i agree that Rev 1-3 reads naturally as a collective letter to the seven Churches John would have been familiar with, and had no doubt ministered to, assuming the disciple-apostle is the author…in this section, salvation, the reward of the saints, and the 2nd coming of Christ read very much like a common belief and point of salutation, Rev 1:5-7…but even here there are hints at symbolism as an intentional, forthcoming device, eg., Rev 1:20…if we are going to defer to what is natural, i think we can easily imagine John’s original audience seeing these hints as perhaps an indication that the book, as a whole, wasn’t meant to be a discussion of their immediate circumstances…
i think this perception becomes conviction, in terms of time elements, when we read, in Rev 4:1:
“Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter.”
if the clear letter portion to the seven churches in Rev 1-3 can be reasonably viewed as a nod to a contemporary audience, i don’t think an explicit reference to a future time, together with regular symbology, some of which is obviously cosmic, requires the entire book to be viewed in the same way…even if we interpret “hereafter” as imminent hereafter, as undoubtedly at least of John’s readers did, at least initially, the fact that Rome wasn’t brandishing a mark on everyone’s forehead or hand in order to buy and sell would have at least invited the thought that perhaps John’s letter was referencing things in a different time and perhaps place…
of course the identification of the letter as a “prophecy”, Rev 22:18-19, returns the point i made earlier, which is that there is evidence that the NT Church viewed prophecy in historicist terms:
“Of which salvation the prophets have enquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you: searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow. Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into.” 1 Pet 1:10-12.
And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born. And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judaea: for thus it is written by the prophet, And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel. Matt 2:4-6.
“Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently inquired of the wise men. Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet, saying, In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not.” Matt 2:16-18.
And when they were departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeareth to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him. When he arose, he took the young child and his mother by night, and departed into Egypt: And was there until the death of Herod: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called my son. Matt 2:13-15.
“Philip findeth Nathanael, and saith unto him, We have found him, of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” Jn 1:45.
“Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulchre is with us unto this day. Therefore being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne; he seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption. This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses.” Acts 2:29-32.
And after they had held their peace, James answered, saying, Men and brethren, hearken unto me:
Simeon hath declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name. And to this agree the words of the prophets; as it is written, After this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up: That the residue of men might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles, upon whom my name is called, saith the Lord, who doeth all these things. Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world." Acts 15:13-18
there is evidence that Christ also viewed prophecy in historicist terms:
“Then he said unto them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken: Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory? And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.” Lk 24:25-27.
i’m not as convinced as you, and apparently Trenchard, that the prophets and their audience understood their messages, and that that understanding must be paramount…not when Peter says it was revealed to the prophets that they were ministering to a future time, and when Christ himself applied centuries old prophecies to himself that clearly no-one up to that point had understood…