Sunday, October 6, 2013

The Apocalypsis Iēsou Christou

1. The words 'Apocalypsis Iēsou Christou' are the Greek transliteration of the first 3 words of verse 1. These words are usually translated as "The revelation of Jesus Christ,". Two words are inserted in English that are not present in the Greek: 'The' and 'of'. I don't want this discussion to be technical-- I have no qualifications to carry on a technical linguist discussion of Greek for one thing. For another, it's not only boring but, I think, misses the whole point about Revelation being a book that can be understood by the reader. But here's where I am going in bringing this up-- does the phrase 'The revelation of Jesus Christ' mean it is a revelation about Jesus Christ or is it a revelation from Jesus Christ?

2. There is a lot to be said about viewing this book as a revelation about Jesus Christ. More than 2,000 years separate us from the last remaining witness of the life of Jesus. Most of us have grown up knowing the principle parts of the story-- the virgin birth, the manager scene, the Sermon on the Mount, the crucifixion, resurrection and ascension. We also live in a time and age when people who don't even follow religion are nonetheless familiar with figures and images from Revelation1 even if it is through a distorted and not particularly helpful set of lenses. In short we are accustomed to at least part of the entire Christian narrative and take it for granted; but such was not always the case. The early church had the Gospels and the Letters of the Apostles but until Revelation had been penned and spread throughout the world, they did not yet have the images of Christ portrayed within the pages of Revelation. Just think about what it must have been like to hear this book read for the very first time! To the images of Christ coming as a helpless babe in a manager depicted in the Gospel narratives, Revelation added images of the returning unconquerable, triumphant King; where the Crucified One was once mocked by the Romans with a sign affixed above His cross proclaiming Him King of the Jews, in Revelation He returns with the words "King of Kings and Lord of Lords" emblazoned on His robe and His thighs;  where people once accused Him of having a demon because of His teaching, Revelation shows Him riding forward and slaying His enemies with the sword of His mouth. Comparing and contrasting how Jesus is portrayed  in the Gospels, in the Epistles, and in the Book of Revelation has the potential of being a fruitful study on its own. And I may pursue that at a later time. But for now…

3. Even though a study of Revelation as being about Jesus Christ may be fruitful in many ways, it is likely that the meaning of this phrase is that the book is a revelation from Jesus Christ. Though Christ is central to its message, as we shall see, revelation is foremost a depiction of future history given by God and Jesus to the Church. The focus of Revelation then are the events of history as decreed by the Father and mediated by the Son.

4. Why "must" these things take place (verse 1)? Because nothing has been left to chance, the outcome has already been decreed, and events are unfolding exactly as written.

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