- Slides: 36
REVELATION “This is the Revelation of Jesus Christ” (1: 1)
Martin Luther (1522) “My spirit cannot accommodate itself to this book. For me this is reason enough not to think highly of it: Christ is neither taught nor known in it. ”
A “hideous” version of Christianity…a “repulsive work. ” – D. H. Lawrence, Apocalypse “Resentment and not love is the teaching…a book without wisdom, goodness, kindness, or affection of any kind. ” – Harold Bloom, The Revelation of St. John the Divine, 1988 “We are bound to judge that in its conception of the character of God and its attitude to man the book falls below the level, not only of the teaching of Jesus, but of the best parts of the Old Testament. ” C. H. Dodd, The Apostolic Preaching and Its Development, 1963
“The Apocalypse of John is a work of immense learning, astonishingly meticulous literary artistry, remarkable creative imagination, radical political critique, and profound theology. ” - Richard Bauckham, The Climax of Prophecy: Studies on the Book of Revelation
“The message of Revelation is best represented as a message of healing and not as a message of destruction. ” - Sigve Tonstad
What is the purpose of this book? “We have been alerting you…. that the next and last Pope will be a Devil Impersonating John Paul II. Through the study of Revelation chapter 17, [God] has led us to a most startling truth, confirming that we are nearer to the end of all things than ever imagined. We are prompted by our loving [God] to share this prophecy, that none need be ensnared by the global events soon to transpire which will engulf the world in the grandest deception yet contrived by Satan. [We] dare to declare this interpretation to the world because we adhere only to sound Biblical interpretation. This means we unlock Bible prophecy by using the Bible as its own interpreter. By doing so we are certain of the correctness of the revelation. ”
Revelation and Time Preterism: John saw past events/events in his own time Futurism: John saw distant future events Dispensationalism: an evangelical interpretation that understands God to have revealed himself in a series of “dispensations” or periods of history Historicism: John saw future events but is concerned with historical continuity
Cosmic Conflict Interpretation: Revelation is concerned with past, present and future “Then war broke out in heaven. ” (Revelation 12: 7) “Write, then, the things you see, both the things that are now and the things that will happen afterward. ” (Revelation 1: 19) “Revelation is concerned with human reality in all of history” – Sigve Tonstad
Prologue: 1: 1 -6 7 Churches: 1: 7 -3: 21 7 Seals: 4: 1 -8: 1 7 Trumpets: 8: 2 -11: 19 The Cosmic Conflict: 12 -14 7 bowls of God’s wrath: 15: 1 -22: 5 Epilogue: 22: 6 -21
The Cosmic Conflict (Rev. 12 -14) “The likelihood that Revelation has a chiastic structure that puts the ‘war of the ages’ at the center of the chiasm sets this section apart as the one that gives perspective to the entire narrative. ”(1) This section of the book stands out as “a fresh beginning”(2) , “an uncharacteristically abrupt fresh start” (3), “the pinnacle of the apocalyptic prophecy” (4) 1. Tonstad, “Saving God’s Reputation”, 56 2. Rologg, “Revelation”, 139 3. Bauckham, “Climax of Prophecy”, 1 4. Bousset, “Offenbarung”, 335
Cosmic Conflict theme (Rev. 1214)
7 Seals 7 1 -6 7 Trumpets 7 Bowls 7 1 -6 7
The seventh seal ends with a scene at “the golden altar of incense” (Revelation 8: 3) and with “…rumblings and peals of thunder, flashes of lightning, and an earthquake. ” (Revelation 8: 5) The seventh trumpet ends with a scene at “the Covenant Box” and with “flashes of lightning, rumblings and peals of thunder, an earthquake, and heavy hail. ” (Revelation 11: 19) The seventh plague ends with “A loud voice from the throne in the temple” and with “flashes of lightning, rumblings and peals of thunder, and a terrible earthquake. ”(Revelation 16: 17 -18)
1 st four trumpets are poured out on the: 1. earth 2. sea 3. rivers and springs 4. sun, moon and stars 1 st four bowls are poured out on the: 1. earth 2. sea 3. rivers and springs 4. sun, moon and stars
6 th trumpet: “Release the four angels who are bound at the great Euphrates River!” (Revelation 9: 14) 6 th bowl: the angel pours “out his bowl on the great Euphrates River. ” (Revelation 16: 12)
Repetition and Progression Seals: Rider on a pale-colored horse. “They were given authority over one fourth of the earth, to kill by means of war, famine, disease, and wild animals. (Revelation 6: 8) Trumpets: one third of the earth, sea, rivers, sun, moon and stars. . . Bowls: “Every living creature in the sea died. ” (Revelation 16: 3)
Seals: “holding back the four winds because the people are not yet sealed. ” (Revelation 7: 1 -3) Trumpets: They have “the mark of God’s seal on their foreheads” (Revelation 9: 4) and the winds are no longer held back – “release the four angels” (Revelation 9: 14) Bowls: “…with them the wrath of God is ended” (Revelation 15: 1).
“War in heaven…the ancient serpent of old…thrown down to the earth” (Rev. 12) The third trumpet: “A large star, burning like a torch, [which] fell from heaven…” (Revelation 8: 10) The fifth trumpet, “I saw a star which had fallen down to earth, and it was given the key to the abyss. ” “His name in Hebrew is Abaddon; in Greek the name is Apollyon – meaning ‘the Destroyer’” (Revelation 9: 11). “Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding in his hand the key of the abyss and a heavy chain. He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent – that is, the Devil, or Satan – and chained him up…the angel threw in into the abyss, locked it and sealed it…” (Revelation 20: 1 -3, see also Isaiah 14: 15).
“John’s vision creates a single symbolic universe in which its readers may live for the time it takes to read (or hear) the book…The power, the profusion and the consistency of the symbols have a literary-theological purpose. They create a symbolic world which readers can enter so fully that it affects them and changes their perception of the world. Most ‘readers’ were originally, of course, hearers. Revelation was designed for oral enactment in Christian worship services. Its effect would therefore be somewhat comparable to a dramatic performance, in which the audience enters the world of the drama for its duration and can have the perception of the world outside the drama powerfully shifted by their experience of the world of the drama. ” - Richard Bauckham
Principles of Interpretation 1. Become a re-reader The book of Revelation is not composed in a neat chronological manner. The seven seals, trumpets and bowls of wrath retell the same story but from different perspectives and with a different emphasis.
Principles of Interpretation 2. Recognize Old Testament (OT) allusions. The book of Revelation makes extensive use of the OT. These specific and brief allusions invite us to consider the full context of the OT passage. The wrath of the Lamb Silence in heaven
Principles of Interpretation 3. There is more than one acting subject at work. Revelation not only tells the story of the Slaughtered Lamb, it also tells the Dragon’s story
Symbols and metaphors Horses Olive trees Trumpets Hailstones Locusts 3 Frogs Sanctuary Dragons and other beasts Sharp sickle Bowls of God’s anger Prostitute Harps
“Revelation has suffered from interpretation which takes its images too literally. Even the most sophisticated interpreters all too easily slip into treating the images as codes which need only to be decoded to yield literal predictions. But this fails to take the images seriously as images. John depicts the future in images in order to be able to do both more and less than a literal prediction could. Less, because Revelation does not offer a literal outline of the course of future events – as though prophecy were merely history written in advance. But more, because what it does provide is insight into the nature of God’s purpose for the future, and does so in a way that shapes the readers’ attitudes to the future and invites their active participation in the divine purpose. ” – Richard Bauckham
“Meticulous attention to detail” “Revelation has been composed with such meticulous attention to detail of language and structure that scarcely a word can have been chosen without deliberate reflection on its relationship to the work as an integrated, interconnected whole. ” - Richard Bauckham The Climax of Prophecy: Studies on the Book of Revelation
Numerical Patterns with theological significance Seven beatitudes scattered throughout the book of Revelation. “Happy is the one who reads this book. . . ” (Rev 1: 3) Since seven is the number of completeness in the Bible, this specific number of blessings is included to indicate “the fullness of blessing to be bestowed on the reader or hearer who faithfully obeys the message of Revelation”
Seven times the word “prophecy” is mentioned Seven times Christ reassures us that “I am coming” 144, 000 The New Jerusalem that has 12 gates and the dimensions of a perfect cube Time periods of 1, 260 days, 42 months, 3 and ½ days and times, time and half a time.
Seven times, “The LORD God Almighty” Seven times, “The One who sits on the throne” Seven times in total three phrases are used to describe God that are each considered to be equivalent: “the Alpha and the Omega” “the beginning and the end” “the first and the last”
A B B¹ The structure of the chiasm has the climax in 22: 13, where only Christ contains all three titles. A¹ 1: 8 1: 17 21: 6 22: 13 end of prologue beginning of vision end of vision beginning of epilogue God Christ Alpha and Omega first and last beginning and end
“As a way of stating unambiguously that Jesus Christ belongs to the fullness of the eternal being of God, this surpasses anything in the New Testament…This pattern underlines the identification of Christ with God which the use of the titles themselves expresses…It shows that the identification of Christ with God implied by the titles is not the result of an adoptionist Christology, in which the mere man Jesus is exalted at his resurrection to divine status. Important as the resurrection is for Christ’s participation in God’s lordship, these titles he shares with God indicate that he shared the eternal being of God from before creation…It does not designate him a second god, but includes him in the eternal being of the one God of Israel…The importance of John’s extraordinarily high Christology for the message of Revelation is that it makes it absolutely clear that what Christ does, God does…Revelation’s Christology must be incorporated in our account of its understanding of God…God is related to the world not only as the transcendent holy One, but also as the slaughtered Lamb” – Richard Bauckham
Seven times the word “Christ” (or Messiah) 28 times the word ‘Lamb’ occurs 28 (7 x 4) Seven of these are coupled with the phrase “God and the Lamb. ”
“Four is, after seven, the symbolic number most commonly and consistently used in Revelation. As seven is the number of completeness, four is the number of the world (with its four corners (7: 1; 20: 8) or four divisions (5: 13; 14: 7)). The first four judgments in each of the series of seven affect the world. The 7 x 4 occurrences of the ‘Lamb’ therefore indicate the worldwide scope of his complete victory. This corresponds to the fact that the phrase by which John designates all the nations of the world is fourfold (‘peoples and tribes and languages and nations’: the phrase varies each time it occurs, but is always fourfold) and occurs seven times (5: 9; 7: 9; 10: 11; 11: 9; 13: 7; 14: 6; 17: 15). Its first occurrence establishes its connection with the Lamb’s victory (5: 9). ”
Four references to ‘the seven Spirits. ’ “The seven Spirits are the fullness of God’s power ‘sent out into all the earth’ (5: 6). The four references to the sevenfold Spirit correspond to the seven occurrences of the fourfold phrase which designates all the peoples of the earth. They also correspond to the 28 (7 x 4) references to the Lamb which…indicate the worldwide scope of the Lamb’s complete victory. The seven Spirits are closely associated with the victorious Lamb: the four references to them indicate that the Lamb’s victory is implemented throughout the world by the fullness of divine power” – Richard Bauckham
Seven times, “the witness of Jesus” Seven times, “the witnesses of Jesus” “What matters most about the humanity of Jesus in Revelation is the witness which he bore and which his followers continue…if God is not present in the world as ‘the One who sits on the throne’, he is present as the Lamb who conquers by suffering. Christ’s suffering witness and sacrificial death are, in fact…the key event in God’s conquest of evil and establishment of his kingdom on earth.