4 big myths of Book of Revelation

4 big myths of Book of Revelation

 You don’t have to be a student of religion to recognize references from the Book of Revelation. The last book in the Bible has fascinated readers for centuries. People who don’t even follow religion are nonetheless familiar with figures and images from Revelation.

And why not? No other New Testament book reads like Revelation. The book virtually drips with blood and reeks of sulfur. At the center of this final battle between good and evil is an action-hero-like Jesus, who is in no mood to turn the other cheek.

Elaine Pagels, one of the world’s leading biblical scholars, first read Revelation as a teenager. She read it again in writing her latest book, “Revelations: Visions, Prophecy & Politics in the Book of Revelation.”

 Pagels’ book is built around a simple question: What does Revelation mean? Her answers may disturb people who see the book as a prophecy about the end of the world.

But people have clashed over the meaning of Revelation ever since it was virtually forced into the New Testament canon over the protests of some early church leaders, Pagels says.

“There were always debates about it,” she says. “Some people said a heretic wrote it. Some said a disciple. There were always people who loved and championed it.”

The debate persists. Pagels adds to it by challenging some of the common assumptions about Revelation.

Here are what she says are four big myths about Revelation::

1. It’s about the end of the world

Anyone who has read the popular “Left Behind” novels or listened to pastors preaching about the “rapture” might see Revelation as a blow-by-blow preview of how the world will end.

Pagels, however, says the writer of Revelation was actually describing the way his own world ended.

She says the writer of Revelation may have been called John – the book is sometimes called “Book of the Revelation of Saint John the Divine” but he was not the disciple who accompanied Jesus. He was a devout Jew and mystic exiled on the island of Patmos, off the coast of  present-day Greece.

“He would have been a very simple man in his clothes and dress,” Pagels says. “He may have gone from church to church preaching his message. He seems more like a traveling preacher or a prophet.”

The author of Revelation had experienced a catastrophe. He wrote his book not long after 60,000 Roman soldiers had stormed Jerusalem in 70 A.D., burned down its great temple and left the city in ruins after putting down an armed Jewish revolt.

For some of the earliest Jewish followers of Jesus, the destruction of Jerusalem was incomprehensible. They had expected Jesus to return “with power” and conquer Rome before inaugurating a new age. But Rome had conquered Jesus’ homeland instead.

The author of Revelation was trying to encourage the followers of Jesus at a time when their world seemed doomed. Think of the Winston Churchill radio broadcasts delivered to the British during the darkest days of World War II.

Revelation was an anti-Roman tract and a piece of war propaganda wrapped in one. The message: God would return and destroy the Romans who had destroyed Jerusalem.

“His primary target is Rome,” Pagels says of the book’s author. “He really is deeply angry and grieved at the Jewish war and what happened to his people.”

2. The numerals 666 stand for the devil

The 1976 horror film “The Omen” scared a lot of folks. It may have scared some theologians, too, who began encountering people whose view of Revelation comes from a Hollywood movie.

The Omen” depicted the birth and rise of the “anti-Christ,” the cunning son of Satan who would be known by “the mark of the beast,” 666, on his body.

Here’s the passage from Revelation that “The Omen” alluded to: “This calls for wisdom: let anyone with understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a person. Its number is six hundred sixty-six.”

Good movies, though, don’t always make good theology. Most people think 666 stands for an anti-Christ-like figure that will deceive humanity and trigger a final battle between good and evil. Some people think he’s already here.

Pagels, however, says the writer of Revelation didn’t really intend 666 as the devil’s digits. He was describing another incarnation of evil: The Roman emperor, Nero.

The arrogant and demented Nero was particularly despised by the earliest followers of Jesus, including the writer of Revelation. Nero was said to have burned followers of Jesus alive to illuminate his garden.

But the author of Revelation couldn’t safely name Nero, so he used the Jewish numerology system to spell out Nero’s imperial name, Pagels says.

Pagels says that John may have had in mind other meanings for the mark of the beast: the imperial stamp Romans used on official documents, tattoos authorizing people to engage in Roman business, or the images of Roman emperors on stamps and coins.

Since Revelation’s author writes in “the language of dreams and nightmares,” Pagels says it’s easy for outsiders to misconstrue the book’s original meaning.

Still, they take heart from Revelation’s larger message, she writes:

“…Countless people for thousands of years have been able to see their own conflicts, fears, and hopes reflected in his prophecies. And because he speaks from his convictions about divine justice, many readers have found reassurance in his conviction that there is meaning in history – even when he does not say exactly what that meaning is – and that there is hope.”

3. The writer of Revelation was a Christian

The author of Revelation hated Rome, but he also scorned another group – a group of people we would call Christians today, Pagels says.

There’s a common perception that there was a golden age of Christianity, when most Christians agreed on an uncontaminated version of the faith. Yet there was never one agreed-upon Christianity. There were always clashing visions.

Revelation reflects some of those early clashes in the church, Pagels says.

That idea isn’t new territory for Pagels. She won the National Book Award for “The Gnostic Gospels,” a 1979 book that examined a cache of newly discovered “secret” gospels of Jesus. The book, along with other work from Pagels, argues that there were other accounts of Jesus’ life that were suppressed by early church leaders because it didn’t fit with their agenda.

The author of Revelation was like an activist crusading for traditional values. In his case, he was a devout Jew who saw Jesus as the messiah. But he didn’t like the message that the apostle Paul and other followers of Jesus were preaching.

This new message insisted that gentiles could become followers of Jesus without adopting the requirements of the Torah. It accepted women leaders, and intermarriage with gentiles, Pagels says.

The new message was a lot like what we call Christianity today.

That was too much for the author of Revelation. At one point, he calls a woman leader in an early church community a “Jezebel.” He calls one of those gentile-accepting churches a “synagogue of Satan.”

John was defending a form of Christianity that would be eclipsed by the Christians he attacked, Pagels says.

“What John of Patmos preached would have looked old-fashioned – and simply wrong to Paul’s converts…,” she writes.

The author of Revelation was a follower of Jesus, but he wasn’t what some people would call a Christian today, Pagels says.

“There’s no indication that he read Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount or that he read the gospels or Paul’s letters,” she says. “….He doesn’t even say Jesus died for your sins.”

4. There is only one Book of Revelation

There’s no other book in the Bible quite like Revelation, but there are plenty of books like Revelation that didn’t make it into the Bible, Pagels says.

Early church leaders suppressed an “astonishing” range of books that claimed to be revelations from apostles such as Peter and James. Many of these books were read and treasured by Christians throughout the Roman Empire, she says.

There was even another “Secret Revelation of John.” In this one, Jesus wasn’t a divine warrior, but someone who first appeared to the apostle Paul as a blazing light, then as a child, an old man and, some scholars say, a woman.

So why did the revelation from John of Patmos make it into the Bible, but not the others?

Pagels traces that decision largely to Bishop Athanasius, a pugnacious church leader who championed Revelation about 360 years after the death of Jesus.

Athanasius was so fiery that during his 46 years as bishop he was deposed and exiled five times. He was primarily responsible for shaping the New Testament while excluding books he labeled as hearsay, Pagels says.

Many church leaders opposed including Revelation in the New Testament. Athanasius’s predecessor said the book was “unintelligible, irrational and false.”

Athanasius, though, saw Revelation as a useful political tool. He transformed it into an attack ad against Christians who questioned him.

Rome was no longer the enemy; those who questioned church authority were the anti-Christs in Athanasius’s reading of Revelation, Pagels says.

“Athanasius interprets Revelation’s cosmic war as a vivid picture of his own crusade against heretics and reads John’s visions as a sharp warning to Christian dissidents,” she writes. “God is about to divide the saved from the damned – which now means dividing the ‘orthodox’ from ‘heretics.’ ’’

Centuries later, Revelation still divides people. Pagels calls it the strangest and most controversial book in the Bible.

Even after writing a book about it, Pagels has hardly mastered its meaning.

“The book is the hardest one in the Bible to understand,” Pagels says. “I don’t think anyone completely understands it.”


202 thoughts on “4 big myths of Book of Revelation

  1. I’ve read this article before.

    The problem is that nearly all scholars understand Revelation to be written representing the culture, terms and idioms of the time. To understand Revelation is to study the culture, symbols and metaphors of the period.

    Literalists think they can gain understanding of Revelation by reading it for themselves. They will get the meaning and the supposed ‘hidden’ revelation through reasoning the text themselves. In relying on their own understanding, couched in terms of being led by the Holy Spirit, they cherrypick the parts that are symbolic and those that are literal to suit their own theology or in most cases what they have been taught.

    Instead they grossly misunderstand and misinterpret the ancient writer.

  2. I can’t believe I had to read through that nonsense (the post).

    It would have been more enlightening to put up the Da Vinci Code.

  3. It’s an absolutely preposterous notion that the writer was not John the Beloved, or that he was not a Christian. A simple read of he text will tell you it must have been this John. He was a witness of Christ, and of the Kingdom.

    Revelation 1:9
    I, John, both your brother and companion in the tribulation and kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was on the island that is called Patmos for the word of God and for the testimony of Jesus Christ.

    That alone ends the claim he was not with Jesus, either as a disciple or as a believer.

    He was placed in confinement on the island of Patmos for preaching the Word and being a carrier of the testimony of Christ.

    How any serious reader of this passage, or of the Book as a whole, could miss the clear indication that he is a believer and a disciple is beyond me, except to say that it would have to be a wilful exclusion of the known evidence, which is John’s own testimony, ratified by his own followers.

    Furthermore, John declares the gospel from he outset in verses 4-6.

    John, to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace to you and peace from Him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven Spirits who are before His throne, and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth. To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

    Just reading through the first chapter of the Book would remove the necessity for Pagel’s nonsense.

    Or the need to publish it on this site, Greg!

  4. The number 666 is not the number of the devil. Who believes this?

    I don’t particularly want to stir Eyes out of his slumbers, but it is the number of the name of a man. The text directly says this.

    Six has always been associated with man. Specifically, 666 refers to the character known as the beast. It is the number of his name, to be calculated by those who have wisdom to decipher it.

    It has relationship to the power of buying or selling, that, at some juncture in time, without this identification no one will be able to buy or sell.

    There are several theories on this, but it is evident that the identifying mark could be achieved at this time were it made compulsory but an overarching totalitarian government, but that is another subject.

    Nero, and Domitian, would have been a type of this kind of government, but, as we are still here, and Nero is not, one would assume that a similar regime is yet to be revealed.

    Paul spoke of it in his era, which was contemporary with John.

    1 Thessalonians 2
    7 For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way.
    8 And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming.
    9 The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders,
    10 and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved.
    11 And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie,
    12 that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.

    So the mystery of lawlessness was present then, and is present today, and will be until the lawless one is revealed.

    Here is wisdom, let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man: his number is 666.

    A man!

  5. It’s an absolutely preposterous notion that the writer was not John the Beloved, or that he was not a Christian. A simple read of he text will tell you it must have been this John. He was a witness of Christ, and of the Kingdom.

    List of people who were not Christians:

    Jesus
    Paul
    John the Elder

    Well you’ve managed to destroy the argumetn haven’t you – prepostorous indeed! Steve – tell us why its prepostorous…the gospel of John and Revel;ation were written by two diffrent people. it is entirely likely that neither were John the beloved disciple – but it is entirely certain that they both couldn’t be – so pick a book – which one was written by John (possibly)

  6. In fact Steve – The Gospel, The Epistle and the Revelation John’s were probably three different people. Sorry to burst your bubble mate.

  7. Revelation Quiz

    1. Would your Jesus kill little children because their parents sinned?

    2. Would your Jesus change salvation by faith back to salvation by works?

    3. Would your Jesus direct his disciples to rule with an “iron rod” instead of with love and forgiveness?

    4. Would your Jesus vomit you (and me) out of the Kingdom of God for being only a little warm and not red hot in our faith walk? And then not tells how he measures faith temperatures?

    5. Would your Jesus send you to hell for not believing every word of the Book of Revelation, and not tell you which is the unchangeable version of the hundreds of changed translations? And revoke his promise to never leave us and to be with us forever?

    6. Would your Jesus tell you he is coming soon and then not come?

    7. Would Jesus change his appearance into that of a demon so it is so frightening to look at him that you will faint?

    8. Would Jesus give us the unbelievable images of chapter 9, and then tell us we have to accept them as the literal truth or be deprived of eternal life? Are we expected to believe chapter 22, verses 18 & 19 change all of Jesus’ promises of the New Testament?

  8. We can also wonder about John Patmos’ extensive memory of things “seen” in his hallucination while he was unconscious – in a trance – “ in the Spirit,” lying “as if dead.”

    He has “remembered” all the eyes, horns, wings, lamp stands, animals, smells, spirits, and sights in great detail, and he has given a verbatim report of all conversations. There is no explanation of his unusual photographic recall.

    Yet John Patmos tells us we must accept his memory, exactly as written or be eternally punished (22:18,19) – be cast out of the book of life! That means: You will be sent to hell for that “sin”!

    [Do YOU actually believe that? If so, explain why.]

  9. Here is wisdom, let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man: his number is 666.

    A man!

    Yes, a man…a speciic man as well -NERO!

    Pagen argues that “666″ was the number for Nero; most scholars would agree. It is also true to say that throughout the world the numbers 666 have been attributed as satanic. There is a numerological system in Hebrew that allows for each letter of Nero to be assigned a numerical value: when added together, the number is 666. Some manuscripts have “616″ because of the deletion of a final letter of a word that can but does not always have to be present in the original language. Because 666 is applied to Nero as the mark, then the Beast would be reference to Nero and his fierce persecution of Christians. When Domitian came upon the scene, he was just as fierce as Nero, if not more fierce. Domitian then becomes the second Beast in Revelation. The number 666 also becomes applied to him. The imagery in Revelation is meant to address the issue of imperial religion.

    The message in Revelation for the original recipients in this crisis would be two-fold: 1) do not bow down or worship, contra to “all the world” doing so; and 2) those who overcome will be recorded in the Book of Life.

  10. “A simple read of he text will tell you it must have been this John. He was a witness of Christ, and of the Kingdom.”

    Actually by adding the name of an apostle to the text was normally a way to try to give your writings authority.

    eg

    Gospel of Thomas

    “These are the secret sayings that the living Jesus spoke and Didymos Judas Thomas recorded.

    1 And he said, “Whoever discovers the interpretation of these sayings will not taste death.””

    Gospel of Peter

    60 “But I, Simon Peter, and my brother Andrew, having taken our nets, went off to the sea. And there was with us Levi of Alphaeus whom the Lord …”

    Secret Book of James

    “James writes to you. Peace be with you from Peace, love from Love, grace from Grace, faith from Faith, life from Holy Life!”

    Apocryphon of John

    “The teaching of the savior, and the revelation of the mysteries and the things hidden in silence, even these things which he taught John, his disciple.”

    Second Apocalypse of James

    “This is the discourse that James the Just spoke in Jerusalem, which Mareim, one of the priests, wrote. He had told it to Theuda, the father of the Just One, since he was a relative of his. He said, “Hasten! Come with Mary, your wife, and your relatives […] therefore […] of this […] to him, he will understand. For behold, a multitude are disturbed over his […], and they are greatly angry at him. […] and they pray […]. For he would often say these words and others also.””

    The Letter of Peter to Phillip

    “The Letter of Peter which he sent to Philip

    “Peter, the apostle of Jesus Christ, to Philip, our beloved brother and our fellow apostle, and (to) the brethren who are with you: greetings!”

    The Acts of Thomas

    “The acts of Judas Thomas the apostle are completed, which he did in India, fulfilling the commandment of him that sent him. Unto whom be glory, world without end. Amen.]”

    The Apocalypse of Peter

    “And he said to me, “Peter, I have told you many times that they are blind ones who have no guide. If you want to know their blindness, put your hands upon (your) eyes – your robe – and say what you see.””

    The Protevangelium of James

    “XXV. 1 Now I, James, which wrote this history in Jerusalem, when there arose a tumult when Herod died, withdrew myself into the wilderness until the tumult ceased in Jerusalem.”

    As for Paul

    “I am not sure what a ‘proto-Pauline’ letter could be, but those attributed to Paul are considered by biblical scholars to belong in two groups – those believed genuinely to have been written by Paul and those written in his name, but after he died. The epistles considered to be genuine are Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Philemon, Philippians, 1 Thessalonians and Galatians, although some doubt may exist regarding Philippians and 1 Thessalonians. Those written in Paul’s name, now known as ‘pseudo-Pauline’ epistles, are 2 Thessalonians, Ephesians, Colossians, 1 and 2 Timothy, and Titus.

    Scholars look at the vocabulary used, repetition and style, as well as the subject matter of the epistles to ascertain which epistles are genuine and which are not.

    Ephesians and Colossians employ a rather elaborate and ornate style and use vocabularies that differ considerably from that of Paul. Since passages in Ephesians seem to be directly copied from Colossians, it can be assumed to have been written somewhat later. Colossians has been dated to the 70s of the first century and could have been used to address a sectarian conflict that had arisen in Asia Minor. Ephesians is dated to the 80s.

    1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, and Titus are known as the Pastorals, because they deal with pastoral issues that arose in the Church during the second century, and of which Paul could have known nothing.

    Although Philippians, 1 Thessalonians are generally accepted as having been written by Paul, A.Q. Morton carried out a computer analysis of the epistles attributed to Paul and suggests that they were not written by the same author.”

  11. @Steve

    Give it up mate. Bones and Greg have proven many times they’d rather believe in man-made fairy tales and engage in rabid anti-Christian diatribes rather than actually believe the truth in scripture. I just pray that when the events prophesied of in Revelation, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Daniel come to pass that their name are written in the Lambs book of Life, although it doesn’t seem likely. I for one would not want to be in their position.

  12. Bones and Greg have proven many times they’d rather believe in man-made fairy tales and engage in rabid anti-Christian diatribes rather than actually believe the truth in scripture.

    So…how does that comment add to the conversation?

  13. Funny.

    I thought that seeing that the Bible is a book people live and die by, you might actually want to study it. If I’m going to believe that God is going to roast unbelievers I’d wanna be darn well sure of the giver of that information and not from a text which is interpreted half arsed like Revelation is.

    A little bit of literalism, a bit of symbolism there, depending upon the mood and fancy of the reader.

    I doubt if anyone according to Revelation will be saved when no one has a clear understanding of what he is on about. O yeah, MY understanding is guided by the Holy Spirit.

    There’s a reason the Orthodox never include readings from Revelation in their worship.

    It’s not a book for children.

    Maybe the Mysteries have been revealed to Greg and me.

  14. “I just pray that when the events prophesied of in Revelation, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Daniel come to pass that their name are written in the Lambs book of Life, although it doesn’t seem likely. I for one would not want to be in their position.”

    You’d go well with John Patmos. Although I don’t think he’d like you much.

    As soon as someone says agree with me or go to hell, you know they’ve lost.

    Btw I suppose those ancient Christians who don’t accept Revelation in their canons of scripture will be burning as well.

    Cos that’s how you’re saved.

  15. Feeble attempts at diversionism.

    I can’t believe you support Pagel’s tripe.

    Anything to avoid the truth.

    Greg you make sweeping statements but fail to convnce because you do not back up your notions with anything Biblical.

    I’m amazed at how you rage against orthodoxy to this depth.

    And Bone’s attack on Revelation shows two things. He doesn’t believe scripture in general, and doesn’t have a clue about the Revelation.

  16. “Feeble attempts at diversionism.”

    In other words, “You totally destroyed my argument and I don’t have a comeback”.

    Actually it’s you who doesn’t have a clue. Pagel’s just saying what most scholars accept. But of course you would know better with your Holy Spirit led interpretations.

    We like the scholars when they confirm our beliefs but rage against them when they don’t.

    Can’t help but think of how Revelation is similar to the Apocalypse of Peter.

    http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/text/apocalypsepeter-roberts.html

  17. No, Bones. Those were truly feeble attempts at diversionism.

    How could you destroy my argument when you are so clearly unable to understand the basics of Revelation?

    Pagel’s is apparently a revolutionary new conceptualisation of the Revelation, so how could it possibly be what most scholars accept? You’re talking nonsense.

    Pagel doesn’t even get the very basics right, misses completely that it is the Revelation of Jesus, not John, that John declares himself to be a believer, someone who has been with Jesus, and that no Bible reading Christian thinks that 666 is the devil. She quotes some obscure movie as her source for that assumption. Enough said!

    Except, if it’s not about the end of the world, why is it discussing the New Heavens and New Earth, which will be inhabited by the New Creation? It’s not only talking about the end of the world as we know it, but the coming of the New Jerusalem, the City of God, where only those who believe will reside.

    Allegorise that!

    What you mean is that your liberal crew think anything evangelicals believe is up for a post-modern deconstructionist mauling. You’re all so full of worldly reason you can’t see the spiritual even if it slaps you up the side of your head.

  18. It occurs to me that your argument isn’t with me, or Pentecostals, or evangelicals, but with God Himself, Bones.

    You seem to be angry at God for putting it about that there is a price for sin, and that, although Jesus paid the price, became the ransom, and gave us a way to the Father through faith in Him, the fact is that many will reject the offer, and will be condemned to pay the price themselves.

    You want that part of the gospel to go away, to be made void, to morph into some instant, anaesthetised annihilation of the body and soul which means they will become mere vacuous nothingness and no price will be paid.

    Why didn’t God think of that? Why not just let us all go into oblivion, unconscious to anything and everything, completely eradicated and painlessly non-existent.

    Then He could have started all over again, and made sure there was no sin, no wages to be paid and no laws to break.

    I’m just a believer who follows Christ and happens to take the Word of God at face value. I read and understand most of it, and what I don’t I pray about and wait until the Holy Spirit opens it up for me. I can grasp the basics of the Revelation because I’ve studied it for many years, in conjunction with other Books which relate to it, and alongside scholarly commentaries from many perspectives.

    I don’t claim any kind of expertise in anything, let alone the complicated Book of Revelation, with its strange visionary literary style and supernatural content, but I know the difference between the Biblically sound meaning of the Revelation and completely ignorant, faithless analysis.

    I don’t like the idea of judgment, especially for people I know who have rejected Christ. It is frustrating and, in my folly of sentimentality for loved ones, I would prefer a universalist understanding. But it isn’t there in the scriptures, which, from book to book, are clearly consistent in their approach to the judgment and the end of ages.

    So don’t get angry and snarly with me for believing God, and accepting what He will do at the judgment, and the outpouring of Hs wrath, which is imminent.

    Talk to Him about it.

  19. Must be a lot of post-modern deconstructionists in the early years of the church.

    Eusebius in his detailed history of the Christian Church (c. AD 324; see his comments on “Revelation” at Eusebius 3.25) listed uncertain books of the New Testament and included “Revelation” as one of those. So “Revelation” was doubted in the church very early.

    3. Among the disputed writings, 10 which are nevertheless recognized 11 by many, are extant the so-called epistle of James 12 and that of Jude, 13 also the second epistle of Peter, 14 and those that are called the second and third of John, 15 whether they belong to the evangelist or to another person of the same name.

    4. Among the rejected writings 16 must be reckoned also the Acts of Paul, 17 and the so-called Shepherd, 18 and the Apocalypse of Peter, 19 and in addition to these the extant epistle of Barnabas, 20 and the so-called Teachings of the Apostles; 21 and besides, as I said, the Apocalypse of John, if it seem proper, which some, as I said, reject, 22 but which others class with the accepted books.

    5. And among these some have placed also the Gospel according to the Hebrews, 24 with which those of the Hebrews that have accepted Christ are especially delighted. And all these may be reckoned among the disputed books.

  20. “I’m just a believer who follows Christ and happens to take the Word of God at face value. I read and understand most of it, and what I don’t I pray about and wait until the Holy Spirit opens it up for me. I can grasp the basics of the Revelation because I’ve studied it for many years, in conjunction with other Books which relate to it, and alongside scholarly commentaries from many perspectives.”

    And Pagels hasn’t! And I haven’t! Charles Taize Russell studied it indepthly for years too in coming up with his kooky religion.

    So Steve, you believe that Jesus will children because of what their parents did?

    Rev 2:23

    23 I will strike her children dead. Then all the churches will know that I am he who searches hearts and minds, and I will repay each of you according to your deeds.

  21. @Greg

    “So…how does that comment add to the conversation?”

    It has as much relevance as any other post. I am simply stating an observed fact regarding yours and Bones propensity to find the wildest conspiracy theory or whacko nut jobs personal “revelation” regarding scripture and then proceeding to state that all Pentecostals are wrong based solely upon the latest fad ideas from some obscure atheists and humanists whilst ignoring the actual truth in scripture. Does that help?

  22. And you can see the tension between Pauline Christianity and that of John Patmos.

    1 Corinthians 8

    1Now concerning things sacrificed to idols, we know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge makes arrogant, but love edifies.2If anyone supposes that he knows anything, he has not yet known as he ought to know;3but if anyone loves God, he is known by Him.

    4Therefore concerning the eating of things sacrificed to idols, we know that there is no such thing as an idol in the world, and that there is no God but one.5For even if there are so-called gods whether in heaven or on earth, as indeed there are many gods and many lords,6yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom are all things and we exist for Him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we exist through Him.

    7However not all men have this knowledge; but some, being accustomed to the idol until now, eat food as if it were sacrificed to an idol; and their conscience being weak is defiled.8But food will not commend us to God; we are neither the worse if we do not eat, nor the better if we do eat.9But take care that this liberty of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak.10For if someone sees you, who have knowledge, dining in an idol’s temple, will not his conscience, if he is weak, be strengthened to eat things sacrificed to idols?11For through your knowledge he who is weak is ruined, the brother for whose sake Christ died.12And so, by sinning against the brethren and wounding their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ.13Therefore, if food causes my brother to stumble, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause my brother to stumble.

    Compare that with

    Revelation 2

    12 “To the angel of the church in Pergamum write:

    These are the words of him who has the sharp, double-edged sword. 13 I know where you live—where Satan has his throne. Yet you remain true to my name. You did not renounce your faith in me, not even in the days of Antipas, my faithful witness, who was put to death in your city—where Satan lives.

    14 Nevertheless, I have a few things against you: There are some among you who hold to the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to entice the Israelites to sin so that they ate food sacrificed to idols and committed sexual immorality. 15 Likewise, you also have those who hold to the teaching of the Nicolaitans. 16 Repent therefore! Otherwise, I will soon come to you and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth….

    18 “To the angel of the church in Thyatira write:

    These are the words of the Son of God, whose eyes are like blazing fire and whose feet are like burnished bronze. 19 I know your deeds, your love and faith, your service and perseverance, and that you are now doing more than you did at first.

    20 Nevertheless, I have this against you: You tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophet. By her teaching she misleads my servants into sexual immorality and the eating of food sacrificed to idols. 21 I have given her time to repent of her immorality, but she is unwilling. 22 So I will cast her on a bed of suffering, and I will make those who commit adultery with her suffer intensely, unless they repent of her ways. 23 I will strike her children dead. Then all the churches will know that I am he who searches hearts and minds, and I will repay each of you according to your deeds.

  23. “some obscure atheists and humanists ”

    Who are they? Is Pagels not a believer because she upsets Roundhouse?

    You shall not be saved if you upset Roundhouse.

    Pentecostals are right. So sayeth Roundhouse.

  24. Pagels would reject your limited view of the world and the Bible.

    Elaine Pagels, née Hiesey (born Palo Alto, California, February 13, 1943), is the Harrington Spear Paine Professor of Religion at Princeton University.

    Pagels was born in California, the daughter of a research biologist.[2] Pagels began attending an evangelical church as a teenager, attracted by the certainty and emotional power of the group, but ceased attending church after the death of a Jewish friend in a car crash when other church members said that her friend had not been saved and would go to hell. Pagels said, “Distressed and disagreeing with their interpretation — and finding no room for discussion — I realized that I was no longer at home in their world and left that church.”[3] Pagels remained fascinated by the power of Christianity, both for fostering love and for the divisiveness that can shadow the belief that one has received a divinely revealed truth.[4][5]

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elaine_Pagels

  25. No, sorry Roundhouse (interesting that you’ve returned to the usage of your previous psuedonym) , that did not help at all. I never post things that people regard as personal revelation..I post hard research – Pagel is hardly an obscure Athiest

  26. @Bonesd

    “Is Pagels not a believer because she upsets Roundhouse?”

    I have no idea whether Pagels is a believer or not. Judging by her derision of the bible, however, I’d hazard a guess and say that the evidence suggests she isn’t a believer, in the same way that I have concluded by the way you speak about God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit and the bible that you are not a believer either. I could be wrong. it’s no skin off my nose whether you and her are believers or not. I’d hate to be in your shoes, however, when the events prophesied in Revelation, Jeremiah, Daniel and Ezekiel come to pass. THen you and Pagel will know how wrong and deluded you both were.

  27. @Greg

    “interesting that you’ve returned to the usage of your previous psuedonym”

    Simply using an older computer that defaulted to my old name because my laptop is being used to copy files.

    “I post hard research – Pagel is hardly an obscure Athiest”

    Hard research. Yeah right. A humanist opinion wrapped in theological/academic-speak does not hard research make. Pagel comes from a position of unbelief and then tries to make scripture mould around that unbelief, in the same way that you and Bones try to humanise spiritual truths to suit your humanist/atheist leanings.

  28. You think your semi-quasi-literalistic interpretation of Revelation is the only one. Think again. Revelation has been continually reinterpreted since when it was written. You, like Hal Lindsey, Barry Smith ans Steve are deadset wrong.

    Professor Pagels speaks about her new book “Revelations” at St. John’s Church, Lafayette Square, a historic Episcopal Church across from the White House.

    (How do you embed vimeo videos?)

  29. “Pagel doesn’t even get the very basics right, misses completely that it is the Revelation of Jesus, not John, that John declares himself to be a believer, someone who has been with Jesus, and that no Bible reading Christian thinks that 666 is the devil. She quotes some obscure movie as her source for that assumption. Enough said!”

    It occurs to me that you can’t comprehend basic English yet you believe your interpretation of a complex book like Revelation is from God.

    Pagel would say it is John’s revelation of Jesus. Just like Ian has supposed revelations of Jesus. And have you not heard of Jewish believers. Like who? Maybe the disciples. The rest of what you wrote is either a dishonest reading of what was written or you’re plain stupid.

    Do you think John woke up from his ‘dream’ or ‘trip’ and manically wrote down everything he remembered?

    There was no vision.

    Revelation is a carefully crafted book intended to give a message to John’s audience.

  30. @Bones

    “There was no vision”

    Well, there you have it folks. The almighty Bones has declared it, therefore it must be true. We can discount thousands of years of in depth, earnest and prayerful study from the world’s top theologians, because Bones has decided that they were all wrong, that John made it all up to entertain some first century groupies, and that the book is pure fantasy. Thank God Bones has set us all right. Otherwise we would have still believed that God, in order to teach His children about the last days, gave a supernatural revelation to one of Jesus’ disciples. I for one bow to Bones superior intellect, which has surpassed all others throughout history.

    Idiot.

  31. I knew you were jealous of me, Roundhouse.

    This confirms it.

    Jesus tells us in the Gospels all that we need to know for the last days.

    “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

  32. @Bones

    That scripture is talking about the cares of the world. not the end times. Try to keep up.

  33. Matthew’s Jesus seemes different to John Patmos’s Jesus.

    Matthew 24:36

    “No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.

  34. Thar’s part of the conflict which Pagels writes about. We seem to think churches and Christians were fabulously united in the infant church when they were clearly at conflict with each other. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if John Patmos was one of the Judaisers.

    But then they didn’t have a New Testament.

    Things would have been much clearer if they did.

    I mean look at us.

  35. Bones,
    There was no vision.

    John:

    Revelation 21:1-5
    Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea.

    Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.

    And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people.

    God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.”

    Then He who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” And He said to me, “Write, for these words are true and faithful.”

    You see, Bones, it is a revelation, a revealing of hidden things. John is given the task of writing the things he hears and sees during the visitation and sending them to the churches in Asia to be read out.

    Joh is told, “Write the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which will take place after this.”

    The things he has seen. How did he see them? In the Spirit. He was to write the things which are. The things which were revealed by the angel from Christ of contemporary events and the things which would afterwards transpire. He was told to write the things which would take place after the revelation, which could only mean that the vision was of future events as well as current to him.

    In fact they were so far into the future that some have yet to be fulfilled, such as the following:

    Revelation 20:10-11
    And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, having the glory of God. Her light was like a most precious stone, like a jasper stone, clear as crystal.

    And the rest you should read, because, contrary to your doomsday scenarios which have so affected your judgment of this might book, there is great light shone in the Revelation, which inspires us to continue our walk with Christ regardless of the kind of tribulations which will come upon the earth as we draw nearer to the coming of Christ for the Church.

    If you can still claim that this chapter alone is not visionary and spectacularly enlivening and enlightening then I know know you have not read it with any kind of Christian conviction whatsoever.

    But I could write entire passages of the Revelation which declare that John was in the Spirit and saw things that were, and things that were to come and saw extraordinary projections of things which he could not possibly have understood with his worldview, and which are still being unfolded to our own thinking to day.

    Only a very blinkered person could state that the Revelation is in any way fabricated or non-visionary. Only a very rebellious heart could deny Christ the most triumphant of scenarios after the cross and resurrection, the coming of the glorious Church in all her Christ bedecked glory, illuminated by God Almighty in the very City of God.

    …you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect, to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel.
    Hebrews 12:22-24

    Visionary and glorious God!

  36. Greg (amazingly):
    List of people who were not Christians:
    Jesus
    Paul
    John the Elder

    The term Christians was applied first at Antioch to the disciples, so one would also have to make the assertion that a Christian in the Biblical sense of the word would have to be a disciple of Christ.

    So let’s begin with Jesus, also known as Jesus Christ, from whom the name ‘Christian’, or ‘Little Christ’, was derived.

    Since the idea of being a Christian emanates from being a disciple, or a follower of Christ, or, by lifestyle, Christ like, we’ll assume it’s fundamentally correct to assume that Christ was Christ-like, and therefore demonstrated the basic Christian traits required of a disciple or follower.

    I understand this is a difficult one for Greg, but, nevertheless, the Founder, Author and Finisher of what came to be called the Christian faith, could only be considered the example all followers follow and therefore, being imitated, must have the same attributes the followers aspire to.

    Then we can look at Paul. Was he Christian?

    Since he was at Antioch for some fourteen years, and Antioch was the place where disciples were first called Christians, one would have to assert that he was indeed Christian, especially by our definition of a Christian which is, first an foremost a disciple of Christ.

    But he does actually confess, during a famous trial by King Agrippa, that he s a Christian and that all should be like him.

    Acts 26
    27 “King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know that you do believe.”
    28 Then Agrippa said to Paul, “You almost persuade me to become a Christian.”
    29 And Paul said, “I would to God that not only you, but also all who hear me today, might become both almost and altogether such as I am, except for these chains.”

    So that appears to be rather conclusive. Paul, by his own admission, was a Christian.

    So that leaves John the Elder. Now I take it by John the Elder that you refer to John who, at the last supper, rested on the bosom of Christ, and was known as John the Beloved, whom Jesus placed in the mutual care of Mary His mother, and called himself the Elder in his letters.

    You say he was not a Christian, an yet he clearly tells us that he was a follower of Christ. The gospels themselves tell us he was not only a follower, but a disciple, and, indeed, an Apostle of Christ.

    Now, I don’t know about you, but I would have said that someone who is identified by Christ as an Apostle would have to be a follower, and, by nature and in practice a Christian, according to the definition given by the followers at Antioch, and by Paul, who encourages all to embrace the same discipleship and fellowship.

    But there is so much evidence from John himself that he was a follower of Christ that this thread would be insufficient to carry it all. Just a few words then from John.

    1 John 1
    1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life–
    2 the life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us–
    3 that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ.

    1 John 5
    10 He who believes in the Son of God has the witness in himself; he who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed the testimony that God has given of His Son.
    11 And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son.
    12 He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.
    13 These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God.

    So, yes, we can say that John was a Christian.

    But what of the writer of Revelation? I say he is one and the same John, as do many others. But let’s see if he witnesses to Christ also.

    Revelation 1
    4 John, to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace to you and peace from Him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven Spirits who are before His throne,
    5 and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth. To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood,
    6 and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

    Well, there we have it, the writer of Revelation testifies to being a follower of Christ, a disciple, and therefore a Christian according to the Antioch definition and Paul’s example.

    But what tells us that this is the same John? The beginning of the Revelation, where John declares that he was with the Christ, whom he calls the Word, and bore witness to the things he said and did, which is the same pattern revealed in both the first words of the gospel of John, and 1st John.

    The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show His servants–things which must shortly take place. And He sent and signified it by His angel to His servant John, who bore witness to the word of God, and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, to all things that he saw.

  37. “There was no vision.” The Revelation to the Boneheaded

    “Where there is no vision, the people perish” Prov 29:18

    Should we pay attention to wisdom literature that was inspired by God, or the vain imaginings and empty musings of a mere mortal, who will one day return to the dust from whence he came?

    I don’t know, it’s a tough question – one of those spiritual imponderables…

  38. “Only a very blinkered person could state that the Revelation is in any way fabricated or non-visionary.”

    Umm no. You don’t understand apocalyptic writing. I know it’s hard for you to understand who takes every second verse literally in Revelation but that is the style of writing in apocalyptic literature.

    Other ‘disciples’ claimed visions and meetings with Jesus and secrets.

    eg

    The First Apocalypse of James

    “It is the Lord who spoke with me: “See now the completion of my redemption. I have given you a sign of these things, James, my brother. For not without reason have I called you my brother, although you are not my brother materially. And I am not ignorant concerning you; so that when I give you a sign – know and hear.””

    The Second Apocalypse of James

    “[…]. I am he who received revelation from the Pleroma of Imperishability. (I am) he who was first summoned by him who is great, and who obeyed the Lord – he who passed through the worlds […], he who […], he who stripped himself and went about naked, he who was found in a perishable (state), though he was about to be brought up into imperishability. – This Lord who is present came as a son who sees, and as a brother was he sought. He will come to […] produced him because […] and he unites […] make him free […] in […] he who came to […].”

    The Apochyphon of John

    “The teaching of the savior, and the revelation of the mysteries and the things hidden in silence, even these things which he taught John, his disciple.”

    The style of writing was for the seer to claim a holy visitation to give weight to their message. John Patmos’s message was a detestation of Imperial Rome, of Christians who didn’t rebel against Rome and a proclamation of revenge for the slain

    I no more believe John visited heaven or interacted with Jesus than I do Ian’s visitations.

    Ancient apocalyptic, such as Revelation, is no more prophetic then modern apocalyptic literature such as 2012 and modern disaster movies.

  39. “Where there is no vision, the people perish” Prov 29:18

    Hi, Zorro. You sound like Phil Pringle there.

    “Should we pay attention to wisdom literature that was inspired by God, or the vain imaginings and empty musings of a mere mortal,”

    That’s exactly my point, Zorro. Why do we take John Patmos’s vain imaginings as some prediction of future events. And look at all the mere mortals telling us what it means. And getting it wrong.

    Go figure.

    Good to see we’re on the same page.

  40. Bones,
    You don’t understand apocalyptic writing.

    Says the same person who, at the start of his discussion, thought ‘apocalypse’ meant something out of an Arnold Swarcheneger movie!

    I know exactly what the Revelation of Jesus is. That’s why I can’t take your attempts at eliminating it seriously.

    Can you tell me now, before we go on, which other books you would like to eliminate?

  41. “Says the same person who, at the start of his discussion, thought ‘apocalypse’ meant something out of an Arnold Swarcheneger movie!”

    Where did I say that?

    “That’s why I can’t take your attempts at eliminating it seriously.”

    I’m not eliminating it. But we need to understand who wrote it, why they wrote it and for who and how it applies now.

  42. btw how did Christians get on without a canon or even any books of the Bible.

    They just believed in Jesus I suppose. Can someone live their life like that today?

    Usually the books of the New Testament came about because of a need such as church issues.

  43. “Hi, Zorro. You sound like Phil Pringle there.”

    You’ll pay for that Bones: give me 10% of your money, right now – or cop the curse of Malachi and all it’s consequences.

    (I bet Steve will be really glad that you brought up the subject of Phil, whom he still trenchantly defends as a Godly pastor, despite Phil being constantly condemned out of his own mouth as a mendacious and manipulative heretic).

  44. Bones, thy had the Apostles doctrine, which began the process of forming the canon.

    You can’t just eliminate this or that scripture or book to suit your own fears, doubts and inconsistencies.

    It is clear that, like Pagel, you have a beef with God over something you didn’t like or understand, and want to take away all the bits which caused your doubts, and profess an crippled gospel devoid of all spiritual rationality.

  45. “…and profess an crippled gospel devoid of all spiritual rationality.”

    No that’s what you’re doing by accepting this text as some futuristic prophetic vision meant for all of humanity.

    Which it clearly isn’t.

    And the early church was right to have doctrinal concerns about it.

    I’m bored with those who want to give their long winded, error riddled, self promoting opinions of Revelation and glossing it up as divine inspiration.

    It’s like someone has to get it right eventually.

    Nonsense!

    You want to understand Revelation, you have to understand its context.

    Otherwise your just relying on your own opinion.

    Which are like arseholes.

    We all have one.

  46. @Bones

    “Which are like arseholes. We all have one.”

    The correct expression is “we all KNOW one” and that honour falls to you Bones

  47. @Bones

    I’m not upset. I’m incredulous and flabbergasted at the rubbish you believe, but I’m not upset. See, I now my God, I know His nature and Character, and I am secure in my salvation. The humanist, spiritless, and Christless theology that you and Greg have sold your souls too is not my concern, it yours. Good luck with that.

  48. Red Horse

    The second horseman as depicted in a thirteenth-century Apocalypse manuscript
    When the Lamb opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature say, “Come and see!” Then another horse came out, a fiery red one. Its rider was given power to take peace from the earth and to make men slay each other. To him was given a large sword.

    — Revelation 6:3-4˄ NIV

    The rider of the second horse is often taken to represent War[2] or mass slaughter.[1][4][11] His horse’s color is red (πυρρός, from πῦρ, fire). In some translations, the color is specifically a “fiery” red. This color, as well as the rider’s possession of a great sword, suggests blood that is to be spilled in a fashion unique to to modern warfare where fire and fragmentary weapons constitute major loss of life.[3] The second horseman may represent civil war as opposed to the war of conquest that the first horseman is sometimes said to bring.[3][12] Other commentators have suggested it might also represent persecution of Christians.[9]
    [edit]Black Horse

    The third horseman as depicted in the Angers Apocalypse Tapestry (1372-82)
    When the Lamb opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature say, “Come and see!” I looked, and there before me was a black horse! Its rider was holding a pair of scales in his hand. Then I heard what sounded like a voice among the four living creatures, saying, “A quart of wheat for a day’s wages, and three quarts of barley for a day’s wages, and do not damage the oil and the wine!”

    — Revelation 6:5-6˄ NIV

    The third horseman rides a black horse and is generally understood as Famine.[3] The horseman carries a pair of balances or weighing scales, indicating the way that bread would have been weighed during a famine.[12] The indicated price of grain is about ten times normal, with an entire day’s wages (a denarius) buying enough wheat for only one person, or enough of the less nutritious barley for three, so that workers would struggle to feed their families.[3]
    Of the four horsemen, the black horse and its rider are the only ones whose appearance is accompanied by a vocal pronunciation. John hears a voice, unidentified but coming from among the four living creatures, that speaks of the prices of wheat and barley, also saying “and see thou hurt not the oil and the wine”. This suggests that the black horse’s famine is to drive up the price of grain but leave oil and wine supplies unaffected (though out of reach of the ordinary worker). One explanation for this is that grain crops would have been more naturally susceptible to famine years or locust plagues than olive trees and grapevines, which root more deeply.[3][12] The statement might also suggest a continuing abundance of luxuries for the wealthy while staples such as bread are scarce, though not totally depleted;[12] such selective scarcity may result from injustice such as engineered financial collapse (i.e. global economic depression) and the deliberate production of luxury crops for the wealthy over grain, as would have happened during the time Revelation was written.[2][8] Alternatively, the preservation of oil and wine could symbolize the preservation of the Christian faithful, who used oil and wine in their sacraments.[13]
    [edit]Pale Horse

    The fourth horseman (with scythe) as depicted in a stained glass window in Schuld.
    When the Lamb opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature say, “Come and see!” I looked and there before me was a pale horse! Its rider was named Death, and Hades was following close behind him. They were given power over a fourth of the earth to kill by sword, famine, and plague, and by the wild beasts of the earth.

    — Revelation 6:7-8˄ NIV

    The fourth and final horseman is named Death. Of all the riders, he is the only one to whom the text itself explicitly gives a name. Unlike the other three, he is not described carrying a weapon or other object, instead he is followed by Hades. However, illustrations commonly depict him carrying an agricultural implement symbolized by the scythe (like the Grim Reaper). His appearance may foretell the implementation of chemical warfare of the sort derived of agriculture. Chemicals used as liquid chemical agents for pesticidal purposes. Zyklon B a chemical weapon Hydrogen Cyanide falls categorically into classes of chemicals employed by killing chambers of Nazi Germany. Zylon B was notable for turning victims skin (dappled) discolored pink with red and green spots.[14]
    The color of Death’s horse is written as khlōros (χλωρός) in the original Koine Greek,[15] which can mean either green/greenish-yellow or pale/pallid.[16] The color is often translated as “livid”, “pale”, though “ashen”, “pale green”, and “yellowish green”[12] are other possible interpretations (the Greek word is the root of “chlorophyll” and “chlorine”). Based on uses of the word in ancient Greek medical literature, several scholars suggest that the color reflects the sickly pallor of a corpse.[3][17] In some modern artistic depictions, the horse is distinctly green.[18]
    The verse beginning “they were given power over a fourth of the earth” is generally taken as referring to Death and Hades,[12][19] although some commentators see it as applying to all four horsemen.[1]
    [edit]Interpretations

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Four_Horsemen_of_the_Apocalypse

  49. “Zorro. You’re a baby Christian in grown up clothes.”

    Of course I am, Steve, of course I am. We all trust your discernment in such matters implicitly; you who are so pleased to proclaim the excellence of a man who preaches a different gospel, who thinks that success can be measured by bums on seats and by the fulsome accolades of fawning followers, and that, even in the Kingdom of God, the end justifies the means.

    If you are one who can be looked to as an example of “spiritual maturity”, Steve, then there are many who belong to God who would never want to grow up.

  50. “The humanist, spiritless, and Christless theology that you and Greg have sold your souls too is not my concern, it yours. Good luck with that.”

    Just watching a doco on SBS of Hitler’s Nazis burning books of intellectuals and modernists.

    Knowledge is such a threat isn’t it.

    From the Khmer Rouge, Communists and Nazis to the religious who hate intellectualism and would gladly confine their works and the people themselves to the fire because it threatens their ideology.

    It’s rampant among Christians who when challenged by intellectuals and challenges to their beliefs pull out the same old line of the ideologues. We hate intellectuals.

    As Pagels said in her video she actually has a new appreciation for Revelation.

    Far from Christless, I have written a lot about Christ and Paul.

    Now maybe your Christ will slaughter children but mine doesn’t.

    Still waiting to hear your response as to whether God sent the angel of death in Exodus.

  51. @Bones

    “Knowledge is such a threat isn’t it.”

    Actually, all I desire is to know Christ and to make Him known. Worldly knowledge is foolishness.

    “It’s rampant among Christians who when challenged by intellectuals…..”

    So, you’re an “intellectual”? Ok then, whatever you say……lol

    “Now maybe your Christ will slaughter children but mine doesn’t.”

    Well actually, I’d hazard a guess and say that your “Christ” is not the Christ of the bible, but that aside, the Christ I follow does not slaughter anyone, condemn any person to hell, and judges no one.

    “Still waiting to hear your response as to whether God sent the angel of death in Exodus”

    I already answered. He didn’t.

  52. ” the Christ I follow does not slaughter anyone, condemn any person to hell, and judges no one.”

    Funny. That’s the Christ I believe. That’s the Jesus of the Gospels.

    Do we agree? Or am I still following a false Christ?

    I don’t believe God sends angels of Death either, or horsemen or whatever scourges of humanity.

    The Force is strong with this one.

  53. So, Zorro, child of God, do you agree with either Greg’s post on the ‘4 myths’ theory, or with Bones claim that Revelation is a made up piece which creates a god of vengeance, or Genesis is a myth?

    And, while we’re at it, since you’re involved in the financial corporate world of wheeling and dealing, and making pots of money for people, including yourselves, how do you think the buying and selling 666 thing will pan out? Can you predict the major companies investors should consider as we move towards the revelation of the antichrist? Like microchip manufacturers?

  54. Bones, on the Revelation of Jesus Christ,
    No that’s what you’re doing by accepting this text as some futuristic prophetic vision meant for all of humanity.

    The Revelation of Jesus Christ [futuristic prophetic segment from ch. 21]:

    21:1 ¶ Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea.
    2 Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.
    3 And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God.
    4 “And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.”
    5 Then He who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” And He said to me, “Write, for these words are true and faithful.”
    6 And He said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts.
    7 “He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son.
    8 “But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”
    9 Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls filled with the seven last plagues came to me and talked with me, saying, “Come, I will show you the bride, the Lamb’s wife.”
    10 And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God,
    11 having the glory of God. Her light was like a most precious stone, like a jasper stone, clear as crystal.
    12 Also she had a great and high wall with twelve gates, and twelve angels at the gates, and names written on them, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel:
    13 three gates on the east, three gates on the north, three gates on the south, and three gates on the west.
    14 Now the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.
    15 And he who talked with me had a gold reed to measure the city, its gates, and its wall.
    16 The city is laid out as a square; its length is as great as its breadth. And he measured the city with the reed: twelve thousand furlongs. Its length, breadth, and height are equal.
    17 Then he measured its wall: one hundred and forty-four cubits, according to the measure of a man, that is, of an angel.
    18 The construction of its wall was of jasper; and the city was pure gold, like clear glass.
    19 The foundations of the wall of the city were adorned with all kinds of precious stones: the first foundation was jasper, the second sapphire, the third chalcedony, the fourth emerald,
    20 the fifth sardonyx, the sixth sardius, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, and the twelfth amethyst.
    21 The twelve gates were twelve pearls: each individual gate was of one pearl. And the street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass.
    22 But I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple.
    23 The city had no need of the sun or of the moon to shine in it, for the glory of God illuminated it. The Lamb is its light.
    24 And the nations of those who are saved shall walk in its light, and the kings of the earth bring their glory and honor into it.
    25 Its gates shall not be shut at all by day (there shall be no night there).
    26 And they shall bring the glory and the honor of the nations into it.
    27 But there shall by no means enter it anything that defiles, or causes an abomination or a lie, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.

    One would have to wonder why anyone would think that is not for all humanity.

  55. Bones,
    Knowledge is such a threat isn’t it.

    Paul,
    We know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffs up, but love edifies. And if anyone thinks that he knows anything, he knows nothing yet as he ought to know. But if anyone loves God, this one is known by Him.

    I thought knowledge was about to end, along with languages and prophecy.

    Now I’m all for knowledge, but there is earthly knowledge and then there is knowledge which comes from God, just as there is earthly wisdom and spiritual wisdom, and neither shuld be confused with the other.

    So, to answer your question, no, knowledge, in itself is no threat, unless it is false knowledge, or the kind of knowledge which ignores or perverts the knowledge of God. The it is only a threat to those who have not understood godly knowledge as opposed to earthly knowledge, the former being eternal and the latter, at best, temporal.

    If you are going to set yourself up as a literary martyr because your theories on doctrine are either exposed or challenged, then you are lacking knowledge yourself and creating a self-pitying victim mentality when, in fact, you should be repenting of denying Christ – not, perhaps, the person, but certainly his Word, in the form of the Revelation.

    You claim that there are other books which could claim to be an ‘apocalypse’, but you fail to understand the criteria for being included in the canon, that of consistency, the very word you use against those who defend the authenticity of the Revelation of Jesus Christ, and of context.

    The truth is that the Revelation of Jesus Christ is confirmed by and a confirmation of scripture to be found in both testaments. Therefore it is valid to our understanding of scripture as a whole.

    So when you claim that your foisting, theologically liberal knowledge is strong enough to effectively push aside and negate the knowledge of God contained in the Revelation of Jesus Christ, you answer to Romans 1:22, “professing themselves to be wise, they became fools”, which is never a good place to be with God.

    The only knowledge I see as being a real threat to any other knowledge, is the true knowledge of God which will overpower and overcome all temporal knowledge or wisdom, and, in its omniscience, has already declared itself in the Revelation of Jesus Christ.

  56. ” the buying and selling 666 thing will pan out? Can you predict the major companies investors should consider as we move towards the revelation of the antichrist?”

    Nonsense.

    As much reality as Avatar.

  57. Got this as a post on Facebook this morning. It says it all

    WHAT IS THE THE WRATH OF GOD?

    The wrath of God. All have heard of it. All have dreaded it. All are taught it at some point in their lives. Disasters are blamed on it. Sickness is blamed on it. Misfortune is blamed on it. Often, God’s wrath is personified as the Four Horseman of the Apocalypse– death, war, pestilence and famine– all going forth across the planet to execute God’s furious judgement on the peoples. God’s anger burns toward man, ready to smite their disobedient ways, or so the “wrath mongers” say.

    But conscience compels us to challenge this assumption. Is the wrath of God consistent with the full revelation of Jesus Christ given through His life, His teachings, and most importantly, His indwelling presence within us? Does the body of Christ have a blind-spot which Satan is hiding behind, lurking unperceived by us in our thoughts and emotions?

    Is it possible that Satan uses the term “the wrath of God” to incite us to hate our enemies rather than love them, to curse them rather than bless them, and to crave their torturous destruction rather than their absolute pardon. Like a dilapidated house suffering from rat infestation, is it possible our dilapidated image of God has left our souls “rath-infested” and structurally unsound?

    Is Old Testament wrath the same as New Testament wrath? Is it even possible that God has continued to clarify the dynamic of wrath since the New Testament canon was written? Has God revealed more and more that our views of His wrath are less and less accurate? Is it possible that over the ages God has sought to progressively wean His elect away from our addiction to wrath, so that we can begin to see a God so full of love, power, patience and restoration that wrath has no place. No place in God’s character. No place in God’s nature. No place in God’s kingdom. No place in God’s children. What would such a God look like? How would His kingdom appear?

    Here is a hard truth– the term “the wrath of God” comes from our inability to distinguish God from Satan. Because of fallen man’s hardened heart and darkened understanding, he simply does not know where God ends and Satan begins. Most all Jewish and Christian scholars agree that the Old Testament writers had a very different view of God and Satan than Jesus did. Old Testament Jews believed that Satan was a servant of God and NOT a rebel angel opposed to God’s Kingdom on EVERY level.

    Simply put, the Old Testament was written from a perspective which saw Satan as an angel with a tough job, but who ultimately was just following the Lord’s orders. Jesus, in contrast, revealed in His teachings and tone that Satan was violently opposed to His Father’s will rather than humbly submitted to it. Read most any Jewish religious reference material on Satan, and you will see they believe that Satan was the death angel who smote all the Egyptian firstborn, supposedly at the Lord’s command. And not just the Egyptians. Jews still believe that Satan is the grim reaper who ultimately kills all men only at God’s sole command. The book of Job shows Satan kills with sickness (“boils”), with nature (“a great wind”), with other violent men (“Sabeans with swords”), and with supernatural power (“fire from heaven”). Satan is a master assassin who kills a million different ways, but always, the Jews believe, at the express command of God.

    But in the New Testament, we get a significantly different picture. While Hebrews 2:14-15 confirms that Satan, as “the devil,” does indeed have “the power of death,” Jesus’ purpose in bearing the cross was to “deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.” Put even more bluntly in this passage, Jesus ascended the cross in order to “destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil.”

    Jesus came to destroy the works of the destroyer. 1 John 3:8. But Jesus destroyed them not with His “alleged” wrath, but with His sacrificial love. Jesus came to reveal that all forms of “death” and “violence” were enemies of God and never a part of His divine nature. 1 Corinthians 15:25-28 defines the dynamic of “death” as an “enemy” of God to be “put under His feet” until it’s “destroyed.”

    QUICK REVIEW: SCRIPTURAL PROOF THAT GOD NEVER KILLS —- EVER—– NO EXCEPTIONS!

    1) “Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, Jesus himself likewise partook of the same nature, that through death he might destroy HIM WHO HAS THE POWER OF DEATH, THAT IS, THE DEVIL.” Hebrews 2:14.

    This is the master verse, the one that establishes the New Testament plumb-line on this issue. Satan has the “power of death,” NOT God. The Lord ONLY has the power of life. Jesus certainly has power OVER death, as He demonstrated by His own resurrection. He also continues to demonstrate His power OVER death by His healing, protection, rescue and deliverance of all those who call upon His name in faith. So, God definitely has power OVER death, but not the power OF it.

    2) “The last ENEMY to be destroyed is death.” 1 Corinthians 15:26.

    Here death is described as an enemy of God, NOT a friend, NOT a tool, NOT an instrument, NOT a dynamic God operates in— at all. God doesn’t use evil to overcome evil, or death to overcome death. He operates only and always in life.

    3) “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” John 10:10.

    Here, Jesus divides the tactics of God here versus the tactics of Satan. Death is NOT a tactic of God. Death IS a tactic of Satan. Jesus wanted us to understand this so that we would let NO man say otherwise.

    Really, all goodness is based on this foundational truth– God never kills. He warns us not to kill, either physically or even within our heart’s imagination, and that by so doing, we will be “perfect” like our Heavenly Father. Matthew 5:38-48.

    Get THIS truth down and center in your heart, and soon ALL other dynamics of God’s goodness will come into proper alignment.

    Death, then, is no divine knife hanging on the Lord’s tool-belt which He wrathfully uses to slit our throats so we will learn the consequences of defying His mighty power and provoking His fierce fury. God has no fury towards us. Rather, God feels only full forgiveness toward us, forgiveness purchased by the blood-ransom of His Son. Matthew 5:38-48 confirms this. Read verse 48 first, THEN read the previous verses leading up to it. God’s perfection lies in this– He always overcomes evil with good– always. His wrath is His unrelenting goodness. His vengeance is to ultimately save and reconcile us to Himself, NEVER to destroy or torture or exile us eternally. More than this, Matthew 5:48 says we are to be just as “wrathlessly” PERFECT as is our Heavenly Father.

    So WHOSE WRATH did Jesus bear at the cross? Satan’s! Jesus bore the full wrath of Satan, who has been the god and prince of this world since Adam forfeited dominion in the Garden. Satan’s wrath has infected every fallen man with lust, hate and pride. He is the father of wrath who spawns all children of wrath. The wrath Jesus DID NOT bear was the wrath of the Father. The Father has nothing but peace on earth and goodwill toward men (Luke 2:14). Obviously, our sin does keep US from being able to recognize and rightly relate to God, but it doesn’t EVER keep HIM from lovingly seeking our restoration. God doesn’t operate in wrath. Satan DOES operate in wrath, both toward us and in us. That is why the Father gave us Jesus in the first place. Understanding the “owner” of the wrath Jesus DID bear away is crucial to understanding the true nature of God.

    So, the wrath Jesus bore on the cross was the wrath of Satan? Is this true? Does Satan have wrath? Oh yes. Revelation 12:12 confirms his “great wrath” is towards “the inhabitants of the earth and sea.” Did you know that the Old Testament Jews imprudently called Satan’s great wrath against David and Israel the “the anger of the Lord” in 2 Samuel 24:1. Yet, later and nearer to the coming of Jesus, the Jews improved their phrasing by calling the wrath that killed seventy thousand men “the provocation of Satan” in 1 Chronicles 21:1. So, if the “anger of the Lord” equals the “provocation of Satan,” then we are left with an inescapable conclusion– God has been wrongly blamed for Satan’s wrath.

    What does Jesus say about this? Did He ever use the term “the wrath of God?” No! In fact, there was a time when Jesus could have adopted and approved the term “the wrath of God,” BUT HE CHOSE TO OMIT IT FROM HIS MESSAGE AND MINISTRY. In Luke 4:18-19, Jesus is declaring His purpose on the earth by quoting Isaiah 61:1-3. This purpose included, “preaching the gospel to the poor, healing the brokenhearted, preaching deliverance to the captives, recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord.”

    Now notice this. Something huge is missing from His quote of Isaiah, something that Jesus did not want associated with His name. JESUS VERY CAREFULLY OMITTED ONE KEY PURPOSE SPECIFICALLY MENTIONED IN ISAIAH 61:2 WHICH SAYS, “TO PROCLAIM…THE DAY OF VENGEANCE OF OUR GOD.” Jesus did not want the concept of wrath or vengeance to be associated with His ministry in ANY way. This was His chance to make it clear and notorious where He stood on the wrath of God. His decision? Omit it totally from His divine mission statement.

    The point here is that God is not the one dispensing out wrathful judgments of woe and destruction like “Dirty Harry” on a bullet binge. Jesus said in John 5:22, “The Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment to the Son.” Then, three chapters later, in John 8:15, Jesus said, “I judge no man.” No bullets here from Father, Son or Holy Ghost.

    Jesus elaborates on this in John 12:47-48, “And if any man hear my words, and believe not, I judge him not:, for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world. He that rejecteth me, and receive not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day. For I have not spoken of myself; but the Father which sent me, He gave a commandment , what I should say, and what I should speak. And I know that His commandment is life everlasting: whatsoever I speak therefore, even as the Father said unto me, so I speak.”

    Jesus could not be clearer in the above passages that the only ones who definitely DON’T judge our sin and unbelief are Jesus and the Father. But WHO is the mysterious one who DOES seek to judge us, the “one” mentioned in John 12:48? Well, there are two suspects– Moses and Satan. John 5:45 says, “Do not think I will accuse you to the Father: there is one that accuseth you, even Moses, in whom ye trust.” Does this verse suggest that Moses is some divine prosecutor who accuses us in Heaven’s courts? Yes, but elsewhere we are told that the identity of the Heavenly prosecutor is SATAN. Revelation 12:9-10 says that “Satan” “who deceives the whole world” is “the accuser of our brethren” who “accused them before our God day and night.” Paul warns us not to, “fall into the condemnation of the devil.” 1 Timothy 3:12.

    So, is it Satan or is it Moses who seeks to judge us into death and Hell? Well, in a way, it is both. Satan is the “accuser,” but with “what” does he accuse? The answer: MOSES’ LAW. Satan uses Moses’ Law to condemn and judge us with the curses of Moses’ Law. Satan is the inflicter of the curses of Deuteronomy 28, Moses’ Law in other words, which renders violators vulnerable to all the Hellish oppressions there listed: broken health, broken joy, broken strength, broken love, broken business, broken friendships, broken marriages, broken families, broken nations— all broken by the curses of the Law of Moses.

    Here Satan’s sinister snare becomes clear. He lured men to believe they could live AS God by ruling their own lives with their own righteousness “as God” (Genesis 3:5) RATHER than living by the righteousness which is OF and FROM and IN God (Romans 10:3; Philippians 3:9). The only requirement was that they had to prove their righteousness by following the law perfectly, just as God did. Satan implied it was certainly doable and that men would become empowered gods once they chose the forbidden fruit of SELF-RIGHTEOUSNESS.

    But here was the terrible trick of it– James 2:10, Galatians 3:10 and Deuteronomy 27:26 all reveal the horrible secret of Moses’ Law. It is this “mother of all technicalities” that snares EVERY man who has EVER lived: whoever commits ANY violation of Moses’ Law, no matter how small the violation may appear to be, is as guilty as if he violated the ENTIRE Law. Like the old saying– in for a penny, in for a pound. Since Scripture is clear that no man has EVER been able to PERFECTLY KEEP THE SPIRIT OF THE LAW (other than Jesus) and that “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God,” (Romans 3:23), then ALL men are ultimately subject to ALL the curses of the Law listed in Deuteronomy. These curses, individually and in tandem, comprise Satan’s access and power in this world to afflict and attack us with his wrath. THIS was the wrath that Jesus ransomed us FROM at the cross.

    When Jesus said in Matthew 10:28 to, “fear him who is able to destroy both soul and body in Hell,” He was not talking about God, but Satan. From whom did Jesus take the keys of death and Hell mentioned in Revelation 1:18? Well, we know that Hebrews 2:14-15 says that Satan had the “power of death” before Jesus’ victory at he cross. We also know Jesus descended into Hell and “led captivity captive.” Ephesians 4:8-10. Theologians call this “the harrowing of Hell,” which culminated in Colossians 2:15 when Jesus stripped all demonic powers of their hellish armor and authority. Satan destroys with death and Hell, not God.

    It has always been largely believed Satan ruled “the gates of Hell,” against whom Jesus said His Church would “prevail.” Matthew 16:18-19. Hell was not only seen as a POW camp for lost souls after death, but “the gates of Hell” were also seen as a demonic power center from which Satan operated his destructions. Gates in the ancient world always symbolized the power center of a city. Satan’s power always works various destructions toward men, both in the land of the living and in the land of the unrighteous dead. These destructions consisted of Satan’s ongoing torture toward the dead imprisoned souls in Hell, as well as Satan’s crippling oppressions toward the souls still alive upon the earth.

    Many ancient Jewish and early Christian writers link closely the concepts of Satan and Hell (literally “Hades”). See Testament of Reuben 4:6-7; Matthew 16:18-19; 1 Corinthians 15:24-27; Revelation 20:7-10, 13-14. So strong is the perceived connection between Satan and Hell, that renowned scholar W. Manson renders “gates of Hell” in Matthew 16:18 as “Satan-Hades.” In other words, “Satan” is “Hell” personified and “Hell” is “Satan” objectified. Jesus has given us the keys of the kingdom to defeat all forms of Satanic-death and Satanic-Hell. Jesus through the cross crushed these two demonic dynamics once and for all, and now waits for His Church to rest in that victory by faith.

    So let’s review. God is NEVER wrathful. Satan IS ALWAYS wrathful. Neither Jesus nor His Father ever operate in the dynamics of wrath, condemnation or judgment. Rather, they only operate in “life everlasting.” Jesus absorbed all Satanic wrath both TOWARD US and IN US.

    Ephesians 2:3 says that we are “children of wrath” ruled by “the lusts of our flesh.” Jesus said to those opposed to God’s kingdom, “Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do.” John 8:44. Do you see? “Lusts” and “wrath” are connected closely in both “the children of wrath” and “the children of Satan.” This is because they are one and the same. Satan is the father of wrath. His DNA spawns all sin and condemnation. To be a child of wrath is to be a child of Satan. “He that committeth sin is of the devil…. In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother.” 1 John 3:8, 10.

    So what are we make of the term “the wrath of God?” At first flush, all have presumed that “the wrath of God” describes wrath coming FROM God TOWARD man. This presumes the word “of” is an OBJECTIVE GENITIVE. But, did you know that an alternate Greek reading of the “the wrath of God” describes wrath coming FROM man TOWARD God? This would treat the word “of” as a SUBJECTIVE GENITIVE. The Greek language allows for the word “of” to describe both the action “toward” a noun as well as the action “from” a noun. For instance, the term “the fear of God” describes man’s awe TOWARD God, NOT God’s awe FROM Himself. “Of” here is an OBJECTIVE GENITIVE. In contrast, the term “the faith of Abraham” describes faith POSSESSED BY Abraham, and NOT our faith TOWARD Abraham. “Of” here is a SUBJECTIVE GENITIVE.

    Let me give another example. The term “the blasphemy of the Spirit” describes man committing an act of blasphemy TOWARD the Holy Spirit, not Blasphemy FROM the Holy Spirit, which means “of” here is being used as an OBJECTIVE GENITIVE. Conversely, the term “the coming of the Son of Man” refers “to the coming” being FROM Jesus and not to somebody else coming TOWARD Jesus, which means “of” here is being treated a SUBJECTIVE GENITIVE.

    We must be led by the Spirit when choosing our genitives. It can make all the difference. Now, I freely admit that most have traditionally translated “the wrath of God” as an OBJECTIVE GENITIVE, which means that WRATH IS FROM GOD. I even grant you that the perspective of some (not all) of the New Testament saints may have intended the term to understood as destructive wrath coming FROM God. But, we need to remember that many of these first century Jews, like the Apostle Paul and John the Baptist, were immersed in apocalyptic Jewish teaching which stressed God’s soon-coming violent wrath against sinners. And in fact, John the Baptist and Paul are the only two New Testament saints, other than Revelation’s author, who ever use the term “the wrath of God”– John once and Paul three times. Moreover, The Anchor Bible Commentary proposes that the author of Revelation was one of John the Baptist’s surviving followers because of the apocalyptic language and similarity to John the Baptist’s message and tone. Israel was entrenched in their wrathful view of God, a view strongly ingrained in them for well over a thousand years.

    BUT, what if God’s progressive revelation of His nature, first revealed in seed form in the New Testament, then fully grown and harvested by the maturing Church in the ages to follow, ultimately reveals that “the wrath of God” is better understood as a SUBJECTIVE GENITIVE, which means that the wrath described in the Bible is, in reality, OUR WRATH TOWARD GOD.

    2 Thessalonians 2:1-8, as well as several other passages, contemplate that later ages of the Church will receive a fuller revelation regarding “the man of sin” and “the man of perdition,” revelation that now is being “withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time.” Verse 5. What if our corporate growth up into the full headship of Christ requires that NOW is the appointed time to revisit “the wrath of God” and allow the Holy Ghost to reveal the accurate use of the term “of” in the term “the wrath of God?” The reason as to why now? So that we can demolish that most ancient of strongholds– the mental stronghold that believes God is angry, violent and destructive toward those that fail or reject Him. The stronghold that says our loving Father is a killer of children and bringer of disease and oppression upon His enemies. The stronghold that wrongly justifies our own Satanic-infested wrath and ultimate ill-will toward our enemies. Nothing defiles our image of God more than this bitter stronghold.

    The truth NOW revealed is that Satan is the “son of perdition,” who sits in the temple, being worshipped as he pretends to be God. Verses 3 and 4. Could it be that our worship of a “wrathful” God is, in reality, Satan disguising himself as the God of wrath? If we harbor bloodthirsty thoughts and feelings of wrath upon our enemies, thinking that we are merely agreeing with the “dark and terrible” judgements of God by which He exercises justice upon the peoples, then what are the consequences and dangers IF we are wrong?

    The answer is in Luke 9:52-56, where the disciples thought they were serving the God of wrath by offering to call down fire from heaven to consume the Samaritans who had just rejected Jesus. They were merely doing what Elijah had done in the Old Testament by calling down killing-fire on those who had mocked or rejected God. Jesus’ response? “He turned and rebuked them, and said, ‘Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of. For the Son of Man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them.'” SO THIS IS THE DANGER: IF WE STILL OPERATE IN WHAT WE THINK IS THE WRATH OF GOD, WE CAN CALL ALL SORTS OF VERBAL, MENTAL, PHYSICAL AND EMOTIONAL FIRE DOWN ON OUR ENEMIES, BELIEVING WE ARE SERVING GOD THE ENTIRE TIME. BUT IN TRUTH, WE KNOW NOT WHAT SPIRIT WE ARE OF, WHICH IS JUST ANOTHER WAY OF SAYING WE ARE WALKING IN SATAN’S WRATH-SPIRIT RATHER THAN GOD’S LOVE-SPIRIT.

    Pastor and author Tim Cooper once penned the question, “Is it possible that Jesus is the revealed wrath of God?” I say YES! This would prove that the right way to use the genitive “of” is to see that the cross revealed our wrath TOWARD GOD and NOT His wrath toward us. Jesus absorbed all our Satan-induced wrath and did not strike back, instead praying for our forgiveness and tenderly declaring that we know not what we do. He overcomes all enemy wrath with His pure nature of sacrificial love and merciful goodness.

    Jesus not only preached Matthew 5:38-48, He lived it. Jesus did not operate out of an “eye for an eye spirit,” but instead “resisted not evil,” and “turned the other cheek.” He let His killers have both His coat and cloak. He went the extra mile dying not only for their sins, but for the sins of the entire world. Jesus refused to “hate his enemies,” instead “loving His enemies and blessing them which despitefully used and persecuted Him.” Jesus truly was “perfect as His heavenly Father was perfect,” in that He overcame the sum of all evil with the sum of all good. Jesus is now waiting for His beloved bride and body and Church to do the same– to love as He loved, “without wrath and doubting.” 1 Timothy 2:8. When the Church has washed all its wrath away, the Bride will have made herself ready. And then we shall see Him as He is– face to face and glory to glory.

    ALWAYS REMEMBER, SATAN’S FAVORITE DISGUISE IS AS…… THE WRATH OF GOD

    Satan wants God to get the credit for the devil’s works by having you call them “God’s judgments of wrath.” But Satan, not God, is the one judging everybody with death, sickness, oppression and misery.

    Is it the “WRATH OF GOD” OR is it the “WRATH OF SATAN.”

    “And again THE ANGER OF THE LORD was kindled against Israel, and he moved David against them to say, Go, number Israel and Judah.” 2 Sam. 24:1.

    “And SATAN stood up against Israel, and provoked David to number Israel…” 1 Chr. 21:1.

    The above passages describe the same event where David sinned by numbering Israel. Same event. Same David. Same sin. Same result: 70,000 dead Israelites, but a different cause of evil. The Samuel passage attributes it to the anger of the Lord while the Chronicles passage attributes it to Satan. If the Old Testament viewed the wrath of God as the exact same thing as the oppression of Satan, where does that leave us in the New Testament?

    Well, until and unless we renew our mind to the perfectly good will of God the Father, it leaves us in a perfect state of confusion, where both good and evil come from the God of love and wrath. The God who loves us today may kill or destroy us tomorrow. Though he slay us, we will serve him. Though he afflict us with cancer, we will praise Him. Though he allows our children to be kidnapped and killed, we will love Him. This type of thinking may make us sound noble, but makes God into a monster. It was to these type of outrageous claims against Gods character that John Wesley famously responded, “Your God is my Satan.”

  58. Romans 1:22, “professing themselves to be wise, they became fools””

    Rignt back at you dude.

    Your knowledge is called ignorance skulking around still in Gill’s 1700s interpretation of scripture.

    Let us know when you want to enter the 21st century.

    The only one repenting should be you and I guess you preach your foolish individualistic interpretation of Revelation to your congregation.

    People love Revelation because it damns whoever you want. You get to see something about a person whether it’s the damnation of Catholics, Jews (as in the Nazis) being cast into the Lake of Fire.

    In this case its your hatred of unbelievers.

    The truth of Revelation has been revealed to you.

    Yet you choose to ignore it in favour of your own vain, superstitious opinions which you dress up as spiritual wisdom and you condemn those who spend years studying this type of literature because it doesn’t gel with your opinion. Sorry but you are not God.

    The Jesus of Revelation is NOT the Jesus of the Gospels, no matter how you want to dress it up. Unless you want to imagine Jesus as a general slaying thousands of Roman soldiers.

    It is John Patmos’s interpretation and, no, he never met Jesus.

    This isn’t really a discussion either as you can’t answer a single scriptural question about the book.

    The fool is the one trumpeting their interpretation of Revelation as divine knowledge.

  59. Nice one Roundhouse.

    That was a pretty good article. So many times we project our own vindictiveness when we talk about God’s wrath.

    “Your God is my Satan.”

    I like that.

    I’ll put that with God Squad’s John Smith’s quote:

    “Your God is too small, I’d reject him too.”

  60. Bones, my comment to Zorro was very much tongue in cheek. But why would you know the difference since you can’t discern Patel’s waffle either!

    Bones,
    Let us know when you want to enter the 21st century.

    It’s how we exit the century that will be more telling!

    People love Revelation because it damns whoever you want.

    Actually Revelation is an encouragement for saints to reman in faith and warning to the unsaved to repent whilst they still can. It’s also a check up from the neck up for the Asian churches of the time, and a preview of the conclusion of the Age of the Gentiles.

    You hate Revelation because it confirms that God will judge the living and the dead at the conclusion of the age so that we can enter eternity in a fully righteous society under the headship of Christ.

    Why you wouldn’t want a sin-free society where there is no sickness, no pain, no evil and no darkness is beyond me.

    Perhaps you want to persist with the evil, sin, darkness and perversions of this world. That way you can have your cake and eat it.

    Yet you choose to ignore it in favour of your own vain, superstitious opinions which you dress up as spiritual wisdom and you condemn those who spend years studying this type of literature because it doesn’t gel with your opinion.

    There you go again, faffing about with nothing relevant to anything.

    Condemn who? People who deny everything that is written in the canon? People who are as liberal and evolution besotted as you are? People who wouldn’t know how to read the Bible if they had Jesus Himself leading them through it?

    What is Paten’s testimony? She had a prayer not fulfilled so she decided to dismantle everything evangelicals hold dear and rip it to shreds and gain best-seller status amongst those who deny the authenticity of the scriptures because they can’t undermine their own pride for long enough to believe in miracles, supernatural events, warnings, judgment, grace or true mercy, in the long-suffering nature of God, in the free pardon offered, yet refused by the very people they sow seeds of doubt and unbelief into?

    How many times have I heard of people who threw away their faith because they had a prayer go wanting in their childhood? How many times have people who doubt the words of Christ and Paul and the other writers of the new Testament, and the Old Testament accounts and poetry, the history and expression of the Word of God as revealed by God the Spirit through chosen men and women who laid down their lives and risked everything to utter and reveal God’s way to a fallen world, presented their own antichrist pamphlets, books and worthless doubts before a dying world and helped not one bit the people who are actually crying out for someone to actually believe God and demonstrate that what Jesus shared and did is real and tangible and available now?

    This isn’t really a discussion either as you can’t answer a single scriptural question about the book.

    You what? I have presented scripture itself as evidence, because it speaks for itself to those who dare to believe it, those who are in the Spirit, and not in the flesh, those who are not so humanly analytical that they can’t spiritually work out one single sentence of godly reason, or one phrase of the Logos, those who understand the power of the creation and the intentions of the Creator, who know their God.

    And which of the scriptural questions I have asked have you actually attempted to read, let alone answer? Not one, because all you have done is deny that they exist with your appeal to liberal, antichristian, illogical, patronisingly feeble excuses for denial of the written word.

    The fool is the one trumpeting their interpretation of Revelation as divine knowledge.

    The fool is the one denying it.

    I am no fool. Carefully, knowing my audience and what you are capable of in regard to hating scripture so much you’re prepared to rail against it simply because it exists, I have not actually given an interpretation of anything.

    I have only said that I hold the Revelation of Jesus Christ to be true and prophecy and the testimony of Jesus, and that John the Elder is the writer. That is all. I have not given any exegesis so far, since I do not want to give you the opportunity to soil it the way you stain the canon of scripture. I have just quoted the scripture itself and commented that I believe it to be true, of God, and reliable.

    All I have stated is that I understand what it means and how I should respond. It has nothing to do with you, unless you choose to believe what Jesus had John write down.

    What you think I have said is your own assumption straight out of your own imagination.

  61. RH,
    The wrath of God is His own, and not Satan’s. Let Jesus remind you:

    “He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.”
    John 3:36

    Not the wrath of Satan, you notice, but the wrath of God.

    That is exactly why we revere God’s mercy, long-suffering and grace. he withholds His wrath so that we can respond to His mercy and grace, and he is long-suffeing because he doesn’t want any to perish, but all to come the repentance.

    Repentance! Through faith in Jesus. These will see life – eternal lie. But those who reject him will know wrath because it abides on him.

    It is the Law which brings about wrath, for the wages of sin is death. If God says this then he must carry out the sentence. It is his declaration of peace, combined with his mercy and grace which guards us from his wrath until the appointed time.

    For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them.
    Romans 1:18-19

    Again, it is called the wrath of God, not of Satan. Satan has nothing to do with it. According to Jesus he is already judged, and his end is revealed.

    Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him.
    Romans 5:9

    We are saved from wrath through faith in Christ. But that doesn’t mean wrath has been removed for those who reject Christ. It means those of us who have received Christ have been exempted from the wrath to come.

    Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. Because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience, in which you yourselves once walked when you lived in them.
    Colossians 3:5-7

    Once again, it is called the wrath of God. It is coming upon the sons of disobedience, those who wilfully reject Jesus Christ, therefore rejecting the Father who sent Him.

    These were called the children of wrath: ‘who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.’
    Ephesians 2:1-3

    And for this reason we are admonished ‘to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.
    1 Thessalonians 1:10

    There’s more, far more, on this, and, for obvious reasons, I have refrained from touching on it from either the Old Testament or from Revelation, which confirms and gives greater detail of when and how.

  62. “Bones, my comment to Zorro…”

    I made no comment about that. It’s in your imagination. Like your understanding of Revelation.

    The only thing that’s feeble is your denunciation of biblical scholarship on the basis that it defies your opinion.

    And you won’t comment on Revelation because you know that every other nutter will have a different opinion (sorry – revealed wisdom!) on the futuristic events prescribed in Revelation.

    You have already labelled the Catholic Church as the Whore of Babylon thereby showing part of your bigotry and contempt for the truth of John’s Revelation in favour of your sinister opinion.

    You pick and choose the parts of Revelation you like and claim them as prophetic.

    Rubbish!

    Revelation ties in with your own hatred of others, your need for vengeance on unbelievers and your own imagination.

    You are the fool who does John and Revelation a great disservice by adding your own spin and claiming it as Godly wisdom.

    I do not rail against Revelation but against your bastardising of it.

  63. ” Can you predict the major companies investors should consider as we move towards the revelation of the antichrist? ”

    Job networks.

  64. No, no, Bones, it’s not Biblical scholarship if it denies the Bible, any more that Charles Taze Russell is a Biblical scholar because he denies the deity of Christ.

    He wrote reams of literature which are still convincing the spiritually illiterate today. Why? Because they are not established in the truth. They do not know God. They are not conversant with scripture.

    Unless a person is born again they cannot understand the things of the kingdom.

    Denying scripture is not scholarship. It is liberalisation of the texts to benefit unbelief!

    I did not label the catholic Church the whore of Babylon. You did in your fabricated argument with me when you were quoting Hislop. But…

    The Catholic Church denies scripture. Ardently. It practices and preaches its own traditions – the traditions of men, things unscriptural and rejecting the true Christ. I’m quite happy to discuss this with you. Where would you like to start?

    I don’t have to comment on Revelation. It is self-explanatory.

    And you did quote my comment to Zorro at 8.32!

  65. Bones,
    I do not rail against Revelation

    No? What was this all about then?

    1. Would your Jesus kill little children because their parents sinned?

    2. Would your Jesus change salvation by faith back to salvation by works?

    3. Would your Jesus direct his disciples to rule with an “iron rod” instead of with love and forgiveness?

    4. Would your Jesus vomit you (and me) out of the Kingdom of God for being only a little warm and not red hot in our faith walk? And then not tells how he measures faith temperatures?

    5. Would your Jesus send you to hell for not believing every word of the Book of Revelation, and not tell you which is the unchangeable version of the hundreds of changed translations? And revoke his promise to never leave us and to be with us forever?

    6. Would your Jesus tell you he is coming soon and then not come?

    7. Would Jesus change his appearance into that of a demon so it is so frightening to look at him that you will faint?

    8. Would Jesus give us the unbelievable images of chapter 9, and then tell us we have to accept them as the literal truth or be deprived of eternal life? Are we expected to believe chapter 22, verses 18 & 19 change all of Jesus’ promises of the New Testament?

  66. Is Pagels saved, someone asked. It’s debatable.

    On Pagels’ interpretation, the Gospel of Thomas reveals, along with other apocryphal teachings, that Jesus was not God, but rather, a teacher who sought to uncover the divine light in all human beings. Pagels argues that the Gospel of John was written as a reaction and rebuttal to the Gospel of Thomas.

    From the same wickipedia entry by Bones.

    Is Pagels a modern-day Gnostic? She lets a few seconds pass as she considers the question. “Well, I think it’s quite possible to be, if by ‘Gnostic’ you mean a quality of awareness, which is what the word originally meant.” She pauses again. “But for many people, Gnostic means a kind of heretical, dualistic, nihilistic [thinking], and I don’t think they are that.” Because the language and the characters of the Bible are so familiar to her, Pagels adds, she identifies as Christian—“but I wouldn’t say I identify only with that.”

    http://alumni.stanford.edu/get/page/magazine/article/?article_id=36367

    Which read and discover the clear and undebatable doubts this tragic woman has, and why her work could not be considered scholarly theology in any way shape or form.

  67. “I did not label the catholic Church the whore of Babylon.”

    Really.

    “This (ie Roman Catholicism) is has for many years been considered the Mystery Babylon, ad there is much evidence to the accuracy of the claims, with Rome seated on the five hills of Revelation as the seat of whoredoms.

    A hundred years ago Rome was considered the centre of apostasy.”

    https://signposts02.wordpress.com/2008/12/04/kubala-on-the-mula-lah-circuit/#comment-28213

    See also your stringent defence of Hislop’s lies on that thread as well.

  68. Bones. You railed against Revelation. And the assumptions are unfocused and angry. I think I commented, and it wasn’t complimentary. I amy look at it, but they are provocative rhetorical questions at best.

  69. @Steve

    “Not the wrath of Satan, you notice, but the wrath of God.”

    Did you read my (admittedly long) post above? It contradicts this argument completely. I suggest you read my post in full. It will show you that God is not and will not ever be wrathful.

  70. Hislop doesn’t lie. He gives an opinion.

    Mine were comments based on the opinions of many commentaries of the era quoted.

    You shouldn’t misquote people to score points.

    I said many other things also, and the threads are very full.

  71. The wrath of God is the wrath of God, Roundhouse. I have given you more than three witnesses in scripture. That is all that is required.

    Jesus brought the devil to nought at the cross and stripped him of all power.

  72. I knew you’d do that. Go into questioning the woman’s motives and salvation and ultimate character.

    Greg Carey is the Professor of New Testament @ Lancaster Theological Seminary.

    Is he saved, someone asked. It’s debatable.

    What Does The Book Of Revelation Really Mean?

    We’ve survived Harold Camping. We survived Y2K, albeit with less distress than our ancestors survived Y1K. The world has survived end-time predictors as diverse as Billy Graham, William Miller and Jonathan Edwards. Now we face the purported final year of the Mayan Calendar.

    Nevertheless, most Christian bookstores devote entire sections to the sort of “Bible Prophecy” literature that uses the Book of Revelation, among other biblical literature, to tell us that we are currently living in the last days.

    Here’s the truth: no academic interpreter of Revelation understands the book as a roadmap for the future, much less as telling contemporary Christians that these are the last days. Instead, scholars understand that Revelation originally spoke to the conditions of its own time and place. It offered a specific group of first century Christians not only hope for the future but also an interpretation — a “revelation” — of the world they inhabited. In other words, the best way to understand Revelation does not require an official Dick Tracy Apocalyptic Decoder Ring. We best understand Revelation when we read it like any other ancient text, in its own historical and cultural context.

    What makes biblical scholars so certain that Revelation does not provide a roadmap for the future? Two basic considerations lead us to this conclusion.

    First, the book itself insists that it’s addressed to a specific group of churches to speak to their own circumstances. Let’s begin with Revelation’s introductory words (my translation, with notes):

    A revelation (Greek: apokalypsis) of [or from] Jesus Christ, which God gave by means of him to show his [God’s? Christ’s?] slaves the things that must happen soon, and he [God? Christ?] made it known by sending his angel to his slave John, who testified to the word of God and the testimony of Jesus, everything he saw. Blessed is the one who reads aloud and blessed are those who hear the words of the prophecy and keep the things that are written in it, for the time is near. John, to the seven churches that are in Asia…
    Working back, we observe several things. First, Revelation is addressed to seven churches in the Roman province of Asia. We’d locate them in western Turkey today. Identified in chapters two and three, these churches inhabited some of the major cities in the Roman Empire, including Ephesus, a top five city of the day. Second, Revelation’s author John describes the vision as speaking to things that must happen “soon” for “the time is near.” This is no minor point, nor is it to be spiritualized to mean something other than what it says. At several points Revelation reminds those ancient Christians to expect their redemption to come “soon” (1:1, 3, 19; 3:11; 22:7, 12, 20). Revelation was written not to tell us what to expect in our future but to give ancient Christians hope for dealing with their own. While modern interpreters disagree on many points, almost all agree on the basic historical circumstances addressed by Revelation.

    (We’ll address Revelation’s message to those ancient believers in our next post.)

    Second, we know a lot about the kind of literature Revelation represents. Revelation is an apocalypse, a form of literature with which biblical scholars have grown quite familiar. Indeed, Revelation constitutes the first book that calls itself an apocalypse. (The Greek word apokalypsis stands as the book’s very first word.)

    Between the third century B.C.E. and the second century C.E., Judaism and Christianity produced several great literary apocalypses, along with a host of related literature. See my book “Ultimate Things” for an introduction to this literature or my entry, “Apocalypses,” in the new “Oxford Encyclopedia of the Books of the Bible.”) All of these books share some distinctive features. They all relate a vision experienced by a single visionary. The visionary receives instruction and guidance from a heavenly being, usually an angel. And the vision reveals either otherworldly affairs or the resolution of history. Readers encounter what’s going on in heaven, the arrival of the messiah, and the final judgment, among other topics. Striking images that require imaginative interpretation are common to all these works. Revelation provides a classic example of an apocalypse, as it includes every one of these features.

    The Protestant Bible includes only two apocalypses, Daniel and Revelation. However, the Ethiopian Orthodox canon includes 1 Enoch, perhaps the greatest of the literary apocalypses. The New Testament epistle of Jude alludes to 1 Enoch on two occasions, and at least 11 copies or fragments of 1 Enoch were found among the Dead Sea Scrolls. Several important Jewish apocalypses date from about the time of Revelation’s composition, including 4 Ezra, 2 Baruch, 3 Baruch and the Apocalypse of Abraham. Within decades of Revelation’s composition several other Christian appeared, including the Shepherd of Hermas, the Ascension of Isaiah and the Apocalypse of Peter.

    Sharing many common traits, these literary apocalypses show us that the apocalypses represent a developing literary tradition, a form of ancient theology expressed in poetic symbols and sequences. If someone were to stand up in church and read a passage from 4 Ezra or Hermas, nearly everyone would assume the text was from Revelation.

    On the second night I had a dream: I saw rising from the sea an eagle that had twelve feathered wings and three heads (2 Esdras 11:1, New Revised Standard Version).

    The sun began to shine a bit and suddenly I saw an enormous wild beast, something like a sea monster, with fiery locusts spewing from its mouth (Hermas 23:6, trans. Bart Ehrman).

    The apocalypses teach us that Revelation describes a moment of acute crisis for its own religious community, those seven churches in Asia. Like the other apocalypses, it critiques current events, even major political and cultural developments, from a divine perspective. And like the other apocalypses, it calls its ancient audience to rigorous, even dangerous, levels of faithfulness under challenging circumstances.

    Revelation does not predict events in 2012 or some other future date; it spoke to our ancient ancestors in the faith, who had enough challenges of their own.

    In future posts we will explore both the circumstances of Revelation’s composition and the lifestyle to which it called its audience.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/greg-carey/revelation-2012_b_1168906.html

  73. But did you read the post? The language of the text suggests that the word “of” is in the subjective genitive, meaning that it is a wrath that God receives, not a wrath that God gives. This understanding confirms the definition of Gods character as revealed by Jesus, which is as a God of love who uses or practices no evil. By trying to paint God as a bad guy flies in the face of scripture. Surely you of all people here on Signposts would understand that Steve

  74. “Mine were comments based on the opinions of many commentaries of the era quoted.

    You shouldn’t misquote people to score points.”

    Stop dancing around.

    Hislop gives an opinion. Like you do.

    Here’s the truth Revelation does not reveal the future although you would love to see Jesus machine gunning the unbelievers.

    Seen Machine Gun Preacher yet?

  75. Greg Carey continues:

    Revelation in Context: Letters and Symbols

    This might come as a surprise to many, but Revelation’s interpreters have arrived at a general consensus regarding why John wrote the Apocalypse, particularly the circumstances surrounding Revelation’s composition. Two aspects of Revelation provide the primary evidence for our assessment: the letters to the seven churches in chapters 2 and 3, and the most prominent symbols scattered throughout the rest of the book.

    In Revelation 2-3, the risen Jesus dictates “letters” to seven individual churches clustered in the Roman province of Asia (western Turkey today). These letters provide only sketchy hints regarding those churches, but a few insights do emerge. First, the churches were diverse in social composition, lived experience, and — according to the letters — faithfulness to the Gospel. The letters identify some churches as comfortable, others as impoverished; some as persecuted, others as complacent. Revelation was written before “Judaism” and “Christianity” constituted two distinct world religions, and two letters mention tension between churches and their neighboring synagogues.

    Perhaps most importantly, the letters reflect conflict within the churches. Using code-names like Balaam, the Nicolaitans and Jezebel, the letters accuse competing Christian prophets of promoting sexual sin (porneia) and eating idol-food. Scholars doubt that John’s opponents promoted literal promiscuity, though that it possible. Instead, biblical authors often employed sexual imagery in their condemnations against idolatry. Perhaps porneia and eating idol-food amounted to about the same thing.

    Here’s one likely scenario: The relationship between religion and culture was vastly different in the ancient world than in our postmodern societies. A walk through the ruins of ancient Ephesus would reveal the thorough implication of religion in public life, with shrines and temples lining the streets. Every institution, from the empire and local governments to trade guilds, burial societies and households honored patron deities. Several of the Asian cities were noted for their high levels of religiosity. Daily household rites, regular social gatherings, and major festivals all included religious observances. Yet Revelation calls believers to “come out” from that cultural environment (18:4), to witness to Jesus (12:11) while keeping their garments clean from corruption (3:4). Most scholars believe that the Nicolaitans, Balaam and Jezebel had convinced many believers that it was OK to participate in social gatherings and public events, including meals, despite their religious dimensions. John strongly disagreed, regarding every trace of pagan religion as idolatrous.

    If the letters to the churches condemn participation in common cultural activities, some of Revelation’s distinctive symbols may provide a context for John’s concerns. To be clear, no one understands all of Revelation’s numbers and symbols. Nor should we assume that every symbol points to one and only one meaning. Still, almost all interpreters have come to a common assessment of several key symbols in the Apocalypse: the Lamb, the Beast, the Great Prostitute, the Other Beast and the New Jerusalem.

    Revelation describes a conflict between a Lamb and a Beast. The Lamb clearly represents Jesus; it receives worship before God’s throne, having already suffered death and redeemed people from every nation (5:6-10). According to Revelation 13, most people worship the Beast. The saints do not; therefore, the Beast makes war against the saints. “Who is like the Beast, and who can make war against it?” cry the masses (13:4).

    Revelation poses the Lamb and the Beast as opposites. The Lamb stands before God’s throne; the Beast receives its power from Satan (12:9; 13:2). Both receive worship, though the Beast’s worship is blasphemous (13:1, 5; 17:3). The Lamb has many eyes; the Beast has many heads. The Lamb has passed through death to glory; one of the Beast’s heads has survived a mortal wound. The Lamb’s followers receive identifying marks on their foreheads; the Beast’s are marked on the hand and the forehead. The Lamb conquers the Beast by its word; the Beast slaughters the Lamb’s followers (13:7-8).

    We learn more about the Beast from its association with two other symbols, the Great Prostitute (16:17-19:3) and the Other Beast (especially 13:11-17).

    The Great Prostitute rides the Beast. Though she is identified with Babylon, we learn that Revelation — like some other ancient Jewish and Christian texts — identifies Rome with Babylon. Indeed, Revelation links the Beast’s seven heads to Roman’s famous seven hills (17:9). What really distinguishes the Prostitute is her opulence. Decked out in luxurious clothing and holding a golden cup, she consorts with kings and merchants to generate enormous wealth by exploiting ordinary people (18:12-13). In short, the Great Prostitute has something to do with the exploitative nature of Roman imperial diplomacy and commerce, which extracted fabulous riches off the backs of farmers, laborers and slaves.

    Now that we’ve identified the Beast with Roman imperialism, the image of the Other Beast comes more clearly into focus. Revelation’s first Beast emerges from the sea — common imagery for western imperial powers in Jewish apocalyptic literature. But the Other Beast emerges from the earth and promotes worship of the first Beast. The Other Beast likely points to indigenous elites of Asia, who promoted worship of the Beast, Caesar. The cities of Roman Asia stood out for their devotion to Rome and its emperor. Much like modern cities compete for the Olympic Games and other events, the Asian cities petitioned the Roman Senate for permission to dedicate shrines and festivals to Rome and to Caesar. The local elites supported these endeavors, even equipping the choirs and other participants in the festivities.

    Now we see the source of Revelation’s conflict. Modern readers may struggle to imagine it, but ancient people really did worship their rulers. Roman emperors were acclaimed as “son of God,” “Lord” and “Savior” — the same titles Jesus’ followers applied to him. From John’s point of view, worship of the emperor amounted to idolatry. Just as important, Caesar governed a vast system of violence and exploitation, including the threat of persecution among the churches. In the Beast system, failure to honor Caesar amounted to treason. Indeed, Revelation alludes to believers who have died on account of their witness to Jesus (2:13; 6:9-11).

    While other prophets in the Asian churches called for moderation and accommodation, John demanded outright resistance. All tokens of idolatry must be shunned, especially worship of Caesar. We can only imagine how painful these debates must have been for the Asian Christians, who were forced to discern the line between faithful witness to Jesus and securing their families and their lives. We can know one thing: Revelation is the first work to employ the Greek word martys to mean “martyr.”

    Revelation does not promise believers that they will enter heaven after they die. It promises no rapture, nor escape from any great tribulation. Instead, those who “conquer” the Beast will enter a New Jerusalem, a gleaming city that comes down from heaven to earth. There they will find healing, comfort and joy in the presence of the Lamb.

    In a third post, I’ll reflect on Revelation’s theological and ethical implications.

  76. Revelation: Who Likes It, and Who Doesn’t?

    Perhaps you’re acquainted with a Bible prophecy movement buff, the sort of person who visits the Christian bookstore to purchase books about the end-times. She even may sport one of those “In case of rapture, this car will be unmanned” stickers on her bumper. Bible prophecy buffs like to remind us that we’re living in the “last days.”

    The Bible prophecy movement represents one group of people who like Revelation. Polls suggest that a sizable minority of people believe the end is near, but only a much smaller group really reads the books, watches the videos and peruses the websites. Most of us may find those end-time devotees a little wacky, but we can all understand why their belief system appeals to some people.

    End-time speculation provides its devotees with something we all need, a story to live by. Prophecy believers see themselves as the faithful minority that understands the true meaning of history. For them, bad news is all part of God’s plan. While things go to hell all around them — and in this election year, who’s to say things aren’t? — end-time believers believe their salvation is drawing near. When church attendance declines and civic prayer disappears, Bible prophecy teachers tell people this is their moment to shine. Only a faithful few will endure until Jesus comes to rapture the saints into the sky. A meaningful story-line for one’s life holds great appeal. I may not share their outlook, but I think I understand it.

    But what about the rest of us? Who likes Revelation, and who doesn’t?

    Revelation has long appealed to people who resist imperialism and injustice. Revelation called ancient Christians to reject the Roman Empire, to abstain from popular worship of the emperor and refrain from exploitative commercial systems. From Latin American liberation theologians, who understood that God takes sides with the poor, to Allan Boesak, who finished a book about Revelation during an Apartheid era state of emergency, countless readers have found encouragement in the Apocalypse. Even within the United States, political activists have find in Revelation a critique of militaristic and imperialistic policies.

    Warren Carter’s new book, “What Does Revelation Reveal?” provides several answers to its own question. According to Carter, Revelation reveals what it means to worship God and Christ. It challenges believers to faithful living in the midst of cultural pressure to compromise. It demonstrates that, while God does judge, God also offers the opportunity for repentance. And Revelation reveals how God’s reign of justice and peace will displace oppressive and violent systems.

    If Revelation brings good news for the oppressed, what’s not to like? Typically Revelation has faced four major sets of objections.

    First, many readers find Revelation escapist. In the face of overwhelming injustice, they say, Revelation offers an empty promise: a pie in the sky future. Endure now, and hope for a better life beyond this one. Christianity has long been subject to this critique, that it inspires hope for the future without providing resources for changing the present. In the words of an old Arrested Development rap, “The word, hope, and the word, change, are directly opposite; not the same.”

    Second, many reject Revelation’s violence. Revelation portrays enormous human suffering, to the point that people cry out for the rocks to crush them and put an end to their torment (6:16-17). It even resorts to the imagery of sexual violence (2:22) and the annihilation of a “great city” (18:21-24). In my own research, I’ve noted how Revelation employs choirs to praise God immediately after its most horrific scenes — almost as if some justification is necessary (15:2-4; 16:4-7). Allan Boesak defends Revelation’s violence, writing, “If [Christ’s] cloak is spattered with blood, it is the blood of his enemies, the destroyers of the earth and of his children.” Indeed, Revelation maintains that God does not watch idly while masses of people suffer exploitation. Yet Revelation’s willingness to imagine and to justify violence poses a problem for many readers.

    Third, more recent interpreters critique Revelation’s gendered imagery. Like other biblical books, Revelation often employs women’s sexuality as a metaphor for righteousness and wickedness. The prophet Jezebel is promiscuous; she faces judgment. The Great City Babylon is a prostitute; she goes up in smoke. Revelation’s two positively valued female images are a mother and a bride, the Woman Clothed with the Sun (chapter 12) and the New Jerusalem (chapters 21-22), respectively. In a passage that baffles interpreters to this day Revelation describes the 144,000 who follow Christ as “those who have not defiled themselves with women” (14:4, my translation). Does Revelation have woman problems? Gender instability? One wonders.

    And finally, many object to Revelation’s “us against the world” sectarian outlook. Revelation identifies its audience as saints, prophets, slaves, kings and witnesses. But its frequent references to “the inhabitants of the earth” depict the masses of people as wicked and deceived, subject to judgment and incapable of repentance. It’s one thing for a tiny, vulnerable minority to look upon the larger society with suspicion. But it’s a dangerous thing when one group thinks of itself as righteous and pure, regarding the rest of the world simply as kindling for the abyss.

    In my view Revelation adds an invaluable contribution to the biblical witness, but it also requires sensitive, honest interpretation. One cannot just wish away the dangers Revelation presents — and the sad examples of many apocalyptic movements testify to those dangers. Yet within the New Testament Revelation represents the one book that most clearly calls believers to be suspicious of power and of empire. Revelation exhorts Christ’s followers to faithful witness even in the most harrowing circumstances. It reminds us not to confuse power with righteousness: “Who is like the Beast, and who can fight against it?” (13:4). And Revelation demonstrates that glamorous appearances rarely embody God’s truth (17:1-6). Revelation unites the risky witness of those who confront injustice and idolatry with that of Jesus, who endured humiliation and death on account of his own “faithful witness” (1:5). Dangers attend the reading of Revelation, but more is lost by avoiding it.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/greg-carey/revelation-who-likes-it-a_b_1250427.html

  77. @Bones

    “Here’s the truth: no academic interpreter of Revelation understands the book as a roadmap for the future, much less as telling contemporary Christians that these are the last days. Instead, scholars understand that Revelation originally spoke to the conditions of its own time and place.”

    Really? “No acedemic interpreter”? Does he have any proof of that? It’s so easy to throw out lines like this and expect people to just swallow it and move on to the rest of the article. But, what happens when someone stops on lines like this and asks the question “really”? Well, it can be very easy to find a few atheist and humanist biblical scholars to support an anti-God rhetoric. Even in some of the worlds leading Theological universities you can find unbelieving theologians. Sadly, it is these “scholars” that are always dragged out when someone is trying to disprove doctrines and theologies that the church has held as sacred truth for millennia. Have you ever watched the documentaries on the Discovery Channel regarding biblical subjects? Every expert and scholar they interview comes from a worldly, humanist position. Heaven forbid that they ask the opinion of a believer. No, that would make them have to admit that scripture is true. Instead they wheel out some guy with a few letters after his name who’s Phd was probably on something like “Why Jesus never existed and how the Bible was written by a bunch of 3rd Century monks”. So, before I read further, I’d like to see this guys proof that “no academic interpreter” views revelation as being about future events. Meanwhile, I can find you hundreds of well written and well researched studies proving that it is.

  78. @Bones

    By the way, here’s a question for you and for Pagel and Carey – if Revelation isn’t about future events, how come in Revelation 18 it talks about the complete destruction of Babylon, yet Babylon was still a viable trading centre up until the 4th Century AD, and still exists today in the desert outside of Bagdad?

  79. What is that the best you can do?

    Ad hominem attacks. Which is what this thread has degenerated into.

    Someone disagrees with my interpretation is a humanist.

    It’s terrible to think that some people have a better understanding than you do isn’t it?

    Where Do ‘Liberal’ Bible Scholars Come From?

    In public conversations such as The Huffington Post, it’s common to see people deriding “liberal” biblical scholars, as if the world is just full of people whose dearest wish is to undermine the Bible and turn Jesus into nothing but a symbol for a bizarre mushroom cult.

    (And by the way, that Jesus-mushroom thing? It was actually proposed.)

    Biblical scholarship is an academic discipline, taught and studied at universities, colleges and divinity schools all around the world. So it should be no surprise that biblical scholars run in all shapes, sizes, colors and denominations. What would surprise many people, though, is that a very large number of us love Jesus and the church, and we spend hours upon hours communicating the love and wonder we experience with the Bible. Indeed, some of our secular colleagues justifiably complain there are too many of us in the field. More surprising might be this one fact: many of us have our roots in fundamentalist and evangelical Christianity. The best way for conservative churches to produce “liberal” biblical scholars is to keep encouraging young people to read the Bible.

    That’s how it worked for me. I didn’t grow up in church, but I found Jesus and was baptized in an Alabama Baptist church just before my 15th birthday. Our pastor and youth director encouraged me to read the Bible, so I did: I got an affordable new Bible and read the Gospel of John. And I loved it! I felt that I knew Jesus more intimately and understood my faith better.

    Not long after reading John, I found a little brochure that contained a schedule for reading the Bible all the way through in one year. So I took the challenge, from Genesis through Revelation, about three or four chapters a day — and more when I missed a day. At some point I started highlighting meaningful passages. And within a year, not only had I read the entire Bible, some sections now appeared in lime green, neon yellow and turquoise blue. I suspect that most of the verses in Romans and John are highlighted. Probably less so for Obadiah.

    I read the Bible all the way through twice as a young person, not to mention the daily devotionals, Bible studies, Sunday School lessons and youth group meanings that structure a Southern Baptist teenager’s life. And along the way, a few things happened that prepared the way for my journey into biblical scholarship.

    The first thing seemed little, but it proved to be important later on. Reading through Matthew, then Mark, and then Luke, a young person can get bored: Didn’t I see this story before? I get it already: How many people did Jesus heal? But something else happens, too. You begin to notice little inconsistencies. Did Jesus say that whoever is not with him is against him (Matthew 12:30; Luke 11:23), or did he say that whoever is not against him is for him (Mark 9:40)? Who was there to visit Jesus’ tomb? How did Judas die (Matthew 27:1-10; Acts 1:18-19)?

    An innocent Bible reader assumes there must be satisfactory resolutions to such problems. But no such explanations exist. Different biblical books simply tell stories differently. Some offer conflicting answers to important questions. In my case this became clear when I sat in on a religious studies class during a college visit. With a colorful chart, the instructor was explaining how the Gospels were composed — that Mark was written first, and that Matthew and Luke relied upon copies of Mark. As soon as I saw that chart, I instantly knew where we were headed! There was no way the Gospels were written by eyewitnesses who simply remembered things differently. At that moment I had no idea I’d wind up devoting a career to biblical studies. Ironic, I suppose.

    My second memory involves the one thing that most bothers pious high schoolers: sex. Our church leaders warned us not only to abstain sexual intercourse but also to avoid those heavy makeout sessions that lead to removing sweaters, exploring panty lines and so forth. And depending on what the meaning of is, is, I pretty much succeeded. But I was also reading my Bible. And nowhere did I find all this stuff about saving sex for marriage. (That’s because the Bible doesn’t include that message, certainly not consistently.)

    Naturally, I asked one of our adult leaders, who in turn grew quite frustrated by my impertinence. A few days later a card came in the mail, signed by this adult with a simple Bible reference, Proverbs 3:5-6. I’m sure my quotation isn’t exactly accurate, but I knew it in the King James Version: “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” (OK, I checked. I only substituted a comma for a semi-colon.) This person who was responsible for my spiritual development had effectively patted me on the head and told me to submit to what the church was teaching. My own reading of the Bible didn’t amount to much, after all.

    One more memory, and I’ve reflected on this in another blog post. A few years ago I looked back through that old Bible, with all its highlighted marks. And I wondered how a 16-year-old Southern Baptist would have made sense out of Ephesians 5:21-6:9, a passage that tells wives to submit to their husbands, children to obey their parents and slaves to obey their masters. To this 16-year-old boy, wives obeying husbands sounded like a good deal. Being pious, I even highlighted the part about children and parents. But having grown up in Alabama, with the coals still hot from Birmingham and Selma, I simply could not highlight slaves’ obedience as an expression of God’s will. I’d already learned an important lesson: the Bible requires responsible interpretation.

    Mark Twain is supposed to have said, “The best cure for Christianity is reading the Bible.” If he did say that, his wisdom didn’t take in my case. Though I understand it differently, I love the Bible as much as I ever have. I’m just as passionate for Jesus and for the gospel as I ever have been, though I understand them differently too. But I can say this: Reading the Bible is a terrific cure for fundamentalism. That’s exactly how many of us so-called liberal Bible scholars got our start.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/greg-carey/where-do-liberal-bible-scholars-come-from_b_1774447.html

  80. “how come in Revelation 18 it talks about the complete destruction of Babylon, yet Babylon was still a viable trading centre up until the 4th Century AD, and still exists today in the desert outside of Bagdad?”

    The Great Prostitute rides the Beast. Though she is identified with Babylon, we learn that Revelation — like some other ancient Jewish and Christian texts — identifies Rome with Babylon. Indeed, Revelation links the Beast’s seven heads to Roman’s famous seven hills (17:9). What really distinguishes the Prostitute is her opulence. Decked out in luxurious clothing and holding a golden cup, she consorts with kings and merchants to generate enormous wealth by exploiting ordinary people (18:12-13). In short, the Great Prostitute has something to do with the exploitative nature of Roman imperial diplomacy and commerce, which extracted fabulous riches off the backs of farmers, laborers and slaves.

    John is talking about the destruction of Imperial Rome. Btw Babylon ie Iraq is still around today, believe it or not.

  81. Dear, oh dear, oh dear, Steve – you just can’t help yourself, can you? You’re like a man who deliberately walks into quicksand and then calls for a shovel so that he can dig himself out.

    “Can you predict the major companies investors should consider as we move towards the revelation of the antichrist?”

    You’ve obviously not been paying close enough attention to your “apostle” Phil Pringle, who has said, from behind the lectern, that what the “church” needs is “prophets” who will tell the faithful followers what stocks to buy. That’s right – according to Phil, you shouldn’t have to ask a heretical and negative naysayer like me, you should rightly have a stockbroking seer, a share shaman, raised up from within the very ranks of the diligently tithing drones who owe their fealty to C3 alone.

    Phil Pringle preaches a different gospel, and his obsession with money has actually led him to the point where he would have us believe that prophets should advise us not about the future, but rather about futures. How pathetic is this man, how thoroughly cringe-worthy, how utterly steeped in heresy and deception, and what a shame and embarrassment he is to the true Church. But you still reckon he’s OK, don’t you? Tell me Steve, how clever does one really need to be to become a pastor?

  82. @Bones

    No ad hominims here Bones. Just stating a fact. The things of the sprit offend the natural (humanist) flesh. That is clearly what is happening here. So please don’t try to deflect my questions by falling back onto this tired old ploy.

    “John is talking about the destruction of Imperial Rome.”

    No he’s not. Read the text. He is talking about the literal city of Babylon. And, shock horror, it still exists! Which means, quite clearly, that many of the events depicted in Revelation HAVEN’T OCCURRED YET!

  83. Just found this on my Facebook feed!

    GOD: “Okay my beloved children, the MOST important thing about reading Scriptures is this: do not read them by the letter, for the letter kills but the Spirit gives life. Let my Spirit transform the literal into spiritual. When you read the Old Testament, don’t be obsessed with what they literally say but with what they spiritually mean. I love sparking your imagination with juicy metaphors, allegories, types and shadows. Do you understand what I am saying?”

    PEOPLE: “Oh yes Lord, we get it— do NOT read Scripture by the letter.”

    GOD: “Good!”

    PEOPLE: “But Lord, can I ask you a favor?”

    GOD: “Sure Beloved. What is it?”

    PEOPLE: “Please don’t kill us Lord with your great and mighty wrath. Please don’t send fires, plagues, famine and affliction on us as you did the Old Testament saints. The Scripture clearly says you do these things, but please show us mercy. Please don’t smite us oh mighty smiter.”

    GOD: “Sigh…”

  84. “No he’s not. Read the text. He is talking about the literal city of Babylon. And, shock horror, it still exists! Which means, quite clearly, that many of the events depicted in Revelation HAVEN’T OCCURRED YET!”

    Here we go! Another with their own spiritual interpretation (ie opinion) on the text..

    It’s not a futuristic text. John is calling for the destruction of Imperial Rome. Another who wishes to pick and choose which parts of Revelation are literal.

    Hasn’t occurred, won’t occur, will never happen, ever.

    Is that clear?

  85. @Bones

    “Here we go! Another with their own spiritual interpretation (ie opinion) on the text..”

    Nope, not my own interpretation, but one that I have studied and then had confirmed by many, many different scholars (believers) over the centuries. As opposed to the opinions of some guy writing on, wait for it, the Huffington Post, the last bastion of all truth!

  86. @Bones

    “Roundhouse, I agree with you about the wrath of God and about reading the Bible by the letter.”

    I know you do, and I commend you for it. In that you know more than many believers in the church. It’s just a shame that you have gone several steps further and thrown out most of scripture in its entirety.

  87. Some may say the same about you.

    Just as well we’re not bound and judged by other Christian’s opinions.

    How do you interpret the lake of fire in Revelation (Rev 20) and Jesus slaying the unbelievers (Rev 19) and telling the birds to feast on the flesh of the wicked?

  88. @Bones

    What is “the sword that proceeds out of His mouth”? It is His Word. The word of God is likened to a sword in many places in the NT such S Hebrews 4 and Ephesians 6. We know from the bible that neither God will judge, or Jesus, but it is the word that judges. In other words, what people did with Jesus as revealed in His word in this lifetime either saves them, or condemns them. The enemies of God in Revelation are slain by the word that condemns them. It is figurative, as is most of Revelation.

  89. Bones I loved the Greg Carey articles, especially the one where he describes his spiritual formation. I also enjoyed your article on the wrath of God Roundhouse. My question for you then is, “why do you keep being concerned about bones and I suffering wrath if god is not wrathfully waiting for the end if time? By the way, I agree that God is love life and abundance, not death, wrath and want…but im concerned at your consistency. I ive got to say you threw me with that article

  90. @Greg

    I am not concerned about God’s “wrath” towards you, but that your extreme liberal interpretation and dismissal of many of the core doctrines of Christianity places you both in the position of appearing to not be believers at all. It’s what we do with Jesus in this lifetime that “judges” us in the next, and the weight of evidence has placed both of you closer to the unbeliever camp rather than the believers camp. But, I am happy to be wrong in this assumption. In fact, I pray that I am.

  91. @Bones

    ““It is figurative, as is most of Revelation.”

    Exactly.”

    Unfortunately you are going me step further. We both agree that much of Revelation is figurative, but your next step is to discount it because of this, whereas I, and most of Christian thought on the book, recognise it’s figurative language is to describe the probably indescribable things that John saw. We must remember that John was a first century writer, yet he was given visions of a future that he would not have understood so he described it in 1st century language. Imagine a 1st century writer trying to describe a nuclear explosion. We could describe one, because we have all see the old black and white footage of nuclear tests etc, but a first century writer would describe it completely differently. In fact, it is conceivable that John describes nuclear war in Revelation 6, and Ezekiel appears to describes the aftermath of a nuclear war in Ezekiel 38. Anyway, there is way too much evidence to prove that most of the events in Revelation are yet to come for any serious scholar to discount it.

  92. “Anyway, there is way too much evidence to prove that most of the events in Revelation are yet to come for any serious scholar to discount it.”

    Safe to say that that’s a belief you’ll take to the grave.

    John wasn’t Nostradamus. It isn’t futuristic.

    Prophecy is not merely fortune telling. Prophets read the signs of the times and warned the people what might happen. They interpreted events happening around them and gave them a theological meaning.

    Christians look for the destruction of Damascus as a sign of the end times because Isaiah says

    Isaiah 17:1 The burden of Damascus. Behold, Damascus is taken away from being a city, and it shall be a ruinous heap.

    Think you might find Damascus got the crap knocked out of it when the Assyrians came calling circa 730 BC. ‘They laid diege to Damascus and sacked it. Egyptians were next ca. 670 BC. They were made a vassal state. Assyria is looked upon positively in the Old Testament as through Assyria, the Jewish Exiles could return to Israel after being forcibly banished by the Babylonians.

    Hence you have

    Isaiah 19:23-25

    23 In that day there will be a highway from Egypt to Assyria. The Assyrians will go to Egypt and the Egyptians to Assyria. The Egyptians and Assyrians will worship together. 24 In that day Israel will be the third, along with Egypt and Assyria, a blessing[b] on the earth. 25 The LORD Almighty will bless them, saying, “Blessed be Egypt my people, Assyria my handiwork, and Israel my inheritance.”

    These are examples of prophecies which were not futuristic but warnings and understandings of historical events taking place. Not many Christians know the ancient history of Assyria’s military conquest and interestingly Judah’s alliance with Assyria against Syria and Israel.

    http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/History/Assyrians1.html

    John falls into that category.

  93. “Bones I loved the Greg Carey articles, especially the one where he describes his spiritual formation. ”

    Greg, it certainly resonated with me as I come from the Evangelical Charismatic side of Christianity. As a young Christian, I actually started writing my own commentary in the days of pre-internet, and when commentaries were quite expensive.

    Like you, I found that pat answers don’t do serious justice to this book and God that I love. If we truly want to understand the Bible we need to seriously study it.

    And accept the challenges that God puts in front of us to our dogmatic beliefs.

  94. EYES on January 12, 2013 at 5:25 pm Edit
    ” dogmatic beliefs. ”
    All is vanity.

    You’re a wag Eyes…but that was a paw excuse for a comment
    Cat-astrophic consequences for not believing!!!

  95. Poor Zorro, totally fixated with his pursuance of one individual. Never was such potential sucked into a vortex of vanity and futility.

    As the writer of Hebrews says, “you have become dull of hearing. For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.

  96. Bones,
    Greg Carey says some relevant things. I did not mind his analysis. He is clearly a believer, and that shines out in his theology, some of which I would agree with, but I do not go along with his assertion that there is nothing of the future in the Revelation of Jesus Christ.

    There clearly is, or it is not a relevant piece for the canon. You can’t pick and choose which scripture you accept. If it is genuinely God-breathed, then we need to take it all on board.

    That is the difference, I think, in the way you approach scripture and I do. You will take what you already concur with and apply it to your theology, whereas my theology is entirely formed on what I understand from scripture.

    Pagel, however, has massive issues to deal with, and is not a believer in any sense I understand to be the norm. She thinks John wrote to combat Thomas, whose theology was akin to Buddhism! She doesn’t know if she’s gnostic or not, when she obviously is.

    It’s ironic, in my view, that [name deleted for legal reasons] spent all that time falsely attempting to make C3 a gnostic cult on this site, and here I am, a C3 adherent, defending protestant evangelical orthodoxy against the gnostic posts of Greg, and the liberal chants of the deconstructionist choir!

    Hilarious!

  97. By the way, Bones, you actually set the standard for ad hominem attacks. You and the old Greg, who is now a changed man in that respect, but he certainly raised the bar during his feisty era. And, of course, the other member of the trinity, Zorro, who has made an art-form of insulting people over at Jake’s, even keeping a thesaurus of put-downs to enhance his performance.

  98. “She thinks John wrote to combat Thomas, whose theology was akin to Buddhism!”

    I’ve heard that before. That’s not an impossibility as gnosticism was a threat at odds with early Christianity.. It would explain why John is a different gospel to the other three.

    It is a far more theological document.

  99. “and here I am, a C3 adherent, defending protestant evangelical orthodoxy against the gnostic posts of Greg, and the liberal chants of the deconstructionist choir!”

    It’s funny the way you claim orthodoxy. I’m not quite sure if you understand that term and who you consider orthodox. Many orthodox (small o) Christians would see your organisation as unorthodox.

    No, you’re defending your own opinions and interpretations.

    But anyway go on defending them while we seek greater understanding of the scriptures.

  100. I love you, Steve. You truly contend for the faith, run the race no matter what gets in your way or who tries to slow you down. You’re a better Christian than I am (which isn’t hard) and Jesus is obviously proud of you and your work.

    But Revelation isn’t futuristic.

  101. That’s very nice of you, Bones. Thank you!

    Revelation isn’t futuristic.

    Do you say, then, that the new heavens and new earth have come, and that God is already enthroned in the New Jerusalem? Do you say that the saints are already in His presence?

    Do you say the world is judged and that all sinners are already excluded from the City of God?

    Do you say that the healing of the nations is begun?

    Do you say that Jesus has come, and has commenced His earthly reign?

    Since Jesus says in Revelation 22:7 “Behold, I am coming quickly! Blessed is he that keeps the prophecy of this book”, do you say that this is a prophecy fulfilled, or that aspects of it are yet to come to pass?

    If this is the case, I feel somewhat short of the glory of God, because I do not see the New Jerusalem, even though I journey, like Abraham, towards it, and it is my City, the City of my citizenship, yet I seem to still be in this old corrupt earth, with the ancient, decaying Jerusalem, still at war with itself, and still the centre of the world’s attention, as the main flashpoint for sorrows.

    And did we miss the great tribulation? Is there still sadness and destruction, sin and evil in the earth?

    And yes, we still experience the sorrow and the pain, which Christ said would be removed when the prophecy is fulfilled, and we still hear of wars and rumours of wars, which Christ said were the beginning of sorrows, and which were not to concern us overly.

    Do I still feel the need to work out my salvation with fear and trembling?

    For, as far as I can see, He has not come for His Church yet, and we are still in the earth, and no one I know of has looked up and seen His coming with the clouds, from where, He says, every eye will see Him.

  102. “Does that mean prophets=profits according to Phil?”

    Yes, Phil continually conflates spiritual and material blessings; this deception allows him to portray himself as “anointed” on the basis of his wealth, which in turn allows him to command fees on the “preaching” circuit, which in turn makes him wealthier – thus it is a self-reinforcing cycle.

    Phil’s “success” also allows him to flog fifth-rate books and seventh-rate “art”, and, in the eyes of his obsequious defenders, places him in a position where he is unquestionably beyond reproach (an estimation that is not only worldly, but positively cultic, and hence fraught with danger).

  103. ” Yawn! ”

    A typical response from a well programmed C3PO.
    May the force be with you “”””””””””Steve””””””””””.

  104. Speaking of obsequious defenders, Zorro, your loquacious stand-over technique at Jake Elliot’s is very touching, almost heart-rending in its sentimental attachment to the c3churchwatch crew.

    You must really love Jake Elliot and Daniel Gorter the way you verbosely hammer away at anyone, absolutely anyone, whether they’re assertive or gently passive in their commentary, absolutely anyone who dares say a word in favour of your pet obsessions, C3, Phil and money, or against your fawned over c3churchwatch malcontents.

    It must be so comforting for Jake and Daniel and the rest of their deeply undercover team to know that, despite not having need of a church to attend or a pastor to counsel them in time of need, and under such pressure and persecution from people who disagree with their self-serving, unbrotherly methods and all consuming cultish fixation, they have good old literately intimidating, sycophantic, anonymous Zorro the masked shadow man to slavishly rant and rave at anyone who calls them out on the false assumptions and innuendo on their exclusive, censorious antichristian blog.

    Impressive!

  105. Is that better, NO’S?

    I rather thought it was Zorro who’s well programmed. So programmed he’s stuck on the same old tune, day ofter day after day after day after…………… You know the rest!

    Hence the yawn!

    Zorro may turn out to be an automaton with one program and a large lexicon.

  106. But I missed something there. I said that Zorro automatically, immediately and without consideration has a go at anyone who dares say a word in favour of his pet obsessions, C3, Phil and money, or against his fawned over c3churchwatch malcontents.

    In fact, although this is true, I should add that he will also have a go at anyone, anywhere. He doesn’t need a reason, as demonstrated on this thread, where he is away into the cloud cuckoo land of obsessive compulsive behaviour even though the thread has nothing whatsoever to do with any of his fixations.

  107. ” It must be so comforting for Jake and Daniel and the rest of their deeply undercover team to know that, despite not having need of a church to attend or a pastor to counsel them in time of need ”

    There is your problem right there Steve. Your church attendance record is not going to save you, nor is turning to a pastor in time of need.

    Psalm 121
    Amplified Bible (AMP)
    Psalm 121

    A Song of [a]Ascents.

    1 I will lift up my eyes to the hills [around Jerusalem, to sacred Mount Zion and Mount Moriah]—From whence shall my help come?
    2 My help comes from the Lord, Who made heaven and earth.
    3 He will not allow your foot to slip or to be moved; He Who keeps you will not slumber.
    4 Behold, He who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.
    5 The Lord is your keeper; the Lord is your shade on your right hand [the side not carrying a shield].
    6 The sun shall not smite you by day, nor the moon by night.
    7 The Lord will keep you from all evil; He will keep your life.
    8 The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore.

  108. ” In fact, although this is true, I should add that he will also have a go at anyone, anywhere. He doesn’t need a reason ”

    Well Zorro has not had a go at me(yet,he he he he).And i hope he does not because i am not that good at fencing.Probably because i am not sitting on it , Steve.

  109. “Zorro may turn out to be an automaton with one program and a large lexicon.”

    Of all the traits that C3 pastors (and ex-pastors) fear in others, the one that they particularly loathe is intelligence. This is because C3 pastors tend themselves to be intellectuals of the faux variety, and they truly believe that as “leaders” they are much, much cleverer than their congregants, who, they are sure, would be utterly lost without them. Now such grand-standers can fondly imagine that they are superlative to others in every way imaginable, but put them in a room with someone whose intellectual capabilities exceed theirs, and everyone will know, even them – and the thought of this drives them absolutely nuts. This is the reason why Phil Pringle felt compelled to obtain a fake doctorate from a diploma mill in the U.S. Even though Phil affects to despise intelligent people who disagree with him as being “intellectual idiots”, he nonetheless coveted educational qualifications himself, being driven as he was by his all-consuming inferiority complex. Phil is a man of modest capabilities, cerebrally speaking, and he desired to be thought of as so much more – and wanted even to believe it himself.

    We know that every student who is fully trained will be like his teacher, and so it is with Steve and the fact that he finds my “large lexicon” so profoundly irritating: Steve has been a C3 pastor, and I have not been a C3 pastor – ergo, Steve should be better than me by any measure imaginable, and should therefore be able to run rings around me. But he cannot. He cannot argue his position coherently, let alone mount a convincing defence of it. Nor can Steve defend his idol Phil Pringle against the charge of preaching a false gospel, because it is manifestly clear to anyone who has an even an ounce of spiritual understanding that Phil is indeed guilty – that he preaches law rather than grace when he demands that his followers either tithe or face the consequences of being “cursed”.

    So what would anyone reasonably expect Steve to do under these most trying of circumstances? Why that old C3, standby, of course – a welter of calumny and smears, an attack whose aim is two-fold: firstly, bully and intimidate the victim into silence, and, secondly, if at all possible, undermine their credibility. Such an attack, of course, serves only to underscore the theological and moral bankruptcy of the perpetrator. However, Steve is not just a wrongdoer in all of this, he is also a victim – he is a victim of the cultic C3 mindset as he wilfully and knowingly defends a fundamentally flawed leader. Steve is wedded to C3, and he has chosen loyalty to that movement over enduring and immutable truth, and has preferred a man – a mere mortal made of dust – over God himself. C3 have turned Steve into a compromiser, and that is profoundly sad.

  110. No/Eyes [no see],
    Your church attendance record is not going to save you, nor is turning to a pastor in time of need.

    That’s a strange assumption to make, especially since, on numerous occasions on this site, since as far back as April 2008, when it commenced, I must surely have made it abundantly clear that I believe, with God, that salvation is by grace through faith alone and not of works.

    So I don’t know where you could be going with such a statement, except as a masked admission that you neither attend a local church nor have a pastor.

    I assume, from your quoted scripture, that you are a lone sheep who thinks God is happy to allow you to remain separate from any flock or shepherd, even though the Bible makes it abundantly clear that it is God’s way to place his sheep in the pasture of his choosing where they are led by a shepherd of his choosing.

    Now I don’t think it is a legal requirement for a person to attend a church or have a pastor, but it is certainly required of a disciple o Christ to be set by God in the Body, which I take to include in a local church which is overseen by some form of pastoral leadership.

    There are different models of pastoral oversight, of course, and most are valid in some form, and none os perfect, but, nevertheless, they are set up by God under his leadership and guidance to encourage the saints to gather and fellowship and serve one another with mutual support and interaction in love.

    There is much scripture on this, and it is plain to understand, which is why I find it very difficult to support the notion of the lone sheep without a flock or shepherd, and the claim, which they all make, that they only need Jesus, when he has made it clear that the Body of Christ is a flock with under-shepherds he chooses, separates and provides for the edification of the Body.

    For this reason, anyone who sets themselves up as judge and jury of other Christians and yet exclude themselves from this basic concept of flock and shepherd is quite plainly disqualified as a critic, since they plainly exhibit the traits, not of sheep, which have an inward desire to flock with other sheep and be led by a shepherd, but of wolves, which, though they hunt in packs, are also lone hunters and attack the sheep.

    Perhaps, if you are lacking this Holy Spirit led inward desire to be part of a flock with a shepherd, you should examine your relationship with Christ.

  111. Hahaha don’t think Streets of Philadelphia would be up your alley, Steve. (If you get my drift)

    I think your looking for some great Johnny Cash

  112. “[God] has made it clear that the Body of Christ is a flock with under-shepherds he chooses […]”

    Interesting. I guess you have never read Psalm 23. It seems that you view the church as having a divinely-dispensed and rigidly-defined hierarchy within which we are compelled to kow-tow before our particular anointed master. I must say that this rather smacks of gnosticism (or of C3 culture, if you would prefer to view things that way).

    Anyway, do tell us: who is your “shepherd”, Steve? Do you follow John Bevere’s advice, and obey your pastor even when you know he’s wrong? For example, not contradicting him if he preaches law rather than grace? (Remember that Bevere is a fellow-traveller with Phil, and has even preached at C3OF, so it would doubtless be best if you were found falling into line on this particular issue – you don’t want to be regarded as “negative” or “rebellious” or “divisive”, do you?)

  113. Well Psalm 23 tells us the Lord is our Shepherd, we shall not want, etc, and gives us a clear indication that we are in a flock, tend by a Shepherd, to which I alluded.

    Jesus named Himself the Chief Shepherd, but He also appoints pastors, elders and overseers, who are under-shepherds – shepherds under Him – to help build the flocks.

    For example, He personally nominated Peter to tend His flocks as an indication that He would call people into that gift.

    I didn’t mention a rigid hierarchy. I mentioned different models, most of which are acceptable, none of which are perfect, and did not specify any as the best or the worse, but the concept of the oversight under God is definitely present.

    Who is your pastor and which church do you attend?

  114. Zorro,
    It seems that you view the church as having a divinely-dispensed and rigidly-defined hierarchy within which we are compelled to kow-tow before our particular anointed master.

    Well, no!

    I did not say that. You made it up. Why?

    Because that’s what you do.

    You make things up about the people you target on blog threads and proceed to level accusations as a result of your own false claim about them, such as your following remark, I must say that this rather smacks of gnosticism, which is a comment you made about your own assumption.

    It sounds good, and clever, and sometimes your smart wit almost allows you to get away with it for some of your fans, but, in fact, it is a blatant lie.

    I do not and have not said anything about rigidly-defined hierarchies. You made that up. I said nothing about cow-towing to anyone.

    Jesus is my Master, my Leader and my Overseer. If it doesn’t fit with Him I will not follow it, or repeat it, or act on it, regardless of who said it.

    The rest of the comment you made up also, as you often do, and then gave a brazen summary of your own false allegation.

    This is what you do to people all the time on various threads on different blogs.

    What does that make you?

    So who is your pastor and which church do you attend?

  115. “[…] who is your pastor […] ?”

    You are making an assumption there, Steve – you’re assuming that I’m not a pastor myself.

  116. @Bones

    “Can we call you Doctor Zorro?”

    I think we can safely assume, judging by the spittle flecked apoplexy that Zorro regularly engages in that he is in need of a doctor 😉

  117. “Zorro, have you paid for a PH D?”

    That would be the wrong thing to do, Bones (although some would claim that it’s all a matter of degree).

    You may, if you feel so inclined, refer to me as “The Always Right Reverend Apostle Zorro Elijah”, of “C4 Faith and Business Consultancy Centre” (we go one better than C3).

    “I think we can safely assume, judging by the spittle flecked apoplexy that Zorro regularly engages in that he is in need of a doctor”

    LOL, that’s very good RH (don’t keep posting like that; you’ll make Steve very jealous).

  118. Zorro,
    you’re assuming that I’m not a pastor myself.

    I’m assuming nothing.

    But one could claim that as evasive, Zorro, especially since you have already let us know you work in the corporate sector making big bucks for other people [and yourself], but maybe you could be a pastor who makes money for people.

    So who is your pastor and which church do you attend?

  119. “[…] maybe you could be a pastor who makes money for people.”

    Yep, maybe I’m a pastor who has cracked the Biblical wealth code and is making it big with my slice of prosperity pimp pie (like a C3 pastor presuming to lecture businessmen on matters financial, only with the distinction that I’m actually walking the talk). Maybe I’m a lay pastor (they count as pastors, don’t they – or are they second-class citizens in the rigid church hierarchy for which you so emphatically disavow your support?) Who knows, maybe I’m actually a disaffected ex-C3 pastor who fell foul of Phil and has an axe to grind.

    For anyone with even the faintest spark of imagination, the possibilities are endless – not to mention the permutations that could arise; really, it’s enough to make one’s head fairly swim.

    “But one could claim that as evasive […]”

    Evasion is a terrible thing; it can be so very taxing.

  120. Steve,
    You will find that i have nothing against the proper church, neither do i have animosity with Pastors who’ve been established by Christ. However, I will not stand for false teaching that comes from a pastor in a church or church setting. Unlike you i do not feel duty-bound to keep on running back to a sunday church (human) tradition, in order to listen to the words of a witless worm, wriggling his/her way into peoples minds, contaminating and depraving their whole bodies and setting on fire the wheel of birth (the cycle of man’s nature), being itself ignited by hell (Gehenna).

  121. Thanks, Eyes. That’s what I thought. No church. No pastor. You have nothing against the ‘proper’ church, but…

  122. Zorro,
    Evasion is a terrible thing; it can be so very taxing.

    Indeed. Although that would be taxing for you, not me, since I don’t have to respond to your type of screened anonymity and owe you nothing but to love you. But I do, momentarily, wonder what you have to hide under that thin veneer of insecurity.

    Still, you’re free to hide beneath the whitewash.

    No skin off my nose.

  123. “Jesus is my Master, my Leader and my Overseer. If it doesn’t fit with Him I will not follow it, or repeat it, or act on it, regardless of who said it.”

    So I take it then, Steve, that you don’t agree with John Bevere, who has said that one should obey one’s pastor, even if the pastor is wrong. Have you ever mentioned to Phil or any other C3 pastor that what John Bevere “preaches” is cultic nonsense, the sole aim of which is to bully and manipulate congregants into submission? (I assume you know that Bevere has “preached” at C3OF).

    Did you know that Phil Pringle is a big fan of Joel Osteen’s? That’s right: Phil is enamoured of a “pastor” who actually believes that mormons are Christians. What level of discernment would you say that Phil is exercising in this particular instance? Would you point out to Phil the egregiousness of his error if you had the opportunity, or would you allow him to go on wallowing in blissful ignorance?

    And what of tithing? Phil Pringle teaches that Christians who do not tithe are “cursed” – have you ever pointed out to Phil that what he preaches is heresy, or have you diplomatically held your tongue in the name of “unity”, as any compromiser would?

  124. You turn out to be a surface scratcher as well as a whitewashed wall.

    What you say demonstrates that you’re a headline reader and not conversant with the content. You can’t believe everything the ‘watchers’ tell you!

    Have you told your pastor that he’s wrong about his understanding of predestination yet, and that God didn’t plan to burn specifically named babies in hell before the beginning of time?

    (I’d use your pastor’s name and the name of your church, because I generally prefer to say things face to face, but you don’t have the bottle to show yourself, name your church, or identify your pastor.

    I don’t blame you for not revealing your church or pastor. It is very loyal and supportive of you to defend him in this way.)

  125. Ok Steve,
    Well, seeing as though you would prefer it that i should attend a local church and have a pastor,
    What church would you suggest?
    I think the closest one to me is the jehovah’s witness kingdom hall.Should i go there?What say you to that?
    Would you recommend the church of scientology?
    Actually, i think there is an exclusive breathren not to far away, what’s your take on that?
    Given that you would obviously prefer me in church, then surely you can tell me which is the the RIGHT ONE for me!

  126. ” Maybe you should pray about it, Eyes. ”

    I do.
    And god shall guide me in paths of righteousness for his names sake.Is that in psalm 23?
    I don’t suppose that Jesus just popped out of Mary’s womb and then seven days later saved the world from Solomon Grundy.
    Here is a scripture that C3 finds no time for,

    Ecclesiastes 3
    New International Version (NIV)
    A Time for Everything

    3 There is a time for everything,
    and a season for every activity under the heavens:
    2 a time to be born and a time to die,
    a time to plant and a time to uproot,
    3 a time to kill and a time to heal,
    a time to tear down and a time to build,
    4 a time to weep and a time to laugh,
    a time to mourn and a time to dance,
    5 a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
    a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
    6 a time to search and a time to give up,
    a time to keep and a time to throw away,
    7 a time to tear and a time to mend,
    a time to be silent and a time to speak,
    8 a time to love and a time to hate,
    a time for war and a time for peace.
    9 What do workers gain from their toil? 10 I have seen the burden God has laid on the human race. 11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet[a] no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. 12 I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. 13 That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God. 14 I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it. God does it so that people will fear him.

    15 Whatever is has already been,
    and what will be has been before;
    and God will call the past to account.[b]
    16 And I saw something else under the sun:

    In the place of judgment—wickedness was there,
    in the place of justice—wickedness was there.
    17 I said to myself,

    “God will bring into judgment
    both the righteous and the wicked,
    for there will be a time for every activity,
    a time to judge every deed.”
    18 I also said to myself, “As for humans, God tests them so that they may see that they are like the animals. 19 Surely the fate of human beings is like that of the animals; the same fate awaits them both: As one dies, so dies the other. All have the same breath[c]; humans have no advantage over animals. Everything is meaningless. 20 All go to the same place; all come from dust, and to dust all return. 21 Who knows if the human spirit rises upward and if the spirit of the animal goes down into the earth?”

    22 So I saw that there is nothing better for a person than to enjoy their work, because that is their lot. For who can bring them to see what will happen after them?

  127. ” That way you could only blame God for leading you there. ”

    Steve, you are so hell bent on preaching the gospel of church, yet you cannot recommend the appropriate one for me to attend.Perhaps that which Zorro wrote was entirely true,

    ‘ Of all the traits that C3 pastors (and ex-pastors) fear in others, the one that they particularly loathe is intelligence. This is because C3 pastors tend themselves to be intellectuals of the faux variety, and they truly believe that as “leaders” they are much, much cleverer than their congregants, who, they are sure, would be utterly lost without them. Now such grand-standers can fondly imagine that they are superlative to others in every way imaginable, but put them in a room with someone whose intellectual capabilities exceed theirs, and everyone will know, even them – and the thought of this drives them absolutely nuts. ‘

    I only thank God for his leading.Unlike you i do not need a leash, like a senseless horse or mule that needs a bit or bridle to keep it under control.So why not invite me to your church?Is not that what a C3 CHURCHIAN WOULD DO?

  128. “Steve [is] so hell bent on preaching the gospel of church […]”

    Yes, it’s ironic that Steve sees himself as a member of the enlightened party who are truly spiritually au fait, and yet he assiduously informs all and sundry of how we must do this and must do that; how we cannot possibly prosper if we ignore any of the those binding scriptural edicts that he is so fond of trotting out.

    Steve is a legalist who has substituted NT injunctions for OT law; he clearly craves, as so many do, the certitude that rules can bring. His graceless attitude and uncompromising demands that others should conform to his particular way of doing things are typical of someone who has been a C3 pastor. Steve would never admit that, to the extent that there is structure within the church, it should not be hierarchical, but rather relational, he clearly does not understand that all have received spiritual gifts (not just some sub-set of super-spiritual and sublimely successful “anointed leaders”), and above all he has not laid hold of the truth that where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.

    Jesus said that the works that He did, we would do also. Who can see the lost and the sick – those who desperately need to be ministered to by those who move in the fullness of the power of the Holy Spirit – who can see them, and not be grieved that nothing is done? But the crowds who are harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd, don’t need a celebrity pastor on whom they can pin their hopes, they don’t need to be told that God demands their money, or that they absolutely must attend a church. What they need is to see men who truly love God and are submitted to Him; who will not look to be served as they build their own little empires, but will instead spend themselves in serving others to build the Kingdom of God – as true men of God should. Fake leaders demand obedience, but real leaders command respect – and it is real leaders that the church is crying out for in this hour.

  129. Oh, sorry. I nodded off there, wordsmiths.

    You guys should team up and write muzak for self-loathing insomniacs.

    You could be the Rodgers and Hammerstein of the zombie world.

  130. ” You guys should team up and write muzak for self-loathing insomniacs. ‘

    I still got that while’st i was nodding off.

  131. “So Steve has nothing left […]”

    Yes, Steve is a Spirit-filled, Bible-believing, C3-attending, pastor-worshipping, fruit-bearing, victory-declaring, glory-displaying, giant-crushing, opponent-defying Pentecostal, ladies and gentlemen. But please, don’t ask him any hard questions.

    Steve has, by virtue of having given his allegiance to C3, been put in the most uncomfortable position of having to defend the indefensible. And he has tried bluff and bluster, he has tried bullying and intimidation, he has tried feigned indifference, he has tried distractions and diversions – he has tried every trick in the book in his attempts to avoid having to answer some very simple questions. Yes, he has wriggled like a live worm on a hook – but the more he has wriggled, the more apparent the nature of his predicament has become. It’s abundantly clear that being aligned with C3 has left Steve tied up in knots, which is both a sad commentary on that bankrupt movement (and its mendacious and manipulative “leaders”), and a far cry from what Jesus had in view when he said “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free”.

    How ironic it is, then, that Steve has accused me of being “whitewashed” and “evasive” – perhaps he has mistaken his own reflection as being mine. Why don’t you give it up, Steve? It’s never to late to repent, you know, and it would be quite a weight off your shoulders.

  132. Do you see the difference between you and I, Zorro?

    You know a fair bit about me, including my name, my church affiliation, maybe a few things I’ve done or thought about or written about. I’m an open book, really. I’m not ashamed of who I am or what I do. I do not hide. I am approachable. I converse with a wide range of people about a wide range of issues.

    You despise me and where I worship, my church and my life. That’s OK. You’ve made a judgment, and you’ve repeatedly articulated it. You’re wrong on several levels, but I cant be bothered to qualify my reasons with a fake follower who will push and push until he thinks he’s crushed a soul to powder for his own gain, and doesn’t have a single Christian virtue to display.

    On the other hand, what do we know about you except that you’re an insensitive, legalistic Calvinist who likes to intimidate commenters on blogs?

    I do not know who you are, where you worship, who your pastors are, what you stand for, except that you’re a critical, narrow-minded, obnoxious, sarcastic (often quite funny in a biting, devouring way, but sarcasm is the lowest form of wit), and an ardent defender of negative ‘watcher’, put-down, witch-hunt blogs.

    You are afraid to let anyone know who you are, but I can’t for the life of me work out why, except you have some irrational insecurity that someone might find you out.

    You claim I am controlled by an evil man who manipulates my thinking and I am robotic and bound, which is unfounded and clearly refuted by many things I’ve said on this site alone. In that judgment you are not only harsh, but desperately wrong on both counts.

    You call me evasive, and yet I am here, a few years on, consistently talking to you and Bones and Greg and wazza and Eyes, and Ian, sometimes Margot, and Bull, and, in the past, mn, Heretic, Mosco, Lance White and Jake Elliot, to a lesser degree the always respectful RP and RE, and few others, who are, in the main, contrarian to what I am involved in with varying degrees of dismay, disgust or antipathy, and some of whom I have seen come and go, who have been critical of my theology, ministry ability, Biblical understanding, attitude, and a number of other things I’ve been criticised for, including, by association, a church movement they don’t like, and have written pointed articles about, criticised and denigrated.

    So, how is that evasive? I am a C3 minister speaking directly to C3 critics!

    Yet, here you are, anonymous, sardonically hovering, and angry as ever. One trick pony Zorro, putting down Christians for attending a church group he is at war with.

    Your last comment is not so much a put down, or evidence of evasion, but a compliment to the fact that I have been open and revealing about who I am and what I do.

    AS it stands, unless you take off the mask, you’re nothing more than a prideful, arrogant, secretive, anonymous nonentity. And that’s all you could ever be, because you are too afraid or ashamed to show yourself.

    I owe you nothing but to love you!

  133. Understanding the Book of Revelation

    by L. Michael White

    The Book of Revelation was written sometime around 96 CE in Asia Minor. The author was probably a Christian from Ephesus known as “John the Elder.” According to the Book, this John was on the island of Patmos, not far from the coast of Asia Minor, “because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus” (Rev. 1.10). This has traditionally been taken to mean that he had been exiled there as a martyr for his Christian faith. Some scholars, however, have suggested that it might have been a regular stop on a preaching circuit. Next, the author says, “I was in the spirit on the Lord’s day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet” (Rev. 1.11), and this voice tells him to write what he is about to see. This begins the “revelatory” vision that is at the center of the book.
    Ephesus was both the capital of the Roman province of Asia and one of the earliest centers of Christianity. The book next contains seven short letters of exhortation to the Christian churches in the seven leading cities of Asia Minor — Ephesus (2.1-7, Smyrna (2.9-11), Pergamon (2.12-17) , Thyatira (2.18-29). Sardis (3.1-6), Philadelphia (3.7-13). and Laodicea (3.14-22). This region would become a key area for the expansion of Christianity into the Roman empire. But it was precisely this intersection that created the problem for the author, as it called for Christians to treat the Roman administration as agent of the devil. But recognizing this comes from understanding how to read this kind of apocalyptic literature.

    Because of intricate and unusual symbolic language, the Book of Revelation is hard for modern people to read. They are not used to this kind of literature. Not so for people in the ancient world who would have been more accustomed to the complex nature of apocalyptic literature. The very fact that an apocalypse was a common type of literature meant that if followed certain conventions of style, and people knew more what to expect from it. Because there were many other examples of apocalyptic writing, these conventions would have seemed less strange and cryptic. Also, apocalyptic literature was almost always a kind of literature for “insiders,” that is to say, it was written for people who already knew something of the situation and of the symbols that were used to portray it. So, for the original audience of the Revelation of John, all these strange scenes would have been immediately intelligible. What the modern reader or biblical scholar has to do is to try to read the text with “ancient eyes,” by being informed about the way the literature worked and the situation out of which it came.

    So let’s look briefly at the layout of Revelation. The book breaks naturally into five major visions plus a prologue and an epilogue on how these came to be written down. This yields our basic outline of the work, as follows:

    The Prologue (1.1-3)
    John’s “Cover Letter” (1.4-20) and The First Vision
    The Letters to the Seven Churches of Asia (2.1-3.22)
    The Second Vision: In the Throne Room of Heaven (4.1-11.19)
    The Seven Seals and the Seven Trumpets
    [Third Vision] Three Great Signs In Heaven: The Cosmic War (12.1-16.21)
    The Beasts, the war, seven plagues, seven bowls of wrath, and Battle of Armageddon
    The Fourth Vision: The Judgment on Babylon [=Rome] (17.1-21.8)
    Part I: The Allegory of the Great Whore – (17.1-18)
    Part II: Babylon [Rome] is Fallen! (18.1-8)
    Part III: Heaven is once again opened: the 1,000 years (19.11-21.8)
    Part IV: A New Heaven and New Earth (21.1-8)
    The Fifth Vision: The New Jerusalem (21.9-22.5)
    The Epilogue: (22.6-21)
    Then in each of these visions, there is a literary device that provides for each new thing seen to propel the viewer on to the next vision. We can see this from the beginning of Vision 1, where John sees the seven lampstands, and then is told to write letters to the seven churches of Asia, for which they stand. But we see it even more clearly in the Vision II in the section that begins by seeing the scroll with seven seals, and then each of the seals is opened one at a time. But the opening of each seal does not result in the same amount of text: the first four are very brief, only two verses each. Then the fifth is longer, and the sixth is the most important, the climax of the sequence, followed by a longer vision. Finally, comes the seventh seal, but when we get there it turns out to be the seven trumpets, and the whole process starts over again as each of the trumpets is sounded in order.
    What results from this is a kind of composite picture created by the cumulative effect of all the material laid out this way. It’s been likened to “chinese boxes” where one opens up a box only to discover another box inside. In the final analysis one gets the sense that we (that is, the ancient “reader”) are always in the sixth, just on the verge of the seventh thing happening. That’s what gives the book its sense of urgency and feel that something important is just about to happen. The overall impact of Vision II, then, is to show the dire and precarious position in which the faithful are now standing, as they await the final things to take place. It is described as a time of famine, plague, oppression, and woe. But all of this probably comes out of a retrospection on the First Revolt and the devastation that occurred when Jerusalem and the Temple were destroyed. That is precisely the reflection that one sees in the description of the “two witnesses” (or martyrs) who are said to have been slain in the very city where Jesus was killed (11.1-13). So, the sense of desperation and suffering that is so central to Vision II is a direct commentary on the outcome of the War of 66-70 CE.

    At the end of Vision II, when the seventh angel finally sounds his trumpet (11.15-19), then the heavenly throneroom of God is once again opened, and now there appears a new scene. This is the opening of Vision III, the three Signs (or Portents) in Heaven, which are the centerpiece, both literarily and ideologically, of the entire work. For these three “signs” provide the explanation for why the woes and suffering described in Vision II have come upon the earth. The answer, we are now told, is that the war on earth is merely a continuation of a cosmic war begun in heaven between God and Satan (12.1-17). At the end Satan, the Great Red Dragon, is thrown down to earth with his evil angels, and now they begin to make war on the saints (12.18). For his henchmen, the Dragon chooses two helpers, who are called “the beast from the sea” (13.1-10) and “the beast from the land” (13.11-18), who proceed to force all humans to worship the Dragon and the first beast. The result is that God also sends his angelic army to earth, led by the “Lamb who had been slain,” and they will now take on the army of the dragon and the beasts (14.1-20). Now we have seven angels pronounce their woes on all who side with the Dragon followed by seven bowls of wrath, which turn out to be seven plagues (15.1-16.21). Once again it is the sixth that is the most important; it is the Battle of Armageddon (16.12-16) which results in victory for the armies of God.

    Now we see another important component of how Revelation works by thinking about its sense of the time-line of the story. The various visions of Revelation are not a linear progression, so that the events in chapter 12, for example, do not follow in time after the events in chapter 11. Quite the contrary. In the way they set up, the events described in chapters 12-13 are meant to explain how those circumstances in chapters 5-11 came about. So the time-line of the story moves in a kind of cyclical fashion so that we keep coming back to the “present situation” as it stood for the ancient readers of Revelation.

    The result from this way of reading is that the ancient Christians were being told how God would ultimately triumph, and the faithful would be spared. So in Vision IV we see the final judgments against the evil forces of the Roman empire, and the final rewards of the faithful. And its really only at this stage in the text (chapters 18-21) that it starts to look forward in a prospective way toward the near future. At the center of it all is the recognition of how Revelation is depicting the Roman Empire as the Great Whore, with the Emperor as the seven-headed “beast from the sea,” who are the ones carrying out Satan’s war against God on earth. So even Vision IV is carrying out the implications of the central scenes in Vision III. This made most clear when we are told explicitly that the Great Whore is Babylon, who is seated on the Beast with seven heads, as seven hills (17.9). This is both a clear reference to the “seven hills of Rome” and a reference back to the seven-headed beast of Rev. 13.3-10. Then it tells that the seven heads are seven kings (17.9-10), which finally give us the real clue that the “beast” is the Roman emperor himself. The visions continue to unfold information for the ancient reader in order to describe its current situation.

    The key to understanding the situation is in the vibrant symbolic language that is so typical of ancient apocalyptic writings. The author viewed the religious and political force of Roman rule as a threat. It is now thought that this arose in Ephesus after the year 89 CE when Domitian instituted a new imperial cult sanctuary dedicated to his family, the Flavian dynasty. It had included his father, Vespasian, who as Roman general led the war against the Jews from 66-69. When the Emperor Nero was killed, Vespasian was summoned from Judea to Rome to become the new Emperor. Vespasian then appointed his elder son, Titus, as the commander of the legions in Judea. It was Titus who led the siege and destruction of Jerusalem in 70 CE. When Vespasian died in 79 CE, Titus became the next Emperor. Titus, however, died just two years later in 81, and this left the empire to Vespasian’s younger son, Domitian. Domitian was known as a strong-willed emperor who tolerated no disagreement with his policies. Nonetheless, there is no clear indication that he consciously tried to persecute Christians for their faith.

    For this reason, most scholars now think that the issue revolved around the inauguration of the Flavian imperial cult in Ephesus. The imperial cult was a way of showing loyalty and honor to the Emperor, and was viewed as a public duty of all citizens in a city like Ephesus. Our clearest indication of how this is reflected in Revelation is seen in the description of the two “beasts” from Rev. 13. The first is called “the beast from the sea” who is given his power by Satan himself. He is described as having “seven heads and ten horns,” and people worshipped him (Rev. 13.1-4). Then there is a second, “the beast from the land” who makes every everyone worship the first beast and its “image” (Rev. 13.11-18). The “image” (13.14-15) and the mysterious number “666” (13.18) refer to statues and coins or inscriptions with the emperor’s image and titles. The “beast from the land” probably referred to either the provincial governor of Asia or to the highpriest of the imperial cult, who jointly would have overseen the temple and its festivals in Ephesus at just this time.
    That the “beast from the sea” is the Emperor himself is made clear in a later passage in Rev. 17, where the symbolism of the seven heads is spelled out.

    9 “This calls for a mind that has wisdom: the seven heads are seven mountains on which the woman is seated; also, they are seven kings, 10 of whom five have fallen, one is living, and the other has not yet come; and when he comes, he must remain only a little while. 11 As for the beast that was and is not, it is an eighth but it belongs to the seven, and it goes to destruction. 12 And the ten horns that you saw are ten kings who have not yet received a kingdom, but they are to receive authority as kings for one hour, together with the beast. 13 These are united in yielding their power and authority to the beast; 14 they will make war on the Lamb, and the Lamb will conquer them… (Rev. 17.9-14).
    Accordingly, the woman sits on the seven-headed beast as a symbol of her “seven hills” — the seven hills of Rome. The woman is the city of Roman, here depicted as the persecutor of Christians. Then it says that the seven heads are also seven kings. And we can read from its cryptic terminology the references to the Emperors of Rome. The “five fallen” refer to the five emperors who have died: Augustus (29 BCE – 14 CE), Tiberius (14-37 CE), Gaius (37-41), Claudius (41-54) and Nero (54-68). “One has a wound” refers to the emperor Nero, who died in 68, but whom conftemporary legend had it would return from the dead to continue persecuting the Christians. Thus, the beast has a head that has recovered from a mortal wound. The head “who is” refers to Vespasian (69-79) and the one that is “not yet” refers to Titus(79-81). The head that “was but is not” refers to an eighth emperor, Domitian. From this we can also see that the work looks at this history as if it were being written while Vespasian was still alive, and thus “forecasting” what terrible things would occur under Domitian only a few years later. This technique is common in apocalyptic literature, and Revelation was probably written sometime during the early 90’s, when Domitian was emperor, or perhaps even after the death of Domitian in 96 CE. By portraying the Emperor and his provincial authorities as “beasts” and henchmen of the dragon, Satan, the author was calling on Christians to refuse to take part in the imperial cult, even at the risk of martyrdom.

    Almost all New Testament scholars now take the view that Revelation was written during the reign of Domitian, sometime around 95-96 CE. He is the “beast from the sea” beyond doubt. What is not uniformly understood is how political oppression or persecution against the Christians of Asia Minor influenced the situation and, thus, how Revelation was responding to this situation. There are references to martyrdom and persecution in the Book of Revelation, but to what extent there was a real roundup of Christians going on is a matter of some debate. Here we may examine the question by looking at the views of several of the most notable recent scholars on Revelation.

    a. The Traditional View of New Testament Scholarship.
    The traditional view of Revelation, and of apocalyptic literature in general, is that it grew out of circumstances of persecution. So, Revelation is often compared to Daniel in this regard, since Daniel was written in direct response to the oppressive anti-Jewish measures of the Seleucid monarch, Antiochus Epiphanes IV, at the time of the Maccabean Revolt (167-164 BCE). Thus, scholars would point to Rev. 2.13, which refers to “Antipas, my witness, who was killed among you,” in conjunction with the church at Pergamon. It also refers to the “two witnesses” who were killed and their bodies left in the streets of Jerusalem (Rev. 11.4-13), and there is the numberless crowd of saints “who have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb,” who suffered, and who dwell before the altar of heaven (Rev. 7.13-17). It must also be remembered that the words “witness” and its cognates “testify” and “testimony”(which appear some 19 times in Revelation) all come from the Greek word martyrs, from which we get “martyr.” So it is traditionally assumed that there was a direct persecution of those Christians living in Asia Minor during the reign of Domitian, and that this corresponds to “John’s” own exile and imprisonment on Patmos. This is the view maintained in two of the standard and very well-respected older commentaries on Revelation:
    G.B. Caird, A Commentary on the Revelation of St. John the Divine. Harper New Testament Commentary Series. New York: Harper & Row, 1966.
    J. Massyngberde Ford, Revelation: Introduction, Translation, and Commentary. The Anchor Bible, vol. 38. Garden City: Doubleday, 1975.

    Both Caird and Ford thus argue that the purpose of Revelation was to prepare and strengthen the Christians of Asia Minor, as adressed in the letters to the seven churches, so that they will remain faithful against the impending persecution. The remaining visions were then given to show them how the conflict would be played out, with the victory of God agains Satan, and thus encourage them to remain steadfastly on the side of Christ. However, beyond this general assumption of persecution these two works do not think that most of the language of these visions can be taken to pertain literally to precise events in Asia Minor.
    b. A Literalist Reading of Persecution.
    Two recent works, however, have argued that much of the material in the letters to the seven churches (Rev. 2-3), and more generally in Revelation, should be read as literally applicable to the precise circumstances of the day. This is the view of
    Colin Hemer, The Letters to the Seven Churches of Asia in their Local Setting. Sheffield: Journal for the Study of the Old Testament, 1986.
    John Court, Myth and History in the Book of Revelation. Atlanta: John Knox Press, 1979.

    Hemer’s approach, however, is largely a reworking of the older view of Sir William Ramsay near the beginning of the XXth century, which tries to equate archaeological evidence of the region with comments in Revelation. This view has been favored among some more conservative New Testament scholars; however, has not found a majority acceptance. Court’s approach differs from Hemer’s by looking more at the literary function of the symbolic (or, as he would say, “mythic”) language of Revelation as being veiled references to concrete historical circumstances of that day. Nonetheless, underlying both of these studies is the assumption of a directe, one-to-one correspondence between much of the language and the situation under Domitian. It is this view that has largely supported the notion that Revelation was intentionally “concealing” or coding its polemic against Rome in order to escape discovery by Roman authorities. But most scholars do not share these views nowadays.
    c. Metaphorical Stances of Revelation against its Environment.
    Perhaps the most common way of dealing with the issue of persecution and the circumstances of Revelation in recent scholarship has been to read the work as a type of religious response to the crisis of Christians facing opposition in the Roman world. This response is couched in metaphorical terms of dualistic oppositions, characteristic of apocalyptic literature. This approach is best illustrated by three recent works:
    John Gager, “The End of Time and the Rise of Community,” in Kingdom and Community: The Social World of Early Christianity. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice Hall, 1975.
    Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza, Invitation to the Book of Revelation. Garden City, Doubleday, 1981.

    and

    The Book of Revelation: Justice and Judgment. Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1985; second edition, 1998.

    Adela Yarbro Collins, Crisis and Catharsis: The Power of the Apocalypse. Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1984.

    Both Schüssler Fiorenza and Gager take the view that the precise situation that was threatening the Christians of Asia Minor in the mid-90’s CE was prompted by a new emphasis on the imperial cult in Ephesus, begun under Domitian. Both suggest that there was a pressure for Christians to participate in the imperial cult’s religious festivals, with a threat of punishment or death if they did not. So there was an existential crisis facing these Christians. The author or Revelation wrote in order to resolve this crisis by clearly demarcating the lines and by alienating them from the enticements of participation in pagan society and the imperial cult. The mechanism for this demarcation, they argue, is the use of symbolic language that creates a new sense of the cosmic reality in which these Christians were living. At the center of the Book of Revelation, both literarily and ideologically, stands the “mythic” scene of the woman and the dragon (Rev. 12), which results in the dragon being hurled down to earth where it will persecute “the other children of the woman” (i.e., the church). The two beasts of chapter 13 (symbolizing the emperor and his provincial authorities) thus are placed in this cosmic drama on the side of Satan. The later visions then portray what will happen as the cosmic drama unfolds. Babylon (Rome) will fall, the armies of God will triumph, and Jerusalem (God’s city on earth will be restored. For the Christians of Asia Minor, the battle lines are clearly drawn; it’s only a matter of time until God is victorious.
    Adela Yarbro Collins takes a similar view of the purpose and overall outlook of Revelation, but she does not think the imperial cult itself was a concrete factor, nor that there was much real persecution. It was more of a crisis of faith precipitated by the disconnection between the faith of these Christians and their social experience of alienation. She argues, then, that the work is, if anything, even more metaphorical or symbolic in its approach; it offers a kind of drama of catharsis (or “cleansing”) that resolves the internal conflicts of the hearers. Of these three works, Yarbro Collins is perhaps more in keeping with the way most modern Christians would appropriate the “faith struggle” of Revelation; however, among New Testament scholars Schüssler Fiorenza’s has had the greater influence.

    d. Two Recent Revisionist Views.
    Finally, there are two studies that argue that persecution itself was not at the center of the Christian experience underlying Revelation; however, they take different views of the precise role of the imperial cult. These are:
    Leonard Thompson, The Book of Revelation: Apocalypse and Empire. New York: Oxford University Press, 1990.
    Steven J. Friesen, Twice Neokoros: Ephesus, Asia, and the Cult of the Flavian Imperial Family. Religions in the Graeco-Roman World 116. Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1993.

    and

    Imperial Cults and the Apocalypse of John: Reading Revelation in the Ruins. New York: Oxford University Press, 2000 (forthcoming).

    Thompson goes through a careful analysis of the historical evidence for the reign of Domitian and concludes that there was no real “persecution” of Christians in that day. He also shows that much of the bad reputation heaped on Domitian arose only after his death, when the subsequent emperors (notably Trajan, who ruled from 98-117 CE) made Domitian a “whipping boy” in order to portray themselves as benign and generous rulers. Thompson concludes, therefore, that the imperial cult presented little or no direct crisis for the Christians. Instead, he argues that Revelation was attempting to create a picture of cosmic reality that incorporated all aspects of the daily social life of these ancient Christians of Asia Minor. Revelation does this by incorporating the Roman sense of world order into his own alternative sense of a “new world order” governed by God, through Christ as the triumphant emperor of heaven and earth. This is an intriguing argument in showing the lack of concrete experience of persecution and how Roman imperial ideas seep into the book’s “Christian” vision of reality.
    Steven Friesen, however, has produced the most thoroughgoing study of the extensive archaeological evidence for the existence and the operation of the imperial cult in Asia Minor. He shows convincingly that there was a concrete presence of the imperial cult (along the lines suggested also by Schüssler Fiorenza) that set the framework for the Book of Revelation. In doing so he demonstrates how the imperial cult was not just an enforced participation in particular sacrifices or festivals, but was a more widespread social, political, economic, and religious factor in the lives of provincial citizens. This type of imperial cult activity was something new in Ephesus during the days of Domitian. Whereas there had been imperial cult activity for over a century in cities such as Pergamon, Ephesus had received its first imperial cult temple, and concomitant imperial awards and lofty titles, under Domitian in the year 89 CE. It was this new and heightened imperial rhetoric, growing like wildfire in the provincial cities, that triggered “John’s” reaction. Moreover, this cult, while focused on Domitian himself, also honored his family, the Flavian emperors Vespasian and Titus. And it is this element that yields the underlying apocalyptic tension for the author, for these are the very emperors who had destroyed Jerusalem, the city of God, only two decades earlier. The radical polemic of Revelation is saying, “how can those who call themselves Jews and Christians pay honor to the very family that destroyed the Temple, to the very empire that killed Jesus? They are no less than the henchmen of Satan!” Friesen’s work perhaps more than any recent study has drawn together both the concrete historical circumstances, based on the archaeological evidence, in correlation with the rhetorical stance of the Book of Revelation.

    a. The “Past History” view.
    These previous profiles of current New Testament scholarship on Revelation show what is the dominant view of how to interpret the work in its historical context. This approach is sometimes called the “preterist” (or “past history”) view, meaning that the events described in Revelation all took place in the past and the work must be read in that ancient historical context. It is almost universally followed in both New Testament scholarship and by scholars of Christian history. It is also the view taken within many Christian denominations, although it is often amended to suggest that all the historical events are past and that Revelation was describing a situation in the Roman empire, but that the final judgment in some literal sense is still to come as a future event.
    On the other hand, religious interpretations of Revelation throughout Christian history have not always followed this approach. We shall here profile some other ways that the book has been read by those who want to apply it to their own times. In each case, the difference is how the “historical content” of Revelation is understood.

    b. The “Symbolic History” View.
    This view holds that while the precise historical circumstances of Revelation pertained to the Roman world at the end of the Ist century CE, that it nonetheless has a kind of universal and timeless message for God’s dealing with humanity in all generations. Thus it looks for symbolic elements that may apply across the ages. This symbolic or allegorical view is what lay behind St. Augustine’s reading of Revelation, in which he argued that the 1,000-year reign was not a literal number at all but a figurative way of describing the “age of the church” on earth. This view has been the dominant one in most mainstream Christian interpretation, especially in Catholic tradition. It has also been influential in some philosophical appropriations of Revelation in western thinking.
    c. The “Continuous History” View.
    While the “symbolic history” view (above0 was more-or-less the official view of Revelation adopted by the medieval church, there continued to be literalist readings throughout the Middle Ages. In general, these views took a literal view of the 1,000 years as being the current age of the church. As a result this way of looking at Revelation led some to look to it for ongoing events in the history of Christianity. This mode of interpretation, which sees later events in Christian history as fulfilling “predictions” in the Book of Revelation, is known as the “continuous history” view.
    The first major interpreter to develop this view into a system of reading Revelation with current predictive value was Joachim of Fiore (1132-1202 CE). Based on the number 42 months (Rev. 11.2), the duration of the “trampling of the temple,” Joachim concluded that this was period equal to the 42 generations in Matthew’s genealogy from Adam to Jesus (Matt. 1.17). So, he said that these 42 generations (or 1,260 years) marked the period from the birth of Jesus until the end he saw predicted in Revelation. He then looked identified particular events and individuals in Christian history as fulfilling elements in Revelation in a continuum from the days of Jesus until his own time. So, for example, the beast with seven heads (Rev. 13.1), which are explicitly identified as seven kings (Rev. 17.10) he identifies as evil rulers beginning with Herod the Great and continuing to Saladin, the Turkish leader who had only a few years earlier repulsed the Crusaders from the Holy Land. Joachim thus saw, a figure of his own day, as predicted in Revelation’s unfolding of history from ancient to contemporary times.

    From Joachim’s day down to the mid-XIXth century, this pattern of calculation became the most common form of literalist interpretation of the “predictive” capacity of Revelation. It is therefore the most common mode of interpretation within literalist postmillenial expectation. It was a prominent feature of many end-time calculations and interpretations during the Reformation period in Europe. It was also used by Cotton Mather and others in colonial America and England; they regularly looked for current events that might be fulfillment of Revelation within this scheme, inevitably looking for elements that pointed toward the nearness of the end of time.

    d. The “Future History” View.
    A new mode of interpreting Revelation beginning in the early XIXth century. It grew mostly out of Protestant theology with a strong reforming element, both in Britain and America. It also drew on the strong tradition of literalist interpretation of Revelation as predicting contemporary events that had become popular in these areas through the “continuous history” view. But this new mode began to look at the past history of Christianity from the New Testament through the Middle Ages and down to its own time in a different light. From this perspective, it was hard to compute how the 1,000 years, if taken literally, could refer to the past history of the church, since that would place the inauguration of the Millenium within the timeframe of the medieval Catholic Church. The new view, therefore, began to argue that none of the events described in the Book of Revelation after chapters 1-3 (i.e., John’s vision and the letters to the seven churches of Asia) had yet come to pass. All the florid images of Revelation 4-22 were instead considered to be predictions of future events that would come to pass in literal terms as the return of Christ and the end approached. Thus, this view looks at Revelation as prediction of “future history.”
    Central to this mode of interpretation is the view that Revelation, along with most of the rest of the Bible constitutes a similar type of “prophecy” of the future, and it often refers to this overall scheme of interpretation as “Bible prophecy.” Much of the interpretation that comes from this perspective involved linking various passages from different parts of the Bible to form a composite that fits current and future expectations. This mode of interpretation is also directly connected to the rise of pre-millenialism, the view that the 1,000 year reign of Christ will be a literal event that will occur only after Christ returns. Thus, the emphasis on interpreting Revelation, lies in equating its images with those events surrounding the return. Several different versions or systems have been proposed for how the actual events will work out.

    The most popular has been that of John Nelson Darby (1800-1882), which is known as Dispensationalism, a view made popular in England and America in the early XXth century through the publication of Cyrus Scofield (1843-1921). First published in 1909, it came to be known as The Scofield Reference Bible. On each page it printed the King James translation of 1611 alongside of Scofield’s own copious “notes” on how to read each passage of the Bible in conjunction with other “prophecies.” It thus provided a chainlink interreferencing system to the Book of Revelation, by which one could jump from passage to passage to follow the “true” meaning. The Scofield Bible continued to be popular among certain Protestant Christian groups. From 1909 to 1967 it sold more than 10 million copies; reprinted in 1967, it is said to have sold another 2.5 million copies by 1990. More than any other “future history” interpretation, this one has had the most impact on current literalist interpretations of Revelation.

    http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/apocalypse/revelation/white.html

  134. Thanks, Bones, for that information.

    My apologies to everyone for my open spat with Zorro, whoever he is.

  135. @Bones

    So, if I read that article correctly, the whole hypothesis of Revelation being about Rome rests upon the definition, or understanding of the term “seven hills” or mountains used in the text. Thats a big call. It’s not a terrible theory I guess, but it is one that nonetheless seems to stretch and bend the text in knots trying to fit the hypothesis. The theory also completely ignores the depiction of future events in the text (as well as in other passages in Daniel, Jeremiah, Isaiah and Ezekiel that back up and confirm the events depicted in Revelation) that haven’t occurred yet. Just becaue there are a few instances where the symbolism can fit one or two events in the past doesnt mean that that is the explaination of the book. This theory simply cannot account for future events written about in Revelation, such as the harpazo, or Rapture, Christs second coming, the millennial kingdom, the reconstruction of the temple and the reinstitution of the sacrifice, the final battle, the defeat of Satan, and the New Heaven and New Earth appearing, just to name a few off the top of my head, that are supposed to happen. We havent seen any of these things occur in history, therefore the whole notion that Revelation is about Rome is proven to be completely false. Seems that the theory really has no substance or foundation to make it feasible. In short, the Rome theory is garbage and has no basis in fact.

  136. It is clear that some things in Revelation have taken place, but some have not. There are too many events foretold which are not explainable in known history to claim that the prophecy is entirely fulfilled.

  137. “This theory simply cannot account for future events written about in Revelation,”

    That’s according to your futuristic interpretation. You’re reading it the way you’ve been told to which, as shown, is not the way the text was read for the majority of the 2000 years. You’re also reading it as a 21st century westerner.

    John wasn’t ‘predicting’ the future. He was giving a message to Christians in his community at the time.

    Just like Paul, Peter, John, James and all the other New Testament writers wrote to their communities.

    While you keep waiting for the Beast and the Dragon, for John the Beast, the Dragon and Babylon have already arrived and ruled.

    You asked about Babylon earlier.

    What do you think Peter meant when he wrote

    1 Peter 5:13
    She who is in Babylon, chosen together with you, sends you greetings, and so does my son, Mark.

    Babylon was known among the early Christians as Rome and is represented as so in Jewish apocalyptic literature as well.

    It’s all quite clear to me.

    See also

    Babylon In The New Testament

    http://www.biblestudytools.com/encyclopedias/isbe/babylon-in-the-new-testament.html

    2. Symbolic Sense:

    All the references to Babylon in Re are evidently symbolic. Some of the most important passages are Revelation 14:8; 16:19; 17:5; 18:2,10,21. In Revelation 17:5 Babylon is designated as musterion. This undoubtedly in dicates that the name is to be under stood figuratively. A few interpreters have believed that Jerusalem was the city that was designated as Babylon, but most scholars hold that Rome was the city that was meant. That interpretation goes back at least to the time of Tertullian (Adv. Marc., iii. 13). This interpretation was adopted by Jerome and Augustine and has been commonly accepted by the church. There are some striking facts which point to Rome as the city that is designated as Babylon.

    (1) The characteristics ascribed to this Babylon apply to Rome rather than to any other city of that age:

    (a) as ruling over the kings of the earth (Revelation 17:18);

    (b) as sitting on seven mountains (Revelation 17:9);

    (c) as the center of the world’s merchandise (Revelation 18:3,11-13);

    (d) as the corrupter of the nations (Revelation 17:2; 18:3; 19:2);

    (e) as the persecutor of the saints (Revelation 17:6).

    (2) Rome is designated as Babylon in the Sibylline Oracles (5 143), and this is perhaps an early Jewish portion of the book. The comparison of Rome to Babylon is common in Jewish apocalyptic literature (see 2 Esdras and the Apocrypha Baruch).

    (3) Rome was regarded by both Jews and Christians as being antagonistic to the kingdom of God, and its downfall was confidently expected, This conception is in accord with the predicted downfall of Babylon (Revelation 14:8; 18:2,10-21). As Babylon had been the oppressor of Israel, it was natural that this new power, which was oppressing the people of God, should be designated as Babylon.

    3. In 1 Peter:

    In 1 Peter 5:13 Babylon is designated as the place from which 1Pe was written. Down to the time of the Reformation this was generally under stood to mean Rome, and two cursives added “en Roma.” Since the Reformation, many scholars have followed Erasmus and Calvin and have urged that the Mesopotamian Babylon is meant. Three theories should be noted:

    (1) That the Egyptian Babylon, or Old Cairo; is meant. Strabo (XVII, 807) who wrote as late as 18 AD, says the Egyptian Babylon was a strong fortress founded by certain refugees from the Mesop Babylon. But during the 1st century this was not much more than a military station, and it is quite improbable that Peter would have gone there. There is no tradition that connects Peter’ in any way with Egypt.

    (2) That the statement is to be taken literally and that the Mesop Babylon is meant. Many good scholars hold to this view, and among these are Weiss and Thayer, but there is no evidence that Peter was ever in Babylon, or that there was even a church there during the 1st century. Mark and Silvanus are associated with Peter in the letter and there is no tradition that connects either of them with Babylon. According to Josephus (Antiquities, XVIII, ix, 5-9), the Jews at this time had largely been driven out of Babylon and were confined to neighboring towns, and it seems improbable that Peter would have made that his missionary field.

    (3) That Rome was the city that was designated as Babylon. The Apocalypse would indicate that the churches would understand the symbolic reference, and it seems to have been so understood until the time of the Reformation. The denial of this position was in line with the effort to refute Peter’s supposed connection with the Roman church. Ancient tradition, however, makes it seem quite probable that Peter did make a visit to Rome (see Lightfoot, Clement, II, 493).

    Internal evidence helps to substantiate theory that Rome was the place from which the letter was written. Mark sends greetings (1 Peter 5:13), and we know he had been summoned to Rome by the apostle Paul (2 Timothy 4:11). The whole passage, “She that is in Babylon, elect together with you, saluteth you,” seems to be figurative, and that being true, it is natural that Babylon should have been used instead of Rome. The character of the letter as a whole would point to Rome as the place of writing. Ramsay thinks this book is impregnated with Roman thought beyond any other book in the Bible (see The Church in the Roman Empire, 286).

  138. From the Sybilline Oracles Book V

    These are a collection of Jewish oracles collected from 2nd C BC to the time of Christ.

    It’s a fascinating document showing just how symbolic writing was in that era.

    The language is very familiar to Revelation

    And he shall come to monarchs of the Medes
    200 And Persians, first whom he loved and to whom
    He brought renown, while with those wicked men
    He lurked against a nation not desired
    And on the temple made by God he seized
    And citizens and people going in,
    205 Of whom I justly sang the praise, he burned;
    For when this man appeared the whole creation
    Was shaken and kings perished–and yet power
    Remained among them, and they quite destroyed
    The mighty city and the righteous people.
    210 But when the fourth year a great star shall shine,
    Which alone shall the whole earth overpower
    Because of honor, which was first assigned
    To lord Poseidon; then a great star shall come
    From heaven into the dreadful sea and burn
    215 The vasty deep, and Babylon itself,
    And the land of Italy, because, of which
    There perished many holy faithful men
    Among the Hebrews and a people true.
    Thou shalt be among evil mortals made

    [210. Fourth year.–Perhaps in allusion to the time, times, and dividing of time (three and a half years) in Dan. vii, 25, a symbolic number for a period of woe.

    213. To lord Poseidon.–Reading doubtful. Some MSS. read, Poseidon who is in the sea. Mendelssohn proposes the Homeric phrase, {Greek E?nuali’wj a?ndreïfo’nth} the man-slaying, warlike one.

    213, 214. Star . . . into the . . . sea.–Comp. Rev. viii, 8; xvi, 3. This passage is an apocalyptic prophecy of judgment to come on Rome, and is so interpreted by Lactantius, Div. Inst., vii, 15 [L., 6, 790].

    215. Babylon.–Here used as a symbolic name for Rome.

    219. Thou.–Direct address to Rome.]

  139. An example

    And one whose mark is fifty shall be lord,
    40 A dreadful serpent breathing grievous war,
    Who sometime stretching forth his hands shall make
    An end of his own race and stir all things,
    Acting the athlete, driving chariots,
    Putting to death and daring countless things;
    45 And he shall cleave the mountain of two seas
    And sprinkle it with gore; but out of sight
    Shall also vanish the destructive man;
    Then, making himself equal unto God,
    Shall he return; but God will prove him naught.
    50 And after him shall three kings be destroyed
    By one another. Then a great destroyer
    Of pious men shall come, whom seven times ten
    Shall point out clearly. But from him a son,
    Whom the first letter of three hundred proves,
    55 Shall take the power. And after him shall be
    A ruler, of the initial sign of four,
    A life-destroyer. Then a reverend man
    Of the number fifty. Next, succeeding him
    Who has the first mark of the initial sign
    60 Three hundred, shall a Celtic mountaineer,
    Into the strife of battle pressing on,

    [39. Fifty.–The letter N, here denoting Nero, and Nerva in line 58.

    45. Mountain of two seas.–Isthmus of Corinth, which Nero attempted to open to the two adjoining bodies of water.

    50. Three kings.–Galba, Otho, and Vitellius.

    52. Seven times ten.–This number is denoted by the Greek {Greek O}, initial of the Greek form of the name of Vespasian ({Greek Ou?espasiano’s}).

    54. Three hundred.–Here denoting Titus.

    56. Four.–The letter A, initial of Domitian.

    60. Three hundred.–Here denoting Trajan, who was of Spanish origin, and so reckoned by the Sibyl as a “Celtic mountaineer,” not accurately, but in a loose, general way as a Western.]

    http://www.sacred-texts.com/cla/sib/sib07.htm

  140. Revelation isn’t interpreted on its own. It needs to be complimentary to Old Testament prophecy as well as New, including prophecy which came from Jesus.

    John calls it a prophecy, and the testimony of Jesus, so here is no doubt it speaks of future events as well as contemporary. Some those event which happened later than the prophecy could be included, but there are too many which have not yet occurred for it to be reasonable to state that it is completely fulfilled.

    For instance, the judgment, resurrection of saints and sinners, and coming city of God cannot possibly have taken place.

  141. “Do you see the difference between you and I, Zorro? ”

    Indeed I do, Steve, indeed I do:

    I am a man whose theological stance is unimpeachably orthodox, whereas you are someone trying to appear as such whilst giving fealty to a “leader” who is demonstrably a heretic.

    I believe God without question, whereas you believe God only insofar as He does not contradict Phil Pringle.

    I know that God judges according to the heart, but you believe that he judges according to external appearances.

    I have a freedom in Christ that has led to a renewing of my mind, whereas you are bound by all sorts of “do’s” and “dont’s” proceeding from an entirely man-centred and altogether cultic churchianity.

    I am filled with joy when God is glorified by a way of working that displays his infinite wisdom, but you remain fixated on the things of this world and the measures of men.

    But it’s your prerogative to have the attitudes that you do, Steve; after all, God has given us all free will to think and act as we please.

  142. Those events aren’t going to happen as written in Revelation. John Patmos wasn’t predicting the future. He employed the literature genre of dreams and visions in writing a deliberate message to Christians in Asia Minor. That message was to resist the idolatry of the Roman empire. Those who do will be resurrected with Christ. Those who don’t won’t. Christ will have His revenge on Rome and there will be a New Jerusalem and a new earth for the faithful ones.

  143. Sadly there won’t be a giant battle at Armaggedon either.

    The word Armageddon is taken from al-Megiddo, a place on the Jazreel Plain in modern-day Israel. By John’s time many famous battles had been fought there and in the first century it was the site of the camp of the brutal Roman Ironsides.

    To John’s mind this would have been the perfect place for the final battle between good and evil.

    So it seems that the Book of Revelation is not prophesising the end of the world but is a polemic against the Roman Empire.

    John frames his attack in a way that parallels other religious writings of the time and which would have made sense to early Christians.

    John was telling first century Christians to galvanise themselves against compromising with Rome, and that their faithfulness would be rewarded.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/christianity/texts/revelation.shtml

  144. Is the number of the beast 666 or 616?

    And what does it matter?

    Not a lot.

    Symbolism of the seven-headed beast

    The infamous seven-headed Beast that rises from the sea demanding to be worshipped symbolises Rome. By John’s time seven emperors had ruled over Rome and Rome was known as the city of seven hills.

    The number of the Beast – 666 – has always puzzled Christians and led to many speculations about who this could be. Scholars now believe that this was a matter of numerology, a popular puzzle in ancient times. The letters of a name were ascribed numerical value and added up to give a number.

    The name of the Emperor Nero adds up to 666.

    Historians believe that Nero’s persecution of Christians in Rome may have entered the consciousness of early Christians, making him a hate figure.

    However, evidence from ancient manuscripts indicates that 666 may not have been the number of the Beast.

    In the late 19th century, British archaeologists working at the site of the Egyptian city Oxyrhynchus discovered a cache of papyri that were brought to Oxford, where academics have been working their way through them ever since. One of these papyrus fragments is of the Book of Revelation and gives the number of the Beast as 616.

    Working on the same principle of numerology, academics work out 616 to indicate the Emperor Caligula. Caligula had had a statue of himself erected in the temple in Jerusalem, greatly offending Jews. If John indeed was a Jew from Palestine he would have known this.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/christianity/texts/revelation.shtml

  145. Whatever Bones. You don’t believe the first book of the bible, you don’t believe the last book of the bible, and you don’t believe huge swathes of scripture in between. You may as well get your theology from a Batman comic. Your obvious disdain for the author of the bible, the Holy Spirit, is palpable.

  146. So even after pointing out the historical meaning, you choose to believe your own understanding.

    I think that’s called pride.

  147. What historical meaning? So the authors threw in a few unsubstantiated comments as if they were the absolute truth, adding a smattering of historical evidence that could mean what they are saying it means if you stretch and bend the history to fit. It says a lot about you that you would simply accept what they write without checking their sources, without checking their motives, without checking their theology, and without finding out if what they are stating is historically accurate, simply because it is the opposite of what the orthodox belief of Revelation is. You are exchanging truth for a lie Bones. But, look, I could not care less. As I said, you’ve thrown out Genesis, you’ve thrown out Revelation, you have thrown out many more parts of scripture that don’t agree with your liberal humanist gnostism. Knock yourself out buddy twisting and bending scripture to fit into your narrow box. I hope it works out for you.

  148. Unsubstantiated, hey? Nothing is more unsubstantiated than listening to a bunch of Christians sharing their uninformed literalist opinion on what they think Revelation means.

    It’s ok, you can go back to reading your Left Behind series.

  149. Zorro,
    I am a man whose theological stance is unimpeachably orthodox, whereas you are someone trying to appear as such whilst giving fealty to a “leader” who is demonstrably a heretic.

    My fealty is to Christ. No man has ever overridden my faith in Him at any time for any reason. You do not know what I may have said to those who are overseers in regard to doctrine, and I would never tell you because your motives are not pure, and neither is it the business of anyone here what I have said to those in leadership in private times with them.

    If you are truly orthodox you would go and present your concerns to the man you despise personally and not on a blog. In hat alone you have fallen short of your claims to unimpeachable orthodoxy.

    I believe God without question, whereas you believe God only insofar as He does not contradict Phil Pringle.

    In fact, as I have said, Christ is my Head, and therefore His Word, as far as I am concerned, cannot be overruled by any man. You do not know what I have discussed with people in oversight, and I would never tell you, as you are not trustworthy.

    I do no have to discuss one single thing with you, since I am free to choose what I disclose and what I reveal of my dealings with other Christians, including those in leadership in any specific movement.

    You are not, and never could be my judge in any official capacity, only in your own, finite, limited mind.

    If you believed God without question, you would listen to the words of Christ and cease your unbrotherly conduct.

    I know that God judges according to the heart, but you believe that he judges according to external appearances.

    This is a ridiculous statement, since you do not know the first thing about what I believe in this regard, and it makes you out to be either ignorant or a liar. I’ll attribute ignorance to it for now, but if you persist with this nonsense you’d have be considered either a fool or a liar.

    I have said so many times on various threads we are saved by what we believe in our heart and what we confess with our lips, including on this very thread, that only a very inattentive reader would make such a claim.

    I have a freedom in Christ that has led to a renewing of my mind, whereas you are bound by all sorts of “do’s” and “dont’s” proceeding from an entirely man-centred and altogether cultic churchianity.

    I take it from this that you consider yourself to be already completely renewed, and not a work in progress like the rest of us.

    However, in your perfection, somehow, you have made the wrong assumption about what I think in regard to the perfect law of liberty, which says we need to love the Lord our God completely and love our neighbour as ourselves.

    The rest of the Law and Prophets have always followed on from these two commandments, and so it is under the new Covenant.

    Therefore, in the renewedness of your mind, I would have to think that you have made the decision to love me as I am indeed your neighbour. I look forward to the manifestation of this.

    I am filled with joy when God is glorified by a way of working that displays his infinite wisdom, but you remain fixated on the things of this world and the measures of men.

    In fact I look forward to the coming of Christ and the eternal life God has promised at the end of the age. I am a sojourner in the earth, and not attached to any particular city on this planet, because, like Abraham, my city is the New Jerusalem, which I have yet to see, but long for.

    The only measure that counts is the fulness of the stature of Christ, to which I am stretching forward, not having apprehended, but having set this goal before me as the great prize, which makes temporal things of little importance, keeping my eyes fixed on Him, not the world, which means I and my family are constantly ready and willing to uproot from any place under instruction of the Holy Spirit, to relocate anywhere for His call, as we have done on several occasions.

    But it’s your prerogative to have the attitudes that you do, Steve; after all, God has given us all free will to think and act as we please.

    In fact, as a disciple of Christ, I have determined to act and think as He pleases, which is a different consideration altogether.

    Now that we’ve had this discussion, and I have responded to your most recent claims, I would like to ask you to desist from the ad hominem attacks on myself, my call, and my faith.

    I apologise to you profusely for anything I have said which was incorrect or offensive, and ask that you do not make further unwarranted remarks about my person.

    If you have anything to say about C3 people, their leaders, or their movement, I ask that you address them personally, and not take out your frustrations with them on me any longer, since, as i have said, I am not an official spokesperson for C3, or their leadership, or their movement.

    Unless I comment about C3 on a thread in the course of a normal conversation, I ask that you do not continue the ad hominem attacks on me or them in lieu of my attendance at one of their churches.

    Thank you!

    Steve

  150. Bones, what you’ve actually done is give an interpretation of Revelation which may have some merits but leaves out the possibility, and I think, probability, of there yet being future events to account for, especially the parts about the coming of Christ, the resurrections of both saints and sinners, the judgment of God, the new heavens, earth and city of God and the millennial reign of Christ.

    You say these were completely allegorical and accomplished in the period between Nero and Domitian, and those parts which allude to the issues I mention here are merely an encouragement from the writer that God will see those believers through a time of crisis and testing.

    You attempt to back this theory up by pointing us to other apocalyptic writings which are not included in the canon of scripture.

    But that is not a satisfactory explanation of the unfulfilled events related in Revelation.

    The theories of liberal Bible historians that there were other apocalyptic writing has no bearing at all on the significance of the Revelation which is included in the canon, and which is amply supported by both Old and New testament scripture which attest to its relevance to the whole.

    The error I have noted here is the dependence on Revelation to be isolated as a text from the rest of canon scripture, as if it must stand alone to be ratified, but that is the wrong way of looking at how we assess apocalyptic scripture. It must be backed up by the consistency of the complete canon, and Revelation is, which is why it completes the picture we have of the Genesis, the beginnings, and the Revelation of the end, which is, in effect, the end o the Age of the gentiles, and how Israel will be dealt with before the coming of Christ.

    Israel has always looked for the coming messiah. To them h has not yet come. That is because he has said their eyes would be blinded to his coming. But scripture reveals that there will be a remnant whose eyes will be opened, and the Revelation gives us the understanding of how the eyes of those who nailed him to the cross would see him come again.

    So for Christians it is a coming again, for Israel it is the coming of the Messiah. It is, essentially, a rescue mission for persecuted Jews at the end of time.

    This is consistent with Old and New Testament scripture.

    Like Matthew 24 it is not so much about the mystery Church, but about God’s dealings with Israel, just as Genesis was about the way in which God needed to form Israel to bring the Seed through to the Harvest.

  151. http://amazinghealth.com/S-deception_end-time_Antichrist_Daniel_horn

    In the previous articles, we have seen how God foretold the future first to King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon through the symbolism of a magnificent statue and then in greater detail directly to Daniel through four beasts arising out of the sea.

    Daniel’s dream describes a little horn that arises from among the ten horns of the fourth terrible beast. The little horn power represents the Antichrist and is described in Daniel’s dream with great detail so that we can clearly identify who this end-time enemy will be. Since we don’t want to make any mistake, it is essential that we correctly identify this power.
    Daniel 7 gives us very precise identifying features of the horn, and every single one must apply in order to make an accurate identification possible. The 13 features are as follows:

    1. It arose out of the fourth beast.

    After this I saw in the night visions, and behold a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, and strong exceedingly; and it had great iron teeth: it devoured and brake in pieces, and stamped the residue with the feet of it: and it was diverse from all the beasts that were before it; and it had ten horns. I considered the horns, and, behold, there came up among them another little horn (Daniel 7:7-8).

    Papal Rome arose out of the ashes of pagan Rome. Historian Carl Eckhardt says this:
    When the Roman empire had disintegrated and its place had been taken by a number of rude, barbarous kingdoms, the Roman Catholic Church not only became independent of the state in religious affairs but dominated secular affairs as well.i

    All historians agree that papal Rome emerged out of the ruins of the ancient pagan Roman Empire. Thomas Hobbes, English Historian, says this:
    If a man consider the origin of this great ecclesiastical dominion, he will easily perceive that the Papacy is no other than the ghost of the deceased Roman empire, sitting crowned upon the grave thereof.ii

    The description of the little horn power is in connection with the fourth beast. This is very important, since there are many who adopt a preterist view of the Antichrist and would like to associate the Antichrist with Antiochus Epiphanes IV, a Greek king who persecuted the Jews and desecrated the temple. This would, however, not fit the prophecy, as the Antichrist is to arise out of the fourth beast, which is Rome.

    2. It came up among the ten horns.

    I considered the ten horns and, behold, there came up among them another little horn (Daniel 7:8).

    Note that the little horn arises among the ten, which implies that the ten were already there when it arose and, all ten were still in existence when it made its appearance.
    The Antichrist was to come up among the ten horns, growing from a small power to the greatest. This is indeed true of the Papacy. After the initial fusing of Christianity with the pagan religions of the time, the bishop of Rome increased in power while the emperors of the Roman Empire supported him.
    Constantine was the first emperor to embrace Christianity, but he only cloaked himself with a veneer of the religion. In the year 533 AD, emperor Justinian decreed that the bishop of Rome was the spiritual leader of the Christian world.
    To qualify as a horn, this power must have the attributes of a kingdom, which indeed applies to the Vatican, which to this day is an independent state. Also, it arose amongst the powers of fallen Rome. The Europe that we know today is the remnant of the horn of Rome.

    3. It came up after the ten horns had been established.

    After this I saw in the night visions, and behold a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, and strong exceedingly; and it had great iron teeth: it devoured and brake in pieces, and stamped the residue with the feet of it: and it was diverse from all the beasts that were before it; and it had ten horns. I considered the horns, and, behold, there came up among them another little horn (Daniel 7:7-8).

    The Roman Catholic Church grew in power after Constantine accepted Christianity, but it did not control secular affairs until the Justinian decrees went into effect. The power of the bishop of Rome steadily increased and papal authority in secular affairs arose after the Barbarian division of Rome in 476 AD.
    The American Catholic Quarterly Review says this:
    Long ages ago, when Rome through the neglect of the Western emperors was left to the mercy of the barbarous hordes, the Romans turned to one figure for aid and protection, and asked him to rule them…and thus…commenced the temporal sovereignty of the popes. So, meekly stepping to the throne of Caesar, the vicar of Christ took up the sceptre to which the emperors and kings of Europe were to bow in reverence through so many ages.i

    William Barry says this:
    The Pax Romana has ceased; it is a universal confusion. But wherever a Bishop holds his court, religion protects all that is left of the ancient order. A new Rome ascends slowly above the horizon…the heir of religion which it has overthrown; it assumes the outward splendour of the Caesars…The emperor is no more…But the Pontifex Maximus abides; he is now the Vicar of Christ, offering the old civilisation to the tribes of the North. He converts them to his creed, and they serve him as their Father and Judge Supreme. This is the Papal Monarchy, which in its power and its decline overshadows the history of Europe for a thousand years.ii

    The rise of the little horn occurred after the subdivision of Rome into ten powers in 476 AD. At this time, the little horn became firmly established in order to qualify as a horn, that is, to be a king or a kingdom:
    And the ten horns out of this kingdom are ten kings that shall arise: and another shall rise after them (Daniel 7:24).

    4. It was to uproot three horns.
    5. It was to be greater than the others.
    6. It was to be different than the others.
    7. It was to have eyes like the eyes of a man and speak great words against God.
    8. It was to make war on God’s saints.
    9. It would think to change times and laws.
    10.The saints were to be handed over to it for a time and times and half a time.
    11. It shall devour the whole earth.
    12. It shall reign until the Ancient of Days comes.
    13. Its dominion will be taken away.
    (read on @ http://amazinghealth.com/S-deception_end-time_Antichrist_Daniel_horn )

    The Antichrist power has to fulfill all of the characteristics given in the Bible. It cannot meet only some of them. Thirteen times in the above articles, we see how the papal system qualifies for all the identifying points of the little horn power of Daniel 7, as sad and shocking as it may seem. It is essential that we realize that the Bible is not dealing with individuals, but with a religious and political system that for more than 1500 years has claimed the power to control the planet’s conscience. Moreover, for a set time, it had power to enforce its decrees and to persecute all who chose to obey God and His Word. This can be seen clearly in the Sunday-Sabbath issue
    The Bible is dealing with a power that is misusing its position, and presuming to take the very place of God. Individuals are responsible to God for the light they live up to. In condemning the system, God is not condemning the individuals within the system who are living up to light they have and long to have a relationship with Him.

    There is only one system that meets all the identifying features listed in Daniel chapter 7, and this is the Papacy. Read about God’s people who identified the Antichrist throughout history
    I would recommend that each person prayerfully study the Scriptures, asking guidance from God, and follow Paul’s example:
    And [Paul] trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? (Acts 9:6).

    http://amazinghealth.com/S-deception_end-time_Beast_papal_Rome

  152. “The theories of liberal Bible historians that there were other apocalyptic writing has no bearing at all on the significance of the Revelation which is included in the canon, and which is amply supported by both Old and New testament scripture which attest to its relevance to the whole.”

    Not a theory and it does have significance to the Book of Revelation when it can be shown how apocalyptic writing was interpreted and how metaphors were used to describe current actual events around the time John Patmos was writing..

    eg
    Babylon = Imperial Rome
    Numbers = a king or Caesar

    As for the ‘supposed’ things to come, they are John’s way of dealing with those who persecuted the faithful. Christ will reign with an iron rod. Caesar, Satan, Rome and her allies, Christians who sacrificed to Rome (cowards) are destroyed and thrown into the lake of fire. The new earth will be devoid of Rome, the new Jerusalem devoid of the destruction she endured when the Romans slaughtered her inhabitants.

  153. Daniel 7

    There is general agreement among modern scholars[5] that the four beasts represent Babylonia, Medes, Persia, and Alexander’s Greek empire.[6] Those scholars who do not subscribe to this view point to Daniel’s reference to the Kingdom of the Medes and Persians as a single entity, enabling the possibility of another empire after Greece.[7] The majority view is that ten horns represent the kings from Alexander on through the Seleucid kingdom:[6][8]
    Alexander the Great
    Seleucus I Nicator,
    Antiochus I Soter,
    Antiochus II Theos,
    Seleucus II Callinicus,
    Seleucus III Ceraunus,
    Antiochus III the Great,
    Seleucus IV Philopator, (assassinated by the following)
    Heliodorus,
    Seleucus IV’s infant son Antiochus (puppet for Heliodorus).
    The last three “horns” had to fall to make way for the “little horn” Antiochus IV Epiphanes and his arrival on the throne, effectively by usurpation.[9] Daniel 7:25 is a reference to the persecutions of Antiochus, his suppression of the Jewish religion, and his attempt to force the Jews to adopt the Greek customs.[8][10][11]

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daniel_7

  154. “So anything which is revealed in the Revelation by the angel through John of the words of Jesus Christ of future events, or events which he speaks of which have yet to take place remains prophecy.

    Such as the resurrection, the judgment, the Bride, the new heavens, earth and Jerusalem, etc.

    Even the prophecy in Revelation which has been fulfilled is still prophecy as far as he written word is concerned.

    And the same has to be said of words in the Revelation of Christ which are being currently fulfilled.

    You cannot possibly deny it with any kind of credulity.”

    https://signposts02.wordpress.com/2013/01/30/5829/#comment-42470

    Revelation isn’t prophecy.

    I don’t look upon anything in Revelation as accurately portrayed events as it is John’s interpretation of them.

  155. Revelation 1
    1 The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show His servants–things which must shortly take place. And He sent and signified it by His angel to His servant John,
    2 who bore witness to the word of God, and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, to all things that he saw.
    3 Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this PROPHECY, and keep those things which are written in it; for the time is near.

  156. Apokalupsis means revealing of hidden things.

    1) laying bear, making naked
    2) a disclosure of truth, instruction
    2a) concerning things before unknown
    2b) used of events by which things or states or persons
    hitherto withdrawn from view are made visible to all
    3) manifestation, appearance

  157. So john claimed it was a prophecy.

    So what?

    He also claimed to meet Jesus and have visions which he didn’t.

    Many who wrote at the time claimed what they wrote was prophetic.

    Of course that’s if you have a narrow futuristic view of prophecy.

  158. Of course there is truth in John.

    There will be a resurrection, a judgement, the call to be faithful, Jesus will come again.

    Nothing like John has interpreted it though.

  159. No, you’re wrong. You cannot be right. It reveals itself as revelation and prophecy.

    You have an opinion of it, bit it is the wrong opinion. You have an understanding of it, but it is the wrong understanding.

  160. Yes Steve that’s what John wrote.

    And….

    (Do you think Revelation would have sounded very authoritative if John started “Hey guys, I think it might be like this….”)

  161. No my opinion is correct as is my understanding.

    The hidden things have been revealed as per the thread of this discussion.

    Mind you John did a very good job of hiding the hidden things.

    People have spent 2000 years working out what the hidden things are.

    Now we know.

  162. Well, I’ll leave you to your wrong understanding because it is not worth discussing it with you once you have dismissed the entire book as irrelevant.

    I say, along with most believers, that it is not. I don’t want to play ping pong with you any longer over such an issue. If you can’t believe. That’s your problem. I am clear on it.

    Have fun dismissing truth, but it cannot possibly assist your faith.

  163. Bones,
    my opinion is correct as is my understanding

    Except it doesn’t add up, because you either have your understanding and, by necessity, dismiss huge sections which have obviously not been fulfilled on some excuse which cannot be rationally accepted, or you dismiss it entirely, which is against all orthodoxy.

    So your understanding is flawed either way.

    You either accept the entire book or none of it. You can’t have it both ways.

  164. “You either accept the entire book or none of it. ”

    What the Bible or Revelation?

    Fair to say no one reads Revelation the same way as we read the gospels or the epistles.

    I’ve backed up my understandings of the beast, Babylon, Armeggedon, apocalyptic narrative from other writings at the same time.

    John used apocalyptic techniques common in the first century Middle East.

  165. No, you’re wrong. You cannot be right. It reveals itself as revelation and prophecy.

    And the prize for most blatant use of circular reasoning goes to……STEVE!!

    It says it is so it must be! Good grief man

  166. U put together a lot of fantastic points within ur blog post, “4
    big myths of Book of Revelation Signposts 02”.
    I’ll remain coming to your webpage eventually. With thanks ,Vicky

  167. “He can call it the book of Bones.”

    Bloody oath.

    Jesus wouldn’t be pussy footing around with swords in my novel.

    He’d be armed with a chain gun and nuke arsenal. Stuff riding a horse. Jesus’ll be riding an M1A1 Abrams tank crushing unbelievers and zombies as he goes while we all sang, He’s Got The Whole World and Onward Christian Soldiers.

    As the devil, death, hades and naughty people get ready to be roasted by Jesus’s eternal flamethrower, He’ll be saying asta la vista, baby.

    Then we’ll go to the eternal city for the eternal after game keg.

    Sounds like a screen play actually.

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