Introduction

Welcome to our Revelation Book Club! Great to have you! As you know, our first gathering is at Dolly and Cliff Mastrangelo’s (email David for the address) on Wednesday November 28th from 7-8:30PM. Before the class, you’ll want to read this study guide and Revelation 1:1-8. If you have questions or comments, post them in the Comment Section below.

 

Background: The Roman Empire

at the beginning of the Second Century

 

[1]

 

Have you told anyone you’re joining a Revelation Book Club? If so, what kind of response did you get? How do people today view the Book of Revelation? How do you view revelation? My guess is that it’s different from Richard Bauckham’s view. Bauckham is widely recognized as one of the foremost scholars on the Book of Revelation.[2] In his book, The Theology of the Book of Revelation, Richard Bauckham writes, “Revelation is not only one of the finest literary works in the New Testament, but also one of the greatest theological achievements of early Christianity.”[3]

 

I could not agree more. And what is Revelation about? Revelation is about this: how the church is to be faithful to Christ in the environment of empire. Bauckham gives the best summary of Revelation I have seen. He writes,

Revelation is faithful to the prophetic tradition’s conviction that the true worship of the true God is inseparable from justice and truth in all aspects of life. It is in the public, political world that Christians are to witness for the sake of God’s kingdom. Worship, which is so prominent in the theocentric [God centered] vision of Revelation, is not a spiritual retreat from the public world. It is the source of resistance to the idolatries [anything that means more than God and God’s priorities] of the public world.[4]

 

This is what Revelation is about which is why it’s so important for the church today.

 

When I was in seminary (a long time ago), scholars taught that the churches address in Revelation were experiencing persecution from the Roman Empire. But today scholars know much more about life in the first century Roman province of Asia (see map ). Unlike scholars in previous generations, virtually all scholars today agree that persecution of Christians in the Roman province of Asia was minimal during the timeframe of Revelation. However, if the churches follow Christ’s directives (in Rev chapters 2 and 3), persecution will likely begin. In fact, a few years after Revelation was completed, Pliny the Younger, Roman governor of the adjacent province of Bithynia/Pontus, wrote to Emperor Trajan (around 112 CE) about executing Christians for enacting the kind of resistance Revelation calls them to. As Bauckham writes, “It is not simply because Rome persecutes Christians that Christians must oppose Rome. Rather it is because Christians must disassociate themselves from the evil of the Roman system that they are likely to suffer persecution.”[5]

 

So, it is important to affirm that the purpose of John’s Apocalypse is not to make Christians long for a time in the future when they are finally removed from the challenges of this world. The purpose is to empower the Church to live faithfully and creatively in the present.  As Richard Bauckham observes:

(Revelation) recognizes the way a dominant culture, with its images and ideals, constructs the world for us, so that we perceive and respond to the world in its terms. Moreover, it unmasks this dominant construction of the world as an ideology of the powerful which serves to maintain their power. In its place, Revelation offers a different way of perceiving the world which leads people to resist and to challenge the effects of the dominant ideology.[6]

 

What do you hear in Bauckham’s statements? Does his view differ from what you have heard about Revelation? If so, in what ways?

 

Just Reacting to Revelation is Destructive

It’s no secret that the Book of Revelation has been abusively misinterpreted. Why is that? Revelation has been violated by people who didn’t know its historical context. They simply read Revelation and react based on how it strikes them. In the past, that approach might have been, while wrong, at least understandable. But in the past 20 years, scholars have discovered much more about the 1stcentury Roman Empire in the province of Asia. They also know much more about the history and characteristics of Jewish Apocalyptic literature (we’ll learn about this in our second session). Now we can be freed from the trap of just reacting to Revelation. But it takes work. As we begin our study, we have much to learn. The learning curve is steep, especially in our first sessions. But we can do it! So let’s get started!

 

When Was Revelation Written?

David Aune, Professor of Theology at the University of Notre Dame, is another one of the world’s foremost authorities on the Book of Revelation. He has written the notes on the “The Revelation to John” in the excellent HarperCollins Study Bible. He writes that Revelation appears to have been written over an extended period of time. Some parts appear to have been written during the reign of Nero (58-68 CE). Aune writes, “[Revelation] 11:1-3 suggests that the Jewish temple in Jerusalem (destroyed by the Romans in 70) was still standing when the book was written. Further, the code name of the beast in 13:88 is 666, widely thought to symbolize the name Nero Caesar.”[7]

 

Aune observes that other data suggest a later date. “For example, there are several allusions (13:3; 17:9-11) to the legend of Nero’s return, which circulated throughout the eastern Mediterranean during the two decades following his suicide in 68. Further, Revelation frequently uses ‘Babylon’ as a code name for Rome (14:8; 16:19; 17:5, 18; 18:2. 10.21), but the evidence suggests that Jews used this code name only after [italic his] the Romans destroyed Jerusalem in 70.”[8]Aune concludes that Revelation was written over a period of several years and was completed toward the end of the first or the beginning of the second century CE.

 

Who Wrote Revelation?

Four times we read that this book was written by John (1:1, 4, 9; 22:8). Early church tradition says that the author is John, the disciple of Jesus Christ, the son of Zebedee (Mt 10:2). However, for several reasons, this is not likely.[9]What we do know about the author is this:[10]

  • There are literally hundreds of allusions to the Old Testament in Revelation. Depending on how and what one counts, it’s anywhere from 200 to 1,000.[11]So it’s highly probable that John was raised and educated as a Jew.
  • Greek appears to be his second language. His Greek is written in a Semitic (Hebrew or Aramaic) style indicating he, in all likelihood, was a native of Palestine.
  • He may have fled Palestine for the Roman province of Asia after the Romans destroyed Jerusalem in 70 CE as well as virtually all the towns in Palestine. At that time, many Jews and Christians fled for their lives. After seeing that the Romans killed thousands, enslaved thousands, destroyed the Temple, stole the Temple treasury and artifacts, he clearly saw through the propaganda of Rome’s glory, grandeur, and Pax Romana.
  • He calls Revelation a prophetic book (1:3; 22:7, 10,18,19) and may have seen himself as in itinerant Christian prophet. He clearly knew the 7 churches addressed in Revelation 2 and 3 (see map below).

To Whom was Revelation Written

As we see in Revelation chapters 1, 2 and 3, Revelation was meant to be read out loud in worship in 7 churches in the Roman province of Asia. But as we’ll see in our second session, numbers in Revelation as always symbols. The number 7 is a symbol for “complete” meaning all churches. In other words, it is meant for us!

 

Here is a map of all the provinces in the area the Romans called Asia Minor. As you can see, Asia is the western most province of that area.

[12]

 

The seven churches Christ address in chapters 2 and 3 are located in the following two maps:

[13]

 

Here is more detail. Notice the city of Aphrodisias which I’ll be referring to shortly. It’s just below Laodicea.

[14]

 

Historical Context

Earlier we heard Richard Bauckham’s statement about the purpose of Revelation. Before we launch into the historical context, let me be transparent. Here’s my statement about the purpose of Revelation:

Through its visions, The Book of Revelation teaches us experientiallyabout the exercise of power in society both in the first century and today: political, economic, legal, social, military and religious power. It teaches us that all power is accountable to God the Creator and Jesus the Lamb. And it calls us to be witnesses (the Greek word, martyr) who stand against oppressive power in all its forms and who build an alternative community by enacting justice, righteousness and compassion.

 

The Glory of the Roman Empire

Visual imagery was an enormously important priority for the Roman elite. It’s estimated that the rate of literacy in the empire was less than 10%. So let’s look at some common Roman images and see what they might be communicating. While this approach is certainly not a comprehensive analysis, it does give us a sense of what Rome intended to communicate to its citizens.

 

Augustus of Prima Porta

[15]

  • Portrayed as “imperator”—commander-in-chief, all military power resides in him.
  • Reliefs on his breastplate celebrate victories over Hispania, Gaul, Germania, Parthia and link him to Mars, the god of war. Last week we heard Tom Holland, author of Rubiconand Dynasty, say that Augustus killed a million Gauls, enslaved another million and celebrated both in his triumph.[16]
  • To be portrayed without a helmet and barefoot, features not likely on a military leader, was to portray Augustus as a god.
  • At his lower right, Cupid is riding a dolphin. Cupid’s mother is the goddess Venus. In Roman mythology, Venus was the mother of the Roman people. (In Rev 13 we’ll read that the beast, the Roman emperor, came out of the sea.)
  • Julius Caesar claimed her as his personal ancestor. After Caesar’s death, Augustus, Caesar’s adopted son, claimed her as his ancestor as well. In so doing, he claimed divine endorsement of his reign.

Temples were part of the strategy of visual communication. The picture below is of a life-size marble relief from what’s called the Sebasteion in the city of Aphrodisias. Aphrodisias, a city dedicated to the goddess Aphrodite, is located between two of the cities mentioned in Revelation: Ephesus and Laodicea. Philip Harland writes,

In Asia Minor, it became common in various contexts, including provincial cults, to refer to a given emperor as “god Sebastos” (“Sebastos” was the Greek equivalent for the Latin “Augustus”) and to refer to the emperors (and some other members of the imperial family) collectively as the “Sebastoigods,” “the revered gods.”[17]

 

The Sebasteion is a temple complex devoted to the worship of Roman Emperors. The temple housed 200 life-sized marble reliefs honoring Roman Emperors as gods. In this relief, Augustus is nude which in the Greco-Roman world was a godlike symbol of male power. Land (on the left) and sea (on the right) are female indicating (in Roman society) their subservience. Land produces a cornucopia of abundance for Rome. Sea holds a rudder held by Augustus symbolizing his control over the seas.  The cape surrounding Augustus’ head is a symbol of night and day. So what did people see? Augustus, that is Rome, is the supreme ruler over all the earth.

[18]

 

These images are also from the Sebasteion in Aphrodisias. 50 of the 200 reliefs celebrate Roman victories over people and places from Judah and Arab nations in the east, to Spain in the west, and Britannia in the north. In each relief, the defeated people are personified as a shamed and beaten female slave. Notice that this portrayal is something to be glorified, celebrated, and worshipped.

                                   

Claudius conquers Britannia[19]                                             

 

Nero subdues Armenia[20]

 

Civil religiondominated the Roman Empire. Roman Imperial policy was made sacred through the worship of Roman gods.  In the relief below, Roma, the goddess who embodies Rome, is wearing a Roman military helmet, seated next to her armor, and holding a winged victory.  The goddess promises victory as an accomplished fact.  And we see the fruits of victory.  On the podium across from Roma a cornucopia overflows with abundance, and a caduceus, symbol of peace and security.  We also see a globe, which is to say that there is no place in the world where these promises guaranteed by Rome do not hold true. 

[21]

 

Roman Coins

Another important source of images for the Roman Empire was coins. Obviously, everyone carried them and used them daily. Here are three typical examples:

 

DENARIUS 31-30 BCE

[22]

 

The denarius was the standard Roman silver coin. It weighed 3.6 grams. At this point in time, professional Roman soldiers were paid 225 denarii per year. The gospels refer to a denarius as a day’s wage for a common laborer (Matthew 20:2; John 12:5). In Revelation, a quart of wheat and three quarts of barley were each valued at one denarius (Rev 6:6).

 

Front: Head of Octavian Three years later, in 27 BCE, the Senate gave him the title, Augustus, which added religious authority to his military and political authority.

Reverse: The goddess Victory She is standing on the globe holding a victory wreath (a crown being given to Octavian) in her right hand and a palm frond (another symbol of victory) in her left. CAESAR DIVI F translates, “Caesar son of the deified one.” Octavian was the grand-nephew and adopted son of Julius Caesar. Julius Caesar was deified posthumously by the Roman Senate in 42 BCE. Using the title, CAESAR DIVI F, Octavian was implying that he too was a god.

 

DENARIUS 29 BCE

[23]

Front: Head of Octavian

Reverse: Again we see CAESAR DIVI F. We also see the goddess Venus holding a scepter in her left hand (a symbol of imperial authority she is giving to Octavian) and helmet in her right (she is also giving Octavian his military authority). Below is a shield with an eight-rayed star, also known as the morning star or the star of Venus (since the planet Venus could be see in the morning sky). Venus was worshipped as the mother of the Roman people. Octavian claimed her as his ancestor.

 

GOLD AURIUS 13-14 CE

[24]

This coin was valued at 25 pure silver denarii. It weighed about 8 grams.

 

Front: CAESAR AVGVSTVS – DIVI F PATER PATRIAE translates Caesar Augustus, son of a god (the Divine Julius Caesar), father of the country. Wearing a laurel wreath/crown symbol of victory and honor.

Reverse: AVG F TR POT – XV CAESAR translates Augustus, son of divine Julius Caesar, holder of tribunicia potestas, which is sacrosanctity, i.e. personal inviolability. These are rights given to emperors that, in time of the Republic, resided with the 15 (XV) tribuni plebis. It included the right the emperor had to choose his own successor. Tiberius, the general, stands in the chariot pulled by a quadrigaof horses, a symbol of triumph used in the Roman Triumphal Procession where it was a symbol of godlike qualities. Tiberius was the step son of and later adopted by Augustus. Tiberius succeeded him serving as emperor from 14 to 37 CE.

 

Revelation’s View of the Roman Empire

Mary Beard’s remarkable book, The Roman Triumph, describes, in her words,

those famous parades through the city of Rome that celebrated Rome’s greatest victories against its enemies or its biggest massacres, depending on whose side you were on. To be awarded a triumph was the most outstanding honor a Roman general could hope for. He would be drawn in a chariot—accompanied by the booty he had won, the prisoners he had taken captive, and his no doubt rowdy and raucous troops in their battle gear—through the streets of the city to the Temple of Jupiter on the Capitoline hill, where he would offer a sacrifice to the god.

 

Beard goes on to say that the Roman philosopher, Lucius Annaeus Seneca,

questions the morality of some of those glorious victories that were celebrated in this most lavish of all Roman rituals and hints that the spoils on show might sometimes have been the fruits of sacrilege rather than the just rewards of imperial conquests. It puts a question mark over the triumph and triumphal values.[25]

 

Revelation would agree with Seneca but goes further. Revelation is a powerful statement that what is on display is the idolatry of Rome—the worship of power, privilege, and money. Rome’s idolatry results in the sin of violence, racism, injustice, greed and cruelty.

 

Christians in Asia knew about Rome’s cruelty. They knew the Romans had crucified Christ. They no doubt knew that the Romans had crucified Paul and Peter. They also knew of the Christians Nero tortured and killed in Rome. In addition, many of the members of the churches in Asia Minor were Jewish Christians who fled Palestine during the time of the Jewish War, 66 -70 CE. The Jewish historian Josephus writes that during the siege of Jerusalem, the Romans crucified 500 Jews a day outside the walls. Crucifixion was the most horrible torture the Roman’s used. A combination of intense physical pain and humiliation, the Romans used it to terrorize and force people to submit to Roman will.

 

But the Christians in the Roman province of Asia were enjoying the good life. They experienced little or no persecution. The economy was thriving. As we’ll see, it was exciting to participate in the community activities of the imperial cult. It was tempting to just go along with the ways of Rome.

 

Virtually all of Revelation is written in reaction against the propaganda of Rome. Revelation calls Christians not to assimilate to Roman propaganda but to be witnesses against it. My hope and prayer is that Revelation will empower us to see the idolatries in our world and give us the wisdom and courage to be witnesses for the kingdom of God. As we begin our study, let’s be reminded of Richard Bauckham’s words that Revelation is about how the church lives in the present:

Revelation is faithful to the prophetic tradition’s conviction that the true worship of the true God is inseparable from justice and truth in all aspects of life. It is in the public, political world that Christians are to witness for the sake of God’s kingdom. Worship, which is so prominent in the theocentric [God centered] vision of Revelation, is not a spiritual retreat from the public world. It is the source of resistance to the idolatries of the public world.[26]

 

It is not simply because Rome persecutes Christians that Christians must oppose Rome. Rather it is because Christians must disassociate themselves from the evil of the Roman system that they are likely to suffer persecution.[27]

 

STUDY OF REVELATION

Revelation 1:1-3

John’s Introduction to the Book

 

1The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place; he made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, 2who testified to the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, even to all that he saw. 3 Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of the prophecy, and blessed are those who hear and who keep what is written in it; for the time is near.

 

Notes on Revelation 1:1-3

A revelation

  • The Greek word is apocalypse, which means, “unveiling.”
  • What is being unveiled in Revelation? J. Nelson Kraybill writes, “Emperor worship and rituals of allegiance to the empire pervaded politics, business, family, and social life in the Roman world. The first word of Revelation in the Greek text is apocalypsis, which means “unveiling.” John’s vision unveils:
    1. the Roman Empire, showing it to have become a violent beast that usurps devotion belonging to God.
    2. the nature of divine love, made known by a Lamb that was slain.

Humanity must choose between allegiance to the beast and allegiance to the Lamb.[28]

  • We’ll focus on the theme and genre of apocalypse below.

 from Jesus Christ

  • The Greek genitive case used for “Jesus Christ” indicates that Revelation is both “about” and “from” Jesus Christ. So first and foremost, Revelation is not about the future or monsters or deadly apocalyptic wars. First and foremost, Revelation is about Jesus Christ.
  • Revelation is the fifth gospel in the sense that it is telling the gospel, the good news, from the perspective of the crucified, risen, ascended, glorified Christ.

which God gave him to show his servants

  • The apocalypse/revelation originates with God. God gives it to Jesus “to show” his servants. Craig Koester writes, “The act of revealing takes place at the boundary of human capacities, for it presupposes that God’s designs are ordinarily concealed; and because they are hidden, God must disclose them. . . . It is God who gives the revelation to Jesus, so that it might be given to an angel, to John, and finally to the servants of God.”[29]
  • Revelation is something meant to be seen. It is a vision. It is something to visualize in its hearing. It is something to be experienced; something to engage our imaginations. It’s not a lecture. What does that tell us about how we attempt to understand Revelation?
  • We are described as God’s “servants.” What does that description imply to you?

what must soon take place

  • Revelation consists of three visions. As we work our way through these visions, we will discover that they are not chronological! They are dream-like. Time—past, present, and future—jumps all around.
  • In the context of Revelation, “soon” is not about chronology. It is about urgency—the urgency to live out Christ’s calling.

he made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, 2who testified to the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, even to all that he saw.

  • Again, the Book of Revelation consists primarily of visions that John “saw.”
  • John describes these visions in three scrolls: the letter scroll (1:1-3:22), the worship scroll (4:1-11:18), and the war scroll (11:19-22:21).
  • But the Revelation of John is much more than a transcript of what he saw. In our study we’ll discover with Richard Bauckham that, “The book is far too complex and elaborate a literary composition for that to be possible. . . . Whatever John’s visionary experiences were, he had transformed them, by a long process of reflection, study and literary composition, into a literary work which communicates their message to others.[30]They are still visions intended to be experienced. But as read above, they are one of the finest literary works of the New Testament.
  • Notice that John’s role is to testify, that is, to bear witness. It is a translation of the Greek word, martyrein, which means a statement of truth. Over and over, John will call the church to bear that same witness (Rev 1:5; 6:9; 11:3, 7; 12:11; 17:6), namely, to live in a way that bears witness to the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ.

3 Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of the prophecy, and blessed are those who hear and who keep what is written in it; for the time is near

  • It might be shocking to discover that Revelation is a book of blessings. There are actually 7 blessings in Revelation and this is the first (1:3; 14:13; 16:15; 19:9; 22:7; 22:14). As we’ll discover, John’s use of number is meticulous, never accidental. 7 is the symbol of completeness or perfection. So what is John communicating by using 7 blessings? Revelation affirms God’s complete blessing for those who hear and are faithful to God.
  • To “read aloud” these words means to read them aloud in worship.
  • “The words of the prophecy” is not talking about future events. Prophecy was a message from God sent through God’s appointed messenger.

Revelation 1:4-8

Greeting to the Churches and Praise to God – Father, Son and Spirit

 

4 John to the seven churches that are in Asia: Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven spirits who are before his throne, 5and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To him who loves us and freed us from our sins by his blood, 6and made us to be a kingdom, priests serving his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.

7Look! He is coming with the clouds;
   every eye will see him,
even those who pierced him;
   and on his account all the tribes of the earth will wail.

So it is to be. Amen.

8 ‘I am the Alpha and the Omega’, says the Lord God, who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.

 

Notes on Revelation 1:4-8

4 John to the seven churches that are in Asia

  • In apocalyptic literature, what does the number 7 symbolize?
  • Here are the city locations for the churches John identifies. Notice that the churches are listed in the order a messenger from Patmos would visit them.

Grace to you and peace

  • The entire book of Revelation is a letter. In the ancient world, a letter includes the following:
    • the writer, “John”
    • the addressees, “to the seven churches”
    • a greeting in the form, “Grace to you and peace,”
    • a conclusion, “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with all the saints. Amen.” (22:21).

 

from him who is and who was and who is to come,

  • Notice who is letter is from. This threefold name for God originates with God’s revelation to Moses at the burning bush. There we read, “God said to Moses, ‘I Am Who I Am.” (Exodus 3:14).
  • Based on this description, how the God of the churches different from the gods worshipped in the Roman imperial cult, that is, deceased and living emperors?

and from the seven spirits who are before his throne

  • The letter is also from the seven spirits. In Jewish apocalyptic literature, the seven spirits represent the seven archangels (the angels of high rank) who stand before God (3:1; 4:5; 5:6; 8:2). Like the angel John mentions in verse 1, the archangels serve as God’s messengers.

from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth

  • Here we see three titles of Jesus; titles that describe three essential aspects of his work. In your own words, how would you describe these three aspects? What would you guess is the significance of these parts of Christ’s work for the churches in the Roman Empire?

To him who loves us and freed us from our sins by his blood,

  • Put this statement about Jesus in your own words.
  • What would you guess is the significance of these words for the churches?

 

6and made us to be a kingdom, priests serving his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.

  • Remember Exodus 19:5,6? What is the historical context of these words?

5Now therefore, if you obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession out of all the peoples. Indeed, the whole earth is mine, 6but you shall be for me a priestly kingdomand a holy nation. 

  • Remember 1 Peter 2:9? What has Peter done with these words from the Hebrew scripture?

9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, in order that you may proclaim the mighty acts of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. 

  • To say that the church is God’s kingdom serving God, giving God glory and dominion for ever and ever, what does that mean for commitment to the any empire and the its leader(s)?

7Look! He is coming with the clouds;
   every eye will see him,
even those who pierced him;
   and on his account all the tribes of the earth will wail.

So it is to be. Amen.

  • Let’s look at the source of the apocalyptic vision of “one like a human being coming with the clouds of heaven.” The following verses come another apocalyptic text, Daniel 7:9-14:

9 As I watched,
thrones were set in place,
   and an Ancient One took his throne;
his clothing was white as snow,
   and the hair of his head like pure wool;
his throne was fiery flames,
   and its wheels were burning fire. 
10 A stream of fire issued
   and flowed out from his presence.
A thousand thousand served him,
   and ten thousand times ten thousand stood attending him.
The court sat in judgement,
   and the books were opened. 
11 I watched then because of the noise of the arrogant words that the horn was speaking. And as I watched, the beast was put to death, and its body destroyed and given over to be burned with fire. 12As for the rest of the beasts, their dominion was taken away, but their lives were prolonged for a season and a time. 13As I watched in the night visions,
I saw one like a human being
   coming with the clouds of heaven
.

And he came to the Ancient One
   and was presented before him. 
14 To him was given dominion
   and glory and kingship,
that all peoples, nations, and languages
   should serve him.
His dominion is an everlasting dominion
   that shall not pass away,
and his kingship is one
   that shall never be destroyed.

  • Turning again to our Revelation 1:7, who were those “who pierced him”? What is this saying about Roman power?
  • Who will wail and why will they wail? What does the wailing say about the supposed eternal glories of Rome? What is the significance of the phrase, “So it is to be, Amen.”
  • Notice that already in chapter 1 verse 7, John knows how everything will end.

8 ‘I am the Alpha and the Omega’, says the Lord God, who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.

  • Notice how God describes himself:
  1. “I am the Alpha and the Omega”
  2. “The One who is and who was and who is to come”
  3. And the Lord God is “the Almighty.”
  • These are three of the four most important descriptions of God in Revelation (the fourth is, “the One who sits on the throne,” 4:9; 5:13).
  • What does each statement tell us about who God is?
  • What significance does each statement have for the church in any empire?

 

FOOTNOTES

[1]https://www.usu.edu/markdamen/ClasDram/images/12/25map07paxromana.jpg

[2]Here is his webpage:http://www.richardbauckham.co.uk/

[3]Richard Bauckham, The Theology of the Book of Revelation,Cambridge University Press, 1993, 22.

[4]Ibid., 161.

[5]Ibid., 38.

[6]Bauckham, ibid., 159.

[7]David Aune in The Harper Collins Study Bible, Harold W. Attridge, Ed., San Francisco: HarperOne, 2006, 2086.

[8]Ibid., 20878.

[9]See David Aune’s introduction to Revelation in The Harper Collins Study Bible, Harold W. Attridge, ed., New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 2006, 2086.

[10]Ibid., 2086.

[11]Michael J. Gorman, Reading Revelation Responsibly, Eugene, OR: Cascade Books, 2011, 23.

[12]http://www.biblestudy.org/roman-empire/roman-provinces-in-new-testament/asia-galatia-bithynia.html

 

[13]http://trainingjesusfollowers.com/6-reading-the-churchs-mail/

 

[14]http://emp.byui.edu/satterfieldb/Book%20of%20Revelation/MapSevenChurches.jpg

 

[15]https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Augustus_of_Prima_Porta#/media/File:Statue-Augustus.jpg

[16]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nlf_ULB26cU

[17]http://www.philipharland.com/associations/honours.html

[18]https://holylandphotos.wordpress.com/2016/07/14/travel-tip-7b-worshiping-the-roman-emperor/

[19]https://www.nyu.edu/projects/aphrodisias/seb.sculp.ti.htm

 

[20]http://www.livius.org/pictures/turkey/aphrodisias/aphrodisias-sebasteion/aphrodisias-sebasteion-nero-subdues-armenia/

 

[21]https://wikivisually.com/wiki/Capitoline_Hill

 

[22]http://www.ancientcoins.ca/RIC/RIC1/RIC1_Augustus_201-400.htm

 

[23]http://www.ancientcoins.ca/RIC/RIC1/RIC1_Augustus_201-400.htm

 

[24]http://www.ancientcoins.ca/RIC/RIC1/RIC1_Augustus_201-400.htm

 

[25]Mary Beard, The Roman Triumph, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2007, 1-2.

[26]Ibid., 161.

[27]Ibid., 38.

[28]J. Nelson Kraybill, Apocalypse and Allegiance, Grand Rapids: Brazos Press, 2010, 22.

[29]Craig R. Koester, Revelation, New Haven: Yale University Press, 2014, 220-221.

[30]Bauckham, ibid., 116-117.

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