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Book Of Revelation Essay Research Paper ContentsContents

Book Of Revelation Essay, Research Paper Contents Contents …..1 Introduction 2

Book Of Revelation Essay, Research Paper

Contents

Contents…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..1

Introduction………………………………………………………………………………………………………………2

The Risen Christ………………………………………………………………………………………………………..2

Christ Directs the Churches………………………………………………………………………………………….4

Christ the Lamb…………………………………………………………………………………………………………5

The Wrath of Christ……………………………………………………………………………………………………7

The Return and Reign of Christ…………………………………………………………………………………….8

Conclusion……………………………………………………………………………………………………………….9

Bibliography……………………………………………………………………………………………………………10

Introduction

The Book of Revelation is the perennial culmination of the New Testament canon. It is a work of profound theology, but overall, it is the Revelation of Jesus Christ (Revelation 1:1) and any commentary cannot neglect this fact; it fills all understanding of the book. Christ is present in visual representations, in titles used of Him, and functions ascribed to Him (Guthrie, 1987, p. 39).

The risen Christ

The portrayal of Jesus in the Book of Revelation is dramatically different to that of the gospels. No longer is the second person of the Trinity restricted, having surrendered temporarily the voluntary use of His divine attributes (Philippians 2:5-8). Rather than being one who thirsted (John 19:28), hungered (Matthew 4:2) and sweat drops like blood (Luke 22:44), the Christ of Revelation is unparalleled (Guthrie, 1987, p. 41) and stands in the midst of the seven Churches:

“Dressed in a robe reaching down to His feet and with a golden sash around his

chest. His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and His eyes

were like blazing fire. His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and His

voice was like the sound of rushing waters. In His right hand He held seven

stars, and out of His mouth came a sharp double-edged sword. His face was

like the sun shining in all its brilliance (Revelation 1:13-16).”

Jesus’ mission on earth has been accomplished. Just before finally dying on the cross He declared, “It is finished” (Revelation 19:30). At this time He cancelled the code that was against us (Colossians 2:14) and disarmed the powers and authorities, making a public spectacle of them (Colossians 2:15). Having done this, in Revelation, He is revealed as having wrested the keys of death and Hades (Revelation 1:18). As Jesus explains to John, He is the First and the Last. He is the Living One. He was dead, but behold, He is alive for ever and ever (Revelation 1:17-18). As Wilson (n.d., p. 74) comments, “Christ’s was not the resuscitation of the body – it was complete victory over death.”

Jesus humbled Himself and took upon Himself the nature of a servant (Philippians 2:7). He clothed Himself in the likeness of sinful flesh (Romans 8:3), being found in appearance as a man (Philippians 2:8). But now, just as Christ prayed that the Father would glorify Him with the glory He had with the Father before the world began (John 17:5), God has exalted Him to the highest place and given Him the name that is above every name (Philippians 2:9).

Not only is Jesus the First and the Last, He is the faithful witness, the first-born from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth (Revelation 1:5). He is the Bright Morning Star (Revelation 22:16). He is the Alpha and the Omega, who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty (Revelation 1:8), the Beginning and the End (Revelation 22:13). Since alpha and omega are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet, it is not difficult to imagine that these last titles are equivalent in meaning with “the First and the Last”. What is interesting, is the fact these are also the sole designations of God which appear in Revelation (1:8; 21:6). Christ possesses the fullness of deity (Colossians 2:9), but these designations express more than this mere fact. Bauckham (1993, p. 27) explains:

“In the form, ‘the first and the last’, the designation derives from Isaiah, where it

occurs, as in Revelation, as a divine self-designation: ‘I am the first and the last;

besides me there is no god’ (44:6); ‘I am he; I am the first, and I am the last’

(48:12; cf. also 41:4). . . . the designation encapsulates the understanding of

the God of Israel as the sole Creator of all things and sovereign Lord of history,

which. . . . [Isaiah] so magnificently expounds and asserts polemically against

the idols of Babylon. Unlike human-made gods, this God is the utterly

incomparable One, to whom all nations are subject, whose purpose none can

frustrate (cf. Isa. 40:12-26). It is precisely this exclusive monotheistic faith that

determines the prophetic outlook of Revelation. Hence the unique importance

of the designation: ‘the Alpha and the Omega’. God precedes all things, as their

Creator, and he will bring all things to eschatological fulfilment. He is the origin

and goal of all history.”

This is the risen Christ in the Book of Revelation; this is the risen Christ for the rest of time.

Christ directs the Churches

Jesus directed John to write to the angels of each of seven prominent Churches in the Asia Minor of the time (Revelation 2-3). Possibly the “angels” refer to supernatural beings, potentially protecting the Churches, but it is more likely that aggeloj here means human messengers (such as the leaders of the Churches), just as it does in James 2:25 and Luke 9:52. At any rate, both the angels and the Churches belong to Christ; He holds the angels in His hand (Revelation 1:16, 20; 2:1) and He walks amongst the Churches (Revelation 1:13; 2:1). According to Rienecker and Rogers (1976, p. 815) peripateo (walks among) implies that the Lord patrols the ground and

is ever on the spot when He is needed; His presence is not localized but is coextensive within the Church. Goswiller (n.d., p. 14) draws a comparison with the location of the tabernacle in the midst of the camp in the Old Testament.

Jesus loves His Church; indeed, it was for its members that He died (John 3:16; Romans 5:8-9). For each of the seven Churches, apart from Laodicea, Jesus had a word of encouragement. He is attentive – He knows their deeds (Revelation 2:2; 2:19; 3:1; 3:7; 3;15), their afflictions and their poverty (Revelation 2:9), where they live (Revelation 2:12), and their love, faith, service and perseverance (Revelation 2:19). For these things, Christ commends the Churches.

Yet, He who commends also searches hearts and minds, and will repay each according to their deeds (Revelation 2:23). For each Church, apart from Smyrna and Philadelphia, comes a rebuke. Yet, Christ quickly follows each of these with an exhortation and then a promise. The smallest and most insignificant Church is assured of Christ’s presence (Wilson, n.d., p. 77).

Elsewhere in Revelation, an angel declares, “The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of

prophecy” (Revelation 19:10). Just as is evident from the letters to the Churches, the Spirit speaks in the accents of the crucified and risen Lord, summoning people to become conquerors in the name of Him who has conquered (Caird, 1966, p. 238).

Nothing stands outside of the bounds of Christ’s knowledge. He makes careful, precise diagnoses of attainments and failures of each congregation. Many may be deceived by the outward wealth and success of the Laodicean Church, but Christ knew all the truth: wretched, miserable, poor, blind and naked (Revelation 3:17). Such unfailing discernment is devastating to the insincere and challenging to the sincere (Wilson, n.d., p. 78).

Christ the Lamb

John wept because he believed there were none found worthy to open or look inside the scroll with writing on both sides and sealed with seven seals (Revelation 5:1-4). Straightaway he was told not to weep, the reason being, “The Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed. He is able to open the scroll and its seven seals” (Revelation 5:5). At this, Christ appears, as a Lamb which had been slain (Revelation 5:6) and who was worthy of great praise and worship (Revelation 5:9-14).

This worship is particularly significant Christologically, given that twice John bows down before the angel who mediates the revelation to him. The angel protests that he is no more than a fellow servant of God, and directs John to worship God (Revelation 19:10; 22:8-9). The angel who shows the visions to John is not the source of revelation, but only the instrument for its communication. Jesus is the source of revelation (Revelation 22:16). The implication exists that He, unlike the angel, is not excluded from monotheistic worship but is rather included in it, confirmed by the explicit worship of Jesus elsewhere in Revelation (Bauckham, 1993, p. 59).

In chapter five, Christ is the Lamb. He has triumphed through His death and resurrection and is seen standing on the divine throne (the probable meaning of 5:6; cf. 7:17; Bauckham, 1993, p. 60). In turn He becomes the center of the circle of worship, moving outward from the living creatures and the elders (5:8) to the myriads of angels (5:12, paralleling that offered to God in 4:11), and finally to the whole of creation in a doxology addressed to God and the Lamb together (5:13). The worship of the Lamb (5:8-12) leads to the worship of God and the Lamb together (5:13). Bauckham (1993, p. 60) states:

“John does not wish to represent Jesus as an alternative object of worship

alongside God, but as one who shares in the glory due to God. He is worthy of

divine worship because his worship can be included in the worship of the one

God.”

Nevertheless, Christ is related to the world not only as the transcendent holy One, but

also as the slaughtered Lamb. Revelation 5:9-10 clearly identifies Jesus with the Old Testament Passover lamb (Cho, 1991, p. 67-68; Guthrie, 1987, p. 47), where the worship song given to Him states that He has ransomed a people and made them a kingdom and priests serving their God, echoing the Sinai covenant (Exodus 19:5-6) whereby God made the people He brought out of Egypt His own people. This liberation was often referred to as His ransoming His people from slavery (Deuteronomy 7:8; 13:5).

Furthermore, Revelation 5 portrays the conviction that in his death and resurrection Christ has already won His decisive victory over evil (Glasson, 1965, p. 45) – which Bauckham (1993, p. 73) sees as being fundamental to Revelation’s whole understanding of the way in which Christ establishes God’s kingdom on earth. The key to this, Bauckham explains, and to Christ’s qualifications as the only one able to open the scroll, is the contrast between what John hears (Revelation 5:5) and what he sees (Revelation 5:6). Jesus is the Lion of the tribe of Judah and the root of David who has conquered. These two messianic titles evoke a strongly militaristic and nationalistic image of the Messiah as a conqueror of the nations, destroying God’s enemies (Bauckham, 1993, p. 74). Nevertheless, this image is reinterpreted by that which John actually sees: the Lamb whose sacrificial death (5:6) has redeemed people from all nations (5:9-10). Bauckham (1993, p. 74) continues:

“John has forged a new symbol of conquest by sacrificial death. The messianic

hopes evoked in 5:5 are not repudiated: Jesus really is the expected Messiah of

David (22:16). But insofar as the latter was associated with military violence and

narrow nationalism, it is reinterpreted by the image of the Lamb. The Messiah

has certainly won a victory, but he has done so by sacrifice and for the benefit of

people from all nations (5:9). Thus the means by which the Davidic Messiah has

won his victory is explained by the image of the Lamb, while the significance of

the image of the Lamb is now seen to lie in the fact that his sacrificial death was

a victory over evil.”

The wrath of Christ

John sees in heaven the absolute holiness, righteousness and sovereignty of God (Revelation 4). From “this vision of God’s name hallowed and God’s will done on heaven, it follows that his kingdom must come on earth” (Bauckham, 1993, p. 40). It is this which makes chapter 4, and its Christological continuation in chapter 5, foundational for all that which follows (c.f. Glasson, 1965, p. 45), namely the catastrophic multitude of plagues and judgements which strike the earth until Christ’s return.

In all of these things, terrible as they are, Christ is revealed as a divine judge (Revelation 19:11). It is His wrath which is being outpoured. During the time of the Tribulation people shall cry to the mountains and the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! For the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?” (Revelation 6:16-17). Surely the day of the Lord will be terrible (Malachi 4:5) as Christ treads the wine press of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty (Revelation 19:15).

Nevertheless, it is important to realize that the Lamb can be as little held responsible

for the activities of, for example, the four horseman, as for those of Judas, Caiaphas

and Pilate. Caird (1966, p. 91) explains that the:

“Wrath of God in the Revelation, as elsewhere in the Old and New Testaments,

represents not the personal attitude of God towards sinners, but an impersonal

process of retribution working itself out in the course of history; that the Lamb is

at all times a symbol to be understood with reference to the Cross, so that the

Cross itself is both the victory of God and the judgement of the world; and that

therefore the wrath of the Lamb must be interpreted as ‘the working out in

history of the consequences of the rejection and crucifixion of the Messiah’.”

The return and reign of Christ

The Tribulation period draws to a remarkable close with the return of Christ to the earth. Just as in chapter one His image bears little resemblance to that of the carpenter’s son. His eyes are like blazing fire and on His head are many crowns (Revelation 19:12) – for He is King of Kings and Lord of Lords (Revelation 19:16). Against Him no one may stand; with swift and decisive action His enemies are subdued, and His Kingdom established, judgement finally enacted (Revelation 19:17-20:15).

At last, all things are made new (Revelation 21:5). The end of this age has passed and

the act of creation has been re-enacted. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old has passed away (Revelation 21:4). Yet, in all this, Christ is still the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End (Revelation 21:6). From the beginning of the book to the finish, He is unchanging. From the beginning of time to the end of time, He is. Jesus Christ is the same today, yesterday and forever (Hebrews 13:8) and has full rights to the sacred designation expressing His complete eternality and independence, “I AM” (John 8:58).

Conclusion

Just as Origen focused his attention on the Christology of the Book of Revelation (Daley, 1991, p. 49), so too must any honest interpreter. It is the Revelation of Jesus Christ (Revelation 1:1) and it is Christ that the book reveals. He is the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world, as well as the coming King (Nichols, 1994, p. 291).

Bauckham, R. 1993. The Theology of the Book of Revelation, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

Caird, G. B. 1966. A Commentary on the Revelation of St. John the Divine, Adam and Charles Black, London.

Daley, B. 1991. The Hope of the Early Church: A Handbook of Patristic Eschatology, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

Glasson, T. F. 1965. The Revelation of John, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

Goswiller, R. n.d. Revelation, Pacific Study Series, Melbourne.

Guthrie, D. 1987. The Relevance of John’s Apocalypse, The Paternoster Press, Exeter.

Nichols, D. R. 1994. ‘The Lord Jesus Christ’, in Systematic Theology: A Pentecostal Perspective, ed. S. M. Horton, Logion Press, Springfield.

Rienecker, F. and Rogers, C. 1976. Linguistic Key to the Greek New Testament, The Zondervan Corporation, Michigan.

Wilson, C. n.d. The Book of Revelation, Pacific College Study Series, Melbourne.

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