Was John or the Apocalypse Seen in the Time of Domitian?

We previously left the reader with the question as to whether it was John or the Apocalypse that was seen in the time of Domitian. One only has to go to Irenaeus’ works himself and read chapter thirty of book five to understand the context and see that grammatically it must mean John for it to make sense. Holding to the view that it is the Apocalypse that was seen in that time has led us to where we are today – with the futurist view.

To refresh our recollection, we look again at the statement itself, and we see this: “We will not, however, incur the risk of pronouncing positively as to the name of Antichrist; for if it were necessary that his name should be distinctly revealed in this present time, it would have been announced by him who beheld the apocalyptic vision. For that was seen no very long time since, but almost in our day, towards the end of Domitian’s reign.”

That statement consists of two sentences, totaling three parts. Let us, for the moment, assume that the last sentence was the beginning of a new chapter, starting on a different page. In other words, out of sight and out of mind, just for the moment. In the first part (before the semicolon) of the first sentence, we see that it tells us exactly what Irenaeus was talking about – the name of Antichrist.

In the second part (after the semicolon), it most assuredly leaves the reader with the anticipation of an announcement by the person who would be able to tell the world the name of Antichrist – John! That brings us to the last sentence, and it is that last sentence that is the key, for it skews the entire narrative! That last sentence begins with: “For “that” was seen….”

For starters, the word “that” does not belong, for “that” would refer to the Apocalypse, and grammatically and contextually, “that” does not fit. It stands to reason that in attempting to put a name to Antichrist, it would have been announced, as the statement says, by the one who beheld the Apocalypse, not by the Apocalypse itself, because the Apocalypse gives us the number, not the name – so “that” would make the statement contradictory. Furthermore, the Apocalypse was seen by John alone, the “him” who beheld the Apocalypse – repeat, John! “He” was seen almost in their day, toward the end of Domitian’s reign, and that is a historical fact!

John was seen, in Ephesus, in the 90s, in the time of Domitian. That Emperor, Domitian, as we previously stated, was the one who freed John from his exile on Patmos. That is his claim to fame, and nothing more. The fact of the matter is that John was there, in Ephesus, in the reign of Domitian. However, that does not mean that John saw the Apocalypse at that time!

That is the supposition that has been made and put forth and is the kernel of the late date of the Revelation. Any student of eschatology must grapple with this, for without that supposition, there is no futurist view.

We hope that the reader can see just how convoluted this is and how difficult it is in sorting out what needs to be done in unraveling the jumble of error and supposition and all of the hypothetical when interpreting Revelation. The magnitude of the errors that have led to the futurist view makes it nearly impossible to resolve, but only nearly so – for it is not impossible.

However, it is much easier to accept what the experts say rather than live through the anguish and frustration in trying to figure it out themselves. That is understandable, but unfortunately, it does not solve the problem because the experts do not know either.

Now we come to the finale, the nitty-gritty, where the rubber meets the road (so to speak) and where we will drive a stake through the heart of the false essence of Irenaeus’ notorious statement, and put the final nail in the coffin of the futurist view. Either the translators erred in their translation, or it got changed since then!

As we have stated, Irenaeus was Greek, and he wrote in Greek, so let us look at the notorious statement yet again: “We will not, however, incur the risk of pronouncing positively as to the name of Antichrist; for if it were necessary that his name should be distinctly revealed in this present time, it would have been announced by him who beheld the apocalyptic vision. For THAT was seen no very long time since, but almost in our day, towards the end of Domitian’s reign.”

The word “that, as we said,” is the key. The Greek and English languages differ in that English uses separate and distinct personal pronouns while the Greek language does not use those pronouns. Instead, it uses word-endings on a verb to denote person and number (first, second, or third person; singular or plural).

The Greek word Irenaeus used is εωραθη, which is a third-person, singular verb defined as he, she, or, it was seen. Now, we can eliminate “she,” for the subject and the verb must agree, so it can only be “he,” meaning John, or “it,” meaning the Apocalypse. If the ‘neuter’ gender were implied, it would have translated into the word “it,” so the translation we see is incorrect in and of itself – it cannot be “that,” which is what we see in the notorious statement!

Irenaeus wrote the correct Greek word, which was then incorrectly translated “that was seen” instead of “he was seen.” Now, some Greek language experts and grammarians can disagree and make a case for the status quo, for there will always be someone willing to take ”the other side” of any argument. However, the status quo has ignored context and led to an incomprehensible rendering of a broad genre of Scripture, called eschatology.

The seedlings of the futurist view of Revelation and eschatology have now been laid bare. It is now up to the Bible student, the reader, the person still following this blog, to reconsider whether the status quo is accurate and acceptable or not, and whether it is worthwhile to reconsider. The outcome is stark. One can either remain in the nether-world of futurism, accepting what others tell him, not understanding much of what he is reading and hearing, on the one hand, or, on the other, many of the problematic passages in the Scriptures will make sense to him. As Milton Terry so succinctly stated, “It all turns on the testimony of Irenaeus” Biblical Hermeneutics; pp. 237-242.

So, as we see, the word εωραθη is at the heart of the matter. It is just a simple word upon which an entire doctrine is based. If the word was translated “he was seen” instead of “it,” or “that” –  “was seen,” there would, in all probability, be no futurist view. John would have been the one seen (which he was) in the time of Domitian, sometime between 90-95, after the fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of the Temple – instead of the Apocalypse. What a difference that would have made!

Even though the following is hypothetical, this statement can be made – there is a reasonable possibility that, given a correct rendering of εωραθη, the translators and writers of the King James Bible most likely would have translated αἰών correctly as “age” instead of “world” and we would not be in the mess that we are in today, regarding eschatology. Incidentally, the New King James Version has corrected that error, 362 years after the fact.

Those two errors, the misdating of the Apocalypse based on the mistranslation of εωραθη, and the subsequent 400-year-plus carrying of the mistranslation of αἰών by the KJV are THE reasons for the mess. Any and all other rational thinking on the matter pales in comparison.

What is the upshot of all that? First and foremost, it places the responsibility (that dreaded R-word) upon the shoulders of ‘we the Christian’ to do our part in carrying out the Great Commission. Jesus said, “first in Jerusalem, then in Judea and Samaria, then to the uttermost parts of the earth.” That was accomplished, according to Colossians 1:5,6,23. Nevertheless, those verses are ignored because they refute the futurist view. Regardless, we are not to stop sharing our faith.

In the futurist view, we strive to be in the middle of it all as we see ourselves building another Temple and witnessing the rapture and all of the other glorious events that will supposedly take place in the end times. However, we are ignoring the fact that we are in the middle of it all now because God loves us and sent His Son to die on the cross for us, and He gave us His Word to direct us and to live our lives accordingly. The Word tells us we have EVERYTHING we need to carry out our Christian mandate. He has blessed us with EVERY spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ (Ephesians 1:3), and He has granted to us EVERYTHING pertaining to life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3). We have no excuse.

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