Scot McKnight on How to Read the Book of Revelation

Revelation is best used when one is doing analysis of culture and society and is best put down when one wants to know what will happen in the future. In other words, Revelation is potent political theology and not speculative eschatology.”  –Scot McKnight, source

I remember as a Dispensationalist reading the late J. Dwight Pentecost Things To Come and become so disillusioned with dispensationalism, I jettisoned it.

Next, I moved to a Historic Premillennial position because of Revelation 20:1-6, but then quickly realized that there is really no solid biblical reason, as far as I can tell, for a millennial reign on earth–once King Jesus has returned.

Now I’m a happy Amillennialist sojourner, living with the tensions of the Already-Not-Yet, but finding a Scot McKnight’s proposal and Gordon Fee’s commentary on Revelation (which I reviewed here), especially 20:1-6, very helpful and insightful.

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11 Responses to Scot McKnight on How to Read the Book of Revelation

  1. 123kylephillips says:

    Welcome home, brother!

  2. Jon Hughes says:


    I’ve gone from being a Dispensationalist to an Amillennialist to a Postmillennialist/Partial Preterist to a Classical Premillennialist to who knows what – with a bit more chopping and changing in between. But strangely enough, in the past few weeks, it’s dawned on me (once again) that geopolitical events in the Middle East have to be prophetically significant concerning Israel and the nations surrounding her. I still don’t like the “Things To Come” brand of Dispensationalism, largely because it feels so one-dimensional and all-worked-out. Surely it is better to have a more fluid approach to Bible prophecy, and see both preterism and futurism in the prophetic passages of Scripture. I heard someone once say that biblical prophecy is not so much a ‘lineal’ thing as pattern – i.e. what we’ve seen before will happen again. The book of Revelation had to be relevant to its 1st Century recipients. George Ladd took both a preterist and futurist approach in his commentary on the book. Could not 1st Century events be a microcosm of events that will come to pass at the end of the present age?

    Concerning Christ’s first coming, there were concrete events that accompanied it. This is where I appreciate the Dispensational approach: there will be concrete events that accompany His second coming as well. Other approaches seem too ethereal by contrast.

    • TC Robinson says:


      Good to be back home. 😉


      I see you’ve made the eschatology tour. Yes, there are strengths and weaknesses in every approach, but it’s which one makes the most sense and requires less hermeneutic gymnastics.

      While the first coming of Christ was marked by concrete events and the like, his second coming will be different, per Scripture. And who says that such concrete events must mark his Second coming? This is where Dispensational tries to prove too much, and in its noble effort, per your appreciation, it comes out ridiculous (no offense intended).

      • Jon Hughes says:


        Yes, I agree that Dispensationalism has a tendency to try to prove too much. I always hit a brick wall with it! But I think there’s a danger of going too far the other way, and viewing the material as somehow unspiritual. I believe that A.W. Pink fell into this trap when he came away from Dispensationalism. At least that’s the sense from what I’ve read of him.

        As for Amillennialism, it’s neat but somewhat reductionist (no offence intended). 😉

  3. TC Robinson says:

    Jon, no offense taken. Have you ever listened to a John Hagee on Dispensationalism? It’s incredible! And these guys believe that stuff.

    • Jon Hughes says:

      Hi TC,

      I try to avoid Hagee. Doesn’t he believe that Jews are saved on account of their being Jewish?

      I’ve just read a beautiful book by Ray Bentley: “The Holy Land Key”. It’s different from the norm because he looks at real people on the ground (both Jews and Arabs) instead of merely articulating Bible prophecy in the light of current events. There’s tremendous pathos to his narrative, and he’s interested in God’s purposes for the sons of Ishmael as well as Jewish people. He also looks at the plight of Arab Christians who continually get overlooked when evangelical tour groups fly in from the States and seem to want to focus on all things Jewish. Bentley is from a Calvary Chapel background, and is clearly passionate about God’s purposes for Israel. His emphasis in the book is therefore really heartening.

      I don’t care what your eschatological ‘ism’ is… there is something beautiful and significant coming to pass in this most volatile of regions. Pray for the peace of Jerusalem, and pray for Israel’s neighbours.

      • TC Robinson says:

        Jon, thanks for this. Does Bentley draw on pr even echo the themes of an NT Wright? It seems like he would.

        The Middle East remains elusive to me, partly due to my view of things. But I too will be praying.

  4. Jon Hughes says:


    I didn’t sense the influence of N.T. Wright in anything that Bentley wrote. He seems to share the same eschatology as his mentor, Chuck Smith. But it’s the warmth and humanity that shines through that makes his book different. If this is a new emphasis on the part of Dispensationalists, it’s a welcome development.

  5. scythewieldor says:

    Getting jerked around on definitions of things from the git-go is one of the problems in bible interp. If you start with a bad ingredient, the ice cream is not going to be right.
    Some ingredients:
    *Jacob had 12 sons by 4 different women he inseminated himself. When he gave the birthright to Joseph, he made Ephraim & Manasseh (Joseph’s sons by the Egyptian, Asenath) equal to Joseph’s oldest brothers. That makes 13 tribes.
    *Gen 48-49 let us know that Jacob had 2 blessings: 1 from his progenitors & 1 from the Lord. One blessing set Joseph up as a house. The other set “him who was separated from his brethren “up as a house. Gen. 38:1 tells us Judah was separated from his brethren.
    *David was king of Judah before 7&1/2 years before he was king of the 12 tribe nation of Israel. 10 tribes were taken from David’s seed (but, with a promise that they would be given back). Jeroboam became king of the 10 tribes taken from David’s seed. Since he would not let any Levites be priests in Samaria, the Levites became residents of Judah. The Benjaminites stayed there, too. Once all of the northern tribes were taken into exile, only 1 man, a Samaritan priest, was returned to Samaria.

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