Call To Die

Then [Jesus] said to them all, "If anyone wants to come with Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of Me will save it. (Luke 9:23-24, HCSB)

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Follower of Christ, husband of Abby, member of Kosmosdale Baptist Church, and tutor/staff member at Sayers Classical Academy.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The 'Chain of Revelation' in Revelation 1:1-3. Part 4: "John"

[Continuing a review of some notes taken during my M.Div. Greek Syntax and Exegesis class over Revelation 1-3, and some thoughts I've had while meditating over the passage since then.]

The 'Chain of Revelation' in Revelation 1:1-3.

1. God-> 2. Jesus Christ-> 3. His angel-> 4. John-> 5. The one reading-> 6. Those hearing

4. John

John is simply called "His servant" in Revelation 1:1; "His" refers, I take it, to "Jesus Christ's" as in Jude 1, rather than to "God [the Father]'s"- in other words, this verse seems to be calling John the "servant of Jesus Christ" rather than the "servant of God." The term is rather ambiguous, however, and this is no surprise as:
  1. The revelation comes from God [the Father] through Jesus Christ;
  2. New Testament authors variously refer to themselves as "servant[s] of Jesus Christ" (as in Jude 1 or Romans 1:1) or "servant[s] of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ" (as in James 1:1);
  3. The author of Revelation clearly understands Jesus Christ to be divine and, though a distinct Person, essentially One with the Father.
John is certainly an apostle (at least in the broad sense), for He is personally commissioned for a specific ministry by the risen Christ. John also specifically refers to the book of Revelation as "words of prophecy" in 1:3 and 22:7, thus signifying that he is a prophet.

Though John does not explicitly identify himself as one of the Twelve (i.e., John the brother of James, the son of Zebedee), there are reasons to believe that the author of Revelation is the same Apostle who authored the Gospel according to John and the three epistles of John:
  1. G.K. Beale notes several themes (such as Exodus-Moses motif, Jesus as Word, Lamb, and Son of man and as glorified even through death, etc.) and some words and phrases common to Revelation, the Gospel according to John, and the three epistles of John.
  2. The Apologetics Study Bible notes facts of the historical situation: that the writer of Revelation had personal relationships with the churches of Asia Minor, as the Apostle John was known to have; the circumstances of the author of Revelation match the known circumstances of the Apostle John.
  3. Furthermore, there is no "John" other than the Apostle John who is known to have had such prominence as to refer to himself simply as "John" and have his identity known to the churches.
  4. John MacArthur notes that several early Church witnesses, such as Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Clement of Alexandria, and Tertullian, identified the Apostle John as the author of Revelation.
John forms a vital link in the "chain of revelation." Without this man– this apostle and prophet– those on the other side of the equation– "the one reading" and "those hearing"– have nothing to read nor to hear, and thus no connection with what God has revealed. We in the Church– "God's household", which is built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets (Eph. 2:19-20)– are in the same position as the original reader and hearers of the book of Revelation; we have access to what God has revealed only through the written record given to us through the prophets and apostles. In our hyper-egalitarian society this is hard to hear: we believe that we should all have equal access to every possible experience with God, but God has elevated the New Testament apostles to a special position, and we are dependent on their teachings if we are to know Him rightly. The reason that we have the New Testament is because the Christians in the first century honored the writings of the apostles– they did not expect that they would each be visited by the risen Jesus before His Second Coming and receive words directly from Him– they cherished, memorized, studied and preserved the words they were given. We, similarly, in seeking a personal relationship with God should not cut ourselves off from the means that God has given for establishing that relationship by neglecting the words of the prophets and apostles.

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