"THE BOOK OF REVELATION" Concluding Thoughts As stated in the introduction to this study, the book of Revelation is unique in that it contains apocalyptic literature. Filled with figurative and symbolic language, it has been subjected to much abuse by many who have proposed to interpret it, especially by those who take a futuristic approach to the book. I am persuaded the key to handling and understanding Revelation properly is to let the first three chapters set the context in which the book should be interpreted. In those chapters we learn that the book: * Was intended to be understood (a revelation = an unveiling) - Re 1:1 * Was about things that would soon take place, not thousands of years later - Re 1:1,3; 22:6,10 * Could be understood even by an individual reading to a public audience - Re 1:1 * Is filled with signs and symbols ("signified"), likely understood by the original readers - Re 1:1 * Was addressed to seven specific churches in Asia, so any interpretation must first be applicable to those churches and their times - Re 1:4,11; 2:1-3:22 * Was written to churches who had already experienced persecution from unbelieving Jerusalem and pagan Rome, with more to come - Re 2:9-10,13 * Contains promises to those in the seven churches who overcome by remaining faithful, even to death, which promises are mostly depicted in their fulfillment by visions later in the book - Re 2:7 (cf. Re 22:2,14); Re 2:11 (cf. Re 20:6,14; 21:8); Re 2:26-27 (cf. Re 20:4-6); Re 3:5 (cf. Re 7:14-17; 20:12,15; 21:27); Re 3:12 (cf. Re 7:15; 21:1-27; 22:4); Re 3:21 (cf. Re 20:4-6; 22:5) The theme of the book is clear: Jesus is coming to judge! He now reigns as King of kings and Lord of lords! (Re 1:5,7; 11:15; 17:14). His coming judgment(s) as depicted in Revelation involve judging churches (Re 1-3), unbelieving Jerusalem (Rev 4-11), pagan Rome (Rev 12-19), Satan and the world (Rev 20-22). Efforts to interpret the book should give special attention to clarifying statements found throughout the book like these: * "...where also our Lord was crucified" (Re 11:8) - identifies the city being judged in the first half of the book as Jerusalem. * "Here is wisdom. Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man: His number is 666." (Re 13:18) - makes clear that the identity of the beast could be known by the original recipients (likely "Nero Caesar", or the "Latin One") * "Here is the mind which has wisdom: The seven heads are seven mountains on which the woman sits. There are also seven kings. Five have fallen, one is, and the other has not yet come. And when he comes, he must continue a short time. The beast that was, and is not, is himself also the eighth, and is of the seven, and is going to perdition." (Re 17:9-11) - Identifies the harlot as being supported by Rome. Also, that whatever the beast represented, it "is not" at the time of the writing of Revelation. That suggests to me that the book was not written during the time of Nero or Domitian, but more likely during the reign of Vespasian. Similarly, that "kings" could not symbolize world empires, for that would rule out the Roman empire as having anything to do with the identity of the beast (since the Roman empire was in existence at that time). * "These words are true and faithful" (Re 21:5; 22:6) - This expression prefaces and concludes the description of the new heavens and new earth, along with the New Jerusalem, the holy city which descends out of heaven from God. "True" means "real, genuine" and "faithful" means "trustworthy". This suggests to me the possibility that the description of the eternal state of the redeemed in Re 21-22 are more realistic and reflective of that which is to come than were the visions seen earlier throughout the book (which were clearly symbolic). It certainly coincides with other scriptures that are not figurative in their context (cf. He 11:16; 13:14; 2Pe 3:13-14). Despite its challenges, I find the book of Revelation fascinating and filled with much benefit for the Christian today. Studying Revelation, we learn of Christ's power and sovereignty over the kingdoms of this world. Like other books of the New Testament that may have been written to address specific situations affecting churches in the first century, we can make application to our own lives should we find ourselves facing situations similar to those endured by the Christians of the first century. And remember, at some point Satan will be released once more to deceive the nations in a last attempt to destroy the church (Re 20:7-10). Should we find ourselves living at that time, let us never forget the key passage in this book: These will make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them, for He is Lord of lords and King of kings; and those who are with Him are called, chosen, and faithful. (Re 17:14) So with the aid of Christ and the rest of the New Testament to guide us, let us heed these words of the apostle Peter... Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless; (2Pe 3:13-14) And may our attitude always be that as expressed by the apostle John at the end of Revelation... Even so, come, Lord Jesus! (Re 22:20)
"THE BOOK OF REVELATION" Chapter Twenty-Two In the previous chapter John described the glory of the New Jerusalem as the eternal destiny of the redeemed was revealed. In the first six verses of this chapter, John's vision of the glorious future for the people of God is completed with a brief description of the river of life, the tree(s) of life, and the throne of God and of the Lamb. With the river of life proceeding from the throne, and the tree (the definite article is not in the Greek , so perhaps two trees on either side of the river) of life bearing fruit every month along with its healing leaves, the picture is one of provision from God. Eternal fellowship with God, stressed in the previous chapter (cf. Re 21:3-4,7), is emphasized again with the promise of seeing His face and having His name on one's forehead. With no more curse (cf. Gen 3:17-19), the redeemed shall serve God and the Lamb on the throne. There is no night nor need for the sun, for the Lord God gives them light (cf. Re 21:23). The redeemed will also reign forever and ever (1-5). The remainder of this chapter contains the grand conclusion of this wonderful book. The angel who showed John the holy city stressed that the events described in this book were soon to take place, such that John is not to seal the book (cf. Re 22:6,10; contrast this with Dan 8:26). Jesus Himself states three times that He is coming quickly (cf. Re 22:7,12,20), which I take to refer to His coming in judgment as described throughout this book (cf. Re 3:10-11). With a reminder of the blessedness of those who do His commandments, Jesus, who is the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last, the Root and Offspring of David, the Bright and Morning Star, declares that He sent His angel to testify of these things to the churches. The Spirit and the bride join in with an invitation to let those who thirst come to drink of the water of life freely. The book ends with a fearful warning not to add to or take away from the book, a final promise of the Lord's coming, and a two-fold prayer calling for the Lord Jesus to come, and for His grace to be with all the brethren (6-22). POINTS TO PONDER * The eternal destiny of the redeemed, in terms depicting provision from God * How things revealed in this book were soon to take place * The promises and warnings given as the book concludes OUTLINE I. THE RIVER, THE TREE, AND THE THRONE (1-5) A. THE RIVER OF LIFE (1) 1. John sees a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal 2. It proceeds from the throne of God and of the Lamb B. THE TREE OF LIFE (2) 1. On either side of the river was a tree of life 2. The tree(s) bore twelve fruits, yielding fruit every month 3. The leaves were for the healing of the nations C. THE THRONE OF GOD AND OF THE LAMB (3-5) 1. There shall be no more curse, but the throne of God and the Lamb shall be in it 2. His servants shall serve Him a. They shall see His face b. His name shall be on their foreheads 3. There shall be no night there a. They need no lamp nor light of the sun b. For the Lord God gives them light 4. They shall reign forever and ever II. THE GRAND CONCLUSION (6-21) A. THE TIME IS NEAR, DO NOT SEAL THE BOOK (6-11) 1. John is told by the angel that these words are faithful and true a. The Lord God has sent His angel to show His servants the things which must shortly take place b. The Lamb proclaims: "Behold, I am coming quickly! Blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book." 2. John attempts to worship the angel a. He falls down at the feet of the angel who showed him these things b. The angel forbids him 1) The angel is his fellow servant, and of his brethren the prophets and of those who keep the words of this book 2) John is to worship God 3. John is told not to seal the words of the prophecy of this book a. For the time is at hand b. Let he who is unjust be unjust still, the filthy be filthy still c. Let he who is righteous be righteous still, the holy be holy still B. THE TESTIMONY OF JESUS (12-17) 1. His first declaration: a. "Behold, I am coming quickly" b. "My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work" c. "I am the Alpha and the Omega" d. "The Beginning and the End, the First and the Last" 2. The promise: a. Blessed are those who do His commandments (or wash their robes) 1) That they may have the right to the tree of life 2) That they may enter through the gates into the city b. Those outside the city 1) Are dogs, sorcerers, sexually immoral, murderers, and idolaters 2) Whoever loves and practices a lie 3. His second declaration: a. "I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things in the churches" b. "I am the Root and the Offspring of David, the Bright and Morning Star." 4. The invitation: a. The Spirit and the bride say "Come!" b. Let him who hears say "Come!" -- Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely C. A WORD OF WARNING (18-19) 1. Do not add to the words of this book, or God will add to him the plagues written in it 2. Do not take away from the words of this book, or God will take away his part from: a. The Book (or Tree) of Life b. The holy city c. The things written in this book D. CLOSING PROMISE, FINAL PRAYERS (20-21) 1. The promise of Him who testifies to these things: "Surely I am coming quickly." 2. John's two prayers: a. Concerning his Lord: "Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus!" b. Concerning his brethren: "The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen." REVIEW QUESTIONS 1) What are the main points of this chapter? - The river, the tree, and the throne (1-5) - The grand conclusion (6-21) 2) What does John see proceeding from the throne of God and of the Lamb? (1) - A pure river of water of life, clear as crystal 3) What is on either side of the river? (2) - The tree(s) of life 4) How many fruits did the tree bear and when? What were the leaves for? (2) - Twelve fruits, each yielding its fruit every month - The healing of the nations 5) What no longer existed? What was in the city instead? (3) - There shall be no more curse - The throne of God and of the Lamb 6) What is said concerning the servants of God and of the Lamb? (3-5) - His servants shall serve Him; they shall see His face - His name shall be on their foreheads; they shall reign forever and ever 7) What is said of night and the light of the sun? (5) - There shall be no night there - They need no lamp nor light of the sun, for the Lord God gives them light 8) What is John told about the things which he has seen? (6) - "These words are faithful and true" - The Lord God of the holy prophets sent His angel to show His servants the things which must shortly take place 9) What promise and assurance is given in verse 7? - "Behold, I am coming quickly!" - "Blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book." 10) What did John try to do when he heard and saw these things? (8) - Fall down and worship before the feet of the angel who showed them to him 11) What did the angel tell John? (9) - "See that you do not do that." - "I am your fellow servant, and of your brethren the prophets, and of those who keep the words of this book." - "Worship God." 12) What is John told regarding the prophecy of this book? Why? (10) - Not to seal the words of the prophecy of this book - For the time is at hand 13) What is said of the unjust and filthy? The righteous and holy? (11) - Let them be unjust and filthy still - Let them be righteous and holy still 14) What promise and assurance is given in verse 12? - "Behold, I am coming quickly" - "My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work" 15) How does Jesus describe Himself? (13) - "I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last." 16) What blessedness is promised to those who do His commandments (some manuscripts say "wash their robes")? (14) - They will have the right to the tree of life - They will enter the through the gates into the city 17) What is outside the city? (15) - Dogs, sorcerers, sexually immoral, murderers and idolaters - Whoever loves and practices a lie 18) Why had Jesus sent His angel? (16) - To testify these things in the churches 19) How does Jesus describe Himself? (16) - "I am the Root and the Offspring of David, the Bright and Morning Star." 20) Who extends the invitation to "Come!"? Who else is to extend this invitation? (17) - The Spirit and the bride - Him who hears 21) To whom is this invitation extended? What is offered? (17) - To him who thirsts - To take the water of life freely 22) What warning is given to those who hears the words of the prophecy of this book? (18-19) - If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues written in the book - If anyone takes away from the words of this book, God will take away his part from the Book (or Tree) of Life, the holy city, and the things written in this book 23) What promise is given by Him who testifies of these things? (20) - "Surely I am coming quickly." 24) What two prayers does John express as he closes the book? (20-21) - "Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus!" - "The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen."
"THE BOOK OF REVELATION" Chapter Twenty-One Following the Judgment scene at the end of the previous chapter, the eternal destiny of the redeemed is now revealed. The motif of a new heaven and new earth, along with the New Jerusalem, is used to provide great hope and comfort to Christians. This is certainly nothing new, for both the Old and New Testaments provided similar pictures to increase anticipation of the future (cf. Isa 65:17-25; 66:22-24; He 11:10,13-16; 13:14; 2Pe 3:13). In each case, the eternal destiny of God's faithful is described in terms that provided the greatest meaning and encouragement to the people of that dispensation. Here we see the destiny of the redeemed in terms depicting fellowship with God and protection by God. John first sees all things made new. There is a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and first earth are no more (cf. Re 20:11). He sees the holy city, New Jerusalem, "coming down out of heaven from God." A loud voice from heaven declares that God will dwell with His people and be their God. God, who is the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, will comfort His people by removing all that causes pain, and provide the fountain of the water of life freely to him that thirsts. While those who overcome inherit all things and enjoy the blessings of being God's children, the wicked and unfaithful have their part in the lake of fire and brimstone (cf. Re 19:20; 20:10,14-15) which is defined as the second death (1-8). One of the seven angels who had the seven bowls (cf. Re 15:7; 16:1) then carries John to a great and high mountain, to show him "the bride, the Lamb's wife". This is none other than the great city, the New Jerusalem, which is seen "descending out of heaven from God." It is a city having the glory of God, and the bulk of the chapter describes its prominent features. A great and high wall surrounds the city. Standing about 216 feet high and made of jasper, the wall has twelve pearly gates upon which are the names of the twelve tribes of Israel, with an angel at each gate. The wall has twelve foundations, each made of precious stones of various colors, upon which are the names of the twelve apostles. The city itself, made of pure gold like clear glass, is 1500 miles long in its length, breadth, and height. The street of the city is also pure gold, like transparent glass (9-21). The glory of the holy city is described further by noting that there is no temple, for God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. There is no need for the sun or moon, for the glory of God and the Lamb illuminate the city. Its gates are never shut, there is no night there, and the nations of the saved along with the kings of the earth bring their honor and glory into it. Only those written in the Lamb's book of life enter this glorious city, ensuring that it remains free from any abomination and defilement (22-27). POINTS TO PONDER * The eternal destiny of the redeemed, in terms depicting fellowship with God and protection by God * The new heaven and new earth (cf. 2Pe 3:13), along with the holy city, New Jerusalem "coming down out of heaven from God" (cf. Re 3:12; 21:2,10) * The detailed imagery used to describe the heavenly city, the New Jerusalem OUTLINE I. ALL THINGS MADE NEW (1-8) A. THE NEW HEAVEN AND NEW EARTH (1) 1. John sees a new heaven and a new earth 2. The first heaven and earth had passed away, and there was no sea B. THE NEW JERUSALEM (2) 1. John saw the holy city coming down out of heaven 2. It was prepared as a bride adorned for her husband C. THE PROCLAMATION FROM HEAVEN (3-4) 1. "The tabernacle of God is with men" a. "He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people" b. "God Himself will be with them and be their God" 2. "God will wipe away every tear from their eyes" a. "There shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying" b. "There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away" D. THE PROCLAMATION FROM THE ONE WHO SAT ON THE THRONE (5-8) 1. "Behold, I make all things new" a. "Write, for these words are true and faithful" b. "It is done!" 2. "I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End" a. "I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts" b. "He who overcomes shall inherit all things" 1) "I will be his God" 2) "He shall be My son" 3. "But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars..." a. "Shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone" b. "Which is the second death" II. THE NEW JERUSALEM (9-21) A. JOHN IS SHOWN THE HOLY CITY (9-11) 1. By one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls filled with the last plagues a. Who offered to show John "the bride, the Lamb's wife" b. Who carried him away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain 2. He sees the great city, the holy Jerusalem a. Descending out of heaven from God b. Having the glory of God c. With light like a jasper stone, clear as crystal B. THE CONSTRUCTION OF THE CITY AND ITS WALL (12-21) 1. It had a great and high wall with twelve gates a. With twelve angels at the gates b. With the names of the twelve tribes of Israel c. With three gates each on the east, north, south, and west d. With twelve foundations, on which were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb 2. The measurement of the city, the gates, and the wall a. The angel had a golden reed to measure them b. The city is laid out as a cube, its length, breadth, and height are each 12,000 furlongs (1500 miles) c. The wall is one hundred and forty-four cubits (216 feet) 3. The construction of the city, the wall, its foundations, and the gates a. The wall was of jasper; the city was pure gold, like clear glass b. The twelve foundations of the wall were adorned with precious stones: 1) Jasper 5) Sardonyx 9) Topaz 2) Sapphire 6) Sardius 10) Chrysoprase 3) Chalcedony 7) Chrysolite 11) Jacinth 4) Emerald 8) Beryl 12) Amethyst c. The twelve gates were twelve pearls, each gate one pearl d. The street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass III. THE GLORY OF THE HOLY CITY (22-27) A. ILLUMINATED BY THE PRESENCE OF GOD AND THE LAMB (22-23) 1. Its temple are the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb 2. It is illuminated by the glory of God and the Lamb B. ENHANCED BY THOSE WHO ENTER IT (24-27) 1. The nations of the saved shall walk in its light 2. The kings of the earth bring their glory and honor into it 3. Its gates shall not be shut at all by day, and there is no night there 4. The nations shall bring their glory and honor into it a. Nothing that defiles, causes an abomination or a lie, shall enter it b. Only those written in the Lamb's book of Life enter it REVIEW QUESTIONS 1) What are the main points of this chapter? - All things made new (1-8) - The New Jerusalem (9-21) - The glory of the holy city (22-27) 2) What did John see? (1) - A new heaven and new earth 3) What happened to the first heaven and first earth? What of the sea? (1) - They had passed away; it was no more 4) What did John see coming down out of heaven from God? (2) - The holy city, New Jerusalem, prepared as bride adorned for her husband 5) What is said about the dwelling of God? (3) - The tabernacle of God is with men - He will dwell with them and they shall be His people - God Himself will be with them and be their God 6) What will God do? What shall be no more? (4) - Wipe away every tear from their eyes; death, sorrow, crying, pain 7) What did the One on the throne say to John in verse 5? - "Behold, I make all things new" - "Write, for these words are true and faithful" 8) What did He say in verse 6? - "It is done!" - "I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End" - "I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts" 9) What is promised to those who overcome? (7) - He shall inherit all things - "I will be his God and he shall be My son" 10) Who shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone? What is this called? (8) - The cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, all liars - The second death 11) Who offered to show John the bride, the Lamb's wife? (9) - One of the seven angels who had the seven bowls 12) Where is John taken, and what does he see? (10) - To a great and high mountain - The great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God 13) What was the general description of the city? (11) - It has the glory of God - Her light was like a most precious stone, like a jasper stone, clear as crystal 14) What surrounded the city? (12) - A great and high wall with twelve gates 15) What stood at each of the gates? What was written on the gates? (12) - An angel; the names of the twelve tribes of Israel 16) How many foundations did the wall have? What was written on the foundations? (14) - Twelve; the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb 17) What was the length, breadth, and height of the city? (16) - 12,000 furlongs (about 1500 miles) 18) How tall was the wall? (17) - 144 cubits (about 216 feet) 19) What was the construction of the wall? Of the city? (18) - The wall was of jasper - The city was of pure gold, like clear glass 20) What were the foundations of the city adorned with? (19) - All sorts of precious stones 21) What were the twelve gates? What was the street of the city? (21) - Twelve pearls, each gate of one pearl - Pure gold, like transparent glass 22) Why was there no temple in the city? (22) - The Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple 23) Why was there no need for the sun or moon to shine in it? (23) - The glory of God illuminated it, and the Lamb is its light 24) Who shall walk in its light? Who shall bring their glory and honor into it? (24) - The nations of those who are saved - The kings of the earth 25) What shall not be shut at all day? What about at night? (25) - The city's gates - There shall be no night there 26) Who will by no means enter the city? Who will enter the city? (27) - Anything that defiles, or causes an abomination or a lie - Only those who are written in the Lamb's Book of Life
"THE BOOK OF REVELATION" Chapter Twenty Previous chapters have illustrated the defeat of agents used by Satan to persecute God's people. One by one we have seen the fall of Babylon, the beast, the false prophet, and the armies they had gathered. What about Satan, the dragon who gave authority to the beast in his efforts to wage war against the saints (Re 12:17-13:7)? And what of those killed by the agents of Satan? This chapter reveals the binding of Satan for "a 1000 years". It most likely depicts a long period of time in which Satan is no longer able to deceive the nations as he did during the time of the Roman empire (cf. Re 13:14; 20:3). It began following the end of Roman persecution and would continue for some time in the future. During this period, John sees souls reigning with Christ, who were beheaded for their faithfulness to Jesus and the word of God. No mention is made of reigning on the earth, so my conclusion is that they reign with Christ in heaven during this period (cf. Re 2:26-27; 3:21). This "first resurrection" may be a special blessing for the martyrs of Christ during the intermediate state (between death and the bodily resurrection at the end of time), while Re 7:9-17 may describe the intermediate state for the average Christian. Truly those who had been beheaded for the witness of Christ are "blessed and holy" (1-6)! After the "1000 years" are over, Satan is released for a short time where he once again seeks to "deceive the nations" to persecute the people of God (cf. Re 13:14; 20:3,8,10). The mention of "Gog and Magog" is likely an apocalyptic reference to forces of evil at Satan's disposal during this time, not any particular nation or nations. But the final attempt of Satan is quickly thwarted by the Lord, and the devil is cast into the lake of fire, where the beast and false prophet were (cf. Re 19:20). If any section of Revelation pertains to the time just prior to the Lord's final coming, I believe it to be this one. The description is brief, for the book was written for the benefit of Christians in Asia Minor about things to shortly come to pass (cf. Re 1:1-4; 22:6,10). Those Christians would not experience this last attempt of Satan. But to assure them (and us!) that Satan would ultimately be defeated, we have the description found in these few verses (7-10). The chapter closes with a description of the final judgment. Before the great white throne and Him who sat on it, all the dead are judged. Books are opened, including the Book of Life, and judgment is based upon their works. None escape the judgment, for the sea, Death, and Hades give up all the dead that are in them. Death and Hades are cast into the lake and fire, described as the "second death". The same end is given to those whose names were not written in the Book of Life (11-15). POINTS TO PONDER * The binding, future release, and ultimate defeat of Satan * The "thousand year" reign described in this chapter, and who will reign with Christ * The criteria used in the final judgment, and the importance of the Book of Life OUTLINE I. THE THOUSAND YEAR REIGN (1-6) A. SATAN BOUND FOR 1000 YEARS (1-3) 1. John sees an angel come down from heaven a. Having the key to the bottomless pit b. With a great chain in his hand 2. The angel binds Satan for a thousand years a. Casting him into the bottomless pit, shutting him up and setting a seal on him b. So that he should deceive the nations no more for a thousand years -- But afterward he will be released for a little while B. SAINTS REIGN WITH CHRIST FOR 1000 YEARS (4-6) 1. John sees souls upon thrones, to whom judgment was committed a. Who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and the word of God b. Who had not worshiped the beast or his image c. Who had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands 2. These souls lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years a. The rest of the dead not live again until the thousand years were finished b. This is the first resurrection 1) Blessed and holy are those who have a part in the first resurrection 2) Over such the second death has no power 3) They shall be priests of God and of Christ 4) They shall reign with Christ a thousand years II. SATAN'S FINAL ATTEMPT AND DEFEAT (7-10) A. HIS RELEASE FROM PRISON (7-8) 1. After the thousand years were completed 2. He will go out to deceive the nations a. Those in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog b. To gather them to battle B. HIS FINAL ATTEMPT AND DEFEAT (9) 1. To have the nations surround the camp of the saints and the beloved city 2. But fire from God out of heaven devoured those Satan had deceived C. HIS ETERNAL TORMENT (10) 1. The devil who deceived the nations was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone 2. The same place where the beast and the false prophet are 3. They will be tormented day and night forever and ever III. THE FINAL JUDGMENT (11-15) A. THE ONE ON THE GREAT WHITE THRONE (11) 1. John sees a great white throne and Him who sat on it 2. Before Whose face the earth and heaven fled away so no place was found for them B. THE JUDGMENT OF THE DEAD (12-13) 1. John sees the dead, small and great, standing before God 2. Books were opened, including the Book of Life a. The dead were judged according to their works b. The dead were judged by the things written in the books 3. All the dead were judged, each according to his works a. For the sea gave the dead who were in it b. For Dead and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them C. THE LAKE OF FIRE (14-15) 1. Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire (which is the second death) 2. Anyone not found written in the Book of Life were cast into the lake of fire REVIEW QUESTIONS 1) What are the main points of this chapter? - The thousand year reign (1-6) - Satan's final attempt and defeat (7-10) - The final judgment (11-15) 2) What did John see coming down from heaven? (1) - An angel, having the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand 3) What did the angel do to Satan? (2-3) - Laid hold of him and bound him for a thousand years - Cast him into the bottomless pit and set a seal upon him 4) Why did the angel do this to Satan? (3) - So that he should deceive the nations no more till the thousand years were completed 5) What souls did John see sitting on thrones? (4) - Those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God - Who had not worshiped the beast or his image - Who had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands 6) How long did they live? With whom did they reign? (4) - A thousand years; Christ 7) What is this reigning with Christ called? Why are those who have a part considered blessed and holy? (5-6) - The first resurrection - Over such the second death has no power, and they shall be priests of God and Christ and reign with Him a thousand years 8) What happens when the thousand years have expired? (7) - Satan will be released 9) What will he do? (8-9) - Deceive the nations in the four corners of the earth to gather them for battle - To surround the camp of the saints and the beloved city 10) What will happen before they succeed? (9) - Fire from God out of heaven will devour them 11) What will happen to the devil? (10) - He will be cast into the lake of fire, where the beast and false prophet are - They will be tormented day and night forever and every 12) What does John see next? What about the earth and the heaven? (11) - A great white throne and Him who sat on it - They fled away; no place was found for them 13) Who does John see standing before the throne? What was opened (12) - The dead, both small and great - Books, including the Book of Life 14) How were the dead judged? (12) - According to their works - By the things which were written in the books 15) Who had given up the dead? (13) - The sea, Death and Hades 16) What is the lake of fire called? Who was cast into it? (14-15) - The second death - Death and Hades, and anyone not found written in the Book of Life
Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2012
"THE BOOK OF REVELATION" Chapter Nineteen This chapter illustrates the ultimate defeat of the enemies of God's people. John hears a great multitude in heaven rejoicing over the fall of Babylon. The multitude is joined by the twenty-four elders and four living creatures, and a voice from the throne calling upon all God's servants to praise Him (1-5). John then hears heaven rejoicing in preparation for the marriage of the Lamb. His wife has made herself ready, and she is adorned in fine linen, signifying the righteous acts of the saints. John is then told to write that those invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb are truly blessed. John falls down to worship the one speaking to him, but is immediately rebuked and told to worship God (6-10). The scene quickly changes as John sees heaven opened and Christ the warrior king on a white horse, followed by the armies in heaven on white horses. Described in terms reminiscent of His appearance in the first three chapters, He is ready to strike the nations and rule them with a rod of iron, even as He treads the winepress of the fierce wrath of Almighty God. As inscribed on His robe and His thigh, Jesus is truly "King of kings and Lord of Lords" (11-16). With an angel standing in the sun and inviting the birds to gather for the supper of the great God, John then sees the beast and his forces gathered to make war against Christ and His army. But immediately the beast and the false prophet (the earth beast of Re 13:11-18) are captured and cast alive into the lake of fire. Their armies are killed with the sword proceeding from the mouth of Christ, and all the birds were filled with their flesh (17-21). This chapter appears designed to reinforce the idea that Christ in His kingly rule will defeat those who have been persecuting His people. Just as Babylon the harlot would be destroyed, so the beast and false prophet would be overcome. If the latter two represent the Roman empire in its persecution against the church, this section with its vivid imagery would have been fulfilled by 313 A.D. when Constantine brought an end to Roman persecution. POINTS TO PONDER * The great joy in heaven over the fall of Babylon * The excitement over the preparation for the marriage of the Lamb and His wife * The victory Christ would have over the beast, the false prophet and their armies OUTLINE I. HEAVEN REJOICES OVER THE FALL OF BABYLON (1-5) A. A GREAT MULTITUDE IN HEAVEN (1-3) 1. Praising God, attributing salvation, glory, honor, and power to Him 2. Declaring His judgments on the great harlot as true and righteous a. For she corrupted the earth with her fornication b. He has avenged the blood of His servants which she shed 3. Praising God, for her smoke rises up forever and ever B. THE TWENTY-FOUR ELDERS AND FOUR LIVING CREATURES (4) 1. Falling down and worshipping God who sits on the throne 2. Saying "Amen, Alleluia!" C. A VOICE FROM THE THRONE (5) 1. Calling upon all God's servants and those who fear Him 2. Calling upon both small and great to praise God II. PREPARATION FOR THE MARRIAGE OF THE LAMB (6-10) A. A GREAT MULTITUDE IN HEAVEN (6-8) 1. Sounding like many waters and mighty thunderings a. Praising the Lord God Omnipotent for His reign b. Calling to be glad and rejoice and give God glory 2. For the marriage of the Lamb has come a. His wife has made herself ready b. She was arrayed in fine linen, which is the righteous acts of the saints B. A FELLOW SERVANT (9-10) 1. Telling John to write: "Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb!" 2. Proclaiming: "These are the true sayings of God." 3. When John fell at his feet to worship him, he is rebuked a. "See that you do not do that!" b. "I am your fellow servant, and of your brethren who have the testimony of Jesus." c. "Worship God! For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy." III. CHRIST THE WARRIOR KING ON A WHITE HORSE (11-16) A. HIS AWESOME DESCRIPTION (11-13) 1. As heaven opened, John sees Him sitting on a white horse a. He is called Faithful and True b. In righteousness He judges and makes war 2. As seen by John: a. His eyes were like a flame of fire b. On His head were many crowns c. He had a name written that no one knew but Himself d. Clothed with a robe dipped in blood e. His name is called The Word of God B. HIS GREAT RULE AND REIGN (14-16) 1. Followed by the armies of heaven a. Clothed in fine linen, white and clean b. Sitting on white horses 2. From His mouth, a sharp sword to strike the nations a. He Himself will rule the nations with a rod of iron b. He Himself treads the winepress of Almighty God's fierceness and wrath 3. On His robe and thigh a name written: "King of kings, and Lord of lords" IV. THE FALL OF THE BEAST, THE FALSE PROPHET, AND THEIR FORCES (17-21) A. THE DECLARATION OF AN ANGEL (17-18) 1. John sees an angel standing in the sun, crying with a loud voice 2. Speaking to all the birds that fly in the midst of heaven: a. "Come and gather together for the supper of the great God." b. "...eat the flesh of kings...captains...mighty men...horses ...all people, free and slave, both small and great" B. THE END OF THE BEAST AND FALSE PROPHET (19-21) 1. John saw the beast, the kings of the earth and their armies, gathered to make war against Him who sat on the horse and His army 2. John saw the beast and false prophet captured a. The false prophet who worked signs in the presence of the beast b. By which he deceived those who received the mark of the beast and worshiped his image -- Both were cast alive into the lake of fire burning with brimstone 3. The rest of their forces were killed a. With the sword which proceeded from the mouth of Him who sat on the horse b. All the birds were filled with their flesh REVIEW QUESTIONS 1) What are the main points of this chapter? - Heaven rejoices over the fall of Babylon (1-5) - Heaven rejoices in preparation the marriage of the Lamb (6-10) - Christ the warrior king on a white horse (11-16) - The fall of the beast, the false prophet, and their forces (17-21) 2) What did John hear a great multitude in heaving saying? (1) - "Alleluia! Salvation and glory and honor and power belong to the Lord our God!" 3) Why are God's judgments on the harlot proclaimed as true and righteous? (2) - She has corrupted the earth with her fornication - She has shed the blood of His servants 4) What else does this great multitude in heaven say? (3) - "Alleluia! Her smoke rises up forever and ever!" 5) Who else joins end with a cry of "Amen! Alleluia!"? (4) - The twenty-four elders and the four living creatures 6) What does a voice from throne proclaim? (5) - "Praise our God, all you His servants and those who fear Him, both small and great!" 7) What did the voice of a great multitude cry out next? (6-7) - "Alleluia! For the Lord God Omnipotent reigns!" - "Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready." 8) In what was the Lamb's bride adorned? (8) - Fine linen, clean and bright (the righteous acts of the saints) 9) What was John then told? (9) - "Write: 'Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb!'" - "These are the true sayings of God." 10) As John fell down to worship the one who spoke to him, what was he told? (10) - "See that you do not do that!" - "I am your fellow servant, and of your brethren who have the testimony of Jesus." - "Worship God! For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy." 11) List the descriptive features of the One sitting on a white horse (11-16) - He was called Faithful and True, in righteousness He judges and makes war - His eyes were like a flame of fire, on His head were many crowns - He had a name written that no one knew except Himself - He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood - His name is called The Word of God - He was followed by the armies of heaven, clothed in white linen and on white horses - Out of His mouth goes a sharp sword with which He should strike the nations - He will rule the nations with a rod of iron - He treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of God - On His robe and thigh was a name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS 12) What did an angel standing in the sun say to the birds? (17-18) - "Come and gather together for the supper of the Great God" - "That you may eat the flesh of mighty men...horses...those who sit on them...all people, free and slave, both small and great." 13) What did John see next? (19) - The beast, the kings of the earth and their armies, gathered to make war against Him who sat on the white horse and His army 14) What happened to the beast and the false prophet? (20) - They were captured and cast alive into the lake of fire burning with brimstone 15) What happened to the rest of their armies? (21) - They were killed by the sword which proceeded from the mouth of Christ - All the birds were filled with their flesh
"THE BOOK OF REVELATION" Chapter Eighteen In this chapter we find the fall of "Babylon the great" proclaimed, and the great mourning over her by those in the world. The fall of Babylon is proclaimed by an angel with great authority, who illuminated the earth with his glory. The reasons for her fall include how the nations and kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and how the merchants have become rich through her abundance. Meanwhile, a voice from heaven calls for the people of God to come out of her lest they receive the plagues to come upon her. Her judgment will involve death, mourning, famine, and utter destruction by fire, for it is the Lord God who judges her (1-8). The fall of Babylon is mourned by the kings of the earth who committed fornication with her, and the merchants and sea-traders who had become rich by her. They all cry out "Alas, alas, that great city..." as they observe her judgment. They bemoan that in just one hour her riches came to nothing and she has become desolate. On the other hand, heaven itself, along with the apostles and prophets, are called to rejoice, because God has avenged them on her (9-20). Finally, a mighty angel throws a large stone into sea to depict with what great violence Babylon will be thrown down. The sounds and sights of music, crafts, even weddings will be gone. The fall of Babylon is justified, for her merchants were great, by her sorcery the nations were deceived, and in her was found the blood of prophets, saints, and all those slain on the earth (21-24). What is this chapter describing? If the date of the book suggested in the introduction is correct (spring, 70 A.D.) , and Jerusalem is indeed the "harlot", then this chapter likely refers to its destruction by the Romans in August, 70 A.D. This would be in harmony with Re 17:16, where those who first supported the harlot eventually turned on her. So it was with Jerusalem, who depended upon the approval of the Roman authorities to persecute the church, and later became the object of Roman persecution herself. Very fitting is the depiction of Jerusalem as a harlot, for she who should have been a great spiritual city had become a great commercial center by virtue of the roads that passed through her between Europe, Asia and Africa. Her spiritual adultery was also manifested by rejecting the many prophets and apostles sent to her (cf. Mt 23:31-39 with Re 17:6; 18:20,24; 19:2). But if Rome (in particular her commercial and immoral spirit) is the "harlot", then this chapter may describe the fall of Rome in 476 A.D. The statements in Re 18:3,9-19 ("all the nations..." and "the merchants of the earth...") seem to fit Rome better than Jerusalem. The fall of "Babylon, the harlot" was due to her treatment of apostles, prophets, and saints (Re 18:20,24). When Revelation was written, Rome had already killed Peter and Paul, and by the time of Rome's fall, there had been at least ten periods of persecutions by Rome against the church. Rome, like Jerusalem, certainly qualifies as "Babylon, the harlot!" POINTS TO PONDER * The pronouncement and depiction of the fall of "Babylon the great" * The reasons why Babylon would receive such terrible judgment * The identity of "that great city Babylon, that mighty city" OUTLINE I. THE FALL OF BABYLON PROCLAIMED (1-8) A. BY AN ANGEL FROM HEAVEN (1-3) 1. John sees an angel coming down from heaven a. Having great authority b. Illuminating the earth with his glory 2. The angel cries mightily with a loud voice a. Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen b. She has become... 1) A dwelling place of demons 2) A prison for every foul spirit 3) A cage for every unclean and hated bird c. With her... 1) The nations have drunk of the wine of her fornication 2) The kings of the earth have committed fornication 3) The merchants of the earth have become rich B. BY A VOICE FROM HEAVEN (4-8) 1. Calling God's people to come out of her a. Lest they share in her sins and her plagues b. For her sins have reached to heaven and God has remembered her iniquities 2. Calling for judgment to be rendered her a. Render her just as she rendered them b. Repay her double according to her works c. In the cup she has mixed, mix double for her d. To the degree she glorified herself and lived luxuriously... 1) Give her torment and sorrow 2) For she says in heart that she is a queen and will not see sorrow as a widow e. Her plagues will come in one day... 1) Death, mourning, and famine 2) Utterly burned with fire -- For great is the Lord God who judges her II. THE FALL OF BABYLON MOURNED (9-20) A. BY THE KINGS OF THE EARTH (9-10) 1. Those who committed fornication and lived luxuriously with her 2. They shall weep and lament when they see the smoke of her burning 3. They shall stand afar off for fear of her torment, saying... a. "Alas, alas, that great city Babylon, that mighty city!" b. "For in one hour your judgment has come." B. BY THE MERCHANTS OF THE EARTH (11-17a) 1. They shall weep and mourn over her 2. For no one buys their merchandise anymore 3. All that they longed for, both rich and splendid, they shall find no more 4. The merchants shall stand at a distance for fear of her torment, weeping and wailing... a. "Alas, alas, that great city that was clothed in fine linen, purple, and scarlet, and adorned with gold and precious stones and pearls!" b. "For in one hour such great riches came to nothing." C. BY THE TRADERS AND TRAVELERS ON THE SEA (17b-19) 1. They stood at a distance, crying when they saw the smoke of her burning, "What is like this great city?" 2. Throwing dust on their heads, they cried out, weeping and wailing... a. "Alas, alas, that great city, in which all who had ships on the sea became rich by her wealth!" b. "For in one hour she is made desolate." D. BUT NOT BY THE HOLY APOSTLES AND PROPHETS (20) 1. They are to rejoice over her 2. For God has avenged them on her III. THE FALL OF BABYLON JUSTIFIED (21-24) A. THE EXTENT OF HER FALL ILLUSTRATED (21-23a) 1. By a mighty angel... a. Who took a stone like a great millstone and cast it into the sea b. Who then proclaims "Thus with violence the great city Babylon shall be thrown down, and shall not be found anymore." 2. Neither shall be heard or seen in her... a. The sound of harpists, musicians, flutists, and trumpeters b. A craftsman of any craft c. The sound of a millstone d. The light of a lamp e. The voice of bridegroom and bride B. THE EXTENT OF HER FALL JUSTIFIED (23b-24) 1. For her merchants were the great men of the earth 2. For by her sorcery all the nations were deceived 3. For in her was found the blood of prophets and saints, and of all who slain on the earth REVIEW QUESTIONS 1) What are the main points of this chapter? - The fall of Babylon proclaimed (1-8) - The fall of Babylon to be mourned (9-20) - The fall of Babylon justified (21-24) 2) Who proclaims the fall of Babylon? (1-2) - An angel with great authority, whose glory illuminated the earth 3) What is said concerning nations, kings and merchants in regards to Babylon? (3) - Nations have drunk of the wine of her fornication - Kings have committed fornication with her - Merchants have become rich through the abundance of her luxury 4) What does a voice from heaven implore the people of God? Why? (4-5) - Come out of her, lest they share in her sins and receive of her plagues - Her sins have reached to heaven and God has remembered her iniquities 5) To what degree will Babylon be judged? (6-7) - Just as she did to others - Double according to her works - To the degree she lived in glory and luxury, she will suffer torment and sorrow 6) What plagues will come to her in one day? Her ultimate end? (8) - Death, mourning, and famine - Utterly burned with fire 7) What first group is described as mourning the fall of Babylon? (9) - The kings of the earth who committed fornication and lived luxuriously with her 8) What will they say as they see the smoke of her burning from a distance? (10) - "Alas, alas, that great city Babylon, that mighty city!" - "For in one hour your judgment has come." 9) What second group is described as mourning the fall of Babylon? Why? (11) - The merchants of the earth - No one buys their merchandise anymore 10) What will they say as they stand afar off, weeping and wailing? (16-17a) - "Alas, alas, that great city that was clothed in fine linen, purple, and scarlet, and adorned with great gold and precious stones and pearls!" - "For in one hour such great riches came to nothing." 11) What third group is described as mourning the fall of Babylon? (17b) - Every shipmaster, all who travel by ship, sailors, and sea-traders 12) What do they say as they see the smoke of her burning? (18-19) - "What is like this great city?" - "Alas, alas, that great city, in which all who had ships on the sea became rich by her wealth!" - "For in one hour she is made desolate." 13) Who is told to rejoice over the fall of Babylon? Why? (20) - Heaven, and the holy apostles and prophets - For God has avenged them on her 14) What did a mighty angel do and say? (21) - Throw a great millstone into the sea - "Thus with violence the great city Babylon shall be thrown down, and shall not be found anymore." 15) What did the angel say would not be seen or heard in Babylon anymore? (22-23a) - The sound of harpists, musicians, flutists, and trumpeters - Craftsmen, or the sound of a millstone - The light of a lamp, or the voice of bridegroom and bride 16) What two reasons are given for her downfall? (23a-24) - By her sorcery all the nations were deceived - In her was found the blood of prophets, saints, and of all those slain on the earth
Contents of the Ark of the Covenant
|by||Eric Lyons, M.Min.|
Following Israel’s exodus from Egypt, God instructed them to make a small wooden ark (box) overlaid with gold. The ark was 2.5 cubits long, 1.5 cubits wide, and 1.5 cubits high (or about 3.75 x 2.25 x 2.25 feet) and was called the “Ark of the Testimony” or the “Ark of the Covenant” because it contained the tablets of stone whereon the Ten Commandments were written (Exodus 25:16). According to 1 Kings 8:9, “Nothing was in the ark except the two tablets of stone” (emp. added; cf. 2 Chronicles 5:10). The writer of Hebrews, however, indicated that the ark contained “the golden pot that had the manna, Aaron’s rod that budded, and the tablets of the covenant” (9:4). How can both of these passages be correct?
First, it may be that the Hebrews writer was indicating that the pot of manna, Aaron’s rod, and the tablets were in close proximity to the ark, but not necessarily that all three were “in” the ark. Although most English translations refer to what was “in” (NKJV; Greek en) the ark or what the ark “contained” (NIV, RSV), the uses of the Greek preposition en “are so many and various, and oft. so easily confused, that a strictly systematic treatment is impossible” (Danker, 2000, p. 326). Greek lexicographers give numerous definitions for this word, including: among, within the range of, near, before, in the presence of, etc. (Danker, pp. 326-330). Perhaps the writer of Hebrews only intended to communicate that Aaron’s rod, the container of manna, and the tablets of stone were all in close proximity to the ark in the Most Holy Place (the tablets being in the ark, while the manna and rod were “before” the ark; cf. Exodus 16:33-34; Numbers 17:10).
Second, it is also very possible that all three items were literally inside of the ark at one time, but not all of the time. Whenever comparing two or more Bible passages that might initially appear contradictory, one must be sure that the same time frame is under discussion. Such is not the case with Hebrews 9:4 and 1 Kings 8:9. In Hebrews 9, the inspired writer refers to the time of Moses, when “a tabernacle was prepared” (vs. 2; cf. Exodus 25-40). The statement in 1 Kings 8:9 (as well as 2 Chronicles 5:10) is from the time of Solomon, when he built the Temple, approximately 500 years after the tabernacle was constructed. Is it possible that the Ark of the Covenant once contained the tablets of stone, the pot of manna, and Aaron’s rod, while at another time (i.e., five centuries later) the ark contained only the tablets of stone? Most certainly (cf. 1 Samuel 4-5).
What about the allegation that “Aaron’s staff could hardly have fit anyway, since the ark was a box only 2.5 x 1.5 x 1.5 cubits” (Wells, 2009)? The fact is, no one knows the length of Aaron’s rod. Rods served many purposes (e.g., for support, for administering punishment, as a symbol of authority, etc.; see Allen, 1996, p. 1022) and came in various sizes. In Aaron’s case, it appears that his rod was more of a symbol of his God-given authority than just a mere walking stick. What’s more, even if Aaron had used his rod for support, he may have only been five feet tall and needed a walking stick that was just 3½ feet long. Considering that an average walking cane today is only about three feet long, it should not be surprising that Aaron’s rod could have fit into a box that was nearly four feet long.
Indeed, the wording of 1 Kings 8:9 and Hebrews 9:4 are different. But reasonable explanations exist for the variation. There is no doubt that two different time periods are under discussion. Furthermore, as with many Hebrew and Greek words, it may be that the Greek en (in Hebrews 9:4) should be understood in a broader sense. Whatever the precise contents of the Ark of the Covenant at any given time in history, rest assured, 1 Kings 8:9 and Hebrews 9:4 are not contradictory.
Danker, Fredrick William (2000), A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago), third edition.
Wells, Steve (2009), Skeptic’s Annotated Bible, [On-line], URL: http://www.skepticsannotatedbible.com/.
Atheist Asks: “Have You Read the Bible in its Entirety?”
|by||Kyle Butt, M.Div.|
Since 2008, the Atheist Agenda, a student organization on the campus of the University of Texas at San Antonio, has hosted an event called “Smut for Smut.” The group offers to give a free pornographic magazine to everyone who will turn in the Bible or other religious books like the Quran (Hallowell, 2012). When the event began it received considerable press, but the 2012 event “barely attracted attention” (2012). In fact, only about 30 people stopped by the booth, and the Atheist Agenda collected just five Bibles, one Quran, and one Encyclopedia of Islam.
While the event was a dismal failure in regard to ramping up hype for atheism on the campus, it did bring to light a very troubling fact about many who call themselves Christians. A video clip posted in Hallowell’s article shows one of the members of the Atheist Agenda confronting what looks like a fellow student. This fellow student is holding up a sign in protest of the event and in support of the Bible. The atheist is attempting to explain why his group equates the Bible with pornography. The fellow student disagrees, and then the atheist asks the student, “Have you read the Bible in its entirety?” The student shakes his head almost imperceptibly, and in a very low voice admits he has not read the Bible. After that, he tries to walk away as the atheist follows him explaining to him all the alleged “horrible things” found “in the Bible” that the young man had not read.
The fact that the young man had not read the Bible utterly demolished any credibility he may have had. Of course, the atheist was misrepresenting what the Bible says. In no legitimate way does the Bible compare to a pornagraphic magazine. But the young student could do nothing to defend the Bible because he had not read it. Suppose that question were asked of you? Could you respond that you have read the Bible? Or would you be shamed into silence and forced to walk away as you listened to an enemy of God revile His precious Word. How in the world can Christians always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks them a reason for the hope that is in them (1 Peter 3:15), if those Christians have not read the Bible in its entirety?
In Romans 2, Paul explained to the Jews that their sinful lives were causing the Gentiles to speak evil of the God of Israel. He scolded them in harsh terms when he wrote: “For ‘The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you’” (Romans 2:24). In a similar way, the modern skeptical community delights in pinpointing “Christians” living sinful lives, or being so apathetic to the teachings of Christ that they do not care enough to read the Bible. Let it never be said of you that your stand for the truth was rendered useless to the cause of Christ because you could not honestly say that you had read the Bible in its entirety. “Hear the word of the Lord…. My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge” (Hosea 4:1,6).
REFERENCEHallowell, Billy (2012), “Atheist Students Encourage Christians to Exchange Their Bibles for…Pornography,” The Blaze, http://news.yahoo.com/atheist-students-encourage-christians-exchange-bibles-pornography-013422828.html.
Baptism and the Philippian Jailer
|by||Dave Miller, Ph.D.|
Most of Christendom has decided that water baptism is neither a prerequisite, nor necessary, to salvation. Influenced largely by the Protestant Reformation, people have become convinced that forgiveness of sin by the blood of Christ is achieved at the very moment a person “believes”—by which they mean when a person, in his or her own mind, “accepts” Christ as Lord and Savior. To them, the external act of water baptism is considered to be simply an after-the-fact outward “symbol” or “badge” that “declares” the Christian’s already-secured salvation. One passage used to support this thinking is the account of the conversion of the Roman jailer in Philippi (Acts 16). However, a careful study of the entire episode yields quite a different conclusion.
When an earthquake rocked the prison where Paul and Silas were fastened in stocks, the jailer assumed his prisoners had escaped. In view of the fact that Roman law would have required the jailer’s life as the penalty for losing the prisoners who had been placed in his charge (see Ramsay, 1897, p. 222; cf. Acts 12:19), he drew his sword and was about to take his own life. But Paul called out loudly, encouraging the jailer to refrain from harming himself, reassuring him that no prisoner had escaped. Calling for a light, he ran into the prison and fell down trembling before Paul and Silas. Then, bringing them out of the prison, the jailer asked Paul and Silas, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” (Acts 16:30).
What did the jailer mean by this statement? As a heathen Roman (cf. Alford, 1980, 2:184), he no doubt had been exposed to Greek/Roman mythology his entire life. Christianity had been introduced into Macedonia only days earlier when Paul arrived in Philippi (16:12; cf. Ramsay, p. 215). So it is unlikely that he possessed more than a cursory understanding of the Christian notion of salvation from sin. But events occurred in those days leading up to his conversion that may account for the jailer’s question.
Now it happened, as we went to prayer, that a certain slave girl possessed with a spirit of divination met us, who brought her masters much profit by fortune-telling. This girl followed Paul and us, and cried out, saying, “These men are the servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to us the way of salvation.” And this she did for many days (Acts 16:16-18, emp. added).Observe that the demon within the girl announced to the citizens of Philippi over a period of “many days” the fact that Paul and Silas were representatives of the one true God, and that they possessed the information that would show people the way to salvation. In all likelihood, the jailer would have heard this declaration either firsthand or through the reports of friends, neighbors, relatives, or other townspeople.
When Paul finally expelled the demon from the girl, her irate masters assaulted him and Silas, dragged them before the magistrates of the city, and subjected them to the legal proceedings that ultimately landed them in the prison where they encountered the jailer. It is not out of the realm of possibility that the jailer was privy to these proceedings, which surely would have included reference to their alleged identity as “servants of the Most High God” who had information pertaining to “the way of salvation.”
A third means by which the jailer could have come into possession of sufficient information that would account for the phrasing of his question can be seen in verse 25: “But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them.” The jailer may well have heard the hymns that Paul and Silas sang—songs that would have included references to God, Christ, and salvation.
These three circumstances may account for the jailer’s request to be informed about salvation—albeit, even then, his understanding must have been very piecemeal. Paul’s response to the jailer’s question was: “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household” (vs. 31). What did Paul mean by this statement? If he meant what many within Christendom think he meant, that is, if the jailer already knew who Jesus was, and if Paul was urging him simply to believe (i.e., simply to “accept Christ into his heart as his personal savior”), then we should next expect the text to provide the jailer’s response—something to the effect that the jailer accepted Jesus Christ as his savior, or that he believed on Jesus right then and there and was saved.
However, to the contrary, the text says: “Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him” (vs. 32). Why? Didn’t Paul just do that by telling the jailer to believe? Apparently not! Paul later wrote that “faith comes by hearing...the word of God” (Romans 10:17). So the jailer needed to hear additional information that would enable him to know what it means to believe in Jesus. It follows, then, that the instruction, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ” was simply a broad, sweeping statement intended to redirect the jailer’s then-present religious attachment to the pagan gods of Greek/Roman mythology toward the true object of belief—Christ. It was a way to reorient the jailer’s thinking in the direction of Jesus, as contrasted with his own pagan notions. But simply telling the jailer (or anyone today) to “believe on Jesus” does not provide sufficient information on how to believe. In other words, there is more to “believing on Jesus” than simply affirming in one’s mind that Jesus is Lord and Savior (a fact readily conceded even by Satan and the demons—Genesis 3:15; Matthew 4:3,6; Luke 22:31; Hebrews 2:14; James 2:19; Revelation 12:4ff.).
It was only in speaking the word of the Lord to the jailer that he could understand who Christ is, what Christianity is about, and the proper response to the preached Word—i.e., what it means to “believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.” Since the jailer could not be saved before Paul spoke the Word of the Lord to him, observe the sequence of events that the text reports immediately after the Word was spoken to him.
(1) The jailer took Paul and Silas “the same hour of the night and washed their stripes” (Acts 16:33). Here is evidence of repentance (e.g., Matthew 3:8). Here is evidence that the jailer was convinced by the information that had been given to him, to the extent that he wanted to make things right. That is repentance—a change of mind resulting in appropriate outward actions (Matthew 21:29; 2 Corinthians 7:10).
(2) The text then states: “And immediately he and all his family were baptized.” Three aspects of this sentence are noteworthy. First, if baptism is unnecessary to salvation, why even mention it with regard to the conversion of the jailer? Why not simply proceed in the narrative to the outcome of conversion—i.e., some indication that he was now saved? If baptism is nonessential, instead of reading, “And immediately he and all his family were baptized,” one would expect the text to read, “And immediately he and all his family accepted Jesus as their personal Savior.” Second, where did the jailer get the idea that he needed to be baptized? It had to have been included in Paul’s “speaking the word of the Lord” to him. But if the jailer could not be saved until Paul “spoke the word of the Lord” to him, and if Paul included in that “word of the Lord” the doctrine of baptism, then it follows that the jailer’s salvation depended in part on baptism. Third, why “immediately”? Many within Christendom wait a week, a month, or longer before baptizing believers. Why was the jailer baptized immediately in the middle of the night? The implication is that baptism is more crucial and more urgent than many today think.
(3) At this point in Luke’s narrative, we are informed that the jailer brought Paul and Silas into his home, and then he set food before them. Next, we are informed that the jailer “rejoiced” (vs. 34). When does the text indicate that the jailer manifested signs of joy and happiness (that naturally follow conversion)—before or after baptism? After baptism! In fact, every time rejoicing is explicitly alluded to in the conversion accounts of Acts, it is always after baptism (e.g., 2:46—“gladness”; 8:39—“rejoicing”).
(4) Everything up to this point leads one to the conclusion that baptism was part and parcel of the jailer’s conversion, and preceded his salvation as the culminating act. But here is the clincher. Look carefully at the phrase in verse 34: “having believed in God.” Here is a clear, explicit indication that the jailer was now a saved believer. In the Greek, the expression “having believed” (pepisteukos) is in the perfect tense. There is no English tense corresponding to the Greek perfect. Consider the following brief explanation by Greek grammarians Dana and Mantey.
The perfect is the tense of complete action. Its basal significance is the progress of an act or state to a point of culmination and the existence of its finished results. That is, it views action as a finished product…. It implies a process, but views that process as having reached its consummation and existing in a finished state (1927, p. 200, emp. added).Greek scholar Ray Summers offered another helpful explanation of the Greek perfect tense:
[I]t indicates a completed action with a resulting state of being. The primary emphasis is on the resulting state of being. Involved in the Greek perfect are three ideas: an action in progress, its coming to a point of culmination, its existing as a completed result. Thus it implies a process but looks upon the process as having reached a consummation and existing as a completed state (1950, p. 103, italics in orig., emp. added).In light of the thrust of the Greek perfect tense, Luke was making the point that the jailer went through a process of several actions before it could be stated that he was in possession of a saving faith in God. His initial belief that came as a result of hearing the Word of the Lord preached to him, led to his repentance (as evinced by his attending Paul and Silas’ wounds), and then culminated in his baptism in water—bringing his faith to a completed result. Only at this point could the Greek perfect tense be used to indicate that the jailer now stood in a completed state of having believed. Luke was careful to refrain from labeling the jailer as a “believer” until all of the prerequisites to salvation had been completed, thereby bringing his faith to its finished state. This observation was acknowledged by R.J. Knowling while professor of New Testament Exegesis at King’s College in London: “[T]he word pepisteukos, perfect participle, shows that this fullness of joy was caused by his full profession of belief; it was the joy of the Holy Ghost which followed his baptism” (n.d., 2:353, italics in orig., emp. added).
This understanding of the conversion account of the Philippian jailer is in perfect concord with the other conversion accounts given in Acts (e.g., Acts 2:38; 3:19; 8:12-13,36-39; 9:18; 10:47-48; 16:15; 18:8; 19:5). The New Testament designates water immersion as the point in time at which God cleanses the sin-stained spirit of the penitent believer by the blood of Christ (cf. Acts 22:16; Romans 6:3-4).
REFERENCESDana, H.E. and Julius Mantey (1927), A Manual Grammar of the Greek New Testament (Toronto, Canada: Macmillan, 1957 reprint).
Knowling, R.J. (no date), The Expositor’s Greek Testament: The Acts of the Apostles, ed. W. Robertson Nicoll (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans).
Ramsay, William (1897), St. Paul the Traveller and the Roman Citizen (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1962 reprint).
Summers, Ray (1950), Essentials of New Testament Greek (Nashville, TN: Broadman).