Friday, March 16, 2012

Exegesis of Revelation3:14-22 Part 2

Historical Context

There are varying opinions as to the authorship and date of writing of Revelation. The author identifies himself as John in four different instances yet there is no specific indication as to who exactly this John was.[1] There are three possibilities for authorship of Revelation: John the Apostle, another person named John such as John the Elder, and a person using “John” as a pseudonym.[2] The third of these possibilities is very unlikely as pseudepigraphical writing among Christians at this time were not an accepted convention.[3] Left with these two options, it is necessary to determine if John the Elder and the apostle were two different people.

Walvoord states that it is likely John the Elder was simply another name used for John the Apostle.[4] This is further supported by Utley who also believed references to John the Elder were simply another name used for John the Apostle.[5] The fact that Justin Martyr, Irenaeus (Lyons), Tertullian, Origen, and the Muratorian Canon all affirm John the Apostle as the author of Revelation further reinforces the notion of Johannine authorship. Though there are differences in style and vocabulary with the other writings of John the Apostle, these are easily explained by the differences in genre. Further, it is the opinion of the author that the similarities far outweigh the differences. All of these factors lead to the conclusion that the author of Revelation is the “beloved disciple” John the Apostle.

As with authorship, there remains debate as to the date Revelation was written. The external evidence points toward a date late in the reign of the Roman emperor Domitian (ca. A.D. 95) and is based in the date proposed by Irenaeus. During this time John the Apostle was imprisoned on the island of Patmos for preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ. The internal evidence is a bit mixed. The implied references to persecution in Revelation 17:6; 18:24; and 19:2 could be taken to refer to the first outbreak of Christian persecution during Nero’s reign in A.D. 64 though it is important to note that this persecution was confined to the city of Rome.[6] The type of persecution described in Revelation would seem to be universal in nature. If this is the case, a later date would seem to be implied. Though scholars continue to debate the date of authorship, it is the belief of the author that a later date is best supported. There is insufficient reason to contradict the view of the early church in this matter. Further, the lessons to be learned from Revelation do not change if the date of writing is ca. A.D. 60 or ca. A.D. 95.

[1] Mounce, Robert H. The Book of Revelation. (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1997), 9.

[2] Beale, Gregory K. The New International Greek Testament Commentary: The Book of Revelation. (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1999), 34-36.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Walvoord, John F., Roy B. Zuck, and Dallas Theological Seminary. The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures. (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1983-c1985), 95.

[5] Utley, Robert James. Hope in Hard Times - The Final Curtain: Revelation. (Marshall, TX: Bible Lessons International, 2001), 11.

[6] Mounce, Robert H. The Book of Revelation. (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1997), 18-19.

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