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New Testament Survey: Acts-Revelation - Lesson 30

Revelation (part 2)

This lecture was cut short because of technical difficulties during the recording. The audio covers point III. Visions of God, points A and B, beginning with Revelation chapter 4. The next lecture begins at point IV. The Seven Seals, point D.

Thomas Schreiner
New Testament Survey: Acts-Revelation
Lesson 30
Watching Now
Revelation (part 2)

2 Peter 1:3-11

III. Visions of God 4:1-5:13

A. The identity of the four living creatures and twenty four elders

Ezekiel 1 and 10

Revelation 5:9-10

B. The focus of the Vision in Chapter 4

C. The Sealed Book and the Focus of the Vision in chapter 5


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  • Acts is a continuation of the gospel of Luke, which is a historical account of the life and ministry of Jesus. Acts begins with the 40 days that Jesus was on earth after his resurrection, and continues with his ascension and the work of the Holy Spirit in the early church.

  • This lecture was not recorded. We hope to include it the next time Dr. Schreiner teaches the class.

    Acts Chapter 1 is an account of Pentecost and the first times the apostles proclaim gospel publicly.

  • The kerygma is the proclamation of the gospel to nonbelievers. The first presentations were made to people who were familiar with the teachings of the Old Testament. (Begins on page 6 of the outline)

  • The kerygma is the proclamation of the gospel to nonbelievers. The first presentations were made to people who were familiar with the teachings of the Old Testament. Steven’s speech and Paul’s conversion are significant events.  (Begins on page 6 of the outline under Acts: Outline Summary, point I, F.) (43:40)

  • Description of the expansion of the gospel to the gentiles.

  • Beginning in 2 Thessalonians chapter 2, Paul calls us to watch for the second coming of Jesus by being aware that there will be a great falling away from the faith in the body of Christ and the Lawless One will appear. When God calls us, his calling creates life. (43:16)

  • God chose not the wise, powerful or noble, but the foolish, weak and despised so that we would know that our relationship with God is based on what Christ did, not what we do. Paul boasts in the power of God, not the wisdom or eloquence of his arguments. The only way we know about God is when the Spirit reveals him to us.

  • The core problem of the Corinthians is pride. God turns everything for our benefit, even things that cause pain or death. The fight of faith is to believe this, even when circumstances are difficult. Only God can judge a person’s relationship to God. (43:36)

  • It’s better to be cheated than to take a fellow believer to court. If you are a fully devoted follower of Christ, your behavior will show it. (44:35)

  • Paul believes in cultural flexibility and contextualization. Paul uses the example of a race as a picture of be motivated to live well. He is saved and needs to live in a way to be saved. Whether or not to eat meat offered to idols is still a significant issue in some cultures. (41:23)

     

  • Audio content is missing at this time for 1 Corinthians chapters 12-16, 2 Corinthians and Romans chapter 1.

    However, a transcription and outline for this material is provided.  

  • The first of a three-part overview of Paul's epistle to the Romans.

  • Romans 4 tells us what kind of faith Abraham had that was saving faith. You are not saved by working for God, but by believing in God. Hope is confident, sure expectation. Paul’s main rhetorical question is, “Can the law transform us?” His implied answer is "no!" (43:03)

  • The law doesn’t give life because commands don’t transform us. Romans 8 says we need the Spirit to transform us. The witness of the Spirit that we are his children is a mystical sense and evidence of our obedience. Paul says all the promises for relationship to God are for the gentiles as well as the Jews. God is in charge of everything. (44:25)

  • Christ is the very image of the invisible God. He partakes of his essence. Jesus is preeminent, because he’s God and he’s the reconciler of all things. Jesus is Lord of Creation and Lord of the Church. Paul calls the Philippians to unity. (46:43)

  • Summary of main themes in Ephesians. The first three chapters communicate who and what we are in Christ. Chapters 4-6 is the practical outworking. Paul equates maturity with doctrinal purity and stability, not being swayed by every idea. The Christian life isn’t mathematical because it’s a relationship with the Spirit. (43:54)

  • Your view of authorship of biblical documents and how you translate those documents depends quite a bit on your presuppositions. Some people think that because of the vocabulary and the way some subjects are addressed in the Pastoral epistles that Paul did not write them. However, others are convinced that Paul wrote them and offer responses to objections that others have raised. (42:24) This lecture was given by a teaching assistant of Dr. Schreiner's because he had planned to be out of town.

  • God wants to work in our hearts so we are full of love for him and others. Paul gives his testimony as an example that anyone can be saved. God desires to save all, and he elects some. Elders are described as people of character who lead and teach. In Titus, the ethical exhortations are anchored in the gospel. In 2 Timothy, Paul calls on Timothy to suffer for the gospel.

  • We should think of Hebrews as a sermon. The warning passages are exhortations following theological teaching. It was probably not written by Paul. The book was written to Hebrew Christians to warn them against committing apostasy.

  • Christ is more important than Moses. Warning passages encourage us not to drift away or harden our hearts. Since Jesus was fully human, he experienced the full range of temptation, but never gave in. (43:55)

  • The main points in the book of Hebrews beginning with chapter 6. Jesus was a priest in the order of Melchizedek because he was superior to the Levites. Christ’s sacrifice is better than the animal sacrifices because it is once for all. The sacrifices are good because they are a shadow and an image of what is coming, but the sacrifices are temporary and imperfect. (43:55)

  • The author of Hebrews concludes by exhorting people to put into practice the theological truths he has just explained.

  • Defining questions about the content and origin of the epistle of James. (43:01)

  • Summary of the teaching of James on justification and wisdom. (41:58)

  • Peter’s call to look forward to our future inheritance and live as God’s people. (42:35)

  • Flow assignment 1 Peter 2:18-25

    Peter calls followers of Jesus to persevere by responding to suffering in a godly way. (44:48)

  • Concluding verses in 1 Peter and the epistle of 1 John. The purpose of John’s epistles is to give people assurance of their faith.

  • God has given us everything we need for life and godliness.

  • The purpose of Revelation is to encourage suffering saints. (44:47)

  • This lecture was cut short because of technical difficulties during the recording. The audio covers point III. Visions of God, points A and B, beginning with Revelation chapter 4. The next lecture begins at point IV. The Seven Seals, point D.

  • Main ideas in Revelation chapters 6-13.

  • Summary of the last days of judgment and then the creation of the new heavens and new earth. The time for this lecture was shortened to give students time to complete an in-class evaluation. (30:15)

A study of the Acts to Revelation in the framework of the history of the early church. We are missing a few lectures that we hope to record the next time Dr. Schreiner teaches the class. These include lecture numbers 2 and 11, the lecture covering Acts chapters 16-22 and 1 Thessalonians, and the lecture covering Revelation chapter 6.

You may download Dr. Schreiner's complete course outline By clicking on the Resource link and then the Class Outline link. An outline for each lecture displays when you click on the Outline tab on each lecture page.

Dr. Schreiner has developed a system for exegesis. The "Flow and Tracing" handout gives you some information about how he does it. Some lectures include audio of Dr. Schreiner applying this method to specific passages. Dr. Schreiner recommends that you read the chapter in his book, "Interpreting the Pauline Epistles" along with this handout before you try this process.

Course: New Testament Survey, Acts to Revelation

Lecture 30: Revelation Part 2

This is the 30th lecture in the online series of lectures on New Testament Survey by Dr Thomas Schreiner. Recommended Reading includes: Article on Divorce and Remarriage – Craig Blomberg, Trinity Journal, 1990; The Apostolic Preaching of the Cross by Leon Morris; Are there Two Will in God by John Piper; Two views on Women in Ministry by James Beck and Craig Blomberg; Word Bible Commentary: Pastoral Epistles, Volume 46, by William D. Mounce and Recovering Biblical Manhood and Biblical Womanhood, by Wayne Gudem and John Piper (article by Vern Poythress entitled, ‘The Church as a Family’)

(Any slides, photos, notes or outlines that the lecturer refers to should be down loaded separately. If they are not available, you may be able to find something similar using the Google© search engine.)

Flow assignment 2 Peter 1:3-11

‘His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.’

The following is a linguistical analysis of 2nd peter 1:3-11. This could be either a progression or a series. I think it is both since faith is the root and love is the fruit. It is hard to defend the notion that one is specifically built on the other. Before you have knowledge you have to have moral excellence. Before you have self-control you need knowledge, but such an interpretation may lead to a Ben Franklin view of Christianity. This means, this week I will work on patience and next week I will work on love. I don’t think this is a Biblical view of how God works in our lives because when the Spirit is working, all these things are ours. This is an action manner going backwards. By applying diligence, you should do all these things. So these are the first three verses. Then we have an ‘if then’ construction. He who lacks these qualities is blind and short sighted is a ground. Why? Because he has forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. Now 10b is temporal as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble. You will never stumble is the main proposition. This is defined by verse 11. The last sentence is an idea / explanation. You will never ‘’stumble’ means that you will enter into heaven. He doesn’t say that you will never sin. He means that you will never commit apostasy. You will go to heaven. That is what I understand the relationship is. So 10b through c is the ground for 10a. So we have 8, then 9 and then 10 and 11; there is 5-7. The main idea is to supplement your faith by all of these virtues because they render you fruitful in knowing Jesus. This is a positive. If these qualities aren’t yours then you have forgotten about the forgiveness of your sins. You need to be diligent to confirm your calling and election. These things are necessary to obtain the final inheritance, heaven itself. But this is not works / righteousness as it is built on verses 3 and 4; God has given you everything for life and Godliness. Therefore you must live this way otherwise you are not believers at all. I think this is what Peter is trying to say.

III. Visions of God 4:1-5:13

A. The identity of the four living creatures and twenty four elders

So we ended with the letters to the churches and now we have the visions in chapters 4 and 5. Chapter 4 is the vision of God as creator and chapter 5 is the vision of Christ as redeemer. There is an open door in heaven and this signifies revelation from God. God is about to give him revelation. He was in the spirit. He means that the Spirit has seized him for revelation according to a prophetic Spirit. Then he sees a throne in heaven and he sees a person seated on the throne. God is on his throne, ruling, but what does he look like as he is seated on the throne? This is intensely interesting to all of us. John’s answer is simply, indescribable. He describes God with stones like jasper, carnelian, and an emerald and then a rainbow. Of course if you know your Old Testament, this goes back to Ezekiel chapter 1:26-28. It is very similar to Ezekiel’s vision. So this imagery wasn’t new and so people had already seen it in their Old Testament readings. He doesn’t see God but he sees beauty or rather he can’t describe God in any concrete way but only with imagery. There are twenty four thrones around that throne with twenty four elders who have white garments and crowns on their heads. John also sees flashes of lightening and voices and thunder. It seems like a dangerous place. And before the throne were burning seven torches of fire which are the sevens spirits of God. I believe this to be the Holy Spirit, but again there is fire; it is an awesome place. And there is a sea of glass, like crystal; clear pure class in ancient Rome was hard to fine. It was difficult and expensive to make. This was a way of describing the awesome beauty of God along with the glory, wonder and holiness of who he is and the majesty of what was occurring around his throne.

There were four living creatures also around the throne; they were full of eyes around them. The first creature was like a lion, then the second was like an ox and the third had the face of a human being and the forth was like a flying eagle. When we consider these creatures, we think again of the Book of Ezekiel because the imagery comes out of Ezekiel chapter 1. In Ezekiel each creature has the four different faces so it is adjusted a little different in John. But we are told in Ezekiel chapter 10 that these creatures are cherubim’s; that they are angels. I think the same is true in Revelation. So who are these four living creatures? The Biblical revelation specifies it for us so we are not left to any speculation. The six wings and the words they say, ‘holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!’ So both the elders and the creatures are focused on God and his awesome and beautiful holiness.

Ezekiel 1 and 10. Ezekiel was with the exiles by the Chebar canal where the heavens opened up. This was reminiscent of Joshua when God spoke to the Israelites: ‘From the wilderness and this Lebanon as far as the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites to the Great Sea toward the going down of the sun shall be your territory. No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Just as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you or forsake you. Be strong and courageous, for you shall cause this people to inherit the land that I swore to their fathers to give them.’ God refers here to the unwritten history of previous times as also mentioned in Ruth and Esther. The 13th year was counting from the beginning of the reign of Nabopolassar, father of Nebuchadnezzar, the era of the Babylonian empire in 625 BC which coincides with the 18th year of Josiah and the 30th year of Ezekiel’s life. Ezekiel was the ministering priest who describes the future temple. The Chabor or Habor flows into the Euphrates near Carchemish two hundred miles north of Babylon. There were four expressions that were given to Ezekiel as revelation. The first three expressions were to assure Ezekiel of the reality of the situation. The Lord touched him strengthening him for his high and arduous ministry. He saw the creatures of which one was a man but they were cherubim as explained in Exekiel 10:20. The man creature was the noblest of the four. But here each creature has four faces making sixteen in all. Above them was the likeness of a throne in appearance like sapphire and seated above the likeness of a throne was a likeness with a human appearance. Upon seeing this, Ezekiel fell on his face as he heard the voice of one speaking. Here, the God head appeared in the likeness of enthroned humanity. The azure sapphire answers to the color of the sky. Again in chapter 10:1 he mentions something that appeared like a sapphire.

Revelation 5:9-10. It was between the thrones that the four living creatures and the elders saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain, with seven horns and seven eyes were the seven spirits of God sent out to the earth. The Greek word for Lamb here is only found in Revelation. It expresses endearment, namely, the endearing relationship that Christ has with us, as the consequence of His previous relation as the sacrificial Lamb. They fell down before the Lamb singing: worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God and they shall reign on the earth. So this is the theme of redemption suggesting thoughts of praise. The object of their worship was the Lamb of God, the Lord Jesus Christ. Their worship was in profound adoration. They mention his sufferings and then the fruits of his sufferings. This was redemption from the bondage of sin, guilt, and Satan for us. We were redeemed to God, we are freed to serve him and enjoy him. Every slave was ransomed and restored to freedom in Christ. The number four marks world-wide extension: the four quarters of the world. Here, the use of kindred is another term for tribe and nation. We will reign on the earth is a new feature. As saints we spiritually reign now; but certainly not as we will when the prince of this world is bound up.

B. The focus of the Vision in Chapter 4

So we have the scenery of God on his throne as the covenant God of his church. We have the Lamb of God, Jesus introduced. In 5:13, we see the one sitting on the throne is different than Jesus. The Son of man before the Ancient of days is distinguished from God. The golden lampstand represents the church on earth and the seven stars represent the pastors of those churches. Their attention is redirected to things in heaven where it is now open for all the saints. This is part of the vision of the heavenly world. The speaker is the risen Lord. This is an invitation to those who have been chosen, his elect. Thus heaven is near and can be known to us. The Bible is the door along with the life of Christ. Before this, there was a wide gulf between heaven and earth. Until now the knowledge of heaven was so far removed from our understanding but not any longer.

The rainbow is the object of God’s covenant with his people. The thunder and lightning is the fore warning to rid the earth of its oppressors amidst judgement. The Cloud has always been a symbol of God and Christ’s presence as it was on Mount Sinai and with the tabernacle, a pattern of a heavenly holy place. The singing of holy, holy, holy is also represented in Isaiah 6:3, psalm 99:3 and 5 where he is praised for his holiness on account of his majesty. The cherubim here with six wings are like those in Isaiah 6:2 who are called living creatures. In Ezekiel 1:6 these creatures are in contrast to the four world powers represented by four beasts. These are also identified with the four Gospels: Matthew the lion, Mark the ox, Luke the man and John the eagle and these express an aspect of Christ in relation to the world. Similarly, it relates to the four standards where Israel camped in the wilderness, the east, north, the west and south and thus representing the lion, eagle, ox and man. We have praise for God’s eternity and power and glory. Remember, the purpose of Revelation was to encourage a suffering church and how better to encourage people than tell of God’s majesty in all his glory and the availability of God to his people.

C. The Sealed Book and the Focus of the Vision in chapter 5

The Lamb opens the scroll’s seven seals which portray a series of seven visions introducing ways that will be used to bring his enemies to justice. What is this scroll? It seems to be the ownership of the earth. Psalm 24:1 says that the earth is the Lord’s and the fullness of it and all who live in it for seals 1 through 4. Seals 5 and 7 give us a rationale for his righteous wrath while seal 6 provides us with a climactic judgement at the end of history. Know that the world is in rebellion against God. Those who hold a futurist view of Revelation say that the great tribulation begins with the opening of the first seal. Other futurists think the great tribulation beings with the 1,260 days. A horse and rider comes in the opening of the first four seals as being emissaries sent by God to watch out over the world. Number 4 is represented in the seal, trumpet and bowl, all being judgments on the earth. There are also three larger judgements. The bow often relates to the Parthians, an enemy of the Roman Empire. This could symbolize a destabilization before the coming war. The next horse was red symbolizing blood. The black horse relates to food being at an all-time high, actually unaffordable. So we have the seals where death and hell is given authority over one fourth of the earth and then the trumpets where one third is affected and then the bowls represent every living thing. The sixth seal reveals the coming destruction with an earthquake to announce the arrival of the Lord. John sees the sun becoming black and the moon red with the mountains and islands shake the world over. So those who are in Christ will declare the glory of the Lord for we will be with him in heaven and every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and sea will hear blessing, honor, glory and power be unto him that sits upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for every and ever. And the four cherubim said, Amen and the twenty-four elders fell down and worshipped him.