Revelation - Lesson 18
Question and Answer
Dr. Mulholland answering questions from the students.
Question and Answer
- There is a wide range of interpretation of the book of Revelation because of the nature of visions. When John writes Revelation, he uses a pool of images that are familiar to him and his readers and we need to take into account what the images meant to people at the time.
Apocalyptic literature is based on the idea that the natural order is set within a larger content of a spiritual reality and that the dynamics of the spiritual realm play themselves out in the physical realm. Apocalypse is a message from God regarding what God is about and what he is going to do.
The occasion for writing Revelation was the vision John had and the situation of the seven churches. John is trying to describe a scene in which various scenes are being played out simultaneously. John emphasizes the importance of living out your theology, as opposed to only being doctrinally correct.
John had a vision of the Son of Man. He had a message for the church at Ephesus.
Messages for the churches at Ephesus, Smyrna and Pergamum.
Messages to the churches in Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis and Philadelphia.
A message to the church at Laodicea and a vision of Jesus as a Lamb who shares the throne with God.
A vision of God the creator and the redeemer Lamb.
A vision of the seven seals.
A vision of the seven trumpets.
- This lesson dives into the idea of encountering God in the world, warns about the destructiveness of sin, and presents a powerful angelic figure symbolizing God and Jesus as triumphant over fallen Babylon, with a mysterious aspect of the vision.
A vision of the seven trumpets. Chronology of the origin and development of the teaching of the rapture and dispensationalism.
A vision of how the death of Jesus on the cross has made it possible for us to be in relationship to God.
The description of the nature of Satan's war against God's children and in contrast to a description of God's redeemed.
A vision of the seven bowls.
A vision of fallen Babylon.
- In this lesson, you gain insights into the concept of Fallen Babylon and the transformative power of the cross. It emphasizes that accepting the cross liberates you from the world's illusions, allowing you to accept your own falsity as healed and yielding to the Holy Spirit's action. The lesson challenges the idea of choosing between the world and Christ, proposing that you can choose both simultaneously, seeking unity, wholeness, and love at the deepest level of your being.
Dr. Mulholland answering questions from the students.
A vision of the victory of the Lamb and discussion of the wrath of God.
A vision of the New Jerusalem.
- Dr. Mulholland's lesson delves into God's love as the core of self-discovery. False self obstructs the truth. True self blooms in faith, openness, trust, and yielding to God, shifting focus from ego to divine presence. Embrace this shift, become citizens of a new Jerusalem in a fallen world.
A vision of the people of the New Jerusalem.
- John wrote the book of Revelation as a call to radical discipleship as faithful citizens of God’s new Jerusalem in the midst of a fallen Babylon world. There is no video for this lecture.
Revelation is a vision of Jesus the Messiah. John focuses on the profound depths of what God has done, is doing, and will ultimately consummate in and through Jesus. A second central theme in Revelation is the role of the cross in what God has done and will accomplish. The contrast and interaction of the "New Jerusalem" and "fallen Babylon" is also a significant theme in Revelation. Videos for lectures 7, 8 and 9 are not avialable yet. Lecture 23 was recorded in audio only.
We think that the title of the devotional book that Dr. Mulholland reads from at the beginning of some of the lectures might be Merton's Palace of Nowhere by James Finley. Unfortunately, Dr. Mulholland is deceased so we can't confirm this.
Dr. Robert Mulholland
Question and Answer
According to it, under the banner of religion. Men and women can stray far from God. Religion leads us to walk a wide circle around the Samaritan lying half dead in the ditch. Or around the child in the ghetto. In Jesus day, it was the religious people, the Pharisees, and not the prostitutes and tax collectors. Jesus directed his most caustic accusations. And it was the white and supple Kurds, the religious people who had Jesus put to death. Of course, being religious, they felt no guilt for what they did because they did it in the name of God. It is little wonder then, that the term religious is often a pejorative one indicating an escapist, self-righteous, otherworldly or perhaps superstitious stance toward life. Nor should this come as any surprise in light of all we've been saying of the pervasiveness of the false self since religion deals with the ultimate realities of life. It is understandable that religion would draw out the ultimate in the false selves basic disorientation and blindness. The false self can have but false gods, all of which in the end turn out to be but reflections of the false self as it worships itself and sets itself up as the reason for its own existence. All these and similar forms of religious thought and action must be seen as standing in sharp contrast to authentic religious expression, which stands as the highest expression of human awareness and desire, focused solely upon the goal of achieving transforming union with God. Merton expressed it. Whatever I may have written, I think it can all be reduced in the end to this one root truth. That God calls human persons to union with himself with one another in Christ. Our life, in other words, simply makes no sense whatsoever, except to the extent that it is directed to our union with God.
That is to the extent that it is authentically religious. Good work. Pray with me. Gracious, loving God may we hear in these words? You're still small voice probing the depths of our own being. Exposing. Any false religiosity. And calling us. Into loving union with you and with others. In your name. We pray. Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen. My voice comes out halfway through, you know, Just read my lips. Chapter 19 begins. After this, I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude in heaven, saying Hallelujah, salvation and glory and power to our God. And I want to go back and sort of trace some of the dynamics here. If you if you look back at Revelation 410, the 24 elders fall before the one seated on the throne and worship the one who lives forever and ever and they cast their crowns before the throne singing You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power. Here you've got glory and power. The honor is left out for you. Created all things by your will. They existed and were created. And then. Chapter five. There's a whole host of modern singing and new song. You are worthy to take the scroll and to open it sealed of you were slaughtered and by your blood you ransomed forgotten saints from every tribe and language and people and nation. You made them to be a kingdom. And preserving our God in will reign on earth. And then in chapter seven, they cried out with a loud voice. Now, these these were the great numberless multitude. Remember, before the throne, we've had that 134,000 from the 12 tribes. Now, this is a great number for every tribe, nation, Tongan people.
And they cried out in a loud voice saying, Salvation belongs to our God who is seated on the throne into the land. And so there you get the description of salvation. Then in. 1115. The kingdom of this world has become the Kingdom of our Lord and of His Messiah. He will reign forever and ever. And then in 1210, her loud voice and having proclaiming now have come the salvation and the power in the kingdom of our God, the authority of His Messiah. Do you see when John has the Heavenly host here singing Hallelujah, Solid salvation, glory, honor and power, salvation and glory and power that he is reprising what he has been doing all along. Now, let me get my parallels up here soon. And this this is this is one of the one of the themes that weaves its way through Revelation is the description of honor and power and glory and salvation, etc., to God and to the lamb. And then they say, Oh, by the way, hallelujah is is Hebrew. Of course, it's just a transliteration. And it appears, I think, four times in this passage. And then in one place, John gives us the translation form. You know, praise the Lord, because hallelujah means praise ye. Yeah. Norway shortened form of Yahweh, where his judgments are true and just. He has judged the great harlot, the great whore who corrupted the earth with her. Fornication is avenged on her, the blood of his servants. Now, the question here is. Is John here beginning to see the final consummation? Remember, we saw at the end of chapter 18 the this great angel throwing this great millstone into the sea saying, so will falling Babylon be thrown down? Now is is this heavens rejoicing over that event? That is over the final consummation of the fall of fall in Babylon, the final consummation of God's victory? Or could this be seen as heaven's rejoicing over all of those manifestations of God's victory all the way through human history? And again, probably, yes.
You know, I'm only both John and John is playing on both dynamics of this because, you know, he is judge jury just he has judge the great harlot. And of course, we've seen, you know, some of those previous when you say that God has already done it. Victory has already been won. And in one sense, the judgment of the great harlot was the cross. That was a judgment on that whole order of being, you see, that had rejected God Gods name, gods dwelling through blasphemies. Once more they said, Hallelujah. The smoke goes up from her forever and ever. And of course, there John is is playing back into chapter 14. Remember, we had those three angels. A good news, bad news you choose. And the bad news was falling. Falling as Babylon the great the you chooses. If anyone worships the beast and its image receives its mark, then you know there would be tormented forever in the presence of the Holy angels in the lamb. And their smoke of their torment will go out forever and ever. So John is now beginning to pick up a lot of threads that that he's been sort of spinning all the way through his vision and, you know, sort of reinforcing them again. 24 elders, the four living creatures fell down and worship. God was seated on the throne saying, Amen, Hallelujah. There's the third one. And of course, here again, you see, we're coming back into chapter four, where you had the four living creatures in the midst and in a circle around the throne, the 24 elders who are worshiping God. Here we pick it up again. And from the throne came a voice saying, Praise our God. Nancy, there's a there's the Greek translation of Hallelujah.
Don't ask me why, John. He uses Hallelujah. Look down in verse six. There it is again. Hallelujah. Why? At this point, he gives the translation. I have no clue why he didn't stick with Hallelujah all the way through. Who knows? Ask him when you see him. Praise our God. All you, his servants, all who fear him. Small and great. Remember, a fearing God is one of the attributes of the citizens of New Jerusalem. Remember the evangelistic call that first angel of the three? The good news. He has an eternal gospel to proclaim to those who dwell upon the earth and fear God and give him glory. And we saw back in Chapter 11 when we saw the consummate or God's victory on the cross there, that, you know, names of human 7000 died, fallen, fallen Babylon was declared dead. The rest became fears and gave God glory, saying there there is no citizens of Babylon who have become citizens of New Jerusalem. Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the sound of many waters, like the sound of Mighty Thunder, both crying out Hallelujah for the Lord, our God the Almighty reigns. And again, hallelujah. And then the I think this is the only other place back in chapter one, God is described as the Almighty. And here again is the word Pinedale Crater. So where's my arrow here? So hard to see this thing. Well, that word right at the end of verse six. John does not use that word a lot. But, you know, chapter one, he uses it picking up again here. So, again, you're beginning to get signals. I mean, even this early, we're still pretty good way from the end. But already you're beginning to get these little, little signals.
You know that John's sweep around this cyclorama, we're beginning to get back at least within view of where we started. You know, he's picking up some of these dynamics earlier in the book. Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory. Now there's the glory aspect. You see, you had the theory a couple of verses earlier. Now you get the glory. Give him glory from the marriage of the lamb has come and his bride has made herself ready. Now, here clearly John is indicating the final act of history, the final act of the fallen creation before the new creation is brought in. So the marriage of the lamb has come. His bride has made herself ready. And then to her it has been granted to be clothed with fine linen, bright and pure. For the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints. And here you see, you have to get all the way down here before we really begin to understand what John's talking about. He talks about be having a white robe, you know, having a white garment, having washed your robes and the blood of the lamb, etc. You the right to it. The fine linen is the righteous deed is the outer manifestation, you see of the inward reality. And of course, again here, John, focusing on needs. And any Jewish reader you see is going to be thinking in the works righteousness, the treasury or merits idea, which in another chapter, John, is going to turn on its head. But here we here we see clearly now when he talks about all those places, about being robed in white and walking with him in white, etc., that what we're dealing with here, the white robes, the fighting garment is the righteous needs of the scene is the outer manifestation of the inward reality of a Christlike being.
Remember John's basic phrase for citizens of New Jerusalem are those who have the Word of God and the witness of Jesus. You'll have their inner being shaped in Christ likeness, the word capital W and of course, that would manifest itself in a Christ like lifestyle. And here we see this being manifested. Yeah. Is is the white robes image for righteousness is that seen elsewhere in the Jewish images? Because it just it seems to me like there are some other passages in the New Testament where that could be seen. And I didn't know if that was something from, you know, the Old Testament. Yeah, the the color white, of course, is is very consistent image for purity, for holiness. So I would presume I'd have to do some checking on that and know how much that the idea of the white robe is, is there. You know, I'll, I'll try. Remember to check on that and get word back to you next 30. By the way, don't forget, there's no class on Tuesday. Okay. If there anybody wasn't here Tuesday or today, be sure to let them know. So I don't, you know, get up early and get over here and discover there's nobody here except. Yeah. And the angel said to me, Write this. Blessed are those who are invited to a marriage supper of the lamp. Oh, there was one other thing I wanted to touch upon there. Moving too fast here. Yeah. To her and has been granted to be closed. And I interesting dynamic here. The idea of it has been granted would seem to indicate that the bride that's us, that the bride can do these things. But then to be clothed is a passive voice, which means somebody else is doing the clothing.
So you sort of get that interesting dynamic. And I think it's probably similar to what Paul is, is wrestling with in that passage in Philippians where he says, work out your own salvation for God is at work in you. You know, when you stop and you think from when you say, wait a minute, Paul, which is it? You know? You know, my job was a good job. And I think Paul would say, yeah. And I think that's what John is is trying to grasp here and what he's seen his vision. You know, it it we have a responsibility. We're being faithful citizens of New Jerusalem. But that faithfulness is what enables God to clothe us with His righteousness, to to create those that inner being of of holiness that manifest itself you see in the righteous deeds. So you sort of get both dynamics going on here. Then the agent says, John, write this message to those who are. This is the I think this is the fourth, I think. Is it? One, two, three. I think this is the fourth. I think those who are invited to the marriage supper of the lamb, he said to me, these are two words of God. Now, here again was very good. He says, you know, write this and you get the blessing. And then these are two words of God sort of, you know, an inclusive kind of structure here. And then we've looked at this again. We looked at earlier when we're looking at the structure of this unit, you know, the harlot and the bride, how they have the same introduction and they have the same conclusion. Here's the conclusion of John's vision of the harlot. I felt I fell down at his feet to worship him.
But he said to me, You must not do that. I'm going with you and your comrades who hold testimony of Jesus worship God. The testimony of Jesus in the spirit of prophecy. Now you've got to remember that the word prophecy in the first century did not mean foretelling the future. There there were, to be sure. A certain level of that aspect. That was not the primary aspect. That that prophecy was speaking forth for God into the present context, into the present world. And of course, John identifies his writing as a prophecy. The first blessing of America was Blessed is the one who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy and keep the things written in it. Well, if prophecy is talking about the future, how do you in the present, keep the things written in it? You know, it's sort of whiplash is you if you look at it that way. But what prophecy is, is proclaiming God's word into the present context. Basically, what preaching ought to be and what we call preaching is what they call prophesying. It is speaking for God into the context of the hearings and so on. And when he says you see the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy. See, when we live Christlike lives. We are manifesting God's presence in the world. Yeah. Is that verified that in the Old Testament with like Jonah and all the other professor go around and speak to this, to the people individually or specifically to the Israel specifically and say this is a word from God or this is a prophecy from God. Hmm. It is. Yeah, it certainly is part of it. Now, again, in the Old Testament prophets, you get, you know, now not yet kind of thing, especially those profits that are prophesying the captivity, you know, because of Israel's disobedience, turning away from God, worshiping idols, etc..
You know, if you don't straighten up, you're going to go into captivity. And but then, you know, after they give sometimes rather horrible pictures of what this is going to be, then they begin to indicate that God is going to bring them back, that God is going to restore the kingdom to Israel. Reason I was reading in a book the other day on Tuesday that there's a distinct difference between what is considered prophecy and what is apocryphal literature. The prophets are usually commanded to go and tell to the nations what they have been told and Apocrypha literature they're usually told right down. And that's one distinct difference that I found very interesting. Yeah, you, you, you have the, I guess you would call it a perceptual framework in the a mental period, especially as you get down into our period, you know, the New Testament period, the prophecy had ceased. You know, that the the great line of prophets, you know, that was over. And of course the prophets had prophesied the restoration. So now everybody starts sitting around waiting for that prophecy to come true. And when it does, you see then there'll be the consummation of the, of the covenant and everything will be the way it ought to be. So they're just waiting for the prophecy to be consummated. Now that leads into what we discuss about apocryphal literature, you know, apocalyptic literature early on here. That apocalyptic literature in a sense, became the the substitute for prophecy, and that's why so many of the apocryphal books. And so the paper four books are written in the name of an ancient person. Like Enoch, for instance. The idea being, you see, the books are being presented as well, enacted this way back there.
So you know, this this has got to be valid. You know, that's before prophecy. It is part of the dynamic that they're playing with. They're also the the thrust of apocalyptic, as we've seen, is, you know, you might say, a rather intense expression for the hope of the restoration. You know, they they are looking for God to fulfill the prophecies. And of course, some of them get very explicit in how this is going to happen. So. But one of the reasons that they're not included in the in the Jewish canon and most of them in our canon, is that their take on the restoration just simply was, you know, totally off the wall and really didn't fit in to the Jewish expectation or the restoration of the promised land. And of course, it didn't fit in to the way in which God did it in Jesus. And so, you know, most of that body of writing is just in that huge pool of intensive metal literature. Okay. And then I answer your question. Gotcha. Where was I? Here. Oh, yeah. At the end of ten years, the testimony of Jesus or the witness of Jesus. It's the same word. This is the word that John used to have. The witness of Jesus is the material which can be translated witness. And, of course, the ultimate witness is martyrdom. And so America really, you see, is a person who witnesses and maybe even witnesses with their life who to the reality of that whole. But here I think you do. You get in, you do get a pretty clear indication of the nature of what John understands were prophecy. You see the spirit of prophecy, The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy, that it is manifesting God's presence in the world.
You know, Christ is God's presence in the world. And to have the testimony of Jesus is to manifest God's presence in the world. So you get that very present focus that in your immediate context, this is where this takes place. Okay. That brings us to the. Going the wrong way here. That brings us now to the to the last of the heavenly visions, 1911 to 220 19i think it is 841 eight now. But before we move into that. Any any questions. You've been very quiet and attentive for weeks now, and a few questions here or there, but. Any anything nagging at your mind. I'd like to deal with questions if you've got those. If you don't, it's okay. But I want to give you an opportunity to. Yeah. Chris, can you can you speak to. Because I know a lot of a lot of them. We're looking at this. We're looking at it in a context of at least I am of sort of breaking down previous ideas that we've had about the Book of Revelation. And we've emphasized over and over again how much this speaks to our present context and and have spoken less and less about how much it spoke and less and less about what it says to a to the future. What is the future dynamic of this? I mean, the consummation, obviously, but. Basically that's it. I mean, here we've just seen, John, you might say, John's first foray into the future. But notice you do not actually have a description of the marriage banquet. You know, blessed are those who are invited to the to the marriage banquet of the lamb. And the bride has been given to be clothed in pure linen garments, etc.. But you've got the bridegroom, obviously the lamb, you've got the bride church already.
You know, she's got her bridal dress on. John just moved on to other things. You know, he he does not arrive at the wedding banquet. Now, we will see later in chapter 19 what might be understood as the reverse of the wedding banquet. You know, this is the great supper of God, which is, you know, the destruction of the man a lot. So whether that's a connection or not, I'm not sure you don't have it. You see, you you have an intimation of this consummation, but you don't come to it. You really don't get the consummation until we get to chapter 20. And we'll see. And quick questions, Dr. Mulholland, you had mentioned and I and I agree with that, prophets were not just under. The authors of the scripture or author or people of that of that day. Didn't really just see prophets as forth tellers or tellers of the future, but commanding people to obey God more or less. Then I'm thinking false prophets, the false prophet. For example, we're reading. Do we have anywhere in Scripture where false prophets and I'm using the term plural specifically, or really, if you want, if you choose, do that. Give any kind of futuristic with all you know, if you do this, this will happen or or we're preparing for this because that that to me seems to validate because I can't think of anything. But it seems to me that it validates the fact false prophets are getting you to do something now, not to prepare you for the future. Well, it's not so much that false prophets are preparing you to do something now. I mean, that's what the true prophets are doing. They're speaking the word of God, right? Basically, get your act together, be God's people.
What the false prophets tend to do is say everything's okay. You know, like with Jeremiah, you know, here's Jeremiah, you know, proclaiming the downfall of Jerusalem and one of the false prophet saying, Oh, the temple. The temple, the temple. I'm not going to happen to Jerusalem because God dwells here in the temple. You know, these peace when there is no peace, the false prophets are basically saying everything's okay. And this guy, you know, the saying, you know, everything's going to come apart. You know, he just, you know, don't pay attention to him, you know, because, look, everything's fine, okay? And then his question he mentioned about about obviously this is about the consummation or whatever. The way you've been teaching this the whole semester, something has been kind of bugging me a little bit, bugging me. It's been a challenge to think harder. I was raised in a in a in a church movement that is more a millennial in their theology. And I remember reading some books on all millennial ism and it instantly jumps midway into Revelation. It doesn't kind of walk you through the whole perspective. And I guess my question for you is, based on the way that you're teaching this revelation, would you be almost putting to bed all of these millennial theologies, And I use the term millennial as in post pre historic pre millennial ism and all millennial ism. Well, rather than prejudice your pure minds at this point, let's wait till we get to the millennium. Okay. Okay. And see what's there. Because I mean, what I'm trying to do to the best of my ability is to help you have some appreciation for what this imagery would have said to John and his readers, especially John's readers.
And and we have to think of the millennium in that way as well. Okay. Terry and then William. Dr. Mark Holland There's a lot of postmodern literature that that kind of plays with the brings back the Trinity argument and as to what the Church believe when they believe that about Jesus and his connection with God and in Revelation seems to be, as you showed us, by bringing in the Jewish pull of images about God seems to blatantly say that Jesus is God, right? And so speaking to some of the advent of some of this literature, trying to go back and, you know, making what I what I think is an argument out of nothing but whoa. So looking at the Book of Revelation, it was. Was it pretty much an early. You know, did the church pretty much have an early understanding that they knew who Jesus was? You know, as say, as John was writing this or or after he's writing this or. Well, what was their reaction to the young regarding that? Well, you you obviously have some very early. Diversion or Christology in the church, particularly in John's letters, where he talks about the Antichrist. They have gone out from us. And what the word Antichrist means is that against the Messiah and these these are people who, for whatever reason, are denying that Jesus is the Messiah. And then another dimension, whether these are the same group or not, is a little bit hard to distinguish in just letters. But there are those who say that that Jesus did not come in the flash. It sort of appears to be an incipient Gnosticism. You know, in the second century, you get this full blown Gnosticism that Jesus just appeared seemed to be human, but wasn't really because the spiritual realm can never have anything to do with this evil, wicked material realm.
So it looks as though John is dealing with, if not two different Christology, at least two different dynamics of an aberrant Christology that is one that denies Jesus as the Messiah and denies that he came in the flesh. So that's pretty early on. Wayne Williams next. And then you're what? I don't think there's any other book in the Bible that is so amiss. Misinterpreted, except that it's definitely up there is all this what I was also saying. At what point like the misunderstanding of this book seems to be pretty early. Are there any like. Early church fathers or anything that seemed to have a good grasp of this book or I guess the history of interpretation. Was there any But do we have anybody that doesn't automatically jump to. Is there anyone who got it early, early on? Well, one of one of our problems here is that, you know, the earliest testimonies we have to the book are late second century. So you really have a gap of a century here. Okay. We're you know, we are completely devoid of resources that clarify for us, you know, how was this understood? When you get into the late second century, you know, then you begin to get some of the early church exegesis, you know, working with with Revelation. And you do you do find. Widespread divergences. You know, from that point on, you know, they're sort of all over the map. But I think part of the problem is the same problem we have. These are persons who are, by and large, totally removed from the Jewish frame of reference. You know, they do not try to understand what these images would have meant. You know, for the original readers when they would have meant for John.
And of course, when you do that, you can begin to make it say whatever you want. And there was one passage where I looked at the series. Tom O'Neil is coming out with, you know, this early church father who eventually is going to cover the whole Bible, But the one in Revelation is out. And it's really interesting to read it because in some places you have as many as a dozen different interpretations of the same thing. Now, of course, this is spreading over, you know, sometimes three or four centuries, but you can just see this tremendous diversity of interpretation. Now, one one of the one of the more consistent interpretations in the early period was that they understood, first of all, they were understanding. They tended to understand the millennium and Chapter 20 as literal. And it began with Jesus. And a thousand years from Jesus, you know, is when everything is going to come crashing down, it's going to come to an end. And I think I mentioned this. We were looking at the various approaches that you get to about 1100s. All of a sudden, you get this sort of explosion of, you know, variant interpretations on Revelation where you begin to deal with the millennium in all these different kinds of ways. Right. So, you know, there's sort of a, you know, a consistent pattern at that level. And then, of course, another thing that happens is the the Alexandrian school developed the allegorical method, you know, to to a fine pitch. And origin, of course, was sort of the master of the allegorical method. But the origin put, you know, boundaries on this. But that doesn't mean everybody follows those boundaries. And so with something like Revelation, you see with this kind of weird imagery, you can use an allegorical interpretation to make the say anything you wanted to say, basically.
And of course, this is the kind of thing that was happening. Okay. That help? Yeah, I was just it's it's interesting because we assume, or at least it seems like people assume that most other books of the Bible are speaking to a specific audience, particularly like I'm going to pull a class, particularly like in the Pauline letters. It's called Speaking to Present realities. Yeah. Whereas Revelation, they, they seem really eager to jump into these being of the future. Future. Yeah. Or Yeah, things like that. You know what I, what I think we see when we, when we look at the nature of the imagery in Revelation is that John, basically the essence of John's vision is that we are it's a radical call to faithful discipleship and citizens of God. New Jerusalem in the midst of a fall Babylon world. I mean, that really is the core what John is dealing with here. It's only when you take this imagery and begin to you go off like this with it, that you rip it out of any kind of your present context at all. You know, Jeremiah was next and then West. It seems as if. Depending on which date you choose as it was written, would it be sixties or was it 90 or 88? But that is a pretty big predictor of what how you're going to interpret this is that I guess my question is, is that the case? And then if someone has a later date, you were having a conversation with them, would your interpretations of this look much different or not? That I don't? I don't think so. You all hear Jeremiah as question. You know, I remember there are two basic meetings for Revelation in the sixties and the nineties, and if you asked for one of those over the other, would that change the understanding of the book in its original context? Right, Right.
Yeah. I'm thinking like we talked about Tuesday, about the Kings, the Seven Kings. Yeah. Would that be all thrown off of 30 years Where. Well, yeah. At that point you see you begin to have some difficulty. That's why. I mean for a long time I thought the nineties was was it, you know, and then this other evidence began to come to light. Well the, the persecution under Domitian was not anything like the persecution under Nero was basically an intra family kind of thing and that was not widespread at all. Whereas if Nero, you know, you have the emperor in the Empire City acting against this group of people known as Christians, which of course, you know, the rest of the empires like it, follow their lead and Rome does this. We need to be doing the same thing. And it does when you when you come to things like, you know, the Five Kings, you know, five have been, you know, in the sixth, the seventh is not Come with me for a little while. Yeah. Then you really begin to get into difficulties trying to relate that to the present context in which John is writing. But I think as far as the overall sense of the book, you know, other than, you know, little details like that, the basic meaning of the book in the middle nineties or in the middle sixties or late sixties would have been essentially the same for John's readers. Okay. West. I just wanted to add a little bit more to the history of interpretation conversation, because that that's what I'm doing my project on Good and I'm really trying to focus on how you're saying how each period in history kind of identifies or makes the the message of revelation contemporary to their own settings.
And, and I agree, it is very diverse, but it seems really diverse about things, especially like the millennium and things like that. But it seems that each generation does identify the enemies as someone contemporary to them. And so the very early church seems to you're asking, do they get it right? It seems to get it right because Rome still around, you know, And so Rome is very much still an evil oppressor. What I thought was a really interesting shift is when is after the period of Constantine, when Rome then is is welcomed or the church is welcomed by Rome. The shift is not so much that Rome is the evil oppressor and the embodiment of fallen Babylon, things like that, but that those within the church that are nominal Christians. Because for the first time in history it's okay to be a Christian, you know, in in the Roman Empire. And so you have the rise of Nominalism. So you have Augustine and his, you know, visible and invisible church in the city of God. And so it's like the fall in Babylon. Are these these people who call themselves Christians but really are still doing these things like worshiping idols and things like that. So I think there if you really look for it, there are instances where each generation of the church has as identified it as as living with the sort of tribulation now, which I think could establish. What I'm trying to explore is that you can have in each setting a contextualized interpretation that is orthodox, but you also have to remember that. With with Montparnasse in the late second century, revelations sort of gets tarnished in the eyes of a large segment of the church because Montana's took revelations as his gospel interpreted it allegorically in very aberrant kinds of ways, where the new Jerusalem is going to come down and Phrygian and, you know, he and the two women that were working with him, that they they were the center of the church.
Of course, there's more development of modernism, as you probably know, if you're taking church history. But with that, you see John's vision become suspect. And and when you look at that, we remember when we looked at the history of canonization that that even after the fifth century, you know, in 563 with with Athanasius passed a letter and then in 594 and 597, the two councils of Carthage in Hippo, where Revelation is listed as one of the 27 books. Even after that, you still get rather widespread antipathy toward including and of course earlier earlier in the in the fifth century, you have Eusebius who as he as he gives his lists of approved spurious and questionable books, which revelation both in the approved and the spurious list of, you know, I mean, how can you have it both ways? You know, I think he is reflecting. Primarily the consequence of the mountain reserve. So that's sort of. It'd be nice if that hadn't happened. We would more or less have a nice timeline. You know, and what you've done is great. You know, that's that's a good way to look at it. Thank you for sharing it with us. But everything gets clouded after the middle of the second century because of the questionable nature of revelation in many people's eyes. You hear so many times a day, so specific interpretations, a revelation. Is there any justification to interpret it, to interpreting any of this as a specific concrete event like so many people do now? What's the it you're pointing to? I mean, just any anything in there, You know, people will say, like, for example, the where we watched the video and the pastor was talking about the locusts as helicopters. Yeah, something like that.
But is there any justification in interpreting any of these visions, this specific event? Well, we've seen that there certainly seem to be indicators of this. But in John's own day, remember chapter 13, Chapter 16, the great city of Rome, falls into three parts, which seems to describe the civil war that breaks out after Nero's suicide is again the Five Kings, you know, in the sixth and seventh and the eighth. When he deals with that, that really seems to be dealing explicitly with present reality, the mark of the beast. You know, with that textual variant, you know, makes it pretty certain that he's pointing to Nero. So there are very specific applications of this for John and his readers. Hmm. Yeah. Is there. How would you with integrity to translate some of these very, very specifically Jewish images? I'm thinking specifically temple imagery to an audience in the church that doesn't have much of a context in which to put it right. Yeah. You know, the best the best thing to do is to have a heavy, heavy Bible study series or, you know, a conference or something on Revelation where where you can walk through helping them understand the nature of this imagery and how it was working in John's day. And then I've done a lot of this with churches. Usually I try to get them to give me all, you know, two or 3 hours Friday night and all day Saturday to get it done. I mean, as you can see, we've taken what I've been how many hours we've been together here this semester, and we're not done yet. And of course, you can't deal with every single verse, verse by verse like we're doing here. But you can. And of course, if you were doing it with your own church, you could I mean, you could just, you know, have a Bible study that would last for three months or five months or whatever where you could just work through item.
But what I have found is that. Is that the people in the church. Unless it's a case of don't confuse you. In fact, my mind's made up. And you do find a few of those. I have found that most people that I have worked with on Revelation in the church really get it. And part of it is because this book is just so alien. You know, for most people in the church, the Bible New Testament ends with Jude. You know, they don't pay any attention to Revelation. Or, you know, the late great planet Earth is the only accurate interpretation of revelation. So or, you know, the Left Behind series. But I found I find people very, very. Open to something that makes sense and has has an integrity with time, you know, in which John was writing in his vision. So that's what you're going to do, I think. You know, just get get a group of people to commit to doing it. For instance, I was in a church down in Florida. About a month ago. I guess you want to come down to Revelation. Well, you only dated from 930 to 3 with lunch and some breaks, too. Which means, of course, we didn't get through all of it. But now. And I told him, you know, it'd be great if we. A Friday night all day Saturday. Well, that's what he set up. So after we were done, he said, Well, can you come back next year and finish up here? So I think to have to do it basically go through the whole thing again, because there'll be other people there. But I think that's the only way to do it. There are a lot of people, like you said, with that.
Don't confuse me with facts. My mind's made up. What's how do you address the idea of rapture? What do you have to say about it? Is it biblical or is it just some? I don't believe it's biblical. Yeah. You know, the the primary one of the primary taxa they use is the Thessalonians passage where what Paul is talking about is the second coming and he's using the image of a Roman triumph to describe that nothing in Revelation, you know, that the verse they point to in Revelation is chapter four, verse one or two, where the voice from heaven said, John, come up here. I will show you the things you know. That rapture, you know, doesn't look like it to me. And it's addressed not to everybody, but to John. You know, where did that come from? All right. Yeah, we have that. Well, and Omar, you know, walk us through this quite well. The that the in essence, the rapture theology is an escapist theology. And he walked through it very nicely, showing us at the points in history, in American history, where it has really blossomed is points where there has been no socio economic, political upheaval, you know, after the Civil War, the Vietnamese war, and now, you know, the rise of terrorism and what have you. You know, the world has changed. And nobody we know that the old is going to come back. We don't know what the new is going to be. So you get these times of of angst, you know, cultural angst, where this escapist theology just plays beautifully. You know, all you gotta do is just hang in there. You guys are going to be out of here before it gets too bad. And, you know, there are you know, there are people don't confuse them with facts.
You know, they just this church in Florida, I we got to the end. And about 230 I opened it up for questions like this. And nobody mentioned the rapture. So, you know, that type of question was one garbage. Now, what about the rapture? You know, so I sort of walk through it and find out afterwards that about a dozen people just, you know, I just closed them down and they just completely dismissed everything I said up to that point. Right up to that point, you know, they were fine with me pretty well, but we hit that sacred cow. Uh huh. Mm hmm. How do you address that, though, when someone takes something like that as they take it for granted that it is biblical? Well, I, I try to describe I try to lay out for them the history of this rapture theology. You know where it originated? In England in early 1830s, how it became such a strong force here, and primarily through Scofield's note, because when when Darby came here and, you know, did the lecture circuit on several occasions in the late 1800s, one of the person that was very influenced by him was a friend of Darby's, who got Darby, you know, into this. So when you read Darby's notes on Revelation, it's just pure, unadulterated. When you read Scofield's notes in Revelation is pure, unadulterated Darby. And of course, coming out of the modernist fundamentalist controversy of the early twenties, Scofield's notes were as in Aaron and infallible and inspired as the text itself. Hmm. I mean, you know, in certain circles. And so, you know, this just becomes gospel truth right here in my Bible. See, we're down that little thing on the outside corner, you know, Here it is.
It is. It wouldn't be here if this wasn't true. You know, And so I just I just try to walk them through it and. And give them plenty of opportunity to, you know, to come back. I mean, and usually they worry about this, but what about this? And I, I try to help them see that verse in its larger context, because most of these proof texts, you know, are just ripped out of their context. Yeah. You know, and obviously, this is what it says. Well, let's look at it in context. What does it say in the larger context in which it appears? So I do that. And there you know, there are. One success. I remember I was speaking at a church in Kansas and a large, large Methodist church, and the group is about this size. And the first it was Friday night and all day Saturday. Well, Friday night, as I was, I sort of gave an overview of John's vision, the visionary experience and all that sort of stuff. Well, there was a guy sitting about where Brad sitting, and I could see by his body language that he was getting more and more and more angry. Farther on I went. I mean, you can just see it. He was just sitting there itching. Yeah. So when I said, are there any questions I think I got about the fires, Are there any. You know, his hand was up like that. And he addressed me as Reverend Mulholland in a way that made it a swear word. It just dripped with irony and God and his work. I mean, he could have been Hal Lindsay. Well, you know, before that Left Behind series came on and he could have been hell. And I mean, he was so locked in, you know, to this dispensation, you know, pretty millennial rapture stuff.
And, you know, and I just, you know, I tried to be gracious to him. I think I was. And way I understand that there you know, there are other perspectives here. But when I'm trying to show you is how John's readers would have understood this, what this imagery would have meant for them. Well, from that point on, he was in my face all the time. We take a break. I got no break. You know, he was right here. And every time there were questions, you know, he was in there by middle of Saturday afternoon, I forget where we were. And I was explaining, you know, some aspect of revelation. And he just broke out. Yes, that makes sense. I wouldn't go let it go by. So I said, do you want to unpack that a little bit? Because I've never understood that that part of revelation, what you just said, makes perfect sense as well. I'm sure glad to hear that now. But do you realize now this guy was a Ph.D. aeronautical engineer? This is not some redneck, okay. Not all rednecks is a Ph.D. aeronautical engineer. And I said, But do you realize that this only makes sense in the context of everything I've been sharing with you? At that point, he became thoughtful, and from that point on, his questions were genuine questions. And the next morning I preached and it was a big during the three services he came to the 8:00 service. There's a long cathedral type church here, like the chapel. And he was sitting up front and I was at the back, you know, greeting people. He literally ran down the aisle to greet me and he shook my hand warmly. He said, I'm so glad you came.
He's going to a lot to learn about Revelation, you know, that made all worthwhile. He was the only one who made it worthwhile. But that's the exception. So many of these people just you're just so locked in. Yes. Almost impossible. It seems that the rapture is what I've heard from some people in my church, is that they believe the Rapture because they don't know anything else to believe what you know. What are some how do you respond to that? And what would you suggest as pastors going into churches? How should we be crafting our discipleship programs and preaching be? Well, I think I think you you need to before you jump into that hornet's nest with the heat, you need to get to know the hornets. You know, I mean, you need to get to know the people and let them get to know you so that they they respect you. They realize you are a person of integrity. And then, you know, you can begin gently and slowly dealing with these kind of issues. I think that for me, the biggest problem with, you know, rapture theology, with dispensation theology in general, is that they cut the nerve of radical discipleship. Mm hmm. All you got to do is go to church every Sunday, read your Bible every day, pray a little bit at time. And when the rapture comes, you're gonna be out of here. Or is it just that it totally misses this call to be, you know, to have the word of God in the witness of Jesus and, you know, to live a Christlike life out there in this kind of world, in this fallen Babylon world? Well, to be world transformers, it's okay that the world goes to pot because.
Oh, yeah, well, I think you just answered the why is this important question. Um, I have been wondering, you know, in a church setting, is it really important today then to Revelation we have, you know, 65 other books to my letter. Equally good. Um, and a lot easier to reach on. On what? What I do and often I do this when I'm, you know, speaking to church groups or pastors groups. I have a lot of and usually they want me to come and deal with spiritual formation at some level. But I have a lot of illustrations for Revelation to support, you know, the realities of Christian discipleship. And what I do is, you know, I use Paul in the Gospels and the other New Testament writings to sort of frame out some aspect of discipleship so that, you know, it's firmly grounded in Scripture that they, you know, respect and understand. But then and then I say, now, you know, this is also illustrated by, you know, and then I'll I'll pick up something out of revelation, you know, and give them a little bit of a, you know, background kind of information or that particular image or images and then try to help them see that what John is seeing here is exactly what Paul talking about. And often that gives me a second trip back to that church because, you know, I use this illustration revelation, Oh, come back and do revelation that I don't do it for that purpose. But but what I trying to do is help them see that revelation is not this alien thing way off here. And here's the rest of the New Testament. You know that what John is seeing, his vision is absolutely integral to the whole understanding of Christian discipleship.
From Matthew to Jew. If. That helped, you know. Let's see. Where are we next? You haven't been in yet, Josh? Dr. Olin. I got, like, a more of a hermeneutical question. I've been in exegesis by day with Dr. Richter, and we've been studying the suffering servant. And one of the major interpretations for that section is that Isaiah had no idea what he was prophesied about. No clue. How can that why could that not be the same for Revelation in John? Of course, one answer is it could. Mm hmm. I think the other answer is that it's when you work with work through John, you know, exegetical. It's obvious that John is struggling to do his very best with the imagery available to him to convey to his readers something of the reality that he experienced. You see him modulating the imagery, you see him using imagery, but then giving it a different twist, images that they wouldn't understand, but then giving it these twists that it seems to me that the John really understands what he's experienced here, you know, and is trying faithfully to convey this to his readers. And I see no problem with Isaiah doing the same thing. One of the things that. One of the basic problems in biblical scholarship. Is divorcing Biblical scholarship from Christian experience. Yeah, this Christian experience is sort of hard to get a handle on text you have to text. You know, there are rules for dealing with text and then you can look at the historical context, all that sort of stuff. All of which is necessary. But what you end up with is this dry scholarly analysis of a text and you miss. What it's all about. And I knew I was going to be meeting years ago and there was a panel up there and very, very, very, very liberal scholars.
And I forget exactly how it went, but one of them was indicating how the students in his class, you know, just seemed to have this intuitive grasp of of the scripture. And they just really puzzled it. You just couldn't understand how these unlettered, you know, they hadn't taken this course yet and how they could have this this intuitive grasp of the text. And so when it came time to, you know, for the audience to respond to the panel, I just suggested to them that, you know, could it be that the text is dealing with a deeper spiritual reality, an experiential reality that your students know? And they can connect with that text at its core level and its deeper level where all you're dealing with is the surface level. There was no answer for anyone to answer because it was obvious what the answer was. Now let's see. Jeremiah you add a few key points, you and Bill kind of in opposite sides of the fence. You noticed that. And which I was when we got it. I was hoping like this would kind of be your sidekick for the classic and walk away with. And so to put it this way, when you go and teach at a church and and you walk away and they have kind of their handful of notes, or we'll have our laptops with notes, that kind of thing, what would be something that you would endorse, I guess to use a dangerous word before your text comes out that would maybe refresh your memories and some of some of the approaches that you have. So I don't know if you when you leave churches, if you say grab into Wright's article on this to kind of support. Yeah, I do that frequently, but not so much with Revelation.
You know, I do tell them that, you know, if they really want to get into the imagery that deals, you know, the best, you know, to deal with the Jewish imagery. And I tell them, you know, he I don't think he always deals with it correctly. You know, that some of his reform theology sort of colors some of his thought. And, you know, if you reading carefully in the footnotes, you see that, you know, it's sort of a running battle going on on all sorts of issues because he cites me in a number of places. You know what Mohammed said, that can't be right. You know, in some of the places never really says why it can't be right. It can't be right because it disagrees with his position. You know, Bill is a good man, you know, evangelical, a good scholar. So I'm not I'm not trying to put him down or anything. There is. You know, the only thing I have on Revelation is that journey through the Bible Bible study series, where I had the student book and the leaders guide. So if they really are pushing me, I don't like to promote my own stuff, but they really push me on. And you know, I say, Well, you know, you can, because what that would do, it would fill in some gaps because, you know, I never had to cover everything on a weekend. So it fills in some gaps and also reminds them they go back. And what was it he said about that? And you go back and look at that and pick it up. Yeah. Um, I think the one of the question is, is there anyone out there who takes this approach? I mean, other than you and Bill? I mean, the answer may be no.
That might be why this class is such a great Would it take. But is it. Are there other scholars out there that you would recommend? Well, mountains commentary in Revelation, what Mount's does is basically he lays out, you know, the four basic, you know, the credit risk, the historicity, the futurist and the in the the idealist. And you're you can see pretty clearly where he comes down, but he doesn't ram his position down your throat. He sort of lays it out there and leaves it up to the reader to, you know, make their own decision, which I think is is a good way to do it. Mm. Mum's the word biblical. See the word biblical? Commentary. No, no. Mounts for your word. I'm very serious. The Greek. No, I forget which one of the mounts is in the series. It is in the series. I can't remember which were very well looked upon. You said Journey through the Bible. What was the work that you said you had done? Yeah, the whole series called Journey through the Bible. Okay. And then for a revelation, there's a student book and a leaders guide. And what I've done with the student book, basically, I'm just sort of sketching out what this would have meant to John's readers in the Leaders Guide to give them the background information. Between the two of them. You know, basically what when I did the first comment commentary, I did that Zondervan published when that went out of print about that times when the publishing house asked me to do this. So I just took that and you're sort of split into two pieces, your student material and leaders material. So into two volumes, you got that one commentary? Yeah. And the others.
Yeah. Piggybacking on his question, do you often feel very lonely out in the scholarly world? You know, I think it goes with the territory. You know, if you're if you're going to be a any kind of scholar, biblical or otherwise, you've you've got to be able to tell you you cannot. Root your identity in the approval of others. Now, that doesn't mean you you completely. You know, disregard their position, their perspective, their their critique. You know, you've got to do that. But, you know, the the process that Jesus seminar uses, you know, Democratic voting, you know, and they got these four different colored marbles. And, you know, you vote on whether this passage really was something Jesus said or not. You know, you don't do scholarship by the democratic process. You know, you do it by the process of give and take. You know, and, you know, I present this idea and you say, no, no, no, no, no. It's it's over here in the you know, we and several others would jump in and begin the discussion. And hopefully at the end of the discussion, all of us would come to a deeper understanding of what that text is about. Oh, you've recommended that come to our mouths. And it outlines the four different views of Revelation. Um, I was reviewing some of those reviews and it looks at I mean, you don't really come up on any one of the four. I mean, when I always talk to people, they always say, well, on this round, this and all the whole book of revelation is geared three areas. Look through one particular view. Um, but then, you know, I reflected on something he's been saying all semester and you don't seem to line up with any of those almost in a sense, like a mix of all of those.
Is that. Yeah, that's right. I remember after we gone through those four, I said it. It seems to me the best way to approach John's vision is to build upon the strengths of each of those and avoid the weaknesses. Remember, I listed the strengths and weaknesses up there, so that's what I try to do. I think the one thing that I realized through I stopped thinking about God as past, present and future in one. And then carrying that over is this is a revelation of Jesus, not just some vision that John wrote down. And it and it's almost like God saying, here's reality past, present and future in one. And I don't really know how to flesh that out so much, but it kind of knocks out that Frederick's view or futuristic or and stuff and makes it more relevant. Well you know you don't you don't have to knock out the predator sue because you got to have the strength of that is that it forces you to deal with what the imagery meant for John, his readers. Well, I guess it took me out of locking into one. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Locking into one is, you know, that I think is where you get into problems. Okay. Are we doing well? Last question. I was wondering why this isn't more popular in the scholarly academic world. Well, again, my suspicion is, is that at the center of my understanding, what John is all about is this called a radical discipleship due to the relational reality, you know, of having the word of God in the witness of Jesus. And by and large, the word of scholarship is dealing with the text, not with the experience. If this sounds like it, it comes out of the text.
It sounds like it is firmly rooted in a time period, firmly rooted in the Greek. And so I'm still new in this whole scholarly world thing. I used to be an engineer, and so I'm just kind of wondering how people could argue against it or dismiss it or how these other things have remained so popular when they're so they're not as rooted. Yeah. Yeah. Because these revelations, all sorts of grounds for that. I mean, argue over whether the imagery means anything and what it meant you can get arguing about. Well, no, I didn't really mean that it meant this. You know, the nature of the text itself, you know, the questions, the language of the tasks and arguments about authorship and all that stuff. So many of those are necessary as they are. Can can just sort of lead us astray from what is this about? Why is this in the Christian canon? What does it say about Christian life? Christian experience? Where is it saying anything to us as we seek to live Christian lives in this kind of a world today? And those kinds of questions tend not to be addressed in the scholarly guild. Now there aren't there are some you you more evangelical scholars who are trying to push things in that direction. And you're getting you're getting a better hearing from a certain degree when you start see, when you start dealing with spiritual experiences, you're into a very anomalous kind of area. Okay. Have a good weekend. We'll see you next Thursday. Remember, no, no class on Tuesday. And thank you for that good dialog. Appreciate it. Thank you. Thank you.