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.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

A Beatitude to the One Reading and Heeding: Revelation 1:3a

makavrioV (makarios): this blessing begins a verse that is the culmination to the introduction of the book, linking the revelation from Jesus through the angels testified by John to the churches of Asia Minor, and offering a special measure of happiness to the one reading and heeding and those hearing and heeding the words of prophecy.

Before considering those to whom the blessing is addressed, it is important to note the phrase tou;V lovgouV th:V profhteivaV (tous logous tes propheteias), which is translated “the words of prophesy.” This phrase is seen as key in determining the literary genre of the book. Whether or not the book can be understood to fit into the category of apocalyptic literature (and to what degree), the author of the work obviously understands Revelation to be primarily a book of prophecy. th:V profhteivaV (tes propheteias) is to be understood as a genitive of apposition so that this phrase is referring to the same concept as the preceeding tou;V lovgouV (tous logous). The idea, then, is that tou;V lovgouV th:V profhteivaV (tous logous tes propheteias) means “the words which constitute this prophecy.”[1] This phrase further highlights the author’s claim that he is delivering a divine message.

It is also important to note the urgency that makes this blessing necessary. The one reading and heeding and those hearing and heeding “the words of prophecy” need a special blessing because “the time [is] near.” The “time” indicated in this verse does not necessarily refer to the Second Coming of Christ, but (more probably) to the time of trials discussed in the following verses.

To the one reading and heeding. Though the blessing mentioned above may be applied to the individual reader, the primary intention seems to refer to one publicly reading the “words of prophecy” within the context of a local congregation of Christians. Pastors were expected to publicly read Scripture (see 1 Timothy 4:13) and John would similarly expect pastors of the churches receiving his “words of prophecy”– the divine message “from Jesus Christ”– to read the Revelation to their congregations.

To those hearing and heeding. The original audience for Revelation would have had a lower literacy rate than that enjoyed by our current society. Furthermore, there would have been very few copies of Revelation until many years after John penned this book. Therefore, the main way that Christians would encounter Revelation is through hearing it read aloud when meeting together.

throu:nteV (terountes) is translated “heeding;” many could be within earshot of someone reading these verses aloud and yet miss the blessing indicated in this verse. It is not the one who merely hears Revelation who is “blessed,” but it is the one who hears and heeds–listening attentively to put the words into practice– who receives the promised blessing.

[1]Aune, Revelation 1-5, 7.

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