Archive for February, 2010

The structure of Revelation 15.1-16.21

John sees seven angels with the last seven plagues (Rev. 15.1)

John sees the victors at the sea of glass (Rev. 15.2-4)

John sees the sea (15.2a)

John sees the victors (15.2-4)

They were victorious over the beast (15.2b)

They hold harps (15.2c)

They sing the song of Moses and of the Lamb (15.3-4)

John sees activity in the heavenly temple (Rev. 15.5-8)

The tabernacle is opened (15.5)

Seven angels emerge with seven plagues (15.6)

Their emergence from the temple (15.6a)

Their clothing (15.6b)

A living creature gives bowls filled with God’s wrath to the seven angels (15.7)

Smoke renders the temple inaccessible (15.8)

A voice commands the seven angels to pour out their bowls (Rev. 16.1)

The bowl of the first angel (Rev. 16.2)

The angel pours his bowl (16.2a)

Those who worshiped the beast are afflicted with sores (16.2b)

The bowl of the second angel (Rev. 16.3)

The angel pours his bowl (16.3a)

The sea turns to blood, killing all sea life (16.3b)

The bowl of the third angel (Rev. 16.4-7)

The angel pours his bowl (16.4a)

The rivers and springs turn to blood (16.4b)

An angel proclaims that the punishment is just (16.5-6)

The altar affirms the justice of God (16.7)

The bowl of the fourth angel (Rev. 16.8-9)

The angel pours out his bowl (16.8a)

The sun scorches people (16.8b)

The people curse God and refuse to repent (16.9)

The bowl of the fifth angel (Rev. 16.10-11)

The angel pours out his bowl (16.10a)

Darkness covers the beast’s throne (16.10b)

The people curse God and refuse to repent (16.11)

The bowl of the sixth angel (Rev. 16.12-14)

The angel pours out his bowl (16.12a)

The Euphrates river dries up (16.12b)

The dragon, the beast and the false prophet emit frog-like spirits (16.13)

The frog-like spirits gather the world’s kings for battle (16.14)

Interlude: Jesus speaks (Rev. 16.15)

Jesus’ promise to come like a thief (16.15a)

Jesus’ beatitude on those who keep awake (16.15b)

The world’s kings gather at Armageddon (Rev. 16.16)

The bowl of the seventh angel (Rev. 16.17-21)

The angel pours out his bowl (16.17a)

A voice from the throne says it is finished (16.17b)

Cosmic phenomena attend (16.18-19)

List of the phenomena (16.18a)

The incomparability of the earthquake (16.18b)

God remembers and punishes Babylon and the cities of the earth (16.19)

The islands and mountains disappear (16.20)

Immense hailstones fall from the sky (16.21a)

People curse God for the hail (16.21b)

Leave a Comment

The structure of Revelation 8.2-9.21

The first six trumpets (Rev. 8.1-9.21)

Prelude to the blowing of the trumpets (Rev. 8.2-6)

John sees seven angels given seven trumpets (8.2)

John sees another angel with a golden censer (8.3-6)

The angel approaches the altar (8.3a)

The angel is given incense to offer with the prayers of the saints (8.3b)

The smoke of the incense and the prayers rises to God (8.4)

The angel hurls fire from the altar to the earth (8.5a)

Cosmic phenomena attend the action (8.5b)

The seven angels prepare to blow their trumpets (8.6)

The first trumpet (Rev. 8.7)

The angel blows the trumpet (8.7a)

Hail, fire and blood fall to the earth (8.7b)

A third of the earth, trees and grass are burned (8.7c)

The second trumpet (Rev. 8.8-9)

The angel blows the trumpet (8.8a)

A burning mountain is thrown into the sea (8.8b)

A third of the sea, sea creatures and ships are destroyed (8.9)

The third trumpet (Rev. 8.10-11)

The angel blows the trumpet (8.10a)

A star falls from the sky (8.10b)

The star is named: Wormwood (8.11a)

A third of the fresh waters turn bitter (8.11b)

The fourth trumpet (Rev. 8.12)

The angel blows the trumpet (8.12a)

A third of the sun, moon and stars turn dark (8.12b)

Interlude: an eagle cries out a woe (Rev. 8.13)

The fifth trumpet (Rev. 9.1-11)

The angel blows the trumpet (9.1a)

The star from 8.10-11 opens the abyss (9.1b-11)

John sees the star (9.1b)

The star is given the key to the abyss (9.1c)

The smoke from the opened abyss darkens the sky (9.2)

Locusts come from the smoke (9.3-11)

Their appearance and power (9.3)

The limits on their power (9.4-5a)

A description of the torture they inflict (9.5b-6)

Their appearance (9.7-10)

Their king and his name (9.11)

Parenthetical comment: the first of three woes has past (Rev. 9.12)

The sixth trumpet (Rev. 9.13-21)

The angel blows the trumpet (9.13a)

A voice tells the sixth angel to release the four angels at the Euphrates (9.13b-14)

The four angels kill a third of mankind (9.15)

John sees an army of mounted troops (9.16-21)

The troops’ number (9.16)

The troops’ appearance (9.17)

The troops’ deadly mouths and tails kill a third of humankind (9.18-19)

The unrepentance of the remainder of humankind (9.20-21)

Leave a Comment

Three verses in Revelation 3.14-22 that allude to the Old Testament

  1. In Revelation 3.14, Jesus calls himself the “ruler of God’s creation.” Proverbs 8.22 speaks of wisdom as the first or chief of God’s works.
  2. In Revelation 3.17 Jesus quotes the church in Laodicea as saying “I am rich; I have acquired wealth”. This is nearly identical to Ephraim’s boast in Hosea 12.8: “I am very rich; I have become wealthy”.
  3. In Revelation 3.19 Jesus says that he rebukes and disciplines those whom he loves. This is an allusion to Proverbs 3.12 that says that God disciplines those he loves.

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.

Leave a Comment

Four verses in Revelation 2.12-17 that allude to the Old Testament

  1. Revelation 2.12 and 2.16 allude to Isaiah 49.2, in which the Servant of the Lord has a mouth like a sharpened sword.
  2. Revelation 2.14 alludes to the story of Balaam’s enticing the Israelites to commit sexual immorality and eat food sacrificed to idols. This story is told briefly in Numbers 25.1-2 and 31.16.
  3. Revelation 2.17 mentions that Jesus will give his faithful followers manna and a new name.
    • Psalm 78.24 mentions God’s giving of manna in Moses’ time. See Exodus 13 and Numbers 11 for more on manna.
    • Isaiah 62.2 and 65.15 mention the new name that God will give his people.

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.

Leave a Comment

An “inventory” of Revelation 4

Imagery and symbols (‘this is that’ or ‘this is like that’)

  • Voice like a trumpet (Rev. 4.1)
  • appearance of jasper and carnelian (Rev. 4.3)
  • A rainbow, resembling an emerald (Rev. 4.3)
  • seven lamps were blazing. These are the seven spirits of God (Rev. 4.5)
  • sea of glass, clear as crystal (Rev. 4.6)
  • The first living creature was like a lion, the second was like an ox, the third had a face like a man, the fourth was like a flying eagle. (Rev. 4.7)

Names for God

  • the Spirit (Rev. 4.2)
  • One sitting on the throne (Rev. 4.2, 4.3)
  • the seven spirits of God (Rev. 4.5) / God
  • the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come (Rev. 4.8)
  • him who sits on the throne and who lives for ever and ever (Rev. 4.9, 4.10)
  • our Lord and God (Rev. 4.11)

Cast of characters

  • the voice I had first heard speaking to me like a trumpet (Rev. 4.1)
  • twenty-four elders (Rev. 4.4, 4.10)
  • four living creatures (Rev. 4.6-9)
  • All things (Rev. 4.11)

Literary elements

  • Hymns (Rev. 4.8, 4.11)
  • Action and dialogue (Rev. 4.1-2, 4.8-11)
  • Description of people and things (Rev. 4.3-8)
  • Reasons (Rev. 4.11)
  • After this I looked, and there before me (Rev. 4.1)
  • I was in the Spirit (Rev. 4.2)
  • there before me (Rev. 4.2)
  • What John hears (Rev. 4.1b)
  • What John sees (Rev. 4.1a, 4.2-11)

Visual elements

  • a door standing open in heaven (Rev. 4.1)
  • what must take place after this (Rev. 4.1)
  • The throne (Rev. 4.2, 4.3, 4.4, 4.5, 4.6, 4.9, 4.10)
  • Jewels (Rev. 4.3)
  • Rainbows (Rev. 4.3)
  • White clothing (Rev. 4.4)
  • Crowns (Rev. 4.4, 4.10)
  • Lamps (Rev. 4.5)
  • Lightning, rumbling, thunder (Rev. 4.5)
  • Sea of glass (Rev. 4.6)
  • Eyes (Rev. 4.6, 4.8)
  • Lion (Rev. 4.7)
  • Ox (Rev. 4.7)
  • Eagle (Rev. 4.7)
  • Wings (Rev. 4.8)
  • Day and night (Rev. 4.8)

Themes and theology

  • God (Rev. 4.2, 4.3)
  • God as king (Rev. 4.2, 4.3, 4.4, 4.5, 4.6, 4.9, 4.10)
  • The Holy Spirit (Rev. 4.2, 4.5)
  • God’s beauty and glory (Rev. 4.3)
  • Worship (Rev. 4.8-11)
  • God’s holiness (Rev. 4.8)
  • God’s power (Rev. 4.8)
  • God as past, present, future (Rev. 4.8, 4.9, 4.10)
  • Glory, honor (Rev. 4.9, 4.11)
  • Thanks (Rev. 4.9)
  • Worthiness (Rev. 4.11)
  • Creation (Rev. 4.6-9, 4.11)
  • Possibly omniscience and omnipresence (Rev. 4.6, 4.8)

Source: author’s personal study

Leave a Comment

Several parallels between Revelation, Acts and the General Epistles

  1. There is one parallel between Revelation and Acts: in Revelation 2.20-24, a prophetess whom John names Jezebel entices the church in Thyatira to engage in sexual immorality and to eat food sacrificed to idols. In Acts 15.28 the council in Jerusalem prohibits the churches from engaging in these two activities.
  2. There is one parallel between Revelation and the book of James: in Revelation 2.10 Jesus warns the church in Smyrna that they will be tested, and promises that those who are faithful will receive the “crown of life”. James 1.12 says that the person who passes the test will receive the crown of life.
  3. There are two parallels with 1 Peter:
    • Revelation 13.8 speaks of the “Lamb that was slain from the creation of the world.” 1 Peter 1.19-20 also compares Jesus to a sacrificed lamb, and says he was chosen from the creation of the world.
    • Both Revelation 16.19 and 1 Peter 5.13 refer to Rome as Babylon.
  4. Revelation has numerous parallels with 2 Peter and Jude. For a full list, see Wilson, 40. Here are a few notable examples:
    • False teachers compared to Balaam: Revelation 2.14; 2 Peter 2.15, 3.17; Jude 11.
    • False and true knowledge contrasted: Revelation 2.17, 24; 2 Peter 1.2-3, 16; Jude 10.
    • Christ called a Morning Star: Revelation 2.28, 22.16; 2 Peter 1.19.
    • The day of Christ compared to a thief: Revelation 3.3, 16.15; 2 Peter 3.10.
    • The disappearance of the current heaven and earth: Revelation 6.14, 16.20, 20.11; 2 Peter 3.10.
    • Fallen angels chained in an abyss: Revelation 20.1-3; 2 Peter 2.4; Jude 6
    • Mentions of Sodom and Egypt: Revelation 11.8; 2 Peter 2.6; Jude 5, 7.

    Sources: William Hendriksen, More Than Conquerors. (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1986), 47; Mark Wilson, Charts on the Book of Revelation. (Grand Rapids: Kregel, 2007), 40.

    Leave a Comment

    Six parallels between Revelation and Paul’s letters

    1. Revelation 1.5 and Colossians 1.18 both refer to Jesus as the “firstborn from the dead” in contexts that speak of his rule.
    2. Revelation 3.3 and 16.15 say that Jesus will come like a thief. Paul in 1 Thessalonians 5.2 and 5.4 say that the day of the Lord will come “like a thief in the night.”
    3. Revelation 3.12, 21.2 and 21.10 refer to a new Jerusalem that descends from heaven. Galatians 4.26 refers to “the Jerusalem that is above”.
    4. Revelation 17.14 and 1 Timothy 6.15 refer to Jesus as King of kings and Lord of lords.
    5. Revelation 18.4 calls its readers to come out of Babylon and not take part in her sins. 2 Corinthians 6.17 quotes Isaiah 52.11, which is also a call to come out of Babylon. In Ephesians 5.11 Paul tells his readers not to take part in the sins of darkness.
    6. In Revelation 21.4, a voice from the throne says that the old order of things has passed away, and in verse 5 God says “I am making everything new!” 2 Corinthians 5.17 says if anyone is in Christ, the old has gone and the new has come.

    Mark Wilson also has a chart containing eschatological topics that Revelation and Paul both write about, such as shouts, trumpets, crowns, and angels at the last day; Jesus coming on the clouds and ruling the nations; a day of vengeance and wrath; the nations being deceived; judgment and reward; exhortations to keep awake and to endure.

    Sources: William Hendriksen, More Than Conquerors. (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1986), 47; Mark Wilson, Charts on the Book of Revelation. (Grand Rapids: Kregel, 2007), 36-37.

    Leave a Comment

    Eleven parallels between Revelation and the Synoptic Gospels

    1. Both Revelation 1.3 and Luke 11.28 pronounce a beatitude on those who hear and obey God’s word.
    2. Both Revelation 1.7 and Matthew 24.30 say that Jesus will come on the clouds and that the nations will mourn because of him.
    3. The description of Jesus in Revelation 1.16 is similar to the description of Jesus’ transfiguration in Matthew 17.2.
    4. The phrase “He who has an ear to hear” in Revelation 2.7, 2.11, and 2.17 echoes Jesus’ usage in Matthew 11.15, 13.9, etc.
    5. Jesus’ coming is compared to a thief in Revelation 3.3, Matthew 24.42-43 and Luke 12.39-40.
    6. In Revelation 3.5 Jesus says he will acknowledge those who overcome before his Father. In Matthew 10.32 and Luke 12.8, Jesus says he will acknowledge before his Father those who acknowledge him.
    7. Revelation 3.20-21 says that Jesus knocks, and those who invite him in and overcome their trials will eat and drink with Jesus and sit on his throne. Luke 12.35-40 speaks of servants who need to open the door when their master knocks. Luke 22.28-30 says that Jesus’ disciples will eat and drink with him and sit on thrones. Matthew 19.28 also mentions the thrones of Jesus’ twelve disciples.
    8. The seven seals in Revelation 6 and Jesus’ eschatological discourse in Matthew 24, Mark 13 and Luke 21 mention the same phenomena in roughly the same order: false Christs, wars, famine, pestilence, earthquakes, persecution, and the disturbance of the sun, moon and stars.
    9. Revelation 12.9 and Luke 10.18 both speak of Satan’s fall from heaven.
    10. Revelation 13.10 and Matthew 26.52 have somewhat similar proverbs about dying by the sword.
    11. Revelation 18.24 holds “Babylon” (i.e., Rome) responsible for the death of all the prophets. Luke 11.50 holds Jesus’ generation responsible.

    Mark Wilson also gives a full chart of eschatological parallels between Revelation and the Synoptic Gospels, including fig trees, angels, four winds, trumpets, trampling Gentiles, the deception of the nations, exhortations to keep awake and to endure, harvests, banquets, etc.

    Sources: David E. Aune, Word Biblical Commentary, Vol. 52: Revelation 1-5. (Waco, TX: Word, 1997); William Hendriksen, More Than Conquerors. (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1986), 47; Mark Wilson, Charts on the Book of Revelation. (Grand Rapids: Kregel, 2007), 36-37, 77.

    Comments (2)

    Ten interesting facts about the imperial cult (worship of Rome or the Roman emperor as gods)

    1. Verses in Revelation that speak of the worship of the beast and the receiving of his mark show the influence of the imperial cult: Rev. 13.4, 13.14-17, 14.9, 15.2, 16.2, 19.20, 20.4
    2. The worship of the city of Rome was a goddess began early in Asia: starting from the second century before Christ – in 125 bc in Smyrna, and in 29bc in Pergamum. (Thielman) There are coins that picture her “reclining on the seven hills where Rome was built.” (Koester)
    3. Julius Caesar accepted worship in his lifetime (Mounce). Augustus was more cautious in Rome, but accepted temples to himself in the provinces (Mounce). Caligula demanded homage to his statues (Mounce)
    4. For centuries it was believed that Emperor Domitian insisted that he be addressed as “our Lord and God” (dominus et deus). This was the charge that later Roman writers made of him. But these writers had political motives to attack him, and  Leonard Thompson’s investigation of the claims against Domitian discovered a report from Statius “that when Domitian was acclaimed as Dominus at one of his Saturnalia he forbade those who did so to address him in this manner (Statius Silvae 1.6, 81–84). There are no references to Domitian as dominus et deus on any inscriptions, coins or medallions from the Domitianic era.” (Aune)
    5. All of the seven cities mentioned in Revelation had “altars to the emperor and a system of imperial priesthoods.” (Barr), and at least three of them had imperial temples at the time:
      • Augustus had the temple in Pergamum built in honor of Rome and his father Julius in 29 BC.
      • Tiberius had an imperial temple built AD mid-20s in Smyrna. This temple was the center of the imperial cult for the entire province.
      • There were two or three imperial temples in Ephesus, including one that Domitian ordered built.
    6. It was not the empire itself that pressured people to worship the emperor, but the cities. The cities in the empire competed with each other for favors from Rome. Thus there was great pressure to show their loyalty to Rome and to the emperor, and the imperial cult was an important way of showing that loyalty.
    7. We should not imagine that local authorities stood over everyone forcing them to participate in the worship of the emperor and other gods. Rather, such participation was a normal part of political and civic events, the meetings of professional guilds and trade associations, and other social events. It would become obvious at such events if someone refrained from participating. So most of the pressure was for Christians to conform because withdrawing would have adverse effects on one’s occupation and business dealings, one’s political prestige, and one’s friendships. And there was always the risk of provoking an outcry on a local level, which might attract the attention of local authorities and lead to legal consequences.
    8. “[The imperial cult] involved provincial and municipal temples, statues, altars (both public and private), and rites for the emperor in the temples of other deities. Activities included events such as festivals, parades, music performances, athletic games, gladiatorial shows, sacrifices, and civic and household rites.” “In addition, there were fountains, baths, porticos, and statues of the emperor spread through both public and private space. The imperial cult was a pervasive fact of life for John’s audience.” (Barr)
    9. The pressure for the empire to worship the emperor was so strong that even the Jews offered sacrifices to God twice a day in the Jerusalem temple for the well-being of the emperor. (Thielman, 686)
    10. According to Kenneth Cukrowski, prayers were not part of the emperor cult, but hymns, images and honorary titles were. He says that there were animals sacrificed on behalf of emperors past and present, but that it is not clear from the evidence that sacrifices to the emperor were made.

    Sources: David E. Aune, Word Biblical Commentary, Vol. 52: Revelation 1-5. (Waco, TX: Word, 1997), David L. Barr, “John’s ironic empire” in Interpretation 63 no 1 Ja 2009, pp. 20-30, Kenneth L. Cukrowski, “The influence of the emperor cult on the book of Revelation”, in Restoration Quarterly 45 no 1-2 2003, p. 51-64; Craig R. Koester, “Revelation’s visionary challenge to ordinary empire”, in Interpretation 63 no 1 JA 2009, 5-18; Robert H. Mounce, New International Commentary on the New Testament: The Book of Revelation, Revised Edition. (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1998), Frank Thielman, Teología del Nuevo Testamento. (Miami: Vida, 2007)

    Leave a Comment

    Five things about Rome other than persecution and the emperor cult that Revelation criticizes

    The book of Revelation focuses on the pressures to engage in emperor worship and the persecution that resulted when Christians resisted those pressures. But we should not overlook the serious prophetic denunciations raised in chapters 17-18 against Rome. A number of commentators refer to Revelation as an example – the most notable example, in fact – of anti-Roman ‘protest literature’.
    1. Revelation condemns Rome’s economic exploitation of the nations for its own self-serving ends (Rev. 18.3)
    2. Revelation condemns Rome for deceiving and intoxicating the nations with its adulteries (Rev. 17.2, 18.3; when the Bible says that a nation commits adultery it refers to the importation and exportation of idolatry)
    3. Revelation condemns Rome’s materialistic excess (Rev. 17.4, 18.3, 18.7)
    4. Revelation condemns Rome’s trafficking of human beings as slaves (Rev. 18.13)
    5. Revelation holds Rome responsible not only for the death of prophets and apostles, but for the murder of many people (Rev. 18.24)

    Source: author’s personal study, inspired by random comments in commentaries and articles.

    Leave a Comment