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The Coming of Jesus, the Messiah

13 Jan
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The last book of our Bible has become an enigma for nearly everyone who reads it, today. For example, Christian critic and biblical scholar, Elaine Pagels, claims the Apocalypse wasn’t even written by a Christian, as we understand the term. She says: “There’s no indication that (the author) read Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount or that he read the gospels or Paul’s letters… He doesn’t even say ‘Jesus died for your sins.’”[1] The problem with Ms. Pagels’ conclusion is that it is either uninformed or purposely dishonest. Actually, not one book in the New Covenant scriptures says: “Jesus died for your sins,” but Revelation 1:5 seems to come fairly close: “Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood.”

It seems to me that the first century believers may have been the only Christians in history who actually knew what it all meant. After all, John was told not to seal up the things he wrote, and, if the book was written to that generation (Revelation 1:4), and if they were blessed if they ‘read, hear and keep’ the words of this prophecy (Revelation 1:3), then it is logical to assume that it was expected that they would understand what was written. Our problem, today, seems to be that we have listened to what too many men (and women) have to say about the book, and have not investigated it for our ourselves on its own merit.

According to the text, this book is called The Revelation of Jesus Christ (Revelation 1:1). While the Greek word for revelation, apokalupsis (G602) is found 18 times throughout the New Covenant, it appears only once in this book, and that is in its very first verse. We often understand the word to mean: an unveiling or a revealing of something heretofore unknown or not understood properly. Although there is some sense of this meaning in the Apocalypse, the book doesn’t reveal many things about Jesus that we don’t find revealed elsewhere in the Bible. Therefore, I believe we miss something very important, if we don’t at least consider that the word could be understood in the same manner that it is understood in places like 1Corinthians 1:7 and 1Peter 1:7, where it is translated the coming or appearing of the Lord. If we did so, and thought that would be a better understanding of the book’s theme, its title might be quite different and more objectively picturesque. It might read: The Coming of Jesus Christ, or The Appearing of Jesus Christ, because it is to the Coming or the Appearing of the Lord that the whole book points.

The text also claims that God gave (G1325) this revelation to Jesus, but how should we interpret this? I don’t think it is something like giving one a tangible gift like a book. Rather, I believe the word, gave (G1325), should be understood as showing or disclosing (Jesus’ coming), as it is used in Acts 10:40 to show Jesus openly, or it can be understood as the word is found in 1Corinthinans 7:25 and 2Corinthians 8:10, namely, to give advice or judgment (cf. yield – G1325 – in Mark 4:7-8). In other words, the Father gave or disclosed Jesus’ coming in order for Jesus to give this information to his servants (disciples), and this is exactly what he did. He sent it to John through an angel, who showed it to him by means of the symbols found in this book.

Furthermore, we need to keep in mind, while reading the Apocalypse, that Jesus once told his disciples that even he didn’t know when his coming would take place (Mark 13:32). Although he may have suspected when that might have been, he didn’t speak out of his own understanding, rather he spoke only those things the Father had given him to say (John 12:49; 14:10; 15:15; John 3:11, 32; 5:30). Nevertheless, what was not made known to Jesus during his earthly life (Mark 13:32) was now made known to him by his Father, and Jesus disclosed this revelation to John through his (Jesus’) angel (Revelation 1:1).

According to Revelation 1:1, what the angel gave John was clearly made known (G4591; signified in KJV) to him, because what is contained in that message or teaching would shortly come to pass (Revelation 1:1, 3; cf. 22:6). This book is the only prophecy in the Bible that claims its contents would shortly come to pass. Peter wrote that everything revealed under the Old Covenant was made clear to its recipients that it was not to their generation that they spoke, but to Peter’s (1Peter1:11-12). In other words, all things contained and revealed in the Old Covenant scriptures pertain to the generation in which the Lord was crucified. Daniel was told to seal up his vision (Daniel 8:26) but John was told not to do so (Revelation 22:10), because the things that John wrote about would shortly come to pass.

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[1] See Four Big Myths of the Book of Revelation, by John Blake, CNN, myth #3 “The Writer of Revelation Was a Christian” quoting Elaine Pagles.

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6 Comments

Posted by on January 13, 2019 in Apocalypse, Book of Revelation

 

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6 responses to “The Coming of Jesus, the Messiah

  1. librarygeek

    April 25, 2019 at 02:13

    Thank you for your answers and concern. I look forward to the later studies.

    Don’t worry, my discomfort with preterism has nothing to do with determining and judging what is “false doctrine” or that believers can’t agree to disagree about this issue. But by now, you know application is very important to me and doctrine is interesting to me mostly because of how I apply it. And it appears to me that preterism demands life application for the believer more than any of the other interpretations of Revelation.

    Throughout my Christian walk, I have avoided Revelation and been content to think that if some preacher’s interpretation of it made me unhappy and uncomfortable, I could ignore it as being probably wrong. After all, there are so many potential interpretations of the book. So I could be generally self-satisfied to have accepted Jesus into my heart with my name is in the Lamb’s book of life and whatever else may be going on in the book wasn’t all that crucial to me as I have done all I that is required of me as far as Revelation goes. My deeper theology and Christian walk is determined mostly by the rest of the Bible. However, without forming my own beliefs about the “correct” interpretation of Revelation, I generally assumed certain vague ideas were true. ‘

    However, if preterism is true, then our purposes here on this side of the “end times” needs to be reevaluated or at least re-prioritized perhaps. If Jesus isn’t going to fix it all, what does He expect of the church and me specifically. And if Jesus does “fix it all” but not how we like to think but through the works of His church, what is wrong with the church in light that it appears as time progresses our society seems to get worse not better?

    In any case, don’t be worried that I haven’t taken much joy in this theory you are developing. I started to look into some of the writings of N.T. Wright – an Anglican bishop I have heard on Day of Discovery numerous times and admired. He is also a preterist (though perhaps not as consistently preterist as you) and I couldn’t finish his book for the same reason. (I think the book was “Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church”, if you are interested.) Perhaps if God wants me to embrace this idea, it will give me a new purpose in my walk with Christ. But till then, I may not like it very much, but still want to learn more.

    Thank you for your efforts and I pray for God to guide your studies and help you to express them clearly.

     
    • Eddie

      April 25, 2019 at 07:46

      Hi Shari! Thank you for your reply. I was a little worried that I was leading you down a path that you didn’t want to go. I don’t wish to do that to anyone. I feel better about our discussion now. Lord bless you.

      I like N.T. Wright. He is a partial preterist. He is probably my favorite scholar. I listened to an Acts series that he put out on YouTube and felt inspired to do my Sunday School class series on this wonderful book (my favorite in the Bible).

      Thank you for your prayers and kind thoughts. Lord bless you.

       
  2. librarygeek

    April 23, 2019 at 12:41

    Was there a 2nd century “conspiracy” then to hide it’s meaning, if it was so clear to 1st century Christians that what was happening in Jerusalem was (without a doubt) the complete fulfillment of all things? Or perhaps 2nd century Christians also found their circumstances rather depressing without the prospect of Jesus coming later to fix it all. Or at the very least felt like their mission AFTER the end times was unclear to them. After all, if one embraces the preterist theory, it feels odd to know all of world history had scripture promises assuring the people of God’s intent to intervene in human history, except for everyone who has lived since AD 70. Now we see all the hatred and evil in this world, plus even worse all the evil done by people supposedly representing Christ, and the preterist idea seems to say “You fix it! Christ is finished.”. Well, I know some rightly say modern Christians allow evil to happen because “Jesus is going to come and destroy it all anyway,” but for me, the preterist mandate brings me right back to where I was before I was saved. Only worse because there are a lot more things I care about since I’ve known Jesus.

     
    • Eddie

      April 23, 2019 at 13:31

      Hi Shari, and welcome. It is good to hear from you again.

      It’s not that there was a 2nd century conspiracy, as much as we’ve never really given credence to or at least a proper assessment of the first century attack on the Church. According to my future studies in the Apocalypse (i.e. not yet posted), all of the writers of the New Testament were killed before the Jew’s war with Rome or prior to the late summer and fall of 66 AD. Add to this the fact that the Lord predicted the church would have been wiped out had he not intervened (Matthew 24:22), and the pressure / persecution from the enemy would cause the **many** not the few (the majority) to abdicate and return to their former way of life (Matthew 24:10-12). It is almost like the Church had to begin again, but this time without the leadership of those who knew Jesus. All the Church had left in 70 AD were the writings (the witness) left behind by the writers of the New Covenant.

      Concerning the Lord’s intervention to “fix” it all, is that what he wants to do, or is this what we would like him to do? Heaven doesn’t come until we cross over to the other side. The Promised Land in on the other side of physical death. The only “heaven” we have here is the life we live for Christ. He is in it, as he is in the afterlife. Genesis 2 & 3 seem to say that God initiated something that he intends to go on, and on etc. Eve thought Cain was the Messiah, and God would “fix” it all immediately, but that just turned out to be wishful thinking.

      Before the rebellion Adam had uninterrupted fellowship with God, but isn’t that what Christians have now? How much do we partake of that fellowship? Probably not enough, but I think, if we were more faithful to desire time with him, we would appreciate today just as much as we might have appreciated such times in Genesis 2, had it not been for the rebellion. Daniel 2 tells us the Kingdom of God will not be left to others, and it won’t ever be destroyed. I believe we are disappointed in the fact that we live in an imperfect world only, because we have lived under the false assumption (and teaching) that Jesus promised to come and “fix” it all. I’m not certain he ever intended to “fix” anything. He created an imperfect world–beautiful, amazing and wonderful at the same time, but imperfect nonetheless. He also populated it with men like me, prone to sin (not rebellion, that’s a choice) but in hope that we would want to image him in this ‘imperfect’ world.

      Hope this helps, Shari. Lord bless you.

       
      • librarygeek

        April 23, 2019 at 16:40

        Hi, in answer to does it help, yes and no. In one respect, no in that I am partially having to deal with the emotional ramifications of the potential truth of preterism in an era of my life when I’ve lost my youthful optimism. And partially yes in that the intense persecution of the 1st century church explains somewhat some of the failures of the early church, ie some the debateable history about the 1st century church leaders after Acts and far worse, how quickly the Christian Church banned Jewish influences in favor of pagan influences. If the Judean church was nearly obliterated then it is less surprising that a mostly gentile church would have wandered so far from their jewish foundation and could be less informed about all that happened to the 1st century church in Jerusalem.

        But your answer leaves me with more questions. (And does make me marvel that from this perspective, there may be an element of truth to the theory that Christians are saved much of the troubles described in Revelation because they are raptured beforehand. After all, if the apostles and others all died before 66, then they were spared God’s period of judgement on Jerusalem. Though not by being raptured, but by being martyred.)

        Do you have (or plan) a study on 1Thess 4:13-17 & 2Thess 2:1-12? I know from prior discussion that the dead didn’t rise until after this passage, but slept. So Paul was encouraging the Thessalonians to hope that after the coming of the Lord, the dead would go to heaven. But then if there’s no other 2nd coming to look forward to, what does it mean that those alive will follow the dead and be caught up together with them in the clouds? And what is all that about the rebellion and the man of lawlessness coming before Christ’s return? (You can just refer me to a study if you have already covered this.)

         
        • Eddie

          April 24, 2019 at 07:32

          Shari, you need to be comfortable with what you believe. Don’t believe anything I tell you, unless you are comfortable in doing so. Many people believe Preterism is a false doctrine. I don’t believe that means they lose their salvation or are seen as unfaithful children of God. It just means they’re wrong, as viewed from my point of view. I would hope all futurists would see me in the same light. We’re brothers (and sisters), but we disagree on some issues. They are secondary issues. Certainly no one would put the **timing** of the coming of Christ in the same import as his promise to come, or the fact that salvation is through him alone. Those are the most important issues, we can be wrong about many things, but not those and still be his children.

          Concerning youthful optimism and being discouraged, I love the truth, but I have to tell you, I was really disappointed when I came to understand that the Lord had come already. Certainly, not having to go through the stuff the 1st century AD saints went through was a plus, but knowing the Lord wasn’t soon coming to ‘fix’ it all was very disheartening. But, I have to let God be God. He wants me to be me, and the other side of that coin is let him be who he is.

          Indeed, without the guidance of Paul and the other Apostles, the Church eventually treated both Jews and women terribly, and, yes, paganism began to creep in as a result of judgment upon Judaism.

          Concerning the so-called rapture as understood in Matthew 24:15-21, this had to do with the Jews actually fleeing Jerusalem when they saw the Roman armies. Josephus even mentions the event. It has nothing to do with being caught up into heaven. The Messianic Jews escaped the wrath of God, because of Jesus’ warning. They endured to the end, and believed him. Thus, when the Roman armies had surrounded Jerusalem but retreated for no good reason, believers fled and spent the war outside Jewish lands.

          Concerning 1Thessalonians 4:13-17, I have an unpublished study that I intend to post when I come to Revelation 14:1 and the 144,000, who are with the Lord on Mount Olivet. I will also have an additional study about the air, when I come to Revelation 16:17. The air is not the atmosphere per se. It has to do with the presence of good or evil. Like: “the tension was so great you could cut it with a knife.” The air represents the realm of evil in one sense. The Jewish authorities often made life miserable for Messianic Jews, who lived in fear of harm or being killed. One could say evil or murder was in the air. When Christ came, that changed, or began to change. For some time many non-believers recognized the Christians were correct. The Jews actually did make war with Rome and were soundly defeated as the Christians had been predicting for cir. 40 years. After the Judgment, believers had a rest, and not only so, they were empowered to change the air through their teaching and example. Thus, a country such as ours could exist where so many are free to believe as they please. There is more, but it needs to be read in context.

          Concerning 2Thessalonians 2:1-12, I have four studies on the Man of Sin, but I haven’t corrected them or brought them up to date since embracing Preterism. I don’t know how much I would agree with them today, but you can search my blog by putting in the Man of Sin and they’ll come up. I have no present plans to study Paul’s letters to the Thessalonians, but I perceive I’ll be in Revelation for another year, so things may change. Lord bless you Shari.

           

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