Foundations (Year Two)“Encountering the New Testament” Session #10. Encountering REVELATION
Written earlier: The NT Writings Letter of James (40’s/50’s)Letters of Paul: Written later:Galatians (48/49 CE) Letters of Peter (64-66)1 & 2 Thessalonians (51-52) Mark (68-70 )1 & 2 Corinthians (53-57) Matthew (70-80)Romans (56-57) Luke-Acts (70-80)Prison letters (61-62): Hebrews (50’s/60’s?) (Colossians, Ephesians, Philemon & Philippians) Letter of Jude (50’s ?)Pastoral letters (64-66): Writings of John: (1, 2 Timothy & Titus) Gospel, Letters & Revelation (90-96)
Understanding the terminologyEschatology (study, doctrine, teaching about “the end”)Prophecy (a declaration of what God is saying now about a situation & what he is going to do about it)Kingdom of God (the rule/ reign of God)Rapture (“snatching away” – used x.14)Millennium (Latin: period of 1000 years - Rev. 20:1-6)Tribulation (“pressing”: period of intense persecution)Antichrist (that which is “instead of Christ”; a figure?)Parousia (“presence”- generally refers to 2nd Coming)Apocalypse (“unveiling”- ancient name for Revelation)
The Nature of the Book of Revelation The book as an Apocalypse The book as a Prophecy The book as a Letter
Features of “Apocalyptic”Revelations (“lifting of the veil”)Visions (often communicated through angels)Symbolism (mysterious, cryptic & fantastic)Pessimism (inc. catastrophic divine intervention)Rigid determinism (everything preordained)Dualism (triumph of power of good over evil)Transcendent (other-worldly)Non-chronological (…though history will end!)Finality (radical transformation of cosmos)Written-form (through Pseudonymity)
Other Apocalyptic Texts“The War Scroll” (Jewish Qumran/ DSS)“1 Enoch” (OT Pseudepigrapha – lit. “falsely inscribed” books written 200 BC - 200 AD)“Apocalypse of Peter” (NT Pseudepigrapha)“Apocalypse of James” (Gnostic Text)“Sibylline Oracles” (12 Ancient Greek texts) “Apocalyptic writings are tracts for bad times” (Ladd)
Methods for interpreting RevelationFuturist: A Blueprint of the End Times (Revelation = solely future events)Historicist: The Road Map of World History (Revelation = historical)Preterist: The First Century Church(“past”) (Revelation = fulfilled already)Idealist: Eternal Spiritual Principles (Revelation = symbolic – earthly events from a heavenly perspective)
FALSE: Historical interpretationSeven ages of Church History: Ephesus Apostolic Age Pre. 100 CE Smyrna Age of Persecution 100 to 313 Pergamos Imperial Church Age 313 to 590 Thyatira Age of the Papacy 590 to 1517 Sardis Reformation Age 1517 to 1730 Philadelphia Missionary Age 1730 to 1900 Laodicea Age of Apostasy Modern Church
The Promise“In my Fathers house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” (John 14:2-3)“For the Son of Man is going to come in his Fathers glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what he has done.” (Matt. 16:27)
After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight. They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.” (Acts 1:9-11)
Brothers & sisters, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest, who have no hope. We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. According to the Lords own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage each other with these words…. (contd.)
Now, brothers & sisters, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, "Peace and safety," destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.But you, brothers & sisters, are not in darkness that this day should surprise you like a thief. (1 Thessalonians 4:13– 5:4)
Here’s the problem“No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” (Matthew 24:36)He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:7-8)“So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.” (Matt.24:44)
First coming Second comingof Jesus of Jesus Present reign of Christ on New earth through the church heavens &earth Time of trial “This age” “The age to come” Big question = Continuity vs. Discontinuity?
The Big PictureHow we have tried to see it. Should we be pessimistic? (“It’s all going to get worse”) Should we be optimistic? (“It’s all going to get better”) Should we be idealistic? (“It’s not really like we think it is”)Or should we just not bother?
OK, ready for the next slide?Here’s the “Matthew, Mark, Luke & John” of the end of the world!
Now, let’s take a journey through REVELATION KEYS TO INTERPRETATION & APPLICATION OF ITS MESSAGE“Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven”
What is this revelation …and why should we read it? – vv.1-3A revelation from God…about Jesus Christ…with a specific blessing (“grace & peace”) for all who read (aloud), listen & obey it…for the whole church (on earth)…about why things are so tough! ** By the way – read it NOW!
Who precisely is it for …and who is it from? – vv.4-8The church militant (vs. church triumphant) ie. on earth vs in heaven “Grace & peace…”1. From the eternal God (who is, was, is to come)2. From the sevenfold Spirit (cf. Is. 11:2)3. From Jesus (our prophet, priest & king)“faithful witness, firstborn from dead, ruler of kings…”
The messenger (John) – vv.9-11Who was he?What were his circumstances?What did he experience?
The master (Jesus) – vv.12-16“We want to see Jesus” (Oh really!!!)Where was he standing?How was he dressed?What did he look like?What was he saying?What was he doing?
The central message or gospel.(What it teaches us about Christ) – vv.17-20I am alive! I have won! I am in control! I hold you in my hand!“What is now” “What will take place later”
The Seven Churches of Asia Minor1. Ephesus2. Smyrna3. Pergamum4. Thyatira5. Sardis6. Philadelphia7. Laodicea
The pattern (of the letters) The addressee (“to the angel of the church in”)1. The description of Christ (the writer)2. What he knows (about their situation)3. What he thinks (about it)4. What he commands (them to do about it)5. What he promises (to them) The common refrain (“whoever has an ear let them hear what the Spirit is saying to the churches”)
#1. The church in EphesusHard workingEnduring through sufferingOrthodox in their faith …but without love! Remember Repent Resume
#2. The church in Smyrna Suffering …through poverty …through slander …through imprisonment …unto death1. Don’t be afraid2. Continue to be faithful3. Remember what I will do
#3. The church in PergamumHold on to the truth! …about Christ …about the Christian lifeWarning: Judge all things… (by the word of Jesus)Promise: Be always led… (by the word of Jesus)
#4. The church in ThyatiraGrowing in faith, hope & love BUT tolerating sin (idolatry & immorality)1. The chance to repent2. The consequences of disobedience Hold on to the values of Christ Share in the reign of Christ Reflect the glory of Christ
#5. The church in Sardis“Wake up!” (The church of the living dead)1. Nominal Christianity (reputation or reality?)2. Works without faith (= dead)3. Learn from the past (but don’t ever live in it) The church is not a democracy The only true membership list is kept in heaven
#6. The church in Philadelphia“Seize the day!” The open door & the heavenly key …despite their size …despite the opposition …despite the time of trial1. A pillar in the temple of God2. A member of the city of God
#7. The church in LaodiceaLukewarm or wholehearted?Are you: Then buy from me: Rich…or poor? Refined gold Seeing…or blind? Healing salve Clothed…or naked? White clothes
What does Christ think of the church?Are we…1. Loving? Ephesus2. Authentic? Smyrna3. Faithful? Pergamum4. Holy? Thyatira5. Alive? Sardis6. Relevant? Philadelphia7. Ablaze? Laodicea
WARFARE & WORSHIP“Your will be done on earth…as in heaven”Revelation 2-3 Revelation 4-5(Warfare) (Worship)God’s people on earth God’s people in heavenTheir struggles A vision of GodTheir victories A vision of JesusTheir hope A universal vision
True worship That which exalts God & centres on JesusGod the sovereign one Jesus, the unique oneGod the majestic one (Son of God)God the eternal one Jesus, the lion (King)God the sustaining creator Jesus, the root (Messiah) Jesus, the lamb (Saviour)God the holy one ** Worship that joins with all creation & heaven!
WARFARE (for heaven’s sake, what on earth’s going on?)The opening of seven seals (6-8)(interlude: vision of the security of God’s people 7)The sounding of seven trumpets (8-14)(interlude: vision of the witness of God’s people 10-11)The outpouring of seven bowls (15-16)(interlude: vision of the vindication of God’s people 17-18)
The ongoing judgment of this world (and salvation of God’s people)Key to chs. 6-18.As seen through the seven sealsAs heard by the seven trumpetsAs experienced in the seven plagues
When does all this take place?Now: The lamb received the scroll and opened it when he ascended & returned to the Father.Ongoing: We have witnessed & continue to the 4 horsemen and these events.Then: These events continue to extend and one day will culminate in the end.
The heart of the matterThe establishment of the Kingdom of God cf. Daniel 2:39-45; 7:7-14, 15-27“D” day & “V” day (inaugurated eschatology)“Now” & “Not yet” The age to come This age Twin themes: JUDGEMENT & SALVATION
(A) The opening of the seven seals Four horsemen ofFirst seal = Tyranny the apocalypseSecond seal = WarThird seal = FamineFourth seal = Plague (& death)Fifth seal = Persecution (of the saints)Sixth seal = Great earthquake (social upheaval) Interlude & seventh seal (8:1-5)
(B) The sounding of the seven trumpetsFirst trumpet = Devastation of the earthSecond trumpet = “ in the seaThird trumpet = “ of the riversFourth trumpet = “ on the sunFifth trumpet = Demonic horde (torture)Sixth trumpet = Demonic warriors (death) Interlude & seventh trumpet (11:15-19)
(C) The outpouring of the seven bowlsFirst plague = On the landSecond plague = On the seaThird plague = On the riversFourth plague = On the sunFifth plague = The kingdom of darknessSixth plague = A great battle (vs. the unholy trinity)Seventh plague = The great city “It is done” Interlude (The fall of Babylon/ ROME – Ch.18)
The salvation of God’s peopleThree interludes:1. The security of God’s people (The great multitudes…ch. 7)2. The witness of God’s people (The angel & the two witnesses…chs. 10-11)3. The vindication of God’s people(A women, dragon & strange beast…chs.12-14,17-18)
The multitudes (Ch. 7)“144,000” = symbolic for all God’s people under the old covenant“Great multitude” = symbolic for all God’s people, from every nation, under the new covenant“Great tribulation” (v.14) = times of pressure, affliction & distress, throughout this agePrinciple = God preserves his people through times of tribulation and distress.
Other clues: two groups/ one people“For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility…his purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two.” (Eph. 2:14-15)“Song of Moses & Song of the lamb” (15:3)Twelve gates = 12 tribes of Israel (21:12-14) Twelve foundations = 12 apostles of Lamb
The messengers (Chs.10-11)“the mighty angel”Announcing God’s judgment on the whole earthThe bittersweet taste of judgment (to John)“the two witnesses”Very likely symbolic of Peter & PaulKey = faithful witness of Christ’s apostles
The woman & the dragon (Ch.12)The birth of Christ (from heaven’s perspective) – cf. Matt. 1-3 (Herod & massacre of the infants)Woman = MaryDragon = Satan (cf. v.9), working through HerodMale child = JesusDesert = Egypt (2 ½ years) War in heaven (Satan hurled to the earth)
The “beast”Fulfillment of Dan. 7:7-8 (& vv. 23-27)“After that, in my vision at night I looked, and there before me was a fourth beast—terrifying and frightening and very powerful. It had large iron teeth; it crushed and devoured its victims and trampled underfoot whatever was left. It was different from all the former beasts, and it had ten horns. While I was thinking about the horns, there before me was another horn, a little one, which came up among them; and three of the first horns were uprooted before it. This horn had eyes like the eyes of a man and a mouth that spoke boastfully.”
Who/ what is “the beast”?10 horns (= 10 rulers/ emperors)7 heads (= 7 hills cf. 17:9)Mix of lion/ bear/ leopard (cf. Dan. 7)Authority comes from the dragonExercised dominion over the whole earthOne ruler exercises power for 3 ½ years Roman empire (& one emperor in particular)
666? (Rev. 13:18)“This calls for wisdom. If anyone has insight, let them calculate the number of the beast, for it is mans number. His number is 666.”Gematria (ie. geometry) = ancient practice of ascribing numerical value to words"Nero Caesar" is spelled (in HEB.) נרון קסר pronounced:"Neron Qesar".
Roman emperors (1st century)31 BC-14 CE #2. Augustus (Octavian)14-37 #3. Tiberius37-41 #4. Gaius (Caligula)41-54 #5. Claudius54-68 #6. Nero68-69 #7. Galba69 #8. Otho69 #9. Vitellius69-79 #10. Vespasian79-81 #11. Titus81-96 #12. Domitian
The unholy trinity1. Dragon (Satan)2. Beast (Nero & all subsequent wicked rulers)3. False Prophet (2nd beast/ a religious figure?; 13:11-17)“Then I saw three evil spirits that looked like frogs; they came out of the mouth of the dragon, out of the mouth of the beast and out of the mouth of the false prophet. They are spirits of demons performing miraculous signs, and they go out to the kings of the whole world, to gather them for the battle on the great day of God Almighty.” (16:13-14; cf. 19:20 & 20:10)
Antichrist?1. Dear children, this is the last hour; and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come. This is how we know it is the last hour. (1 Jn. 2:18)2. Who is the liar? It is the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a person is the antichrist—who denies the Father and the Son. (1 Jn. 2:22)3. Every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world. (1 Jn. 4:3)4. Many deceivers, who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh, have gone out into the world. Any such person is the deceiver and the antichrist. (2 Jn. 7)
Who/ what is the antichrist?A spirit in this world that is “instead of Christ”.A spirit that causes people to deny Christ, as having come from God, in the flesh.A spirit that is known for deception.Any person controlled by this spirit.“If anyone says to you, `Look, here is the Christ! or, `There he is! do not believe it. For false Christs… will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect--if that were possible. See, I have told you ahead of time.” (Matt.24:24-25)
Two pictures of Rome? – 17-181. The great prostitute (“Babylon the great”) riding on a beast.2. Fall of Babylon (the great city)“the woman” = likely, pagan religious system“the beast” = likely, pagan political system Question: Fall of Jerusalem or Rome?“Their bodies will lie in the street of the great city,which is figuratively called Sodom and Egypt, wherealso their Lord was crucified.” (11:8)
Heaven is a place on earth!Four Images:The party begins (19:1-10)The victory is won (19:11-20:15)The city comes down (21:1-27)The river flows (22:1-6)
The party begins (19:1-10) Stages in an oriental wedding:1. Selection2. Betrothal3. Preparation (waiting & working)4. Coming of the bridegroom5. Transfer of the bride6. Wedding banquet/ celebration7. Consummation
The victory is won (19:11-20:15)The warrior returnsThe kingdom is completeThe final judgment occurs
The MillenniumLatin mille (“thousand”) annus (“year”) = a period of 1000 years Only NT ref. = Rev. 20:1-6
REV. 20:1-6 And I saw an angel coming down out of heaven, having the key to the Abyss and holding in his hand a great chain. He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil, or Satan, and bound him for a thousand years. He threw him into the Abyss, and locked and sealed it over him, to keep him from deceiving the nations anymore until the thousand years were ended. After that, he must be set free for a short time.I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony for Jesus and because of the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or his image and had not received his mark on their foreheads or their hands.They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years. (The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended.) This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy are those who have part in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years.
“A thousand years like one day”PSALM. 90:4 “For a thousand years in your sight are like a day that has just gone by, or like a watch in the night.”2 PETER 3:8 “But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.”
Millennium?Literal period of 1000 years (in the future)?Symbolic number (like rest of numbers) for period between Christ’s 1st and 2nd coming.Clues: Satan is bound now (Matt. 12:29) Satan will be destroyed (1 Jn. 3:8) “Deceiving the nations” (Matt. 24:14) 1st/ 2nd resurrection (Eph. 2:6/Col. 3:1)
The city comes down (Ch.21)The preparation for the cityThe nature of the cityThe description of the cityThe constituents of the cityLife in the city
The river flows (Ch.22)A picture of lifeA picture of healthA picture of freedomA picture of fulfillmentA picture of intimacy
Just remember!“No eye has seen, no ear heard, and no mind has imaginedwhat God has prepared for those who love him.” (1 Corinthians 2:9)
Where will we spend eternity?The promise (“I am coming soon”)The warning (“Be prepared”)The invitation (“Come!”)
The invitationThe Spirit & the bride say, “Come”.Let each one who hears them say, Come”.Let the thirsty ones come – anyone who wants to.Let them come & drink the water of life without charge. (22:17)
Some final words of adviceProphecy is all about Jesus …so don’t get distracted!Prophecy is for now …so read & appreciate it!God is in control & holds you in his hand …so trust & obey him!