Towards Understanding Revelation

2/23/23 REVELATION 1:1a, PART 11

We’ll start with a long quote from 1962: 

“After 15 years of preaching through the Bible, beginning at the first verse of the first chapter of Genesis, we have now come to the last and the climactic book, the Revelation of Jesus Christ. This is the Apocalypse, the unveiling,  the uncovering, the manifestation, the presentation of Jesus Christ…This message is taken from the first three words of the book, ‘Apokalupsis Iesou Christou’…That word ‘Apokalupsis,’ is compounded from a verb and a preposition. ‘Apo’ means ‘away from.’ ‘Kalupto’ means ‘to cover, to hide.’  ‘Apokalupsis,’ therefore, means ‘to take away the covering,’ ‘to unveil,’ ‘to reveal.’ It is a word used in classical Greek. Herodotus uses it to refer to the uncovering of the head. Plato uses it in a request, ‘Apokalupto…Reveal unto me the power of rhetoric.’ Plutarch uses it referring to uncovering of error. The only time it is used religiously is in this book of the Bible, and it has here that same distinctive meaning. ‘Apokalupsis Iesou Christou’ is the unveiling, the uncovering, the presentation in majesty and in glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.

“‘Apokalupsis Iesou Christou’ is an objective genitive: the Apokalupsis, the Revelation, of Jesus Christ. There are two kinds of genitives, a subjective genitive and an objective genitive. To illustrate a subjective genitive, one could refer to ‘the words of of Jesus Christ.’ They are His words; He spoke them; they belong to Him. They are the words of Jesus, and therefore a subjective genitive.  To illustrate an objective genitive, one could refer to the ‘death of Jesus Christ.’ He experienced mortality — death. It is thus with this phrase, ‘The Revelation of Jesus Christ.’ It is Christ who experiences the unveiling, the manifestation. It is our Lord who is uncovered and presented in all of His of glory and majesty.”

I’m breaking in for a moment to point out that we don’t see this point of view very often: Christ as the Revealed only.

“The only ‘Apokalupsis’ of our Lord that we read in the Bible is the appearing or the manifestation of our Savior. For example, in 1 Corinthians 1:7 it says: ‘Waiting for the Apokalupsis Iesou Christou.’ We see here the exact sentence structure and the exact words, ‘Waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.’ No one mistakes these words. The ‘Apokalupsis’ of our Lord is the unveiling of our Savior; ‘waiting for the Apokalupsis,’ the presentation, the appearance, the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Another instance of those same words (in English translation it does not appear, but the identical words are used in the Greek) is in 2 Thessalonians 1:7, 10a, ‘And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels,…When he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe.’ Those are the same words again, the ‘Apokalupsis Iesou Christou.’  ‘When he shall come,’ equals ‘when he shall be revealed from heaven…: The ‘Apokalupsis Iesou Christou’ is the Revelation of Jesus Christ in His glorious coming and appearance. Another instance of the phrase is found in 1 Peter 1:7, ‘That 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.’  There are those same words again, ‘at the Apokalupsis Iesou Christou,’ ‘at the appearing of Jesus Christ.’ No one doubts the meaning of those words. They refer to the great unveiling and the presentation of our Lord from glory. I cite one other example in Galatians 1:12. Paul writes: ‘For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.’  There are those words again, ‘Apokalupsis Iesou Christou.’ At first appearance it might seem that this is a revelation concerning our Lord, a communication about our Lord, but immediately in the verses that follow, Paul writes what he means. He describes the appearance of Jesus to him on the Damascus road and he calls that appearance an ‘Apokalupsis Iesou Christou,’ the Revelation, the Apocalypse, of Jesus Christ. Paul saw the Lord Himself in glory, above the brightness of the sun, when he met Him and saw Him face to face on the Damascus road.

“So, when they come to the title of the Book, we come to the key of its content. The Apocalypse of Jesus Christ is not a communicative message about Him, concerning Him, but it is the actual presentation of our Lord Himself. This is the uncovering, the unveiling, the manifestation of the incomparably glorious Son of God, Himself. When we read the Revelation, the Apocalypse, we see, before the time, those judgments and appearances that someday our very eyes shall look upon.

“The title of the Book, the Revelation of Jesus Christ, is the summation of its contents…The first time our Lord came into this world, He came in the veil of our flesh. His deity was covered over with His manhood. His Godhead was hidden by His humanity. Just once in a while did His deity shine through, as on the Mount of Transfiguration, or as in His miraculous works. But most of the time the glory, the majesty, the deity, the wonder and the marvel of the Son of God, the second person of the Holy Trinity, were veiled. These attributes were covered over in flesh, in our humanity. He was born in a stable. He grew up in poverty. He knew what it was to hunger and to thirst. He was buffeted and beaten and bruised. He was crucified and raised up as a felon before the scoffing gaze of the whole earth. The last time that this world saw Jesus was when it saw Him hanging in shame, misery and anguish upon the cross.  That was a part of the plan of God, a part of the immeasurable, illimitable grace and love of our Lord. ‘By His stripes we are healed.’”

Just a couple small issues at this point. I’m not sure that we know that Jesus “grew up in poverty.” I think we can deduce that his family wasn’t rich, but I’m not sure they were dirt poor either. The other issue is: “the last time that this world saw Jesus.” The last time He was seen by this world was when he was appearing to people after being raised from the dead…appearing to as many as 500 people at a time (1 Corinthians 15:6). Certainly, the last time He was seen in human flesh was on the cross; but it was also important to the plan of God that mankind saw Him in His resurrected flesh.

“But…is that all the world is ever to see of our Savior — dying in shame on a cross? No! It is also a part of the plan of God that some day this unbelieving, this blaspheming, this godless world shall see the Son of God in His full character, in glory, in majesty, in the full-orbed wonder and marvel of His Godhead. Then all men shall look upon Him as He really is. They shall see Him holding in His hands the title-deed to the Universe, holding in His hands the authority of all creation in the universe above us, in the universe around us, and in the universe beneath us; holding this world and its destiny in His pierced and loving hands.”  [From EXPOSITORY SERMONS ON REVELATION, by Wallie A. Criswell, 1962]

On the whole a rather nice quote. Again, if the world cares to look, dying in shame on the cross is not the only thing it would see of our Savior. I agree that all men will see the Christ in all His power and glory. 

At least here in the U.S., many who claim the Christian faith seem to be seeing Jesus and the Almighty God as just purveyors of love. They don’t read the Bible, they just take John’s statement that ‘God is love’ (John 4:16) as a stand-alone concept and ignore everything else revealed about the Godhead. When you try to witness to them about their peril, they scoff at you (2 Peter 3:3) and tell you that Jesus (or God) would never do such terrible things to those He loves. Unfortunately, we are told that love will not be the first thing the world notices about the Christ when He touches down on earth for the second time.

The next quote:

“The major theme of the entire bible is the Lord Jesus Christ. The Scriptures are both theocentric and Christocentric. Since Christ is God, He is the One who fills the horizon of the Word of God. This needs to be kept in mind in the book of Revelation more than any other book of the Bible, even more than in the Gospels. The Bible tells what He has done, is doing, and will do. Revelation emphasizes what He is going to do…The word revelation is in the Greek apocalypse and means unveiling. This word occurs 18 times in the New Testament — 1 time in the Gospels (Luke 2:32); 13 times in Paul’s Epistles (Gal. 1:12; 2 Thes. 1:7); 3 times in Peter’s Epistles (1 Pet. 1:7).   [From REVELING IN REVELATION, by J. Vernon McGee, 1962]

J. Vernon McGee is, perhaps, my favorite radio commentator. Before I gave my life to Christ, when I was searching for radio stations in the car, his voice would always stop me to listen. I usually didn’t know what the heck he was talking about, but I enjoyed his delivery so much that it didn’t matter. Now, of course, I do know what he’s talking about, and I enjoy him even more. He is certainly one of the most down-to-earth expositors there ever was. And, when I hear him say something I don’t agree with, usually, if I think about it a while, I come around to his way of thinking.  This quote is a very down-to-earth statement, pointing out the most important point to remember: the Word is all about Jesus Christ.

We’ll move to the next one:

“The English noun revelation is derived from a form of the Latin verb revelare which means to draw back the veil. The Latin form was transcribed into English. The Latin term was the translation of the Greek (apo – from and Kalupto – to cover). The meaning being to remove the cover from anything, and thus basically equivalent to the Latin term. The earliest use of the revelation was in1303 by R. Brunno. (See volume VIII of The Oxford English Dictionary, Oxford, 1933). The Greek term apocalypsis always means something shown or observed plus the interpretation. The book of The Revelation is concerned with unveiling the will and purpose of the living God. How was the unveiling accomplished? John’s next phrase provides us with the answer. The revelation is that which is given by Jesus Christ. The phrase ‘of Jesus Christ’ can be either a subjective genetive [sic] (which means that Jesus is the object that is disclosed or made manifest); or an objective genitive (which means that Jesus is the source of the revelation). Both of these aspects must be kept in mind.”   [From THE SEER, THE SAVIOR, AND THE SAVED, by James D. Strauss, 1963]

Mr. Strauss has stated this slightly differently from most everyone else: he is calling it the “unveiling [of] the will and purpose of the living God.” I can’t argue with this as the next phrase of Revelation 1:1 states that the revelation is from God, given to Jesus. But as most commentators, Mr. Strauss recognizes that the Revelation is from and about Jesus Christ…that Christ delivers it to John personally and through various heavenly creatures…while at the same time being from God. We’ll talk more about this as we move to the next phrase.

On to the next quote:

“Its very name signifies it can be understood; though all who approach its study must commit himself to a deeper delving into its truths, than any other book of the sacred volume requires. Here as in all other books, but in a greater degree, it is necessary that men shall have a hearing ear and the understanding heart. 

This book is called a ‘Revelation’ of Jesus Christ of the things that must shortly come to pass. The Greek word for the book is ‘Apocalypse’, which means ‘uncovering’. John used the word in the opening verse with the meaning that the covering is rolled off the future so that we may understand. So Revelation is not a sealed book, but the uncovering is done by the means of graphic symbolism. Doubtless, Christ resorted to symbolism to protect the book from destruction at the hands of the wicked institutions portrayed herein. Had such adversaries been called by their actual names they would have either destroyed the book, or declared the book of a later composition, because it named powers, religious and political, by names unknown until later centuries.”

Obviously, the “deeper delving” referred to in the first paragraph refers to a preteristic look at Revelation.  The “wicked institutions” spoken about were likely never named for John, so he didn’t name them; indeed, they are hardly even alluded to. Revelation is not about “wicked institutions,” but about wicked men aided by Satan and overcome by Jesus Christ. Satan is the only (unworthy) adversary, and he has indeed been trying to destroy the credibility of this book for a long time.

Some modern writers, including apparently this one, seem to think that the conditions of their times were extant at the time of Christ. It’s just not true. I would think that the Romans and the Pharisees are the most prevalent “wicked institutions” referred to by the author, yet I don’t see them bothering with censuring writings. The Roman occupiers were not interested at all in what people wrote as religious texts; the only thing they would have noticed was something posted in the marketplace.  Most, if not all, of the soldiers didn’t speak or read Hebrew, so even if they wanted to know what was being written it would have been difficult. I’ve never seen anything about the Pharisees or Sadducees reading Christian texts either: they just wanted to move on and forget about what they considered a cult (those Pharisees who became followers of Christ were most likely no longer considered ‘Pharisees’ anyway, just as Saul/Paul wasn’t). 

Let’s see what else this author has to say:

“Again, symbolism was used that the true followers of Christ might know its mysteries, otherwise hidden to the worldling. Christ used this principle in speaking his parables. Upon one occasion as recorded in (Matthew 13:10-17) his disciples came asking ‘Why speakest thou unto them in parables?’ He answered and said unto them, ‘Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven, but to them it is not given.’   [From THE WONDER BOOK OF THE BIBLE: A COMMENTARY ON THE BOOK OF REVELATION; by Lee G. Tomlinson; 1963]

I think everyone agrees that there is some symbolism used in Revelation: the argument is usually more about how much symbolism is used. I find the comparison with Jesus’ use of parables to be naive at best. Anyone reading the Scriptures will see many of the parables explained straight out, so it is obvious that the meanings were not being hidden in the Gospels. So, then, why would the meanings be hidden in Revelation? The “worldlings” don’t usually spend much time in Scripture, and don’t usually understand a lot of it  until they open their hearts to Christ and receive the Holy Spirit. And besides, the word ‘revelation’ doesn’t mean ‘hidden,’ or ‘mystery.’

Time to move on:

“In the opening words it is stated that the book is ‘The Revelation of Jesus Christ.’ The futurist school of thought interprets this as meaning the revelation of Christ at His second coming, to usher in a millennial reign. Sometimes in the New Testament writings the Apocalypse of Jesus Christ does refer to a visible appearing at the end of the age (e.g., 1 Peter 1:7,13). 

 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…13Wherefore 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 (1 Peter 1:7,13; KJV)

“Such, however, is plainly not the thought which John here has in mind. It is a revelation made by Christ through His servant John. Christ is the revealer, and Christ is the One revealed. He is here disclosed and uncovered to human view, present in the world and in the Church. Here Christ is the source of the revelation made to John. The content of the revelation is the word of God, the testimony of Jesus Christ…”  [From THE BOOK OF REVELATION; by Donald W. Richardson; 1964]

As a futurist, I have to agree, that while there is a lot being revealed in Revelation, it is definitely all about Jesus Christ in my opinion.

The next to the last quote:

“The opening statement presents the book as ‘The Revelation of Jesus Christ.’ Its title, then, is the first mark of distinction. Notice, it is not ‘The Revelation of St. John the Divine.’ There is no authority for this designation. Moreover, John refers to himself as ‘your brother, and companion in tribulation’ (1:9). He was a saint in the sense that all true Christians are saints, but he would be the last person to refer to himself as ‘divine.’ He was a chosen instrument to be the human penman of the book, but he was not divine.”

In calling any human being, except for Jesus, divine, is to miss use the word to the point of hyperbole. The Church, in particular the Catholic Church, seems to see certain people as set apart, or, more in touch with heaven or God than their fellow Christians, and they call these people ‘saints’ and refer to them as ‘divine.’ The Bible, on the other hand, calls all believers of a dispensation (a particular era of time) ‘saints.’ This is what the writer is referring to here, and I agree that John would not be happy with being called ‘saint’ or ‘divine.’ I have nothing against recognizing that certain people seem to be living a more obvious Christian life than the rest of us, and I’m sure we can learn something about our own faith by reading about their lives, but, to call them by the word identified in the Bible as intended for all believers is a road too far. The implication could be that only they are worthy of going to heaven, and that they are going there through their own efforts: these ideas are very un-Biblical, even admitting that the road to Heaven is very narrow.

We’ll continue on:

“Please note that the title is singular, not plural — not ‘Revelations’ but ‘The Revelation of Jesus Christ.’ The word ‘Revelation’ (Gr. Apokalupsis, from which we get our English word apocalypse), conveys the idea of an appearing, a manifestation, a coming, an unveiling. It is in contrast to an apocryphal (or hidden) book. The word is used once only in the Gospel records (Luke 2:32) where it is translated ‘lighten,’ referring to one of the purposes of the Incarnation, namely, to draw away the veil of darkness covering the Gentiles as prophesied in Isaiah 25:7. 

A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel. (Luke 2:32; KJV)

 And he will destroy in this mountain the face of the covering cast over all people, and the veil that is spread over all nations. (Isaiah 25:7)

“The same word appears frequently in the Epistles and is translated ‘manifestation’ (Romans 8:19), ‘coming’ (1 Corinthians 1:7), ‘revealed’ (2 Thessalonians 1:7), ‘appearing’ (1 Peter 1:7), ‘revelation’ (1 Peter 1:13). 

For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. (Romans 8:19; KJV)

So that ye 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)

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)

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 (1 Peter 1:13; KJV)

“This book is therefore all about the manifestation, the coming, the appearing of Jesus Christ. He will come in like manner as He was seen going up into Heaven (Luke 24:50-52 cf. Acts 1:10-11).   [So I guess this statement makes the author a futurist according to the last author.]

50And he led them out as far as to Bethany, and he lifted up his hands, and blessed them. 51And it came to pass, while he blessed them, he was parted from them, and carried up into heaven. 52And they worshipped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy (Luke 24:50-52; KJV).

10And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel: 11Which also said,  Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven. (Acts 1:10-11; KJV)

At His next ‘appearing’ on the earth, ‘every eye shall see Him’ (Revelation 1:7). It will be His glorious apocalypse.”   [From THE BOOK OF THE REVELATION; by Lehman Strauss; 1964]

Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen. (Revelation 1:7; KJV)

A pretty well-rounded quote; less emotional that some, but pretty down to earth.

The last quote for the day:

“‘The revelation of Jesus Christ’…It was made known by Jesus Christ, that is, it was not concerning Christ himself. The language does not refer to the person of Christ, as the subject of the vision, but to the One by whom it was communicated to John — by Jesus Christ ‘the faithful witness,’ through the agency of his angel.”  [From THE BOOK OF REVELATION: CONSISTING OF A COMMENTARY ON THE APOCALYPSE OF THE NEW TESTAMENT; by Foy E. Wallace; 1966]

This quote by Mr. Wallace brings us back to the idea of Christ as Revealer, not Revealed, though he does not parse out the language that he thinks proves that.

That’s all for today; we’ll pick it up from the mid-60’s again in the next post.

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