Archive for January, 2010

The structure of Revelation 11.1-19

Events to come in Jerusalem (Rev. 11.1-13)

The measuring of the Jerusalem temple (1-2)

John is told to measure the temple and count the worshipers (1)

John is told not to measure the outer court (2a)

Reason: The outer court will be given to the Gentiles to trample (2b)

The two witnesses (3-13)

The ministry of the two witnesses (3-6)

Their ministry (3) – they are given power to prophesy

Explanation (4) – they are two olive branches and two lampstands

Their defense mechanism (5) – they destroy their attackers with fire from their mouths

Their power (6)

Power over the sky, to stop the rain (6a)

Power over the water, to convert it into blood (6b)

Power over the land, to strike it with plagues (6c)

The martyrdom of the two witnesses (7-10)

The beast kills them (7)

Their bodies lie in the street of Jerusalem (8)

Their enemies gloat over them (9-10)

The resurrection and ascension of the two witnesses (11-13)

Their resurrection (11)

Their ascension (12)

An earthquake in Jerusalem (13)

Announcement that the second woe has finished (Rev. 11:14)

The seventh trumpet (Rev. 11:15-19)

The sounding of the trumpet (15a)

A hymnic response in heaven (15b)

The response of the 24 elders (16-18)

Their worship (16)

The content of their hymn (17-18)

Activity in heaven (19)

The opening of the temple (19a)

The appearance of the ark (19b)

Cosmic phenomena (19c)

Source: author’s personal study

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Twelve characteristics of the imminent persecution John envisions

  1. In Revelation 2.10 Jesus warns the Christians in Smyrna to prepare to be imprisoned and possibly martyred. It’s not clear if the ten days should be taken literally or symbolically. Imprisonment implies that political authorities will be involved, not just a lynch mob.
  2. “Rev. 6:9–11 describes the cry for vengeance for those “who had been slain for the word of the God and for the witness they had borne” (Aune)
  3. “The innumerable multitude in white robes depicted in Rev 7:9 consists of those who have come out of (i.e., died in) the great tribulation (Rev. 7:14).” (Aune)
  4. In Revelation 11.7-8 the two witnesses are killed by the beast
  5. In Revelation 12.11, the saints have defeated the dragon because of the blood of the Lamb and their faithful witness to him even to the point of death
  6. In Revelation 13.7 the beast is given power to make war against the saints and to conquer them
  7. Revelation 14.13 pronounces a beatitude on those “who from now on die in the Lord.”
  8. In Revelation 16.6 an angel announces that God’s pouring out of the bowl judgments on the followers of the beast is poetic justice, ironically appropriate: they are being forced to drink blood because they shed the blood of the prophets and saints.
  9. In Revelation 17.6 the prostitute is drunk with the blood of the saints and the witnesses to Jesus
  10. Revelation 18.24: “In her [Babylon, or Rome] was found the blood of prophets and of the saints, and of all who have been killed on the earth.”
  11. Revelation 19.2 says that God will avenge the blood of his servants.
  12. Revelation 20.4 speaks of people who were beheaded for their faithfulness and witness to Jesus.

Source: David Aune, Word Biblical Commentary: Revelation 1-5. (Waco, TX: Word, 1997);

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Seven connections between chapter 1 and chapters 2-3

  1. Jesus holds seven stars in his hand (compare Rev. 1.16 and 2.1, 3.1)
  2. Jesus walks among seven lampstands (compare Rev. 1.13 and 2.1)
  3. Jesus is the First and the Last, was dead and came back to life (compare Rev. 1.17-18 and 2.8)
  4. A sharp, double-edged sword comes from Jesus’ mouth (compare Rev. 1.16 and 2.12)
  5. Jesus has fiery eyes and feet like polished bronze (compare Rev. 1.14-15 and 2.18)
  6. Chapter one mentions the seven spirits, as does Rev. 3.1
  7. Jesus is the faithful witness (compare Rev. 1.5 and 3.14)

Source: William Hendriksen, More Than Conquerors. (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1986), p. 25.

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Fourteen items found both at the beginning and the end of Revelation

  1. God sends his angel in both Revelation 1.1 and 22.6 (cf. Rev. 22.16)
  2. Christians are described as God’s servants in both Revelation 1.1 and 22.6
  3. Both Revelation 1.1 and 22.6 speak of ‘things which will soon come to pass’
  4. Both Revelation 1.1 and 22.9 mention John’s name
  5. Both Revelation 1.1 and 22.8 mention that John sees things
  6. Both Revelation 1.2 and 22.20 mention the testimony of Jesus
  7. There is a beatitude in both Revelation 1.3 and Revelation 22.7
  8. Both Revelation 1.3 and 22.7 speak of ‘keeping the words of the prophecy’
  9. Both Revelation 1.3 and 22.10 mention that the time is near
  10. Both Revelation 1.4 and 22.16 mention the churches to which the book is addressed
  11. Both Revelation 1.4-5 and 22.21 offer a wish that the readers receive grace from Jesus
  12. Both Revelation 1.4 and 22.17 mention the Spirit
  13. There are references to Jesus’ second coming in both Revelation 1.7 and Revelation 22.7, 20.
  14. Both Revelation 1.8 and 22.13 refer to the title ‘Alpha and Omega’.

Source: Mark Wilson, Charts on the Book of Revelation: Literary, Historical and Theological Perspectives. (Grand Rapids: Kregel, 2007), 106.

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The structure of Revelation 6.1-8.1

The opening of the first six seals (Rev. 6.1-14)

The first seal is opened (6.1-2)

John watches the Lamb open the seal (6.1a)

A living creature invites John (6.1b)

John sees a white horse (6.2a)

Description of its rider (6.2b-d)

He has a bow (6.2b)

He is given a crown (6.2c)

He rides out to conquer (6.2d)

The second seal is opened (6.3-4)

John watches the Lamb open the seal (6.3a)

A living creature invites John (6.3b)

John sees a red horse (6.4a)

Description of its rider (6.4b-c)

He is given power to provoke war (6.4b)

He is given a sword (6.4c)

The third seal is opened (6.5-6)

John watches the Lamb open the seal (6.5a)

A living creature invites John (6.5b)

John sees a black horse (6.5c)

Description of its rider (6.5d) – he has a pair of scales

A voice from among the living creatures commands the rider (6.6)

The fourth seal is opened (6.7-8)

John watches the Lamb open the seal (6.7a)

A living creature invites John (6.7b)

John sees a pale horse (6.8a)

Description of its rider (6.8b-d)

His name (6.8b) – death

Hades rides behind him (6.8c)

They are given power over a fourth of the world (6.8d)

The fifth seal is opened (6.9-11)

John watches the Lamb open the seal (6.9a)

John sees souls under the altar (6.9b-11)

Description of the souls (6.9b)

They cry out to the Lord for justice and vengeance (6.10)

They are given white robes (6.11a)

They are told to wait until the number of martyrs is complete (6.11b)

The sixth seal is opened (6.12-14)

John watches the Lamb open the seal (6.12a)

John describes various cosmic phenomena (6.12b-14)

The earth quakes (6.12b)

The sun turns black (6.12c)

The moon turns red (6.12d)

The stars fall to the earth (6.13)

The sky recedes (6.14a)

All mountains and islands are removed (6.14b)

The reaction of humankind (Rev. 6.15-17)

All humankind hides (6.15)

They plea to the mountains and rocks (6.16-17)

The plea proper (6.16) – Fall on us and hide us!

The reason (6.17) – The day of the wrath of God and the Lamb has come!

The sealing of the 144,000 (Rev. 7.1-8)

John sees four angels holding back the four winds (7.1)

John sees a fifth angel (7.2-3)

He comes from the east (7.2a)

He carries with him the seal of God (7.2b)

He commands the four angels not to harm the earth until the servants of Glod are sealed (7.2c-3)

John hears the number of the sealed, 144,000 (7.4)

The division of the 144,000 by tribe (7.5-8)

The great multitude in heaven (Rev. 7.9-17)

Description of the multitude (7.9-10)

Their origin (7.9a) – every nation, tribe, people and language

Their location (7.9b) – before the throne in front of the Lamb

Their robes (7.9c)

Their palm branches (7.9d)

Their song (7.10)

The response of the angels (7.11-12)

They prostrate themselves in worship (7.11)

The song of the angels (7.12)

John’s interaction with one of the elders (7.13-17)

An elder asks John about the multitude (7.13)

John responds (7.14a)

The elder identifies the multitude (7.14b-17)

They came out of the tribulation (7.14b)

They washed their robes in the Lamb’s blood (7.14c)

The results of their faithfulness (7.15-17)

They serve God in his temple (7.15)

They will never again hunger or thirst (7.16a)

They will never again suffer from the heat of the sun (7.16b)

The Lamb will shepherd them (7.17a)

God will wipe away their tears (7.17b)

The opening of the eighth seal (Rev. 8.1) – silence in heaven for half an hour

Source: author’s personal study

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Three ways in which Revelation is similar to a prophecy

  1. The author specifically describes the book as a prophecy (Rev. 1.3, 22.7, 22.10, 22.18, 22.19. cf. 19.10).
  2. The author never calls himself a prophet, but receives prophetic commissions in Revelation 1.9-20 and 10.1-11.
  3. Wilson (20) lays out the many elements of prophecy found in this book. See his book for verse references in Revelation. One hopes that a future edition of Wilson’s book will also include OT verses for the sake of comparison.
    • The use of ‘disclosure’ vocabulary
    • The language of fulfillment
    • Reception of the word of God
    • Exhortations
    • The theme of suffering in exile
    • Prophetic experiences while “in the Spirit”
    • Commands to write
    • The formula “Thus says…”
    • Visions of a heavenly throne room
    • The mention of prophets
    • Prophetic symbolic actions
    • Prophetic journeys
    • Prophetic oath formulas
    • Prophetic seal
    • Prophetic curse

Sources: David Aune, Word Biblical Commentary: Revelation 1-5. (Waco, TX: Word, 1997); Mark S. Wilson, Charts on the Book of Revelation. (Grand Rapids: Kregel, 2007), p. 20.

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Seven criticisms people have raised against Revelation

  1. Rudolf Bultmann considered the book a product of “a weakly Christianized Judaism.” Bauckham responds that Bultmann’s critique is more indicative of his anti-semitism and his rejection of all apocalyptic literature than any shortcoming of Revelation. (Beasley-Murray, DLNTD)
  2. Immanuel Kant criticized Revelation 10.6, which he interpreted to mean that time would cease to exist. (Murphy, 685)
  3. D. H. Lawrence said that the book vents the anger and envy of the weak against the strong, and against civilization and nature (Beasley-Murray, DLNTD)
  4. Martin Luther wrote, “My spirit cannot accomodate itself to this book. There is one sufficient reason for the small esteem in which I hold it — that Christ is neither taught nor recognized.” (Carson, Moo and Morris, 481). According to Thielman (681), Luther also wondered how we are to obey the book when nobody can even figure out what it is.
  5. Friedrich Nietzsche said that Revelation is “…the most rabid outburst of vindictiveness in all recorded history”, “…the repressed hatred of pious weaklings against the powerful.” (Hays, 169)
  6. Jack T. Sanders claimed that Revelation is an eschatological “retreat from ethical responsibility.” (Hays 169)
  7. Krister Stendahl called the book’s scenario a “script for a horror movie.” (Hays, 169)

Sources: G. R. Beasley-Murray, “Revelation, book of”, in Dictionary of Later New Testament Developments. (Downer’s Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1997) Carson, Moo and Morris, An Introduction to the New Testament. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1992); Richard B. Hays, The Moral Vision of the New Testament. (NY: Harper One, 1996); ”Revelation, Book of”, by Francesca Aran Murphy, in Dictionary for Theological Interpretation of the Bible. (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2005), 680-687; Frank Thielman, Teología del Nuevo Testamento. (Miami: Editorial Vida, 2007);

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Two more radical theories about the authorship of Revelation

  1. A fringe Christian group in the second half of the second century called the Alogoi rejected both John’s Gospel and Revelation. They claimed that Revelation was written by the Gnostic heretic Cerinthus. Gaius, a presbyter in Rome in the late second and early third century, also thought Cerinthus wrote Revelation, passing his work off as apostolic. It is not certain if Gaius had connections with the Alogoi.
  2. In 1965 J. M. Ford proposed that there are several layers in Revelation: that chapters 4-11 contain a revelation to John the Baptist,  that chapters 12-19 contain a revelation to one of his disciples, and that parts of the framework in the first and last chapters were written by a disciple of John’s that had become a Christian. According to Aune, Ford has since changed her opinion about the book, affirming the unity of the book. Aune lists others who believe that parts of Revelation have a more non-Christian Jewish character, and that they have been taken over and adapted by Christian hands.

Sources: David Aune, Word Biblical Commentary: Revelation 1-5. (Waco, TX: Word, 1997); “Revelation, Book of”, by Francesca Aran Murphy, in Dictionary for Theological Interpretation of the Bible. (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2005), 680-687.

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Links to other sites on Revelation

This is the beginning of a growing list of links.

Indexes of websites on Revelation

  • Loren L. John’s index of resources on Revelation here
  • Felix Just’s index of links to resources on Revelation, apocalyptic literature and millennarianism here
  • Felix Just’s index of music and art related to Revlelation here
  • Textweek.com’s index of online Revelation resources here

Sites with actual resources on Revelation

  • Craig Koester’s “Cities of Revelation” here
  • PBS’ Frontline: Apocalypse! website on Revelation and apocalypticism here
  • Ross A. Taylor’s apocalipsis.org: commentary and articles here

Free online books

  • Vernon Eller’s The Most Revealing Book of the Bible here

Free online articles

  • David L. Barr, “Towards an Ethical Reading of the Apocalypse: Reflections on John’s Use of Power, Violence, and Misogyny” here
  • Loren L. Johns, “Facing Revelation’s Beasts: The Opportunities and Challenges of Pastoral Ministry at the Edge of History” here
  • Loren L. Johns, “The Lamb in the Rhetorical Program of the Apocalypse of John” here
  • Steven Moyise, “Does the Lion Lie Down with the Lamb?” here

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Three OT verses that Revelation 3.5 alludes to

In Revelation 3.5, Jesus promises to never erase from the book of life the name of anyone who overcomes. There are three OT passages that refer to books that God keeps and adds or takes names away from.

  1. In Exodus 32.32-33, Moses tells God that if God won’t forgive Israel’s sins, Moses would prefer that God erase his name from the book he has written. God responds that the ones whom he will erase from his book are those who sin against him.
  2. In Psalm 69.28, the psalmist asks God to erase his attackers’ names from the book of the living.
  3. And according to Daniel 12.1, everyone whose name is found in ‘the book’ will be delivered from calamity.

Source: The Greek New Testament (UBS, 4th edition), compared with the Old Testament Quotations and Allusions in the New Testament feature in Logos Bible Software version 4.

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