The Epilogue of Revelation concludes with (1) promise, (2) exhortation, and (3). confirmation in order to….
(1) drive home to our hearts the message of the visions, and
(2) stir up hope for the coming of the Lord Jesus (22: 20). (see Poythress, below; emphasis mine.)
“The epilogue shows clearly that the purpose of the book is to induce holy obedience among God’s people in order that they receive the reward of salvation.” (see Beale, p. 508; below).
I. We can trust the words of Revelation because they are sent to us by God Himself. [ESV]
vs. 6 And he said to me, “These words are trustworthy and true. And the Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, has sent his angel to show his servants what must soon take place.”
The word “true” is alēthinos—meaning “genuine.” The phrase “the God of the spirits of the prophets” is a reference to the divine inspiration of Scripture that has been placed before us in the Revelation of John. II Peter 1:19-21 gives us the method by which prophecy and its written form—Scripture—was given—”men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit” (see sailboat to the left). The Spirit of God kept the writers of Holy Scripture on course as they wrote. The Holy Spirit used human instrument’s education (or lack of it), gifts, talents, writing style, and vocabulary. This is affirmed by the angel speaking to John and the readers of his book. We can trust it because it is true!
The phrase “things which must soon [en tachei] take place” has been interpreted in several different ways—
(1) En tachei is taken by some to mean “soon in time.” These folks say that John was obviously mistaken about the time of fulfillment. He expected the things in the visions to occur immediately, and they did not. This is the view of liberal commentators.
(2) Others take the phrase en tachei to mean “quickly,” or “speedy.” These folks see this as an assurance of the speed with which the events prophesied will occur when the time for fulfillment comes. This is the view of futurist conservative commentators.
(3) I believe the more accurate view is to take en tachie as “shortly.” The time of fulfillment was to begin immediately after Jesus’ Resurrection, Ascension, and Session—to sit at the right hand of the Father.
“Revelation 1:3 gives us an excellent commentary: the time is at hand, and the symbols begin to be realized immediately.” (see Hendriksen, below.) This is the view of those who hold to a realized millennium (Dr. Jay Adams’ term).
II. We are blessed by keeping the exhortations written in Revelation. vs. 7
vs. 7 “And behold, I am coming soon. Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book.” [ESV]
The word “soon” is the same as the one in the last verse—tachei—meaning “shortly.” The same understanding of the word’s indication of imminent fulfillment and deployment throughout the age of the Church applies. Jesus will come when the time arrives for his coming. Until then, he could come at any moment!
This verse contains the sixth of seven “beatitudes.” The reason for such blessing being promised to the reader is obvious because it is the book which most exalts Jesus Christ. The Greek word for blessed is makairos—The word…expresses a permanent state of felicity, rather than the passive reception of a blessing bestowed by another.
The Seven Beatitudes in Revelation [ESV]
III. Angels give us unseen aid as children of God, but we need to take care so we will not give Angels what is due to God alone. vss. 8-9
vs. 8 I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things. And when I heard and saw them, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who showed them to me, 9 but he said to me, “You must not do that! I am a fellow servant with you and your brothers the prophets, and with those who keep the words of this book. Worship God.”
The revelation of God was mediated through an angel to John. This was the practice of God since OT times. Acts 7:38 51-52 state—
38 This is the one [Moses] who was in the congregation in the wilderness with the angel who spoke to him at Mount Sinai, and with our fathers. He received living oracles [logion zaō see § note below] to give to us. … 51 “You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit. As your fathers did, so do you. 52 Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who announced beforehand the coming of the Righteous One, whom you have now betrayed and murdered, 53 you who received the law as delivered by angels and did not keep it.”
Note on Acts 7:38 in Greek
§ Logion from logos, “word,” but meaning “a divine declaration; a statement originating from God.” Zaō = from which we derive the English word Zoology. The Amplified Bible renders the words—”divine words that still live.” Matthew Poole says this of living oracles—”God’s law and word is so called, as the only rule to walk by unto life, Deuteronomy 32:45-47—
45 And when Moses had finished speaking all these words to all Israel, 46 he said to them, “Take to heart all the words by which I am warning you today, that you may command them to your children, that they may be careful to do all the words of this law. 47 For it is no empty word for you, but your very life, and by this word you shall live long in the land that you are going over the Jordan to possess.” [ESV]
[The living oracles are]…said to be our life; and it is the only ordinary means of a spiritual and holy life, which it begets and preserves.” (see Mattew Poole)
Note that Moses received revelation through angelic mediation. John stands in the same lineage of prophets as Moses, etc, in the OT. However, even he was tempted to go too far. He was tempted to worship the servant of God rather than God himself. If John was so tempted, so too might the readers be. Hence, the Holy Spirit sees fit to warn all against the worship of angels.
The angel doesn’t accept John’s worship. He uses the present imperative of horaō—”take care!”—”to perceive with inward spiritual perception.” (see Bible Hub). He follows the warning by a terse prohibition—don’t!” The negative particle used in these types of prohibitions indicates that the behavior in progress is strictly forbidden—”Stop!”
His kneeling in the previous verse was “for the purpose of worshiping the angel,” but such worship had commenced. The angel recognized what was coming and forbade it. The angel further clarifies his position by the word “fellow-servant.” The word is sundoulos—a fellow slave along with another. In other words, the two—the angel and John—shared the same position before God. John is grouped also with the prophets in this verse as he was in verse 6. Ephesians 2:19-21 declare how Christ’s church was founded—
19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord.
We will move to part two of the epilogue next week.
(Commentaries on which I rely without direct quotation)
Beale, G. K. (2015). Revelation: a Shorter Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. Kindle Edition.
ESV. (2001). Accessed 24 June 2020 from https://www.biblegateway.com
Hendriksen, William. More Than Conquerors: An Interpretation of the Book of Revelation. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. (p. 125).
Johnson, A. F. (1982). Revelation in Expositor’s Bible Commentary, ed. Gaebelein. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
Johnson, D. E. (2001). Triumph of the Lamb: A Commentary on Revelation. Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Kenner, C. (2000). The NIV Application Commentary: Revelation. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Academic.
Morris, Leon. (1987). Revelation in Tyndale New Testament Commentary on the New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.
Poythress, V. (2000). The Returning King: A Guide to the Book of Revelation. Phillipsburg, New Jersey: P&R Publishing.
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