Commissioning
 
Chapter 1:4-20

 
Back to Revelation Home
To Chart of the Letter to the Seven Churches untitled

Revelation 1:4-8 Class Discussions 2/21/2000
(DB) 1:4 John, to the seven churches, the ones in Asia: Grace to you and peace from the One being and the One (who) was and the coming One and from the seven spirits which (are) before his throne


Beale: Emphasizes epistilary form of "charis umin kai eirene". Notes text critical issue raised by "apo ho on kai ho en kai ho erchomenos" where the phrase is in the nominative rather than genitive which one would expect. Suggests scribal addition of "Theou" after the preposition to correct an apparent mistake, overlooks fact that "incorrect" grammar here is probably intentional: "ho on" - "probably taken from Ex 3:14, where it occurs twice as an explanation of the divine name Yahweh" and John retains nominative to highlight the allusion. Sees "hepta pneumaton" as paraphrased allusion to Zech 4:7 and, in contrast to Roloff (e.g. p.24), as reference to the Holy Spirit.


Critical apparatus: "Theou" : see Beale, above. "ton" attested in Alexandrian and Sinaiticus. "a estin" does not have Alexandrian support.


Yarbro Collins: The writer, when referring to the seven spirits is "...probably taking over from the Jewish tradition of the seven archangels." Unfortunately she does not give any resources referenced for this allusion, nor support it further. She goes on to state the the real emphasis is what the angels do--"preparing for the combat myth."

G. B. Caird: The seven spirits are an allusion to the fullness of God. (Which is very similar to the Zechariah reference)


(DB) 1:5 and from Jesus Christ, the Witness the faithful One, the first-born one of the dead ones and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To the One loving us and having loosed us out of our sins in his blood


Website: "lusanti" as: loosing (parsed: masc. sing. dat. aorist. act. part.)


Beale: "ho martus, ho pistos, ho prototokos", as with phrase in 1:4, remains in nominative case rather than genitive because it is OT allusion (Psalm 89:37). Beale considers verses 5a-6 as the "high point" of the entire first chapter.

(DB) 1:6 and he made us (a) kingdom, priests to God and his Father, to him (be) the glory and the strength into the ages [of the ages]! Amen.


Website: "to Theo kai patri autou" as: to his God and Father


Beale: Translates same phrase as "to God and Father," identifying the phrase as a "dative of reference or advantage" by which he means "Christ has made believers to serve as kings and priests in service to his Father, which is to be for his Father's eternal glory and dominion."


Critical apparatus: Attests with some Alexandrian support "emin" (Alexandinus), changing case to dative "to/for us" and "emon" (Ephraemi), changing case to genitive "of us," both of which suggest different relationship with Kingdom than accusative "us" adopted by the text (likewise with support of single Alexandrian manuscript: Sinaiticus. [ton aionon] omitted in Alexandinus.

(DB) 1:7 Behold! He comes with the clouds and every eye will see him and whoever pierced him and all the tribes of the earth will mourn over him. Yes, amen.


Website: "erchetai" as: he is coming (parsed: 3 masc. sing. pres. mid. indic., deponent)


Beale: Emphasizes "pas ophthalmos" and "tes ges " were added to Zech 12:10ff (on which 1:7 is partially based) to "universalize" its message.

Roloff: connection to Zech 12:10ff is that all nations will mourn out of repentence

(DB) 1:8 "I am the Alpha and the Omega," says the Lord God, the One being and the One (who) was and the One coming, the almighty One!

Discussion item: The term "pantokrator" in v 8, is used in both Zecheriah and Malachi as one who directs his people's history. Seems to be harkening back to the "kratos" of v 6.

And, the question remains to be discussed: What exactly is the form and function of verses 4-8?
Return to Revelation Site
untitled

Revelation 1:9-12 Class Discussions 2/25/2000
Identification of John:
(KG) (v. 9) I John, the brother of you (pl.) and (the one) making common cause with (you) in the hardship/tribulation and kingdom and endurance in Jesus, became in the island, the one being called Patmos, on account of the word of God and the witness of Jesus.

Beale: suggests that "the tribulation, kingdom, and endurance" should be interpreted as a group. And it is noted that are all datives with one definite article. But the question remains, which is the "primary" idea and which ones supportive?

Beale: What does this say about kingship? Believers are not just inactive subjects but active members? (Active in what? tribulation/endurance in Jesus?)

Why is John on Patmos? Sparsely populated, mountainous island. Some suggest he deliberately sought isolation to precipitate visions. Roloff and Beale say most likely John is in exile.

John identifies himself with the readers of the letter, as "brother" in a common cause.

John describes the nature of the encounter (issues of authority):
(KG) (v. 10) I became in the s(S)pirit on the Lord's day and I heard behind me a great voice like a trumpet.

The vision is caused by the Spirit; similar to Ezekiel 2:2, "And when he spoke to me, a spirit entered into me and set me on my feet; and I heard him speaking to me."; This gives prophetic authority?

Beale believes the reference to the Lord's Day implies that the vision came to John while he was worshipingóJewish Sabbath, but also notes that some believe this could be the Christian Sunday, or Easter Sunday, or the OT eschatological Day of the Lord

Ford: also sees this as the Jewish Sabbath.

Voice like a trumpet: OT used to announce the coming appearance of God; used here by the angel of God?; Moses on Mt. Sinai. Ex:19:16b ". . and a blast of a trumpet so loud that all the people who were in the camp trembled." Ex:19:19 "As the blast of the trumpet grew louder and louder, Moses would speak and God would answer him in thunder."


Comment for consideration: Call vision in liturgical time is an emphasis that is lacking in OT parallels. This is a new context, borrowing form OT forms, but adding in the new element of the liturgy. The sounding of the shofar is related to an Epiphany, but if so here, for whom?

John's language ----- OT prophets ----- visions about judgments against Israel?

Commission:
(KG) (v. 11) saying, "What thing you see, write into a book and send to the seven churches, into Ephesus and into Smyrna and into Pergamon and into Thyateira and into Sardeis and into Philadelphia and into Laodiceia."

Beale: 7 churches: universal/possibly locations that would have been good "communicators" of John's vision/may be these were churches who recognized John as someone with prophetic authority.

Comment for consideration: Why would the author be instructed to write, rather than to tell? Do we find other places where the recipient of a revelation is told to write? Epistle writing already has a function, what would be the connection here? The question here seems to be paranesis. What is it that is changing the "needful thing?"


Start of vision:
(KG) (v. 12) And I turned to see the voice whichsoever was talking with me and having turned I saw seven golden lampstands

Beale: This section, which he identifies as vv 12-20, follows OT vision patterns of : 1)initial vision, 2) seer's response, 3) interpretation of the vision

The themes of v. 9 will be picked up throughout the vision (suffering, kingdom, and priesthood.)

Beale: lampstands: Zech 4:2 "He (the angel) said to me, "What do you see?" And I said, "I see a lampstand all of gold, with a bowl on the top of it; there are seven lamps on it, with seven lips on each of the lamps that are on the top of it."; in Zech. Lampstands refer to temple furniture/faithful Israel/gathered righteous of Israel in the presence of God; in Rev. they represent the church.


Comments for consideration: While the lampstands are definitely present in the Zechariah pieces, the message is that the refurbishing of the temple will be the renewal of the community. What renewal was being needed here? Was there a conflict in how the churches were to be faithful? John seems to associate the voice with the lampstands. The seer is told to turn and see the voice, and saw the lampstands.


Return to Revelation Site
untitled

Revelation 1:13-16 Class Discussions 2/28/2000
1:13 and in the midst of the candle sticks [ lamp stands ] was one like a son of man, having been clothed to the feet and having been girded round at the breasts [ with ] a golden girdle.
1:14 And the head of him and the white hairs as white wool [and] as snow and the eyes of him as a flame of fire
1:15 and the feet of him similar [like] to burnished brass as in a furnace having been fired, and the voice of him as a voice [sound] of many waters,
1:16 and having in the right hand of him seven stars and out of the mouth of him a sharp two edged sword proceeding, and the face of him as the Sun [which] shines in the power of it.

Aune: The phrase "one like a son of man" [v.13a] is an apparent allusion to the phrase "like a son of man" in Daniel 7:13. There the "one like a son of man" is described as if he is identical with the Ancient of days. Aune believes that the record in Daniel influenced most of the thoughts in the book of Revelation. It is unclear whether this was intentional or whether this was pre-Christian or reflects Christian exegesis. Similarly, the phrase " having been clothed to the feet" [v.13b] was seen as an allusion to the vision of Dan. 10:5, in which the revelatory angel is described as "clothed in linen," or to the vision of Ezekiel 9:2, which also describes an angelic being as "clothed in linen." The following parallels between the passage and the book of Daniel were further highlighted by Aune: " his head and the white hairs as white wool and as snow," [v.14] as an allusion to Dan.7:9, where God is depicted as old man, called the Ancient of days, and his hair is compared to pure wool; " and his feet similar [like] to burnished brass as in a furnace," [v.15] alludes to the phrase "arms and legs like the glean of burnished bronze" in Dan.10:6. Again the phrase, "and his voice as a voice [sound] of many waters," [v.15b] - was seen as a combined allusion to Ezekiel 43:2, and Dan.10:6. In chapter 1:16, the phrase "and his face as the Sun [which] shines in the power of it," is also alluded to Dan.10:6, where it is said of the angelic revelation that "his face was like the appearance of lightening."


- Comment: Ancient of Days research argues that behind the OT, ANE tradition is the head of the Pantheon. Is this conflating an early Christian tradition, or is it new to Revelation?

Ellul: sees this first part as a "resume" for Jesus.

- This Jesus is a post-Resurrection Jesus, rather than the calming, kindly Jesus of the Gospels, thus rather than talking about Daniel, the book of Daniel may be being used to consider Jesus.

Ford: states that there are many different stances that might be taken.

Yarbro Collins: notes the priestly attire, the allusion to royalty, etc.

Caird: says that John experienced an overwhelming presence of the Risen Savior, and wants to bring that same experience of awe to the hearer that he had.

Roloff: suggests that this may be a liturgical text, describing what went on in the Mithras cult of Roman soldiers, etc. This would have been part of their cave liturgy, of how they worshiped and followed the sun. Many people used to consider this as similar to the Eucharist.

General comment by JPM:
This passage should be seen as an accumulation of magnificent poetic imagery which makes a powerful appeal to the reader's imagination. I believe that the pictures are intended to contribute to the total impression of the Book of Revelation and should not be isolated or interpreted with a crude literalism. I agree with Aune that most of the thoughts in the book were influenced by the Book of Daniel or other Jewish apocalyptic literature.
Return to Revelation Site
untitled

Revelation 1:17-20 Class Discussions 3/3/2000
Verse 17: And when I saw him, I fell down to his feet like a dead [one], and he laid down his right [hand] upon me saying: "Fear not! I am the first and the last"


Roloff : In this passage we encounter an epiphanic narrative as in Old Testament Style (e.g. Gen. 32:19; Isa. 6:5; Ezek. 1:28, Dan. 8:18). A direct encounter before the holiness and purity of God leads to the seer's unconscious collapse "as though dead." The One like the son of man is able to offer blessing in the form of a touch and without typical christological titles, is able to convey his relationship to God, his life, and his function.

Verse 18: "and the living One, and I became dead and See! I am [the] living One as is my custom [periphrastic= to be verb + participle. It indicates customary action.] into the ages of ages [eternity] and I have the keys of death and of Hades."


Roloff : Trinity language implied with talk of God as "the first, the last, the living One." The emphasis is not on the pre-existence of Christ so much as on his history-encompassing being.
Jesus is the "living One" who is alive for all time. Jesus is the one who broke the power of death. Hades can refer to the realm of the underworld but for Revelation, it refers not to a place but a demonic power. Christ has overcome death and Hades and has seized the key to that place where they guarded the dead. His followers participate in the victory and need not fear death anymore.

Verse 19: "Therefore, write! the [things] you saw and the [things] they are and the [things] destined to become after these things."

Goppelt: "Now write what you see, [namely] what is and what is to take place hereafter." Revelation is two-fold: 1) prophecy for the present in the letters to the seven communities, and 2) revelation regarding the future.

Roloff : This part of the circular letter reaches into the future. John is not to give a view of past history but the visions shown to him.

Verse 20: The mystery [of something formerly unknown but now revealed] of the seven stars which you saw upon my right [hand] and the seven golden lampstands. The seven stars are angels/messengers of the seven churches and the lampstands are the seven churches.

Roloff : At stake is Jesus Christ's relationship with the seven churches. Of interest is the linking of the seven stars with the angels of the churches. Initially, the stars in v. 16 could give the impression as a symbol of world dominion.


Roloff : "Excursus: The Angels of the Churches"

The discussion involves the use of "aggelos" and its interpretation as "angel or messenger." There is a difficulty with Christ's commandment in 2:1 for a human being to write to angels. That the angels are the "recipients" also presents a problem in that in the ancient world, the messenger is only responsible for delivering the message. Throughout the NT, "aggelos" always refers to angels.
In Judaism, there is the conviction that every individual and nation has a guardian angel as a heavenly representative.
John appears to be critical of a tendency among the churches to worship angels. Evidence indicates in a postbiblical Judaism that angels had been elevated to a place where they were involved in determining the destiny of the world and of human beings. This apparently filtered into the Gentile-Christian churches. The link of stars to angels works off the Greek notion of the identification of stars to gods and the personification of the forces and powers that govern the world.
John meets his conversation partners by addressing his letters to the angels of the churches. He demonstrates that the angels are in the hand/power of Jesus Christ and therefore deserve no particular admiration. In addition, salvation remains bound to the obedience of each individual member of the church but is not guaranteed by angels. The command to write to those angels of the churches identified here with the stars is an expression that the lordship of the exalted One over the world powers in the present takes visible form in his lordship over the church.

Talbert: best understood as prophetic leadership.

Lohse: also wonders why the meaning of angel here is not made clear.

Mounce: the angels are the "prevailing spirits" of the churches.

Ford: angels are seen as guardians, which ties to Qumran, while the Latin fathers interpreted the angels as being the bishops.

Bousset: this commentary, written in 1906 was seen as a watershed moment in the History of Religion School. The thought was that the author took "neat stuff" and syncretistically merged it as Christian. Therefore, after reviewing the options, takes verse 20 seriously as being a mystery.

Krodel: the angels are connected with spirits of the prophets. agents of revelation, having theonymous, but not autonomous authority.

Hanson: spoke of the "vision", but never did refer to the angels.

Boring: emphasized that this was a reference to the "National Angels" of Dan 10, and stated that each congregation has a guardian angel. He also connected this passage with Col 2:18.

Caird: the angels do NOT refer to bishops or pastors, John is not addressing th eletters to the early churches, but to angelsm who can be seen as responsible for the churches.

--- Interjected question for research --- Is there a record of writing TO angels?

Beale: angels are addressed, but the concept is more corporate, the dimension is heavenly, the church does not exist with just an earthly dimension, but also a heavenly one.

Ellul: never does address the question of the angels at all.

---Interjected for consideration --- If each church is 1/7 of the whole, then do we not need to look at each to get a piece of the whole?
Return to Revelation Site


Top of Page
 

© 1998- Dr. John E. Alsup - all rights reserved