Interpreting Apocalyptic passages


How should we interpret apocalyptic parts of the Bible such as the Book of Revelation and Matthew 24. It is important to consider that there are four main views:

  • Preterism - The idea that the prophecies were fulfilled long ago. This view in my opinion cannot explain how it is said in 2 Thessalonians 2:8 that Jesus will destroy the Anti-Christ with the splendour of his coming, obviously Christ has not returned yet.
  • Futurism. The idea that the prophecies will be fulfilled in the future. This view in my opinion cannot explain the Great Whore prophecy in Rev 17-18, where the whore is said to contain five kings who have already been.
  • Idealism. The idea that the prophecies are symbolic. I have yet to see any real evidence for this.
  • Historicism. The idea that the prophecies are being fulfilled throughout history. Historically it has been associated with Anti-Catholicism.

I guess I currently land in the historicist camp, which I do not think is inherently Anti-Catholic. It is the only view which in my opinion is compatible with both 2 Thessalonians 2:8 and Revelation 17-18. What the Whore is, I don’t know, but I want to avoid anything Anti-Catholic or Anti-Semitic


When I was in high school, topics like this fascinated me to no end. I read books, and studied scripture, and studied history and current events.

Over thirty years later, I honestly can’t remember much of all that. I appreciate your posting these ideas to refresh my memory a bit. Though the topic of end times or apocalyptic scriptures is not high on my list of concerns, I still do find it somewhat interesting.

Meanwhile, gotta go mow the lawn. :roll_eyes:


We lead ourselves astray by our own wiles. How can we be certain that a thought or inspiration is from God?

By denying ourselves and submitting obediently to Church authority. All revelation is difficult to accept at some level, as our will naturally opposes God’s.

As we see, obedience and submission are not popular.


But most of the Book of Revelation could be referring to the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD. Then we are living in the thousand (not literal) years with Christ and the second coming/final battle is yet to happen.


According to Scott Hahn, the main theme of the Book of Revelation is the Liturgy


More details about the four major approaches: historicists, futurists, and idealists, preterists, and amillennialists.. Sources here (including David Currie and Carl Olson) if you’re interested.

By the way, OP, the way I heard Idealism described is not that it was symbolic, but rather that the prophecies are fulfilled in every generation, because the battle between righteousness and sin must be waged again in every generation.

In the end, if we aren’t in right relationship with the First Coming of Christ, we won’t be ready for the Second Coming of Christ, regardless of what form it takes. :pray:


I would say that the term Preterism, in its traditional meaning, would be the more correct form to interpreting eschatology.

Unfortunately, Full Preterists (Hyper preterists) have hijacked Preterism and now use the term interchangeably with their beliefs. So now the two camps are usually known as partial Preterists and Full preterists, with partial preterism being the one that best represents the original teachings and ideology.


This topic was automatically closed 14 days after the last reply. New replies are no longer allowed.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit