By Kenneth L. Gentry
Contrary to popular opinion, Revelation does not undermine the postmillennial hope — despite its enormous judgments. And this is mainly because it is prophesying events to occur soon.
John uses two terms when he speaks of his temporal expectation: “shortly” (Gk., en tachei) and “near” (Gk., engus). If for some reason his original audience could not understand one term, they had another nearby to elucidate it.
The word translated “shortly” appears as an explanation for his writing to them: “The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show to His bond-servants, the things which must shortly take place; and He sent and communicated it by His angel to His bond-servant John” (Rev. 1:1). I urge you: Check any modern English translation. Consult your own favorite version. You will discover that they all speak of temporal nearness. This term also appears later in Revelation 2:16; 3:11; and 22:6.
The word translated “near” follows quickly upon the other term, just two verses later. And once again John expresses the approaching nearness of the events as the very reason for his writing to them: “Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of the prophecy, and heed the things which are written in it; for the time is near” (Rev. 1:3). This word commonly speaks of events near in time, such as an approaching Passover (Matt. 26:18), the coming of summer (Matt. 24:32), and a soon occurring festival (John 2:13). Again, check any modern version; the results will be the same.
If you are not sure about one of the terms, then you have another! These terms are mutually supportive: that something is “shortly” to come to pass means that it is “near.” And only one verse separates them. They clearly demand that the events of Revelation are impending when John writes. Think of it: How else could John have declared that the events were near? He uses two of the most common, familiar, clear words expressing temporal proximity.