12/23/22 REVELATION 1:1a, PART 4

Continuing on in the 19th century with Joseph Augustus Seiss:

“What concerns the subject and contents of this book, I find for the most part in the name which it gives itself. It is the common rule with Scripture names, to express the substance of the things to which they are applied. The name of God expresses what God is; so themes of the Lord Jesus Christ, and all the leading names found in the Bible. Even those which the Church has given, are often wonderfully expressive and significant, Genesis is the generation of things; Exodus, the going forth from bondage; The Gospel, the very heart and substance of all God’s gracious communications the good news. And when God himself designates this book The Revelation of Jesus Christ, we may rest assured, that it is the very substance and kernel of the book that is expressed in this title…

“It is a book of which Christ is the great subject and centre, particularly in that period of his administrations and glory designated as the day of his uncovering, the day of his appearing. It is not a mere prediction of divine judgments upon the wicked, and of the final triumph of the righteous, made known by Christ; but a book of the revelation of Christ, in his own person, offices, and future administrations, when he shall be seen coming from heaven, as he was once seen going into heaven. If ‘The Revelation of Jesus Christ’ meant nothing more than certain communications made known by Christ, I can see no significance or propriety in affixing this title to this book, rather than to any other books of holy Scripture.  Are they not all alike the revelation of Jesus Christ, in this sense? Does not Peter say of the inspired writers in general, that they were moved by the Spirit of Christ which was in them? Why then single out this particular book as ‘The Revelation of Jesus Christ,’ when it is no more the gift of Jesus than any other inspired book? Besides, it would be particularly strange, that this book should be so specially designated ‘The Revelation of Jesus Christ’ in the sense of revelation by Christ, when the book itself declares that it was not received from Christ, but from an angel or messenger of Christ. These considerations alone ought to satisfy us that there is something more distinctive and characteristic in this title than is embraced in its ordinary acceptation.  For my own part, I am perfectly convinced, from a review of the places in which the word occurs in the New Testament, as well as from all the contents of this particular part of it, that The Apocalypse, or Revelation of Jesus Christ, means Jesus Christ revealed, and uncovered to mortal view; and not merely Jesus Christ revealing, and making known hidden things to be recorded for our learning. Let me refer to a few passages bearing upon the case. 

Continue reading

12/15/22 REVELATION 1:1a, PART 3

We’re still in the 19th century, looking at the first phrase of the first verse: The Revelation of Jesus Christ.

“The name applied to this book is instructive, though I must say not a few Christians practically interchange it with another name of opposite import. The first half of the one name is like that of the other in sound but the whole meaning of the one is diametrically opposite to that of the other. One is the Apocrypha, which means what is hidden the other is the Apocalypse, which means what is revealed and made known. The Apocrypha is the title given to those books which are adopted by the Church of Rome, of human origin, and of no value in deciding what is truth; the Apocalypse is the name of the divine and inspired book made known to John in Patmos. On the Apocrypha I am silent, or speak only to condemn it; on the Apocalypse I would that I were far more learned and eloquent, in order that I might adequately illustrate and recommend it.

“The words which are rendered in our version, ‘the revelation
of Jesus Christ’  have been misapprehended. It does not mean the revelation made by Jesus Christ, but the revelation of Jesus Christ himself. In other words, it does not mean Christ the revealer, but Christ the revealed; a revelation, or apocalypse, or portrait of Christ, which was communicated by Christ to John the seer, in Patmos. And that I am correct in this interpretation will be plain, I think, to your comprehension, from passages where the original word occurs and the word apocalypse occurs very frequently in Scripture; but unhappily, in our admirable translation…there is a change of rendering, though there be none in the original. For instance: in the First Epistle to the Corinthians, the first chapter, at the seventh verse, it is in our version —‘So that ye come behind in no gift ; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ’.  Now in the original it is — ‘waiting for the apocalypse of our Lord Jesus Christ’”

Here is one of the writers who disagrees with Moses Stuart, who said that the Greek indicated that Jesus was the subject of the line, in other words, the revealer rather than the revealed. This writer, John Cumming, is saying the exact opposite. Mr. Cumming does not seem to base his theory on a superior knowledge of Greek, but on surveying how the word “apocalypse” has been translated in various other places in the New Testament. This is not a bad way to proceed, although it’s discouraging to see it come to the opposite conclusion. We’ll continue to observe what future writers will be saying about this.

Continue reading