion the beastial kingdoms and other notable events which are to arise between the Apostolic era and the Second Advent ushering in the New Heavens and New Earth. Along with this, we are supplied with various other New Testament prophetic commentary concerning this Man of Sin which is to arise over the course of the period, along with descriptions of various other notable events. And with this data believers are expected to be able to identify this Man of Sin and Beast.
It is important that we rightly identify the 'Man of Sin' Anti-Christ from his scriptural descriptions, even as it is important that we identify who the Christ is from his scriptural descriptions. The Apostle Paul expected Christians to be able to identify this "Man of Sin", unlike the non-elect who would be deceived by him (II Thessalonians 2:1). The "Man of Sin" would cause great apostacy in the church (II Thessalonians 2:3), and as such would pose no small threat. As we read in Revelations 13:14 this Anti-Christian Beast would deceive many of them on the earth, appearing like a lamb (Revelations 13:11). Just as the other Beasts of Daniel and Revelations, so this Beast was not to be simply one individual, but a whole kingdom of rulers over time. He would be a traitor like the great 'son of perdition', Judas Iscariot. Just as Judas masqueraded as a Christian, so would this "Man of Sin", and so be deceptive. Just as Christians in the days of the Apostles had to consider the Biblical descriptions of Christ and realize they fit Jesus, so we are called on to consider the Biblical descriptions of the "Man of Sin" Anti-Christ and realize they fit the Papacy. Indeed, Paul indicated Christians could know that Christ's coming was not at hand until this "Man of Sin" had completed his work of deception and destruction and his reign had been overcome (II Thessalonians 2:3). The Apostle Paul assumed that Christians would be able to identify the Man of Sin when he arose. And it was by properly identifying the "Man of Sin" Anti-Christian Beast that our Protestant fore-fathers knew they had to break with the Romish Church. There is no negotiation with or reformation of him. And Protestants today cannot afford to discard the Reformer's correct insight.
Dr. Gentry concludes his book “Before Jerusalem Fell” the way I would like to close this critique. He reminded us of the old adage: ‘if the shoe fits, then wear it.’ Well, the Roman Papacy in its evolutionary development surely fits the descriptions of the land-beast of Revelation 13 and the whore of Revelation 17, and it is the only entity that could fit. No other kingdom- marked by deception, treason, and treachery- has or could arise out of the ancient Roman Empire, last for centuries, and have as its capital Rome. Historicism is not some sort of 'Last Days Madness' that flails about- one year proclaiming Henry Kissinger as the Beast and the next year proclaiming it must be the current head of the United Nations. Just as we can identify Jesus as the Messiah- for there is no one else that has or could so perfectly fit the scriptural prophecies- so we can identify the Romish Papacy as the Beast of Revelation.