The Seven Seals
Chapter 6:1-8:1

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Chapter Six untitled

Revelation 6:1-6 Class Discussions 4/14/2000
6:1 And I saw when the lamb opened one of the seven seals and I heard out of the four living things saying like a voice of thunder - Come!
Roloff. Parallel development, which as such already underscores the impression of inevitability

6:2 And I saw and behold a brilliant (white) horse and the sitting upon him one having a bow and was given him a crown (an award?) and he went out overcoming and in order that he might overcome.
Walvoord contends that these images are very concrete and should be taken literally, with no external symbolism attached.

Yarbro Collins contends that this refers to the Parthians, since they were major foes of the Romans, and their most notable military accoutrement was the bow. Note: to use this basis, one would then have to continue the similar historic connection throughout - which is extremly constraining and leads to inaccurate attempts to explain symbology.

Roloff: Some have wanted to see in the first rider either Christ himself or the gospel forging victoriously ahead.... This view, however, founders on the strict parallelism of this first rider with the three that follow....

Mounce: sees the first rider as Christ, then the following riders as "social, ecological and biological evil."

6:3 and then he opened the seal the second, I heard the second living thing saying - Come!
6:4 And came out another horse red (fiery), and the sitting upon him one was given him to take the peace out of the earth and in order that might slaughter one another and was given him a sword a great one.
Roloff: He [has] a warlike occupation, but one distinguished from the first. He does not stand for external military conquest but rather for battles and misgivings that divide the citizens of a community among themselves.

6:5 And when he opened the seal the third, I heard the third living thing saying, Come! And I saw and behold a black horse and the sitting upon him one having weight/scales/balance/yoke (a figure of speech?)in the hand of him.
6:6 And I heard like a voice in the midst of the four living things saying a measure of grain a denairius and three measures of barleys a denarius and the oil and the wind do not harm.
Roloff: ...brings famine and starvation. The measures mentioned are a day's ration. In Asia minor at that time oil and wine were abundantly produced; however, for the supply of wheat one was dependant upon imports.... In the event of war and internal unrest, which cut off trade routes, a shortage of what was especially to be feared. Supplementary Book:

Walvoord: In " The Revelation of Jesus Christ" , Dr. Walvoord -- the Chancellor of Dallas Theological Seminary and a teacher of Systematic Theology and Eschatology, past president of the Evangelical Theological Society contends that the book of Revelation should be interpreted by the same rules of hermeneutics as any other book of the Bible. Therefore rather than assume a nonliteral translation he has pursued a literal reading of the book.

(Comment/suggestion) One of the key considerations that comes up in this chapter is the pattern, where we see a "horse" connected with a "rider", "things given", and a "task." That pattern may hold promise for understanding, thus we need to look at things from a "structural" perspective.

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Revelation 6:7-11 Class Discussions 4/14/2000
6:7-8 And when he opened the seal, the fourth one, I heard a voice of the fourth living thing saying: Come! And I saw and, behold, a green horse and the One sitting upon it, the name to him (was) "Death," and Hades was following with him and authority was given to them upon the fourth of the earth to kill in sword and in famine and in death and by the wild animals of the earth.
Beale: "Just as the four ‘living creatures' represent the praise of the redeemed throughout the entire creation, so the plagues of the four horsemen symbolize the suffering of many throughout the earth, which will continue until the parousia… Through his death and resurrection Christ has made the world forces of evil his agents to execute his purposes of sanctification and judgment for the furtherance of his kingdom… How can the righteousness and holiness of Christ be maintained if he is so directly linked as the ultimate cause behind all four of these satanic agents of destruction?… The answer lies in the ultimate purpose of the woes, which is to refine the faith of believers and to punish unbelievers."

Caird: sees the four horses as the result of our depravity - Christ is using our sinfulness for God's purpose. To this, Yarbro-Collins would seem to agree, seeing the suffering as providential - testing for some, punishment for others.

Ellul: sees this as the four intermingling components of history, the forces that act in history - one or another combination will be seen by humans. No true "chance" - providence is involved.

6:9 And when he opened the fifth seal I saw underneath the altar the souls of the ones having been slaughtered because of the word of God and because of the witness which they had.
Beale: "The saints are, strangely, ‘under the altar' instead of on it… What is probably in mind is the association or virtual equation in both Revelation and Jewish writings of this altar with the throne of God, whose sovereign purposes ultimately protect the saints."

6:10 And they shouted with a great voice saying, "Until when, Master, the Holy and True One, do you not judge and avenge our blood out of the ones dwelling upon the earth?
Beale: "The request in v 10 is answered at various points in the remainder of the book (e.g. 8:3-5ff; 9:13; and especially 19:2)."

6:11 And to each of them was given a white robe, and it was said to them in order that they will rest yet a short time, until they might be filled and their co-slaves and their brothers, the ones being about to be killed as also they themselves.
Beale: "The ‘white robes' received here and elsewhere in Revelation represent not the glorified bodies of saints…[but the] robes connote the idea of a purity resulting from persevering faith tested by the refining fire of tribulation… The robes are not given as a reward for purity of faith but as a heavenly declaration of the saint's purity or righteousness and as an annulment of the guilty verdict rendered against them by the world."

Question for research: Is "sundouloi" (co-slaves) used elsewhere? And, if it is, how?

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Revelation 6:12-17 Class Discussions 4/19/2000
6:12 And I saw when he opened the seal, the sixth one, and a great earthquake happened and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair and the whole moon became as blood
Aune - "seismos" (shaking) probably refers to earthquake but could refer to a shaking of the heavens and earth (Hag 2:6-7, 21-22) which caused the disruption of the heavenly bodies. Earthquakes are often expected to occur in the end time as one effect of the presence or coming of God (Joel 2:10; 3:16; [Mt. 4:16]; Isa. 24:18-23; 29:6; Mic. 1:4; Nah 1:5 (413). Aune's comment in Rev. 20:11 describes theophany as having two basic elements: 1) the coming of the deity; and 2) the reaction of nature (1101).
References to the sun and moon are an allusion to Joel 2:31. The darkening motif also occurs in Isa. 13:10 while the hair cloth or sackcloth motif was perhaps derived from Isa. 50:3. (413)

Caird: earthquakes are symbolic of the overthrow of human powers, since we are not following God. References are to Heb. 12:27 and Isa. 2.

6:13 and the stars of heaven fell down upon (eis) the earth like a fig tree throws it's late (unripe) figs by means of a great wind while being shaken,
Aune – Re: falling stars
Mentioned several times in Revelation (8:10; 9:1; 12:40), falling stars do not necessarily involve the destruction of the heavens but may be considered a prodigy or an omen needing interpretation, or maybe an anticipation of the judgment of God. The fallen-star motif is frequently used as a metaphor for the fall of Satan and/or his angels (1Enoch 86:1; 88:1-3l 90:24; Jude 13…). In ancient dream interpretation, seeing stars falling down to earth meant that many people would die. Other references of apocalyptic literature cited indicate that cosmic occurrences are commonplace (415).

Roloff – By means of the convulsion of the firmament the stars, which, according to ancient thought, are fixed in it like lamps, re loosed,… (92).

6:14 and the heaven separated (vanished, split open) like a book (scroll) being rolled up and every mountain and island were moved out of their locations.
Aune – 14a is an allusion to Isa. 34:4: "All the host of heaven shall rot away and the skies roll up like a scroll."

Roloff – This is a description of the destruction of the firmament. It is described as a tent roof that covers the earth. Signifying the collapse of the cosmos, this is compared to the rolling up of a scroll. The disintegration advances from above to below as the mountains, bearing the heavenly tent like pillars, collapse and the islands are shaken from their moorings on the ocean floor.
John is not attempting to provide a prophecy of the details of the end of the world In OT traditions of the epiphany of God, he depicts the accompanying phenomena of the Parousia.

6:15 and the kings of the earth and the persons of high standing and the tribunes (high ranking military officers in charge of 600-1000 men) and the rich and the powerful and every slave and free (one) hid themselves into the caves and into all rocks of the mountains
Aune – 15a A similar sequence of substantives occurs in 19:18 (419).
15b is an allusion to Isa. 2:19-21. During times of invasion or siege, residents of cities and towns would often flee to the mountainous region to hide from their enemies. This is the advice given to those living in Jerusalem during the time of eschatological stress (Mark 13:14; Matt24:16; Luke 21:21). In the OT the major reason for fleeing form the presence of God is to avoid judgment (Gen. 19:17, Ps. 67:1; Hos. 5:3, Zech. 14:5).

Roloff – All levels of society are present stand before the judge; there is not distinctions between rich and poor, etc..

6:16 and they say to the mountains and to the rocks, " Fall down upon us and hide us from the face of the One sitting upon the throne and from the wrath of the lamb,
Aune – 16ab This is an allusion to Hos. 19:8b. In Hosea, reference is made to the judgment that will fall on Samaria when foreign nations capture her. This passage refers
to the terror felt by pagans when they realize that divine judgment is imminent.

16c The role in Judaism of the Messiah sometimes includes the execution of eschatological judgment as the agent of God, especially in the Similitudes of Enoch, where he is called "the Chosen One," the Messiah," and the Son of man (I Enoch 46:4-6; 49:4; 52:9; 55:4, 69:27). In early Christianity, Christ is frequently assigned the role of eschatological judge (John 5:22; Acts 10:42; 17:31l; Rom. 2:16; 2 Cor 5:10; 2 Thess. 2:9; 2 Tim 4:1…) (421).

Roloff – They all ask the mountains and rocks to bury them so that they will not have to confront the One seated on the throne and the lamb, but in vain; none of them is able to escape judgment. What remains for them is only acknowledgment of their guilt.

6:17 because the great day of his wrath came and who is able to stand?"
Aune – 17a The author is referring to a very specific day, on that is well known to the readers, namely, the Day of the Lord, i.e., a climactic eschatological event set in the indefinite future when God will judge the world. There is a parallel phrase in Rev. 16:14. This is a time of judgment presided over by the Son and it also refers to changes in the heavenly bodies (6:12-13) (421). The plagues unleashed by the opening of the first six seals are only preliminary in nature, indicating that the terrible events of the great day of wrath are about to begin.

17b is a rhetorical question implying that no one can withstand the day of divine wrath.

Roloff – it is interesting to note that mention is made not only of the wrath of God but also of the "wrath of the lamb" in v. 16. That is associated with the consistent inclusion of Jesus Christ in the functions of God in Revelation. As God is simultaneously Savior and Judge, so also is Jesus. Jesus' death is understood as revelation both of God's gracious will for salvation and his wrathful judgment. The inhabitants of the earth must not confess their guilt, they must acknowledge God and the lamb as the true rulers of history (93).

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Chapter Seven Chapter 7

Revelation 7:1-11 - Class Discussions 4/17/2000
7:1 After this thing I saw four heavenly messengers, having stood at the four corners of the earth, being powerful with respect to the four winds of the earth in order that the wind might not blow upon the earth nor upon the sea nor upon every tree.
Aune: "after this . . . I saw" is used here to signal a change in subject and to introduce a new unit of text {the same formula is used in 4:1; 7:9; 15:5; 18:1}

Beale: This does not mean that the events of 7:1-8 are chronologically subsequent to those of ch.6 but only that this vision appeared to John after the vision in Ch.6.

Aune: "The four quarters"{corners} of the compass is a widespread cosmological conception in the ancient world and is also found in 20:8 cf. Job 37:3; Isa. 11:12.

7:2 And I saw another heavenly messenger going up from the rising of the sun (= the east) having the seal of the living God, and he (it?) cried by means of a great voice to the four heavenly messengers to whom was given to them to do injustice (to = to do destruction to? Gr. "adikeo") the earth and the sea
Aune: "the seal of the living God". It is assumed that it is an object, like the signet ring or a cylinder seal, that can make impression on something. Also in the final revision of Revelation, it was understood as the name of the lamb and of his father mentioned explicitly in 14:1. Further sealing is used here as a symbol of divine protection as Rev. 9:4 makes clear: the demonic locusts are told to harm "only those people who do not have the seal of God on their forehead."

Roloff: It appears certain that here John is thinking specifically of baptism {cf.14:1}. According to early Christian understanding, subordination to the power of the name of Jesus occurs in baptism. {1 Cor. 1:13,15; Acts 8:16; Matt. 28:19}.

Yarbro-Collins: this verse describes the transcendent nature of God controlling nature through the four angels. Additionally, she contends that this is a form of "ministry insurance", that is to say that the suffering will continue, but here is a symbol of divine protection.

Beale: Notes that there are many who link the Hebrew word for "mark" at the time of Ezekiel to be written in the form of an "X", and thus related to the "CHI" of the Greek word for Christ. However, Beale sees this as very unlikely, since John would not have had access to that early Hebrew scripture.

7:3 saying, "do not do injustice to the earth nor the sea nor the trees until (used with the subj. cf. BAG p.129) we seal the slaves of our God upon their foreheads (cf. Gr. "pros-opon" [face] here "met-opon"; also BAG p. 515).
7:4 And I heard the number of the ones having been sealed, one hundred forty-four thousands,
having been sealed out of every tribe of the sons of Israel:
Aune: The 144,000 are also mentioned in 14:1-5, and since the number does not occur elsewhere in early Jewish or early Christian literature, it is widely assumed that in both places the number refers to the same group. Disagreement over whom the 144,000 represent: {1} the faithful remnant of Israel, {2} Jewish Christians, {3} Christian martyrs, {4}Christians generally, the Israel of God consisting of both Jesus and gentiles {Eph. 2:11-19}, {5}Primarily Gentile Christians, since the Jews have rejected their place.

Roloff: The number 144,000 is naturally to be understood symbolically. It is to indicate that at stake here is the perfection of the people of God in its end-time fullness.

7:5 out of the tribe of Judah twelve thousands having been sealed ones
out of the tribe of Reuben twelve thousands
out of the tribe of Gad twelve thousands
7:6 out of the tribe of Ascher twelve thousands
out of the tribe of Nephthalim twelve thousands
out of the tribe of Manasseh twelve thousands
7:7 out of the tribe of Symeon twelve thousands
out of the tribe of Levi twelve thousands
out of the tribe of Issachar twelve thousands
7:8 out of the tribe of Zebulin twelve thousands
out of the tribe of Joseph twelve thousands
out of the tribe of Benjamin twelve thousands having been sealed ones.
Aune:{vv.5-8} The tribe of Dan is conspicuous by its absence in the list and has apparently been replaced here by Manasseh {n.b.- that the tribe of Levi, often absent from tribal lists in the O.T., is included in the tribal roster in v.7b}. Possible reasons are: {1} the tribe of Dan had a negative reputation in the O.T. {Gen. 49:17; Judg 18:30; Jer. 8:16} and early Judaism {vitae Proph. 3:17-20}, {2}Dan was thought to be an apostate tribe {Str-B, 3:804-5}, a post biblical development of this tradition mentioned in {1}, {3} AntiChrist was expected to come from the tribe of Dan {Irenaeus 5:30.2 commenting on Jer. 8:16}.

Roloff: The tribe of Dan is absent, probably because according to Jewish tradition it was considered to have fallen away and to be ruled by Satan {1 Kgs. 12:29,30; Judg. 18}.

7:9 After these things I saw and, behold, a great crowd, which to number him (= it) no one was able, out of every nation and [out of] tribes and peoples and tongues having stood (= still standing) before the throne and before the lamb having been clothed (pl. pfc. ptcp) with respect to white robes (Gr. "stolas") and palm branches (Gr. "phoinikes") [were] in their hands.
Aune: The emphasis on the "innumerable multitude"{ great crowd} intentionally sets up contrast with the specific number 144,000 mentioned above in v.4, suggesting that the two groups are not identical, though the larger group probably contains the smaller group enumerated in vv.4-8. They came from every nation and tribe, and people and language group.

Roloff: "Innumerable multitude" refers to the same circle of people being discussed in vv.4-8. He argues that the number 144,000 is a symbolic number that suggests a boundless immensity.

7:10 And they cry with a great voice saying,
"Salvation [is/be!] to our God, to the One sitting upon the throne and to the lamb!"
7:11 And all the heavenly messengers have stood (pfc. = "still are standing") encircling the throne and the elders and the four living things and they fell before the throne upon their faces and they worshiped God.
Aune: "And they cried with a great voice"- This short song of victory is a proleptic celebration of the eschatological triumph of God. Cf. Ps. 3:9; Jonah 2:9.

Roloff: With this hymn the redeemed multitude proclaims the victory that God and Jesus Christ have achieved and by which deliverance was given to them.

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Revelation 7:12-8:1 Class Discussions 4/17/2000
7:12 Saying, "Amen. Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might to our God for ever and ever. Amen"
Roloff:- The first ‘amen' goes with vs. 10-11
-seven attributes (blessing, glory ...) found in 5:12-13 in the heavenly liturgy to lamb
-closes a thematic circle began in 4:1-11 (throne room), God at beginning and end

Beale: - The double use of ‘amen' in Jewish liturgy suggests it is original.

7:13 And one of the elders saying to me, "These ones putting around white robes, who are they and from where (did) they come?"
Roloff: -interpretation of this vision is included (the only other time this happens is with the prostitute of Babylon vision) as a didactic question to point out the inadequacy of the listener to know answer
-maybe Ezek. 37:3-4 is a model, "Mortal, can these bones live? . . . O Lord God, you know"

Beale: -this exchange shows John's subordination to the speaker, but does not say anything about whether or not the elder was an exalted saint or angel

7:14 And I said to him, "My lord, you know." And he said (to) me, "These, they are the ones coming out of the great tribulation and they washed their robes and made them white by the blood of the lamb."
Roloff: -great tribulation has to do with present situation of church (outside threat as well as dangers of their own disobedience) and future salvation. Baptismal terminology used, i.e. purification by the blood of Jesus.

Beale: -great tribulation origin is Dan 12:1. The idea is that God will protect Israelite saints as they pass through time when they are persecuted because of their covenant with God. Some say the adjective ‘great' means that tribulation refers to entirety of tribulation throughout the whole church age
-white robes: The saints endurance identifies with Jesus' own suffering; through perseverance their faith has been proven genuine; see Rev 4:4 elders clothed in white, see Rev 3:4 those who are not faithful have soiled garments. Because this phrase is not about the ‘saints of the blood' as in Rev 17:6, this white robed group may ‘encompass the entire company of the redeemed'

7:15 On account of these (for this reason), they are before the throne of God and they serve him day and night in his temple and the one sitting on the throne will shelter them.
Roloff: This is a promise to the church that God will be in the midst of those that remain faithful during the time of tribulation.

Beale: this develops a ‘priesthood' theme: people must consecrate themselves to enter into God's presence. Some have come out of tribulation as priests to serve God in God's temple. There is the use of blood on priests garments in OT temple rituals, but this temple is not literal, but the presence of the lamb and the one sitting on the throne.

7:16 Then will not hunger still and they will not thirst still and the sun may not fall on them and not any heat.
Roloff: All torment and danger will have an end, Isa 49:10; human threats and natural threats.

7:17 For the lamb among the middle of the throne will tend them and will lead them to springs of living water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.
Roloff: The last word about the ‘existence in the consummation' is that Jesus Christ will lead them to the things that will give ‘imperishable life'

Beale: filled with OT images of hope fulfilled; Isa. 49 and Psalm 23 God as shepherd, "fountains of water" from Isaiah.

8:1 And when he opened the seventh seal, silence came about in heaven for (about) half an hour.
Roloff: Opening of the seal comes last, but silence rather than a startling event... why? Is this the silence from creation story/primeval silence? Is half an hour symbolic of salvation (is used with other historical events), or of ‘circumlocution of the brevity of a period of time'?

Beale: Silence: A demonstration that this seal has not content? God's rest? example of humanity's awestruck reaction? dramatic pause? OR to show the significance of the seventh seal?

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