Bible Query from
Q: John wrote (the Gospel of John to call people to believe in Christ. So, the Gospel is for unbeliever to believe. But John wrote (the Revelation) for a believing people, under the persecution of Nero to Christians, so that to give believers hope and encouragement and also to keep faith. Isn't it? Or the truth is that the two books are written by two different authors, taking into consideration the variety and difference in the style and purposes of writing?
A: John wrote both, and as you saw, the primary audiences were different. However, the Gospel of John is valuable for believers to read, and Revelation is fine for unbelievers to read. Revelation is usually considered the most difficult book to interpret, though mature believers still read and understand it all the time.
Q: In Rev, what are the parallels with other verses in the rest of the Bible?
A: Surprisingly, there are few concepts unique to Revelation, as these 121 similarities show.
|Concept or phrase||Revelation||Rest of the Bible|
|Bear witness to the testimony of Christ||Rev 1:2||1 Jn 1:2-3 3 Jn 5,12|
|Blessed are those who hear||Rev 1:3||Mt 13:16|
|The time is near||Rev 1:3||Rom 13:11|
|Sevenfold Spirit||Rev 1:4; 4:5||Zech 3:9; Isa 11:2|
|Jesus firstborn of the dead||Rev 1:5||Col 1:15; Heb 2:6,9|
|Jesus freed us from sins by His blood||Rev 1:5||Rom 5:9; Heb 9:12-14; 10:19|
|We are kings and priests to God||Rev 1:5||1 Pet 2:4, 6,9|
|A kingdom and priests||Rev 1:6; 5:10||Ex 19:6; priests in 1 Pet 2:5,9|
|Jesus comes with the clouds; every eye shall see Jesus return||Rev 1:7||Mt 24:30; Mk 13:26; Lk 21:27; Acts 1:11; Dan 7:13|
|The wicked pierced Jesus and will mourn||Rev 1:7||Zech 12:10-14|
|Almighty||Rev 1:8; 4:8; 11:17; 15:3; 16:7,14; 19:6,15; 21:22||Many OT. Rom 9:29; 2 Cor 6:18; Jms 5:4|
|Hair white like wool||Rev 1:14||Dan 7:9|
|Second death||Rev 2:11; 14:10-11; 19:20; 20:10-15; 21:8||Isa 66:24; Mt 13:24-43,50; Mt 25:41-46|
|Let him who has ears, let him hear||Rev 2:29; 3:6,13,22||Mt 11:15; Mk 4:23; Lk 8:8; 14:35|
|We must remain watchful||Rev 3:2,3||Mt 24:4,44; Mk 13:33; Lk 21:36|
|We do not know when Jesus will return||Rev 3:3||Mt 24:36; Mk 13:32|
|Never be blotted out of the Book of Life||Rev 3:5; 20:12||Ex 32:32-33; Ps 69:28|
|The Book of Life||Rev 3:5; 13:8; 17:8; 20:12,15; 21:27||Dan 12:1; Lk 10:20; Ex 2:32-33; Ps 69:28|
|What God shuts none can open; what He opens none can shut||Rev 3:7||Isaiah 22:22|
|Have an open door||Rev 3:8||Acts 14:27; 1 Cor 16:9|
|We will receive crowns and rewards||Rev 3:11||1 Cor 3:12-15; Php 4:1|
|We are a part of the Temple of God||Rev 3:12||1 Cor 3:16-17; 1 Pet 2:5-6|
|As many as are loved are chastened||Rev 3:19||Pr 3:11-12; Heb 12:5-11|
|The throne room in Heaven||Rev 4:1-11||Isa 6:1-7; Ezek 1, 10:1-22|
|Lightning from the throne||Rev 4:5; 8:5; 11:19; 16:18||Ezek 1:4,13,14|
|Four Living Creatures||Rev 4:6; 19:4||Ezek 1:5-19; 10:10-14|
|Sea of glass||Rev 4:6; 15:2||Ezek 1:22|
|Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord God Almighty / Lord of Hosts||Rev 4:8||Isaiah 6:3|
|A scroll of woe in heaven with writing on both sides||Rev 5:1-5||Ezek 2:9-10|
|Jesus is the Lamb of God||Rev 5:1-8||Jn 1:29; 1 Pet 1:19|
|Singing a new song to God||Rev 5:9||Psalm 33:3; 40:3; 96:1; 98:1; 144:9; 149:1; Isaiah 42:10|
|Jesus is honored as the Father is||Rev 5:12-13; 7:10||Jn 5:22-23|
|Every tongue will praise God||Rev 5:13||Php 2:10-11|
|Wars and fighting come before the end||Rev 6:1-4||Mt 24:6-7|
|Famine||Rev 6:5-6||Mt 24:7|
|Plague and death come before God||Rev 6:7-8||Ps 50:3; Mt 24:7|
|Sword, famine, wild beasts and plague||Rev 6:8||Ezek 14:21|
|Sun turns dark and moon turns to blood||Rev 6:12-13||Joel 2:2,10; 3:15; Mk 13:24; Lk 21:25; Isa 24:23; Am 8:4|
|The stars fall from the sky||Rev 6:13||Joel 2:10; Mk 13:25|
|Sky receded like a scroll||Rev 6:14||Isa 34:4|
|Earthquake at the end||Rev 6:12; 8:5; 11:13,19; 16:18-19||Mt 24:7; Mk 13:8; Lk 21:11; Jer 4:24; Isa 29:6; Nah 1:5|
|People hide in caves from Godís wrath||Rev 6:14-17||Isa 2:10-11; 19-21; Lk 21:26|
|Four destructive angels||Rev 7:1||Zech 6:1-8; ~Jer 49:36|
|Godís name will be on our foreheads||Rev 7:3; 9:4; 14:1;22:4||Ezekiel 9:4|
|Godís people not hunger or thirst nor heat of sun strike them, but springs of lving water||Rev 7:16||Isaiah 49:19|
|The great silence before the Lord||Rev 8:1||Hab 2:20; Zeph 1:7; Zech 2:13|
|Altar before Godís throne||Rev 8:3||Isaiah 6:6|
|Trees and grass burned up||Rev 8:7||Joel 1:19|
|Water turned to wormwood||Rev 8:10-11||Jer 9:15. (partial Jer 23:15)|
|Dreaded locusts, looking like horses||Rev 9:1-12||Joel 2:3-11; Ezek 5:17?|
|Euphrates River||Rev 9:14; 16:12||Isa 11:15-16|
|Parts of Godís Revelation sealed up||Rev 10:4||Dan 12:9; Isa 29:11-12|
|Angel raising his right hand and swearing||Rev 10:5||Dan 12:7|
|Eating a scroll||Rev 10:2,9-10||Ezek 2:9-3:3|
|Measuring the temple||Rev 11:1-2||Ezek 40:3|
|Three and a half years||Rev 11:1-3; 12:6; 13:5||Dan 9:26-27; 12:7,11|
|Two olive trees and two lampstands||Rev 11:4||Zech 4:3,11-14|
|The Last trumpet;||Rev 11:15||1 Cor 15:52|
|Ark of the Covenant in Heaven||Rev 15:5; 11:19||Heb 9:23|
|Michael||Rev 12:7||Dan 12:1; Jude 9|
|Dragon casting down stars||Rev 12:4||Dan 8:10|
|Satan being cast out of Heaven||Rev 12:9||Ezek 28:16-17|
|A flood, or river of water||Rev 12:15||Dan 9:26; Nahum 1:8|
|An allegorical godly lady and her offspring||Rev 12:17||2 Jn 1,5|
|A beast with ten horns||Rev 13:1-3; 17:3||Daniel 7:4-7|
|Kill those who will not worship the status||Rev 13:14-15||Daniel 3:3-5|
|Praise God with harps||Rev 14:2||Psalm 149:3|
|Singing a new song||Rev 14:3-4||Ps 98:1; 149:1; Isa 42:10|
|Gospel preached to the whole world||Rev 14:6||Mt 24:14; Mk 14:9|
|Grapes of wrath||Rev 14:17-19||Isaiah 63:1-6; Joel 3:13|
|Spirits sent to gather the nations for battle in general or against Edom||Rev 16:12-14||Obadiah 1 (Edom)|
|Great battle at Armageddon||Rev 16:14-16||Isaiah 34,63; Hab 3|
|The future evil of Babylon||Rev 17||Isa 21:9; 49:20; Jer 50:2-8; Zech 5:5-11; 1 Pet 5:13|
|Dwell by many waters, abundant in treasures||Rev 17:1; 18:9-11||Jer 51:13|
|Cup of the maddening wine of adultery. Nations drunk.||Rev 17:2,4; 18:3||Jer 51:7; Ezek 23:31-34|
|Destruction of Babylon||Rev 14:8; 16:19; 18; 19:1-4||Isa 21:9; Isa 47; Jer 50-51; 51:8|
|Jesus / the Day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night||Rev 16:15||Mt 24:42-43; 1 Thess 5:2; 2 Pet 3:10|
|Babylon a haunt for foul spirits and unclean birds||Rev 18:2||Isa 13:21|
|Flee Babylon!||Rev 18:4||Jer 50:8; 51:6,45; Isa 42:20; 52:11; ~2 Cor 6:17|
|Repay Babylong double||Rev 18:6||Jer 50:15; 51:24-49|
|Trading in the bodies and souls of men||Rev 18:13-14||Joel 3:3|
|All the land will tremble and sorrow when Babylon made desolate||Rev 18:8-11||Jer 51:29|
|What city is like Babylon/Tyre destroyed in the midst of the sea?||Rev 18:17-19||Ezek 27:32-34|
|Like a stone, Babylon shall sink into the sea never to rise. (Jeremiah has Euphrates, not Sea)||Rev 18:21||Jer 51:63,64|
|Smoke goes up forever||Rev 19:3 (Babylon)||Isa 34:10 (Edom)|
|The bride of the Christ, the lamb||Rev 19:7; 21:9||Eph 5:32|
|Robe is dipped in blood||Rev 19:13||Isaiah 63:1-3|
|Jesus coming with armies following Him||Rev 19:14||Mt 16:27; Jude 14; Dan 7:10|
|River of fire coming out of the Christ / Ancient of Days||Rev 19:16||Dan 7:10|
|God / Jesus treading on the winepress of the fury of the Godís wrath||Rev 19:15b||Isaiah 63:1-3|
|Birds gorging themselves on flesh||Rev 19:17-21||Mt 24:28; Lk 17:37; Dt 28:26|
|The Millennium (1000 years)||Rev 20:1-7||Isa 35|
|Coming to life again||Rev 20:4-5||Dan 12:2|
|Reign with Christ||Rev 20:4,6||2 Tim 2:12|
|Gog and Magog killed; battle outside of Jerusalem||Rev 20:7-9||Ezek 38-39; Zech 12:7-11; 14:2-8,12; Isa 29:6|
|Devil and others cast into Lake of Fire||Rev 20:10||Mt 25:41|
|Book of deeds||Rev 20:12||~Ps 139: 16|
|Judged according to their deeds||Rev 20:13; 22:12||Mt 25:31-46|
|Death will be destroyed forever||Rev 20:14||Isa 25:7-8|
|People go into the Lake of Fire||Rev 20:15||Mt 25:41|
|New Heaven and new earth||Rev 21:1||Isa 65:17-25; 66:22-24; 2 Pet 3:13|
|God will live with His people in the New Jerusalem||Rev 21:2-3; 22:3||Zech 8:3|
|No need for sun and moon in Heaven||Rev 21:3-5; 22:5||Isa 60:19-20|
|Wipe away every tear||Rev 21:4; 7:17b||Isaiah 25:8|
|God is the beginning and the ending||Rev 21:6; 22:13||Isaiah 41:4|
|Believers will be Godís sons||Rev 21:7||Jeremiah 3:19, Galatians 3:26|
|New Jerusalem on a great mountain||Rev 21:10||Micah 4:1-2|
|New Jerusalem has a gate for each tribe||Rev 21:12-13||Ezek 48:30-35|
|New Jerusalem / church built on 12 foundations of the apostles||Rev 21:14||Eph 3:20|
|Angel with a rod to measure the city||Rev 21:15||Ezekiel 47:3-6|
|River / fountain flowing out of Jerusalem||Rev 22:1-2||Ezek 47:1-2; Zech 14:8; Joel 3:18|
|The tree of life||Rev 22:2-3,14,19||Gen 2:9-10; Ezek 47:12|
|Leaves of the tree of life for healing||Rev 22:2||Ezek 47:12|
|We will see Godís face||Rev 22:4||Ps 11:7; 17:15; 27:8|
|Phrase: spirits of the prophets||Rev 22:6||1 Cor 14:32|
|No worship of angels||Rev 22:8-9||Col 2:18|
|Do / Do not seal up words of a prophecy||Rev 22:10||Dan 12:4|
|Good and evil both increase||Rev 22:11||Dan 12:10|
|Jesus is the morning star||Rev 22:14||2 Pet 1:19|
|The evildoers remain outside||Rev 22:15||1 Cor 6:9-10|
|Say, come, thy kingdom come, or look forward to Christís return||Rev 22:17,20||Mt 6:10; 2 Pet 3:12|
|Destruction of the four horsemen (Rev 6:1-8)||Four horses roaming throughout the earth (Zech 1:8-11)|
|Seven seals on a scroll and their curses (Rev 6:1-7:17)||Flying scroll of curses (Zech 5:1-4)|
|Eagle flying with three woes (Rev 8:13)||Flying scroll of curses (Zech 5:1-4)|
|Measuring the Temple but not the outer court (Rev 11:1-2)||Measuring the city but then donít measure it.) Zech 2:1-3)|
|Never be a widow Rev 17:17; 18:7-8||Sit as a lady forever. Isa 47:5,7|
Q: Since Rev seems so unusual, so why should it be considered scripture?
A: Revelation parallels many earlier Old Testament and New Testament writings as the answer to the previous question proves. Irenaeus (182-188 A.D.), Justin Martyr, the Muratorian Canon, Tertullian, Clement of Alexandria, and Hippolytus all said it was written by John. Tertullianís Five Books Against Marcion book 4 lines 180-184 very strongly implies John wrote Revelation. The Letter to Diognetus (c.130-200 A.D.) appears to refer to it in chapter 12, and Ignatius, who was a disciple of John the Apostle, in his letter to the Smyrneans reminds his readers of their previously known teaching, of which we have no record whatsoever, except in the book of Revelation. Dionysius of Alexandria was probably the first to question if John was the same apostle John, but that was 150 years after it was written.
Fragment 8 of writings concerning Papias, probably written about 400 A.D. says, "With regard to the inspiration of the book (Revelation), we deem it superfluous to add another word; for the blessed Gregory Theologus and Cyril, and even men of still older date, Papias, Irenaeus, Methodius, and Hippolytus, bore entirely satisfactory testimony to it." (Ante-Nicene Fathers volume 1 (Roberts & Donaldson editors, 1994) p.155.
Q: Rev, what are some ways to outline this book?
A: One way to outlines Revelation is what John had seen (ch.1), things which are now (ch.2-3) and that which is later (ch.4-22). A second way is as four visions, ch.1, ch.2-3, ch.21-22, and lumping everything else in a third vision. A more useful outline appears when we realize that God organized Revelation around the number 7.
1 The Blessedness of this book: 7-fold Spirit, 7-fold description of Jesus, 7 lampstands, 7 churches
2-3 Messengers to the Seven Churches: Now and Later: Ephesus, Smyrna, Perg., Thy.. Sardis, Phil., Laodicea
5 The Throne of Heaven: door, throne, 4 living creatures, scroll, lamb, angels, creatures
6-7 Seven seals: conquest, war, famine, plague. Altar of martyrs, earthquake/144K/great multitude (only 6)
8-11 Seventh seal: Seven Trumpets: earth, sea, rivers, 3 woes, Euphrates, 7 thunders, itís time
12-15 Seven Signs: women/dragon, war in heaven, sea beast, 666 land beast, 144K, 3 angels, the harvest
16-18 Seven Bowls: sea, land, rivers, sun, darkness, Euphrates for Armageddon, itís time Babylon is destroyed
19-22 Seven Last Things: Wedding supper, white horse rider, Millennium, Great white throne, New Jerusalem/heaven/earth, River of Life
Q: In Rev, what are some ways people have interpreted this book?
A: Revelation is a difficult book to interpret, but on top of that, people have over-complicated it by writing opposing information on how to interpret it. So how should we interpret it? There are five conflicting answers.
Symbolic only: Most of the things in Revelation will not literally happen, there is no millennium on earth, and everything is just a symbol of spiritual principles. This was the view of Dionysius of Alexandria (246-265 A.D.), Eusebius of Caesarea (318-340 A.D.) Augustine of Hippo, and almost all Christians after 325 A.D.)
Historical: everything had already occurred when the book was written. (only a few liberals have this view.)
Full Preterist: everything happened already but after the book was written. (Few people are full preterists.)
Partial Preterist: most things have happened, but some things have not happened yet. (R.C. Sproul held this view. They also deny the millennium on earth and some deny the rapture.)
Futurist: Except for the seven churches, everything is still yet to be fulfilled. (This is the standard view, apparently going back to Johnís disciple Papias (95-110 A.D.)
Early Christians who held that most of the events of Revelation are just symbols that will never happen.
|Dionysius of Alexandria (246-265 A.D.)||Epistle of Barnabas (c.70-130 A.D.)|
|Eusebius of Caesarea (318-340 A.D.)||Augustine of Hippo (388-430 A.D.)|
|While I do not have proof of these two, I am guessing that these also believed that.|
|Clement of Alexandria (193-217/220 A.D.)||Origen (225-254 A.D.)|
|Papias, disciple of John the Apostle (99-110 A.D.)||Hippolytus (222-235/236 A.D.)|
|The Didache (before 125 A.D.)||Instructions of Commodianus (c.240 A.D.)|
|Epistle of Barnabas (c.70-130 A.D.)||Treatise Against Novatian (c.248-258 A.D.)|
|Justin Martyr (c.138-165 A.D.)||Cyprian of Carthage (c.246-258 A.D.)|
|Irenaeus of Lyons (182-188 A.D.)||Victorinus of Petau (martyred 304 A.D.)|
|Polycrates of Ephesus (130-196 A.D.)||Methodius (260-312/3 A.D.)|
|Tertullian (198-220 A.D.)||Lactantius (c.303-325 A.D.)|
|Between 325 A.D and Reformation times I have only found two writers who held some to be literal.|
|Ambrosiaster (Latin, after 384 A.D.)||Jerome (373-420 A.D.)|
Q: In Rev 1:3, should Christians spend time studying about the endtimes?
A: Yes, because Revelation 1:3 says so. Since approximately 2/3 of the doctrinal material of the New Testament is concerned with the second coming of Christ, R.C. Sproul in Now Thatís a Good Question p.488-490 says, "So just from the sheer volume of information in both the New and Old Testaments that focuses on the future consummation of the kingdom of God, itís obvious that this was a burning matter of importance to the early Christian church and to the teaching of Jesus himself. ... At the same time we ought not to be preoccupied."
Q: In Rev 1:3; 14:13; 16:15; 19:9; 20:6; 22:7; 22:14 why are there seven "beatitudes" in Revelation?
A: These seven beatitudes, or seven blessings God offers, are consistent with seven being the theme of the book. They are in brief, those who hear, those who die, those who stay awake and keep their clothes, those invited, partake of the first resurrection, keeps the words, and wash their robes.
Q: In Rev 1:4 and Rev 4:5, is the Holy Spirit one, or seven?
A: Scripture tells us of only one Holy Spirit. However, Revelation 1:4 shows the Spirit has seven distinct parts. Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.431-432 and When Critics Ask p.557 say these are named in Isaiah 11:2 as the spirit of LORD, wisdom, understanding, counsel, strength, knowledge, and fear of the Lord. Zechariah 3:9 speaks of the stone set before Joshua the high priest with one stone and seven eyes. Zechariah 4:10 also mentions the seven eyes of the Lord.
Q: In Rev 1:4,8,11,17, is it the Father, or the Son, who is the Alpha and Omega, who was and is and is to come, the first and the last?
A: These two titles, as well as many others, are shared by the Father and the Son. For another example of a shared title, see John 8:58 for another example. Ambrose of Milan (c.378 A.D.) in his work, Of the Holy Spirit book 1 chapter 13, wrote more on the sharing of the divine names. See The Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers 2nd Series p.110-111 for more info.
It must be difficult to be a Jehovahís Witness when the Father and Son share so many titles. The JW Awake Magazine 8/22/1978 p.28 says the Alpha and Omega here refers to Jehovah God. Yet the 10/1/1978 Watchtower Magazine p.15 says it refers to Jesus Christ. See Sixty Questions Every Jehovahís Witness Should be Asked p.24 for more info.
Q: In Rev 1:5 (KJV), should it say "washed us" or "freed us" like other translations?
A: The Text of the New Testament by Bruce Metzger (1968) says the KJV here used later manuscripts and it should be "freed us". He also says the error likely occurred because pronouncing the two in Greek is almost indistinguishable. Williams Translation has "released us from our sins", which is similar to "freed".
Q: In Rev 1:5, how is Jesus the firstborn of the dead?
A: See the discussion on Colossians 1:15 and Hebrews 2:6 for the answer.
Q: In Rev 1:7, when Jesus comes back in the clouds, could that refer to the Guru Maharaj Ji flying from India to America in an airplane, as the Divine Light Mission taught?
A: No, for at least four reasons.
1. Acts 1:11 says that Jesus will return in the same way He ascended to Heaven.
2. Acts 1:11 says it will be this same Jesus
3. Revelation 1:7 says that every eye will see him.
4. Revelation 1:7 and Acts 1:11 both imply a miraculous coming, that people would view as spectacular. Nobody paid much attention to Guru Maharaj Ji flying from India in an airplane.
See also the discussion on Hebrews 12:1.
Q: In Rev 1:7 and Acts 1:11 was Jesus coming back in the clouds show they thought there was a cosmic "up"? (The skeptic Bart Ehrman asked this in Jesus, Interrupted p.280-281)
A: I am surprised at Ehrmanís absolute skepticism here. If an Apollo spaceship orbited the earth, and on a cloudy day it went through the clouds to land, I would say it came down through the clouds. If an airplane took off, I would say it flew up into the sky. And I donít have to believe in a cosmic "up" to say that, mathematically speaking, "up" is a single direction, called r, using radial coordinates.
Q: In Rev 1:7 and Acts 1:11, is it "incomprehensible" that Jesus would literally return in the clouds as Rev. Moon claims?
A: No. Here is what the cult leader Rev. Moon wrote: "Consequently, the most important matter of all is the viewpoint from which one interprets the Bible.... since it is absolutely incomprehensible to the intellect of modern men that the Lord would come on the clouds, it is necessary for us to consider the Bible in detail a second time..." Divine Principle p.500.
It is no more incomprehensible than Jesus leaving in the clouds in Acts 1:11. Perhaps one of the root problems of many in the Unification Church is a lack of faith in Godís ways, and a gullibility to follow someone elseís ways. See also the next question.
Q: In Rev 1:7, how can "every eye" see Jesus coming back in the clouds?
A: In the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, skeptics used to use this verse to show the Bible was wrong, because it was impossible for every eye to see Jesus, given that the world was round. That was before the invention of TV or video.
Of course, even without TV or live video, if Jesus came to earth in a circular path, or if Jesus came in a straight path and took more than 24 hours, every eye could still see Jesus. See When Cultists Ask p.304 for more info on Revelation 1:7.
Q: In Rev 1:7, how could even those who pierced Jesus see him, since they had died long ago?
A: First what the cult leader Rev. Moon says from the Divine Principle (fifth edition, 1977), and then the answer.
Rev. Moon says that the Roman soldiers who crucified Jesus could not see him, since the Roman soldiers were not resurrected yet. Since the "ones who pierced him" will not really see him, we should interpret this verse as a parable. Since the ones who pierced him is only symbolic, Christ returning in the clouds is symbolic too. (Divine Principle p.513). The clouds really represent groups of people, and Christ returned is really Rev. Moon from Korea.
There are two different ways those who pierced him could see Jesus returning.
1. What could stop God, who is Almighty, from letting people in Hell glimpse Jesus returning to earth? Since John 5:28-29 says all, even the dead will hear Jesus when He comes forth, then there is no problem with all, even the dead, seeing Jesus, too.
2. Jesus did not die just for the Roman soldiers and Jews of that time. He died for all of us, and in this sense, we all pierced him, too.
Q: In Rev 1:7, will Jesusí return be invisible as Jehovahís Witnesses teach?
A: Revelation 1:7 could not be more plain: "every eye will see him". Furthermore, Acts 1:10-12 says that Jesus will return the way he ascended to Heaven. They visibly saw Jesus ascend into Heaven. See When Cultists Ask p.304 for more info.
Q: In Rev 1:8, is the "Alpha and Omega" Jesus?
A: Yes, contrary to what Jehovahís Witnesses say. According to Jehovah Witness theology, only the Father is "Almighty" God, and Jesus is "Mighty god", and "the Almighty" is mentioned here. However, there is a problem with their theology, because it is clearly Jesus for three reasons.
1. It was Jesus, not God the Father, who was pierced,
2. It is Jesus who is coming in Revelation 1:8
3. The person speaking is the Alpha and Omega in Revelation 22:12-13, and that person is Jesus in Revelation 22:20.
Also, the meaning of "Alpha and Omega" is similar to "first and last", which is a title of Jesus in Revelation 1:17-18 and 2:8.
See When Cultists Ask p.304-305 for more info, and Jehovahís Witnesses Answered Verse by Verse p.101-103 for a sample dialog useful in talking with Jehovahís Witnesses.
Q: In Rev 1:9, did John voluntarily "retire" to the Island of Patmos, as the skeptical Asimovís Guide to the Bible (p.959) says was according to legend?
A: No, but for some reason this is very disappointing to me. You will see why at the end. In Revelation 1:9 John says he was on the Island of Patmos "because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus" (NIV). Here is the extensive evidence that John was exiled to Patmos.
The Anti-Marcionite Prologue to the Gospels (150-255 A.D.) (partial) says, "And indeed afterwards the same Luke wrote the Acts of the Apostles. Later the apostle John wrote the Apocalypse on the island of Patmos, and then the Gospel in Asia." It does not specify if he was exiled there or not.
Clement of Alexandria (193-217/220 A.D.) "And that you may be still more confident, that repenting thus truly there remains for you a sure hope of salvation, listen to a tale, which is not a tale but a narrative, handed down and committed to the custody of memory, about the Apostle John. For when, on the tyrant's death, he returned to Ephesus from the isle of Patmos, he went away, being invited, to the contiguous territories of the nations, here to appoint bishops, there to set in order whole Churches, there to ordain such as were marked out by the Spirit." Who is the Rich Man Who Will Be Saved? ch.42 p.603 (Domitian was assassinated in 98 A.D.)
Hippolytus of Portus (222-235/236 A.D.) "For he [John] sees, when in the isle Patmos, a revelation of awful mysteries, which he recounts freely, and makes known to others. Tell me, blessed John, apostle and disciple of the Lord, what didst thou see and hear concerning Babylon? Arise, and speak; for it sent thee also into banishment." Treatise on Christ and Antichrist ch.36 p.211
Dionysius of Alexandria (246-265 A.D.) (partial) says that John wrote while on Patmos, but does not specify which John or how he got to Patmos. From the Two Books on the Promises ch.4 p.83
Victorinus of Petau (martyred 304 A.D.) says, "He [Christ[ says this, because when John said these things he was in the island of Patmos, condemned to the labour of the mines by Caesar Domitian." Commentary on the Apocalypse from the tenth chapter verse 11 p.353
The detailed church historian Eusebius of Caesarea (318-325 A.D.) says that John was exiled to Patmos under the emperor Domitian, and released 18 months later by the emperor Nerva in Eusebiusí Ecclesiastical History book 3 ch.18.1 p48 and book 3 ch.20.11 p.149. Eusebius also makes the interesting comment that Domitian feared the coming of Christ, as Herod had. See The Expositorís Bible Commentary vol.12 p.424 for more info.
Among questions works:
Pseudo-Ignatius (after 117 A.D.) "And why such facts as the following: Peter was crucified; Paul and James were slain with the sword; John was banished to Patmos; Stephen was stoned to death by the Jews who killed the Lord?" Epistle of Ignatius to the Tarsians ch.3 p.107
On the Twelve Apostles (after 222 A.D.) p.254-255 said to be by Hippolytus says, "John, again in Asia was banished by Domitian the King to the isle of Patmos in which he also wrote his Gospel and saw the apocalyptic vision; and in Trajanís time he fell asleep at Ephesus where his remains were sought for, but could not be found."
But back to Asimov, who was a skeptic, but a highly respected scientific writer. How can make a claim that John voluntarily retired to Patmos, flying in the face of written history? Asimovís only support is his unnamed "legend", which I have been unable to corroborate anywhere. He might have pontificated without having read any of the historical accounts. Growing up, I used to read a lot of Asimovís books and articles on science, and I like his science fiction writing. So how can a man, who knows all about evidence, and scientific claims, and can write about scientific theories so logically, and was such a respected writer of scientific truth, either not read anything about a subject or else choose not to examine anything against his view. Now it is true that retiring vs. being exiled to Patmos is not a big thing. But if Asimov had written about science with the same "careful regard" he wrote about this, Asimov would not just be accused of bias. He would be accused of gross incompetence or else deliberate deception. But I really felt I knew Asimov through his writing, and I liked him, so I will assume the best, that it was just incompetence, an expert in one field speaking as though he was an expert a different field he did not bother to competently study.
Q: In Rev 1:10 is the "Lordís Day" Saturday or Sunday here?
A: It was most likely Sunday, because "the Lordís Day" would be the day Jesus rose from the dead. As one preacher said, John might have felt discouraged, so God took him to church! Some Christians disagree and feel this was the Sabbath (Saturday).
For a non-Christian perspective, Asimovís Guide to the Bible (p.1194) discusses both, but he claims it is probably Saturday, because Sunday was not considered special until "the early decades of the fourth century." However, Asimov apparently missed the fact that Paul instructed the Corinthians about the regular collection for Godís people that was to be taken on the first day of the week in 1 Corinthians 16:2. Why would he instruct that if they did not already have a special assembly on the first day of the week? Paul never told them to gather together for the offering, presumably because they already were gathered together on the first day of the week.
Q: In Rev 1:11 (KJV, NKJV), should it begin with "saying, ĎI am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last, and, what..." or "saying, what..." as other translations?
A: That phrase is absent in the NIV, Wuest, Expositorís Bible Commentary, The Greek New Testament by Aland et al., RSV, NASB, uNASB, and Williams Translation, Zane Hodgesí Translation. It is not even listed as a manuscript variant in Aland et al..
The phrase is present in the KJV, NKJV, Greenís Translation.
How did this get in the Textus Receptus? The Expositorís Greek New Testament vol.5 p.281 says The exceptionally corrupt state of the Textus Receptus in the Apocalypse [Revelation] is due to the fact that for this book Erasmus (to whose text it goes back) had access to only a single cursive1 (numbered 1) of the twelfth or thirteenth century. Even that was inferior and incomplete.
Q: In Rev 1:13 (KJV), what are paps?
A: This King James Version word means "chest".
Q: In Rev 1:16; 2:12, how can a sharp two-edged sword come out of Jesusí mouth?
A: John is describing what He saw and its effects. Whether John saw rays of light, or something else is not the main point. Since God created the universe by His word (Psalm 33:6,9), Godís Word is the most potent weapon around.
I heard of a somewhat irreverent article asking about the outcome of a hypothetical battle between Jesus and an evil version of Superman. It said Jesus would win, simply because no matter what happened to Him, Jesus would always rise. This article forgot about the power of the words God utters, and the almighty power to blast anyone into an almost infinite number of pieces. Jesus could just speak the words and superman would be stripped of all his powers. Kryptonite, even if it was real, would be unnecessary, though Jesus could create that too.
Q: In Rev 1:17, why did John fall at Jesusí feet as though dead? Did John really die?
A: That is the effect of Godís holiness on people, even believers, prior to them being transformed in Heaven. John himself might not know if he had died or not. Either John did die in the presence of Jesus, or John fainted as though dead. Most people think the latter. Often in the Bible people have a sense of dread or fear when having an encounter. Look at Isaiah, Daniel, and the angelís words to Zechariah and Mary were "do not be afraid". During the transfiguration, at which John was present, they were awed by the sight, but did not fall down as though dead.
Q: In Rev 1:19-20, why are the lampstands here, and why lampstands?
A: Lampstands were said to be a symbol for the churches. In Judah tradition, the Menorah often had seven branches. A lampstand was created to give light in dark places. However, it does not have light of its own, but is responsible to faithfully burn the full of the oil that flows within it. Seven also is a metaphor for completeness. There were many other churches during that time, but apparently Jesus did not need to speak to an eighth or ninth church; just speaking to seven churches was all He needed to say.
See the Believerís Bible Commentary p.2355 for more info.
Q: In Rev 1:20, Rev 2 and Rev 3, who are the seven angels of the seven churches?
A: The Greek word here, angelos, can mean messenger as well as angel. Christ was not encouraging and rebuking angels in Heaven; rather Jesus had words of encouragement and rebuke for the seven churches, and the message was delivered through angels. Regardless of whether these seven were angels or human messengers who visited John, their function was to communicate to the seven churches.
Q: In Rev 2:1-3:22, what do we know about the seven churches in general?
A: These churches form a clockwise triangle in Asia Minor (modern Turkey), and John likely ministered in this region. There were many other cities with churches that could have been written to, but for some reason, there was a special message for each of these seven churches. It is likely that these particular seven churches illustrated seven types of churches, both then and now. If it helps you, you can remember the order of the seven churches with the following mnemonic: Eat small peppers, then serve food late
Q: In Rev 2:1-7, what do we know about the city of Ephesus?
A: Ephesus was one of the larger cities in the Roman Empire, though it was much, much smaller than Rome and Alexandria. Until Constantinople was built later, Ephesus was the dominant city between Corinth and Antioch. To give an idea of its importance, The New Bible Dictionary (1978) says the road to this port city was 70 feet wide, and its population was a third of a million. The Wycliffe Bible Dictionary p.534 also estimates its population was 300,000.
Ephesus was inhabited before the 12th century B.C., and passed peacefully to Roman rule in 133 B.C. The theater Paul entered could seat 25,000 to 50,000 people. Pictures of it are in the Wycliffe Bible Dictionary p.535 and The New International Dictionary of the Bible p.316. It also adds that Miletus was the leading trading port, but when its harbor silted up (before Paulís time) Ephesus displaced it. When the harbor at Ephesus silted up later, Smyrna replace Ephesus as the leading port. The dominant influence in Ephesus was one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, the Temple of Artemis, the goddess of the hunt. There were many Jewish merchants in the city.
Also, Timothy stayed in Ephesus in 1 Timothy 1:3.
Q: In Rev 2:7,11,17,26; 3:5,12; 21, what is the difference in being a Christian, and being a Christian who overcomes, and how do we become the latter?
A: As Christians God has called us not just to heaven, but to be live a victorious Christian life. A person can be successful in school grades, making money, or achieving political power, and God calls us to be successful as a Christian. But a Christianís success is not measure by any of those things, but basically are you showing your love for God by obediently doing what God wants you to do, and not doing what God does not want you to do. Success starts with our heart and mind, but the fruit is in the actions and words. Donít be a failed Christian. Donít be a failed Christian. Work hard at being a victorious one; you can do it because God is working within you. Here are some things early Christians taught about the successful Christian life.
Minucius Felix (210 A.D.) "How beautiful is the spectacle to God when a Christian does battle with pain; when he is drawn up against threats, and punishments, and tortures; when, mocking the noise of death, he treads under foot the horror of the executioner; when he raises up his liberty against kings and princes, and yields to God alone, whose he is; when, triumphant and victorious, he tramples upon the very man who has pronounced sentence against him! For he has conquered who has obtained that for which he contends." The Octavius of Minucius Felix ch.37 p.196
Clement of Alexandria (193-217/220 A.D.) But let him go and put himself under the Word as his trainer, and Christ the President of the contest; and for his prescribed food and drink let him have the New Testament of the Lord; and for exercises, the commandments; and for elegance and ornament, the fair dispositions, love, faith, hope, knowledge of the truth, gentleness, meekness, pity, gravity: so that, when by the last trumpet the signal shall be given for the race and departure hence, as from the stadium of life, he may with a good conscience present himself victorious before the Judge who confers the rewards, confessedly worthy of the Fatherland on high, to which he returns with crowns and the acclamations of angels." Who is the Rich Man that Shall be Saved ch.3 p.592
Tertullian (ca.208 A.D.) "You find in the Revelation its edict, setting forth the rewards by which He incites to victory-those, above all, whose is the distinction of conquering in persecution, in very deed contending in their victorious struggle not against flesh and blood, but against spirits of wickedness." On Fleeing Persecution ch.1 p.116
Origen (225-253/254 A.D.) "Could it have come to pass without divine assistance, that Jesus, desiring during these years to spread abroad His words and teaching, should have been so successful, that everywhere throughout the world, not a few persons, Greeks as well as Barbarians, learned as well as ignorant, adopted His doctrine, so that they struggled, even to death in its defence, rather than deny it, which no one is ever related to have done for any other system?" Origen Against Celsus book 1 ch.26 p.407.
Origen (225-253/254 A.D.) "But they have no power over those who Ďhave put on the whole armour of God,í who have received strength to Ďwithstand the wiles of the devil,í and who are ever engaged in contests with them, knowing that Ďwe wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.í" Origen Against Celsus book 8 ch.34 p.652.
Cyprian of Carthage (c.246-258 A.D.) "are as praiseworthy in maintaining the peace of Christ, as they have been victorious in their combat with the devil." Treatise 1 ch.22 p.428
Adamantius (c.300 A.D.) says that we triumph in Christ. Dialogue on the True Faith ch.20 p.105
Lactantius (c.303-320/325 A.D.) "let us boldly engage with the enemy whom we know, that victorious and triumphant over our conquered adversary, we may obtain from the Lord that reward of valour which He Himself has promised." The Divine Institutes book 7 at the very end p.223
Lactantius (315-315/330 A.D.) "Therefore God acted with the greatest foresight in placing the subject-matter of virtue in evils which He made for this purpose, that He might establish for us a contest, in which He would crown the victorious with the reward of immortality." Epitome of the Divine Institutes ch.29 p.233
Q: In Rev 2:2-7, how was the Ephesian church at a crossroads, and how are some churches at a crossroads today?
A: There was a lot of good in the church. However, with many forsaking their first love, if this continued on, the bad threatened to engulf the good, where the church would become useless. The situation could be reversed at this point, but the leaders and people in the church had to decided which way to go.
Churches can be at a crossroads doctrinally, or whether to be a part of a larger organization or not, or what programs to support. They can also be at a crossroads on choosing a pastor, or building a building.
The first step is successfully navigating a crossroads situation, is to realized that you are in that situation.
The second step is praying that Godís will be done here.
The third step is to realize the consequences of going each way and the cost (or work) or going the right way.
The next step is prayerfully developing a plan of how to get on the right road.
See The Expositorís Bible Commentary vol.12 p.435 for more info.
Q: In Rev 2:4, what does it mean for believers to forsake their first love?
A: Even genuine love, if not maintained and nurtured, can grow dim. Christians have a duty to persevere and remain devoted to Christ. Unfortunately, they can let their love grow cold and only rarely want to draw near to Christ. A small lampstand can keep the same flame going for years, just as long as the based is regularly refiled with oil. Likewise, for our love to last, whether for God or for others, it needs to be refilled with oil.
Q: In Rev 2-3, were these messages a) the current situation, b) prophecies which were fulfilled shortly after or c) prophecies of the history of the church through the ages?
A: All agree this describes seven local churches at the time of Revelation and shortly thereafter. Beyond this, there are two main views.
Church Period Theory: This view says this illustrates seven periods of the church. A telling shortcoming of this theory is that advocates do not agree on the periods, except that Ephesus was the early church, and the present age is within the Laodicean Period. I once taught a Sunday School, where I split church history into seven periods on cards. I did not put any dates. Each group of three of four people had to try to match the description on the cards to the church in Revelation. The groups did not all agree on the matching, and no groupís matching followed the order of history.
J. Dwight Pentecost was one teacher of this theory in his class on Pauline Epistles and Revelation. According to the class notes
33-100 A.D. was Ephesus
100-316 A.D was Smyrna the persecuted church
316-615 A.D. is Pergamum the state church
615-1517 A.D. Thyatira - Roman Catholicism (what about Greek Orthodox Christians???)
1517-1750 Sardis - The Reformed church
1750-1850 A.D. Philadelphia - the Believing Church
1850- Laodicea, Liberalism
The Believerís Bible commentary p.2355 and The Scofield Reference Bible also taught this view. According to Scofield, the first church is 33-250 A.D., the second is 250-316 A.D.
See the next question for more info on this theory.
Church Type Theory: Today for example, it is hard to believe the church in China, the church in Indonesia, and the church in North America have exactly the same problems, strengths, and shortcomings. The seven churches in Revelation illustrate seven types of churches, each type of which was more or less present throughout all of church history. The Expositorís Bible Commentary vol.12 p.419 holds to this view.
Q: In Rev 2-3, what is a brief summary of the churches and church history?
A: Letís first try to summarize the seven churches, then the periods of church history, and see how they match up.
1. Ephesus Ė the loveless church
Cannot tolerate evil
Tested and rejected false apostles
Forsaken their first love
Good they hate Nicolaitan teaching
2. Smyrna Ė the persecuted church
By a synagogue of Satan
About to suffer, Imprisonment
10 days of tribulation
3. Pergamum Ė the compromising church
Where Satan has his throne
Balaam idols and sexual immorality
4. Thyatira Ė the tolerating church
Doing more than at first
Tolerate Jezebel, Sexual immorality
Eating sacrifices to idols
Tribulation for their sin
5. Sardis Ė the dead church
Claims to be alive, but dead
Works not complete
A few have not soiled their clothes
6. Philadelphia Ė the "phaithful" church
Open door, Little strength
Synagogue of Satan fall at your feet
Persevere. Kept from the hour of trial
7. Laodicea Ė the lukewarm church
Neither hot nor cold
Think you are wealthy, buy true wealth.
Jesus is knocking
Here are seven periods of church history
1. 33-325 A.D. Pre-Nicene Church
10 major persecutions. 40-70K martyred
30+ heresies. Test false prophets
Good on doctrine. Reject evil
2. 325-451 A.D. Nicea to Chalcedon Church
Lots of doctrine
City of Rome sacked
3. 451-634 A.D. pre-Muslim Church
Justinianís great plague in the east
About to suffer
Lots of icons and relics
4. 634-1215 A.D. Muslims to 4th Lateran Council
Muslim conquests and persecution
Icons and relics
800 A.D. Vikings
5. 1215-1415 A.D. 4th Lateran Council to the Reformation
Power of the Mongols
6. 1415-1840 Reformation to 2nd Great Awakening
1453 A.D. Turks take Constantinople
7. 1840-present 2nd Great Awakening to present
1830ís on false religions (JWís, LDS, etc.)
Many scientific advancements
Darwin. Liberal theology. Nazism, Communism
Much persecution. More martyrs than any other time.
U.S. Civil War, Taiping Rebellion in China
War of the Triple Alliance in S. America
Two World Wars. The Cold War
Epidemics (Spanish Influenza, etc.)
Some things match up; many things donít. So, these are not periods of church history.
Q: In Rev 2-3, what is a condensed summary of the history of the church, and how does it compare?
A: Here is my opinion of a summary of the church, assuming it has to be split into seven parts and we are in the last parts.
Some think the seven churches in Revelation stand for seven church ages; other Christians do not. The point of this exercise is to attempt to fit these "ages" to the seven churches in Revelation. The use of stones as names has no significance. There are eight stones, so two of them must be combined to match seven churches.
JASPER: There was a great Church Council that excluded a large group of church-goers. After much war a great city was sacked. This was an age of great missionary outreach. There was an emphasis on Mary the mother of God and icons. There was a terrible plague. Learning declined.
CHALCEDONY: A great persecution just finished. During this short period, there was a great Church Council that excluded a large group of church-goers. After much war a great city was sacked. Except for this, things looked so good it looked like the millennium might be starting. A great number of being baptized, many of which had not completely forsaken pagan customs. The church was becoming institutionalized.
SAPPHIRE: First there was a great Church Council that excluded a large group of church-goers. There was severe war and persecution of many Christians. A few Christian rulers sought to get rid of the veneration of icons, but their efforts were subverted. There were some false apostles, and there were false writings of authority.
CARNELIAN: A small number of true Christians were persecuted by a false church that ruled society. The institutional church received much revenue from people paying money to free souls from purgatory, but it was morally bankrupt. A great city was sacked. There were great plagues during this time. The plagues were so severe, that many stayed home for public gatherings, including church services. This was a time of great missionary outreach, but many of the baptisms were coerced. There was a major church split during this time. This was a time the doctrine of "the third Rome" started.
TOPAZ: There was, for some, a fear of the end of the world coming at the start of this time. Christians and non-Christians fought for hundreds of years, and many warlike pagans were converted into warlike Christians. Many Christians in one large area of the world were annihilated. There were three new great world powers that started. True Christians were persecuted by the institutional church. There was much mysticism, must scholarly learning, much celibacy, and much sexual immorality in the church. There was a major church split during this time.
EMERALD: There had been many great wars, but there were many great wars yet to come. There was a great surge in learning and a secularization of society in this time. There was great persecution of Christians, a great stagnation and falling away, and great revivals during this time. There were great plagues during this time. There were empires that were almost as large as a previous one. There were new aids for evangelism.
AMETHYST: For Christians there were three crucial wars during this time: all of them were intellectual and not military. There were three or four great military wars too. Christianity was decimated in one region, but rapidly increased in another. Many cults started on primarily two regions. There was a great increase in learning the truth, and great increase in the study of foolish error. Christianity was simultaneously growing very rapidly, suffering under intense persecution, and drifting along. There were new aids for evangelism.
BERYL: This short period was a time of great persecution. There was also a great battle against cults. The church was small but vibrant, with a few tendencies toward legalism. There were keen on doctrine, but unfortunately too quick to add their own doctrines to scripture.
Q: In Rev 2:5, what would it mean to remove their lampstand?
A: It can mean one of two things, or else both of them. I can mean the church would no longer bear the light of Christ; it would still look like a church, but really be dead.
Second, it can go from that to not existing at all. See The Expositorís Bible Commentary vol.12 p.434 for more info.
Q: In Rev 2:6, who were the Nicolaitans?
A: They taught that living an immoral life was perfectly fine for a Christian. According to Eusebiusís Ecclesiastical History (book 3 ch.29 p.161) the Nicolaitans mentioned in Revelation came from Nicolas. Irenaeusís Against Heresies book 1 ch.26.3 p.352 and book 3 ch.11.1 p.426 (182-188 A.D.) also describes them as libertines, or trying to be both spiritual and immoral. One characteristic of libertines is that they often reject all moral absolutes, and think that almost nothing is black and white. Clement of Alexandria 193-217/220 A.D.), Tertullian (198-220 A.D.), Hippolytus (225-234/5 A.D.), and Victorinus of Petau (martyred 307 A.D.) also discuss the Nicolaitans. See Hard Sayings of the Bible p.759-761 for more info.
Q: In Rev 2:7 and Rev 22:2, is this tree the same one that was in the Garden of Eden?
A: God can build things to last, so it might very well be the same tree. However, nothing restricts it from being a different tree, or a tree that grew from the tree in Genesis 2:9. See Revelation 8-22 : An Exegetical Commentary p.483-484 for more info.
Q: In Rev 2:8-11, what do we know about the city of Smyrna?
A: Smyrna was 40 miles due north of Ephesus. As the birthplace of Homer, it was a very ancient port, apparently named after myrrh, the perfume. According to the Encyclopaedia Britannica, the first inhabitants were the possibly non-Greek Lelegians, allies of the Trojans in the 10th century B.C. (Iliad x, 429; xx. 96). The Anchor Bible Dictionary volume 6 p.73-75 says that based on Herodotus, Ionian Greeks seized the city from Aeolian Greeks, who were all outside the city celebrating a festival to Dionysius, god of wine, before 688 B.C.. The powerful Mermnad king Gyges (c.687-652 B.C.) opposed Lydia, and Smyrna was destroyed in 627 B.C. by the Lydians under Alyattes III (609-560 B.C.). Smyrna was only a small group of villages until it was "resurrected" by the Macedonian general Lysimachus around 288 B.C.. Smyrna was allied with Rome against the Seleucids, and built a temple to the goddess Roma in 195 B.C.. The Parthians occupied Smyrna from 41-39 B.C. Worship of the Roman Emperor was strong there, because in 26 A.D., they asked Emperor Tiberius for permission to build a temple to the Roman Emperor as god. Eleven other cities also competed to build the first temple to the Emperor, but Smyrna won. Every year citizens were supposed to burn incense to the Emperor, and they were given a certificate when they did so. Smyrna also had a large Jewish population. The highest point, 525 foot high Mount Pagos/Pagus/Pagros, had a ring of buildings that from a distance would look like a crown. They were called "the crown of Smyrna". Curving around the mountain, east and west was a road called the "Street of Gold". There probably was a temple at either end of the road. The Wycliffe Bible Dictionary p.1601-1602 and the Wycliffe Dictionary of Biblical Archaeology p.542-543 also add that the population at that time was about 200,000. The Encyclopaedia Britannica (1949) says that in 1940 the modern city of Izmir, on the same site, had a population of 184,000.
Physically, Smyrna is at the point where the Hermus river flows into gulf. It has a well-protected harbor, and The New International Dictionary of the Bible p.950 says it was the endpoint of a trade route through the Hermus Valley. See the New International Commentary on the Bible p.1601 and The Expositorís Bible Commentary vol.12 p.436-437 for more info.
Q: In Rev 2:9 why were the Christians said to be in poverty, when Smyrna was in fact a wealthy city?
A: Economic persecution might have been done against those who refused to burn incense to the Emperor. Also, being put in prison was usually not a form of punishment, but rather a holding cell prior to trial, and execution for the guilty. See The Expositorís Bible Commentary vol.12 p.438-439 for more info.
Q: In Rev 2:9, how could Jews form a synagogue of Satan?
A: The Bible does not say they explicitly called it a synagogue of Satan, only that it served as a synagogue of Satan. If a synagogue, or any religious assembly actively opposes the Gospel, it is used by the devil.
In Christian times, Ignatius (98-116 A.D.) a disciple of John, wrote a letter to the Smyrnaeans. Polycarp was a bishop of Smyrna who was martyred in 155 A.D. The accusers were Jews from Smyrna according to the New International Commentary on the Bible p.1601. Pionius was also martyred there in 250 A.D. See The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.934 for more info.
Q: In Rev 2:12-17, what do we know about the city of Pergamum?
A: Pergamum was a wealthy inland city about 65 miles north of Smyrna. It passed peacefully to Roman rule in 133 B.C. One of the two most important influences at Pergamum was the strong worship of the Emperor. The second major influence was the magic and astrology, which came from Babylon. Pergamum had temples to Athena, Asclepius, Dionysius, and Soter Zeus [Zeus the Savior]. A temple was built to Augustus in 29 B.C.. They had a library of 200,000 books built to rival Alexandria. The Pharaoh of Egypt cut off the export of parchment to stop this. But then in Pergamon they made a special type of type of parchment or vellum from animal skins; they called it called pergamena. See The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.936, the Evangelical Commentary on the Bible p.1205, the New International Commentary on the Bible p.1601 and The Expositorís Bible Commentary vol.12 p.434 for more info.
Q: In Rev 2:13, how did Satan have "a throne" at Pergamum?
A: This does not mean this is where Satan lives, but rather it was a center of Satanic activity centering on the worship of the Roman Emperor (on this throne). Pergamum had a temple to the divine Augustus and goddess Roma. It also had a temple to the snake-god Asclepius, from which modern medicine gets its symbol. It had a Temple to "Savior Zeus". See Hard Sayings of the Bible p.757-759 for more info.
Q: In Rev 2:14 (KJV), who was Balac?
A: This is the same as Balak, whom you can read about in Numbers 22:2 - 24:12.
Q: In Rev 2:14-16, 2:21-23, can genuine believers follow Balaamís teaching and commit sexual immorality?
A: -Unfortunately, yes. David did in the Old Testament, and God disciplined him for his sins. Actually, Balaam never lied or said anything untruthful. But he hurt Godís people, and was later executed by the Israelites, for giving truthful information to Godís enemies that they could use against Godís people. The story of Balaam and the Israelites is told in Numbers 22-24, 31:8-16, and repeated in Deuteronomy 23:4-5; Joshua 13:22; 24:9-10; Nehemiah 13:2; Micah 6:5; 2 Peter 2:18 and Jude 11.
Q: In Rev 2:17, what is the significance of the white stone?
A: In those times, when there was a public event, such as a competition or a theater performance, the white stone served as a ticket to attend. Small white stones were also used in voting. Also, instead of having a ticket to go to an idol feast, and eat idol food, you had a white stone to go and eat the hidden manna. Manna or idol food; which would you prefer? See The Expositorís Bible Commentary vol.12 p.442 for more info.
Q: In Rev 2:18, how do you pronounce "Thyatira"?
A: According to Crudenís Concordance, the city is pronounced "THI-a-TI-ra, with two long iís, two long aís, and the accent on the first and third syllable. The Wycliffe Bible Dictionary has the same accents, but both of the aís have dots over them.
Q: In Rev 2:18-29, what do we know about the city of Thyatira?
A: Geographically, Thyatira was a strategic city in Asia Minor along a major road connecting the Hermas and Caicus River valleys. It was 45 miles east of the provincial capital of Pergamum and one had to pass through Thyatira to go from Pergamum to Laodicea and all the eastern provinces. It was 52 miles northwest of Smyrna. Thyatira was founded in 300 B.C. by Seleucus I of Syria, along the border with Bithynia, as a frontier fort. Today the Turkish town of Akhisar stands at the site.
Thyatira passed peacefully to Roman rule in 133 B.C. In Acts 16;14-15,39, a dealer in purple cloth named Lydia, whom Paul met in Philippi, was from Thyatira. Dyes, garments, brass, and pottery were made on this frontier fort. The Anchor Bible Dictionary volume 6 p.546 says that it was especially important center of the wool trade. The Wycliffe Bible Dictionary p.1703-1704 says there is evidence of more trade guilds than in any other Asian town.
The church at Thyatira had many of the same strengths of its neighbor in Pergamum but greater weaknesses. To work in the local industry, one needed to belong to a trade guild. These trade guilds were a combination of union, civic organization, social club, and worship center (uh oh!). The New International Dictionary of the Bible p.1013-1014 says that the importance of membership in the trade guilds might have been a temptation for Christians there to compromise. Undoubtedly Christian trade people had to wrestle with the decision to join the guilds or else lose their career. Since believers knew that idols were really nothing, couldnít Christians just act like they worshipped idols, to help their business, to give more money to God? They needed an answer to that question, just like we need answer about compromising today; God provided an answer in the letter to the Church at Thyatira.
Though Thyatira existed in Roman times, I believe many Christians live in Thyatira today. Christians of Thyatira could not avoid the world; all the land travelers between the East and West passed through their city. They had the lure of the world and its riches and pleasure, the promise of the world and its knowledge, and the demands of the world and its persecution. The Christians of Thyatira who looked to the church as a holy refuge might have been disappointed; the world was in their church too. What should they do and what should we do today when the world is in the church? We need answers to that, and God provided at least part of those answers in the letter to the Church at Thyatira.
Two ways that Satan invades the church are by creating openings and by expanding existing openings. If Christians do not have the joy of Christ, they open up to substitute pleasure. If they are not growing in wisdom of God, they open up to any so-called wisdom. If they have not the strength from God, they succumb to persecutions that come everyoneís way. Not closing existing openings is also serious. When wolves and other non-Christians masquerade as Christians, or else sinful believers themselves lead others astray, good Christian women and men stand back and do nothing. If we see the sin int eh church, we often would rather ignore it. Arenít pastors and other Christians supposed to act on that instead? We want to project positivity in thoughts and love, just like Christ.
Perhaps like the people in Thyatira, we too need a fresh view of Christ. Jesus is as compromising as a blazing fire, as firm in his will and love as polished brass. God loves us too much to settle for less than the best in our lives. Do we love others and the church so little that we do not care? If believers would only see Christ more clearly, then the worldís pleasures, knowledge, and power would appear as the imitations that they are. Letís look unto Jesus.
See the Evangelical Commentary on the Bible p.1205, The Expositorís Bible Commentary vol.12 p.434, and the New International Commentary on the Bible p.1602-1603 for more info.
Q: In Rev 2:20, was the immoral woman really named Jezebel?
A: It could have been her actual name, a nickname, but it is more likely a comparison of the evil of this woman with the Jezebel you can read about in 1 Kings 21.
Q: In Rev 2:20, what are some ways Christians could allow moral compromise in the church, but should not?
A: There are a number of ways a church, including its leaders and members can sin by allowing compromise. Here are some actual examples.
a) Doctrinally one could have a gifted and articular pastor and preacher of Godís word, who does not believe in Hell.
b) Morally one could have an evangelist who is getting good results, but himself is involved in sexual sin.
c) One could have a youth-group leader living in an unmarried sexual relationship with their boyfriend.
d) One could partner with other organizations calling themselves churches, but denying the primary fundamentals of the Christian faith.
Q: In Rev 2:20, what are some ways Christians can and should have compromise in the church?
A: It OK to compromise on things that are secondary or trivial issues. Here are some examples of churches or Christians working together despite these differences.
a) Age of the earth and Bible and science, (recognizing that Genesis is all true and Godís Word)
b) Believers baptism vs. infant baptism (Southern Baptists and Presbyterian Church of America)
c) Churches should pool their resources for a common mission board and Sunday school publication (Southern Baptist vs. Bible Churches)
d) Day of worshipping together on Saturday vs. Sunday (Seventh-Day Baptist vs. others)
e) Elders and deacons in a church vs. deacons, one pastor, and no other elders
f) Freewill of people exists or not. (John Wesley and Calvinistic Methodists)
g) Grape juice vs. wine in the Lordís Supper
h) Head coverings for women in church
i) Immigration laws
k) Kids should always be in the main service (Missionary Baptist vs. Southern Baptist)
j) drinking alcohol (but not getting drunk)
l) Losing salvation is possible or not (Biblical Methodist, Charismatic, Lutheran Church Missouri Synod vs. most Baptists and Presbyterian Church of America)
m) Mechanical musical instruments in the church (Church of Christ vs. others)
n) Support of Israel, and most politics in general
o) Only small to large churches; no mega-churches
p) Pre-trib, pre-wrath, mid-trib, post-trib
q) Taking the Lordís Supper once a month vs. every week (Most evangelicals vs. Nazarenes, Anglicans)
r) Replacement theology: Israel is no longer Godís chosen people. vs. Israel still has a place in prophecy too (Covenant Theology vs. Dispensationalism)
s) Speaking in tongues (charismatic vs. non-charismatic)
t) Type of Christian music played and church choirs. Can only sing words of scripture.
u) The Roman Catholic or Orthodox apocrypha are scripture (majority of early Christians and Anglicans vs. Charismatics and most Protestants)
v) Did Paul write the Book of Hebrews or not. (Most early Christians thought he did)
w) Wine and bread are also the presence of Christ or not (Lutheran Church Missouri Synod and Baptists)
x) Footwashing and a holy kiss today
y) Different lessens for different classes, vs just one curriculum for every adult (and older kids)
t) Traducianism vs Creationism of souls
aa) Amillennialism and premillennialism (Presbyterian Church of America vs most others)
ab) Best English Bible translation to use is __________.
ac) Partial Preterism vs. Futurist view of Revelation
ad) Allowing dancing or not.
ae) Not completely agreeing on the list of where we can compromise and where we should not.
Q: In Rev 2:27, does this quote from Ps 2:9 refer to Christ or Christians?
A: It primarily refers to Christ, and in a secondary way, Christ allows it to be applied to Christians. Christ reigns in Heaven, but Ephesians 2:6 Revelation 3:21 say we will be co-seated with Christ on His throne.
Q: In Rev 3:1-6, what do we know about the city of Sardis?
A: Physically, Sardis was in the Hermus Valley, 2.5 miles south of the Hermus River and at the foot of the 1,000-foot high Mount Tmolus. It was about 30 miles south of Thyatira and 50 miles east of Smyrna.
Long before the Roman Empire, Sardis used to be the capital of the mighty Lydian Empire. The Encyclopaedia Britannica says the Cimmerians captured Sardis in the seventh century, and the Persians and Athenians captured it in the 6th century. The Lydians of Sardis captured Ephesus in 560 B.C. Sardis was a fine site for a capital, because of the high cliffs of Mount Tmolus that made it extremely difficult to capture.
Almost everyone in Johnís time would know the story of how Sardis was captured by the Persians. Some sources say this was in 549 B.C., others 546 B.C., and others say 539 B.C. A Lydian soldier accidentally dropped his helmet, and, with the Persians watching, carefully went down a narrow way through the cliff to retrieve it. At night, the Persians used that route to capture the city. That was one important helmet! Sardis was captured by Antiochus the Great the same way in 214 B.C., again at night. As Revelation 3:2,3 says, we should be watchful.
Sardis was destroyed by an earthquake in 17 A.D., but it was rebuilt. The Wycliffe Bible Dictionary p.1525 says there was a large, but unfinished temple of Artemis. It was 160 by 300 feet, with 78 columns 58 feet high.
A reference in Obadiah 20 might refer to Sardis, which would date Jewish settlers in Sardis back to then. From the third century on, there was the largest Jewish synagogue ever discovered. The Anchor Bible Dictionary volume 5 p.982-984 says this was an ornate building, 85 by 20 meters that could have held up to 1,000 people. It adds that this tends to debunk the theory that Jews were "ghettoized" in Roman cities. Other synagogues were much smaller, but there were synagogues in Acmonia, Apameia, Aphrodisias, Hierapolis, Laodicea, Miletus, and Priene.
In Christian times, Melito (flourished 161 A.D.) was a famous bishop of Sardis. The Persian Chosroes II devastated Sardis in 616 A.D. Christianity survived in Sardis, though with bishops living there until Gregory (ca.1315-1343 A.D.).
See also The New International Dictionary of the Bible p.897-898 for more info.
Q: In Rev 3:3, does "coming as a thief" here refer to Christís Second Coming.
A: No, according to The NIV Study Bible p.1929. It gives the reason that Christís coming is not conditioned on the churchís refusing to repent.
A second, different view is that if they refuse to repent, when Christ unexpectedly comes again, they will be as unprepared as a homeowner when a thief breaks into their house.
Q: In Rev 3:5, Rev 13:8, Rev 17:8, Rev 20:12,15, and Rev 21:27 is the book of life "originally ...merely a metaphoric expression signifying the list of living people... and to die would be to be blotted out of that book", and only in post-Exilic times, it became those who would live in Heaven, as Asimovís Guide to the Bible states (p.1200-1201)?
A: No. This is a one of a great number of (almost) unsubstantiated claims that Asimov is fond of making. Other verses in the Bible on the Book of Life, such as Daniel 12:1, and Luke 10:20 (names written in heaven), all are consistent with the Book of Life being those living in Heaven. Asimov would agree, since these verses are all Post-Exilic. He makes his entire case on the only pre-Exilic verses that mention the Book of Life, Exodus 32:32-33, Psalm 69:28. However, Psalm 139 mentions that all Davidís Days were written in Godís book (not necessarily the book of life, though), before one of them came to be. Thus, at least for this book, it is not simply a record of those currently living.
Asimovís claim is almost unsubstantiated, although he does try to substantiate it in a way by mentioning this is based on his opinion that afterlife was only taught in Post-Exilic times. However basing an entire argument on an assumption is not the same as basing an argument on facts. Here is why his assumption that afterlife was only taught in Post-Exilic times was wrong.
Asimovís argument is curious, as nearly all of the ancient Mideast cultures had some concept of afterlife. Perhaps he forgot that the Egyptian pyramids were built by slaves for the purpose of Pharaohís afterlife. Likewise, the Hittites, built a rock sanctuary of Yazilikaya to the deceased king. The Scythians also had elaborate tombs. Out of Sumerians (Abrahamís people), Babylonians, Assyrians, Egyptians, Hittites, Greeks, Scythians, and others, Asimov would make the Hebrews unique in not believing in an afterlife.
Here is an incomplete list of the many Biblical proofs of belief in afterlife, using only Pre-Exilic verses.
Exodus 3:15 Jesus used this verse to refute the Sadducees, who denied an after life. Jesusí point, as valid now as it was then, it that it Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob had to still exist in Mosesí time, since God said He "is" the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The Sadducees apparently had no answer for this.
1 Sam 2:6 (NIV) "The Lord brings death and make alive; he brings down to the grave and raises up." (NIV)
Psalm 49:14 (NIV) "But God will redeem my soul from the grave; he will surely take me to himself."
Psalm 22:29, (NIV) "...all who go down to the dust will kneel down to Him..."
Psalm 23:6, after telling about the shadow of death in Psalm 23:4, David says, "He will dwell in the house of the Lord forever."
Psalm 49:8-9 (NIV) "The ransom for a life is costly, no payment is ever enough - that he should live on forever and not see decay."
Psalm 52:8-9 (NIV), "I trust in Godís unfailing love for ever and ever. I will praise you forever... I will praise you in the presence of your saints."
Isaiah 25:7-8 (NIV), "On this mountain he [God] will destroy the shroud that enfolds all peoples, the sheet that covers all nations; he will swallow up death forever...."
Isaiah 53:8-10, after saying the one who suffers for us will be killed and put in the grave of a rich man in verses 8-9, yet he shall see his offspring in verse 10.
Hard Sayings of the Bible p.104 says essentially the same thing.
Nevertheless, it is amazing to see how many learned men and women will deny even these two texts [Isaiah 26:19 and Daniel 12:2] and argue that the Old Testament teaches virtually nothing about resurrection or life after death.
The truth of the matter is that ancient peoples were more attuned to the subject of life after death than moderns suspect. The peoples of the ancient Near East wrote at length about what life was like after one left this earth. One need only consult such representative pieces as the Gilgamesh Epic, The Descent of Ishtar into the Netherworld, the Book of the Dead and the Pyramid texts. Indeed, the whole economy of Egypt was geared to the cult of the dead, for all who wished to be a part of the next life had to be buried around the pyramid of the Pharaoh. ... By the time Abraham arrive in Egypt, such concepts had been emblazoned on their walls in hieroglyphics, murals and models made of clay, to make sure no one missed the point. Life after death was not a modern doctrine developed by an educated society that began to think more abstractly about itself and its times. Instead it was an ancient hunger that existed in the hearts of humanity long before the patriarchs.... Why should we attribute this idea to the second and third centuries B.C. if already in the third and second millennium B.C. there is strong evidence to support it?
The earliest biblical mention of the possibility of a mortalís inhabiting the immortal realms of deity can be found in Genesis 5:24 [God taking Enoch away with Him]."
Q: In Rev 3:5, can a Christian be blotted out of the book of life?
A: This verse is saying two of the three things below, but genuine Christians disagree on which two things.
1. All agree that believers in Heaven will never fall or lose their salvation.
2a. Christians who believe you cannot lose your salvation can interpret this as a general promise, available to all true believers in both Heaven and earth unconditionally.
2b. Christians who believe you can lose your salvation can interpret this as a specific promise, as certain believers on earth, called overcomers, are given the promise that they will never lose their salvation. See the discussion on Ephesians 1:14 and Hebrews 6:4-10, The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.938-939, and The Complete Book of Bible Answers p.193-194 for more info.
Q: In Rev 3:7-13, what do we know about the city of Philadelphia?
A: King Eumenes II of Pergamum founded it in the 2nd century B.C., named it (city of brotherly love) in honor of his loyal brother Attalus. It and Sardis were destroyed by an earthquake in 17 A.D., and it was rebuilt with money from the Roman Empire. The city was temporarily renamed as Neokaisareia in honor of Caesar.
Q: In Rev 3:8, how does Jesus set an open door before people?
A: In at least three ways.
Salvation: Jesus opens the door to Heaven for us. He is both the gate (John 10:9) and the gatekeeper (John 10:3). (As a side note, if Heaven had a literal gatekeeper, it would be Jesus, not Peter.) The door to the wedding feast was shut in Matthew 25:10.
Ministry: An open door was a metaphor for a ministry, as Acts 14:27 and 1 Corinthians 16:9 show.
Passage: When John was transported to Heaven in a vision, it was through an open door in Revelation 4:1.
Hope and Restoration: Even an evil place like the Valley of Achor could be a door of hope in Hosea 3:15.
Q: In Rev 3:12, since Christians are living people, how can Christians be pillars in Godís Temple?
A: The Almighty God can make a Temple comprised of living people if He wants to. God will, according to 1 Peter 2:5-6 and 1 Corinthians 3:16-17. However, this is a symbol of our eternal abiding with God, not that we will be changed into marble.
One could guess that this is where the expression "a pillar of the church" comes from.
Q: In Rev 3:12; 7:15; 11:1,2,19 (2x); 14:15,17; 15:5,6,8 (2x); 16:1, 17; 21:22 (no temple, 2x); the Temple is mentioned 16 times in Revelation. What is its significance?
A: It is not mentioned as often as the throne, but it is a significant backdrop as the center of heaven, and filled with Godís glory in Revelation 15:8. The scene frequently changed in Revelation, between the throne room, to the temple, to the earth. See the Evangelical Commentary on the Bible p.1220 for more info.
Q: In Rev 3:14-22, what do we know about the city of Laodicea?
A: According to the Strongís Exhaustive Concordance, "Laodikeia" is from a comparison of two Greek words, #2992-laos-people and #1349-dike-right, justice. In Gaebeleinís Concise Commentary (by Arno C. Gaebelein, 1861-1945) page 1208, he gives the meaning of Laodicea as "the judging or rights of the people." The KJV Parallel Bible Commentary (Thomas Nelson Publishers c. 1994) page 2666, in reference to Laodicea, also lists "rights of the people."
Antiochus II rebuilt Laodicea in 250 B.C.. He named it after his wife, Laodike. It was destroyed by an earthquake in 60 A.D, prior to the book of Revelation being written.
The Laodiceans were wealthy enough that they rebuilt the city without external government assistance. Laodicea had fertile land, produced glossy black woolen clothes, and eye-salve. Unfortunately, it had a poor water supply. Unlike nearby Hierapolis, which had hot water, and Colossae, which had cold water, the water at Laodicea was lukewarm, from being piped in from hot springs. Many of these are alluded to in the message to the church at Laodicea in Revelation 3:14-22.
Q: In Rev 3:14 (KJV and NKJV), since Christ is the "beginning of Godís Creation", does this show Christ is a created being as Jehovahís Witnesses teach?
A: No. The Greek word here, arche, is the word from which the English language gets its prefix "arch". Arche means head, or ruler, as well as beginning. Jehovahís Witnesses Answered Verse by Verse p.103-104 and When Cultists Ask p.305 mention that the word architect is derived from arche; as such, Jesus is the architect of all creation.
Williams Translation is very clear her. It says, "the origin of Godís Creation" with a footnote saying "Grk., beginning, but in philosophical sense, so origin."
While all of creation had its beginning and creation through Christ, the primary thought here is that Christ existed before Creation and has sovereignty over Creation, as The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.941 says.
Q: In Rev 3:15-16, what does it mean to be lukewarm spiritually?
A: Being spiritually hot means you warmly love God and people can see that the flame of the Holy Spirit burns brightly in you. This is the way we are to be. Being spiritually cold means you have turned away from God or else have become uncaring and apathetic towards serving God. While this is bad, the one good thing about this is that the person often knows they are cold towards God, and they might decide to repent. But being spiritually lukewarm is not having a fervent love, but not being totally apathetic either. A believer like this is not where God wants them to be, but still close enough to God that they might not see any need of repenting.
Q: In Rev 3:17, what are two different ways of being spiritually blind?
A: Physically someone could be blind, or they could have poor eyesight not realize how blind they are. Think of people who think they can drive at night despite not being able to see in the dark well. Spiritually, the first way someone could be blind is not to see what God wants, and not be able to discern what is right from wrong. The second way is thinking they can see what pleases God and is right and in fact not being able to. Revelation 3:17 indicates that the Laodiceans were spiritually blind in both ways.
Q: In Rev 3:19 and Heb 12:5-6, why does God rebuke and chasten those He loves?
A: God chastens His children in a similar way as good parents discipline a child they care about. They love the child too much to let the child grow up with a lack of discipline. For good parents, the childís well-being, moral character, and development is more important than their short-term comfort.
Q: In Rev 2-3, what can we see common to the letters to the seven churches?
A: The letters general have a partial description of who Christ is, what they are doing well (except for Laodicea) and where they need to improve (except Philadelphia). Finally, it gives them a promise to look forward to. One could surmise that a partial solution to their shortcomings is to look to Jesus in these specific ways, and the hope He has given us. See The Expositorís Bible Commentary vol.12 p.431-432 for more info.
Q: Rev 4:1 is a break with Rev 3. Why do you think churches are frequently mentioned until the end of chapter 3, and the church is never mentioned again until Rev 22:16?
A: Many see "come up here" as implying the church leaving the earth in the rapture. You can read more about the rapture in 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17; Matthew 24:36-44; and Mark 13:32-37. See The Expositorís Bible Commentary vol.12 p.461 and The Believerís Bible Commentary p.2361 for more info.
Q: In Rev 4:1, everything in chapters 2 and 3 happens on earth, and most of the things after chapter 5 happen on earth or have consequences on earth. Why do you think these two chapters focus on heaven?
A: In Revelation large events on earth are triggered by seemingly small acts in heaven. Everything that happens on earth is a part of Godís plan.
Q: In Rev 4:2-4, who is sitting on the throne, the Father or the Son?
A: It is definitely the Father, since the Son took the Scroll from His right hand in Revelation 5:7. It is not the Lamb, based on Revelation 5:13.
However, this being the Father does not show that God is a man or came from a man, contrary to Numbers 23:19 and 1 Samuel 15:29. Rather, God can appear as a burning bush or as any form He desires, and this is how He appeared to John in this vision.
God being seated on a throne is also in Revelation 4:9; 5:1,7,13; 6:16; 7:10,15; 19:4; 21:5; 1 Kings 22:19; 2 Chronicles 18:18; Psalm 47:8; Isaiah 6:1; Ezekiel 1:26-27. See the Evangelical Commentary on the Bible p.1207 for more info.
Q: In Rev 4:4; 11:16; and 14:3, who are the 24 elders, who are seated on their own thrones?
A: God has not told us their identity, yet. There are three basic views.
(unlikely) Angels: A special order of angels. However, they have crowns and thrones, and angels have not had crowns or thrones elsewhere in the Bible. The Expositorís Bible Commentary vol.12 p.462 favors this view.
Individual people: The twelve apostles and twelve representing the twelve tribes of Israel. Jesus promised the disciples they would sit on twelve thrones in Matthew 19:28. The names of the twelve sons of Jacob and the twelve apostles, as are the twelve foundations and twelve gates of the New Jerusalem in Revelation 21:12-14.
Groups: The twelve tribes of Israel and Christians. 1001 Bible Questions Answered (p.272) believes they are the enthroned church. Foreshadowing this, there were 24 rotations in the Levitical priesthood in 1 Chronicles 24. However, there is no precedent for saying Christians are in twelve groups, and it would be strange if it gave this as a symbol when the symbol would be meaningless to most believers reading it. The Evangelical Commentary on the Bible p.1207 and The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.943 for more info.946 also say this view is more likely. Revelation 5:9-10 they sing a song that is either "you purchased us for God" or "you purchased men for God.".
Q: In Rev 4:4,9-10 is John seeing himself in this vision?
A: If the 24 elders are individuals, as is probable, then yes, John would be seeing himself in this vision.
Q: In Rev 4:6-9; 5:14; 14:3; 15:5, who are the four living creatures?
A: Genuine Christians disagree on the identity of these mysterious "cherubim-class" of angels. Cherubim also are mentioned in Ezekiel 10:1-16; 1:5-21; 3:12-14,23. Cherubim are either:
Identical with the Seraphim in Isaiah 6: because the descriptions are compatible, or else
Different from Seraphim in Isaiah 6: because the Old Testament uses two different words in Isaiah and Ezekiel.
Q: In Rev 4:11, in our lives what can we do better, to testify that God is worthy?
A: As we experience God, we should too declare that He is worthy. There are many things we can do.
We can remember who owns us. Even though we as believers have already committed our lives over to Jesus, when we get up in the morning, we can commit that day to God.
We can acknowledge our dependence on God. Before meals, we can pray to thank God for our food, ask Him bless it, and pray for others.
We can be not boastful about our future. When we need to tell someone we commit to something, we should not say "tomorrow I will do it", but rather, "if the Lord wills, tomorrow I will do it", as James 4:15.
We can be not boastful about anything, but rather give glory to the Lord, a Paul gives us by example in Galatians 6:14.
We can consider others as more important than ourselves, as Philippians 2:3-4 says.
Remember that one purpose that we are here on earth is not just to just to talk, not just to do things, but simply to shine. Philippians 2:15b-16a says, "...children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life,..."
But we donít try to shine with our own light, like the sun; that is Godís role. We shine with reflected light, like the moon providing light for their path until they see the sun for themselves.
See The Expositorís Bible Commentary vol.12 p.463 for more info.
Q: In Rev 5:1-5, how does this "scroll of destiny" compare with Ezekielís scroll in Ezek 2:9-3:3?
A: Both were a scroll of woe, in heaven, with writing on both sides. Most scrolls, publicly sold, had writing only on the inner side. But if there were a lot of words, and it was a private scroll, writing might be on both sides. In Roman law a will was typically a scroll sealed with at least five seals. The seals could only be opened by an authorized person.
See The Expositorís Bible Commentary vol.12 p.466 and the New International Bible Commentary p.1606 for more info.
Q: In Rev 5:2, 5:12, 6:10, 7:2, 7:10, 8:13, 10:3, 11:12, 11:15, 12:10, 14:7, 14:9, 14:15, 14:18, 16:1, 16:17, 18:2, 19:17, 21:3-4, (4:1, 14:2, 19:1, 6 implied) why does the angel speak with a "loud cry"?
A: The term "loud voice", also translated "loud cry" occurs 19 times and is implied 3 additional times in Revelation. It is intended for witnesses, and indeed all to hear it, including believers in heaven, angels, and demons. It is basically announcing what is going to happen and usually why. The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.944 for more info.
Q: In Rev 5:5, will Jesus come again as a lion, or as a lamb as Rev 5:8 mentions?
A: Two aspects of Christ are that He was offered as a sacrifice like a Lamb, and He will come a second time with the fierceness of a lion. His coming again as a lion does not change what He did in the past, being sacrificed as a lamb (John 1:29). As an aside, in the New Testament Jesus is mentioned as a lamb only in the writings of John. See When Critics Ask p.552, Haleyís Alleged Discrepancies of the Bible p.127, and the New International Commentary on the Bible p.1606 for more info.
Q: In Rev 5:6, what do you think the seven horns and seven eyes represent?
A: God is all-powerful, and He is all seeing and all-knowing. The seven spirits are the seven-fold Holy Spirit.
Q: In Rev 5:8-13, is this worship of Christ?
A: Yes. These are excellent verses to show the worship of Christ. Please notice the following.
1. They fell down before the Lamb. (5:8)
2. They were doing this act with the prayers of the saints. (5:8)
3. They praised the Lamb as worthy. (5:9)
4. Then the angels praised the Lamb as worthy. (5:12)
5. The angels sang that the Lamb was worthy to receive many things, including honor and glory and praise. (5:12)
6. Then every living creature said to both the Father and the Lamb "be praise and honor and glory and power..." (5:13 NIV).
7. The four living creatures said "Amen" to all that.
8. Finally when the elders fell down and worshipped in 5:14, they were apparently worshipping the ones they were praising in 5:8-12).
This is in sharp contrast to Mormon Apostle Bruce McConkie, who said it was wrong to worship Jesus. (McConkie said this in Our Relationship with the Lord, an address at Brigham Young University). This is also in sharp contrast to Jehovahís Witnesses, who believe you could "honor Jesus, sort of like many people pledge allegiance to the flag of their country", but not worship Him.
Q: In Rev 5:8; 14:1-2; 15:2, what does this say about using instrumental music to worship God?
A: Since they used mechanical instruments of music to worship God in the Old Testament, as well as in Heaven, worshipping God in music is acceptable and pleasing to Him.
The Church of Christ sees this differently though. According to the Church of Christ booklet Instrumental Music in Worship p.25-26 acknowledges that music is OK in the home, and even if the references to harps are to be taken literally, "What God ordains for heaven is one thing; what He authorizes for the church is something else."
Letís try to follow the consistency of this logic here. While God enjoyed instrumental music during Old Testament times He does not like it now for worship on earth. But God never told us in the New Testament that this changed. While God now may like instrumental music in Heaven, He does not like it now for worship on earth. While it is fine to have instrumental music now on earth (if it is wholesome), it is not fine for worship.
I can just imagine a Church of Christ parent telling their teenager, "You can play those Christian CDís if you want, but while you are listening there had better not be any worship of God going on in your heart."
Q: In Rev 5:9, Ps 33:3; 40:3; 96:1; 98:1; 144:9; 149:1; Isa 42:10, what is the significance of a new song?
A: God gives us a new song in Psalm 40:3. The old songs were fine too, but God also wanted praise in new ways we have not praised God before. On your spouseís birthday, do you re-use the same birthday card every year, or each year do you give a new card? God also talks about doing new things in Isaiah 43:18-19.
See the Evangelical Commentary on the Bible p.1209 for more info.
Q: In Rev 5:9, should "redeemed/purchased" have "us" as the object or should it be unspecified?
A: There are manuscript variations on this. First hear are Here are the reasons why people say "redeemed us" followed by the other view.
Redeemed/purchased us: All of nine Bible manuscripts plus Hippolytus (222-235/236 A.D.) plus Cyprian of Carthage (c.248-258 A.D.) indicates it is redeemed us. "Redeemed" without the noun is only in two manuscripts: Alexandrinus (c.450 A.D.) and Ethiopic (c.500 A.D.)
If "us" is present, then the 24 elders cannot be angelic beings because God did not redeem/purchase them. But believers are promised to reign with Christ in 2 Timothy 2:12 and so the singers who are kings who reign in Revelation 5:10 are very likely believers, not angels. The NRSV has "saints". The NET Bible has "persons".
Redeemed/purchased: Bruce Metzger thought it was redeemed, primary on the basis that it was the most difficult reading. The NIV follows Metzger here. The NKJV says, "And have redeemed us to God by Your blood Out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation," It is translated as "men" with the word men in italics or else square brackets to show that it was not in the Greek in the NASB, uNASB, and Wuestís Expanded Translation.
The four -living creatures are obviously a class of angels, and they are singing too, so that would favor not having "us". "They will reign on the earth" means the song refers to believers, but this does not exclude the 24 elders from being angels any more than it excludes the four living creatures from being angels.
Conclusion: This throne-room praised probably took longer than the 15 seconds it took to read that verse. There could have been multiple songs and/or different creatures could sing different things, and John is recording just one tiny, tiny bit or a longer praise session.
See 1001 Bible Questions Answered p.338 for more info.
Q: In Rev 5:9, Ps 33:3; 40:3; 96:1; 98:1; 144:9; 149:1; Isa 42:10, what is the significance of a new song?
A: God gives us a new song in Psalm 40:3. The old songs were fine too, but God also wanted praise in new ways we have not praised God before. On your spouseís birthday, do you re-use the same birthday card every year, or each year do you give a new card?
See the Evangelical Commentary on the Bible p.1209 for more info.
Q: In Rev 5:10, how are we kings and priests?
A: We are not certain but the "kings" part could have two fulfillments. We will reign with Christ during the Millennium in Revelation 20:4. It is possible that God might have some reign after that in the new heaven and new earth. We are priests serving God before, during, and after the Millennium.
Q: In Rev 5:12, what does this say we should give God?
A: God already has power over the universe and the church. We should offer God to have power over our life.
God owns the cattle on a thousand hills (Psalm 50:10) so offer God all your riches.
God is all knowing, so offer God your mind
God is all-powerful, so offer God all your strength
God is worthy, so live your life to honor Him
God is glorious, so live your life to glorify Him.
God has blessed us so much, so life your live as a blessing and praise to Him.
See the Believerís Bible Commentary p.2363 for more info.
Q: In Rev 6, have the four horsemen come yet?
A: -Probably not. The things they represent (conquest, war, famine, and death/plague) have been around since before John was born. However, the prophecy of the four horsemen in Revelation 6:1-8 was probably not been fulfilled yet, because these things have not come in such great magnitude in the correct order, unless you count 1415- for conquest, 1914- for war, 1917- for famine, and 1918- for plague.
If you wish to analyze the data yourself, www.BibleQuery.org/horsemen.html gives my estimates since Johnís time.
Q: In Rev 6:1, is the rider on the white horse Jesus Christ or someone evil like the Antichrist?
A: No. While Jesus comes on a white horse too, this is not Jesus, because Jesus does not have a bow (or an empty bow), Jesus is not "bent on conquest", and Jesus is not on parallel with war, famine, and plague. The identity of this horseman, and the similarity to Christ, might be related to Matthew 24:23, where many imposters of Christ will come. The Romans were a major empire, but they were not particularly known for bows. The Parthians of Iran used bows a lot and they were a real threat to the Roman Empire. Later empires were the Huns, Byzantines, Muslims, Franks, Mongols, Tamerlane, British, Napoleon, Nazis, Communists, and Americans. Huns and Mongols were especially known for using bows, though the bow here might be a metaphor for a warlike weapon. No arrows are mentioned, so it might be fighting, or it might be the threat of fighting.
The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.947,976 and The Expositorís Bible Commentary vol.12 p.473 say the rider is likely the Antichrist. Contrary to this, the Evangelical Commentary on the Bible p.1209-1210 thinks it is Christ.
Q: In Rev 6:8, what exactly is the color of the fourth (pale) horse?
A: Greeks did not use the same descriptions of color that we have. According to Through the language Glass: Why the World Looks Different in Other Languages by Guy Deutscher, the Greeks described colors differently that we do. They often said things were black or white, and they would describe the sea as "wine-dark". The Greeks had no word for blue. The Greek word chloros, usually translated as "green", was also used by the Greeks to describe honey and peopleís faces. Give the broad range of meaning, probably the best English translation of this word is "pale".
Q: In Rev 6:9-11, how many Christian persecutions have there been?
A: The following is a partial list of persecution of Christians, and the thousands killed
|50-323 A.D.||10 Early Christian Persecutions||50|
|50 A.D.||Roman Nero persecutes Christians|
|95/96 A.D.||Roman Domitian persecutes Christians|
|107 A.D.||Roman Trajan persecutes Christians|
|118 & 134 A.D.||Roman Hadrian persecutions Christians|
|135 A.D.||Christians in Israel persecuted by Jews (not Romans) under the Bar Kochba Revolt|
|177 A.D.||Roman Marcus Aurelius persecutes Christians|
|202 A.D.||Roman Septimus Severus persecutes Christians|
|235 A.D.||Roman Maximim persecutes Christians|
|250-251 A.D.||Roman Decius persecutes Christians|
|251-253 A.D.||Roman Gallus persecutes Christians|
|253-260 A.D.||Roman Valerian continues to persecute Christians|
|270 A.D.||Roman Aurelius persecutes Christians|
|284,303-305 A.D.||Roman Diocletian persecutes Christians|
|315-323 A.D.||Roman Licinius persecutes Christians in the east|
|370 A.D.||Roman Arian Valens kills Christians in the east|
|525 A.D.||Christians flee Ethiopian Jewish persecution|
|527-568 A.D.||Byz. Justinian persecutes Monophysites in Egypt|
|700-||Muslims persecute Christians|
|978-1000||Jewish Queen Judith of Axum persecutes Christians|
|1000-||Persecution of Waldenses in Europe|
|10th - 12th centuries||Burning and killing heretics in Europe|
|1100-1300||Mongols kill most Nestorians|
|1211||At Strasbourg, Waldenses burned||0.08|
|1252||Innocent IVís bull for torture to detect heresy|
|1261-1331||Dominicans bring in the Inquisition|
|1232||Dominican Inquisition under Albert|
|1233||Inquisition instituted by Gregory IX|
|1309||Venice under heresy for opposing Clement V|
|1415-16||In Czechoslovakia Hussites revolt|
|1419-34||Crusade against Hussites in Hungary|
|1431||Hussites scare off large Holy Roman Empire Army|
|1480||Spanish Inquisition by Ferdinand and Isabella|
|1487-88||Crusade against the Waldenses|
|1527||Mantz and other Anabaptists killed in Zurich|
|1545||Waldenses persecuted in Italy|
|1555-60||Waldenses persecuted in Italy|
|1562||At Toulouse, French kill Huguenots||4|
|1576-93||In France, Catholics and Huguenots fight|
|1618-48||Thirty years war kills 1/3 of Germans||7000|
|1629-69||"Trample the crucifix" persecution in Japan|
|1637||Japanese + Dutch artillery crush Christians|
|1655||Many Waldenses killed in Italy and France|
|1808||Napoleon ended the Spanish Inquisition|
|1820-41||Christians persecuted in Vietnam|
|1870-90||Guatemala persecutes priests; only 100 left|
|1915-||Persecution of Christians under Communism|
|1956||Protestants persecuted in Colombia|
|1976||16 priests and 1,000ís of Catholics murdered in Guatemala||1,000ís|
|1990-||Severe persecution in Sudan by Muslims|
|1998-||Muslims violently persecuting Christians in Indonesia|
|1998-||Muslim persecution of Christian churches in Uzbekistan||probably 0|
|2001-||Bhutanís Buddhist king persecutes Christians by taking away their free education and medical care unless they pledge not to gather to worship or evangelize. Some have been badly beaten, fired from their jobs, and expelled from Bhutan||0|
|2008Ė2012||Hindus persecute Christians in Orissa province in India|
Q: In Rev 6:12, what major earthquakes have occurred?
A: The earthquakes and darkness in Revelation have not occurred yet. Here are some of the earthquakes that have happened.
1201 Earthquake in modern day Syria 1000K dead
1/23-24/1556 Earthquake in Shanxi, China 830K dead, class XI
1883 Earthquake near Java, Indonesia 100K dead
1883 Krakatoa blew up. 12 square miles (31 square kilometers) of land went into the atmosphere. The noise was heard 3000 miles (4,800 km) away. In England and America they called it the year without summer.
Q: In Rev 6:12-14, how could these things happen in our solar system?
A: God Almighty can change or supersede the natural laws whenever and however He wishes. You know, some people have a very difficult time with the concept that a natural law can be superseded. For example, when the Wright brothers were experimenting, many people were so certain that "man cannot fly", their limited view of the natural law for heavier-than-air objects rendered them incapable of believing in aircraft. The Wright brothersí accomplishments were notable not just for what they did, but also in the cultural climate of supposed "certainties" of natural law.
Q: In Rev 6:13, what is the point of late figs?
A: According to The NIV Study Bible p.1933, green figs appear in winter, where they are easily blown from the trees, because the trees have no leaves.
Q: In Rev 6:14, what would it be like if every island was moved?
A: The great tsunamic that hit Indonesia, and even as far away as Madagascar, was caused by the Peninsula of Malaysia moving a total of 10 feet. In 1883 2/3 of the island of Krakatoa disappeared during a volcanic eruption.
Q: In Rev 6:16, does Jesus, the Lamb of God, have wrath?
A: Yes, Jesus has wrath as well as mercy. Romans 11:22 says to consider both the kindness and sternness of God. See When Critics Ask p.552 and Haleyís Alleged Discrepancies of the Bible p.116 for more info.
Q: In Rev 6:16, why would people want to be under the mountains on the day of wrath?
A: This would not make sense if an earthquake was their primary fear. Apparently, their primary fear was above ground, such as nuclear blasts, solar radiation, or an asteroid or comet.
By the way, what momentous thing happened on July 19, 2019? Actually nothing, and thank God for that. An asteroid named 2019 OK, traveling 15 miles per second, came within 45,000 miles of the earth. If it had hit, it would have been about 30 times more powerful than Hiroshima, and could completely wipe out a city. Scientists say there is a 1 in 3800 chance an asteroid the size of a large pyramid will hit the earth on May 6, 2022. On April 13, 2029, an asteroid named Apophis will pass within 19,000 miles of earth. It is 1,100 feet wide. A decade ago, they were not sure if it would hit the earth or not, but scientists are now confident it will not hit. However, on June 30, 1908 the "Tunguska event" occurred. Apparently a small meteorite hit Siberia, flattening trees for 830 square miles. The impact was equivalent to 10-15 megatons of TNT.
Q: In Rev 7:1, do the four angels at the four corners of the earth indicate the earth has four corners?
A: No. These refer to four angels who stand at the found points of the compass. These are perhaps the same as the "four winds" in Jeremiah 49:36 that went against Elam and the four chariots in Zechariah 6:1-8. See When Critics Ask p.553 and Revelation 1-7 An Exegetical Commentary p.464 for more info.
Q: In Rev 7:2-4, since an angel rises in the east, does this prophecy Rev. Moon coming from an eastern nation as Rev. Moon says in his Divine Principle p.519-520 (5th edition, 1977)?
A: As When Cultists Ask p.306-307 points out, Revelation 7:2-4 says,
a) An angel, not the Messiah (angels are not to be worshipped according to Revelation 22:8-9, and Colossians 2:18).
b) It is in the direction of east, not a country or city of the east.
In addition, it will be the same Jesus according to Acts 1:7, and Jesus will return the same way He came. The Unification church tries to make a distinction between "Christ" who is coming back, and "Jesus" who died. However, every knee will bow to Jesus in Philippians 2:10-11.
Q: In Rev 7:3, what exactly did the seal on the 144,000 believers do?
A: The word for seal, taw, was likely similar to a lower-case t. Since the earliest times Christians used the sign of the cross. There might be three aspects to the seal.
1) A seal was a sign of ownership, that these 144,000 men belong to God, and they belong to God in a special way. See also Revelation 14:3-4 and Ezekiel 9:4-7.
2) The beast had its own, seal, perhaps in counterfeit to this seal, of 666 in Revelation 14:9.
3) The seal definitely gave them protection from the wrath of God and from the demon locusts from hell, in Revelation 9:4. The seal could have physically given them protection, by radiation or some means. Alternately the seal was nothing more than a sign, and the locusts knew better than to harm them, because the punishment would be very severe.
See The Expositorís Bible Commentary vol.12 p.478-479 and Revelation 1-7 An Exegetical Commentary p.469-471 for more info.
Q: In Rev 7:3, was the seal of God was only on the 144,000, or also was later put on those who believed and obeyed their message?
A: Revelation 7:3 says it was on the 144,000. However, since the locusts from hell harm all who do not have the seal of God, it is possible that the seal of protection was given to other, new believers. Revelation 14:3-4 also mentions that the sealed are the redeemed form the earth, which presumably would be more than the 144,000. See The Expositorís Bible Commentary vol.12 p.478 for more info.
Q: In Rev 7:3-8 and Rev 14:1-5, could the 144,000 be a select class of believers, as Jehovahís Witnesses teach (Reasoning From Scriptures, 1989 p.76)?
A: The 144,000 are said to be men (not women) from the twelve tribes of Israel. While these verses do not use the word "males", it is clearly males because Revelation 14:4 says they "did not defile themselves with women". Why would so much ink be used to describe each of the tribes mentioned, if this was not only irrelevant but misleading?
Heaven is for all who believe in Jesus, according to Ephesians 2:19; Philippians 3:20; Colossians 3:1; and Hebrews 3:1; 12:22.
The Complete Book of Bible Answers p.60-61 adds, "What about the Watchtower [JW] contention that the tribes mentioned in Revelation 7 cannot be literal tribes of Israel? One must first point out that the very fact that specific tribes are mentioned along with specific numbers for those tribes removes all possibility that this is a figure of speech. Nowhere else in the Bible does a reference to twelve tribes of Israel mean anything but twelve tribes of Israel." When Cultists Ask p.307-308 points out that while the word "tribes" is used frequently in Scripture, it is never used for anything except literal tribes.
Some have the view that 144,000 refers to all Christians. When Critics Ask p.553-554 mentions this view and shows why this is incorrect. Jehovahís Witnesses Answered Verse by Verse p.104-106 adds that if the 12,000 was just a symbolic number, then their sum, 144,000, must also be a symbolic number. If so, what in the world is 144,000 a symbol of? (Most JWís I know of agree the 144,000 is a literal number, though.)
Q: In Rev 7:5-8, why was the tribe of Dan absent?
A: Scripture does not say, but many think it was because Dan was the first tribe to become idolatrous; they became completely idolatrous, and were largely destroyed. Some speculate that since Jeremiah 4:15 mentions Dan (as well as Ephraim) in referring to the destruction of Jerusalem, these tribes are not mentioned.
Some, as far back as Irenaeus (182-188 A.D.) in Irenaeus Against Heresies book 5 ch.32.2 p.559 and his pupil Hippolytus (222-235/6 A.D.) in Treatise on Christ and Antichrist ch.14-15 p.207 have speculated that Jeremiah 8:16, as well as Deuteronomy 33:22 indicated that the Antichrist would come from the tribe of Dan. However, Dan is mentioned in the distribution of land during the Millennium in Ezekiel 48:2. See The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.949 for more info.
A final possibility is that the tribe of Dan, but not any of the other tribes, had become extinct. Revelation 1-7 An Exegetical Commentary p.480 raises this possibility, without endorsing it.
Q: In Rev 7:6-8, why was the tribe of Ephraim absent, and Joseph mentioned instead?
A: As The Complete Book of Bible Answers (p.61) points out, Ephraim was involved in pagan worship of God (Judges 17 and Hoses 4:17). Thus Joseph was mentioned rather than a tribe that was synonymous with Samaria.
Q: In Rev 7:1-8 and Rev 14:1-4, who are the 144,000?
A: They are stated as 144,000 Jewish/Israelite men, from each of the twelve tribes, excluding Dan. While many Jewish people today do not follow Christ, Zechariah 12:10-14 shows there will be a future time when the Jews will mourn for the one they pierced (Christ). Romans 11:25-28 shows that in the end many in the Jewish nation will turn to Christ. Some people try to make most things in Revelation allegorical, and this would make more of Revelation 7 and 14 meaningless.
However, this does not support the false, extreme view that all Jews are going to Heaven, regardless of their rejection of Christ. Jesus told the very religious Pharisees in John 8:24, that if they did not believe Jesus was the Messiah, they would indeed die in their sins. Other verses that show that Jews as well as non-Jews need Jesus are Acts 3:19-20; Matthew 23:29-33; John 10:7-8,14-16. For evidence that God has not rejected the Jews once Jesus come, Paul gives as "proof" the fact that he came to believe in Christ, in Romans 11:1.
See the previous four questions for more info. See also Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.432-434, Hard Sayings of the Bible p.761-763, 1001 Bible Questions Answered p.283, and When Critics Ask p.553 for more info.
Q: In Rev 7:1-8 and Rev 14:1-4, could the 144,000 be symbolic of Christians in general?
A: No, they are clearly Jewish believers, based on a principle of interpretation. If an interpretation of the Bible makes some of Godís precious verses worthless and not worth even reading at best, or misleading at worst, then you just possibly might not the best interpretation, - just possibly. Saying this is all believers makes the fact that they are men worthless or misleading. The fact that these tribes are specifically mentioned, and 12,000 from each tribe, would mean that God was leading people down a deceiving path, showing that 12,000 were from a specific tribe, when it was an untruth that they were from that specific tribe. Also, the church was not called "Israel" until 160 A.D..
Probably the meaning for us that it is Jewish males, and it is 12,000 from each of specific tribes, was deliberately put there by God to show us it is literal, and not just a symbolic representation of Christians.
This is the view of Revelation 1-7 An Exegetical Commentary p.474-479, The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.948-949 and the Believerís Bible Commentary p.2364.
Contrary view: The Evangelical Commentary on the Bible p.1211 and the New International Commentary on the Bible p.1609 has a contrary view. Among other thing the New International Commentary on the Bible p.1609 says, "From the tribe of Judah 12,000 were sealed: The unusual order of the tribal names here may have a special significance; but if so, it escapes us."
The Expositorís bible Commentary vol.12 p.480 discusses the pros and cons of both views.
Q: In Rev 7:7, why was the tribe of Levi included, since the Levites did not have any land?
A: Their inclusion means this was not just a list by land. As The Complete Book of Bible Answers p.61 speculates, perhaps it was because their role as priests and Levites was finished once Christ came.
Q: In Rev 7:9-17, who are the great multitude?
A: These are other believers besides the 144,000. Revelation 7:14 says the great multitude are those who have come out of the great tribulation. The phrase "made their robes white in the blood of the lamb", has the meaning of believers who are killed as martyrs for their faith.
The Christians killed in Neroís persecution were "A great multitude according to Clement of Roma and the Roman historian Tacitus, according to the New International Commentary on the Bible p.1609. It is important to note that the great multitude stand before the throne of God in Revelation 7:9. Also, Revelation 19:1 clearly says they are "in Heaven", contrary to what the Watchtower teaches (Watchtower magazine 2/1/82 p.26). Watchtower magazine 3/1/1985 p.14 also discusses the JWís view of the great multitude. See Jehovahís Witnesses Answered Verse by Verse p.106-110 for more info.
Q: In Rev 7:14, should it best be translated "great tribulation" (KJV), or "the great tribulation" (NIV, NKJV, Green)?
A: The Greek here is emphatic and indicates the first. It could be translated "out of the tribulation, the great one" according to 1001 Bible Questions Answered p.282. The NRSV has "the great ordeal" and NCV has "the great suffering" which are equivalent to the second. Wuestís Expanded translation has "the tribulation, the great one."
Q: In Rev 8:1, why do you think there was a half-hour silence?
A: The singing in heaven all stopped for half an hour, and Scripture does not say why. But people have come up with five theories. To develop out discerning capabilities we are first going to wade through four that are not the answer, and then a fifth, that is a likely answer.
1. Not the answer: the start of the Millennium. This is silence only in heaven, not earth. This would make the seventh seal a pleasurable blessing, the Millennium, not of woe like the other six seals.
2. Not the answer: a brief pause in judgment. Like the first view, this would make the seventh seal start out as a pleasurable blessing.
3. Not the answer: a pause in the revelation given to John. However, this does not say there was silence for half an hour; rather there was silence in heaven for half an hour. This view would make the half-hour silence basically meaningless.
4. Not the answer: a pause to allow the prayers of Godís people to reach the throne. It took a priest about half an hour to perform the incense offering. However, the prayers had already risen to the throne prior to this. The Expositorís Bible Commentary vol.12 p.488 holds this view.
5. The answer: A dramatic pause before the awful judgements to come. It is a hushed reverence, sort of like the silence of the people when the Lord is in His holy temple in Habakkuk 2:20, prior to the judgments in Habakkuk 3:3-16. Zephaniah 1:7 also speaks of a silence right before the day of the Lord, and the judgments in Zephaniah 1:8,15-18. Zechariah 2:13 also says for all flesh to be silent when God is aroused.
The last view is also taught in the Believerís Bible Commentary p.2365 and the Evangelical Commentary on the Bible p.1212. Revelation 8-22 An Exegetical Commentary p.2-3 discusses all five views, but believers the fifth view is correct.
Studying Revelation feels like wading into the ocean. You can walk in the water at a beach, 15 or 20 feet, and conclude that all of the ocean is fairly flat and shallow. Then it starts getting deeper, at an accelerating pace, until you hit a drop off. Revelation started off with a splendid image, then some fairly familiar circumstances of churches, and then got gradually deeper and deeper, but still calamities we could relate to because we already have seen similar, though on a more limited scale. In chapter seven it started getting deeper, and the half-hour delay, is almost a pause before the drop-off. From here on, things happen that we are not at all similar to what humanity has seen so far. So last chance, to grab a big gulp of air, before we go way down deep.
Q: In Rev 8:3, is the angel in this verse really Jesus?
A: There is no indication that it is. There were many angels in heaven, who do different things, and there is no justifiable reason for saying this is Jesus. Revelation 8-22 An Exegetical Commentary p.8 says, "A basic canon of interpretation, however, states that one must never depart from the plain meaning of words because of an alleged doctrinal principle (Alford)."
However, the Believerís Bible Commentary p.2365 thinks that it is. God [Jesus] is referred to as an angel in Genesis 16:13, Genesis 13:11,13, Exodus 23:20-21 (implied), and Hosea 12:3-4. The prayers of the saints go to the Father through Jesus in Ephesians 2:18. On the other hand, the angel offered incense with the prayers of the saints. It does not say prayers were made to the angel, or that the angels was mediating in any way, like Jesus does.
Q: In Rev 8:5, 6:9-11, why do the prayers of the saints return to the earth as Godís wrath?
A: They are not just praying for wrath, they are praying for divine justice, and Godís wrath will accomplish that. See the Believerís Bible Commentary p.2365 for more info.
Q: In Rev 8:7, what could cause one-third of the land vegetation to be burned up?
A: In nature, one of more meteorites might do it, or by human hands the fallout from enough atomic blasts. Or it could be something supernatural, with no natural means at all.
Q: In Rev 8:8-9, what could be a great flaming mountain?
A: In nature, one of more meteorites might do it, or by human hands the fallout from enough atomic blasts. An atomic blast creates a mushroom cloud, a narrower stalk on the bottom and a billowing cloud on the top. Remember that John just recorded what he saw and heard, and described it in language he understood. Or it could be something supernatural, with no natural means at all. The seas turning to blood could be literal blood, or more likely it is the language of appearance, as The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.951 says.
Q: In Rev 8:10-11, what do we know about wormwood anyway?
A: Wormwood was a very bitter, awful-tasting herb that is good to swallow to get rid of intestinal parasites. An alcoholic drink is made out of wormwood, called absinthe. It is one of the few alcoholic drinks that was banned in the United States, until 2007. It was banned because it was thought that continued drinking leads to insanity. Wormwood is mentioned in Deuteronomy 29:18; Proverbs 5:4; Jeremiah 9:15; 23:25; and Lamentations 3:15,19; Amos 5:7.
See The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.952 for more info.
Q: In Rev 8:10-11, why would a blazing star be called wormwood and how could it poison waters?
A: We donít know what the star was. Whether it was a meteorite, radioactive missiles, or an ejection from the sun, called a solar flare.
The most important thing about solar flares is: donít be in front of one. The largest solar flare we know of happened at 3:51 pm central time, on Monday April 2, 2001. It did NOT go towards the earth, but it traveled 4.5 million miles (7.2 million km) per hour, taking only about 21 hours to reach 93 million miles. The second largest, on March 6, 1989, disrupted some power grid lines in Canada. This is despite the fact that it did not hit the earth, and the earth has the protection of our magnetic field.
How likely is a solar flare to hit earth? The earth has a radius of 3959 miles, and is about 93 million miles from the sun. If a solar plasma ejection left the sun, there is so much space, that the chance of it randomly hitting all or part of the earth is only 1.4 * x0^-8. That is 0.0000000014. So there is nothing to worry about, - except Godís word. God says that something, whether solar flare or not, is going to hit, but the odds here show that it is definitely not going to be by random chance.
Q: In Rev 8:12, how could the heavenly bodies only give two-thirds of their light?
A: The simplest explanation is that one-third of the light is being blocked by dust, or ash.
Some Christian commentators have gone crazy with symbolic meaning. Some said it was the removal of the light of truth (Lee, Scott, Kiddle), such as the spiritual darkness of Islam (Lee) or the fall of governments in the west (Scott). This is according to Revelation 8-22 An Exegetical Commentary p.23. This is despite the fact that a larger percentage of the world believed Christ was God during the middle ages than when Revelation was written. So by their logic, the sun and moon should have gotten brighter, not darker. As you can see, there is no hope of understanding Revelation given so many varied and fanciful symbolic interpretations. It is simplest to say that darkness means darkness.
Q: In Rev 8:13, is this an angel (KJV, NKJV), or "eagle/vulture"?
A: Angel is a manuscript variant found in the Armenian and the majority text (Textus Receptus). The other alternative Greek word is a bird of prey, such as an eagle or vulture. This is found in Sinaiticus. Rev 8:2-9:12 were not quoted by any Pre-Nicene writers. Manuscript p115, written mid to late 3rd century, quotes 119 verses or Revelation, including Revelation 8:3-8, 11-13, and it has bird of prey. See the New International Bible Commentary p.1610 for more info.
Q: In Rev 8-9, are the trumpets just a "recapitulation" of the seven seals or a "telescoping" of the seventh seal?
A: Not at all. By the way recapitulation also refers to the trumpets vs. seven bowls, but only the seals vs. trumpets is discussed here. Letís count the details in each to arrive at a rough percentage of similarity.
|Six Seals in Revelation 6||Six Trumpets in Revelation 8-9||Pct|
|1st seal White horse, bow, conquering and to conquer. Rev 6:2||1st trumpet Hail and fire, blood thrown to the earth. 1/3 of trees and grass burned up. Rev 8:7||0%|
|2nd seal Red horse take peace away, people kill people sword. Rev 6:3-4||2nd trumpet Great fiery mountain. 1/3 of sea became blood. Rev 8:8-9||0%|
|3rd seal Black hose, scale, high price of wheat and barley. No harm to oil or wine. Rev 6:5-6||3rd trumpet Wormwood star poisons 1/3 of rivers and water. People die from bitter water.||0%|
|4th seal Pale horse death. Power over oneĖquarter of the earth. Rev 6:7-a||4th trumpet 1/3 of sun, 1/3 moon, 1/3 stars. 1/3 day and 1/3 night not shine. Rev 8:12||0%|
|Kill with sword, hunger, death, and beasts. Rev 6:8b||The flying eagle with three woes. Rev 8:13||0%|
|5th seal Martyrs under the altar. Rev 6:9-11||5th trumpet = 1st woe. Falling star bottomless pit and demonic locusts. Rev 9:1-3||0%|
|6th seal great quake, sun black, moon like blood. Stars gone. Rev 6:12-13||Not harm vegetation, but torment people without the seal for 5 months. Rev 9:4-6||0%|
|All, from kings to commoners, just as fearful. Rev 6:15a||Only affects one of two distinct groups. Rev 9:4-6||-99%|
|Sky rolled up. Rev 6:14||Locusts like horses for battle. Rev 9:7-10||0%|
|Every mountain and island moved.||King Abaddon over the locusts. Rev 9:11||0%|
|People hiding in rocks and mountains. Rev 6:15b-17||6th trumpet = 2nd woe.4 angels at Euphrates River kill 1/3 of all people. Rev 9:13-19||0%|
|Great day of the Lambís Wrath. Rev 6:17||200 million troops||0%|
|The survivors still did not repent. Rev 9:20-21||0%|
Q: In Rev 8-9, what are the trumpets similar to?
A: They are similar to other parts of the Bible.
|The great silence before the Lord||Rev 8:1||Hab 2:20; Zeph 1:7; Zech 2:13|
|Altar before Godís throne||Rev 8:3||Isaiah 6:6|
|Trees and grass burned up||Rev 8:7||Joel 1:19|
|Water turned to wormwood||Rev 8:10-11||Jeremiah 9:15|
|Sun darkened||Rev 8:12||Mt 24:29; Mk 13:24-25; Lk 21:25|
|Dreaded locusts, look like horses||Rev 9:1-12||Joel 2:3-11; Ezek 5:17?|
|Euphrates River||Rev 9:14; 16:12||Isa 11:15-16|
Q: In Rev 9:1-2,11; 11:7; 17:8; 20:1,3 what do we know about the abyss, or bottomless pit?
A: The Abyss is neither Hades, Hell, or the Lake of Fire. We do not know much, except that it is a place no demon wants to go. It is different from Hell, or else a different part of Hell. We donít know if it has any relation to the gulf in Lazarus and the rich man in Luke 16:26. Here is what the Bible says about the Abyss.
Luke 8:31 Demons begged Jesus not to order them to go there
Revelation 9:1, 20:1 Like Death and Hades, the Abyss has a key to lock beings inside.
Revelation 9:2 The Abyss is a smoke-filled pit.
Revelation 9:3 Special locusts that tormented men for five months came from the Abyss.
Revelation 9:11 The King of the locusts, the angel of the Abyss is Abaddon (Hebrew), Apollyon (Greek)
Revelation 11:7 The beast that kills the two witnesses is from the Abyss.
Revelation 17:8 The beast the woman sits on comes out of the Abyss.
Revelation 20:2 Satan will be locked in the Abyss for 1,000 years. It is interesting that Satan is chained as well as thrown in there.
Revelation 20:3 It will be sealed shut for 1,000 years.
Revelation 20:7 The Abyss will be a prison for Satan. (No mention of torment though.)
It is poetically mentioned in passing in Romans 10:7. The abyss is a place needing a key in Revelation 9:1-2; 20:1. Satan will be confined there for a thousand years in Revelation 20:1-3. It might be the same place as outer darkness in Jude 6. The "star" was not a star or meteorite, but rather a sentient being, a "he".
See Hard Sayings of the Bible p.763-765, The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.952 and Revelation 8-22 : An Exegetical Commentary p.26 for more info.
Q: In Rev 9:1, could this star be Mohammed, as some Christians have speculated?
A: No, because these locusts donít kill, and Christians were affected by Mohammedís conquests. See Revelation 8-22 : An Exegetical Commentary p.27 for more info.
Q: In Rev 9:1-11, what could these locusts be?
A: These canít be ordinary locusts, but things that John saw has having some similarities to locusts. Smoke came from the bottomless pit to darken the earthís skies, and out of the smoke came these locusts, almost like a volcanic eruption from the depths of Hell. Some choices people have thought of are special animals, aliens, jet airplanes, demons, only demons that had been locked in the bottomless pit. So letís look at their characteristics, and see what appears more probable.
Effects: They had tails like scorpions, to afflict people. They do not harm any vegetation, nor do they kill people, but they only afflict people for five months. Conventional and nuclear bombs harm vegetation and kill people, so it is not those.
Looks: They looked like horses, except with heads with crowns of gold, and menís faces. They had something like womenís hair and lionís teeth. They had a covering of iron (or steel).
Organization: There were a lot of them, but they were all ruled by a king, a demon named Abaddon/Apollyon.
See Revelation 8-22 : An Exegetical Commentary p.28-29 for more info.
Q: In Rev 9:2-10, why would the locusts torment people for five months?
A: Scripture does not say, but the normal season of locust swarms is five months, from May to September, according to Revelation 8-22 An Exegetical Commentary p.32
Q: In Rev 9:6, what does it mean that people shall seek death and not find it?
A: It means that, at this time, God will not allow people to escape the wrath by dying. See 1001 Bible Questions Answered p.289-290 for more info.
Q: Rev 9:11, who is Abaddon (in Hebrew) or Apollyon (in Greek)?
A: Abaddon means the Destroyer, or Destruction in Hebrew. In some Jewish religious literature, Abaddon was the personification of death IQH 3.16, 19, 32; IQ ap Genesis 12:17 [TDOT, 1:23] according to The Expositorís Bible Commentary vol.12 p.493. In an apocryphal work, 1 Enoch 86:1 a "star" (a demon) fell from heaven, followed by others. While 1001 Bible Questions Answered p.62 says this is Satan himself, most of commentators say it is a demon under Satan.
See The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.953, the New International Bible Commentary p.1611, and Revelation 8-22 An Exegetical Commentary p.39 for more info.
Q: In Rev 9:13, why did the voice come from between the four horns of the altar?
A: Horns here can mean corners. The prayers of the martyrs under the altar in Revelation 6:9-11 asked for justice. So this command likely is associated with their prayers. Revelation 8-22 An Exegetical Commentary p.341-42 for more info.
Q: In Rev 9:13-21, Isa 11:15-16, what is significant about the Euphrates River?
A: Originally the Euphrates was one of the four rivers in the Garden of Eden in Genesis 2:14. It was the direction that invaders of Israel often came from, as in Jeremiah 2:18. Sumer, Babylonia, and Assyria straddled the Euphrates River. Elam and later Persia were east of it. Egypt, Greece, and Rome were not though. Four angels were released to direct 200 million mounted troops to kill a third of all people. The army of Iraq, under Saddam Hussein, had about a million troops. Allied plus Axis troops in World War II totaled about 70 million. Mao Zi-Dong, when asked how big an army China had, said that if you called up all the reserves, it would be about 200 million. See an article in Time Magazine May 21, 1965 p.35. For any other country, besides India, to muster up that many troops they would have to ally with other countries, perhaps like a large Muslim jihad. Over 600 million Muslims live east of Iran in Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, China, Malaysia, Indonesia, and eastern former Soviet Republics. See The Expositorís Bible Commentary vol.12 p.494 and The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.953 for more info.
Q: In Rev 9:16-17, what is this army of 200 million?
A: They sound similar to tanks and/or howitzer artillery pieces. There are at least four possibilities.
Possibly supernatural warriors (demons) that kill people.
More probably ordinary people. In the 1960ís, Chairman Mao claimed that by calling up all reserves, Mainland China alone could field an army of 200 million troops.
Robot warriors. A could does not have to look like a human. Just as people are developing sel-driving cars, a robot could be a self-driving artillery piece or tank.
Combinations of the above.
See also the next question for more info.
Q: In Rev 9:16-19, what are these multitude of horsemen? Could they be tanks and armored vehicles, planes, and helicopters?
A: Revelation does not actually say these could fly, but it does not eliminate that possibility either. It is not necessary that they be all one thing. For example, they could be a mechanized division with tanks, trucks, cars, and motorbikes. They could also include robots. However, all of this is pure speculation. It remains to be seen what they are.
Q: In Rev 9:16-17, how could there be an army of 200 million horsemen on this earth?
A: These were not ancient troops, and they were mounted on no ordinary horses. Remember John said he wrote what he saw and heard. So he used his language to describe what he say. John called these horses that had smoke and fire coming out of their mouths (exhaust pipes?). Train locomotives were called iron horses, and automobiles were originally thought of as mechanical horses. So it could be "horses" though mechanized horses, not biological ones. The colors are similar to many flags, which have red, blue, and yellow.
Q: In Rev 9:21, 18:23, what does the words for these sins mean?
A: The Greek word for poisoning / sorcery, pharmakon, is where we get the English word pharmacy. It can mean drugs in general, whether beneficial or poisons. However, in this context these obviously were not beneficial drugs. Could this refer specifically to poisoning people, to the drug trade, or something else? The question is open. The Greek word for sexual immorality here, pornias, does not refer just to fornication, but to all sexual immorality. See The Expositorís Bible Commentary vol.12 p.45 and Revelation 8-22 An Exegetical Commentary p.54-55 for more info.
Q: In Rev 10:1, who is this mighty angel?
A: Scripture does not say if it is one of the two angels (Gabriel and Michael), that we know the names of, or one of the ten thousand by ten thousand angels that were not told the name of. It is not Christ appearing as an angel, though, for two reasons.
1) The Greek language has two words for "another": the first is "another of a different kind", and the second is "another of the same kind". It is the second word that is used here.
2) In Revelation 10:5 the angel is raising his right hand and swearing, by God. If the angel swore by someone greater than Himself, and God cannot swear by anyone greater than Himself, according to Hebrews 6:13, so this is not Christ.
See The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.954 and Revelation 8-22 An Exegetical Commentary p.61 for more info.
Q: In Rev 10:4, why did God "tease" us with telling John the words of the seven thunders, yet command John not to write them down?
A: This is the most explicit reminder of an important point frequently implied in the book of Revelation. God has not told us everything yet. We will not have everything fit together neatly until these events occur. God is giving a very similar reminder in Daniel 12:9.
Q: In Rev 10:4, what do you, or should you, do when you feel God is not showing you something that might be very important?
A: We should have faith that God will reveal to us what we need to know, but understanding that God might keep from us things we do not need to know, or that it is not helpful for us to know. Once a pastor and his wife told some members of their church that they prayed that when they died they would die together. Many years later they were both killed in a car wreck at night. Imagine being told, on that day, that they would both be coming home that night, but not to their house on earth. Imagine the stress and needless anxiety they would feel. Or, most likely, they did not feel any of that, because they were not told that they would die that evening. We should eagerly pursued learning all that God wants us to learn. But we should not be interested in wasting time learning what God does not want us to know.
Q: In Rev 10:5 and Dan 12:7, what is the significance of an angel raising his right hand and swearing?
A: Some prophecies are conditional. If the people repent then the calamity will not happen, etc. However, this swearing indicates there is nothing at all conditional about this prophecy. See Revelation 8-22 An Exegetical Commentary p.66-67 for more info.
Q: In Rev 10:6f, what is interesting about this phrase at the end?
A: "There will be no more delay" indicates that now, things are really about to start happening. This Greek idiom means "There will be no more delay", but literally it means "There will be no more time". See Revelation 8-22 An Exegetical Commentary p.68 for more info.
Q: In Rev 10:8-9, is the little book here actually "Divine Science" by Mary Baker Eddy of the Christian Science cult, as Science and Health (p.558-559) says?
A: No, though some people could see a similarity, as it made John sick to his stomach. In a way that was unintended, it is tempting to relate this book to cults that have teaching that seems sweet, yet leads to a bitter result.
However, cults are not the focus of this passage. This is speaking of Godís impending judgment, which sounded good to John at first, but then on reflection did not seem very pleasant. See When Cultists Ask p.308 and The Bible Knowledge Commentary: New Testament p.954-955 for more info.
Q: In Rev 10:7, is it Gabriel that blows the horn?
A: The Bible never says who blow the horn, only an angel. The secular song "The Eyes of Texas" is apparently the source of the thought that Gabriel blows the horn.
Q: In Rev 10:9-10, what is the significance of eating a book that is sweet in Johnís mouth but bitter in his stomach?
A: Ezekiel was also asked to eat a scroll in a vision in Ezekiel 3:1-3. In his case the scroll also tasted sweet, as honey, though it was filled with mourning, lamentations, and woe. Some things sound nice and sweet when you first learn of them, but upon reflection, they can have a bitter aftertaste. Some of the things John heard sounded great, but He realized the terrible things the world would go through first. See the Believerís Bible Commentary p.2367 and the Evangelical Commentary on the Bible p.1213 for more info.
Q: Is Rev 11 mostly literal or mostly symbolic?
A: It is literal. There are three comments, which combined, answer the question decisively. According to the symbolic view, "Some have considered this chapter one of the most difficult to interpret in the Book of Revelation. (Lilje, p.159)" quoted from The Expositorís Bible Commentary vol.12 p.499. The second comment is, "The figurative [symbolic] interpretation fails for a number of reasons, however. The temple as the dwelling place of God is not in view here. It is the Jewish temple in Jerusalem which is hardly a suitable picture of the church which is largely Gentile (Ladd). Further, the outer court and the entire city experience trampling by the Gentiles (11:2), signifying that the temple and the court stand for something that best contrasts with the Gentiles, i.e., something Jewish (ibid.). The mention of the sanctuary, the altar, the court of the Gentiles, and the holy city shows unmistakably that the discussion at this point is on Jewish ground (Seiss). But most obvious of all is the logical fallacy that if the sanctuary represents the church of the Messianic community, who are the worshipers that are measured along with the sanctuary and the altar? This is an unbearable combining of figurative and literal elements, connected only by kai (kai, "and"). The nonliteral interpretation is woefully inconsistent and self-contradictory. In addition, this figurative explanation results in a hopeless effort to identify the outer court and the holy city in 11:2. The only way out of this entanglement of internal contradictions is to understand this as a literal temple that will exist in actuality during the future period just before Christ returns." Revelation 8-22 An Exegetical Commentary p.81-82
"The description of the two witnesses is too detailed for them to be representative of a corporate body (Ladd). The corporate view would require that all believers of the future undergo martyrdom, denying the possibility of survivors that will remain to populate the Millennium. The obstacles to the symbolic view are insurmountable."
Revelation 8-22 An Exegetical Commentary p.87-88.
So, when you understand that the symbolic falls flat on its face in making sense of this chapter, just take it literally, as early Christians did for the two witnesses.
Q: In Rev 11:1, what is the significance of John measuring the Temple of God?
A: Property owners would measure what they possess, but not measure what they donít possess. This also means that it is an actual, real temple with physical dimensions. Real dimensions are also used in Ezekiel 40:3-48:35. It does not make sense to interpret this as a metaphor, as Revelation 8-22 An Exegetical Commentary p.81-82 points out. See The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.955 for more info.
Q: In Rev 11:3-12, could the two witnesses be Mohammed and ĎAli as the Bahaiís say in Some Answered Questions p.43-61?
A: No for the following eleven reasons.
1. Revelation 11:3 says they will prophesy for 1,260 days. Mohammed made very few prophecies, and ĎAli was never considered a prophet by orthodox Muslims.
2. Revelation 11:5 says that if anyone tries to harm them fire devours their enemies. Mohammed was poisoned (but barely survived), and ĎAli was assassinated by a Muslim. ĎAliís cause was defeated by Muíawiyah, and his son Husain was slain. He did not devour his enemies; instead, he was killed by them.
3. Revelation 11:6 The two prophets can shut up the sky so that it will not rain. Mohammed never claimed to do that, and neither did ĎAli.
4. Revelation 11:6 Mohammed and ĎAli did not turn waters into blood, as almost all of the people they beheaded, burned, or otherwise slew were not by rivers. If a Salafi Muslim were to argue that they made rivers of blood that does not count, because Revelation 11:6 says they turned waters into blood.
5. Revelation 11:7-8 Mohammed was not killed by violence, and in both cases their bodies were not put on humiliating public display.
6. Revelation 11:8 their bodies were not put in the street of a great city. In fact, relatively few saw ĎAli die.
7. Revelation 11:9 Everybody did not gaze at their dead bodies and refuse them burial. Mohammed in particular was buried rather promptly by his followers.
8. Revelation 11:10 Who sent out lots of gifts when Mohammed and ĎAli were killed?
9. Revelation 11:11 There is a small sect of Muslims, called Muhammadiyya, that claims that Mohammed never died. The Sabaíiyya are a small sect of Muslims that claim ĎAli never died. Except for these small groups, Muslims have no basis for saying either Mohammed or ĎAli were raised back to life.
10. Revelation 11:12 Muslims never say Mohammed and ĎAli did not ascend to heaven in a cloud. (Though Muhammadiyya and Sabaíiyya might disagree.)
11. Revelation 11:13 There was not a severe earthquake when either Mohammed or ĎAli left the earth in a non-existent cloud.
The point is not whether you can allegorize away some of these reasons. The point is that if even one of these reasons cannot be allegorized away, then the prophecy does not refer to them.
Q: In Rev 11:2, what does trampling / treading mean here?
A: Remember that the Antichrist will set up an idol in the temple and be worshipped here. So you have people coming here to worship who are not worshippers of the true God.
Note that it says "trampled" here, not destroyed. But it implies somewhat that should not happen, and people going where they should not. Two views of trampling are persecution and apostasy. I will also propose a third view, which is kind of between the first two.
Persecution because believers donít want them there, and they are there anyway. One thinks of the Midianites in the Book of Judges, who came during harvest season and took the crops. However, there is no mention of martyrdom or hardship to the Jews here. Trampling is not used for persecution anywhere else in the Bible.
Apostasy because the temple is defiled by those who have no right to be there. Those doing the trampling do not see anything out of place, not realizing that they do not belong there with Godís people.
Contextualized Syncretism is people will say they are Muslims or Hindus, who believe Mohammed, the Qurían or Hindu scriptures are from the true God, but say they also follow Jesus as the Messiah. These people think they have the right to be there, though in Godís eyes they do not, and they have the power to occupy that place without being stopped.
See The Expositorís Bible Commentary vol.12 p.502-503 for more info on the first two views. See The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.955 for more info.
Q: In Rev 11:2, what is the holy city that is trampled for 42 months?
A: This is not the past Jewish city of Jerusalem, which was already destroyed. It is not the future heavenly Jerusalem because it has no temple in it and, it will never be trampled. Rather this is a rebuilt city of Jerusalem that exists in the end times. See Revelation 8-22 An Exegetical Commentary p.84 for more info.
Q: In Rev 11:2, can Jerusalem being trampled for 42 months mean the time between the Hejira of Mohammed and the revelation of the Bab in 1260 A.D. as Bahaíis teach in Some Questions Answered p.46-47?
A: No. Abduíl-Baha claims that since a day is [allegedly] always a year, that is 1,260 years. But consider this: if day here really meant day, how could God communicate this in a way that they would accept it? No, there is no reason to doubt that days means days here.
Furthermore, if the 42 months was the time when the Gentiles were trampling the holy city, then this interpretation would mean that Mohammed in Medina, and Mohammed later in Mecca was included in the time when the holy city was getting trampled.
Actually Revelation 11:2 relates to the same subject as Daniel 12:6.
Q: In Rev 11:2, what is the significance of the three and a half years?
A: It is the same three and a half years mentioned as the last half of the period in Daniel 9:27. The would be 360-day years. See 1001 Bible Questions Answered p.282 for more info.
Q: In Rev 11:3-12, who are the two witnesses?
A: There are five views, but the last two are extremely unlikely.
Elijah and Moses both had miracles like these. Elijah prayed for no rain for three and a half years in 2 Kings 17:1,7: 18:1, James 5:17 was taken up to Heaven (2 Kings 2:11). Moses turned water to blood in Exodus 7:17-21; 9:14; 11:10; 1 Samuel 4:8, and Mosesí body was buried by God and his body was never found (Deuteronomy 34:6; Jude 9). Also, these two appeared to Jesus in his First Coming at the transfiguration.
Enoch and Elijah both they have both not seen death yet. Tertullian (198-220 A.D.) in A Treatise on the Soul ch.50 p.227-228 held this view.
Two individuals who have not been born yet.
(not the answer) Two groups of people, though this is a very unlikely stretch.
(not the answer) Two principles, such as the law and the prophets, which The Expositorís Bible Commentary vol.12 p.504 mentions without endorsing. This was never thought of by any early Christian.
1001 Bible Questions Answered p.284-285 believes it will be Elijah and either Moses or Enoch.
See Revelation 8-22 An Exegetical Commentary p.91-92 for more info.
Q: In Rev 11:3-12, do the two witnesses prophesy for the first half of Danielís seventieth week or the second half?
A: While scripture does not explicitly say, it mentions this after the Gentiles trample on the city for 42 months. This would indicate it would be during the last half of Danielís seventieth week. 1001 Bible Questions Answered p.284, The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.955, and the Believerís Bible Commentary p.2367 say the same. The Expositorís Bible Commentary vol.12 p.503, with prefers the first view, adding that Hippolytus, Victorinus, and Augustine also held this view.
Q: In Rev 11:10, what is the significance of sending each other gifts?
A: There are at least three possibilities.
1. It could be a one-time exchange of gifts to celebrate the witnesses being killed.
2. It could be a brandinew holiday, starting by the authorities of that time, to celebrate the death of the two witnesses.
3. It could just happen to coincide with an existing holiday where people exchange gifts. Three holidays where people exchange gifts are:
Christmas: Most Christians exchange gifts on December 25, but some Orthodox exchange gifts in January.
Divali/Diwali/Deepawali/Deepavali is a five-day Hindu festival of lights which has somewhat different meanings in north and south India. It is usually around the last half of October to the first half of November.
Eid ul-adha in Islam is when people exchange gifts to celebrate Abrahamís almost sacrificing his son. "Eid" means festival in Arabic and is also the last day of the Hajj pilgrimage. This can be in January.
Q: In Rev 11:13, which city is the great city?
A: This is almost certainly Jerusalem, where our Lord was crucified. However, Revelation 8-22 An Exegetical Commentary p.93-94 discusses (without recommending) the view this might not be the geographical location of just one city but all cities that have opposed the Lord through the ages.
Q: Was Rev 11:12-13 fulfilled by an earthquake in Shiraz when the Bab was executed as Bahaíis teach in Some Questions Answered p.55-56?
A: No. First of all, I have not seen any evidence of an earthquake in Shiraz at this time. Second, if Bahaíis want to make Revelation 11 refer to Mohammed and ĎAli, and then they switch the subject to the Bab in Revelation 11:12-13, they cannot have their cake and eat it too. The earthquake happened after the two witnesses were raised to life again. Mohammed and ĎAli lived around 632 A.D., the Bab came around 1844 A.D., and 1200 years is not right after. Either the Bab was one of the two witnesses or he was not. If he was not, then it is stretching the Bible to take this verse in isolation and say it refers to the Bab.
Q: In Rev 11:14-15, is Mohammed the first woe, and the Bab the second woe, as Some Questions Answered p.56-57 says?
A: Bahaíis can say Mohammed is the first woe if they want, but I do not think they would want to say that, if they read what the first woe really was. The first woe, the fifth trumpet, is described thoroughly in Revelation 9:1012. Hellish locusts from the abyss sting the non-believers on the earth. They tortured them for 42 months. It will be so painful that the people will want to die, but death will elude them.
The second woe, the sixth trumpet, is when the four angels at the Euphrates river let loose 200,000,000 mounted troops to kill 1/3 of mankind. Do Bahaíis really want to say the Bab loosed forces that killed 1/3 of mankind?
Q: In Rev 11:15, is this the same angel as in Rev 10:1-10?
A: Probably not, because the seventh angel in Revelation 11:15 had a trumpet. Remember, God has at least myriads of myriads (10,000 times 10,000) angels, and God had plenty to choose.
Q: In Rev 11:18f, is God against all polluters?
A: No. Pretend, for the moment, that all pollution was a sin. Since using electricity causes it to be generated, in most cases generating electricity causes pollution, all use of electricity would be a sin. Do you ever use a heater? All driving or riding in cars, motorboats or fuel-powered vehicles would be a sin. However, even horses in the city pollute, unless you potty-train the horse, and they release methane gas into the atmosphere. When you make an airline reservation, instead of riding in a DC-10 or 747, make sure to tell them you want a glider!
We cannot seriously answer this question until we know what a sin is. Sin is missing the mark, when your heart, words, or actions are not what God desires you to do.
Some polluting is not a sin. For example, lighting the fires for the sacrifices for burnt offerings was not a sin, and in general, pollution where the effects are reversible in a reasonable period of time is not a sin. As an example, I am not concerned with throwing bread on the ground, particularly when I am feeding squirrels. I will not throw paper or cans on the ground though, because those will not disappear quickly. I certainly will not leave pieces of balloons on the ground, because animals can swallow them and choke to death.
In summary, Christians should want to reduce all pollution, especially the more serious kinds. However, Christians are to be reasonable, too.
Q: In Rev 11:18f, why does God destroy those who destroy the earth, since He destroys too?
A: All the earth is the Lordís (Psalm 24:1) and who are we to tell God what to do with His own belongings? God has given a time to every material thing, and God can destroy His things in His time; it is not our prerogative. However, God gave humanity a task, to rule over the earth, in Genesis 1:26,28 and to tend the Garden of Eden in Genesis 2:15. But rather than take care of the earth, for future generations, people have exploited the earth for their own personal gain, leaves parts of it trashed and toxic for those after them.
Q: In Rev 11:18f, should Christians be for protecting the environment?
A: Yes, though realizing that people are more important than animals, and not taking extreme, bizarre measures. Ever since Adam we have been to some degree caretakers of the planet we live on. While we do not know how long we will be here, while we are here we should not ruin or poison it us and future descendants.
On February 8, 2006, 85 evangelical leaders, including Rick Warren, took out a full-page ad in the New York Times saying we should do more to stop global warming. According to a February 9, 2006 article in Reuters by Alan Elsner, a poll showed 63% of evangelicals thought the U.S. should address global warming, and half said the U.S. should act even if there is a high economic cost.
Since that time it appears it should be properly called global climate change rather than global warming. The average temperatures are getting warmer in the polar regions, but not as much in the temperate regions. Glaciers are melting, Greenland is shrinking, but the temporal areas are still colder than they were in 1200 A.D. when Vikings grew barley in Greenland. Beautiful coral reefs are slowly dissolving due to higher ocean acidity. So letís try not to be the biggest polluters of the environment, but letís keep things in perspective.
Q: In Rev 11:19, 15:5, is this the same Ark of the Covenant in the Old Testament, and why does it show up here?
A: It could be. We do not know what happened to the ark, when the Babylonians destroyed the temple. On the other hand, the Old Testament ark could be a copy, and this ark is the original, in Heaven. Moses was told how to make everything on Mt. Sinai, and Hebrews 8:5 mentions that it was important for Moses to make everything after the pattern he saw on the mountain.
When you see the ark here you think of the continuity of Godís plan. The Israelites left Egypt around 1445 B.C., and from then to the tribulation to heaven, the ark is there. Revelation 10 and 11 are rather unsettling, but Revelation 11:19 shows that Godís plan is a constant we can count on.
In our lives, rather unsettling things can happen to us too. But we can rest assured that despite our troubles, this is taken account of in Godís plan, and Godís plan for us.
See Revelation 8-22 An Exegetical Commentary p.104-105 for more info.
Q: In Rev 12, are there any similarities with pagan legends?
A: There are a few legends that have some similarities.
According to Greek mythology, the serpent Python pursued the goddess Leto when she was about to give birth to the god Apollo in order to eat him. The island of Delos welcomed them, and four days after Apollo was born he killed Python. Revelation has nothing about the baby Jesus killing Satan though. There were myths with some similarities in Egyptian and Babylonian legends too.
In Roman history around 83 A.D. , when the ten-year old son of the Emperor Domitian and his wife Domitia Longina died, coins were minted of Domitia as "Mother of Divine Caesar". Another coin shows the boy playing with seven stars (probably the seven known planets).
See Revelation 8-22 An Exegetical Commentary p.117-118 and The Expositorís Bible Commentary vol.12 p.512-513 for more info.
Q: In Rev 12:1,5, who is the woman, and who is the child?
A: Scripture does not say directly. Here are three possibilities to consider and twelve clues. After each clue are possibly relevant verses. Then we will see the most likely answer.
1. Mary and Jesus. But if this was just Mary, then who are the rest of Maryís children in Revelation 12:17?
2. Old Testament believers and New Testament believers. 1001 Bible Questions Answered p.60,273 teaches this, adding that the man-child is Jesus and the church. John writes to a godly lady and her offspring in 2 John 1,5.
3. Believers in the New Testament church, and believers after the rapture.
Revelation 12:1 - Sun, moon under her feet and a crown of 12 stars. (Genesis 37:9-10) (12 stars mean the Israel)
Revelation 12:2 - A pregnant woman about to give birth.
Revelation 12:4 - Satan about to kill the child. (Matthew 2:16-18)
Revelation 12:5 - Son will rule the nations with an iron scepter. (Psalm 2:9 and Rev 2:26-28)
Revelation 12:5 - Child raptured/snatched up to Godís throne. (Ascension? Rapture?)
Revelation 12:6 - The woman protected in the desert. (Exodus 19:4; Deuteronomy 32:11. Israel, Mary/Joseph/Jesus in the wilderness? future?)
Revelation 12:6 - Satan pursued the woman on earth.
Revelation 12:15 - Tried to drown the woman with water.
Revelation 12:16 - The earth opened up and swallowed the water. (sounds like the Red Sea, NOT Mary/Jesus. Could it be in the future?)
Revelation 12:17 - The woman had other offspring, those who obey God. (This clue is difficult to reconcile with the child being believers after the rapture.)
Revelation 12:17 - The dragon was enraged at the woman.
Revelation 12:17 - The dragon went to make war on the womanís other offspring. (not the Israelites.)
The answer: Revelation 12:1,5 does not refer to any single past historical event as no single event fits every detail. Rather Revelation 12:1,5 is a timely reminder, of a recurring cosmic theme: a mother and a child will escape the dragon. Out of Old Testament believers came the church, and from one Jewish believer, Mary, came Jesus. Most pointedly, from the past witness of the church will come those who believe during the tribulation. This view is in the Evangelical Commentary on the Bible p.1216.
See Hard Sayings of the Bible p.767-769, The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.957-958, When Cultists Ask p.308-309, the New International Bible Commentary p.1614-1615, and Revelation 8-22 An Exegetical Commentary p.117-121 for more info.
Q: In Rev 12:1 (KJV, NIV), should the word here be "sign" or "wonder"?
A: Christian scholars disagree. The KJV and NIV translate this word "wonder", while the NKJV and NASB translate this word "sign". Williams Translation has "great symbol" The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.957 mentions this, saying that "sign" is more precise, because John did not use the Greek word for "wonder".
Q: In Rev 12:1, could the woman represent Maryís bodily ascension into Heaven?
A: No, because regardless of whether or not Mary is represented here, the woman never went up to Heaven. It was the child who was snatched up to Heaven, not the mother, in Revelation 12:5.
While this question is not a major point, throughout history there has been a tendency to wrongly take attributes and devotion to Christ and apply them to Mary. We only have one redeemer and mediator, and it is Jesus, not Mary. See When Cultists Ask p.308-309 for more info.
Q: In Rev 12:1 is the woman the law of God under Mohammed, and the male child the new law of God under Bahaíuíllah as Bahaiís teach in Some Questions Answered p.67-72?
A: No. Bahaiís as well as Muslims do not accept the authority today of Christ in Revelation 12:10, because they think His words have been corrupted. They do not overcome the beast by the blood of the lamb in Revelation 12:11. If only they would understand the importance of the blood of the lamb!
Q: In Rev 12:3, was the enormous red dragon the evil Umayyad Dynasty (Abu Bakr, ĎUmar, ĎUthman, Muíawiyah, etc.) who had seven dominions: Rome around Damascus, Persian, Arabian, Egyptian, Africa, Spain, and Turks of Transoxania as Bahaíis teach in Some Questions Answered p.69-70?
A: No. They say the ten heads were ten commanders: starting with Abu Sufyan, and ending with Marwan. They also admit there are more than ten people, but since there are two Muíawiyahís, three Yazids, two Walidís, and two Marwanís, if you count the names without repetition, then it comes to ten!
In reality, the beast is Satan, because Revelation 12:10 calls the beast the accuser of our brethren. The beast is after Christ and Christians, because Revelation 12:10 speaks of the authority of Godís Christ. Note that the woman was taken care of by God for 1,260 days. Now how could she be taken care of if the Umayyads trampled the sanctuary for 1,260 days?
Q: In Rev 12:3, who is this dragon?
A: Revelation explicitly says this is Satan in Revelation 12:9 and 20:2.
Q: In Rev 12:4, what is the significance of a third of the stars falling from the sky?
A: Most Christians interpret this as one-third of the angels in Heaven. They left their places to follow Satan to fall and become demons. Angels are also referred to as stars by God in Job 38:7.
Q: In Rev 12:6, is the wilderness mentioned here a physical place?
A: While it could be, it is not necessarily so. Two points to consider about the wilderness.
1. To the Jews, the wilderness was not a dry forbidding place, as much as a vast, quiet place one where could seek refuge.
2. In Revelation 12:6, the woman fled to the wilderness for the purpose of God taking care of her.
Q: In Rev 12:7, Dan 10:13,21; 12:1, and Jude 9, what do we know about Michael?
A: Michael is the archangel in Heaven. He is also mentioned in Daniel 12:1 and Jude 9 as an angel who fights and contends with the devil.
Unlike Jehovahís Witnesses teach, Michael could not be Christ, because
1. We are not to worship angels (Colossians 2:18; Revelation 22:8,9), and Michael is an angel.
2. We are not to worship created beings (Romans 1:25), and Michael is a created being, since He is an angel.
Daniel 12:1 mentions that Michael is the prince that supports the children of Israel. Daniel 10:13,21 mentions that the prince [angel] Michael helped another angel against the prince [demon] of Persia.
Q: In Rev 12:7, when did or will this war occur?
A: Either this was a past event or a future event. If it was a past event, then it probably occurred prior to the temptation in the Garden of Eden. If it is a future event, the phrase "his time is short" suggests a time immediately preceding the tribulation.
Q: In Rev 12:7, since Heaven is perfect, why did war broke out in Heaven?
A: See the previous question for when this war did/will occur. Two points to consider in the answer.
1. It does not say Satan and his angels entered Heaven after they fell. Rather, they were likely in Heaven when they fell, and this records them getting kicked out of Heaven.
2. There are different heavens, and it is not specified how close to Godís throne they were when this occurred.
Q: In Rev 12:7-12, what conflicts does the Bible record angels fighting?
A: All of the conflicts with angels and devil that were recorded involve Michael.
Jude 8-9 Michael contended with disputing with the devil about the body of Moses.
Daniel 10:12-14 Gabriel was opposed and delayed in giving a message to Daniel because the Prince of Persia opposed him. But Michael came and helped Gabriel.
Revelation 12:7-12 Michael and his angels fought against the dragon and his angels.
Daniel 12:1-5 During the end times Michael, who protects Godís people, will arise.
Q: In Rev 12:7-9, could Michael be the angel that fell?
A: No. First some guidelines on Christian speculation, and then the answer.
Christian Speculation: Revelation is one of the most fun books of the Bible to speculate on. But we should understand that some speculation is nothing more than temptation. I have taught this book a number of times, and I follow two principles.
I make sure to label my speculations as not being the word of God, so that I do not disobey 1 Corinthians 4:6.
Also, God says so much in the book of Revelation (it takes me at least a quarter to go through it), I would feel guilty spending a lot of time on what Revelation does not say at the expense of teaching all that Revelation does say.
The answer: There is no way this could be Michael. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon and his angels. When "they" lost their place in heaven, "they" refers to the dragon and his angels. Verse 9 makes it crystal clear that it was the dragon that was hurled to earth., also called the Devil or Satan. The fall of Satan is also discussed in Ezekiel 28:11-17 and Isaiah 14:12-15.
Here are all of the other passages about Michael in the Bible.
Dan 10:13,21 Michael the prince [angel] helped one of Godís angels against the prince [demon] of Persia
Dan 12:1 Michael, the great prince [angel] who protects Godís people will arise.
Jude 9 Michael was DISPUTING with the devil about the body of Moses
Revelation 12:7 Michael and his angels FOUGHT against the dragon and his angels.
There are not any other verses that list Michael by name.
In the early church, Hippolytus (222-235/6 A.D.) in his commentary (p.182,190) discusses Daniel 10:13-21. On p.190 is says, "ĎAnd lo, Michael.í Who is Michael but the angel assigned to the people? As (God) says to Moses, ĎI will not go with you in the way, because the people are stiff-necked; but my angel shall go with you.í" So Hippolytus taught that Michael was with the Israelites helping them after the Exodus.
The Shepherd of Hermas book 3 ch.3 (p.40) (c.115-155 A.D.) also mentions "The great and glorious angel Michael" as having authority over this people and who gave them the law. So the early Christian writing The Shepherd of Hermas has only positive things to say about Michael too.
The ONLY revealed role of Michael in the Bible is protecting from demons, disputing, and fighting. While the devil might hate Michael, we are happy for this servant of the Most High God. There is no more evidence of a fallen angel named "Michael" than a fallen angel named "Alex".
Now letís assume you think you received special doctrine from God, that no one in 2,000 years of Christianity has received. There is a question of milk vs. meat vs. candy. How primary could this teaching be, if this doctrine is absent in all of early church history? How important is it for Christians to know this today? If it is a secondary matter, will it cause divisiveness? If there are important, primary doctrines for new believers to learn, even if this doctrine were correct, would you teach little details Christians disagree on in place of teaching what is primary for all Christians to know?
Q: In Rev 12:11, how do the saints overcome Satan by the blood of the lamb?
A: This illustrates the difference between power and authority. A single army scout can kill great numbers of the enemy if he radios back where the bombers should drop their bombs. Blood is not magical, nor does it have secret lethal powers and military uses. Rather, the blood of Jesus gives us the right to call upon Him. Since God cannot lie, and God promised to hear our prayers, we have the authority, given by Godís grace, to overcome Satan. See Hard Sayings of the Bible p.769-771 for more info.
Q: In Rev 12:15-16, what is the significance of the flood and the earth?
A: The definitive answer for this is perhaps one of the more difficult questions of the Bible. Here are two views:
Persecution: Since deceit is done with the mouth, this could be an attempt to destroy the church through persecution. This assumes the child in this sign is either Christians, or Christians during the tribulation.
Future Tribulation event: This could be a future demonic supernatural event or simply future persecution
Q: In Rev 13, why have Satan and evil people been so intent on persecuting believers through the ages?
A: It is as though even though Satan is going to his doom, and he knows it, he wants to take as many others with him as he can. If he has a Christian killed, then that Christian can no longer witness for Christ on earth, but that is a secondary benefit. A primary benefit is to discouraged others from considering Christ because of the cost. He also wants to rob believers of their joy they can have in Christ.
Q: In Rev 13:1-10, who or what is the Sea Beast?
A: Wait and see! Scripture is not specific here. Just as Old Testament believers had many of the pieces but not the complete picture of Christ, we today have many pieces but not the complete picture of the End Times. Views of the Sea Beast depend on how literally one takes the word "Sea".
Literal: A demonic creature, group of demons, or group of people somehow literally associated with the ocean.
Symbolic: If the Sea represents peoples and nations, an organization that comes from many peoples and nations. Some see it as the same beast in Daniel 7:2.
The beast was originally from the abyss according to Revelation 11:10 and 17:8. See Hard Sayings of the Bible p.771-772, Revelation 8-22 An Exegetical Commentary p.151, and The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.960 for more info.
Q: In Rev 13, why have Satan and evil people been so intent on persecuting believers through the ages?
A: It is as though even though Satan is going to his doom, and he knows it. Satan knows that his time is short in Revelation 12:12f, and he wants to take as many others with him as he can. If he has a Christian killed, then that Christian can no longer witness for Christ on earth, but that is a secondary benefit. A primary benefit is to discouraged others from considering Christ because of the cost. He also wants to rob believers of their joy they can have in Christ.
Q: In Rev 13:6, why would God knowingly permit a being to blaspheme Him, since God does not want this and has the power to stop it?
A: While a few extreme people might say all that happens is desired by God as a part of His "secret will", that seems far from the true character of God.
At least for a time, God permits things that not only does He not desire, but that break His heart. Some examples are in Matthew 23:37-39, Luke 19:41-44, and Jeremiah 19:5; 32:35.
As Francis Schaeffer said in The Church at the End of the Twentieth Century: "We can glorify God, and both the Old and New Testament say that we can even make God sad. That is tremendous." (Hymns for the People of God no.364)
Q: In Rev 13:6, how can the beast blaspheme/slander the tabernacle of heaven and those who dwell there?
A: There is a manuscript variant which could read either "tabernacle of heaven and those who dwell there", or else "those who dwell in the tabernacle of heaven". In addition to maligning God, the beast is putting down heaven and those who live in bliss there. See Revelation 8-22 An Exegetical Commentary p.162 for more info.
Q: In Rev 13:7,13-15, how does the beast make war and conquer/overcome believers, if the woman will be protected from the dragon by fleeing to the wilderness in Rev 12:6,14,16?
A: First off, the phrase "to make war" does not necessary mean to wage a military war, but to persecute and kill believers. As many people have been killed by the government, outside of war, as died in battles.
Second, Revelation 12 only says that the woman will be protected. But Revelation 12:17, like Revelation 13:7, says the dragon will make war on the offspring of the woman, that is believers at that time. Some see that the raptured Christians are protected from these persecutions. But those who become Christians after the rapture have to flee.
See The Expositorís Bible Commentary vol.10 p.528 and Revelation 8-22 An Exegetical Commentary p.179 for more info.
Q: In Rev 13:8, how can anyone be blamed for worshipping the beast, since all who are not written in the Lambís book of life are supposed to worship the beast?
A: This is an argument from Christian fatalism. They are not supposed to worship the beast, but God knows people will do what they are not supposed to do. Similar examples of God knowing people will do things that they are not supposed to do are the Pharisees rejecting Godís purpose for themselves in Luke 7:30, and Godís workers being urged not to receive Godís grace in vain in 2 Corinthians 6:1.
Q: In Rev 13:11-12, why is the land beast superficially similar to the lamb?
A: This is for deception. Throughout the ages Satan has deceived many by claiming to respect Christ. While communists have belittled Christ, so-called liberal Christians, Muslims and the violent Roman Catholic Church of the Middle Ages have all claimed to respect Christ. See The Expositorís Bible Commentary vol.12 p.520,530 for more info.
Q: In Rev 13:11-15, who or what is the Land Beast?
A: Scripture does not say. This could be a single creature, a person, a group of creatures, or a group of people. The Land beast could have a special relationship with the ground, and/or be something in contrast to the Sea Beast.
Q: In Rev 13:16-18, was there any historical precedent for a ruler putting a mark on people?
A: Yes, in World War II Jews in the European mainland were supposed to wear a yellow star, though it was not tattooed on. In During the time of the Maccabees, 3 Maccabees 2:29 says that the Egyptian ruler, Philopater I, had all the Jews who agreed to submit to him be tattooed with an ivy leaf. That was insulting because the ivy leaf was the symbol of the Greek god of wine. See Revelation 8-22 An Exegetical Commentary p.181 for more info.
Q: In Rev 13:16-18, what is the significance of 666?
A: Scripture does not say. One likely view, popularized as early as 1973 in the Christian film "Thief in the Night" is that it is a computer code imprinted on the skin. A second view is that it might be a computer chip, embedded under the skin, which has our personal information. Today in Sweden people have the option of paying a few hundred dollars to have a chip implanted which they can use fir ID.
The manuscript Ephraemi Rescriptus has 616 instead of 666 in Revelation. "Neron Caesar" would equal 666 only if you changed the C to a Q. "Nero Caesar spells 616 though. Irenaeus mentions switching from 666 to 616 as a deceptive heresy in Irenaeus Against Heresies book 5 ch.30.1-2 p.558-559 See The Expositorís Bible Commentary vol.10 p.536 and Revelation 8-22 An Exegetical Commentary p.187-188 for more info.
1001 Bible Questions Answered p.289 agrees that the mark is literal, and dismisses some other theories. See also the next question.
Q: In Rev 13:16-18, why "666" and not some other number?
A: Scripture does not say. Todayís Handbook for Solving Bible Difficulties p.156-158 mentions various theories, such that "666" falls short of perfection as "777", that "666" is the number of mankind, or that "666" is the number of a specific man. Interestingly, if you add up the value of the letters of Jesus, Jesous, it comes to 888. See the Believerís Bible Commentary p.2382 for more info.
Q: In Rev 13:16-18 and Rev 14:9-11, what is wrong with receiving a little mark?
A: There are five points to consider in the answer.
1. Even if there was nothing else wrong, believers should not receive a mark on the right hand or forehead simply because God said not to do so.
2. People had to agree to worship the beast prior to receiving the mark.
3. Many dogs and cats today have a small computer chip put under their skin for identification purposes. Perhaps this is a purpose the mark serves.
4. Note that in Revelation 14:9-11, while the suffering could be a reaction to the mark or computer chip, or the scanning process, the suffering for having the mark could be supernaturally inflicted. On the other hand, it there could be a toxin in it that the government could release if they thought people were getting out of line, and there could be a malfunction.
5. God will judge severely those who have the mark.
Q: In Rev 14:1 (KJV) (NKJV), should it say "his Fatherís name" or "his name and his Fatherís name" like other translations?
A: It should be "his name and his Fatherís name". The King James Version, NKJV, and the Textus Receptus are incorrect here. Every Greek text except the one Erasmus wrote has "his name and his Fatherís name." The Complutensian polyglot has this too. Jay P. Greenís Literal Translation, following the Textus Receptus, mistakenly omits this. The NKJV omits this, but adds in a footnote that the Alexandrian textual family as well as the majority (Byzantine) textual family differ from the Textus Receptus in having this.
How did this error come about? New Age Bible Versions Refuted p.6 says that this most likely was a simple typographical mistake made the Desiderius Erasmus, the Catholic priest who just prior to the Reformation put together the Greek text that became the Textus Receptus.
Q: Does Rev 14:3-4 teach that only 144,000 celibate men will be saved? (A Muslim stated matter-of-factly that this is what this passage taught.)
A: No, Revelation 14:3-4 is a special class of men from the twelve tribes of Israel. It is a lie to say it teaches "only 144,000 celibate men will be saved". You can read more about them in Revelation 7:1-8, directly followed by "the great multitude from every tribe and nation in Revelation 7:9-10. Was it intentional that you failed to mention Revelation 7:1-10 when you said that only 144,000 celibate men will be saved?
Q: In Rev 14:4, what exactly does the word virgin (parthenos) mean here?
A: Its primary meaning is a person, male or female, who has never had sexual relations. However, it also referred to someone who is now celibate. This word was used of widows in Ignatiusí Greek Letter to the Smyrnaeans ch.13 p.92. See The Expositorís Bible Commentary vol.12 p.539 for more info.
4. In Rev 14:6, what is the "eternal gospel" here?
A: First what is not the answer, and then the answer.
Not the answer: Some say that instead of the gospel, it could instead be another message, relating to judgment, not salvation. The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.964 teaches that it is likely this view.
The answer: The term means "good news", not bad news of judgment. This is a message and a command to come to faith in Christ. Furthermore, the "eternal" message indicates that it is not a message for just this time, but for all time. Titus 1:2 says that our salvation through Jesus was determined before the foundation of the world. The Evangelical Commentary on the Bible p.1218 has this view.
Q: Is Rev 14:6-7 the fulfillment of everyone hearing the Gospel in Mt 24:14?
A: -It could be. On the other hand, the fulfillment of Matthew 24:14 could be human beings preaching the Gospel to all nations.
Q: In Rev 14:8, could Babylon here be a code-word for Jerusalem?
A: In a word, no. Revelation 8-22 : An Exegetical Commentary p.206 has some interesting background on this viewpoint. It says that this viewpoint requires that Revelation be written before 70 A.D., which preterists have to defend for their viewpoint. Babylon has been thought to be Rome, Rome and the Catholic Church, literal Babylon, or in general a false religious system.
Q: In Rev 14:9-10, how do their good works follow those who die in the Lord?
A: Believers get to heaven by grace, through faith, not works as Ephesians 2:8-9. However, in heaven we will get rewards, or not, based on the works we did according to 1 Corinthians 3:12-15. Rewarded works are not just actions done, but also words, and bad actions and words we refrained from doing. But 1 Corinthians 3:12-15 also shows that Christ also judges the heart, or motives behind the works, not just the works.
But this verse, in this chapter, emphasizes that the believers who are persecuted and martyred here do not die in vain. Their honoring God with their lives will be rewarded in heaven. Psalm 116:15 says that precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints.
See the Believerís Bible Commentary p.2372 for more info.
Q: In Rev 14:9-12, does this mean the Sabbath will be restored as some Seventh-Day Adventists teach?
A: No, this verse does not mean that. As When Cultists Ask p.309 points out, the word Sabbath is not even mentioned in the entire book of Revelation. Any relationship between the mark of the beast and keeping or not keeping the Sabbath is simply in the minds of the interpreters. It might be a mystery to some why Seventh-Day Adventists would even think that. They reason some think that is they equate worshipping God on Sunday with the mark of the best. We should feel free to remember "WHOA-Dayí: Worship Him On Any Day.
Q: In Rev 14:11, is there going a sun or moon in the Lake of Fire, since they will be there day and night?
A: No, the phrase "day and night" simply means without ceasing. A person in a windowless, locked room could be in there day and night without seeing the sun or moon.
If a person were always facing a light, then they would not see night either. While there will be no sun or moon in Hell, Heaven, or the new earth, who knows what God would choose to create in other parts of the universe.
Q: In Rev 14:14 and Rev 19:12, what is the difference between the crowns here?
A: They are totally different Greek words. The word in Revelation 14:14 is stephanos, which can mean victory wreath. The word in Revelation 19:12 in diadema, which means a kingís crown.
Q: In Rev 14:14-16, is it Jesus who on the cloud with a sickle?
A: Yes. The phrase "son of man" has the general meaning of people, but Jesus was also fond of using this phrase as a partial description of Himself. Some think it is not, because 14:14 says "like the Son of Man". However, Revelation 1:13 also says "like the Son of Man" and everyone agree that is Jesus.
Revelation 14:14 refers to Jesus Christ according to sixteen commentators: The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.965, The Expositorís Bible Commentary vol.12 p.542-543, the New International Bible Commentary p.1618, Revelation 8-22, an Exegetical Commentary p.218-219, Robert and Nicole The Expositorís Greek New Testament vol.5 p.440-441, the John MacArthur Study Bible p.1960, the Believerís Bible Commentary p.2372, The Nelson Study Bible p.2187, Thomas Constableís Notes on Revelation p.230-231 (2020 edition), Barnesí Notes on the Bible : Revelation p.642-643, Matthew Henryís Commentary on the Bible : Revelation, Fausset, A.R. The Revelation of St. John the Divine p.1590, W.B. Godbey Commentary on New Testament : Revelation p.107, Marvin R. Vincent Word Studies in the New Testament, R.H. Charles The Revelation of St. John in a Critical and Exegetical Commentary p. , and the commentator Beckwith. However, two commentators say it refers to an angel, not Jesus. They are the Evangelical Commentary on the Bible by Elwell p.1219 and W.A. Criswellís Expository Sermons on Revelation p.160. Adam Clark in his Commentary on Revelation p.17 has the view that it is Otho and his army, fighting Vitellius.
Q: In Rev 14:18-20, how could grapes produce blood?
A: Obviously, these are no ordinary grapes. These grapes likely symbolize the persecution of people. The judgment of this will come to those who persecute others.
Q: In Rev 14:20, go ahead and figure out the size of the river of blood God [allegedly] wants to have in Rev. 14:20. It would take the blood of just about one billion people the fill that river. Why is this?
A: There are two possible answers.
On one hand, Revelation does not say this was blood from people. Through Mosesí staff God turned the waters of the Nile to blood, and that was not blood from people. It does not say Godís perfect will wanted to have this either; rather this was decided by God as part of his judicial punishment on people. It could be blood that did not come from a living human or animal. On the other hand, if you calculate the blood from all the abortions done (which in the mid 1970ís was about 1 million per year in the U.S., and 7 million per year in Japan, and others in other countries), one might say that metaphorically we already have rivers of human blood today. However, I do not think Revelation is just speaking a metaphor here. If God were to create new blood equal to the blood spilled from all the abortions and wars, it might fill a great many rivers.
Q: What is the purpose of Rev 14 before Rev 15-16?
A: The entirety of Revelation 14 provides needed background to Revelation 15. The 144,000 in Revelation 14:1-5 relate to those who have victory over the beast in Revelation 15:1-4. The proclamations of the first three angel in Revelation 14:6-7 relate to the judgment on the earth, sea, and springs of water in Revelation 16:1-7.
The proclamation of the second angel in Revelation 14:8 relates to Babylon falling in Revelation 16:19. The proclamation of the third angel in Revelation 14:9-11 of the punishment for those with the mark of the beast relates to Revelation 16:2. The harvesting of the grapes of wrath in Revelation 14:14-20 relate to the contents of the seven bowls of Godís wrath in Revelation 15-16. See Revelation 8-22 : An Exegetical Commentary p.227-228 for more info.
Q: In Rev 15:2, is this the same sea of glass in Rev 4:6, with the fire perhaps the seven lamps in Rev 4:5?
A: It is very likely that it is; nothing differentiates it from the other, and no verse says there are two seas of glass. The Evangelical Commentary on the Bible p.1219 and Revelation 8-22 : An Exegetical Commentary p.232 also say that it probably is.
Q: In Rev 15:4, why wonít everyone go to Heaven, since all will fear God and glorify His name?
A: No. This question contains the false assumption that everyone who ever glorifies God will go to Heaven. In contrast, this verse, as well as Philippians 2:10-11 and others, show that at the end, even those who are going to the Lake of Fire will praise God.
Q: In Rev 15:7, what were the vials like?
A: The Greek word referred to a broad saucer that was used for ritual drinking or pouring out drink offerings. See The Expositorís Bible Commentary vol.12 p.547 for more info.
Q: In Rev 15:8 why could no one enter the temple until the seven plagues were completed?
A: Scripture does not say, but one reason might be to emphasize that no intercession will happen until the seven bowls of wrath have been poured out. See the Believerís Bible Commentary p.2173 and the New International Bible Commentary p.1619 for more on this view.
Q: In Rev 16, how do these parallel the plagues of Egypt in Ex 7:14-12:30?
A: Here are the ten plagues.
Ten Plagues of Egypt
1. Waters become blood. Ex 7:14-25
2. Frogs. Ex 8:1-15
3. Lice. Ex 8:16-19
4. Flies. Ex 8:30-32
5. Plague on livestock. Ex 9:1-7
6. Boils (sores). Ex 9:8-12
7. Hail. Ex 9:13-34
8. Locusts. Ex 10:10-19
9. Darkness. Ex 10:21-25
10. Death of the firstborn. Ex 11:1-12:30
The Israelites crossed over the Red Sea as on dry ground, and the Euphrates River is dried up for the kings of the east. Also, the Passover lamb was sacrificed to avert the destroying angel in Exodus, Jesus is the Passover lamb, but for those who reject the Lamb in Revelation there is no averting the wrath of God.
See the Evangelical Commentary on the Bible p.1220-1221 and Revelation 8-22 : An Exegetical Commentary p.230-234,262 for more info.
Q: In Rev 16:1, was the wrath of God evident on the earth before this time?
A: Yes. Many verses show God expressing His wrath. However, no verses, except perhaps those concerning the flood, show Godís wrath expressed to as great extent on the earth until this time.
Q: In Rev 16:2, is the first bowl connected with the prayers of the saints?
A: No. This might be thought so only if you assume a) the seven bowls are the same as the seven trumpets (called recapitulation theory), and b) the incense of the prayers of the saints in Revelation 8:3-4 is related to the first trumpet in Revelation 8:7.
a) the recapitulation theory is not correct, because the seven trumpets are
T1: hail, fire, and blood burning 1/3 of the earth and vegetation
T2: huge mountain 1/3 of the sea turned to blood and 1/3 of the sea life died
T3: great star of wormwood, polluted the fresh water
T4: 1/3 of the heavenly lights
T5: locusts from the abyss for 5 months
T6: 4 angels and an army of 200 million kill 1/3 of mankind
T6 1/2: 7 thunders and two witnesses
T7: the kingdom of the word has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ.
The 7 bowls do not completely match. They are:
B1: ugly and painful sores
B2: All the sea turned to blood and all the sea life died
B3: fresh water turned to blood
B4: sun scorched people with fire
B6: Euphrates dried up and kings of the east gathered to Armageddon
B7: It is done, a great earthquake, and Babylon destroyed
b) Even if recapitulation theory was correct, in Revelation 8:3-7, the seven angels with the seven trumpets are different from the eighth angel who had the incense with the prayers of the saints.
Q: Since Rev 16:3 says in Greek the "souls" in the sea died referring to the sea life, therefore, soul means life, and man does not have a "soul" separate from his body any more than an animal does.
A: Aboard the ark, 1 Peter 3:20 in Greek says only eight "souls" were saved. Soul sometimes means "life" as in Revelation 16:3. Sometimes "soul" means the spiritual part of a Christian that is present with the Lord when we are absent from the body in 2 Corinthians 5:8. Notice that we do not have a body at this point, but are "absent from the body." Animals have animal souls/life, and humans have human souls/life, but 1 Peter 3:20 shows that only people have savable souls.
Christians disagree on whether there is any afterlife for animals. In Now Thatís a Good Question, p.290-291, R.C. Sproul says, "The Bible does give us some reason to hope that departed animals will be restored."
Q: In Rev 16:3-4, how can the water become blood?
A: -Just ask Moses. Seriously, God Almighty can perform any miracle He wishes. It would seem like poetic justice that a society that sheds so much believerís blood would be given blood to drink. Remember that John is writing what he saw and heard (Revelation 1:19), so the blood was either literal blood or else something which looked like blood.
Q: In Rev 16:5, what is this similar to?
A: The Nile River was turned to blood in the first plague of Egypt in Exodus 7:14-25.
Also, outside of the Bible, Revelation 8-22 : An Exegetical Commentary p.252 claims that the prophesy of Enoch saw angels having control of the waters to bring destruction in 1 Enoch 66:1-3. Here is the quote. "After this he showed me the angels of punishment who are prepared to come and release the powers of the waters which are underground to become judgment and destruction unto all who live and dwell upon the earth. But the Lord of the Spirits gave an order to the angels who were on duty that they should not raise the (water) enclosures but guard (them) Ė for they were the angels who were in charge of the waters. Then I left from the presence of Enoch. The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha vol.1 p.45-46. This gives the idea that God has delegated the control of waters to angels, but the context of this is Noah and the flood, not the end times.
Q: In Rev 16:7, what is the voice under the altar?
A: It is likely the voice of the martyrs in Revelation 6:9-11. See the Evangelical Commentary on the Bible p.1221 for more info.
Q: In Rev 16:11, what kind of pains and sores are these?
A: Scripture does not say. They could be from a disease, radiation poisoning, or a supernatural cause without a natural one.
Q: In Rev 16:12, how could the Euphrates River be dried up?
A: The Euphrates River carries the rainfall from the Mountains of eastern Turkey and Iraq to the Arabian Sea. It could be a sudden miraculous event with no natural counterpart. Or it is possible that the rain upstream stopped. But there is also a simpler explanation. Even today sometimes parts of the Euphrates River are practically dry, because so much water is siphoned off for irrigation, according to The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.968.
Q: In Rev 16:13-14, what are the three frogs?
A: Revelation 16:14 says they are spirits of demons. 1001 Bible Questions Answered p.286 dismisses theories that they were "Hitler, Mussolini, and Stalin", or fascism, communism, and the papacy. The Bible says they are spirits of demons, so they could not be men.
Q: In Rev 16:14, can demons do miracles, too?
A: Demons can not only trick and simulate miracles, they actually can do many miracles, too. Remember, Pharaohís magicians turned rods into what appeared as moving snakes. However, with that verse, there is no evidence that Satan or demons can create life.
While the devil could animate an image of the Antichrist, people can animate robots, too.
In summary, demons can do many things people can, demons also have additional supernatural powers, but what demons can do is very small compared to what the Almighty Creator can do.
See When Critics Ask p.555 and When Cultists Ask p.310 for a slightly different answer.
Q: In Rev 16:15, what does it mean to keep your clothes here?
A: This means to keep watchful. Specifically, since Ephesians 6:11-18 mentions putting on the full armor of God, including the breastplate of righteousness, we should keep these with us.
This reflects a Hebrew culture, not Greek or Roman. The Greeks often did athletic contests naked, and a Roman soldier who fell asleep at their post was not disgraced, but rather killed. According to the Jewish Mishna, if a captain of the temple police found one of his guards under him asleep, his clothes were taken off and burned, and he was sent away disgraced. See Hard Sayings of the Bible p.774-776 and F.F. Bruce in the New International Bible Commentary p.1620 for more info.
Q: In Rev 16:16, does Armageddon happen here, or does it happen after the Millennium in Rev 20:8?
A: Amillennialist Christians claim both verses record the same event. They see it unlikely that there would be two great battles instead of just one.
Premillennialist Christians would go with just a straight reading of these verses. There are two great battles. Only the one before the Millennium is referred to as at Armageddon, and only the one after the Millennium is referred to with Gog and Magog. In addition, the Gog and Magog battle is not at Armageddon, but surrounding the city of Godís people.
See 1001 Bible Questions Answered p.291-292 for more on Armageddon.
Q: In Rev 16:19, is this "great city" Babylon?
A: No, it is another city, because Babylon is mentioned separately in 16:19f and chapter 17. Beckwith was the main commentator who taught this. See Revelation 8-22 : An Exegetical Commentary p.275 and F.F. Bruce in the New International Bible Commentary p.1620 for more info on why the great city is not Babylon.
Q: In Rev 16:21, what could cause 100-pound hailstones?
A: This is no ordinary hail. It could be supernatural, or it could be fragments from a meteor impact. See the New International Bible Commentary p.1620 for more info.
Q: In Rev 16, are the seven bowls/vials the same as the seven trumpets in Rev 8-9?
A: Genuine Christians disagree on this.
Recapitulation theory says that they are the same because of the similarities and simply glosses over the key differences. The African Donatist Tyconius (370-380/390 A.D.) was one of the first who taught the recapitulation theory relating to the millennium according to The Expositorís Bible Commentary volume 12 p.578.
The plain interpretation has no problem acknowledging there are many similarities, but the key differences show them to be separate, with the seven bowls more severe (often by a factor of three) than the seven trumpets. Here are the similarities and differences.
|1||hail and fire with blood 33% trees, 100% of the green grass burned||sores on those with the beastís mark|
|2||A great mountain thrown into the sea, 33% of the sea is blood. 33% sea life died||100% of the sea is blood 100% sea life died|
|3||star wormwood fell. 1/3 fresh water bitter||100% fresh water is blood|
|4||1/3 of sun, moon, and stars darkened||sun could scorch people with fire|
|5||woe of the stinging locust for 5 months||beastís kingdom full of darkness and pain|
|6||woe of the 4 angels setting loose 200M at the Euphrates to kill 1/3 of people||Euphrates dried up to prepare for the Armageddon: 3 frogs|
|7||The mystery of Godís kingdom has finished||It is done. A great earthquake. Babylon destroyed|
Q: In Rev 17:1-18, who is the woman Babylon?
A: Christians disagree on the exact city. The two main views are 1) Rome and the Roman Catholic Church, and literal Babylon. Other less common views are secularism, liberal Christianity, and Mormonism. Letís make a number of observations about this passage.
1. She is a powerful city (Revelation 17:18)
2. She is very evil (Revelation 17:4-6; 18:3)
3. She has killed many Christians (Revelation 17:6)
4. She shall be destroyed (Revelation 17:16; 18:2)
Christians disagree on which city this is or will be. Two top choices are literal Babylon and Rome.
Here are more details about Babylon in Revelation.
The City of Babylon
A city: (Revelation 17:18, 18:10,16,18,19,21)
A city of seven hills: (Revelation 17:3,9)
Sits on many waters representing peoples, multitudes, nations, and languages (Revelation 17:1,15).
Will see the smoke of her burning from the sea: (Revelation 18:17-18).
Future place of desolation (Revelation 16:19; 17:15-18:24).
All Heaven will rejoice in the destruction of this place (Revelation 19:1-3).
Babylonís Wealth and Power
Dressed in purple and scarlet, glittering with gold, precious stones, and pearls (Revelation 17:4,16).
Merchants rich from her excessive luxuries (Revelation 18:3,11-17).
Traded in both human bodies and souls (Revelation 18:14).
7/8+10 kings ruled (Revelation 17:10).
Sixth king ruling when Revelation written (~69-96 A.D.) (Revelation 17:10).
Ruled over the kings of the earth (Revelation 17:18).
Babylonís Evil Abominations
Religious with blasphemous, demonic, and magic aspects (Revelation 17:3, 18:2,23).
Boasts marriage to a king who will never die (Revelation 18:7).
Adulterous; the Great Prostitute (Revelation 14:8, 17:1-5,15-16, 18:3,9, 19:2).
Best symbol is a wicked woman (Revelation 17:1-7 and Zechariah 5:5-11).
Intoxicating (Revelation 17:2,18:3,23).
Prominent golden cup of madness (Revelation 14:8, 17:2,4 18:3,6).
Makes war against the Lamb (Revelation 17:14).
Drunk on the blood of the saints, those who bore testimony of Jesus (Revelation 17:6, 18:24, 19:2).
Home for demons and a haunt for every evil spirit (Revelation 8:2).
Believers must flee now! (Revelation 18:4, Jeremiah 50:8, 51:6,45-47)
Regardless, we are always to flee having a lifestyle of Babylon.
Q: In Rev 17:1-18, what other links are there between Rome and Babylon?
A: Babylon was originally home to a mystery religion. But after the Persians first captured Babylon, and then later destroyed it, they discouraged the mystery religion, so it moved to Pergamum in Asia Minor. The leader was called the "Keeper of the Bridge" between this life and the next. In Latin this is "Pontifex Maximus". Later on, popes used this title.
Idolatry and apostasy by Godís people with described as adultery in Isaiah 23:15-17; Jeremiah 2:20-31; 13:27; Ezekiel 16:17-19; Hosea 2:5; Nahum 3:4. On the other hand, Nineveh in Nahum 3:1,4; Tyre in Isaiah 23:15-17 and Babylon in Jeremiah 23:17 were changed with being prostitutes. They were never Israelite, so they were not "adulterous" per se, but pagan.
See The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.970-971, New International Bible Commentary p.1621, and Revelation 8-22 An Exegetical Commentary p.282-283 for more info.
Q: In Rev 17:1-18, what is evidence that Babylon here might not just be in Rome?
A: Rome was originally built on seven hills; the Palatine, Aventine, Caelian, Equiline, Viminal, Quirimal, and Capitoline hills. But latter it expanded to include an eighth hill, the Pincian. However, Rome was still called Septimontium, or "seven-hilled". Seven emperors is too few for Neroís time, but it is too many for Domitianís time.
Babylon, a city sitting on many waters, is spoken of in Jeremiah 51:13.
Babylon is in the wilderness in Isaiah 21:1 and prophesied as fallen in Isaiah14:8; 18:2; Jeremiah 51:8.
See The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.970-971 for more info, even though it supports the view that Babylon is Rome. Some thought this would be the European Common Market, later the European Union, because there were originally ten countries, except that now there are more. (Spain, Portugal, Italy, Greece, France, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Ireland, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, etc.)
The Believerís Bible Commentary p.2374 believes that Babylon is apostate Christianity, both Catholic and Protestant, or the ecumenical church. (It does not mention pro or con the Eastern Orthodox, Copts, or Nestorians.)
Revelation 8-22 An Exegetical Commentary p.306 says this cannot be Rome, because Rome was not destroyed suddenly in this way. Actually, Rome was sacked in 410 A.D. by the Goths, and forever lost its prominence after the Vandals sacked Rome in 454 A.D.
While Rome is very close to the sea, with the port of Ostia close by, Babylon is far inland. However, The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.973 says that the Euphrates River could be made into a ship-bearing river in the end times. The Euphrates is already wide enough, but not so deep in places. It could be dredged though. For comparison purposes, the Panama Canal has a 15.2 meter draft, and the Euphrates River varies from 1 m to 45 m. Currently they would not use the Euphrates for ocean-going vessels because the Euphrates today as 22 dams spanning it.
The Expositorís Bible Commentary vol.12 p.562 claims that Revelation 17:8-9 prove this cannot be Rome because the Roman kings will not attack the city of Rome. However, it does not address the fact that the beast is a political power, and the woman is a religious one. Actually, secular governments in Italy have fought with, attacked, and killed and replaced popes multiple times.
See Revelation 8-22 An Exegetical Commentary p.282-283 for more info.
Q: In Rev 17:1-18, what are similarities with Babylon in Isa 13 and Jer 51?
A: Here are the similarities.
|Topic||Revelation||Other Bible books|
|The future evil of Babylon||Rev 17||Isa 21:9; 49:20; Jer 50:2-8; Zech 5:5-11; 1 Pet 5:13|
|Dwell by many waters, abundant in treasures||Rev 17:1; 18:9-13||Jer 51:13|
|Cup of the maddening wine of adultery. Nations drunk.||Rev 17:2,4; 18:3||Jer 51:7; Ezek 23:31-34|
|All the land will tremble and sorrow when Babylon made desolate||Rev 18:8-11||Jer 51:29|
|Never be a widow / sit as a lady forever||Rev 17:17; 18:7-8||Isa 47:5,7|
|Destruction of Babylon||Rev 14:8; 16:19; 18; 19:1-4||Isa 21:9; Isa 47; Jer 50-51; 51:8|
|Babylon a haunt for foul spirits and unclean birds||Rev 18:2||Isa 13:21|
|Flee Babylon!||Rev 18:4||Jer 50:8; 51:6,45|
|Repay Babylon double / Repay Babylon [not double]||Rev 18:6||Jer 50:15; 51:24-49|
|Like a stone, Babylon shall sink into the sea never to rise. (Jeremiah has Euphrates, not Sea)||Rev 18:21||Jer 51:63,64|
Q: In Rev 17:1-18, who or what is the scarlet beast?
A: God has not revealed this yet, but He has given us twelve clues.
1. Scarlet-colored beast
2. Covered with blasphemous names
3. Seven heads, representing both 7 hills and 7 kings
4. Five kings have fallen, one is, and one is to come
5. Ten horns, symbolizing ten kings who have not yet received a kingdom
6. The beast itself is an eighth king
7. These 11 kings will make war against the Jesus, but Jesus will conquer them
8. The woman Babylon is a great city who rides this beast
9. The beast once was, not is not, and will come up out of the Abyss.
10. Eventually the beast will go to his destruction
11. Reprobate people will be astonished at the beast because he once was, not is not, and yet will come
12. The beast will ruin the woman
See also Revelation 19:19-21.
Many commentators think it is the same scarlet beast in Revelation 13:1. See Revelation 8-22 An Exegetical Commentary p.285, the New International Bible Commentary p.1621, The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.970, the Believerís Bible Commentary p.2374, The Expositorís Bible Commentary vol.12 p.557, and the Evangelical Commentary on the Bible p.1222 for more info.
Q: In Rev 17:1-18, could the heads of the scarlet beast be Roman Emperors?
A: Probably not, because the revival of Babylon is a future event that has not been fulfilled yet. If you wish to try to compare Roman Emperors, here is a list of them. It is believed that Revelation was written about 95-96 A.D., soon before the death of Domitian.
|Augustus (proclaimed himself a god)||27 BC.-14 A.D.|
|Nero, a son of incest||54- June 8, 68|
|Galba (falsely announced Nero had fled to Egypt)||June 8, 68-Jan. 15, 69|
|Otho (murdered Galba)||Jan 15, 69-Apr. 16, 69|
|Vitellius / Vitellum (defeated Othoís army)||Apr. 16, 69-Dec. 22, 69|
|Vespasian||July 1/Dec. 21, 69- Jun. 24, 79|
|Titus||Jun. 24, 79-Sept. 13, 81|
|Emperor Domitian killed his own brother, Flavius Clemens, for being a Christian. Titus was also his brother.||81-96|
|Marcus Aurelius and Lucius Verus||161-169|
|Avidius Cassius (eastern part)||175|
|Marcus Aurelius and Commodus||177-180|
|Didius Julianus (Niger)||193|
|Gordion the Younger||238-244|
|Carus (Carnus, Numerian)||282-284|
|Maximian (Galerius) (Marcus Aurelius Valerius Maximianus)||285/286-305|
Q: In Rev 17:5, why would she have her name written across her forehead?
A: According to the Roman writers Seneca and Juvenal, it is common for Roman prostitutes to wear their name across their forehead. That way customers could remember them and ask for them by name. Jeremiah 3:3 also refers to a harlotís brow, which could be the same custom outside of Rome. See The Expositorís Bible Commentary vol.12 p.556 for more info.
Q: In Rev 18:1-3, how was Babylon a corrupt city of commerce and power, when Babylon in Rev 17 was a religious system?
A: If you think that a pure-looking religious system could not also be a corrupt concentration of money-making and power, you would be wrong. Even Jesus and the cross have unfortunately been used as a justification for doing evil and controlling others. Though chapters 17 and 18-19 highlight different aspects of the city, they are the same city according to the New International Commentary on the Bible p.1622 and Revelation 8-22 An Exegetical Commentary p.313. See The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.972-973 for more info.
Q: In Rev 18:3, how could a place be a "haunt for every evil spirit?"
A: Some translations have prison instead of haunt, because the evil spirit stays there, but it nothing says it is involuntary.
It is fascinating to consider what is it that makes evil spirits attracted to a place? Is it lack of Christian witness that would remind them of their crushing defeat by the death and resurrection of Jesus? Is it the toleration of other evil spirits? Is it the promotion of evil by people and opening themselves up to evil spirits? Is it pagan idols worshipped by people? We donít know which one it mainly is, if it is all the above, or if there are even more reasons. But we donít want any evil spirits to be attracted to our home, and thus we donít want any images of idols or the occult to even give a hint that evil spirits would be comfortable in our home. See The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.973 for more info.
Q: In Rev 18:3, what is the difference between wanting to increase your profits and greed?
A: There is more than one way to be greedy. If you are not greedy in all these ways but one, you can still be greedy.
First, increasing your profits at all cost, legal, ethical, and moral is putting money before God. But you can even increase profits in legitimate ways, that God does not want you to be involved in? Ė marijuana stocks anyone?
Second, salespeople sometimes lie (called stretching the truth) to sell their products. At one place where I worked, a customer asked a salesperson if the product did such-and-such. The salesperson knew it did not but told the customer that it did anyway. Then the salesperson got word back to the office that people had to work on that feature right away.
Is buying and selling fetal body parts for research bad, since they were going to be aborted regardless?
Third, you can drive to get the lowest possible price, or pay the lowest possible wage, regardless of what is fair.
Fourth, if you donít want to practice these things yourself, you still hire and reward people who practice these things, turning a blind eye to their greed, as long as they deliver.
Q: In Rev 18:4, how can Christians sin by being a part of an evil system today, given that God wanted Joseph to be a part of the Egyptian government in Gen 41-47 and Daniel in Dan 2 and 6?
A: Joseph was very high up in a government that did not acknowledge God. While the religion of Egypt worshipped false gods, they did not do the evils of human sacrifice or religious prostitution like some other religions practiced. Nehemiah, though Jewish, was a Persian governor of Judea, and he was right where God wanted him to be. Daniel is more interesting. Babylonians practiced astrology and magic, and Joseph was considered, by the Babylonians, as similar to those people. Daniel did not do these things himself, and when Jesusí start appeared at Bethlehem, and the Magi knew the Messiah would be born in Judea, how would they know unless Daniel had instructed them about the One True God?
Today, you can ask yourself five questions. If your answer to any one of them is bad, then start looking for another job.
1. Do you have to sin (either with personal morals or treating others wrongly) to do your job, or do what your boss wanted? Technically, one once case this might not be a reason to quit your job. You should not sin, and let people think you are sinning either. It might be a better witness to be fired than to quit.
2. By your work are you promoting sin, a sinful lifestyle, or a false god?
3. Does your job, and your companyís work provided any benefit to other people of society? If not, that is not as bad as the first two things, but wouldnít you much rather work for a company that does provide benefit.
4. At work do you have any opportunities at all to share your life and the gospel to others?
5. Are your relationship at work drawing you closer to God, or drawing you farther from Him?
Q: In Rev 18:6, why is Babylon paid back double for what she did?
A: This very likely is a Greek expression meaning that the harm she did "doubled back to her. It is similar to the English idiom "what goes around, comes around." However, the burning of Babylon is not the destruction of all political power, because the other kings still reign, and are watching from a safe distance. See Revelation 8-22: An Exegetical Commentary p.319,328 for more info.
Q: In Rev 18:13 (KJV), should it say "slaves" or "bodies" of men?
A: Trading slaves would mean trading in the bodies of men. The literal Greek word here is soma which means "body" and from which we get our word "somatic". On the other hand, some today have traded in body parts of aborted babies for research. Also, some have made money with body parts for replacement organs.
Q: In Rev 18:13, how can people trade in the souls of men?
A: People can trade in the souls of men in at least three ways.
Lives: The Greek word for soul can also mean life. Slavers can kidnap people and sell slaves, and many ancient empires basically ran off of slavery. An estimated two-thirds of the people of the Roman Empire were slaves.
Spiritual: Many people on all continents have used religion as a means to financial gain, as 1 Timothy 6:5 warns. Their "trade" is in the souls of men.
Indulgences: The Catholic Church, especially during the Middle Ages, taught that Catholics who committed venial sins, would suffer in a fiery Purgatory before going to Heaven. However, this stay could be reduced, for themselves and others, by paying money to the church, called indulgences.
See the Believerís Bible Commentary p.2375 for more info.
Q: In Rev 18:9-19, how could Babylon be so popular with kings, merchants, and sailors, after being drunk with the blood of the saints in Rev 17:6?
A: Three words: riches, short-memories, and apathy.
Riches: She was popular because all of these kings and merchants of the earth, even though somehow, she ruled over the other cities, because they appreciated the wealth they were making because of her. They were willing to overlook some evil, actually a lot of evil, as long as they got more money by it. It is appropriate that merchants could not find anyone to buy their wares, when Babylon would not let anyone buy or sell unless they had the mark of the beast.
Short-memories: A habit of fallen people is to forget the evil character of some people and entities, when it is convenient or profitable for them to do so.
Apathy: Killing of believers in Revelation 17:6 and 18:24 did not harm them, so why should they care about things that do not hurt them? There was the saying "I disagree with what you say, but I will defend your right to say it." How often do you see someone standing up for the rights of someone they personally or politically disagree with? It seems that is becoming more and more rare.
As a side note, the Greek word for merchant, emporoi, meant one on a journey and is where English gets its word emporium.
See The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.973 and Revelation 8-22: An Exegetical Commentary p.330 for more info.
Q: In Rev 18:20 and Rev 19:3, how can godly beings in Heaven rejoice over the destruction of others?
A: They, and we, can rejoice that justice is done, just as all Americans, even German-Americans, rejoiced when the Nazis were defeated.
Q: In Rev 18:22, why do you think musicians, workers, and sorcery were so prominent here?
A: In modern western society, rock-n-roll music and factories are prominent. Sorcery is not so common in western culture, but the Greek word here, pharmakon, can also refer to drugs and poisons.
Q: In Rev 19:1,3,4,6, what is unusual about the word Hallelujah?
A: It is a Hebrew word meaning "Praise God". This word frequent in the Psalms in the Old Testament, but it is only used in the New Testament four times, all in this chapter. This victory certainly merits more than one Hallelujah! See The Expositorís Bible Commentary vol.12 p.569, The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.974, the Evangelical Commentary on the Bible p.1225, and Revelation 8-22 : An Exegetical Commentary p.356 for more info.
Q: In Rev 19:8, are the white robes of the saints a symbol that supports the Catholic doctrine of indulgences, as some Catholics say?
A: No. The white robes are a symbol, but Revelation 19:8 gives the complete explanation of what the white robes mean. They represent the righteous acts of the saints. Nothing suggests a personís righteous acts can be applied to another, or shorten someoneís stay in Purgatory. See When Cultists Ask p.310-311 for more info.
There is an important point to notice here. Many people, not just some Catholics, can read entirely unsubstantiated concepts into the Bible, completely oblivious to the fact that they cannot find a single place in the passage to support the novel concept.
Pretend for a moment that you had the crazy interpretation that this passage prophesied a resurgence in the garment industry. How could you find out whether your interpretation is wacky or not?
Here are some suggestions.
1. Pray and ask God for help in understanding what He meant. If you are trying to understand the what the Bible says, and you do not care for help in seeing the meaning God intended, that is both a contradiction in terms and a waste of time.
2. Understand what interpretation is. Interpretation is using (God-given) reasoning to logically relate the verse to verses before and after, verses in other parts of the Bible, and/or external events to come up with statements that are not in the Bible. Everybody does interpreting, not just of the Bible, but of everything we read. Proper interpretation is a good thing, but people can choose to read into the Bible whatever they feel like and masquerade this as interpretation.
3. Differentiate between what the passage explicitly says and what you interpret it means. Do not say "The Bible says" or "God says" about something the Bible does not actually say but is interpretation.
4. Christians need each other for interpreting Scripture, because no one is infallible. If your interpretation requires that the passage was written in a secret code that no one was ever able to see for thousands of years, it is a good idea to question your interpretation.
5. Validate your interpretation. If you say the Greek language means "this", and the early Christians who spoke Greek and wrote on the passage would not recognize your interpretation of what to many of them was their native language, you are back to secret codes again. The early Christians were not inerrant, and they did not have identical views on everything. However, by reading the letters and commentaries of these godly men, we can gain an appreciation for the range (and more importantly, lack of range) of the meaning of the Greek sentences in the Bible.
Q: In Rev 19:10 and 22:8, why did John fall at the feet of those angels?
A: It is apparently all too easy for fallen people to worship angels, Mary or other saints. In general, it is easy for even Christians to slip into idolatry, of one form or another. See the Believerís Bible Commentary p.2376, the New International Commentary on the Bible p.1623, Revelation 8-22 : An Exegetical Commentary p.375, and The Expositorís Bible Commentary vol.12 p.572 for more info.
Q: In Rev 19:10, how is the testimony of Jesus the spirit of prophecy?
A: Here are three interpretations of Revelation 19:10.
1. Jesusí own testimony about Himself is meant by the phrase "testimony of Jesus". His life, teaching, and spirit is the source of prophecy. This testimony refers a lot to the future.
2. Our testimony of Jesus is intended by the phrase "testimony of Jesus". Prophecy that is from God is based on the testimony of Jesus, and is authenticated by its calling Jesus as Lord (1 Corinthians 12:3, 1 John 4:1-3) True prophecy will be compatible with the life and sayings of Jesus.
3. Hard Sayings of the Bible p.776-777 discusses these views, and advocates a third view: both are true.
Q: Does Rev 19:11-18 refer to Jesus?
A: Definitely yes, according to the ancient pre-Nicene writers:
Irenaeus of Lyons (182-188 A.D.) says and again [in the Apocalypse] and immediately quotes Revelation 19:11f (19/24 words quoted), and 19:12-16 (full quote). He says it refers to the Lamb, the Word of God, the Son of Man, the Son of God. Irenaeus Against Heresies book 4 ch.21.11 p.491-492
Hippolytus of Portus (222-235/236 A.D.) fully quotes Revelation 19:11-12 as by John in the Apocalypse. He says this refers to the Word. Against the Heresy of One Noetus ch.15 p.229
Cyprian of Carthage (c.246-258 A.D.) fully quotes Revelation 19:11-16 as in the Apocalypse. He says it refers to the Word of God, the Son of Man. Treatises of Cyprian Treatise 12 part 2 ch.30 p.527-528
Origen (c.227-240 A.D.) says it is the Logos, the Word of God in Origen's Commentary on John book 2 ch.4 p.325
In more recent times, The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.976-977, The Expositorís Bible Commentary volume 12 p.573-575, the New International Bible Commentary p.1623, The Expositorís Greek Testament volume 5 p.466, Revelation 8-22 : An Exegetical Commentary p.381-382,387,396, and the Believerís Bible Commentary p.2376 all say this refers to Jesus.
Q: How does Rev 19:11-21 relate to other verses of Christís Second coming, namely Ps 9:1-9; 24:7-10; 96:10-13; 110; Isa 9:6-7; Jer 23:1-8; Ezek 37:15-28; Dan 2:44-45; 7:13-14; Hos 3:4-5; Amos 9:11-15; Mic 4:7; Zech 2:10-12; 12; 14:1-9; Mt 19:28; 24:27-31; 25:6,31-36; Mk 13:24-27; Lk 12:35-40; 17:24-37; 18:8; 21:25-28; Acts 1:10-11; 15:16-18; Rom 11:25-27; 2 Thess 2:8; 2 Pet 3:3-4; Jde 14-15; Rev 1:7-8; 2:25-28; 16:15; 22:20?
A: They all paint a very consistent picture, with some verses having added details.
See The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.976 for more info.
Q: In Rev 19:11 and Isa 11:4, how does Jesus make war, since He is the Prince of Peace in Isa 9:6?
A: Two points to consider in the answer.
Two Comings: Isaiah 9:6 refers primarily to Christís first coming, while the other two verses refer to Christís second coming.
Simultaneously: Jesus makes war on sin, and brings true peace and reconciliation to His people.
See 1001 Bible Questions Answered p.21 for more info.
Q: In Rev 19:11 how would heaven be "flung open" when John only saw a door to heaven in Rev 4:1?
A: The small door was only for going up into heaven. I bit was also opened when John saw the temple in Revelation 11:19. But Heaven is flung wide open here for Jesus and His entire army to come down.
See The Expositorís Bible Commentary vol.12 p.573 and the Evangelical Commentary on the Bible p.1225 for more info.
Q: In Rev 19:11, why can this not be the rapture?
A: In the rapture Christ suddenly and invisibly comes for His saints, to take them from the earth. Here Christ comes majestically with His saints to the earth. Christ never touches the earth during the Rapture; rather the saints meet Him in the air.
See the Believerís Bible Commentary p.2376 and The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.976 for more info.
Q: In Rev 19:12 and Rev 14:14, what is the difference between the crowns here?
A: They are totally different Greek words. The word in Revelation 14:14 is stephanos, which can mean victory wreath. The word in Revelation 19:12 in diadema, which means a kingís crown. See Revelation 8-22: An Exegetical Commentary p.219 for more info.
Q: In Rev 19:13, where did the blood come from that stains Jesusí robe?
A: An interesting side note is that the Jewish Targum of Jonathan (written after Revelation) on Genesis 49:10ff says the warring Messiah will have his clothes stained with the blood of His enemies. However, this happened before Christ destroyed His enemies, so it is from the grapes of wrath.
The Expositorís Bible Commentary vol.12 p.574-577 and the New International Bible Commentary p.1623 say it is Christís own blood. However, the Believerís Bible Commentary p.2377 says it is NOT Jesusí own blood but the blood of the winepress of the grapes of wrath.
When Jesusí robe is dipped in blood in Revelation 19:13, and He treads the winepress of Godís wrath in Revelation 19:15, this is using the same imagery as Isaiah 63:1-3. The winepress is also mentioned in Joel 3:13 and Revelation 14:17-20.
The Believerís Bible Commentary p.2377, and Revelation 8-22 : An Exegetical Commentary p.386-387, and The Expositorís Greek Testament volume 5 p.467 say that it is the blood of His enemies whom he trampled in the winepress of Godís wrath.
However, The Expositorís Bible Commentary volume 12 p.574 says asks how Christís robe could be dipped in His enemiesí blood if He has not fought them. It takes the position that the blood is Christís own blood. It mentions that Hippolytus and Origen (225-254 A.D.) also had this view.
While the blood on the robe could represent Jesusí own blood, the blood of saints, or the blood of the wicked, it most likely is the blood-red color of treading the grapes of wrath, though not necessarily the blood of Godís enemies.
Q: In Rev 19:16, why is the name written on Christís thigh?
A: There are two different answers.
Thigh: If a horseback rider is approaching, one would not see a name on the back, stomach, or lower leg, but it would be most clear on the thigh.
Banner: The Greek says that His name is written on His thigh. However, some think Revelation might have originally been in Aramaic. F.F. Bruce in the New International Bible Commentary p.1624 says that if one assumes a Semitic original underlies Johnís Greek, a copyist error might have replaced the Hebrew or Aramaic word for banner, degel, with the word for leg, regel. However, there is no evidence of a Semitic original.
Q: In Rev 19:17-19, why is the wedding supper of the Lamb bloody?
A: It does sound vaguely like a slaughterhouse where animals are killed, except on a larger scale. We have this right over animals, and rightly or wrongly, all generals think they have this right over people in war. Even more so, God has the right to terminate a personís life whenever He wishes and however He wishes.
As a side note, a great future battle between God and His enemies is also mentioned in the non-Biblical books of 1 Enoch 90:13-19, 4 Ezra 13:1-13; Assumption of Moses 10; Psalms of Solomon 17:23-31; and Dead Sea Scrolls 1QMH and 1QH 6:25f. However, these descriptions are between godly forces led by the Messiah and an ungodly ruler. See The Expositorís Bible Commentary vol.12 p.577 for more info.
Q: In Rev 20, is it really going to be 1,000 years?
A: With the possible exception of 666, there is no number in Revelation that is not symbolic. There is no number that is "wrong" in a literal way and "right" in a symbolic way, so if it was not 1,000 years, this would be the first. Apparently in Godís view the term "1,000 years" was important enough to repeat six times, in Revelation 20:2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7. In Jewish teaching there was a concept of "they days of the Messiah" in 2 Esdras 7:28f, but it said it would be 400 years.
See the New International Bible Commentary p.1625 and The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.980-981 for more info.
Q: In Rev 20, will there be a literal Millennium on earth?
A: Revelation 20:1-7 teaches a 1,000-year period where Satan is bound and believers are raised to life and reign with Christ. Here are three main views.
Premillennialists take Rev. 20:1-7, as well as other Biblical prophecies as true, non-misleading statements of the future. Now prophecy often does have some symbolism, so 1,000 years might mean a long period of time. Premillennialists believe:
Satan is not now locked in the abyss (Revelation 20:3)
The nations today are not deceived (Revelation 20:3)
None have yet been beheaded for not receiving the mark, and then raised back to life. (Revelation 20:4)
Believers do not reign with Christ for just this time. (Revelation 20:4,6)
Regardless of a personís theology on other points, believing the plain meaning of the future Millennial reign of Christ in Rev. 20 makes one a premillennialist. Concerning the rapture, premillennialists can be pre-trib, mid-trib, post-trib, pre-Wrath, or "pan-trib" (We do not know when the rapture will occur, but it all pans out in the end!) Premillennialists might view others as "end-time liberals", who do not take Jesus seriously in Revelation 1:3; 22:7, and say this book of the Bible has little meaning for us today.
Amillennialists deny a millennium on earth, but instead believe the millennium in an allegorical sense, has been occurring in Heaven since the start of the church age and/or right now in believerís lives on earth. The primary difference between a premillennialist and an amillennialist is not interpreting certain passages, but rather that amillennialists view most of the book of Revelation as true but indecipherable. They also interpret most prophecies, such as in Daniel, as non-literal, not actual predictions of the future. Amillennialists do affirm that the full consummation of Godís kingdom awaits the future return of Jesus, and there will be a rapture. They think premillennialists give manís dogma as Godís word, contrary to 1 Corinthians 4:6 and Proverbs 30:5-6.
Post-millennialists are so similar to amillennialists in their non-literal interpretation, that it can be difficult to determine whether Augustine and others were amillennialists or post-millenialists. The main difference is that post-millennialists believe the millennium is happening on earth now, and that the world will get better and better until Christ finally comes. This view was more popular before World War II.
Who Believes Which View
Premillennialists in the early church include Papias (died 163 A.D.), Justin Martyr in Dialogue with Trypho 80:1 (died 165 A.D.), Irenaeus Against Heresies ch.34,35 (182-188 A.D.), Commodianus ch.43 p.211 (198-220 A.D.), Tertullian Against Marcion 3:25 (207 A.D.), and Augustine before encountering the Donatist Tyconius.
Premillennialists today include dispensationalist theologians, Bible churches, most conservative Baptists, many charismatics, and some in Independent Christian Churches. Famous premillennialist writers include Chuck Swindoll, John Walvoord, and many others. Dallas Theological Seminary used to only let premillennialists graduate, but, according to a current student, they have changed this policy.
Those denying a literal 1,000 years in the early church include Dionysius of Alexandria (c.265 A.D.). By Eusebiusí time (around 325 A.D.), many of the Christian leaders were not premillennialists. Both a- and post-millennialists say Augustine later held their viewpoint. Post-millennialism looked attractive once Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire.
Amillennialists today include covenant theologians, Lutherans, a minority of Baptists, Catholics, most Presbyterian and Reformed churches, and R.C. Sproul.
Early, Greek-speaking Christians disagreed on the literal millennium. However, even in the early church, both groups accepted each other in Christ. Godly Christians hold to both views.
Pros and Cons
So does the Bible teach a literal millennium on earth or not? While I admit that I am strongly premillennial myself, my purpose here is not to convince you that premillennialism is true. Rather it is to give you both sides, to decide for yourself.
Here are three interpretations of Revelation 20
The Premillennial Position
1-2) In the future, an angel with the key to the bottomless pit will capture Satan, and bind Him either for a thousand years or else a longer period.
3) Satan will be cast into the bottomless pit. Since Satan can only be in one place at one time, Satan will not be on earth, in Heaven, or anywhere else. Currently Satan is prowling around like a roaring lion according to 1 Peter 5:8.
Today many nations are deceived in the sense of denying the truth of God and persecuting Godís servants. The nations of the earth will acknowledge Christ during the Millennium
4) Those who were beheaded for not worshipping the beast, or receiving the mark on their foreheads or hands were physically resurrected and lived with Christ. The beast and these beheadings have not occurred yet.
5) The rest of the dead in verse 5 were not raised to life yet. (same Greek word for raised given in verse 4)
6) Those in the first resurrection will be priests and reign during the Millennium. All unfulfilled Old Testament promises to the Jews will be fulfilled, and there will be a Millennial Temple.
7) After the Millennium, Satan will be released and deceive the nations.
8-9) Then the nations will gather in a vast army and surround Jerusalem. This is the judgment in the Valley of Jehoshaphat, not Armageddon, which happened over 1,000 years before. Fire will come from Heaven and kill them. This is a different battle then the one in Revelation 19.
10) The devil will join the beast and false prophet, who were already cast into the Lake of Fire in Revelation 19:20. They will be in conscious torment forever.
11) Then the dead will stand before God, and some were judged according to the Book of Life, and others according to their works. Everyone whose name is not in the Book of Life suffers the second death in the Lake of Fire.
Amillennial [& Postmillennial] Positions
1-3) Satan was bound while Christ was on earth. Satan has already been bound and "cast into the bottomless pit", at Christís resurrection, [or else around 325 A.D.]
Satan is not deceiving the nations on earth anymore right now, though he will do so at the end. Deceived here might mean giving up their sovereignty to follow Satan.
4) Those who were beheaded for not worshipping the beast probably include all Christians. They are reigning with Christ in heaven right now [or else Christ is reigning with believers right now on earth]. Verse 4 does not refer to physical resurrection, but a spiritual resurrection of a new life in Christ.
5) The rest of the dead will not be resurrected physically until after this period. [A variant of this view is that since the Greek words are the same in the same context, this second resurrection is only spiritual too.]
6) The first resurrection either refers to either our new life in Christ, or else a physical resurrection of only believers after this time. Believers reign with Christ now in Heaven [or also Christ reigns in their hearts now on earth].
7) In the end, Satan will use direct power again.
8-9) Then the nations will gather in a vast army and surround Jerusalem. The battle of Armageddon and the Valley of Jehoshaphat are the same battle. Fire will come from Heaven and kill them. This is the same battle as the one in Revelation 19. Indeed, all of Revelation 20:1-10 is a "recap" of earlier parts of Revelation from a different angle.
10) The devil is thrown into the lake of fire immediately after the beast and false prophet are thrown in. They will be in conscious torment forever.
11) Then the dead will stand before God, and some were judged according to the Book of Life, and others according to their works. Everyone whose name is not in the Book of Life suffers the second death in the Lake of Fire.
Premillennial Arguments on Rev 20
"And" (kai in Greek) is the first word of Revelation 20:1. This often indicates following the previous.
John was shown the same events in two visions, one right after the other.
1,000 years is mentioned six times in chapter 20. If God really meant exactly 1,000 years, how would amillennialists postulate God could say exactly 1,000 years so that they would not dismiss it as a symbol? 1,260 days, 42 months, etc., are literal times in Revelation, so why single out 1,000 years as being figurative?
2 Peter 3:8 and Psalm 90:4 show that 1,000 years can mean a long period of time.
If Satan were currently bound, how is he still:
Be now at work in Ephesians 2:2
Be prowling around like a roaring lion -1 Peter 5:8
Hinder Paul in 1 Thessalonians 2:18
Enter into Judas Iscariot in Luke 22:3
Fill the heart of Ananias in Acts 5:3
Have people handed over to him in 1 Corinthians 5:5; 1 Timothy 1:20
Satan can still tempt us in 1 Corinthians 7:5
Trap people in 2 Timothy 2:26
If Satan is now locked up in the abyss, how is he at the same time still prowling around like a roaring lion 1 Peter 5:8
The nations today are deceived contrary to Revelation 20:3 in the Millennium.
Satan can outwit (deceive us) in 2 Cor. 2:11.
Satan still blinds unbelievers. (2 Cor. 4:3-4)
Nations will be deceived to follow the Antichrist.
Have believers already been beheaded for not receiving the mark of the beast and not worshipping the beast or his image in Revelation 20:4? - not by a long shot. It is one thing to say some passages are symbolic, but it is another thing entirely to make entire passages not only entirely devoid of meaning, but to say that the plain meaning misleads people.
Rebuttal: There have been many Christian martyrs who refused to worship the Emperor.
Have the believers already been resurrected who have allegedly already been killed for not receiving the mark of the beast as Revelation 20:4 says? They certainly have not!
Rebuttal: When Revelation 20:5 refers to being raised to life, it may refer to them being spiritually raised to new life in Christ. They are alive in Heaven right now in a spiritual body.
Counter-rebuttal: The Greek for raised to life in Rev. 20:4 is the same word for the dead being raised at the end of the Millennium in Revelation 20:5. Interpreting this as symbolic calls into question whether there is any bodily resurrection at all, contrary to 1 Corinthians 15:12-14.
Counter-counter Rebuttal: The resurrection in Revelation 20:5 might be physical (despite the same Greek word) or it might have a spiritual meaning. If it has a spiritual meaning, then there might also be a physical resurrection not mentioned in Rev. 20.
Revelation 20:4,6 means reigning with Christ on earth; otherwise it would mean we only reign with Christ in Heaven for this period.
Rebuttal: Revelation 20 never explicitly mentions the end of the reign of believers with Christ.
A literal 1,000-year millennium was understood by some Jews, as 2 Enoch and the Babylonian Talmud Sanhedrin 97b show. Using a literal concept that was already held, without any mention of correction, shows the author held the concept as true.
Rebuttal: Others did not hold to a Millennium.
Amillennial Arguments on Rev. 20
There are six "whys" to ask on Revelation 20.
Why is there a "gospel of sight" when Christ is visible during the Millennium, succeeding the gospel of faith that is now?
Why is there a postponed kingdom of Christ?
Why is there a long separation between Christís coming, the resurrection, and the judgment, which the Bible shows together?
Why are there two great battles and two resurrections?
Why is the rest of the New Testament silent on connecting the second coming with an earthly kingdom centered at Jerusalem?
After you die as a Christian, why do you expect to be resurrected to live with wicked people on the same earth?
Do not base a major doctrine on only one passage.
Rebuttal: A literal millennium on a great number of other scriptures, as the next section shows.
Premillennial Arguments Besides Revelation 20
Best explained by an earthly millennium
After the Euphrates dries up, a highway for the remnant of Godís people (Isaiah 11:16; 35:8-10).
Armageddon is prior to the Millennium (Revelation 16:16; Zechariah 12:7-11; 14:2-8,12).
Israelites attack non-Israelite land (Isaiah 11:13-14).
Jacob makes servants of his captors (Isaiah 14:1-17).
After the great battle, the other nations must celebrate the Feast of Booths (Zechariah 14:12-21).
After the great battle, non-Israelite survivors will entreat God (Zechariah 8:21-23).
They will bring offerings to the Lord, and some will be selected as Levites (Isaiah 66:20-21).
Eunuchs in the temple and foreigners offer sacrifices (Isaiah 56:3-7),
The Temple will be filled with glory (Haggai 2:7).
The Temple during the Millennium (Ezekiel 40-48).
Animal sacrifice in the Temple during the Millennium (Ezekiel 40:38,42; 43:20-22).
Room to wash the burnt offerings in the Temple (Ezekiel 40:38-42).
The Levites will never fail to have a man to offer burnt offerings before God (Jeremiah 33:18).
Purify the Levites, have men bring offerings, as in days gone by (Malachi 3:3-4).
The host on high are punished (Isaiah 24:21-22).
Evil angels judged (1 Corinthians 6:3; Revelation 20:10
Sodom returns to its state (Ezekiel 16:55).
People unfortunate if they die at 100 (Isaiah 65:20).
God settling disputes between peoples (Isaiah 2:4).
Whole earth knows the glory of the Lord (Isaiah 11:9; Habakkuk 2:14; Zephaniah 2:11).
Lion and lamb will lie down together (Isaiah 11:6-8).
Abrahamís descendants getting all the land up to the Euphrates River (Genesis 15:18).
God turns back the enemy, and Jerusalem will never again fear any harm (Zephaniah 3:13-16; Zechariah 12:7-11; 14:2-8,12).
Jerusalem (not the new one) will be holy (Isaiah 4:3).
Jews will mourn the one they pierced (Zechariah 12:10).
Prophecy will pass away (Zechariah 13:3-6; 1 Corinthians 13:9; Micah 2:6).
David as a prince will reign (Ezekiel 34:23).
Some Christiansí loss of rewards might possibly include loss during this time (Hebrews 6:4-12).
Wicked resurrected (Daniel 12:2; John 5:29).
[A few think] Gog and Magog (Ezekiel 38-39).
Valley of Jehoshaphat judgment (Joel 3:1-2).
Armies surround Jerusalem at the end of the Millennium (Joel 2:20; 3:10).
Miraculous deliverance of Jerusalem (Isaiah 29:5-9).
Amillennial Arguments Besides Revelation 20
Just as Messianic prophecies were not clear in Old Testament times, the endtime prophecies are blurry in our time. They are either symbolic, or fulfilled prior to Christís return.
Two triumphant returns of Christ, defeating His enemies in two battles, seems like a redundant repetition. The similarities suggest a simpler solution: there is only one battle and one triumphant return of Christ.
Rebuttal: While God can do things as many times as He wishes, Christ does not "return" at the end of the earthly Millennium. Revelation 20:6 says that we reign with Christ for 1,000 years.
Why is there a Millennial Temple, when the Old Covenant is obsolete (Hebrews 8:13)? No, the Millennial Temple is a heavenly one, of which the earthly temple is a copy, as Hebrews 9:23-24 shows.
There is no longer any sacrifice for sin in Hebrews 10:18, because in Hebrews 10:9 Christ set aside the first covenant. Hebrews 9:10 said the animal sacrifices were external regulations applying only until the new order. Likewise, the former regulation (of Levitical priesthood) is set aside by our better hope in Hebrews 7:18. (See also Hebrews 9:12,24,25.)
Since all Christians agree on this, why are sacrifices offered in an alleged Millennial Temple in Ezekiel 40:38,42; 43:20-22? Why is there a room to wash burnt offerings in Ezekiel 40:38-42? These will not be done on earth again; rather, they are symbolic of Christ our high priest in heaven.
Rebuttal: Perhaps all the physical dimensions and ceremonial details on earth are for the same reason amillennialists have to say Levites have rooms for washing bullís blood right now in heaven! Some think this is for a sin offering (even after Christ), but others say it is only a memorial.
Counter-rebuttal: Ezekiel 43:19 says the bulls were a sin offering to the priests, and verse 20 says to purify the altar and make atonement for it.
Counter-Counter-rebuttal: 1,000 years are to:
1. Reign triumphantly on the old earth -Revelation 20:6
2. Give some an opportunity to rebel -Revelation 20:8-9
3. Fulfill every Old Testament promise
As in days gone by (Malachi 3:3-4) there will not only be sacrifices (Zechariah 14:12-21; Isaiah 56:3-7), but God will select some Gentiles to be Levites (Isaiah 66:20-21). Just as God used the period of law to teach the Jews, God may teach them a lesson for a time.
For more info on different views of the Millennium, see Hard Sayings of the Bible p.777-780, Christian Theology p.1206-1217, The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.979, the Wycliffe Dictionary of Theology p.351-355, Revelation 8-22: An Exegetical Commentary p.404-427, and Christian Theology and Doctrine p.133-135.
Q: In Rev 20, what is a history of premillennialists?
A: Premillenialists include Papias (disciple of John the apostle), Epistle of Barnabas, and most Christians until the time of Augustin of Hippo. As Thomas Constable (a premillennialist) says in his commentary on Revelation, "When I was studying Hebrew with Dr. Merrill Unger in seminary, someone asked him in class what he would say to the Lord if, when he got to heaven, he discovered that Amillennialism was true and Premillennialism was false. Dr. Unger, who was a premillennialist, facetiously answered that he would say, "I'm sorry, Lord. I just took You at Your word." Many amillennialists admit that if you interpret the references to Israel in the New Testament as references to the physical descendants of Jacob, you will come out a premillennialist. That is the normal meaning of "Israel." They reject this approach, however, because they believe prophecy requires a special (spiritual, really mystical) hermeneutic. Today many Baptists, Bible Church, and others are premillennialist. Other premillennialists include Lewis Sperry Chafer, Charles L. Feinberg, A.C. Gaebelein, H.A. Ironside, Alva McClain, William Pettingill, Charles C. Ryrie, C.I. Scofield, Wilbur Smith, and Merrill F. Unger.
The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.977 says, "This chapter presents the fact that Christ will reign on earth for a thousand years. If this chapter is taken literally, it is relatively simple to understand what is meant. However, because many Bible interpreters have rejected the idea that there will be a reign of Christ on earth for a thousand years after His second coming, this chapter has been given an unusually large number of diverse interpretations, all designed to eliminate a literal millennial reign."
Justin Martyr (c.138-165 A.D.) in Dialog with Trypho mentions that Christians had differing views on this.
See The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.978 for more info.
Q: In Rev 20, what is a history of amillennialists?
A: Bible Commentator "Charles has described this passage as a constant source of insurmountable difficulty for the exegete. Berkouwer has called the Millennium one of the most controversial and intriguing questions of eschatology." (The Expositorís Bible Commentary vol.12 p.577 The author of this book of The Expositorís Bible Commentary, Alan Johnson, says he is premillennial, though the says premillennialism has difficulties too. Ibid p.578) Some of the earliest non-premillennialists were Clement of Alexandria, Origen, Cyprian of Carthage, Dionysius of Alexandria, Ephraim the Syrian, Tyconius the Donatist and Augustine of Hippo. The Jesuit scholar Rebeira (1537-1591) was the first to say that the Millennium will be in heaven, not on earth. Other amillennialist commentators include John Calvin, Heinrich Bullinger, Lutherans, Beckwith, Louis Berkhof, William Hendricksen, Abraham Kuyper, R.C.H. Lenski, Gerhardus Vos, Boer, and Schnackenburg, and B.B. Warfield. Amillennialism is the stance of eastern orthodox, the Roman Catholic church, Anglicans, Methodists. It is the dominant view in Mennonite churches, Churches of Christ, and Disciples of Christ.
Preterists are also amillennialists. According to Thomas Constable, preterists include: D. E. Aune, W. Barclay, G. B. Caird, R. H. Charles, J. M. Ford, T. F. Glasson, Hank Hannegraf, W. Harrington, W. G. Heidt, J. Moffatt, A. Pieters, R. C. Sproul, R. Summers, J. P. M. Sweet, H. B. Swete, et al.. So if you are reading an interpretation by one of these people, make sure you are aware of the theological source.
Justin Martyr (c.138-165 A.D.) in Dialog with Trypho mentions that Christians had differing views on this. See The Expositorís Bible Commentary vol.12 p.577-579 and The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.978 for more info.
Q: In Rev 20, what is history of post-millennialists?
A: Post-millennialism teaches that the world will be getting better and more and more righteous until Christ comes. Many Christians started believing a mixture of post-Millennialism and amillennialism once Constantine came to power in 325 A.D. The first modern post-millennialist appears to be Daniel Whitby in the 17th century. After him are Charles Hodge, A.H. Strong, David Brown, and Loraine Boettner. See The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.978 for more info.
Q: In Rev 20, during the 1000 year rule on earth, before the "New Jerusalem", will people still be flesh and blood and mate as male and female? Will those who died before the rapture come back then or after the millennium?
A: These are a couple of interesting questions. A more basic question is whether all people will be the same during the millennium. Some/all believers will reign with Christ for 1,000 years (Revelation 20:4), but what about people who are not reigning with Christ? The rest of the dead do not come back to life until the 1,000 years are ended (Revelation 20:5). After the 1,000 years are ended, Satan will be able and will be successful in deceiving the nations and they will surround Godís people (Revelation 20:7-9).
Also, it is quite likely that some people will survive all the tribulation, and will enter the millennium without having died.
There is no verse that directly says no one/ some people / all people will be able to mate then. However we can infer an answer by a second fundamental question: whether or not any babies will be born during the millennium. If there are, that would imply at least some people would be able to mate then. Can anyone die during the millennium?
Isaiah 65:17-25 is a lengthy passage, so please look it up. You can see that it indicates that some can be born and some die then. Isaiah 65:17-25 refers to the time of the Millennium according to
The Bible Knowledge Commentary : Old Testament p.1120 and the Believerís Bible Commentary p.989.
However, some other Christians do not believe in a Millennium at all. The New Geneva Study Bible is not premillennialist, yet on p.1139 even it says: "This prophecy awaits the Second Coming of Christ (2 Peter 3:13; Revelation 21:1)...."
Scripture does not say for certain when believers who died before the rapture will be resurrected; but most Christians believe it will be at the start of the millennium. However, scripture is clear that at least some who were unbelievers and died before the rapture will come back after the millennium.
Q: In Rev 20, why are dead unsaved people resurrected at the end of the millennium?
A: The Bible does not say why unsaved people are resurrect at the end of the millennium. One speculation is that while people do not get a second chance after death, those who never had a single chance to hear the real Gospel would have the opportunity to make a decision.
Q: In Rev 20:8 and Rev 21:27, since people who do shameful things will be outside of Heaven, how can various evil people go to Heaven, even after they repented and gave their life to God?
A: Revelation 20:8 and Revelation 21:27 refer to people who now do these things, not people who formerly did these things, but were cleansed and forgiven.
Q: In Rev 20:2, is the serpent here the same serpent that is in Gen 3:1-15?
A: Yes, this is Satan. He was around people from the very beginning, and he will be cast into the Lake of Fire forever in Revelation 20:10.
Q: In Rev 20:10,15, what did early Christians teach about the eternalness of punishment for those who rejected Christ?
A: Revelation 20:14-15 says, "Then Death and Hades were cast into the Lake of Fire. This is the second death." After this time there will be no more death. Revelation 21:4 says, "...there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away."
But does that mean that all punishment is over too? It cannot, because Revelation 20:10 says the devil and the false prophet will be tormented day and night forever and ever.
What happens to people whose names are not written in the book of life? Revelation 20:15 says, "And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire." Verse 14 just said that is the second death. So After this time, nobody will die, spiritually or otherwise, but the people who are already spiritually dead in the Lake of Fire stay there.
Now we can agree that early church writings are not scripture, and since they can be wrong. However, many of them knew New Testament Greek better than anyone today could, and their views, while not providing absolute proof, I think provide strong support for what was really intended in the New Testament Greek.
Polycarp (155 A.D.) bravely told his killers before he was burned to death. "You threaten me with fire that can burn for an hour, and after a little while is extinguished, but are ignorant of the fire of the coming judgment and of eternal punishment, reserved for the ungodly." Concerning the Martyrdom of Polycarp ch.11 p.41
Justin Martyr (c.138-165 A.D.) The bodies of all men shall be raised, some to immortality and some with eternal sensibility to everlasting fire with the wicked devils. First Apology of Justin Martyr ch.52 p.180
Mention of eternal fire. Second Apology of Justin Martyr ch.2 p.188
The devils and those who serve them will be shut up in eternal fire. Second Apology of Justin Martyr ch.8 p.191; ch.9 p.191
Justin Martyr has other references too.
Athenagoras (177 A.D.) But since vanity (futility) is excluded from the works of God, then not only is there an eternal duration of the soul, but also the body in The Resurrection of the Dead ch.15 p.157
Theophilus bishop of Antioch (168-181/188 A.D.) "...if now you continue unbelieving, you be convinced hereafter, when you are tormented with eternal punishments..." Letter to Autolycus book 1 ch.14 p.93
Theophilus has other references too.
Irenaeus (182-188 A.D.) Mentioned the eternal fire for the devil and his angels. Irenaeus Against Heresies book 2 ch.7.3 p.367
Those who disallow (Adamís) salvation are shutting themselves out from life forever, in that they do not believe that the sheep which had perished has been found. Irenaeus Against Heresies book 3 ch.23 p.457.
Minucius Felix (210 A.D.) Mention of the fire of eternal punishment in The Octavius of Minucius Felix ch.35 p.195. Note that it was not just the fire that was eternal, but the punishment that was eternal.
Clement of Alexandria (193-217/220 A.D.) "for sin is eternal death." Exhortation to the Heathen ch.11 p.204
Tertullian (198-220 A.D.) mentions eternal life and eternal punishment of unending fire in Ad Nationes book 1 ch.7 p.116
After death, the harmless infant does not suffer the perpetual penalty. Tertullianís Five Books in Reply to Marcion book 4 p.157
Hippolytus (222-236 A.D.) says condemned and lost people have everlasting punishment according in his Fragment 40 on his Discourses and Homilies p.252.
Cyprian of Carthage (c.246-258 A.D.) says, "whom on his departure from this world eternal flame shall torment with never-ending punishments" Cyprianís Treatise 7.13 p.472
Finally, going way back to Paul, notice his use of eternal. "I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel Ė which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned! As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned!" (Galatians 1:8-9)
So what is Hell like? I believe it could be thought of as a cosmic zoo. It is as if someone tells God, "I do not want you to be Lord of my life, and I am not going to change my mind." God says to them, "I am sorry, but I will give you what you ask for. I will make another universe, and you can go off to that universe and do your own thing." Of course, they wonít be alone there; the demons and others who made a similar decision will be there too. Since God is the source of all love, they will be separate from that too. If they had friends who went to the Lake of Fire too, they will not still be friends once they are in the Lake of Fire. I do not know if people will be insane when they go to the Lake of Fire, but I speculate that they will be insane after they have been there a while. O how terrible is the place where manís freedom to choose to be separate from God drifts away in the justice of its consequences.
One recommended book is The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis. It has nothing to do with marriage and divorce, but is a fictional account of people who went to Hell, were given a choice to leave and go to heaven, but after due consideration decided that they still preferred to be in Hell. It is fictional, but a fascinating book. However, there is one unbiblical thing in it though. C.S. Lewis thought that a person in Hell could possibly repent and go to Heaven. However, Luke 16:26 says there is an impassible gulf there.
But if we establish that both scripture and the early church taught universally taught the eternal punishment of those who rejected Christ, the next question is how can that be consistent with what God has revealed in scripture about His justice towards those who never heard in the first place? See the page on www.BibleQuery.org/Doctrine/NeverHeardTheGospel/WhatAboutThoseWhoDiedBeforeHearingTheGospel.html
Q: In Rev 20:2-3, how is Satan confined?
A: Satan has four levels of confinement. He is bound with a chain, then Satan is cast into the bottomless pit, then the pit is shut up, and then a seal set upon him. Even a great escape artist would take a long time to get out of that. Note that Satan used to be the highest angel. Now another angel confined him. See Revelation 8-22 : An Exegetical Commentary p.409-410 and the New International Bible Commentary p.1624 for more info.
Q: In Rev 20:7-10, who are Gog and Magog?
A: Gog and Magog are also mentioned in Ezekiel 38-39. Since there are two names, it is two (or more) lands, though some think it is a nation and its ruler. There are three views:
Both in the former U.S.S.R. which would be Russia and some or all of the former Soviet Republics.
Former U.S.S.R. and Turkey is that Gog is the Scythians (who lived in the Ukraine and Russia), and the land of Turkey.
Non-Jewish nations in general is a third view. But if so, then why not just say "the nations"?
In geography, Russia is vast, but it has a very lower population density except for Moscow, the southernmost parts, and the western-most parts.
See the New International Bible Commentary p.1625 for more info.
Q: In Rev 20:12; 3:5; 13:8; 17:8, what is the Book of Life?
A: This is a book where all the names of the saved are written. One view says everyone who would be saved, and only those people, had their names written in there from the foundation of the world, as Revelation 17:8 says. A second view is that everyoneís name is originally written in the Book of Life, but some peopleís names are later blotted out, as Exodus 32:32-33 says. David prays that evil people be blotted out from the book of the living and not written with the righteous in Psalm 69:28.
Unrelated to that, Nehemiah in Nehemiah 13:14 asks God that his good works not be blotted out, but that is a different book. God also threatens to blot out some evildoersí names from under heaven, but that is different.
Q: In Rev 20:14, how can death and Hades be thrown in the Lake of Fire?
A: The Lake of Fire can accept non-living things as well as living beings.
Q: In Rev 20:15, had anyone heard of the second death before?
A: Yes, this was not a totally new term. The Palestinian Targum on Deuteronomy 33:6 says, "Let Reuben live in this world and not die in the second death in which death the wicked die in the world to come." See The Expositorís Bible Commentary vol.20 12 p.585 for more info.
Q: In Rev 21:1, will the new earth be basically the old earth restored?
A: It could be the same underneath, but it will be very different on the surface. Revelation 21:1 says there will no longer be any sea, and Revelation 21:5 says that God is making all things new. Also, Romans 8:19-22 shows that God did not allow fallen man to live in an unfallen creation. Creation itself will be renewed.
The word for "new" means new in quality or freshened, vs. new in time, according to The Expositorís Bible Commentary vol.12 p.592-593. However, Revelation 21:1f says that the first heaven and earth had passed away, as The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament points out on p.982 and again on p.983.
Regardless though, Revelation 21:1f at the end says there will be no more sea, so it will be fundamentally different.
See also Hard Sayings of the Bible p.780-782 and Now Thatís a Good Question p.498-499 for more info.
Q: Is Rev 21 describing the same place as Ezek 40-48, Isa 60 and 65:17-25 and or not?
A: No for the first two, and a partial yes for Isaiah 65:17-25. Ezekiel 40-48 is describing the Millennial temple. This is not the same, as the new heaven and new earth do not have a temple. Even though Isaiah 60:1-5a fits well with Revelation 21, they are not the same. Revelation 21:2 says there will no longer be any sea, but Isaiah 60:5f says the wealth on the seas will be brought to you." Isaiah 60 refers to the time during the Millennium. Isaiah 65:17-25 speak of a new heaven and a new earth. However, the Millennium and new heavens and earth might both be telescoped together here, and as it is talking about the future.
Q: In Rev 21, is there any way this could also be a part of the Millennium?
A: No, and the answer is easy to "sea". The sea is a prominent part of the Millennium in Psalm 72:8 (dominion from sea to sea); Isaiah 11:9,11 (knowledge as the waters cover the sea); Ezekiel 47:8-20; 48:28; Zechariah 9:10; 14:8. There is no longer any sea in Revelation 21:1. We will still have plenty of fresh water from the River of Life in Revelation 22:1-2 though. See The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.984 for more info.
Q: In Rev 21:1-3 is the first heaven and earth signify the old law and the new heaven and earth the new law under Bahaíuíllah, and no sea means all will follow Bahaíuíllah, as Bahaíis teach in Some Questions Answered p.67-68?
A: No. Revelation 21:2 says the New Jerusalem is as a bride for her husband (God). We Christians are metaphorically the bride of Christ, not some law. Revelation 21:4-5 says that God will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will not be any more death, mourning or crying or pain. This prophecy was not fulfilled during the lifetime of Bahaíuíllah. This will not be fulfilled until after the return of Christ.
Q: In Rev 21:4, since there will be no more tears in Heaven, do angels weep when we sin, and does God weep?
A: This scripture does not say whether or not angels ever cry tears now. Revelation 21:4 only says that from this time forward, the bride of Christ (believers) will have no more weeping, and presumably the angels will have no weeping either. Perhaps there was crying in the past during the war in Heaven. Of course, on earth Jesus weeping over the city of Jerusalem in Matthew 23:37-39 and Luke 19:41-44.
Q: In Rev 21:8, since God sends all liars into the Lake of Fire, why does God send delusions to people in 2 Thess 2:9-12?
A: Four points to consider in the answer.
Hypothetically speaking, even if God punished others for sending delusions while He sent delusions Himself, that would not be contradictory. There is no requirement that God obey what He orders His creatures to do. For example, God accepts worship, but we are not to accept worship. God has vengeance, but we are not to take vengeance. Nevertheless, God does not delude people.
Lying means to say or write something you know is not true. God has absolute knowledge, and Godís word created all things (Genesis 1:1). God not only does not lie, but God cannot lie as Hebrews 6:18 says.
Sending delusions is something even honest people do, when they leave their lights on as the leave to discourage burglars. That is not lying though.
God sends delusions, but God does not lie when He does so. For example, in 1 Samuel 16:1-5, God instructed Samuel to go to Bethlehem and give a misleading explanation. Just one chapter before, in 1 Samuel 15:29, it says that God does not lie. Thus lying here does not include allowing people to be misled.
See also the answer for 2 Thessalonians 2:11 in When Critics Ask p.495.
Q: In Rev 21:14, who exactly are the twelve apostles?
A: Most people view this as the twelve disciples, minus Judas Iscariot, plus Paul. Matthias was probably not meant, In Acts 1:23-26 this was a human ordination, that God did not condemn or approve. We never heard anything about Matthias, either in the New Testament or church history, after that.
Q: In Rev 21:14-17, what is interesting about the measurements of the city?
A: The length, width, and height are all equal, as 12,000 furlongs, or stadia. Some thought this could be a cube, a pyramid, a sphere, or some other shape, except that the Greek word here, tegragonos, or "foursquare" indicates a cube. Babylon and Nineveh were laid out as squares, and the Jewish Talmud Baba Bathra 75b thought that the New Jerusalem would be a cube. Symmetry can be thought of as beautiful. The measurement translates to about 1,400 miles or 2,200 kilometers, though some think 1,500 miles. That is about the distance, as the crow flies, from New York City to Houston, Texas, or from Houston to Malibu, California, northwest of Los Angeles, or from Brownsville, Texas to Fargo, North Dakota, or from Beirut Lebanon to Venice, Italy. It is also the distance from Hanoi to Beijing, and Alsace-Lorraine, France to Moscow, Russia. It is also the distance from border of Uganda and South Sudan north to the border of Egypt and Sudan. That is one rather large city. Of course we donít know what size we will be in heaven, or if we can change our size, and not everyone will necessarily always be in the New Jerusalem, because there are gates to go in and out of, and nations of the earth will bring their glory and honor into it in Revelation 21:24-25. It will be "a city that never sleeps" as there will be no night there.
This city, about 1,400 miles per side, is very different that Ezekielís city in the Millennium, which was about 4,500 cubits of 1.25 miles per cubit.
The thickness of the wall was about 200/216 ft (67/72 yards). In case you are wondering, the thickness of the Apollo spacecraft varies from 1.8 to 6.9 centimeters.
See The Expositorís Bible Commentary vol.12 p.596, The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.986, the New International Bible Commentary p.1626, the Evangelical Commentary on the Bible p.1228, and Revelation 8-22 : An Exegetical Commentary p.466-467 for more info.
Q: In Rev 21:17-21, why do people like precious stones and how are we to be like precious stones?
A: An unpolished precious stone is dull, can be partially surrounded by other rock, and is generally unimpressive. It is not the color of a stone that makes it beautiful, because we can make colored paper that matches the color exactly. But a well-polished diamond or other precious stone is thought beautiful because it sparkles, or in other words, it reflects and focuses light. It might reflect and focus light on the same wavelengths it receives the light, like a mirror or a diamond, or it might transform it to a different color, like a ruby or other colored gem. Chalcedony, from Chalcedon, was a light blue/green with stripes of other colors. The Greek word for "brilliance" or "light" in Revelation 21:11 literally means light-bearer. It is used of the sun, moon, and stars in the Septuagint in Genesis 1:3,14,16.
Historically, one key reason Julius Caesar decided to invade Great Britain is because he heard of their pearl fishing in their freshwater harbors and rivers in north Wales and Scotland.
As an aside, in computer graphics design, pretty backgrounds are often done by imitating reflecting and focusing light. In computer games, "ray-tracing" is a mathematically complex aspect of realism to get the lighting and shadows correct based on the light sources. In older times, many famous artists, such as Rembrandt, were famous because of how their pictures used light and shadows.
In our lives, our mission while still on earth is basically to reflect and focus the light of Christ. We should teach the truth of God without distortion, but we should reflect the application depending on the tint of the circumstances we are in. We should focus the Godís light for others, both unbelievers and believers to see more sharply the contrast.
Finally, as we are to reflect Godís love and give people a glimpse of the sparkle of heaven, we should look forward to going to such a beautiful place, awash in the sparkling light of God and reflected off of each other.
See The Expositorís Bible Commentary vol.12 p.595, The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.986 and Revelation 8-22 : An Exegetical Commentary p.460 for more info.
Q: In Rev 21:17-21, will these look exactly like these gems and gold?
A: These might not look exactly like gems, and the gold has different characteristics of gold on earth. But as the New International Bible Commentary p.1626 says, "John ransacks the resources of language and metaphor Ė jewels, gold and pearls Ė to describe the indescribable glory which the holy city reflects (cf. Isa 26:1f.; 54:11f.; 50:18ff)."
Q: In Rev 22:2, does the water symbolize the Holy Spirit, and this verse means the Holy Spirit comes from the Father and the Son?
A: No.While the Holy Spirit does proceed form the Father and the Son, this verse does not say that. The water here is water, and nothing indicates it is the Holy Spirit. As an aside, nuriously, no pre-Nicene writers quoted from Revelation 22:1-7a. See Revelation 8-22 : An Exegetical Commentary p.482 for more info.
Q: In Rev 22:2, how are the leaves for the healing of the nations?
A: While scripture does not say, we can observe a few things. The Greek word here, therapeian, literally "health-giving" and is the source from which the English language gets its word therapy. Apparently there will be a need to still eat from the tree of life for immortality, and a need for the leaves, "to keep everything healthy" See The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.987, the Believerís Bible Commentary p.2380, and Revelation 8-22 : An Exegetical Commentary p.484-4855 for more info.
Q: Rev 22:3, how significant is it that there is no curse?
A: No death, no sickness, no sin, no sin nature, we donít have to toil for food, nature is not in bondage, are all reasons to think this is quite significant. See The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.987-988 for more info.
Q: In Rev 22:4a, what is the significance of seeing Godís face?
A: Adam and Eve could see Godís face before the fall, but after the Fall they hid. Even Moses was not allowed to see Godís face. But here all believerís will be able to see Godís face. See The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.988 for more info.
Q: In Rev 22:4f, what is the significance Godís name being on their foreheads?
A: Like a tattoo, it was a permanent mark of who you are or whose you are. When the priests were anointed, some of the oil was placed on their forehead.
The people with the mark of the beast could not have GodĎs name on their foreheads, because the space of their forehead was already occupied. Some people reject Christ, not because they are not smart enough, and not because of a hatred of Christ, but because their head is "already occupied" with something else.
Q: In Rev 22:6-20, how could Jesus say He was coming soon, almost 2,000 years ago?
A: While 2,000 years is a very short time to God, and some of the things in the letters to the seven churches happened only a few years afterwards, there is a more significant reason.
Soon here can mean at any time, and this doctrine is called the "imminent return of Christ". Christ says, "Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come." (Matthew 24:42 NIV) See also the discussion on Philippians 4:5, 1 Thessalonians 4:15, and 1 Peter 4:7.
Furthermore, our own departure for earth is "imminent". Do any of us know, with absolute certainty, that we will wake up tomorrow morning?
Q: In Rev 22:9-10, is this book to be unsealed for people to read, or is it supposed to be a mystery?
A: The word for mystery in Greek, mysterion, has slightly different meaning in Greek than in English. In Greek mystery does not necessarily have to mean something hard to determine, or difficult to comprehend; rather it simply means something that had not been revealed yet. For example, the gospel was a mystery to Old Testament saints. So it is now revealed, and we are here encouraged to read and understand it.
That being said, there are aspects of Revelation, such as the seven thunders, that are still sealed up. We can read and have some understanding of prophecies in Revelation, but we will not clearly see the whole picture until it happens. It is sort of like Old Testament saints could have an understanding of the Messiah, but the whole picture would not be clear until Jesus came the first time.
Q: In Rev 22:11, shy does it say "let" some be evil?
A: This is called the "Let of withdrawal", instead of the "let of exhortation" according to Revelation 8-22 : An Exegetical Commentary p.502-503. This is allowing people to do evil, not encouraging people to be evil.
Q: In Rev 22:12, why is the word "work" singular here?
A: Rather than looking at our life as a lot of little works (good and bad), this emphasizes that our life can be seen as one single continuous work. Similarly, people donít talk about "their life works" but rather "their life work". This word is also singular in 1 Corinthians 3:12-15. See Revelation 8-22 : An Exegetical Commentary p.505 for more info.
Q: In Rev 22:13, where have we seen these three titles before?
A: At the beginning of the book, "Alpha and Omega" is a title for God the Father in Revelation 1:8 and also 21:6. The "Beginning and the End" applied to Christ in Revelation 1:17; 2:8, but it too was applied to God (Yhwh) in Isaiah 44:6; 48:12. The title "Beginning and the End" applies to God the Father in Revelation 21:6. The Father and Son share over 30 names and Titles. See Revelation 8-22 : An Exegetical Commentary p.505 for more info.
Q: Rev 22:14; 1:3; 14:13; 16:15; 19:9-10; 20:6; 22:7 are "beatitudes" or blessings. What are the similarities and differences in the seven beatitudes?
A: These seven beatitudes, or seven blessings God offers, are consistent with seven being the theme of the book. They are in brief, those who hear, those who die, those who stay awake and keep their clothes, those invited, partake of the first resurrection, keeps the words, and wash their robes. All of them have conditions. Only 16:15 speaks of those who donít meet the conditions. Only 20:6 and 22:14 say the result of the blessing.
See The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.929 and The Expositorís Bible Commentary vol.12 p.572 for more info.
Q: In Rev 22:14, since we are saved by grace, why is it important to do His commandments?
A: Ephesians 2:8-9 says we are saved by grace and not works, but Ephesians 2:10 says we are saved to do good works. Jesus said by their fruit you will know them in Matthew 7:16-27, and James 2:14-26 says that faith without works is dead. Doing Godís commandments does not merit us salvation, but saved people will want to do Godís commandments. If you donít want to do Godís commandments, it is very likely you are not saved.
Q: In Rev 22:15, where is "outside the city"?
A: This is not a third destiny. This simply means excluded from the city, and thus in the Lake of Fire, according to The Expositorís Bible Commentary vol.12 p.602. Dogs were a metaphor for people who did despicable acts. Sorcerers, pharmakoi in Greek, can refer to sorcerers or those who make poisons or other drugs. Thus drug dealers could fit in here too. See Revelation 8-22 : An Exegetical Commentary p.508 for more info.
Q: In Rev 22:16, who is the angel of Jesus?
A: Angel can mean messenger. While this possibly could refer to John, the writer of Revelation, this most likely was a Heavenly being who was a messenger from Jesus to John.
Q: In Rev 22:16, why is it significant here that Jesus is the root and offspring of David?
A: Secondary, Jesus is fully human, a part of humanity, because He is a descendant of David. But primarily, the promises God made to Davidís descendents are fulfilled in Christ.
Q: In Rev 22:16, who is the Bright Morning Star?
A: This verse explicitly states it is referring to Jesus. Satan was a morning star because all the angels were morning stars in Job 38:7. However, while Satan was a morning star too, Isaiah 14:12 says he was a morning star who fell from heaven. Morning star" is a title of great heavenly glory, and Jesus promised He would those who overcome the morning star in Revelation 2:28.
As an early historical note, Hippolytus (222-235/6 A.D.) mentions that the Logos of God is the Morning Star in The Refutation of All Heresies book 10 ch.29 p.151.
Q: In Rev 22:16, before you preach about The Jesus of the New Testament you should read Isaiah 14:12 in which God labels Satan The Morning Star (NIV) Lucifer in the King James Version (Lucifer = Morning Star). Then you should read Revelations 22:16 in which Jesus calls himself the Morning Star. Thatís right Jesus claims he is Lucifer.
With this information you can finally understand why Christianity is influenced by so many Pagan rituals and beliefs Satan is the one who created it. One fact that we know of for sure is that the real Jesus was sent to the Children of Israel. Thus the Jesus Sent to the gentiles was no other than Satan himself.
"And they have been commanded no more than this to worship God offering him sincere devotion, be true in faith, establish regular prayer; and to practice regular charity That is the religion Right and Straight. Those who reject truth among the People of the Book and among the polytheist WILL BE in HELLFIRE. to dwell therein forever they are the WORST in creatures. Those who have faith and do righteous deeds they are the best of creatures (Qurían 98:5-7). (A Muslim said this)
A: The phrase "morning star" does not mean Lucifer; morning star means having heavenly glory, and Lucifer was a morning star who fell from heaven. There are many morning stars, because this was applied to the angels (Job 38:7), and in a special sense to Christ (2 Peter 1:19; Revelation 22:16b). Revelation 22:16b also calls Jesus the Offspring of David. There were many offspring of David, but Jesus is the offspring of David in a special, promised sense.
Isaiah 14:12 says that Satan had the tremendous heavenly glory of the morning star too, until he lost it when He fell from heaven.
This title is similar to how all believers, both male and female, are given the title and privileges of sons of God (Galatians 3:26-29), but Jesus in particular is the only begotten Son of God (John 3:16). By the way, believers too, will be given the "morning star" by Jesus in Revelation 2:28.
As for alleged pagan origins, someone once said "those who live in glass houses should not throw stones." Many Muslims might not be aware of the documentation that Mohammed himself taught so much in common with pre-Islamic Arabian religion.
Arabs worshipped an unshapen stone Arnobius Against the Heathen (297-303 A.D.) book 6 ch.10 p.510
Tertullian, writing 198-220 A.D., mentions that Arabian heathen females were entirely veiled except for one eye. On the Veiling of Virgins ch.9 p.37
Like the Jews, Arabs practiced circumcision according to Bardaisan of Syria (154-224-232 A.D.) The Book of Laws of Diverse Countries p.730.
Arabs ate camel, but thought it wicked to eat pork. Jerome Against Jovinianus (393 A.D.) book 2 ch.7 p.393
A black rock from heaven was held in high esteem and placed in a corner of the Kaíbah, which was called "The House of Allah". The Kaíbah was the center of worship of 360 idols according to the Bukhari vol.3 book 43 ch.33 no.658 p.396 and vol.5 book 59 ch.47 no.583 p.406. The Encyclopedia of Islam (edited by Eliade) p.303ff says the people, prior to Islam, would pray five times toward Mecca and fast for part of a day for an entire month. The Quraysh fasted on the 10th of Myharram/Muharram. Mohammed ordered this too, but later it was optional (Bukhari vol.5 book 58 ch.25 no.172 p.109), also Bukhari vol.6 book 60 ch.24 no.31 p.25.
Pre-Islamic Arabs made pilgrimages (ĎUmrah) to Mecca. Fiqh us-Sunnah vol.5 p.122, and Bukhari vol.2 book 26 ch.33 no.635 p.371-372 say they thought not performing ĎUmrah was one of the major sins on earth. At Mecca they covered the Kaíbah with cloth Fiqh vol.5 p.131, and they had a sacred month of no war prior to Islam (Bukhari vol.2 book 23 ch.96 no.482 p.273).
Compared to four of the five pillars of Islam, the Meccans before Mohammed fasted on the same day, gave alms to their own, prayed toward Mecca, and made pilgrimages (ĎUmrah) to Mecca. There were many differences too, but some marvel in the continuity of these unchanged practices in common with the pagan Quraysh worship.
Western Arabs were unusual in worshipping a moon god and his wife, the sun goddess. There are pre-Islamic statues of his symbol: the crescent moon. It looks just like the crescent moon of Shiíite Muslims, except the Shiíites added a small star. The Yemenites/Sabaeans had a moon god according to the Encyclopedia of Islam p.303. The Quraysh may have gotten this idol from them.
The Quraysh tribe in Mecca worshipped Hubal, Al-ilah, and Al-ilahís three daughters, named Lat, ĎUzza, and Manat.
A symbol can be different in a different context. Both Muslims and Christians would generally view a serpent as a sign of Lucifer, yet the Qurían in Sura 7:107 says that Mosesí serpent was a sign from Allah.
Q: In Rev 22:17,20 as believers how do we cultivate this attitude in ourselves?
A: First by realizing what our attitude should be. While believers should be content in Christ, these verse show that believers should not be satisfied. We should cultivate a longing for Christ, and a longing for Christ to come, and fulfill history, ushering in first the Millennial Kingdom, and then the New Heaven and New Earth. Sometimes Christians can get too comfortable. We should be longing to leave here.
Q: In Rev 22:18-19, why are people especially warned not to add or subtract from this book?
A: Proverbs 30:6 and 1 Corinthians 4:6 also warn people about not adding to Godís word. Some see this in a general sense as referring to the whole Bible, others, such as 1001 Bible Questions Answered p.13, see this in a strict sense as just referring to the book of Revelation. Assuming this just refers to Revelation, one reason might be that there is so much about the future, and much of it speaks of judgment and wrath, some who want to take out of the Gospel everything except love would be tempted to try to reduce or eliminate Revelation from the Bible. Today in some liberal "Christian" denominations, the Book of Revelation is rejected. See Hard Sayings of the Bible p.782-784 for more info.
When Cultists Ask p.312 mentions that Joseph Smith, the founder of Mormonism, violated this in his "inspired version" of the Bible. In Revelation 5:6, Smith changed "having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God..." to "having twelve horns and twelve eyes, which are the twelve servants of God...".
As early as 182-188 A.D. the early Christian writer Irenaeus, in Against Heresies ch.20, in mentioning that he is quoting John, quotes Revelation 5:6. Thus, RLDS and other Mormons cannot say Smith was correcting what was corrupted in the Middle Ages, because Irenaeus showed us what it said in his time.
Likewise, Mormons Answered Verse by Verse p.101-102 mentions that Joseph Smith took 1 John 4:12 "no man hath seen God at any time", and added "except them who believe".
Q: In Rev 22:18-19 were there any other "adjustations" in literature similar to this?
A: Yes. Irenaeus of Lyons, in his own writing, says the following "I adjure thee who mayest copy this book, by our Lord Jesus Christ, and by his glorious advent when he comes to judge the living and the dead, to compare what thou shalt write, and correct it carefully by this manuscript, and also to write this adjutation, and place it in the copy." from Eusebiusí Ecclesiastical History book 5 ch.20 p.238.
Q: In Rev 22:19 (KJV, NKJV), should this read "tree of life" or "book of life"?
A: While Christians disagree, the overwhelming evidence is "tree of life".
"Tree of life" according to 1001 Bible Questions Answered p.13, The Expositorís Greek New Testament volume 5 p.493, The Bible Knowledge Commentary : New Testament p.990, Aland et al. in their 3rd edition and 4th revised edition, the NASB, uNASB, Williams Translation, NIV, RSV, and NRSV.
"Book/scroll of life" according to the KJV, NKJV, and Jay P. Greenís Interlinear Bible. (The NKJV in a footnote says this is one of the places where the Textus Receptus differs from the majority text.)
Curiously, this is neither an English translation issue, nor a Greek manuscript issue, but a Latin issue. No ancient Greek manuscript we have today says "book". Rather, when Erasmus made a standard copy of the Greek New Testament, he used a single Greek manuscript, which was missing the last six verses. So Erasmus back-translated from Latin into Greek, and the Latin Vulgate had "book". Bruce Metzger also adds that the original mistake probably occurred when a Latin scribe accidentally ligno (tree) and libro (book). The Expositorís Bible Commentary volume 12 p.603 says only one or two late Greek manuscripts have "book". See A Textual Commentary on the New Testament 2nd edition p.690 for more info. This might be the second or third biggest mistake in the King James Version of the New Testament.
Q: In Rev, who wrote this book?
A: Most Christians agree it was John the Apostle:
1. Justin Martyr in Dialog with Trypho ch.81 p.240 (written between c.138-165 A.D.)
2. Irenaeus in Against Heresies 182-188 A.D. chapters 17, 20 and 23. Also chapter 30 p.559
This is especially significant, as Irenaeus was a disciple of Polycarp, who was a disciple of John the Apostle. Against Heresies ch.34 also mentions John
3. Instructions of Commodianus (c.240 A.D.) ch.43 p.211 alludes to John "...the Medes and Parthians burn for a thousand years, as the hidden words of John declare." And then mentions many other things in Revelation.
4. Tertullian said John was the author of his Apocalypse in Tertullian Against Marcion book 14 chapter 5 (207 A.D.).
6. Athanasius (326-373 A.D.) in Four Discourses Against the Arians IV p.444.
On the other hand, a church writer who thought it might be another John was Dionysius of Alexandria (200-265 A.D.)
Cyprian, bishop of Carthage (c.246-258 A.D.) quotes from "the Apocalypse" in Treatise 12 the third book 34,36,59. Cyprian does not mention the authorship of The Apocalypse though.
Q: In Rev, how do we know if what we have today is a reliable preservation of what was originally written?
A: There are at least three reasons.
1. God promised to preserve His word in Isaiah 55:10-11; Isaiah 59:21; Isaiah 40:6-8; 1 Peter 1:24-25; and Matthew 24:35.
Clement of Rome (96-98 A.D.) quotes Revelation 22:12 (This is also the same as Isaiah 40:10; 62:11) 1 Clement ch.34 vol.1 p.14
The Didache (c.60-120 A.D.) ch.16 p.382 alludes to Revelation 12:9 and other verses. It says, "then shall appear the world-deceiver as Son of God, and shall do signs and wonders, and the earth shall be delivered into his hands, and he shall do iniquitous things which have never yet come to pass since the beginning. Then shall the creation of men come into the fire of trial, and many shall be made to stumble and shall perish; but they that endure in their faith shall be saved from under the curse itself. And then shall appear the signs of the truth; first, the sign of an outspreading in heaven; then the sign of the sound of the trumpet; and the third, the resurrection of the dead; yet not of all, but as it is said: The Lord shall come and all His saints with Him. Then shall the world see the Lord coming upon the clouds of heaven."
The Didache (c.60-120 A.D.) ch.11 p.380 uses the word Maranatha, which is in Revelation 22:20.
The Epistle to Diognetus (c.130-200 A.D.) chapter 12 alludes to Revelation. "... and salvation is manifested, and the Apostles are filled with understanding, and the Passover of the Lord advances, and the choirs are gathered together, and are arranged in proper order, and the Word rejoices in teaching the saints..."
The Shepherd of Hermas (c.115-155 A.D.) questionably alludes to it in a few places.
Justin Martyr c.138-165 A.D. said "And further, there was a certain man with us, whose name was John, one of the apostles of Christ, who prophesied, by a revelation that was made to him, that those who believed in our Christ would dwell a thousand years in Jerusalem; and that thereafter the general, and, in short, the eternal resurrection and judgment of all men would likewise take place." chapter 81 of Dialogue with Trypho. He refers to Christians dwelling with Christ for 1,000 years (Revelation 20:4,5) in Dialogue with Trypho ch.81 p.240.
Christians of Vienna and Lugdunum (177 A.D.) quotes part of Revelation 14:4 on p.779 and paraphrases Revelation 22:11 (which is also Daniel 12:10) on p.783. They quote Revelation 1:5 and half of Revelation 3:14 on p.784.
Irenaeus 182-188 A.D. One example is in Against Heresies book 4 ch.20.6 p.489 "John also, the Lordís disciple, when beholding the sacerdotal and glorious advent of His kingdom, says in the Apocalypse: ĎI turned to see the voice that spake with me. And, being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks; and in the midst of the candlesticks One like unto the Son of man, clothed..." (and it goes one for much, much longer) Irenaeus in 33 references referred to 46 verses in Revelation.
Irenaeus (182-188 A.D.) quotes Revelation 6:2 as by John in the Apocalypse. Irenaeus Against Heresies book 3 ch.21.3 p.493
Irenaeus (182-188 A.D.) quotes Revelation 5:8 as by John in the Apocalypse. Irenaeus Fragment 37 p.575
The Muratorian Canon (170-210 A.D.) ANF vol.5 p.603-604 says John wrote the Apocalypse.
Clement of Alexandria John wrote the Apocalypse [Revelation] Stromata (193-202 A.D.) book 6 ch.13 p.504
Tertullian (198-220 A.D.) discusses in detail Revelation 2:18,20-22 as by John in the Apocalypse and the Holy Spirit teaching. On Modesty ch.19 p.95
Tertullian (207/208 A.D.) stresses the authorship of Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Revelation, many of Paulís Letters in Five Books Against Marcion book 4 ch.5 p.350.
Commodianus (c.240 A.D.) alludes to Revelation 3:14 "There will be no succour nor ship of the sea. Amen flames on the nations, and the Medes and Parthians burn for a thousand years, as the hidden words of John declare. For then after a thousand years there are delivered over to Gehenna; and he whose work they were, with them are burnt up. Instructions of Commodianus ch.43 p.211
Commodianus (c.240 A.D.) "From heaven will descend the city in the first resurrection; this is what we may tell of such a celestial fabric. We shall arise again to Him, who have been devoted to Him. And they shall be incorruptible, even already living without death. And neither will there be any grief nor any groaning in that city. ..." Instructions of Commodianus ch.44 p.214
Hippolytus (222-235/6) A.D. Among other things, Hippolytus quotes Revelation 1:8; 2:6,24; 3:14,21; 5:5,10; 6:14; 11:3,4-6; 12:1-6; 13:11-18; 17, 18; 20:6,11; 21:1; 22:15. That is a lot of verses from Revelation.
Origen 225-254 A.D. refers to Revelation 21 as "from the Apocalypse of John" Origen Against Celsus book 6 ch.23 p.583
Origen mentions Revelation 5:8 as from John in Revelation Origen Against Celsus book 8 ch.17 p.645
Origenís Commentary on John (c.227-240 A.D.) mentions the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. He mentions Paul writing in 2 Corinthians and John in the Apocalypse.
Anonymous Treatise Against Novatian (c.250-257 A.D.) ch.17 p.663 quotes Revelation 20:11-13 as "John says in the Apocalypse".
Cyprian of Carthage (c.246-258 A.D.) mentions the Apocalypse and then quotes Revelation 18:4-9 in Treatises of Cyprian - Testimonies ch.36 p.544.
Moyses et al. to Cyprian (250-251 A.D.) quotes half of Revelation 3:21 "To him that overcomes will I give to sit on my throne, even as I also overcame and am set down on the throne of my Father.". Letters of Cyprian Letter 25 p.303
Gregory Thaumaturgus (240-265 A.D.) quotes half of Revelation 3:7, which is like Isaiah 22:22. "And this same principle is expressed indeed in the Holy Scriptures themselves, when it is said that only He who shutteth openeth, and no other one whatever;"
Dionysius of Alexandria (246-265 A.D.) quotes Revelation 1:1,2,9 and discusses the authorship, saying it was by John but not necessarily John the Apostle. He did not reject it as scripture though. From the Two Books on the Promises ch.4 p.83
Victorinus of Petau (martyred 304 A.D.) wrote an entire commentary on the Apocalypse.
Methodius (260-312/3 A.D.) quotes Revelation 12:1-6 as by "John in the course of the Apocalypse" The Banquet of the Ten Virgins Discourse 8 ch.5 p.336
Lactantius (c.303-c.325 A.D.) refers to Revelation 19:12: "his name is known to none, except to Himself and the Father, as John teaches in the Revelation." The Epitome of the Divine Institutes ch.41 p.238. He also alludes to Revelation 13 in The Divine Institutes book 7 ch.17 p.214. Lactantius alludes to Revelation 217 and 22:17 in The Divine Institutes book 7 ch.27 p.223. These are all of his references to Revelation.
X Eusebius of Caesarea (318-325 A.D.) denied that Revelation should be in scripture
Athanasius (367 A.D.) lists the books of the New Testament, including Revelation, in Festal Letter 39 p.552
Hilary of Poitiers (355-367/368 A.D.)
Synopsis Scripturae Sacrae (350-370 A.D. or 5th century) mentions the Apocalypse of John as part of the New Testament. It quotes all of Revelation 1:1.
Ephraem the Syrian (350-378 A.D.) alludes to Revelation
Ambrosiaster (Latin, after 384 A.D.)
Ambrose of Milan (370-390 A.D.) quotes Revelation 1:8 as "Scripture". On the Christian Faith book 2 ch.4.35 p.228
Gregory of Nazianzen (330-391 A.D.)
Gregory of Nyssa (356-397 A.D.) alludes to Revelation
Pacian of Barcelona (343-377-379-392 A.D.) refers to Revelation 2:5 as in the Apocalypse. On Penance ch.11 (3) p.86
Gregory of Elvira (after 392 A.D.)
Gregory of Nyssa (c.356-397 A.D.) alludes to Revelation 1:6 in On Virginity ch.24 p.376
Didymus the Blind (398 A.D.)
Rufinus (374-406 A.D.)
John Chrysostom (-407 A.D.) alludes to Revelation (vol.14)
Sulpicius/Sulpitius Severus (363-420 A.D.) says John the apostle and evangelist wrote Revelation in History book 2 ch.31 p.112
Council of Carthage (393-419 A.D.)
Epiphanius of Salamis (360-403 A.D.)
Chromatius (died 407 A.D.)
Orosius/Hosius of Braga (414-418 A.D.) alludes to Revelation 20:12 as in the Apocalypse of John. Defense Against the Pelagians ch.13 p.131
Augustine of Hippo (388-8/28/430 A.D.) quotes Revelation 5:9 as by John. On the Forgiveness of Sin, and Baptism) book 1 ch.51 p.34. He also refers to Revelation 21:3.
Augustine of Hippo (388-430 A.D.) quotes Revelation 1:8 as Jesus speaking in the Apocalypse. On Faith and the Creed ch.5.15 p.327
John Cassian the Semi-Pelagian (419-320 A.D.) quotes Revelation 4:4 as the Holy Apocalypse in the Conference of the Abbot Abraham ch.1 p.531.
Quodvultdeus (c.453 A.D.)
Theodoret of Cyrus (423-458 A.D.)
Leo I of Rome (440-461 A.D.) quotes Revelation 3:2 in Letter 108.6 p.79
Varimadum (445/480 A.D.)
3. Evidence of heretics and other writers
The heretic Priscillian (385 A.D.) refers to Revelation 18:2,3,12
The Donatist heretic Tyconius (after 390 A.D.) refers to Revelation 1:15
4. Earliest manuscripts we have of Revelation show there are small manuscript variations, but no theologically significant errors. Manuscripts of the Greek Bible p.72 says there about 250 manuscript witnesses [early and late] of Revelation. Here are the earliest ones.
p18 (=papyrus Oxyrhynchus 1079) (250-300 A.D.) Revelation 1:4-7. The Complete Text of the Earliest New Testament Manuscripts p.94 has a picture of this manuscript, and it says the handwriting was not by a trained scribe.
p24 (=papyrus Oxyrhynchus 1230) c.300 A.D. Rev. 5:5-8; 6:5-8 The Complete Text of the Earliest New Testament Manuscripts p.106 has a picture of this manuscript, and it says the handwriting shows it was written by a common person. Nevertheless, it is very close to Sinaiticus, and only differs from Alexandrinus three times.
7th century - 1968 - The Text of the New Testament
4th century - 1975 - Aland et al. third edition
4th century - 1998 - Aland et al. fourth revised edition
p43 Revelation 2:12-13; 15:8-16:2 (6th or 7th century)
6th or 7th century - 1968 - The Text of the New Testament
6th or 7th century - 1998 - Aland et al. fourth revised edition
p47 Chester Beatty III. 250-300 A.D. contains 125 verses of Revelation. Specifically, it has Revelation 9:10-11:3; 11:5-16:15; 16:17-17:2. The Complete Text of the Earliest New Testament Manuscripts p.326 has a picture of this manuscript, and on p.25 it says the scribal hand shows the scribe was practiced as writing documents. This manuscript is closest to Sinaiticus.
Second half of the 3rd century - 1934 - Kenyon according to The Complete Text of the Earliest New Testament Manuscripts p.325
End of the 3rd century - 1968 - The Text of the New Testament also has 11:4; 16:16, but The Complete Text of the Earliest New Testament Manuscripts shows 100% of those verses in brackets.
Late 3rd century - 1975 - Aland et al. third edition
Late 3rd century - 1998 - Aland et al. fourth revised edition
Second half of the 3rd century - 1999 - The Complete Manuscripts of the Earliest New Testament.
p85 Revelation 9:19-10:1; 10:5-9 (4th or 5th century)
p98 2nd century Revelation 1:13-2:1 The Complete Text of the Earliest New Testament Manuscripts p.618 has a picture of this manuscript, and it says the text is badly damaged.
0169 (= Papyrii Oxyrhynchus 1080) (4th century) (single leaf) contains Revelation 3:19-4:1. For more info and a photograph see Manuscripts of the Greek Bible p.72-73.
0163 (single leaf)
0207 (single leaf)
p115 (=papyrus Oxyrhynchus 4499) Revelation 2:1-3, 13-15, 27-29; 3:10-12; 5:8-9; 6:5-6; 8:3-8, 11-13; 9:1-5,7-16,18-21; 10:1-4,8-10,12-17; 13:1-3, 6-16,18; 14:1-3, 5-7, 10-11, 14-15, 18-20; 15:1,4-7 (published in 1999) (3rd or 4th century)
Sinaiticus [Si] (340-350 A.D.) has all of Revelation
Alexandrinus [A] (c.450 A.D) has all of Revelation.
046 has all of Revelation
Revelation is missing in Vaticanus.
Bohairic Coptic [Boh] 3rd/4th century
Sahidic Coptic [Sah] 3rd/4rth century
Ephraemi Rescriptus [C] 5th century
Armenian [Arm] from 5th century
Ethiopic [Eth] from c.500 A.D.
See www.BibleQuery.org/Revelation Manuscripts.html for more on early manuscripts of Revelation.
For more info please contact Christian Debater™ P.O. Box 144441 Austin, TX 78714. www.BibleQuery.org