We’ll be moving from the late 1950’s into the early 1960’s today. Here’s the first quote:
“The title is contained in the first verse: ‘The Revelation of Jesus Christ.’ Although the communication professes to deal with ‘things’ (1:1), it is notwithstanding a disclosure of and from a person.” [from INTERPRETING REVELATION, by Merrill C. Tenney, 1957]
The statement “a disclosure of and from a person” really says it all. No proof is offered, which some would prefer and others would not.
Let’s go on to the next quote:
“This book is called sometimes the Revelation and sometimes the Apocalypse. It begins with the words ‘The revelation of Jesus Christ,’ which mean not the revelation about Jesus Christ but the revelation given by Jesus Christ. The Greek word for revelation is apokalupsis which is a word with a history.
“(i) Apokalupsis is composed of two parts. Apo means away from and kalupsis a veiling. Apokalupsis, therefore, means an unveiling, a revealing. It was not originally a specially religious word; it meant simply the disclosure of any fact. There is an interesting use of it in Plutarch (How to tell a Flatterer from a Friend, 32). Plutarch tells how once Pythagoras severely rebuked a devoted disciple of his in public and the young man went out and hanged himself. ‘From that time on Pythagoras never admonished anyone when anyone else was present. For error should be treated as a foul disease, and all admonition and disclosure (apokalupsis) should be in secret.’ But apokalupsis became specially a Christian word.
“(ii) It is used for the revealing of God’s will to us for our action. Paul says that he went up to Jerusalem by apokalupsis. He went because God told him He wanted him to go (Galatians 2:2).
And I went up by revelation, and communicated to them that the gospel which I preach among the Gentiles, but privately to those who were of reputation, lest by any means I might run, had run, in vain. (Galatians 2:2; NKJV)
“(iii) It is used of the revelation of God’s truth to men. Paul received his gospel, not from men, but by apokalupsis from Jesus Christ (Galatians 1:12).
For I neither received it from man nor was I taught it, but it came through the revelation of Jesus Christ. (Galatians 1:12; NKJV)
“In the Christian assembly the message of the preacher is an apokalupsis (1 Corinthians 14:6).
But now, brethren, if I come to you speaking with tongues, what shall I profit you unless I speak to you either by revelation, by knowledge, by prophesying, or by teaching? (1 Corinthians 14:6; NKJV)
“(iv) It is used of God’s revealing to men of his own mysteries, especially in the incarnation of Jesus Christ (Romans 16:25; Ephesians 3:3).
Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery kept secret since the world began. (Romans 16:25; NKJV)
how that by revelation He made known to me the mystery (as I have briefly written already (Ephesians 3:3; NKJV)
“(v) It is specially used of the revelation of the power and the holiness of God which is to come at the last days. That will be an unveiling of judgment (Romans 2:5);
But in accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, (Romans 2:5; NKJV)
“but for the Christian it will be an unveiling of praise and glory (1 Peter 1:7); of grace (1 Peter 1:13); of joy (1 Peter 4:13).
7that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ…13Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; (1 Peter 1:7,13; NKJV)
but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His Glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy. (1 Peter 4:13; NKJV)
“Before we remind ourselves of the more technical use of apokalupsis, we may note two things.
“(i) This revelation is connected specially with the work of the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:17).
that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, (Ephesians 1:17; NKJV)
“(ii) We are bound to see that here we have a picture of the whole of the Christian life. There is no part of it which is not lit by the revelation of God. God reveals to us what we must do and say; in Jesus Christ he reveals himself to us, for he who has seen Jesus has seen the Father (John 14:9);
Jesus said to him, ‘Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? (John 14:9; NKJV)
“and life moves on to the great and final revelation in which there is judgment for those who have not submitted to God but grace and glory and joy for those who are in Jesus Christ. Revelation is no technical theological idea; it is what God is offering to all who will listen.
“Now we look at the technical meaning of apokalupsis, for that meaning is specially connected with this book.
“The Jews had long since ceased to hope that they would be vindicated as the chosen people by human means. They hoped now for nothing less than the direct intervention of God. To that end they divided all time into two ages — this present age, wholly given over to evil; and the age to come, the age of God. Between the two there was to be a time of terrible trial. Between the Old and the New Testaments the Jews wrote many books which were visions of the dreadful time before the end and of the blessedness to come. These books were called Apocalypses; and that is what the Revelation is. Although there is nothing like it in the New Testament, it belongs to a class of literature which was common between the Testaments. All these books are wild and unintelligible, for they are trying to describe the indescribable. The very subject with which the Revelation deals is the reason why it is so difficult to understand.” [from THE REVELATION OF JOHN, VOL 1, by William Barclay, 1959]
Another proponent of Christ as Revealer, not Revealed, but not a bad quote, at least until the end. I really liked the part about all the examples of the use of the word ‘revelation’ showing “a picture of the whole of the Christian life.”
The last paragraph started out alright, I agree that the Jews were looking for a direct intervention from God. I haven’t seen reference to the division of the ages before, but if it’s true, then I’m happy to learn something new. But it’s then that he goes astray. May be I’m all wrong, but I don’t like grouping Revelation in with all the other Apocalypses (and Mr. Barclay is grouping it with the Jewish Apocalypses, while ignoring all the Christian Apocalypses). To me, and apparently to the Council of Rome which admitted it into the Canon in 382 AD, it is different than the other books of Apocalypses. I don’t find it “wild and unintelligible” at all, though that could describe the few Christian Apocalypses that I’ve read. And, by 1959, I wouldn’t think that most commentators would be seeing it that way either. I do agree with Mr. Barclay that the subject makes it more difficult to come to a complete understanding: but mainly because John was trying to describe things he did not recognize or understand.
But let’s move on:
“The first chapter is probably the most important one in the book. It contains the keys that unlock all the other rooms. If you master this first chapter, the rest of the book will be easy to understand…”
I totally agree, and I wonder if this author read Edgar Ainsley’s book that we looked at last time.
“The Revelation of Jesus Christ. The word ‘revelation’ means an unveiling. It could mean that this book is itself a revelation of Christ, or it could mean that it is about the revelation of Christ, His second coming…Although the word ‘apokalupsis’ is used in more than one sense in the New Testament, its connection with the return of Christ is quite striking. The same construction is used in 1 Peter 1:13 to refer directly to the appearing of Christ at His return. ‘Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.’ Other instances of the same meaning given to ‘apokalupsis” are 1 Peter 1:7; 1 Cor. 1:7; 2 Thess. 1:7. It is translated ‘appearing,’ ‘coming,’ and ‘revealed.
7That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ, (1 Peter 1:7; KJV)
so that you come behind in no gift, waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, (1 Corinthians 1:7; KJV)
And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, (2 Thessalonians 1:7; KJV)
“The traditional name of the book is ‘The Revelation of Saint John the Divine.’ This is the name found in your Bibles. However, the inspired name is found in the first verse: ‘The Revelation of Jesus Christ.’ It has nothing to do with John except that John was the writer. The revelation of Christ is the second coming of Christ. The heavens will part and He will be revealed to the world. ‘Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him.’ That is His revelation. I have in my library a book called The Last of the Mohicans. That book is not the last of the Mohicans. It is merely written about them, so this book is called ‘The Revelation,’ not because it is in itself a revelation, but because it is about the revelation of Christ.” [from THE KEY TO UNDERSTANDING REVELATION, by Arthur E. Bloomfield, 1959]
I like this quote quite a bit. I find the last sentence especially helpful; that the book is not itself a revelation, but that “it is about the revelation of Christ.” I think it’s like this: if I have a revelation, then that means that either I’ve figured something out, or God has provided me with the information I need to understand something. The light bulb goes off over my head. John clearly did not have a full understanding of what he was seeing; John did not have a revelation. It was Christ revealing and being revealed, and much of that revelation was for the time of tribulation, when it would be understood in full.
On to the next quote:
“The Revelation. Late and rare word outside of N.T. (once in Plutarch and so in the vernacular Koine), only one in the Gospels (Lu 2:32),
A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel. (Luke 2:32; KJV)
“but in LXX [the Septuagint] and common in the Epistles (2Th 1:7),
And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, (2 Thessalonians 1:7; KJV)
“though only here in this book besides the title, from apokalipto, old verb, to uncover, to unveil. In the Epistles apokalipsis is used for insight into truth (Eph 1:17)
That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: (Ephesians 1:17; KJV)
“or for the revelation of God or Christ at the second coming of Christ (2Th 1:7; 1Pe 1:7)…The precise meaning here turns on the genitive following.
That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ, (1 Peter 1:7; KJV)
“Of Jesus Christ. Hort takes it as objective genitive (revelation about Jesus Christ), but Swete rightly argues for the subjective genitive because of the next clause. [the next clause being: ‘which God gave unto him’]” [from THE REVELATION OF JOHN: WORD PICTURES #06, by A. T. Robertson, 1960]
Another point of view on the language usage. I still think it is given by and about Jesus Christ.
From the Intro of the next book:
“The title of the book is given in the opening words, ‘A revelation of Jesus Christ.’ The absence of the definite article in the original language places the emphasis on the characteristic of a distinct unveiling of conditions and events not previously known and which otherwise cannot be known.
“Jesus Christ is the central figure of the book, the One who receives and gives the revelation, the One who reveals new aspects of His person and mission, the One who by His glorious appearing bring human history to its divinely designed conclusion…”
I like this so far. Let’s look in more depth at the line: “The absence of the definite article in the original language places the emphasis on the characteristic of a distinct unveiling of conditions and events not previously known and which otherwise cannot be known.” This took a couple readings to parse out fully. First of all, I think that the “absence of the definite article” would take emphasis away rather than providing it, and, the great majority of translations have ‘the’ before revelation. Now let’s look at “the characteristic of a distinct unveiling of conditions and events not previously known”. These “conditions and events” were decidedly hinted at in both the Old and New Testaments…and some cases they did more than hint. But, nowhere are these “conditions and events” laid out in such detail as in Revelation, so I won’t argue too much with “not previously known”. I really like “which otherwise cannot be known.” Revelation is a lot harder to duck than the pieces and hints from the Old and New Testaments are, though many still manage.
The quote continues into Chapter 1:
“The Revelation of Jesus Christ. Three possible interpretations are latent in this clause: a revelation about Jesus Christ not known before; a revelation of the future ministry of Jesus Christ when He comes in great glory; a revelation given by Jesus Christ as the great Revealer.
“While all three ideas fill their roles, the last seems most prominent, especially in light of 1:9,10.
9I, John, both your brother and companion in the tribulation and kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was on the island that is called Patmos for the word of God and for the testimony of Jesus Christ. 10I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day, and I heard behind me a loud voice, as of a trumpet, (Revelation 1:9,10; NKJV)
“The absence of the definite article the in the original language in this opening phrase captures our interest since it indicates this is a unique and distinct revelation (KJV et al. supply ‘The’). [From A REVELATION OF JESUS CHRIST, by Jacob Brubacher Smith, 1961]
I’m not in total agreement here. I still don’t see how the lack of a definitive ‘the’ indicates something “unique and distinct;” I think it does the opposite.
I take exception to: “a revelation about Jesus Christ not known before” as one of possible interpretations. I said I wouldn’t argue too much about this idea earlier, but in this context I see it as a minimizing of the idea that the One being revealed is Christ Himself. Learning something “about Jesus Christ not known before” sounds a bit like we’re at a slumber party telling secrets. To me, this unveiling is so much more than that. It’s more like ‘take your child to work day’; we get to see Jesus in heaven…what He does, the role He plays, His power and strength, etc. It’s far more personal than just learning a new tid-bit.
My last problem is why Mr. Smith would think Revelation 1:9,10 explains the prioritizing of Christ as Revealer. Maybe because John mentions “the testimony of Jesus Christ”; but this seemed to be a thought of John’s not part of the divine revelation exactly. Certainly Christ as the Revealer is the first priority in the first 3 chapters, but once we are in the main part of the book, He is decidedly both Revealer and Revealed.
We’ll end here for today. Next time we’ll wade deeper into the 1960’s.