New Testament Apocalyptic Literature


 A survey of the development of apocalyptic literature in the New Testament. This survey includes an introduction to the character of apocalyptic, foundational principles for the interpretation of apocalyptic, and an evaluation of apocalyptic as a communicative and revelatory vehicle

Trinity College of Biblical Studies-Free Online Bible College 

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This course is designed to introduce college students to the basic scholarship and interpretations of the New Testament Apocalyptic Literature. Although one commentary will be used, supplemented with the outside readings, students are encouraged to consult other commentaries and sources that differ from the text. Theories about the inspiration and writing of the Bible, the original readers for various books and the context of Bible passages will be considered. 




 ONE RESEARCH PAPER of five or more pages will be assigned for the semester. It must explore some New Testament Apocalyptic Literature Passages as this is the purpose of the course. It will cover: 1) a Biblical theme or 2) a character or 3) the approach to the Bible of a religious group of your selection and include their interpretation of the passages most significant to them or 4) a movie, a book or play which brings in issues which to which the Bible seems to speak or 5) anything else you can relate to the Bible. It will be reedited and presented to the class during the last few class sessions.


Use centered headings for each section of the Term Paper.   Use the ([author's name, PAGE NUMBER(S)] ) style of citing any idea you borrow (or summarize) from any book or article !! !!. Append a complete Bibliography of resources used to do the paper. USE AT LEAST FOUR OUTSIDE RESOURCES.  Papers will be graded according to depth of research and understanding of the New Testament passages covered. Grammatical and spelling errors will have to be corrected so use the "Spell Check", if you use a computer. 

EXAMINATIONS: Three tests will consist of a choice of one long and one short question plus identification of several major Biblical terms or persons. Prior to each test students will receive review questions to prepare for the review of that section of the text. The tests themselves will be open book tests as they are designed to show the student' s understanding of the biblical interpretations studied, not how well they can memorize. Students will often be asked to give their own opinion as part of an essay. Always respond to all of the question when answering questions. The identification questions part of the test will be answered during the class before each main test. There will be no cumulative, final examination.

EVALUATION: Grades will be based mainly on test grades. The research paper will count as much as one test (50 points). The take home test based on the supplementary text will count 40 points. Essays on tests will have to be, clearly understandable and important terms must spelled correctly or else points will be taken off of the test. Research papers will be graded on grammar and spelling as well as content. The re-edited version of your research paper will have to be almost error free to be accepted. This paper will be presented at the end of the course, possibly getting extra credit for presentation and answering questions.

General Studies Goals Implemented In this Course:

General Education Areas of Emphasis (Criteria and Outcome)

Requires sufficient readings (in terms of volume and content) to provide fundamental knowledge:   Texts are required in this and all other Philosophy and Religion courses.

Emphasizes critical thinking and problem solving skills (scientific, mathematical, social, and/or personal:   This and all other Philosophy and Religion courses place particular emphasis on the development of critical thinking skills.  Logic is a branch of philosophy and is foundational to all other disciplines.  The critical approach is taken and expressed through writing and/or discussion. 

Writing and/or other forms of composition in multiple formats are integral parts of this course:   This and all other Philosophy and Religion courses require writing of some sort.

Students will learn to access information and use the information effectively and ethically:   The Student Code and all conventions relevant to the discipline are enforced.

Philosophy/Religious Studies Goals

1. Improve Critical Reasoning Skills by analyzing, evaluating and presenting sound arguments--  Students will discuss a variety of theories about the writing of the new Testament and a variety of interpretations that differing denominations make of key texts. Students and the instructor discuss these interpretations and the examine the arguments for them.

2. Discover, refine, reflect on and critically examine beliefs on personal, philosophical, religious or ethical or public policy issues--  Study and discussion of the New Testament with the help of commentaries or other scholarly sources definitely leads students to critical examination of  personal, philosophical, religious or ethical or public policy beliefs and positions

3. Practice Writing Skills—Students will write essays as part of their tests and they will write a research paper using outside resources.


Required Reading

The Apocalypse

Ten Lectures on the 2nd Advent

Commentary of Revelation

Audio Lectures click on link to listen

Dr Fee-Preaching Revelation

Dr Fee-Revelation

Dr Block-Revelation

Dr Beele-Revelation





Maps of the Seven Churches

Archaeological Exploration of Sardis

Music based on New Testament Apocalyptic Literature

Art Work


John at Patmos

John Receives the Revelation

The Proclamation of the Return of Christ

One Like a Son of Man

The Letters to the Seven Churches


To the Church in Ephesus


To the Church in Smyrna


To the Church in Pergamum


To the Church in Thyatira


To the Church in Sardis


To the Church in Philadelphia


To the Church in Laodicea

The Throne in Heaven

The Seven Seals


The Four Horsemen


The Fifth and the Sixth Seals


God's Servants Sealed


Adoration of God and the Lamb


The Seventh Seal and the Silence

The Seven Trumpets


The Angels with the Trumpets


The Fifth Trumpet


The Sixth Trumpet


The Four Angels of Destruction


The Angel with the Scroll


The Two Witnesses


The Seventh Trumpet

The Big Struggle


The Woman and the Dragon


The Two Beasts


Adoration of God and the Lamb


The Three Angels


The Last Harvest

The Seven Bowls


Adoration of God and the Lamb


The Bowls of God's Wrath

Judgment against Babylon


The Whore of Babylon


The Fall of Babylon


Adoration of God and the Lamb

Return and Victory


The Rider on the White Horse


The Thousand Years


The Return and the Judgment


The New Heaven and the New Earth


The New Jerusalem


The River of Life and the Tree of Life


Come, Lord Jesus!


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Early Church Fathers on the Timing of the Rise of Antichrist

2 Th 2:1 Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him,
2 Th 2:2 That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand.
2 Th 2:3 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;
2 Th 2:4 Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.
2 Th 2:5 Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things?
2 Th 2:6 And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time.
2 Th 2:7 For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way.
2 Th 2:8 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:
2 Th 2:9 Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders,
2 Th 2:10 And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.
2 Th 2:11 And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie:
2 Th 2:12 That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.

Note that in the above passage, Paul tells the church at Thessalonica that the second coming is not near, that there must be a falling away from the faith, a great apostasy that must happen first. Second, the man of sin, the Antichrist must be revealed, but he was being prevented from rising to power by an entity that the Thessalonians already knew about (v.6), because Paul had already told them about it (v.5).

The key here to knowing who the Antichrist is, is understanding who the restrainer was in Paul's time that prevented the rise of Antichrist, for soon after this restrainer was removed, the Antichrist would be evident. So who did the early church understand this restrainer of the Antichrist to be, and when did they expect the Antichrist to rise to power?

St. Justin Martyr (c. 100-165)

... and he whom Daniel foretells would have dominion for a time, and times, and an half, is even already at the door, about to speak blasphemous and daring things against the Most High. ...

St. Irenaeus of Lyons (c. 130-202)
Adversus haereses (inter A.D. 180/199)
Book V, Chapter 26

John and Daniel have predicted the dissolution and desolation of the Roman Empire, which shall precede the end of the world and the eternal Kingdom of Christ. The Gnostics are refuted, those tools of Satan, who invent another Father different from the Creator.

1. In a still clearer light has John, in the Apocalypse, indicated to the Lord's disciples what shall happen in the last times, and concerning the ten kings who shall then arise, among whom the empire which now rules [the earth] shall be partitioned. He teaches us what the ten horns shall be which were seen by Daniel, ...


Book V, Chapter 30

Moreover, another danger, by no means trifling, shall overtake those who falsely presume that they know the name of Antichrist. For if these men assume one [number], when this [Antichrist] shall come having another, they will be easily led away by him, as supposing him not to be the expected one, who must be guarded against.

2. These men, therefore, ought to learn [what really is the state of the case], and go back to the true number of the name, that they be not reckoned among false prophets. But, knowing the sure number declared by Scripture, that is, six hundred sixty and six, let them await, in the first place, the division of the kingdom into ten; then, in the next place, when these kings are reigning, and beginning to set their affairs in order, and advance their kingdom, [let them learn] to acknowledge that he who shall come claiming the kingdom for himself, and shall terrify those men of whom we have been speaking, having a name containing the aforesaid number, is truly the abomination of desolation. ...

3. It is therefore more certain, and less hazardous, to await the fulfillment of the prophecy, than to be making surmises, and casting about for any names that may present themselves, inasmuch as many names can be found possessing the number mentioned; and the same question will, after all, remain unsolved. For if there are many names found possessing this number, it will be asked which among them shall the coming man bear. It is not through a want of names containing the number of that name that I say this, but on account of the fear of God, and zeal for the truth: for the name Evanthas (EUAN QAS) contains the required number, but I make no allegation regarding it. Then also Lateinos (LATEINOS) has the number six hundred and sixty-six; and it is a very probable [solution], this being the name of the last kingdom [of the four seen by Daniel]. For the Latins are they who at present bear rule: ...

Tertullian (2nd-3rd Century)

For the mystery of iniquity doth already work; only he who now hinders must hinder, until he be taken out of the way." What obstacle is there but the Roman state, the falling away of which, by being scattered into ten kingdoms, shall introduce Antichrist upon (its own ruins)? "And then shall be revealed the wicked one, 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, and with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish."


There is also another and a greater necessity for our offering prayer in behalf of the emperors, nay, for the complete stability of the empire, and for Roman interests in general. For we know that a mighty shock im (43) pending over the whole earth--in fact, the very end of all things threatening dreadful woes---is only retarded by the continued existence of the Roman empire. We have no desire, then, to be overtaken by these dire events; and in praying that their coming may be delayed, we are lending our aid to Rome's duration.

Hippolytus (3rd Century)

25. Then he says: "A fourth beast, dreadful and terrible; it had iron teeth and claws of brass." And who are these but the Romans? which (kingdom) is meant by the iron--the kingdom which is now established; for the legs of that (image) were of iron. And after this, what remains, beloved, but the toes of the feet of the image, in which part is iron and part clay, mixed together?

And mystically by the toes of the feet he meant the kings who are to arise from among them; as Daniel also says (in the words), "I considered the beast, and lo there were ten horns behind it, among which shall rise another (horn), an offshoot, and shall pluck up by the roots the three (that were) before it."

And under this was signified none other than Antichrist, who is also himself to raise the kingdom of the Jews. He says that three horns are plucked up by the root by him, viz., the three kings of Egypt, and Libya, and Ethiopia, whom he cuts off in the array of battle. And he, after gaining terrible power over all, being nevertheless a tyrant, shall stir up tribulation and persecution against men, exalting himself against them. For Daniel says: "I considered the horn, and behold that horn made war with the saints, and prevailed against them, till the beast was slain and perished, and its body was given to the burning of fire."

St. Cyprian of Carthage (3rd Century)

1. You have desired, beloved Fortunatus that, l since the burden of persecutions and afflictions is lying heavy upon us, and in the ending and completion of the world the hateful time of Antichrist is already beginning to draw near, I would collect from the sacred Scriptures some exhortations for preparing and strengthening the minds of the brethren, whereby I might animate the soldiers of Christ for the heavenly and spiritual contest.

St. Cyril of Jerusalem (c. 315-386) Doctor of the Church
Catechetical Lectures

12. But this aforesaid Antichrist is to come when the times of the Roman empire shall have been fulfilled, and the end of the world is now drawing near. There shall rise up together ten kings of the Romans, reigning in different parts perhaps, but all about the same time; and after these an eleventh, the Antichrist, who by his magical craft shall seize upon the Roman power; and of the kings who reigned before him, three he shall humble, and the remaining seven he shall keep in subjection to himself. At first indeed he will put on a show of mildness (as though he were a learned and discreet person), and of soberness and benevolence: and by the lying [108] signs and wonders of his magical deceit a having beguiled the Jews, as though he were the expected Christ, he shall afterwards be characterized by all kinds of crimes of inhumanity and lawlessness, so as to outdo all unrighteous and ungodly men who have gone before him displaying against all men, but especially against us Christians, a spirit murderous and most cruel, merciless and crafty. And after perpetrating such things for three years and six months only, he shall be destroyed by the glorious second advent from heaven of the only-begotten Son of God, our Lord and Saviour Jesus, the true Christ, who shall slay Antichrist with the breath of His mouth, and shall deliver him over to the fire of hell.

St. John Chrysostom (c. 347-407) Doctor of the Church
Homilies on Second Thessalonians

"And now ye know that which restraineth, to the end that he may be revealed in his own season. For the mystery of lawlessness doth already work: only there is one that restraineth now, until he be taken out of the way. And then shall be revealed the lawless one, whom the Lord Jesus shall slay with the breath of His mouth, and bring to nought by the manifestation of His coming: even he whose coming is according to the working of Satan."

ONE may naturally enquire, what is that which withholdeth, and after that would know, why Paul expresses it so obscurely. What then is it that withholdeth, that is, hindereth him from being revealed? Some indeed say, the grace of the Spirit, but others the Roman empire, to whom I most of all accede. Wherefore? Because if he meant to say the Spirit, he would not have spoken obscurely, but plainly, that even now the grace of the Spirit, that is the gifts, withhold him. And otherwise he ought now to have come, if he was about to come when the gifts ceased; for they have long since ceased. But because he said this of the Roman empire, he naturally glanced at it, and speaks covertly and darkly. For he did not wish to bring upon himself superfluous enmities, and useless dangers. ... And he did not say that it will be quickly, although he is always saying it--but what? "that he may be revealed in his own season," he says, "For the mystery of lawlessness doth already work." He speaks here of Nero, as if he were the type of Antichrist. For he too wished to be thought a god. And he has well said, "the mystery"; that is, it worketh not openly, as the other, nor without shame. For if there was found a man before that time, he means, who was not much behind Antichrist in wickedness, what wonder, if there shall now be one? But he did not also wish to point him out plainly: and this not from cowardice, but instructing us not to bring upon ourselves unnecessary enmities, when there is noting to call for it. So indeed he also says here. "Only there is one that restraineth now, until he be taken out of the way," that is, when the Roman empire is taken out of the way, then he shall come. And naturally. For as long as the fear of this empire lasts, no one will willingly exit himself, but when that is dissolved, he will attack the anarchy, and endeavor to seize upon the government both of man and of God. For as the kingdoms before this were destroyed, for example, that of the Medes by the Babylonians, that of the Babylonians by the Persians, that of the Persians by the Macedonians, that of the Macedonians by the Romans: so will this also be by the Antichrist, and he by Christ, and it will no longer withhold. And these things Daniel delivered to us with great clearness.

"And then," he says, "shall be revealed the lawless one." And what after this? The consolation is at hand. "Whom the Lord Jesus shall slay with the breath of His mouth, and bring to nought by the manifestation of His coming, even he whose coming is according to the working of Satan."

St. Jerome (c. 340-420) Doctor of the Church
Commentary on Daniel:

Jerome, in his commentary on the book of Daniel (chapter 7), says, with reference to the little horn which has a mouth speaking great things, that

"it is the man of sin, the son of perdition, who dares to sit in the temple of God, making himself as God."3

Source: Romanism and the Reformation by H. Grattan Guinness, Second Edition, 1891, Chapter 5, pg. 114.


16. But what am I doing? Whilst I talk about the cargo, the vessel itself founders. He that letteth is taken out of the way, and yet we do not realize that Antichrist is near. Yes, Antichrist is near whom the Lord Jesus Christ "shall consume with the spirit of his mouth." "Woe unto them," he cries, "that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days." ...

17. ... For thirty years the barbarians burst the barrier of the Danube and fought in the heart of the Roman Empire. Long use dried our tears. For all but a few old people had been born either in captivity or during a blockade, and consequently they did not miss a liberty which they had never known. Yet who will hereafter credit the fact or what histories will seriously discuss it, that Rome has to fight within her own borders not for glory but for bare life; ...

St. Augustine of Hippo (345 - 430) Doctor of the Church
City of God, Book XX, Chapter 19

For what does he [Paul] mean by "For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now holdeth, let him hold until he be taken out of the way: and then shall the wicked be revealed?" [2 Thess 2] I frankly confess I do not know what he means. ... However, it is not absurd to believe that these words of the apostle, "Only he who now holdeth, let him hold until he be taken out of the way," refer to the Roman empire, as if it were said, "Only he who now reigneth, let him reign until he be taken out of the way." "And then shall the wicked be revealed:" no one doubts that this means Antichrist.