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Commentary for Revelation 17–22
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Learn more about Amazon Giveaway. There are two things we need to note in this verse. First, God has established a testimony and appointed a law, and second, He did this in Jacob Israel. He revealed the divine oracles, the Old Testament Scriptures, and entrusted them to the nation of Israel, just as today He has entrusted the Word, the Old and New Testaments, to the church the body of Christ. In other words, they were not following cunningly devised fables or the mere traditions of men.
And neither are we. What they had to offer to their children was nothing short of a miraculous Word from God designed to protect them and their children from the many deceptive counterfeits that were being offered by a world system rushing head long into destruction under the dominion and deception of Satan.
Further, this stresses two great needs and responsibilities we have as believing parents:. We must guard against elevating the ideas of men whether psychological or philosophical above the authority of the Word. The need to be on alert to this has become even more important in our day of secular humanism and human psychology where the ideas of men are raised to the level of the Scripture--or far above it. This is the most effective way for children to truly come to know the Scriptures. Other agencies may help in this process of communication such as a Christian school and the church, but the primary means established by God is the home under the godly influence of a godly father and a godly mother.
Gentlemen, to a certain extent, God holds us responsible for the spiritual condition of our families. Too many men are abdicating or ignoring their responsibilities as Fathers. It includes the provision of all the elements of a Christ-like home: This would also include modeling biblical values, priorities, and pursuits. In some cases the father must bear this responsibility alone where the mother is absent. This is not an option.
It is an imperative. If we want our children to know and experience God and to experience His blessings on their lives, we must be dedicated to teaching our children to know the Lord and His Word. We are raising a generation of biblical illiterates. American youth growing up in our scientific age know more about getting to the moon or about computer terminology than they do about getting to heaven or about the Bible. In multiple choice questions, some decided that the epistles were the wives of the apostles, that Sodom and Gomorrah were husband and wife and that Moses was the father of Jesus.
Answers like these would be hilarious if they were not pathetic! We purchase the latest volumes on child care so we can raise children by the book, but we have concentrated on the wrong book! Robinson Then we act shocked when our children follow the system of the world, or when so few young people have the stamina and discernment to withstand the intense deceptions and temptations of our times. They are our grandchildren! God holds us responsible in some ways for our grandchildren. We like to think that if we can just get our kids to age 21 without seeing them destroyed physically, spiritually, and morally, we have it made and can relax.
Our responsibility is over. But this passage suggest that is not quite the case. Our goal is faith, personal confidence in the living God. We want obedience in our children. Not the obedience of rigid legalists, but the obedience of personal faith, faith in the reality of God who has worked marvelously in history to reveal Himself to man through the Word and the person and work of Christ.
But please note the connection between confidence and remembering the works of God. Having confidence in the Lord is vitally connected to knowing, remembering, and believing that God has worked in history, first in creation and then in the historic acts of God recorded for us in the Bible.
This connection is important because it means that He is still at work carrying out His purposes in history. We live in a humanistic world that has bought into the hoax of evolution hook, line, and sinker. What is so detrimental about evolution? Furthermore, many in our society have bought into the pantheistic eastern religions of the world and the new age a resurgence of the old age which also believes in evolution and denies the existence of a personal God. The point is this has led our society to deny the historic facts and evidence for the truthfulness of the Bible and its record regarding the person and work of Jesus Christ.
Is it any wonder that we live in an age drugged with substitutes for the fears and tears of a society without hope? The minority view fits nicely with this historical perspective. Nowhere in the Old Testament is Rome or any pagan city called a harlot. But Jerusalem repeatedly is. Here are some examples of the use of the word from the prophets:. Righteousness lodged in her, but now murderers.
It also fits with the most direct references as to the identity of the persecutors in the Book of Revelation.
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Romans would surely not have considered themselves Jews. Hence, we ought to take the text at face value: But the persecutor is not Jews alone, but also the Gentiles, responding to the complaints of Jews against the Christians. Thus the enemy is also identified as Caesar Nero: Here are a couple of texts that describe the persecutors of the Christians in very Jewish terms:.
In Revelation 11 the harlot city is identified as Jerusalem not Rome:. Thus the city is Jerusalem, not Rome as is presupposed by the majority opinion. The city described as the place where their Lord was crucified can be no other place than Jerusalem. His number is But why would Nero be referenced in a persecution taking place near 90 AD under the reign of Domitian?
Thus the minority view of Revelation as a prophecy of the destruction of Jerusalem not Rome in 70 AD seems more plausible. Thus a complex, double-enemy seems to be described. These two beasts, both coming from the Red Dragon, seem to comport well with the data of the Book of Revelation and the Historical context of the time leading up to 70 AD wherein the two enemies who conspire against the early Church. Ultimately, as the Book of Revelation also describes, these two beasts turn on one another, and the harlot is destroyed. I n Revelation Rev 17 ff The complex, two-fold enemy is described as a beast, and a harlot.
The harlot city rides upon the beast. The beast later turns and devours the harlot with fire and total destruction. This in fact happened when Rome which had a partnership with Jerusalem through the Herodian dynasty turned against Jerusalem and totally destroyed her by fire, killing 1.
Thus the Book of Revelation seems to describe an enemy of the early Christians that is a complex combination of two enemies who conspire against the early Church, and later turn on each other. This was historically the fact at the time of 70 AD when the Jews and Rome went to war against one another. It flows well from the fuller context of the New Testament. Those these Roman officials are often hesitant to become involved, though they are not thereby absolved of responsibility any more than Pilate can be absolved for his actions. Notice the consistent Biblical context of the double enemy face by Christians:.
It was fellow Jews who handed Jesus over. In particular it was fellow Jews who had much invested in the Temple and its rituals who were most threatened by him who handed him over. Pilate, though unjust in his final action, was reluctant and it was only when He perceived that the Jewish leaders would lead a riot that he relented and had Jesus put to death.
In the Acts of the Apostles, it is always fellow Jews who attack and pursue Paul. Even when he Romans do arrest Paul it is once again due to the insistence of fellow Jews and the threat of civil unrest it Roman officials did not comply.
Again, the final arrest of Paul centered on a perceived defilement of the Temple that he supposedly committed. This was not in fact the case but was the pretext by which the Jewish leaders of Jerusalem handed him over. In the Epistles of Paul, once again, it is fellow Jews and Judaizers So-called Christians who wanted to bring the whole Jewish ceremonial law into the Church and make it binding on all Christians who are the real enemies.
Paul does not preach social unrest against Roman authority Nor did Jesus. In fact, Paul counsels respect for authority and prayers for all in authority. Likewise, Jesus strongly resists any attempts to draw him into political zealotry and any conception of the Messiah that would understand him as military savior. None of this is to render the New Testament anti Semitic.
Remember, most of the early converts were Jews. Jewish Christians made up a sizable percentage of the early Church. The question here is not ethnic hatred but of a clear distinction between those who would accept Jesus as Lord and those who would not. The division was not some mere intellectual debate. It was a volatile clash between absolutely different understanding of the basic questions, who is God?
Who is to be worshiped? It therefore seems unlikely and unusual that, very suddenly, the context changes radically in the final book of the New Testament. All along, the context was of the passing away of the Old Order of the Law and the Temple and the passionate fear and hatred that this caused. It seems more likely that the final book of the Bible would prophesy the conclusion to this clash. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent.
He who conquers, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God; never shall he go out of it, and I will write on him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem which comes down from my God out of heaven, and my own new name. If Rome is the harlot city, as the majority opinion presumes, there is a problem in that it was never destroyed.
It was sacked many centuries after Biblical times in the late 4th and early 5th Centuries AD , but it was never burned or destroyed as depicted in Revelation. Jerusalem however was destroyed and burned in 70 AD and thereby correspondent to the prophecies of the Book of Revelation e. Namely, that the Book of Revelation is describing the clash between Jews and Christians which drew in the Romans and caused the persecutions against the Church which is described in Revelation.
It is not merely a book describing Roman persecutions. Further, the context of just prior to 70 AD, under Nero seems more plausible, that the context of 90 AD under Domitian. And the war-like and apocryphal events described are those that lead up to the destruction of the Temple and the full establishment of the Church, as the new locus of the worship of God.
Here is the more likely and immediate context of the Book of Revelation. This does not mean that there is no value in the majority opinion, namely that the beast Harlot is Rome and the context is a Roman persecution of the Church. Since this is the majority view it would be wrong to simply dismiss that view.
Hence, what I have presented here is still described as the minority view. But I have come to appreciate that the minority view enables us to have a far richer understanding of the Book of Revelation, since it sees the Book of Revelation as a part of the whole Bible rather than as merely an apocalyptic work that radically stands apart from the other biblical views. Consider well the possibilities of the minority view of Revelation. Fundamentally this view roots the Book more solidly in the rest of Biblical tradition, and maintains the focus on the biblical city of Jerusalem and the context of faith, rather than the pagan city of Rome to which the early Church looked with evangelical mission and open doors, rather than with the polemical disdain and gleefully expectant destruction presumed by the majority view.
Surely, as with any minority view, as you ponder it, you may be troubled by the fact that it unsettles what seems more familiar. But I have come to see that it comports better with the actual data of the Book of Revelation. There is a lot of confusion about those dates. I think people get fixated on 33 years old because they like threes. Remember that Irenaeus heard St. John the Apostle speak before he died, and was a friend of St. Polycarp the student of St John.
But even beyond these sorts of disputes, there is also the linguistic ambiguity of Irenaeus. So, likewise, he was an old man for old men … Now, that the first stage of early life embraces thirty years, and that this extends onwards to the fortieth year, every one will admit; but from the fortieth and fiftieth year a man begins to decline towards old age, which our Lord possessed while he still fulfilled the office of a teacher … those who were conversant in Asia with John, the disciple of the Lord [affirming] that John conveyed to them that information.
Irenaeus, Against Heresies, 2: It is a complex text. As is the text I cite about about when John exactly wrote the Book of Rev. All this said, I am not here to hammer away at Irenaeus, or to insist that he clearly says Jesus lived to 50, only to note that his being the source for the dating of Revelation may be open to wider interpretation and does not utterly settle the question of the date of composition for the linguistic reasons stated in the article and also evidenced by his complex linguistics in the text cited in this comment.
There is significant debate. Was that Irenaeus of Lyon who heard John the Apostle speak? I think that it was Ignatius of Antioch. I have always preferred the view you are outlining here. Very well put, Msgr. Or could you point me to another source? Any help much appreciated. By the way, my daughter, Sarah McCullough, was part of your parish and, I believe, the parish school for a time while she lived in Washington. She is now married with a child and another on the way to a fine young man, Ian Gerdon, who is working on his doctorate in Patristics at Notre Dame.
If you would like a very in depth look at this viewpoint of Revelation starting all the way from the book of Genesis, I have a blog that covers this from the Bible only. I do not reference any other scholar, only scripture. Very interesting, enjoyable article. Grant the minority view. What then of the future?
What does that say of the Olivet discourse, particularly verse 29 on? Well, what does it mean to see the Son of Man on the clouds? Many argue that what the Lord is here describing is his judgement on ancient Israel and the vindication of his Church, not an early form of airline travel, or some literalistic and visual apparition. So the argument would be that Jesus is using prophetic language, like he does in speaking of trumpets sounding and stars being cast down, the sun and moon being darkened etc.
All of these are prophetic modes of speaking which describe a world and all its reference points being swept away. In saying he is coming on the clouds, it is a prophet mode of speaking indicating a cloud judgement cf Ezekiel on ancient Israel. Having swept away the temple, the angels are now going out to all parts of the world and gathering his elect i. So, Christ is now visible everywhere in the World,.
And this prophetic interpretation of the Mt Olivet discourse would also seem necessary since Christ said Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away till all these things take place. Hence his coming on the clouds would not seem to be plausibly understood only as the Second coming in Glory, but as his reigning supreme, i.
It may well be that one day he does come on the clouds in the definitive end of the world. But in this context, Jesus seems to have had something more in mind than a visual apparition, and that this text was also mystically fulfilled in the time of 70 AD by his own promise. Ye men of Galilee, why stand you looking up to heaven? This Jesus who is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come as you have seen him going into heaven.
Even those Old Testament prophecies you cite typically have multiple layers of meaning — often a short-term meaning for the political situation in the Middle East, and a longer-term meaning for Salvation history. Though the Mt Olivet discourse seems to have a different context in mind, coming rather than going, judgment rather than exultation to the heavenly places etc. But again, as you note there are layers of meaning. I do confess an actual, physical and visible ascension and resurrection. I am also quite open to the likelihood that when Jesus returns he will be quite visible to all, physically coming on the clouds.
I am only here saying that the fulfillment of the text in the Mt. Olivet discourse does not require that it be only about the Second Coming and thus that Christ did not mis-speak when he said to his disciples, that some of them would not see death until all these things had been fulfilled. I think that you have a better case for that being represented by the descent of the New Jerusalem, though. When I was about 10 I converted the archaic length measurements to miles and found that the New Jerusalem is comparable in size to the moon.
Not only would this not be possible to hide in the inner solar system, it would be much too big to sit on the earth — yet the fundamentalist school I attended, with sad predictability, maintained that astronauts had actually seen the New Jerusalem hidden behind the moon, but the government kept them mostly silent. Note from the Moderator — It is interesting to me how a number of the comments thus far center more on the Mt.
Olivet discourse than the Book of Revelation per se. It is clear that there is also a great deal of scholarly debate on the details of the Mount Olivet discourse as well centering on the use of prophetic imagery and the prophetic mode of speech, as well, centering on whether all the details of the discourse refer to a first century fulfillment or if some of them are only to be fulfilled at the end of time.
- The Boy with the Silver Tears.
- Chapter Revelation 17–22.
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This position does not preclude the possibility, even the likelihood, that similar events will surround the definitive end of the world, of which the destruction of Jerusalem is a paradigm. There are really too many verses that support it, to deny amillennialism. Like John telling us he is our companion in the kingdom of Jesus Christ as well.
But in Matthew In conjunction with a Greek English interlinear the verse could be rendered: Gentiles ruled Jerusalem up until when Jews gained control. As date pinned by Daniel to the year, years in advance: Can I just ask one small question? Both the Gospel of Matthew and the Book of Revelation say that not one stone will be left upon another but it is clear that one wall of the Temple, at least, is still standing. How are these to be reconciled? Well, I think there is literalism and then there is hyper literalism. But, humanly speaking we all use modes of speech: As a mode of speech it means that the building will be wholly destroyed, which is in fact the case with the Temple building.
Actually, this was part of the reason St. Cyril of Jerusalem gave for why Julian the Apostate would fail to rebuilt the Temple as he in fact did fail. Presumably the Wailing Wall must come down first. By the way, if you want a made-for-Hollywood scenario for the Apocalypse, a terrorist bomb that destroys the Wailing Wall would be a convincing way to start the movie. The temple wall in Jerusalem is not a part of the temple. The reason the temple was so completely destroyed, not one stone left on another, is that the Romans were told that the Jews had hidden gold in between the stones of the temple and they hacked they apart to get at the gold.
Please accept a small corrrection. Though I am not a biblical scholar, I wonder how this theory resonates with some of the linguistic and socio-political research into the Christian world done by Warren Carter. I interpret it as a literal warning of things to come at the end of this world as we know it…period.
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I also find it interesting how Revelations itself is not the focus here, but the Mount Olivet Discourse from Matthew. What about the 7 angels blowing their 7 trumpets and the destruction that unfolds? What about Mystery Babylon burning to the ground as the whole world watches and mourns? What about the reign of the Antichrist? What about Jesus coming back…literally? My impression from reading about this in the NT, is that there will come a time when the Earth is wiped clean like a slate.
At some point, something came along and wiped the dinosaurs out. I do believe a series of events will eventually happen that will just about wipe mankind out. Well, there is no reason to deny that Revelation may in fact disclose what the end of the world will be. But where you and I would apparently differ is that there is also a First Century context in which the people of that time experienced its reality as well.
Further, Babylon is a term used ironically of Jerusalem which is also ironically called Sodom and Egypt by the prophets et al. The whole world looking on need not be understood as if everyone is outside in the mode of watching a movie, but rather, can mean that Rome, having conquered Jerusalem brings her spoils back to the imperial City, and proudly displays them, which in fact took place historically as well as Titus made quite a parade of his Victory.
I truly do not believe Jesus was just warning folks of events that would take place at the end of the 1st century. What would be the point for those who followed in time after that? This I agree with. Which the Bible does in abundance. I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride dressed for her husband.
He will make his home among them; they will be his people, and he will be their God, God-with-them. He will wipe away all tears from their eyes; there will be no more death, and no more mourning or sadness or pain. The world of the past has gone. Honestly, this has not come to pass yet. How do you explain this in terms of 1st century history? If you tell me that you can, then I need to steer clear of this site. Well alright Bob, but there is no need to be all or nothing about the conclusion, Revelation, like any part of the word of God is relevant for people of all times.
It would be odd if the book had no meaning for the first century, hence it probably did have fulfillment then, but fulfillment that also point to the final end of all things. As for your quotes from 8 and 21, they are dealt with by the theory, and I might encourage you to click through to the Book by Chilton. As for Rev 21, the minority theory does hold that the final two chapters show forth the cosmic nature of the battle, broadening the context in regards to both space and time. No need to steer clear, no need to fear….
People who have other theories about this complex book are not necessarily yahoos. Like any theory, there are strengths and weaknesses in this one. The majority opinion also has a lot of trouble accounting many details e. The questions you raise, have been raised before, and are addressed more thoroughly than I can develop here. Not the end of life as we know it in Jerusalem, Rome, or the Promised Land. I find it odd that what is being addressed here is the very thing that you will not address!
Jesus said no one will know the time when it happens…only His Father in heaven will know. But I am aware that his theory mirrors the one you have presented here…that Revelation has come to pass….. I think the Bible was intended for the common man to understand.