Lecture 32: Revelation Part 4
Lecture 32: Revelation Part 4
This is the 31st 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’)
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This is a summary of the last days of judgement and then the creation of the New Heavens and the New Earth.
Trace Assignment Revelation 20:1-6
‘Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding in his hand the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain. And he seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, which is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years, and threw him into the pit, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he might not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were ended. After that he must be released for a little while. Then I saw thrones, and seated on them were those to whom the authority to judge was committed. Also I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus and for the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection! Over such the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and they will reign with him for a thousand years.’
This is a linguistical analysis of Revelation 20:1-6. I saw an angel coming down from heaven and he had this key. This is a progression because he seized the dragon and then he threw it into the abyss. He did something greater and then he shut it and then sealed it as the progression continues. There is a temporal with what will happen with the dragon after a thousand years. The whole thing is an action / purpose; why did he do all these things; so he wouldn’t deceive the nations, at least until the thousand years were completed. So you see the angel and what he did to the devil, verses 1-3. Starting with verse 4, it could be a series or another progression. Sitting on the throne were human beings with whom judgement was given. The souls of the beheaded because of the testimony of Jesus and the Word of God; these were the martyrs, the beheaded ones. Now these were the ones who had not worshiped the beast or its image and who had not received the mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. The rest of the dead did not come to life until after the thousand years were completed. This is a positive / negative. The second death has no power, but instead they will reign with Christ for a thousand years. This first resurrection is very necessary. So the first resurrection is the idea, explanation or ground. So those who reigned with Christ for a thousand years; this is the first resurrection. This is backward. The remaining dead did not come to life until that thousand years were completed. I think this has to refer to the non-believers. The people on the thrones are judging and then you see the souls of those beheaded who don’t have the mark. This is identifying those people who are the victors.
VII. The Seven Bowls 15:1-16:21
So now we see the seven angels of the seven last plagues and the sea of glass and they are singing the song of Moses. All I want to say here is that the great act of redemption accomplished in the Exodus finally point to the great act of redemption accomplished in Christ. It’s all the same saving work ultimately. Afterwards, the angels come out of the temple with the seven bowl judgements. We don’t have to worry about the details of these judgements which are itemized for us in chapter 16. These judgements are very severe. There are evil sores and then the sea has become blood along with the rivers and springs of water. I said that I see the trumpet and seal judgements as taking place all through history, but I see these judgements as being very near the end because they are so severe. These are just on the edge of the final judgement. In the middle of this the angel in charge says that you are just in these judgements oh just and holy one who is and who was. For they have shed the blood of saints and prophets, and you have given them blood to drink; so they deserve it. And I heard the altar say (altar don’t speak, this is of course apocalyptic language). People are receiving what they deserve. The seventh angel poured out his bowl into the air and a loud voice came out of the temple, from the throne, saying, ‘It is done!’ We are at the end again; it is done. As a result there was a great earthquake such as there had never been since man was on the earth. The mountains and islands were gone, great hailstones fell from heaven on people and these people cursed God. But there is more; we start over again in chapter 17.
VIII. The Judgement of Babylon 17:1-19:10
This is all about Babylon who is a prostitute and stands for the wicked city of Rome all through history. But in John’s historical context, he’s thinking of the city of Rome. And of course the beast is the empire and Babylon is its capital. But be aware nothing really fits very well with these seven kings. Ezekiel 26-28 functions as a background to these chapters, especially with the prostitute. There are interesting parallels to what John’s says here. John talks about the riches of this city and its trade along with the many good things happening and yet like us it is very materialistic. All of it will be destroyed. When the city of man is destroyed people in heaven are praising God. This is not because they hate people but it is due to the coming city of God. This is the end of the reign of evil. So God has judged the great prostitute, the harlot, who corrupted the earth with her fornication. Even though we long for and work for and pray for the salvation of all, we will rejoice when we are in heaven. We are not going to be unhappy; we will praise God. We will have God’s mind about everything totally. We will see the rightness and goodness of everything that has been done. This is where the people of God will enjoy at the feast prepared for them.
IX. The Triumph of God in Christ 19:11-20:15
Another switchback, another image of the end with the heaven opening and Jesus on a white horse; Jesus is the faithful and true one. No one knows his name as no one has control over him. In the ancient world if people know your name, they are believed to control you. His robe is dipped in blood and most people relate this to the Cross, but I think in Isaiah 63 it talks about the blood of judgement. He is coming to judge now. He has the armies of heaven following him in their white pure garments as they have been washed in the blood of Jesus. He has a sharp sword and he is going to rule with a rod of iron (Psalm 2). He is the king of kings and the Lord of Lords. Then we have language from Ezekiel 38 and 39 about these birds of Cog and Magog. The armies with Jesus do nothing and the sword that comes out of Jesus’ mouth destroys them. All he does is speak the Word and the battle is over, finished. The beast and false prophet are destroyed, just like that; Jesus has come again. It’s over.
Chapter 20 is a much debated passage in terms of the millennium. You need to understand that post millennialism is the notion the world will gradually be changed by the Gospel; it will get better and better. Not many people hold this view anymore. A-millennialism literally means no millennial but they believe that Christ is reigning now in heaven with his saints. Sometimes this is called realized millennialism. Pre-millennialism believe that Jesus will return and literally reign on earth for a thousand years or a long period of time. Both Post and Pre millennialism agree that this world will be gradually changed but post millennialists believe that Jesus will come after the millennium. Pre millennialists believe that Jesus will come before the millennium. So Jesus will reign on earth for pre millennialists but for post millennialists the world will be like a paradise, slowly and gradually by the preaching of the Gospel. But Jesus will not be literally on earth with his people. Not only that, but there are dispensationalist pre-millennialists and historic pre-millennialists and then progressive dispensationalist along with classic dispensationalist. All these views are out there just to confuse people. I don’t really have a strong opinion on this issue, but I’m slightly inclined to A-millennialism and there are problems even with this, especially what he says about the resurrection. The language of the resurrection could be defended as being a literal resurrection of the dead. If that is true, it has to be a form of pre-millennialism. And some people say that A-millennialism could not be true as Satan in chained up so he can’t deceive the nations. Also, but there is an argument from West Minister’s Theological Journal: you have the first resurrection and the second death so there must be a first death and a second resurrection. The first resurrection is spiritual, reigning in heaven with Christ and that first death is spiritual and the second resurrection is physical and so is the second death. But in regards to the millennial issue, I just don’t think that it is a big deal. Whoever is right, we will find out.
Then there is the great white throne judgement which I think refers to all people.
X. The New Heavens and Earth 21:1-22:5
The new heavens and earth will last forever. This is our ultimate destination because God will be there. The unbelievers will be left out because they decided not to accept the Gospel of Christ. The New Jerusalem is described as a bride and a city. The city is described as a people and the people are described as a place. I think both are true; the holy city will be comprised of God’s people. It is not a garden or a shire; it’s a city. I believe that this is poetic language, not literal language. C. S. Lewis says that anybody who takes this literally doesn’t know how to read literature. Maybe this is a little too strong. It has a great and high wall where no one can get in. The twelve gates are symbolic; the number 12 and the foundation of the city have the names of the twelve apostles of Jesus. But you also have Israel as the twelve. The city is a perfect cube which stands for the holy of hollies from the temple. This means that God’s presence is in it; the whole city is inhabited by God himself. It is measured by 12,000 stadia with a length and width and height are equal with a wall built of jasper and 144 cubits (12 x 12 = 144) and the city was made of pure gold, like clear glass. This is symbolic language using indescribable jewels. This is a picture of a perfect place. There is no temple because the temple is God and the nations will bring their goods into the city. Everything good will be in the city. There will be nothing unclean with leaves of trees planted for the healing of nations. There is also a picture of the Garden of Eden restored within the city. God has fulfilled his Word and it is true and you should count on what God says. There is language used in this description that is usually used in millennium language. Isaiah 60 is applied to the New Heavens and New Earth and also Ezekiel 40-48. This is the language used for the rebuilding of the temple. This is not found in the millennium passage. There is no temple in the New Jerusalem, so I think this tells us that this language of the temple in Ezekiel is symbolic. There will not be a new temple built going back to animal sacrifices because of the final sacrifice of Christ. All this is fulfilled in the New Jerusalem.