1-3 John and Revelation J. Brian Tucker, Ph.D. Moody Theological Seminary
Author: John the son of Zebedee Date: c. 90–95 Provenance: Asia Minor Destination: Churches in and around Ephesus 1-3 John Key Facts
Occasion: The recent departure of false teachers from the Ephesian church (1 John); itinerant false teachers (2 John); an autocratic despot named Diotrephes (3 John) Purpose: John encourages believers to love God and one another and reassures them that they are in the Son (1 John); instructs them not to extend hospitality to false teachers (2 John); and helps Gaius deal with the autocratic Demetrius (3 John) Theme: Christian reassurance and continuing to walk in love and truth Key Verses: 1 John 5:11–12; 2 John 9–11; 3 John 4 1-3 John Key Facts
In his lectures on 1 John, Martin Luther declared, “I have never read a book written in simpler words than this one, and yet the words are inexpressible.” His fellow Reformer John Calvin remarked about the author, “At one time he admonishes us in general to a godly and holy life; and at another he gives express directions about love. Yet he does none of this systematically, but varies teaching with exhortation.” Introduction
These two comments reveal a measure of the paradox of the Johannine Letters: simple in expression (a vocabulary of only 303 words), but complex in thought. Introduction
Authorship Date Provenance Destination Occasion Purpose Introductory Matters Unique to 2 John and 3 John HISTORY
Early church tradition unanimously held that the author of 1 John was the apostle John, the son of Zebedee, but 2 John and 3 John were not as strongly attested. In spite of the wavering of a few, 2 and 3 John were received into the canon on the strength of the conviction that John the apostle was the author. Confidence in the tradition has frequently been undermined by the claim that no explicit attribution to John as the author occurs until Irenaeus (c. 130–200). Authorship
The external data point quite early to 1 and 2 John as coming from the apostle. John’s authorship of 3 John, most likely due to the letter’s brevity and the lack of extant patristic works, is support less widely. But since there is evidence to assume that the letters circulated together, it is likely that 3 John was included as well. This would be consistent with what is known of published letter collections in antiquity. Authorship
Reliable historical tradition strongly suggests that John spent his latter years in Asia Minor in and around Ephesus (see Irenaeus, Against Heresies 3.1.2; Eusebius, Eccl. Hist. 3.1.1). The apostle’s move from Palestine to Asia Minor reportedly took place sometime subsequent to the Jewish rebellion in the year 66. Date
While it is possible that some of the connections with John’s Gospel in 1 John are based on a common tradition, in a few places the Gospel seems to be assumed. The best date, given the death of John at around the turn of the century and the dating of the Gospel in the early to mid-80s, is somewhere in the early to mid-90s. Date
The ancient tradition is uniform that John spent his latter years in Ephesus in Asia Minor. Polycrates, in a letter to Victor of Rome, called John one of the “luminaries” buried in Ephesus. Irenaeus said that John stayed in Ephesus permanently until the reign of Trajan (98–117) and included specific statements about John’s ministry in Ephesus. Provenance
In 1 John, John addressed various groups in the congregation as “little children,” “fathers,” “young men,” “brothers,” and “beloved” (e.g., 2:12–14; 4:1, 7). It seems that John focused on important truths of broad relevance to address as many believers as possible. This lends credence to the view that 1 John was a circular letter sent to predominantly Gentile churches in and around Ephesus. Both 2 John and 3 John are personal letters. Destination
The churches to whom 1 John was written are under doctrinal and emotional duress. There had been a recent departure of false teachers from the church (2:19) that apparently was both painful and unpleasant and that was still evident in 2 John (v. 7). The Christians to whom John wrote in 1 John were in need of instruction, but more importantly they needed to be reassured and comforted in light of the recent upheaval ending in the departure of the false teachers (5:13; see 2:19). Occasion
Irenaeus claimed that John wrote his Gospel to refute Cerinthus, but does not make the same claim for his Letters. The wholesale identification of the Ephesian secessionists with Cerinthus’s followers is unwarranted. Occasion
In 1 John, the purpose statement occurs at 5:13: “I have written these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life.” While there are two other passages that declare John’s purpose for writing (1 John 2:1; 2:12–14), they do not carry the same global weight as 5:13. Purpose
The prescripts of 2 John and 3 John differ from 1 John in that the recipients and sender are named albeit imprecisely. The sender is identified in both letters simply as “the elder.” The designation of the recipients in 2 John as “the elect lady and her children” (2 John 1; cf. v. 13) is also imprecise. Introductory Matters Unique to 2 John and 3 John
Third John is specifically written “to my dear friend Gaius” (v. 1), an otherwise unknown individual. John commended Gaius for receiving the brothers sent from the apostle (apparently itinerant preachers) and commended Demetrius as one of them (3 John 12). Diotrephes, on the other hand, opposed “the brothers” and did not support the apostolic missionaries (vv. 9–10). Thus it is safe to conclude that one of the major purposes of 3 John was to provide a letter of recommendation for the elder’s emissaries in general and for Demetrius in particular, as well as to put Diotrephes in his place prior to John’s anticipated visit. Introductory Matters Unique to 2 John and 3 John
Genre Literary Plan Outline LITERATURE
Both 2 John and 3 John are prototypical examples of the first-century letter and may be some of the most situational in the NT. The genre of 1 John is quite a different matter. The unusual situation with regard to 1 John is that the document contains few formal characteristics that would classify it as a letter. Genre
Despite the lack of standard formal epistolary features, it is best to understand it in broad terms as a letter, since Greco-Roman letters exhibited a considerable degree of diversity. Genre
The outline of 2 John and 3 John is predictable and easily discernible. As typical first-century letters, both follow the simple pattern “Introduction—Body—Conclusion.” The outline of 1 John has generated much debate, and to date no scholarly consensus has been reached. Literary Plan
The structural proposals for 1 John fall into three major categories: divisions into two, three, or multiple parts. Among those who hold to a division into two parts, the main item of discussion is whether the break should be placed toward the end of chapter 2 or at 3:11. Among those who hold to a three-part structure, the debate centers on whether or not the first major break is at 2:17, 2:28, or 2:29, and whether the second major break is at 4:1 or 4:7. Among those who see multiple divisions, one finds a plethora of proposals. Literary Plan
The following outline for 1 John concurs with those who see a three-part structure to the book and specifically those who suggest the following major units: 1:5-2:27; 2:28-3:24; and 4:1-5:12. It is best to understand 1:5–2:27 as an extended overview of the rest of the letter, with 2:28–3:24 elaborating on the ethical and 4:1–5:12 on the doctrinal dimensions of believers’ lives. Literary Plan
Argument of 1 John Introduction 1:1-4 [Abridged from Chris Miller’s outline http://chrismiller.cedarville.org/content/1johi.pdf] John states the goal of his writing, namely, fellowship in the first verses of the book. His design is that the readers will come to have the same sense of relationship with God that the apostles have. His desire is that his followers not only enjoy fellowship with God but that they also continue to grow in their fellowship. If the readers share in this truth and experience then joy will be the result. The conditional factor in this situation is the reader's reception of the apostle's message.
Argument of 1 John Introduction 1:1-4 The Word of Life has appeared, and been proclaimed, it must now be obediently received if the goal is to be obtained. John speaks in words of tangible reality (heard, seen, looked, touched).
Argument of 1 John Introduction 1:1-4 His reference of course is to the incarnation of God in the person of Jesus Christ. John seems to emphasize the concrete reality of this truth and also its origin. His gospel and teaching find their roots in the very life and person of Jesus. Whatever the source of his opponents' teaching, the source of John's doctrine enjoys the sure foundation of the Son of God himself.
Argument of 1 John Experiencing Forgiveness Of Sins 1:5-2:2 The experiencing of the forgiveness of sins is dependent upon the confession of sin which is exposed by the Word of God. John first states that the standard of fellowship with God is holiness. Therefore no sin will be tolerated in his presence. Because the sinful nature of the believer will eventually and continually erupt, the only possible recourse for the believer who wants to have fellowship with a holy God is for him to deal honestly with sin. This dealing with sin simply involves a recognition of sin as sin and a confession of it to God.
Argument of 1 John Experiencing Forgiveness Of Sins 1:5-2:2 John deals with three possible realities in regard to sin, each one involving a denial of sin and also a description of the proper solution. Although some have seen a progression in the three sets of verses (1:6-7; 8-9; 10-2:2) they may best be understood as restatements or amplifications of a single truth.
Argument of 1 John Experiencing Forgiveness Of Sins 1:5-2:2 The error seems to be the denial of the acts of sin; the solution is an honest acknowledgment and confession of sin, all of which is based upon the forgiveness provided by the atonement on Calvary. When sin is denied no fellowship is possible; when confession is made, forgiveness is guaranteed and fellowship is attainable.
Argument of 1 John Coming to Know God 2:3-11 Coming to know God is dependent upon keeping the commands of God as demonstrated in the life of Jesus. This section resembles the first chapter in its structure in that it begins with a statement of the standard of fellowship (2:3) and continues with a statement of error (2:4) and of truth (2:5). John first lays down the general principle that coming to know God depends upon keeping his commands (2:3-6) and then concentrates on a the specific command to love (2:7-11).
Argument of 1 John Coming to Know God 2:3-11 John again defines failure to meet the standard for fellowship in this section (2:3-11) as he did in the previous section (1:5-2:27) as walking in darkness. The one who does not deal honestly with sin walks in darkness (1:6) as does the one who does not keep the commands of God, specifically the command of love (walks around in darkness, 2:11). Thus, coming to know God depends upon the individual's reception of and obedient response to the message of the apostles.
Argument of 1 John The Purpose in Writing 2:12-14 John lists the three groups (children, fathers, young men) twice and attaches these three characteristics (forgiveness of sins, knowing God and overcoming evil) to them. In his first statement about the three groups (2:12-13a) he lists the characteristics in this order, i.e., forgiveness of sins first (2:12), knowing God second (2:13a) and overcoming evil last (2:13b).
Argument of 1 John The Purpose in Writing 2:12-14 In the second listing the characteristic of overcoming the evil one again comes last and is expanded to I write to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God lives in you, and you have overcome the evil one (2:14b). This arrangement serves to introduce and emphasize the next major topic of the book, overcoming the Evil one, both in the world and in false teachers, by means of abiding in the word of God (2:15-27).
Argument of 1 John In the world 2:15-17 John's description of the world is classic. He basically describes it as sinful and temporary. The exhortation is obviously to not love the world or anything in it. It would be foolish for a Christian, who is eternal (2:17b) to become attached to something which is temporal (2:17a).
Argument of 1 John In false teachers 2:18-19 The working of the evil one is also evident in false teachers. John clearly describes these teachers when he calls them antichrists. Evidently these people were at one time members of the church.
Argument of 1 John The solution of abiding in the truth 2:20-27 The solution to overcoming the evil one, as John previously and summarily announced (2:14b), was to abide in the Word or, more accurately, allow the Word to abide in you (2:14b, 24, 27). John calls this truth an anointing twice in this section (2:20, 27) and exhorts his readers to allow it to live in them (2:27).
Argument of 1 John Continued Fellowship with Him 2:28 This statement seems to be the beginning of the next section because here John plainly states the emphasis of it, ‘And now, dear children, continue in him, so that when he appears we may be confident and unashamed before him at his coming’.
Argument of 1 John Evil desires 2:29-3:24 John uses the prototypical example of the struggle with evil in the person of Cain. As God introduced the struggle between the evil one and Himself (Genesis 3:15) one of the first examples is found in the conflict of the two brothers (Genesis 4). God's words to Cain then were "But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it" (Genesis 4:7).
Argument of 1 John Evil desires 2:29-3:24 Cain of course, was overcome by evil, and thus stands as the perfect negative example in the struggle with the Evil one. His struggle with Satan was demonstrated in the practical relationship with his brother. So too, John applies the basic issue of overcoming evil (3:8b, The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil's work) into the practical demonstration of love for one's brother.
Argument of 1 John Evil desires 2:29-3:24 If we do not love our brothers we have been overcome by evil. The perfect positive example of overcoming evil is of course, the Seed of the woman, Jesus Christ. It was in his victory over evil, at the cross, wherein he best demonstrated his love for brothers and thus becomes (for purposes of this discussion) the prototypical example for good. At Calvary he both overcame evil and demonstrated love for his brothers.
Argument of 1 John Evil Teaching 4:1-6 As John spoke of evil teachers previously as antichrists (2:18-27), now, he uses the same description (4:3) when he addresses the subject again. His discussion is basically twofold: the recognition of evil teaching (4:1-3) and the recognition of evil teachers (4:4-6).
Argument of 1 John Evil Teaching 4:1-6 A crucial test of evil teaching is its view of Jesus. Teaching cannot be true if it does not at least acknowledge the truth of the incarnation. Evil teachers are recognized (among other ways) by observing who listens to them. If a teacher attracts worldly people, then his teaching is probably from the world.
Argument of 1 John Knowing God 4:7-21 Knowing God fully depends upon our living in love with the result that we will have confidence on the day of judgment (4:17). John's progression of thought in this section begins with the statement that knowing God is demonstrated by living in love (4:7-12). We know that God lives in us because of the Spirit he has given us (4:13-16a). The result of knowing God and living in love is confidence on the day of judgment (4:16b-18) and finally, walking in love means loving our brothers as well (5:19-21).
Argument of 1 John Being Born of God 5:1-17 Being born of God depends upon one's belief that Jesus is the Christ with the result that we will have assurance in our salvation and thus in approaching God. Following the apostle's logic is more difficult in this section. His first statement seems to be that faith in Jesus as the Christ results in victory over the world (5:1-5). Being born of God is the result of believing the facts about the Son of God (5:6-12).
Argument of 1 John Being Born of God 5:1-17 In this section, particularly, John seems to be battling an incipient Gnosticism which taught that the Christ came upon Jesus at the water (baptism) and left before the cross (blood). The object of John's faith, and the faith of all those who are born again, is the resurrected Christ. This faith will bring assurance in one's salvation (5:13) and assurance in prayer (5:14-17).
Argument of 1 John Conclusion 5:18-21 Certainties in our fellowship with the Word of Life bring a true knowledge of eternal life and of God. John rejoices first that because of our salvation we know we have protection from the evil one even though the entire world is under his control.
Argument of 1 John Conclusion 5:18-21 More importantly, however, we have a true knowledge of God and of his Son and of his life. This is the essence of responding correctly to the message of the apostles (1:1-3) and of therefore having fellowship and joy (1:4). Anything less would be idolatry (5:21).
Argument of 2 John Salutation 1-3 [http://chrismiller.cedarville.org/content/2johi.pdf] Whether the "lady" is a specific person or a church is difficult to tell, though the latter seems more likely. John's identification of himself as the "elder" is probably meant to remind his readers of the fact that he was an eyewitness of the life of Christ; there were only a few such eyewitnesses left by this time and they were all very "elderly." Like the first epistle of John, the emphasis here is upon knowing and walking in the truth. The proper demonstration of that truth is the focus of the next verses.
Argument of 2 John Walking in the Truth 4-6 John evidently saw the need to reemphasize the importance of walking in the truth. This is best demonstrated by obedience to the commands of Christ, not the least of which, is loving the brothers. In this, the letter is clearly built on the theology of John.
Argument of 2 John Warning about Spreading Error 7-11 Also following from the teaching of his first epistle, John warns against receiving those who propagate a message about Jesus which is different from the one already received. John warns against feeding and housing these false teachers. His point does not prohibit greeting or even inviting a person into one's home for conversation.
Argument of 2 John Conclusion 12-13 John's intentions of visiting the recipients soon, evidently means that he had a certain freedom of travel. The benediction of a chosen sister are once again ambiguous to the present day reader, although certainly not to the original recipients.
Argument of 3 John Salutation 1-4 [http://chrismiller.cedarville.org/content/1johi.pdf] John again identifies himself as the "elder" a reference to his age. He states his joy over Gaius' reception of the itinerant preachers. Gaius' actions were evidently a tangible test of his love for the truth which elicits great joy in the heart of the apostle.
Argument of 3 John Supporting Travelling Preachers 5-12 John states his basic point in the first few verses of this section as he commends Gaius. He draws the connection between hospitality and service when he says "We ought therefore to show hospitality to such men so that we may work together for the truth" (vs. 8).
Argument of 3 John Supporting Travelling Preachers 5-12 Of this positive trait, Diotrephes is the negative example. His refusal to accept the brothers and his gossip about John will receive personal rebuke later. At this point, John commends another travelling preacher, Demetrius, whom Gaius will evidently support as well.
Argument of 3 John Conclusion 13-14 A similar conclusion is found in 2 John which also argues for a similar occasion of the epistles. Again, John hopes to come in person, indicating that his exile on Patmos had probably not yet begun.
Theological Themes Contribution to the Canon THEOLOGY
Ethical Conduct Grounded in Proper Christian Doctrine Christian Discipleship and Assurance of Salvation Love Theological Themes
Jesus Christ as the propitiation for the sins of the entire world (1 John 2:2) God is love (e.g., 1 John 4:16) Christian assurance (1 John 5:11–13) Prohibition against extending hospitality to false teachers (2 John) Warning against autocratic church leadership (3 John) Contribution to the Canon
Author: John Date: 95–96 Provenance: Patmos Destination: Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea Key Facts
Occasion: Persecution of Christians in Asia Minor, John’s visions Purpose: To encourage Christians to faithful endurance by depicting the final judgment and the establishment of Christ’s kingdom on earth Theme: Jesus the slain and resurrected Lamb is coming again as the eschatological King and Judge Key Verses: 1:7; 19:11–16 Key Facts
Throughout the history of its interpretation, the book of Revelation has captured the imagination of numerous people, producing a myriad of interpretations and theological schemas in an effort to understand the difficult yet fascinating teachings of the book. Despite the multitude of challenges confronting the interpreter, interest in the book of Revelation continues unabated. Introduction
Authorship Date Provenance Destination, Occasion and Purpose HISTORY
The author identified himself as “John.” The focus of discussion has been on answering the question, “Which John is the author of the book?” Most scholars recognize three major candidates: John the apostle and son of Zebedee (most likely) John the elder (unlikely) Some other unknown John who was a prophet (unlikely) Authorship
Scholarly opinion concerning the date of Revelation’s composition is divided between an early date (64–69) and a late date (95–96). Although certainty continues to be elusive, the late date, during the reign of Domitian, has considerably stronger support. Date
John disclosed the location of where he received his vision as the little island of Patmos in the Aegean Sea (1:9b). John indicated that the reason he was there was because of “the word of God and the testimony of Jesus,” most likely indicating some form of persecution. It seems likely that John had been banished from Ephesus in Asia Minor by a provincial governor. Provenance
The book of Revelation is addressed to seven churches that existed at the end of the first century (95–96). The cities were Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea. John explicitly stated several times that the occasion for writing was a direct command from the Lord (1:11, 19; see 2:1, etc.). Destination, Occasion, Purpose
John’s vision arrived at a time when the churches of Asia Minor needed encouragement to remain faithful to Christ and to endure hardships as they swam against the currents of the surrounding culture (chaps. 2–3). Destination, Occasion, Purpose
The dominant culture was steeped in Greco-Roman paganism with its plethora of gods, goddesses, and temples. Christians represented a religious group that penetrated every level of society and consisted of both Jews and Gentiles. They were tenacious monotheists who refused to participate in local trade guilds or any other common pagan ritual, including participation in the imperial cult. Destination, Occasion, Purpose
The intended purpose of the book of Revelation is to comfort the weary and oppressed, to fortify faithfulness and endurance, and to cleanse the churches from heresy and compromise by depicting the heavenly reality of Jesus as the glorified judge and all the events surrounding his return to establish his kingdom on earth. Destination, Occasion, Purpose
Genre Literary Plan Outline Approaches to the Book of Revelation LITERATURE
“Apocalypse” refers to a particular genre of literature written between approximately 200 BC and AD 200. In 1979 J. J. Collins and other scholars developed the following classic definition: Apocalypse is a genre of revelatory literature with a narrative framework, in which a revelation is mediated by an otherworldly being to a human recipient, disclosing a transcendent reality which is both temporal, insofar as it envisages eschatological salvation, and spatial, insofar as it involves another, supernatural world. Genre
A. Y. Collins, D. Hellholm, and D. E. Aune added an amendment in 1986, stating that an apocalypse is “intended to interpret present, earthly circumstances in light of the supernatural world and of the future, and to influence the understanding and behavior of the audience by means of divine authority.” Genre
Revelation exhibits elements consistent with the genres of apocalyptic, prophecy, and letter. The book falls into the overall genre of prophesy, but it corresponds to apocalyptic writings in many respects. G. E. Ladd correctly argued for the designation of “prophetic-apocalyptic” with epistolary features. Genre
The best overall assessment regarding the genre of Revelation is that the book constitutes “a prophecy cast in an apocalyptic mold [which is] written down in a letter form.” (Carson and Moo, Introduction to the New Testament, 713) Genre
The complex structure of the book has prompted some interpreters to conclude that the book consists of a patchwork of visions composed in various settings over extended periods of time. But the book of Revelation represents an intricately woven literary masterpiece intended to convey a unified message. As such, Revelation tells a story complete with characters, settings, plot, and climax. Literary Plan
Preterist Historicist Idealist Futurist Dispensational Futurist Modified Futurist Approaches to the Book of Revelation
A recent trend among commentators incorporates elements of all or some of the approaches described above into an eclectic blend. The relationship between the historical, symbolic, and eschatological aspects represented in the book of Revelation will continue to exercise the minds of interpreters of the Apocalypse. Since the book itself explicitly claims to be about future events surrounding the return of Christ (1:19; 22:18–20), preference should be given to a form of the futurist approach (dispensationalist approach is followed here). Approaches to the Book of Revelation: Conclusions
Argument of Revelation Introduction 1:1-8 [http://chrismiller.cedarville.org/content/revei.pdf] In typical literary style the author and recipients are identified in the introduction along with a short statement of purpose and praise. The author, John, writes to seven historical churches located in Asia minor. His stated purpose is to inform the reader of future things (1:1). The main event of the future to which the writer immediately looks forward is the coming of Jesus (1:7) which he identifies as a fulfillment of the hopes of the Jewish prophets (Daniel 7:13; Zechariah 12:10).
Argument of Revelation Introduction 1:1-8 John offers a blessing to the readers from both the Father and the Son and closes the introduction with praise, once again, involving both the Father and the Son. At the outset, then, John acknowledges the churches as the currently valid expression of God's program while at the same time affirming that the future holds the fulfillment of the hopes of his people Israel.
Argument of Revelation John’s Commission: 1:9-20 John's commission to write his message clearly accepts the validity of the New Testament dispensation. John records that his vision occurs on "the Lord's day" (1:10), a likely reference to the day of worship of the Church.
Argument of Revelation John’s Commission: 1:9-20 The apostle is instructed to send the book to the seven churches and they clearly are the focus of the vision (1:12-16). The vision of Jesus walking among the lampstands shows his constant observation and involvement with the seven churches. The divine outline for the book then follows as John is instructed to write what he has seen 1:9-20, his commission; what is 2:1--3:22, God's program for the present; and, what will be 4:1--22:5, God's program for the future.
Argument of Revelation God’s Present Program 2:1-3:22 This, the second major section of the book, deals with seven historical churches which are evidently characteristic of churches throughout this age. A common literary structure binds this section together: an introduction, identification of Jesus, commendation of the Church, condemnation of the Church, exhortation and promise.
Argument of Revelation God’s Present Program 2:1-3:22 The absence of one of these elements is certainly significant. Each of the messages is tailored for their respective church. References to local trades, geography and history individualize each message.
Argument of Revelation God’s Present Program 2:1-3:22 The overall thrust of this section is to affirm God's program through the Church for this dispensation. Clearly it is the Church which commands his concern and care at this stage in history.
Argument of Revelation The Message to Ephesus 2:1-7 Ephesus was a church which was unblemished in doctrine. The Savior's rebuke for them involved the loss of their first love.
Argument of Revelation The Message to Smyrna 2:8-11 Smyrna was a church which endured the purifying powers of persecution. Polycarp, the most famous of the early martyrs was of the church at Smyrna. Apparently, because of this, the Lord had no words of condemnation for this church.
Argument of Revelation The Message to Pergamum 2:12-17 Pergamum was a church of doctrinal compromise. They evidently held to heretical doctrines or at least tolerated those who did. A certain amount of involvement in pagan festivals evidently occurred as well.
Argument of Revelation The Message to Thyatira 2:18-29 Thyatira was a city noted for its many trade guilds. Perhaps because of this a certain false and female teacher led the church into a compromise with paganism associated with the various trades of the city.
Argument of Revelation The Message to Sardis 3:1-6 Along with Laodicea, Sardis was the only church to have been commended for nothing. Just a few were left in the church who had not been involved in sin.
Argument of Revelation The Message to Philadelphia 3:7-13 The message to Philadelphia has a decidedly Jewish slant. Nearly every reference to the church has its roots in the Old Testament. It may be that this church had very few Gentile converts.
Argument of Revelation The Message to Laodicea 3:14-22 Laodicea, as Sardis, merited no commendation from the Lord. The church which considers itself to be wealthy is encouraged to seek true wealth from God in spiritual riches.
Argument of Revelation God’s Program for the Future 4:1-22:5 The correlation of the phrase "What must take place after these things" in 1:19 and 4:1 identifies this as the third and final, major section of the book. This section is divided into four parts: 1) introduction, 4-5; 2) tribulation, 6-19; 3) millennium, 20; and 4) eternal state, 21-22.
Argument of Revelation Introduction to and Basis for God's Future Program 4:1-5:14 These two chapters both introduce and lay the foundation for not only the tribulation period but also God's program afterwards. They are based upon, and actually expand, the scene of Daniel 7:9-14. Just as the Son of Man approached the Ancient of Days who was seated on the throne, so also here, Jesus approaches the Father on his throne.
Argument of Revelation Introduction to and Basis for God's Future Program 4:1-5:14 The Son of Man then received a lasting kingdom and dominion from the Ancient of Days which replaced all secular powers. And, in chapter five Jesus received a scroll which signified his reception of power and dominion. Thus, all that is about to be revealed is based upon, and fulfills, the promises of Daniel 7.
Argument of Revelation The setting in heaven 4:1-11 The setting in heaven involves a convening of the heavenly counsel with God the Father presiding. He is pictured, in terms which seem to exhaust human language, in glory. Both human and angelic attendants surround the throne and worship the Father.
Argument of Revelation The scroll in heaven 5:1-14 The focus of this chapter concerns the scroll which Jesus receives from the Father. The form of the scroll seems to be that of a title deed. It is sealed with seven seals, each of which must be opened for the owner to take possession of the property.
Argument of Revelation The scroll in heaven 5:1-14 The importance of the scroll is seen by John's response when it appeared as though no one would open it. The worthiness of Jesus to open the book is rooted in his cross work (5:9). Thus Jesus' reception of the scroll symbolizes his repossession of the rule of the earth which was lost in Eden (Hebrews 2:8).
Argument of Revelation The Tribulation Period 6:1-19:21. These fourteen chapters comprise the major portion of the book. The seven year period of Daniel's 70th week is covered here in unprecedented detail. With all the attention given to the Church in chapters two and three and the mention of the Church in twenty-one, its absence in this section is conspicuous.
Argument of Revelation The Tribulation Period 6:1-19:21 On the other hand, the attention given to Israel (see chapters 7, 11, 12 and 14 especially) is significant. Myriads of Old Testament prophecies from Isaiah to Joel to Malachi, which foretell God's special dealing with His people, Israel, to turn them to Him, are explained and fulfilled in this section.
Argument of Revelation An overview 6:1-10:11. It appears that this section is the first of two basic views of the tribulation. This conclusion is based upon two lines of reasoning: first, the seals and trumpets (found in chapters six and eight and nine, respectively) appear to be arranged in a chronological order and to lead up to the very end of the tribulation period.
Argument of Revelation An overview 6:1-10:11. Second, the phrase in 10:11 "you must prophesy again concerning many peoples and nations and tongues and kings," seems to intimate that John is being prepared for a second view of the tribulation period. These chapters contain two chronological sections involving the seal and trumpet judgments and two interludes which are chronologically unrelated to the context.
Argument of Revelation The Seal Judgments 6:1-17 The seal judgments occur as the lamb opens each of the seven seals of the scroll which he received in chapter five. Thus, the judgments are prerequisite to the Lamb's opening the scroll and assuming full possession of the earth. The form of the seals, like that of the trumpets, involves two groupings of judgments, four and then three.
Argument of Revelation The Seal Judgments 6:1-17 The relationship of the seal, trumpet and bowl judgments is debated; however, the seven bowls as the seventh trumpet and the seven trumpets as the seventh seal, based upon a correlation with the chronology of Matthew 24 it would appear that the seals are spread out in the first half of the tribulation.
Argument of Revelation Interlude: the redeemed of the tribulation 7:1-17 The last verse of the previous section raises a question, ". . . the great day of their wrath has come; and who is able to stand?" (6:17), to which this chapter is the answer. The verses explain the sovereign work of God in saving and sealing his people from the destruction of the tribulation. The two groups discussed here are 144,000 Jewish believers (7:1-8); and the multitude of Gentiles (7:9-17).
Argument of Revelation Interlude: the redeemed of the tribulation 7:1-17 The 144,000 are saved and sealed from harm so that they bear a constant witness to God throughout the period. The Gentiles, on the other hand, are saved but not necessarily preserved from martyrdom. Their numbers, however, stand as a powerful testimony to the saving grace of God which is present during the tribulation.
Argument of Revelation The six trumpet judgments 8:1-9:21 The trumpet judgments are introduced with the opening of the seventh seal which is attended by silence in heaven. The reason for the silence presumably is the shock of the heavenly host upon seeing not the final single seal judgment but rather another seven judgments which are worse than the first.
Argument of Revelation The six trumpet judgments 8:1-9:21 In 8:3-5 the prayers of the saints introduced under the figure of incense which arises to the throne of God. The comforting implication seems to be that as horrible as the judgments may be, they are exactly what is necessary for God to answer the prayers of righteous saints down through the ages of "Thy Kingdom come!"
Argument of Revelation The six trumpet judgments 8:1-9:21 The final verses of this section (9:20-21) records the sad result that, "The rest of mankind that were not killed by these plagues still did not repent . . . " God's clear intention in all of these judgments is not simply to punish but to correct and to bring to repentance all of those who would reject Him. As with the seals, the trumpet judgments are grouped in two divisions of four and then three. The first four judgments are alike in that they all involve an attack upon some physical or geographical aspect of the earth or heaven.
Argument of Revelation The six trumpet judgments 8:1-9:21 The last three trumpet judgments more directly affect people and are all called "woes." The fifth judgment of horrible locust creatures (9:1-12) involves supernatural critters of devastating ability to inflict pain upon only unbelievers. The next judgment (9:13-21), however, features creatures which have the additional ability to inflict not only pain, but also death.
Argument of Revelation Interlude: The little scroll 10:1-11 A huge angel descends from heaven clothed in a cloud and a rainbow with a little scroll in his hand. This scroll is different from the one in chapter five as it contains a message which, like Ezekiel's scroll, is both bitter and sweet. The purpose of this vision and chapter seems to be to conclude the first overview of the book and to prepare the writer and reader for a second view.
Argument of Revelation Interlude: The little scroll 10:1-11 As God has outlined the tribulation period and has now come to its chronological end (10:7), it is a bittersweet time. The message that the kingdom will soon be established is a sweet one; the message that more judgments are yet to be revealed and must be accomplished is a bitter one. Because after the destruction of the tribulation period God will not bring great judgment on the world again, the angel is clothed in a rainbow.
Argument of Revelation A second view 11:1-19:21 Having covered the tribulation period from beginning to end once, this section covers the same period from a more topical perspective. It introduces several of the major actors in the drama: Israel, Satan, the two witnesses, the Antichrist and his false prophet and the coming Savior/King, Jesus Christ.
Argument of Revelation Interlude: The two witnesses 11:1-19 These two witnesses who serve to herald the truth of the Gospel for the first half of the tribulation period are able to perform miracles like those of Moses and Elijah. They are the mainstay of God's witness to the world while they are alive on the earth (11:4; cf. Zechariah 4:3-14. They are killed by the Antichrist at the halfway point of the tribulation.
Argument of Revelation Interlude: The two witnesses 11:1-19 Then, after three days, in miraculous power and in obvious emulation of God's approving work of Calvary, God will resuscitate the two witnesses from the dead and cause them to ascend into heaven. It is probably from the witness of these two that the 144,000 are brought to salvation.
Argument of Revelation Seventh trumpet 11:15-19 Chronological flow is very difficult to determine in this book, but it seems as though when the seventh trumpet sounds that the establishment of the kingdom is imminent (12:15). This section looks forward to that time of ushering in international righteousness and also of justice for the wicked. It is perhaps this latter thought which ties this section (6:1-19:21) to its context (4:1-22:5).
Argument of Revelation Interlude: The woman and the dragon 12:1-17 This section highlights the roles of two of the key players in the conflict: Israel and Satan. The first six verses give an historical overview of the conflict between Satan and the seed of the woman from Satan's original rebellion up through the end of the tribulation.
Argument of Revelation Interlude: The woman and the dragon 12:1-17 The rest of the chapter deals with a particularly critical point in the conflict: Satan's expulsion from heaven at the midpoint of the tribulation. This event causes rejoicing in heaven as another battle in the war with Satan is won, yet it also is a cause for concern for earth dwellers because of Satan's wrath because he knows that his time is short (12:12).
Argument of Revelation Interlude: The unholy alliance 13:1-18 After the discussion above (8:1-9:21) about the conflict between Israel and Satan, the subject turns to the human instruments of Satan on the earth during the tribulation period. Those two instruments are the beast out of the sea, (13:1b-10), i.e., the Antichrist, and the beast out of the earth, (13:11-18), i.e., his false prophet. The dragon (13:1a) in this chapter is, of course, Satan himself.
Argument of Revelation Interlude: The unholy alliance 13:1-18 The Antichrist is presented here as the epitome and sum of all Gentile world powers which are opposed to God. This chapter along with 17:8 describes the death of the Antichrist, his resuscitation and his universal reign in supernatural power during the second half of the tribulation (13:5-8).
Argument of Revelation Interlude: The unholy alliance 13:1-18 The beast out of the earth is less ostentatious than the first beast. His goal is to focus glory on the Antichrist. The summarization of the section (13:18) seems to indicate that these three, the dragon, the Antichrist and the false prophet comprise a counterfeit and a finite trinity.
Argument of Revelation Interlude: Various announcements 14:1-20 This interlude involves both good news and news of greater horror. The positive news concerns the survival and the testimony of the 144,000 witnesses. The second portion of news involves three angels who announce their messages for all the world to hear. The message to be understood is that the ones who really receive God's favor will not be those who save their lives but who lose them for His sake (14:13).
Argument of Revelation The bowl judgments 15:1-16:21 These two chapters describe the climactic bowl judgments. While these bear resemblance to many of the seal and trumpet judgments, the bowls are generally more intense, if not total, in their destruction. These bowls come in answer to the prayers of tribulation martyrs.
Argument of Revelation The bowl judgments 15:1-16:21 The only judgment which stands out from the rest is the sixth which actually has no inherently destructive action but contributes to the greatest destructive event of all, Armageddon. The actual point of the trumpet is to supernaturally deceive and allure all kings of the earth to the battleground of Armageddon.
Argument of Revelation Interlude: Two kinds of worldwide opposition destroyed 17:1-18:24 This interlude is again unrelated chronologically to its context. It records the destruction of the two main fronts of worldwide opposition: religious apostasy and commercialism. The first form of opposition, religious Babylon contributes to the rise of Antichrist and seems to be the main source of persecution against God's people in the first half of the tribulation.
Argument of Revelation Interlude: Two kinds of worldwide opposition destroyed 17:1-18:24 At the midpoint, however, Antichrist and his coalition will destroy her after she has outlived her usefulness. The second form of worldwide opposition (appropriately named Babylon) is commercial. At the destruction of the capital city of commercialism the merchants of the sea mourn because of their loss of profit. This secular system was also in important platform for persecution of God's people, "In her was found the blood of prophets and of the saints . . ." (18:24).
Argument of Revelation The Second coming of Christ 19:1-21 The second coming of Christ is the climax to the tribulation period. The chapter begins with praise in anticipation of his coming, then describes his advent and finally covers the destruction of enemy forces which have congregated at Armageddon. The beast and false prophet are immediately thrown in to the lake of fire while the rest are simply killed (19:21).
Argument of Revelation The Millennium 20:1-15 This chapter flows chronologically covering the 1000 years of the millennial kingdom. The first recorded event is the binding of Satan followed by the resurrection of tribulation saints. Towards the end of the period Satan is loosed for a short time when he will once again incite worldwide rebellion demonstrating that even in a perfect environment the sinful nature will erupt and oppose God. Satan is then summarily disposed of in the lake of fire.
Argument of Revelation The Eternal State 21:1-22:5 The focus of this section is the descent of the New Jerusalem to the earth. It represents the dwelling place of the redeemed and the redeemed as it settles on the earth. Thus heaven on earth will be a reality and God will finally dwell with man. No temple will be there because God himself will dwell with man.
Argument of Revelation The Eternal State 21:1-22:5 The city itself is a perfect melding of God's people in the Old Testament and in the New, "On the gates were written the names of the twelve tribes of Israel. . . . The wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb'" (21:12, 14). Thus, the two programs which have been separate will be perfectly united in eternity.
Argument of Revelation The Eternal State 21:1-22:5 This is a fitting conclusion which seems to reflect well the message of the book. The delights of the New Jerusalem involve fullness of life and certainly, eternal life. The tree of life, from the garden of Eden will be found in the New Jerusalem to fulfill its original purpose. Finally, God's design for Adam and Eve will be fully realized.
Argument of Revelation Epilogue 22:7-21 The final words of the book serve to comfort, warn and bless God's people. The invitation to come is given to those who are still far from God, which is followed by a warning not to tamper with the words of the book. The book closes on the promise that Jesus will come soon.
Theological Themes Contribution to the Canon THEOLOGY
The Sovereignty of God The Second Coming of Christ Theodicy Witness Worship of the One True God versus Idolatry Theological Themes
The worship of God and of Jesus Christ (e.g., chap. 4) The revelation of the future by the Lamb who was slain, the Lion of Judah (5:1–7) The need for uncompromising faithfulness to Christ through patient endurance (e.g., 14:12) The vindication of God’s righteousness (theodicy) and of suffering believers for persecution by the hands of the unbelieving world (chaps. 6–18) Contribution to the Canon
The glorious return of Jesus as the supreme King and Lord (19:11–16) The millennial reign of Christ, the defeat of Satan, and the Great White Throne judgment (chap. 20) The restoration of all things in the new heaven and the new earth (chaps. 21–22) Contribution to the Canon
139 The End
Summary: This is lesson 8 for NT Expo 2 dealing with 1-3 John and the Book of Revelation.