For the concept of "very soon take place" compare Rev. 1:3; 2:16; 3:11; 22:7,10,12,20.  This may be an OT allusion to Dan. 2:28, 29, and 45.  In the book of Revellation, John never quoted the OT but made many allusions to it.  Of 404 verses, possibly 275 have OT backgrounds.  Translators have been divided in the interpretation of this phrase because of their theological presuppositions about the purpose of the book of the Revelation:

1. suddenly

2. once begun will swiftly occur

3. soon to begin

4. will certainly happen

5.  imminently


Usage of this term in Rev. 22:7, 12, 20 shows that John expected these events to occur quickly during his lifetime (see full note at Rev. 10:6; 22:3).  Since there is a 2000 year gap between the writing of this book and our day, many say that John was wrong.  However, the use of an immediate time frame seems to be typical of the prophetic literature from the Old Testament which used imagery of current events to foreshadow end-time events. 

1. John used first century Rome to depict the eschaton (last days)

2. Isaiah and Ezekiel used a restored (post-exilic) Judah

3. Daniel had used Antiochus Epiphanes IV

The coming of the new age of righteousness is a hope and encouragement for every generation of believers, but the experience of only one, the last.


No one can explain why the return of Jesus has taken so long when it was expected so soon (Matt. 10:23; 16:28; 23:36; 24:34).  There is a tension in the NT between the any-moment return of Jesus and a delayed parousia (see Special Topic: A Delayed Second Coming).  Also see D. Brent Sandy, Plowshares and Pruning Hooks, pp. 101-102, for the term as a prophetic symbol of severity and unexpectedness, pp. 173-175

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