Lecture 4 – The Book of Revelation

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Lecture 4 – The Book of Revelation
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2012-05-16 22:00:36
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Lecture 4 – The Book of Revelation
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  1. Identify the three genres involved in Revelation
    Letter/epistolary


    Prophetic Oracles to the seven churches in the province of Asia.


    Apocalyptic literature/ visionary genre
  2. Understand the significance of the three genres of Revelations.
    The Book prophetically unveils what is happening in the heavenly realm and how it intersects with earth, since the transcendent God is both Creator and Redeemer.
  3. Understand the significance of the three genres of Revelations.
    While there are seven oracles written as letters to seven churches (chapters 2-3), the whole book, in fact is a letter.

    Bauckham notes, “The habit of referring to chapters 2-3 as the seven ‘letters’ to the churches is misleading. These are not as such letters but prophetic messages to each church. It is really the whole book of Revelation which is one circular letter to the seven churches” (p.2).

    Therefore, the central visions – the seals, trumpets, bowls, the dragon, the two beasts, the scarlet woman, Babylon the Great - are for these churches, not simply for the church in some far off future. At the same time, prophecy often has both a present and future dimension. Since seven is the biblical number of perfection (see the seven days of creation, Genesis 1-2:4) and while these seven churches are individually unique, together the oracles address the whole church in its areas of spiritual life and conflict. Every generation finds itself among them.

    Revelation ends with God’s New Order fulfilled in the new heaven and the new earth and the New Jerusalem coming down from heaven.
  4. Understand the significance of the three genres of Revelations.
    Its structure, as we have seen, follows the first century letter form:·

    Salutation John (author) to the seven churches in the province of Asia (recipients) (1:4)·

    Blessing“Grace and peace to you from him who is, and who was, and who is to come, and from the seven spirits before his throne (or, the Seven-fold Spirit), and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth” (1:4-5).·

    Ascription [takes the place of the normal prayer]“To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father – to him be glory and power forever and ever! Amen” (1:5-6).·

    Body (Chapters 1:9-22:20)·

    Benediction“The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s people. Amen” (22:21).
  5. Understand the significance of the three genres of Revelations.
    Revelation relies heavily on imagery because it is politically subversive

    • The book is filled with visions, symbols, and exhortations for the readers to understand. Since it is politically subversive, it is written in cryptic language. This makes it open to misinterpretation and abuse. Many cults and sects have built their theology and identity here. [i.e., The Jehovah’s Witnesses claimed that their original followers were the 144,000 (7:4). When their movement grew beyond that number they had to readjust their theology.]
    • Again and again, Revelation has been used to justify timetable prophecies of the end of the world.
  6. Understand the significance of the three genres of Revelations.
    Bauckham writes, “Revelation’s readers in the great cities of the province of Asia were constantly confronted with powerful images of the Roman vision of the world. Civic and religious architecture, iconography, statues, rituals and festivals, even the visual wonder of cleverly engineered ‘miracles’ (cf. Rev. 13:13-14) in the temples – all provided powerful visual impressions of Roman imperial power and the splendor of pagan religion.

    In this context, Revelation provides a set of Christian prophetic counter-images which impress on its readers a different vision of the world: how it looks from the heaven to which John is caught up in chapter 4. The visual power of the book effects a kind of purging of the Christian imagination, refurbishing it with alternative visions of how the world is and will be.” (p.17)
  7. Recognize the importance of Revelation being a singular and circular letter (ss. 16.1, 19.2).
    John writes to the seven churches in the province of Asia (1:4). They are not simply the audience for the letters addressed to them specifically in chapters 2-3, but for the whole book which is written in the form of a first century letter.

    Bauckham notes, “…many misreadings of Revelation, especially those which assume that much of the book was not addressed to its first-century readers and could only be understood by later generations, have resulted from neglecting that fact that it is a letter.” (p.12)
  8. 3. Identify the observations, aspects of Jesus’ self-revelation, and promises to those who overcome go with which church.
    coming soon(sect. 20.1 including table).
  9. Explain (in one paragraph each) the costs and the rewards of believers who are faithful through the tribulation (ss. 20.2.8, 21, and 22).
    *Satan wages war against God and his people

    “The background of satanic evil provides the cosmic background for the mission of Jesus and his proclamation of the Kingdom of God. As to whether such an evil spiritual personage exists, neither science nor philosophy has anything to say. There is really no more difficulty in believing in the existence of a malevolent spirit behind the evils of human history than to believe in the existence of a good spirit – God. Our purpose is primarily to show that the theology of the Kingdom of God is essentially one of conflict and conquest over the Kingdom of Satan” (Ladd, George, A Theology of the New Testament, Revised ed., Eerdmans, 1966,

    The Woman and the Dragon (Ch. 12)

    The Woman- pregnant. (12:1-2) [Eve, Israel, Mary, Church]

    The Dragon: 7 heads/10 horns/7 crowns: Third of the stars [angels] swept from heaven. Devour her child. Child born to rule the nations, snatched up to God. Woman fled to desert, protected. (12:3-6)

    War in Heaven. Michael and his angels versus the Dragon and his angels. Dragon hurled down to earth (serpent = devil = Satan) (12:7-9)

    Heavenly Response: Salvation, power and kingdom and the authority of his Christ. Accuser hurled down. They overcame him “by the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony. They did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death.” (12:11) “Woe to the earth…the devil has gone down to you.” (12:12)

    Woman (church) persecuted by the serpent/dragon. Protected. War on her offspring. (12:13-13:1)


    * God’s people will suffer

    1.1 God’s people must patiently persevere through suffering and death“Then each of them was given a white robe, and they were told to wait a little longer, until the number of their fellow servants and brothers who were to be killed as they had been was completed” (6:11).“This calls for patient endurance on the part of the saints who obey God’s commandments and remain faithful to Jesus” (14:12).

    1.2 God’s people will be vindicated“…for they [those who have the mark of the beast and have worshipped his image] have shed the blood of your saints and prophets, and you have given them blood to drink, as they deserve” (16:6). Bauckham notes, “The role of Christ in Revelation is to establish God’s kingdom on earth: in the words of 11:15, to turn ‘the kingdom of the world’ (currently ruled by evil) into ‘the kingdom of our Lord and his Messiah’. This is a work of both salvation and judgment… [which is] inevitably the two sides of a single coin. It is also a process which begins with his earthly life and death and ends with his parousia [coming]” (p.67). The Millennium vindicates and elevates the martyrs. “And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony for Jesus and the 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…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” (20:4-6).

    • God’s people will be saved
    • 2.1 144,000 sealed by God (Ch. 7) for the “Messianic War.” “Essential to this notion…is that the Messiah does not wage war alone: he leads the armies of Israel against the enemies of Israel” (Bauckham, p.68). “The 144,000 are an army. This is implicit in the fact that in 7:4-8 is a census of the tribes of Israel. In the Old Testament a census was always a reckoning of the military strength of the nation, in which only males of military age were counted” (Bauckham, p.77).
    • 2.2 “The messianic war is not purely future. The decisive victory has in fact already been won by Christ. His followers are called to continue the battle in the present. The final victory still lies in the future” (Bauckham, p.70).
    • 2.3 They will overcome by the blood of the Lamb and by their testimony“Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ. For the accuser of our brothers, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down. They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony” (12:10-11). Bauckham notes, “As with the messianic war, John’s use of the new exodus imagery shows that for him the decisive eschatological event has already occurred: the new Passover Lamb has been slaughtered and he has ransomed a people for God” (p.72).

    2.4 The Lamb and the 144,000 (14:1-5) Bauckham comments, “Chapters 12-14 portray the combatants in the messianic war. In chapters 12-13 the dragon, the beast and the second beast have been depicted successfully prosecuting war against the people of God (12:17; 13:7). But in 14:1 the Lamb and his army stand to oppose them on Mount Zion, the place of the messianic king’s triumph over the hostile nations (Ps. 2:6). The much misunderstood reference to the virginity of the 144,000 (14:4a) belongs to the image of an army. The followers of Christ are symbolized as an army of adult males who, following the ancient requirement of ritual purity for those who fight in holy war (Deut. 23:9-14; I Sam. 21:5; 2 Sam. 11:9-13; IQM 7:3-6), must avoid the cultic defilement incurred through sexual intercourse. This ritual purity belongs to the image of an army; its literal equivalent in John’s ideal of the church is not sexual asceticism, but moral purity” (p.78).
  10. Identify-

    144,000 sealed by God (Ch. 7) for the “Messianic War.” “Essential to this notion…is that the Messiah does not wage war alone: he leads the armies of Israel against the enemies of Israel” (Bauckham, p.68). “The 144,000 are an army. This is implicit in the fact that in 7:4-8 is a census of the tribes of Israel. In the Old Testament a census was always a reckoning of the military strength of the nation, in which only males of military age were counted” (Bauckham, p.77).
    Identify various aspects of God’s salvation and judgment (ss. 22 and 23).
  11. Identify

    “The messianic war is not purely future. The decisive victory has in fact already been won by Christ. His followers are called to continue the battle in the present. The final victory still lies in the future” (Bauckham, p.70).

    They will overcome by the blood of the
    Lamb and by their testimony
    various aspects of God’s salvation and judgment
  12. Identify

    The Lamb and the 144,000 (14:1-5) Bauckham comments, “Chapters 12-14 portray the combatants in the messianic war. In chapters 12-13 the dragon, the beast and the second beast have been depicted successfully prosecuting war against the people of God (12:17; 13:7). But in 14:1 the Lamb and his army stand to oppose them on Mount Zion, the place of the messianic king’s triumph over the hostile nations (Ps. 2:6). The much misunderstood reference to the virginity of the 144,000 (14:4a) belongs to the image of an army. The followers of Christ are symbolized as an army of adult males who, following the ancient requirement of ritual purity for those who fight in holy war (Deut. 23:9-14; I Sam. 21:5; 2 Sam. 11:9-13; IQM 7:3-6), must avoid the cultic defilement incurred through sexual intercourse. This ritual purity belongs to the image of an army; its literal equivalent in John’s ideal of the church is not sexual asceticism, but moral purity” (p.78).
    various aspects of God’s salvation and judgment
  13. Identify

    The kingdom of God has come and shall come

    “Fundamental to Revelation’s whole understanding of the way in which Christ establishes God’s kingdom on earth is the conviction that in his death and resurrection Christ has already won his decisive victory over evil” (Bauckham, p.73). The rest of Revelation shows how this is worked out.

    God shall judge Babylon the Great (14:6-11; Ch. 16-18)

    God shall judge the beast and the kings of the earth (19:11-21)“I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and makes war. His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns…He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God” (19:11-13).
    various aspects of God’s salvation and judgment
  14. Identify

    God shall judge Satan (20:1-10)

    The dead shall be judged (20:11-15)“Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it…Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books” (20:11, 12b).

    Our new dwelling place, the New Jerusalem, shall appear (Ch. 21)“Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away” (21:3-4).

    The River of Life will flow from the throne of God (22:1-5)

    “Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life” (22:17). “Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.” (22:12-13)
    various aspects of God’s salvation and judgment
  15. Summarize in order to describe John’s vision of GOD as He reigns on His throne in heaven. 20.2 and 20.2.1-20.2.5).
    Rev. 4:1-11

    *God reigns from his throne in heaven.

    “In chapter 4[Revelation] God’s sovereignty is seen as it is already fully acknowledged in heaven. ... Thus John is taken up into heaven to see that God’s throne is the ultimate reality behind all earthly appearances” (Bauckham, p.31).

    *God is on his throne

    • Bauckham writes, “All that is said of God’s appearance is that it was like precious stones; (4:3) this was one of the traditional ways of evoking the splendor of a heavenly figure.... (Bauckman, p.32).
    • Thus, God is like Jewels: Jasper (white-righteousness), Carnelian or Sardine (red- wrath). Around the throne: Rainbow-Emerald (green-mercy) (4:2-3)

    * Surrounded by his created beings

    • 24 other thrones
    • 24 elders (12 tribes of Israel/ 12 Apostles? Heavenly court? Angels?) ·
    • 24 Priestly and Levitical orders
    • Before him is the seven-fold Spirit and the sea of glass At the center, 4 living creatures sing perpetual praise “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come” (4:8; cf. Isa. 6:3)

    *God’s people also worship

    “..the twenty-four elders fall down before him who sits on the throne and worship him who lives forever and ever. They lay their crowns before the throne and say: ‘You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being’” (4:10-11).
  16. Textbook: Recognize and understand the four major theological teachings of Revelation
    See Encountering the New Testament, ch. 24

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