Thursday, June 30, 2011

4th of July!!!

We will be taking a long weekend break for the 4th of July.  The blogs on Revelation will resume on July 6th.

God Bless!!!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Revelation 12:1-6, The Woman and the Dragon (The Study of the Apocalypse)


The most interesting thing about this passage is the background that is used to write it. The background is pagan mythology! Osborne*** offers a great summary where he cites Mol who calls this passage the “international myth” as a form of this story appears in virtually every religion of the ancient world. Here are some excerpts from Osborne’s introduction:

“In Egypt the mother goddess Isis is pursued by the red dragon Set or Typhon and flees to an island, where she gives birth to the sun god, Horus. In Ugaritic myth the storm god Baal defeats the seven-headed serpent Leviathan and sets up his kingdom. IN Mesopotamia, Marduk, the god of light, kills the seven-headed dragon Tiamat, who had thrown down a third of the stars. In Greco-Roman myth, the goddess Leto, pregnant with Apollo, is pursued by the dragon Python. She is rescued by Poseidon, who places her in safety on an island. After Apollo is born, he slays Python.” (Pg. 454).

Out of these, the Leto/Apollo myth is the closest to what John has written here. So why does this vision seem to be taken from pagan myths? Osborne*** (Pgs. 454-455) concludes that this would have given the pagans, who longed for their myths to be true, someone who would fulfill what had been myths to them. Jesus would have “actualized” these myths “in history”. We have seen in other parts of Revelation where pagan myths and area history were used as background, especially in the seven messages to the seven churches in Asia Minor (Chapters 2 and 3).

Chapter 12

     1 And a great sign was seen in heaven1, a woman2 clothed with3 the sun, and the moon under her feet, and a crown4 of twelve stars5 on her head.6 2 And being pregnant7, she cries out in labor and suffered terrible pain8 in giving birth. 3 And another sign was seen in heaven, and behold, a great red9 dragon10 having seven heads11, ten horns12, and seven royal headbands13 on his head. 4 His tail14 pulled down by force15 a third of the stars16 of heaven and threw them to the earth. And the dragon stood17 in front of18 the woman, who is about to give birth, so that when she may give birth, he might devour her child19. 5 And she gave birth to a son, a male child, who is destined20 to rule21 all nations with an iron staff.22 6 And her child was caught up23 to God and to his24 throne. And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she had25 a place prepared26 there by God, so that they might take care of27 her there for one thousand two hundred and sixty days28.

1 John sees this in heaven. The vision gives an overview of the rebellion against God and His provision for redemption.

2 Many scholars see this woman as Mary the mother of Jesus. Mounce** sees her as “the messianic community, the ideal Israel”, thus the church/ believers. (Pg. 236). Paul also alludes to this in Galatians 4:26. Beale* sees her as the “faithful community” before and after the coming of Christ. (Pg. 625).

     This image of the woman can well remind us of Mary and the nation that bore the seed of Abraham through whom all would be blessed. It is particularly applicable to Israel with the mention of a crown with twelve stars, representing the twelve tribes.

3 περιβεβλημένη (clothed with) 

Greek: “having been clothed” or “having been thrown around”. In other 
words, the sun has been thrown around the woman like clothing.

     The light of God was given to Israel. They were chosen to reveal Him so the earth would know.

4 στέφανος (a crown)

A sign of winning or great achievement. A wreath. This may also indicate a “heavenly” form of royalty. This is also the same word used for the conquering crowns in the seven letters (2:10) and the 1st seal (6:2). If the woman stands as the believers, then the crown would be the conquering crown.

5 The twelve starts could mean different things. They could represent the twelve tribes of Israel as listed in the sealing of the slaves of God (7:1-8) or possibly the twelve apostles.

6 The vision of the women is a allusion to Joseph’s dreams in Genesis 37:1-9. There, the sun represented Jacob (Israel), the moon represented his mother, and the stars represented his brothers. Osborne*** concludes that this woman represents Israel and the church, or “God’s people”. (Pgs. 456-457). Mounce** states that “The world may despise the true Israel and hold it in lowest esteem, but from God’s point of view she is a radiant bride.” (Pg. 236).

     Perhaps it might be a stretch to consider this woman as representing the church. The church did not give birth to Jesus, but rather Jesus that gave birth to the church. The Church is the Bride of Christ. It does not give birth to the Son and groom, but awaits His return.

The Church has not displaced Israel, rather we are grafted in, as wild branches into a cultivated olive tree. Paul reminds us that if their unbelief brought riches, even salvation to the world, how much more will be the riches of their belief. The root remains and a remnant will be saved. The two become one tree as they become one with the tree of life.

7 ἐν γαστρὶ ἔχουσα (being pregnant) 

Greek: “in having a womb”. An idiom for “being pregnant”.

8 βασανιζομένη (suffered terrible pain)

Greek: “having been tormented”. Osborne*** (Pg. 458) points out that no where else in the NT is βασανίζω (I torment/torture) used to describe labor pains but is used to describe persecution of God’s people. Thus, he sees a double meaning here: 1. The birth of the Messiah and 2. The messianic woes of the people of God to birth the “messianic age”.

Mounce** points out that the OT often pictures Israel as a woman in travail. Here, the woman represents the “true Israel” (believers) in her pre-messianic agony of expectation. (Pg. 237).

Beale* points to John 16:19-22 where Christ compares the grief of his disciples over his upcoming death to a woman about to give birth. In doing so, he connects the believing disciples with the believers here. (Pg. 630).

     Israel has endured much suffering for their rejection of God, but it is through that rejection that God works His plan for redemption. In the end Israel will be redeemed. Though facing much hostility and abuse in the world, some will be saved. The Church, that was born of her wanderings, will welcome her return. There will be neither Jew or Gentile, but a new man.

9 πυρρὸς (red)

Greek: “fiery red”. Indicates that the color was orange, yellow, and red like fire. As the red horse of the second seal, the red dragon probably represents blood and slaughter. Osborne*** (Pg. 459).

10 δράκων (dragon)

A dragon in the ancient world was a monstrous winged serpent or lizard. It could also be a sea-monster or Leviathan (Job 3:8; 41:1). Also in the ancient world, the dragon “came to represent all the terrors of the sea and thus the presence of evil and death”. Osborne*** (Pg. 459). Beale* points out that the dragon represents the evil sea monster of the OT that “symbolizes evil kingdoms who oppress Israel”. He goes on to state that the passage is a retelling of Egypt’s pursuit of Israel into the wilderness where God protects them. (Pgs. 632-633).

     The dragon is first revealed as the serpent in the Garden, manifesting rebellion and deception. Corruption and death lie in his path. This was overcome by the resurrection of Christ.

11 Osborne*** sees the seven heads as sovereignty over the earth. (Pg. 460).

12 The horns in the ancient world represented strength or military strength. Osborne*** sees them as an imitation of the seven horns of the lamb in 5:6. (Pg. 460). The ten horns is an allusion to the forth beast in Daniel 7. Mounce** (Pg. 237).

13 διαδήματα (headband)

A type of crown employed as a symbol of the highest ruling power in a particular area and therefore often associated with kingship — ‘diadem crown. Since this is a different type of crown than is found in verse 1, it may indicate an “earthly” form of royalty. Beale* states that the diadems “represent the devil’s false claim of sovereign, universal authority in opposition to the true ‘King of kings and Lord or lords’”. (Pg. 635).

14 The “tail” of a dragon in the ancient world was normally a weapon. Osborne*** (Pg. 460).

     The swarm of locust out of the abyss were described as horses with serpent tails.

15 σύρει (pulled down by force)

Most of the time, this verbs indicates that a resistance was in place that made the doer of the action to have to use force. It’s possible that the 1/3 of the stars of heaven didn’t want to be pulled down.

     This could reflect Satan being cast down from heaven to earth.

     It is interesting to note the parallel use of 1/3 in the following verse from Zechariah:

     Zechariah 13:8-9 
8 It will come about in all the land, 
Declares the Lord, 
That two parts in it will be cut off and perish; 
But the third will be left in it. 
9 And I will bring the third part through the fire, 
Refine them as silver is refined, 
And test them as gold is tested. 
They will call on My name,

16 In the Apocalypse, stars always represent angels. Osborne*** sees this seen as a short-lived victory of Satan as he was able to convince 1/3 of the angels of heaven to side with him in the “original war in heaven”. (Pg. 461). Mounce** states that this is a reminder of Daniel 8:10 where “the little horn (Antiochus Epiphanes) casts to the ground some of the stars and tramples them under foot.” He goes on to say that this passage is not a teaching of fallen angels, “but to reporting a great pageant enacted in the heavens”. (Pg. 238). Beale* states that the stars are persecuted christians based on the interpretation that Daniel 8:10 represents “peoples”. He also reminds us that the angels of each or the churches in chapters 2 and 3 also represent the people of those churches. He goes on to state that the falling stars here are related to the twelve stars in verse 1. If that is true, then the “pulling down by force” of a third of the twelve stars could represent the satanic attack on believers in both the OT and NT times. (Pgs. 635-637).

     If we accept that Satan is a fallen angel and was cast down from heaven, I’m not sure why the same understanding would not apply to his followers. The demons that Jesus cast out while earth came from somewhere and they were Legion. It might be truly said that Satan attacks both believers and unbelievers: unbelievers so that they remain in that state and believers that they too might fall.

     Some do not see the relating of fallen stars to the twelve tribes of Israel which are part of the foundation of the New Jerusalem. The twelve stars form the woman’s crown which sits on her head, which is the place of prestige and authority.

17 ἕστηκεν (stood) 

Greek: “has stood”. The verb is in the perfect tense as is John’s style.

     It is also in the active voice which may be some indication of the ongoing nature of Satan’s hostility and rebellion.

18 ἐνώπιον (in front of) 

or “before”.

     In a sense, Satan has been trying to cut in front of God for a long time. He does not want to have anyone above him, but sees himself as first. This is at the core of rebellion and disobedience.

19 There are many parallels to this passage: Satan’s temptation of Jesus, Herod’s slaughtering of the children under two years of age, and the crucifixion of Christ. In any case, Satan was trying to get rid of Jesus.

     Satan is described as a roaring lion. In his rage and thirst for revenge lies the hunger for the blood of the saints, of those washed in the cleansing blood of redemption. It is a redemption he neither seeks nor will accept. It is the same for those who follow in his path.

20 μέλλει (destined)

     Christ was predestined for His destiny. He was slain from the foundation of the world. While this would put Him in the wilderness given to Satan as a result of the fall, and confront Him with the same temptation as was before Adam, the outcome was a choice that Jesus made as a man. Because it was a choice, the outcome hung in the balance and in that moment. Unlike Adam, He chose obedience. Because He did, He entered into the glory that was before Him and so can we.

This wilderness presents us with the same choice. Like Jesus, we are predestined, but we choose to accept obey God. The prospect of eternity with or without God lies before us. Let us see the glory that lies beyond this cross of mortality. The choice lies in each moment.

Greek: “is about to”.

21 ποιμαίνειν (to rule) 

or “to shepherd”.

22 The allusion to Psalms 2:9 is also quoted in 2:27.

     ῥάβδῳ (rod, branch, staff, sceptre)

     It is with His staff He shepherds His flock. It is with His rod He rules His domain.

23 ἡρπάσθη (was caught up) 

ἁρπάζω is the same verb that we get “rapture” in 1 Thessalonians 4:17.  
A symbol of Christ’s death and resurrection.

Beale* makes an astonishing statement that it is possible that the use of 
ἁρπάζω, which mean “to catch up by force” or “to snatch up”, would actually allow for the dragon to have devoured the child (crucifixion) temporarily only to have that victory taken away by God. (Pg. 639). We have a modern-day idiom that says: “we snatched victory from the jaws of defeat”. Here, God “snatched” Christ’s death from the jaws of Satan’s victory.

     Beale’s statement articulates the meaning of the bruise inflicted on the Son by the serpent spoken of in Genesis. Jesus faced and experienced death on our behalf, but did not remain in the tomb. His obedience allowed victory over death. His body was bruised by mortality, but was raised incorruptible. The sting of death was overcome and becomes just a step into eternity for those who choose to follow.

24 αὐτοῦ (his)

It was God’s throne because “child” in neuter in form in Greek and God (θεός), is masculine in form. The child was caught up to God and to God’s throne.

25 ἔχει (had) 

The verb is actually in the present tense. “has”.

26 ἡτοιμασμένον (prepared)

Greek: “having been prepared”. This is in the perfect tense indicating that the place was already prepared for the woman before hand. Mounce** sees this place of refuge as a “spiritual refuge” that will enable the believers to stand up to Satan. (Pg. 239).

27 τρέφωσιν (they might take care of)

Greek: “they might feed her”. The idea here is for the woman to be taken care of by food and protection. If spiritual nourishment is implied, then God would supply spiritual help in the believers time of persecution.

     As the angels ministered to Jesus in the wilderness, so God provides for His people.

28 Another way of saying three and a half years. Beale* points out that this is the same amount of time in which God protects the church and the witnesses witness. (Pg. 642).

NT = New Testament 
OT = Old Testament 
ESV = English Standard Version 
NASB = New American Standard Bible
NIV = New International Version
KJV = King James Version 
TR = Textus Receptus (A late Byzantine Greek text of the NT. A 
predecessor of the TR was used in the translation of the KJV) 
LXX = Septuagint (Greek translation of the OT)
The Greek New Testament with Greek-English Dictionary B. Aland (Editor), K. Aland (Editor), J. Karavidopoulos (Editor), B. M. Metzger (Editor), C. M. Martini (Editor)
(BDAG) A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, 3rd Edition Walter Bauer (Author), Frederick William Danker (Editor)
A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament Bruce M. Metzger
(Kittel) Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (VOLUMES 1-10) Gerhard Kittel (Editor), Geoffrey W. Bromiley (Translator)
*The Book of Revelation: A Commentary on the Greek Text (New International Greek Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids, Mich.).) G. K. Beale
**The Book of Revelation (The New International Commentary on the New Testament) Robert H. Mounce
***Revelation (Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament) Grant R. Osborne
+Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics Daniel B. Wallace
++An Idiom Book of New Testament Greek C. F. D. Moule
+++Biblical Greek (Scripta Pontificii Instituti Biblici) Maximilian Zerwick
A Grammatical Analysis of the Greek New Testament Max Zerwick (Author), Mary Grosvenor (Author)
The Greek

Ἀποκάλυψις 12·1 Καὶ σημεῖον μέγα ὤφθη ἐν τῷ οὐρανῷ, γυνὴ περιβεβλημένη τὸν ἥλιον, καὶ ἡ σελήνη ὑποκάτω τῶν ποδῶν αὐτῆς καὶ ἐπὶ τῆς κεφαλῆς αὐτῆς στέφανος ἀστέρων δώδεκα, 2 καὶ ἐν γαστρὶ ἔχουσα, καὶ κράζει ὠδίνουσα καὶ βασανιζομένη τεκεῖν. 3 καὶ ὤφθη ἄλλο σημεῖον ἐν τῷ οὐρανῷ, καὶ ἰδοὺ δράκων μέγας πυρρὸς ἔχων κεφαλὰς ἑπτὰ καὶ κέρατα δέκα καὶ ἐπὶ τὰς κεφαλὰς αὐτοῦ ἑπτὰ διαδήματα, 4 καὶ ἡ οὐρὰ αὐτοῦ σύρει τὸ τρίτον τῶν ἀστέρων τοῦ οὐρανοῦ καὶ ἔβαλεν αὐτοὺς εἰς τὴν γῆν. Καὶ ὁ δράκων ἕστηκεν ἐνώπιον τῆς γυναικὸς τῆς μελλούσης τεκεῖν, ἵνα ὅταν τέκῃ τὸ τέκνον αὐτῆς καταφάγῃ. 5 καὶ ἔτεκεν υἱὸν ἄρσεν, ὃς μέλλει ποιμαίνειν πάντα τὰ ἔθνη ἐν ῥάβδῳ σιδηρᾷ. καὶ ἡρπάσθη τὸ τέκνον αὐτῆς πρὸς τὸν θεὸν καὶ πρὸς τὸν θρόνον αὐτοῦ. 6 καὶ ἡ γυνὴ ἔφυγεν εἰς τὴν ἔρημον, ὅπου ἔχει ἐκεῖ τόπον ἡτοιμασμένον ἀπὸ τοῦ θεοῦ, ἵνα ἐκεῖ τρέφωσιν αὐτὴν ἡμέρας χιλίας διακοσίας ἑξήκοντα.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Revelation 11:15-19, The Seventh Trumpet (The Study of the Apocalypse)


It is striking that the seventh trumpet/third woe is not a severe judgement! In previous passages, the trumpets and woes were bad, but here, we have the glorious end -- the Kingdom of God has arrived! There are some elements of the woe in the passage, but the greater explanation of the woe will come in chapter 20. Osborne*** (Pg. 438).

     15 And the seventh angel sounded1 his trumpet and there were great voices in heaven2 saying3,
     “The kingdom of the world has become4 the kingdom of our Lord and his Christ, and he will reign5     forever6.” 
16 And the twenty-four elders7 [who are]8 sitting on their thrones before
God fell down on their faces and worshipped God 17 saying,
     “We give thanks to you, Lord God, the Almighty, 
     the one who is, and the one who was9
     because you have taken your great power 
     and you have reigned.10
     18 And the nations were enraged 
     and your wrath11 came12 
     and the appointed time came for the dead to be judged13
     and to give the reward14 to your slaves the prophets, 
     and to the saints, namely15, the ones who fear your name, 
     the small and the great16
     and to utterly destroy the ones who destroy the earth.17
19 And the temple of God18 which is in heaven was opened and the ark of his covenant was seen19, and there were lightnings, voices, thunders, an earthquake, and great hail.20

1 The seventh angel sounds its horn announcing a profound change. Restoration of creation has begun, as darkness gives way to light. The signal is given for the second coming of God’s Son Jesus, and all things have been given to Him.

2 A heavenly choir! These great voices sing the upcoming hymn.

3 λέγοντες (saying)

John has turned the Greek on its head again! λέγοντες (a participle) is in the masculine, but φωναὶ μεγάλαι (great voices) are feminine. Perhaps John is referring to angels as that noun is masculine, but angels doesn’t appear in this passage. The TR replaces λέγοντες with λέγουσαι which is feminine form to smooth this out.

4 ἐγένετο (has become)

or “became”. The verb is placed at the very beginning of the hymn expressing emphasis on the action of the verb. The “has become” has finally arrived!

     Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done 
     On earth as it is in heaven

The certainty of the future is emphasized by expressing it as accomplished.

5 βασιλεύσει (he will reign)

Note the shift to the singular right after announcing “of our Lord and his Christ”. This show the oneness of the Father and the Son (The Lord and his Christ).

     No longer will Christ be breaking into a strong man’s house to save those chained there, but the house becomes His. The time of forbearance is over. The season of rebellion has yielded its fruit and the harvest of its reward has begun.

6 εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας τῶν αἰώνων (forever) 

Greek: “into the ages of ages”.

7 Twenty four elders

     This group is distinguished in the giving of this praise. They leave their thrones before God to fall on their faces to worship God. Whoever they are, their presence and position in heaven are unique.

8 [οἱ] ([who are]) 

This is in brackets as it may not be original to the passage.

ὁ ὢν καὶ ὁ ἦν (the one who is and the one who was)

The most astonishing thing about this phrase is not the phrase itself, but what is missing from the phrase. καὶ ὁ ἐρχόμενος (and the one who is coming) has been omitted as we are now at the end! He has come! Mounce** (Pg. 231). Beale* states that the change shows that the passage is narrating the actual establishment of the kingdom and the judgement as the content of the seventh trumpet. (Pg. 613).

     The kingdom of heaven was brought near through the use of a cross. The power of God has raised the Son to rule in the kingdom, exchanging a cross for a scepter and crown. We are told that the one who believes and endures to the end will receive a crown and rule with Him.

Sadly, the TR/KJV adds καὶ ὁ ἐρχόμενος into the passage. By doing so, the copyists (or copyist?) destroyed one of the greatest “end-time” passages in Revelation as God’s own title is changed to signify that his kingdom has finally come!

10 This passage shows God’s absolute and sovereign authority over all things including his own creation. Osborne*** (Pg. 443).

11 ἡ ὀργή (wrath)

or “anger”.

12 An allusion to Psalms 2:1-6.

13 This part will be explained in 20:11-14 at the judgement scene.

14 τὸν μισθὸν (the reward)

Osborne*** points out that a list of the rewards are given in the individual messages to the seven churches in Chapters 2 and 3. Beale* states that the rewards are eternal life and judgement on their (the believers’) persecutors. (Pg. 615).

     We are given promise of life for the endurance of faith. The riches of this life are expressed in various ways, just as God Himself is given different names to convey some understanding and reality of the One God. These are only crude sketches of something wonderful to come, offering words to describe that which is beyond words.

15 καὶ (namely)

or “and”. In this case, the ones who fear God’s name are the saints, so καὶ should be translated as “namely” instead of “and”. This division lines up with Mounce** as he sees two groups of believers. (Pg. 232).

     We have become one in body of Christ, though there are differences between us. One plants, one waters, but all have one Lord and are united in the same Spirit.

It is also possible to translate the whole passage as:

“ your slaves the prophets, and to the saints, and the ones who fear your name, the small and the great...)

By dividing the passage this way, there seems to be three groups (or possibly four) of believers. Incredibly, scholars debate the meaning of these groups. I think Beale* puts it best when he says that the list represents the church/believers as a whole. (Pgs. 616-617).

16 τοὺς μικροὺς καὶ τοὺς μεγάλους (the small and the great)

Apart from the fact that John has turned the Greek language on its head again (the nouns/adjectives are in the accusative, but should be in the dative), this is an echo of Psalms 115:13. Perhaps the case change is a result of John wanting to bring attention to the passage as being an echo of Psalms 115:13. In the LXX (113:21b), the phrase is τοὺς μικροὺς μετὰ τῶν μεγάλων (the small with the great) and τοὺς μικροὺς (the small) is in the accusative.

     Accepting the mercy and grace of God, we are no longer bound by our ideas of small and great. God is no respecter of persons, and gives life to all that would call on His name. The least in the kingdom of heaven, those born from above, are greater than any man born of woman. The first shall be last, and the last shall be first.

As one would expect after reading these blogs, the TR has the dative instead of the accusative thus showing that earlier scribes saw the same problem with the Greek and changed the passage from (τοὺς μικροὺς καὶ τοὺς μεγάλους) to (τοῖς μικροῖς καὶ τοῖς μεγάλοις).

17 This will be expanded in upcoming chapters, but it refers to “Babylon the Great”. Osborne*** (Pg. 447). It is an allusion to Jeremiah 51:25 where God says to Babylon:

Jeremiah 51:25 “I am against you, O destroying mountain, 
     you who destroy the whole earth,” declares the LORD.
          “I will stretch out my hand against you, 
          roll you off the cliffs,
          and make you a burned-out mountain.

Beale* states that “Babylon is a type of the eschatological world community, which will be judged at the end.” (Pg. 616).

18 ὁ ναὸς τοῦ θεοῦ (the temple of God) 

The inter most part of the temple, the Holy of Holies. That is where the Ark was in OT times.

19 In the OT, the Ark of the Covenant represented God’s presence. Here, God’s presence is before all as the Holy of Holies is now open to all. Although the passage states that the temple is in heaven (the heavenly temple), Osborne*** believes that the “earthly” Ark will reappear. (Pg. 449). Mounce** believes that there is no connection between the heavenly Ark and the earthly Ark. (Pg. 233).

     The reality of heaven is made apparent in a new way. The blowing of the seventh trumpet opens the heavens and exposes the earth to the presence of God. As light of God mixes with the darkness of men, creation begins to fall apart.

20 Similar passages appear in 4:5, 8:5 (Seventh Seal), here (Seventh Trumpet), and in 16:18-21 (Seventh Bowl). The passage is an allusion to Exodus 19:16 where God is on Mount Sinai. Osborne*** (Pg. 449). He goes on to comment that “the great hail” signifies God’s majesty and judgement. It summaries the judgements of the seven trumpets.

NT = New Testament 
OT = Old Testament 
ESV = English Standard Version 
NASB = New American Standard Bible
NIV = New International Version
KJV = King James Version 
TR = Textus Receptus (A late Byzantine Greek text of the NT. A 
predecessor of the TR was used in the translation of the KJV) 
LXX = Septuagint (Greek translation of the OT)
The Greek New Testament with Greek-English Dictionary B. Aland (Editor), K. Aland (Editor), J. Karavidopoulos (Editor), B. M. Metzger (Editor), C. M. Martini (Editor)
(BDAG) A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, 3rd Edition Walter Bauer (Author), Frederick William Danker (Editor)
A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament Bruce M. Metzger
(Kittel) Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (VOLUMES 1-10) Gerhard Kittel (Editor), Geoffrey W. Bromiley (Translator)
*The Book of Revelation: A Commentary on the Greek Text (New International Greek Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids, Mich.).) G. K. Beale
**The Book of Revelation (The New International Commentary on the New Testament) Robert H. Mounce
***Revelation (Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament) Grant R. Osborne
+Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics Daniel B. Wallace
++An Idiom Book of New Testament Greek C. F. D. Moule
+++Biblical Greek (Scripta Pontificii Instituti Biblici) Maximilian Zerwick
A Grammatical Analysis of the Greek New Testament Max Zerwick (Author), Mary Grosvenor (Author)
The Greek

Ἀποκάλυψις 11·15 Καὶ ὁ ἕβδομος ἄγγελος ἐσάλπισεν· καὶ ἐγένοντο φωναὶ μεγάλαι ἐν τῷ οὐρανῷ λέγοντες·
ἐγένετο ἡ βασιλεία τοῦ κόσμου τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν καὶ τοῦ χριστοῦ αὐτοῦ,
καὶ βασιλεύσει εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας τῶν αἰώνων. 16 Καὶ οἱ εἴκοσι τέσσαρες πρεσβύτεροι [οἱ] ἐνώπιον τοῦ θεοῦ καθήμενοι ἐπὶ τοὺς θρόνους αὐτῶν ἔπεσαν ἐπὶ τὰ πρόσωπα αὐτῶν καὶ προσεκύνησαν τῷ θεῷ 17 λέγοντες·
εὐχαριστοῦμέν σοι, κύριε ὁ θεὸς ὁ παντοκράτωρ, ὁ ὢν καὶ ὁ ἦν, ὅτι εἴληφας τὴν δύναμίν σου τὴν μεγάλην καὶ ἐβασίλευσας.
καὶ τὰ ἔθνη ὠργίσθησαν, καὶ ἦλθεν ἡ ὀργή σου καὶ ὁ καιρὸς τῶν νεκρῶν κριθῆναι
καὶ δοῦναι τὸν μισθὸν τοῖς δούλοις σου τοῖς προφήταις καὶ τοῖς ἁγίοις καὶ τοῖς φοβουμένοις τὸ ὄνομά σου, τοὺς μικροὺς καὶ τοὺς μεγάλους,
καὶ διαφθεῖραι τοὺς διαφθείροντας τὴν γῆν. Ἀποκάλυψις 11·19 Καὶ ἠνοίγη ὁ ναὸς τοῦ θεοῦ ὁ ἐν τῷ οὐρανῷ καὶ ὤφθη ἡ κιβωτὸς τῆς διαθήκης αὐτοῦ ἐν τῷ ναῷ αὐτοῦ, καὶ ἐγένοντο ἀστραπαὶ καὶ φωναὶ καὶ βρονταὶ καὶ σεισμὸς καὶ χάλαζα μεγάλη.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Revelation 11:3-14, The Two Witnesses (The Study of the Apocalypse)

This passage may be the most debated passage in the Apocalypse. Are they figurative or literal? Do they represent two real witnesses or do they represent a witnessing church? That is for the readers to decide.
3 And I will give to my two witnesses1 authority2 and they will prophesy3 for a thousand-two-hundred, and sixty days4 clothed5 in sackcloth6 . 4 These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands who have stood7 before the Lord of the earth.8 5 And if anyone wants to harm them, fire comes out of9 their mouths10 and devours their enemies.11 And if anyone may want to harm them, this is how they must die12. 6 These men have the authority to shut up the sky so that it will not rain13 during the time14 of their prophecy, and they have the authority over the waters to turn them into blood15 and to strike the earth with every plague as often as they may wish.16 7 And when they will complete their witness, the wild beast17, who comes up from the abyss18, will make war with them19 and will conquer them and will kill them. 8 And their bodies will lie on the street of the great city20, which is called spiritually21 Sodom and Egypt,22 where their Lord was also crucified.23 9 And men from all peoples, tribes, languages, and nations see their dead bodies24 for three and a half days and they don’t permit them to be buried25. 10 And the ones who dwell on the earth26 will rejoice on the basis of them and will celebrate27 and send gifts to one another, because these two prophets tormented the ones who dwell on the earth.28 11 And after three and a half days, a breath of life29 from God went into them, and they stood on their feet, and utter terror30 fell upon the ones who watched them. 12 And they heard a great voice from heaven saying to them, “Come up here!” And they went up into heaven in the cloud31, and their enemies watched them.32 13 And in that hour, there was33 a great earthquake and a tenth of the city fell and seven thousand names of men were killed34 in the earthquake and the rest became terrified and gave glory to the God of heaven.35
14 The second woe has passed36, behold, the third woe is coming soon37.
1 τοῖς δυσὶν μάρτυσίν μου (to my two witnesses)
“Two” comes from the OT demand that two or three witnesses be used. Deuteronomy 17:6; Deuteronomy 19:15; and Numbers 35:30. Osborne*** (Pg. 420). Mounce** sees the two witnesses as a representation of believers. (Pg. 223). I will also point out the Jesus sent out his disciples in twos in Mark 6:7.
     We get the word martyr from this word translated as “witness”. They will give their life for their testimony.
2 “authority” is not in the text, nor is there anything else here. We finally find out that authority is what is given to the two witnesses only after we read verse 6. Osborne*** points out that the two witnesses reenact the prophetic ministries of Elijah and Moses. (Pg. 422) Mounce** (Pg. 222) also points out that it was Elijah and Moses who appeared with Jesus during Jesus’ transfiguration in Mark 9:4.
     What is given to the two witnesses may be the same thing as was given to those who through the ages who have given witness to the word of God. It is the word of God that is contained in their prophesy. It is this word that arouses such anger and hostility by those not of God and will lead to the world rejoicing at their death.
3 Beale* states that the two witnesses are believers as a whole. He bases this on the idea that the early christian community understood that Joel’s prophecy (Joel 2:28-32) had begun to be fulfilled (Acts 2:17-21). “This prophetic gift would be the means by which the entire church would “witness” to the whole would (Acts 1:8).” (Pgs. 573-574).
4 A retelling of the three and a half years.
5 περιβεβλημένοι (clothed)
Greek: “having been clothed”.

6 Sackcloth is a symbol of mourning. Beale* states that the morning was over the judgements that God was enacting over the unbelievers. (Pg. 576).
     John the Baptist wore a similar garment as he cried out in the wilderness, preparing the way of the Lord.
7 ἑστῶτες (have stood)
As is John’s style, ἑστῶτες is in the perfect tense. This participle is also in the masculine and modifies οὗτοί (These). It doesn’t modify either olive trees or lampstands as both of those nouns are feminine.
8 The allusion comes from Zechariah 4:2-6. Note that the lampstands are found in the seven messages to the seven churches. They represent witnessing. Mounce** (Pg. 224) sees the olive trees as suppling the oil for the lamps on the lampstands. This is an indication that the Holy Spirit is with them. Beale* also has this in view and offers a great summary of the allusion to the passage in Zechariah.
     There were two items in the temple referred to as witnesses to the Lord. These were the lampstands. They signify the light of the world and were supplied olive oil for burning, which can represent the Holy Spirit. This directs our attention back to the temple.
     Note that the temple has been measured. The tribes of Israel have been numbered and sealed. In the last days they give witness to God, as servants to the Most High. Even now, many would rejoice at the destruction of Israel.
“The broader context of Zechariah 4 show the richness of the connection to the present context: (1) in Zech. 1:16-17 and 2:1-5 an angel ‘measures’ Jerusalem to signify that it will surely be reestablished so that ‘God’s house will be built in it’, and God ‘will be the glory in her 
midst’ (cf. Rev. 11:1-2). However, Satan, together with the world powers, opposed the reestablishment of God’s temple in Jerusalem (Zech. 3:1-2; 4:7), just as the beast and the world oppose the witnesses (Rev. 11:5-10).” (Pgs. 576-579).
9 ἐκ (of) 
Greek: “from”.
10 “mouths” is actually singular here. “their mouth” is not very good grammar. Perhaps it means that the two witnesses were in complete harmony in their witnessing and speak as one.
     It is the word of God they speak, so it is not troublesome they speak as one mouth in the Greek.
11 The fire coming out of their mouths probably represents two things, 1. The Word of God as they witness and 2. the Judgements of God.
     Jesus spoke of the fire of His word and the wish it was already kindled in the world. The sword of His word serves to judge the world. His is the first word and the last.
12 οὕτως δεῖ αὐτὸν ἀποκτανθῆναι (this is how they must die) 
Greek: “In this manner it is necessary to kill him”.
     By our words we will be judged. By the law we stand condemned. By the grace and truth of Jesus Christ we live. Apart from Jesus we die.
13 μὴ ὑετὸς βρέχῃ (it will not rain)
Greek: “the rain may not rain”. An allusion to the Elijah story in 1 Kings 17-18 where God shuts up heaven for 3 years. According to Osborne*** (Pg. 423), “later Jewish tradition symbolically represented this as three and a half years in keeping with the apocalyptic image of Daniel 9:27; 12:7.”
     There is no refreshing Spirit present. The rain from heaven is dried up. Only judgement pours forth from heaven.
14 τὰς ἡμέρας (during the time) 
Greek: “the days” as in “the days of their prophecy”.
15 Parallels with the first Egyptian plague in Exodus 7:20-21, the second trumpet in 8:8, and the upcoming second and third bowls in 16:3-4.
Note the idea that these two witnesses come in the “spirit of” both Moses and Elijah.
     These two men of the Old Testament witnessed to the might and power of God, and are identified as the two that met with Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration.
16 It is worth noting here that some scholars see the two witnesses/ believers as the executers of the trumpet judgements. If this is true, then that would add to the celebration of their deaths in verse 10 as the unbelievers would think that the judgements were over as a result of the wild beast killing them.
17 τὸ θηρίον (the wild beast)
Note the use of the article τὸ (the). The use of the article makes this wild beast a specific wild beast: THE wild beast. John’s readers are expected to know who this vision is referring to even though the wild beast is just now being introduced.
Osborne*** suspects that the wild beast here is an allusion to Daniel’s ten-horned “beast” and the “little horn” of Daniel 7:7-12. There, the prophesy depicts four beast that represents the four empires that nominate the Jews from their exile into Babylon to the Roman empire. Most scholars identify them as Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome. The “little horn” is normally identified with Antiochus Epiphanes. In 167 B.C., he forced the Jews to sacrifice to Greek Gods and had a pig sacrificed on the alter in the temple. (Pg. 425).
18 An allusion to Daniel 7:3a LXX: 3 καὶ τέσσαρα θηρία ἀνέβαινον ἐκ τῆς θαλάσσης (and the fourth beasts came up from the sea). John substitutes θαλάσσης (sea) with ἀβύσσου (abyss). John probably does this to make a connection with the locusts (9:2; 11). In Revelation 13:1, the wild beast is seen coming up from the sea: ...ἐκ τῆς θαλάσσης θηρίον ἀναβαῖνον (...a wild beast coming up out of the sea).
19 Mounce** states that the expression “will make war” indicates that the two witnesses should be interpreted as a large group rather than two. (Pg. 225). Beale* expands this idea based on the allusion of the passage to Daniel 7. In Daniel, the wild beasts ἐποίει πόλεμον πρὸς τοὺς ἁγίους (made war with the saints). Beale sees the same in 11:7: ποιήσει μετ ̓ αὐτῶν πόλεμον καὶ νικήσει αὐτοὺς (will make war with them and will conquer them). Since the passage in Daniel is to “all the saints”, then Beale concludes that the two witnesses are “all the witnessing believers”. (Pgs. 587-588).
     This war is depicted as taking place on earth, and it is from the earth and sea that the wild beasts rise to persecute the saints. It must be true that anyone giving witness to God in these days is a believer.
20 Most of the time in Revelation, “the great city” is Rome, but here, the context tells us that this great city is Jerusalem. In this context, Jerusalem in not painted as being “the city of God” any longer. They are now part of the “Synagogue of Satan” and the “Jerusalem now” in Galatians 4:25 as opposed to the “Jerusalem above”. It is also possible that Rome and Jerusalem are figuratively combined as they could represent the wild beast’s evil empire that combines all unbelieving people who persecute and kill believers. This comes to light in the 7 messages to the 7 churches in chapters 2 and 3.
Mounce** states that this is not a certain city, but represents all cities throughout the evil empire. (Pg. 226). Beale* states that the “great city” represents the ungodly world. (Pg. 591).
21 πνευματικῶς (spiritually)
or “figuratively” although more is going on here than just a figurative name. John is trying to state that the “Jerusalem now” is now degraded spiritually to the point that it is like both Sodom and Egypt. Osborne*** points out the Jerusalem has become like Sodom in rebellion against God and like Egypt where it has placed God’s people (believers) in slavery and oppression. (Pg. 427). Beale* states similar views but reaffirms that the great city is figurative. (Pgs. 591-592).
     Sodom and Egypt epitomize the rebellion on earth. God left His temple dwelling in Jerusalem long ago. He was rejected by His own The new city will reflect the presence of God and the restoration He brings.
23 Beale* sees “where their Lord was also crucified” as modifying “Sodom and Egypt” and thus shows just how unspiritual the unbelievers/ ungodly world are. He doesn’t see it as identifying literal Jerusalem. (Pg. 592).
24 τὸ πτῶμα (bodies)
This is actually singular in the Greek. The style matches the singular “mouth” in verse five. As stated in that note, John’s use of the singular probably shows that the two witnesses spoke in unity. Osborne*** notes that “they function as one”. (Pg. 426).
25 καὶ τὰ πτώματα αὐτῶν οὐκ ἀφίουσιν τεθῆναι εἰς μνῆμα (and they don’t permit them to be buried)
Greek: “and they don’t permit their bodies to be placed in a tomb”. It was a great insult in the ancient world to not be buried. Osborne*** (Pg. 426) and Mounce** (Pg. 226).
     There is no need for a tomb. The resurrection of His Son made this unnecessary for those who believe. The power and might of the Lord will be displayed again. Life is victorious over death.
Three and a half days of victory is anemic compared to the three and a half years of witnessing and executing God’s judgements that the witnesses perform. We will find out that the wild beast’s victory is indeed short lived.
26 οἱ κατοικοῦντες ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς (the ones who dwell on the earth) 
Throughout the Apocalypse, οἱ κατοικοῦντες ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς always refers to unbelievers.
27 χαίρουσιν ἐπ ̓ αὐτοῖς καὶ εὐφραίνονται (will rejoice on the basis of them and will celebrate)
Note that both verbs are actually in the present tense. The TR/KJV replaces the present tense verbs with future tense verbs. With that said, the context is future in nature.
28 If the two witnesses are meant to be figurative and represent the witnessing believers, then that would explain why and how “all peoples, tribes, languages, and nations” see their dead bodies as bodies would be dead throughout the entire evil empire (combined Rome and Jerusalem). If this is the case and the believers have been the one dishing out the judgements against the unbelievers, they one can see why the unbelievers would be rejoicing. They think that they have gotten rid of the judgements in killing the witnesses.
This could also meant literally two witnesses in a specific place where there are people from “all peoples, tribes, languages, and nations” there as well.
29 πνεῦμα ζωῆς (a breath of life)
or “a spirit of life”. πνεῦμα can mean “spirit”, “wind”, or “breath”. This is a possible allusion to Ezekiel 37 where the dry bones receive breath. Mounce** (Pg. 228) and Beale* (Pgs. 596-597).
     One might be reminded here that a remnant of Israel will survive and receive life. David’s throne was established forever. There were a small number that returned from exile in Babylon and rebuilt the temple. God said He would save a few, and so He will. He has done it and will do it.
30 φόβος μέγας (utter terror) 
Greek: “great fear”.
     Those with no fear of God previously now see reason to do so.
31 ἐν τῇ νεφέλῃ (in the cloud)
The article τῇ specifies a specific cloud. The cloud in question could be the could of the mighty angel in 10:1 Beale* (Pg. ) or could be the cloud that Christ returns with in 1:7. Osborne*** sees the latter.
     It is into the clouds that Jesus ascended, and we are told He will return. It is a mighty cloud of witnesses that surround us. A voice spoke from a cloud on the Mount of Transfiguration and led the Israelites in the desert. The hand of the Divine is in view.
32 Osborne*** sees this as the possible rapture event where the believers are “caught up” to heaven, but also states that the timing is off as the true resurrection occurs at the return of Christ at the end. (Pgs. 431-432). Beale* sees the resurrection of the the witnesses as figurative where God restores the church/believers that have been conquered for a short time by the wild beast. (Pg. 597).
33 ἐγένετο (there was) 
Greek: “there became” or “there came”.
34 Osborne*** points out that the seven thousand dead is a reversal of the seven thousand in 1 Kings 19:18 (and also Romans 11:10) who were reserved by God because they had not bowed a knee to Baal.
35 Osborne*** (Pgs. 433-435) says that this represents true repentance of these unbelievers but Beale* states that it doesn’t and represents unbelievers who are forced to acknowledge God’s sovereignty, but remain unconverted. (Pgs. 603-604).
     It is true that every knee shall bow and confess that Jesus is Lord. This does not mean they accept His Lordship. Consider the demons that plead with Jesus to enter the swine.
36 ἀπῆλθεν (has passed) 
Greek: “has departed”.
37 ταχύ (soon) 
Greek: “quickly”.
NT = New Testament 
OT = Old Testament 
ESV = English Standard Version 
NASB = New American Standard Bible
NIV = New International Version
KJV = King James Version 
TR = Textus Receptus (A late Byzantine Greek text of the NT. A 
predecessor of the TR was used in the translation of the KJV) 
LXX = Septuagint (Greek translation of the OT)
The Greek New Testament with Greek-English Dictionary B. Aland (Editor), K. Aland (Editor), J. Karavidopoulos (Editor), B. M. Metzger (Editor), C. M. Martini (Editor)
(BDAG) A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, 3rd Edition Walter Bauer (Author), Frederick William Danker (Editor)
A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament Bruce M. Metzger
(Kittel) Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (VOLUMES 1-10) Gerhard Kittel (Editor), Geoffrey W. Bromiley (Translator)
*The Book of Revelation: A Commentary on the Greek Text (New International Greek Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids, Mich.).) G. K. Beale
**The Book of Revelation (The New International Commentary on the New Testament) Robert H. Mounce
***Revelation (Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament) Grant R. Osborne
+Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics Daniel B. Wallace
++An Idiom Book of New Testament Greek C. F. D. Moule
+++Biblical Greek (Scripta Pontificii Instituti Biblici) Maximilian Zerwick
A Grammatical Analysis of the Greek New Testament Max Zerwick (Author), Mary Grosvenor (Author)
The Greek
Ἀποκάλυψις 11·3 Καὶ δώσω τοῖς δυσὶν μάρτυσίν μου καὶ προφητεύσουσιν ἡμέρας χιλίας διακοσίας ἑξήκοντα περιβεβλημένοι σάκκους. 4 οὗτοί εἰσιν αἱ δύο ἐλαῖαι καὶ αἱ δύο λυχνίαι αἱ ἐνώπιον τοῦ κυρίου τῆς γῆς ἑστῶτες. 5 καὶ εἴ τις αὐτοὺς θέλει ἀδικῆσαι πῦρ ἐκπορεύεται ἐκ τοῦ στόματος αὐτῶν καὶ κατεσθίει τοὺς ἐχθροὺς αὐτῶν· καὶ εἴ τις θελήσῃ αὐτοὺς ἀδικῆσαι, οὕτως δεῖ αὐτὸν ἀποκτανθῆναι. 6 οὗτοι ἔχουσιν τὴν ἐξουσίαν κλεῖσαι τὸν οὐρανόν, ἵνα μὴ ὑετὸς βρέχῃ τὰς ἡμέρας τῆς προφητείας αὐτῶν, καὶ ἐξουσίαν ἔχουσιν ἐπὶ τῶν ὑδάτων στρέφειν αὐτὰ εἰς αἷμα καὶ πατάξαι τὴν γῆν ἐν πάσῃ πληγῇ ὁσάκις ἐὰν θελήσωσιν. Ἀποκάλυψις 11·7 Καὶ ὅταν τελέσωσιν τὴν μαρτυρίαν αὐτῶν, τὸ θηρίον τὸ ἀναβαῖνον ἐκ τῆς ἀβύσσου ποιήσει μετ ̓ αὐτῶν πόλεμον καὶ νικήσει αὐτοὺς καὶ ἀποκτενεῖ αὐτούς. 8 καὶ τὸ πτῶμα αὐτῶν ἐπὶ τῆς πλατείας τῆς πόλεως τῆς μεγάλης, ἥτις καλεῖται πνευματικῶς Σόδομα καὶ Αἴγυπτος, ὅπου καὶ ὁ κύριος αὐτῶν ἐσταυρώθη. 9 καὶ βλέπουσιν ἐκ τῶν λαῶν καὶ φυλῶν καὶ γλωσσῶν καὶ ἐθνῶν τὸ πτῶμα αὐτῶν ἡμέρας τρεῖς καὶ ἥμισυ καὶ τὰ πτώματα αὐτῶν οὐκ ἀφίουσιν τεθῆναι εἰς μνῆμα. 10 καὶ οἱ κατοικοῦντες ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς χαίρουσιν ἐπ ̓ αὐτοῖς καὶ εὐφραίνονται καὶ δῶρα πέμψουσιν ἀλλήλοις, ὅτι οὗτοι οἱ δύο προφῆται ἐβασάνισαν τοὺς κατοικοῦντας ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς. Ἀποκάλυψις 11·11 Καὶ μετὰ τὰς τρεῖς ἡμέρας καὶ ἥμισυ πνεῦμα ζωῆς ἐκ τοῦ θεοῦ εἰσῆλθεν ἐν αὐτοῖς, καὶ ἔστησαν ἐπὶ τοὺς πόδας αὐτῶν, καὶ φόβος μέγας ἐπέπεσεν ἐπὶ τοὺς θεωροῦντας αὐτούς. 12 καὶ ἤκουσαν φωνῆς μεγάλης ἐκ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ λεγούσης αὐτοῖς· ἀνάβατε ὧδε. καὶ ἀνέβησαν εἰς τὸν οὐρανὸν ἐν τῇ νεφέλῃ, καὶ ἐθεώρησαν αὐτοὺς οἱ ἐχθροὶ αὐτῶν. 13 Καὶ ἐν ἐκείνῃ τῇ ὥρᾳ ἐγένετο σεισμὸς μέγας καὶ τὸ δέκατον τῆς πόλεως ἔπεσεν καὶ ἀπεκτάνθησαν ἐν τῷ σεισμῷ ὀνόματα ἀνθρώπων χιλιάδες ἑπτὰ καὶ οἱ λοιποὶ ἔμφοβοι ἐγένοντο καὶ ἔδωκαν δόξαν τῷ θεῷ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ. Ἀποκάλυψις 11·14 Ἡ οὐαὶ ἡ δευτέρα ἀπῆλθεν· ἰδοὺ ἡ οὐαὶ ἡ τρίτη ἔρχεται ταχύ.