Historicists and Preterists see John’s Apocalypse as having been fulfilled.

For the Historicist, Revelation’s fulfillment came over the course of Church history, culminating in the vindication of true believers through the Reformation.

Preterists concentrate on the events surrounding the destruction of Jerusalem and the Jewish bid for liberation from Roman oppression in the first century CE. Though some preterists expand their view to the ultimate collapse of the Roman empire, they still see the prophetic elements of John’s Apocalypse as having long since come to pass. 

Futurist theologians, however, are still looking ahead, staying alert to the signs of impending divine rescue in the Rapture and divine judgement in the Great Tribulation. For futurist scholars, Revelation 14 remains a pivotal event yet to occur. 


Son of Humanity 

The vision John had of Jesus was very like the Son of Humanity the prophet Daniel also saw: 

John’s VisionDaniel’s Vision
Revelation 14:14 Daniel 7:13 (NRSVUE) 
Then I saw, and behold! A white cloud, and upon the cloud one sitting in form and appearance like the Son of Humanity  I saw one like a human being 
    coming with the clouds of heaven. 
And he came to the Ancient One 
    and was presented before him. 
The Son of Humanity, Jesus

 The command the angel brings to the Son of Humanity comes from within the temple, the inner throne room of God, and therefore must be from God.  

The end of the age has arrived, and the time to harvest is now. 

Fields Ripe for Harvest 

Unlike historical views, futurist scholars are not agreed on whether there are two harvests—of wheat and of grapes—or if both harvests describe the same event. The winepress, at least, definitely represents God’s judgment of all those who have rebuffed and rejected God’s every invitation for salvation. Some scholars fold in the wheat harvest with that judgment, stating the fields are withered, for there are no kernels of life left in the dry straw. In the same way, the vine of earth is a separate vine, growing bitter grapes, because none of it is rooted in Christ, the true vine (a distinctly Johannine allegory). 

On the other hand, other scholars agree with the view that Jesus reaps the harvest of golden grain, the ingathering Jesus mentioned in several parables during His ministry: 

Jesus also likened those hungry for the Gospel as a field ripe for harvest and evangelists as the harvesters

Le moisson des élus | By PMRMaeyaert – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0

If this is accurate, then John’s depiction is of the Rapture after the Great Tribulation, the ingathering of all believers to meet Jesus in the clouds. 

For this we declare to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will by no means precede those who have died.  

For the Lord himself, with a cry of command, with the archangel’s call and with the sound of God’s trumpet, will descend from heaven, and the dead in Christ will rise first.  

Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up in the clouds together with them to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will be with the Lord forever.  Therefore encourage one another with these words. 

1 Thessalonians 4:15-18 (NRSVUE, italics added) 

The golden grain is harvested by Jesus, personally. 

However, the grapes destined for God’s winepress are reaped by the angel, for they are not to be caught up with God, but rather they are destined to final earthly judgment. 

Douce Apocalypse – Bodleian Ms180 | By Anonymous – [1], Public Domain


The location of judgment is important. For futurist interpreters, this is a reference to the decisive and final war waged on earth, the Battle of Mount Megiddo, which will be described in more detail later in John’s Apocalypse. 

Because this view tends to view John’s prophetic oracles as to be taken literally, the amount of blood described presents an issue—it would be a river four-and-a-half feet deep. Is that possible? 

At least one commentator thought so. 

The valley of Megiddo, where the war will be fought in the north of Palestine, drains into the Jordan system, allowing sufficient mileage to fulfill literally this prediction. 

Charles Caldwell Ryrie (1925-2016), Revelation: Four Views A Parallel Commentary, Steve Gregg, ed., 341. 

But not all futurists go there. Perhaps there will be so much blood, every horse’s bridle is splashed with it. Maybe this is a word picture of the unspeakable carnage to come. 

Le vendage des réprouvés | By PMRMaeyaert – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0


John located the wine press as outside of the city, just as Jesus was crucified outside the city, and those who were cut off from their people were to be cast out of the city. In this case, the city is Jerusalem, the Holy City of God. The river of blood flowing from the wine press will be 175 to 200 miles long, the length of Israel.  

Or, perhaps John’s original number indicates the whole earth. 1,600 furlongs represent many multiples of the number four which can symbolize the idea of completion. God completed the creation of all that is, the material universe, on the fourth day. After that, God brought forth all living things from what God had first created ex nihilo. Perhaps now, in this battle, all unfruitful life is returned to the dust from whence it came? 


From this perspective, there are two harvests, one that Jesus personally gathers and the other that is gathered by God. Jesus is the one in the clouds, and He now gathers His own to be with him, an event He spoke of regularly. The other gathering is for judgment. 

Oneness in Mind, Heart, and Purpose 

There is no disharmony in John watching as an angel gives Jesus a command. John remembered Jesus saying He did nothing of His own will, but only said and did the will of His Father. In the trinitarian view, this is not an admission of inequality, or eternal subordination, but rather an illustration of the oneness of the Persons of God.  

Monument in Brazil | By Donatas Dabravolskas – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0

Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, the Son can do nothing on his own but only what he sees the Father doing, for whatever the Father does, the Son does likewise.  

The Father loves the Son and shows him all that he himself is doing, and he will show him greater works than these, so that you will be astonished.  

Indeed, just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whomever he wishes.  

The Father judges no one but has given all judgment to the Son,  

so that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. Anyone who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him. Very truly, I tell you, anyone who hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and does not come under judgment but has passed from death to life.

John 5:19-24 (NRSV, emphases added)

Seasons of Harvest 

In the ancient Hebrew calendar, the wheat harvest was gathered in spring and commemorated by the harvest festival Shavuot, what we know of today as Pentecost. James employed this allegory of the spring harvest in speaking about patient yet hopeful anticipation. 

Be patient, therefore, brothers and sisters, until the coming of the Lord. The farmer waits for the precious crop from the earth, being patient with it until it receives the early and the late rains. 

James 5:7 (NRSV)

 Summer crops and fruit were harvested afterwards, ending in early fall and leading into Rosh Hashana, a day of fasting and repentance. Because the harvesters are angels, and particularly led by one that has come from the altar of incense, this must be the reaping of judgment on all the suffering, persecution, and horrors visited upon believers and against God. 

God’s judgment will be complete, it will fulfill justice, and it will be the final accounting. 

Apocalypse d´Angers | By PMRMaeyaert – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0

The four perspectives taken from Revelation: Four Views A Parallel Commentary, edited by Steve Gregg 

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