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DanielandRevelation

CommitteeSeries
Volume7

DanielandRevelation
CommitteeSeries

Symposiumon
Revelation

Volume1SelectedStudiesonPropheticInterpretation
Volume2SymposiumonDaniel
Volume3TheSeventyWeeks,Leviticus,andtheNatureofProphecy
Volume4IssuesintheBookofRevelation
Volume5DoctrineoftheSanctuary:AHistoricalSurvey(28451863)
Volume6SymposiumonRevelation,Book1
Volume7SymposiumonRevelation,Book2

ExegeticalandGeneral
Studies
Book2

EditorFrankB.
Holbrook

BiblicalResearchInstituteGeneralConferenceof
SeventhdayAdventistsSilverSpring,MD20904

SaaKCKafl
ceMMHapMH
UEfHBHAAKEHTfiGTOt

Copyright1992bytheBiblical
ResearchInstitute,12501Old
ColumbiaPike,
SilverSpring,MD20904Allrights
reserved.

TheScripturequotationsthroughoutthevolumearefromtheRevisedStandardVersionof
theBible,unlessotherwiseindicated.
Theauthorsassumefullresponsibilityfortheaccuracyofallquotationscitedinthisbook.
VenturaDesktopTypesettingandDesignbyMarthaLunt,usingTimesRoman,11/13.

PrintedintheU.SA.bytheReviewandHerald
PublishingAssociationHagerstown,Maryland21740
LibraryofCongressCataloginginPublicationData
(Revisedforvol.2)
SymposiumonRevelation
(DanielandRevelationCommitteeseries;v.67)
Includesbibliographicalreferencesandindex.
I.Bible.N.T.RevelationCriticism,interpretation,etc.I.Holbrook,FrankB.II.Biblical
ResearchInstitute(GeneralConferenceofSeventhdayAdventists).
BS2825.2.S961992228'.06923102ISBN0925675156

Acknowledgements
ScripturesquotedfromJBarefrom TheJerusalemBible, copyright1966byDarton,
Longman&Todd,Ltd.,andDoubleday&Company,Inc.Usedbypermissionofthepublisher.
Scriptures quoted from NASB are from the New American Standard Bible, The
LockmanFoundation1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977.
ScripturesquotedfromNEBarefromTheNewEnglishBible,copyrightTheDelegates
oftheOxfordUniversityPressandtheSuyndicsoftheCambridgeUniversityPress1961,1970.
Reprintedbypermission.
ScripturesquotedfromNIVarefromtheHolyBible,NewInternationalVersion,copyright
1973,1978,1984, International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible
Publishers.
Scriptures quoted from NKJV are from The New King James Version, copyright
1979,1980,1982,ThomasNelson,Inc.,Publishers.
ScripturesquotedfromRSVarefromtheRevisedStandardVersionoftheBible,copyright
1946,1952,1971 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the
ChurchesofChristintheUSA.Usedbypermission.
ScripturesquotedfromTEVarefromtheGoodNewsBibleOldTestament:
CopyrightAmericanBibleSociety1976;NewTestament:CopyrightAmericanBible
Society1966,1971,1976.

Abbreviations
AnchorBible
AncientChristianWritersAssembliesduSeigneur
(Bruges)TheAnteNiceneFathersAndrews
UniversitySeminaryStudiesBulletin,American
SchoolofOrientalResearchBiblica
Bulletin,JohnRylandsLibraryBibliothecaSacraThe
BibleTranslatorCatholicBiblicalQuarterlyCorpus
iuriscanoniciConcordiaTheologicalMonthlyDaniel
andRevelationCommitteeDictionaryofNew
TestamentTheologyDenzinger/Schonmetzer:
EnchiridionSymbolorumEtudesThejologiqueset
Religfeuses(Montpellier)EvangelischeTheologie
EUenG.White,EarlyWritingsExpositorsBible
CommentaryExpositoryTimes
FrankfurterAllgemeineZeitungEllenG.
White,TheGreatControversyHerder
Korrespondenz
HandbuchzumNeuenTestament(Tubingen)
HarvardTheologicalReviewInterpreter'sBible
InternationalCriticalCommentary
Interpreter'sDictionaryoftheBible
IsraelExplorationJournal
Interpretation
IrishTheologicalQuarterly
InternationalStandardBibleEncyclopedia(rev.ed.1979
1988)JournalofBiblicalLiterature

viii

JETS
JournaloftheEvangelicalTheological
Society
JRS
JournalofRomanStudies
LCC
TheLibraryofChristianClassics
LCL
LoebClassicalLibrary
LS
EUenG.White.LifeSketches
LXX
Septuagint
AfD
Materialdienst
NICNT
NewInternationalCommentaryontheNew
Testament
NovT
NovumTestamentum
NSRB
NewScofieldReferenceBible(1967)
NPNF
NiceneandPostNiceneFathers
NTA
NewTestamentAbstracts
NTD
DOSNeueTestamentDeutsch
NTS
NewTestamentStudies
PG
Migne,Patrologiagraeca^Migne,ed.
PC
PulpitCommentary
PL
Patrologfalatino,Migne.ed.
RB
Revuebiblique
RGG
DieReligioninGeschichteundGegenwart
RH
ReviewandHerald
RThPh
RevueaeTheologieetdePhilosophic
SBT
StudiesinBiblicalTheology
S.P.C.K.
SocietyforthePromotionofChristianKnowledge
TDNT
TheologicalDictionaryoftheNT
TWNT
TheologischesWorterbuchzumNeuenTestament
ThZ
TheologischeZeitschrift,UniversityofBasel
VSp
LaVieSpirituelle(Paris)
VT
VetusTestamentum
VTSup
VT,Supplements
ZNW
Zeitschriftfurdieneutestamentliche
Wissenschaft
ZST
ZeitschriftfursystematischeTheologie

IX

Contents
Acknowle
dgements
Guideto
Transliter
ation
Abbreviati
ons..
Tothe
Reader.
.

vvii
viii
xiii

ExegeticalStudies
I.TheSaints'EndTimeVictoryOvertheForcesofEvil....3
WilliamGJobnsson
TheChurchinConflict:Overview........3
TheChurchinConflict:Exegesis........14
II.TheMarkoftheBeast.............41
C.MervynMaxwell
TheMark...............41
RomanCatholicismandtheUnitedStates.....67
SomeQuestionsAnswered..........121
III.ContextualApproachtotheSevenLastPlagues.....133HansK.
LaRondeIle
IV.Babylon:AntiChristianEmpire..........151
HansK.LaRondeIle
V.TheSevenHeads:DoTheyRepresentRomanEmperors?...177
KennethA.Strand
VI.TheTwoSuppers..............207
RichardLehmann
VILTheMillennium..............225
JoelBadma
VIILNewJerusalemTheHolyCity..........243
RobertoBadenas
II

GeneralStudies
IX.SanctuaryandJudgment............275
JanPaulsen

X.
XI.
XIL

xin.
XIV.

TheRemnantChurchandtheSpiritofProphecy.,
GerhardPfandlTheModernPapacy:Claimsand
Authority..,
JohannHeinzArmageddon:SixthandSeventhPlagues...
HansK.LaRondeIleSabbathHymnsfortheHeavenly
Sanctuary(Qumran)
WilliamH.SheaChrist:SonofMan:Lamb.......
HerbertKiesler

IIIAppendices
A.NoteonEAAen(HasCome)......
C.MervynMaxwellB.Armageddon:HistoryofAdventist
Interpretations
HansK.LaRondeIle
C.DanielandRevelationCommittee:FinalReportW.Richard
Lesher,FrankB.Holbrook
Index

XI

TotheReader
Adventist teaching and preaching from the book of Revelation has always
drawnheavilyfromitslasthalf(chaps.1222).Thestudiescomposingbook2of
the Symposium on Revelation are devoted almost exclusively to this portion of
John'svision.
TwochaptersexegeteRevelation1214anddiscussamongotherthingsthe
imageandmarkofthebeast.Inthisconnectionthereaderwillappreciateanupdate
ontheroleofthepapacyinourtimes,chapter10,"TheModernPapacy:
ClaimsandAuthority."
Threestudieselucidateandapplyvalidprinciplesofpropheticinterpretationto
thesubjectsofthesevenlastplagues(Rev1516),BabylontheGreat(Rev1718),
andArmageddon(Rev16).AhistoryofAdventistinterpretationofthelattersubject
isappendedasanillustrationofhowimportantitisforpastorsandevangeliststolet
Scripture,notcurrentevents,pointustosoundinterpretationsoftheprophecies.
SinceSeventhdayAdventistsstandvirtuallyaloneontheirunderstandingof
thecrucialsubjectofthemillennium,webelievetheexpositionofthistopicwillbe
welcomedbyministersandmembersalike.
Generalarticlesanalyzekeypassagesdealingwiththethemesofjudgment,the
propheticgiftintheremnant church,andChrist'stitles.Onearticleprovidesan
insight from Quroran that impacts on the interpretation of the expression, "the
Lord'sday"(Rev1:10).TwoexegeticalstudiesofRevelation19and2122provide
excellentinsightsonthesecondadventofChristandtheNewJerusalem,theHoly
Cityoftheredeemed.
Finally,weexpressourappreciationtotheseveralauthors(sixfromoutside
NorthAmericaatthetimeofwriting)whosefinecontributionsareincludedinbook
2:
RobertBadenasHerbertKieslerJanPaulsenJoelBadina
HansKLaRondelleGerhardPfandlJohannHeinzRichard
LehmannWilliamH.SheaWilliamG.JohnssonC.Mervyn
MaxwellKennethAStrand
DANIELANDREVELATIONCOMMITTEEGeneral

ConferenceofSeventhdayAdventists

xm

I
EXEGETICALSTUDIES

Revelation1214
Revelation1516
Revelation1718
Revelation19
Revelation20
Revelation2122

ChapterI

TheSaints9EndTimeVictory
OvertheForcesofEvil
WilliamG.Johnsson

TheChurchinConflict:Overview
EditorialSynopsis.ThescenesthatcomposethecoreofRevelation'svisions,
chapters1214,areimportanttotheSeventhdayAdventistmissionandmessage
andpresentlyareofinteresttovariousgroupsinthecontemporaryworld.
Theinterpretationofthepassage,saysthewriter,"willbelargelydetermined
bythedecisionswehavereachedaboutthenatureandstructureofthebookprior
to"ourstudyofit.Fourmajor"schools"ofinterpretationcontendforprideofplace
ininterpretingthisgrandsummationofScripture.Thepreteristmethodinterprets
theprophecyintermsofeventsrelatedtoJerusalemandRome,butfailstoseethe
movementsoftheprophecyfromJohn'sdaytothesecondcomingofChristanda
"newheavenandanewearth."Futurismplacesthefulfillmentattheendoftheage
and neglects the epistolary form of the document addressed to actual Christian
congregationsinAsiaMinor.Thetimeless,symbolic"school"istoberecognized
as the descendant of the unsatisfactory allegorical approach to Scripture that
flourishedintheMiddleAges.
The evidence of the visions themselves supports the continuoushistorical
methodasweseethegenerallysequentialmovementinthevisions.Historybe
comestheunrollingofthepropheticscrollitself.AresponsibleexegesisofRevela
tion 1214, says the writer, should address the text at three levels: that of its
symbolicpatterns,itsmeaningforJohn'sday,anditshistoricalfulfillmentintended
byGodbeyondanymeaningfirstcenturyChristianswouldhavefoundinit.
ThebookofRevelation is impregnatedwithOT allusions,and Revelation
1214 has its share of this biblical imagery. Although the passage must be
exegetedinitsownright,thereisstrongevidencethatlinksthesubjectmatter
ofRevelation1214withthesubjectmatterofthepropheciesofDaniel78.The
passage centers inconflictastheforcesofevilopposeChristandHis people,
butthelatterareportrayedasemergingultimatelyvictoriousandtriumphant.

rnesaintsEndTimeVictoryOvertheForcesofEvil

SectionOutline
I.Introduction
II.SignificanceofthePassage
III,IssuesinInterpretation
IV.ConsiderationofContext
V.LiteraryStructure

Introduction
The dramatic prophecy of Revelation 1214 provides the key to the entire book.
Centralinlocationandpurpose,itbridgestheunfoldingofChristianhistoryfrom
John'sdaytoours(chaps.111)withtheconcentrationonthefinaleventsofearth's
history(chaps.1522).Unsurpassedinthegrandeurofitsthemes,itrangesfromwar
inheaventoGod'speoplesavedatlastonMt.Zion.Itpredictsareignofterror
againstthepeopleofGod,inwhichthelinesofdemarcationwillbesharplydrawn,
forcingthechoiceofeitherworshipofthe"beast"ordeath.
A series of colorful characters parades through these chapters. We see the
woman,theLamb,andthepeopleofGod,oftensufferinganddyingfortheirfaith.A
great red dragon, powerful and deceptive,works throughaconfederacy ofevil,
seekingtosubvertanddestroyGod'sfollowers.WeseeagrippingparodyofGod's
kingdom,asasatanictrinityapenotmerelythepersonsoftheGodheadbutalsothe
divineactivitiesandworship.
And the passage intrigues us with its mystery and cryptic clues. It calls for
wisdom's insight to decipher the meaning of the number 666. Although John
apparentlyintendedthisnumbertoprovidethefinal,decisiveidentifyingmarkofthe
beast,ithasengendereddiscussionanddisputefromthesecondcenturytoourday
Andwefindotherpuzzles:Whoorwhatis
thebeastitselfanditsalteregowhichcausesalltheworldtofollowit,andwhatisthe
"mark"ofthebeast?
Thischapterseekstounlockthemeaningof Revelation 1214. It endeavorsto
disclosetheoverallstructureofthepassageandtointerpretitsleadingmotifs.Itdoes
notaimtosetforthanexegesisofeachdetailofeveryverse.Todosowouldrequire
averylengthystudy.
OurtaskofinterpretingRevelation1214willtakeusthroughsixsteps.Weshall
takeupinorderthesignificanceofthepassage,issuesininter

TheSaints'EndTimeVictoryOvertheForcesofEvil
pretation, context, structure, and exegesis. Finally, we will indicate briefly the
importanceofthepassageforSeventhdayAdventistproclamation.Inthissectionwe
willexplorethefirstfourareas,reservingtheextendedexegesisandconclusionforthe
secondsectionofthechapter.

SignificanceofthePassage
FromtheearliestdaysofourmovementSeventhdayAdventistshaveconsidered
Revelation 1214 a highly significant passage. Quite recently it has attracted
considerableattentionamongmanyotherChristiansalso.
ThebooksofDanielandRevelationshapedAdventistselfunderstanding.Daniel
79andRevelation1214,withRevelation14:612inparticular,gaveourpioneersa
senseofpropheticidentityandmessage.Wecallmenandwomenbacktotheworship
ofthelivingGodandawayfromthatofthebeast.Justasthebeastfromtheearthin
chapter13seekstopromotethebeastfromtheseaanditsworship,sothethreeangels
of chapter 14warn against thisfalse confederacy and challenge theworld togive
allegiancetotheCreatoroftheheavenandearth.Thus,invitalaspectsRevelation13
and14arecounterparts,eachinexplicablewithoutconsiderationoftheother.Though
toalesserextent,chapter12hasbeenimportanttousalso.Wehavelookedtoverse
17,coupledwithRevelation19:10,asakeytextinourselfunderstanding.
The locusclassicus fortheunderstandingofRevelation1214isUriahSmith's
Thoughts on Daniel and the Revelation.\ Here we find those interpretations so
influentialamongthepioneersoftheyoungSeventhdayAdventistChurch,cradledin
NorthAmerica:thePapacy,theriseoftheUnitedStatesofAmericaanditseventual
repudiationofreligiousliberty,theuniversalSundaydecree,andtheVicariusFiliiDei
ofthepapaltiara.2 Ellen WTiitegavehersupporttothemajorlinesofthepioneers'
interpretation.3
InthischapterwedonotpurposetoembarkuponadefenseofSmith'sexegesis,
evenas we arenotprimarilyconcernedwithcritiquingit.Ourchiefaimistostudy
Revelationinitsownright,sofaraspossibleallowingthetexttopointthewaytoits
owninterpretation.
IwasremindedofthisneedfortheprimacyofScriptureindramatic
1Rev.ed.(Nashville.1944).Smith'sfirstexegesisofRevelation,Thoughts,CriticalandPractical,onthe
BookofRevelation,appearedin1865.
2Ibid.,558627
3EllenG.White,TheGreatControversy(MountainView,CA,1911),54,43950,57980,604.

TneTSamts*EndTimeVictoryOvertheForcesofEvil
fashionsometimeago.IvisitedSaltLakeCity,UtahZionfortheMormons.The
parallelswithAdventismarestriking,almosteerie.Botharoseinthenortheastof
theUnitedStatesnearthesametime;bothclaimthatthepropheticgifthasbeen
restored;bothgiveAmericaaprominentplaceintheirteachings;bothclaimtoset
forththetruegospelaftertheapostasyoftheMiddleAges;bothdirectattentionto
thesanctuary;bothcallforobediencetoGod'scommandments;bothclaimtobe
thetruechurchofthelastdaysbeforeChristreturns.AndbothlooktoRevelation
14.1wasshockedtohearRevelation14:6,7quotedbytheMormonguideandthen
tobetoldthattheprophetMoronifulfilledtheseverses!
ButnotonlyAdventistsandMormonsintensivelystudyRevelation1214.Aswe
approach the year AD. 2000 an apocalyptic mood has suddenly appeared in the
Westernworld.Thepressing,seeminglyinsolubleproblemsthathavegrippedsociety
behavioral,economic,internationalexacerbatethespiritofgloom.
Along with the secular apocalyptic many evangelical Christians show a new
interest in eschatology. In particular, the theory of a "secret rapture" has gained
widespread acceptance. Whiledetailsvary, manyinterpretationsofRevelationby
adherentstothe"rapture"attributealmosttheentirebook(4:219:21)toasevenyear
period of antichrist that follows the "rapture" (itself supposedly indicated by
Revelation4:1"Comeuphither").Withheightenedexpectationsofanimminent
"rapture,"theportrayalofantichristinRevelation1214assumesnewprominence.
Occasionallystoriesofanationalconspiracycenteringinthemysticnumber666(for
example,involvingtheInternalRevenueServiceoftheUnitedStates)gaincredence. 5
OurstudyofRevelation1214,therefore,proceedsagainstthebackgroundof
significantAdvcntisthistoryandcontemporaryspeculation.

IssuesinInterpretation
BeforewecanundertakeaninterpretationofthemainsymbolsofRevelation
thedragon,theseabeast,theearthbeast,themark,andthenumber666we
musttakeupgeneralissues.IntonobookoftheBible

GeorgeOrwell's1984attractedextraordinaryattentionastheactualyear
4 As an example,
approached.
5See,forexample,
12, 1981,3, 14.
timefigure.

KennethII.Wood'seditorial,"TheIRSRumor,etal.," AdveniistReview, March


Likewise,filmssuchasthe"Omen"scrieshaveattached666toasalanic,end

TheSaints*EndTimeVictoryOvertheForcesofEvil
maytheresponsibleexegetesimplyplunge,disregardingquestionsofthehistorical
setting,purpose,structure,andsoon.WithRevelationthesepriorconsiderationsare
evenmoreweighty.
TheinterpretationofRevelation1214willbelargelydeterminedbythe
decisionswehavereachedaboutthenatureandstructureofthebookprior
toexaminingthesechapters.
Thesedecisionsinvolveourunderstandingoftheunityofthebook,thenatureof
apocalypticprediction,andtherelationofRevelationtotheOTandinparticularto
thebookofDaniel.AninterpretationofanyportionofRevelationwillbegoverned
byone'spreunderstandingineachof
thesematters.
Obviously, a fullblown examination of these areas would reach beyond the
limitedscopeofthepresentchapter.Indeed,eachpointitselfhascalledforthmuch
scholarlystudyandcouldoccupyamonographinitsownright.R)rourpurpose,
responsibleexegesissuggeststhatwelayoutourpreunderstanding,notattemptingan
exhaustivedefense,butshowinganawarenessofotheroptionsandbrieflyindicating
whywehavechosenourpositiononeachpoint.
UnityoftheBook
Since the time ofH. Grotius (1641), much critical study of Revelation has
endeavoredtoaccountforitsdifficultiesbypositingatheoryofunderlyingsources.
IthasbeenconjecturedthatvariousJewishorChristianapocalypsesformthebasisof
thebook,orthatRevelationwasputtogetheroutoftwodifferentwritingsfromthe
sameauthor.6 Forinstance, ErbesandSpittasawinRevelation13anapocalypse
writteninthereignofCaligulaandreflectingtheconditionofPalestineinA.D.39
41;WellhausenandJ.Weiss,however,postulatedtwosourcesbehindthechapter. 7
Apart from a few recent scholars who continue to advance literarycritical
theories (for example, J. Massyngberde Ford's thesis8surely aberrant!of two
"Baptist"sources,chapters411fromJohntheBaptistand1222byadiscipleofhis),
carefulstudyofRevelationingeneralhasturnedawayfromsuchconjectures.While
theauthordrewuponthefundofOTandnonbiblicalsymbolism,itseemsclearthat
"neitherconnected
6PaulFeine,JohannesBehmandWernerGeorgKummel,IntroductionoftheNewTestament,tr.A.J.
Maltill,Jr.(Nashville,1965),325.
7R.II.Charles,ACriticalandExegeticalCommentaryontheRevelationofSt.John(Edinburgh,
1963),1:33810.
8Revelation,AB(NewYork,1975).

Tnesaints'lindTimerVrctoryOvertheForcesofEvil
sourcesnorsecondaryinterpolationscanbedemonstrated."
The exposition of Revelation 1214 in this chapter thus presupposes the
essentialunityofthechaptersinviewandtheentirebook.
NatureofApocalypticPredictions
WewillconfineourconsiderationsheretothevisionsofRevelation,raisingthe
questionofthefulfillmentofthesepredictions.Arewetolookforspecificeventsin
historytowhichthevisionspoint? Do thevisionsfocusontheendtime,sothat
onlythefinalgenerationthosewholivethroughthegreattribulationimmediately
before the Second Coming see that fulfillment? Alternatively, do the visions
belongtoJohn'sownera,linkedtofalseexpectationsofanimminentParousia?Or
arewetounderstandtheminyetanotherway?
InterpretersofRevelationingeneralfallintooneoffourcategoriesvisavis
thesequestions:
Thepreteristschool. TheSpanishJesuitAlcazar(d.1614)wasthefirstto
interpretRevelation419asfallingtotallywithintheageofJohnandthecenturies
immediatelyfollowing.PreteristinterpretersofRevelationcommonlyseethefall
ofJerusalemorthefallofRomeasfulfillmentsofmajorpredictionsofthebook.
Theyseeintheevilconfederacyofchapter13thehostilefiguresofpaganRome,
aidedandfosteredbytheimperialcult
Thefuturistschool.Ontheotherhandthefuturistschoolrelegatesmostofthe
booktothefuture.ItstemsinlargemeasurefromthelatesixteenthcenturySpanish
JesuitRibera(Ribera,however,wasnotanoutandoutfuturist;hepaidattention
alsotothehistoricalsettingofRevelation).11
The timeless symbolic school. This perspective does not look for specific
fulfillments. Whereas three schools are historical in perspective, locating
fulfillmentsatthebeginning,end,orduringtheperiodofChristianhistory,this
methodologyisnonhistorical.It seesthevisionsofRevelationintermsofbasic
principlesbywhichGodactsinhistory.Wemaywithjustificationseethisschoolas
thedescendantoftheallegoricalmethodofinterpretationwhichflourishedinthe
MiddleAges.
Continuoushistoricalschool. Whereastheaboveschoolseffectivelyremove
RevelationfromtheChristianErathatintervenesbetweenJohn's
9Feine,325.
10IhaveadaptedthissectionfromahelpfulsummaryofthesubjectinRobertH.Mounce,TheBookof
Revelation,N1CNT(GrandRapids,1977),3915.
11Thatis,theperiodinterveningbetweenJohn'sdayandthelastthingsisnotinview:ibid.,40.

TheSaints*EndTimeVictoryOvertheForcesofEvil
century andtheperiodjustpriortotheend,thecontinuoushistoricist approach
seeshistoryastheunrollingofthedivinepredictions.Smith'sThoughtsonDaniel
andtheRevelationandAdventistinterpretationgenerallybelongtothisschool.
Weshallnotattempttoanalyzethestrengthsandweaknessesofeachofthese
schools.Rather,welistthefactorsthatformthebasisfortheapproachweadoptin
thisexposition:
1.TheRevelationhadmeaningforthepeopleofGodtowhomitwasfirst
directed. We mustnotneglecttheepistolaryform, 12 rememberingthatthere were
actualChristiancongregationsatEphesus,Smyrna,Pergamos,andsoon.Norcan
webypasstheinjunctiontoreaditaloud(1:3),withthepromisedblessingonthose
who should hear it. Presumably, the Revelation was read to the early Christian
congregations, and theydidreceive amessage from God. In myjudgment,the
futuristschoolcomestogriefonthisdatum.
2.ButtheRevelationalsolookedbeyondJohn'sday.Thevisionsall
movetotheend,lookingtothesecondcomingofChristandtheeventual
emergenceof"anewheavenandanewearth"(21:1).Underthepreteristview,a
largepartofthebookandindeed,thatgoaltowardwhichthewholewritingmoves
is devoid of meaning. Presumably it belongs among the dustheaps of failed
prophecy.AsonewhoawaitstheGladReturn,Irejectthisinterpretation.
3.Further,thebookitselfprovidesevidenceforagenuinesequential
movement.Weshouldnote1:19"Nowwritewhatyousee,what is and
whatistotakeplacehereafter."Whileitishazardoustoargueforastrictorderof
events, the very presentation of the visions, all of which culminate in the end,
suggestssomesortofdevelopmentintime.
Chapter12,forinstance,givesevidenceofsequence.Thewomanispregnant;
shegivesbirth;thechildissnatchedaway;thewomanfleestothedesert;shefinds
protectioninthewildernessfor1260days;thedragonmakeswarwiththerestofher
offspring.
Consideralsochapter13itselfanditscounterpart,chapter14.Inchapter13we
seeaparadeofmonstersdragon,seabeast,landbeastThatasequenceofsome
sortisbeingfollowedissuggestedbythefollowingevidence:
a.Thelandbeastpromotestheseabeast,whointurnderivesexistencefromthe
dragon.Thatis,thelandbeastfunctions becausetheseabeastalreadyhasaplace
(andthedragonbeforetheseabeast).
b.Thedragon,havingfailedtodestroytheholyChild,pursuesthe
12Rev1:4,11;2:1;etc.

TheSaints'EndTimeVictoryOvertheForcesofEvil
"seed"ofthewoman(12:13,17);inseekingtoaccomplishthispurposehegives
"power,seat,andauthority"totheseabeast(13:2).
c.Theseabeastreceivesamortalstroke,butishealed(13:3).d.Theseabeast's
periodofsupremacyis"42months"(13:5).e.Thethreeangelsof14:612sounda
proclamationcouchedinthesettingofthedeceptionsofthelandbeast;theirworkis
consummatedbytheSecondComing(14:14).
Thus,theveryformofthevisionforcesustounderstandsomesortofhistoricist
fulfillment.Revelation1214focusesontheperiodbetweentheFirstandsecond
adventsofChrist,highlightingthefinalconfederacyofevilandthefinalmessageof
warningtotheworld.
4. While we should look to events in history as we seek to understand
Revelation,wemustalsoacknowledgethatitssymbolsembodyaphilosophyof
divineactivity,atimelessportrayalofthestrugglebetweentheforcesofgoodand
evil.Thus,RevelationbringsmorethanhopefortheSecondComing;itspeaks
existentially to all loyal followers of the Lamb, especially to those who are
undergoingoppression.
Inmyjudgment,therefore,aresponsibleexegesisofRevelation1214should
addressthetextatthreelevels:thatofitssymbolicpatterns,itsmeaningforJohn's
ownday,andthehistoricalfulfillmentofthevision.Onlybysuchmeansmaywebe
true to the complex nature of the data. In our exposition we shall give some
attentiontothefirsttwolevels.Holding,however,thatthevisionhadfulfillment
intendedbyGodbeyondanymeaningthatthefirstcenturyChristiansmayhave
foundinit,weshallgivemoststudytothethird,orhistoricist,level. 13
RelationtotheOldTestament
FormanyyearsstudentsofRevelationhavebeenawareofthebook'sclose
relationtotheOTRevelationisimpregnatedwithOTallusions,althoughitdoesnot
containasingleverbatimquotationfromthatsource.
Clearly,Revelation1214embodiessymbolismandideasfromDaniel78.The
seabeastisacompositeofthefourbeastsofDaniel7leopard,bear,lion,andten
homs. It likewise exhibits characteristics of the "little horn" of Daniel 7
blasphemyandpersecution.WefindthesametimeperiodasinDaniel7:251260
days(time,timesandahalf;or42months,Rev12:6,14;13:5).
13 Our interpretation, therefore, is in continuity with the approach of Uriah Smith but shows a
developmentorenlargementbeyondit.

10

TheSaints*EndTimeVictoryOvertheForcesofEvil
Theseabeastalsoshowsparallelswiththe"hornfromlittleness"ofDaniel8.
Indeed,theexplicitdescriptionsoftheDaniel8horn'sdefianceofGodnotonly
blasphemybutstandingupagainst"theprinceofthehost"(vs.11),attackingthe
sanctuary (vss.1114),andcausinglargescaleapostasyfromtrueworship(vss.
12,24)closely parallel theaccount of thesea beastsdepredations. Further, the
elementofdeception,broughtoutbythelandbeast'sactivitiesinRevelation13,to
somedegreecorrespondswiththeaccountofthis"horn's"practicesinDaniel8:23
25.
While we must exegete the vision of Revelation in its own right, it is
nevertheless apparent that our prior interpretation of Daniel will influence the
outcome. In this chapter we shall merely state, without attempt at proof, our
understandingofthevisionsofDaniel78:
1. The yearday relationship, a bastion of historic Adventist interpretation,
underlies the time periods of these chapters (recent studies have advanced
convincingsupportfortheyeardayidea).14
2.ThevisionsofDaniel7and8outlineacontinuoushistoricaldevelopment
fromthetimeofDanieltotheSecondComing.15
3.The"littlehorn"ofDaniel7andthe"hornfromlittleness"ofDaniel8point
primarily to the system of false worship embodied in the ideas of the papacy,
particularlyduringitsheydayintheMiddleAges.16

ConsiderationofContext
Wewillnoticeboththeimmediateandthelargersettingofchapters1214,as
wellasthethematicelementsofthepassage.

ImmediateSetting
ThepassageisboundedbyRevelation11:19and15:4.Thissectionof
Revelationcomesinthemidstofthefourseptetsthesevenchurches,the
seven seals, and the seven trumpets preceding it, and the seven bowls
followingit.
Whilewefindnomentionofthenumber7inthesection,wemayinfact
see it in terms of seven scenes. The author's repeated "I saw'* (or
equivalent)marksoffthescenes(12:13;13:1,11;14:1,6,14;15:1).Aswe
14SeeWilliamH.Shea,SelectedStudiesonPropheticInterpretation,DARCOMseries,vol.1(Silver
Spring,MD:BiblicalResearchInstitute,1982),56.93.
15SecFrankB.Holbrook.ed,,SymposiumonDaniel,DARCOMseries,vol.2(SilverSpring,MD:
BiblicalResearchInstitute,1986).
16Ibid.
11

TheSaints'EndTimeVictoryOvertheForcesofEvil
havealreadysuggested,thesectioncentersinconflicttheforcesofevilopposethe
peopleofGodbuteventuallythelatteremergevictorious.Wemaytitlethesection
"The Saints Victorious Over the Confederacy of Evil," and break down its
constituentpartsasfollows:
1.12:117TheDragon*swarfareagainstChristandthewoman.
2.13:110Theseabeast'sattacksonthesaints.
3.13:1118Thelandbeast'sconfederacywiththeseabeastagainstthesaints.
4.14:15Thesaints,God'sloyalfollowers.
5.14:613God'slastwarningtotheworld.
6.14:1420TheSecondComing,harvestoftheworld.
7.15:14Thesaintstriumphant.17
Twofeaturesofthiscontextcallforparticularcomment.First,theentirevision
oftheconflictoftheforcesofevilandthesaintsissetagainstthebackdropofthe
MostHolyPlaceoftheheavenlysanctuary(11:19).WhileeachvisionofRevelation
hasaheavenlysetting,thedescriptionof11:19marksanadvance:inthisvision
peoplewillchooseeitherantichristorChrist,sothe"arkofthecovenant"fromthe
outsetremindsthereaderoftheworshipofthetrueGodandHisholylaw.
Second,chapter13maybeunderstoodastheamplificationof12:1316.Inboth
cases the dragon ispersecuting the church, for 1260 days. Revelation12:1316
presents this period from the perspective of the people of Godhow they are
helped,theirloyaltytoGod,andtheperiodoftheirwitness.AsinDaniel7:25,this
periodis"time,times,halfatime."Revelation13turnsthecoin,portrayingthe
sameperiodfromtheperspectiveofthedragon.Insteadofthreeandonehalftimes,
wereadof42monthsofpersecutionandblasphemy(asin11:2theperiodofthis
particularreignofevil).Thedragon,defeatedinhiseffortsagainsttheHolyChild,
unleashes his wrath against the followers of the Child. He works through two
particularagenciestheseamonsterandthelandmonster.
LargerSetting
Wealsomustseethepassageintermsoftheoveralldevelopmentofthebook.
Scholars diverge widely in their understanding of the pattern of Revelation. In
general,wefindthreeviews:(1)nopatterncanbefound;18
17WehaveadaptedthisoutlinefromJohnWickBowman,TheDramaoftheBookofRevelation
(Philadelphia,1955),75.
18SeeRev1:10;4:1;6:1;7:1,2;11:19;15:1,5.

12

TheSaints'EndTimeVictoryOvertheForcesofEvil
(2)sequential,sothatthevisionsshowaprogressionintime,eachbuildingonthe
previousone,fromthetimeofJohntotheSecondComing; 19and(3)recapitulation,
eachvisiongoingoverthesamegroundastheother.20
Inmyjudgment,themostinsightfulsolutionsofartothisproblemcomesfrom
KennethA.StrandofAndrewsUniversity.Alerttotheliterarypatternsofthebook,
he sees Revelation as a chiasm and divides Revelation into "historical" and
"eschatological," 15:1 being the turning point. Under the historical section, the
visionsaretobeinterpretedessentiallybythecontinuoushistoricalprinciple.From
15:1tothecloseofthebook,however,theyfocusontheeventsoftheend.Inthis
eschatological section the future is described in terms that frequently echo the
historicalportionofRevelation.
WhilewedonotagreewitheverydetailofProfessorStrand'sapproach, 22 we
accepthisessentialoutlineofRevelation.Doingsohasimportantimplicationsfor
theinterpretation,asweshallnotice.

LiteraryStructure
Ourconsiderationsalreadyinthischapterindicatethatchapters13and14bear
a distinctive relationship to each other. The literary structure underscores this
relationship.
1. Chapter 13 closes with the account of those who worship the beast in
foreheadorinhand,signifyingeithervoluntaryorinvoluntaryworshipoftheanti
Godpower.Thedescriptionofthisgroupisfollowedimmediatelybyadescription
ofthepeopleloyaltoGodthe144,000whofollowedtheLambwhereverHegoes.
Thecontrastisradicalanddramatic,theliterarydeviceispowerful.
2.Chapter13setsoutthemeansusedtopropagatetheworshipofthebeast
(vss.1118).Inchapter14GodalsocommunicatesHisinvitationandwarningsto
theworld:Thethreeangelsofverses612portraythedivinemediablitz.
3.Thus,Revelation13:1118and14:112showacorrespondingliter
19E.g.,PaulS.Minear,/SawaNewEarth:AnIntroductiontotheVisionsoftheApocalypse
(Washington,DC,1968).Minear,however,seessymbolicpatternsinthebook;hedoesnotfind
anyunfoldingofhistoiyinRevelation.
20E.g.,Adamdarke,AlbertBarnes,andE.B.Elliott.
21InterpretingiheBookofRevelation(Worthington,OH,1976).
22E.g.,wesee15:4ratherthan15:1astheendofthevisionthatcommencesat11:19.
13

TheSaints'EndTimeVictoryOvertheForcesofEvil
ary structure. The pattern is a chiastic one. Strand has pointed out the overall
chiasmsofRevelation:Itseemsclearthatthesestructuresextendtodetails.
WemaysketchthechiasmsofRevelation13:1114:12asfollows:

Ourstructureindicatesthatchapters13and14arecounterparts,withchapter12
providingthe introduction, backdrop, andsummary oftheircontent. Chapter 12
makesitplainthat,whilethepeopleofGodintheirstruggleagainsttheconfederacy
ofeviloccupycenterstageformostofthetime,theleadersintheconflictareChrist
andSatan.

TheChurchinConflict:Exegesis
EditorialSynopsis.WhileRevelation12initiatesanewlineofprophecy,its
surveyofsalvationhistory,particularlyitsinclusio(vss.712)Christ'svictoryat
the cross and the moral casting down of Satan introduces the scenes and
providesthereasonsforthechurch'sconflictduringtheChristianEra.
Symbolizedbyagreatreddragon,thefallenSatanstands,asitwere,atthe
meetingoflandandseatoformanunholytrinitywithhisagentsinanongoingwar
againstGodand His people.Oneagentwillcomefromthesea(theleopardlike
monster, 13:110, 18); another, from the land (the twohorn beast, 13:1117),
suggestingtheworldwidescopeofsatanicopposition.
Revelation13unveilsindetailthetwoerasofpersecutionpreviouslysum
marizedinchapter12:the1260yearsoftheMiddleAges,andthefinalendtime
attackagainstGod'speopleoverthelawofGod^characterizedbytheenforce
14

TheSaints'EndTimeVictoryOvertheForcesofEvil
mentofthe"markofthebeast"orthereceptionofthe"sealofGod."
Againsttherisingtideofcoercioninstitutedbythetwohomlandbeast,the
three angels* messages God's last warning and appeal to the inhabitants of
PlanetEarthwillreachanintensitynothithertoattained.Themessageswill
distinguishthetruepeopleofGodasobserversofHiscommandments,including
theSabbath,andaskeepersofthefaith,thescripturalbodyofteachingsthatcenter
inJesus.
Thedynamicofthethreeangels'messageslieintheircertainty,authority,and
timelinessandespeciallyintheirupholdingofJesusChristasthegreatcenterof
attractiontoaworldfacingdoomsday.

SectionOutline
I.ExegesisofRevelation12
II.ExegesisofRevelation13
III.ExegesisofRevelation14
IV.SignificanceforProclamation

wehaveseenalready,thechapterbreaksinRevelation12.4correspondto
the main divisions of the passage. We herefore find it convenient to
separatetheexegesisbychapters.

ExegesisofRevelation12
Outline
Chapter12fallsintothreedistinctsections:

1.Theleadersinthestrugglebetweengoodandevil(vss.16)
Heaven(sky?)1
Radiantwoman,dragon,thewoman'schildDragon
Setting:
Maincharacters: waitstodevourthenewbornchildChildcaughtupto
heaven,womanfleesinto
Chiefaction:
wilderness2.Conflictinheaven(vss.712)
Result:
Setting:HeavenMaincharacters:Michael
andHisangels,thedevilandhisangels
1"Sky"woulddistinguishthesettingfromthe"heaven"ofvss.712;sun,moon,andstarsfurther
suggestthetranslation"sky."

15

TheSaints'EndTimeVictoryOvertheForcesofEvil
Action:CosmicwarfareResult:Satanandangelsdefeated,cast
outintothe
earth
3.Thedragonpursuesthewoman(vss.1317)Setting:
Earth
Maincharacters:Thewoman,thedragon,thewoman'sdescendants
Action:OngoingpersecutionbythedragonResult:Thewoman
protected;dragonnowattacksher
descendants2
Apart from the interpretation of the symbols, the chief issue concerns the
relationshipofverses712totherestofthechapter.Thefirstsixversespresentan
ongoing narrative that breaks off abruptly with the beginning of verse 7 and
continuesinverse13.Whatthenaretheroleandtemporalrelationshipofverses7
12tothisnarrative?Wecanbetteraddressthesequestionsafterwehaveinterpreted
themaincharactersofthechapter.
Symbols
Commentators of Revelation 12 frequently point out apparent similarities
betweenthenarrativeofthedragon,thewomanandthechild,andpaganmyths.For
instance:
Thatpartialparallelscanbefoundintheancientfolkloreofmanynations
cannotbedenied.InGreekmythologythepregnantgoddessLeto,pursuedby
thedragonPython,isbrought safelytotheislandofOrtygia(Delos,ina
variantformofthemyth)whereshegivesbirthtoApollo,whothenreturns
and kills the dragon. In Egyptian mythology, the red dragon SetTyphon
pursuesIsisandislaterkilledbyHorus,herson.Babylonianmythtellsofthe
overthrowofTiamat,thesevenheadedwatermonster,byMarduk,theyoung
godoflight.
WhileJohnwasprobablyawareofsuchimageryinthethoughtworldofhis
day, it seems much more likely that the symbols of Revelation 12, like those
elsewhereinthebook,areshapedbytheOTratherthanbypaganmythology.

Dragon.Thedragon,thechiefvillainofRevelation12,isidentifiedfor

2Thesentencewhichistobetranslated,"Andit[thedragon]stoodontheseashore[readingestaths
(hestood)ratherthanthevariantestathSn(Istood)],"isnotincludedintheoutlinesinceitmore
naturallylinkswiththeactionofchapter13.
3Mounce,Revelation,235.

16

TheSaints*EndTimeVictoryOvertheForcesofEvil
usinthischapter.Thedescriptionofverse9designatesitastheancientserpent,the
devil, Satan, and the deceiver of the whole world. This fourfold account is
significantfortheinterpretationofchapter12andtheentirepassage,chapters12
14.
Theancient"serpent"takesusbacktotheaccountofthetemptationandFallin
Genesis3anallusionwhich,Iwillsuggestlater,issignificantforunderstanding
thischapter."Devil"(diabolos)meansslanderer,andinthenextversethedragonis
describedastheaccuserofthebrothers,whoaccusesthemdayandnightbefore
God. "Satan" originally meant "adversary" and Satan is the adversary, the
prosecutorwhoaccusesGod'speopleintheheavenlycourt.Finally,"thedeceiver"
preparesusforRevelation13,whereSatanwillworkthroughhiscohorts,thesea
beastandthelandbeast,tosubverttheentireworldtohisworship.
Revelation12:3describesthedragonashavingsevenheadsandtenhomswith
crownsonitsheads.TheallusionistoDaniel7:7.Revelation17:9and10indicates
that the heads represent kingdomsthrough which Satanhas worked tooppress
God's people throughout the ages. Revelation 13:1 marks an interesting
development:herethe seabeast, whichalsohassevenheadsandtenhoms,has
crownsonitshomsratherthanonitsheads.Theseabeast,however,receivesfrom
thedragonitspower,seat,andauthority.
Woman.Theradiantwomanstandsinperilofthedragon.Althoughsheisnot
specifically identified in Revelation 12, the account makes the meaning clear.
Encircledwiththeradianceofsun,moon,andstars,beareroftheHolyChild,sheis
theobjectofthedragon'swrath.Thedragonseekstoattackheratthetimeofthe
birthandsubsequentlypursuesherrelentlessly;butsheishelpedmiraculously.The
womanrepresentsGod'sfaithfulofallages,althoughthethrustofRevelation12is
theperiodsubsequenttothecomingofJesusChrist.
ZionasthemotherofthepeopleofGodisacommonbiblicaltheme(seeIsa
54:1;Gal4:26).Weoftenfindthechurchlikenedtoapurewomanorabride. 4In
Revelationtheradiantwomanofchapter12standsinstarkcontrastwiththewhore
ofchapter17deckedoutingold,scarlet,andpreciousstones.
TheorderofthesymbolsinRevelation12issignificantforunderstandingthe
entirepassagechapters1214.Weimmediatelymeetthewomanandthedragonthat
opposesher;thevisiondoesnotstartwiththeheavenlyconflictbetweentheforces
ofgoodandevil.Thethemethatruns
4SongofSol6:10;Isa26:17;54:5;66:79;Jer2:2;3:14;6:24;Mic4:10;2Cor11:2.
17

SaexcKaRcewMHapwa
UEPHBM
AABEHTflCTBB

TheSaints'EndTimeVictoryOvertheForcesofEvil
throughout chapter 12,surfacing even in the central section verses 712,is the
dragon'srelentlesspursuitofGod'speople,andtheirfaithfulnesstoGoddespiteall
itsefforts.
Child.Thewoman'sChildlikewiseleavesusinnodoubt.Amale,Hewillrule
allnationswithanironrod(cf.Ps2:9;Rev19:1115).Further,Hewascaughtupto
GodandtoHisthrone.Thedescriptionpointsconclusivelytotheincarnationofthe
SonofGod.Thegraphicaccountfocusesonthedragon'seffortstodevourthechild
at the moment of birth, reminding us of Herod's slaughter of the infants at
Bethlehem.
Itseemslikely,however,thatmorethanthisgrimincidentisintended.Justas
theaccountpassesovertheministryofJesusandHiscrucifixion,collapsingthe
entireChristeventintothisoneincident,soHerod'seffort todestroytheChrist
childencapsulatestheeffortsofSatantodestroyChristandHismissionthroughout
theentireperiodofHisministry.
Timeperiods.Thetimeperiodsmentionedinthechapterarenowheredefined.
Theinformationgiven,however,ishelpfulinseveralways:
1.Theparalleldescriptionsinverses6and14makeclearthat"1260days"is
equivalentto"time,times,andhalfatime."
2.Thesetimereferencesnotonlylinktheprophecyofchapters1214with
Revelation11:2,3and13:5,butlockinthisdramaticcentralvisionofRevelation
withthebookofDaniel(Dan7:25;12:7).
3.Theyeardayrelationshipcannotbeestablishedfromthischapter;
however, the description indicates that literal time is not intended. The 1260
days/threeandahalftimeserarepresentsaspecificperiodwhenGodprovidentially
caredforHisfaithfulonesinthefaceofSatan'spersecutions.Thatperioddoesnot
extendtotheSecondComing.Thevisionmakesclearthatafterthe1260days/three
andahalftimesthedragonwillconcentrateitseffortsonthewoman'sdescendants.
Deliverance.Thedeliverance(nourishment)ofthewomanisinterwovenwith
Exodustypology.Satan'spursuitissimilartoPharaoh'schasingafterthechildrenof
IsraelastheyfledfromEgypt(Exod14:8).Thetwowingsofthegreateagleremind
usofExodus19:4andDeuteronomy32:10,11.Godraineddownbreadfromheaven
andnourishedHispeopleinthedesert(seeExod16:4ff.;cf.Hos2:14).
Althoughsomecommentatorshaveendeavoredtopinpointspecificplaceson
earth, suchasNorthAmerica, asthefulfillment oftheseverses, itseemsmore
likelythattheintentisthis:GodassuresthesufferingChristiansthatnomatterhow
fiercethetrialstheymaybecalledupontobear,HeiswatchingoverHischurch
andwillsustainthem.
18

TheSaints'EndTimeVictoryOvertheForcesofEvil
Offspring.Theexpressiondenotingtherestofherdescendants(vs.17)focuses
theintentofchapter12andindeedofRevelation1214.Panoramicinsweep,the
fullpassageembracesthehistoryofGod'speoplefromthecomingofChristtothe
endofallthings,butconcentratesonthetrialstheywillfaceintheendtime.
WarinHeaven
Whatistherelationofverses712totherestofthechapter?Twodistinct
possibilitiesofinterpretationconfrontus.
1.Wemayunderstandtheseversesasaninterruptionofthenarrative.Verses
712,placedinadifferenttimesetting,describethecastingoutofSatanandhis
angelsfromheavenlongbeforetheeventsdescribedinverses16.
Under this interpretation, verses 712 would function as a "flashback" that
helpstoexplaintheongoingstoryofchapter12.Theseverseswouldshowthatthe
conflictonearthhaswiderramifications;itisthesequelto,andcontinuationof,
warinheaven.
2.However,wemayunderstandverses712inadifferent light,findingin
them the heavenly counterpart to Christ's victory on the cross. Several reasons
arguepersuasivelyforsuchaninterpretation:
a.Verses16and1317clearlyrunincontinuousnarrative.
b.Verses6and14correspondtoeachother.Theseversesforman inclusio
aroundverses712.Thustheinclusiofunctionstoexplainthenatureoftheconflict
betweenthewomanandthedragondescribedinverse6andinverses1317.
c. Verse 13 links the casting out of the dragon into the earth with its
persecutingofthewomanwhohadbornetheChild.Thatis,thedragon'sfailureto
destroytheChristchildseemstobeequatedwithitsdefeatintheheavenlywarfare
ofverses79.
d.Verse10tellsusthatwiththecastingoutofSatan,salvation,power,God's
kingdom,andtheauthorityofChristhavecome.
Verses712seemtoechotwootherscripturesinparticular.AsJesustoldof
Hiscomingdeathanditsresults,Hesaid,"Nowisthejudgmentofthisworld,now
shall the ruler of this world be cast out" (John 12:31). The second passage is
Genesis3:15:"Iwillputenmitybetweenyouandthewoman,andbetweenyour
seedandherseed;heshallbruiseyourhead,andyoushallbruisehisheel."
5AsdescribedinTheGreatControversy.Miltonin"ParadiseLost"presentsasimilarpicture.

19

TheSaints'EndTimeVictoryOvertheForcesofEvil
Revelation 12:712 describes the bruising of Satan's head, as he suffers
irreversibledefeatfromChrist'svictoryonthecross;justasverses16alludetohis
bruisingofChrist'sheel.OtherversesoftheNTrefertoChrist'svictoryoverthe
hostsofevilangelsthroughHisdeath(Col2:15;
1Pet3:22;Jude6).6

ExegesisofRevelation13
Symbols

Leaving aside speculations about allusions to the mythical Leviathan and


Behemoth, we shall probe the religious patterns or structures that the symbols
portray.
Dualism.Revelation13isastrikingchapter.Seeninitsimmediatecontextthe
vividimagerysuggestsdualism,conflict,andparody.
Thefollowingtablegivesinsightintothestrongdualismthatundergirdsthis
sectionofRevelation.
ForcesofGood
Michael(12:7)Lamb(12:ll;14:l)
AogelsofMichael(12:7)
Mt.Zion(14:l)
Voiceofmanywaters(14:2)
3'/2timesofwitness(12:6,14)
144,000(14:1)Father'sname
(14:1)ThroneofGod(12:5;
14:3)
Foreheads(14:1)WorshipofGod
(14:6,7)PraisetoGod(14:3)
GlorytoGod(14:6,7)Deathto
enemies(14:1720)Loyaltyto
God(14:12)
Withoutguile(14:5)Calltoexalt
God(14:612)Universal
invitation(14:6)Faithfulremnant
(12:17)

ForcesofEvil
Dragon(12:7;13:2)
Beast(13:1)
Angelsofthedragon(12:7)
Seashore(13:1)
Sea(13:1)
42monthsofsuccess(13:5)
"Earthdwellers"(13:1216)
Nameofbeast(13:17)Throneof
beast(13:2)
Foreheads(13:16)Worshipof
beast(13:8)Praisetobeast
(13:4)
Blasphemy(13:1,5,6)Deathto
enemies(13:15)Allegianceto
beast(13:1417)
Deception(13:14,15)Callto
exaltbeast(13:1217)Universal
compulsion(13:12)Mass
allegiance(14:16)

6EllenWhitealsoappliesRev12:7.12toChrist'svictoryonthecross:"ThecastingdownofSatanas
anaccuserofthebrethreninHeavenwasaccomplishedbythegreatworkofChristingivingup
His life" (SpiritofProphecy [Washington, DC, 1969,facsimile reproduction of 1878edition],
3:194).

20

TheSaints'EndTimeVictoryOvertheForcesofEvil
Thus,inRevelation13thelinesaredrawnsharply.Twoleaders,twoforces,
tworeligionsareportrayed.Theworldisdividedintotwocampsandonlytwo.
Conflicts. Theelement ofconflict isprominent.Wereadofwarinheaven
itself,thenwaronearth.Althoughthedragonisunsuccessfulinhisschemesto
devourtheHolyChild,hepursueshisevileffortsbyattackingthefollowersofthe
Child.Heseekstocompel,todeceive,tothreaten,andtoannihilate,workingnow
throughthetwomonsterssetforthinRevelation13.Heaimsataworldsystemin
whichhehimselfwillbetheobjectofworship.Anyandallwhogetinthewayof
thefulfillmentofhisschemesaretobesingledoutandeliminated.
InthisconflictGodisnotquiescent.Asdeceptionsandthreatsofboycottand
execution multiply, He works through His people, who stand fast by "the
commandmentsofGodandthefaithofJesus"(14:12).Theytooseektowinthe
worldbutfortheLambinsteadofthedragon.Theyfearlesslyunmaskdeceptions
ofthedraconicforces, declare thebankruptcyof the systemofpseudoreligion
whichthedragonthroughhisagentsseekstobringabout,andsoundawarningof
unqualifieddoom onthosewho,bywillorbyexpediency, becomepart ofthe
universaldraconicmovement.
Parody. TheelementofparodyisheightenedinRevelation13.Weseean
unholytrinityemerging:thedragon,theseamonster,andthelandmonster.The
parallelsarestriking,particularlybetweentheseabeastandtheLamb.Bothreceive
astroke("deadlywound"butthemonsterreceivesitinthehead);bothexperience
a"resurrection"; bothhavea"sanctuary" (theheavenlyasopposedtotheearth
itself);bothhavefollowers;bothelicitworship.Perhaps,eventhecrypticnumber
oftheseabeast,666,isdesignatedtoheightentheparody.Thenumber6(incon
trastwiththenumber7andcompleteness)mayrepresentimperfection,deception,
andblasphemytripled,raisedtoaheighteneddegree.
ThethirdmemberofthesatanictrilogyapestheworkoftheHolySpiritThis
twohommonsterarisesoutoftheearth,whichhadhelpedthewoman(12:16),and
hastheappearanceofalamb.Butheservestheseabeast,performingmiracles
(notethatthefirefromheavenofthesedeceptionshasitscounterpartinthefireof
thetwofaithfulwitnessesofRevelation11:5),andtherebydeceivingtheearth
dwellers.
Thus,Revelation13setsoutthedragon'smessiahandhisrepresentative.The
satanic trinity, their activities, their claims, their worship, their followingall
caricatureGod,Hisbeing,Hischaracter,Hischurch,Hisworship.7
7SecJ.P.M.Sweet'scommcntaiy,Revelation(Philadelphia,1979),20719,fordevelopmentofthis
21

TheSaints'EndTimeVictoryOvertheForcesofEvil
Atthisfirstlevel,thenthelevelofgeneralsymbolismRevelation13isa
graphicdescriptionofthegreatcontroversybetweengoodandevil.EllenWhite
occasionallyusessuchgeneralsymbolism.Forexample,"Antichrist,meaningall
whoexaltthemselvesagainstthewillandworkofGod,willattheappointedtime
feelthewrathofHimwhogaveHimselfthattheymightnotperishbuthaveeternal
life.*'8
Revelationshowstheconflictbetweengoodandevilisuniversalandreaches
even into heaven itself. It teaches that force, deception, and supernatural
phenomenaarebroughttobearonallthosewhoseektoworshipthetrueGod.It
indicates that there can be no neutrality in this controversy, that we give our
allegiance to either Christ or Satan. And it also points to the outcome of the
conflict:AlthoughthefollowersofChristsufferhardshipandpersecutiononearth
becauseoftheirfaith,finalvictorywillbetheirs.
TheMeaningforJohn'sDay
Christiansineverytimeandplacemaytakethesymbolicpatternswehave
suggestedaboveandfindsignificancefortheirtimes.Becausethegreatcontroversy
isagelonganduniversal,theprinciplesofRevelation13findrepeatedapplications
inthehistoryofGod'speople.Scripturealwaysfunctionsthustoinstruct,admonish,
andcomfortthepeopleofGod.
NodoubtChristianslivingattheendofthefirstcenturywouldhavefound
contemporarysignificanceinthesymbolsofRevelation13.Asmall,illicitsect,
they would have seen satanic forces and designs behind the might of imperial
Rome,raisedagainstthembyNeroandDomitianandtofallevermoreheavilyin
the succeeding 200 years. We notice a strong movement from Romans 13 to
Revelation13.IntheformerthestateisordainedofGod,butinthelatterithas
becomeanagentofSatan.
Perhaps they saw also elements of the imperial cult behind the land beast
whoseeffortsweredirectedtowardtheexaltationoftheseabeast.Thecombination
ofreligionandstateportrayedbyRevelation13wouldhaveevokedechoesoftheir
currentexperiences.
Havingmadetheseobservations,however,wemustraisethisquestion:
NomatterwhatapplicationsChristiansofthefirstcenturyorlatermayhaveseenin
Revelation13,arethesethefulfillmentoftheprophecyitself?Weturn,then,tothe
historicistinterpretationofthepassage.
parody.8EllenG.White,SelectedMessages,Book3(Washington,DC,
1980),402.
22

TheSaints'EndTimeVictoryOvertheForcesofEvil
HistoricFulfillment
Revelation13isbuilt aroundfourleadingsubjectsthesea beast,theland
beast,the"mark,"andthecrypticnumber666.Weshalltakeupeach
inturn.
1.SeaBeast(vss.110).Wenotethecharacteristicsoftheseabeast
asbroughtoutinthepassage:
a.Itarisesfromthesea.Thedragonispicturedasawaitingtheappearanceof
thebeastfromtheseainorderthatit(thedragon)mayadvanceit'sevilplans.The
dragonstandsatthemeetingoflandandsea.Oneofitsagentswillcomefromthe
seaandtheotherfromtheland.Bythismeanstheworldwidescopeofthedraeonic
activityisindicated.
b.Thebeastthatarisesfromtheseaistermedatherion(13:11).Thistermis
usedforwildanimals,forrapaciousbeasts,foranimallikebeingsofasupernatural
kind.9Inviewoftheuseofthiswordandtheactivitiesofthebeast,wearejustified
incallingitthe"seamonster."
c.Theseamonsterhastenhornsandsevenheads.Inthisrespectitislikethe
dragonhimself(12:3)andthebeastofRevelation17(vs.11).
d.Theseamonsterhasdiademsonit'shorns;thedragonhasthemonit'sheads.
InRevelation17abeastofsimilarappearanceisuncrowned(vs.3).
e. The sea monster has a blasphemous name on its heads. The beast of
Revelation17isfullofblasphemousnames(17:3).
f.Theseamonsterhascharacteristicsofaleopard,abear,andalion.Thus,itis
acompositeofthebeastsofDaniel 7,inbothtypesandnumber(thebeastsof
Daniel7togetherformsevenheadsandtenhorns).
g.Fromthewaitingdragon,theseamonsterreceivesit'spower,throne,and
authority(13:12).
h.Oneofitsheadsreceived adeadlystroke (ptSge).10 Thiswoundwasnot
merelyononehead;themonsteritselfwasstrickenuntodeath(vs.14).Inorderto
catchtheforceoftheparodywemustrealizethattheexpressionusedfortheblow,
hosesphagmeriSn,isidenticalwiththedescriptionoftheslainLambofRevelation
(13:8;5:6).In13:14thisstrokeissaidtobe"bythesword."
i.Thesevereblowwashealed.Therecoveryofthemonsterfromitsmortal
strokeislikearesurrectionfromthedead(13:14).
9R.C.H.Lenski,TheInterpretationofSt.John'sRevelation(Columbus,OH,1943),alsomentions
thesourceofthebeast(frombeneath)aspointingtoitsbrutishnature.
10Thesamewordistranslatedas"plague"elsewhereinRevelation.

23

TheSaints*EndTimeVictoryOvertheForcesofEvil
j.Therecoveryoftheseamonstercauseswonder(vs.3).
k.Earthdwellersworshipthedragonbecauseoftheseamonster(vs.4).
1.Theyworshipalsothemonsteritselfbecauseofitsseeminginvincibility:
"Whoisabletofightwithit?"(vs.4).
m.Thebeastexercisesauthorityfor42months(vs.5).Wearenottoconsider
thatthis42monthperiodbeginsafterthehealingofthefatalwound.Ratherverses
510ofthechapterareinparallelthoughtwithverses14.Thefirstfourverses
introducetheseamonsterandgiveanoveralldescription;thefollowingsixverses
repeattheaccountbyelaboratingandexplaining.
n. The sea monster speaks "great things" (close parallels with Daniel
7:8,11,20,25).
o.TheseamonsterblasphemesGod:itblasphemesHisname,Hissanctuary,
andthosewhodwellinheaven.11"Thosewhodwellinheaven"standsincontrast
with"thosewhodwellonearth"inverses8,12,14.
p.Theseamonsterfightsagainstthesaintsandovercomesthemfor42months
(vss.5,7).
q.Ithasuniversalauthority(vss.7,8).
r.Theedothe(itwasallowed)ofverses5,7showsthat,whiletheseamonster
seekstowintheallegianceoftheworldandtoruleoverall,anypowerthatithas
comesaboutonlybyGod'spermissivedecree.Ithasnoinherentrighttoruleor
worship.!"
Interpretation. This description of the sea monster and his activities is
remarkablyfull.WearetolookforareligiopoliticalpowertoarisebetweenJohn's
timeandtheSecondComingonethatwillcontinuefor"42months,"demandand
command widespread allegiance, go into decline, recover, and in the events
immediatelyprecedingtheReturn,beaidedbythelandmonster.
Wepreviouslyhavegivenreasonsinsupportofahistoricistinterpretationof
thevision.Inasmuchasthemajorityofcommentatorsstilladoptapreteristview,
however, it is necessary to point out that no satisfactory fulfilment in the first
centuryA.D.canbeadvanced. Attemptstoidentifythe"deadlystroke"withthe
reigns of Caligula or Nero fall short of the specification of the prophecy. The
RomanEmpiresimplywasnotmortallyhurtbytheruleordeathofeitherofthese
oranyotheremperor.Inanut
11TheRSVmissedthesanctuarysettingofthevision,translatingvs.6as"hisdwelling,thatis,those
whodwellinheaven."
12Therebythereaderisassuredthat,regardlessoftheseamonster'sdominanceforatime,hewillat
lengthbedealtwithbyGod.

24

TheSaints'EndTimeVictoryOvertheForcesofEvil

shell,historianssearchinvainforafirstcenturyeventbigenoughtofitthe
vision.SomescholarsofRevelationarenowadmittingtheuntenabilityof
thepreteristposition."
Ifweruleoutthepreteristview,weareleftwiththreeoptionsforun
derstandingthevision:(1)John*sviewofthefuturewaswrong,(2)his
predictionswillyetfindfulfillment(futurism),or(3)wemustfinddevelop
mentsinhistoryonascalelargeenoughtomatchthespecificationsofthe
vision.AcceptingRevelationasinspired,werejectthefirstoption;wepre
viouslyshowedtheweaknessofthefuturistview;wethereforelooktoa
historicistposition.
Anobjectionoftenraisedagainsthistoricismisthatitistoosubjective
everyinterpreterfindsfulfillmentinthenewspaperheadlines. 14Wegrant
theproblemofsubjectivityandadmitthatthisschoolofinterpretationhas
sufferedattimesfrommisuse.Butwesuggestthatweareonsaferground
when we adopt a broad view, a wide perspective inscanninghistory to
understandtheprophecy.
In my view, Daniel 78 provide the key to Revelation 13. The cor
respondences are impressive in activities and time period: Revelation is
echoingDanielandelaboratinguponit.Wearegivenacluetooobviousto
miss in the composite character of the sea monster: Revelation 13
presupposesthevisionofDaniel7.Asthelatterchapterpointstothelineof
kingdomsandfocusesontheblasphemous"littlehom"power,soRevelation
13 begins with a terse description that locks the vision in with Daniel^
prophecyandelaboratestheverysamepower.
SeventhdayAdventistshavepointedtotheriseandworkofthepapacy
asafulfillmentofthesetwovisions.OurpioneerinterpretersofDanieland
Revelationshowedclearlyitsreligiouspoliticalnature,itsusurpationofthe
priesthoodofChristintheheavenlysanctuary,itspersecutionof"heretics,"
itsperiodofsupremacyduringtheMiddleAges,itsdeclinewiththecoming
oftheAgeofReason,anditsresurgenceinmodemtimes.15
Tb interpret the sea monster of Revelation 13 as the papacy seems
somewhatoutofkeepingwiththespiritofthetimes.InanagewhenChris
13E.g.,Lcnski,Minear.
14Mouocc,42.
15The"42months"isusuallyreckonedtobethe1,260yearperiodA.D.5381798.Some
AdventistsunderstandthehealingofthedeadlystroketobeMussolini'sconcordatwiththe
papacy.Otherssuggestthatthe"wound"istheseparationofchurchfromstate,withthe
"healing"beingareunitingaprocessstillincomplete.

25

TheSaints*EndTimeVictoryOvertheForcesofEvil
tianityingeneral facestheonslaughtsofsecularismandwhenamongChristians
ecumenism has become popular, the interpretation smacks of narrowness and
bigotry.Inresponsewesuggestthatthreefactorsmustbekeptinmind:
(1)Wedifferentiatebetweenindividualbelieversandthepapacy.Thelatterisa
system of doctrine and worship which the prophecy addresses. We do not raise
questionsastothesincerityandpietyofindividualRomanCatholics.(2)Ifthe
interpretationseemsharshweshouldrememberthattheProtestantReformerswere
persuadedofitsvalidity.16 (3)Weneedalongviewofhistory,onethatisableto
holdtogetherthesweepofdevelopmentsfromJohn'sdaytoours,onethatisnot
undulydistortedbyourowntimes.
BeforeleavingtheexpositionofRevelation13:110weshouldbrieflynoticea
majorobjectiontoourinterpretation.Attimesadherentstothepreteristviewhave
argued that the Revelation 17 beast provides the identity of the sea beast in
Revelation13.Theysuggestthatthesevenheadsandtenhomsshowthatthesame
powerisreferredto.Itisarguedthatthedescription"thesevenheadsare...seven
kings,fiveofwhomhavefallen,oneis,andtheotherhasnotyetcome"clearly
locatesthebeastinJohn'sowncentury.
Thissolutionisnotaswatertightasitfirstappears,however.First,weshould
bewareofcollapsingthevisionsofRevelation13and17.Thefactthattheseabeast
iscrownedwhilethebeastofchapter17isnotshouldalertustodifferentiation.
Second,neitherthe"mountains"17(vs.9)nor
10

the"kings"(vs.10)identifyRome,assomescholarsnowrecognize."Com
mentatorscannotagreeastotheidentityofthe5+1+1,norcantheRoman
emperors be made to fit the subsequent descriptions in 17:1117. Third,
underStrand'sanalysisofRevelation,thevisionofchapter17comeswithin
the"eschatological"section.Thatis,theseamonsterofchapter13exhibits
characteristics that will be seen again in the forces of evil that coalesce
immediatelybeforetheSecondComing.19
Whatthenofthesevenheadsandtenhornsofthedragonandthesea
monster?Thedragon,aloneoftheunholytrilogyofRevelation13,isiden
tifiedit is Satan(12:9). The seabeast is Satan's agent; this is whythe
"earthdwellers"actuallyworshipSatanastheyworshiptheseamonster.
16Mounce,40,noticesthatthefollowersofJoachimofFlora(twelfthcentury)identifiedthePopeas
thebeast.ThisantipapalinterpretationwasadoptedbytheProtestantReformers.
17TheappealtoRomeasthecityoftheseven"hills"isfarfetchcd.
18Bg.,Minear,23546.
19Strand,49.5455.

26

TheSaints'EndTuneVictoryOvertheForcesoTEvil
Withbothentities,thesevenheadsandtenhomsechothebeastsofDaniel7,
suggestingbythissymbolismthepoliticalpowersthroughwhichSatanworksto
furtherhisends.Itmaybethecasethatweshouldendeavortolocatesevenactual
nationsandtenactualkingsandkingdomsinhistoryasoppressorsofthesaintsand
thefulfillmentofthevision.Ontheotherhand,thenumerologyofsevenandten
suggestsratherthatthetotalityofpoliticalagenciesisinview,sinceSatanalways
employspoliticalpowersto
promotehispurposes."
The detail concerning the diadems is probably significant. They are on the
dragon'sheads,butontheseabeast'shoms.AgainDaniel7givesustheclue:The
changeornewdevelopmentmaybeduetothelapseoftime.Satan'sdepredations
throughtheseamonstercomelong after hiseffortstokill theholyChild.The
descriptionoftheseabeastintheGreektextliststhehoms before theheads(a
uniquedetailwhencomparedwiththeotherdescriptionsofthesesimilarlooking
figures,Rev12:3;17:3)andthusalsodrawsattentiontothischangeinemphasis.
2.Landmonster(vss.1117).ThesecondbeastofRevelation13isofinterest
becauseofitsrelationtotheseamonster.Thedescriptionofitsactivitiesfocusesto
justonepoint:Itfunctionstoexalttheseamonster.Itis,infact,thealteregoofthe
firstbeast.Inpursuingthisgoalitshallmarkisdeception.Itiscalledthe"false
prophet"inRevelation16:13,andthefalseprophetwhodoesmiraclesinRevelation
19:20.
These features of the second beast will become obvious as we list its
characteristicsfromRevelation13:1117:
a.Italsoistermed therion (wildanimal).Despitedocileappearancestothe
contrary,thesecondbeastinfactisrapaciousinnature.Wemaytermittheland
monstertobringoutthishostilecharacter(vs.11).
b. It arises out of the earth (vs. 11). At times Seventhday Adventist
commentatorshavecontrastedearthwithsea(vs.1),suggestingthat whereas the
lattersignifiesdenselypopulatedareas,theformerreferstouninhabitedregions.
Thisinterpretationmaybecorrect.
"Earth" (ge), however, has several distinct usages in Revelation. 21 It seems
likelythatwearetounderstand"earth"in13:11fromthedescriptionofthedragon's
attacksonthewomaninchapter12.Herewereadthat"theearthcametothehelpof
thewoman"(vs.16).Thefactthatthebeast
20Or,thattheentirepoliticalprocesshasbecomesubjecttohisschemes.
21Minear,263,notesthatearth"formsthecommondenominatorforalltheantichristicforcesbeasts,
kings,potentates,miflionaires,merchants,anddwellers."Onp.264hegivesfourdenotations
ofgP(earth),thefinalonebeingtherealminwhichGodinflictsHispunishments.

27

TTieSaints*EndTimeVictoryOvertheForcesofEvil

ofRevelation13:11arisesoutoftheland,then,wouldbeinkeepingwithits
deceptivecharacter.Thevisionissaying,intheregionofapparentsafetythe
dragonwillworkdeceptivelytocontinueitswarfareagainstthewoman.
Itthereforeseemsreasonabletoinferthat"earth"inverse11isthe
complement of "sea" in verse 1, both together signifying the universal
sphereofthedraconicdepredations.Suchaviewissupportedby12:12_
"Woetoyou,0earthandsea,forthedevilhascomedowntoyouingreat
wrath,becauseheknowsthathistimeisshort!"
c.Thelandmonsterhastwohornslikealamb(vs.11).Presumablythe
hornsareinkeepingwiththedeceptivenatureofthelandmonsterinstead
ofdraconichorns,itapestheLamb.
d.Neverthelessitstruenaturerevealsitself.The kai (and)isadversa
tive: "[But} itspokeasadragon"(vs.11).Liketheseabeast,thesecond
beastisanagentofthedevilinitsattacksonthechurch.
e.Authority:Thelandbeastexercisesalltheauthorityofthefirstbeast
andinitspresence(vs.12).
f.Itcompelsthe"earthdwellers"toworshiptheseabeast,thathasbeen
healedfromthemortalstroke(vs.12).
g.Itdoes"greatmiracles"(asin19:20),causingfiretocomedown
fromheaven(vs.13).Thenatureofthis"fire"isunclear;presumablyitis
thesataniccounterparttothesignsperformedbythetwowitnesses(11:5).
h.Themiraclesofthelandmonsterdeceivethe"earthdwellers"(vs.
14).
i.Itcausesan"image"tobemadetotheseamonsterandgivesitbreath
inorderthatitmight"speak"(vss.14,15).
j.Itenforcesworshipoftheimageoftheseamonster,onpainofdeath
(vs.15).
k.Thus,itbringsaboutaparodyoftheuniversalchurch,bycausing
peopleofallstationsinlifetoadoptitspseudoworship(vs.16).
1.Itenforcesa"mark"whichistermedthe"name"oftheseabeastand
the"numberofhisname,"byboycottingthosewhorefusetoacceptit(vss.
1618).
m.Liketheseamonsterbeforeit,theactivitiesofthelandbeastdonot
stemfrominherentrightorauthority.TheycomeaboutonlybecauseGod
haspermittedthem {edoths, "allowed,"vss.14,15,RSV).Butthatpermis
sionimpliesitseventualwithdrawal.LaterinRevelationthelandbeast,also
described as the deceptive false prophet of the endtime, will meet an
ingloriousfate(chap.19:20).
Interpretation.CanweidentifythissecondmonsterofRevelation13?
28

TheSaints*EndTimeVictoryOvertheForcesofEvil
Thevisionindicatesthatwearetolookforamajorpowerthatwill,bydeceptive
means,furtherthecauseofthepapacy.Further,thispowerwillappeartowardthe
closeofhumanhistory,aftertheperiodofthe"42months"ofpapalmight.Itistobe
apowerthatisavowedlyreligiousin
function.
OurAdventistpioneerssawintheriseoftheUnitedStatesofAmerica
afulfillmentofthelandbeast.Theypointedtofeatures suchasthetwohoms,
representingarepublicanformofgovernmentandreligiousliberty.Theyalsosaw
in nineteenth century developments, such as Sunday laws, evidence that the
dragonlikecharacterofcertainreligiouselementsoftheUnitedStateswasbeing
unmasked.
Letusfranklyacknowledgethatthefullunderstandingofthefulfillmentofthis
prophecyofthelandmonsterstillawaitsus.Thefirstmonster'sactivitiesassetout
inRevelation13havealreadybeenfulfilled,andhistorywitnessestothepapacyas
thepowerdesignated.Significantfeatures ofthe secondmonstefsdeceptionsare
notyetclear,howeverespecially the miraclesthatcausemanytobeledastray,
andthe"image"totheseamonster.Further,thevisionindicatesastageofaction
which embraces the whole world. A Sunday law applicable only to the United
Statesclearlyisinadequate.Howtheentiremassofhumanitywillbedrawnintothe
vortexofdeceptionisnotapparentatpresent.
By these remarks we do not suggest that the interpretation of our spiritual
forefatherswaswrong.TheUnitedStatesoccupiesauniqueplaceinworldaffairs,
onefargreater thannineteenthcenturyobservers couldhaveanticipated.Inthis
respecttheAdventistpioneershadforesightwellaheadoftheircontemporaries.We
merely suggest that the full disclosure of the meaningof the landmonsterstill
awaits us and that the final deceptive activities of the great controversy, while
heavilyinvolvingtheUnitedStates,willbeworldwide.
3.Mark ofthebeast The Greek charagma signifies animprintedmark, a
gravenmarkorline,character,inscription.2"
InthedescriptionofRevelation13:16,17themarkidentifiesthefollowersof
theseamonster.Itisenforcedbythelandmonsterwhoseeksthereby
22Chartes, 36263,observesthat charag/na wasatechnicaldesignationof the imperial cult (from
Deissmann).Heseestheputtingofthemarkontherighthandandthebrowasatravestyofthe
tepnulim. "Butultimatelythemarksonthebrowsofthefaithful...andoftheworshipersofthe
beasthadthesameorigin.Bothwereintendedtoshowthatthewearersofthemarksareunder
supernaturalprotection theformerunder the protectionof God, thelatterofSatan"(p.363,
italicsbis).
29

TSeSaints*EndTimeVictoryOvertheForcesofEvil
toseparateandeliminateallwhorefusetoreceivethemark.Theboycottdescribed
inverse18isnotforthepurposeofcausinghardshiptothesaints.Rather,itisto
exposethempublicly,sothattheymaybekilled(vs.15).
Christianssuffering underthepersecutionsoftheimperial cultwouldhave
seeninthecertificatesofconformityanapplicationofthe"mark"ofRevelation13.
Thesettingofthe"mark,"howeverjustpriortotheSecondAdventshowsthat
itsfullmeaningisyetfuture.
Whatisthis"mark"?Itcentersinthenameoftheseamonster.Thisisshownby
thefollowing:(1)Wemaytranslatethephraseologymverse17as"themarkthe
nameofthemonsterorthenumberofitsname";
(2)themonsterhasablasphemousname(13:1);(3)thesaintsarevictoriousoverthe
monster,itsimage,and"thenumberofitsname"(15:2);
and(4)thesaintshavethenamesoftheFatherandoftheLambwrittenintheir
foreheads(14:1).
The"mark,"then,centersinloyalty.Itisthecounterpartofthe"sealofGod"of
chapter7.InthefinaleventsofPlanetEarth,astheentirehumanraceisdividedinto
justtwocamps,onegroupwillgiveallegiancetotheseamonsterandtheother,
despite all opposition, will remain loyal to God. The "mark" and the "seal"
respectivelyidentifyallpeople.
Inthat final crisisthecommandmentsofGodwill emerge asastandard of
loyalty(12:17;14:612).TheSabbathinparticular willbethelitmustest;one's
relationshiptoitwilldisclosehisbasicrelationshiptoGodandHislaw.Thus,while
thenonobservanceoftheSabbathorSundayobservanceisnotthe"mark"perse
justnow,bothareintegraltoitsendtimeenforcement.TheSabbath,ancientlythe
"sign"ofthepeopleofGod(Exod31:13;Ezek20:20),willagaincometotheforeto
showtheworldthosewhoputGodfirst.
4.Crypticnumber 666.NoverseofRevelationhasattractedmoreattention
thanthis.Yetonlyheredoesitoccurinthebookandonlyoneotherallusionismade
toit(15:2).Further,despitethemanyattemptstodecipherit,noconsensushasbeen
reached.
In my view, the following observations are pertinent: (1) arithmos gar
anthropouestm (literally,"foranumberofamanitis")maymeaneither"itisa
humannumber,"or"itisthenumberofaman."Theformeristobepreferred,since
thevisionisidentifyingtheseamonster,whoisclearlyareligiopoliticalpowerand
morethananindividual.AttemptstoseeNero(n)asthefulfillmentoftheprophecy
haveerredatthispoint.23Corn23Applying666toNerocallsforspellinghisname
asNero(n);thetextualvariantof616istobe
30

TneSamts^KndTTmeVicforyOvertH&TOTceSOTEVU
putationsthatrequireachangeoflanguage,doingthearithmeticinHebreworLatin,
alsoseemtogobeyondthetext.(3)Attemptstoargue
fromthetriangular24areevenmoreunlikely.
Anyexplanationofthecrypticnumberwillhavetobetentative.Itispossible
thattheinscription vicariusfiliidel ofthepapaltiaraisthename indicated bythe
prophecy,asmanySeventhdayAdventistexpositorshavetaught. But inmyview
thetextsuggeststhat666isthecodeforthename of theseamonster,whichis
blasphemy.Itpointstoaparodyofperfection:
imperfectionuponimperfection,despitethebeast'smonstrousclaims.

ExegesisofRevelation14
Outline
Likechapter12,chapter14fallsintothreedistinctsections.Wemayseemore
readily the construction and thematic flow of the chapter from the following
diagram.

Earth'sFilialGeneration
A.ThePeopleLoyaltoGod(14:15)
1.TheirleadertheLamb
2.TheirplaceMountZion
3.Theirnumber144,000
4.Theircharacterundefiled
5.TheirdevotionfollowtheLambB.
God'sMediaBlitz(14:612)
1.Firstangeljudgmentannounced
2.Secondangeljudgmentdelineated
3.Thirdangeljudgmentdescribed
(A.ParentheticalAside14:13)C.Earth's
FinalHarvest(14:1420)
1.Harvestoftherighteous
2.Harvestofthewicked

chainedonthisbasis.
24SixhundredsixtysixisthetriangularofatriangularThetriangularof8is36andthetriangularof36
is666.SeeSweet,21819.Othercomputationssuggestedincludelateinosandhelatinobasiteia,
eachofwhichexpressionstotals666inGreek.

31

Tne^mfe^EnaT^meVlctoryOvertheForcesofEvil
LeadingMotifs
In this section we will isolate the key terms and themes of Revelation 14,
attemptingtoexplainthemandtheirroleinthedevelopmentofthepassage.
TheLamb.Thisterm,thechiefdesignationforChristinRevelation,occurs28
timesinthebook.Itisamarvelouschoice.Whenwestandback,asitwere,and
beholdthepanoramaofthebook,withtheforcesofevilparadingasaseriesof
monsters,wecatchourbreathattheLord'sanswertotheseevil,rapaciouscreatures
aLamb!Furthermore,aslainLamb?
As Revelation14opens,thecontrast withchapter13isbrilliantlyeffective.
InsteadofthelandandseawefindMountZion;insteadofferee,deception,and
religiouspersecutionweseetheLamb.
WeshouldnoticethattheGreektermherefor"lamb,"asthroughoutRevelation,
is amion. Theterm forthesacrificial lambinJohn'sGospel,however, is amnos
(John1:29,36).TheLambofRevelationderivesHisauthorityfromHissacrificial
death(seechap.5:613),but"Lamb"bynomeansdenotesweakness.Amionpoints
tomartialcharacteristics:TheLambisleaderofthehostsofheavenandthepeople
loyaltoGodonearth.Theverytitle"Lamb"encapsulatestheparadoxicalnatureof
thegood:
apparentlyhelplessbutinrealityenormouslystrong,strugglingwithdeceptionand
oppression,andvictoriousatlast.
The144,000.Asthebeasthasitsnumber,acrypticnumbersignifyingparody
andimperfection,soGodhasthenumberofHispeople.Thatnumberpointsto
completeness.Onthebasisoftheparalleloccurrence(Rev7:417)itseemsunlikely
thataliteralinterpretationisintended.25
The144,000arecharacterizedby:
1.AChristlikecharacter.TheybearthenameoftheLambandthenameofthe
Fatherintheirforeheadsno"hand"markforthem.
2.Undefikd.Inaworldthathasprostitutedtrueworship,theyarepureinheart.
"Virgins"(or,"chaste")signifiesfidelitytoGod(cf.Rev2:14,20),notcelibacy.
3.Guileless.Thebeastanditsimage(chap.13)arecharacterizedbydeception,
force,andmystery;butthe144,000byopenness,clarity,andhonesty.
4.Experience.Thesongofthe144,000stemsfromtheconflictthrough
25Notethespecificationof12,000fromeachofthe12tribesofIsrael(vss.45)andthedescriptionofvs.
9.SecBeatriceNeall,"GoodNewsAboutthe144,000,"AdventistReview,April2,1987.
32

TheSamts'^dTTmeVrctbiyOveflneroTCCSorTwn

whichtheyhavepassed.Theyhave"conqueredthebeastanditsimageand
thenumberofitsname'*(15:2).Theirloyaltyhasbeentestedandrefined
inthecrisisoftheendtime.
5.DevotiontotheLamb.TheyhaveputtheLambfirstonearth,
choosingtobeidentifiedwithHiminfaceofopposition,argument,hardship,
anddenial;nowtheyfollowtheLambwhereverHegoes.
Angels. Sixangelsarementionedinthischapter,thefirstthreepro
claimingGod'sinvitationsandwarningstotheworldjustbeforetheSecond
Coming,thelastthreereapingtheharvestofearth.Presumablythesetwo
setsofthreecorresponddivinejudgmentsfollowdivinemessages.
Unquestionably,theangelfiguresofthechapteraresymbolic.Thelast
twoangelsareportrayedinascenefromthegrapeharvestexceptthatin
thelastverseofthechapterthe"Juice"flowingfromthewinepressofGod's
wrathisblood!WhenChristreturnsHeHimselfisthereaperandangels
assistHim(cf.Matt13:2430,3643).
LikewisewiththefirstthreeangelsofRevelation14.Theyportraythree
divinemessagesthataretoencircletheglobe(weshouldrememberthatthe
Greek aggelos is not restricted to angel figures: its basic meaning is
"messenger" or "envoy"). These messages in turn call the lasttime
generationbacktotheworshipofthelivingGod,declarethebankruptcyof
spiritualBabylon,andwarnagainsttheworshipofthebeast.
Three angels*message.Revelation14ismuchmoreconcernedwith
thefirstthreeangelsthanwiththesecondthree.Weshouldnoteespecially
threeaspectsofthefirstthreethetimeoftheirmessages,theirscope,
andtheircontent:

1.Time.ThatthemessagesofRevelation14:612aretobelocatedin
theperiodimmediatelyprecedingthereturnofJesusandnotthroughoutthe
ChristianEraisshownbytwolinesofevidenceinthepassage.First,the
messagescallmenandwomentoworshipGodinsteadofthebeastandits
image.Revelation13,however,hasshownthattheimageofthebeastonly
comesintobeingafterthe"42month"(1260years)periodofthebeast's
supremacy.Second,thethreemessagesarefollowedbytheSecondComing
which coming is described in terms of judgment on those who have
chosenallegiancetothebeastratherthantoGod.
2.Scope.Proclamationfrommidheaven,showingtheforceoftheim
26Somecommentatorshavesuggestedacorrespondencebetween the latterthreeangelsof Rev 14
with thethree"woes"ofRev8:13.Suchaninterpretation,however,would involve afuturistic
viewofRev9somethingtobediscardedonothergrounds.

33

meaaiilurEIKniffle^ictoryDver^heTorcesofEvil
pact;worldwideinreach,crossescontinentsandbarriersofethnicity,language,and
culture.
3.ContentInalaterpartoftheexposition,wherewespecifythecharacteristics
of God's people as revealed in Revelation 14, we will elaborate aspects of the
contentofthemessagesofRevelation14:612.Herewemerelylistitemsofthat
content:
Aneternalgospel
Falsereligioussystemsrepudiated
Ajudgmenthourmessage
Warningsagainstbeast,image,mark
AcalltoputGodfirst
CommandmentsofGodFaithof
Creation
Jesus
Inviewofthedataofthetextitself,theMormonapplicationofRevelation14is
foundtobeinvalid.AlthoughMormonscouldmakeacaseforthemselvesbasedon
thetimeelementandthescopeoftheiractivities,inseveralrespectstheirteachings
fall short of the specifications of the passage. In particular, Mormon doctrine
confusestheCreator/creaturerelationship,lacksthedoctrineofthejudgmentwith
the accompanying warning of the third angel, and fails to emphasize all the
commandmentsoftheDecalogue.27
4,JudgmentInRevelation,God'sjudgmentsareputsquarelyinthefuture.Far
frombeingsomethingalreadydoneatthecross,thetimeofdivinejudgmentisthe
timewhenGodintervenestowrapupthegreatcontroversy.ThepeopleofGod,in
Revelationoftenshownasasuffering,persecutedminority,longforGod'sjudgment.
God'sjudgingwillbethetimeoftheirvindicationastheoppressingforceswillbe
puttorout(Rev6:911).
Revelation 14:7 announces that the time of God's judgment has come. The
contextofRevelation1214,aswellastheotheroccurrencesofthejudgmenttheme
inthebook,28indicatethatthefulfillmentofthismessagemustbeintheperiodjust
before the Second Coming. It will be after the 42 months of the sea monster's
oppressiverule(Rev13:110)andyetbeforethereturnofJesus(Rev14:14).
Thus,theSeventhdayAdventistdoctrineofthepreadventjudgment,
27 The Sabbath commandment is a source of embarrassment to many Mormons. Arguing that true
doctrinewaslostduringtheMiddleAgesandhasbeenrestoredinthesetimes,theyareatalossto
findabiblicalbasisforsettingasidethefourthpreceptoftheDecalogue;theirappealisonlyto
"revelation"(JosephSmith).
28JohnusesavarietyofGreekwordstodenotetheconceptofjudgment.SeeRev15:4(dikaiSma);
17:1;20:4(tawio);14:7;16:7;18:10;19:2(fcnsis):6:10;11;18;16:5;18:8;19:2,11;20:12,13(krinV).

34

TheSaints*EndTimeVictoryOvertheForcesoTEvil
usually called the investigative judgment, finds confirmation in Revelation 14.
AlthoughthetimeelementisnotasspecificasDaniel8:14,itdovetails
withthatprophecy.
5.Worship.ThisisaleadingmotifofRevelation14.The144,000,whofollow
the Lamb wherever He goes,are singleminded intheir adoration. Likewise the
messagesofthethreeangelsarelinkedbythecommonthreadofworship.Thefirst
angelissuesacalltoworshipGodtheCreatorinthesettingofthejudgmenthour;
theseconddeclaresandexposesthesystemoffalseworship;thethirdissuesadire
warningagainsttheworshipofthe
beastanditsimage.
Indeed, the themeof worshiprunsthroughout Revelation.The actiontaking
placeinthevariousvisionsisfrequentlyinterruptedbysongsofpraise,prayers,and
adoration.Thebookinitsoverallemphasisleadsthereadertoexaltthetrueand
livingGod,toputHimfirstinthelifenomatterhowseveretheoppositionmaybe.
Itisnotsurprising,therefore,thatintheaccountoftheendtimecrisisbetweenthe
forcesofgoodandtheforcesofevil(Rev1314),themotifofworshipshouldfinda
prominentplace.
6.Babylon.IntheOT,twocitiesplayaleadingroleJerusalemandBabylon.
Theystandformorethanpoliticalandnationalentities.Theyrepresentthereligion
ofYahwehandthefalse,counterreligioussystem.
In Revelation, where all the books ofthe OT flow together, Jerusalem and
Babylonagainappear.Jerusalemnowisthenewcity,theabodeoftheredeemed,
wherethegatesarenevershut,andtheLordGodisthelight.Babylon,bycontrast,
istheworldsystemthatisdoomedtocometonaughtattheSecondComing.
Babylonrepresentsallhumanattemptstoprovidethewayofsalvation,allthose
plansandprogramsthat,becausetheyarebuiltaloneonhumanreasonanddevices,
attempttofrustratethedivineplanfortheworld.AsancientlyBabylon,"thebeauty
of the Chaldees excellency" (Isa 13:19, KJV) fell in a spectacular demise, so
spiritualBabylon,despiteitsapparentstrengthandconfidence,willcrumbleinruins
whenJesusreturnstoearth.29
Thus,themessageofthesecondangelofRevelation14isthecomplementof
thefirst.Menandwomeninallnations,astheyaredirectedtoreturntotheworship
oftheCreator,mustbeledtorepudiateallsystemsandschemes,avowedlyreligious
orotherwise,thatruncountertoallegiancetoChrist.
29SeeF.D.Nichol,ed.,TheSDABibleCommentary7(Washington,DC,1957):82830.35

1neaamisKnd1iigg^icIblyX?ver"t^eTbrces6TEviI
Seventhday Adventists believe that they are proclaiming the three
angels'messagespredictedinRevelation14.Thefirstandsecondangels'
messagesseemedespeciallysignificanttotheAdventbelieversinthe1843
1844period.Theyfelttheforceofthetimeelementthatlocatedtheirday
in the prophetic time scheme. They observed the repudiation of the
preachingoftheSecondComingbythepopularchurches.
Clearly, the three angels of Revelation 14 have even greater sig
nificancetoAdventiststoday.InamannerthattheMilleritescouldnot
haveimagined,thecalltoworshiptheCreatorGodisgoingtoeveryna
tion, kindred, tongue and people. The rise and spread of evolutionary
theoryhasinvestedthefirstangel'smessagewithrelevancybeyondthe
conceptionofthefirstbelievers."Babylon"todayembracesfarmorethan
apostateChristianchurches.Itincludesthem,buthasaworlddimension
commensuratewiththeworldthrustofthefirstangel.
Thesemessages,webelieve,willswelllouderandstilllouder.Inpar
ticular,thevoiceofthethirdangelisyettoreachitsfullintensity.Onlyin
thescenesofthelastgreatconfrontationbetweenthefollowersofChrist
andthefollowersofSatanwillthewarningagainstreceivingthemarkof
thebeastfinditscompletefulfillment.
God*sPeopleIdentified
GiventhevariousmotifsofRevelation14,itiseasytobecomecaught
upindiscussionofdetailsofthepassageandtofailtogivedueweighttothe
chiefconcern.InlightoftheoverallvisionofRevelation1214,itseems
clearthatthemainsignificanceofRevelation14isitsdelineationofthe
people of God: those loyal to Him despite the deception and opposition
associatedwiththeendtimecrisis.
Thisisthepointoftheirenic,beautifulopeningscene(14:15);itisalso
thepointofthefinalsceneofthevisionthatbeginsat11:19,asthosewho
haveovercomethebeastanditsimagestandontheseaofglass(Rev
15:24).
Intheprevioussectionwenotedcharacteristicsofthe144,000.Going
beyondthesepoints,inlightofthetotaldescriptionofRevelation14,we
mayidentifytenmarksofthepeopleofGod:
1.They havetheeverlasting gospel.OnlyinRevelation14:6isthe
gospel termed "eternal." The messageof the first angel is everlasting, in
contrasttotheteachingsofBabylonandtheconceptsassociatedwiththe
beastanditsimage.
God'speopleofthelastdayshavegoodnewstogivetotheworld.Our36

TheSaints*EndTimeVictoryOvertheForcesoTBvil

messagecentersinthepersonandworkofJesusChrist,Hewhoisour
righteousness.
The Greek reads, "an eternal gospel.'* While there is only one true
gospel,onewayofsalvationundertheprovisionsoftheeverlastingcove
nant,thatgospelisshapedinitspresentationbycircumstancesandtimes.In
theendtimetheproclamationofthegoodnewsisgiveninthecontext
ofthearrivaloftheJudgmenthour.
2. They have a worldwide proclamation. Throughout the twentieth
centuryGodhasbeenperformingamodemmiracle:Heisgatheringtogether
asocietyfromthenations,afellowshipwithoutequalamongthevarious
denominationsandorganizationsoftheworld.TheSeventhdayAdventist
Churchissmall,butitisunique.AmongtheentitieslistedbytheUnited
Nations,wehaveworkinabout190countries,andforthemostpartthose
wherewehavenoworkdonotinvolvelargenumbersofpeople.
Thesenseofworldwidemissionandworldwidefellowshipispartofthe
geniusofAdventism.Itnevermustbelost.
3.TheycalluponpeopletoputGodfirstThechallengeofRevelation
14isthechallengeofthefirstcommandment:"Thoushalthavenoother
godsbeforeme"(Exod20:3).God'speoplehaveHisnamewrittenintheir
foreheadsandtheirmessagetoearth'slastgenerationbegins,"PearGod."
Thus,theissuewithwhichthehistoryofPlanetEarthclosesistheissuewith
whichthegreatcontroversybegan:WillthecreatedbeingletGodbeGod?
Outofthefinalraceofhumanbeingsonearthwillbethosewhoseloyaltyto
Godisunquestioning,whoputHimaboveeveryhumansystemandevery
humaninducement.
4.TheyworshipGodastheCreator.Revelationaffirmsthatthetrue
GodisworshipedastheCreator.Thisisathemeofthefirstpraisechorusof
thebook(Rev4:11)anditappearsfromtimetotime.InRevelation1314,
whereGodandHisworshipareopposedbycounterfeitsystems,thetrue
GodisknownbyHiscreatorship.Whenmenandwomenaredestroyingthe
earthHemade, His truepeoplearemindfuloftheCreationandcallthe
worldtoacknowledgeHimasitsauthor.
5.Theyannounce thetime ofGod'sjudgment. Thisisthetimefor
whichGod'speoplehavelongedandprayed,towhichthebookofRevela
tionhasbeenmoving(see,forexample,Rev6:10).BeforeGod'sactsof
judgment in the past, as at the Flood, the plagues upon Egypt, and the
destructionofJerusalem,Hesentmessagesofwarning.Nordoestheperiod
ofthefinal judgment at thecloseofhumanhistorypass bywithoutHis
providingwatchmenforthetimes.
37

TtiieSalnfeBnaTTmeVictoryOverfheTorcesoT^vS
Thethemeofjudgmentisoutofstepwiththethinkingofmodempeople,butit
isthoroughlybiblical.Adventistsmustconstantlyinformandremindtheworldthat
"thehourofGod'sjudgmenthascome."EvennowweareinthetimeofGod'sfinal
workjustbeforetheSecondComingthatwillringdownthecurtainonPlanetEarth.
Fortheunbeliever, thewordofGod'sjudgmentisathingofterror; butforthe
believer,theknowledgethatweareinthetimeofthejudgmentsignalshopeandthe
prospectofoureverlastinghome.Revelation14:6,7isgoodnewstousitshows
Godactingasmoralarbiteroftheuniverse.
6. They call for separation from all false systems of worship. God is a
"jealous"God,thatis,HesharesHisworshipwithnoother.OnlyHeisentitledto
worship.Oursisapluralisticsociety,andthereligionsofmankindproliferate.Butif
Godisone,ifChrististheonlynamegivenonearthwherebywemustbesaved,if
Hiscrossstandsuniqueasthedividingpointofhumanhistory,thepeopleofGod
mustnotshrinkfromthescandalofparticularity.Withloveandtolerancetowardall,
wenonethelessaffirmthesingularityofGod'ssystemofworship.Fromitsinception
Christianityhasbeenadividerofpeople.ItscalltoacknowledgeJesusasSaviour
andLordinevitablyimpliesseparationfromothersystems.
7.TheycallforloyaltytoGod.TheyappealtotheworldtoworshipGod,not
thebeastpower,andwarnagainstreceivingitsmark.Intheeventsthatcharacterize
thecloseofhumanhistory,God'speopleemergeasmenandwomenofcourageand
fortitude.TheyarealertandinformedbytheScriptures,soasnottobedeceivedby
themiraculousphenomenaassociatedwiththefalsesystemofworship;theyare
resoluteintheirconvictions,notswayedbypersuasionorcoercion;aboveallthey
areloyaltotheirGod,preparedtosufferloss,physicalhardshipandevendeathitself
tomaintaintheirrelationshipwithHim.
8.TheykeepthecommandmentsofGod.DevotiontoChristisshown,notso
muchbyprofessionandcriesof"Lord,Lord,"asbyactions.Inthefinalcrisis,the
fourthcommandmentassumesasignificantplace.Thecallofthefirstangeldraws
attentiontotheCreator.KeepingtheSabbathisevidenceofone'sacceptanceofthis
call.Fromacertainpointofviewonedaymayappeartobeasgoodasanotherasa
dayofworship;butwhenGodhasdesignatedtheperiodofholytime,obedience
mustbeexplicit.
9.TheykeepthefaithofJesus.Thisexpressiondoesnotmeanthatthepeople
of God have faith in Jesus (although they do), because the faith of Jesus is
somethingtheykeep."Thefaith"probablyreferstotheChristiantradition,thebody
ofteachingsthatcenterinJesus.Jude3may
38

TheSaints*EndTimeVictoryOvertheForcesofEvil
provideaparallel:"thefaithwhichwasonceforalldeliveredtothesaints."When
God'sloyalfollowerskeepthefaithofJesustheyremaintruetobasicChristianity
they"keepthefaith."TheNEB,inafreetranslation,hascapturedtheessentialidea:
"remainingloyaltoJesus."
10. They await patiently the return of their Lord. In Revelation 14:12,
"patience" (hupomone)isbettertranslatedas"endurance."Althoughthecomingof
Jesusseemstobedelayed,althoughdoubtsandfearsassail,Hispeopleneverlose
hope.Theyenduretotheend.TheyknowthatHewhopromisedisfaithfulandone
day He will return. Buffeted by false ideas, assaulted by religious confederacy,
threatenedbythecivilpowers,theykeeponwaitingwithsteadfastloyalty.

SignificanceforProclamation
EverySeventhdayAdventistshouldreadRevelation1214often.Heshould
readthepassageuntilheunderstandsitthoroughly,andreturntoitagainandagain
for orientation in the heritage of the pioneers. He must catch the force of the
distinctivedoctrines,thedistinctivewayoflife,andthedistinctiveworldviewand
senseofmissionthatthepassagesetsforth.
And having absorbed the passage, his proclamation should take on
characteristics and qualities that link up with the past. We do not suggest that
Adventiststodaycanrestcontentwithrepeatingthewordsofpastpreachers,for
proclamationmustalwayscomefreshanddirectedtotheneedsandsituationofthe
everchanging"now."NordowesuggestthatRevelation14shouldformthebasis
forevery,ormost,sermons,forthechapteritselfpresupposesthebodyofChristian
beliefs,somethingthatpreachersdarenottakeforgrantedintheiraudiences.
How,then,willRevelation1214besignificantforproclamationtoday?Apart
fromthe content ofthepassageitselfsomethingnottobeoverlookedwemust
catchthedynamicoftheproclamation,namely:
1.Inthenoteofcertaintythatcharacterizesthepassage.Certaintythatwelive
inthedaysjustpriortotheSecondComing.CertaintythatGodiscallingouta
peopleloyaltoHimfromeverynationandtribe.Certaintythattrueworshipisnot
tobecompromised.Certaintythat theTenCommandments,andtheSabbathin
particular,showourloyaltytoGod.
2.Inthenoteofauthoritythatmarksthepassage*Threeangelmessengersfly
inmidheaven,andtheygiveGod'sinvitationandwarningtomenandwomen.Now,
religiousauthorityitselfisatrickymatter;inthenameofGodvariousmisdeeds
havebeen,andare,committed.Various
39

'TheSaints'EndlimeVictoryOvertheForcesofEvil

peopleclaimtobeGod'smouthpieceortohavebeeninstructedbyadivine
voicetoconveymessagesortodoevilorcrazythings.Yet,ifwearetotake
seriouslytheBibleandRevelationinparticular,wecannotavoidthematter
ofauthority.
TheAdventistpreacher,standinginthepulpit,isfulfillingtheprediction
of Revelation 14. Itis astaggering claim. That claim canlead topride,
presumption,highhandedness,andlovelessness.Weneedaspecialmeasure
ofhumilityandgracetolivewithit.Butlivewithitwemust.Ourpreaching
cannotbeofsmooththings.Itmustcomewiththeconvictionandwinsome
appealoftheangelmessengersofRevelation14.
3.Inthetimelinessofthemessage.Thepassagespeaksdirectlytoour
day,alertingustothesignificanceofourtimesinGod'seternalplan.Itcalls
ustowakeup,toopenoureyes,andtoseeourselvesinlightofeternity,to
bereadytomeetourreturningLord.
4.InthesolemnwarninginwhichthemessagesofRevelation14are
couched.MostChristiansbypassthebookofRevelation.Sometheologians
have used derogatory language to describe it, suggesting that in some
aspects its influence is "evil." Doubtless chapters 1214, among other
portionsofthebook,containideasthatwouldsoundstrangefrommany
modempulpits.Thesechapters,whichcenterinloyaltytotheLamband
adorationofHim,alsosetforthinterribletermstheterriblewrathofthe
Lamb.Thethreeangelsareurgentintheirsummons,fortimeisshortand
thefateofthebeastworshipersistoohorribletocontemplate.
Adventistpreachersmustnotfailtogivethewarningmessage.Weare
watchmen on the walls of Zion and we dare not be delinquent in our
responsibilities.Thereisaheaventowinandahelltoshun,andtheend
timesetsforththeoptionswithdramaticclarity.
Letusbecareful,however,tosoundthenoteofwarninginthecontext
ofthe"everlastinggospel."Jesus,theManofmatchlesscharms,istobethe
centerofeverysermon.HeistheLamb,andHiscrossmusteverbeuplifted
beforethepeople.Nosermon,nomatterwhattheaudienceortheoccasion,
shouldfailtopointthewaytohopeandhealinginHim.Togivewarning
withoutdirectingtoChristismerelytoshout,"Thehouseisonfire!"to
peopletrappedinaburningbuilding.
Certainty,authority,warningthesecharacteristicswilllinkourproc
lamationwiththatofthepioneers.Likethem,wemustbegroundedinthe
Scriptures,dailynurturedbythelivingWord.ThatWordwillenableusto
preachwithpowersothatthethreeangelswillspeakinmightyvoicestothe
wholeworld.
40

ChapterHTheMarkof
theBeast
C.MervynMaxwell
EditorialSynopsis.Althoughmanycommentatorsofthepasthavelinkedthe
"mark of the beast" with the church of Rome, Seventhday Adventists have
advancedastepfurtherandhaveidentifieditwiththecoercive,endtimeenforce
ment of SundayobservanceinoppositiontotheseventhdaySabbathoftheTen
Commandments.SundayobservanceisaninstitutionthattheRomancommunion
has fostered throughout its long career as a prime evidence of its authority in
spiritualmattersintheChristianchurch.
TheAdventistpositionisbasedsquarelyontheidentificationoftheseabeast
whose"mark"istobeenforced.Theseabeast(Rev13:110),thelittlehornwith
theeyesandmouthofamanthatemergesfromtheheadofDaniel'sfourthbeast
(Dan7:8,25),andthe"manofsin"or"lawlessness"inPaul'sprophecy(2Thess2:1
8)havebeenidentifiedbyChristiansfromtheearliesttimesasthesamepower:
the"antichrist." PreReformationwritersregarded theantichristasasingleindi
vidual(aconceptthathasbecomepopularagaintodayamongmanyconservative
Christians).ButtheProtestantReformationbroughttheinsightthatthesepassages
portraynotanindividual,butanecclesiastical system, longpresentinthechurch,
namely,thepapacy.
SeventhdayAdventistsaccepttheProtestantanalysisofthesepassagesascor
rect,andholdthattobetruetotheScriptures,wemustfindthe"mark"inassocia
tionwiththepapacy.Twolinesofprophecyconvergeonthispoint:(1)Daniel's
prophecythatthelittlehornwould"thinktochangethetimesandthelaw"(Dan
7:25),aforecastthatcouldhavereferenceonlytoGod'slawoftheTenCommand
ments; and (2) the prophecy of Revelation that characterizes God's people as
keepersofHiscommandments (Rev12:17;14:12)whowillfacetheendtimeen
forcementofthemarkunderpenaltyofboycottanddeath.
HistoryisrepletewithevidencethattheRomancommunionexertingwide
influenceintheWestveryearlyadoptedandcoerdvelyenforcedSundaysacred
nessinoppositiontotheSabbath.Thepropheticassessmentiscorrect:Thepapacy
hassoughttochangetheTenCommandments,particularlyatthepointofthefourth
precept.God'ssealtoHislawand,thereby,asignofHisauthorityasCreator.
41

TfieWarkoFtheBeast
The predicted final conflict in this world over the law of Godcentering on the
enforcingofSundayobservancecontrarytotheseventhdaySabbathcommandismorethan
acontentionoverdays.Itwillinvolvethespiritualconditionofallclasses.Thisisindicated
bytheaffirmationsbyGodthatgenuineobservanceofHisSabbathisasignofthebeliever's
receptionandsubmissiontoHissanctifyinggrace(Exod31:13;Ezek20:12).Thosewhoare
loyalordisloyaltoGodinthefinalcrisisandwhoreceiveeitherGod'ssealorthebeast's
markwilltherebydisplaythekindofcharacterstheyhavedevelopedintheirprobationary
time.

ChapterOutline
I.TheMark
II.RomanCatholicismandtheUnitedStatesIII.
SomeQuestionsAnswered

TheMark
SectionOutline
I.Introduction
II.PrinciplesofInterpretationTheMark
inVisionIVTheMarkOutside
VisionIV

III.
IV.

V.IdentifyingtheBeast
VI.Summary

Introduction
SeventhdayAdventistsrightlyviewthemarkofthebeastasoneofthe
mostimportanttopicsinthebookofRevelation.God'sownwarningabout
itis themost fearful in Scripture. It forms the core of the thirdangel's
messageofRevelation14:912
42

TheMark
Andanotherangel,athird,followedthem,sayingwithaloudvoice,"If
any one worships the beast and its image, and receives a mark on his
foreheadoronhishand,healsoshalldrinkthewineofGod'swrath,poured
unmixedintothecupofhisanger,andheshallbetormentedwithfireand
sulphurinthepresenceoftheholyangelsandinthepresenceoftheLamb.
Andthesmokeoftheirtormentgoesupforeverandever;andtheyhaveno
rest,dayornight,theseworshipersofthebeastanditsimage,andwhoever
receivesthemarkofitsname."Hereisacallfortheenduranceofthesaints,
thosewhokeepthecommandmentsofGodandthefaithofJesus.
WhenSeventhdayAdventiststhinkaboutthemarkofthebeast,theythinkof
"Sundayobservance."It'sanidentificationthatgoesbacktothepioneerofSabbath
observanceinAdventisthistory,JosephBates.Inthesecondeditionofhisfirst
bookontheSabbathBatesasked,
IsitnotclearthatthefirstdayoftheweekfortheSabbathorholydayis
amarkofthebeast.ItsurelywillbeadmittedthattheDevilwasandisthe
fatherofallthewickeddeedsofImperialandpapalRome.Itisclearthen
from this history that Sunday, or first day, is his Sabbath throughout
Christendom.

By1855J.N.Andrewshadmaturedtheconceptofreceivingthemark
ofthebeasttoincludeknowledgeableobservanceofSundayasatraditional
CatholicholydayinoppositiontothetrueSabbath:
Wespeakofthosewhohavethelightoftruthandactcontrarytoit.
ThosewhohaveneveryetunderstoodthattheobservanceofSundayisa
traditionofthe[Catholic]fatherswhichmakesvoidthefourthcommand
ment,arenotreferredto.ItisthebringingofthisSabbathoftheapostasyto
thetestthatwillconstituteitthemarkofthatpowerthatshouldthinkto
changetimesandlaws.
EllenG.White'scommentsinthe1888and1911editionsofTheGreat
Controversyhavebecomeclassic:3
1JosephBates,TheSeventhDaySabbathaPerpetualSiyi,2ded.(NewBedford,MA,1847),59.Cf.
JamesWhite,ThePresentTruth,No.9,April1850,67:"Itis...theobservanceofthefirstdayof
theweekasaholydayofrestinsteadoftheSabbath."
2J.N.Andrews,"TheThreeMessagesofRevelationXIV,612,"ReviewandHerald,April3,1855,
203.
3(MountainView,CA,1888and1911cds.),605.Cf.EllenG.White,TheSpiritofProphecy4
(Washington,DC,1969,facsimilereproductionof1884edition):423,similarbutstatesthemat
termorebriefly.

43

TheMarkoftheBeast
NotoneismadetosufferthewrathofGoduntilthetruthhasbeenbrought
home to his mind and conscience, and has been rejected.... The decree
[demandingSundayobservanceinplaceofSabbathobservance]isnottobe
urgeduponthepeopleblindly.Everyoneistohavesufficientlighttomake
hisdecisionintelligently.
TheSabbathwillbethegreattestofloyalty,foritisthepointoftruth
especiallycontroverted.Whenthefinaltestshallbebroughttobearupon
men,thenthelineofdistinctionwillbedrawnbetweenthosewhoserveGod
andthosewhoserveHimnot....Whileoneclass,byacceptingthesignof
submission to earthly powers, receive the mark of the beast, the other,
choosingthetokenofallegiancetodivineauthority,receivethesealofGod.
Reflection today on all that the term has come to mean to Seventhday
Adventistssuggestsanenricheddefinitionsuchasthis:
ThemarkofthebeastIswillful,knowledgeable,endtimeapproval
ofcoerciveSundayobservanceinoppositiontoclearlightontheSabbath
questionandin harmonywithclassicRomanCatholicism.Assuch*the
markofthebeastisevidenceofpersonalcharactermaturedinopposition
toGod.

To this definition we must addtheobservation that the mark of the


beast,whenitisreceivedinfulfillmentofprophecy,willbeaworldwide
phenomenon.AccordingtoRevelation13,thelambhomedearthbeastwill
cause
all, both small and great, both rich and poor, both free and slave, to be
markedontherighthandortheforehead,sothat noone canbuyorsell
unlesshehasthemark,thatis,thenameofthebeastorthenumberofits
name.

ThreeMajorViews
Werecognize,ofcourse,thatmanydefinitionsofthemarkofthebeast
havebeenofferedbypersonswhoarenotSeventhdayAdventists.Preterist
scholars,forexample,wholocatethefulfillmentofallprophecyinthepast,
saythat the markof thebeast was somethinginflictedon Christians by
Nero.NotthatpreteristshaveeverprovedthatNerodidapplyamarkto
Christians;theyarejustcertainthatNerowasthebeast.
Dispensationalistsontheotherhandhavesaidthatthemarkofthebeast
isthenumber666,tobebrandedonpeopleintheendtimebytherulerofa
revivedRomanEmpire.
ThesedifferentdefinitionsAdventist,preterist,anddispensation
44

TheMark
alistcannotallberight.Butitisstrikingthatallofthemseethemarkashaving
somethingtodowithRome:thepreterists,withanancientRomanemperor;the
dispensationalistsandotherfuturists,withafutureRomanruler;andtheSeventh
dayAdventistsandotherbistoricists,withtheRomanCatholicChurch.

OurPurpose
ItisthepurposeofthischaptertoreexaminethebasisfortheSeventh
day Adventist interpretation given above. It will analyze (exegete) the
principal Bible passages involved, trace the fulfillment of prophecy, and
applywhatislearnedtothemissionoftheSeventhdayAdventistmove
mentandtotheChristian'sprivatelife.

PrinciplesofInterpretation
Itis wise,whenundertakingseriousBiblestudy,toreviewtheprinciplesof
interpretation(hermeneutics)underwhichoneintendstooperate. Here areeight
hermeneuticalprinciplesthatseemespeciallyappropriatetothispresentstudy.
Principle1
InasmuchasallScriptureisgivenbyinspirationofGod(2Tim3:16),and
inasmuchastheGodoftruthspokethroughallHisdifferentwriters(Heb1:1;1Pet
1:11,etc.),theBibleisaninspiredunitandonepartofitcanbeusedlegitimatelyto
helpexplainanotherpartofit.

Principle2
ThethemesofRevelationarecloselylinkedtothethemesofDanieland
alsotothethemesofMatthew2425and2Thessalonians2. 4 Because the
themesofthesefourportionsoftheBiblearecloselylinked,theyarehelpful
ininterpretingRevelation,andviceversa.
Principle3
ThemajorpropheciesofRevelation,likethoseofDaniel,Matthew24
25,and2Thessalonians2,havemuchincommon:(a)theystretchfromthe
prophet'sdaytotheSecondComingasjustnoted;(b)theydealmainly
4InDaniel,theprophetfourtimesoutlineshistoiyfromhisowndaytotheendtime.InMatt2425
ChristpredictedthefuturefromthefallofJerusalemtotheSecondComing.In2Thess2Paul
tracedprophecyfromhisowndaytotheSecondComing.

45

TheMarkoftheBeast
butnotexclusively5withtheharshsideofpoliticalandreligiopoliticalentities;(c)
they warn of major apostasy and persecution; and (d) they promise a Christ
centeredoutcomewithrewardsfortherighteousanddestructionforthewicked.
Thoughtheseprophecieshavemuchincommon,theyarenotidentical.Each
prophecymakesitsowncontributiontoourinformation.Andthoughingeneral
theyprogressfromtheprophetsdaytotheendoftime,theydonotnecessarilydoso
insimplesequentialnarrativeform.Revelation1214inparticularpresentsabraid
ratherthanastrandofhistory,repeatedlyanticipatinginformationthatiselaborated
laterandreviewingandaugmentinginformationgivenearlier.
Principle4
The historicist approach is the only justifiable key to interpreting the
prophecies involving many "days" and "weeks." Evidence that a day in such
propheciesrepresentsacalendaryearandthataweekrepresentssevencalendar
yearsisabundantinScriptureasdemonstratedinvolume1ofthiscurrentDaniel
andRevelationseries.
Principle5
When Daniel, Matthew 2425,2 Thessalonians 2, and Revelation deal
propheticallywithmajorreligiousandpoliticalentities,theydealselectivelywith
those entities that most directly affect God's worshipers, primarily Jews and
ChristiansandsecondarilyMuslims.JewsandChristianshavebeenthepeoplebest
acquaintedwithBibleprophecyandthushavebeenthebestabletobenefitfromit.
Muslims, besides worshiping the true God, esteem both Jesus and the Old
Testament,makingBibleprophecyvaluableforthemalso.
AsGod'sworshipershaveextendedtheirareasofhabitationfromtheMiddle
East to Europe, to the Americas, and to most portions of the globe, prophetic
foresighthaskeptpacewiththem.
InthefirstcenturyAD.,whenpropheticfulfillmentfocusedonevents
5Incontrastto Dan 7and8,whichportrayworldempiresasfierceanimals,Dan2presentshuman
governmentatitsbest: Theimage isof "exceeding brightness." In Revelation, thebeasts, false
prophet, scarletclothed woman, and many other symbols portray the dark side of human ex
perience,butin chaps.2and3Jesusofferscomplimentstomostofthesevenchurches.Evento
Thyatira,themosthostileofthechurchesandtheonemanyhistoricistcommentatorsidentifywith
medievalRomanChristianity,JesussaysinRev2:19,"Iknowyourworks,yourloveandfaithand
serviceandpatientendurance,andthatyourlatterworksexceedthefirst."Nonetheless,Danieland
RevelationdealmainlywithIhcharsheraspectsofearthlyrealities.

46

TheMark
and personsintheRomanEmpire,fourempireslayshouldertoshoulderacross
Eurasia:theRoman,Parthian,Kushan,andHanEmpires; 6butofthesefourempires,
theRomancoveredtheterritorywheremostoftheJewsandChristianslivedatthe
time. Thus itwas that the Roman Empire occupied the major focus of Daniel's
propheciesapplicabletothefirstcentury.Butwhen,inthemedievalcenturies,the
mostdynamicformofChristianitywastobefoundinwesternEurope,theemphasis
ofprophecyshiftedtowesternEurope,theareaofthe"tentribes."Withtheriseof
the earth beast, the proclamation of the three angels' messages, and the global
spreadofChristianity,thefocusofprophecyenlargedtoincludethewholeworld.

Principle6

Revelation, with its numerous "sevens," marvelous symbols, colorful


descriptions, repetitive phrases, and large and small mirrorlike arrangements
("chiasms"),isobviouslyamasterpiece.Insohighlywroughtaliteraryworkas
Revelation, appropriate attention should always be paid to the implications of
literarystructure.Ourstudyofthemarkofthebeast will beespeciallyaidedby
lookingatsuchelementsofliterarystructureas"introductorysanctuaryscenes,"
"introductoryencapsulatingscenes,"and"parentheticalscenes."
Principle7
The writingsofEllenG.Whitehave provedagreat blessingtomillionsof
peopleofvariousfaiths.SeventhdayAdventistsoughtnottodeprivethemselvesof
something that others prizeespecially nowadays, as challenge after challenge
serves to make her inspiration the more apparent. Consequently, Ellen White's
interpretations of the Bible should be taken seriously if she has written on the
subjectunderstudy.

Principle8
God isnorespecterofpersons(Acts10:34),andprophecyisofnoprivate
interpretation(2Pet1:20).Thus,itfollowsthatpropheticinterpretationsofferedby
Biblestudentsinthepastshouldnotbeoverlooked.Atthesametime,weremember
thathumanunderstandingoftruthisprogressiveandalsothatsomeaspectsof
Daniel'sprophecieswereclosedbyGoduntiltheendofthe1260days(Dan12;Rev
10).
6SeeWilliamH.McNcill,TheRiseoftheWfot(Chicago,1963),317;also,C.MervynMaxwell,God
Cares,2vols.(Boisc,Idaho,1981,1985),1:36.

47

TheMarkoftheBeast

TheMarkinVisionIV
TofindoutmostdirectlywhattheBiblesaysaboutthemarkofthebeast,we
beginwithanoutlineofRevelation'sVisionIV(the"greatcontroversy"division,
Rev 1214). The process demands some concentration but is rewarding and
indispensable.
Asobservedabove,Revelation1214doesnotpresentanuncomplicatedthread
ofhistorybutratherawovenbraid.AclearprogressionfromJohn'sdaytothe
Second Coming is readily discerned, but there is much "introduction" and
"encapsulation/*withconsiderablepassingagainoverthesamegroundtoprovide
additionalinformation.EveryoneknowsthatDaniel11,thefourthsweepofhistory
visioninthebookofDaniel,ismorecomplexthantheimagevisioninDaniel2.
Similarly,Revelation1214,thefourthsweepofhistorydivisioninthebookof
Revelation,isconsiderablymorecomplexthanthesevenchurchvision.

IntroductorySanctuaryScene(11:19)

The great controversy division of Revelation, nominally chapters 1214,


actuallybeginswiththefinalverseofchapter11.Thisverse(Rev11:19)provides
thedivision's"introductorysanctuaryscene."Thearkisseeninheaven'sMostHoly
Place."God'stempleinheavenwasopened,andthearkofhiscovenantwasseen
withinhistemple;andtherewereflashesoflightning,voices,pealsofthunder,an
earthquake,andheavyhail."
Each of the four visions in the first half of Revelation (chaps. 114) is
introducedbyasanctuarysceneinvolvingadifferentitemoffurnitureandfocused
oneachdivision'sprincipalmessage.Thesevenlettersdivisionisintroducedbya
lampstand scene,callingattentiontoChrist'spersonalinterestinHischurch.The
sevensealsvisionisintroducedwithascene
T

aroundGod'sholyplacethrone(thetableofshewbread,perhaps),revealing
God's power and Christ's redemptive grace and assuring us of heaven's
concernforsoulsunderpersecutionanddistress.Theseventrumpetseg
mentisintroducedbyasceneat thegoldenaltar,theplacewhereprayers
areheardfromGod'speopleandwherejudgmentsaredispatchedagainst
theirenemies.
Theintroductorysanctuaryscenethatbeginsthegreatcontroversy
7Inoneofherearliestvisions,EllenG.Whitesaw"athrone"onwhichboththeFatherandtheSon
wereseated andfromwhich they moved successively into the Most HolyPlace.SeeEllen G.
White,EarlyWitings(Washington,DC,1945),5456.ThisthroneoutsidetheMostHolyPlaceis
presumablylocatedintheholyplaceandispresumablytheonereferredtoinRev4and5.

48

TheMark

divisionrevealsthearkofthecovenantintheMostHolyPlace.Itthereby
spotlightsthelawofGodastheprincipalconcernofthegreatcontroversy
division,orVisionIV
The importance of this sanctuary scene for the interpretation of the
markofthebeastcannotbeoverestimated.
TheonlydivisioninthefirsthalfofRevelationwhichidentifiesGod's
saintsas commandmentkeepers isthegreatcontroversydivision.Itiden
tifiesthesaintsascommandmentkeeperstwice,in12:17and14:12.Inas
muchascommandmentkeepersaresharplydistinguishedfromthosewho
receive the mark of the beast, we perceive at once that commandment
breakersaretheoneswhowillreceivethemarkofthebeast.
Theintroductorysanctuarysceneisfollowedbynineadditionalscenes,
two ofthemappropriatelydescribedas"parentheticalscenes"andtwoas
"introductoryencapsulatingscenes."
Scene1(12:16):AnIntroductory,EncapsulatingScene
Thegreatreddragon,thewarinheaven,thepuremotherandherSeed,
andthewoman'sflightintothewildernessfor1260daysareallintroduced:
Andagreatportentappearedinheaven,awomanclothedwiththesun,...shewas
withchild....Andanotherportentappearedinheaven;
behold, a great red dragon.... His tail swept down a third of the stars of
heaven,andcastthemtotheearth.Andthedragonstoodbeforethewoman..
thathemightdevourherchild..butherchildwascaughtuptoGodandto
histhrone,andthewomanfledintothewilderness,whereshehasaplace
preparedbyGod,inwhichtobenourishedforonethousandtwohundredand
sixtydays.

Because the war in heaven, summarized here, is enlarged on in the


secondscene,andbecausethe1260days,summarizedhere,areenlargedon
in the third and fifth scenes, this scene may be called an "introductory
encapsulating"scene.LikeseveralotherscenesinRevelation,itresembles
oneofthoseChineseboxesthathasaseriesofotherboxesnestedinside.
Scene2(12:712)
The controversy between Christ and Satan, encapsulated in the first
scene,isdescribedmorefullyinthissecondone.Thedragon'sdefeatis
considerablyenlargedupon.
Nowwararoseinheaven,Michael andhisangelsfightingagainstthe
dragon;...Andthegreat dragon...wasthrowndowntotheearth,and his
angelswerethrowndownwithhim.AndIheardaloudvoiceinheaven,
49

TheMarkoftheBeast
saying,"...theaccuserofourbrethrenhasbeenthrowndown....Andtheyhave
conqueredhim...."

Scene3(12:1317)
The dragon persecutes the woman; but the earth, which later will
produceapersecutingbeastofitsown,onthisoccasionprotectsthewoman
foratime,times,andhalfatime(=1260days).
Thewomanwasgiventhetwowingsofthegreateaglethatshemightfly
from the serpent into the wilderness, to the place where she is to be
nourishedforatime,andtimes,andhalfatune.
Theserpentpouredwaterlikeariveroutofhismouthafterthewoman,
tosweepherawaywiththeHood.Buttheearthcametothehelpofthe
woman,andtheearthopeneditsmouthandswallowedtheriverwhichthe
dragonhadpouredfromhismouth.
Following the period of persecution, the dragon persecutes the woman's
remnant,whoaredescribedaskeepersofGod'scommandments.
Thenthedragonwasangrywiththewoman,andwentofftomakewar
ontherest[=remnant]ofheroffspring[=seed],onthosewho keepthe
commandmentsofGod andbeartestimonytoJesus[Greek: have/holdthe
testimonyof/fromJesus].

Scene4(13:14):Introductory,EncapsulatingScene

A leopardbodied beast rises out of the sea. This new beast combines the
characteristicsofthefourbeastsofDaniel7,whichalsoroseoutofthesea.The
dragonhelpstoestablishthisseabeastbygivingitthedragon'sownpower,seat,
andgreatauthority.
Isawabeastrisingoutofthesea,withtenhornsandsevenheads....
AndthebeastthatIsawwaslikealeopard,itsfeetwerelikeabear's,and
itsmouthwaslikealion'smouth.Andtoitthedragongavehispowerand
histhroneandgreatauthority.
Inspiteofthedragon'sextravagantsponsorship,theseabeasteventuallysuffers
anapparentlymortalwound:
Oneofits[theseabeast'sseven]headsseemedtohaveamortalwound.
Surprisingly,thebeastrecoversandbothitandthedragonareworshipedby
"thewholeearth,"which(inscene3)hadpreviouslyopposedthedragon:
50

TheMark

Itsmortalwoundwashealed,andthewholeearthfollowedthebeastwithwonder.

This"introductory"sceneis"encapsulating"inthatittellsaboutthe.
seeminglymortalwound,whichisdiscussedingreaterdetailinthefifth
scene,andittellsabouttheearth'sworshipofthebeast,whichisdiscussed
ingreaterdetailinthesixthscene.8
Scene5(13:510)
For42months(=1260days)theseabeastbehaveslikethelittlehornof
Daniel7:
Thebeastwasgivenamouthutteringhaughtyandblasphemouswords,
anditwasallowedtoexerciseauthorityforfortytwomonths;itopenedits
mouth to utter blasphemies against God, blaspheming his name and his
dwelling,thatis,thosewhodwellinheaven.Alsoitwasallowedtomakewar
onthesaintsandtoconquerthem.

Afteritsperiodofsuccess,however,thebeastiscapturedandseriously
wounded:
Ifanyoneistobetakencaptive,tocaptivityhegoes;ifanyoneslayswiththe
sword,withtheswordmusthebeslain.
That the sea beast was to blaspheme God's dwelling recalls at once the
introductory sanctuary scene, in which John's attention was called to the ark of
God'scovenantintheMostHolyPlaceoftheheavenlysanctuary.Hereisanother
indicationthatthecentralsinoftheseabeastisdesecrationofoneormoreofGod's
commandments.

Scene6(13:1118)
Theearth,whichhadprotectedthewomanduringthe1260days,now
producesanotherbeast,onewithlamblikehorns.
Isawanotherbeastwhichroseoutoftheearth;ithadtwohornslikealamb....

Thisearthbeasthasonlytwohorns,nottenlikethedragonandthesea
beast.Itapparentlyhasbutonehead(nootherismentioned),not
8ForadiscussionoftheliteraryarrangementofRev13;l10,secWi!!iamH.Shea,"TimePropheciesof
Daniel 12andRevelation1213,"in SymposiumonRevelation, Book1, DARCOM scries,ed.
FrankB.Holbrook(SilverSpring,MD:BiblicalResearchInstitute,1992),35160.

51

TheMarkoftheBeast
sevenlikethedragonandtheseabeast.Andunlikethedragon,whichhasseven
crowns(12:3),andtheseabeast,whichhasten(13:1),thelambhomedearthbeast
has no crowns at all. Quite evidently, it represents a political entity unique in
prophetichistory,unlikeanythathavecomebeforeit.
Belyingitsmildappearance,however,thisnewbeastturnsouttopracticethe
sameoldbehaviorasthedragonandtheseabeast.Forwhenitspeaks,itspeaksjust
likethe(haughtyandblasphemous)dragon,andaftertheseabeastishealed,the
earthbeastsetsupanimageoftheseabeastanddemandsthatpeopleworshipit.
...anditspokelikeadragon.Itexercisesalltheauthorityofthefirstbeast...
andmakestheearthanditsinhabitantsworshipthefirstbeast,whosemortal
woundwashealed....biddingthemmakeanimageforthebeastwhichwas
woundedbytheswordandyetlived....Alsoitcausesall...tobemarkedon
therighthandortheforehead,sothatnoonecanbuyorsellunlesshehas
themark,thatis,thenameofthebeastorthenumberofitsname.
ThisisthefirstmentionintheBibleofthemarkofthebeast.Wenowcometotwo
"parentheticalscenes."Parentheticalscenesareascharacteristicoftheliterarystyle
ofRevelationasareintroductorysanctuaryscenesandintroductoryencapsulating
scenes.
Scene7(14:15):ParenthesisA
Inaleapbeyondhistory,the144,00ftwithGod'snameontheirforeheads
arerevealedsafewiththeLambontheseaofglassfollowingtheSecondComing:
ThenIlooked,andlo,onMountZionstoodtheLamb,andwithhima
hundredandfortyfourthousandwhohadhis name andhisFather's name
writtenontheirforeheads...andtheysinganewsongbeforethethrone.
These144,000happysingersareidenticaltothe144,000servantsofGodwho
receiveGod's"seal"intheirforeheadsinRevelation7:13."Intheirmouthnolie
wasfound,fortheyarespotless"(14:5).ThusRevelationprovidesuswithtwoend
timegroups:thosewhobearthenameorsealofGodandthosewhoreceivethe
nameormarkofthebeast.

52

TheMark
Scene8(14:612):ParenthesisB
Threeangelspublishtheeverlastinggospelandcalleveryonetoworshipthe
Creator.TheyproclaimthearrivalofthejudgmenthourandthefallofBabylon:
ThenIsawanotherangel[thefirstofanewgroupofthree]flyingin
midheaven, with an eternal gospel... and he said with a bud voice,"...
worship him who made heaven and earth, the sea and the fountains of
water."
Anotherangel,asecond,followed,saying"Fallen,fallenisBabylonthe
great,..."
The third of these angels hales the patient endurance of Christ's faithful
commandmentkeepersandwarnsaboutthedirepunishmentawaitingthosewho
worshipthebeastandreceiveitsmark:
Andanotherangel,athird,followedthem,sayingwithaloudvoice,"Ifany
oneworshipsthebeastanditsimage,andreceivesamarkonhisforeheador
onhishand,healsoshalldrinkthewineofGod*swrath,pouredunmixed
intothecupofhisanger,andheshallbetormentedwithfireandsulphurin
thepresenceoftheholyangelsandinthepresenceoftheLamb.Andthe
smokeoftheirtormentgoesupforeverandever;andtheyhavenorest,day
ornight,theseworshipersofthebeastanditsimage,andwhoeverreceives
themarkofitsname."Hereisacallfortheenduranceofthesaints,thosewho
keepthecommandmentsofGodandthefaithofJesus.

Scene9(14:1220)
TheSonofmanappearsattheSecondComingtoreapearth'sharvest.
ThenIlooked,andlo,awhitecloud,andseatedonthecloudonelikea
sonofman,withagoldencrownonhishead,andasharpsickleinhishand.

Thegrain(therighteous)arefoundtobefullyripe,andthegrapes(the
wicked)arealsofoundtoberipe.Botharereaped:
Andanotherangelcameoutofthetemple,callingwithaloudvoiceto
himwhosatuponthecloud,"Putinyoursickle,andreap,for...theharvest
oftheearthisfullyripe."So...theearthwasreaped.
Andanotherangelcameoutofthetempleinheaven,andhetoohada
sharpsickle.Thenanotherangelcameoutfromthealtar,...andhecalled
withaloudvoicetohimwhohadthesharpsickle,'Tutinyoursickle,
53

TheMarkoftheBeast
andgathertheclustersofthevineoftheearth,foritsgrapesareripe."Sotheangel
swunghissickleontheearthandgatheredthevintageoftheearth.

TheEmphasisonWorship
Wehavecometotheendoftheoutline,butlookingbackatRevelation
1214werealizethatthekeyverb"worship"occursnofewerthaneight
times,afeaturethatdeservescomment.
12. "Men worshiped the dragon,... and they worshiped the beast"
(13:4).
3."Allwhodwellontheearthwillworshipit[theseabeast],everyone
whosenamehasnotbeenwritten...inthebookoflifeoftheLambthatwas
slain"(13:8).
4."It[theearthbeast]...makestheearthanditsinhabitantsworshipthe
firstbeast,whosemortalwoundwashealed"(13:12).
5."It[theearthbeast]deceivesthosewhodwellonearth,biddingthem
makeanimageforthebeastwhichwaswoundedbytheswordandyet
lived;anditwasallowedtogivebreathtotheimageofthebeastsothatthe
imageofthebeastshouldevenspeak,andtocausethosewhowouldnot
worshiptheimageofthebeasttobeslain"(13:1415).
6.Thefirstofthreeendtimeangelscallsoneveryoneto"worshiphim
whomadeheavenandearth,theseaandthefountainsofwaters"(14:7).
78[Thirdangel],"Ifanyoneworshipsthebeastanditsimage,andre
ceivesamarkonhisforeheadoronhishand,healsoshalldrinkthewineof
God'swrath....andtheyhavenorest,dayornight,theseworshipersofthe
beastanditsimage,andwhoeverreceivesthemarkofitsname"(14:911).
Theseeightpassagesshowthatthecoreoftheendtimeissuewhich
involvesthemarkofthebeastisthequestionofworship.Whilethe"first
angel"callstheattentionofeveryoneonearthtothebeautiesofthegospel,
therealityofthejudgment,andthetruththatGodisinfacttheCreatorof
heavenandearth,aninfernal"trinity"ofdragon,seabeast,andearthbeast
isbusydeceivinghumanitywiththedebasingfalsehoodthatithaspowerto
createsomethinginitsownimageandbreatheintoitthebreathoflife,even
asGodinGenesisformedmaninHisownimageandbreathedlifeintohim.
Theinfernaltrinitydoesformanimageandbreathelifeintoit,butonlyas
"it is allowed" to do so (13:15), and the result is an entity rebellious,
vicious,anddeadly.9
9GodCares2:415.
54

TheMark

Summary
From thisscenebyscenesurveyofVisionIV(Rev1214)wehave
cometolearnagreatdealaboutthemarkofthebeast.
Anendtimephenomenon.Asforthetimewhenthemarkofthebeastis
tobeimposedonpeople,wehaveobservedthatitwillbeimposedafterthe
dragonhasfoughthiswarinheavenandbeencastout(scene2),afterthe
dragonhasattackedthewoman'sbaby(scene1),afterthedragonhasgiven
itspower,seat,andauthoritytothebeast(scene4),afterthe1260yearsof
persecution(scenes1,3,5),aftertheinflictionofthemortalwound(scenes
4,5),afterthemortalwoundishealed(scenes4,6),andaftertheimageof
thehealedbeasthasbeensetup(scene6);anditwillbeexperiencedator
after the time when the three angels announce the arrival of the final
judgmentanddelivertheirstartlingwarningaboutthemark(scene8),and
justbeforethecomingoftheSonofmanforthefinalharvest(scene9).We
concludethatthemarkofthebeastisanendtime
phenomenon.
Itsbasic nature.Asforthe nature ofthemarkofthebeast,wehave
observedthatitisassociatedwiththewrongfulworshipofthebeast,asalso
withthewrongful worshipof thedragonandof the image of the beast
(scenes5,6),incontrasttothetrueworshipoftheCreator(firstangel's
message,scene8).Wehavealsoseenthatthemarkofthebeasthastodo
withcommandmentbreaking.
We know that the mark of the beast has to do with commandment
breakingbecause(a)thesanctuaryscenewhichintroducesthegreatcon
troversydivisionfocusesonthecommandments("thearkofhistestament
was seen"), because (b) the beast attacks God's dwelling, the heavenly
sanctuarywherethe"arkof[His]covenant"canbeseen,andbecause(e)the
onlypeoplewho don't receivethemarkofthebeastaretwicedefined(in
12:17and14:12)ascommandment keepers. Fromtheseobservationswe
concludethatthemarkofthebeastisasignofrebellionagainstGodand
HissanctuaryandconstitutesdisobediencetoHislaw.
Further,astothenatureofthemarkofthebeast,wehaveobservedthat
itisidentifiedwiththe"name"ofthebeast(scene6andscene8,thethird
angel*smessage)incontrasttothe"name"oftheLamb,whichison the
foreheads of the 144,000 (scene 7). In the Bible, the word "name" is
commonlyassociatedwithcharacter.WhenGodproclaimedHis"name"in
Exodus34,HeproclaimedHischaracterascompassionateandkind.
Jacob'snamemeant"supplanter"or"cheat."Whenheovercamehis
55

TheMarkoftheBeast
namewaschangedtoIsrael,"aprinceofGod"(Gen25:26;32:28).Jesuscalled
Cephas"Peter,"becausehewaslikeastone(John1:42).Andsoon.Wereflecton
thecharacterofthebeastasportrayedinRevelation1214andnotethatthebeast
not only rebelled against God but also persecuted God's people. We conclude,
therefore,thatinasmuchasthemarkofthebeastisthesameasthenameofthe
beast(Rev13:17),peoplewhowillcarrythemarkofthebeastwillbepeoplewho,
like the beast, not only rebel against God and His dwelling but also share in
persecutingGod'struepeople.
ReflectionontheripeharvestsattheendofRevelation14directsustoview
thecharacters(names)ofthetwogroupsascompletelypolarizedandthoroughly
matured.Thegrapesareripe;thegrainisfullyripe.TheworshipersofGodhave
chosen by faith to accept Christ's sanctifying grace until they have become
graciouslyandinvinciblylikeJesus.Theworshipersofthebeasthaveadoptedthe
beast'sattributesuntiltheyhavebecomewillfullyandunchangeablylikethebeast.

TheMarkOutsideVisionIV
SofarwehaveconfinedourstudyofthemarkofthebeasttoRevelation1214,
becausethisiswherethebeastanditsmarkarespokenofprimarily.Butthemarkis
referredtoinfourotherplacesinRevelation.Besides,muchcanbelearnedabout
the mark by looking at God's "seal" in Revelation and His "signs" in the Old
Testament.
TheMarkinRevelation1520
Themarkofthebeastisreferredto,expresslyorbyclearinference,fourtimes
inRevelation1520:
Revelation15:2.Thepeople(the144,000)whowillstandontheseaofglass
oneday,singingthevictorioussongofMosesandtheLamb,willbethosewho
have"conqueredthebeastanditsimageandthenumberofitsname."Werecallthat
thenumberandnameofthebeastarethesameasitsmark:"sothatnoonecanbuy
orsellunlesshehasthe mark,thatis, the nameofthebeastorthe numberofus
name"(13:17).
So Revelation 15:2, when compared with scene 7 (14:15), confirms that
anyonewhoreceivesthemarkofthebeastwillbeexcludedfromthe144,000.
Revelation16:2.Thefirstofthesevenlastplaguescauses"foulandevilsores"
tobreakoutonthepeople"whoborethemarkofthebeastand
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TheMark
worshipeditsimage."Inasmuchasthesevenlastplaguesfallonpeoplewhoare
livingintheendtime,10hereisconfirmatoryevidencethatthemarkofthebeastis
an endtime phenomenon. Comparison with the third angeFs message is also
helpful,forthatmessagesaysthatpeoplewhogetthemarkofthebeastwillsuffer
"God'swrath,pouredunmixed,"andRevelation15:1showsthatitisintheseven
plaguesthatthewrathofGodis pouredoutfullstrength.11 Themarkofthebeast
mustbeaveryevilthingtoarousesuchrighteousindignationonthepartofaloving
heavenly
Father.
Revelation19:20. Atthebeginningofthemillenniumthelambhornedearth
beast,herecalledthe"falseprophet" 12whodeceivedpeopleintoworshipingthesea
beastandreceivingitsmark,istobethrownwiththeseabeastintothelakeoffire.
Revelation20:4.Thepeoplewhositonthronesduringthethousandyearswill
bepeoplewhohavenotreceivedthemarkofthebeast.
Afterthispassage(20:4)thereisnofurtherreferencetothemarkofthebeast.
Thereisnoreferencetoitamongthepeopleresurrectedatthe
10Wewillnotherearguethedistinctionbetweenthetrumpetsandtheplagues.AslongagoasApril
17,1S55,onp.209oftheReviewandHeraldofthatdale,J.N.Andrewspointedoutthatthe
sevenlastplaguesareidenticalwiththewrathofGodwhichistofallundertheseventhtrumpet.
Andelevenyears earlier,inAWordtothe"LittleFlock"(1846)JamesWhiteshowed thatthe
plagueswereallfuture(incontrasttotheviewWilliamMillerhadheldthattheplaguesbeganin
theReformationandonlythelastoneortwowerestillfuture).InmorerecenttimesKennethA.
Strand, Interpreting the Book of Revelation, 2d. cd., rev. and enl. from The Open Gates of
Heaven, 1970,1972(Worthington. OH, 1976,1979)hasably demonstratedthat the trumpets
belonginthehistoricalhalfofRevelation(chaps.111),stretchingfromtheprophet'sdaytothe
SecondComing,whiletheplaguesbelongintheendtimehalfofthebook(chaps.1522).Ihave
shownthe same,building on Strand's arguments,in GodCares 2:5462,42125.Themark of
thebeastisanendtimephenomenon.Thefirstplague,whichfallsaftertheheavenlysanctuary
dosesattheveiyendoftheendtime,fallsonpeoplewhoatthatverytimebearthemarkofthe
beast.
11Revelation15:1,RSV,saysthatintheplaguesthewrathofGodis"ended,"butthischoiceofword
mustbeamistake,inasmuchasthedreadfulpunishmentatthecloseofthemillenniumisstilt
future.The keyunderlying Greekwordistranslatedin 2 Cor 12:9as "made perfect": "My
graceismadeperfectinweakness."God'sgracewasnot"ended"inPaul'sweakness!Itworked
full strengthto meetPaul'sneed.The idea inRev 15is thatinthe plagues God'swrath is
pouredoutfullstrength,withoutadditiveordilution.Whatispouredoutis100percentpure
perfectwrath.
12Thelambhomedearthbeastisspokenofasa"beast"onlywhenfirstseen(Rev13:11).Assuchit
roundsoutthethreeanimalsofRev1214as(1)thegreatreddragon,(2)theleopardbodied
seabeast,and(3)itself,thelambhomedearthbeast.Thereafter,theearthbeastisreferredtoas
"thefalseprophet."InRev16:13,frogsemergefromthemouthsof"thedragon...thebeast...
andthefalseprophet."InRev19:20,"thebeast"iscapturedandwithit"thefalseprophet"who
hadworkedsignstodeceivepeopleintoreceivingitsmark.InRev20:10,"thedevil"(whichin
12:9isidentifiedwiththedragon)isthrownintothelakeoffire,where"thebeast"and"thefalse
prophet"hadbeenthrownearlier.

57

TheMarkoftheBeast

closeofthethousandyears.Theseabeastwhosecharacter(orname)isthe
markofthebeast,andthefalseprophet(theearthbeast)thatcoercively
imposedthemarkofthebeast,arebothdestroyedatthebeginningofthe
millennium.Duringthemillenniumonlythedragonremainsoftheunholy
trio.Andattheendofthemillenniumthedragoniscalledbyhistruename,
simply"Satan."Strippedofhispretensionsandofthevariousbeastmasks
thathehasworn,hestandsnakedinhisrebelliousness,asdohismiserable
followers.Godspareusfromtheirfate.
MarksandSealsinBibleTimes
AfewwordsingeneralaboutmarksandsealsinBibletimesmayprove
helpful. The Roman government, in power in NT times, often branded
convicts.Attimesitalsobrandedmilitaryrecruits,usuallywithatattooed
abbreviation of the name of the reigning emperor. Owners sometimes
brandedpersistentrunawayslavesontheirforeheads,oftenwiththeletters
FUG{orjugUivusorfugitive.(Theideathatslaveswereroutinelyexecuted
inNTtimesisnotauthentic.)"Theslavewasmarkedontheforehead,"says
the Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, "and the soldier was
usuallymarkedonthehand"13"ontheforeheadoronthehand,*'asin
Revelation13:16,17.
Wereadthat"theSyriansconsecratedthemselvestothegodsHadad
andAtargatisbysignsbrandedonthewristorneck."Worshipersofother
godsweregivenmarksonotherpartsoftheirbodies.Theearlyhistorian
HerodotussaysthatarunawayslavewhogotthemarkofHerculesata
certaintempleinEgyptbecametheslaveofthegod,andevenhisformer
ownerwasforbiddentolayhandsonhim. 14Soamarkcouldbethesignofa
god'sservantandaguaranteeofthegod'sprotection.InthevisionofEzekiel
9:18everyoneinJerusalemwastodieduringNebuchadnezzar'sinvasion
exceptthesincereandearnestpeoplewhoreceivedGod'sprotectingmark
ontheirforeheads.God's"servants"whoreceiveHis"name"and"seal"on
theirforeheadsintheendtimeareprotectedfromthesevenlastplagues.
TheordinaryGreekwordforthebodymarkswe'vebeentalkingabout
was stigma. Otherwordsusedwere semeion (sign), sphragis, and charag
ma.IntheBibletextswherethetermsactuallyoccur,sphragisisusedfor
13Kittell'sTDNT7:659.ForseveralreferencestomarksonslavesseeThomasWicdcmann,Greek
andRomanSlavery(Baltimore,1981),esp.19394.
14Herodotus,ThePersianWars2:113;ModemLibraryedition,170.Cf.Kittell,TDNT7:660.

58

TheMark

the"seal"ofGodandcharagmaforthe"mark"ofthebeast,butresearch
showsthatforpracticalpurposesingeneralGreekusage,allthetermswere
moreorlessinterchangeable.15

TheSealofGod

Revelation speaks of two groups bearing two different insignia: the


144,000whocarrythesealofGod(whichisequivalenttoGod'sname)and
the peoplewhoreceivethemarkofthebeast(whichisequivalenttothe
beast'sname).Thepeoplewhoreceivethemarkofthebeastwillworship
the beastanditsimage.ThepeoplewhoreceivethesealofGodarethe
peoplewhowillrespondpositivelytothefirstangel'scalltoworshipGod
andwhoaredescribedinthethirdangel'smessageasthesaintswhokeep
God'scommandments.
Thus,the"saints"(14:12)ofthethirdmessagearethe"remnant"(12:17)
of the woman who keep the commandments of Godand who are
persecutedbytheangrydragon.Oneofthewaysthedragonpersecutesthese
commandmentkeepersisthroughtheeffortsofthelambhomedearthbeast,
whocommandseveryonetoworshipthebeastanditsimageorbedeniedthe
righttobuyandsell.
God'sTwoOldTestamentSigns
InOTtimesGodmarkedHispeoplewithtworeligioussigns:ritual
circumcisionandtheseventhdaySabbath.
Circumcision. Ritualcircumcision,originallygiventoAbrahamasa
signorsymbolofthecovenant,becameintime,regrettably,littlemorethan
anethnicdistinction.AccordingtoPaulitceasedtohavesavingsignificance
whentheJewishpeopleasanethnicgroupceasedtobeuniquelyGod's
chosenpeople(Gal5:16;6:1516).
Sabbath.Theothersign,theseventhdaySabbath,wasbestowedonthe
entire human race at Creation. "The Sabbath was made for man"for
mankind(Mark2:27).Thus,itwasofferedtotheJewishpeoplewhentheir
raceappearedonthescene.GodsaidtotheIsraelitesatMountSinai,"You
shallkeepmysabbaths,forthisisthesignbetweenmeandyouthroughout
yourgenerations,thatyoumayknowthat/, theLord,sanctifyyou....Itis
SisignforeverbetweenmeandthepeopleofIsraelthatinsixdaystheLord
made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested, and was
refreshed"(Exod31:1217).
15SecKittell,TDNT7:658.

59

TheMarkoftheBeast

TheSabbathisasignshowingthatGodmadeusandthatHesanctifies
orremakesus.
The setting for God's statement at Sinai was impressive. There were
"thundersandlightnings,andathickclouduponthemountain,andavery
loudtrumpetblast....andthewholemountainquakedgreatly"(Exod19:16
18).Whenthetabernacle,theearthlymodeloftheheavenlysanctuary(and
theprecursorofSolomon'stemple),wascompleted,GodhadMosesplacea
copy of the TenCommandments, carvedinstone, inside the "arkof the
covenant"(or"arkofthetestament'*)inthetabernacle'sinnermostroom,the
MostHolyPlace.16
Inthesanctuaryscenewhichintroduces VisionIV (11:1914:20) the
heavenlytempleopenedsoJohntheRevelatorcouldseedeepinside.He
seesheaven's"arkofhiscovenant."Ashelooked,therewere"flashesof
lightning,loudnoises,pealsofthunder,anearthquake,andheavyhail."
EvidentlyGodwastakingJohnbacktoMountSinai!Godiscallingus
too back to Mount Sinai, back to the sanctuary, back to Jesus our High
Priest,totheTenCommandments,andtheSabbath.
NowwhataboutthesealofGod?Inancienttimespeoplesignedtheir
documentsinthesamewaytheysealedthem.Theystampedthemwitha
signetringorseal.So"tosign"and"toseal"werethesamething.God's
"sign"intheforeheadsofthe144,000isthesameasHis"seal"andthesame
asHis"name."
AbrahamLincoln,President,theUnitedStates.
JohnSmith,Manager,FirstFederalBank.
GodsignedHisnamethiswayontheSabbathcommandment:"Lord
God,Creator,HeavenandEarth."
"Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.... the seventh day is a
sabbathtothe LordyowGod....forinsixdaysthe Lordmadeheavenand
earth,thesea,andallthatisinthem,andrestedtheseventhday;therefore
theLordblessedthesabbathdayandhallowedit"(Exod20:811).
The"seal"ofGodinRevelationisthesameasGod's"sign"intheOT;
itistheSabbathappropriatelyobservedasawitnesstoGod'screatorshipand
asanevidenceofHisrecreatorship,Hisroleassanctifier.
Sowhatisthemarkofthebeast?LongbeforetherewasaSeventhday
Adventist,SirIsaacNewtonobservedthatthemarkofthebeastandtheseal
ofGodareopposites.17 Hemaynothavebeenthefirsttodoso,foritis
plain,
16SeeExod32:15,16;25:16,21;Num10:33.
17SeeSeventhdayAdventistsAnswerQuestionsonDoctrine(Washington,DC,1957),180.

60

TheMark
aswehaveseenabove,thatthe144,000whoreceivethesealofGodarewholly
distinctintheendtimefromthepeoplewhoreceivethemarkofthebeast
We havenoticedthatthosewhoreceivethesealworshipGodandkeep His
commandments; whereas those who get the mark of the beast disobey God's
commandmentsandworshipthebeastanditsimage.WorshipofGodandobedience
toGod'scommandmentsareprominentfeaturesof our studyofthemarkofthe
beast.
Aswehavejustobserved,theBiblecallsforaweeklydayofworship;
theseventhdaySabbathofthefourthcommandment,appointedinhonorofthe
Creatorofheavenandearth.InRevelation14,theangelwhocallspeopletoworship
GodidentifiesHimastheCreatorofheavenandearth,virtuallyquotingfromthe
fourth commandment. Then another angel identifies the people who respond
positivelytothisappealassaintswhokeepthecommandmentsofGodandsaysthat
thosewhorespondnegativelybyworshipingthebeastreceivethemarkofthebeast.
Theinferenceisunmistakablethatthemarkofthebeasthassomethingtodowith
falseworshiponadayotherthantheseventhdaySabbath.
According to Daniel 7:25 the little horn which, like its Revelation 13
counterparttheseabeast,wastopersecuteGod'speopleduringthe1260days,not
onlypersecutedandblasphemedbutalsothought"tochangethetimesandthelaw."
ItdidnotseektoremovetheTenCommandments,onlytomodifyorchangethem,
intheprocessrefusingtoobeywhatGodhadexpresslyrequested.Hereisaparallel
totheseabeast'srefusaltoworshipGodandkeepHiscommandments.

TheMarkoftheBeastandPersonalCharacter
Wehaverecognizedthatthemarkofthebeastisthesameasitsname
(13:17);thusthepeoplewhogetthemarkofthebeastintheirforeheador
handgetthenameofthebeastintheirforeheadorhand.Bycontrast,the
144,000commandmentkeepersstandonMt.ZionwiththeLamb'sname
andHisFather'snameintheirforeheads(14:1).
WerecallthattheSabbathofthefourthcommandment,asGod's"sign"
and"seal,"wasgivenasaspecialmeansforhelpingworshipersofGod
developcharacterslikeHisown.Weconcludethatreceptionofthearkof
the beast involves negative character development, the cultivation of
characters resembling that of the beast, who breaks the Sabbath com
mandment,blasphemesGodandHissanctuary,andpersecutesGod'strue
people.
61

iiicfviarROTTneBeast

IdentifyingtheBeast
WehavepaidcloseattentiontothecontentofRevelation1214andto
whattheBiblesaysaboutthemarkofthebeastanditscounterpart,theseal
ofGod.Inordertoidentifythemarkofthebeastascertainlyaspossible,it
isappropriatethatwemakeacarefulstudyoftheseabeast,thebeastofthe
"markofthebeast."DoingsorequiresustolookatDaniel7,Matthew24,
and2Thessalonians2,aswellasRevelation.
In making this comparison, we are being true to our hermeneutical
principles(1)thatbecauseallScriptureisinspiredofGod,onepartofitcan
beusedlegitimatelytohelpexplainanotherpart;and(2)thatbecausethe
themesofDaniel,Matthew2425,and2Thessalonians2arecloselylinked
to the themes of Revelation but are not precisely identical, they are
potentiallyusefulininterpretingRevelationandalsoinmakingtheirown
contributions.
IdentifyingFeaturesoftheSeaBeast(Rev13)
Descriptiveintroduction.
1.ItsmultiplebodyiscomposedofpartsofthefourbeastsofDaniel7,
withthesametotalnumberofheadsandhorns(vs.2).
2.Ithascrownsonitstenhorns,butnoneonitssevenheads(vs.1).
Beginning/duringthe42months.
3.Thedragongivesit"power,""greatauthority,"andthedragon'sown
"throne"(vs.2).
4.Itreceives"worship"(vss.4,8).

5.Itutters"haughtyandblasphemouswords"againstGod's"name"and
His"dwelling"(vss.5,6).
6.Itmakes"waronthesaints"andovercomesthem(vs.7).
7.Itisallowedtooperatefor42months(vs.5).
8.Itundergoes"captivity**anda"mortalwound""withthesword**(vss.
3,10,14).
Followingthe42months(eschatological).
9.Itswoundishealed.
10.Inresponsetothedeceptive,miracleworkingpropagandaofthe
earthbeast,itacceptscoercedworshipfromalmosteveryoneonearth(vss.11
17).
11.Itcooperateswiththedragonandthefalseprophet(theearthbeast)
intellingtheliesthatbringthekingsandarmiesoftheworldtothebattleof
Armageddon(16:1315).
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The
Mark

12.Ithasamark,whichtheearthbeastimposesonpeople,andit
has
anumber:666(vss.1618).
13.AttheSecondComing,itandthefalseprophet(theearthbeast)
arethrownaliveintothelakeoffire(19:20).
IdentifyingFeaturesoftheLittleHorn(Dan7)
Priortothe1260days.
1.Itarisesoutofthe"fourthbeast"(vss.8,24).
2.Itappearsaftertenotherhornsareinplace(vs.24).
3.Itis"little"whenfirstseenbutintimebecomes"greaterthanits
fellows"(vss.8,20).
4.It"put[s]downthreekings,"sothatasitarises"threeofthefirst
horns"are"pluckedupbytheroots"(vss.
8,24).Duringthe1260days.
5.Ithas"eyesliketheeyesofaman,andamouthspeakinggreat
things,"anditspeaks"wordsagainsttheMostHigh*'(vss.8,25).
6.Itisto"wearoutthesaintsoftheMostHigh"(vs.25).
7.Itisto"thinktochangethetimesandthelaw"(vs.25).
8.Itisallottedspecialpowersfor"atime,twotimes,andhalfa
time"
(vs.25).

Followingthe1260days(eschatological).
9.Then"thecourtshallsitinjudgment"andtakeawayits
dominion(vs.26).
10.Itisultimately"consumedanddestroyed"(vs,26).

RelatedElementsinChrist'sProphecy(Matt24)
1. The Second Coming will not occur until after "many
[believers]18 fallaway,andbetrayoneanother,andhateoneanother"
(vs.10).
2.The"desolatingsacrilege"(afalsereligiousentitythatcauses
desolation and which in Luke 21:20 refers to desolating armies
surroundingJerusalem)spokenofbytheprophetDaniel,isatsome
pointtobeseenstandingintheholyplace,God'stemple(vs.15).
Duringthe"days"ofthegreattribulation.
3.Thereistobea"greattribulation,suchashasnotbeenfromthe
beginningoftheworlduntilnow,no,andneverwillbe"(vs.21).
4."Forthesakeoftheelect"whowouldotherwisenotbeleft
alive,
18Theword"believers"issuppliedherebecauseonlybelieverscan"fallaway."Unbelievers
arealreadyinafallenstate.

63

TheMarkoftheBeast
the"days"ofthetribulationaretobe"shortened"(vs.22).After"those
days"ofthegreattribulation(eschatological).
5."Immediatelyafterthetribulationofthosedays"signsaretoappearinsun,
moon,andstars(vs.29).
6.FollowedatlastbytheSecondComing(vss.29,30).

RelatedElementsinPaul'sProphecy(2Thess2)
1.ThesecondcomingofChristwillnotoccuruntilthe"rebellion"(the
"fallingaway,"KJV;the"apostasy/'Greek)comesfirst(vs.3).Priortothe
"time."
2."Themysteryoflawlessnessisalreadyatwork[inPaul'sday]"(vs.
7).
3.The"manoflawlessness"("manofsin,"KJV)istoberevealed(vss.
3,8).
4.Forthetimebeing(inPaul'sday),"hewhonowrestrains"isprevent
ingfulldevelopmentofthemysteryoflawlessnessandwillcontinuetodo
sountilheisremoved"outoftheway"(vs.7).
5.But"themanoflawlessness"willberevealed"inhistime"(vs.6).
Later,"inhistime."
6."Thelawlessonewillberevealed"(vs.8)andthemysteryoflaw
lessnesswillbedeveloped(vs.7).
7.Thelawlessone"takeshisseatinthetempleofGod,proclaiming
himselftobeGod'*(vs.4).
Probablyeschatological,involvingpeoplewhohavealreadychosen
torefusethetruth.
8.Thelawlessonewilloperate"bytheactivityofSatan"withpower
and "pretended signs ... and with all wicked deception for those who...
refused to love the truth." God sends a "strong delusion, to make them
believewhatisfalse,sothatallmaybecondemnedwhodidnotbelievethe
truth"(vss.912).
Eschatological.
9.ThelawlessonewillbedestroyedbyChristatHissecondcoming(vs.
8).
Observations
Evenacasualreadingofthesefourlistsjustifiestheconclusionofmany
commentatorsthatthefourpropheciesrefertothesameentity,thatthebeast
ofthe"markofthebeast"isthesameasthelittlehornofDaniel7,the
abominationofdesolationofMatthew24,andthe"man"and"mystery"of
lawlessnessin2Thessalonians2.
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TheMark

Matthew24and2Thessalonians2areplainlylinkedtoeachother,with
theirreferencestoanupcomingapostasy,timerestraints,andtheSecond
Coming.BothrefertosomethingevilencroachingonGod'sdwellingplace
("temple,"2Thess2;"holyplace,"Matt24).
Daniel 7 and Revelation are plainly linked to each other, with their
referencestofourbeasts(Dan7)andtoabeastcomposedofthesamefour
beasts(Rev13),tosevenheadsandtenhoms,toblasphemy,persecution,to
encroachmentsonGod'shighestprerogatives(Hislaw,Dan7;Hisdwelling
place,Rev13),andtothesamespecifiedtimeframe("atime,twotimes,
andhalfatime,"Dan7;42months.Rev13).
ThatMatthew24islinkedtoDanielisindicatedexpresslybyChrist's
reference to the behavior of the desolating sacrilege "spoken of by the
prophetDaniel."
Allfourpropheciesareorientedtoatimeframewhichextendsintothe
endtime,andallfourareconcernedaboutapowerthatwastoencroachon
God'suniqueprerogatives.
Inasmuchasallfourpropheciesarelinkedtogetherinsignificantways
andappeartooverlap,wearejustifiedbytheruleofeconomyinseeking
theirtargetinasingleentity.Onthisassumption,thedatacanreasonablybe
compiledintoasinglescenariosomethinglikethis:
Beforethe1260days(the42months,thedays,thetime).(1)Onthe
head ofthefourthbeast,(2)afterthefourbeastshaveappeared,and(3)
aftertenhornshavebeenobserved,and(4)aftercrownshavebeenobserved
onthetenhoms,anentitywastoappearthat(5)combinedtheattributesof
allfourbeastsofDaniel7andthatwouldalso(6)constituteamovementof
rankapostasy.Beforeitflourisheditwouldbepresagedby(7)the"mystery
ofiniquity,"itsmorerobustpotentialbeing(8)restrainedbyanunnamed
restrainer.
During the1260days(the 42months,thedays,thetime). Later,(9)
withtherestrainerremoved,theevilentitywould(10)pluckupthreeofthe
otherhoms,(11)receivelegitimacy,power,andsiteofoperation("throne")
fromthedragon,and(12)increaseremarkablyinsizeuntilitwasnotably
larger than the other horns. It would even (13) assume manlike facial
features,whichitwoulduse(14)toblasphemeGod.Itwouldsuccessfully
(15)claimworshipforitself(16)asifitwereGod,evenschemingto(17)
enterGod'sdwelling(Histempleorsanctuary),(18)sitonGod'sseat,and
(19) alter God's laws ("change the times and the law"). It would (20)
horriblypersecuteGod'ssaints,killingmanyofthem,butinGod'sgrace
(21)itspersecutionwouldbelimitedto"atime,twotimes,andhalfatime,"
or"fortytwomonths."
65

TheMarkoftheBeast
Afterthe1260days(the42months,thedays,thetime).Theterminationof
itsdaysforpersecutionwouldbefollowedatonceby(22)astronomicalwonders,
(23) a captivity and an intendedtobe mortal blow with a sword, and (24) the
seatingofthejudgment.But(25)it'sdeadlywoundwouldhealand(26)itwouldbe
allowedonelastflingattrulydaunting,miracleworkingdeceitfulness,gatheringthe
world to Armageddon in cooperation with the dragon and with the earth beast,
whichwouldimposethebeast'smarkonpeople,andthenatlast(27)Christwould
appearandutterlydestroyit.
Wewilldiscusstheseidentifyingitemsmorefullyinthenextsectionunderthe
title,"TheBeastAsRomanCatholic."

Summary
So far we have done little more than read the Bible reflectively. We have
adheredtoourinterpretationalprinciples,allowingthewholeBibletoexplainits
parts,recognizingthatthefirstfourmajorpropheciesofRevelationrunfromthe
prophet's day to the endtime, getting help from the literary organization of
Revelation,andsoon.
Wehavelearnedthatthebeastofthe"markofthebeast"parallelsthecareerof
thelittlehornofthefourthbeastofDaniel7,anditwastobesponsoredbythe
dragonofRevelation12.Itwastoblaspheme,persecute,andencroachonGod's
prerogativesforaperiodof1260days,afterwhichitwouldsufferaneclipse.Butit
was to be revived immediately prior to its ultimate destruction at the Second
Coming,andduringthisintervalofrevivalitwoulddeceiveandpersecuteagain,
coercefalseworshipagain,andgatherpeopletoArmageddon,whiletheearthbeast
imposedonallitsfollowersthe"markofthebeast."
We have learned that the mark of the beast isan endtime phenomenon of
ultimate gravity. Accepting it will provoke the utmost wrath of God and will
certainly keep people out ofheaven. The nature ofthemark isthecharacter of
peoplewhoarematuredinrebelliousness,bentonFightingChrist,disobeyingGod's
commandments, blaspheming the Creator and His heavenly sanctuary, and
attemptingtocoerceGod'struepeople,underpainofdeath,todisobeyGodalong
withthem.Thespecificaspectofcommandmentbreakingparticularlytobenotedis
violationofGod'ssacredsignandseal,theseventhdaySabbath.

66

RomanCatholicismandtheUnited
States

RomanCatholicismandtheUnitedStates
SectionOutline
I.Introduction
II.TheBeastAsRomanCatholic
III.Rome:ChiefExponentofSundayObservance
IV.TheUnitedStatesandtheMark
V.WhatDifferenceDoesItMake?

Introduction
Beginning at least in the fourteenth century A.D., the sea beast of
Revelation13,thebeastofthe"markofthebeast,"hasbeenperceived
asRomanCatholic.Commentatorswhohaveexpressedthisperception
haveincludedJohnPurvey(Wycliffe's associate),AndreasOsiander,
NikolausvonAmsdorf,HeinrichBullinger,andNicholasRidley(all
wellknown Reformers), Sir Isaac Newton (the British scientist), Sir
John Napier (the Scottish mathematician), John Cotton (the early
Americanpreacher),TimothyDwight(PresidentofYale),andavariety
ofotherfamouspersons.Itwasastandardperceptionalsoduringthe
internationalSecondAdventawakeningandcontinuestobesoamong
Seventhday Adventists. It should be noted, however, that no
commentatorpriortotheriseofAdventismappliedthemarkofthe
beastspecificallytotheSabbathSundayissue.1
OneofourinterpretationalprinciplesholdsthatbecauseGodisno
respecter of persons (Acts 10:34), and prophecy is of no private
interpretation (2 Pet 1:20), it follows that prophetic interpretations
offeredbyBible
1 The list and the observation are supplied by Seventhday Adventists Answer
QuestionsonDoctrine (Washington,DC,1957),18081,basedoninformationin
LeRoyEdwinFroom, PropheticFaithofOurFathers, 4vols.(Washington, DC,
19461954).

67

Tne'MarKoFineBeast

studentsinthepastshouldnotbeentirelyoverlookedtoday.Atthesametime,
werememberthathumanunderstandingoftruthisprogressiveandthatsome
aspectsofDaniel'sprophecieswereclosedbyGoduntiltheendofthe1260
days(Dan12;Rev10).
Theportionofthemarkofthebeastprophecythatwasnotinferreduntil
thenineteenthcenturyisthepartdealingwithSabbathandSunday.Wewill
duscussthisaspectalittlefurtheron.Butnowwewishtoexaminethewidely
heldconvictionthatthebeastisRomanCatholic.
Werightlyrespectthispositiononthebasisofourseventhinterpreta
tionalprinciplebut,ofcourse,wemustexamineit.
Thechiefalternateviewscurrenttodayarethepreterist,whichholdsthat
the beast was one or more Roman emperors (Nero for example), and the
dispensationalfuturist,whichholdsthatthebeastisaworlddictatorslatedto
appearduringthe"seventiethweek"ofDaniel9.
ButneitherNeronoranyotherRomanemperorisknowntohaveimposed
amarkonpeopletoget them toworshiphim; andfracturing the seventy
weekshasbeendiscreditedelsewhereinthisDanielandRevelationseries.
Ifwelookforotherpossibilities,wemustbeguidedbyourinterpreta
tionalprinciples.Anypossibilitymustfitthehistoriciststandon"adayfora
year"andbelocatedinaprincipalareainhabitedbyorhavingastrongimpact
onpeoplewhoworshipthetrueGod.Perhapsthe IslamicOttomanEmpire
comestomind.ItreplacedtheEasternempireinsomewayssimilartotheway
theRomanChurchreplacedtheWesternempire,andithadagreatimpacton
thecourseofChristianity.Butsuchasuggestionmustberejected.Innosense
can Rome be described as "giving" Constantinople to the Ottomans, who
foughtlongandhardtogetit.AndtheOttomanEmpire,greatandlonglivedas
itwas,endurednot1260yearsbutlessthanhalfasmany,from1326to1923.
So is the leopardbodied sea beast Roman Catholic? Scientists charac
teristicallybeginwithahypothesis,thentestit.Biblicalresearchersshouldnot
bedeniedthesamemethod.
Wetarrywiththeidentityofthebeastnotbecausethejobhasnotbeen
donewell elsewhere,forithas,butinthehope of addingafewnewcon
siderationsandbecausesomepeoplewhoseethemselvesashistoricistshave
begunrecentlytoquestiontheidentification.Wewillconfineourselvestoa
fewhighlightsinthissectionbutprovideadditionaldataandassessmentsinthe
thirdsectionofthischapter.
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RomanCatholicismandtheUnitedStates

TheBeastAsRomanCatholic
TheRomannessoftheSeaBeast
CommentatorshavebeenrightinseeingtheleopardbodiedseabeastasRoman.
ThisisfirstofallimplicitinitsrelationshiptothegreatreddragonofRevelation12
andalsoinitslinkstothebeastsandhornsofDaniel7.
Thegreatreddragon,whichgivesitspower,throne,andgreat authoritytothe
leopardbodiedseabeast(Rev13:2),istheRomanEmpire.To be sure,in12:9the
dragonisintroducedas"theDevil,andSatan."ButplainlyitrefersalsototheRoman
Empire,actingasamaskforthedevil.Theentitythathistorically"stoodbeforethe
woman...thathemightdevourherchildwhenshebroughtitforth"(12:4)wasHerod
inthefirstinstanceandPilateinthesecond,bothoperatingoneasalocalking,the
otherasaprocuratorundertheauthorityoftheRomanEmpire.
Likewise,thelittlehornofDaniel7aroseonthefourthbeast,thatis,asakindof
extensionoftheRomanEmpire.Andwehaveseenintheprevioussectionthatthelittle
hornandtheseabeastsymbolizethesamepowerorentity.
"Rome"and"Roman"Defined
WhenwereadthatthearmiesthatgaveRometothepapacywerecommissionedin
Constantinople,it'seasytobecomeconfused.Soabriefexplanationisinorder.
WhentheRomanEmpiregrewlarge,effectiveemperorsfoundtheyhadtotravel
arounditextensivelyattendedbyliterallythousandsofclerks,bureaucrats,soldiers,
and servants, glutting the roads for miles and causing infinite consternation in the
townswheretheychosetospendthenight/
To reduce the difficulty of governing the entire Roman Empire from a single
center, the Emperor Diocletian (284305) divided the empire into two major parts,
EasternandWestern,withaseparatebutcooperatingemperorineachpart.Theplan
underwentseveralrevisions.Nominally,thecapitaloftheWesternempirewasthecity
ofRome,wheretheancientSenatestillcontinuedtomeetbuttheemperorhardlyever
livedthere,preferringMilan,orlocationsinwhatwenowcallYugoslaviaandFrance.
Inthe400stheWesternemperornormallyresidedinRavenna,innorth
2SeeA.H.M.Jones,TheLaterRomanEmpire,284602(Norman,OK,1964).36667.

69

TheMarkoftheBeast
eastItaly.UnderConstantine(306337)thecapitaloftheEasternpartoftheempire
becameConstantinople,affectionatelyknownasNewRome,eventhoughtheEastern
emperoroftendidnotlivethereeither.Buttheentireempire,thoughdividedand
hardly ever ruled from Rome, still was known as the Roman Empire. Laws
proclaimedinonepartwerelegallybindinginbothpartsandwereknownasRoman
laws; and anarmy, even whencommissionedinConstantinople, wasknown asa
Romanarmy.3
The concept of "Rome" was not limited to either space or time. When
CharlemagnecametothecityofRomeforhiscoronationatChristmas,AD.800,he
claimedtobethenewRomanemperor,eventhoughhiscapitalwasatAacheninwhat
isnowknownaswesternGermany.AndwhenCharlesVfacedLutherattheDietof
Wormsin1521hedidsoasheadofthe"HolyRomanEmpire,"foundedbyOttoIin
A.D.962.
This brief exercise in defining terms helps us see that when the Ostrogoths
eliminatedtheHerulsunderordersfromtheemperorinConstantinople,theydidso
under Roman orders. Similarly, when General Belisarius was commissioned in
Constantinople to eliminate the Arian Vandals in North Africa and the Arian
OstrogothsinItaly,heobeyedasaRomangeneralinchargeofaRomanarmy.The
greatreddragonofimperialRomedidindeedgivethecityofRometothepapacy.
OurexercisealsohelpsusseehowChristiansintheMiddleAgesandbeyond
could continue to view their Christianity as "Roman." Indeed, in one sense their
churchwasmoreRomanforcenturiesthantheempireitself,foritsheadquarterswere
almostalwayslocatedinRome.4
AlthoughtheancientRomanEmpireassuchlongagoceasedtoexist,Catholics
believethatRomecontinuesinavitalsenseintheirdenominationtoday.TheCatholic
ChurchisavowedlyRoman.Itsofficialnametoday,asithasbeenthroughoutmostof
itslonghistory,istheHolyCatholicandApostolicChurchofRome.ProfessorJohn
L.McKenzieoftheUniversityofNotreDamehasstatedclearlysincethesecond
VaticanCouncil,that"RomanCatholicsbelievethattheirRomanismisareflec tionof
theauthenticChristianityoftheirchurch."5
3 Alternatively, as time went on, the government of the Eastern empire came also to be known as
"Byzantine" after Byzantium, the ancient village on the site of which Constantine foundedCon
stantinople.
4Therewereexceptions,especiallyduringthesocalledBabylonianCaptivityof13091377,whenthe
popeswerecompelledtoresideinAvignon,insouthernFrance.
5JohnL,McKenzie,SJ.,TheRomanCatholicChurch,ed.E.0.James,HistoryofReligionSeries
(NewYork,1969),xii.Ontheotherhand,attemptshavebeenmadebysomeAmericanCatholicsto
mutethisRomanness,evidentlytoeasethewayforProtestantAmericanstobecome

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RomanCatholicismandtheUnitedStates
Characteristics
Of course, during the Middle Ages there was much more Romanness in the
RomanCatholicChurchthanlocation,importantasthatwas.Onethinksofthepope's
dictatorial powers, similar to those of a Roman emperor. And of persecutions
actuallyfarmoreseverethanthepaganempireinflictedonChristiansthatChristian
Romeinflictedonpersonsitsuspectedof"heresy."ThecrusadesagainsttheCathari
andtheAlbigenses,brutalsuppressionofProtestantismintheNetherlands,andthe
shamefulmassacreofSt.Bartholomew'sDay,allcometomind.Andthesocalled
SpanishInquisition.EventheNewCatholicEncyclopediaacknowledgesthat,"judged
bycontemporarystandards,theInquisition,especiallyasitdevelopedinSpaintoward
thecloseoftheMiddleAges,canbeclassifiedonlyasoneofthedarkerchaptersin
thehistoryoftheChurch."6
Particularly painful is the observation that in carrying out its persecutions
CatholicRomeaslateasthetwelfthcenturyadoptedfrompaganRomethepracticeof
judicialtorture.
Undertheempire,Romancivillaw(juscivile)allowedsuspectstobetorturedin
court in order to get them to confess their assumed crimes. In contrast with the
Western standard today,until proved guiltyapersonistobeconsideredinnocent
Romansassumedthatanaccusedpersonwasprobablyguiltythusjudicialtorture
wasareasonablepartofthepunishment
TheinvadingGermanictribesheldthemodernWesternposition,innocent till
provedguilty.7ButwhenvolumesoftheoldRomancivillawwererediscoveredinthe
1200s,theRomanChurchalmostimmediatelyapprovedjudicialtortureofsuspected
heretics.
AstheNewCatholicEncyclopediareports,
UndertheinfluenceofGermaniccustomsandconcepts,torturewaslittle
usedfromthe9thtothe12thcenturies,butwiththerevivalofRomanlawthe
practice[oftorture]wasreestablishedinthe12thcentury....In
Catholics.See,e.g.,thewidelydistributedTheFaithofMillions(Huntingdon,IN,1963,1974),by
JohnO'Brienwho,likeMcKenzie,taughtattheUniversityofNotreDame.
6Secarticles,"Inquisition,""AutodaFe,"and"St.Bartholomew'sDay,Massacreof."
7Whenaround850achurchcourttorturedthemonkGottschalkforhisnonCatholicviewson
predestination,astrongprotestwaslodgedbythepeopleofLyons,whoweredescendantsofthe
invaders.ThesepeopleremindedtheirRomanCatholicbishopthatevenwhenpeopleareovertaken
inafault,theBiblesaystheyshouldbe"restoredinaspiritofgentleness."SeeGeorgeE.
McCrackenandAlienCabaniss,cds.,EarlyMedievalTheology,inJohnBaillie,JohnT.McNeill,
andHenryP.VanDuson,eds.,LCC(Philadelphia,1957).9:16869.
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TheMarkoftheBeast
1252 [Pope] Innocent IV sanctioned the infliction of torture by the civil
authorities upon heretics, and torture came to have a recognized place in the
procedureoftheinquisitorialcourts.8

ThusinthemostbrutalandnonChristianaspectofitsmedievalactivity,the
RomanChurchwasadirectanddynamicdescendantoftheRomanEmpire.
Judicial torture was not the only aspect of the church's Romanlike cruelty.
Duringpersecutions,pogroms,andotherpunishmentsinstigatedorapprovedbythe
RomanChurch,peoplemightbehungfromtheirfeetsotheirtorsoscouldbesawn
downthemiddlefromgrointoscalp.Othersmightbeslowlypiercedthroughby
spikesinsidetheIronMaidenofNuremberg.Thereweremanyghoulishtoolsof
crueltyand an estimated two, three, or even four million victims. Eightyfive
percent ofthevictimsare believedtohave beenwomen,excruciatingly doneto
deathwiththeredhotpincers,thebreastripper,theexpandablevaginalpear,and
otherdevices.9
SotheRomanChurchfulfilledtheprophecyabout"makingwaronthesaints."
Italsofulfilledtheoneaboututteringhaughtyandblasphemouswords.Onewell
knownexamplewillsuffice,ashistoricistworksonprophecyprovidemanyothers.
AttheFifthLateranCouncilin1512,justbeforetheReformationbegan,Christopher
MarcellusaddressedPopeJuliusII,"ThouarttheShepherd,thouartthePhysician,
thouarttheGovernor,thouarttheHusbandman,finally,thouartanotherGodon
earth(tuenimpastor,...tudeniquealterDeusinterns)"Hiswordsarepreservedina
majorCatholichistoricalcollection.10
TheCatholicChurchalsofulfilledtheprophecyaboutthinkingtochangethe
timesandthelaw.Butnowwemustlookatthebeginningandendingdatesforthe
1260years.

The1260Days
TheSeventhdayAdventistposition,likethatoftheMilleriteAdventists
beforethem,isthatthe1260daysofprophecywerefulfilledbetween538
and1798,orbetweenapproximatelythosedates.Weneedtoask,Isthere
really a basis for the familiar Seventhday Adventist understanding
of538andl798?
8NewCatholicEncyclopedia,art."Torture,"italicssupplied.
9RobertHeld,In<ftiisition/Inquisici6n:ABilingualGuideto...TortureInstruments(P\oaace,
1985).
10J.D.Mansi,ed.,SacrommConcilionan...Colleclio,32:761.

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RomanCatholicismandtheUnitedStates
ThequestionisimportantnotonlybecauseSeventhdayAdventistsemphasize
the1260daysbutalsobecausethe1260daysarementionedinScripturenotonceor
twicebutseventimes.Threetimestheyappearas"atime,twotimes[or'times,'Rev
12:14],andhalfatime"(Dan7:25;12:7);
twicetheyappearas"fortytwomonths"(Rev11:2;13:5);andtwice,simplyas"one
thousandtwohundredandsixtydays"(Rev11:3;12:6).

TheYear538
Wereadagain, inscene4(13:14),that the dragon(inthiscase,the
Roman Empire) gave to the leopardbodied sea beast "his power and his
throneandgreatauthority."
Wenotethelocationofthecrownswhenthegreatreddragongavethese
elementsofauthoritytothebeast.Thedragonhadcrownsonitssevenheads
andnoneonitstenhorns;thebeast,however,hadcrownsonits tenhorns
andnoneonitssevenheads.ThusthearrivaloftheseabeastinRevelation
13announcedadeparturefromtheeraoftheRomanEmpireandanentrance
intotheeraoftheinvadingtribes. 11 WhereasRevelation12beganwiththe
birthofJesus,Revelation13beginsaroundA.D.476.
InDaniel7:24Danieldidnotbecomeawareofthelittlehornthatrep
resentedCatholicRomeuntilafterthetenhornswereinplace;andheob
servedthatthelittlehornarose"outofthis kingdom," thatis, out ofthe
fourthbeastkingdom,imperialRome:
Afterthetenhorns(theinvadingGermanictribes)wereessentiallyin
place(thatis,after476,thenominaldateforthefallofWesternRome), 12the
littlehom(CatholicChristianity)tookongreatpower;asitdidso,threeof
theotherhoms(threeoftheinvadingtribes)werepluckedup.
A"throne"isanobvioussymbolofauthority.Inasmuchasthispassage
alreadycontainsthewords"power"and"authority,"weexpecttheterm in
thisinstancetoconveyamoreliteralmeaning.Basically,athroneisaplace
whereanimportantpersonsits.Otherancientwordsfor"throne" arethe
Greekcathedra,usedforabishop'sthrone,andtheLatinsedes,whichshows
upinEnglishas"see."IntheCatholicchurch,thebuildingin
11Thatthecrownsdoserveastimemarkersisconfirmedbycomparisonofthedragonandseabeast
withtheredbeastinRevelation17.Theredbeasthassevenheadsandtenhoms,likethedragon
andtheseabeast,butithasnocrownsatall.AnangelinformedJohnthathehadenteredthetime
ofjudgment."Come.Iwillshowyouthejudyneittofthegreatharlot"(17:1).Theerasince
1798/1844hasbeennotableasaneraofdcmocratization,especiallyinEurope.
12"AlmostthewholeoftheWesternempirewas...by476ruledbyGermankings."Jones,TheLater
RomanEmpire,245.

73

TheMarkoftheBeast
whichabishop'sthrone(or cathedra) islocatediscalleda"cathedral."The city in
whichacathedralislocatediscalleda"see."
TheultimateseeinCatholicismistheHolySee,thecitywherethethroneofthe
bishopofRome,thepope,islocated.ThisisthecityofRome,whichformany
centurieswaswhollyunderthepope'scontrol.Sincethe1929TreatyoftheLateran
withItaly,thepope'sseehasbeenconfinedtoVaticanCity,butthis108.7acretract
liesonVaticanHill,whollywithinthecityofRome.
Sohowdidthedragon,theRomanEmpire,giveitspower,itsauthority,andthe
placeofitsrulership(its"throne,"orsee,orcity)totheRomanChurch?Andwhen
diditdoso?
WehavealreadynotedthatEmperorsrarelylivedinRomeeventhoughRome
remainedthenominalcapitaloftheempire.TheSenatecontinuedtomeetthereuntil
atleast538,andtheplacewasregardedwithmysticalreverenceastheEternalCity.
By living elsewhere, the Emperors allowed a capable pope to become the most
visibleleaderinthecity.
In addition, several emperors offered specific elements of authority to the
papacy.Forexample,whenBishopHilaryofAries(inwhatwecallFrancetoday)
refusedtoobeyacommandissuedbyPopeLeoI(440461),PopeLeopersuadedthe
RomanEmperorValentinianIII(425455)toissueadecreerequiringgovernorsof
provincestoenforcethePope'scommands:
NothingshallbeattemptedbytheGallicanbishops,orbythoseofany
otherprovince, contrary totheancient custom,without theauthorityofthe
venerable pope of the Eternal City. But whatsoever the authority of the
ApostolicSeehasenacted,orshallenact,letthatbeheldaslawforall.Sothat
ifanybishopsummonedbeforethepopeofRomeshallneglecttoattend,let
himbecompelledtoappearbythegovernoroftheprovince.
Therewasanotherfactorinfluencingthefuture,theestatesinItaly,France,and
north Africa which various emperors and Roman nobles bestowed on the pope.
Incomefromtheseestatesenabledpopestoprovidesignificantwelfarebenefitstothe
poorintimesofdistress,therebyconsiderablyincreasingtheirownpopularityand
influence.
Thusevenbefore476theRomanEmpire(thedragon)hadbeen
13EdictofValentinianIII,A.D.445;trans.inHcniyBcttcnson,DocumentsoftheChristianChurch,2d.
ed.(London,1963),3233.
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RomanCatholicismandtheUnitedStates
preparing the way for the transfer of power, throne, and great authority to the
CatholicChurch(thebeast).
Nevertheless, in 476 the pope did not immediately come into undisputed
possessionofRome.Atfirstamixtureoftribescontrolledthearea,ledbyOdovacar,
amemberoftheHerultribe. By 493theOstrogoths,actingunderordersfromthe
Catholic Roman Emperor Zeno, headquartered in Constantinople, neutralized the
ArianHerulsandtheirallies(thefirstofthethreehornstobeuprooted)andplaced
themselvesinchargeofItaly.ButtheOstrogothsthemselveswereArian.
TheOstrogothswerekindtotheCatholicsmostofthetime,butnot always.
WhentheBurgundiantribe(locatedinwhatwecallFrancetoday)becameCatholic
andbeganpersecutinglocalArians,Theodoricpunishedthemseverely,killingsome
ofthemandtakingawayanumberoftheirchurches. 14Andin526,whentheEastern
Emperor,Justin,aCatholic,waspersecutingAriansinhispartoftheempire,King
Theodoric bundled off Pope John I to Constantinople, charging him to persuade
Justintostopthepersecution.WhenthepopereturnedtoItalyonlypartiallysuccess
ful,TheodoricangrilyhumiliatedhimandkepthiminexileatRavenna,untilhedied
ashorttimelater.15
Thus far the dragon had not yet delivered Rome into the pope's hands. But
EasternEmperorJustinian(527565),adevoutCatholicandnephewofJustinI,sent
hisGeneral Belisariusfrom ConstantinoplewithaRoman armyto eliminatethe
ArianVandalsinNorthAfrica.By534thatjobwasdoneandthesecondhornwas
uprooted."TheVandalsdisappearedlikeamist." 16ThenJustinianorderedBetisarius
toenterItalyandwipeoutthethirdhorn,theArianOstrogoths.
The Ostrogoths made a strategic retreat. As Belisarius and his small army
enteredRomeinDecember536byonegate,theOstrogothicgarrisonguardingthe
citymarchedoutbyadifferentgate.
ButsoontheOstrogothicarmyarrived,ingreatnumbers.Thusaslateastheend
of537,Belisarius'sarmywasdramaticallyoutnumberedbytheOstrogothsandwas,
infact,heldcaptivewithinthecityofRome,besieged by theOstrogothstheyhad
cometoconquer.However,diseaseandinadequategeneralshipdecimatedtheGoths,
whilebrillianceanddaringaidedBelisarius.Inthespringof538theGothicarmy,
largelydemoralized,with
14J.B.Buiy,HistoryofthePapacyinthe19thCentury(18641878)(London.1930),117.
15J.N.D.Kelly,TheOxfordDictionaryoftheFhpes(Oxford&NewYork,1986),5455,insiststhat
thereportsthatTheodoricputJohninjail"arecertainlyfalse."
16CW.PreviteOrton,TheShorterCambridgeMedievalHistory(Cambridge,1953),189.
75

TheMarkoftheBeast
drewfromRome,itsnumbersadequatetocauseconsiderabledamagetoItalyover
thenextseveralyearsbutverygreatlyreduced"fromtensofthousandstoafew
men, survivors who had" suffered the ravages both ofthe pestilence and of the
enemy.17WhenBelisariuswasrecalledtoConstantinople,thetatteredGoths,inthe
absenceofimperialtroops,attemptedtoreconquerItaly.Butuponthereappearance
of an imperial army in 551, this time led by Narses, the real Gothic weakness
becameapparentIn553theOstrogoths,decisivelydefeatedin538,finallyceasedto
existasatribe.18
TheturningpointforthehistoryofRomecamein538,whentheCatholicarmy
oftheRomanEmpiredrovethefatallyenfeebledArianOstrogothsawayfromthe
"Eternal City."19 In the famous words of ThomasHodgkin's multivolume work,
ItalyandHerInvaders^thecalamitousdefeatin538"dug"the"graveoftheGothic
monarchyinItaly."AnticipatingtheinevitableterminationofOstrogothiccontrol
already in 537, Justinian had appointed a praetorian prefect to govern the
peninsula.21
By538,therefore,thestipulationsofprophecyhadbeenmetandtheprophetic1260
yearscouldbegin.Thetenhornswereinplaceandcrowned;
three of them had subsequently been uprooted, and the great red dragon of
Revelation12and13hadeffectivelyhandedovertotheleopardbodiedseabeastits
power,seat,andgreatauthority.
1798andtheMortalWound
WheneverSeventhdayAdventiststhinkofthecloseofthe1260days,they
recallthatonFebruary15,1798,twelvehundredandsixtyyearsafter538,thepope
wastakenintocaptivitybyaFrenchmilitaryunit.IthappenedasRevelationhad
foretold, with remarkable accuracy. "One of its heads seemed to have a mortal
wound"(13:3).
Inverse10wefindapropheticproverbthatspecifiesthenatureofthemortal
wound;itwouldinvolvea"sword"(militaryaction)anda"captivity":"Ifanyoneis
tobetakencaptive,tocaptivityhegoes;ifanyoneslayswiththesword,withthe
swordmusthebeslain"(13:10).
17Procopius,HistoryoftheWars,6.6.1;Locb3,337.ProcopiusaccompaniedBelisarius.
18InthewordsofThomasHodgkin,IlatyandHerInvaders,2d.ed.,8vols.in9(Oxford,18851899),
4:657,"Theydisappeared."
19Theeventhasbeendescribedinsomedetailinvariousplaces.SeeC.MervynMaxwell,"AnExe
geticalandHistoricalExamination...ofthe1260DaysofProphecy"(M.A.thesis,Seventhday
AdventistTheologicalSeminary,1951);and,foralessdetailedaccount,GodCares1:123,13941.
20Vol.4,250.
21Jones,TheLaterRomanEmpire,283.

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RomanCatholicismandtheUnitedStates

During the French Revolution, under orders from the revolutionary


Frenchgovernment, General Alexander Berthier issued a proclamation in
Rome on February 15, 1798, informing Pope Pius VI and the people of
Romethatthepopeshouldnolonger"exerciseanyfunction."22
GeneralBerthierwascarryingoutanorderissuedbythecentralFrench
government.WhenthearmiesofFrancewereenjoyingvictoriesinItalyin
1797, Napoleon received a communication from the Directory dated 13
Pluviose of the year Y signed by La RevelliereLepeaux, Barras, and
Reubell,sayingthat"theRomanreligion[italicssupplied]wouldalwaysbe
theirreconcilableenemyoftheRepublic."ItmustbestruckinFrance;but
"thereisonethingmoreessential,totheattainmentoftheenddesired,and
thatistodestroy,ifpossible,thecentreofunityoftheRomanChurch;andit
isforyou[Napoleon]...torealizethisaimifyouconsideritpracticable." 23
Howthepopewasarrestedwhilecelebratingthetwentythirdanniver
saryofhiscoronation,thenhurriedofftooneplaceafteranother;andhow
hediedinexileayearorsolater,hisbodyleftlyingaroundforsometime
unburied,hasoftenbeentold.Anditisnonethelessanimpressivefulfill
mentofprophecyfortheretellingofit.
Summary
Weconcludethatevidenceisabundantthattheleopardbodiedseabeast
of Revelation 13 is Roman Catholic. It appeared as Western Rome was
passing away. It received legitimacy, authority, and capital seat from the
RomanEmpire.Itexperiencedthespecificeventsprophesiedtomarkthe
beginningandendingofaunique1260yearcareer.Andduringits1260
years it manifested the blaspheming and persecuting character traits spe
cificallyforeseen.
Morecanbesaidaboutthefullmeaningof538and1798;thematteris
addressed again in the third section of this chapter, "Some Questions
Answered." But now we will examine the question whether Roman
Catholicismhasfulfilledthelittlehomprophecyaboutchangingthetimes
andthelaw.

22JohnAdolphus,TheHistoryofFrance2(London,1803),365.
23A.Aulard,ChristianityandtheFrenchRevolution,trams.LadyFrazer(London,1927),151,
emphasissupplied.

77

TheMarkoftheBeast

Rome:ChiefExponentofSundayObservance
Inoursearchtounderstandthemarkofthebeast,wehavebeenledtoidentify
theleopardbodiedseabeast(thebeastofthe"markofthebeast")withthelittle
horn of Daniel 7 and to identify both the beast and the little hom as "Roman
Catholic."Wehavenotcompletedtheidentification,however.Wehaveleftuntil
nowadiscussionofthephrase,"[he]shallthinktochangethetimesandthelaw"
(Dan7:25).
Thisphrase,"[he]shallthinktochangethetimesandthelaw,"thoughspoken
aboutthelittlehorn,appliesequallytotheseabeast,inasmuchasthelittlehornand
theseabeastconstitutethesameentity.TheseabeastishostiletoGod'slaw.Thisis
evidentfromthegeneralmessageofVisionIV,thegreatcontroversydivision(Rev
1214),inwhichtheprophecyoftheseabeastoccurs.God'struepeople,thosewho
donotsubmittothedragonandwhodonotreceive themarkofthebeast,are
describedtwice,in12:17and14:12,ascommandmentkeepers,implyingthatthe
beastisacommandmentbreaker.Additionally,thegreatcontroversydivisionisin
troducedwithasanctuaryscene(11:19)thatcallsattentiontoGod'stemple,His
heavenly dwelling, containingthearkofGodandtheTenCommandments.This
introductoryscenepreparesustoperceiveanattackonGod'slawwhenwereadin
13:6,"itopeneditsmouthtoutterblasphemiesagainstGod,blaspheminghisname
andhisdwelling.M24
IsitconceivablethataChristianchurchcouldopenlyadvocatedisobedienceto
theTenCommandments?TheCatholicChurchdoesnotnormallyteachpeopleto
commitadulteryormurder.Ontheotherhand,itiscommonknowledgethatthe
CatholicChurchboldlyclaimstohavechangedtheSabbathcommandment;andits
attitudetowardtheSabbathisespeciallysignificantinviewofourearlierstudythat
themarkofthebeastistheoppositeofthesealofGod,andthatthesealofGodhas
todowithSabbathkeeping.
ButalmostallChristianchurchesforcenturieshavepreferredSundaytothe
Sabbath.IsthereevidencethattheRomanCatholicChurchhasinthepastplayedan
outstandingroleincoercivetyfavoringSundayattheexpenseoftheSabbath?

24DifficultiesintheGreektextfortheremainderofRev13:6shouldnotobscuretheplainmeaning
ofthepartcited.

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RomanCatholicismandtheUnitedStates
TheAncientChurches
WeconsiderfirsttheplaceoftheCatholicChurchamongtheotherancient
churchesofChristendom.
Inthesixthcentury,thecenturyinwhich538fell,inadditiontotheWestern
Roman(orRomanCatholic)Church,wefindtheNorthAfricanChurch,wefindthe
EgyptianorCopticChurch,theEthiopianChurch,theArmenianChurch,the
NestorianChurch,andtheGreekspeakingEasternbranchoftheCatholicChurch
(whichintimebecametheGreekOrthodoxChurch).Ofthesechurches,theRoman
CatholicChurchwasinearlytimesandremainedforcenturiesthemost
conspicuousincoerciveadvocacyofSundayandcoercivedenigrationofthe
Sabbath.
ButRome'suniqueroleregardingSabbathandSundaywasnotevidentuntil
neartheendofthesecondcentury.
SurveyofEarlyStatementsandConditions
ToviewtheroleoftheRomanChurchintrueperspective,itishelpfultogo
backatleasttothesecondcentury(theA.D.1OOs).Wehavespace to examine
onlyaportionoftheavailableevidence,thetotalityofwhichshowsconvincingly
thateveninthesecondandthirdcenturiestheSabbathwasalreadygenerallylost
sight of, and that Sunday was already widely celebrated. This rejection of the
Sabbath infavor of Sunday was not confined to Romenor to Alexandria and
Romedespite a widespread impression among seventhday Sabbatarians today
thatthiswasthecase.25
Examination of the literature from the second and early third centuries
revealsthatessentiallythesameSabbath andSundaytheology was taught all
aroundtheRomanEmpireatthattime.Sundaywashonoredinrecognitionof
the resurrectionofChrist,andSabbath wasdowngraded asapplicable only to
Jews,nottoChristianGentiles.
JustinMartyr(ca.100165).ItiswellknownamongSabbatariansthatinthe
middleofthesecondcenturyJustinreportedinhis FirstApology, "Sundayisthe
dayonwhichweallholdourcommonassembly." 26 HoweverJustinwasawell
traveledperson,whosereportmaynotrepresentpracticesinRomealone.Internal
evidenceprovidesanapproximatedateof
25TheissueofSabbath/Sundayobservanceintheearly,postaposloliccenturieswasnolatopicdis
cussedbyDARCOM.Thethesisadvanced(pp.7991)representsthepersonalinterpretationofthe
databytheauthor,notthatofthecommittee.Ed.
26Justin,FirstApolo^y,67.ANF,1:186.
27InhismartyrologyJustinisquotedassayingathistrialthathewastheninRomeforthesecond

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TheMarkoftheBeast
around150.WequotenowfromhisFirstApology,chapter67:
AndonthedaycalledSunday,allwholiveincitiesorinthecountry
gathertogethertooneplace,andthememoirsoftheapostlesorthewritings
of the prophets are read.... Sunday is the day on which we all hold our
commonassembly,becauseitisthefirstdayonwhichGod...madetheworld;
andJesusChristonthesamedayrosefromthedead.ForHewascrucifiedon
thedaybeforethatofSaturn;andonthedayafterthatofSaturn,whichisthe
dayoftheSun,havingappearedtoHisapostlesanddisciples,Hetaughtthem
thesethings,whichwehavesubmittedtoyoualsoforyourconsideration.
JustinhereHegivesthereasonsformeetingonSundayasheunderstandsthem,
namelythatGodbeganHisworkofcreationonSundayandChristrosefromthe
deadonSunday.HeidentifiesSundaycarefullyas"thedayafterthatofSaturn"
(Saturday).Hesaysthat"allChristianswholiveincitiesorinthecountry"gather
fortheircommonassemblyonSunday.Hedoesnotsaythatonlythosewholivein
Romedoso.Hesaysthat"Sundayistheday"onwhichtheymeet,notoneofthe
days.
As for the Sabbath, Justin felt no obligation to observe it, even though he
consideredhimselfacommandmentkeeper. 28TheelderlyChristianwhoconverted
himhadtoldhimnottochangehismanneroflifeontheSabbath. 29Inanycasethe
SabbathwasnotneededbyGentiles,whohadbeenconverted.Itwasgivenonlyto
theJews,onaccountoftheirstubbornnessandthehardnessofhearts.TotheJewish
rabbi,Trypho,Justinsaid,apparentlywhileinthecityofEphesus,"We[Christians]
toowouldobservethefleshlycircumcision,andtheSabbaths,...ifwedidnotknow
for what reason they were enjoined you [Jews],namely, on account of your
transgressionsandthehardnessofyourhearts."30
Sunday observance, to the detriment of Sabbath observance, was well
establishedandwidespreadbythemiddleofthesecondcentury.
Irenaeus(fLca.175ca.195).InGaul(France)weencounterIreneaus,who
camefromnearEphesusaroundA.D.180toreplaceabishopinGaulwhohadjust
been martyred. As Irenaeus took up his new work, he found many Gnostic
Christiansupsettinghischurches.Toopposethem,hewroteasizablevolumeon
manyaspectsoftheChristianfaith.31
time.SeeANF,1:305.
28Justin,FirstApology.65,ANF,1:185.
29Justin,DialoguewithTrypho,33,ANF,1:206.
30Justin,DialoguewithTrypho,18,ANF,1:203.
31Irenaeus,AgainstHeresies,ANF,1:31567.

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RomanCatholicismandtheUnitedStates
OntheSabbathquestion,IrenaeusinsistedthattheGnosticswerewrongwhen
theyargued thatJesusbroketheSabbath.Irenaeus explainedthat Jesusdidnot
breaktheSabbathwhenHehealedpeopleonthatday. 32 Irenaeusemphasizedthis
pointsostronglythathesoundedlikeaSabbathkeeperhimself.Notso,forhe
pointedoutthatJesuskepttheSabbath"Jerusalembeingasyetinsafety." 33Irenaeus
meantbythisthatitwasrightforJesustokeeptheSabbathaslongastheJerusalem
Templewasstillstanding;butoncethetemplewasdestroyed(asitwasinAD.70),
thelawoftheSabbathwasterminated.Sincethen,Christianshavenotneededtobe
toldto"keeponedayidle,"becausetheyworshipGodintheirheartseveryday.34
Irenaeusspokeofthreekindsoflaw:onetobeobeyedbyall,anotherforJews
untilthefallofJerusalem,andanotherapplicabletonoone.Butincredibleasthis
maysoundIrenaeustaughtthattheSabbathcommandmentwasnotapartofthe
Decalogue,theonlyoneofthethreekindsoflawthatpeoplestillneedtokeep;
therefore,nooneneedstokeeptheliteralSabbath.
TheophilusofAntioch(latesecondcentury). AcontemporaryofIrenaeus,
but resident of the Levant, he taught a view of the Sabbath similar to that of
Irenaeus,evenomittingtheSabbathfromthedecalogue.
Tertullian (c. 160/70c. 215/20). In the Roman colony of Carthage, North
Africa (near modem Tunis), near AD. 200, the brilliant lawyer and Christian
layman, Tertullian, defended Jesus against the Gnostics, as Irenaeus did. Like
Irenaeus,TertullianinsistedthatJesuskepttheSabbathanddidnotbreakit.
He[Jesus]maintainedtheSabbathasHisowninstitution....ThusChrist
didnotatallrescindtheSabbath;Hekeptthelawthereof,whileimpartingto
theSabbathdayitself,whichfromthebeginninghadbeenconsecratedbythe
benedictionoftheFather,anadditionalsanctitybyHisownbeneficentaction.
ForHefurnishedtothisdaydivinesafeguards.35
ToprovethatJesusdidnotbreaktheSabbath,TertullianquotedMatthew5:17,
"I am not come to destroy [the law], but to fulfil" (KJV). Is it possible that
TertullianwasaSabbathkeeper?
32Irenaeus,AgainstHeresies,4.8,ANF,1:47071.
33beaaeus.AgainstHervsies,4.12,ANF,1:476.
34Ircnacus,TheProofoftheApostolicPreacking96,ACW,16:106.
35TmuUtan,AgainstMarcion,4.12,ANF.3:36364.

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TheMarkoftheBeast
Notatall!ForheproceededatoncetosaythattheSabbathwasabolished.It
wasnotabolishedbysomeNewTestamentGoddistinctfromtheOldTestament
CreatorGod,astheGnosticsargued.Butitwasabolished.Itwasabolishedbythe
onetrueGodbytheverysameCreatorGodofbothTestamentswhomadethe
Sabbathinthefirstplace.
Theabolitionoftheancientlawwefullyadmit,andholdthatitactually
proceedsfromthedispensationoftheCreator.
Instead of the Sabbath, Tertullian favored Sunday, which, like most other
Christians, he sometimes called "the Lord's day" and at other times called "the
eighthday"(thedayaftertheseventh).
WecountfastingorkneelinginworshipontheLord'sdaytobeunlawful.37
Totheheathenseachfestivedayoccursbutonceannually:you[Christians]
haveafestivedayeveryeighthday.
Ignatius (ca. 98/117). Thestatement byBishopIgnatiusof Antioch(Syria)
datedasearly as115,thefamiliaroneabout "nolongersabbatizingbutliving
accordingtotheLord'sday/life,"canbeseenasastatementinoppositiontothe
Sabbath.39 Incredibleasthethoughtmayappearatfirstglance,Ignatiusprobably
wassayingthattheSabbathwasrejectedevenbytheOldTestamentprophets140
Origen (ca. 185ca. 254). Christians in Alexandria (Egypt) favored
allegorizing,andintheearlythirdcenturyOrigen,teacheratthecatecheticalschool
there,wasaprinceofallegorizers.LaterhecarriedhistalenttoCaesarea.Inoneof
hismoreelaborateallegorizations,OrigenoncedescribedtrueSabbathkeepingin
termsthatmakehimappeartohavebeenaSabbathkeeperhimself.
36Tertullian,AgainstMarcion,5.2.ANF,3:431.
37Tertullian,TheChaplel,3,ANF,3:94.
38Tertullian,OnIdolatry,14,ANF,3:70.
39Ignatius,TotheMagnesians,89;cf.ANF,1:6263.Notethatonlytheshorterversionoftheletters
giveninANFisgenuine.Thelongerversionislater,possiblyfromthefourthcentury.
40"ThedivineprophetslivedaccordingtoJesusChrist(kolaChristonlesounezesan).Thereforethey
alsowerepersecuted,...Ifthenthey[theprophets]whowalkedinancientcustomscametoanew
hope,nolongerlivingfortheSabbath{nickedsabbatizontes)butfortheLord'sDay(orLord's
life](aliakolakuriakenoMes)on[orthrough]whichalsoourlifesprangupthroughhimandhis
death,...howthenshallwebeabletolivewithouthimofwhomeventheprophetsweredisciples
intheSpirit?(Ignatius,TotheMagnesians,89,LCL,1:2045.)Justin.Irenaeus,andTertullianall
believedthatthepatriarchspriortoMosesdidnotobservetheSabbath,andJustin(Dialogue,46;
ANF,1:218)saysthatTryphotherabbiagreedwithhimonthis.

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RomanCatholicismandtheUnitedStates
Ifyoulayasideallsecularworkandkeepawayfromallmundanethingsanddo
onlyspiritualworks,attendchurch,payattentiontothedivinelectureandliterature,...
andlooknotatpresentvisiblethingsbutonlyatinvisibleandfuturethingsthatis
therightobservanceoftheChristianSabbath."41

But Origen was allegorizing, describing a lifestyle rather than a weekly


observance.
In hisapology, Against Celsus(ContraCelsum), Origen saidexplicitlythat
ChristHimselfabandoned"physicalcircumcision,andaliteralsabbath."However,
forthesakeofbelieverswhoneed"days"becausetheyhavenotyetmaturedintoa
fullspirituallifestyle,Christians,insteadofSabbath,observetheLord'sdayand
Preparationday42weeklyandPassoverandPentecostannually.3
Sabbathkwpers,widespread.Theevidencedoesnot,however,indicatethatno
oneatallobservedthetrueSabbathinthesecondandthirdcenturies.
JustinknewofsomeJewishandevensomeGentileChristianswhoobserved
theSabbath.44Tertullianknewa"certainfew"peoplewhoannoyedhimbystanding
joyouslyforprayeronSabbath,thewayeveryonedidonSunday. 45 Andwemay
assume that the antiSabbath comments made by Baraabas in Alexandria, 46 by
IgnatiustotheMagnesians,47 andlaterbyClementofAlexandria 48 andVictorinus
ofPettau49implytheexistenceinlocalareasofobserversofthetrueSabbathinthe
secondandthirdcenturies.
Nonetheless,theevidenceindicatesthatamajorityoftheChristiansinthelarge
centersgaveuptheSabbathveryearly.
RobertM.Johnstonhasshownus,infact,thatsomerabbisjealouslyinsisted
thatGentiles oughtnottokeeptheSabbath.Forexample,Rabbi JosebenHanina
said, "A nonJew who observes the Sabbath whilst he is uncircumcised incurs
liability for the punishment of death. Why? Because nonJews were not
commandedconcerningit."50
41HomOy23onNumbers,PG12:74853,trans.RaphaelGonzales,citedinC.MervynMaxwellandP.
GerardDamsteegt,cds.,SourceBookfortheHistoryofSabbathandSunday("BerrienSprings,MI,
1990)
42AmongsecondandthirdcenturyChristians,Fridaywasalmostuniversallyafastday.
43Origen,AgainstCelsus(ContraCelswn),2.7;8.22,trans.HenryChadwick;cf.ANF,4:432,647.
44Justin,DialoguewithTrypho,AJew,47,ANF,1:21819.
45Tertullian,OnPrayer,23,ANF,3:689.
46Bamabas,Epistle,15.ANF,1:14647.
47Secabove.
48Seecsp.Clement,Miscellanies,6.16,ANF,2:51214.
49Victorinus,OntheCreationoftheWorld,ANF,7:341^2.
50MidrashDeuteronomyRabbah1:21;Soncinocd.,2324.SeeRobertM.Johnston,"Patriarchs,
83

TheMarkoftheBeast

TheSabbath,therabbissaid,wasasignoftheunionbetweenGodand
theJews,soforaGentiletokeepitwouldbelikeanintruderthrusting
himselfbetweenakingandhisqueen.
Summaryofsecond/thirdcenturydata.ExaminationoftheChristian
literaturethathascomedowntousfromthesecondandearlythirdcenturies
(thatis,examinationoffarmoreexamplesthanwehavehadspaceforhere)
suggeststhatessentiallythesameSabbathandSundaytheologywastaught
all around the Roman Empire at that time. Sunday was honored in
recognitionoftheresurrectionofChrist,andSabbathwasdowngradedas
applicableonlytotheJewsandnonapplicabletoChristianGentiles.
Constantine'sFirstSundayLaw
ConstantineandhissonsissuedseveralSundaylaws,thefirstofwhich
hasbecomejustlyfamous.IssuedMarch7,321,itread:
Alljudgesandcitypeopleandthecraftsmenshallrestuponthevenerable
DayoftheSun.Countrypeople,however,mayfreelyattendtothecultivation
of the fields, because it frequently happens that no other days are better
adaptedforplantingthegraininthefurrowsorthevinesintrenches.Sothat
theadvantagegivenbyheavenlyprovidencemaynot for theoccasionofa
shorttimeperish.
Ithasoftenbeennotedthatthiswasasecularratherthanareligiouslaw,and
rightly so. Examination reveals, further, that it directly affected only a small
percentageofthepopulation.Aimedatcitypeople,itspecificallyexemptedfarmers
andvillagersandmostpeopleatthetimewerefarmersandvillagers.

SabbathRevival

Documentsthathavecomedowntousfromthemiddleandlaterpartsofthe
fourth century, the same century as Constantine's first Sunday law, represent a
changeinattitudetotheSabbath.ChristianwritingsnowexpressjoyintheSabbath
and view the Sabbath as a special day second only to Sunday. The change in
attitudetowardtheSabbathisremarkableSurprisingasitmaysound,theCouncil
ofLaodicea,whicharound360forbadeidlenessontheSabbath,waspartofthe
processwherebytheSabbathunderwentarevival.ThatverysameCouncilrequired
thegospelsto
Rabbis,andtheSabbath,"AUSS12/2(July1974):94102.
51PreseivedinCodexJustmiarws,3.12.3.

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RomanCatholicismandtheUnitedStates
bereadandtheLord'ssuppertobecelebratedonSabbath.Theinfluenceofthis
councilwaslonglasting.
TheApostolicconstitutions. Aboutthissametime(375?)theauthorof the
Apostolic Constitutions, a highly influential document, taught that "solemn
assemblies"weretobeheldonbothSabbathandSunday.Itcalledonemployersto
allowtheirservantstimetoattendthesesolemnassembliesonbothSabbathand
Sunday.WhileinsistingthattheSabbathwasnotadayforidleness,theApostolic
Constitutions held that the Ten Commandments demand observance of the
Sabbath52afarcryfromJustinandIrenaeusinthesecondcenturyandTertullian
intheearlythird,eachofwhomfoundwaystoneutralizetheSabbathoftheTen
Commandments.
InConstantinoplein336,ChristiansassembledinchurchonSunday. 53 Butby
theendofthecentury,theChristiansinConstantinopleassembledonbothSabbath
andSunday.4InAsiaMinor,GregoryofNyssacalledtheSabbathsandtheLord's
days"sisters."55 AndinPontusaround400,AsteriusofAmaseaspokeofSabbath
andSundayasa"team"of"mothers"and"nurses"whogatherthepeopletogether
forinstruction.
The Lausiac history. The revived respect for the Sabbath is clear in The
LausiacHistory, writtenbyPalladiusafterhetraveledfromPalestinein388and
spent12yearslivingamongthemonksinEgypt.Hefoundmonksobservingboth
SabbathandSunday.SomecelebratedcommuniononSabbathsandSundays.Some
monksspentthefivedaysalone,congregatingforworshiponlyonSabbathsand
Sundays.Andtwomonksindifferentplacesfastedfivedaysaweek,enjoyingfood
only on Sabbaths and Sundays. 57 (Augustine said in 396 that many monks in
monasteries ate only on Sabbaths and Sundays. 58 Palladius's observations are
important,fortherevivalofinterestintheSabbaththatbeginsaroundthemiddleof
thefourthcenturycoincideswiththespreadofmonastidsmoutofEgyptaboutthat
sametime.
Epiphanius(ca.315403).ThisbishopofSalamisrejoicedinhisPananonthat
asabbaticlifestylehadreplacedliteralSabbathobservance.59 Thisconcept,thata
newlifestylereplacesliteralSabbathobser
52ApostolicConstitutions2:36;5:20;8:33,ANF,7:413,449,495.
53Wereadthatinordertomeetwiththelocalchurch,Ariushadtowaitto"assemblewiththe
churchonthedayfollowingtheSabbath."(Socrates,ChurchHistory.1.38,NPNP[2],2:3435.)
54Sozomen,ChurchHistory,8.8,NPNF(2),2:404.
55DeCastigatwne(OnReproof),PG46:309,citedinSDABibleStudents'SourceBook,an.141S.
56Asterius,Homily5,onMatL19:13,PG40:225,citedinSDABibleStudents'SourceBook.art.U2A.
57Palladius,LausiacHistory,7,20,32,48,ACW,24:41.7071,92,131.
58Augustine,Letter36,toCasulanus,4.8,NPNF(1),1:267.
59Epiphanius,Pananon,1.8.6,PG41:213.
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TheMarkoftheBeast
vance,washeldbymanyearlywriters,includingJustin,Irenaeus,andTertullian,
whosenameswehavementioned.60Nevertheless,whenEpiphaniushadoccasionto
mentiontheSabbathagainsomewhatlater,henotedthatbythistime"inafew
places"someChristianswereactuallyassemblingontheliteralSabbath.61
Socrates(b.ca.380).HalfacenturylaterChristianmeetingsonSabbathwere
sowidespreadthataroundA.D.440SocratesofConstantinoplecouldreportthat
"althoughallchurchesthroughouttheworldcelebratethesacredmysteriesonthe
sabbathofeveryweek,yettheChristiansatAlexandriaandatRome,onaccountof
someancienttradition,haveceasedtodothis[Greek:donotdothis].**62
This statement by Socrates has often been interpreted to mean that Sab
bathkeepinghadcontinuedwithoutabreaksincethetimeofChristActuallythe
statement isnotaddressingkeepingtheSabbathholy,butcelebrating theLord's
Supper(the"sacredmysteries")bypriestsontheSabbath.Thisobservanceofthe
Lord'sSupperonSabbathwasinharmonywiththevotetakenattheCouncilof
Laodicea,butincontrasttothenoncelebrationoftheLord'sSupperonSabbathin
thesecondandthirdcenturies.WhatSocrates'statementillustratesisa revival of
interestintheSabbath.
ManyfactorscontributedtothisinterestintheSabbath,oneofwhichappearsto
havebeenthespreadofmonastidsmfromEgyptinthelate300sandearly400s
which we mentioned. It is notable that the existence of SabbathandSunday
lectionaries(collectionsofBibleselectionsforuseinmonasteries)isattestedonly
fromthefourthcenturyonward.Itisnotable,too,thatinWesternEurope,itwas
Cassian, a monky who around 415430 unsuccessfully advocated some kind of
SabbathobservancealongwithSunday.
Generalsummary.Wesummarizebeforeproceeding.Sundayobservanceand
SabbathrejectionwerenotcharacteristicoftheRomanChurchaloneintheearly
centuries; they were characteristic of the state of Christianity at the time. This
observation isinharmonywithPaul'sstatement in2Thessalonians2:7that the
mysteryofiniquity(or"lawlessness")was
60Forexample,Justin,DialoffuwithTiypho,12,ANF,1;200:"Thenewlawrequiresyoutokeeppcr
petualsabbath....Ifthereisanyperjuredpersonorathiefamongyou,leihimceasetobeso;
ifanyadulterer,lethimrepent;thenhehaskeptthesweetandtruesabbathsofGod.Ifanyone
hasimpurehands,lethimwashandbepure."Cf.Irenaeus,AgainstHeresies,4.16;ANF,1:481,
'TheSabbathstaughtthatweshouldcontinuedaybydayinGod'sservice."Irenaeus,Proofofthe
ApostolicPreaching,96;ACW,16,"Norwillhebecommandedtoleaveidleonedayofrest,who
is constantly keeping sabbath,that is,giving homage to GodinthetempleofGod,whichis
man'sbody,andatalltimesdoingtheworksofjustice."
61Epiphanius.Fanarion,3.24,PG42:829,831.
62Socrates,ChurchHistory,5.22,NPNF(2),2:132.

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RomanCatholicismandtheUnitedStates
alreadyatworkeveninthemiddleofthejirstcentury.
WehavealsotakennoteofevidenceforarevivaloftheSabbathbeginningin
thefourthcentury,coincidingwiththespreadofmonasticismoutofEgypt.

RomeandtheSabbath
We have been tracing the general history of Sabbath and Sunday in the
Christianchurchesofthefirstfivecenturies.Nowwewillseehowtheattitudeof
the"RomanChurch,"theCatholicChurchinWesternEurope,differedfromthatof
theotherprincipalchurchesamongwhichChristianitycametobedivided.
During the fourth and fifth centuries, the Sabbath was respected alongside
Sunday in the Coptic, Ethiopian, Armenian, and Greekspeaking churches. The
NorthAfricanChurchalsohonoreditwithoptionalpreachingonthatday. 63Butthe
NorthAfricanChurchwasdestroyedbytheMusliminvasionoftheseventhcentury.
The Armenian Church clung loyally to the Sabbath for centuries, 64 the Coptic
Churchobservesitinsomeformeventoday,andtheNestorianChurch,whichby
exceptiondidnotaccept theSabbaththesetoowereoverrunbytheMuslims.
AlthoughtheywerepermittedbytheirMuslimoverlordstocontinuetoexist,they
becamestereotypedandweak.TheGreekspeakingchurchcelebratedtheSabbath
alongwithSundayformanycenturiesandstillobservesitincertainways;
however, Islam overran much of its broad territory (modern Turkey, and the
Balkans,butnotGreece)andconqueredConstantinoplein1453.
So the church that remained the most dynamic of all the churches was the
churchoftheRomanWest,anditwasthisRomanChurchwhich,duringthe1260
years,mostconspicuouslyopposedtheSabbath,enforcingSundayinitsplace.The
RomanChurchbecametheauthenticfulfillmentofthelittlehornofDaniel7andof
the sea beast of Revelation 13. In addition to fulfilling other specifications of
prophecy,itdidmorethantheotherchurchesto"thinktochangethetimesandthe
law'*andto"blasphemeGod'sdwelling."TheRomanChurchwascharacterized,
marked,byacoerciveattitudefavoringSundayandopposingtheSabbath.
63SeeJ.N.AndrewsandL.R.Conradi,HistoryoftheSabbathandFirstDayoftheWeek
(Washington,DC,1912),466.
64KennethA.Strand,ed.,TheSabbathinScriptureandHistory(Washington,DC,1982),16263,167
n.120.
65BenjaminGeorgeWilkinson.TruthTriumphant:TheChurchintheWilderness(MountainView,
CA,1944)wasapioneer,ifaninaccurateone,ofthisinterpretationwhichseestheRomanChurch
as(heprincipalopponentofiheSabbath.

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AgainsttheQuartodecimans.Tofollowcharacteristicdevelopmentsin
the Roman Church, we observe that the Roman Church's potential for
coerciveendorsementofSundayappearedveryearly,indeed,beforetheend
ofthesecondcentury,whenVictorI,bishopofRome,becameirritatedby
thesocalledQuartodecimans("Fburteenthers").TheQuartodecimans,who
livedinandnearEphesus,observedEasteronPassoverday,the14thofthe
JewishmonthNisan,regardlessofthedayoftheweekonwhichitfell.
RomewantedEastercelebratedexclusivelyonaSunday.
Thismuchisgenerallyknown.Whatisnotsowidelyrecognizedisthat
initspreferenceforcelebratingEasteronSunday,thechurchofRomewas
littledifferentfrommanyoftheothercitychurches.
When preparing to launch his attack against the Quartodecimans,
BishopVictorofRomeconductedapollofthepastorsofthemaincity
churchesintheRomanEmpire.Eusebius,thefamouschurchhistorian,tells
us that "victor received replies in favor of the Sunday Easter from the
bishopsofCaesarea,Jerusalem,Corinth,Gaul,Osrhoene,andthevarious
bishopsinPontus,alongwith,hesays,"agoodmanyothers."Laterinhis
account,Eusebiusreferstoadditionalbishops,thoseinTyre,Ptolemais,and
Alexandria,whoalsofavoredtheSundayEaster.Thus we concludethat
around AD. 190 virtually all known congregations, excepting only the
QuartodecimancongregationsintheprovinceofAsia,wereinthecustomof
celebratingEasteronSunday.ItisinaccuratetoassumeRomewastheonly
churchtoobserveEasteronSunday.
Butand the "but" is most importantthe only church that excom
municated the Quartodecimans for their nonobservance of the Sunday
Easter,wasthechurchinRome.
AfterBishopVictorofRomeexcommunicatedtheQuartodecimans,he
wasrebukedbyseveraloftheotherbishops.Therebukesenttohimby
IrenaeusofGaulispreservedforusbyEusebius.Irenaeusandtheseother
bishopsallobservedEasterSunday;buttheydifferedfromRomeinacru
cialrespect.TheydidnotwanttopersecutetheQuartodecimansthewaythe
RomanChristiansdid.
Here is a beginning of Rome's characteristic coercive preference for
Sunday.
TheRomanSabbathfastAroundtheyear200,shortlyaftertheQuar
todeciman controversy, the church of Rome began to enforce a Sabbath
fast.66
66EvidencethattheRomanSabbathfastbeganaroundtheyear200comesinpartfromTcrtullian's
88

RomanCatholicismandtheUnitedStates

ThisSabbathfast,whichwasprobablynotacompletefastbutmayhave
forbiddenwineandanythingmadeofgrainandoil,likebread,wasacon
tinuationoftheregularFridayhalffastwhichmanyChristiansatthetime
were observing all around the Empire. Being a fast, it prevented the
celebrationoftheLord*sSupper.
Onceagain,asintheQuartodecimancontroversy,mostotherchurches
refusedtogoalongwiththisRomaninnovation.Indeed,practicallytheonly
churches which ever observed Rome*s Sabbath fast were the churches
locatedinWesternEurope.AndforsometimenotallevenoftheseWestern
congregations observed it. The large city congregation in Milan, for
example,capitulatedtotheRomanChurchinthisregardonlyaftermany
yearsofstruggle.
Already Rome was playing its prophetic role as principal coercive
proponentofSundayandopponentoftheSabbath.
ResistancetoSabbathrevival.Inthefourthcentury,asSabbathobser
vance spread along with monasticism from Egypt to other parts of the
Romanworld,theChristiansinWesternEuropewereconspicuousfor not
adoptingtheconcept.WehavementionedthatthemonkCassiantriedin
vaintointroduceakindofSabbathobservanceinsouthernFrance.
MorerecentlyTheConvert'sCatechism6'hasbeenwidelyquotedforits
statementthattheCatholicChurchattheCouncilofLaodiceaaround360
transferredthesolemnityofthedayfromSabbathtoSunday.
Altogether,thesynodofLaodiceapassedfourcanonsdealingwiththe
Sabbathquestion.Canon16requiredtheGospelstobereadonSabbath,and
Canons49and51requiredthatduringLenttheLord*sSupperwastobe
celebratedonSabbathaswellasSunday,andonlyonthosetwodays.
LAODICEA, CANON 16.TheGospelsaretobereadonSabbath,withthe
otherScriptures[apparentlyatCommunionservices;seecanon49,below].
LAODICEA, CANON 29. Christians must notjudaize by resting on the
Sabbath,butmustworkonthatday.ratherhonoringtheLord'sDay;and, if
theycan,restingthenasChristians.Butifanyshallbefoundtobejudaizers,
letthembeanathemafromChrist.
LAODICEA,CANON49.DuringLent,theBreadmustnotbeofferedexcepton
theSabbathDayandontheLord'sDayonly.

attackon itinhis On Fasting (ANF,4:102114),datedaround208, andfrom theseventhcentuty


LiberPontificalis,whichattributestheauthorizationofthefasttoPopeCallistus(21722).67Peter
Gciermann,TheConvert'sCatechismofChristianDoctrine(St.Louis,1930),50.

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TheMarkoftheBeast
LAODICEA, CANON 51.ThenativitiesofMartyrs[actually,thedeathdays,on
which martyrs were considered to have been born to eternal life] are not to be
celebratedinLent,butcommemorationsoftheholyMartyrsaretobemadeonthe
SabbathsandLord'sdays.

Canon29isverystronginitsoppositiontocompleterestontheSab
bath.ItcanbeexplainedonlyonthebasisthatbyA.D.360theSabbathhad
longsinceslippedoutofviewasadayofcompleterestformostChristians;
yetwecanrightlyinferthatsomepeoplewerestillrestingontheSabbath,
orthecouncilwouldhavefeltnoreasontoenacttheruleagainstdoingso.
BecauseLaodiceaisintheEasternpartoftheRomanEmpire,thiscanon
revealsthatEastern(aswellasWestern)ChristiansopposedtheSabbath,at
leasttosomeextent.Buttheotherthreecanonsrevealarespectforthe
SabbathintheEast.Canons16,49,and51requiretheGospelstoberead(at
churchservices)ontheSabbath,andtheLord'sSuppertobecelebratedon
SabbathevenduringLent.
Thatfamousclaimm TheConvert'sCatechism thatattheCouncilof
Laodicea the Catholic Church changed the solemnity from Sabbath to
Sundayisremarkableasaclaim,butashistoryitisflawed.
Aswehaveseen,theCouncilofLaodiceawasnotaWesterncouncil;
itwasalocalEastern,Greekspeakingsynodatwhich,sofarasweknow,
Romehadnovoice.
Foranotherthing,theRomanCatholicWestrefusedtoheedoneofthe
canonsinquestionpassedbytheCouncilofLaodicea.Therequirementthat
theLord'sSupperbecelebratedonSabbathwasignoredinRomeuntilafter
1054, seven hundred years after the Laodicean Council! This helps
illuminateSocrates'statementthatthesacredmysterieswereobservedinall
thechurches(aroundA.D.440)exceptatAlexandriaandRome.
In381,sometwentyyearsorsoaftertheLaodiceanCouncil,Roman
delegateswerepresentattheFirstCouncilofConstantinople,wherethey
tookpartwithalargenumberofdelegatesfromotherchurchesinapproving
themanycanonsofLaodiceaalongwithattendingtomanyotheritemsof
business.68 Andoverthecenturies,beginningperhaps200yearslater,the
canonaboutnotworkingonSundaywasinvokedinvariousplacesinthe
WestagainstpeoplewhowantedtorefrainfromworkingonSabbath.But
theCouncilofLaodiceawasnotquitetheRomanCatholicwatershedsome
haveattimesthoughtittohavebeen.Inanycase,theWesternchurch
68 For alist of Western documents thatincluded the canons of Laodiceaover thecenturies, see
BemhardBlumcngranz, Juifs et ChretiensdansIe Monde Occidental,4301096 (Paris andLa
Haye,1960),176,n.66.

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RomanCatholicismandtheUnitedStates
simply ignored the canon of Laodicea which required the Lord's Supper to be
celebratedonSabbath.
Some three centuries after the Council of Laodicea (that is, in 692) the
important Quinisext Council met in Constantinople. This Eastern council
complainedaboutthecontinuingRomanpracticeoffastingonSabbath.Infact,it
passedacanonattemptingtopersuadetheRomanstodropthepracticeandtake
theirregularmealsonSabbath,justasEasternChristiansdid.
QUINISEXT, CANON 55.Since we understand that in the city of the
Romans,intheholyfast ofLenttheyfast ontheSaturdays[Greek: Sab
baths}, contrary to the ecclesiastical observance which is traditional, it
seemedgoodtotheholysynod[theOuinisextCouncilitself]thatalsointhe
ChurchoftheRomansthecanonshallimmovablystandfastwhichsays:"If
anyclericshallbefoundtofastonaSundayorSaturday(except onone
occasiononly[theSabbathbeforeEasterSunday])heistobedeposed;andif
heisalaymanheshallbecutoff."
Anancientscholarcommentedruefully,"Thesynodtookinhandtocorrectthis
failing of the Latins; but until this time they have arrogantly remained in their
pertinacity,andsoremaintoday."70

ReCatholicizingoftheWest
Thetribes thatinvadedtheRomanEmpire inthe fifthcenturywere
eitherpaganor,ifChristian,oftheArianvariety. The three"horns"that
were"uprooted,"theHeruls,Vandals,andOstrogoths,wereArian.Overan
extensiveperiod,thesurvivingtribesultimatelyturnedCatholic.TheSalian
FranksbegantheprocessbyacceptingCatholicismin496.
CouncilofOrleans,538.SowhatdowefindhappeningtoSabbathand
SundayinnewlyCatholicizedFrance?In538,theyearwhenthe"grave"of
the Ostrogoths was "dug" at Rome and the 1260 years began, a well
attendedchurchcouncilinOrleanspasseditsCanon28,aregulationwhich
forbadecomplete rest onthe Lord's day(indicating that some people in
France were already advocating a sabbatic Sunday) but which required
abstinencefromheavyfarmworkplowing,harvesting,pruning,attending
tohedges,etc.onSundaytoprovidefreedomforpeopletoattendchurch.
WequotefromHefele'sabbreviatedparaphrase. 71
69NPNP(2),14:391.
70Ibid.
71CharlesJosephHefele,AHistoryoftheCouncilsoftheChurch,trans.WilliamRClark,5vols.

91

ORLEANS, CANON 28.ItisaJewishsuperstitionthatitisunlawfultorideor


driveonSunday[Latin,Lord'sday]ordoanythingforthedecorationofhouseor
person.Butfieldlaboursareforbidden,sothatpeoplemaybeabletocometochurch
andworship.Ifanyoneactsotherwise,heistobepunished,notbythelaity,butby
thebishop.

ThisCatholicSundaylaw,whichmaybethefirstreligiousSundaylaw
passedintheWest,differedfromConstantine'searlierlawofMarch7,321,
in three respects: (a) it regulated agricultural workers, the bulk of the
population, who were not regulatedbyConstantine's lawof 321, (b) its
purposewasstatedasreligious,namely,toallowworkerstoattendchurch,
and(c)itwasenactedbythechurchratherthanbythestate.
IsidoreofSeville.In507theFranksdefeatedtheVisigothsinFrance
andin508drovethesurvivorsoverthePyreneestojointherestoftheir
tribeinSpain.Intermittentwarfarebetweenthetribescontinuedthrough
mostofthecentury.In596,however,theVisigothsbecameCatholics,like
theFranks.
Aroundtheyear600,BishopIsidoreofSevilleexpressedcontemptfor
theVisigothicarmythatletitselfbeannihilatedonaSundaybyrefusingto
fightonaholyday.73 Nonetheless,heconsideredSundaygreaterthanthe
SabbathonaccountofCreation,Christ'sresurrection,and(likeOrigen)the
firstfallingofthemanna:
ItisclearthatSundaywasalreadyverysolemnintheHolyScriptures.Itisindeedthefirst
dayoftheworld,thedaywhentheangelswerecreated;
thedaywhenChristwasresurrected;thedaywhentheHolySpiritfelluponthe
apostles;thedaywhenthemannawasgivenforthefirsttimeinthewilderness....
FortheJewsalreadythenourSundaywasgreaterthanSabbath.74

DanielAugsburger75 tellsusthat thisstatementwrittenbyIsidorein


SpainwascopiedverbatimbythefamouschurchmanandBibletranslator
(Edinburgh,18931896),4:2089.
72ThefullLatintextisavailableinMansi,SacrorumConciHorum9:19.ThetranslationinAndrews
andConradi,HistoryoftheSabbath,485,ishelpfulinthatitrepresentstheentireLatintext,
whereasHcfclegivesonlyareducedparaphrase.Butthistranslationissingularinthatithas
thecouncilrequiringpeopleonly"frequently"toabstainfromfarmworkontheLord'sday.The
translatoroverlookedthefactthatthoughsepe(ortayw),whenstandingalonecanbethe
adverb"often,frequently,"whenusedintheconstructionvel...vd,"either...or,"itcanonlybea
formofthenounsepes(seepes),"ahedge."AsHefelc'sparaphrasedemonstrates,thiscanonfor
badepeopletoengageinfarmworkontheLord'sdayeveryweek,notjust"frequently."
73IsidoreofSeville,HistoryoftheGoths,Vandals,andSuevi,42,trans.GuidoDoniniandGordonB.
FordJr.,2ndcd.(Leiden.1970),20.
74QuotedbyDanielA.AugsburgerinStrand.TheSabbathinScriptureandHistory,191.
75Ibid.
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RomanCatholicismandtheUnitedStates
Bede inBritain;byAlcuin,theBritishscholarwhoservedconspicuouslyinthe
courtofCharlemagneinFranceandGermany;andbyRabanusMaurus,theninth
centuryArchbishopoftheGermancityofMainz.
Pope Gregory the Great At about this same time, around A.D. 600, fope
GregorytheGreatcameupon"certainmenofperversespirit,"ashecalledthem,
whowereteachingpeopletoabstainfromallworkonSundayandalsotoabstain
fromallworkontheSabbath.Hisremarksaboutthem,deliveredinalettertothe
citizens of Rome, have become famous amongSeventhday Adventists.Among
otherthingsheasked,"WhatelsecanIcallthesebutpreachersofAntichrist,who,
whenhecomes,willcausetheSabbathdayaswellastheLord'sdaytobekeptfree
fromallwork."76
GregorywentontosaythatinplaceoftheliteralSabbath,Christians"havethe
trueSabbathinourRedeemerHimself."TosaywemustrestoretheliteralSabbath
wouldrequireusalsotoreinstateliteralcircumcision
T7

andanimalsacrifices.
Describing people who advocate resting on Sabbath as "preachers of
Antichrist"isstronglanguage.HereaprominentpopeofRomeusedsuchlanguage
aroundAD.600.
AllegedletterfromtheLord. Alsoaround600thefamous Letterfromthe
Lord, surfaced, sometimes known as the Letter from Heaven. It seems to have
appearedfirstononeoftheMediterraneanislandsofftheeastcoastofSpain.From
thereittraveledtothenorthandeastandwasstillbeingquotedcenturieslater.
Underthemostterriblethreatening,thisdocumentcalledonpeopleto"keepMy
commandmentsandveneratetheholydayoftheLord."
Remember[itsaid]thetablesofMosesMyservant,andthelawand
preceptswhichIgavehimtopreachtothepeoples,thattheymightfearMe
andkeepMylaw....
IfyoudonotcorrectyourwaysIwillsendyouwormsandlocuststhat
willeatyourharvestsandrapaciousbullsthatwilldevouryou,becauseyou
didnotkeeptheholydayoftheLord.Anyonewhodoesnotkeepitwillbe
accursed.OntheLord'sdayyoumustnotwashyourclothesnorwashorcut
yourhair.Whoeverdoesso,lethimbeaccursed.ItellyouoncemorethatI
was...resurrectedontheLord'sday....InthatdayImadeheavenandearth...
andsanctifiedthedayoftheLordandestablishedtheobservanceoftherest
toeveryoneonthatday....BeveryfaithfulinkeepingthedayoftheLord,
notevengatheringvegetablesfromyour
76SeeSDABibleStudents'SourceBook(Washington,DC,1962),art.1431.
77GregoryI,SelectedEpistles,NPNF(2).13:92.

93

TheMarkoftheBeast
gardensonthedayoftheLord.Ifyouwomendaretodosuchthings,Iwillsendupon
youwingedsnakestobeatanddevouryourbreasts....Afflictionafterafflictionwill
come upon you.... And if you do not want to correct yourselves^ be ready for a
punishmentinthemonthofNovember.

ThisLetterfromtheLordisnoteworthyforitslegalisticSundayobser
vance purportedly based on the fourth commandment, underscored with
ferociousthreats.Localizedatfirst,thedocumentitselfandtheconceptit
representedspreadwidelyovertime,helpingtofulfilltheprophecyabout
changingtimesandthelaw.
TheGreatSchismof1054. Arguablythemostdramaticevidenceof
Rome'scoercivepreferenceforSundayinoppositiontotheSabbathcomes
fromtheGreatSchismof1054.TheresearchesofR.L.Odom,reportedin
thefirstissueotAndrewsUniversitySeminaryStudies(1963)underthetitle,
"TheSabbathintheGreatSchismofA.D.1054,"showthat"oneofthe
mainissuesinvolved"inthismomentousseparationofEastfromWestin
1054"wasthematteroffasting...ontheSabbath,theseventhdayofthe
week."
Sabbathobservancewasnottheonlyboneofcontention.Theuseof
unleavenedbreadinthecommunionservice,celibacyofthelowerclergy,
and of course the primacy of the pope were other issues. But Sabbath
observancetriggeredthefinalquarrelthatbroughtabouttheschism.
Officialcorrespondencewasexchanged,theireofPopeLeoDCwas
aroused, and legates were dispatched from Rome to Constantinople to
demandthattheOrthodoxleadershipchangeitswaysandconformtoRome.
Inbrief,around9:00on Sabbath morning,July16,1054,theRoman
legatesangrilyplacedonthehighaltaroftheChurchofHagiaSophia,the
principal edifice of the Greek Orthodox Church, a document excom
municatingtheclergyandchurchesoftheGreekOrthodoxpersuasion.
The Roman legates chose this place and this moment because the
deacons were busy then preparing to celebrate the Lord's Supper on a
Sabbath.
CardinalHumbert,oneoftheRomanlegates,soonafterwardwrotea
treatiseinwhichhecriticizedtheGreekOrthodoxChristiansforcarrying
78SeeRobertPriebsch,LetterfromHeavenontheObservanceof'theLord'sDay(Oxford:BasilBlack
well,1936).ApartialtranslationisavailableinJ.N.AndrewsandL.R.Conradi,Historyofthe
SabbathandFirst Day oftheWxk (Takoma Park,MD, 1912),51112.Afuller translation, by
RaphaelGonzalez,isavailableinMaxwellandDamsteegt,SourceBookfortheHistoryofSabbath
andSunday.

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RomanCatholicismandtheUnitedStates

on"anobservanceoftheSabbathsimilartothatoftheJews."Inhistreatise
theCardinalrecitedastatement,probablylegendarybutattributedtoPope
SylvesterIofthetimeofConstantine,inwhichthatpopesaidthat"every
Sabbathday[onaccount]oftheburial[ofChrist]istobeestimated
inexecrationoftheJews."
Ontheotherhand,PatriarchMichaelCerularius,principalpriestof
theGreekOrthodoxChurch,wentsofaronbehalfoftheGreekChristiansas
tosaythat"wearecommandedalsotohonortheSabbathequallywiththe
Lord'sday[Sunday],andtokeep(it)andnottoworkonit."
WhathappenednextinItalyisinitselfofconsiderableinterest.With
attentionfocusedforawhileonthequestionofSabbathobservance, the
RomanChurchrespondedtopopularagitationbyrelaxingtheSabbathfast
andbydedicatingtheSabbathnottoJesus,LordoftheSabbath,but
tothe"blessedvirgin."
Let usnotecarefullythatRomanChristianityin1054waswillingto
excommunicateandconsigntoeternalhellfiremillionsoffellowChristians
becausetheyinsistedondoingsomethingspecialtohonortheSabbath.This
decisive act of religious coercion in the matter of Sabbath observance
epitomizes Rome's eligibility as the fulfiller of the little hom of Daniel
7:24,25andtheseabeastofRevelation13:110.
ThomasAquinas. ButtheRomanChurchdidnotstopthere.Inthe
thirteenth century Thomas Aquinas, whose authority as a Catholic theo
logianisunequaled,declaredspecifically,"IntheNewLawthekeepingof
theSundaysupplantsthatoftheSabbath,notinvirtueofthepreceptofthe
law, but through determination by the church and the custom of the
Christianpeople."79
Here is a salient development. Thomas, the single most respected
teacherofRomanCatholicism,taughtthatthechangefromSabbathtoSun
daywasindeedbroughtaboutbytheRomanCatholicChurch"through
determinationbythechurchandthecustomoftheChristianpeople."
Thomasfurtherdistinguishedbetweenmoralandceremonialaspectsof
the Sabbath commandment. He insisted that the day on which the com
mandmentwastobeobservedwas ceremonial andsubjecttothechurch's
power ofthekeys.EventheSabbath's moral aspects,hesaid,weretobe
observedlessstrictlyundergospelfreedom. 80
79ThomasAquinas,SwmnaIheologiae,2a2ac.1224ad4,citedinStrand,Sabbathin
ScriptureandHistory,20506.
80SecStrand,SabbathinScriptureandHistory,206.

95

TneWarfcbrineBeast

Havinggonethisfar,Thomasproceededtodeclaretheliteralkeeping
oftheSabbathcommandmenttobeboth"dead"and"deadly.'* 81
Whenanhonoredchurchleader inthe name of Christdeclaresthe
keepingofacommandmenttobe"deadly,"thatleaderandthechurchthat
honorshimhavesurely"spokengreatthingsagainstthemostHigh."When
that samechurchtransfers theauthorityof the fourth commandment to
Sundayanddoessowhimsicallyonthebasisofwhatitfeelsisimportant,
ithassurelysoughtto"changethetimesandthelaw."
"Thepopecanmodifydivinelaw,"saidPetrusdeAncharano. 82
"TheSabbath,themostgloriousdayinthelaw,hasbeenchangedinto
theLord'sday...bytheauthorityofthechurch,"thunderedtheArchbishop
ofReggioatthecrucialCouncilofTrent.83
"ItopeneditsmouthtoutterblasphemiesagainstGod,blaspheminghis
nameandhisdwelling"(Rev13:6).
WorldwideoppositiontoSabbath.Iftodaymuchoftheworldoutside
EuropehasbeenmoreorlessChristianized,muchcreditgoestoWestern
Europe.ThespreadofChristianityhasbeencarriedoutmostlybyWestern
ChristiansbyRomanCatholics,andbyProtestantswho,forthemostpart,
continuesomeofthepracticesofRome.AmongthefeaturesofRomewhich
Protestants have taken with them around the world have been both the
observance of Sunday and an insistence that Sabbath ought not to be
observed.
Conclusion
Sunday observance in preference to Sabbath observance has charac
terized most of Christianity from the second century to today. Coercive
oppositiontotheSabbathandcoerciveenforcementofSundayinitsplace
haveconstitutedacharacteristicmarkoftheleopardbodiedseabeastfrom
itsfirstappearance.
Butourexegeticalstudyledustoseethatthe"markofthebeast"isan
endtimephenomenonappliedtohumanity,notbytheleopardbodiedsea
beastbutbytheIambhornedearthbeast.Weproceednowtoastudy
oftheearthbeast,thentosomefinalconclusionsregardingthenatureofthe
markofthebeastitself.

81ThomasAquinas,Summatheologiae,2a2ae.122.4ad1,citedinStrand,Sabbathin
ScriptureandHistory,206.
82SeeLuciusFcrraris,PrompiaBibliotheca,8vols.(Venice:CaspaStorti,1772),art."Papa,
II."
83Mansi,SacrorwnConciliomm33:529,530;seeSDABibleStudents'SourceBook,arts.
1443,1444.

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RomanCatholicismandtheUnitedStates

TheUnitedStatesandtheMark
Enforcementofthemarkofthebeastisdonebyanewbeast,mentionedin
Revelation13:1117.Johnsawitcomingupoutoftheearth.
ThenIsawanotherbeastwhichroseoutoftheearth;ithadtwohorns
likealambanditspokelikeadragon.Itexercisesalltheauthorityofthe
firstbeastinitspresence,andmakestheearthanditsinhabitantsworship
thefirstbeast,whosemortalwoundwashealed....
Alsoitcausesall,bothsmallandgreat,bothrichandpoor,bothfree
andslave,tobemarkedontherighthandortheforehead,sothatnoone
canbuyorsellunlesshehasthemark,thatis,thenameofthebeastorthe
numberofitsname.
AttemptsmadeintheMiddleAgestounderstandthelambhomedbeastwere
doomedtofailure.Duringthe1260years,andespeciallytowardtheendofthat
period, the earth was helping the woman, swallowing up persecution by the
leopardbodiedbeast (the"firstbeast")onbehalfofthedragon.Itwasscarcely
possible for people to understand the symbolism until the leopardbodied beast
receiveditsmortalwound.Prophecyisbestinterpretedafterithasbeenatleast
partiallyfulfilled.Jesussaid,<(!havetoldyoubeforeittakesplace,sothatwhenit
doestakeplace,youmaybelieve"(John14:29).
The mortal wound came to be understood correctly during the French
Revolution, when it was in process of being inflicted. The French Revolution
occurredintheyearsfollowing1789.Thepopewastakenprisonerin1798.

CharacteristicsoftheLambHomedBeast
Inasmuchasthelambhomedbeastcausespeopletoworshipthefirst
beast"whosemortalwoundwashealed,"weknowthattheprophecyabout
thelambhomedbeastfocusesoneventsafterthewoundwasinflicted,that
is,after1798.
Thelambhornedbeasthasonlytwohorns,nottenhornslikethegreat
reddragonandtheleopardbodiedbeastofRevelation13andthemonstrous
beastofDaniel7.Evidentlyithasonlyonehead.(Itisnotsaidtohavefour
heads or seven heads like some other symbolic animals.) Its horns are
lamblike.Nothingaboutitresemblesanypartofthegreatreddragonorthe
leopardbodied,lionheaded,bearfootedseabeast.Weconcludethatthe
lambhornedanimalisauniquebeast,adistinctsymbolofanewentity
whoseexistenceisessentiallydifferentfromtheothersinthesequenceof
animalempires.
97

ThisnewbeastisnotRomeoranypartoftheformerRomanEmpire.
WemustlookforitsarrivalsomewhereelsethaninEurope.
Originandactivity.Thelambhomedbeastemergesoutoftheearth.
ThefourbeastsofDaniel7roseoutofthesea,astormysea.Theleopard
bodiedbeast,whichwascomposedofDaniel'sfourbeasts,alsoroseoutof
thesea.TheharlotofRevelation17satonabeastthatstoodinthesea.But
thelambhomedbeastroseoutoftheearth.Thedifferencemustbe
important
"Thewatersthatyousaw,wheretheharlotisseated,arepeoplesand
multitudesandnationsandtongues"(Rev17:15).
Whenincloselyrelatedprophecies"earth"iscontrastedwith"sea"
and"sea"representsvastpopulations,weperceivethat"earth"representsan
areawithalimitedpopulation.
Thisnewanimal'shomsare lamblike.^ TwentyeighttimesinRevela
tion (29 in the RSV) "lamb" refers to Jesus Christ. Horns are used
repeatedlyinDanielandRevelationassymbolsofgovernmentalpower.So
theearthbeast,whenJohnfirstsawit,wasusingitsgovernmentalpowerin
agentle,almostChristlikemanner.
Butit"spokelikeadragon."ThedragonisasymbolforSatanandfor
earthlygovernmentsthatcarryoutSatan'sdeceptiveandoppressiveplans.In
thegreatcontroversydivisionofRevelationthedragonrepresentsRome.So
different from Rome in its appearance (lamblike, not dragonlike), so
differentintheareawhereitarose(theearthratherthanthesea),andso
differentinthetimeofitsemergence(around1798,notinancienttimes),the
lambhornedbeastnonethelessendsultimatelyindeceivingandoppressing
justlikeRome.ItspeaksliketheRomandragonandexercisesthepowerthat
theRomandragongavetothefirstbeast.
"Itworksgreatsigns[ormiracles],evenmakingfirecomedownfrom
heaventoearthinthesightofmen"(13:13).
IfthispredictionreferstowhathappenedtoHiroshimaandNagasakiin
1945,ithasbeendramaticallyfulfilled.Probablythereisamoresignificant
fulfillmenttocomethatwehavenotimagined.
'Alsoitcauses all, bothsmallandgreat,bothrichandpoor,bothfree
andslave,tobemarkedontherighthandortheforehead,sothatnoonecan
buyorsellunlesshehasthemark,thatis,thenameofthebeastorthe
numberofitsname"(13:1617).
84Manybreedsofsheephavenohoms,oneitherthemales(rams)orthefemales(ewes).However,the
ramsofthecommonestsheepinbiblicalPalestine,thebroadtailedsheep(Ovislaacaudata)
didhavehorns,prominentcurledones.SeeanyBibledictionary.ThesymbolicramofDan7also
hadhorns.

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Anationthatcancauseallpeopletodosomething,God'sfollowers
aloneexcepted,mustbeapowerfulnation,aworldleader.
Identity.Whatisthisgentle,lambhomedsymbolthatJohnsawrising
outoftheearth,outofarelativelyuninhabitedarea,theNewWorld,around
thetimeoftheFrenchRevolution,whentheOldWorldleopardbodiedsea
beastwasreceivingitsmortalwound?Whatnationalonefitsallthese
specificationsandisalsoapreeminentworldleader?TheUnitedStatesof
Americacomestomindatonce.
ButitisclearthattheprophecydoesnotconcerntheUnitedStatesof
Americaalone.Thelambhornedbeastistocause"all,bothsmallandgreat,
bothrichandpoor,bothfreeandslave,"toreceivethemarkofthebeast.Itis
goingtoseetoitthat"noone"canbuyorsellwithoutwearingthemark.
Anditwilldosoincooperationwiththe"beast"ofrevivedOldWorld
Catholicism.Everypersonandeverynationcomesunderthepurviewofthis
remarkableprophecy.
Butwhenfirstseen,thelambhornedbeastisnotyetexercisingsuch
oppressiveworldleadership.Itshornsarelikealamb's,tinyandsoft.
TheUnitedStatesofAmerica
On July 4, 1776, the Declaration of Independence stated, "We hold
thesetruthstobeselfevident,thatallmenarecreatedequal,thattheyare
endowedbytheirCreatorwithcertainunalienablerights,amongwhichare
life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." These are beautiful, gentle,
almostChristlikewords.
"Congressshallmakenolawrespectinganestablishmentofreligion,or
prohibitingthefreeexercisethereof,'*saidtheFirstAmendment,adopted
withtherestoftheBillofRightsin1791.
ThegrandestachievementoftheAmericanConstitutionwasthecre
ationofanationwithafriendlyseparationofchurchandstate.Theworld
hadneverseensuchathing.Everyothernationsinceancienttimeshad
taxeditspeopletosupportastatereligion,andmosthadoppressedreligious
dissidents. The French Revolution, a little later than the American
Revolution,experimentedwithahostileseparationofchurchandstate.In
time,MarxistcountriesexceededFrance'stemporaryexample.
ButAmerica,withitsfriendlyseparationofchurchandstate,salariedno
clergy85andtaxednocongregation.Itpermitteddenominationsto
85MilitarychaplainsaresalariedbytheAmericangovernmentasreplacementsforthecivilianpastors
whomsoldiersaredeprivedofwhentheyenterthemilitary.See,e.g.,LeoPfeffer,Church,State,
andfreedom,rev.cd.(Boston,1953,1967),169:"Chaplainsinthearmedforcesmaybe

99

TBelWarkonheBeast
proliferateandsupportednoneofthem. Its Congresssaid,"InGodwetrust,"but
electednottoidentifyHimexclusivelyastheGodofChristians.
The United States fits the prophecy with precision. At its rise it revealed
lamblike qualities and emerged in a relatively unpopulated area, "the earth" in
contrast to the Old World's seething and crowded "sea." Native Americans (or
"Indians"astheywerethencalled)roamedtheshoresandplainswhenthenew
settlersarrived,butinsmallnumbers.Aninformedestimateplacestheirnumberat
amillionorsointhemorethanthreemillionsquaremileswhichlaterbecamethe
UnitedStates.86
The"toughestbattle...everfoughtonNewEnglandsoil"betweensettlersand
Indians involved only 3000 native Americans and lasted no longer than three
hours.87
Lamblikehorns/dragonlikcvoice.Buttheprophecysaysthatthelambhomed
beastwouldspeak"likeadragon." Specifically,itwoulderect an"imageofthe
beast"whichhadreceivedthemortalwound,causingitto"breathe," andwould
attempttocompeleveryonetoworshipit.
Andbythesignswhichitisallowedtoworkinthepresenceofthebeast,
itdeceivesthosewhodwellonearth,biddingthemmakeanimageforthe
beastwhichwaswoundedbytheswordandyetlived;anditwasallowedto
givebreathtotheimageofthebeastsothattheimageofthebeastshould
evenspeak,andtocausethosewhowouldnotworshiptheimageofthebeast
tobeslain.(13:1415)
An image is something that closely resembles something else. A statue
worshipedbyidolatersisalikeness,animage,ofthegodbeingworshiped.In13:14
17the"imageofthebeast"isareplicaorcopyofthebeast.TheOldWorldleopard
bodiedbeastwasapersecutingunionofchurchandstate,areligioussystemwedded
tonationalgovernmentandempoweredbyittooppressdissidentsandheretics.In
particular,itwasoutstandinginitsoppositiontotheSabbathandinitsadvocacyof
Sunday.Theimageofthebeastwillthereforebeapersecutingunionofchurchand
state,areligioussystemweddedtonationalgovernmentandempoweredbyitto
oppressdissidentsandheretics,especiallythosedissidentsandheretics
necessaryundertheconstitutionalguaranteeoffreedomofconscience.Asolderdraftedinto
thearmedforcesandsenttocampfarfromhomeisdeprivedoftheopportunitytovisithischurch."
86See,e.g.,SamuelEliotMorison,TheOxfordHistoryoftheAmericanPeople(NewYork,1965),15;
andMerwynS.Garbarino,"Indian,American,"WorldBookEncyclopedia(1973),10:127,138n.
87Morison,^menconPeople,110,referringtotheGreatSwampFightofNovember19,1675,withthe
Narragansetts.

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RomanCatholicismandtheUnitedStates
whokeeptheSabbathandrefusetoobserveSunday.
Ademonictrinity.Thereisatrinityhere,ademonictrinity:thedragon,thesea
beast,andtheearthbeast.Alluniteinonepurpose,tosetupanimageofoneof
them (the sea beast) and breathe life into it. What a distortion of the Creation
accountinGenesis1and2!Andtheycelebratethehealingofthebeastitsvirtual
resurrectionfromitsmortalwoundbyviciouslyenforcingworshiponSunday,the
day long ago set up in opposition to the Sabbath to do alleged honor to the
resurrectionofChrist.
Seventhday Adventist interpretation. That Revelation 13 foretells future
Sundaylegislation,JosephBatesrecognizedasearlyasJanuary1849, 88 whenhe
wroteinh\sASealoftheLivingGod,p.37,"Thisungodlypower[ofRev13:16]...
willyet,asitnowappears,enactalawfortheexpresspurposeofmakingallbow
downandkeepthePope'sSabbath."
ThattheUnitedStateswasthe"ungodlypower"thatwouldenacttheSunday
legislation, was presented first among Adventists two years later, when J. N.
AndrewssointerpretedtheprophecyintheReviewandHeraldforMay19,1851.
Andrewsobserved(aswealsohaveobservedinthischapter)that"thosepowers
withwhichthepeopleofGodareconnected,aretheonlyonesnotedinprophecy."It
seemed"evident"toAndrews"thattheterritoryofthislastpoweristobethefieldof
the[three]angels*messages[ofRev14:612],thelandwherethecrowningtruthsof
thegospel,ereitfinishesitscourse,aretobebroughtout."
TohelpconfirmhisinterpretationofthelambhornedbeastastheUnitedStates,
Andrewsquotedextensivelyfromanoteworthy1850editorialintheIrish Dublin
Nation, which contrasted the contemporary development of two very different
empires,theRussianintheeastandtheAmericaninthewest.
88EllenG.White, in Testimoniesforthe Church (Mountain View,CA, 1948ed.),5:137,saysthat
"thirtysixyearsagoIwasshownthat...theobservanceofaninstitutionofthepapacywouldbe
enforceduponthe people bya Sunday law, while the sanctifiedrestdayof Jehovahwouldbe
trampled underfoot." Her reference appears tobe to her vision ofApril3,1847,publishedby
JosephBateswiththedatelineApril7,1847.Thepertinentparagraphis,"IsawallthatSvouldnot
receivethemarkoftheBeast,andofhisImage,intheirforeheadsorintheirhands,'couldnotbuy
orsell.Isawthatthenumber(666)oftheImageBeastwasmadeup;andthatitwastheBeast
thatchangedtheSabbath,andtheImageBeasthadfollowedonafter,andkeptthePope's,and
notGod'sSabbath.Andallwewererequiredtodo,wastogiveupGod'sSabbath,andkeepthe
Pope's, and then we should have the mark of the Beast, andofhis Image."(This paragraph is
omittedfromthereprintinEartyfWtings[Washington,DC,1945],3235,perhapsbecauseofthe
ambiguityoftheterm"ImageBeast."Thevisionwasoriginallywrittenintheformofapersonal
lettertoJosephBates,earlyinEllenWhite'scareer.)

101

TheMarkoftheBeast
Intheeast[wrotetheDublineditorin1850]thereisarisingacolossalcentaur
calledtheRussianEmpire.Withacivilizedheadandfront,ithasthesinewsofahuge
barbaricbody.Thereoneman'sbrainmoves70,000,000.Thereallthetraditionsof
thepeopleareofaggressionandconquest....Therebuttworanksaredistinguishable
serfsandsoldiers.

Bycontrast,wrotetheIrisheditor,inthewestan
Americanempireis EMERGING. WeIslandershavenoconceptionofthe
extraordinaryeventswhichamidthesilenceoftheearth,aredailyaddingto
the powerand prideof thisgigantic nation.Withinthree years territories
moreextensivethan...FranceandItalyputtogether,havebeenquietfy,and
inalmost"matterofcourse"fashionannexedtotheUnion.
AlreadyhasMinnesotaitscapital,St.Paulwhichhasitsjournals,
churches, schools, parties, interests and speculations.... The settlers in
Californiaarefoundingcities,electingdelegates,magistrates,sheriffs,and
Congressmen,asmethodicallyandasintentlyasiftheytrodthebeatenpaths
oflifeontheAtlanticshoreofthecontinent.[EmphasisasintheReview].
J.N.AndrewscomparedthetwolamblikehornswiththelittlehornofDaniel7.
Henotedthatthelittlehornrepresentedtheunionoftheoppressivepapalchurch
withthevariousoppressiveEuropeanstategovernments.Hearguedthatbycontrast
thetwolamblikehornsrepresentedthenonoppressiveProtestantdenominationsin
AmericaandthenonoppressiveRepublicangovernmentoftheUnitedStates.
But,Andrewsmourned,thelambhomedbeastistospeaklikethedragonandis
thesameentityasthefalseprophetItstwohomedreligiousandsecularmildness
becomesthereforeasham.Already,indeed,theAmericangovernmentinAndrews's
daywascondoningslavery,andAmericanchurcheshaddisfellowshipedmembers
whocherishedtheSecondComing.
If"allmenarebornfreeandequal"[Andrewsasked],howdowethenhold
threemillionsofslavesinbondage?...Whyaremen[i.e.,Adventists]fornoother
crime than that of looking for the coming of Jesus Christ, expelled from the
churchesofthosewhoprofesstoloveHisappearing[?]90
89Thefoundersof theUnitedStates regarded "democracy"as undesirable.Insteadthey set upa
"republican"formofgovernment,withrepresentativedelegatesvotedintoexecutive,judicial,and
legislativeofficesbymen(notwomen)whometspecifiedpropertyqualifications.
90In1855UriahSmithmadeawoodcutshowingtheUnitedStatesasakindoftwohomedlionwitha
hoglikefaceandviciousteeth.AftertheCivilWarresultedintheemancipationoftheslaves,
the animal's appearance softened noticeably. Early in the twentieth century Adventist artists
beganpicturingAmericaasanAmericanbison(orbuffaloasitisfamiliarlyknown),snorting

102

RomanCatholicismandtheUnitedStates
Andrews's understanding of the lambhomed beast became standard among
SeventhdayAdventists.Ithasbeenimprovedindetailbutremains
essentiallyunchanged.
The accurate way in which portions of the prophecy have been fulfilled
encouragesconfidenceinthefulfillmentoftherestofit.Americadidariseina
relativelypeacefulfashion,inarelativelyunpopulatedarea,andaboutthetimeof
thedeadlywound;comparativelyspeaking,shehasmanifestedgentlebehavior,and
shehasgrownstrongandpowerful.TheUnitedStateshasbecomethepreeminent
world leader in significant ways, following the collapse of the Soviet Union. 91
Nonetheless,itisnaturaltowonderabouttheunfulfilledpartsoftheprophecy.In
view of Americans wonderful Constitution and marvelous record of lamblike
liberty,isitreallyfeasibletoexpectthattheUnitedStateswillsomedaystoopto
engage in Old Worldtype persecution of a religious minority? And in view of
globaldisunities,willtheworldeverbesufficientlyinterestedintheSabbathand
SundayissuetocareenoughtoenforceSundaylegislation?
Inresponse,werememberthatBibleprophecy,nothistoryorspeculation,isthe
keytoourknowledgeofthefuture.Justthesame,theprophecyof13:1018canbe
betterappreciatedafteraglanceatselectedeventsinAmerica'spast,certainfeatures
oftheUnitedStatesConstitution,andthepositionthatSundayoccupiesatpresent
aroundtheworld.
SundayAroundtheWorld
Does Sunday have any particular standing at the present time in countries
around the world? The answer is Yes, on all five continents. North and South
Americaareobviously"Christian"areas,andinthemgovernmentofficesandlarge
factoriesareclosedvirtuallyeverywhereonSunday.InEuropethesamesituation
applies,eventhoughthewesternEuropeancountriesareoftendescribedas"post
Christian"andtheeasternoneshavebeenundertheruleofCommunism.Ineastern
Europe (now including Russia, the Baltics, and Ukraine) either Catholicism or
OrthodoxyhasremainedsignificantlystronginspiteofCommunism.SubSaharan
AfricaisincreasinglycomingunderChristianinfluencesandthere,too,
smoke.See,e.g.,theillustrationsinJonathanButler'sarticle,TheSeventhdayAdventistDream,"
AdvendstHeritage,Summer1976,310.
91TheU.S.emergedasthepreeminentworldleaderaftertheSecondWorldWarbutsoonhadto
shareItspreeminencewiththeSovietUnion.TheGulfWarof19901991andthecollapseofthe
Soviet Union in 1991 reestablished American leadership. (For a helpful article, see Clifford
Goldstein,"SuperpowerAmericainProphecy,"inAdventistReview,December5,1991,1214.)

103

TheMarkoftheBeast
governmentofficesandmajorfactorieschoosetocloseonSunday.Andwhatabout
Asia? ThePhilippinesare Christianized andSouthKorea isbecomingmoreso.
Sundayisthedayofrestinthoselands.EveninnonChristianChina,withits1.1
billioninhabitants,factorieschoosetocloseonSunday.
Thusinallfivecontinents,NorthandSouthAmerica,Europe,Africa,andAsia,
Sundayhasauniquestatusalmosteverywhereevenatthepresenttime.

TheUnitedStatesSupremeCourt
InterpretingtheConstitution. WeturnnowtotheUnitedStatesin
particular.TheUnitedStatesSupremeCourtduringthenineteenthcentury
achievedtherighttodeterminethe"constitutionality"ofbothstateandna
tionallawsandtoannullawsitdeemedunconstitutional. 92Forthemostpart,
theSupremeCourthasbeenabulwarkofpersonallibertiesinthenameof
theBillofRights.However,humannaturebeingwhatitis,theSupreme
Courthasonoccasionbeenoppressiveandonotheroccasionshasreversed
itself.In1881,forexample,itruledthattheConstitutionapprovesincome
taxes,butin1895itruledthattheConstitutionopposesincometaxes. 93
TheinfamousDredScottdecisionof1857isanexampleofitsabilityto
interpret the Constitution oppressively. The Court solemnly sanctioned
slaveryandformallyaffirmedthatundertheConstitutionnoNegrocouldbe
acitizenoftheUnitedStates.Inreachingthisastonishinginterpretation,the
Court misapplied the Fifth Amendment in the Bill of Rights, the
Amendmentwhichprotectseveryone's"life,liberty,orproperty."TheCourt
definedaslaveasaslave owner'sproperty, eventhoughindoingso,it
willfullydisregardedtheslave'srighttoenjoyhisownpersonalliberty.94
TheauthorityoftheSupremeCourttointerprettheConstitutioninits
ownway,eveninoppositewaysaspopularsentimentschange,impliesthat
nonewAmendmentwouldbeneededforthenationalgovernmentto
92OrdinarilytheU.S.SupremeCourtrulesonaparticularstateorfederallawonlyafter(1)thelaw
hasbeenenforcedtothepointofaconviction,and(2)anappealhasbeenmadetoafederalcircuit
courtandfinallytotheSupremeCourtitself.ThusthenumberoflawsthattheSupremeCourt
reviewsisrelativelysmall.
93ThecasesinvolvedwereSpringerv.UnitedStates(1881)andPollockv.TheFarmers'Loanand
TrustCompany(1895).IncometaxesbecamelegalagainintheUnitedStateswiththeadoption
in1913oftheSixteenthAmendment.SeeAlfredH.KellyandWinfredA.Harbison,The
AmericanConstitution:ItsOriginsandDevelopment,3rded.(NewYork,1948,1955,1963),562
73.
94KcltyandHarbison,TheAmericanConstitution,38491.

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RomanCatholicismandtheUnitedStates

imposeantireligiouslegislation,despitetheBillofRights.Allthatwouldbe
neededisaSupremeCourtwillingtoalterprevious interpretations ofthe
Constitutioninresponsetoperceivedpopulardemand.
AsCharlesEvansHughes,whobecameChiefJusticein1930,said(in
1926),Forpracticalpurposes"theConstitutioniswhattheSupremeCourt
saysitis."95
PreambleVersusBillofRights.WhentheSupremeCourtreversesit
selforappearstomisinterprettheConstitution,itisnotworkingfrivolously.
ThoughmanyAmericansareunawareofthefact,inperformingitsduties,
the Court often balances the provisions of the Bill of Rights with the
provisionsofthePreamble.ThePreambleistheparagraphthatbeginswith
thefamousphrase,"WethepeopleoftheUnitedStates."Itliststhelofty
reasonswhytheConstitutionwascreatedinthefirstplace:"Toformamore
perfectUnion,establishJustice,insuredomesticTranquility,provideforthe
commondefence,promotethegeneralWelfare,andsecuretheBlessingsof
LibertytoourselvesandourPosterity...."
In the1880s,whenMormonsquotedtheFirstAmendmenttojustify
polygamyasafeatureoftheirunusualreligion,theSupremeCourtOpposed
themonthebasisthatthePreambleprotects"domesticTranquility"andthe
"commonWelfare."Thecourtdecideditunthinkablethatpeopleshouldbe
allowedtoperpetrateharmfulactsinthepursuitoftheirreligionforsuch
actswouldviolatethefreedomofotherindividuals.
But many thinking Americans deeply regretted the action of the
SupremeCourtwhen,in1940,itauthorizedelementaryschoolstocompel
childrentosalutetheAmericanflag,eventhoughsomeofthechildren,as
JehovatfsWitnesses,believeditwasidolatrytodoso.Inthisinstancethe
SupremeCourttreatedthereligiousfreedomoftheBillofRightsasofless
valuethanthe"moreperfect[national]Union"andthe"commondefence"
mentionedinthePreamble. "National unity," declaredthe Court, "is the
basisofnationalsecurity."However,intensepubliccriticismobligedthe
courttoreverseitselfthreeyearslater.
DuringtheSecondWorldWar,70,000JapaneseAmericansweresud
denlyplacedin"relocationcenters"underordersissuedbyanArmygeneral
attherequestofthePresidentandwiththeapprovalofCongress.
Justifyingthelegalinjusticeoftreatingnationalcitizensinthismanner,
theSupremeCourtinsistedinthenameof"commondefence"thata
95SeeKellyandHarhisoa,AmericanConstitution,4,142,73233.
96SecPfeffer,Church,Stale,andFreedom,63444.ThefirstcasewasMinersvilleSchool
Districtv.Gobias(1940);thesecondwasWstVwymaStaleBoardofEducationv.
Bamette(1943).

105

TReMarkoTffie'Beast
fewAmericansofJapaneseancestryweretraitors,awarwasinprocessatthetime,
and"warisanaggregationofhardships."97
CommentingonAmerica'streatmentofthese70,000loyalcitizensofJapanese
ancestry,twowidelyreadconstitutionalauthoritieshavesincesolemnlywarnedus,
Infuturewars,nopersonbelongingtoaracial,religious,cultural,or
politicalminoritycanbeassuredthatcommunityprejudiceandbigotrywill
not express itself in a program of suppression justified as "military
necessity,"withresultingdestructionofhisbasicrightsasamemberofa
freesociety.
This warning that in a time of military crisis "no person belonging to a
"religious... minority"canbeassuredthat communityprejudice willnotusethe
situationtojustifydestructionofhisbasicrightshelpsuncomfortablytomakeour
understandingofRevelation13believable.
Sundayclosing laws. Thecoloniesthatdevelopedintotheoriginalthirteen
statesoftheUnitedStatesallhadreligiousSundayclosinglaws,inheritedlargely
fromEurope.EstablishmentoftheU.S.Constitutiondidnothingtoremovethese
SundaylawsorthenewSundaylawsenactedbystatesfromtimetotime,because
theFirstAmendmentappliedto"Congress,"nottothestates."ButtheRaurteenth
Amendment(1868)madetheFirstAmendmentapplicabletothestates,following
whichstatesbegantodownplaythereligiousgoalsoftheirSundaylawsinfavorof
thewelfaregoals.
ThestateenactedSundaylawsofthepastdonotconstituteafulfillmentof
13:1118.InRevelation13itisthelambhornedbeastasawhole,notanyofits
parts(suchasthestates),thatimposesthemarkofthebeast.Further,wehaveseen
that no one receives the mark of the beast until the true issues come clear.
America'sstateSundaylawsalreadyhavebeenenacted;theclarifyingoftheissues
isyetfuture.ItisinstructivetoobservethattheUnitedStatesSupremeCourthas
consistentlyfoundthestateSundaylawsthathavecomeunderitsjurisdictiontobe
constitutional.
97TheSupremeCourtcaseisKorematsuv.UnitedSlates(1944).Sece.g.,CartBrentSwisher,His
toricDecisionsoftheSupremeCourt,anAnvilBook(Princeton,NJ,1958),162.
98KellyandHart>ison,./lm<wanConstitution,841.
99TheFirstAmendmentbegins,"Congressshallmakenolawrespectinganestablishmentofreligion,
orprohibitingthefreeexercisethereof;..."
100TheU.S.SupremeCourtdidnotapplythereligionclausesoftheFirstAmendmentbymeansofthe
FourteenthAmendmentto slate lawsuntil the 1940s,butmuch earlier than this(heslates were
awarethatithadtherighttodoso.See,e.g.,WilliamAddisonBlakely,AmericanStatePapersand
Related Documents on Freedom in Religion, 4th rev. ed. (Washington, DC, for the Religious
LibertyAssociation,1949),473,503.

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RomanCatholicismandtheUnitedStates
ThefirstSundaycasetocometotheCourtwasSoonHingv.Crowley(1885).101
SoonHingwasaChineselaundrymanwhoviolatedaCalifornialawthatforbade
laundrylaborafter10o'clockatnightandalldaySunday.SoonHingwasarrested
forworkinglateonenight,notforworkingonSunday,buttheCourttookaninterest
anywayintheSundayprovisionsoftheCalifornialawinquestion.JusticeStephen
J.Field,instatingthedecisionoftheCourt,declared,"LawssettingasideSundayas
a day of rest, are upheld not from any right of government to legislate for the
promotionofreligiousobservance,butfromitsrighttoprotectallpersonsfromthe
physicalandmoraldebasement,whichcomesfromuninterruptedlabor." 102
To1961nofewerthanfourSundaycasesreachedtheSupremeCourttogether.
TwoconcerneddiscountstoresthatwantedtostayopenonSundaytoenhancetheir
salesinspiteofstatelawsthatrequired them toclose. The othertwoinvolved
OrthodoxJewswhoopenedtheirstoresonSundaytocompensateforclosingthem
onSabbathinsincereobservanceoftheJewishreligion.
AttorneyswhodefendedthestoreownersinallfourcasesreferredtheSupreme
CourtJusticestothereligioushistoryofearlyAmericanSundayclosinglawsand
claimedtherightofallfourstorestostayopenonthebasisoftheFirstAmendment.
EightofthenineJusticesrejectedthisargument,notinginsteadthatthelawsin
questionwerenotreligiousbutwerewelfarelawsintendedtoprotectpeoplefrom
overworkandtoprovideaweeklydayforfamiliestospendtogether.
TheCourtdividedsixtothreeontheJewishcases,Gallagherv.CrownKosher
SuperMarketandBraunfeldv.Brown.103ThethreedissentingJusticesweredeeply
concernedaboutthehardshipimposedonOrthodox Jews bybeingforcedtostay
closed on Sunday after conscientiously closing shop on the Sabbath. But the
majorityoftheJusticeswereunmoved.JusticeDouglas,oneofthethreedissenters,
earnestly protested that "the Court balances the need of the people for rest,
recreation,latesleeping,familyvisiting,andthelikeagainstthecommandofthe
FirstAmendmentthatnooneneedbowtothereligiousbeliefsofanother.Thereis
inthisrealmnoroomforbalancing."104
101SeeWarrenL.Johns,Dateline,Sunday,V.SA.(MountainView,CA,1967),9394.
102QuotedinAnsonPhelpKStokes,ChurchandStateintheUnitedStates,3vols.(NewYork,1950)
3:17172.
103SeePfeffcr,Church,State,andFreedom,28187;Johns,DatelineSunday,13359.
104QuotedinJohns,DatelineSunday,15556.
107

TheMarkoftheBeast
HistorysuggeststhatnonewAmendmenttotheConstitutionwillbeneeded
whenpopularopiniondemandsanationalSundayclosinglaw.TheSupremeCourt
willneedonlytofindacongenialwaytointerprettheBillofRightsintermsofthe
Preambleandpopulardemands.
StateSundaylawsandthepowerofprejudice.Sincetheearly1960s,when
the four cases just mentioned were reviewed by the U.S. Supreme Court,
enforcementofSundayclosinglawsintheUnitedStateshaslargelyfallenbythe
way.ManySundaylawslongonthebooksofvariousstatesandcitieshavebeen
removed. Most businessesthatchoose toopenonSundaysseem abletodoso
without hindrance. So is the enforcement of Sunday legislation less likely in
America'sfuturetodaythanitwas,say,twohundredyearsago?
The answer is that it seems so, but appearances are often deceiving. For
instance,duringmuchofthenineteenthcentury,whenmoststateshadSundaylaws
inplace,theSundaylawseitherwerenotenforcedorwerenotenforcedwell.After
decadesofindifference,incertainstates,notablyTennesseeandArkansas,Sunday
lawswereenergeticallyenforcedduringthe1880sandonintotheearly1900s.The
suddennewenforcementwasfocusedprincipallyonSeventhdayAdventists.
Typically,Adventistswerearrestedforworkingquietlyontheirfarmsoutof
sightofanypublicroad.OneAdventistwasarrestedforpaintingthebacksideof
hischurchforanhourortwoonaSunday.Anotherwasarrestedforchopping
woodforthekitchenstove;another,forrepairingaMethodistwidow'sroofinrainy
weather without expectation of pay. In many cases nonAdventists in the area
worked on their farms and chopped wood on the same Sundays without being
arrested.InmostcasestheAdventistswerefinedbylocalcourts,manyspenttime
injail,afewdidtimeinachaingang.Appealstostatesupremecourtsandevento
federalcircuitcourtsusuallybroughtnorelief.SeventyormoreAdventistssuffered
intheseways,oneofwhomdiedinconsequenceofhisprisonterm.
And what brought about this sudden enforcement of long dormant Sunday
laws?Insomecases,atleast,itwasresentmentovertheconversionoflocalcitizens
totheSeventhdayAdventistfaith. 105TheeffectiveproclamationoftheSabbathto
every nation, tribe, tongue, and people in the very last days predictably will
generateresentmentagain,evenamongpeoplewhowillnothavebotheredabout
Sundaylawspreviously.
105Blakely./twnconStalePapers,457512.

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RomanCatholicismandtheUnitedStates
ReemergingCatholicPopularity
WhenthestatusofRomanCatholicismtodayiscomparedwithwhatitwasin
the1800s,therecanbenodoubtthatthehealingofthedeadlywoundisadvancing
rapidly.
Changingworldattitudes.In1798Napoleonintendedtherewouldneverbe
anotherpope.In1801,however,hesignedachurchstatetreatyor"concordat"with
anewpope.Asprophecyhadforeseen,themortalblowwouldonlywound,not
kill,theCatholicChurch.Ontheotherhand,in1870thenewlyemergingnationof
Italydeepenedthechurch'swoesbytakingawaythePapalStates.ThePapalStates
constituted an independent country which occupied 16,000 square miles in the
centeroftheItalianpeninsula,countedapopulationof3,000,000,andhadbeen
ownedbythepapacyforcenturies.Deprivedofhisowncountry,PopePiusIXina
huff, and all the popes after him till 1929, confined themselves in an ancient
residence, the Castel Gandolfo, portraying a picture of the oncegrand papacy
sufferingunderhousearrest.
But in 1929 Benito Mussolini signed a concordat granting the pope full
authorityovertheStateofVaticanCity,108.7acresinsidethecityofRome which
includedSt.Peter'sCathedral.Onceacainthepopewasamonarch
<3

lrt

aswellasapriest.Themortalwoundwasbeinghealed.*
Genial,openheartedPopeJohnXXIII(pope19581963)andtheprocedural
reformsvotedathisVaticanCouncilIIfurtherrestoredCatholicinfluenceinthe
world.Today,PopeJohnPaulIImaybethemostrespectedmanalive.
In1986leadersofmanydifferentreligions,includingnonChristianreligions,
assembledinAssisi,Italy,toprayforpeaceatthepersonalinvitationofPopeJohn
PaulII.
ChangingattitudesinAmerica. Theongoinghealingofthedeadlywound
hasbeenclearlyreflectedinAmericanpopularopinion.Thenewtrendcanbestbe
evaluatedbycomparingitwithattitudesacenturyormoreago.Inthe1800sstrong
tidesofAmericanhostilityflowedagainsttheRomanChurch.
Ibrexample,in1852whenPopePiusIXsentablockofgranitetobeincluded
intheWashingtonmonument,thenunderconstruction,massprotestsoccurred.So
intensewasAmericanoutragethatthemasonsdid
106AtthetimeandforsometimeafterwardsSeventhdayAdventistsspokeofthe1929concordatas
theactual"healingofthedeadlywound."Fromtheperspectiveofthe1990swecansaythatthe
1929concordatwasaverysignificantstepinthehealingprocess.

109

TheMarkoftheBeast
notdarehoistthestoneintoplace.Twoyearslaterfeelingswerestillrunningso
highthatirateAmericansfoundwherethestonelayinastorageshed,fittedachain
aroundit,anddraggeditintothePotomacRiver.107
AmericandistrustofCatholicismwasstillverymuchaliveacenturylater,even
afterMussolini's1929concordat.In1951whenPresidentHarrySTrumanasked
theSenatetoapprovehisnominationofanambassadortotheStateofVaticanCity,
Americawasplungedintoavortexofprotest."HardlyaProtestantchurchgroupin
the country failed to express its opposition formally and often acrimoniousty."
PresidentTrumanwithdrewhisproposal.108
But in March 1984, thirtythree years later, President Ronald Reagan's
nomination of William A. Wison as ambassador to Vatican City was quickly
approvedbytheSenate,8113.Onlyafewvoicesworriedaboutchurchandstate. 109
Inthemeantime,in1960theUnitedStateshadelectedJohnF.Kennedy,aRoman
Catholic, to be its president. In 1965, 100,000 Americans had filled Yankee
StadiumtohearPopePaulVIsaymass.In1980PopeJohnPaulIIhadalsobeen
tumultuouslywelcomedtotheUnitedStates.ConservativeProtestantswhooppose
abortionbeganviewingthePopenotasathreatbutasanally.
Insofarasthesechangesrepresentareductionofbigotry,werejoice.Weare
concerned,however,thattheyalsorepresentadenialofhistoryand,moreseriously,
atendencyawayfromtheseparationofchurchandstatetowardtheunionofthe
two,whichalwaysinthepasthasbroughtmuchinjusticeandmisery.
WhatDoestheFutureHold?
HavingwatchedDaniel'sempiresfollowoneanotherpreciselyaspredicted,
havingseenJesusfulfillthe70weekprophecy,thelittlehornriseandthinkto
changetimesandlaw,andthe1260dayscometoanend,thereissomethingof
whichwecanbeperfectlysure:Biblepredictionscometrue.Theprophecyabout
theUnitedStateswillbefulfilled.Americawillflexherawesomepoliticalpowerto
imposeapatternofreligionthatwilldirectlyopposetheTenCommandments.She
willleadtheworldto
107Stokes,ChurchandStateintheUnitedSlates1:833.
108Pfeffer,Church.Slate,andfreedom,302.
109Inanotherswitchofattitudes,the"ThirdDudleyLecture"atHarvardUniversity,originallyendowed
(inthe1750s)tosoundawarningeveryfouryearsagainstthe"RomishChurch,"wasassignedto
PopeJohnPaulII!ThepontiffappreciatedtheinvitationbuthadtodeclineSeeGeorgeHuntston
Williams,"TheEcumenicalIntentionsofPopeJohnPaulII,"ffTR75/2(1982):14176.
110

RomanCatholicismandtheUnitedStates
followherexample.Andshewillnotbealone.Accordingtotheprophecyshewill
havethecooperationofafullyhealedRomanChurch,operatingwitholdfashioned
zealincountriesthroughouttheworld.
TheeventorconditionthatwillstimulateAmericaandtheRomanChurchto
behavethiswaycannotbeforeseenprecisely.Factorslikelytopromptthenew
attitudetowardpersecutionaresomeglobalcalamitycombinedwithsuccessinthe
proclamation of the three angels' messages. These could be linked in the
propagandaofthethree"frogs"thatcomefromthemouthsofthedragon,thebeast,
andthefalseprophettogathertheworldtoArmageddon(16:1316).110

Summary
TheUnitedStatesfitstheprophecyofthelambhornedearthbeast insofaras
theprophecyhasbeenfulfilled. Its pastbehaviorhelpsmakeunderstandableits
furtherroleinfulfillingtheprophecy.ThechangingattitudeofAmericanstoward
CatholicismsuggestsaneasytransitiontotheenforcementofCatholicvalues.And
theU.S.SupremeCourt'sfacilityatreinterpretingtheConstitutionshowsthat,in
response to a change in public opinion, the Court can easily discover a
constitutionalpretextforendorsingcoercivereligiouslegislation.Sundayisalready
adaysetapartinmostcountriesoftheworld.Someunforeseencalamity,combined
withtheactivitiesofthethreeangelsofRevelation14andofthethree"frogs" of
Revelation16,willstimulatetheCatholicChurchandothercooperativereligious
groupstojoinwiththeUnitedStatesinsettingupaworldwide"imageofthebeast"
andininflictingthemarkofthebeastonallwhosanctionthis,theirultimateform
ofSabbathSundaytyrrany.

WhatDifferenceDoesItMake?
ApproximatelyonebillionpeopletodayconsiderthemselvesChristian.They
accepttheprincipleofonespecialdayeveryweek.Whatdifferencedoesitmaketo
GodwhethertheyworshiponSaturdayorSunday?DoesGodreallycareabout
suchmatters?
Americans in particular have been educated to treat everyone the same
"withoutregardtorace,color,gender,orcreed."Suchcharacteris
110Revelation16:1316canbereadilyconstruedasparentheticalmaterialinterruptingthepresenta
tionofthesevenplagues.Assuch,itcanbeappropriatelyinterpretedasnotbeingconfinedtothe
sixthplaguebutratherasrepresentingactivitiesthatbothprecedeandcoincidewiththeplagues.
Ill

TheMarkoftheBeast

ticscomewithoutaperson'schoiceandcannotbechanged.Butone'sbelief
systemisanothermatterentirely,foritcanbechangedatwill.
MarkoftheBeast:EndTimePhenomenon
Does thespecificdaybecomesignificant? In ourexegesissectionwe
concluded that the mark is an endtime phenomenon. According to the
prophecyinRevelation13 the markis not placed onanyone until after
Americahaseffectedacoerciveunionofchurchandstate.Coincidentwith
thisdevelopmentisthefinalfulfillmentofMatthew24:14aboutthegospel's
beingpreached"throughoutthewholeworld"beforetheendcomesandthe
proclamationofthethreeangels'messages"toeverynationandtribeand
tongueandpeople"beforetheSonofmanappearsontheclouds.
Hencethemarkofthebeastwillnotbeapplieduntilpeoplehavehad
opportunitytoknowthetruthandmakearesponsibledecision.Acts17:30
comestomind,"ThetimesofignoranceGodoverlooked[winkedat,KJV],
butnowhecommandsallmeneverywheretorepent."
Obedienceandexcuses. Argumentsthatdepreciatetheimportanceof
theSabbathareheard,eveninthehighesttheologicalcircles, fencednot
keeptheSabbath,forChristnailedthelawtothecross.Weshouldnotkeep
theSabbath,fordoingsowouldbelegalism.We cannot keepanyofthe
law,forwearebornwithhumannaturesmarredbyoriginalsin.
Two thousandyearsagoChristshowedthatheartfeltobedienceisnot
legalismbutlove,"Ifyouloveme,youwillkeepmycommandments"(John
14:15).Sowe should obey.Andwhenthe"144,000"arelivingonearth
withoutguileintheirmouthsandwiththesealofGoduponthem,everyone
willhaveindisputableevidencethatthroughthepowerofChristthelawof
Godcanbeobeyed.
Thosewhoreceivethemarkofthebeastwillbethosewhopersistin
disobeyingtheSabbathcommandmentwhendoingsohasbecomeinevery
senseinexcusable.
Obedience and worship. According to the three angels* messages,
peopleintheendtimeeitherworshipGod"whomadeheavenandearth,"or
theyworshipthebeast.Worshipisthusbasicindeterminingwhoreceives
themarkofthebeast.
TheEnglishword"worship"comesfrom"worthship,"meaningsome
thingthatwedoinresponsetowhatwethinksomeoneisworth.Andtruly
ourworshipchoiceswhomwechoosetoworshipandhowwechooseto
worshiprevealourinmostsenseofvalues.
WhenweworshipGodwechoosetherightGod;butifweworship
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GodinawayofourownchoosingratherthanHis,weshowthat
afterallwedonotvalueGodashighlyaswevalueourselvesor
someone else. Becoming angry with people who obey God is
characteristicofpeoplewho
insistonworshipingGodintheirownway.
TheseventhdaySabbathisthepreeminentdayforworship.
God,theCreatorofheavenandearth,saysthat"theseventhdayis
the Sabbath of the Lord your God." He explains that it is a
reminderofHiscreatorship,"forinsixdaystheLordmadeheaven
and earth, the sea, and all that is in them." The seventhday
SabbathisGod'schosenreminderthatweareHiscreaturesandHe
isourLord.Whenattheendoftimepeoplehaveaclearchanceto
knowthetruthabouttheSabbathbutinsistonworshipingGodon
theirownchosenday,theywillrevealthattheyareworshiping
someone or something other than the God they say they are
worshiping.
Theywillbewithoutexcuse,exchangingthetruthaboutGod
foralie and worshipingandservingthecreatureratherthanthe
Creator(Rom
1:2125).
Obedienceandfaith.TheissueofSabbathversusSundayisa
matteroffaith,ofrighteousnessbyfaith.Dowegenuinelybelieve
thattheBibleistrue,thatGodisourCreatorandRedeemer?Do
wehavethe"faithofJesus"?
TheBiblesays,"Iwillputmyspiritwithinyou,andcauseyou
towalk in mystatutesandbecarefultoobservemyordinances"
(Ezek36:27). "Thisis thecovenantwhichIwillmake with the
houseofIsraelafterthosedays,saystheLord:Iwillputmylaw
withinthem,andIwillwriteitupontheirhearts"(Jer31:33).Do
we believethatGod'sSpiritcantransform us. makeusholy,and
thusenableustokeeptheSabbathholy?
At the end of time, when there is no more excuse for
disobedience,forapersontopersistinbreakingtheSabbathwill
be "unrighteousness through doubt." It will be tantamount to
accusingthetrueGodofnottellingthetruth.
Obedience and the gospel of the kingdom* In Matthew
24:14,Jesussays,"Thisgospelofthe kingdom shallbepreached
throughoutthewholeworld,asatestimonytoallnations \pasin
toisethnesin,*alltheGentiles');
andthentheendwillcome."
Theterm"gospelofthekingdom"impliestheheadshipofa
king;andkingshipimpliesarelationshipofobedience.Theterm
"lord"issimilarto"king,"andinRomans10:9,Paulsaysthatwe
willbesavedifwebelieveinourheartsthatGodraisedJesusfrom
thedeadandifweconfesswithourmouthsthatJesusisLord.
Millions of Christians are happy to acknowledge Christ as
Saviourfrom
113

TheMarkoftheBeast
thepenaltyofsinbutdonotacceptHimasSaviourfromthepowerofsinindaily
life. Millions are happy to acknowledge Him as the Lord they can pray to for
miracles but notasaLordwhosewordtheyintendtoobeyfully.Manyinthe
judgmentwillpointtomiraclestheyperformedinthenameoftheLordJesusChrist
butwillbeturnedawaywiththeverdict,"Ineverknewyou;departfromme,you
evildoers"(Matt7:2123).ManywhocallJesus"Lord"arebuildinghousesonsand;
thoughtheyhaveheardHiswords,theyhavenotobeyedthem(Matt7:2427).
TheonlyobediencethatGodcanacceptinthefinalanalysisisthatwhichis
donewithallourhearts,minds,andstrengththroughthepoweroftheindwelling
Spirit,forHeissavingwholepersons,notwordsoroutwardprofessions.
BeforeChristreturns,thegospelofthekingdomthetruegospelofheartfelt
obediencewillbeproclaimedthroughouttheworldasawitnesstoallGentiles.
Oppositiontothistruegospel,thegospelofthekingdom,thegospelthatincludes
God'sbeautifultruthaboutHisSabbath,willqualifyapersonforthemarkofthe
beast.
ReligiousCoercionintheEndTime
Mostculturesthroughouthistoryhavepracticedreligiouscoercion,andmany
stilldoso,withouttheirpeople'sreceivingthemarkofthebeast.Whatwillmake
thedifferenceattheendoftime?
Religious coercion at the end of time will take on new proportions. The
coerciveantiSabbaththeologyoftheMiddleAgeshadaboutitanauraofnaivete.
ManypeopleseemnottohaverealizedthattheSabbathcouldpossiblybetheright
day.WiththeriseofPuritanisminBritainaround1600,therearoseagreatagitation
abouttheSabbathquestion,111buteventhentheSabbathquestionhadnothingtodo
withthechoiceofthedaytobeobserved,onlywiththewayinwhichitwastobe
observed.FewofthesabbaticPuritansseemtohavegraspedtheideathatSunday
couldbethewrongday.Theybelievedthattheseventhdaywasaperpetualsignof
thenewcovenant.Withreasoningthatseemsabsurdtous,butseemedperfectly
logicaltothoseintelligentpeople,theyinsistedthatGodhadshiftedtheseventhday
fromSabbathtoSunday,whilestillkeepingittheseventhday. 112Recentresearch
showsthatsomePuritans,alwaysin
111See,e.g.,WintonU.Solberg,RedeemtheTime(Cambridge:HarvardUniversityPress,1977),
chap.3.
112See,c.g.,thePuritanclassicbyNicolasBownde,TheDoctrineof'theSabbath,PlainefyLaydeForth
(London,1595);andKennethA.Strand,ed.,TheSabbathinScriptureandHistory(Washington,

114

Roman Catholicism and the United


States

theminority,discoveredthebiblicalSabbathandarguedagainstSunday
111
observance.
11

Thosewholiveintheendtimehavespecialinsights,basedon
fullerknowledgeoftheScripturesandcenturiesofexperiencewith
truereligiousfreedom.Thisprovidesopportunitytocontrastthe
wickedness of coercive Sunday legislation with the relative
innocenceoftruereligiousfreedom.Thismakestheobservanceof
SundayandtherejectionofSabbathfarmoreseriousthaninthe
MiddleAges.
"The pope can modify divine law," claimed Petrus de
Ancharano."TheSabbath,themostgloriousdayinthelaw,has
beenchangedintotheLord'sday...bytheauthorityofthechurch,"
declaredtheArchbishopofReggioatthecrucialCouncilofTrent.
PerhapsintheMiddleAgespeoplecouldbeexcusedforsaying
suchthings.Wecannot.Todayweknowbetter.
TheopeningoftheMostHolyPlaceintheheavenlysanctuary,
revealing the ark of the covenant, has called attention in a
substantially new way to the ongoing intercessory ministry of
Christ.WhatacontrastbetweencoercingbelieverstobreakGod's
lawandintercedingforsinnersandteachingthemhowtokeepthe
law!
Peopleinmanyplacespossiblycanbeexcusedforbelieving
that the Pope has divine authority to change God's law and to
coercepeopletokeepSundayattheexpenseoftheSabbath.But
underthefinalproclamationofthegospelofthekingdomandthe
threeangels'messages,andofChrisfsministryinthe Most Holy
Place,theywillhaveachancetoknowbetter,muchbetter,what
therealtruthis.Ifthentheyinsistondoingwrongandontryingto
make others do wrong, their persistence will be peculiarly
abhorrent.
Obedienceand final decisiontime.JustbeforeJohnsawthe
Sonofmanappearonthecloudsofheaven,hesawthreeangels
flyingwithearth'sfinalpresentationofthegospel.Heheardtheup
todateversionoftheeverlastinggospelthattheywouldpreach,
announcing that the final judgment had by then already begun,
callingpeopletoworshiptheCreator, andwarningthem thatif
they chose to worship the beast, they would have to suffer the
sevenplagues(thewrathofGod)andeternalloss.Itwastobea
messageforatimeofultimatedecisionmaking.
Immediatelypriortoprobation'scloseafourthangeljoinsthe
otherthreewithanurgentmessagefromChristHimself,"Come
outofher[Babylon],mypeople,lestyoutakepartinhersins,lest
youshareinher
DC,1982),22943.
113BrianW.Ball,TheEnglishConnection:ThePuritanRoofsofSeventhday
AdvenastBelief(Cambridge:JamesClark,1981),13857.

115

TheMarkoftheBeast
plagues;forhersinsareheapedhighasheaven"(Rev18:4,5).
HereChristconfrontspeoplewhomHeacknowledgesasHisownwiththeir
desperate,urgentneedtomakeanewdecision.WithBabylon'ssinshavingbecome
moreenormousthaneverandthesevenlastplaguesloomingcloserChrist'sloyal
followersinSundaykeepingchurchesmustmakeadecisiontofollowChristutterly
orbelost.
ThewordsofJoelcometomind,directedastheyaretothejudgmenthourat
theendoftime:"Multitudes,multitudes,inthevalleyofdecision!Forthedayof
theLordisnearinthevalleyofdecision"(3:14).
ThewordsofElijahonMountCarmelalsofit:"Howlongwillyougolimping
withtwodifferentopinions?IftheLordisGod,followhim;butifBaal,thenfollow
him"(1Kgs18:21).
Joshua'sfinalappealtotheIsraelitestakesonnewmeaning:"Choosethisday
whomyouwillserve,whetherthegodsyourfathersservedintheregionbeyondthe
River[thatis,beyondtheEuphrates,inMesopotamia],orthegodsoftheAmorites
inwhoselandyoudwell;butasformeandmyhouse,wewillservetheLord"(Josh
24:15).
Foragenerationfacingthemarkofthebeast,Joel'sappealfortotallysincere
repentanceseemsuniquelyappropriate:
"Yetevennow,"saystheLord,"returntomewithallyourheart,with
fasting,withweeping,andwithmourning;andrendyourheartsandnotyour
garments."ReturntotheLord,yourGod,forheisgraciousandmerciful,
slowtoanger,andaboundinginsteadfastlove,andrepentsofevil.(2:1213)
ObedienceandGod'slove.God,ourheavenlyFather,hasgivenusalawthat
is"holyandjustandgood"(Rom7:12).IfHehadchangeditatanytime,itwould
havebecomeunholy,unjust,andbad.TheSabbathinparticularHe"madeforman"
(Mark2:27),onourbehalf,forourgood.WhenourfirstparentsbrokeHislaw,God
mighthavechangedtherulestoavoidpunishingthem,butthiswouldonlyhave
beenfortheirharm.Rather,forthesakeofallofus,Godchosetoleavehis"holy
andjustandgood"lawexactlythewayHemadeitinthefirstplace,sendtheHoly
Spirittohelpusobeyit,andtakethe"wagesofsin"uponHimself,atinfinitecost.
IntheChristianEra,abodyofchurchleadersfeltfreetodowhatGodHimself
refusedtodo.TheyfeltfreetochangeGod'slaw,andalsotoharass,persecute,and
excommunicateChristianswholoyallychosetoobeyit.
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RomanCatholicismandtheUnitedStates
Inthenearfuture,peoplewhostillfeelfreetohonorthischangein
God'slawinspiteofgreatlighttothecontrarywillqualifythemselves
forthemarkofthebeast.
ObedienceandthesealofGod.The"144,000"whoreceiveGod's
sealintheirforeheads(7:18)aredescribedashavingGod'snameandthe
Lamb'snameintheirforeheads(14:15).
FullymaturedSabbathkeepershaveGod'snameintheirforeheadsin
the sensethattheyhaveallowedGod'sSpirittochangetheircharacters
untiltheyresembleGod'scharacter.
Godislove.Hislawislove.WhenpeopleobeyHimfully,theylove.
Godisholy.Hislawisholy.WhenpeopleobeyHimfully,theHolySpirit
livesoutintheirlivesthepurity,honesty,andunselfishnessthatmarkthe
characterofGodHimself.
To keep the Sabbath holy, people need a distinct and deepseated
changeintheirbasicthoughtpatterns,achangethatismanifestedevery
day of the week. Jesus told Nicodemus that even a good man like he
neededtobe"bornagain"thatis,tobe"bornfromabove"(asthemargin
says)and"bornoftheSpirit"(seeJohn3).Jesussaysthesametoallofus.
WecanneverkeepawholeSabbathdayholyunlesswecomeintosuch
fellowshipwithChrist,come underthe influence oftheHolySpirit so
consistently, that we live purity, honesty, compassion, helpfulness, and
loyaltytoGodeverydayoftheweek.
God'speopleattheveryendoftimewillbe"spotless,"freefromlies,
trueandhonest,chaste,pure,andkind.InthepoweroftheHolySpirit,
theywillkeepGod'scommandmentsevenwhenfacedwithstarvationand
execution.Buthow?Theywillconquerthedragon"throughthewordof
theirtestimony,"andtheywilllovenottheirlives"evenuntodeath"(Rev
12:11).Morethanthis,theovercomershave"thebloodoftheLamb."In
deed,theyhavetheLamb.TheyhaveMichaelthegreatPrincewhostands
upforHispeople(seeDan12:1).Insomemarvelousandmysteriousman
nerChristhascomeknockingandhasbeenwelcomedintotheirhearts.He
hasbroughtwithHimallthe"gold,eyesalve,andwhiteraiment"theycan
possiblyneed(seeRev3:1522).
"Youshallkeepmysabbaths,forthisisasignbetweenmeandyou...
thatyoumayknowthat/,theLord,sanctifyyou"(Exod31:13).
Thisishowthe"144,000,"the"saints,"God's"remnant,"youngand
old,escapethemarkofthebeastandkeepallthecommandmentsofGod
andstandcompleteinholinessandpurityasGod'sfullyripenedgrain.
Bycontrast,byrejectingChrist'spersonalappealtocomeoutof
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TheMarkoftheBeast
BabylonandtoletHimcomevictoriouslyintotheirhearts,peopleattheendoftime
willqualifyforthemarkofthebeast.
TheMarkAsCharacterDevelopment
AsthesealofGod(trueSabbathholiness)representsthecharacterofthefully
ripenedgrainofRevelation14:15,sothemarkofthebeastrepresentsthecharacter
oftheripenedgrapesofRevelation14:1720.
Becausethemarkpertainstoeventssoverylateinearth'shistory,weknow,as
we have already observed, that it relates to a situation after the gospel of the
kingdom has been preached throughout the world (Matt 24:14). Individualswill
receivethemarkonlywhentheyhavehadachancetoheartheevidencepreached
andtoseeitlivedinthebeautifulChristlikelivesofthe"144,000."Themarkisa
sign of rebellion, a kind of FUG11' stamped on people who deliberately and
knowinglyrunawayfromGodinthelightofthissortofevidence.
AsJ.N.AndrewsnotedintheMay19,1851ReviewandHerald,themarkof
thebeastappliesto"thosewhounderstandingtyturnawayfromthecommandments
ofGod,andintheirsteadobeytheinstitutionofthebeast"(emphasissupplied).
"Whoeverknowswhatisrighttodoandfailstodoit,forhimitissin"(Jas4:17).
Themarkofthebeastinthe"forehead"representsmentalassenttoerroneous
belief and behavior. The mark in the "hand" represents activity carried on in
harmonywithsuchassent.Aperson's"forehead"maynotbeentirelycomfortable
withwhatthe"hand"does,butactionsspeaklouderthanwords.
The mark of the beast is willful, knowledgeable, endtime approval of
coerciveSundayobservanceinoppositiontoclearlightontheSabbathquestion
andinharmonywithclassicRomanCatholicism.Assuch,themarkofthebeast
isevidenceofpersonalcharactermaturedinoppositiontoGod.115
114Forfugitivus,orfugitive.SeeearlierremarksonRomancustom,p.58
115Amoderndefinitionofthenumber666reinforcestheconceptofthemarkofthebeastascharacter
development.ItcomesfromBeatriceNeall, TheConceptofCharacterintheApocalypsewith
ImplicationsforCharacterEducation(Washington,DC,1983),15355,givingcreditforsomeof
herideastoHermanHocksemaandHansLaRondelle:"Sixislegitimatewhenitleadstoseven;
itrepresentsmanonthefirsteveningofhisexistenceenteringintothecelebrationofGod'screative
power.Thegloryofthecreatureisrightif it leadstothegloryof God. Sixhundred sixtysix,
however,representstherefusalofmanloproceedtoseven,togiveglorytoGodasCreatorand
Redeemer.Itrepresentsman'sfixationwithhimself,manseekinggloryinhimself andhisown
creations.ItspeaksofthefullnessofcreationandallcreativepowerswithoulGodthepracticeof
theabsenceofGod.Itdemonstratesthatunregeneratcmanispersistentlyevil.The
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RomanCatholicismandtheUnitedStates
TwoSidesattheEndofTime
Scriptureindicatesclearlythatattheendoftimepersonalchoiceswillcause
everyonetobeononesideortheother.Noonewillbeleftinthemiddle.
OnesidewillworshiptheCreator(Rev14:7).Theothersidewillworshipthe
beastanditsimage(13:12;14:9;16:2;19:20).
Onesidewillbetrustworthyandtrue,withoutanyliesintheirmouths(14:5).
Theothersidewillhaveacceptedtheliesofthefalseprophet(19:20).
Onesidewillbepureandspotless(14:4,5).Theothersidewillbecowardly,
faithless,polluted,murderers,fomicators,sorcerers,idolaters,
liars(21:8).
Onesidewillhavetheirnamesinthebookoflife(Dan12:1).Theotherside
willhavehadtheirnamesblottedoutofthebookoflife(Rev17:8).
Onesidewillbeunabletobuyorsellbutwillescapetheplagues(13:17;
18:4).Theothersidewillbeabletobuyandsell(foratime)butwillthensufferthe
plagues(13:17;14:911;16:2).
OnesideiscomposedofguestsinvitedtotheLamb'sjoyousweddingsupper
(19:9).TheothersideisfedtobirdsofpreyattheterriblesupperofGod(19:17
21).
OnesidepraisesGodandsingsjoyfullyinthepresenceoftheLamb(15:24;
14:3).TheothersidecursesGodandsufferstormentinthepresenceoftheLamb
(16:911,21;14:911).
Onesideenterstheeternal kingdom(Dan7:27;Rev22:14).Theotherside
sufferspermanentpunishment(Rev14:911).
OnesidehasthesealofGod(7:13).Theothersidehasthemarkofthebeast
(13:16;14:11).
Theeasiestthingtodowhentheimageofthebeastissetupwillbeto gowith
the crowd. People who have believed the serpent's lies, that God's laws either
shouldnot,oughtnot,orcannotbeobeyed,willfindcomplianceeasy.Theywillbe
influencedbySatan'ssignsandwonders(see2Thess2:912).Theywill"bow"
downtotheimageandreceivethemarkofthebeast,indicatingtheirsubmission
andobediencetohumanauthority.
beastsofRev13representmanexercisinghissovereigntyapartfromGod,manconformedtothe
image of the beast rather than to the image of God. Man apart from God becomes bestial,
demonic...Themarkofthebeast,then,isarejectionofthesovereigntyofGodtheSabbath
principlewhichisdesignedtoencouragemantoseekhisdignitynotinhimselforinnature,butin
communion withGodandparticipation in God's rest.It is the Sabbathwhich distinguishes
betweenthecreatureandtheCreator,whichrevealswhodeservesworshipandwhodoesnot.Itis
theSabbathwhichdemonstratesGod'ssovereigntyandman'sdependence.Sixhundredsixtysix
bycontrastisthesymboloftheworshipofthecreatureratherthantheCreator."

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TheMarkoftheBeast
Butthose whocherish Jesus andthe"faithofJesus"andhavelearned to
"conquer"asChristconquered(Rev3:21).willchooseattheriskoftheirlivesto
honor GodandworshipHiminthewayHehasdirected.They willconsider
loyaltytotheirCreatorandRedeemerthemostimportantconsiderationpossible.
Thesecourageousoneswillsoonfindthemselvessingingontheseaof
glass(15:15).
AppealsbyEllenG.White
Inasmuch as the endoftime commandment keepers cherish the gift of
prophecy,it is appropriate to closethis portionof thechapter with appeals from
EllenG.White,selectedfromTheGreatControversy.
We arelivinginthemost solemn periodof thisworld'shistory.The
destiny of earth's teeming multitudes is about to be decided. Our own
future wellbeingand also the salvationofother souls dependuponthe
coursewhichwenowpursue.WeneedtobeguidedbytheSpiritoftruth.
EveryfollowerofChristshouldearnestlyinquire:"Lord,whatwiltThou
havemetodo?"WeneedtobumbleourselvesbeforetheLord,withfasting
andprayer,andtomeditatemuchuponHisword,especiallyuponthescenes
ofthejudgment.Weshouldnowseekadeepandlivingexperienceinthe
thingsofGod.Wehavenotamomenttolose.Eventsofvitalimportance
aretakingplacearoundus;weareonSatan'senchantedground.Sleepnot,
sentinelsofGod;thefoeislurkingnear,readyatanymoment,shouldyou
becomelaxanddrowsy,tospringuponyouandmakeyouhisprey.116
Fearfulistheissuetowhichtheworldistobebrought.Thepowersof
earth, unitingtowar againstthecommandmentsof God,will decree that
"all,bothsmallandgreat,richandpoor,freeandbond"(Revelation13:16),
shallconformtothecustomsofthechurchbytheobservanceofthefalse
sabbath.Allwhorefusecompliancewillbevisitedwithcivilpenalties,andit
willfinallybedeclaredthattheyaredeservingofdeath.Ontheotherhand,
the lawof Godenjoiningthe Creator's rest day demands obedience and
threatenswrathagainstallwhotransgressits
117

precepts.
ButnotoneismadetosufferthewrathofGoduntilthetruthhas
been broughthometo his mind andconscience,andhasbeenrejected.
Therearemanywhohaveneverhadanopportunitytohearthespecial
truths for this time. The obligation of the fourth commandment has
neverbeenset
116TheGreatControversy,601.
117Ibid.,604.

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SomeQuestionsAnswered
beforetheminitstruelight.Hewhoreadseveryheartandtries
everymotivewillleavenonewhodesireaknowledgeofthe
truth,tobedeceivedastotheissuesofthecontroversy.The
decreeisnottobeurgeduponthepeopleblindly.Everyoneis
tohavesufficientlighttomakehisdecision
intelligently.
TheSabbathwillbethegreattestofloyalty,foritisthepointof
truth
especiallycontroverted.Whenthefinaltestshallbebroughtto
bear upon men, then the line of distinction will be drawn
betweenthosewhoserveGodandthosewhoserveHimnot.
Whiletheobservanceofthefalsesabbathincompliancewith
thelawofthestate,contrarytothefourthcommandment,will
beanavowalofallegiancetoapowerthatisinoppositionto
God,thekeepingofthetrueSabbath,inobediencetoGod*s
law,isanevidenceofloyaltytotheCreator.Whileoneclass,
byacceptingthesignofsubmissiontoearthlypowers,receive
the mark of the beast, the other choosing the token of
allegiancetodivineauthority,receivethesealof
God.110

SomeQuestionsAnswered
Dates:TheirHistoricalSetting
I"Variousobjectionsaresometimesraisedevenbyhistoriciststo
\/thespecificdatingSeventhdayAdventistcommentatorshavey
appliedtothe1260days.Buttheseobjectionscanbeanswered.
Objectionsto538
SomepartsofEuroperemainedunCatholicizedforuptotwo
centuriesafter538.SomecountriesinnorthernEuroperejected
thepopeduringtheReformation,severalcenturiesbefore1798.
Sotheobjectionissometimesraisedthat538istooearlytobegin
the 1260 year period and 1798 is too late to end it. Several
specificobjectionsaresometimesraised
118Ibid.,605.

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TheMarkoftheBeast
aswell.Forexample,in551,thirteenyearsafter538,PopeVigilius,onavisitto
Constantinople, waschaseddownthestreetbytheEmperor's police,and when
hehadbarelymadehiswayintoachurchandgrabbedthealtarforrefuge,was
draggedawayandcompelledbytheEmperortosignaparticulardocument. 1And
popeswereimprisonedorinotherwaysdeniedtheirfreedomsomefortyormore
timesbetween 538and1798.The exuberant Cardinal Manning onceobserved,
perhapswithexaggeration,"Thirty[popes]werecompelledtoleaveRome;four
wereimprisoned,fourwereunabletosetfootinRome;sevenreignedinexilein
Avignon; making in all fortyfive, or onefifth in the line of the Sovereign
Pontiffs."2
Theseobjectionsarevalid,buttheydonotmeanthattheleopardbodiedseabeast
ofRevelation13isnotasymbolofRomanCatholicism;
andtheydonotmeanthatthelittlehornofDaniel7isnoteither.Infact,theyhelp
to confirm this identification. At the same time, they caution us to define our
terms.Thelittlehornandtheseabeastarenottobetakenassymbolsofmerely
anindividualpopeorevenofthelonglineofpopestakentogether(the"papacy").
Nor are they to beseen assymbolsofthe Roman Catholic Church considered
simplyasareligiopoliticalinstitution,orof1260yearsofunbrokendominationby
thepopeoverallpolitical issuesinWesternEuropeor,forthatmatter,of1260
years of absolute papal supremacy over the Catholic churches (let alone the
Protestantchurches)inWesternEurope.Nosuchperiodexists.
Wewillreturntoadiscussionof538shortly,butfirstletusdefinecertainterms.
DefinitionoftheBeastandtheLittleHorn
Wemustlookintelligentlyforwhattheprophecyforesaw.Theseabeastof
Revelation13andthelittlehomofDaniel7aresymbolsofaninstitution,akind
of kingdom. SecondThessalonians2speaksofthe"manofsin,"suggestiveof
the papacy, and also about apostasy, a "falling away," and a "mystery of
iniquity,"directingourattentiontotheideals,beliefs,andphilosophiesofaform
ofChristianitythathasdepartedseriouslyfromtheScripturalnorm.
1J.N.D.Kclly, TheOxfordDictionaryofthePopes(Oxford,NY,1986),61;ThomasHodgkin,Italy
andHerInvaders, 2ndcd.,8vols.in9(Oxford, NY, 18851899),4:59495.Thedocumentcon
demnedthe socalled "three chapters" andin effect negated the Christology of the Council of
ChatcedonthattaughtthatChristhadtwonaturesinoneperson.WesternCatholicswereinfavorof
theChalcedonianChrislology,butJustinianwasattemptingtoplacatenumerousMonophysitesin
hisEasternempire,
2HenryEdwardManning,TheTemporalPoweroftheViewofJesusChrist,2ndcd.(London,1862),
188.
122

Some Questions
Answered

WeconcludethattheseabeastofRevelation13andthelittlehornof
Daniel 7 are symbols otRoman Catholicism as a system(a) a set of
ideals,beliefs,andphilosophies(b)manifestedincertainpracticesand
institutions,notablytheRomanCatholicChurch,and(c)summedupin
thelineofpopes(thepapacy).
Withthisdefinitioninmind,wecanspeakofRomanCatholicism(the
mystery of iniquity) commencing in Paul's day and continuing right
through1798untilit isdestroyedbythebrightnessofChrist'ssecond
coming,intheprocessundergoingvariousexperiences.
Essenceofthe1260days.Then,aswelookatprophecyagain,wesee
thatwithintheoverallcareeroftheseabeast1260propheticdayshave
beenmarkedoffwithspecificdelineators.
The period begins with the giving of power, throne, and great
authority to thepopeasthevisibleheadofthesystem;itendswiththe
inflictingofacaptivityandanapparentlymortalwound.
The "mortal wound" symbol applied to the beast in its ideological aspect
signifiesamarkeddecreaseintheeffectivenessofCatholicism;
appliedto the beast in itsinstitutional aspect itreferstoanattemptto
neutralizethecentralheadquartersoftheCatholicChurch;andappliedto
itsadministrativeaspect,itreferstothepope'spersonalcaptivityin1798.
Thebeast as RomanCatholicism. Whenwelookatthebeastasa
symbol of a set of ideas, Pope Vigilius's flight down the streets of
ConstantinoplerevealsnottheweaknessbutthestrengthofCatholicism.
The document the emperor wanted signed was unpopular with many
others,buttheemperordidnotchasethemalldownthestreet.Hispolice
chasedVigiliusbecauseofhisstatusasperceived"headofalltheholy
churches"(asJustinianhaddeclaredhimtobein533).Theemperorwas
determinedtomodifyCatholicbeliefinaMonophysitedirection,andhe
believedthatifhadthisoneman'ssignature,hisgoalcouldbeachieved.
Inamomentofweaknessthepopeultimatelysignedthedocument,but
the sequel was a twoway strengthening of Catholicism in Western
Europe. Justinian's behavior toward the pope galvanized the Western
bishopstoincreasedactivityindefenseoftheirCatholicfaith.Second,the
emperorfeltboundtorewardVigiliuswiththePragmaticSanctionof554,
whichmadehimthechieflegalofficerinRome.3
3"Thenovelof554[thePragmaticSanctionof554] hasthisgreatimportancethatit
legallymadethebishopofRomethesupervisoroftheadministration|ofRome)....
[It] isequivalenttothe popetakingthe governmentof theChristiancapital inhis
ownhands."J.Calmette,LeMond

123

TheMarkoftheBeast

Andwhataboutthedelayedconversionsofsomeofthetribes?The
"littlehorn"was little whenDanielfirstnoticedit,afterhehadseenthe
other horns. But itgrew. Andas it grew, three of the other horns were
removedtogiveitspace.Intime,itblasphemedandpersecuted.Analo
gously,theseabeastaroseoutofthesea,revealingmoreandmoreofitself
asitdidso.Thusthelanguageofprophecyalertsustolookfordevelopment
inthemanifestationsofRomanCatholicism.Symmetrically,apatternof
growthintheearlystagessuggestsapatternofdeclineinthelaterstages.
WeshouldnotbesurprisedwhenweleamthattheVisigothsdidnot
acceptCatholicismuntiltheCouncilofToledoin589,orEnglandtillthe
600s,ortheLombardstill698.NorarewetobesurprisedthatCatholicism
begantoloseitsgriponEuropeasearlyas1300withtheemergenceof
nationalism,andcontinuedtoloseitsgripwiththeriseinthesamecentury
of "nominalism," a philosophywhich argued that individuals are more
important than institutions. Several northern Europeancountries gave up
CatholicismduringtheReformationofthe1500s.LossesduringtheThirty
YearsWar(16181648),whichbeganasaconflictbetweenCatholicsand
Protestants, were so disastrous that all European governments, even the
Catholicones,concludedtheywouldneveragainfighttodefendreligion,
Catholicoranyother.Andinthe1700s,anewphilosophicalmovement,the
"Enlightenment," led most remaining Catholic intellectuals to become
skeptical.
In the process we must not forget Daniel 2:43, which says that the
kingdomsintowhichtheRomanEmpirewouldbedividedwouldneveren
tirely"cleaveonetoanother"(KJV).Thus,prophecywarnedthatnothing
by implication, not even Roman Catholicismwould completely unite
Europeatanytime.
RomanCatholicism,viewedasaparticularsetofideals,beliefs,and
philosophies,enjoyedincreasinginfluenceoverthemindsofWesternEuro
peans during the early part of the 1260 years (around 5381000), was
dominantduringthecentralpart(10001300),andwanedduringthelast
part(13001798).Andthepropheticperiodwastobemarkedatitsbegin
ning and ending by specific events, the granting of power, throne, and
authorityandlaterbyacaptureandthestrokeofasword.
LetusclarifyfurtherhowCatholicismasaconceptcouldbedominant
evenwhenthepopeasarulerwasmomentarilyincontempt.Asthepopes
feodal (Paris), 72,222;sec also DanielA.Augsburgcr, "TheBeginning ofthe1260 Daysof
Prophecy"(unpublishedpaperpresentedtotheBibleResearchFellowship,1952;acopyison
fileattheWhiteEstateResearchCenter,AndrewsUniversity,BcrrienSprings,MI).

124

SomeQuestionsAnswered

came into ownership of ever larger papal estates, they came also into
numerouspoliticalandmilitaryskirmishes.Thepope'sinterferenceinthe
internal affairs of European countries also brought him into conflict. No
wonderhewasoftenimprisonedandseveraltimespreventedfromsetting
footinRome.
Butthepeoplewhofoughtthepopeinsuchdisputeswereordinarily
good Catholics. A striking example of this discrimination of loyalties
occurredin1053,whensomeNormanadventurerswereplunderingvillages
in southern Italy. Pope Leo DC led an illtrained army to discipline the
NormansbutwasdefeatedattheBattleofCivitate.ThevictoriousNormans
triumphantlypreparedastifftreatyforthepopetosign,buttheypresentedit
tohimaspenitentsinners,ontheirknees!4Thoughtheydominatedthepope
asaprince,theyweredominatedbyhimasaCatholic.
Betterknowntodayisthe"anticlericalism"ofmanyCatholicsaround
theworld.ManyCatholicswhoholddevoutlytothepopeastheHolyFather
whoseministryisessentialtotheirsalvation,nonethelessinsistthatheand
hisbishopshavenorighttoinvolvethemselvesinpolitics.
Althoughduringthe1260years,thepopewasoftendefeatedandseveral
timesimprisoned,histreatmentin1798wasqualitativelydifferent.In1798
hewasoverpoweredandimprisonedwiththe purposeof terminatinghis
religioussignificance.
538SetinaMajorTransitionalEra
Wereturnnowto538,nottolookatitasaspecificdatebutasadateset
inaneraofepochalchangewithmomentousconsequences.Historianswho
temporizewithspecificdatescandrawconfidencefrombroadbrushstrokes
thatpaintthe1260yearsasstretchingfromtheepochaleraofthefallof
RomeandthereignofJustiniantotheepochaleraoftheFrenchRevolution.
Thecloseofthefifthandbeginningofthesixthcenturiesmarkeda
genuine turning point in human affairs 5 So great were the changes that
EdwardGibbonbegantheseconddivisionofhismonumentalDeclineand
FalloftheRomanEmpirewiththeageofJustinianI(Easternemperor,527
565).
InthefourthcenturytheWesternempire,whichhadundergonemuch
civilstrifeinthethirdcentury,waslargelyunifiedandstabilized.Aremark
4CW.PreviteOrton,TheShorterCambridgeMedievalHistory(Cambridge,1953),479.
5SeeAugsburgcr,"TheBeginningofthe1260DaysofProphecy,"onthevastculturalchangesthat
markedtheonsetofthesixthcenturyandwhichhelptosupportthedate538.

125

TheMarkoftheBeast
ablyuniform "GrecoRoman"cultureprevailedalmosteverywhere, evidencedby
publicbaths,impressivebasilicas,collonnadedcitystreets,andtheuseofLatin.
Romancivillaw(juscivile)waseverywherethenorm.Evenmoreimportantforour
purposes, about A.D. 400 both Eastern and Western parts of the empire were
nominallyChristianized. By400theemperors were Catholics,whorequired the
peopletobeCatholics.Bishops,churches,andchurchcouncilsflourished.
But in the fifth century this stability was broken up and its Catholicity
challenged.InvadingtribescarveduptheWesternempire,eachcontrollingaslarge
anareaasitcouldgrasp.Typically,thetribesallowedmanyaspectsofestablished
lawandculturetocontinue.Butchangeswereinevitable.Latinbegantobereplaced
with early forms of the European languages we know today. The invaders
confiscated onethird (sometimes twothirds) of a landowners' property. Top
governmentofficialswerelikelytobemembersoftherulingtribes.Significantto
ourstudyisthewarfarethatwentonbetweenthetribesandamongclanswithin
some of the tribes now that the overarching control of the empire had been
removed.Results,especiallyinItaly,includedthedestructionoftraditionalruling
families,thedegradationofindustryandagriculture,devastatingboutsoffamine
andpestilenceandanopportunityforthepapacytoassumetopleadership.
WhenBelisariusenteredRomein536aspartoftheEasternemperor'sCatholic
campaign to be rid of the Arian Ostrogoths, Rome was still a splendid and
flourishingmetropolis.Itwasstillacityofbaths,temples,palaces,collonnaded
streets, and extravagant entertainments. The old Roman Senate continued to sit
there.TheOstrogothicKingTheodorichadwanteditthisway.
ButafterthefearfuldefeatoftheOstrogothicforcesatRomeinthespringof
538,adeterminedremnantoftheOstrogothscontinuedahopelessstrugglethatwas
extremely damaging all over the Italian peninsula, accompanied by famine,
pestilence,andevenbubonicplague.Withinadecadeorso,
classicalcivilizationperishedinRomeandthroughoutItaly. In citiesburnt,
desolated and mutilated, ruins remained the sole evidence of former
splendor.... The night of barbarism had descended on the Latin world, a
darknessinwhichnolightwasvisible,otherthanofthetapersofthechurch
andthelonely,studentlampofthemonkbroodinginhiscloister.
6FerdinandGregorovius,HistoryofRomeintheMiddleAges,trans.AnnieHamilton,8vols.(Lon

126

SomeQuestionsAnswered
SaysonetypicalMedievalist,thepeninsulaseemedalmostdepopu
latedand"nothingremainedfortheinhabitantsbuttodie."Thus"the
GothicWarmakesabreak"inItaly'shistory,bringingthelandto"the
thresholdoftheDarkAges."7
ASeventhdayAdventistmedievalisthasthistosay:
ThevacuumcreatedinRomebythecrumblingoftheGothic
monarchyhadbeenfeltduringthewaryearsanditwasduringthese
disastrousyearsthatthePapacywontheheartsandthemindsofthe
illfatedRomansbyitsfirmstandandliberality.Shouldwesettle
forthebeginningofthereconquestin536?Therealshowdownfor
Rome, which is the essential element as far as the Papacy is
concerneddidnotcomeuntil537538.8
Thesixthcenturywasoneoftransition.Asitbegan,Italywasruled
bythewiseOstrogoths;asitclosed,shewastheunwillinghostofthe
barbarousLombards.Asitbegan,Italywasunited;asitclosed,shewas
tornapartunderthedividedruleofLombards,Byzantines,andpopes.As
it began, a dim glow of enlightenment still flickered in Europe; as it
closed,Shelightwasnearlyout.Asitbegan,thepopeswerelimitedby
thewhimsofthekindbutoverbearingCloths;asitclosed,thepopeswere
supremeinRome.Asitbegan,Europewasdominatedmostlybypagans
andArians;
as it closed, the Arians were gone and Catholicism was making great
strides.Asitbegan,TheodoricwasthearbiterofEurope; asitclosed,
PopeGregorytheGreat9hadtakenhisplace.
Butwereturntothemostimportantissue,thatofreligiouschange.
The tribalinvasionsandthesubsequentcollapseoftheempireandof
Western Roman civilization as a whole brought a severe challenge to
RomanCatholicism.TheAngloSaxons,Alemans,andFrankswhoin
vadedwhatweknowasEngland,westernGermany,andnorthernFrance
werepagan.MostoftheothertribeswereChristian,buttheywereofthe
Arian variety. Indeed, the Arian list included three particularly strong
tribes,theVisigoths,theOstrogoths,andtheVandals.Asearlyas410,
theArianVisigothsbecamethefirstenemytoinvadethecityofRome
since prehistoric times. Only fortyfive years later (in 455) the Arian
Vandals invaded Rome,literally"vandalizing" it.TheArianVisigoths
settledineast
don,18941902).2:23.inAugsbui^cr,"TheBeginningofthe1260Days,"8.
7PreviteOrton,MedievalHistory,19092.
8Augsburger,"Beginningofthe1260Days,"24.
9J.B.Bury,HistoryofthePapacyoftheNineteenthCentury(18641878)(London,
1930),172.GregolymediatedbetweenEmperorMauriceandtheVisigoths.

127

TheMarkoftheBeast
ernFranceandSpain,wheretheyallowedtheCatholicsonlygrudgingfreedom.The
ArianVandalssettledinNorthAfrica,wheretheyvigorouslypersecutedCatholics
andexiledlargenumbersofbishops.TheArianOstrogothssettledinItalyandunder
TheodoricgavetheCatholicsalargemeasureoffreedom;butwhenAriansinthe
easternpartoftheempirewerebeingpersecutedunderEmperorJustinI,Theodoric
thoroughlyhumiliatedthepope,aswehaveseenabove.
Thus the tribal invasions were not only an overwhelming political and
demographicchallengetotheempire;theyconstitutedalsoaseverechallengetothe
CatholicChurch,fortoaconsiderabledegreetheyachievedadeCatholicizationof
Europe.
HerewasaveryserioussituationfortheRomanChurch.Ifitwastobecome
dominantinEurope,thesituationwouldhavetobereversed.And,ofcourse,itwas,
overtime.
Infact,bythetimethethreeAriantribeshadbeeneliminatedandtheirArian
formofChristianityhadbeeneliminatedwiththem,thevigorousFranks,by496,
hadtakenontheCatholicfaithand,by508hadhumbledifnotconvertedtheArian
Visigoths.(TheydefeatedtheVisigothsin507anddrovethesurvivorsoverthe
PyreneesintoSpainin508.)10 Andtheprocessdidgoon,untilafteracoupleof
centuriesorso,RomanCatholictheologyandpracticewereoncemoretriumphant
inWesternEurope.
Bycontrast,wemightmentionthattheGreekOrthodoxChurchexperienceda
steadydeclineinterritory,membership,andeconomics,mainlyasaconsequenceof
Muslimexpansion.ItsdeclinecontributedinvariouswaystotheCatholicsuccess. 11

Objectionsto1798
An objectionsometimes raisedto 1798 as a terminating year for the
1260 days is that the Catholic Church didn't die then, even temporarily.
MillionsofCatholicsremainedand,infact,pressurefromthemledNapo
leontosignanewconcordatwiththenextpope,in1801.
Theresponseisthattheprophecydoesnotrequirethatthebeast
10Augsburger,"Beginningofthe1260Days,"14.ThisfirstdecisiveuseofforcebytheCatholic
FranksinoppositiontotheArianVisigothsmakesaconvenientstartingplaceforthe1290year
dayprophecyofDaniel12:11."TheriseofChlodovec[Qovis]...seemsinmanywaysfarmore
epochmakingthantheeventof476....Itmarksthebeginningofanewera...throughitslasting
consequencesforcivilization."H.Grisar,HistoryofRomeandthePopes1:11011;inAugsburger,
"Beginningofthe1260Days,"15.
11See,c.g.,JudithHerrin,TheFormationofChristendom(Princeton,1987).

128

SomeQuestionsAnswered

'Ifactuallydie.True,theproverbprophecyinRevelation13:10
saysthat"he^;thatkillswiththeswordmustbekilledwiththe
sword"(NKJV),12 but the y, direct prophecyin13:3is more
precise:"Oneofitsheadsseemedtohave' amortalwound,
but the mortal wound was healed."13 The passage says ;
nothingaboutaresurrection,onlyahealing.Sowearenotto
lookforanactualdeath,butonlyforaseriouswounding.
Anotherobjectionholdsthatbecauseverse3(aboutthewound)comes
beforeverse5(aboutthe42months),thewoundwastobefulfilled
beforethe1260daysweretobeginandsocouldnotrefertoaneventin
; 1798.Thisobjectionoverlookstheliteraryarrangementofthefull
passage
(13:110).14
Afurtherobjectionpointsout(asweobservedatthebeginningofthis
'section)thatthepopehadbeentakenprisonerseveraltimespriorto
1798,
eliminating1798asunique.
Thepapacyhadexperiencedother militarydefeats andeven
captivitiesduringitslong1260years,butthe1798captivitywas
uniqueinatleasttwosignificantaspects.(1)Itcameastheclimax
ofseveralcenturiesofdecline intheinfluenceofCatholicismon
themindsofEuropeans,and(2)itwas notmerelyamilitaryor
politicalcoupbutwasastrokedeliberatelyintended
toterminatethepapacyforever.
CatholicinfluenceinEuropehadbeguntodeclineinthe1300s
withtheriseofnationalismandnominalism,andwashastenedby
the Reformation, the Thirty Years War, and the socalled
Enlightenment. Evidence of its low state even in surviving
CatholiccountriescanbefoundinCatholic
writers.

Religiousfeeling,"whichhadlongsincegrowncoldinGermany,"had
becomeinAustria"wellnighextincttowardthecloseoftheeighteenth
century."15
InFrance,"theeighteenthcenturywastheleastChristianandtheleast
FrenchcenturyinthehistoryofFrance."16
SpainwaslongmoreloyaltothepopethanItaly,butwhentheexiled
12SotheRSVandsimilarlytheKJVandsomeotherversions.TheNIVandJBand
someotherversionsmaybepreferred;"Ifanyoneistobekilledwiththesword,with
theswordhewillbekilled"(NIV);"Theswordforthosewhoarctodiebythe
sword"(JB).
13SotheRSVhasit.TheunderlyingGreek,translatedliterally,is"Andoneofits
headshavingitsthroatcutasifinordertocausedeath,anditsstrokeofdeathwas
(successfully)treated."
14Foradiscussion,oftheliteraryarrangementofRev13,seen.8,inthefirstsectionof
thischapter("TheMark").
15JohnAlzog,HistoryoftheChurch,trans.F.J.PabischandThomasS.Byme,3
vols.(NewYork,
1912),3:679.
16GeorgesGoyau,art."France,"CatholicEncyclopedia6:172.

129

TheMarkoftheBeast
popesoughtasyluminSpain,itwasdeniedhim,exceptonsuchconditionsascould
notinreasonbecompliedwith.17
WhenPiusVIdiedthenextyearinFrance^"half[of]Europethought..that
withthePopethePapacywasdead."10
Asexplainedearlier,previousdefeatsandcaptivitieshadbeencarriedoutby
loyal Catholics whose goals were political. In 1798 the setting was the least
CatholicerathusfarinmodernEuropeanhistory,andthegoalswerebothpolitical
andreligious.Asweobserved,theFrenchinstructionstoNapoleonwerethat"there
isonethingmoreessential,totheattainment oftheenddesired, andthatisto
destroy,ifpossible,thecentreofunityoftheRomanChurch;anditisforyou
[Napoleon]...torealizethisaimifyouconsideritpracticable." 19
1798SetinaMajorTransitionalEra
ThelowebbofCatholicismattheendoftheeighteenthcenturyisnottheonly
indication that 1798 fell in a major transitional era. There were many other
indicationsashistorianshaveobserved.
Professor William H. McNeill, for example, in his highly acclaimed
masterwork, The Rise of the West, speaks of a great "Western explosion" that
carriedEuropeanconceptsandtechnologyaroundtheworld.Ingeneralharmony
with numerous other scholars, McNeill dates this Western explosion as
commencingin1789,theyearwhentheFrenchRevolutionbegan.20
"At the outbreak of the French Revolution in 1789 [observes McNeill], the
geographical boundaries of Western civilization could still be defined with
reasonableprecision.By...1917,thiswasnolongerthecase.Westernhistoryhad
mergedintoworldhistory."21
McNeillanalyzestheWesternexplosionunderthreemajorsubheads,"territorial
expansion,""industrialism,"and"democraticrevolution."Allthreeaspectshavea
directbearingonthepropheciesthatweareexamining.
Thewellknownexpansionofcolonialism,especiallytheBritishEmpireinthe
1800swasonlypartofagiantprocessthatthrustEuropeancul
17RichardDuppa,ABriefAccountofiheSubversionofthePapalGovernment.1799,2nded.(London,
G.G.andJ.Robinson,1799),53.
18GeorgeTrevor,Rome:FromtheFalloftheWesternEmpire(London,n.d.),441.
19Aulard,ChristianityandtheFrenchRevolution,trans.LadyFrazer(London,1927),151.
20WilliamH.McNeill,TheRiseoftheWest(Chicago,1963),73062.
21Ibid.,730.

130

Some Questions
Answered

tureandcivilizationoververylargeareasofAfricaandAsiaandgreatly
expandedtheirinfluenceoverNorthandSouthAmerica.Inaddition,the
industrial revolution, which began in Britain in the second half of the
1700s,providedWesterntechnologysuchassteamenginesforfactories,
steam trains, steam boats, power printing presses, the telegraph, and
advancedweaponryfortherestoftheworld.
Westernterritorialexpansion,combinedwiththenewindustrialism,
madepossiblethegranddistributionofChristianitythatledKennethScott
Latourettetocallthe1800sthe"GreatCentury"ofChristianmissions,a
^^

centuryof"aboundingvitalityandunprecedentedexpansion."
Thus,Westernexpansion(bothsecularexpansionandmissionaryex
pansion)andWesternindustrialismmaybeseenasstrikingfulfillmentsof
thepropheciesaroundthecloseofthe1260years.Daniel12:4predicted
that at the end of the 1260 years "many shall run to and fro, and
knowledgeshallincrease."Johnheardavoiceattheendoftheseyears
callingfortheproclamationofthegospelto"manypeoples,andnations,
andtongues,
andkings"(Rev10:11,KJV).
The third aspect of McNeill's Western explosion, the "democratic
revolution,'*bringsustotheFrenchRevolution,whichsurelydeserveda
place in prophecy! It changed world history by inducing the spirit of
modem nationalism and by producing modern universal conscription,
leadinginturntotheimmensearmiesanddrasticallymurderouswarsthat
characterizeourtimes.23
Tragically,theriseofdemocracyleddirectlytogeneralconscription
andthemassarmiesweknowtoday,basedonthephilosophythatifana
tionbelongsequallytoallcitizens,allcitizensshouldbeequallywilling
to
fightforit.
"UntiltheFrenchRevolutionallEuropeanwarshadbeenfoughtwith
mercenary and professional armies, paid for by the government," a
historianremindsus.Thefirstgeneralconscription,the'''leveeenmasse,"
whichtheFrenchgovernmentimposedasaconsequence,"wasthefirst
modern example of conscription of the manpower of any European
nation....Sowasbomtheideaofanationalwar,and,withthe leveeen
masse, the means were made available for waging it... Europe would
neverbethesameagain."24
22KennethScottLatourette,AHistoryofChristianity(NewYork,1953),1061.
23ForanexcellentbriefdiscussionofmodemnationalismanditsrelationtotheFrench
Revolution,secStewardCEaston,TheHistemHeritagefromtheEarliestTimesto
thePresent(NewYork,1961),chap.17.
24Easton,WstemHeritage,5056.

131

TheMarkoftheBeast

Theyear1798wasofgreatsignificanceinandofitself,butitalsowas
surroundedbyveryimpressivedevelopmentsthatmarkedtheevolution
ofaneweraactually,thecommencementofthe"timeoftheend,"earth's
lastera.
Conclusion
Inanearliersectionwelookedatspecificeventsin538and1798that
fulfilledspecificaspectsofprophecy.Inthisresponsetosomequestionswe
havelookedatepochalchangesthatsurroundedthetwodates.Historicists
canbeconfidentthatthe1260dayprophecywasfulfilledinthecareerof
RomanCatholicism.

132

Chapterm

ContextualApproachto
theSevenLastPlagues
HansK.LaRondelle
EditorialSynopsis.Adventistinterestinthesevenlastplagues(Rev
1516) has usually focused on the sixth, the battle of Armageddon.
Although James White asserted in 1862 that "the great battle is not
betweennationandnation,butbetweenearthandheaven"(RH,January
21, 1862), Adventists in general have projected a political scenario.
AttentionfirstcenteredonthedissolutionoftheTurkishEmpireasthe
fulfillmentoftheplague'ssymbolism:thedryingupoftheEuphrates
river. Then, between World War I and II the focus shifted to the
"awakening"nationsoftheOrientastheconflictcametobeperceivedas
awarbetweenthenationsoftheeastandwest,centeringinPalestine.
But the advent of the Nuclear and Space Age have rendered such
speculations untenable, and there has been a healthy return to the
Scriptures,permittingthemtodefinetheirowntermsandsymbols.
Thus,thewriterofthischapterarguesforacontextualapproachto
theentireprophecyofthesevenlastplaguesanapproachthatdraws
onbothOTimageryandendtimeemphasisaswellasontheNTandthe
immediate context in the book of Revelation. Allowing the Bible to
explainitselfhasledtothediscoveryofitsextensiveuseoftypology.
Forexample,Israel'shistoricalexperiences,theExodusfromEgyptand
thelaterdeliverancefromBabylon,formatypologicalsubstructurein
theNT,especiallyinthebookofRevelation.
In the NT Christ becomes the antitypical Passover Lamb whose
sacrificialdeathliberatesthenewIsrael,thechurch.AstheMessiah,He

leadsthechurchoutofthisworldtoreigninthenewearth(Canaan)
forever.Ontheseaofglass,liketherejoicingthrongsofancientIsraelat
theRedSea,theredeemedwillsingthesongofMosesandtheLamb.
ThesevenlastplaguesarelikewisetiedintotheExodustypology.
FourofthemreflecttheplagueJudgmentsGodsentupontheirEgyptian
oppressors (blood,boils,darkness). Thesixthandseventhplagueson
BabylontheGreatreflecttheancientdryingupoftheEuphratesandthe
subsequentfallofBabylonbytheconqueringarmiesofCyrus.Justas
thecollapseofthatancientempirebrought
133

ContextualApproachtotheSevenLastPlagues
freedom totheIsraelite captives,sothetypologicallyexpressed prophecy ofthe
destruction of spiritual Babylon indicates deliverance for God's endtime people
fromtheirfoe.
Revelation16,theportrayalofthesevenlastplagues,islockedintothevision
ofRevelation15wherethesevenplaguesaredeclaredtooriginatefromthe"taber
nacleofTestimony"(15:8,NIV),anotherexodusmotif.Atthesametimethechapter
islockedintoRevelation17:119:10whichprovidesanelaborationandexplanation
ofthesixthandseventhplagues,thecollapseanddestructionofBabylontheGreat.
IftheBiblestudentstudiesthefinalapocalypticwar(Armageddon)inthelight
ofitsOTantecedentsandintheimmediatecontextofRevelation,takingcognizance
oftheBible'stypology,hewillbeledtointerpretthis"battleonthegreatdayofGod
Almighty"asawarofcosmicanduniversaldimensionsagainstGod,HisChrist,and
His faithful, remnant people by an endtime Babylonian religiouspolitical
confederation.
Thus,thecontextualapproachviewingthissubjectthroughthetotalwitness
oftheBiblerulesoutapurelypoliticalworldwar,andprotectstheBible'steaching
on the endtime struggle between good and evil from the instrusion of elements
foreigntotheScriptureperspective.

ChapterOutline
I.ImportanceoftheProblem
II.PrinciplesofInterpretation
III.ExodusTypology:ABiblicalSubstructure
IV.ExodusTypologyinRevelation
V.Revelation16:CorrelationsWithContext
VI.Sixth/SeventhPlagues:ExplainedbyRevelation1719
VII.HarMagedon:TheBible'sFinalWar

ImportanceoftheProblem
In the book of Revelation the seven last plagues are presented as the
outpouringofthewrathofGodinfullstrength("unmixed,"14:10;
15:1,RSV)onaworldinrebellionagainstGod.Thelastandmostterrible
plaguetheseventhisthedecisivemomentofthecollapseof"Babylonthe
Great"andthedisappearanceofthiscreation(Rev16:1920).
134

Contextual Approach to the Seven Last


Plagues

Althoughthegatheringofthereligiousandpoliticalpowersto"Arma
geddon" is pictured within the framework of the sixth bowl or plague
(16:1216),itisgenerallyagreedthattheactual"battleonthegreatdayof
GodAlmighty^'willtakeplaceduringtheseventhplague.
In1899EllenG.Whitewrote,"Weneedtostudythepouringoutof
theseventhvial.Thepowersofevilwillnotyielduptheconflictwithouta
struggle.ButProvidencehasaparttoactinthebattleofArmageddon." 2
ItisawellknownfactthatforseveralgenerationsSeventhdayAd
ventistpublicevangelismhasreliedespeciallyonRevelation16,thesixth
andseventhplaguesinparticular,tosupporttheimminenceofthesecond
comingofChrist.Ontheotherhanditisnosecretthatstrongobjections
have been raised by Seventhday Adventist Bible teachers, and serious
questionshavebeenaskedbysomeofourdenominationalleaderswith
regard to the speculative nature of the Middle East emphasis and the
secular"Armageddon"warprognostications.
Typicaloftheconfusionpresentinourapocalypticinterpretationof
thelastplaguesisthetestimonyofElderA.V.Olsenduringthe1952
BibleConferenceinWashington,DC:3
YearsagoIoverheardoneofourministers,whohadfrequently
written articles for the newspapers of his city on the Turkish
question, say to a group of workers, "I will never write another
articleonthissubjectforthepublicpress,becauseeverytimeItell
what the Turk is going to do he makes a fool of me by doing
somethingentirelydifferent."Byhiserroneousinterpretationsand
his unwarranted predictions, this good brother had created
embarrassmentbothforhimselfandforthechurch.
Themostrecentlypublishedchallengesare,"TheLocationandSig
nificanceofArmageddoninRevelation16:16," 4and"WhoWillFightthe
BattleofArmageddon?" 5 InthesearticlestheMiddleEastfocusisradi
callyremovedfromtheAdventistinterpretationofArmageddon.
In thischapter wewill address theparticular problem area ofthe
sevenlastplagues.

1TheNIVisusedthroughoutthischapterunlessotherwisenoted.
2F.D.Nichol,ed.,TheSDABibleCommentary7(Washington,DC,1957):983.
3A.V.Olson/ThePlaceofProphecyinOurPreaching,"inOurFirmFoundation2
(Washington,DC,1953):547.
4W.H.Shea,mAUSS18(1980):15762.
5R.Zamora,inTheseTones,February1982,810.

135

ContextualApproachtotheSevenLastPlagues

PrinciplesofInterpretation
AmilestoneintheprogressiveunderstandingofHolyScripturewasreachedin
thepublicationofthebook,ASymposiumonBiblicalHermeneutics, 6preparedby
theBiblicalResearchInstituteandpublishedonbehalfofthe1974NorthAmerican
BibleConferencesintheSeventhdayAdventistChurch.Itcontainsfourchapters
specificallyon"PrinciplesofBiblicalInterpretation"(chaps.1013).
Total Scripture principle. By way of summary, we advance the pertinent
hermeneuticalprinciplesthataffectourapproachtothelastBiblebook.
From the investigative vantage point the context of the word is the
sentence,unit,book,orbooksbythesameauthor.Beyondthisthecontextof
eachofthebooksoftheNTisthecanonoftheNTandthecanonoftheOTis
thecontextofeachofthebooksoftheOT.FinallytheentireScriptureisthe
contextforeachword,sentence,unit,andotherdivision.
TheconceptofallowingtheScriptureinitstotalitytoilluminatethemeaning
of a particular textthe sola scriptura principleopens up the dimension of a
deeperlevelofmeaningandafullerimportthancouldbeseenbytheimmediate
context.Againstthedangerofsubjectivismininterpretation,Haselstates,"Asafe
guidetoleadtotherightunderstandingofthefullerimportanddeepermeaningof
Scriptureisanotherinspired
.._',__*8
"8

writer.
Typology principle. ThefullsignificanceofScriptureasintendedby
Godisbroughttolightnotonlybywayoftheactualfulfillmentofpredic
tivepropheciesbutalsothroughthetypologicalsenseofIsrael'shistory.
Thusthetypeisalwaysincompleteuntiltheantitypebringsoutthefuller
importanddeepermeaningofthetype.GodastheauthorofScriptureplaced
withinthetypeaprefigurationofwhatislateridentifiedasantitype....There
isastrongtypologicalrelationshipbetweentheOTandtheNT.9

Theessayby WG.C. Murdoch,inthesamebook,elaboratesmoreon


thenatureofbiblicaltypology(pp.21318).Hisconclusionisbasically,
6G.M.Hyde,cd.(Washington,DC.1974).
7G.F.Hasel,"PrinciplesofBiblicalIntcipretation,"inASymposiumonBiblicalHenneneutics,ed.
GordonM.Hyde(Washington,DC:BiblicalResearchInstitute.1974),18283.
8Ibid.,186.
9Ibid.,187.

136

ContextualApproachtotheSevenLastPlagues

"TypologycanbelegitimatelyusedininterpretationoftheOTtobringout
the correspondence between God's methods of dealing with His people
beforeandafterthecrossofChristthusshowingthatHisoverallplanof
salvationisone."10
Finally,thepresentwriterhastriedtodefineandapplythetheological
principle of typology, stating that the OT types are expressions of a
relationship with Yahweh, while the NT antitypes are defined by their
relationshipwithChrist.11
EverytimetheapocalypseofJohnmentionsandappliesaHebrewname
orplaceorreferstoanOTpersonorevent,thetypologicalpatterncallsfor
determinationoftheoriginalredemptivehistoricalvalueofsuchatermin
relation to God's covenant with ancient Israel. Only then can the proper
Chnstologicalandecclesiologicalmeaningbedrawnbystructuralanalogy.
ThetypologicalprincipleappliesnotonlytothenameIsraelbutalsoto
thenamesofIsrael'senemiessuchasBabylon,Egypt,andEdomso
thattheancientenemiesofGod'speoplefunctionastypesoftheenemiesof
thetruechurchofChristJesus,(cf.Rev19:13,15,andIsa63:16)12

ExodusTypology:ABiblicalSubstructure
AtypologicalinterpretationofIsrael'shistoricExodusfromEgyptwas
initiatedbytheOTprophetsthemselvesastheyforetoldanexodusfromthe
Babyloniancaptivity.13
AlthoughIsrael'ssubsequentexodusoutofBabylonunderZerubbabel
andEzrain536and457B.C.maybeinterpretedas^partialfulfillmentof
thesetypologicalprophecies,thefaithofIsraelkeptlookingforwardtothe
eschatologicaldeliverancebytheMessiahHimself.OnlyHiscomingwould
restoretoIsraelallthecovenantblessings(Zech9,14;
Mal34).
BemhardW.Anderson'soutstandinganalysisoftheExodustypologyin
Isaiahconcludes:14
10W.G.CMurdoch,"IntroductionofSymbols,Types,Allegories,andParables,"inASymposium
onBiblicalHermeneutics,216.
11HansK.LaRondellc,"InterpretationofPropheticandApocalypticEschatology."inASymposium
onBiblicalHermeneutics,233.Asaconcreteexample,theElijahpromiseofMal4:56has
beenworkedoutmorefullyonpp.23941.SecalsoTheElijahtoComeManorMessage?"in
Mmuoy,January,1981,48.
12Ibid.,234.
13Hos2:1415;Jer23:58;Ezek20:3342;andIsa11:1012;43:1619;51:1011;52:112.
14BW.Anderson,"ExodusTypcAogy'mSecondlsaiah,"Israel'sPropheticHeritage,cd.K.W.A.ndeT
sonandW.Harrelson(NewYork,1962),chap.12,quotationsfrom190,192,19495.

137

ContextualApproachtotheSevenLastPlagues
Itiserroneoustoassumethatthenewexodusisthesameastheold,asthough
the endtime were a return to primeval time.... In the new exodus, historical
conditionswillbemarvelouslytransformed....Thenewexodusisnotareturntothe
oldinagreathistoricalcycle.Itisanewevent,anewcreation[Isa48:67quoted],...
TheExodus,then,isa"type"ofthenewexoduswhichwillfulfillinamore
wonderful fashion, with a deeper soteriological meaning, and with worldwide
implications,Yahweh'spurposerevealedbywordanddeedinthebeginning.

TheGodwhowouldaccomplishthiseschatologicalexodusistheIAM,thatis,
theGodofIsrael'shistoricExodusfromEgypt(Isa43:10;Exod3:14).Thenew
Agent of the future gathering of the faithful remnant would be the Servant
ofYahweh,theMessiah(Isa49:6).15
This typological relationship between Israel's Exodus under Moses and the
future messianic act of liberation is often expressed in rabbinic literature. The
MessiahwasexpectedtorepeatwhatMoseshaddone.Hewillsendnewplagues
upontheoppressorsoftheeschatologicalIsrael.Hewillagainbringforthwaterout
of the rock and send down manna from heaven. Just as in Egypt, the final
deliverancewilltakeplaceatPassover.Thestandingformulausedis,"asthefirst
deliverer, so the last deliverer." More than has been commonly realized, the
typologicalstructurebetweenthehistoricalExodusandtheMessianicdeliveranceis
also fundamental for the New Testament. This has been demonstrated now by
several scholarsfor thebooksofMatthew, 17 of Luke andActs,18 ofJohn,19 for
Paul'stheology20andfortheNTasawhole.21
The Christological Passover typology is expressed most explicitly in 1
Corinthians5:7;1Peter1:1819;andJohn1:29,36;19:33,36(Exod
15Cf.E.Jacob, Theologyof theOld Testament (Harper, 1958),339;F.Foulkes, The Acts ofGod
(Tyndale,1955),2122.
16Documentation byJ.Jcrcmias,in TDNT (KiltclFreidrichsert),vol.4;s.v.Mouses,A3b;andin
StrackBillerbeck.Xownen&arzwnNTausTalmudundMidrash1:8588.
17W.D.Davies,TheSermonontheMount(NewYork,1966);R.T.France,"InalltheScripturesA
StudyofJesus'Typology,"TyndaleBulletin,1970,1415.
18J.Manek,"TheNewExodusintheBooksofLuke,"NovT2(1958):823.
19R.H.Smith,"ExodusTypologyintheFourthGospel,"3BL81(1962):32442.
20 H.Sahlin,"TheNew Exodus of SalvationAccordingtoSt.Paul," TheRoot oftheYme, ed.A.
Fridrichsen(Westminster,1953),chap.5.
21R.E.Nixon,TheExodusintheNT(Wheaton,IL,1963);0.A.Piper,"UnchangingPromises:
ExodusintheNT,"fnt11(1957):622.Forageneralbiblicaloverview,seeH.K.LaRondcllc,
"TheSensusPleniorofIsrael'sRestorationPromises:TheNTTypologyofIsrael'sExodiFrom
EgyptandBabylon,"UnpublishedlecturegivenfortheEvang.Theol.SocietyinToronto,Canada,
December28,1981.

138

ContextualApproachtotheSevenLastPlagues
12:46).ItmaybetracedbacktoChristHimselfwhenHesubstitutedthe
emblemsoftheLastSupperforthePassoverritualforHischurchasthe
newIsrael(Matt26:28)22
The NT has developed from its Christology an ecclesiology in
which the church stands for a new exodus people, commissioned by
MessiahJesustobethelightoftheworldandtoproclaimsalvationtoall
peoplesontheearth.23 Weneedreferonlyto1Corinthians10:111;1
Peter 2:910; and Hebrews 8:813to confirm the conclusion that the
newcovenantchurchhasbeenconstitutedbyChristandHisapostlesas
the eschatological exodus people, a chosen people and a "royal
priesthood."Thesameblessingsandcursesoftheoldcovenantapply,
therefore,inanintensifiedwaytothenewcovenantpeople.
ThepurposeofthetypologicaluseofIsrael'sExodusbytheNT
seems clear: the old covenant contains the divine admonitions and
historicalprefigurations,bothindeliveranceandjudgment,regarding
God's actions in the last judgment and the final deliverance of His
faithfulcovenantpeople.
Nowthesethingsoccurredasexamples[tupoi},tokeepusfrom
settingourheartsonevilthingsastheydid.(1Cor10:6)
These things happened to them as examples [tupikos] and
werewrittendownaswarningsforus,onwhomthefulfillmentof
theageshascome.(1Cor10:1112)
In his valuable dissertation Typology in Scripture,^ Richard M.
Davidsonconcludes:
There isanhistorical correspondence betweenOTandNT
persons,events,andinstitutions.BydivinedesigntheOTrealities
are advancepresentations of corresponding (but absolutely
"escalated")NTrealities,andthere is a devoiretre relationship
betweentheOTrealitiesandtheNTfulfillments.

Hediscernsthreeaspectsintheeschatologicalfulfillmentofthe
OT
expectations:
1."Inaugurated"eschatologyatthefirstadventofChrist.
22T.Holtz,DieChrisiologiederApokafypsedesJohmnes(Berlin,1962),4445,
referringtoothers.
23SecH.K.LaRondelle,ProphecyinScripture,PrinciplesofBiblicalEschatology,
chap.7,"TheEcclcsiologicalInterpretationofIsrael'sRemnant"(BerrienSprings,
MI,1983);also"IsraelandtheChurch,"inMinistry,July1981,1214;"Isthe
ChurchSpiritualIsrael?"inMinistry,September1981,1719.
24AndrewsUniversitySeminaryDoctoralDissertationSeries,vol.2(Berrien
Springs,MI,1981),397.

139

ContextualApproachtotheSevenLastPlagues
2."Appropriated"eschatologyinthechurch(corporately,individually,and
sacramentally).
3."Consummated"eschatologyinconjunctionwiththeParousia.25Henames
thesethreeaspectsoffulfillment:the"Christological,"the"ecclesiological,"andthe
"apocalyptic"respectively.Theapocalypticaspectoftypologicalfulfillmentisthe
specificfocusofthebookofRevelation.

ExodusTypologyinRevelation
Passover Lamb: Christ. The most frequently used title for Christ in the
Revelationisamion,"Lamb"(28times).26ThefirsttimeChristisintroducedasa
lamb, it is "standing, as if slain" in the center of the throne of God (Rev 5:6,
NASB).Apparentlythisimageintendstoconveyaprofoundtheologicalmessage:
Christispresentedintheheavenlycouncilas"worthy"tobreakthesealsandto
openthescroll,becauseHe,as"theLionofthetribeofJudah,theRootofDavid,"
aspowerfulMessiah,hassacrificedHimselfasthelambtosetawholepeoplefree.
HeavenconsidersthemostessentialandworthycharacteristicofChristtobe
Hissacrificialdeath onbehalfofothers.Thisdeathismadethefoundationand
conditionforHisrighttoopenthescrollthatcontainsthedestinyoftheworldand
ofeachpersoninit.AllChrist'sfunctionsastheapocalypticwarrior,deliverer,and
judgearebasedonHisredeemingdeathastheLamb.27
TheexodusthemeofChrist,exaltedasthePassoverLamb,becomesapparent
intheexplanatoryacclamationofthe24elderswhentheyrespondin"anewsong":
Youareworthytotakethescroll
andtoopenitsseals,becauseyouwereslain,
andwithyourbloodyoupurchasedmenforGod
fromeverytribeandlanguageandpeopleand
nation.Youhavemadethemtobeakingdomand
prieststo
serveourGod,

,28
andtheywillreignontheearth.(Rev5:910)
25Ibid.,396.
26T.Holtz,4041,effectivelyrefutesthepositionofF.Spitta,StrdtfragenderGeschichteJesu
(Gottingen,1907),17277,whocontendsthatonionshouldbetranslated"ram"intheApocalypse.
27Rev6:16;7:14,17;17:14;14:1,10;13:8.
28Holtz,4546;referringtoothers.E.SchiisslerFiorenza,"RedemptionasLiberation:Apocl:5f.

140

ContextualApproachtotheSevenLastPlagues
Thisdoxologyoftheeldersinheavenrevealsthenatureand
the consequence of Christ's unique worthiness to become the
LordandSaviouroftheworld.Healonehasstoodthetestof
loyaltytoGodinsufferinganddeathandrevealedasupreme
worthinessofcharacterwhichentitlesHimtoreceiveacosmic
reignandresponsibility.29 ThevictoryofChristisexpressedin
thewonderfulparadox:anomnipotentPersonage(sevenhoms)is
theslainLamb(5:6).Buttheconsequenceofthisuniquesacrificial
deathistheliberationofauniversalpeopleforGod.
ThisiswellsummarizedbyW.C.VanUnnik:
Heistheonewhodiedandisaliveforevermore(1.18).He
hasbeentestedinhissufferingsandhasgainedthevictory.The
greatnessofhisworkisdescribedinvs9:fromallnationshehas
ransomed slavesandhehasmadethem,formerslaves,from all
peoples,evenpagans(!),tobetheholypeopleofGod,priestsand
kings,thetypicalprerogativeofIsrael(Exl^f.).^

Thesalvationofapeoplefromallnationsandlanguageshas
not been accomplished by sheer force but through the price of
Christ'slifeblood."Withyourblood youpurchased menforGod"
(5:9).ThisisthePassoverLambmotiftogetherwiththeexodus
theme.InthiswaythebookofRevelationconnectsitsChristology
andecclesiologyinanunbreakableunion.
Eschatological exodus. The "new song" (5:910) definitely
focuses on the future eschatological exodus of the church
triumphantoutofthisworldordertoserveGodontheearthmade
new.Thisisexpressedintheconcludingphrase,"andthey will
reignontheearth"(5:10)31andislatermorefollyunfoldedinthe
NewJerusalemvision(Rev21:1,7;22:5).
This apocalyptic exodus motif with its futureeschatological
reignofthesaintsonearthhasbeenworkedoutimpressivelyby
Elisabeth S. Fiorenza in her dissertation, PriesterFur Gott,32 in
whichshecontraststhis
and5:9f.,"CBQ36(1974);22032,see228.
29SccW.CVanUnnik,""WorthyIstheLamb'TheBackgroundof
Apoc5"inMelangesBibliques.EnhommageauR.P.BedaRigaux.,cds.,A.
DescampsandRPA.dcHalleux(Duculot,1970),44561;J.Jcrcmias,s.v.amnos
ktl,TDNT1:342^*5,concludes,"ThestatementsoftheApoc.aboutChristas
amwnportrayHimasRedeemerandWoridruler"(345).
30VanUnnik,460.
31Forthefuturetense(basileusousin,5:10),seeB.M.Metzger,^TextualCommentary
ontheGreekNewTestament(NewYork.1975),736.
32PriesterFurGott.StuaienzumHerrschaftsundPriestermoHfinderApokafypse
(Minister,1972),26390;also,"ReligionundPolitikinderOffenbarungdcs
Johannes,"inBiblischeRandbemerhmgen,FestschriftfurRSchnackenburg.H.
McrkleinundJ.LanginEchterVeriag,
141

ContextualApproachtotheSevenLastPlagues
apocalyptic forward look with the enthusiasticgnostic misunderstanding of the
reign of the saints as being a spiritual matter altogether. 33 Her conclusion is
illuminating:
JustastheslaughterofthepassoverlambinitiatedtheExodusofIsrael
fromthebondageofEgyptclimaxinginthecovenantatSinai,sothedeath
ofChristliberatedapeoplefromthewholeworldtobecometheuniversal,
newIsraelforGod.
AsancientIsrael,sothispeopleofGodisthe basileia [kingdom]for
God.Butthebasileiatoutheou[kingdomofGod](12,10),whichwillbethe
basileiatoukosmou[kingdomoftheworld](11,15),isstillfutureandmust
breakthroughfromheaventoearthbymeansoftheeschatologicalplagues
tobereleasedbytheLambandthewitnessesofGodbecausetheearth
nowisstilldominatedbytheantigodlypowersandtheirfollowers.34
ThiselaborationonthemeaningoftheLamb'sopeningofthescrollindicates
why Revelation 5in the words of Van Unnikhas "a decisive place in the
structureofthewholebook;whathasbeendescribedtherecannotbeleftoutor
missed,becausethenthesequelbecomesunintelligible."35
SealofGod.AnotherelementoftheExodustypologyhasbeenrecognizedin
the sealing of144,000servantsofGodfromallthetribesofIsrael(7:18).Only
thosewhohavethesealofGodontheirforeheadswillbeprotectedagainstthe
comingwrath ofGodandtheLamb(6:1517).One cannot misstheecho from
Israel'sExoduswhenamarkofbloodfromthePassoverlambhadtobeplacedover
thedoorofeveryIsraelitehouseinEgypttoprotectthosewhotrustedGodfromthe
plagueofdeath(Exod12:7,2223)36
Wildernesswandering.Thesymbolic"womanfledintothedeserttoaplace
preparedforherbyGod"(12:6,14),whichrecallstheExodusstory.Thejudgments
oftheseventrumpetsinRevelation89drawclearlyfromtheplagueswhichMoses
calleddownonEgypt.ButtheseriesofthesevenlastplaguesinRevelation1516
form,inthewordsofG.B.Caird,"amore
1974,26172.
33Seeesp.E.S.Fiorenza,"ApocalypticandGnosisintheBookofRevelationandPaul,"JBL92
(1973):56581.
34PriesterFurGott,289,owntranslation.
35VanUnnik,445.
36SeeEllenG.White,inReviewandHerald,February6,1900,quotedinTheSDABibleCommentary
7:96869;G.BLadd,ATheologyoftheNT,627.Oneshouldnotoverlook,however,theblending
oftheexodusmarkwiththatofEzek9.

142

ContextualApproachtotheSevenLastPlagues

complete andsystematicuseofExodustypologythaninany
otherpartofJohn^sbook."37
Lastplagues.Thethemeofthelastplaguesisbasicallythe
sameasthatofthetenfirstplaguestheendingofpersecution
bytheremovalofthepersecutor.AsYahwehvindicatedHis
covenant and liberated Israel from the house of bondage by
meansofaseriesofplagues,soChristwillbringaboutthe
final deliverance of His faithful people by sending again a
seriesofplaguesinwhichthewrathofGodiscompleted(Rev
15:1).
Song of Moses and the Lamb. The exodus typology
culminatesinthevisionofthetriumphantfaithfulonesinheaven,
whowillsing"besidethesea""thesongofMosestheservantof
GodandthesongoftheLamb"'.
Greatandmarvelousareyourdeeds,
LordGodAlmighty.Justandtrueareyour
ways,

Kingoftheages[ornations],...foryour
righteousactshavebeenrevealed.(Rev15:34)

Thisisthesongoftheremnantchurchafterhertriumphover
thebeastanditsimage.Itsobviousallusiontothesongofthefirst
deliverance,sungbyMosesandtheIsraelitesontheshoreofthe
RedSea,39 makesIsrael's experience underMosesatypeofthe
finaldeliveranceofthechurchbyChristashergloriousAntitype
(Exod15:118).TheemphasisofthehymnicliturgyofRevelation
15:24 is not the judgment of God on His enemy but the
righteousnessofHisgreatredemptiveacts.
AllusionstobothEgyptandBabylon.Animportantfeature
ofthesevenlastplaguesisthefactthatwhilefoureschatological
plagues find a striking correspondence to the plagues of Egypt
(waters turned to blood, Exod 7:17, 1921; boils, Exod 9:811;
darkness, Exod 10:2123), the sixth and seventh plaguesthe
dryingupofthegreatriverEuphratesandthefallofBabylon(Rev
16:12, 19)are obviously borrowed from the fall of ancient
Babylon (Isa 4447; Jer 5051). The exegesis of the seven last
plaguesneedstoworkoutthisstructureindetail.
Theintentoftheannouncementaboutthefallofapocalyptic
Babylonisclear(Rev14:8):GodcallsHispeoplenowtoanactual
exodus from Babylon, in view of her impending retributive
plagues(18:46).Theplaguesof
37,4CommentaryontheRevelationofSt.JohntheDivine(NewYork,1966),197.
38ThereadingofethnQn,"nations,"isequallysupportedasaionon,but"ismorein
accordwiththecontext(vs.4)"(B.M.Metzger,ATextualCommentaryonthe
GreekNT,753).
39SecR.H.Mouncc,TheBookofRevelation(GrandRapids,1977),28687.
143

ContextualApproachtotheSevenLastPlagues
Revelationcombinethetypological,historicaljudgmentsonEgyptandonBabylon
inordertoassuretheremnantchurch,beyondallshadowofdoubt,ofthecertainty
ofthecomingjudgmentofGodonendtime"Babylon"and"Egypt."
ChristthuscomfortsHispeoplewhostandfirminthefinalcrisisthattheir
future exodus from the house of bondage to the New Jerusalem is unshakably
guaranteedbythesamefaithfulcovenantGodwhobroughtaboutIsrael'sexoduses
fromEgyptandBabylon.ThistypologicalperspectivefromOThistoryprovidesthe
theologicalmeaningandmessageofthefinalplagues:thecosmicuniversalexodus
of the newcovenant people. Thus this typological light requires a Christchurch
applicationofOTsymbolsandimagery.40

Revelation16:
CorrelationsWithContext
Analysis of the literary composition as well as of the theological theme of
Revelationisimportant,becauseitsstructureandtheologicalperspectiveareclosely
interrelated and form an organic whole. Numerical structure dominates the
composition.Itisgenerallyagreedthatthenumber7istheorganizingprincipleof
thebook.
Colin Brown discerns "seven parallel but cumulative visions of history
culminatinginthevisionoftheNewJerusalem,correspondingtothesevendaysof
creationofGen.I."41 OthersdivideRevelationintosixmainpartswhichinturn
oftenconsistofsevensmallerportions.42 TheunityofRevelationincludingthe
preface(1:13)andtheepilogue(22:621)isexpressedinameaningfulway,bya
sevenfold"blessing."43
Three recent outlines of the structural composition of Revelation are those
offeredbyK.A.Strand,inInterpretingtheBookofRevelation^AYarbroCollins,
inTheCombatMythintheBookofRevelation^5and
40ForanextensivetreatmentofthishermcneuticsecLaRondelle,ProphecyinScripture,chaps.4,5.
41InColinBrown,ed.,TheNewInternationalDictionaryoftheNewTestamentTheology,3vots.
(GrandRapids,1978),2:931(trans.withadditionsandcorrections,fromtheGermanTheo
loffschesBeyiffslexiconaimNeuenTestament,cd.LotharCoencn,ErichBeyreuther,andHans
Bietenard).
42&Lohse,DasNeueTestamentDewsch11(Goltingen,1971):89;E.Lohmeyer,DieOffenbarungdes
Johannes,HNT,16(Tiibingen,1953):185;M.C.Tenney,InterpretingRevelation,3rdpr.
(GrandRapids,1973),38.
43Rev1:3;14:13;16:15;19:9;20:6;22:7,14.
44(AnnArbor,MI,1976),outlineson5152.
45HarvardDiss.inRclNo.9(Missoula,MT,1976),outlineon41.

144

ContextualApproachtotheSevenLastPlagues
E. Schiissler Fiorenza, in "Composition and Structure of the
BookofRevelation."46Forourpurposewelimitourselvestothe
basicsettingofRevelation16initsimmediatecontext
WeacceptthetentativeoutlineofKStrand(inchapter5)
whichdiscernsinRevelationtwomajorparts,relatedtoeach
otherbyaclearlydemonstrableparallelismofthemes:amostly
historical part (1:1214:20) and afutureeschatologkal part
(15:122:5). This classifies Revelation 16 as the coming
judgmentonaworldwideBabylonwhichisinrebellionagainst
GodandatwaragainstHissaints(16:1,56).
The narrative of Revelation 16 is related structurally to the
preceding chapter 15, where the origin of the seven plagues is
revealedascomingfromthetempleinheaven,from"thetabernacle
ofTestimony"(15:58),anotherExodusmotif',47Theplagueseven
constitutethesubstanceofthewarningofthethirdangels'message
inchapter14(14:910):
Ifanyoneworshipsthebeast andhisimageandreceives his
markontheforeheadoronthehand,he,too,willdrinkofthewine
ofGod'sfury,whichhasbeenpouredfullstrengthintothecupofhis
wrath.Hewillbetormentedwithburningsulfurinthepresenceof
theholyangelsandoftheLamb.

ThiswarningidentifiesthewrathofGodwiththewrathofthe
Lamb.Revelation16unfoldsthiswrathoftheLambastheseven
lastplagues.
Revelation16isalsoconnectedstructurallywiththesubsequent
chapters 17:119:10. These function as subordinate explanatory
discourses onRevelation16.Theyhavebeencalledthe"Babylon
Appendix" (Collins) or "appended interlude" to Revelation 16
(Fiorenza).48
It is important, furthermore, to observe that an antithetical
parallelismexistsbetweentheangelicexplanationsofthejudgment
ofBabylon,theharlot(17:119:10)andofthedescentfromheaven
of the Holy City, Jerusalem, the wife of the Lamb (21:922:5).49
Significantly, each explanatory discourse is given by one of the
bowlangels(ofRevelation16):
Oneofthesevenangelswhohadthesevenbowlscameand
saidtome,"Come,Iwillshowyouthepunishmentofthegreat
prostitute,whositsonmanywaters."(17:1)
46CBQ39(1977):34466,outlineson36364.
47Cf.Exod31:18;38:21;Num1:50.
48Collins,TheCombatModf,32;Fiorenza,"Composition,"31,callsRev17:119:10an
"appendedinterludetothebowlseptet."TheSDABibleCommentaryalso
interpretsRev17asaclarifyingelaborationofthesixthandseventhplaguesofRev
16(7:849).
49C.H.Giblin,"StructuralandThematicCorrelationsintheTheologyofRevelation16
22,"Bib55(1974):487504.

145

ContextualApproachtotheSevenLastPlagues
Oneofthesevenangelswhohadthesevenbowlsfullofthesevenlastplagues
cameandsaidtome,"Come,Iwillshowyouthebride,thewifeoftheLamb."(21:9)

Thesetwoindicators(17:1;21:9)correlatespecificallywiththeclimaxofthe
plaguesinRevelation16.BabylonfunctionsprimarilyastheantithesisoftheNew
Jerusalem. The disappearance of the present creation (16:20) prepares for the
presentation of the new creation (21:1). The correlation of the passages of
Revelation 16:1721 and 19:1121 is one of a progressive unfolding and
clarificationofthelastplagues.
Thenarrativeoftheseventhplaguemust,therefore,beinterpretedthroughthe
correlatedsectionofRevelation19:1121:8withitstwofoldthemeofrequitaland
reward.Thecorrelationfindsexpressionintheseventhplaguebythedivinevoice
fromthethrone,"Itisdone!"(16:17),whenthewrathofGoddestroysBabylon,and
onceagainbythesamevoicefromthethronewhentheNewJerusalemhascome
downonearth,"Itisdone!"(21:6).
ThesestructuralcorrelationsofRevelation16withtheexplanatorydiscourses
andthejudgmentnarrativesofthefollowingchaptersformtheliterarysettingofthe
lastplagues.Theyshouldexerciseadefiningfunctionintheinterpretationofthese
plagues.Itrequiresthatweinterpreteachplagueinthelightofthewholeseries,
andtheseriesinthelightofitsimmediateliterarycontext.Thethematicunityof
Christ'svindicationofHisnewcovenantpeopleinRevelation1222pointstothe
harmonyandcontinuityofthetheologyofRevelationwithOTtheology.

Sixth/SeventhPlagues:
ExplainedbyRevelation1719
The new element in Revelation 17is the unfolding of a formal distinction
withinBabylonitself:Babylonsitsasaharlot(city)"onmanywaters" 50withwhom
thekingsoftheeartharecommittingadulteryandwhomakestheinhabitantsofthe
earthintoxicatedwiththewineofheradulteries(17:12).Inthescenethatfollows
the woman Babylon is portrayed sitting on a scarlet beast, covered with
blasphemousnamesandhavingsevenheadsandtenhorns.Inherhandsheholdsa
goldencupfilledwithabominablethings,whilesheisdrunkwiththebloodofthe
saints,ofthosewhoborewitnesstoJesus(17:36;cf.18:24).
ThemaindistinctionwithinBabylonisbetweenthecityandthewaters,
50AtypologicalperspectivebasedonJer51:13.

146

ContextualApproachtotheSevenLastPlagues
betweenBabylonandtheEuphrates,betweentheharlotandthebeast
with the ten homs. Or to state the matter without symbolic
terminology,thedistinctionisbetweenthereligiousleadersandthe
politicalpowersofBabylon.Theessenceoftheangelicinterpretation
(17:818) of the divine judgment on Babylon is the victorious
sovereigntyofGodwhowillallowthemutualdestructionofthetwo
constitutivepartsofBabylon;theBabyIonianbeastwilldestroythe
Babylonianharlot.
Thebeastandthetenhomsyousawwillhatetheprostitute.
Theywillbringhertoruinandleavehernaked;theywilleather
fleshandbumherwithfire.(17:16)
ThisangelicdiscourseinRevelation17:818isthekeynotonlyto
thestructuralandthematicunityofchapters16and17(thejudgmentof
Babylon,plagues6and7)butalsotothetheologicalinterpretationof
ArmageddonandthedryingupoftheEuphrateswatersofBabylon,the
fallofBabylon,andthecomingofthekingsfromthecosmicEast.The
SDA Bible Commentary affirms the structural and thematic unity of
Revelation1619initscommentonRevelation17:1
Babylon's criminal career reaches a climax under the sixth
plague (see on ch. 16:1216), whereas the sentence decreed is
executedundertheseventh(seeonchs.16:1719;17:1317;18:4,
8;19:2).Accordingly,partoneisconcernedmostparticularlywith
eventsunderthesixthplague,andparttwowiththoseunderthe
seventh.Thusch.17isadelineationofthefinalcrisis,whenSatan
putsforthhissupremeeffort toannihilateGod'speople(cf.ch.
12:17)andwhenallthepowersofeartharearrayedagainstthem
(cf.GC634).GodpermitsSatanandthehumanagenciesallied
with him tocarryforwardtothevergeofsuccesstheirplotto
annihilatethesaints.Butatthemomenttheblowistobestruck
GodintervenestodeliverHispeople.Thehostsofevil,arrestedin
theveryactofattemptingtoslaythesaints,standwithoutexcuse
beforethebarofdivinejustice(seeDan.12:1;cf.EW282285;
GC635,636;LS117).51

HarMagedon:TheBible'sFinalWar
ThesubsectionofRevelation16:1318inthesettingofthesixth
andseventhplaguesdevelopsthepreviouslyintroducedthemeofthe
cosmicuniversalwarofaworlddemonicallyunitedinrebellionagainst
God,
51TheSDABibleCommentary7:849.
147

ContextualApproachtotheSevenLastPlagues

Christ,andHiscovenantpeople. 52 Thiswarthemeisfurtherunfoldedin
Revelation17:1214and19:1121whereChristisportrayedasthedivine
warriorwhocomesfromheaventomakewaronbehalfofHisthreatened
covenant people, His faithful remnant. He will deliver them from their
eschatologicalenemy,theSatanictrinity:theserpentdragonandhistwo
allies,thebeastandthefalseprophet.5
Twobasicprinciplesofhermeneuticalweightneedtobefirmlyestab
lishedbeforeanydefinitehistoricalapplicationofHarMagedon,popularly
calledArmageddon,canbeundertaken:
1. This apocalyptic war needs to be interpreted in keeping with its
progressiveclarificationwithinthebookofRevelation.Inotherwords,the
"Armageddon"warmustbeexpoundedbymeansofitsownbiblicalend
timecontextsothatitsthemefitsharmoniouslyandorganicallywithinthe
ChristocentricstructureofRevelation.
2. The theme of the apocalyptic war needs to be interpretedin fun
damental harmony with the OT revelation of the final war as its basic
taproot,inkeepingwiththebiblicaltheologyofthetotalcanonofHoly
Scripture.
BothapproachesviaitsimmediateNTcontextandviaitsOTroot
contextinterprettheffarMagedonwarinprincipleasareligiouspolitical
warofcosmicanduniversaldimensionsagainstGod,HisChristandHis
faithfulremnantpeople.Thiscontextualapproachsafeguardsthethematic
unityofbiblicaleschatology.Itdoesnotauthorizeasecondaryapplication
oftheapocalypticwartoanysecular,politicalworldwaroreventoananti
Semiticwar.TheChristocentricfocusoftheapocalypticwaragainstGod
comesinbasicconflictwiththeOTMiddleEastfocus.TheHarMagedon
war of Revelation 1219 is inexorably subordinated to the gospel
hermeneuticand,therefore,mustbeviewedanddefinedintermsofChrist
andHisendtimepeople.
OldTestamenttermsandimages(Israel,Babylon,MountZion,etc.)are
appliedintheNTwithouttheirethnicandgeographicliteralism.Thetheme
oftheHarMagedonwardeservesaspecialanalysisfromitsOTtypological
andapocalypticperspectives.
52Rev1:7;6:1517;12:17;13:1517;14:1720.
53Rev16:13;17:14;19:1920.SeeM.Rissi,J^ieFutureoftheWorld,AnExegeticalStudyofRev
19,1122,15.SBT.Sec.Ser.,23(Napcrville,IL,1966),1828(onRev19:11.21),whostates,"A
decisivefeatureinthispictureoftheparousiaisthatJohnnevergivesuphisChristologicalcon
ception.ForhimthereisonlyonebattleandvictoryofChrist,whichalreadyliesinthepast....
SincetheissuehasalreadybeendecidedinthedeathofJesus,theeschatologicalwar,forwhich
God'senemiesprepare,willnottakeplace"(pp.2627).

148

ContextualApproachtotheSeven

Last

Plagues

Finally,oneaspectofthisendtimewarneedstobenoted.Wemay
phraseitasaquestion:Whatisthenatureoftheparticipationofthenew
<venantsaintsintheapocalypticwar?Answer:InRevelationthesaintsare
spiritually active in the warfare against the forces of darkness"They
overcamehim[Satan]bythebloodoftheLambandbythewordoftheir
testimony;theydidnotlovetheirlivessomuchastoshrinkfromdeath"
(12:11).
Thechurchisadmonishedexplicitlytorejectanymilitaryactionor
revolutionaryresistance(13:10;cf.Matt26:52)andiscalledtoadoptapas
siveroleinthefutureeschatologicalconflict,eventothepointofmartyr
dom.54ThesaintswillparticipateinChrist'svictory,notinHisbattle
(17:14).55
Terribleastheywillbe,thesevenlastplaguescarryacomfortingand
reassuringmessageforGod'speople.ThedivineDeliverer,whorescued
ancient Israel from Egypt and Babylon, will intervene again. He will
deliverHisnewcovenant,remnantpeoplefromtheworldwideapocalyptic
EgyptandBabylonandtakethemtotheNewJerusalemabove.

54Rev2:10,13;3:10.11;6:911;20:4.SecdiscussioninA.Y.Collins,"ThePoliticalPerspectiveof
theRevelationtoJohn,"JBL96(1977);24156.esp.24649.
550.W.Klasscn,"VengeanceintheApocalypseofJohn."CBQ28(1966):300311;A.Y.Collins,
"ThePoliticalPerspective,"24748.
149

ChapterIV

Babylon:
AntiChristianEmpire
HansK.LaRondelle
Editorial Synopsis. Popular among both Roman Catholic and Protestant
scholarsistheviewthattheBabylonianharlot(Rev17)symbolizestheancientcity
ofRome,situatedonsevenliteralhillsandruledbysevenselecteddynastiesof
RomanemperorsfromAugustustoDomitian.Somehaveattemptedtocombinethis
preteristpositionwithafuturistfulfillment,sothattheBabylonianharlot/beastmay
havebothafirstcenturyandanendtimeapplication.
Neitherview,ho'vever,isinagreementwiththepropheticdatainthescriptural
setting. The preterist/historicalcritical positionfails to take into account all the
describedfeaturesoftherelatedbeastsinRevelation13and17.Actually,Revela
tion1213providethescripturalfoundationforidentifyingtheharlot/beastsymbol.
The BabylonofRevelation17isnot apolitical but a religiousentity.TheNT
Babylonwillplayamajorroleinthefinaleventsthatleaduptothesevenlast
plaguesandArmageddon.
Thesecondview,"amoderatefuturism,"ignoresthefact thatDaniel isthe
mainpropheticmodelforthebookofRevelation.Daniel'suniquestyleofa con
tinuumorhistoryacontinuoushistoricalperspectivethatculminatesintheend
timeeventsisembodiedinthesubstructureofRevelation.Therearenogaps
portrayedinChristianhistorybetweenitsinitialsettinganditsendtimeculmina
tionintherestorationofGod'seternalkingdom.
Thewriterdemonstrateshisargumentbyspellingoutthestronglinksbetween
theseabeast(Rev13)andthelittlehorn(Dan7).Thetwopropheciesidentifythe
sameantiChristianpower.Inturn.Revelation1213providetheimmediatecon
textualbasisforidentifyingtheBabylonianharlot.Thetypologicallinksbetween
the NT harlot (Rev 17) and the OT harlotry of ancient Israel indicate that the
BabylonianharlotisnotbeingusedasasymbolofpoliticalRomebutofapredicted
Christianapostasythatwoulddevelopwithinthechurch,breakcovenantwithGod,
becomeanoppressorofHistruefollowers,andplayasignificantroleintheevents
oftheendtime.
151

Babylon:AntiChristianEmpire
ForfurtherstudyontheconfigurationofendtimeBabylontheGreat(Rev1718),
thereaderisdirectedtothewriter'sarticle,"Armageddon'sSixthandSeventhPlagues,
chapter12inthisvolume.

ChapterOutline
I.ReviewofInterpretations
II.CovenantContext
III.ContextualFoundations
IV.Satan'sCounterfeitTrinity
V.Bibliography

ReviewofInterpretations
Prcterist/HistoricalCriticalPositions

f \3rmostexegetestheharlotBabylonsymbolizestheancientcityof r^
RomewhichruledovertheRomanEmpire,representedinturnbyAthe
blasphemousbeastsofRevelation13and17.Thesevenheadsofthebeasts,
interpretedbytheangeltosignify"sevenhillsonwhichthewomansits"and
also"sevenkings"(17:9),areappliedtotheliteralhillsonwhichRomewas
builtandtosevenselecteddynastiesofRomanemperorsfromAugustusto
Domitian.1
AstrongargumentinfavorofRomeisthepresenttenseoftheverb"to
rule"inRevelation17:18,NIV(literally,"hasdominion")."Thewomanyou
sawisthegreatcitythatrulesoverthekingsoftheearth."Infact,bothJews
andChristiansusedtocallRomeasecond"Babylon."2
A modem representative of this preterist view is ElisabethSchiissler
Fiorenza.ShestatesthatJohn'sApocalypseisa"propheticinterpretationof
thesituationoftheChristiansinAsiaMinorattheendofthefirstcen
3

tury.""Toher,thebookofRevelationconcentratessolelyontheuniversal
politicalconflictbetweenChrist'sclaimasLordandtheRomancivil
1TheinterpretationthatapocalypticBabylonrepresentedtheRomanEmpirewascommonamongthe
churchfathersandispopularamongRomanCatholicandProtestantBiblescholars.
2SeeTtVNT.SU.Specificreferencesare2Baruch11:1;Sib.Or.5:143,158;1Pet5:13;Hippolytus,
ChristandAntichrist,36;Augustine,DeCiv.Dei,16.17;18.2.23.
3TheApocatypse,HeraldBibl.Booklets(Chicago,1976),43.

152

Babylon:AntiChristianEmpire

religion and its imperial cult that claimed totalitarian power and divine
honors:CaesarisLordandGod.4
Thus,thebasicmessageofRevelationisthatChristiansmustresistthe
idolatrous totalitarianism of any oppressive world power, because they
shareinthekingshipofChrist.Unfortunatelyfromherperspective,theidea
hasnotinfluenced"establishedChristianity"inanyrealsense,admits this
RomanCatholicauthor.5MainlineChristianity,inheropinion,hasreduced
endtimesalvationtoapurelyspiritualdeliveranceofthesoulfromthis
world. As a consequence, the mainline churches have accepted the
theologicalpolicyofJohn'sopponents:"adaptationofthepresentsocietal
rulingpowers."6
Thisviewisattractiveforitsreligiousmoralapplicationtoourpresent
age.However,itsdifficultyisthattheRomanEmpiredoesnotfulfillallthe
describedfeaturesofthebeastsinRevelation13and17.ThenewBabylon
willplayamajorroleinthefinalevents,leadinguptothejudgmentofthe
seven last plagues and Armageddon (Rev 16), and therefore, cannot be
restrictedtotheancientRomanEmpireanditsemperorworship.
Preterist/FuturistCombinations
TheseexegeticaldatawereacknowledgedbysomeolderRomanCath
olicscholars.TheyresolvedthematterbyinterpretingBabylonasthepagan
cityofRomeinthepastand,morespecifically,asapaganRomeagainin
thefuture.7 Buthereagainthisfuturismdoesnotagreewiththeprophetic
sweepoftheprophecy.Johntherevelatoroutlinesanunbrokensuccession
of persecuting powers from pagan Rome until the final judgment,
symbolizedbythesevensuccessive"heads"onthebeast.Theinterpreting
angelexplained,"Theyarealsosevenkings[orkingdoms],fiveofwhom
havefallen,oneis,theotherhasnotyetcome"(Rev17:9,10).Nogapof
timeissuggestedhere.
GeorgeE.Ladd,nevertheless,triedtocombinebothopposingviewsin
hisarrangementofadoublefulfillment:"Romewasahistoricalforerunner
ofAntichrist....ThebeastisbothRomeandtheeschatologicalAntichrist
and...anydemonicpowerwhichthechurchmayexperienceatthe
4Ibid.,5159.
5Ibid.,60.
6Ibid.
7SecthestatementsofRibcra,Bellannine,Viegas,Malvenda,CorneliusofLapide,andManning,
inL.BFroom,ThePropheticFaithofOurFathers2(Washington,DC,1948):486505;also
vol.3(1946),73337.
153

Babylon:AntiChristianEmpire
handsoftheworld,whetherbyGrstcenturyRomeorbylaterevilpowers.^When
Laddoptsforamethodof"blendingthepreterist andthefuturist methods,"he
therebyacceptsawidegapofmanycenturiesofchurchhistory.Thus,theChristian
EraremainslargelyoutsidethefocusoftheRevelation.
Ladd's view of a "moderate futurism" recognizes the validity of both the
contemporary and the endtime focus of prophecy, that is to say, the familiar
doublefocusperspectiveoftheOTprophets.Butheignorestheuniquestyleofa
continuum ofhistoryinDaniel'spropheticoutlines.Ladd'smethoddisregardsthe
mainpropheticmodelofJohn'sApocalypse:
theuniqueDanielicpatternofacontinuoushistoricalperspectivethatculminatesin
theendtimeeventsofthedivinejudgmentandtherestorationofthekingdomof
Israel'sGod.
TheologicalIdealism
ErnestLohmeyerdefendedanextremeposition.Thegreatprostitute(Rev17)
couldnotsymbolizeRomeoranyhistoricalcity,becauseallcitieswouldhavebeen
destroyedduringtheseventhplague(recordedinRev16).Consequently,theharlot
mustsignifyademonicfigure,thesatanicpoweroftheapostateworld,asinancient
mythology.9
ThisdetachmentofendtimeBabylonfromactualhistoryisbasedonthefalse
premise that chapter 17 follows chronologically after chapter 16. In actual fact
Revelation1718areafurtherelaborationofthesixthandseventhplagues.Mostof
all,theinterpretationcomesinbasicconflictwiththerealismofbiblicaltypology,
whichalwaysretainsitsconcretesalvationhistoricalfulfillment.
LiteralistApproach
Oppositethistheologicalidealismistheabsoluteliteralismdefendedbysome
dispensationalistswhoexpecttheliteralrebuildingoftheoldcityofBabylon,in
conjunctionwiththeendtimerestorationofnationalIsraelandJudah. 10
BecauseseveralkeyelementsoftheOTdoomoraclesonBabylonhave
8ACommentaryontheRevelationofJohn(GrandRapids,1972),13,14.
9DieOffenbarungdesJoharmes,HNT,16(Tiibingen,1953):13847.
10CharlesH.Dyer,"TheIdentityofBabyloninRev171S,"BSac144/575(1987):305316;434
49,concludes:"InsummaryithasbeenshownthatJeremiah5051isdescribingastillfuture
destructionoftheliteralcityofBabylon.^..theBabyloninRevelation1718isthefuturerebuilt
cityofBabylonontheEuphrates"(p.449).

154

Babylon:AntiChristianEmpire

neverbeenfulfilledliterally(Jer50,51),itisassumedthatthey
requireanabsolutelyliteralfulfillmentinthetimeoftheend.
This concept of literalism suffers from a fundamental
misconception of the nature of biblical typology which never
equalizestypeandantitype.Bydefinitiontheantitypeexpands,
intensifies,andsurprisinglyrenewsthehistoricaltypethroughits
fulfillmentinandthroughChrist"
OneevangelicalNTexegetecomestotheradicalconclusion
thatBabylon(Rev1718)doesnotsignifyanypoliticalorreligious
power,butissolelyan"economicentilv,"whichwilloppressall
menbyaninternationalcommercialcollapse. 12 Hearguesthatthe
term "harlot" (pom) is not used in Scripture to refer to an
ecclesiastical entity, but "to actual [purely commercial] cities
similartothatinchapter18."i3
Thisreductionistexegesisdoesnotgiveproperweighttothe
theologicalfocusofHolyScripture.ThecitiesofBabylon,Tyre,
Nineveh, and Jerusalem were not primarily commercial harlots.
Rather, they were religious apostates in their selfexaltation,
idolatry, and hostility against Yahweh, His truth, and His true
covenantpeople.14
JerusalemBabylonApproach
JosephineMassingberdeForddefendsthethesisthattheharlot
BabylonrepresentsJerusalem,wheretheprophetswereslain,not
Rome(Matt23:2939).Shearguesthispositionontheassumption
that Revelation422was writtenprimarilyas aJewishChristian
apocalypsebeforethefallofJerusaleminA.D.70.15
BasJctothisidentificationistheauthor'stheologicalstatement:
"Itisthecovenantwhichmakesthebride,thebreakingofitwhich
makestheadulteress."16TheNewJerusalemofRevelation21then
becomesthecounterpartoftheold,defiledJerusalem.
Ford seesthename"Babylon"ontheharlot'sforeheadasan
ironic
11SeemyTheIsraelofGodinProphecy(BerrienSprings,MI,1983),chap.4.Eventhe
NewScofieldReferenceBible(1967)suggeststhatBabyloninRev1718shouldbe
understoodsymbolicallyforRome,asanallianceofanendtimepoliticalempire
andanecclesiasticalapostateChristendom(NSRB,136770.onRevelation18:2).
12ThomasR.Edgar,"Babylon:Ecclesiastical,Political,orWhat?"JETS25/3
(September1982):33341.
13Ibid.,340.HepointstoTyreandNinevehascommercialcitiesbeingcomparedwitha
harlotinba23:17;Nah3:4.
14SecNah1:2.711,1315,forNineveh;Ezck26:2;28:2(cf.2Thess2:4),1718,for
Tyre.
15Revelation,AB(GardenCity,NY,1978),3,4(fromthecircleofJohntheBaptist).
AppealismadetoRev11:8.
16Ibid.,28586,offerfivereasonsforBabylon'sidentificationwiththefaithless
Jerusalem;inkeepingwiththetheologyofQumran(emphasisincitationisadded).

155

Babylon:AntiChristianEmpire

symbolofJerusalem'slewdpriesthood,whosehighpriestworethename
Yahwehonhisforehead(Exod28:3638).Thisharlotisthereforea"priest
harlot" (cf. Ezek 16:3243). The author expands: "In the picture of the
adulteresswhatonemayhaveisaparodyofthehighpriestontheDayof
Atonementwearingthevestmentsspeciallyreservedforthatoccasionand
holdingthelibationoffering."17
Theattractionofthisoriginalinterpretationisits continuationofthe
covenantframeworkoftheOXinparticular,itsreferencetotheculticdayof
judgment. Its weakness is the implicit denial of the fundamental Chris
tocentricity of John's Apocalypse. The Jerusalem application remains
orientedtotheoldcovenantpeopleofGod,insteadoftothenewcovenant
people,thechurchofJesusChrist,asstressedinRevelation1
1Q

3.10Furthermore,howcanoneconceiveofthisJerusalemharlotas"sitting
upon,"or"acquiringsovereignty"over,19imperialRome(thebeast)?
SymbolicUniversalApproach
Someevangelicalexegeteshaveoptedforthesymbolicuniversalinter
pretationofapocalypticBabylon.ThesymbolsofRevelationaretakenas
picturelanguageforatimelessanduniversalrealitywhichhasmanyhis
toricalcounterparts. As PaulS.Minearexplains,"Babylonembracesmore
thanoneempireorculture.Itisdefinedratherbydominantidolatriesthan
by geographical or temporal boundaries.'120 Accordingly, Jerusalem and
RomeareonlysomeofthemultiplemanifestationsofBabyloninhistory. 21
This view canbeadoptedconveniently,therefore,bythosepreteristinter
preterswhoseekatimelessrelevanceofbiblicalapocalyptic.
AdelaY.CollinsJudgesthat"John'sprobableexpectations[arevived
NerocomingfromtheeasttoconquerRome]withregardtohistoricalevents
were not fulfilled." But she discerns, nevertheless, in the climax of
Revelation17(whichpredictsthedestructionoftheharlotbythebeastand
thetenkings)amorallesson,whichisvalidforsimilarhistoricalsituations:
thewilltopower"doesnotunite;itdivides."22
PaulAlthaus,morethanothers,hascombinedthepreteristapplicationof
RevelationtotheRomanEmpirewiththeperpetuallyactualizing
17Ibid.,288.
18J.M.FordconsidersRev13and22:16a,20b,21aslateradditionsbyaJewishChristiandisciple
ofJohntheBaptist.Ibid.,3.
19AsJ.M.FordexplainsRev17:1(kaihSmenSs);ibid.,277.
20"Babylon,"IDB1:338.
21A.Johnson,ExpBC12:563.
22TheApocalypse,3rdpr.(Wilmington,DE,1983),122.

156

Babylon:AntiChristianEmpire
'T3

inhistoricaleventsofthebattlebetweenChristandSatan." To
him the historical actualizations of prophecy (for example, in
RomeandNero,orinthemedievalpapacy)aremerely typical
temporaryembodimentsoftheessentiallyspiritualconflictofthe
ages. He, therefore, draws a sharp distinction between the
prophet'spredictionofnonessentialhistoricaleventsandhisbasic
religiousmessageofGod'sredemptivewill.
Thechurchshouldseektheantichristconstantlyasarealityin
the present or consider him as a threatening possibility in her
immediatefuture.24AllrivalrywithChrist,eachefforttosupplant
HimortousurpHisauthority,isantiChristendom.25
Thus,variousphenomenainchurchhistoryhavebeenJustly
identified,accordingtoAlthaus,astheantichristintheirtime:the
latemedievalideaofthepapacy,thesocialgospelmovementwith
its prospect of the millennium, the messianism of Marxist
communism,theselfdeifyingnationalism."Butthechurchshould
considerfirstofallthepermanentpossibilityofbecominganti
Christianherself.'126
The profession of the Reformers that the papacy was the
antichrist,inhisopinion,mustnotbedogmatizedintoatimeless,
orthodox creed. Such a statement of faith can be genuine and
responsibleonly"ifthebattleagainstRomeforustodaycarries
thesamegravityandactualityasithadforLuther, that is,ifat
thisfrontisrequiredfromusthedecisionbetweenfaithandun
belief, between obedience and disobedience to the truth of the
gospel."27
WhileAlthausstressesgenuinebiblicalmomentsoftruth,his
theologicalmethodofactualizingthepropheticmessagedoesnot
do full justice to the aspect of the continuous historical
developmentofapostasy,aspresentedintheapocalypticoutline
seriesofDanielandRevelation.

CovenantContext
Revelation places the new Babylon in a newcovenant
context. This is because the Apocalypse is a unified whole,
centeredinChristasthekingandinHischurchasthenewIsrael
(Rev1:5, 6). AcceptingJesus as the true lamb andhighpriest
meansgivinguptheoldJerusalemandthe
23DieLeiztenDinge(Giiteisloh,1957),26470.
24Ibid.,283.
25Ibid.,284,"GcgensatzgegenihninderFormdcrAhntichkcitmitihm,der
'StcllvertrctungChristi.'"
26Ibid.,28485.
27Ibid.,285.

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Babylon:AntiChristianEmpire
synagogueasculticcenters(Rev2:9;3:9),soastowalkbythelightofthenew
covenanttempleinheaven(Rev1:1012;11:19).
TheliterarystructureofChrist'smessagestothesevenchurches(Rev23)is
nowrecognizedtobethatofabiblicalcovenant. 28Itremindstheuniversalchurch
thatChristisherLord,whobestowsatoncecovenantblessingsonHisloyalones
andcovenantcursesonthefalseprophetsandtheimpenitentapostates.Thechurch
lives in a covenant fellowship with the same God whom Israel worshiped:
"ConsiderthereforethekindnessandsternnessofGod"(Rom11:22,NIV).
The intent of the book of Revelation is not to gratify human curiosity by
functioningasapoliticalalmanacofthefuture.Rather,itspurposeistourgethe
churchtoremainfaithfultotheeternalgospelofGod(Rev14:6,7)inherfinal
confrontationwiththeantichristasthefalsemessiah
^0

andhiscounterfeitreligiouscultus(Rev13:1117).
Ifthechurchinherecclesiasticalstructureandworshipbecomesanapostate,
falsechurch,shewillbecomeaharlotchurchlikeoldJerusalem.Assuchshewill
ultimatelyreceiveGod'scovenantwrath,thewrathoftheLamb(Rev6:16).But
Christ will always sustain and protect His faithful remnant people (Rev 12:17;
14:12),describedsymbolicallyas"virgins"whohavenotyieldedtoidolatry(Rev
14:4,NKJV).
In John's Apocalypse all the OT promises and threats are transformed into
blessingsandcursesofJesusChrist 30 RevelationisChrist'scovenantbooktoHis
church, alerting her to religious deception and theological heresies within the
church,andincitinghertobefaithfultoHiscovenant.Revelationmaybeviewed,
therefore,as"themostprofoundandmovingteachingonChristiandoctrineand
discipleshipfoundanywhereinHolyScripture."31
BabylonintheApocalypseiscomposedtheologicallyastheantichrist,asthe
archenemy of Christ's faithful followers (Rev 17:6). However, the covenant
frameworkisthebasicpointoforientationforunderstandingthenewBabylon.As
G.R.BeasleyMurrayhassaid,"TheburdenoftheRevelationisonewiththatofthe
Old Testament prophecy, but transposed into a key determined by the new
covenant."32
28SecK.A.Strand,"AFurtherNoteontheCovenantalFormintheBookofRevelation,"AUSS21/3
(1983):25164;W.Shea,*ThcCovenantalFormoftheLetterstotheSevenChurches,"AUSS
21/1(1983):7184.
29Cf.H.Kiaft,DieOffmbaningdesJohannes,HNT,16a(Tubingen,1974);219.
30a.EllenG.White,TheActsoftheApostles(MountainView,CA,1911),585;"IntheRevelationall
thebooksoftheBiblemeetandend."
31A.Johnson,inExpBC12:399.
32"Revelation,"TheNewCenturyBibleCommentary(GrandRapids,1983),261.

158

Babylon:AntiChristianEmpire

ThesymboliclanguageofBabylonasthegreat"prostitute'*in
Revelation 17 is covenantal language that continues the
framework of the covenant of the OT prophets. The prophet
Zechariah had portrayed Israel's ^ckedness" as a hidden
Babylonian woman (Zech 5:511). Isaiah, Hosea, Jeremiah, and
especiallyEzekiel,33describedapostateIsraelandJerusalemasthe
wifeofYahwehwhohadbecomeintheirtimethegreatestprostitute
onearth.Shewouldnotescapeherjudgment,thecovenantwrath
ofGod.
Jezebel model. A striking example is the manner in which
Jeremiah described the faithless Jerusalem of his own days: a
harlot,adornedandpaintedlikeJezebelsoastoseducethenearing
enemy,butwhowouldneverthelessbedesolatedbyherformer
lovers:
Andyou,0desolateone,
whatdoyoumeanthatyoudressinscarlet,
thatyoudeckyourselfwithornamentsof
gold,thatyouenlargeyoureyeswithpaint?
Invainyoubeautifyyourself.Yourlovers
despiseyou;
theyseekyourlife.(Jer4:30,RSV)

IthasnotescapedsomeBibletranslatorsandexegetes 34 that
JeremiahandEzekielapparentlytookJezebelasthemodelfortheir
religious characterization of a Jerusalem that had forsaken the
covenantofYahweh(see2Kgs9:30;Ezek23:40).QueenJezebel
wasresponsibleforthepersecutionandmurderofGod*sprophets
(1 Kgs 18:4; 19:2; 21:15), and Jehu was sent by the Lord to
"avengethebloodofMyservantstheprophets,...atthehandof
Jezebel"(2Kgs9:7,NASB).
Of decisive importance, however, is the fact that Jesus
confirmedthetheologicalpatternthatthe covenantpeople might
turntoshedthebloodoftheirownprophetsandsaints.Hecalled
theteachersofthelawandPhariseesofHistime"descendantsof
those who murdered the prophets," and Jerusalem the city that
killed the prophets and stoned those sent to it (Matt 23:31,37,
NTV).Healsopronouncedthisjudgment:"Andsouponyouwill
comealltherighteousbloodthathasbeenshedonearth"(Matt
23:35,NIV;cf.Luke11:50).AsJeremiahofold,Heannounced,
"Look,yourhouseislefttoyoudesolate"(Matt23:38,NIV; 35cf.
Jer4:30a;22:5).
33ba1:21;Hos2:2,4;Jer3:13,8,9;Ezek16:1534.
34NASB,NKJV,JeromeBibleCommentary.
35Thetermervmos(desolate)shouldberetainedandnotdeleted,assomemanuscripts
do;seeB.M.Mctzgcr,4TextualCommentaryontheGreekNewTestament
(London,1975),61.

159

Babylon:AntiChristianEmpire

ChristsummeditupinHisexclamation,"Surelynoprophetcandieoutside
Jerusalem!"(Luke13:33,NIV).Jesus'covenanttheologythusshedslighton
themeaningofthefalloftheharlotcity,Babylon,inRevelation1719.
ThehenneneuticalkeytounderstandthecovenantlanguageofJohn's
ApocalypseliesindiscerningitsChristiantypologicalperspective,asestab
lishedbyChristwhen He spokeoutagainst"Jerusalem"andherbloody
covenantapostasy.36
InRevelation1719Babylonispicturedastheendtime"queen"Jezebel, 37
drunkwiththebloodofChristiansaints(17:4,6;18:7;cf.18:24;
19:2). Earlier the risen Christ had identified Jezebel with the deceptive
teachingsandthefalseworshipthatarosewithinthechurchofThyatira(Rev
2:20).Thus,ChristpointsHisfingeratanunfaithfulchurchratherthanatthe
RomanEmpire.
If the OT story of Queen Jezebel and her cruel religious rule over
NorthernIsraelreceivestypologicalsignificanceinthebookofRevelation
(2:2023;17:36;19:2),thentheparallelstoryofQueenAthaliah,whohad
usurpedthethroneinJerusalemandmurderedalllegitimateheirsfromthe
houseofDavid,maybeconsideredtopossessnolesstypologicalimpor
tance.38 Like Jezebel, Athaliahthe daughter of Jezebel and wife of
Jehoram,kingofJerusalemhadintroducedBaalism,includingitscoun
terfeittempleworshipandpriesthood,toJerusalem(2Kgs11:120;2Chr
22:1023:21).
OnlyoneheirofthehouseofDavidhadescapedthemassacre,thein
fantJoash,who was hiddensafelyinthepriests'quartersofthetempleof
the Lord.39 After six years the faithful high priest, with the help of the
templeguards,restoredtheDavidickingshipbyexecutingAthaliah(2Chr
23:1115).ThepeopleofthelandthenrenewedtheircovenantwithYah
weh and destroyedthetempleofBaal,itspriestsandidols(2Chr23:16,
17).
HerewecanobservehowGodallowedreligiousapostasytorulewithin
36Cf.L.A.Vos, TheSynopticTraditionintheApocafypse(Kampen,1965).22526.1am
indebtedespedaltytoCV&ndetwaa\,HalLindseyandBiblicalProphecy(St.Catherines,ON,
1978),12639.
37G.B.Caird."TheRevelationofSt.John,"Harper'sNTCmunenWy(1966),213:"Itistherefore
possiblethatJezebelwasthequeenwhosatfortheportraitheisnowpainting"(onRev17:2).
38ThethematiccorrespondencebetweenAthaliahandthehariotBabylonofRevelation17hasbeen
recognizedbyE.J.Bruns(secn.40).
39A.Farrar,TheRev.ofSt.John(Oxford,1964),141.recognizesathematiccorrespondence
betweenJoashandAthaliah,ontheonehand,andtheMessianicchildandtheserpentofRev12,
ontheotherhand.

160

Babylon:AntiChristianEmpire

Hisoldcovenantpeople,onsuchawidescaleandwithsuchapoliticalen
forcement thatapostatereligionseemedtohave triumphedcompletelyin
Israel.Nevertheless,Godhadkeptaliveafaithfulremnantwithinapostate
Israel.InGod'sprovidence,Histruthandkingdomemergedvictoriouslyin
thismostcriticalepochofIsrael'shistory.
TheApocalypseviewsIsrael'sexperienceasamanifestationofthewar
betweentheserpentandthewoman'sseed,announcedinGenesis3:15(see
Rev12:14).ButaftertheMessiah'senthronementastheheavenlyking,the
serpent'swaragainstthewomanandherseedonlyintensifies.
SpiritualBabylon:anewharlotThepropheticdramainRevelation12
and17,inwhichthe"harlot"(Babylon)persecutesandmurdersthechildren
ofthepurewoman(theIsraelofGod,Rev12:17;17:6),suggestsabasic
repetitionofthehistoryofJezebelandherdaughterAthaliahforthenew
covenantpeopleofGod,thechurch.BecauseRevelation17picturesthenew
Babylonasthepersecutingarchprostitute,afeaturenotfoundinJeremiah's
portrayal,indicatesallthemoreJohn'sintentiontodesignanexactantithesis
betweentwobasicallyreligiousbodiesinRevelation12and17.AsE.J.
Brunsdescribesthecontrast,40
Thewomanofch.12bearsachildtowhomshegivesbirth;thewomanofch.17
holdsacupfilledwiththebloodoftheotherwoman'sseed;
moreoversheisnomotherbutaprostitute.Finally,thewomanofch.12is
rescuedandpreservedfromdangerwhereasthewomanofch.17isdestroyed.

EssentialisthefactthatJezebelandAthaliahimposedtheirreligious
apostasyonIsraelbytheirpoliticalpowerwithinIsrael.ThenewBabylon,
likeoldJerusalem,representsanapostatereligiouspowerthathasbecome
bitterly hostile against the unadulterated, apostolic worship and the true
saints.BecausethebrideofChrististhetruechurch, 41 theharlotinJohn's
Apocalypse represents the fallen Christian church. She behaves basically
likeJezebel,whohasusedherhusband,KingAhab,topersecuteElijah
andthefaithfulones.
ApostateChristianitywill,therefore,receivethesameavengingjudg
ment fromChrist as Jezebel received: He has "avengedthe bloodof his
servantsatherhand"(Rev19:2,lastline,KJV).42AsunfaithfulJerusalem
40TheContrastedWomenofApocalypse12and17,"CBQ26(1964),45963;citationisfrom460.
41John3:29;2Cor11:2;Eph5:2527;Rev21:2.
42Literally,ekcheirosaules,"fromherhand,"asinmarginofNASB;cf.2Kgs9:7,"atthehandof
Jezebel,"NASB.KJV.
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Babylon:AntiChristianEmpire
earlier,sowillthenewharlotcitybemade"desolate.'43
Since the harlot Babylonrides on and employsthe "beast," orthe political
worldpowers,inherbattleagainstthetruesaints(Rev17:16),thewidersenseof
Babylonseemstoincludethe union ofchurch andstate onaworldscale.This
conclusionaffirmsthatapocalypticBabylonconsistsofanallianceofecclesiastical
andcivilpoliticalpowers.44Revelation17:16announcestheverdictofheaventhat
ecclesiasticalBabylonistobedestroyedbypoliticalBabylon.45Consequently,we
concur with C. Vanderwaal:46 "Revelation 17 and 18 are not talking about a
heathencityorempire;theyaretalkingaboutIsrael,thecovenantpeoplewhokilled
theprophets(1Kngs19:10,14;Lam4:13)...theunfaithfulchurchratherthanthe
Svickedworld.*"
The growing church of Christ allowed to develop within her bosom a new
Jezebel, who created deceptively a false religious cultus (see Rev 2:2023) and
finallyaccomplishedthedeathofmanysaintsthroughanalliancewiththepolitical
powers(Rev17:16).
RevelationdescribesGod'sjudgmentonthenewBabylonintermsoftheOT
covenant curses. Becoming a "prostitute" (17:1), to be burned with fire, 47 the
bringingtoanendofmusicandmarriage^areallOTcovenantalcursesdirectedto
Jerusalem or her enemies. Specifically, the destruction of Babylon by her own
former lovers (Rev 17:16) is modeled after the doom oracle of the harlot city
JerusaleminEzekiel16:3541.TheApocalypseprojects"Babylon,"therefore,not
astheRomanEmpire49 butratheras"Jerusalem"thatkillsherownprophetsand
saints.50 ThiscovenantframeworkhasbeenrecognizedbyJ.Massingberdeinthe
AnchorBiblecommentaryonRevelation.
However, not the oldcovenant harlot city is in view, but the newcovenant
harlotcity!Thetheologicalnatureofthisnewapostatewoman/cityisnotprimarily
herpoliticaloreconomicpower,butherdeceptively
43Rev17:16;18:17,19;cf.Matt23:38;eachtimeformsofthesametermeremosareused.
44Cf.P.D.Nichol,cd.,TheSDABibleCommentary7(Washington,DC,1957);851:"Ithaseverbeen
characteristicofapostateChristianitytoattemptaunionofchurchandstate,inorderto
consolidatereligiouscontroloverpublicpolicy(cf.4:837)."
45SeeTheSDABibleCommentary7:858;cf.NSRB,1370,n.onRev18:2.
46HalLindseyandBiblicalProphecy,135,137.
47Rev17:16;cf.Lev21:9;Ezek16:41.
48Rev18:22,23;cf.Jer25:10;Ezek26:13.
49WithH.B.Swetewebasicallyaffirm,"thecityoftheCaesarswasthecontemporaryrepresentativeof
Babylon....ButRomedoesnot,ofcourse,exhaustSt.John'sconceptionofBabylon."
(CommentaryonRevelation(GrandRapids,1977,reprof1911],226.)
50SecRev18:24andEzek24:6;Lam4:13;Matt23:2938.

162

Babylon:AntiChristianEmpire
religiousnature:heridolatry,andherbloodshedofthetruesaints.
On this account John was deeply affected: "I was greatly
astonished"(Rev17:6,NIV).Hisgreatsurprisewasnot,ofcourse,that
paganRomewaspersecutingthesaints,butratherthataChristianRome
wouldbedrunkwiththebloodofthesaints. 51 AsexplainedbyCarl
Auberien,
The wonder of John finds its own explanation in the
extraordinarychangewhichhadpassedovertheWoman[since
JohnhadseenthewomanofGodinRev12];theimpressionmade
onJohnmaybeexpressedbythewordsofIsaiah(1:21):"Howis
thefaithfulcitybecomeaharlot!"Thismoveshisveryheartof
hearts...thattheChurchofChristshouldfallsolow.

ContextualFoundations
InputofRevelation1213

In order to attain the proper perspective on Revelation 17, it is


essentialtounderstandfirstthemeaningofitsfoundationalchapters,
Revelation 1213.Thoseinterpreters whorestrict theidentityof the
beastsofRevelation13and17toImperialRomeandtosevenspecific
emperorsareforcedtoconcludethatJohnmiscalculatedthecourseof
futureeventsbyfollowingthepoliticalexpectationsofhisowntime. 53
This conclusion ignores and denies the solemn declarations of
Revelationthatitsprophecycomestothechurchastheauthoritative
andtrustworthywordoftherisenChrist.54
However,Revelation17shouldnotbemadethestartingpointand
thecontrollingchapterofthewholebook. 55Amorevalidandfruitful
theologicalmethodwillbetorelatetheApocalypsetheologicallytoits
organicOTtaproots,specificallytothepropheticbooksofDanieland
Ezekiel.56InthislightitbecomesapparentthatRevelation1213and17
areJohn's

51ThisisstressedbyChr.Wordsworth,TheNTintheOriginalGreek(London,1872),
2:254,stating,TheChurchofRomehasstainedherselfwiththebloodof
Christians,"through"theHotyOfficeoftheInquisitioninItaly,Spain,America,
andIndia."
52"ThePropheciesofDanielandtheRevelationofSt.John,"Englishtrans.
(Edinburgh,1856),27778.Auberienpresentseightcogentargumentsforhis
thesis:"TheharlotBabylon,isthechurchconformingtotheworld"(275);see
27682.
53R.H.Charies,RevelationofSt.John,ICC,2:71.73,87("inourauthorthedemonic
Nero").
54Rev1:12;19:10;22:6,16,1819.
55P.S.Minear.ISawaNewEarth(Washington,DC,1968),23640,hasshownthe
inadequacyoftheprevailingapproachtoRev17(ofcallingtherollofRoman
emperors).
56PresentscholarshiphasestablishedthaithebookofRevelationissiructurallyand
thematicallydependentspecificallyonDanielandEzekiel.Seethedissertationof
G.K.Beale,TheUseofDanielinJewishApocalypticLiteratureandinthe
RevelationofSt.John(Univ.ofAm.Pr.,1984);
J.M.Vogclgesang,TheInterpretationofEzeldelintheBookofRevelation(HarvardUniv.,
1985).

163

Babyfon:AntiChristianEmpire
progressivehistoricalapplicationsofDaniel'sapocalypticforecastofthesatanic
warsagainsttheIsraelofGod.
Revelation 18 is John's death song over the antiChristian Babylon, as the
eschatological consummation otEzekiel's poetic lament over the doom of Israel's
trade partner, Tyrus (Ezek 2628) and of Jeremiah's judgment oracles on old
Babylon(Jer5051).

InputofJesusChrist

Illuminating as the discovery is of the many literary and theological


parallels between Revelation and the OT57 the hermeneutical key to the
understanding of the Apocalypse lies rather in determining the thought
patterns by which Jesus Christ interpreted the OT symbols, types, and
prophecies,andhowHeappliedthemtoHistimeandtothefuture.This
requiresabasicinsightintotheformativeinfluenceoftheGospelwritings
(specificallyofJesus'propheticdiscourse)ontheChristocentricperspective
ofthevisionsofRevelation.
Some scholars have established the hermeneutical principle that a
knowledgeofJesus'useofapocalypticterms(intheGospels)isnecessaryfor
the correct interpretation of the Apocalypse of John. 58 There is a definite
progressionofhistoricalapplicationtoChristandHisenemies;
however,intheApocalypseChrist,therisenandascendedKing,isseatedon
a heavenly throne. As Henry B. Swete59 indicated, "the Christ of the
ApocalypseistheChristoftheGospels,butachangehaspassedoverHim
whichisbeyondwords."
Theconceptofthevictorious,glorifiedChristinRevelationisunsur
passedin theNT;exceeding everyOTmessianicprophecy.Itmeetsthe
needofthechurchintimesofpersecutionandsufferingatthehandsof
political rulers and in times of temptationby the deceptivelyreligious
claims and cultus of apostate church rulers. The Apocalypse stresses
vigorouslythemessagethatthelivingChristisneverseparatedfromHis
people.HeisintheirmidstthroughHisSpiritandregulatestheaffairsof
57SeetheimpressivelistinR.H.Charles, TheRevelationofSt.John, ICC,1:LXVIIILXXVII. The
GreekNT, eds.K.Aland,etal.(H.B.S.London,1966),897.920,listsover500OTpassagesas
alludedtoinRevelation.
58L.A.Vos,TheSynopticTraditionsintheApocalypse(Dissertation,FreeUniversity,Amsterdam,
Kampen,1965);seechaps.3,4,6.OnRev1718,seepp.15763.R.Bauckham,"SynopticParousia
ParablesandtheApocalypse,"NTS23(1977);16276.SeealsoR.HCharles.TheRevelationofSt.
John,ICC,1:LXXIVLXXVI(listofparallelsbetweenRevelationandotherbooksoftheNT).On
thepropheticdiscourseofJesusinMark13;Matt24;Luke21,seeLaRondelle,"DidJesusintendto
returninthefirstcentury?"Ministry,May1983,10.13.
59CommentaryonRevelation,CLX.

164

Babylon:AntiChristianEmpire
Hischurchesdownthroughtheages,withoutanygapoftime,untilHe
returnsinglory.CharacteristicisthefeaturethatRevelationoffershope
andcomfort,rewardsandpunishment,forthefutureinthecovenantlan
guageofthepast.

InputofDaniel
AlthoughJohnalludestovirtuallyallthebooksofthe01,the
oneheusesmostcomprehensivelyisDaniel.Swetecomments,
"Inproportiontoitslength,theBookofDanielyieldsbyfarthe
greatestnumber[ofallusions]."60ItcanbesaidthatJohnportrays
the "Christian truth throughthe lens of Daniel," as Christ had
doneearlierinHispropheticdiscourseofMark13. 61Revelation
adopts specifically the Daniel model, the periodization of
salvationhistorybymeansofsuccessivekingdoms,thelastof
whichisdestroyedbyGod'sjudgmentandreplacedbythedivine
kingdom.
Significant is the apparent progress in salvation history.
WhileDaniel'svisionintendedtoshow"whatwillhappenindays
tocome [inthelatterdays,RSV]"(Dan2:28;cf.2:45),John's
Apocalypse wants "to show... what must soon [tachei} take
place" (Rev 1:1). The added expression "soon" suggests
"fulfillmentintheimminentfuture,whichperhapshasalready
beguninthepresent."62ThisconfirmsPaul'sdisclosurethat"the
secretpoweroflawlessnessisalreadyatwork"(2Thess2:7).
Daniel 7 model. Revelation 1213 allude specifically to
Daniel'spropheticperiodofthe3^2timesofpersecutionofthe
saints by the blasphemous "little hom."63 Both Daniel and
RevelationportraythesameeschatologicalenemyofGod,ofHis
sanctuarytruth,andofthepeopleofGod.ButwhileDanielpaints
him as the coming antimessmh. Revelation depicts him as the
antichrist.Thedescriptionoftheseabeast("Hewasgivenpower
to make war against the saints and to conquer them," 13:7)
faithfully reflects the words of Daniel concerning the "little
horn":"Thishomwaswagingwaragainstthesaintsanddefeating
them"(Dan7:21).
These and other phrases indicate "that Revelation 13 is
modeledon
aa

Daniel7'"andintendstobeaChristcenteredapplicationtothe
church ageof Daniel 7. Revelation13integrates the symbolic
featuresofthefour
60Ibid..CLIII
61Beale,29394.HedemonstratesthatalreadyRev1:1,19,20ispatternedafterDan
2:2830,45^7,becauseoftheiridenticalphrasesinGreek(pp.168,27579).
62Ibid..276.
63Dan7:25;12:7;cf.Rev12:6,14;13:5.
64Beale,247.
165

Babylon:AntiChristianEmpire
beastsorworldkingdomsofDaniel7intooneapocalypticseabeast(Rev13:1,2).
Thisseabeastcarriestenroyalcrownsonitstenhorns,aclearallusiontotheten
kingsorkingdomsthatwould emerge fromthefourthworldempire(theRoman
Empire)inDaniel7:7,24.
Thisfeatureofthetensimultaneoushornsleadsusbeyondthecollapseofthe
ancientRomanEmpirein A.D. 476.BothDaniel7andRevelation13,therefore,
leadintotheMiddleAges.Theologicallyspeaking,theblasphemousselfdeification
oftheseabeastofRevelation13:17continuestheblasphemiesofthe"little"horn
ofbothDaniel7:8,25,and8:10l2.65Revelationindicatesthehistoricprogressionin
Daniel7(fromthecruelfourthbeasttotheblaspheminglittlehornamongtheten
horns)bydeclaring,"Thedragongavethebeasthispowerandhisthroneandgreat
authority"(Rev13:2).
Theintimaterelationshipofthedragonandthebeastisapparentinthat both
possesssevenheadsandtenhorns(cf.12:3;13:1).Thehistoricalprogressionof
fulfillmentissuggestedinthenewfeaturethatthetenhornsarecrowned(13:1),
which they were not yet in Revelation 12. In the light of the total historical
perspectiveofDaniel7, thedragon inRevelation12,whostoodinfrontofthe
womanofGodreadytodevourthemessianicchild(12:34),functionsasthefourth
beastofDaniel7,thatis,asthepersecutingRomanEmpire.66
Thedragon'swaragainstthewomancontinues,however,aftershehasbrought
forth the Messiah (12:6, 1417). That is, Satan nowpursues the true church of
Christ.TheNTtestifiestothemartyrdomandpersecutionsoftheChristiansbyboth
thesynagogueandtheRomanEmpire. 67 ButwhileRomegrantedthestatusofa
religiolicitatoJudaism,exemptingJewsfromtheloyaltytestofpatriotismbythe
cultic act of emperor worship, it waged a legalized war against the Christians,
especiallyundertheruleofDomitian,Decius,andDiocletian. 68
Developmentofchurchstateunion.OscarCullmannexpresseditcor
65Ibid.,234.
66Cf.Matt2:1320;Mark15:1520.P.Pngeat,Apocatypse11HistoiredeI'exegese(Tiibingen,
1959),favorstheviewthatbehindthedragonistheideaofapoliticalpoweropposedtothe
Messiah,asHerodandPilate.E.G.Whitestatesitperfectly:"Thuswhilethedragon,primarily,
representsSatan,itis,inasecondarysense,asymbolofpaganRome"(TheGreatControversy
[MountainView,CA,1950],438).
67Acts7;12;21.28;Rev1:9.
68SeeH.Berkhof,KircheundKaiser(1947).SeeSDABibleStudents'SourceBook,Commentary
ReferenceSeries,vol.9(Washington,DC,1962),Nos.1184,1192,11961198.H.H.Milman,
TheHistoryofChristianity(NewYork,1881),2:207244(bk.2,chap.9,'ThePersecution
UnderDiocletian").

166

Babylon:AntiChristianEmpire
rectly:"Atthispoint[thedemandofaloyaltytesttoemperorworship]
theRomanStateremainedcontinuously,uptothetimeofConstantine,
asatanicpower."69Ahistoricchangeoccurred,however,whenEmperor
ConstantineinA.D.312adoptedtheChristianchurchasthemeansby
whichtorealizehisdreamofrulingtheRomanworld. 70 TheRoman
emperoractedastheheadofthechurch,orderinganecumenicalcouncil
tocreatedogmaticunity.AsthePontifexMaximus,heconferredfull
judicialpowersonthebishopswhonowcensuredandexcommunicated
evenhighcivilofficials.Heenjoinedbylawthecivilobservanceof
Sunday(A.D.321).ThusConstantine"seatedChristianityonthethrone
ofthe
Romanworld."71
EmperorTheodosiantheGreatwentastepfurtherbydeclaringthat
only Trinitarian Catholics were legally recognized and that all
nonmembersofthestatechurchwere"heretics,"who"shallbesmitten
firstbydivinevengeanceandsecondlybytheretributionofOurown
initiative" (A.D. 380).72 Capital punishment was inflicted on the
Quartodeciman ChristiansmerelybecausetheycelebratedEasteron
thedayofthePassover,insteadofontheSundayfixedbythechurch
law.73
Augustine justified the coercion and persecution of heretics and
schismaticsbydeclaringthattheChristianStatestoodinthehigher
serviceofthechurchtopreserveCatholicunityandchurchdiscipline
bytheforceofimperiallaws.Thishecalledholywar [heliumDeo
auctore}.'5 He claimed that the millennium of Revelation 20 was
fulfilledbytherulershipofthechurchwhosebishopsweretojudge
othersnow,onbehalfofChrist.76 Thechurchfulfilledthepromiseof
theNewJerusalem.77
Development of Papal intolerance and persecution. Thus,
Augustinebecametheframerandtherepresentativeofthetheologyof
intolerance.78
69TheStaleintheNewTestament,7980(quotedbyBeasleyMurray,Revelation,212).
70R.Seeberg,LehrbuchderDogmengeschichte,Book2,4.Forthefollowinghistorical
sketch,IamlargelyindebtedtoJohannesSchwital,GrosskircheundSekte
(Hamburg,1962),5367.
71E.Gibbon,TheDeclineandFalloftheRomanEmpire(NewYork,1946),1:576.
72CodexTheod.16.1.2(intendedprimarilyagainstpaganism);quotedinSDABible
Students'SourceBook,No.1202).
73SeeGibbon,1:85556.
74Epistula,93,16.18.19;87,7.8;185,2326;Retract,2.5.SeeH.E.Deane.The
PoliticalandSocialIdeasofSt.Augustine(NewYork,1963),chap.5.P.Brown,
"St.Augustine'sAltitudetoReligiouscoercion,"JRS54(1964):10716;alsoin
Brown,ReligionandSocietyintheAgeofSt.Augustine(London,1972).
75Quaest.inHepL6.10(Opera3.3.428ff.andDeCivitateDei,1.21).
76DeCivUateDei,20.9.
77Ibid..20.11.

78Augustinecontendedthatitwasmercifultopunishheretics,evenbydeath,ifthis
couldsavethemorothersfromtheeternalsuffering(ContraGaudentium1,19;
Episl.,105).

167

Babylon:AntiChristianEmpire

Heresywastreatedasacrimeagainstcivilsocietyandwasdeclaredpunish
ablewithdeath.Finally,thepopeinRomeclaimedthathepossessed,by
divineright,thesupremejudicialpoweroverbothchurchandstate. 79Any
divergencefromthechurchandherecclesiasticalnormsbecamebrandedas
heresyandwaspunishedbytheaidofthecivilpower.TheItalianbishop
AnselmofLuccaprovidedthecanonicalfoundationandthescholasticjus
tificationforthesocalled"holypersecution"ofhereticsandschismaticsby
thepapalchurch.80
ThomasAquinasjustifiedtheexterminationofheresybyexcommuni
catinghereticsandputtingthemtodeath. 81Throughtheestablishmentofthe
"CongregationofRomeandUniversalInquisition"anditsprisons,inA.D.
1215,latercalledthe"HolyOffice,"papalRomesanctionedthechurchasa
persecutingand,throughcivilenforcementalso,anexecutingpower. 82 It
gavethepopesaterribleweapontouseinpoliticalaggrandizement,inorder
toestablishthekingdomofChristonearthbyhumanforce.
PopeGregoryVII(Hildebrand)intheDictatusPapaeclaimedtheright
toenthroneanddethronekings,toweartheimperialinsignia,andthatall
emperorshadtokisshisfeet.Thepapalchurchhadbecomeapowerofthis
world,claimingtheocraticsupremacyoverallkingdoms.Between1095and
1400thepopessummonedandauthorizedsixcrusadesorChristian"holy
wars"againsttheMuslimsintheMiddleEast,toconquerthe"holyland"
with its "holy sepulcher" for Christ, or restore other territories to the
Christianchurch,"theonlytruesovereignStateofChristonearth." 83 In
March1208PopeInnocentIIIevenissuedacallfora"holy"
79GrcgQiyVIIintheDictatusPapaeofA.D.1087;PopeInnocentIIIestablishedtheInquisitionin
A.D.1208andBonifaceVIII,whoseBull"UnamSanctam"(1302)createdthedoctrineofthe
twoswordsofthePope:thespiritualandthetemporal.SecL.E.Froom,ThePropheticFaithof
OurFathers1(Washington,DC,1950),66482,"TheSummitofPapa!PowerAttained."
80Inbooks12and13ofAnsclm'scanonicalcollection(between1081and1086);inPL,149,485ff.
SeedetaileddocumentationinCariErdmann,"TheOriginoftheIdeaofCrusade,"English
trans.fromGerman(PrincetonUnrv.pr.,1977),24447(chap.8isveryrevealing).SeealsoI.
vonDollinger,DasPapsttum,newcd.,J.Fricdrich(Munich,1892),reprinted,Darmstadt,1969.
81SwwnaTheologica,2.q.11,art.3.HisSwunaTheologicawasendorsedbyPopeLeoXIIIasthe
classicalexpositionofCatholicDoctrine.
82SecHenryC.Lca,/lHistoryoftheInquisitionoftheMiddleAges,3vols.Alsothehistoricalrefer
encesfor"Inquisition"intheSDABibleStudents'SourceBook,Nos.875882;seeespeciallythe
PapalProceduresofInquisition,No.877.Chr.Wordsworth,TheN.T2:255onRev17:6,comments,
"ShehasinsertedanOathinherPontifical,whichrequiresBishopsto'persecuteandwagewar
againstall'whomshecalls'heretics'"(PontificaleRomanus,63,ed.Rom.1818).TheSpanish
Inquisitionalonereportstohaveburnedtodeath31,912persons;seeSDABibleStudents'Source
Book,No.882.
83SeeTheAgeoftheCrusades."TenEpochsofChurchHistory,ed.J.Fuller(NewYork,1896),vol.
6.

168

Babylon:AntiChristianEmpire
QA

waragainstthehereticsinsouthernFrance,theAlbigensians.
PapalRomesustainedhertotalitarianrulebyphysicalrepressionandthe
secularsword,justasImperialRomehaddonebefore.Thewagingofwar
wasalwaysapoliticalact."Holywars."however,weretheresultofthe
fatefulunionofthereligiousandthesecularorder,thesocalledCorpus
Christianum.

EvenCatholictheologianssuchasThomasandGertrudeSartorycame
totheappallingconclusion:"Noreligionintheworld(notasingleonein
thehistoryofmankind)hasonitsconsciencesomanymillionsofpeople
whothoughtdifferently,believeddifferently.Christianityisthemostmur
derousreligiontherehaseverbeen."85HansKungfranklyadmits,86"Toour
horrorwearebecomingincreasingly awaretoday ofthefactthatallthis
[sendingheretics,schismatics,Jews,andotherstohellbymeansoftorture]
hasnothingnothingatalltodowithHiminwhosenameitwasstaged:
JesusofNazareth.No,noonecansaythatHewilledanyofthis."Church
rulers claimed to act in Christ's stead. But Christ, our example, never
soughtthepowerofearthlygovernments.
Churchstate alliance: characteristk of antichrist History
overwhelminglydemonstratesthedemonicconsequencesofthecorruption
ofpowerbythechurch.Christexplicitlydeclared,"Mykingdomisnotof
thisworld"(John18:36,NIV;"doesnotbelongtothisworld,"NEB).Thus,
one cannot escape the conclusion that the alliance of the church with
earthlygovernmentsstandsindirectoppositiontoChrist'swill,andthereby
constitutestheessentialcharacteristicofthe antichrist. Christ'skingdom
bearsnorelationtopoliticalkingdoms.
TheFrenchlawprofessorJacquesEllulhasshownthatthelegislation
aadpoliticalenforcementofthedogmaticunityofthechurchbytheChris
tianemperors,intheirobsessiontoparallelthepoliticalunityoftheRoman
Empire,wasthebeginningofthesubversionofChristianity,andinfact,the
chief form of antiChristianity.8^ In his analysis, the mutation of
Christianitytookplacegradually.Thechurchadoptedpaganbeliefsand
84K.M.Setton,AHistoryoftheCrusades(Madison,WI,1969),vol.2.chap.8,"TheAlbigensian
Crusade."
85InderHolleBrenntKernFeuer(Munich,1968),8889,asquotedinH.Kung,EternalLife?(Gar
denCity,NY,1984),132.ThehistoricalscholarW.E.H.Lccky,HistoryoftheRiseand
InfluenceoftheSpiritofRationalisminEurope(reprint;NewYork.1955),2:45,likewise
concluded,"ItcansurelybenoexaggerationtosaythattheChurchofRomehasinflicteda
greateramountofunmeritedsufferingthananyotherreligionthathaseverexisted"(asquoted
inSourceBookforBibleStudents,No.1212[Washington,DC,1922],740;inthe1925cd.,p.
46).
86Kung,Eternallife?132.
87TheSubversionofChristianity(GrandRapids,1986),chap.2.

169

Babylon:AntiChristianEmpire
ritualsalientothegospel,anditfinallyreplacedthemessageofChristwithan
abstract philosophical system of theology, which it imposed on all. 88 Ellul
summarizes:89
AstatueofSt.Peterandacrosswereplacedonalltheancientmonu
ments of Rome. The countereffect was the paganizing of the church's
Christianity. The apostles and prophets became priests in the most socio
logicallyreligioussenseoftheterm,thatis,successorsofthepontiffs[pagan
priests], the Salians, the Arvales, the sacrificing priests, the vestals, the
augurs, the flamens, etc. In the eyes of the people they had the same
functions.Thechurchadapteditselfintegrallytothepaganworld.Itaccepted
itsformsandevenitsmorality.
While paganism appeared to be conquered, its theology and philosophy
nevertheless triumphedinthegiganticcompromise ofasubvertedChristianity. 90
PoliticalactiontoestablishthekingdomofChristwiththehelpofhumanlawsand
external enforcement reveals a spirit in fundamental conflict with the Spirit of
Christ.ThesubversionoftheChristianfaithbasicallymeans"thetransgressionwhat
Godhasposited."91AsEllenG.Whiteexplainswithprofoundinsight,"Notbythe
decisionsofcourtsorcouncilsorlegislativeassemblies,notbythepatronageof
worldlygreatmen,isthekingdomofChristestablished,butbytheimplantingof
Christ'snatureinhumanitythroughtheworkoftheHolySpirit.'192
ThroughthegospelofChristandtheHolySpirit,Godkeptaliveandnourished
thebodyofChrist,thewomaninthewilderness(Rev12:6,14).Thechurchcannot
die,becauseGod'sfaithfulnessalwaysmaintainsatrueremnantofsaints,chosenby
grace(Rom11:5).Resurgencesoftruthhaveoccurredfrequently.Perversionsofthe
truthhavebeenredressed,especiallywhendarknessseemedtoprevail,byareturn
tothebiblicalauthenticityofprophetictruth.
FromwithintheRomanCatholicChurchtherearoseanincreasingnumberof
voices,startingwithArchbishopAmolfofOrleansattheSynodof
88J.Ellul,25,mentionsasanexampletheadoptionoftheGreekideaoftheimmortalityofthesoul.
Kiing,EternalLife?12442,exposesthepaganoriginofthepopularChristianconceptsofan
eternallyburninghell,ofpurgatory,andoftheunderstandingofChrist's"descentintohell."
89Ibid.,39.SeealsotheadmissionofCardinalJ.H.Newman,4nEssayontheDevelopmentof
ChristianDoctrine,35960;cf.Froom,1:382.
90SeeTheGreatControversy,50.
91Ellul,211.
92TheDesireofAges,509.Shesaysalso,"YettheSaviourattemptednocivilreforms....Hedidnot
interferewiththeauthorityoradministrationofthoseinpower"(509).Cf.Ellul,116,"Babylon,
whichsymbolizesRome,formsthefocusofallearthlyevilintheformofpoliticalpower."

170

Babylon:AntiChristianEmpire
Reimsin A.D. 991andArchbishopEberhard nofSalzburginA.D.1241,who
identifiedtheuniversalpapalchurch,withherpriestlysacramentalismandclaimsof
secularabsolutismasBabylonortheantichristofprophecy.93
Revelation13:2is,therefore,ofchurchhistoricalsignificance:"Thedragon[as
thesatanicRomanEmpire]gavethebeast[aspapalRome]hispowerandhisthrone
andgreatauthority."This transfer ofpoliticalauthorityandthethrone[orcapital
cityofImperialRometopapalRome]tookplaceinseveralstages.Theprocess
beganinA.D.330whenConstantinetransferredhisthronetoConstantinopleinthe
eastandwascompletedinA.D.533withtheimperial CodeofJustinian,which
legalizedthepope'secclesiasticalsupremacyas"headoverallchurches"intheeast
andthewestandplacedthecivilswordathisdisposal.94
ThisunionofreligiousandpoliticalpowerwasdissolvedonlywhenPiusVI
wasdethronedonFebruary10,1798,andtheRepublicofRomewasproclaimedby
Napoleon's representative, General Louis A. Berthier.95 The Civil Code of
Napoleon (1804) made a distinct separation between church and state, and thus
repudiated the Code of Justinian of 533. Caesaropapism had received a mortal
wound.96
ThecityofRomewasnotdestroyedwhentheGothscaptureditinA.D.410,
norwhentheRomanEmpirewasreplacedbythenationsofEuropeinAD.476.
Theprophecyoftheutterdestructionandeternaldesolationoftheharlotcityin
Revelation 1718 was, therefore, not fulfilled in the fall of the ancient Roman
Empire.Rather,thecitybecamethenew"HolyCity"ofChristendom,becauseof
the"HolySee"orthroneofthe"holyfather,"whoformanycenturieshasstood"in
amoreloftyeminencethanhadeverbeenattainedbytheCaesars."Thejudgment
visionsinRevelation1718willfindtheirfulfillmentonlyinthefuturedoomofthe
BabylonianHarlot,thefinalconfigurationofreligiousapostasy.
LinksbetweenRevelation12and13. Wesummarizeinsixconclusionsthe
connectionbetweenthereddragonofRevelation12andtheseabeastofRevelation
13.
93SeeFHci\cr,AUdrchlicheAutonomiewuipapstlicherZentralismus(1941),287,fordocumentation.L.
E,Froom,ThePropheticFaithofOurFathers(1948),2:2131(onDanteandPetrarch);
chap.6(Savonorola);chap.2(Wyclif);1:796806(EberhardII).
94ForthesignificanceoftheCodeofJustinian,seeFroom,1:503517;TheGreatControversy,54
55.
95SeeFroom,2:74964,"TheDeadlyWoundEndsthe1260Years,"esp.pp.75960.
96Seeibid.,chap.35.
97Wordsworth(onRev17:2),251.Headds,"TheBishopofRome,whenheiscrowned,issalutedas
RectorOrebis,RuleroftheWorld"(252).Herefersalsotothepapalcoinsthatdeclarehisclaims
touniversalsupremacy.

171

Babylon:AntiChristianEmpire
1.Bothsatanicpowersform anessential unity,becauseeachpossessesthe
samesevenheadsandtenhorns(12:3;13:1).
2.Theirintimaterelationshiprevealsaprogressivehistoricaldevelopment:the
dragon(ImperialRome)gavetheseabeast(papalRome)histhroneandpowerand
greatauthority(13:2).
3.Thepurposeofboththedragonandtheseabeastistowagewaragainst
ChristandtheChristiansaints(Rev12:17;13:7),infulfillmentofDaniel'svisionof
thefourthbeastanditssubsequentlittlehorn(chap.7).Theultimategoalisthatall
earthdwellerswillworshipthebeastandthedragon(13:4,8).
4.Theprophetictimeperiodof42months(Rev13:5)oftheseabeastandof
the1260daysor3lf2timesofthedragon(Rev12:6,14)corresponduniquelytothe
unholywarofthelittlehornofDaniel7(vs.25).TheybringtheChristianMiddle
Agesandthepapalwarfarewithinthefocusofapocalypticprophecy.
5.Revelation13continuesingreaterdetailthewarfareofthedragonagainst
thewomaninRevelation12.Thedragonsummonsuptwoearthlyagentsintohis
service:theseabeastandtheearthbeast,theresultbeingtheformationofasatanic
trinity.
6.Theliterarystyle,depictingtheseabeastasaparodicimitationofChrist,
identifiestheseabeastastheantichrist:
a.Theinvestitureofthebeaststandsindirectoppositiontotheenthronement
oftheLamb(cf.5:12,13and13:2).
b.Theauthorizationclausethatgivesthebeast authority"overeverytribe,
people, language andnation" sothat it isworshiped(13:4,78)forms anironic
reapplicationofthesovereignauthorityoftheSonofmanandHisreceptionof
universalworshipinDaniel7:14.98
c.Thebeastisdescribedasreceivingamortalwound(hosesphagmenen,"as
ifslain")butisafterwardresurrectedfromdeath(statedthreetimes:13:2,12,14).
ThephraseologyissimilartothedescriptionoftheLambwhichlooks"asifslain"
{hosesphagmenon)butisnowresurrectedtoeternalrulership(5:6,9,12;13:8).This
ironicparodyofChrist'smissionportraysthebeastasacounterfeitlamb."

98SecG.K.Bealc,TheUseofDanielinJewishApoc.Lit.andintheRevelationofSt.
John(Univ.PressofAm.),23437.
99SoJ.L.D'Aragon,SJ.,intheJeromeBibleCommentaryonRev13:110,vol.2,p.483.

172

Babylon:AntiChristianEmpire

Satan'sCounterfeitTrinity
RoleofTwoHornBeast/FalseProphet
Inordertoestablishhiscounterfeittrinity,thedragonemploysasecond
worldpower,theearthbeast(Rev13:1117)whichhas "twohornsSkea
lamb" butspeakslikeadragon(13:11).Thefeatureof"twohornslikea
lamb"isrecognizedgenerallyas"aparodyofthemessianiclambandhasan
ironicrelationtoit."100 Itsmissionwillbetoexalttheseabeastand,by
meansofdeceptivemiracles,tomakethewholeworldworshiptherevived
seabeast(13:14).TheApocalypsereferstothesecondbeastas"thefalse
prophet"(19:20;16:13).
"The false prophet" functions as the counterfeit of the Holy Spirit.
WhileGod'sSpiritcameastheSpiritoftruthtobringglorytoChrist(John
16:13,14),thefalseprophetbyhismiraclesdeceivesthewholeworldby
forcingallmentoworshipan"image"oftheantichrist(13:14,15).Thesug
gestionofcounterfeitimitationappearsagainwhenthisfalseprophetper
forms"greatandmiraculoussigns,evencausingfiretocomedownfrom
heaven"(13:13,NIV),"anironicechooftheactsofthegreatOTproph
ets"101andofthetwopropheticwitnessesoftheChristianAgeinRevelation
11:5.Whiletheseabeastwasprimarilycharacterizedbyhispersecuting
power,theearthbeastorfalseprophetfunctionsatfirstmoreasthedemonic
medium for religious deception within the apostate church,102 an aspect
foundalsoinDaniel'santimessiah(Dan8:25)andselfwilledking(Dan
11:32).
Daniel3/Revelation13Links
The formation of an eschatological "image" of the resurrected sea
beast, to create a loyalty test to Babylon (Rev 13:14, 15) provides a
typological connection with the command of King Nebuchadnezzar to
worshipthegoldenimageofhimselfonthePlainofDura(Dan3:1). 103This
illuminatingcorrespondencebetweenDaniel3andRevelation13clarifies
therealissuefortheendtimepeopleofGod.InboththeDanielictypeand
John's apocalyptic antitypethe rulingpowers enforce false worshipas a
loyaltytesttoBabylon.BothDaniel3andRevelation13mention
100Bcale,241.
101Ibid,242.
102ByP.S.Minear,ISawaNewEarth,256,appliedthe"fatseprophet"ofRev13:1117to"decep
tiveprophecywithintheChurch."
103Bcale,243.
173

Babylon:AntiChristianEmpire
apoliticaldeathdecree,issuedbylawmakersconcerningareligiousissue.Daniel's
message of hope through the miraculous deliverance of the faithful remnant104
servesastheprototypeandassuranceforthefinaldeliveranceintheendtimecrisis
oftheremnantchurchofChrist.105

Summary
Theliteraryunitontheantichrist(Rev13)demonstrateshowthecontinuous
historicaloutlineofDaniel7andthetypologicaldeliveranceexperienceofDaniel
3areunitedandtogetherappliedtoChristandHisfaithfulchurch.Daniel7plainly
anddemonstrablyservesinRevelation13asthefundamentalstandardandmatrix
forthelocationandtimingofthecomingantichrist.Daniel7withitscontinuous
historical perspective is the controlling pattern of Revelation 13. 106 The new
developmentandadvanceintheApocalypseofJohnisitshistoricalandtheological
orientationtoChrist,toHisSpirit,andtoHisnewcovenantpeople.
Revelation1213revealthatSatan,astherulerofthisworld 107 haserecteda
satanickingdom,consistingofacounterfeittriunity,whichisportrayedbyJohnas
"aparodicimitationofthestructureofGod'skingdom."108Thedynamicparallelism
ofRevelation12and13indicatesthattheantiChristian seabeast (Rev13:108)
operatesduringthe1260propheticdaysofthewomaninthewilderness(Rev12:6,
1316).Theearthbeast(Rev13:1117)arisestospeakasthedragononlyafterthe
mortal woundoftheseabeasthasbeenhealed,inordertowagethefinalwar
againstthesaints.Thisfinalwarfareofthesatanictrinitycorrespondstothelast
waragainstthechurchinRevelation12:17.
The questions are not answered in Revelation 1213 on how "the mortal
wound"ofthebeastishealed,andwhentheantichristresumeshispoliticalpower,
andhowhereactivateshispolicyofwaragainstthefaithfulsaintsinthetimeofthe
end.Furthermore,howshouldtheearthbeast,thatis,thefalseprophet,beidentified
andappliedhistorically?What"wisdom"willdecodeconvincinglythenumberof
thebeastorAntichrist:666?
Revelation17wasdesignedtoexpandexplicitlyonRevelation13aswellason
thesixthandseventhplagues(Rev16).109
104Cf.Dan3:15,17,28,29;12:1.
105SeeLaRondelle,ChariotsofSalvation,15559,formorehistoricaltypesofthefinaldrama.
106ForanindepthinvestigationoftheconnectionbetweenRev13andDan7,seeBeale,22948.
107Luke4:5,6;John12:31;Eph2:2;6:12.
108P.S.fAinear,ISm>aNewEarth,231.
109Seechap.12inthisvolume,"Armageddon:SixthandSeventhPlagues."

174

Babylon:AntiChristianEmpire

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176

ChapterV

TheSevenHeads:
DoTheyRepresentRomanEmperors?
KennethA.Strand
EditorialSynopsis.ThreetimesinthevisionsofthebookofRevelationasym
bolicbeastwithsevenheadsandtenhornsispresented(chaps.12,13,17),Thefirst
andthirdarered incolor,whereas thesecondisdescribed asaleopardbodied
animal. The first has crowned heads; the second has crowned horns; the third
appearswithoutcrownsoneitherheadsorhorns.
Traditionalpreteristinterpretationidentifiesthesecondorleopardbodiedbeast
withtheRomanEmpireanditssevenheadswithasuccessionofsevenRoman
rulerswhoreignedduringthefirstcenturyoftheChristianEra.
ThepreteristviewrestsontheassumptionthatRevelationislimitedinscopeto
Joint'sownera,thefirstcentury.Therefore,theleopardlikebeastthatblasphemes
GodandpersecutesHispeoplemustbetheempireofRomeunderitsseveralrulers.
However,astheauthordemonstrates,thisassumptionmiresdownindifficultiesthe
momentanattemptismadetoharmonizethepreteristidentificationwiththeactual
biblicaldata.Themarksofidentificationsuppliedbytheprophecypointtoapower
thatwouldfunctionfuturetoJohn'sday.Furthermore,elevenmen(notseven)ruled
theEmpireduringthefirstcentury,andpreterists are notinagreementonwhich
seventoselectandonwhatrationale;noneofthemajorpreteristinterpretationsare
abletoplaceJohnunderthesixthheadwherethebiblicaldataindicatesheshould
be.
In the apocalyptic bookofDaniel "animal heads" are never usedtodenote
singleindividuals.Thefourheadsoftheleopard(Dan7:6;cf.8:8,22)symbolized
"kingdoms."Likewise,wewouldexpectthesevenheadsoftheRevelationbeaststo
representkingdomsorworldpowersaswell.InRevelation17:9thesevenheadsare
alsointerpretedas"sevenmountains."Theauthorobserves:IntheOT,mountains
areusedasfiguresorsymbolsfor"nations"or"empires"(Dan2:3435,4445;Jer
51:25),butneverforindividualrulers.
Whilethischapter'sexegesis of thebiblicalmaterial(especiallypertainingto
thesevenheadedleopardbodiedseabeast)refutesthepreteristclaim,italsospeaks
toacurrentinterpretationthathasarisenamongsomehistoricists.Inrecent
177

TheSevenHeads:DoTheyRepresentRomanEmperors?
yearstheideahasbeenadvancedthatthesevenheadsrepresentsevenindividualpopes,the
presentpopebeingidentifiedasthesixthhead.Thebiblicalfactalreadyestablishedthatthe
Bibleneverusesanimalheadsormountainsassymbolsofindividualrulersclearlyrules
outasunsoundanyattempttoidentifythesevenheadsofRevelationwithindividualpopes,
livingordead.

ChapterOutline
I.Introduction
II.LeopardBodiedSeaBeast
III.TheSevenHeads
IV.TheWounded/ResuscitatedHead
V.TheNumber666
VI.Conclusion

Introduction
^\hebookofRevelationportraysthreesymbolicanimalsthathave
| sevenheadsandtenhorns:(1)thedragoninthesky(Rev12),A(2)the
leopardbodiedbeastfromthesea(Rev13),and(3)thescarletcoloredbeastinthe
wilderness(Rev.17).
Accordingtotraditional"preterism,"themostcommonandpervasiveviewof
Revelation held by presentday NT scholars, the leopardbodied sea beast of
Revelation13isasymbolfortheRomanEmpireofJohn'sownday. 1 Thebeast's
sevenheadsareunderstoodtorepresentasuccessionofsevenfirstcenturyRoman
emperors.
Somefuturists(interpreterswhobelievethatalmostallofRevelationistobe
fulfilledattheendoftheage)havealsoadoptedpreterismasa
1Theword"empire"isgivenaninitialcapitalletterinthischapterwhenreferenceistotheRoman
Empire, thereasonbeing thatsuch reference istoaspecific period andtypeofgovernmental
administration in Roman history. The Empire thus stands in contrast to the earlier Roman
Republic,whichwasa"Roman empire" inthemoregeneralsense.TheEmpireperioditselfis
dividedbyhistoriansinto the Principatc(27 B.C.A.D. 284)and the Autocracy(284476).Our
focus,of course,isonthe early decades of the Principate,andthereforethe terms "princeps"
("foremostcitizen")and"emperor"areusedinterchangeablyhereintodesignatetheRomanruler.
WhenOctavian(Augustus)institutedthePrincipatcin27B.C,andthroughouthisentirereignas
well,hefosteredaform'ofgovernmentwhichconsistedofauthoritiesandinstitutionsadoptedand
adaptedfromthose of the Roman Republic.InthisquasiRepublicanformofgovernment, the
"ruler"wasthusaprinceps.

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TheSevenHeads:DoTheyRepresentRomanEmperors?
part of their interpretational stance.2 These "preterists/futurists" give
Revelation13adoublefocus,sothatforthemtheleopardbodiedbeast
representsboththeancientRomanEmpireandastillfutureantichrist.3
Preterist commentators and exegetes find in Revelation 13 several
basic clues that allegedly substantiate their interpretation; therefore, the
chapter becomes a key in elucidating the central message of thebook.
Sinceotherimportantcluestotheidentityofthesevenheadsaregivenin
Revelation17,thatchapter alsoisimportant fortheformulationofthe
preteristposition.

PreteristView
Inshort,preteristsseethebookofRevelationasaportrayalofthe
religiopoliticalsituationinJohn'sowntimeandlocale,thelatefirstcen
turyA.D.andtheRomanprovinceofAsia(asegmentofwesternAsia
MinorborderingontheAegeanSea).TowardtheendofEmperorDomi
tian'sfifteenyearreign(8196),aseverepersecutionofChristiansbroke
outinRomanAsia.
During this distressful time, John, who had overall charge of the
Christian congregations throughout that area, was exiled to the Isle
ofPatmos.Meanwhile,hisparishionerssufferedseverelyatthehandsof
their Roman persecutors, even facing imprisonment and death. It was
during this exile on Patmos that John penned the book of Revelation
aboutA.D.95,adateacceptedbymostNTscholars,preteristsandnon
preterists alike, and substantiated by strong external and internal
evidence.4
2E.g.,GeorgeEldon Ladd, ACommentaryonthe RevelationofJohn (GrandRapids,
1972); and Leon Morris, The Revelation of St. John: An Introduction and
Commentary,TyndaleNewTestamentCommentaries,20(GrandRapids,1969).
3Ladd,p.14,stateshisconclusionthat"thecorrectmethodofinterpretingtheRevelation
isablendIngofthepreterist and thefuturistmethods."Forhim,the"beastisboth
RomeandtheeschatologicalAntichrist,"butthenhealsoexpandsthisideasoasto
include"anydemonicpowerwhichthechurchmustfaceinherentirehistory."Morris,
p.24,quotesapprovinglythefollowingsomewhat similar comment made earlierby
Laddin Baker'sDictionary ofTheology (Grand Rapids, 1960),53: "The beast is
Rome and at the same time an eschatological Antichrist which cannot be fully
equatedwithhistoricalRome...."Itshouldbenotedthatinthecommentarysections
of their works, Ladd manifests a very clear and strong futurist stance of
nondispcnsationalistvariety,whereasMorrisisquitevagueinthisrespect.
4ThetestimonyofIrenaeus,ca.185,isveryexplicitinindicatingthat"theapocalyptic
vision"i.e.,thebookof Revelation "wasseen not verylongtime since, but
almostin our day,towardsthe end ofDomitian'sreign" (AgainstHeresies 5.30.3,
ANF], 1:559560). Clement of Alexandria a few years later makes reference to
John's release from Palmos and experience in seeking a lapsed youth who had
becomearobber,thisoccurringwhenJohnwas"old"(Qmsaivessalvetw,42;chap.42
inEnglishtranslationisgiveninANF,2:603604[titleofthewortintheANFedition
isWhoIstheRichManThatShallBeSaved?}).Theatmosphereofpersecutionthatis
strongly reflected in Revelation is probably the most significant piece of internal
evidence.

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TheSevenHeads:DoTheyRepresentRomanEmperors?

TheSevenHeadsSymbol
Our specific task is to determine whether the seven heads of the
leopardbodiedbeastinRevelationdoindeedrepresentsevenemperorsof
theancientRomanEmpire,asthepreteristscontend.Thefollowingdis
cussionwillfocusonthoseparticularelementsofthepreteriststancethat
relatemostdirectlytothequestionoftheidentityoftheheads.Theseele
mentsareasfollows:
1.Theidentityoftheleopardbodiedseabeastitself(saidtobethe
RomanEmpire).
2.TheidentificationinRevelation17:910ofthesevenheadsasboth
"sevenhills"and"sevenkings."
3.ThereferenceinRevelation13:3tothemortalwoundingandsub
sequentresuscitationofoneoftheheads.
4.Thenumberclue666giveninRevelation13:18asanidentifierof
thebeast.

LeopardBodiedSeaBeast
Thepreciseidentificationoftheleopardbodiedseabeast(Rev13)is
obviouslyafundamentalconcernforascertainingtheidentityofitsheads.If
theseabeastshouldbefoundtorepresenttheancientRomanEmpire,the
headsmightconceivablyrepresentasuccessionofRomanemperors(though
theyneednotdosonecessarily).Ontheotherhandiftheseabeastisfound
to symbolize some other entity, the heads could not and would not
symbolizeRomanemperors.Onwhatgrounds,then,havepreteristscometo
the conclusion that the sea beast is a symbol representing the Roman
Empire?
PreteristLineofArgument
Preteristreasoningbeginswiththebasic assumptionthattheseabeast
represents the particular entity that brought about the persecution in the
RomanprovinceofAsiainthetimeofJohn.InotherwordsJohn'sdescrip
tionoftheseabeastpersecutingthesaints,blasphemingGod,etc.(13:57),
isassumedtopointspecificallytothesituationwhichJohnandhis
ChristianparishionersfacedasituationwhereinRome,ofcourse,wasthe
culprit
Inandofitself,theforegoingargumentseemslogicalenough,thoughit
cannotbeconsidereddefinitive(thatis,thereisnothinginthetextthat
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TheSevenHeads:DoTheyRepresentRomanEmperors?

specificallyrequiresit).Itsspecialplausibilityforpreteristsrestsoncertain
otherdatamentionedinthebiblicaltext (and particularlyonthepreterist
interpretationofthosedata). We mentionspecifically:themortalwound
andsubsequentresuscitation(13:3,12,14),thenumberofthebeast(vs.18),
andtheriseofasecondbeastthatcausesmankindtoworshiptheseabeast
(vs.12).Onlythelastoftheseitemsneedsattentionatthispointinasmuch
astheotherswillbetreatedseparatelylateroninthischapter.
Secondbeast identification. 76preterists, itseems obvious that the
secondbeast(13:1117),atwohomedanimalthatrisesfromtheearth,aptly
representsthecultof"RomaandAugustus,"frequentlyreferredtoasthe
"imperialcult."5Intheyear12B.C.Augustusofficiallymadethiscultapart
of state worship. In Italy and in Rome's western provinces the emperor
himself was not worshiped, but rather the vows and prayers that were
offeredweredirectedtoAugustus'genius(thetutelarydeityordivinespirit
who, according to Roman thought, protected and blessed him and his
family).
Intheeasternprovinces,however,Augustus,fromthebeginningofhis
reign asprinceps in 27 B.C. (and even earlier), 6 fostered worship of the
Romanruler,buildingonalongentrenchedtraditionthroughouttheEastof
rulerworship.TheimperialcultinthoseeasternprovincesoftheRoman
Empirewas,therefore,organizedinsuchawayastobringaboutworshipful
obeisancenotonlytoRoma,thedeityofRome,butalsotothepersonofthe
ruling emperor. Thus it was that in the Roman province of Asia and
elsewhereintheEast,thelocalinhabitantshadtodeclare,andattimesto
demonstratepublicly,theirreligiousloyaltytotheemperor.7
TowardtheendofthereignofDomitianthereappearstohavebeenan
intensificationoftheculfsactivitiesintheRomanprovinceofAsia.Heavy
sanctionsincludingdeathwereimposedforfailuretosubmittothiskind
of "emperor worship." There appears to have been some persecution of
ChristiansinRomeaswell.8Althoughtheeraofempirewide
5MoststandardhistoriesofRomedescribethecult.Ashortbutpoignantpresentation,which
clarifiesthedifferencesbetweenEastandWestandprovidessomeillustrativedocuments,
appearsinNaphtaliLewisandMcycrRcinhold,RomanCivilization,vol.2,TheEmpire(New
York.1955),6165.
6In29B.C.,e.g.,OctavianestablishedprovincialassembliesintheEasternprovinces.Oneofthe
majorfunctionsoftheseassemblieswastomaintainandfostertheimperialcultintheirrespec
tiveprovinces.
7LibelK("certificates"ofcompliance)havebeendiscoveredfromalaterperiod(thatofthe
Dccianpersecution,ca.250).
8InA.D.95Domitianhadhiscousin,theconsulFlaviusCtemcnsexecuted,andhehadhisniece

181

TheSevenHeads:DoTheyRepresentRomanEmperors?_______
persecutionhadnotyetarrived,theattitudeoftheemperorwasoftenastimulusfor
localoutburststhatwereverysevereintheirrespectivelocales. 9 AndDomitian,it
must be noted, was an emperor who coveted divine titles, such as "Lord" and
"God"10atitlewhichChristianscouldnotacknowledgeasapplyingtoanyhuman
being,nomatterhowprestigiousandpowerfulthatpersonmightbe.
Overlooking biblical specification. Various aspects of the preterist line of
argumentforidentifyingtheseabeast(andalsotheearthbeast)seemonthesurface
to be cogent enough. But we ask. Have preterists noted and/or interpreted with
sufficient care thespecificationsofthebiblical text andtheeventsofhistoryto
assurethattheirinterpretationiscorrect?Asweshallsee,ouranswertothisquestion
mustbeemphaticallyinthenegative.
Therearecertaincluesdecisiveoneswhichindicatethattheleopardbodied
seabeastofRevelation13symbolizessomethingquiteotherthantheancientRoman
EmpireofJohn'stime.Thisbeingthecase,thetwohomedearthbeastcouldnot
represent the Roman imperial cult, but must signify instead an entity having
relationshiptowhatevertheseabeastdoesrepresent.
Wenoteinpassingthatinthebiblicaltext,theearthbeastrises after thesea
beastin fact, subsequent to the sea beasts suffering a mortal wound and
experiencingaresuscitation(13:1117).RomanhistoryofthefirstcenturyA.D.has
nothingthatcanbeconsideredafulfillmentofthisspecification.Andthushistory
itself repudiates the preterist position regarding the sea beast and earth beast
relationships.

BiblicalIdentityoftheSeaBeast
Sequencescompared:Revelation1213. Wecomenowtothebasic
question:Whataretherealbiblicalcluesthatidentifytheseabeast?First,a
juxtapositionofthematerialinRevelation13withtheinformationgivenin
Revelation 12 suggests that there is a chronological difference that the
preteristreconstructionoverlookswhenitplacestheseabeastinJohn'sown
timeinhistory.
FlaviaDomitilla,demons'wife,banishedtdTandateria.See,e.g.,DioCassius,RomanHistory,67.14.
9Thefirsttrulywidescale("cmpircwide")RomanpersecutionofChristianswastheoneorderedby
EmperorDecius(24951).
10DioCassius,RomanHistory,675.7,refersinstrongtermstoDomitian'sinsistenceonbeingcon
sidereddivineandtothatemperor'spleasureinbeingcalled"Lord"and"God."

182

TheSevenHeads:DoTheyRepresentRomanEmperors?
When the full context of these two closely related chapters is
explored,wefindthatinchapter12a threestep historicalsequence:
Thedragonopposesfirstthemanchild(Christ),thenthewoman,and
finallytheremnantofthewoman'sseedoroffspring.Inchapter13we
findonlyatwostepsequence:theeraoftheleopardbodiedseabeast
alone,andthentheerawhenthetwohomedbeastemergesfromthe
earth,createsanimagetotheleopardbodiedbeast,andcommandsall
humanbeingstoworshipitandtheleopardbodiedbeast.
Justhowdothethreestepsofchapter12andthetwostepsof
chapter 13 relate to each other? A basic clue is the fact that the
identicaltimeperiodismentionedinbothchaptersas"1260days"
and as '^/z years" (12:6,14), and as "42 months" (13:5). This time
periodcomesintheinitialstageofthetwostepsequenceofchapter
13,butisconnectedwiththesecondstageofthethreestepsequenceof
chapter12.Weillustratethisrelationshipinfigure1.

Figure1.ChronologicalRelationship
BetweenRevelation12and13
Revelation12

Revelation13

ApostolicEra

1. The dragon attacks the Child


(Christ)
postApostalicEra

ApostolicEra

PostApostolicEra

1.Thedragonattacksthewoman
"1260days""3^years"

1.Theleopardbodiedsea
beast"42months"

EndTimeEra

3.Thedragonattacksthewoman's
offspring

EndTimeEra

1.Thetwohornedearth
beast

Sincethefirststageinchapter12obviouslyrelatestotheApostolic
Era,wewouldassumethatthesecondstage(equivalenttotheeraofthe
leopardbodiedseabeastin13:110)mustbepostApostolic.
Crowned horns indicate postApostolic Era. This conclusion is
confirmed by further textual evidence. In the explanatory section of
Revelation17,wherethefocusisfromthetimeframeofthewriter,the
seabeast'stenhornsaresaidtobe"tenkingswhohavenotyetreceiveda
kingdom"
183

TheSevenHeads:DoTheyRepresentRomanEmperors?
(vs.12,NIV);11 thatis, theyhadnotyetarisenasrulingentitiesinJohn's
day.11 Wheredowefindananimalwhosetenhomsare crowned^ Inone
placeand onfy onein the entire book of Revelation do we find this,
namely,chapter13.Therethecrownedhomsareontheleopardbodiedbeast
(vs.1).(Incontrast,theheadsarecrownedin12:3,butneitherheadsnor
homsarecrownedin17:3.)Thus,onthebasisoftheexplanatoryinformation
wefindinRevelation17:12,wemustdeducethattheparticularerainthe
beast'sexistencethatisrepresentedinchapter13wasyetfutureforJohn.In
thismanner,thebookofRevelationitselfclearlyindicatesthattheleopard
bodiedseabeastisanentityotherthantheancientRomanEmpireofthefirst
century.
Leopardbodiedbeastlinkedtothelawlessone. Ourconclusionis
furtherstrengthenedbytheconceptualizationunderlyingPaul'sdiscussionof
the"lawlessone"in2Thessalonians2.Paul'sdescriptionofthatentity's
character and activities matches that of the leopardbodied beast. Both
descriptionsobviouslyrelatetoDaniel's"littlehorn"portrayedinDaniel7
(seeespeciallyvs.25).Thethreesymbolsrepresentthesamepower.This,
incidentally, is also how the matter was viewed by the Church Father
Irenaeus(ca.185),theearliestpatristicwriterwhoseexpositionsonthetopic
areextant.13
Paul adds that there is an entity which keeps the lawless one from
appearingimmediately(2Thess2:67).Thatentityholdingbacktheanti
christmaybeidentifiedastheRomanEmpire,sinceaccordingtoDaniel's
prophecy,the"littlehom"wouldariseonlyafterthetenhornshadarisen
(Dan7:8,24).Thatis,infact,theverywayprominentearlyChurchFathers
sawthematter:theylookedfortheriseoftheantichristinconnectionwith
theRomanEmpire'sdissolution.
IrenaeusandTertullianstatedthat the time of antichrist'sappearance
wasstillfuture,14butJerome(ca.400)believedthatantichristwasvery
11ForScripturequotations,theNIVwillbeusedthroughoutthischapter.
12Itisimportanttorecognizethatthisverseisintheexplanationsectionforthevision,andthat
thereforeitisfromthewriter'sperspectiveintime.(SecthefirstchapterinBook1ofthis2boofc
DARCOMseriesonRevelationforadiscussionofhermencuticalprinciples.)Thecluetotheshift
fromthevisionpropertotheexplanatorymaterialisthestatementin17:9:"Thiscallsforamind
withwisdom"(nodehonoushoesSSnsophian).
13InAgainstHeresies5.25.13,Irenaeusfirstquotesfrom2Thess2;then,afterreferringtotheend
ofthelastkingdomwhenthetenkingsarise,hequotesfromDan7regardingthe"littlehom"
whoseappearancewasmore"stout"thantheothersandbeforewhomthreekingswereuprooted.
Hisdiscussionmoves,in5.26.12,tothe"stillclearerlight"shedbyJohnintheApocalypsewhen
JohnreferstothesametenhornsmentionedbyDaniel.
14Irenaeus,AgainstHeresies,526.1,speaksofthe"lasttimes"whentenkingsshallarise,"among
whomtheempire[Rome]whichnowrules[theearth]shallbepartitioned."(Translationin

184

TheSevenHeads:DoTheyRepresentRomanEmperors?

near at hand. He connected the ravages of the barbarian


invasionsandthedismembermentoftheRomanEmpirewith
theprophesiedriseofthetenhornsofDaniel7andRevelation
13.15SomeofJerome'scontemporarieshadasimilarview. 16
Assessment
What conclusion can we now reach regarding the leopard
bodiedseabeastanditssevenheads?Wehavefound,specifically,
thatthisbeastsymbolizedanentitythatwouldfunctioninanera
futuretoJohn*stime.Withthisconclusion,allfurtherpreterist
argumentsrelatingtothatbeastanditssevenheadsalsocrumble.
Wecouldconsequentlyterminateourstudyatthisjuncture,for
ourassignedtaskhasbeenfulfilled.
Nevertheless,itmaybeusefultogivesomeattentiontothe
other points upon which preterists build their argument. In
reiteration,thesepointsareasfollows:(1)Thesevenheadsofthe
beastareidentifiedin17:910as"sevenhills"andalso"seven
kings";(2)therewasawoundingandresuscitationofoneofthe
heads of the beast; and (3) 666 is a further key by which to
identifythebeast.

TheSevenHeads
Analysisofthepreteristidentificationofthesevenheadsof
the leopardbodied beast ( ^ a succession of seven Roman
emperors) naturally should begin with the biblical evidence
adduced for that interpretation. The textual starting point for
preteristsis17:910:"Thesevenheadsaresevenhillsonwhich
thewomansits.Theyarealsosevenkings.Fivehavefallen,one
is,theotherhasnotyetcome."Preteristsalsotakenote,aswell,
ANF, 1:554.)Tertullian, Apology, 32,isevenmore explicit.He firstmentionsthe
needofprayerfor"theemperors,nay,forthecompletestabilityoftheempire,and
for Roman interestsin general." He then goeson to say, "For we know thata
mightyshockimpendingoverthewholeearthinfact,theveryendofallthings
threateningdreadfulwoesisonlyretardedbythecontinuedexistenceofthe
Romanempire."(TranslationinANF,3:4243.)
15JeromeinA.D.409wrote(referringto2Thess2:7.8):"Hethatlettcthistaken
outoftheway,andyetwedonotrealizethatAntichristisnear.Yes,Antichrist
is near whom the Lord Jesus Christ 'shall consume with the spirit of his
mouth.'"Letter123,toAgenichia,sect.16,intheNPNF,2dseries,6:236.
16 Among Jerome's contemporaries with a view somewhat similar to his were
SulpiciusScvcrusandMartinofTours.SutpiciusreferstoMartin,whodiedin
396,ashavingsaidthatNerowouldreignintheWestandthatantichristwhowas
alreadybom,wouldreignintheEast,withantichristfinallydefeatingNeroand
becoming the universal ruler. Sulpicius seems to have had the same view as
Martin concerning the nearness of antichrist's appearance, but he docs not
seem to have accepted fully other aspects of Martin's cschatology Sulpicius
Sevcrus,Dialogues2.13.14(secNPNF,2dseries.11:45),andSacredHistory,2.29
(secNPNF,2dseries.11:111).

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THeSevenHeads:DoTheyRepresentRomanEmperors?
ofthereferencein17:11tothebeastitselfasbeingan"eighth"king.
Thedoubleidentificationin17:910ofthe heads as"sevenhills'*and"seven
kings"isconsideredtobeaclinchingpieceofevidence.Preteristinterpretersfeel
thattheexpression*'sevenhills"mustpointtoRome,the"cityofsevenhills," 17It
thenfollowsnaturallythattheterm"sevenkings"mustrefertoRomanrulersthatis,
toRomanemperors.

"SevenHills"or"SevenMountains"?
Themostcrucialpointthatpreteristsoverlookorignoreinidentifyingthe
"hilIsTkings"(17:910)withRomanemperorsisthefactthattheterm"hills"
oftheNIVandanumberofotherEnglishversionsisanimproper,oratleast
poor, translation. In the original Greek the word is oros and should be
translated "mountains," as it is in the KJV and NASB and in other
occurrencesofthesamewordinthebookofRevelation. 18
Sincetheword"mountains"isobviouslysymbolicin17:9,properprin
ciplesofinterpretationwouldrequirethatwelookforthescripturalusageof
theterm"mountain"incaseswherethetermisemployedasasymbol.When
we do so, we never find ''mountain " used to symbolize an individual
monarchorruler.Instead,wefinditusedasasymbolforanationorempire.
InNebuchadnezzar'sdream,forinstance,thestonethatstrikestheimage
onthefeetsubsequentlybecomesagreatmountain,fillingthewholeearth
(Dan2:3435).ThismountainisspecificallyidentifiedasGod*severlasting
kingdom(vss.4445).AnotherexampleisgivenbyJeremiah,whorefersto
theancientBabylonianEmpireasa"destroyingmountain"thatistobecomea
"burntmountain"(Jer51:25).19
Thisbiblicalusageof"mountain"asasymbolshouldleadustolookfora
similar identity of the seven heads in Revelation, since they are called
"mountains."Thesecondidentifyingtermin17:910,namely,"kings,"can
17ThatRomewasknownasthe"cityofsevenhills"isattestedbyfamedclassicalwriteis,suchasVirgil
(d.19B.C.)andHorace(d.8B.C.).AlsotheChristianwriterTcrtullian(ca.A.D.197)
refersto"inhabitantsofRome"asbeingthe"nativepopulationofthesevenhills"(Apology,35,
inANF.3:44).
18An importantpoint thathasbeenbrought to attentionbyPaul S.Minear,/ SciwaNewEarth
(Washington, DC, 1968),237, is thatin Revelationall seven oftheotherreferences tooros have
beentranslated"mountain,"not"hill"(actuallyfouroftheeightoccurrences,includingtheone
inRev17:9,areintheplural,we).Thoughperhapstherearcexamplesoforoswhichmightwell
betranslated"hill,"Greekalsohasanothertermfor"hill":bounos.
19IntheDanielreferencethetermistheAramaict6r,inJeremiahitistheHebrewhar."In01refer
cnccswhereboth"hill"and"mountain"appear(c.g,,ba40:4;andinthepluralin42:15;54:10;
and55:12),theformeri&ffbWi,andthelatterisAor(bothHebrew).Itmaybeworthnotingthat
theexpressioninba41:15concerning"thehills"beingreducedtochaffappearsintheTargumas
"thekingdoms"willbechaff.

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TheSevenHeads:DoTheyRepresentRomanEmperors?
feeunderstoodinthesameway,as"rulerships,""kingdoms,"or
"empires."20

Rome's"SevenHills":Sequential?
Amongotherincongruitiesinthepreteristinterpretation
is the fact that Rome*s "seven hills" were not
chronologically successive. Since the heads of the beast
arose,existed,andfelloneafteranother,thesameshouldbe
trueofthehillsofRome,ifthepreteristviewwerecorrect.
preteristinterpreters,however,haveneverbeenableto,nor
can they, explain satisfactorily how those seven literal,
physical hills on which Rome was built have arisen and
fallensequentially.
FirstCenturySuccessionofRomanEmperors
We turn now to the matter of how the first century
successionofRomanemperorsmatchestherequirementsof
thebiblicaltext.Hadfiveemperorsalreadyterminatedtheir
reignswithasixthonerulingatthetimewhenJohnwrote
the book of Revelation?21 The list of Roman emperors,
beginningwiththeEmpire'sfounder,Augustus(GaiusJulius
CaesarOctavianus,theadoptivesonofJuliusCaesar),and
continuingtoJohn'stimeofwritingisasfollows:
1.Augustus(27B.C.A.D.14)
2.Tiberius(1437)
3.GaiusCaligula(3741)
4.Claudius(4154)
5.Nero(5468)
6.Galba(6869)
7.Otho(69)
8.Wellius(69)
9.Vespasian(6979)
10.Titus(7981)
11. Domitian (8196)Approximate time John wrote
Revelation
20E.g.,whenDanielsaidtoNebuchadnezzar,"Youarethatheadofgold"(Dan2:38),
hewasspeakingofNebuchadnezzar'skingdomofBabylon.Thisisevidentfrom
thecontext:"Afteryou,anotherkingdomwillrise,inferiortoyours.Next,athird
kingdom,oneofbronze,willruleoverthewholeearth.Finally,therewillbea
fourthkingdom,strongasiron"(vss.3940).
21Thevantagepointfromwhichthespecificidentificationoftheseemperorsistobe
madeis,ofcourse,John'sownday.Seen.12,above.Althoughthetextitselfis
clear,adherentsofthepreteristpositionarenotagreedastowhichheadwas
presentinJohn'sdaythesixth(whatanormalreadingofthebiblicaltext
indicates),theseventh,orevenan"eighthking"thatismentionedinRev17:11.

187

TneSevenHeads:DoTheyRepresentRomanEmperors?
Thislistobviouslycontainstoomanyemperorstomeetthenecessary
specifications. How then shall a list be constructed that has just five
emperorsinsequencepriortothetimewhenJohnwroteRevelation,has
asixthemperorrulingattheverytimeofJohn'swriting,andhasaseventh
oneyettocome?
Logically,suchalistshouldbeginwithAugustus,notonlybecausehe
institutedandinauguratedtheRomanEmpire(asdistinguishedfromthepre
cedingRomanRepublic),butalsobecauseitwasduringhisreignthatNT
historybegan.Someinterpretersprefer,however,tomakeTiberius,Augus
tus' immediatesuccessor,thefirst emperorintheirsuccessionlist. Itwas
duringTiberius'reignthatChrist'sministry,death,andresurrectionoccurred.
Thentoo,therearestillotherinterpreterswhowouldgobackinRomanhis
torybeyondthePrincipatesoastobegintheirsequencewithJuliusCaesar
(d.44B.C.).Finally,thereareaveryfewexpositors(the"rareexception"
now and then) who would look for a later starting point, with Nero, for
example.
In all of the foregoing cases preterist interpreters are left with an ex
cessive number of emperors. Consequently, the matter of determining
precisely which emperors were supposedly intended by John has created
endlessconfusionforsuchinterpreters.Thevariouspossibilities,butnotallof
them,aresummarizedinfigure2.
Accordingtothetableinfigure2,therearefourpossiblestartingpoints
usedbymostpreterists,thoughitissomewhatuncommontofindNeroplaced
intheinitialposition(asincolumn G). Alsoapparentfromthattableisthe
factthatseveralofthelistsomitthenamesofthreeemperorsGalba,Otho,
andVitelliuswhohadonlyshortreignsduringtheyears6869.Infact,most
preteristinterpretersdoexcisethesethreenames.
Thehistoricalcircumstancesprovideabsolutelynowarrantforomitting
theserulers.TTiesethreewereineverysensegenuineemperors,havinghad
fullconfirmationbytheRomanSenate. 22Inthisconnection,itisinterestingto
note that Victorinus ofPettau (ca. AD. 300), the Christian writer who
providedtheearliestextantLatincommentaryonthebook
22JosephineMassyngbcrdcFord,Revelation,AB,38(NewYork,1975),290,refersapprovinglytoS.
Gict'sremarkthatthethreeshortreigned cmperoreof6869werenotintheseriesofCaesars,
andsheherselfgoesontoadd:"OnlytheCaesarsoftheJulianandFlaviandynastyhadeffective
powerovertheterritolyinhabitedbytheJewishpeople."Butthissortoflanguagebetraysalack
ofknowledgeoftherealitiesofRomanhistory.Ofthesocalled"Caesars,""JuliusCaesar"was
theonlyreal"Caesar"byfamily.Octavian("Augustus")wassuchbyadoption.AndtheClaudian
line also became such by adoptions, with the "JulioClaudians" being Tiberius, Caligula,
Claudius, and Nero.TheFlaviansused"Caesar"asa title ofhonor,somethingwhichGalba,
Otho, and Vitellius had also done. Moreover, those three shortrcigned emperors had as much
controloverPalestineasNerohadwhenhereigned.

188

TheSevenHeads:DoTheyRepresent"R6manEmperors?
Figure2.SomePreteristIdentificatioi
RomanRulers
48B.C.44B.C.27
B.C.A.D.14A.D.
JuliusCaesar
AugustusTiberius 1437A.D.3741
CaligulaClaudius A.D.4154A.D.54
NeroGalbaOtho 68A.D.6869A.D.
69A.D.69A.D.69
Vitellius
VespasianTitus 79A.D.7981A.D.
8196
Domitian

Thefirstsixcolun
ofRevelation(Ne
JosephineMassyi
table,whichshea
twoofwhicharei
hereisherfourth
unjustifiedproceno
scholarwhouGisa
ratheratyp

nsof theSi even Head S


A
12
3 4
5 6
7

B
1
2 3
4 5
6
7

C
1 2
3 4
5 6
7

D
1
2 3
45
6
7

E
1 2
34
56
7

F
1
23
4
56
7

G
1 2
3 4
5 6
7

nnsareadaptedfromatablegivenbyThomasS.Kepler,TheBook
swYork,1957),177.ColumnGisadaptedfromatablegivenby
ngberdeFord.Revelation,AB,38(NewYork.1975),289.InFord's
redilstoEdwardSiegman,thereareatotaloffourcolumns,thefirst
denticalwithKepler'sAandC(alsomydesignationabove).Omitted
column,whichstrangelydoublesthename"Vitellius"andbythat
duregetsDomitianintothesixthplaceinthesequence.Iknowof
ilizesthisparticularsequence.Indeed,eventhesequenceincolumn
icaloneanddoesnothavemanyproponents.

of Revelation, actually began his sevenhead sequence with Galba, thus


revealinghisfullacceptanceofthethreeshortreignedemperors. 23
EvenwiththeeliminationofGalba,Otho,andVitellius,theliststhatare
usually givenby preterists stop short of placing Domitian as sixthinthe
sequence. In fact, the two lists that come closest (F and G) make Titus,
Domitian'simmediatepredecessor,thesixthemperorinthesequence. 24 In
contrast,theancientexpositorVictorinusplacesDomitianinthesixthplace
by beginning with Galba. Although he omits Nero completely from the
sevenperson sequence, he strangely refers to him as the "eighth" king
mentionedinRevelation17:11.25
23Victorinus,CommentaryontheApocalypseoftheBlessedJohn,commentonRev17:10(seeANF,
7:358).
24Thereare,ofcourse,preteristcommentatorsandexegeteswhobelievethatRevelationwas
written
duringthereignofTitusorthatofVespasian.Somesuggestatimeevenasfarbackastheend
ofNero'sreign.
25Victorinus,commentsonRev17:10and17:11.

189

TTSe^SevenHeads:T56TBeyrepresentRomanEmperors?
Inthefinalanalysis,allpreteristidentificationsofthesevenheadsofthesea
beastrequiresomeadjustmentofthebiblicaltextand/orofhistory.Suchaprocedure
is,ofcourse,highlysuspectandcanhardlyleadtosoundconclusions.Indeed,any
manipulation of the evidence undercuts the very foundation on which sound
interpretationmustbebased.
SomeVitalQueries

We have now looked at several inconsistencies and anomalies in the


preterist identificationof the beast's seven heads. There are, nevertheless,
some further vital questions that need to be asked concerningany list of
emperorsthatpreteristinterpretersmightsubmit:
1.WouldJohn'sreaders/hearersintheRomanprovinceofAsiahavebeen
anylessperplexedthanismodernscholarshipintryingtodeterminealistof
Romanemperorsthatwouldfitthetextualrequirements?
2.WouldtherebeanysequenceofsevenRomanemperorsthatmightbe
especiallymeaningfulorofparticularinteresttothoseAsianChristians?
3.CouldweexpectthosefirstcenturyChristianstohavebeenable,inthe
fourteenthorfifteenthyearofDomitian, torecall frommemorya correct
sequentiallistoffiveearlierRomanemperors(excluding,aspreteriststoday
woulddo,thethreeemperorswithshortreignsin6869)?Allthreeofthese
questionsobviouslydeservenegativeanswers.
Thefollyimpliedbythethirdquestionabovehasbeenhighlightedby
Paul S. Minear in a rhetorical question: "How many Americans can im
mediatelynamethelastsevenpresidents?" 26ThisquestionposedbyMinear
pointsintherightdirection,buthardlydoesjusticetothemagnitudeand
formidabilityofthe task thatJohn'soriginal readers and hearers would have
facedintryingtothinkofasequenceofearlierRomanemperors.Afterall,
most Americans have learnedthesequence of United States presidents in
elementaryorsecondaryschool,ifnowhereelse.This
kindofluxurywasnotavailable,ofcourse,tothefirstcenturyChristiansin
RomanAsia.
ThelengthofpresidentialtimeinofficeperUnitedSstatespresidentis
about six years (halfway between one and two terms of four years each),
whereastheaveragelengthofreignforaRomanemperoruptoJohn'sday,but
excludingthethreeemperorsof6869,wouldbefifteenyears!Infact,from
the timeAugustus established the Empire in27 B.C. until Johnwrote the
Revelationwasapproximately123years!Evenifweweretoex
26Minear,240.

190

TheSevenHeads:DoTheyRepresentRomanETmperors?
eludetheunusuallylongreignofAugustus,thetimelapsewouldbe
about81or82yearsandtheaveragelengthofreignwouldbeabout
twelveyears.

Assessment
The crucial point to consider in connection with the
foregoinganomaliesisthatnoneofthemwouldhavearisenif
thebiblicaltexthadbeenreadandtreatedproperly,withdue
weight given to the best translation and the correct meaning of
Revelation17:9.Thereferenceinthattextto"sevenmountains,"
immediatelyalertedJohn'sAsianparishionerstothefactthatthe
symbolrepresentedaseriesofsuccessiveworldempires.
WastheresuchaseriesofworldempirespriortoJohn'sday,
with one empire in existence at the very time when he wrote
Revelation? Indeed so. And the evidence for this is sufficiently
clearintheOT,asourcewhosecontentswerebothwellknownand
truly meaningful to the firstcentury Christians in the Roman
provinceofAsia(Egypt,Assyria,Babylon,Persia,
Grecia,Rome).

TheWoundedandResuscitatedHead
Anotherimportantitemthatsupposedlyundergirdsthepreterist
identity of the beast's seven heads as Roman emperors is the
referencetothemortalwoundingandresuscitationofoneofthose
heads(13:3).Mostpreteristinterpretersfeelthathereisanaptway
to refer symbolically to the death of Emperor Nero and to the
subsequent Nero redivivus myth (Nero's alleged return to life).
However,afewinterpreterswouldchooseanotherRomanemperor,
suchasGaiusCaligulaorVespasian.27
Nero'sReignandDemise
The life and reign of Nero, the adoptive son of Emperor
Claudius,werenotoriouslywicked.Ofmoreinteresttohimthan
mattersofstateweremusic(infact,hefeltthatathisdeaththe
world would lose a great vocalist 28), theatrical performance, and
especiallyparticipationinchariotraces. 29To
27Caligulatookillandthenwasrestoredtohealth,andVespasianwasexiledbyNero
andthenrecalled.Thereevenareinterpreterswhobelievethemortalwoundwasa
reflectionofJuliusCaesar'sassassinationin44B.C.andthattheresuscitationtook
effectthroughAugustus'establishmentofthePrincipate.
28Tacitus, Annals,Appendix to Book 16, 14,statesthatduringNero'sdirectingofthe
preparationforhis deathandinterment, he sighedin apiteousmanner and then
addedtheremarkhere
quoted.SeealsoSuetonius,Nero,49.
29Cf.,e.g.,Tacitus,Annals,14.15,16;15.35,37;16.3;AppendixtoBook16,5,7,12.

191

The^even^Teads:DoTheyRepresentRomanEmperors?

theRomanmind,theseactivitieswerenotappropriateforanemperor.
By A.D. 67, theyear before theend of Nero's reign, riots broke out
againsthisrulership,particularlyinGaulandSpain.AboutmidyearinAD.
68hewasdesertedbythePraetorianGuard(thecohortoftroopsassignedto
protect the emperor) and repudiated by the Senate. Indeed, the Senate
quickly proceeded to appoint Galba as emperor. In view of these
circumstances,Neroknewhemustflee.Butwhere?Locationsracedthrough
hismind,especiallyEgyptandSpain.However,fearingforhissafetyinany
Romanprovince,heoptedinsteadtoacceptaninvitationtothesuburban
villaofhisfaithfulfreedmanfriend,Phaon.
Atthatlocale,somefourmilesfromthecityofRome,Neroreceived
wordthattheSenatehaddeclaredhimapublicenemyandthathewastobe
executed with all the "ancient rigor." This kind of death would be both
extremelyhumiliatingandextraordinarilypainful,foritentailedstripping
thecondemnedpersonofallclothingandbeatinghimtodeathinapublic
ceremony. When the soldiers who had been dispatched to arrest him
approached Phaon's villa, Nero, in order to avoid capture and further
Jgnomy,committedsuicidebyslittinghisthroatwithasword.Thistook
placeonJune9,A.D.68.30
RumorsaboutNero
AfterNero'sdeath,rumorssprangup(especiallyintheEast)thathewas
notreallydeadbuthadfledtoParthia(anationlocatedeastofMesopotamia,
inwhattodayisknownastheIranianPlateau).Fromtherehewasexpected
toreturnwithanarmytoretakehisthrone.Inalaterstageofthemyth,the
realityofNero'sdemisewasaccepted,butitwasbelievedthattherewouldbe
eitheraresuscitationofNerohimselfortheriseofapersonwhosecharacter
and activities would be similar to those of Nero. Most modem preterist
interpreters assume that John looked upon Emperor Domitian as the
fulfillmentoftheNeroredivivusmyth.
Severalquestionsmustnowbeaskedaboutthepreteristidentificationof
Nero'sdeathandtheNeroredivivusmythwiththewoundedandresuscitated
headofthebeast(13:3):
1.HowwelldoesNero'sdeathmeetthebiblicalspecificationsconcerning
themortalwoundandthehealingofthatwound?
2.HowprominentandsignificantwastheNeroredivivusmythduringthe
latterpartofthefirstcentury?
30Thedetailsaregivenby'Vac\tvs,Annals,AppendixtoBook16,1314.

192

TheSevenHeads:DoTheyRepresent'P.oman'Emperdrs?
3.DidChristiansingeneraloranyoneelse,forthatmatter
believethatDomitianrepresentedasortof"reincarnation"ofNero?

Nero'sSuicideComparedWiththeBiblicalText
Inresponsetothefirstofthesequestions,wepresentseveral
salientpointshighlightedbyPaulS.Minear(theorganizationand
enumeration
giventhesepointsis,however,mine):
1.Inthebiblicaltext"thewound,althoughfirstassignedto
oneofits[thebeast's]heads,islaterassignedtwicetothebeast
itself(Rev13:12,14)."Althoughtheempireandtheruling
emperormay,inasense,beconsideredasinterchangeableinthat
"anempire'sauthorityisvestedintheemperor,"thisidentification
ceaseswhentheemperorleavesoffice. 31
2.Asacorollarytothepointjustnoticed,wemayaddthat
Nero'sdeath"didnotjeopardizethepoweroftheempire,because
hediedasafugitiveandenemyofthestate."Rather,hisdeath
demonstrated"thesuperior
powerofthestate."32
3.Thehealingofthewoundledpeople"toacknowledgethe
invulnerabilityofthebeast(notofthehead)";it"encouragedthe
beast to greater blasphemy" and increased the beasfs power of
deception. There is "absolutely no evidence that the rumored
resuscitationofNeroactuallyhadsucheffectsasthese,"butrather,
the "legend of Nero's pending return from Parthia was even
consideredathreattotheempireanditsrulers."33
4.Thebeasfs"woundwasnotselfinflicted,but[was]givento
the beast by its enemy." Furthermore, can "we find any case in
apocalyptic literature in which the beast intentionally commits
suicide?"34
5.ConsiderationmustbegivennotonlytoJohn'stypicalusage
of the word "sword" but also to his typical usage of the word
"wound."InGreekthewordtranslated'*wound" KptegS, aterm
which is consistently rendered as "plague" in its other twelve
occurrences in Revelation. Never does John use either of these
terms"sword"or"plague"foraselfinflictedwound,suchas
Nero'ssuicide.Thus,ifwe"areguided by thevocabularyofthe
prophet,"Minearpointsout,"wemustconcludethattheswordwas
the symbol of God's wrath" and that the "wound was a God
inflictedplague."35
Among these and other arguments by Minear, some
considerationsare
31Minear,25051.
32Ibid.,251.
33Ibid.,252.
34Ibid.
35Ibid..253.
193

iwse^ffHeads:156TfieyRepresentRomanEmperors?
relativelystrongerthanothers.Theircombinedforceandtotalweight,however,are
impressiveandtheycertainlycollapsethepreteristthesisthatNero'sdeathandthe
Nero redivivus myth meet the specifications of the biblical text in Revelation
13:3,12,14.36
TheNeroRedivivusMyth
Sibylline oracles. We respond now to the second basic question, which
requiresthatwescrutinizeabitmorecloselytheNeroredivivusmythitselfandits
allegedplaceinhistory.Itappearsthatthemainliteraryexpressionofthismyth
occurredin,andwasperpetuatedby,someofthedoomutterancesintheSibylline
Oracles,book4(datedtowardtheendofthefirstcenturyoftheChristianEra)and
book5(compiledaboutthemiddleofthesecondcentury).Thesesocalledoracles
werewrittenbetweenthesecondcenturyB.C.andthefifthcenturyA.D.inimitation
oftheGreekSibylapaganprophetess.Thetwelveextantbooks(outofanoriginal
15works)containamixtureofpagan,Jewish,andGreekitems.
Inbook4,withinthecontextofabroadhistoricalsurveydealingwithworld
kingdomsfromAssyriatoRomeandsettingforthdoomproclamationsagainsta
variety of places (such as, Sicily, Greece, Thebes, Rhodes, Corinth, Carthage,
Laodicea, and Armenia, et al.), there is an allusion to the Roman attack on
JerusalemthatlaidwastethetempleofGod(obviouslythedestructionofAD.70).
Itisherethatwefindthefollowing:
...andthenshallagreatkingfromItalyfleeawaylikeadeserter,unseen,
unheardof,beyondthefordofEuphrates,afterhehaspollutedhishands
withthehatefulmurderofhismother,doingthedeedwithwickedhand.
AndmanyroundhisthroneshalldrenchthesoilofRomewiththeirblood,
whenhehasfledbeyond[or,"over"]thelandofParthia....Thenshallcome
tothewestthestrifeofwarstirredup,andtheexiledmanofRome,lining
upamightysword,crossingtheEuphrateswithmanytensofthousands.
36ThoughMinearhasbeenveiyperceptiveinhisobjectionstothetraditionalpreteristposition,hisown
alternativesolutionisalsosomewhatdefective,particulariyinthatitFailstoadopttheapocalyptic
perspective of a continuum in histoiy. Rather than following the lead which could have been
obtainedinDan7,hecollapsesthesevenheadsmoreorlessintosimplyamatterofJohn'sintentto
focus"uponthepresentstageinthemessianicstruggle"(p.243).Thereis,ofcourse,afocusonthat
stage,butagooddealoftheemphasisalsoisuponaphasefuturetoJohn(namely,theeraofthesea
beastandthenofitscompanion,theearthbeast).
37 SibyllineOracles, 4.49124,137139(withthequotedmaterialbeingfrom4.119124,137139inthe
editionofH.N.Bate, TheSibyllineOracles:BooksIIIV [London,SPCK,1918],889).Inthe
editionofMiltonS.Teny, TheSibyllineOracles,TranslatedfromtheGreekintoEnglishBlank
Vkrse(NewYork:AMSPress,1973;reprintedfromtheeditionof1899),thematerialappearsonpp.
1017andisidentifiedas4.61162,176180.

194

TheSevenHeads:DoTheyRepresent'Rbman"Emper6rs7

InBook5thereareseveralreferencesthatclearlyalludeto
Nero. One of these statements prophesies great evil at the
returnofaperson"whoshallmakehoneysweetsongswitha
voice of melody, playing the actor, and shall slay both his
wretched mother and many besides." 30 Elsewhere in book 5
thereismentionofapersonhaving"theletterfifty,"whobe
comes king and spreads great confusion and evil. He is a
personwho"shallreturn,makinghimselfequaltoGod,"but
whose"nothingness"willberevealedbyGod. 39 Someofthe
referencesinbook5couldwellhavefedthenotionheldbya
fewlaterChristianwritersthatNerowastoreturnas
theendtimeantichrist.40
ButjusthowinfluentialweretheSibyllmes7Theseoraclestook
the
form of a cryptic, offbeat kind of literature that by no means
gainedwidespreadacceptance.Infact,thesocalledoraclesofthe
sibyls,femininesoothsayers,werecommonlyheldinlowesteem
bythemoreeducatedandknowledgeableclassesofpeople.While
it is true that the abovecited statements afforded the Nero
redivivus myth a sort of "extension of life" or chronological
longevity,thisfactcannotbeconsideredasjustificationforthe
sweeping statements made by many modem commentators and
exegetesthatthemythwasverywidelyknownandbelieved
even"universally"sointheEastduringJohn'stime.
Rumors. Some rumors that Nero had not really died did
surface, a point we have already noted. What is important to
recognize, however, is that the most reliable of the secular
sources of the first several centuries AD.including, for
example,theRomanhistorianTacitus(whowrotehisAnnalsand
History earlyinthesecondcentury)rejectedsuchrumors as
being mere fabrications that were spurred on by the rise of
various individuals impersonating Nero. Likewise, the earliest
andmostcredibleamongtheChristianwritersgivenocredence
or credibilitytothe Nero redivivus myth, if infact they even
knewofit.
Official recognition of Nero's death. The falsity of the
conceptthatNeroactuallysurvivedhissuicideandwasinhiding
amongtheParthiansorelsewhereisevidenced,firstofall,bythe
events that immediately followed his death. These included
publicrecognitionofhisdemise,thetrans
38Ibid.,5.141143(Bateed.,99;intheTerryed.,thereferenceappearsonp.121andis
designatedas5.191.193).Cf.5.361385(Bateed.,110111;intheTerryed.,13334,
withdesignationas5.485
516).
39Ibid,5.2934(Batecd.,94;intheTenyed.,115,withdesignationas39^49).
40Seeespeciallythesecondreferencecitedinn.38.Forthatsectioninbook5,Bate
hasinsertedaheadingthatreads,"ThecomingofAntichrist(Nero):thegreat
War,andthepeaceoftherighteous."RegardingtheChristianwriters,secn.49,
below.

195

Tn&Se^nMeadsn^TheyRepresentRomanEmperors?
ferofhisremainstoAugustus*mausoleum,andthesuggestionbyanem
bassyfromtheParthianrulerVologesesthathonorbepaidtoNero's
memory(theprimaryfunctionoftheembassywastocongratulateGalbaas
thenewemperor).41
To this clear evidence of the strong official recognition of Nero*s
genuinedemisewemayaddtheunanimoustestimonyoftheRomanhis
toriansofthefirstseveralcenturiesoftheChristianEra. 42 Noneofthese
historians had any notion whatever that Nero might have escaped death
somehowonhisfatefulsuicidedayinJuneoftheyear68.
As further evidenceoftherealityofNero'sdeathandtherecognition
givenit,wemaytakenoteofthefactthattherewerepublicacclamations
referringtoEmperorOthoas"NeroOtho." 43 Thiswouldhavebeenhighly
unlikelyiftherealNerohadstillbeenaround.Indeed,eventheriseofNero
pretenders,amatterwementionbelow,isanindicationthatNerowasno
longeralive.Thefactthatsomeoftheseimpostorsresidedforawhilein
Parthiaisratherstrongevidenceagainstthevalidityofthe Neroredivivus
myth.TheycouldhardlyhaveresidedinParthiaiftherealNerowasthere
too,makingpreparationsforaninvasionofRome.
Impersonators. Impersonators of Nerobegan toappear within a year
afterhisdeath.ThefirstsuchwasaNero"lookalike"whoinAD.69,witha
group of "vagrants," landed on the island ofCythnus. 44 The man not only
resembledNeroinphysicalfeatures,butalsohadasingingvoicemuchlike
that of Nero. The deception was rather limited in outreach, though it
temporarilyarousedconsiderablelocalinterestThe"illusion,"asTacitus
callsit,vanishedquickly,however,whenthepretenderwascapturedand
killed.45
InAD.79TerentiusMaximus,anotherindividualreputedtobemuch
like Nero, also impersonated the latter. 46 He fled with some adherents to
ParthiaandtherecausedastirbyplanningtoinvadeRome.E.W.Bensonhas
concludedthatitwastheescapadesofthisindividualthatgaverisetothe
Neroredivivus mythintheforminwhichitissetforthinbook4ofthe
SibyllineOracles.Referenceismadetheretotheeastwardflightof"agreat
kingfromItaly"whohadmurderedhismother(whichtherealNerohad
41See,e.g.,Ta.dtvs,Awtab,AppendixtoBook16,14,
42E.g,TacitusandSuetoniusintheearlysecondcentiuyandDioCassiusintheearlythirdcentury
43SecTacitus,Histwy,1.78.
44Ibid.,2.89.
45Ibid.,2.9.
46Zonaras.11.18;cf.Tacitus,History,1.2.(JohanncsZonaraswasaByzantinehistorianwhoearlyin
thetwelfthcenturypreparedanepitomeor"version"ofDioCassius'RomanHistory.)

196

TheSevenHeads:DoTheyRepresentRomanEmperors?
indeed done) and who would cross the Euphrates River with a
largearmy.47
About a decade later, yet another Nero pretender found
temporaryrefugeinParthia,buthewasextraditedtoRome. 48 In
hiscaseandinthecaseoftheotherimpostors,thefollowingwas
small.Nonereceivedanytrulysubstantialendorsementasbeing
therealNero.And,asfaraswecantell,thisrecurringconceptofa
Neroredivivus terminatedquicklywhentherespectivepretender
andhisfollowerswerediscreditedandsuppressed.
Thatwhichdidgivethemythsomewhatofanextendedlife
was,aswehaveseen,itsincorporationintotheSibyllineOracles.
Thesecrypticandmysticalmessagesmayhaveinfluencedafew
ChristianwritersinthefourthandfifthcenturiestothinkthatNero
wouldberesurrected(orthathehadbeenmiraculouslykeptalive)
andwouldappeareitherasaforerunnerofthelastdayantichristor
be an "antichrist" himself. 49 But the earliest Church Fathers, as
wellastheearliestandmostreliablesecularwriters,didnotappear
toplacemuchtrustinthesocalledoraclesofthesibyloracles
that were considered to be not only speculative but were often
wordedsoastobeopentodifferinginterpretations.

NeroRedivivusandDomitian

We examine now the issue of our third question: Was the


emperorDomitianregardedasa"reincarnation"ofNero?Modem
preteristinterpretersquitegenerallybelievethatJohnlookedupon
Domitianasbeingthe"resuscitation"ofNero.Butjusthowcogent
isthisopinion?Andhowdoesitmeshwiththrequirementsof
thebiblicaltext?
1.First,thebiblicaltextindicatesthatitistheverysamehead
that suffers the mortal wound that experiences a subsequent
healingorrevivification(13:3).Therefore,ifNeroisconsideredto
betherecipientofthewound,itmustalsobeNero(notDomitian)
whopersonallyisresuscitated.
2. The biblical text refers rather emphatically to the
blasphemiesutteredbytheseabeast(13:56).Nero,however,did
notcovetdivinetitles,nordidhevauntanairofdivinity;hencehe
doesnotmeetthisspecificationofthebiblicaltext.Domitiandid,
ofcourse,findpleasureinbeing
47EdwardWhiteBenson,TheApocafypse:AnIntroductoryStudyoftheRevelationof
St.JohntheDivine(London,1900),165.
48Suetonius,Nero,57.
49Benson,16870,referstoLactantius(ca.314),SulpiciusSeverus,andMartinof
Tours(asquotedbySulpicius).TheyaretheonlyChristianwriterswhomhe
couldfindwithabeliefthatNerowouldbereturningasaneschatologicalFigure.
HeaddsthatAugustineofHippo(d.430),acontemporaryofMartinand
Sulpicius,indicatedthatsomepersonsfeltNerohadbeenkeptalive,"a
presumption[which]wastohimverymarvclous."

197

TheSevenHeadsTOoTheyRepresentRomanEmperors?
called"Lord"and"God,"50anattitudethatmightreadilybeconsidered
blasphemous.ButherehestoodmoreinthetraditionofGaiusCaligulathan
inthatofNero.51
3.TherearefurthercontrastsbetweenNeroandDomitian.Forinstance,
Nero's persecution of Christians was principally one spasmodic outburst.
Domitianontheotherhandappearstohavefostereda more"studied"or
"planned" attitude toward persecution, but one which the Christian writer
Tertulliandescribedasnotlastinglong,becauseDomitian"hadsomethingof
thehumaninhim."52Again,Nerowasalavish"playboy"emperor,whereas
Domitianwasbasicallyaconcernedandableadministratoralthoughalso
morose,suspicious,andtyrannical,especiallytowardtheendofhisreign. 53
4.Inthebiblicaltext,theseabeastisjoinedbyanassistant,thetwo
hornedearthbeast,whoentersthescenewhentheseabeast'sdeadlywoundis
healed,makesanidoltothatfirstbeast,andcallsuponallpeopletoworship
the sea beast. As far as I have been able to determine, no one has ever
discoveredorsuggestedanypersonthatwouldmeetthesespecificationsin
connectionwithDomitian.
5.Finally,thereisnoevidencewhatsoeverinanyofthereliablesecular
sourcesorintheearliestChristianpatristicwriterstosuggestthatDomitian
was ever considered, in any sense, a "reincarnation" of Nero or a
"revivification"ofthespiritofNero.Theclosestwecometosuchastatement
isTertullian'smentioninhisApology(writtenabouttheyear197)thatNero
was the church's first persecutor and that Domitian likewise was a cruel
persecutor.54Tertullian,however,givesnohintwhatsoeverthathe
himself(oranyoneelse)lookeduponDomitianasfulfillingtheNeroredi
vivusmyth.
Assessment
Benson,whomadeathoroughgoinginvestigationofthehistoricalstatus
ofthesocalledNeroredmvusmyth,hascarefullyscrutinizedbothsecular
50DioCassius,RomanHistory,67.5.7.
51Caligulawassoenamoredwiththethoughtofbeingdivinethathebuiltanimpressivebridgefrom
thePalatinehilltotheCapitolinehill,thisinordertobeabletocommunicatemorereadilywithhis
"brothergod,"JupiterCapitolinus.
52rcrtuUian,Apology5(inANF,3:22).
53DioCassius,Romanffistmy,67.1316,givesmanydetailsofDomitian'sreignofterrorfrom
A.D.9396.Actually,asreportedin67.15,therewerealreadyevidencesinA.D.91thatDomitian
wastyrannical.
54Tertullian,Apology5.
198

TheSevenHeads:DoTheyRepresentRomanEmperors?
andChristianancientsources.Hisconclusionsareworthnotinghere.On
thebasisoftheinformationobtainedfromsecularwriters,Bensonstates:
Thecircumstances[relatingtoNero'sdeath]wereespeciallypro
vocativeofpretenders.ButthisisnoexceptionaldisplayofthemA
batch of impostors in the year following his [Nero's] death, all
insignificant,onetenandonetwentyyearsafterhisdeath,bothinthe
interestsofParthiaandDionChrysostom'sgibe.

The gibe to whichBenson refers is found in Dion's **wild,


coarse,sarcasticDialogueontheFollyofMankind,"andistothe
effectthat"all"ofDion'scontemporarieswishedthatNerowere
stillaliveandthat "most" of themfanciedthathewasso.Dion's
pointisthat"badashewas,Nero was verylavish,andthatthe
peoplecarefornothingbutthis,especiallyinthetimeofstingy
emperors."56ItsohappensthatNero'simmediatesuccessor,Galba,
wasrenownedforstinginessandausterity,evendenyingsoldiers
somefundsthathadbeenpromisedthem.57
Concerningtheevidencefromsecularsources,Bensonstates
further,"thattheidea[thatNerohadsurvivedhisreportedsuicide]
wasfloatediscertainenough,[but]toattributeimportancetoitis
absurd.Itwascreditedbynooneofcredit."58
AsweturntoBenson'sconclusionregardingthewitnessofthe
early Christian writers, we must note that he scrutinized every
pertinent statement of eminent Church Fathers down to the fifth
century.Hethensetforthhisconclusionasfollows:
There isnomentionamongthesereal teachers(intheearly
Christianchurch]ofNero'severhavingbeenaliveafterhissuicide
noneofa"universalChristianexpectation"ofhisreturnnone
ofDomitian'sofferinganyreproductionofhim,oranyfulfilmentof
anypropheciesabout
59

him.

Inviewoftheevidencedrawnfromthebestinbothancient
secularandChristiansources,itwouldappearthatifJohnbelieved
DomitiantobesomesortofreincarnationofNero,hewouldhave
beenentirelyuniqueinthisbelief!Wecanbefullyconfidentthat
Domitianwasbynomeans
55Benson,166.
56Ibid.,16566.
57Reported,e.g.,byTacitus,History,IS;alsobyDioCassius,RomanHistory,64.3.
58Benson,166.
59Ibid.,172.
199

TlieSevenHeads:T5oTheyRepresentRomanEmperors?
envisagedinthebookofRevelationasrepresentingarevivificationofNero.Indeed,
aswesawintheearlierpartofthischapter,theentityrepresentedbytheseabeast
wasstillfutureinJohn'sday;hence,neitherNero
norDomitiancouldhavehadanyrelationshiptotheparticularssetforthinthe
biblicaltext.

TheNumber666
Weexaminenowafinalargumentthatpreteristsuseasevidencefor
identifyingtheleopardbodiedbeastastheempireofRome:thenumeral
666(13:18).Thattextstates,"Thiscallsforwisdom(sophia):Ifanyonehas
insight [hoexffnnoun}, lethimcalculatethenumberofthebeast,foritis
man'snumber.Hisnumberis666."Thebeastherereferredtoistheleopard
bodiedseabeast,asthecontextmakesclear.
Inthegeneralpreteristview,thisnumber666isanexample ofgema
tria, acrypticprocedurewhereinlettersofthealphabetstandfornumbers
thataremeaningfulinidentifyingnames.Accordinglymostpreteristsfindin
13:18afurthersignificantcluetosubstantiatetheidentificationofthe
seabeastwiththeRomanEmpireanditsheadswithasuccessionofRoman
emperors.
Itisusuallysuggestedthatnumbervaluesofthelettersinthenameof
EmperorNeroaddupto666.Thewaythisisaccomplishedwillbenoted
later,togetherwithanevaluationofthatprocess.
ImportantGeneralConsiderations
BeforeproceedingtoanalyzethenameofEmperorNeroanditsalleged
numericalvalue,westateherethreegeneralconsiderationsthatareofvital
importance:
1.AccordingtotheBiblethenumber666isappliedtothebeastitself,
nottooneofitsheads.ButNero,accordingtothepreteristview,wasoneof
thesevenheads.
2.Minearhasobservedthatgematriaappearstobeforeigntothebookof
Revelation.60 It is a phenomenon that is not at all characteristic of John's
writing.Thisbeingthecase,wouldwehere(13:18)haveasoleexception?
ShouldnotJohn'snormalapproachtotheuseofnumbersleadustolookin
someotherdirectionthantheexplorationofhowthelettersinEmperorNero's
namecouldaddupto666?
60Minear,257.
200

TheSevenHeads:DoTheyRepresentRomanEmperors?
3.Minearhasalsopointedoutthattheverygreatrangeofpersons
whose names have become candidates for the fulfillment of the 666
rendersthewholeproceduresuspect.61

RomanNames,andtheNameof"Nero"
WediscussbrieflythenatureofRomannamesasapreliminary
stepbeforeassessinghowthenameofNeroisgenerallyutilizedby
preterists
tomatchthenumber666.
Roman names characteristically consisted of three parts: the
praenomen (given name), the nomen (the name of the gens or
"clan"),andthecognomen(familyname).Adoptions(hadoccurred
forseveraloftheemperorsbeforeNero,aswellasinhisowncase)
could change and/or enlarge the names. Furthermore, Roman
emperorsoftentendedtousehonorifictitles,themostcommonof
thesebeing"Augustus"(Greek,sebastos),afavorableacclamation
giventoOctavianforhisvictoriesandactivitiesthatledtoaneraof
securityandpeacewithintwodecades afterthe assassinationof
JuliusCaesarin44B.C.
The name "Caesar" eventually became a title for Roman
emperors, though it was originally a family namethe family
nameofGaiusJuliusCaesar("JuliusCaesar"),andalsotransmitted
(along with the clan name "Julius") to
someofhissuccessorsbymeans of adoption. For instance, Tiberius
was by birth a member of the C\awiiangens (Tiberius Claudius
Nero),butwhenadoptedbyAugustusheenteredtheJulian gens
andtheCaesarfamily.
AsforNero,hewasthesonofGnaeusDomitiusAhenobarbus
andborethenameLuciusDomitiusAhenobarbus.Whenhewas
adoptedbyEmperorClaudiusintheyearA.D.50,hebecamea
member of the daudian^ew, a step which made possible his
succession to the emperorship when Claudius died in A.D. 54.
ThroughthisadoptionLuciuswasalsogivenanewname:"Nero
ClaudiusCaesar,"ormorefully"NeroClaudiusCaesarAugustus
DrususGermanicus."
Towardthe end of his reign Nero addedas a sort of titular
praenomen thedesignation"imperator"(thetermfromwhichour
word "emperor" derives). This was an honorific title which in
earlier Roman history had been accorded to victorious Roman
generals at their triumphal appearance in the city. During the
Empireperiod,however,itwastheprerogativeofthe princeps to
hold that title as commanderinchief of all the Roman military
units.
61Ibid..256.

201

TheSevenHeads:DoTheyRepresentRomanEmperors?
Towhatdoestheforegoingdiscussionaddup?Thepointtonoticeisthatthere
are,inreality,manyoptionswhendecidingonjustwhatnameofNeroshouldbe
chosenforthe666calculation.OfficialcontemporarydocumentsbearingEmperor
Nero's name commonly identified him as "Nero Claudius Caesar" or "Nero
Claudius Caesar Germanicus." At times the designation "Augustus" was also
incorporatedintotheseriesofnames.
The Roman historians, however, tended to refer to him simply as "Nero,"
perhapstodistinguishhimfromTiberiusClaudiusNero("Tiberius")andTiberius
ClaudiusDrususNeroGermanicus("Claudius"),Therearealsosomedocuments
that refer to him as "Nero Caesar," and others that use simply the designation
"Caesar" or "the Caesar." It is interesting to note that when the apostle Paul
appealedforahearingbyEmperorNero,onlytheterm"Caesar"wasused.
Preterist prodecure. Although it would seem logical to include the name
"Claudius"inthecalculationof666(inasmuchasitwasNero'sadoptionintothe
Claudian gens thatopenedthewayforhimtobecomeemperor),theformofthe
nameactuallychosenbymostpreteristsis"NeroCaesar(orCaesarNero)."
Annisthenaddedto"Nero,"thusproducing"Neron."Next,atransliterationis
made into Hebrew/Aramaic characters, resulting imo? iru (mwnqsr). Finally, the
numbervaluesofthoseHebrewcharactersaretotaledtoequal666.If"Nero"rather
than"Neron"weretobeused,thetotalwouldbe616 63 Althoughthereissome
manuscript evidence infavorofthenumber616,thepreponderance ofevidence
suggeststhat666istheoriginalandcorrectnumber.
Thereisobviouslyanintentionalplayonthenumber6,heightenedbythetriple
repetitionofit.64Itisa"humannumber,*'65andthusrepresentsincompletenessand
inadequacy.Thiscontrastswiththenumber7thatis
62Acts25:1011;seealso25:12,21;26:32;27:24.
63ThomasS.Kepler,TheBookofRevelation(NewYork,1957),148,pointsoutanalternativemethod
usedbysomepreteristinterpreters:namely,togivetothelettersintheLatinwordNeronnumerical
equivalentswhichtotal666with616ifthenameweregivensimplyasNero(asitrightfully
oughttobe).Thiswayofcomputingthe666and616is,inanycase,notwidelyused,andit
certainlyisnotrepresentativeofmainstreampreteristtradition.
64Ireaaeus,AgainstHeresies,5.30.1,indicateshisbeliefthatthe666thatis,sixhundredsplussix
tensplussixunitsindicatesafullnessofapostasyandthat616isindeedafaultynumberwhich
heis"inclinedtothink"happenedasasliponthepartofcopyists.Hestatesfurtherthatpersons
assumingthewrongnumberforantichrist"willeasilybeledawaybyhim"whenheappears,not
recognizinghim.(TranslationfromANF,1:55859.)
65Thephrasearilhmosanthrpoucanproperlybetranslated,"ahumannumber."Infact,concerning
Rev13:17b18,Minear,258,suggeststhat"itwouldbequiteinordertotranslatethephrase[as]
'Thebrand,thenameofIhebeast,orthenumberofitsname...isanordinaryhumannumber.His
numberis666.'"

202

TheSevenHeads:DoTheyRepresentRomanEmperors?
used frequently throughout the book of Revelation and elsewhere in
Scripture to designate totality, fullness, and complete adequacy. The
number7maythusbeconsideredasa"divinenumber,"thenumber6,a
"human
number."
Preterist problems. With the foregoing background, we are now
readytocommentontheproblemsinherentinthepreteristlinkageofthe
numeral666withthename"NeronCaesar":
1.SincethereareanumberofchoicesastowhichofNero'sseveral
namestouse,isitnotarbitraryandartificialtoselect"NeroCaesar"?
2.Addingthe n to"Nero"appearstobeanunjustifiabledevice,in
spiteofasocalledillustrationfromMurabbarat. 66Astatementpennedby
Henry A.Sandersin1913isstillrelevant.Afterreferringtothetrans
literationof"NeronCaesar"intoHebrewcharacters,Sandersgoesonto
statethat"wemaywellquestion,whetherevenanignorantJewcould
havesospelledthenameofNeroduringthefirstcentury.*'67
3.TheprocedureoftransliteratingaLatinnameintoHebrewcharac
tersishighlyquestionable.
4. The transliteration of "Caesar" into qsr is quite atypical. In
numerous examples I have found 10'*? {qysr) to be the form
consistentlyused.Thisaspectofthepreteristtransliterationproblemwas
alsonotedbySanders.68
5.Thebiblicaltextcallsfor"insight."Verylittleinsightwouldbere
quiredforthepreteristtypeofmanipulationthatsecures666from"Neron
Caesar."
6.Whatisevenmoresignificantaboutthe"insight"neededisthe
fact that it is spiritual discernment that is called for, as the general
contentandtoneofRevelationmakeabsolutelyclear.Thefollowersof
Godandthe
66D.R.Millers,"Revelation13:18andaScrollfromMurabba'at," BASOR,no.170,p.
65,hascalledattentiontoanAramaicdocumentpublished,discussed,andgivenina
partiallyreconstructed text inthe "Textcs" volume(Part1) ofDiscoveriesfrom
theJudaenDesert, Vol.2,no.18,and giveninphotographic reproductioninthe
"Planches"volume(Part2)ofthesamework,PI.29.Inlookingatthephotographof
thisratherfragmentarydocumentasitispiecedtogether,Ido nothavethesame
confidenceasHitlersthatthereisnoroomforayodfiaftertheqoph.Workingfrom
photographsishazardous,inanyevent.Nevertheless,inthistextasitappearsin
thephotograph,asmaltpartoftheqophismissing(thislettercanneverthelessbe
identified),butlackingtooistherestofthewordindeed,alsotherestoftheline.
Theassumptionisthatthe spelling isyron thebasisofestimated spacefor the
letters,butthroughoutthetextthescribewasnotconsistentinhisspacingofletters,
sometimes even running them together. In any case, even if qsr docs occur
occasionally intexts(asHillersindicates,basedonJastrow's TatmudicLexicon),
why should we giveprioritytoanuncommonformofthewordratherthantothe
usualfonnw?
67HenryA.Sanders,"TheNumberoftheBeastinRevelation,"JBL37(1918),97.
68Ibid.
203

TheSevenHeads:DoTheyRepresentRomanEmperors?
LambaretodistinguishbetweentheLamb'sactivityontheonehandandthe
oppositionactivityontheother.
7.Asacorollarytotheforegoingpoint,wetakenoteofthefactthatthe
emphasisinRevelationisnotsimplyonthenumberofthebeastbuteven
more so on the mark and name of the beast 69 These, together with the
number,standindirectantithesistothesealofGodandthenameofGodand
theLamb.70
8.Indeed,thebattledealtwithinRevelation13andelsewherethrough
outthebookisaspiritualstruggleofsuchmagnitudethatitseemstrivialto
bringNero(orforthatmatter,Domitian)intothepictureasthedirectanti
divine,antithesistotheslainandresurrectedLamb.Certainly,something
muchmorecrucialandsignificantisinview.
As we have noted in another context earlier, this passage about the
leopardbodiedseabeastreflectsandexpandsDaniel'smessageconcerning
anentitythatistoconstitutethelastgreatenemyofGod'speople,anenemy
inspiredbynoneotherthanthedevilhimself.Thattheantidivinetrinityof
dragon,seabeast,andearthbeastrepresentsaparodyofthedivinetrinityof
Father,Son,andHolySpirithasbeennotedbyvariouswritersonthebasis
ofthestrikingcomparisonsandcontraststhatcanbemadebetweenthetwo.
Suchcomparisonsandcontrastsrevealadefiniteconceptuallinkage. 71 The
issuesaremuchtoolargetofindadequatefulfillmentinasingleemperor.
Asafurtherobservation,wemaycallattentiontoaninterestingexample
otgematria that appears in an earlier quotedstatement from the Sibylline
Oracles', namely, that Nero's number is "fifty."72 This number, which
represents the Greek numerical value otN, differs, of course, from the
convolutedandunsustainablelinkingofNero'snameto666.Although
69Sec13:17;14:9,11;15:2;20:4.
70Secespecially14:1incomparisonwith7:24;also3:12and22:4.
71 Inthe parody,the sea beast'scharacter andexperienceasacounterfeitofChristand theearth
beast'sactivitiesasacounterfeitoftheHolySpiritareespeciallystriking.Forexample,justas
ChristacquiredHisauthorityfromtheFather,sotheseabeastacquiredhisfromthedragon;
asChristhasfaithfulworshipers,soalsotheseabeasthashisworshipers;andasChristdiedand
was resurrected, so too the sea beast, we find, for example, the following: This beast calls
attentiontotheseabeastratherthantohimself,justastheHolySpirit'sactivityisoneofexalting
Christ,notHimself(cf.John16:1314).Theearthbeastiscalledthe"falseprophet"(atermused
forhiminRev16:13;19:20;and20:10),whereastheHolySpiritisthetruepropheticSpirit(see
Rev 19:10;John14:17; and1Pet 1:1012). Eventheearthbeast'sbringingfirefromheaven
(Rev13:13) appears tobeamimicryof the dayof PentecostexperienceoftheHolySpirit's
descentontheapostlesastonguesoffire(Acts2:14).
72SibyllineOracles,5.29(Bateed.)or5.39(Tenycd.).Thestatementoccursinaportionofbook5that
identifiesanumberofRomanrulersbythenumericalvalueoftheinitiallettersoftheirnamesin
Greek,thelanguageinwhichtheSibyflineswereoriginallywritten.

204

TheSevenHeads:DoTheyRepresentRomanEmperors?
thisparticularpointmaynothavethesamestrongevidentiarystatusas
theonesenumeratedabove,thecontrastrevealedbyitisnevertheless
strikingandworthyofatleastpassingnotice.

Conclusion
The foregoing discussion has revealed the considerable
amountofinconsistencyanduntenabilitythatexistsintheseveral
basic preterist arguments we have noted. Whether the preterist
positionisthecommontraditionalformthatwehavereviewedin
thischapter,orwhetheritincludesanyofthevariationssuggested
by preterist interpreters, the very stance of preterism is itself
hopelesslyflawed.
Theproblem lies inthe foundational center of the preterist
stance,andtherefore,isonethatafflictsallpreteristinterpretations
in spite of any and all idiosyncrasies that may exist among
individual writers. That "root problem" is the perspective that
limitsthescopeofRevelation'smessagetoJohn'sownera.The
biblicalevidencereveals,aswehaveseen,thattheleopardbodied
seabeast,itssevenheads,anditstenhornsrelatetothingsthat
were still future for John. Such Church Fathers as Irenaeus,
Tertullian,andJeromealsoborewitnesstothissameessential
fact.
Ourstudyprovidesonlyanevaluationofthepreteristposition
concerning the seven heads in Revelation. No alternative
interpretation has been suggested. Nevertheless, a trustworthy
interpretationoftheseven heads mustrestonthisfundamental
fact:Theword"mountains"(asusedsymbolicallyinScripture)
indicates"kingdoms"or"empires,"notindividualrulers.
When the seven heads are viewed in this light, we are
remindedthatOTsacredhistorygivesclearreferencetoworld
kingdomswhichinpreChristiantimesoppressedGod'speople,
andthattheOTpropheciesgiveninthebookofDanielexpandthe
informationsoastoincludeaworldpowerinexistenceinJohn's
ownday,plusafurtheronethatwouldariseafterJohn'stime.
This biblical material, and the whole biblical perspective,
would have been readily intelligible and meaningful to John's
parishioners,somethingthatcannotbesaidconcerningalistof
Romanemperors.Itisimportantforustobearinmindthatthe
very purpose of the book of Revelation was to give spiritual
knowledgeandstrengthtopersecutedfollowersofthe

Lamb.

NotalistofRomanemperors;notthedeathandareported
resurrec
205

TheSevenHeads:DoTheyRepresentRomanEmperors?
tionofNero;notthenumber666asanidentifierofNeronotanynorallofthese
could, inany sense,fulfill Revelation's noblepurpose. TheOTwitness andthe
apostolic testimony, on the other hand, carry a message that afforded abundant
comfortandhopeforthefirstcenturyChristiansandhavedoneso,aswell,forall
followersofChristeversince.
InScripturethereisassurancethatGodhasalwayscaredforHispeople:thatin
historyitselfHeiseverpresenttosustainthem,andthatinthegreateschatological
denouementHewillgivethemfullvindicationandanincomprehensiblygenerous
rewardinlifeeverlasting.ThebookofRevelationpicksupandexpandsbeautifully
thissametheme,andthusRevelationisnotbyanymeanssomesortofoffbeat
apocalypsethatisoutoftunewithbiblicalliteratureingeneral;itconveysthevery
heart and substance of the biblical message. Indeed, as Revelation emphatically
pointsout,the"LivingOne"theOnewhoconquereddeathandthegrave(1:18)
willneverforsakeHisfaithfulfollowersandthatevenwhentheysuffermartyrdom
theyarevictorious(12:11),withthe"crownoflife"awaitingthem(see2:10;21:14;
and22:4).

206

ChapterVI
TheTwo
Suppers
RichardLehmann

Editorial Synopsis. As printed in our common Bibles with their


chapterdivisions,Revelation19servesasabridgebetweenthescenesof
judgmentontheBabylonianHarlot(chaps.1718)andtheappearingof
Christasawarriorkingtooverthrowalltheagenciesofevilthathave
foughtagainstHimandHispeople
(19:1121).

ThefirstpartofthechapterresoundswithafinaleofpraisetoGodHal
leluia for His judgment and destruction of the great Harlot and,
thereby, for His avenging the blood of His people who had been
martyredunderherregime(17:6;
19:12).Thelastportionofthechapter(vss.1121),depictingChristasa
returning,conqueringking,shirtsthefocusforwardtoHismillennial
reign(chap.20)andthecreationofanewheavenandearth(chaps.21
22).
Thecommonthread,ormotif,thatappearstotiethetwohalvesof
thechaptertogetheristhatofa"supper."Thoseareblessedwhoare
calledtothemarriagesupperoftheLamb(19:79);buttheimpenitent
slainbytheWarriorKingbecomethegruesomesupperofthe
fowlsoftheair(19:1721).
InhisanalysisofthetwomajorcomponentsofRevelation19,the
authorprovidesanumberofinterestingexegeticalinsights.

ChapterOutline
I.Introduction
II.AnOratorioinHeaven
III.RiderandHeavenlyArmy
IV.TheGreatSupperofGod

207

TheTwoSuppers

Introduction
Chapter19ofRevelationdividesnaturallyintotwodistinctparts:
(1)aninvitationtopraiseGod,includingtheannouncementoftheweddingsupper
oftheLamb(vss.110),and(2)theappearanceofagloriousriderfollowedbya
gruesomefeastinwhichthebirdsoftheskyparticipate(vss.1121).
Themutualrelationshipbetweenthesetwopartshasbeenquestioned.lSome
gosofarastosuggestdifferentsourcesfortheverseswithineachsection^The
majorityofBiblescholarsquestionthestatusofRevelation1922(usuallyasa
result of various millenarian theses). But some recognize a real unity between
chapters1922andtherestofthebook.
Inarecentarticle,W.SheashowedthatRevelation19:18constitutesaliterary
unitlinkedtotheheavenlyscene in Revelation5anddescribingthereactionof
heavenlybeingstothejudgmentofthegreatprostitute. 4 Apartfromthissuggested
linkage,itisevidentthattherepeatedhallelujahsinthissectionaremotivatedby
thejudgmenteventsdescribedinchapters17andl8.5
Several hypotheses have beenput forward withregard tothechronological
situation of this chapter. We shall not enter into discussion here on the many
millenarianthesesonwhichthisquestionlargelydepends. 6Sincecommentatorsare
unanimousinrecognizingintherideronthewhitehorsethereturnofChrist,we
shallassociatetheprecedingscenewiththisgloriousreturn. 7 Ananalysisofthe
scenesinthisportionofRevelationwillenlightenusontheirmutualrelationship.
1E.g.,M.E.Boismard,"L'ApocalypscdeJean,"inIntroductionalaBible,ed.aouv.A.George,P.
Grelot,TomeIII,vol.4(Desclee,Paris,1977),31,seesinRevelationtwoprimitivetextswrittenat
differentdatesbythesameauthor,thenmeltedintoasimpletextbyadifferenthand.TotheHrst
textwouldbelong Rev 19:1121andto the second19:110.ForawiderdivisionseealsoH.
Stierlin,LaVvritesurL'Apocalypse.Essafdereconstitutiondesfextesoriginels(Buchet/Chastel,
Paris,1972).
2H.Stieriinseesin19:9caconclusionofanoriginalbook.Id,122.R.H.Charlesinserts16:5b17
afterversc4andmakeswithvcises9band10aninterpolation.TheRevelationofSt.John,ICC,
vol.2(Edinburg,1976)
3E.g.,E.CuviIIier,"Apocalypse20.Predictionoupredication"inETR59(1984/3):345.R.C.H.
Lenski,TheInterpretationofSt.John'sRevelation(Minneapolis,1963),considersonp.534that
17:119:10constitutesaunit.
4"Revelation5and19asliteraryReciprocals,"AUSS22(1984/2):24957.
5E.Corsinipointsoutthe"artificialnatureoftheactualsubdivisionofthebookintochapters"and
joinsvss.18withchap.18.L'Apocfftypsemfiintenant,Sew\(Paris,1984),255.
6OnthesepositionsseetheinterestingthesisbyJ.Badina,LeMillenhimd'Apocafypse20:46
(CollongessousSaleve,1983).
7SeealsoF,D.Nichol,ed.,TheSDABibleCommentary^(Washington,DC,1957):871.

208

TheTwoSuppers

AnOratorioinHeaven
Thefirstsceneissituatedinheaven(vss.18).Anarrator,withavoice
asloudasthatofagreatmultitude,callstopraise(vss.13).Thetwenty
foureldersandthefourlivingcreaturestakeuptheinvitationinturn(vs.4),
followedbyanothercalltopraisebyavoicecomingfromthedivinethrone
(vs. 5). Possibly, the narrator, with an even louder voice than at the
beginning,onceagainjustifieshiscall(vss.68).
Thescenecanbecomparedtoanoratorioattheheartofwhichdifferent
choirs call out tohail and answer oneanother around asingle theme
hallelujah!8
Other thanthefourtimesitismentionedinRevelation19,theword
"hallelujah"appearsnowhereelseintheNT.EvenintheGreektranslation
oftheOT(Septuagint),itisfoundonlyinthePsalmssungatthemajor
festivals.9Itseemstohaveitsoriginintheworshipservicesestablishedby
David.
Theterm,therefore,hadaliturgicaluse.Itillustratesthelinkthatcould
existbetweentheprimitivechurchandthatofthesynagogueinthefirst
century.Thewordismadeupoftwoparts: halhl (praise),yah (Yahweh).
TheGreekequivalentisgiveninverse5,"praiseGod"(aineitef5Theo).
Thus, in its first meaning "hallelujah" is an invitation to praise God
(imperative mood), whereas today the term means the praise itself. We
believethatitmustbeunderstoodinRevelation19initsoriginalmeaning,
as a call, an invitation.10 Furthermore, the second Hebrew term in this
chapter,"amen,"alsoexpressesawish,askingthatsomethingbedone(vs.
4).11
According to the majority of commentators, the first hallelujah is
proclaimedbyacrowdofangels.12 W.Sheaparallelsthevoiceof"many
angels"(5:814)withthatofthe"greatmultitude"in19:1. 13Otherscon
8Cf.ibid.,whichbringsthispcricopcnearertoPs24:710andseesinitachoralarrangementcom
posedoftwoanthemsandtworesponses.
9WeshalldistinguishthegreatHallcl,"aprivilegedscriesofsixPsalms,113118,whicharerecited
onhappyoccasions.Psalms113and114arerecitedinPassoverliturgiesbeforetheseder
(PaschalSupper),whereasPss115118aresungattheendofit."A.Chouraqui,L'Universde
laBible5(Lidis,Paris,1984):325.ThelittleHallelismadeupofPss146150.
10ItsGreekequivalentinvs.5isanimperativesecondpersonplural:ameite.
11"Amen"doesnotonlymeanthatonehasunderstoodandagreedwiththeexpressedwish,but
alsothatasmuchaspossibleonecommitshimselftocontributingtoitsaccomplishment.Cf.A.
Wciscr,Foi,LaboretFides(Geneve,1976),26,concerning1Kgs1:36.
12AlsoEllenG.White,TestimoniestoMinisters(MountainView,CA,1962),432.
13"Revelation5and19asLiteraryReciprocals,"inAUSS22(1984/2);252.
209

TheTwoSuppers
siderthehallelujahtobeproclaimedbytheredeemed, 14bymartyrs,15andstillothers
distinguishangels(vs.1)fromtheredeemed(vs.6).16
Asforus,webelievethatitisnotJohn'sintentiontoattributethesongofpraise
toanyone.Weadmitthatthissongmaybeexpressedbyeithertheangelsorthe
redeemed,butsuchwasnottheintentionoftheauthor.
WithoutneglectingtheimportanceofthetiesestablishedbyW.Sheabetween
chapters5and19,wefeelthatitmaybeinstructivetonoticethedifferencesthat
separatethem.Thestructurecanbethesame,butthemeaningdifferent.
Chapter5alwaysspecifieswhoisdeliveringthepraise;chapter19lacksthis
preciseness.17Revelation5clearlystatesthattheangelsaresingingandgivestheir
number.Revelation19:1,6remainsvagueandusescomparisons:"whatseemedto
be"(hos).13
WeshouldalsonoticeJohn'scustomaryuseofthedirectspeechinpraise:You
[God]areworthy(4:11;5:9).Indirectspeechcomesonlyin5:12asaresponseto
thefirstpraise.Onthecontrary,inchapter19onlyindirectspeechofamoregeneral
natureisused:He[God]hasjudged;Hehasavenged(vs.2).
Anotherparticularityisfoundinverse5.Charlespointedouttheproblemof
"from[apo]thethrone"whenonewouldexpect"outof[eA:]." 19 (Comingyromthe
throneratherthancomingoutofthethrone.)Thismoregeneralformfordesignating
theoriginofthevoiceseemsintentionaltous.
Iftheangels,ortheredeemed,aresinging,whydoesthetextuse hos ("what
seemedtobe,"vs.1)andthesingularformfort<voicev'(phonef^),whereasinverse3
thepluralformoftheverb,"theycried"{eirekah}isused.Anabnormalcorrelation
mayunderlineaspecialintention.Wemustthereforeconsidertheseparticularities 20
assignificant
Insum,thetextdoesnotappeartogiveattentiontotheauthorsofthepraise,
butfocusesinsteadonthreeitems:
14CLE.Charpeatier,UneLecturedeL'ApCKalypse,CahienEvanfflel\(Cetf,Paris,197S):31.
15Cf.R.H.Charles,TheRevelationofSt.JohnWuhIntroduction,NotesandIndices.ICC,2(Edin
burg,1976):118.Charles,forhimself,esteemsthattheSeer"isbeginninghisdescriptionwiththe
outerranksoftheheavenlybeingsandproceedinginwardtowardthethrone."Thusheseesasin
7:11,firsttheangels,thentheelders,andFinallythelivingcreatures.
16Cf.J.H.Alexander,L'Apocalypseverselparverset,MaisondelaBible,2nded.(Gencve,Paris,
1980).332.
17CL5:\lekwsaphonnaggelontol9:'l,ekousahosphSnSnmefyilen.
18D.G.BamhousefollowingRobertsoncompletelyforgetstheexistenceofhos:Revelation,An
ExpositoryCommentary(GrandRapids,1982),349.
19TheRevelationofSt.John,124.
20By"abnormalities"wemeanunusualcharacteristicsinatextinrelationtothe"normality"ofthe
bookorchapterwheretheyareinserted.

210

TheTwoSuppers

1.Heavenastheplaceoftheproclamation.
2.Theservantsonearthasthesubjectsoftheproclamation.
3.Theproclamationitselfasacalltopraise.
Avoiceinheaven,thetwentyfourelders,thefourliving
creatures,andthosesurroundingthethroneareunanimous:they
calltheservantsontheearthtopraisetheLordforHisworksin
theirbehalf.
Butbeforegivingprominencetothekeycharacterofthis
emphasiswemustmakeadetailedversebyverseanalysisofthe
hymnicsection.
FirstNarrator(vss.13)
TheobjectoftheFirstproclamationistojustifytherequested
praise.Godhaspassedsentenceonthegreatprostitute.Hisaction
is double in nature, typical of judgment in the OT: (1) It
establishes the character of God as true and Just. 21 (2) It also
establishesthecharacterofHisservantswhoare"avenged,"thatis
tosay,theyarereestablishedintheirintegrity.IfGodisdeclared
tobetrueandjust,itisbecauseinHisinterventioninhistory,says
A.Neher,He"setsoneintherealityofhisright,theotheronthe
contrary,intherealityofhiswrong."22
Theproclamationofthejudgmenthereisnotintendedasa
chronologicalpointofreferenceinhistory.Judginginfact"isnot
onlypassingsentence,thewordisusedtodescribeallphasesof
theprocedurefromthe moment thatthelitigantpartiescometo
pleadtheircaseupuntiltheFinaldecision." 23Itistheappearingof
the white horse and its rider that enables us to locate the
proclamationasbeingontheeveofthefinalsettlement.
Thetwoaoristsofverse2("hehasjudged[ekrinen]";"hehas
avenged[exedikesenY)canleadustobelievethatthejudgmenthas
been settled before the proclamation, in accordance with the
descriptionofchapters17and18.Wenotice,however,thatthe
descriptioninthesechaptersdoesnotmeanthat allisfinished.
Manyversesareinthefuturetense.Thebeastistherealsupportof
theprostitute(17:3),andfinallyhe"assimilates" 24 ordevoursher
(17:16).Theprostituteremainsactinginthebeast.Thejudgment
carriedoutontheprostitutefindsitscompletefulfillmentwhenthe
beastisthrownintothelakeofFire(19:20).25
21E.Jacob,TheologxdeI'AncienTestament,DelachauxetNiesti^(Neuchatel,1955),7.
22ANeher,/lffKM,262,quotedbyJacob,77.
23Jacob,77.
24By"assimilate"wemeantotakeforself,makeone'sown.Thebeastisstilldangerous
byvirtueofthefactthatindevouringtheprostituteittakesherplace.
25Cf.17:14wherethebeastandthetenhomsmakewaragainsttheLamb.
211

Thus,whileawaitingthecompletefulfillmentofthesentence,aninvi
tationissenttopraiseGod,fortheavengingofHisservantsistobecon
sideredasaccomplished.
Accordingtothesecondhallelujah(vs. 3), the Judgment has eternal
consequences.In18:8theburningwasannounced;in18:18itwasseen;in
19:3 it is declared complete. The punishment recalls that of Sodom and
Gomorrah(Gen19:28)andtheradical characterofGod'sjudgment(2Pet
2:6,3:1012).26TheBabyloniancityprostituteshallnotriseupagainfrom
itsashes.27Yes,salvation,glory,andpowerreallybelongtoourGod.28
HeavenlyChoir(vs.4)
Thetwentyfoureldersandthefourlivingcreaturesareheavenlybeings
describedinRevelationasbeingnearthethroneofGod(4:48).Theyseem
tostandwiththebelievers.
* ^Q

Theeldersareoftenfoundinanattitudeofprostrationandpraise.Itis
beforetheseheavenlybeingsthatthe144,000singanewsong(14:3).As
witnessestoGod'sworksinfavoroftheredeemed,theyadoretheCreator
(4:1011)andSaviour(5:810)andgivetheirapproval("amen")tothein
vitationtopraiseGodforHisjudgmentonthegreatprostitute(19:4).
Consideringthemeaningthatweattributedtotheword"amen," 30itcan
beunderstoodthattheeldersnotonlyjointhefirstnarrator'svoice,butalso
committhemselvestotherealizationoftheinvitationtopraisebyassuming
theappropriateattitudetheybowdownandworship.
Theendtimeconflict,whichinvolvestheprostitute/beastpowersand
God'speople,focusesonthetrueobjectofadoration:(1)theseabeast,his
imageandmark(13:1517;lft20),or(2)God,theCreator(14:67,911).In
contrastwithahumanitythatturnsitsbackonGod,thetwentyfourelders
andthefourlivingcreaturesfalldownbeforeHimwhoisseatedonthe
throne.
VoiceFromtheThrone(vs.5)
An anonymous voice speaks from the throne. 31 This voice could be
attributedtoGodifitdidnotusethepossessive"our"("PraiseourGod,
26SecalsoIsa34:10.
27Thiscouldbefearedwhenoneknowsthatamortalwoundcanheal.
28"IntheGreekeachofthevirtueshereascribedtoGodisprecededbythedefinitearticle.This
suggeststhefullness,thesumtotal,ofeachattribute"(TheSDABibleCommentary7:871).
29Rev4:10;5:8,14;11:16.
30Cf.n.11.
31SotranslatesNIV.R.CLenski,TheInterpretationofJohn'sRevelation(Minneapolis,1963),539,
emphasizestheanonymouscharacterofthevoice.

212

all you his servants*').32 The purpose for observing the location of the
speakeristogivethecommandanauthorizedcharacter. 33
ThiscallisaddressedtoGod'sservants.Itistheonlyaddressindicated
inthishymnicsection.Charlesidentifiestheservantsasmartyrswhoare
nowinheaven,34ahypothesiswemustrejectonotherscripturalgrounds.In
10:7and11:18thetermdesignatestheprophets.In1:1Johnhimselfbears
thistitleandseemstoextendittobelievers.Thewordthenmayhavevarious
meaningsaccordingtoitscontext.
Here(19:5)onecouldthinkthatitdesignatesadistinctcategoryofGod
fearers,the"smallandgreat."Allthemoresoascertainmanuscriptsplace
"and" (kai) before "the Godfearing ones" (phoboumenoi).35 But this kai
could very well have an epexegetical function ("that is, to say") as its
absencedemonstratesinthemostimportantmanuscripts(forexample,"you
whofearhim[thatis,tosay],smallandgreat").Moreover"smallandgreat"
has never been used to designate a category of believers. However, S.
Lauchli"foundevidenceforacompoundstructureinthesehymnsinverses
67inwhichtheelementsofeachtrilogy(multitudes,waters,thunderpeals,
vs.6;rejoice,exult,giveglory,vs.7)seemtopresentseveralaspectsofa
samereality.37 Webelievethenthat"servants,""youwhofearhim,"and
"smallandgreat"designatethesamerealityof
peoples.
Whatisthisreality?WewouldquitewillinglygoalongwithP.Prigent
whorecognizesunderthistitlethebelieversofalltime. 38Indeedtheinvi
tationcarriestwoprecisionsofauniversalnature:"all"(pantes)and"small
andgreat" (mikroikaimegahi).39 InRevelation"itisassertedthatevery
Christianhasacallingtobeawitness,asaint,aservantofGodandmaybe
aprophet...andthesewordsimplyafaithfulnessthatcouldleadtomartyr
dom,'*statesPrigent.40
Wedonot,however,rejecttheideathatthetermmaydesignatethe
32Cf.Charles,TheRevelationofSt.JohnWithIntroduction,124;L.Bonnet,LeNouveau
Testament...(Lausanne,1876),377,attributesittothefourlivingbeings.
33R.A.Andereon,UnfoldingtheRevelation,8thed,rev.(MountainView,CA,1981),189,pointsout
inRevelationaconflictofauthorityinthethronemotif:throneofGod/throneofSatan.
34Charles,TheRevelationofSt.JohnWithIntroduction2:125.Butsuchahypothesisisbasedona
conceptofthestateofthedeadthatwedonotshare.
35ItwillberememberedthatinActsthe"Godfcareis"designateacategoryofproselytes.SeeRev
11:8wherethedistinctionismorenoticeable.
36QuotedbyC.Bnitsch,LoClonedeL'Apocalypse,LaboretFides(Gcneve,1966),303.
37Ochlos,hudafSs,brmiOSs(vs.6);chaovmen,agalliomen,aSsomen(vs.7).
38Prigent,L'ApocalypsedeSaintJean,281.
39Thislatterisfoundagainin19:18withthesameaccentonuniversality.
40Prigent,L'ApocalypsedeSaintJean,281.

213

TneTwoSuppers

angels.IntheOT,withwhichRevelationisimbued,theangelsarecalled
"ministersthatdohiswill"(Ps103:20,21).Psalm148callsthemtoworship
(vs.1).AccordingtoDaniel7:10theangelsserveandpraiseGod.These
heavenlybeingsarefoundnearthethroneofGodfromwhencethevoice
comes.41Finally,accordingtoRevelation22:8,9,theyareservantsofGod
inthesamewayasisJohnhimself.Theexpression"smallandgreat"could
conveythehierarchicalranksoftheangels.
Theuniversalnatureoftheproclamation,however,istooimportantto
belimitedtoonlyangels.Theterm"servants/'therefore,probablyincludes
believersaswellasangels,fortheentireuniverseisconcernedbythechoice
presentedtoeveryworshiperinRevelationGodorthebeastandhisimage.

LastNarrator(vss.68)

Aloudvoice,strengthenedbyreferencetooceansandthunder,extends
thefirstnarrator'sdeclarationsbyjustifyingthepraise.Thistimeattentionis
notdirectedtowardtheprostitute,buttowardtheLamb'sradiantbride.
Prigentpointsoutthedifferencebetweenthesetwoproclamations:
"Thefirstsongofpraisetogoforth...extolstheGodwhodemonstrateshis
justice in punishing Babylon. This cannot suffice. This worship cannot
satisfytheGodwhosejusticeisnotexhaustedinpunishment.Therefore,a
voicecomesfromthethronecallingforcontinualpraise.Thefaithfulmust
extol God more fittingly. In fact, their response surrounded by a more
pronouncedmajestythantheirfirstprayer,isgoingtocelebratetheGod
whosereignisgloriouslymanifestedinthesalvationofman." 42
Ofcourse,asPrigentsaid,thefaithfulhavejustreasontopraiseGod
theirsalvationisassured.Thatweadmit.Theuseofthefirstpersonplural
("our,"herrion)upholdssuchathesis(vs.6).Butletusnotice:
1.Asinverse1,thepowerofthevoice(vs.6)isgivenincomparative
terms(hffs,as"like,""whatseemedtobe").
2.ItispropertopraiseGodnotonlyforwhatHehasdoneforoneself,
butalsoforwhatHehasdonefortheweddingsupperandthebride.
3.The"our"(/i?m<7/i)ofverse6ismissinginimportantmanuscripts.
Toconcludetheseremarks,wesaythatpraisesuitsperfectlythe
41Theirserviceisevokedmorethan60timesinRevelation.
42Prigent,L'ApocalypsedeSaintJean,281.ForCorsini,L'Apocafypsemamtenant,25556,Ihe
differencebetweenthetwosongscorrespondstoadistinctiontypicalofJohnbetweentwo
economiesofsalvation.

214

TheTwoSuppers

believers because it concerns them, but it is not expressed by themor


rathernotyet.TheyareonlyinvitedwiththewholeuniversetopraiseGod.
Thesongofchapter19isnot,assomeconsiderit,ananswertothecall
of18:20"Rejoiceoverher,0heaven,0saintsandapostlesandprophets,
forGodhasgivenjudgmentforyouagainsther!"IfGodisadoredinheaven
(19:4),onearthitremainsuncertain;hence,thevoice'spowerincallingfor
praisetoGod.43Indeedthebeast,thefalseprophet,andthedragonhavenot
yet been destroyed. Only by faith can the servants of God join in this
invitation.Untiltheendofhistory,itisbyfaithonlythatthey
maysing.
Nevertheless,theirfaithisnotwithoutassurance.NotonlydidGod
judgethegreatprostitute(vs.2),butHehasalsomanifestedHisreign(vs.
6)andensuredtheweddingsupperoftheLamb(vs.7).
Let us consider these last two important pieces of information. The
lordship of God (vs. 6). Verse 6 accumulates concepts aimed at
emphasizingtheallpowerfulnessofGod.Thislordshiphasalreadybeen
confessedin11:15,17and12:10.Itsuggestsacompleteobedienceofthe
believerstoGod'swill.ItisthisunconditionalobediencethataffectsGod's
servants.
TheweddingsupperoftheLamb(vs.7).Thementioningofthewed
dingsupperoftheLambisunexpected.Johnwilldevelopthisthemein
chapter21.Heanticipatesthesubjecthere,possiblyasaparalleltothe
"greatsupperofGod"inverse17.
ThethemeofaweddingsupperisnotnewintheScriptures.Itisfamiliar
intheOTandfrequentintheparablesofJesusaboutthecomingkingdom.It
announcesthemuchawaitedreunionbetweenthechurchand
herBridegroom.44
OnlyinMatthew5:12isfoundasimilarinvitationtojoyandgaiety.
Thereitislinkedtothesufferingoftheprophetsandbelievers.Acoin
cidence?Thisthemeofsufferingisalsopresentinourtextinthe"Lamb"
titlethattheBridegroombears.Itwillremain"eternallytothechurchthat
shewasredeemedbyHispreciousbloodandonlybecauseofthiscanshe
appearatHissideasagloriouschurch."45
43AdichotomyissometimespresentinRevelationbetweenheavenandearth.In12:1012,forex
ample,astrongvoiceinvitesheaventobejoyfulbutwarnsearthofthehardshipsitawaits.
44Inaccordancewithancienttradition(seeR.H.Mouncc,TheBookofRevelation,NICNT[Grand
Rapids,1977},340),afterthebetrothal(2Cor11:2)andthepurifyingbath(Eph5:26)comes
thelongawaitedmarriagefeast.
45Bonnet,LeNouveauTestament...,378,n.3.

215

TheTwoSuppers

TheBride (vss.79).ShouldadistinctionbemadebetweentheBride
andtheguests?46 ShouldoneinsistontheprecisionsgiveninRevelation
21:2, 9, 10 where the New Jerusalem is designated as the Bride? 47 The
fluctuationsinthisimagerychargedlanguageusedforexpressingheavenly
realitiescauseustohesitate.
Lenski,forhispart,considersthattheBrideandtheguestsareidentical
astheparableevokesdifferentfacetsofthemysteryofsalvation. 48 Tobe
more precise, we could say that the term "bride/wife" expresses the
communalcharacterofthechurch.The"guests"orthe"friends"arethose
whoindividuallyhaverespondedtothecallofChrist.
Letusnoticethatthetextstatesthat"hisBridehasmadeherselfready
[etoimasenheaufen]"andatthesametimefinelinenwasgiven(edotht)her
towear.Thebrideparticipatesactivelyinherpreparation.Ofcourse,the
churchdoesnotputonherownworks.Theyaregiventoher.Butthegrace
ofChristdoesnotpermitthechurchtotakerefugeinpassiveness.Inthe
letterstothesevenchurches,theresponseofhimwhohearsisconstantly
solicited.Thethemeofobedienceandpersonalcommitmenttoperseverance
isomnipresentinRevelation.49
Thispowerfulannouncementisfullofpromise.Thereisnodelayinthe
accomplishmentofGod'splan.TheBrideisready.TheAlmightyhastaken
careoftheessentials.
Somefinditdifficulttoharmonizesuchadeclarationwiththedoctrine
of justification by faith.50 They see19:78 as being incontradiction with
statementssuchas6:11wherethewhiterobeisgiven.Also,thereisconsid
erablediscussiononwhatmeaningshouldbegiventodikaiffmata(righteous
deeds):justworks,worksofjustice,righteousacts,etc."Charlesregardsitas
aglossattachedtotheendofverse8.52
WhetherweresorttotheGreekortothecontext,wemustrecognizethat
obedienceisanapocalyptictheme.Verse8reallydeclares"thata
46Cf.Bamhouse,Revelation,AnExpositoryCommentary,352.
47Cf.TheSDABibleCommentary7:872.TherobeoftheBrideispure(katharon)likethegoldthat
makesuptheNewJerusalem(21:18,21).Thisisforusanormalcharacteristicofapocalyptic
writing.Cf.Mounce,TheBookofRevelation,341.
WLcosKi, The Interpretation ofJohn's Revelation, 542; also Asdersoa,Unfolaing the
Revelation,184.
49Cf.theuseofdouloi(servants)asadesignationforobedientbelievers;oncommitmenttoperse*
vcrancebyGod'struefollowers,see7:14;12:11,17;14:12;21:7
50D.Ford,Crisis2(Newcastle,CA,n.d.):693,iscicariyembarrassed.Unabletosituatehimselfin
thecontext,hecomesbacktoageneraldogmaticpointofview.
51Thevarietyoftranslationsisasgreatasthenumberofcommentaries.Cf.Bmtsch,LaClartedde
I'Apocafypse,307.
52Cf.R.H.Charies,TheRevelationofSt.JohnWithIntroduction,128:"acorrect
gloss,"216

TheTwoSuppers

transformedlifeistheproperresponsetothecalloftheheavenlybride
groom."53
Theblessing(vs.9).Fromheavenwecomebacktoearth.Johnhears
acommandtowrite.54Thehearingwaswonderful.Buttheimportantthingis
to be numbered among the chosen. This is why the echo of what is
proclaimedinheavennowtakestheformofapromise:"Blessedarethose
whoareinvitedtothemarriagesupperoftheLamb"(19:9).
Alltheimplicationsoftheprecedingpraisearesummarizedinonesen
tenceforthebelievers.Eventhoughthebelieversmaybesuffering,even
though the extent of the judgments pronounced on the great prostitute
frightensthem,theyalreadycanbecalledblessed,becausetheyareinvited.
totheweddingsupperoftheLamb.Thesewordsarecertain;theyarethe
verywordsofGod.

RiderandHeavenlyArmy
Thissectiontakesusbacktoheaven(vss.1116).Inanearliervision
Johnlookedthroughadoorinheaven(4:1);nowheseesallheavenopened
uponaglorioussceneapowerfulriderinterveningintheworldasaJudge.
ThereareveryfewBiblescholarswhodonotrecognizetheriderto
betheawaitedMessiah.
Thescene,however,issurprising. 55Christcomesforwar,butthereisno
battle.HebearsanamethatHealoneknows;yetheispresentedastheWord
ofGod.Hisrobeisdippedinblood,butcombathasnotyetbegun.Heisto
strikedownthenationswithasharpsword,butHedoesnotuseit 56Christ
appearslikeaRomangeneralonawhitehorse,celebratingHisvictoryeven
beforethebattlehasbeenengaged.57Theseconsiderationsleadustofocus
ourattentiononthetheologicalcontentsofthevision
ratherthanonitsscenicaspects.
Thevisionbelongstothegreatjudgmentcyclebeginninginchapter17
andendingwithchapter20.Lenskicorrectlypointsoutthattheevilpowers
aredestroyedinthereverseorderoftheirappearing.Indeedwe see the
dragonappearinchapter12,thetwobeastsinchapter13,andthe
53R.H.Mounce,TheBookofRevelation,340.
54Byan"angel"accordingtoRSV,NTV;theGreektextdoesnotspecify.Somereferto17:1;
othersto22:8,9;andstillothersgobacknofartherthanvs.5andthevoicefromthethrone.
Theoptionofanangelseemstobeconfirmedbythequalifiergiventothevisioninvs.10.
55Cf.Ford.Crisis2:697.
56SeeRev19:21,however.
57Cf.Alexander,L'Apocalypseversetparvelvet,338.

217

TheTwoSuppers

Babylon prostitute in chapter 17. The sequence reverses itself with the
destructionofBabylon(Rev1718),thenofthebeastanditsfalseprophet
(Rev19),andfinallythedragon(Rev20).58
IfRevelation17:14marksthebeginningofthejudgmentcycle,itmay
benoticedthattheMessiahdoesnotintervenedirectlyinthisaspectofthe
battle.Theprostituteistornapartbyherownlovers(17:16).Ultimately,
however,thebeast,thefalseprophet,andthedragonaredestroyedbythe
invisiblebutpowerfulhandofGodasisrecognizedbythepassiveformof
theverbs(19:20;20:10).
Withintheframeworkofastructuralanalysis, 59 wemaynotethatthe
figureoftheLambbelongstothesamelevelastheprostitute; 60theRider,to
thesameasthebeastandthefalseprophet; 61andHeaven,tothesameasthe
dragon.62 This means that the battle is situated at each of these levels
regardingtheclaimsofeachinvolvedparty.Thus,
1.ThejudgmentofBabylonestablishestheLambinHisrighttoredeem
(5:9,10) as opposed to the prostitute's claim over the witnesses of Jesus
(17:6).
2.Thejudgmentofthebeastandthefalseprophetestablishes"theWord
ofGod"inHisrighttoreignasopposedtotheclaimtosovereigntybythe
powersofthisworld,andthebeastandofthefalseprophet(19:1920).
3.ThejudgmentofthewickedestablishesGodinHisjusticeasopposed
toSatan'sclaimsoverthemartyrswhoarefaithfultothetestimonyofJesus
andtotheWordofGod(20:4).
Thisiswhatananalysisofthedetailsofthevisionconfirms.Mountedona
whitehorse,63theRidercomestojudgeandtofight(tomakewar).Thetwo
termsaresynonymous,64butmayemphasizetwoaspectsofthesamereality:
todefendhisown(judge),Hepushesbacktheadversary(fight). 65 In13:4
theworshipersask,"whocanfightagainst[the
58TheInterpretationofJohn'sRevelation,547.
59Cf.JCalloud,J.Delormc,J.P.Duplanticr,"L'ApocalypsedeJean:propositionspouruneanalyse
structurale,"iaApocafypsesettheologiedel'esperance,cd.L.Moulobou,LectioDivina95(Cerf,
Paris,1977),360.
60Rev17:14.
61Rev19:1921.
62Rev20:12,10;cf.inRev12:5theverticalmovementtowardGod.
63Opinionisdividedontherelationshipbetweenthisriderandtheonein6:2.Prigcnt,L
'Apocalypse4e5atfU/ea/t,291,equatesthemonthebasisoftheideaofjudgmentCharles,The
RevelationofSt.JohnHWiIntroduction,131,makesacleardistinction.D.Fordpointsoutthe
differenceinthe"crowns":Stephanasin6:2andaiaaematain19:12.Anyanalysiswilldependon
theinterpretationgiventothefiratrider.
64Cf.Rev19:2.
65Cf.Jacob,TheoloffedeI'AncienTestament,79.

218

TheTwoSuppers

beast]?"Theanswerisclear:Hewhofightswithjusticeagainstthosewho
givethemselvesovertoshamelessnessandworshipidols.Hefightswiththe
swordofhismouth(2:16).Hereistheideaofawaragainstunderlying
spiritualfoundations.
JesusistheAmen,thefaithfulandtruewitnesswhosewordissure
(3:14).Heconfrontsthefalseprophetwhosepromisesarenothingbutlies
(19:20).HiseyespenetratelikeblazingFire(19:12;cf.1:14).
OnHisheadaremanydiadems,royalcrownsandnotrewardsforthe
saints.66 Thislack of precisioncontrasts with thedragon'sclaimtoseven
(12:3)andtheleopardbeast'stoten(13:1).Isitunderstoodbythisthat,in
virtueofHisvictory,Christaloneisworthytoreignovertheworldand
.weartheroyalemblems?67
Theideaofanunlimitedsovereigntymayberetained 68 byevokinga
secretname.69Ofalltheproposedsolutions70weshallkeeptheonethatsees
inthename(knownbytherideraloneandbytheredeemed,2:17;
3:12)theverynameofGod:71Thenameexpressesabsolutelordshipofthe
crucifiedOneinwhombelievershaveplacedtheirtrust,asPhilippians
2:911sayssowell.
ChristisexpresslycalledtheWordofGod.Thistitledenotestheeffec
tivenessofthedivineintervention,itspower. 72 TheWordneverreturnsto
Godwithouthavingfirsttakeneffect,73andisnotofadifferentnature
thanGodHimself.74
TheJudgeiswearingarobedippedinblood. 75IsthebloodHisown,or
thatofthevanquished?Herethecommentatorsclash.Whileacknowledging
anallusiontoIsaiah63:16,E.CharpentieracceptsonlyasufferingChrist
andrefusestheidentificationofthebloodwiththatofHis
66Cf.TheSDABibleCommentary7:874.ThegloriousSonofmanwearsacrown(Stephanas)forHe
isthefirstvictorofevil(14:14).
67Cf,Johnson,Revelation,TheExpositor'sBibleCommentary12:574.
68Cf.Mounce,TheBookofRevelation,344.
fi9Charles,TheRevelationofSt.JohnWithIntroduction2:132,seeshereaninterpolationofthree
reasons:(1)Referencestoanamehasnoplaceinadescription.(2)Theunknowncharacterof
thenameiscontradictedinthenextverse.(3)Omittingthisversepermitsamorebalanced
Greekconstruction.WithPrigcnt,L.'ApocalypsedeSaintJean,293,weshallemphasizethe
insufficiencyofthesearguments.Itisclearthattheruptureofthelayoutisnotindicativeofa
gl06S.Cf.VS.14.

TOCf.R.H.Mounce,34445;TheSDABibleCommentary7:87374.
71WithCullmann,Prigent,Mounce.
72Cf.Hcb4:12andMounce,TheBookofRevelation,346.
73Cf.Isa55:11.
74John1:1,14;1John1:1.
75"Sprinkled"saysD.G.BamhouscaccordingtoAT.RobinsoninRevelation:AnExpository
Commentary(GrandRapids,1982),358.
219

TheTwoSuppers

enemies.76OtherssayitcannotbeChrist'sbloodasthebattlehasnotyet
takenplace.77
WeagreewithR. H. Mouncethatwe shouldnotmisunderstandthe
natureofapocalypticwritings.HereChristisvictoriousevenbeforebattleis
engaged."Thementionofthebloodappearsnowhereelse,andthecombat
takesplacewiththeswordofHismouth.Thepurposeofthebloodonthe
robeisto"symbolizehisvictoryinthecomingconflict." 79
Theheavenlyarmiesarelinkedwiththisvictory.Inaccordancewith
scripturalanalogy,itcouldbeconcludedthatangelscomposethem. 80 But
somehesitatetolinkangelswiththehorsesofvictory 81 andtoseethem
dressedinwhitepurelinen,adistinctivecharacteristicofsaints(vs.8).Still
others,using17:14asareferenceandotheranalogies, 82recognizethe
martyrs.83
InthisverseChristisalsocalledKingofkingsandLordoflords.Christ
andthechurcharesointimatelyunitedinthesamesufferingandthesame
fightintheRevelation84thatitisnotsurprisingtoseetheredeemedlinked
withChrist'svictory.Thisis,ofcourse,understandableinapocalypticlan
guagewhichoftenanticipateschronologicalelements.TTieangelsandthe
redeemed are not mutually exclusive concepts in an interpretation of the
heavenlyarmies.Wehaveseenthattheyareconcernedtogetherwiththe
"hallelujah"andarebothcoworkersorcoservants(sundouloi).
AttheendofthissectionthreeimagesaretakenfromtheOTto
describethecombatcommandedbytheLeaderoftheheavenlyarmy(vs.
15):
ThesharpswordissuingfromHismouthtostrikedownthenationsisan
allusiontoIsaiah11:3,4.Itplacesusimmediatelyinajudgmentcontext. 85
ReferencetotherodofironistakenfromPsalm2:9.Thepsalmkeeps
76UrnLecturedeL'Apocafypse,CahicrsEvangile,11(Ccrf,Paris):31.
77Charics,TheRevelationofSt.JohnWithIntroduction2:135,allthemoresohesaid,astheaccom
panyingarmiesarcdressedinfinepurewhitelinen.HeconsidersittobethebloodoftheParthes'
kingsandtheirarmies.
78TheBookofRevelation,345.
79Ibid.
80Ps103:21;148:2;Matt24:31;Luke2:13;2Thcss1:7,etc.Cf.Lcnski,TheInterpretation...,55455.
81Cf.Johnson,Revelation,575.
82Foid,Crisis,2:700;cf,Rev13:6;Eph2:6.
83Charles,TheRevelationofSt.JohnWithIntroduction2:135;Mounce,346.
84Cf.Rev12wheretheSonandthewoman'sotherposterityaredifferent,butstilltheobjectofthe
sameassaultsonthepartofthedragon.
85Secalso2Thcss2:8.

220

TheTwoSuppers

usfromoverspiritualizingthecombat,foritdealswitharealdestruction
ofthenations.86
FinallywiththewinepressofthejuryofthewrathofGodwearesent

backtoIsaiah63:3;Joel3:13;andpossiblyJeremiah13:13,14,allthreetexts
speakingofaradicalanddefinitivejudgment. 8'Thislastimageishammered
outinGreekwithfourgenitives:ofthewinepressofthefuryofthewrathof
God.Itemphasizesthesolemnityandtheabsolutenessof
Mt

theexecution.
EventhoughtheMessiahisaccompaniedbyarmies,Healonetreads
thewinepress,rulesorstrikesalone.Healonedispensesjustice.Healone
holdsthepositionofadivineJudge,forHeisKingofkingsandLordof
lords.

ThedebateoverwhereHebearshisnamematterslittle; 90 theessential
pointisthenamewhich"onceagaininsistsonthedivinenatureofChrist
judge:IsHenottheveryWordofGod?"91
Hereinverse16wehavethepurposeofthevision:toestablishChristin
HisrighttojudgebyvirtueofHisdivinenature.Andjustliketheredeemed
whoareassociatedwithHimin20:4,here(vs.14)theyfollowHiminHis
workagainstthosewhohadaseemingvictoryoverthem(17:6).

TheGreatSupperofGod
Thenextscenebringsusbacktoearth(vss.1721).Anangelstanding
inthesuncallsinaloudvoiceforthefowlstocometoagruesomesup
per,tosaytheleast.Thepresenceoftwomealsinthesamechapterreminds
usthatnoonecanescapemakingachoice(vss.9,17).Eitherwerespondto
thegraciousinvitationtotheweddingsupperoftheLamb,orwenumber
ourselveswithHisopponentsandarewrittenonthemenuofscavengers.
Thisterrifyingimageofbirdsdevouringhorsesandhumansbringsto
86Cf.Ladd,quotedbyMouncc,TheBookofRevelation,34647.
87SeealsoRev14:10,19,20.
88Cf.Bamhouse,Revelation,359.
89CS.Pnyat,L'ApM:atypsedeSaintJean,297:"Itishewhoistheultimateexpressionofthewrathof
God.withthedifferencefromtheJewishapocalypticandtheQumrantextswheremilitary
assistancefromthefaithfulisexpected."SeealsoJohnson,Revelation,577.
90Thetheoriesarenumerous.SecLenski,TheInterpretationofSt.John'sRevelation,556;Charies,
TheRevelationofSt.JohnWithIntroduction,137,thatleadsuptoachildishvision,M.R.Vin
centalreadyinWordStudiesintheNewTestament,2nded.(McLcan,VA,1888),63738.
91Pngcat,L'ApocofypsedeSaintJean,297.
92Thepurposeofhispositionistorepresenttheuniversalnatureofhisintervention.Allthebirds
hearhim.Cf.Mounce,TheBookofRevelation,348.E.B.Elliotsuggeststhatitexpressesthe
supremeroyaltythatdictatesthesewords.HoraeApocatypdcae4(London,1862):53.

221

TheTwoSuppers
mindabattlefield(vs.18).Itissituatedintheinverseorderofeventsbecausethe
battledoesnottakeplaceuntilverse19.InOrientalthought,becomingfoodfor
animalsofpreywasthelowestdepthofshame. 93Thisisthecursethathangsover
thosewhodisobeyGod(Deut 28:26).Theywillhavenoburial.Theimagery is
drawn from Ezekiel 39:1720. It reminds us that God's calls should be taken
seriously,andthatajudgmentwillindeedtakeplace.
D.G.Barnhousesaysthatthefiverepetitionsoftheword"flesh"suggestthat
manisbeingpunishedforhavingwalkedaftertheflesh. 94 Butfleshinaspiritual
senseisnotaJohanninetheme.Allmenareconcernedwhatevertheirrankorrace.
Itisnotaquestionofapurelyspiritualfight, 95eventhoughthecombatisnot
reported.Thereferencesaretoorealistic,andtheentirethemeisdevelopedaround
thedefinitivedistructionofthepowersofevil,andasverse18pointsout,ofthose
wholentthemtheirsupport.Thesearmiesareassembledaswerethesupportersof
HerodandPilate.96Thekingsandtheleadersdonotrepresentanyparticularpeople,
butallevilpowers.97
Thebeastandthefalseprophetarethrownaliveintothelakeoffire.AsEnoch
andElijahwenttoheavenalive,sothesetwoarethrown"alive"intothelakeoffire.
"TogodownintoSheolaliveintheOTistobestruckwithaviolentorpremature
death(Num16:30,33;Ps55:16)."98Themain
pointofthemessageseemstofocusonthefinaldestructioninfireandsulphur"of:
1.Thebeast,whoserelationshipwiththebeastsofDaniel7 100andwhoseactions
defineitasapoliticalreligiouspower(Rev13:110).
2.Thefalseprophet,likenedtothesecondbeastof13:1118 101 whosefeatures
pointoutthereligiouscharacterofthefirstbeastinitsactionagainstGod(13:6,12
14).ro2Alteregoofthefirstbeast, 103itisthewitnessofallfalsereligionsthatturnthe
worshipersawayfromobeyingthe
93Cf.L.Bonnet,LeNouveauTestament...,380,n.5.
94Revelation,AnExpositoryCommentary,36061.
95WithR.H.Mouncc,TheBookofRevelation,349.
96CfLuke23:12;Acts4:25,28;Ps2.
97Cf.thetenhornsofthedragonin12:3.
98Prigent,L'ApocalypseaeSaintJean,299,who,however,makesadistinctionbetweendeathbythe
swordanddeathinGehenna.Toustheresultsseemtobethesame.
99Thereferencetosulphurgivesafoulsmellingaspecttothescene.
100Cf.Rev13:2.
101Cf.Lenski,TheInterpretationofSt.John'sRevelation,andPrigent,L'ApocalypsedeSaintJean.
102Thefalseprophetrepresentstheroleoffalsereligioninpersuadingmantoworshiptheanti.Christian
power."Mounce,TheBookofRevelation,34950.
103Prigent,298.

222

TheTwoSuppers

trueGod tomakethembecomedisciplesofthebeastand
Satan.
Onseeingsuchadazzlingvictoryandtheestablishment
of Christ in His dignity as King of kings, on hearing the
announcement of the end of infernal powers and the
proclamation of the victory of the redeemed, the reader is
prompted to join John and the heavenly beings in bowing
downandworshiping.Unitinghisweakvoicewiththatofthe
powerful thunders, he echoes the heavenly invitation by
proclaiming,Hallelujah!

223

^ChapterVn^The
Millennium
JoelBadina
EditorialSynopsis.Theeschatologicalfeaturesofseveralbiblicaldoctrinesf'cometotheir
fruitioninthemillennium,theprophecyofJohnfoundinRevelation^':20.Suchsubjectsas
thesecondcomingofChrist,death(first/second),resurrec>tion(righteous/unrighteous),
judgment(millennialreview/executive),destruction
ofthelost(includingSatanandfallenangels),andthenewearth(newJerusalem)';:form
integralaspectsofthisperiod.
:';lProbablynootherprophecyinRevelationhasbeenthesubjectofmoredis^
agreement,norhasanyprophecyimpactedonsomanyChristiansandcommu^nions,
affectingtheirreligiousviewsandactions.'.Theauthorsurveysthethreemajor
interpretationsChristianscontinuetohold^onthissubject.Thesearelabeledgenerally
accordingtotherelationshipthe
millenniumisgiveninconnectionwithChrist'sadvents:(1)Premillennialism";Christ's
returnprecedesandinitiatestheonethousandyears.(2)PostmUlennial
tsmChrist'srctwafollowstheonethousandyears.(3)Amillenmalismtheone,

thousandyearssymbolizestheChristianErabetweenChrist'stwoadvents.
Premillenialismitselfdevelopedthreedifferentforms(dispensational,historic,
heavenly).Theauthoranalyzesthefirsttwointerpretations,contrastingthemwith
thethird,orAdventust,viewwhichisbrieflysummarizedfromtheprophecyand
otherbiblicaldatathatbuttressRevelation20.TheauthordesignatestheAdventist
viewasa"heavenlypremillennialism"inasmuchasthebiblicalpassagespointtothe
millennialreignofChristandtheredeemedastakingplaceinheavenincontrast
toallotherpremillennialpositionsthatlocateitontheearthinitspresentsincursed
condition.

ChapterOutline
I.Introduction
II.MajorInterpretations
III.AdventistInterpretation
IV.TheologicalMeaning

r225

TneMillennium

Introduction
Krelation20:110,whichdealswithaonethousandyearperiod:ommonly
knownas"themillennium,"isanimportantpassage
hathasgreatlyinfluencedChristiansintheireschatology."Systems
ofeschatologyhaveoftenbeenidentifiedintermsofthewaytheytreatthe
questionofthemillennium."1Thesubjecthasalsoinfluencedtheideological
andpoliticalviewsofbothChristiansandatheists.Forexample,Marxism
wasakindofsecularmiltennialism. 2ThepastpoliticalstanceoftheUnited
StatestowardthenationofIsrael,theArabnations,andRussiawasbasedin
part upon one specific kind ofpremillennial interpretation of the book of
Revelation.
More and more historians and sociologists are studying the relation
betweensocietyandtheconceptofthemillenniumamongbothChristian
and nonChristian peoples. 'At least three thousand studies of millenari
anismhavebeenprintedinthiscentury."3
Theword millennium isnotitselfabiblicalterm,however,butcomes
fromtheLatin mille (thousand)and annum (year).Intheologicalparlance,
thewordmillenniumreferstotheonethousandyearsmentionedsixtimes
inRevelation20.Thisistheonlybiblicaltextthatmentionsthisparticular
onethousandyearperiod.4
Revelation20:110isdescribedas"oneofthemostdebatedpassagesin
theWordofGod.'*5"Judgingfromtheamountofattentiongivenbymany
writerstothefirsttenversesofchapter20,onewouldJudgeittobethe
singlemostimportantsegmentofthebookofRevelation.
Thepassagehasgeneratedconsiderablediscussionamongexegetes.
1GeoryE.Ladd,ACommentaryontheRevelation(GrandRapids,1972),259.
2R.G.Clousc,"Millennium,Viewsof,"EvangelicalDictionaryofTheology,cd.WalterA.Elwell
(GrandRapids,1984),718.
3 Hillel Schwartz, "Millcnarianism," The Encyclopedia ofReligum, cd. Mircca Eliadc (New York,
1987),9:530.SomepoliticalandsociologicalaspectsofmillenarianisminEuropearedescribedby
Norman Conn in The Pursuit of the Millennium: Revolutionary Millenarians and Mystical
AnarchistsoftheMiddleAges,rev.andexpandeded.(NewYork,1970).Thenotionofmillennium
hasinfluencedthementalityofAmericans.SeeM.D.BiyantandD.W.Dayton,eds.,TheComing
Kingdom:EssaysinAmericanMillennialismandEschatology(Banytown,NY,1983);
andTimothyP.Weber,LivingintheShadowoftheSecondComing:AmericanPremillemualism,
18751982, enlarged ed. (Grand Rapids, 1983); and J. Bettis and S. K. Johanncsen, eds., The
ReturnoftheMillennium(Banytown,NY,1984).
4TheonethousandyearsmentionedinPs90:4and2Pet3:8arcnotreferencestotheapocalyptic
millennium.
5WilburM.Smith,"Revelation,"TheWycliffeBibleCommentary(Chicago,1962),1519.
6RobertH.Mounce,TheBookofRevelation,MCNT,17(GrandRapids,1977),351.

226

TheMillennium
InthedifferenttheologicalsystemsoftheChristianchurchesitislinkedontheone
handtoindividual andcosmiceschatology(death,SecondComing,resurrection,
finaljudgment),andontheotherhandtoecclesiologyandrelatedtopics(church,
Israel,kingdomofGod).Sincethereisnoagreementbetweenthechurchesonthese
issues,thereisnoagreementeitheramongexegetesontheinterpretationofthistext.
"The interpretation of this chapter has been a source of great debate and even
conflictinthechurch."7

MajorInterpretations
ThreedifferentinterpretationsofRevelation20havebeengiventhroughoutthe
20centuriesofChristianity.8
Amillennialism
Amillennialismhasbeen themostwidelyheldviewthroughoutmost ofthe
ChristianEra.ThroughtheinfluenceofAugustine(d.AD.430)amillennialism
was popularized, eventually becoming the official view of the Roman Catholic
Church and the Orthodox Church. Conservative Protestant reformed groups,
includingmanyPresbyterians,arealsoamillennialists.
A symbol. The amillennialist interpretation is mostly symbolic, not literal.
Amillennialists do not interpret Revelation 20 as referring to a future, literal
thousand year reign of Christ after His coming. They believe instead that the
millenniumrepresentstheerabetweenthefirstandsecondadventsofChrist.The
bindingofSatanisasymbolwhichmeansthatSatanhasbeendefeatedbyChrist
(Matt12:29;Luke10:1718,John12:3132);hisactivityisreduced(nottotally),so
hecannotpreventthepreachingofthegospel.
Themillennialreignisnowforthechurchonearth,whichisthekingdomof
God."ThekingdomofGodisnowpresentintheworldasthevictoriousChristis
rulinghispeoplebyhisWordandSpirit."9Thefirst
7Ladd.
8ThesearegenerallyclassifiedinrelationshiptoChrist'ssecondadventas(1)premiilennialism
theAdventprecedestheonethousandyears;(2)postmillennialismtheAdventfollowstheone
thousandyears;(3)amillennialismnomillenniumassuch;theonethousandyears
symbolizestheerabetweenthefirstadventandSecondAdvent.Formoreinformation,see
RobertG.douse,ed.,TheMeaningoftheMillennium:FourVwws(DownersGrove,IL,1977);
andMillardJ.Erickson,ContemporaryOptionsinEschatology:AStudyofsheMillennium
(GrandRapids,1977).
9AnthonyA.Hockema,TheBibleandtheFuture(GrandRapids,1979),174.
227

TheMillennium

resurrectionsymbolizeseitherthenewbirthoffaithinChrist,orbaptism.10
But some amillennialists believe that Revelation 20 must be viewed as
referringtothechurchtriumphant,namely,thesoulsofdeceasedbelievers
whoreignnowwithChristinheaven.Theyinterpretthefirstresurrectionas
theascenttoheavenofthesoulsofbelievers. 1i
Finally, amillennialists do not view Revelation 19 and 20 as a
chronological sequence. Chapters 2022 are believed to form the last of
seven sections into which they divide the book of Revelation. Since the
sections are viewed as being chronologically parallel to each other,
"Revelation 20:1 takes us back once again to the beginning of the New
Testamentera."12 Asaresult,themillenniumismadetooccurbeforethe
SecondAdvent,notafter.
Rebuttal. The amillennialist interpretation of Revelation 20 is dis
missedbypremillennialists(SeventhdayAdventistsincluded)forseveral
reasons.First,theGreektermezesan(cometolife)inverse4referstothe
literalresurrectionofthebody,asitdoesalsoinverse5,andnottobaptism
ortosoulsinheaven.Second,Satanisnotyetbound,butisveryactiveon
earthduringtheChristianEra(cf.Rev12:12).Third,premillennialistsread
chapters1920asachronologicalsequence,andbelieve,therefore,thatthe
millennium will occur after, not before, the Second Advent. R)urth, the
historicalargumentisonthesideofpremillennialists:TheChristiansofthe
firstthreecenturieswerenotamillennialists,butpremillennialists. 13Theshift
frompremillennialismtoamillennialisminthefifthcenturywasnotdueto
exegeticalreasons:
The history of interpretation would suggest that any interpretation of
Revelation20otherthanthenatural one[i.e.,premillennialism]arises not
frominductiveexegeticalstudies,butfromtheologicalpresuppositionsofan
antimillenariancharacter.Thefirstantimillenariansdisparagedthenatural
interpretationofRevelation,notforexegeticalreasonsbecausetheythought
thebookdidnotteachamillennium,butfortheologicalreasonsbecausethey
didnotlikemillennialdoctrine.
10R.Kuehner,"MillenarianismintheBible."NewCatholicEncyclopedia(1967),9:852.
11ThisviewpiesbackpartlytoAugustine(seeHockcma,183),butwasfullydevelopedforthefirst
timeinthesixteenthcenturybytheJesuitRibcira(seeAlanJohnson,"Revelation,"The
Expositor'sBibleCommentary(GrandRapids,1981],12:579).
12Hoekema,227.
13"DuringthefirstthreecenturiesoftheChristianEra,premillennialismappearstohavebeenthe
dominantcschatologicalinterpretation.AmongitsadherentswerePapias,Irenaeus,Justin
Martyr,Tertullian,Hippolytus,Methodius,CommodianusandLactantius"(RobertClouse,
"Introduction,"inRobertdouse,cd.,TheMeaningoftheMillennium:FourViews(Downers
Giwc,IL,1977|,9).
14GeorgeE.Ladd,CrucialQuestionsAbouttheKingdomofGod(GrandRapids,1952),149,
emphasisours.

228

TheMillennium

According to Jean Danielou, the Hellenist converts who


rejectedthemillenariandoctrineintotointhethirdcenturyeither
impugnedthecanonicityofthebookofRevelation,likeGaios,or
condemned literal interpretation of the text, like Origen. Like
Tyconiusandlater,Augustinetheysawthemillenniumasthe
timeofthechurch.15
Postmillennialism. In a sense postmillennialists are social
optimists.Theybelieve(sincetheseventeenthcentury)thatthe
preaching of the gospel and social reforms will extend the
kingdomofGodintheworld.Asaresult,thewholeworldwillbe
graduallyChristianizedandconverted,andtherewillbealong
periodofrighteousnessandpeacecalledthemillennium.Atthe
closeofthisperiod,Christwillcomeback.16
There has been little postmillennial emphasis among
Christiansinthiscentury.Twoworldwarsandtheadventofthe
nuclear age havepersuadedmany that societyis not becoming
better.17 Therefore,thedebateoverRevelation20inthiscentury
hasbeenmostlybetweenamillennialistsandpremillennialists.
Premillennialism
Wemaydescribeathirdviewaspremillennialism(sometimes
designated millennialism, chiliasm, or millenarianism).
Premillennialistsbelievethatthemillenniumwilltakeplaceafter
Christ's return. The early Christians and Church Fathers of the
firstthreecenturieswerepremillennialists.Premillennialismwas
officially replaced by amillennialism in the Roman Catholic
Churchinthefifthcentury.Itrevivedagainintheseventeenth
century among some Protestants. There are three varieties of
premillennialism.
Dispensational premillennialism. The major view in the
United States is dispensational premillennialism, or
dispensationalism for short.18 Dispensationalism is an
interpretation that appeared in England and Ireland in the
nineteenthcentury.ItisheldbymanyconservativeBaptistsand
independent, fundamentalist churches. Dispensationalism
influenceslargenumbersof
15JeanDanielou,TheTheolofyofJewishChristianity(London,1974),378.
16LoraineBoettner,"Postmillennialism,"inTheMeaningoftheMillennium,cd.
RobertG.Clouse(DownersGrove,IL,1977),117.
17Nevertheless,postmillennialismisstillpresentforinstanceinbothprocess
theologyandthetheologyofhope.SecBernardRamm,TheEvangelicalHeritage
(Waco.TX,1973),138.Itisalsopresentindominiontheology,accordingto
RoyZuck,BasicBibleInterpretation(Whealon,IL,1991).232.
18InBuropedispensationalismisnotaspopularasitisinAmerica.Averyinfluential
contemporaryAmericandispensationalistisJohnF.Watvoord,longtimepresident
ofDallasTheologicalSeminary.Hehaspenned,amongmanybooks,The
MillennialKingdom(GrandRapids,1959).

229

TheMillennium

peopleintheUnitedStates,beingtaught,forexample,inmillionsofcopies
ofHalLindsey'sTheLateGreatPlanetEarth(Zondervan,1970)thathave
beensold.
Dispensationalism is actively promoted by numerous nondenomina
tionalBiblecollegesandseminariessuchasDallasTheologicalSeminary,
byTVandradiopreachers,bypublishinghousessuchasMoodyPressand
ZondervanPublishingHouse,andbythedistributionofthepopularScofield
Bible.
Dispensationalists are pretribulationists; that is, they teach that the
churchwillbesecretlyrapturedtoheavenbeforethegreattribulation.The
rapture of the church is imminent; it can happen at any moment now.
Duringthesevenyearsofthetribulation(theseventiethweekofDaniel9
projectedtotheendoftheage)theJewswillbepersecutedbytheanti
christ.AlltheJewswillacceptChristandwillbecomeGod'speopleagain.
DispensationalistsinterpretRevelation20asaliteralreignonearthof
theJews.DuringthemillenniumtheJewswillruletheungodlynations.The
Temple will have been rebuilt in Jerusalem and the sacrifices restored
duringtheprevioussevenyears.Manydispensationalistsbelievethatthe
churchwillremaininheavenfromthebeginningofthetribulationuntil
aftertheendofthemillennium.Otherslocatethechurchonearthduringthe
millennium.19
ThepresentchurchageislookeduponasonlyaparenthesisinGod's
plan;therealpeopleofGodaretheJews.Dispensationalistsbelievethatthe
OTpropheciestoIsraelaboutanearthlykingdomwereunconditional;
therefore,theseprophecieswillbefulfilledliterally to theJewsduringthe
millennium.
Asaresultofthiskindofhenneneutic,dispensationalistsfindreference
tothemillennialkingdominmanytextsofthe01^whichiswhytheycan
give manyspecifics on theway lifewill be during the millennium. Dis
pensationalism gives a futurist interpretation to the book of Revelation.
Chapters23portraythesevenliteralchurchesinJohn'sdayortheseven
agesofchurchhistory,butalmostalltherestofthebookisabouteventsto
happen shortly before the Second Advent. Thus chapters 45 depict the
futureraptureofthechurch,andchapters618portrayafuture3*/2yearsof
Jewish evangelism, 3^2 years of great tribulation and the wrath of God
againsttheungodly.
19Walvoordteachesthatthechurchwillbeonearthduringthemillennium,following(hetribulation
period.

230

TheMillennium

Politically, dispensationalists support Israel against the Arab nations


andRussia,whotheyexpecttowagewaragainstit;Armageddonwillbea
realwar.20Inthisconnectionisdispensationalistemphasisthatwearenow
intheverylastdays.Theyseesignsofthetimesinpoliticaleventssuchas
thebirthofthenationIsraelin1948,andhertakingofJerusalemin1967,
theoilcrisisofthe1970s,andthegrowingpoweroftheEuropeanCommon
Market.Afewhavehadatendencytosetdatesfortheend,usually
inthenextcomingyears.
Historicpremillennialism. Anotherformofpremillennialismissome
timesdesignatedhistoricpremillennialism,becauseitisheldthatthiswas
theviewtaughtbytheeartychurch. 21Nevertheless,itmustbeobservedthat
modemhistoricpremUlennialistsarefuturistsintheirinterpretationofthe
bookofRevelation,whereastheChristiansofthefirstthreecen
f\f>

turieswerehistoricists.Sincethe1950s,moreandmoreevangelicalshave
abandoneddispensationalismandhaveturnedtohistoricpremillennialism.
Like dispensationalists, historic premillennialists believe in a future
kingdomofChristonearthduringthemillennium.Butincontrastwithdis
pensationalists,historicpremillennialistsfindfewerallusionstothemillen
niumintheOT;therefore,theydonotdescribethemillennialkingdomin
detail.TheydonotviewthemillenniumasessentiallyJewish,evenifthey
beUevethatallliteralIsraelwillbesaved.Themillennialkingdomonearth
willbeforboththechurchandtheJews,andbothwillrulethenations.
Exponentsofthispositionareposttribulationists,thatis,theyteachthat
thechurchwillgothroughthefinaltribulationandwillbepersecutedbythe
antichrist. Theydo not believethat theend is imminent, but impending:
Severalmajoreventsmusthappenbeforetheend.Finally,they do notset
datesfortheend.
20Sec DwightNelson,ArmageddonNow!ThePremiOenarian ResponsetoRussiaand IsraelSince
1917(GrandRapids,1977);andJohnF.Watvoord,Armageddon,OHandtheMiddleEastCrisis:
WhattheBibleSaysAbouttheFutureoftheMiddleEastandtheEndofWestcmCivilization,rev.
ed.(Grand Rapids,1990).Forthe influence ofdispensationalpremillennialismupontheforeign
affairs of US. President Ronald Reagan, see K. L. Woodward, "Arguing Armageddon," in
Newsweek,November5,1984,91.
21AmillenniatistsandpremillennialistsdebateovertheChurchFathersofthesecondandthirdcen
turies, because eachgroupwantstoclaim the earlyfathers andtherefore the historicalargu
mentonits side.Usually amillcnnialists denythat theearly church wasprcmillennialist,but
their argumentsarenot valid.The leadingexponent of historicpremillennialismin the second
halfofthiscenturywasGeorgeE.Ladd,ofFullerTheologicalSeminary.Anexpositionofhis
viewisinLadd,"HistoricPremillennialism,"inTheMeaningoftheMillennium:FourViews,ed.
RobertG.Clousc(DownersGrove,IL,1977),1740.
22 For a brief description of the historicist, futurist, and preterist/historicalcritical "schools" of
prophetic interpretation, see Revelation Symposium, Book 1, DARCOM Series, vol. 6 (Silver
Spring,MD:BiblicalResearchInstitute,1991),47,17576.

231

TheMillennium
SeventhdayAdventistpremillennialism.23Adventisfcsarcprcmillennialists
inorientationbutdifferfromthetwootherviewsonimportantpoints. 24Adventists
interpretRevelation20:46asChrist'smillennialreignwiththeredeemedinheaven,
not on earth. They believe that the teaching of the early Church Fathers of a
kingdom on earth was false due to the influence of extracanonical Jewish
apocalypses. This erroneous view of an earthly kingdom is the basis of
amillennialism, postmillennialism, dispensationalism, and modem socalled
historicpremillennialism.
Anothermajordifference isthatAdventistsfollowthehistoricistmethodof
interpretingthebookofRevelation,thegeneralProtestanthermeneuticduringthe
sixteenth to the nineteenth centuries. Consequently, they see Revelation 418
unrollingacross theChristianEra andnot as covering the last seven years just
beforeChristcomesinglory.
SeventhdayAdventistsdonotbelievethatallliteralJewswillbesaved,nordo
theyseeanythingJewishinRevelation20.
The major emphasis in the Adventist doctrine of the millennium is on the
prophecy'steachingofjudgment,notonapoliticalkingdomandruleof
23Aselectedbibliography, in analphabeticalorder,on theSeventhdayAdventist interpretationof
Rev 20follows:RoyAllanAnderson, Unfoldingthe Revelation, rev.cd. (Mountain View,CA.
1974),19098.SamueleBacchiocchi, TheAdventHopeforHwnanHopelessness (BerrienSprings,
MI:BiblicalPerspectives,1986),chap.15.RobertWilliamDoncsky,TheDevelopmentofthe
SeventhdayAdventistConcept of the Millennium,18401850" (AndrewsUniversity, Berrien
Springs, MI:School ofGraduateStudies,1977).Arthur J.Fcrch,"The Millennium,AGolden
AgeonEarthOrinHeaven?"Ministry,May1977,3235.JcnyGladson,"WilliamMillerand
theTriumphofPremillennialism," Adventist Review, November 9,1989,1012.Id., "The Sig
nificanceoftheMillennium,"AdventistReview,November16,1989,1415.HansK.LaRondelle,
"TheOne ThousandYearsof Revelation 20," Ministry, September1982,1214. Id., "The Mil
lennium:ItsOldTestamentRoots," Ministry,November1982,1012.Id.,"TheMillennium:A
RevelationofGod'sCharacter,"Ministry,January1983,79.C.McrvynMaxwell,GodCares2
(Boise,ID,1985):481503.SeventhdayAdventistsBelieve(Washington,DC:MinisterialAsso
ciation,1988),chap.26.R.L.Odom,"WheretheRedeemedWillSpendtheMillennium,''/iew'w
andHerald, March25,1965,78. F.D.Nichol,ed., "Revelation," TheSDABible Commentary,
rev.ed.,vol.7(Washington, DC, 1980),87788,98687.SeventhdayAdventistsAnswer Ques
tionsonDoctrine(Washington,DC, 1957), chaps. 3739.Siegfried H.Horn,ed., SDA Bible
Dictionary,rev.ed.(Washington,DC,1979),s.v."Millennium."DonF.Neufeldetal.,eds.,SDA
Encyclopedia, rev. ed. (Washington, DC, 1976), s.v. "Millennium" and "Premillennialism."
UriahSmith, DowelandtheRevelation(BattleCreek,MI,1897),68797.KennethA.Strand,
"WhattheMillenniumMeanstoMe,"AdventistReview,March12,1987,1011.RobinTheobald,
"SeventhdayAdventistsand theMillennium," inMichaelHill, cd.,A SociologicalYearbookof
Religionin Britain (London. 1974),11131.N. GordonThomas,"Our Millennial Heritage,"
Ministry, January1972. 2931.EllenG.White, TheGreatControversy (Mountain View,CA,
1911),chap.61.
24Theystronglyrejectdispensationalpremillennialism.Secforinstance,SamueleBacchiocchi,Hal
Lindsey'sPropheticJigsawPuzzle:FivePredictionsThatFailed!(BerrienSprings,MI,1985);
Hans K. LaRondelle, The Israel of God in Prophecy: Principles of Prophetic Interpretation
(Berrien Springs, MI, 1983); id., Chariots of Salvation: The Biblical Drama of Armageddon
(Washington,DC,1987).

232

TheMillennium

theJewsand/orthechurchoverthenations.Finally,itistaughtthatno
humanbeing(no"nations")willbealiveonearthduringthetimeofthemil
lennium.ThesedifferencesbetweentheAdventistinterpretationofRevela
tion20andtheothertwoformsofpremillennialismareessential,basic.
BecauseoftheimportanceofthedoctrineofthemillenniuminSeventhday
Adventistthought,theyhavebeencalledamillennialchurch. 25Historically,
itiswellknownthatinthenineteenthcenturyAdventists"reviv[ed]thecon
ceptofaheavenlymillenniumaftertheSecondAdvent." 26
EffectsofViewsonChristianThought
ThesewaysinwhichChristiansinterpretRevelation20influencetheir
thoughtandaction.Berkouwerstates,"Obviouslyone'sviewofthethou
sandyears of Revelation20 is intimatelyconnected with the rest of his
eschatology.Howhethinksofthispassagegivesaspecificcolorandstruc
turetohisexpectation."27
For example, amillennialists and postmillennialists are more socially
optimisticthanpremillennialistsandaremoreconcernedwithpoliticaland
socialissues.28Whereas,premillennialistsdonotbelievethatthesocietyand
theworldarebecomingbetter,butworse.Thisaffectstheirviewofpresent
andfuturereality,andtheirdefinitionofthemeaningofhistory.
DonaldG.Bloesch,apostmillennialist,chargesthatthepremillennial
emphasisontheimmediatereturnofChristandHismillennialreignreflects
anoverlypessimisticviewofboththechurchandworldandhasledtoanot
surprisingdetachmentfrompoliticalconcerns,sincetheworldisheld
25BernardRamm, ProtestantBiblicalInterpretation:ATextbookofHermeneuticsforConservative
Protestants(Boston,1956),239.TheexactwordingusedbyRammis"millennialcult"Thatkind
ofpejorativewordingisfoundalso,forinstance,inarecentevangelicaldictionary:"Therehave
beengroupssuchastheShakers,theSeventhdayAdventists,theJehovah'sWitnesses,andthe
LatterdaySaints(Mormons)whotendtoequatetheactivitiesoftheirownsectwiththecom ing
ofthemillennium."RG.douse,"Millennium,Viewsof," EvangelicalDictionaryofTheology,
ed.WalterA.Elwell(GrandRapids,1984),718.ButClouse,apostmillennialist,isnotrighttouse
apostmillennialconcept("thecomingofthemillennium")tospeakofAdventists,
whoarepremillennialists.
26F.L.CrossandE.AUvingstone,eds.,OxfordDictionaryoftheChristianCAurcA,2ndcd.
(Oxford,1983),s.v."Millcnarianism."
27G.CBerkouwer,TheReturnofChrist(GrandRapids,1972),291.
28AfterWorldWarII,evangelicals(mostlyhistoricpremillennialists)havesoughttorespondmore
tosocialissues,andhaveseparatedthemselvesfromfundamentalists(mostly
dispensationalists)whoneglectedthesocialimplicationsofthegospel.SeeCariF.H.Henry,
EvangelicalResponsibilityinContemporaryTheology(GrandRapids,1957).Seventhday
Adventistscare;they"havebeenespeciallywellknownfortheirhealthcareministries."M.E.
Dieter,"Adventism,"EvanyScaiDictionaryofTheology,ed.WalterA.Elwell(GrandRapids.
1984),16.
233

TheMillennium
tobeincurablyevil.Thepresumptionthatweareinthelastdaysalsotendstoundercut
anyimpetusforsocialreform.

AmillennialistsRoman Catholics as well as Protestantsand post


millennialistsdonothavethesameemphasisintheireschatologyascom
paredwithprcmillennialists.Theformerismoreindividualistic(soulsgoto
heaven one by one), whereas the premillennial eschatology is more
collective,itinvolvesthewholechurchasaunityeitherrapturedorgoing
throughthelastpersecution.
Anotherdifferenceineschatologyisthefactthatamillennialistsdonot
anticipateasoonreturnofChristaspremillennialistsdo.Premillennialists
generallybelievethattheywill see thesecondcomingofChristintheir
lifetime;theyareimpatienttoseeHim,itistheirblessedhope. On the
contrary,amillennialistsandpostmillennialistshaveaneschatologywithout
astrongemphasisonthesecondcomingofChrist.30
AmiUennialists and postmillennialists hold to a kind of inaugurated
eschatologywhichemphasizessomuchthe"alreadynow"thatthe"notyet"
tendstobeforgotten.ThisisobviousinthewritingsofRomanCatholics.In
fact,itisa"deeschatologizing,"a"defuturizing." 31WhattheNTsaysabout
thefutureisbelievedtobeoccurringrightnow,aspointedoutbyOscar
Cullmann:
InCatholicism...whatPrimitiveChristianitysaysofthefutureisinlarge
parttransferredintothepresent.ThereferenceofthethousandyearKingdom
(Rev. 20:4) to the Church, a view that goes back to Tyconius, is
characteristicinthisrespect.

MillardErickson,aleadingpremillennialist,summarizesthismajordif
ferencebetweenamillennialistsandpremillennialistsuponeschatology:
Theamillennialistseldombemoansthedeteriorationofworldconditions
orcondemnstheprevalentculture.Hehasnoticeablylesspreoccupationwith
thedetailsandsequenceofthelastthingsandlesscuriosityabout"signsof
thetimes."Indeed,thewholesubjectofeschatologyseemstoreceiveless
attentionfromamillennialtheologiansthanfrompremillennialtheologians....
Premillennialists are often "searching the Scriptures" and studying current
events,attemptingtoalignthetwoordiscover
29DonaldBIoesch,TheEvangelicalRenaissance(GrandRapids,1973),145.
30SeeAdrioKonig,TheEclipseofChristinEschatology(GrandRapids,1989).
31G.CBerkouwer,TheReturnofChrist(GrandRapids,1972),2324.
32OscarCullmann,ChristandTime(Philadelphia,1950),147.

234

TheMillennium
howneartheendmightbe.Generallyspeaking,amillennialistsdonotpossess
nearlyasintensiveapropheticinterest."
For premillennialists, eschatology is one of the most important doctrines,
whereasforamillennialistsitisoneoftheleast.

AdventistInterpretation
Adventist interpretation of Revelation 20:110 is premillennial, post
tribulationist,literal,nonJewish,andlocatesthemillennialreigninheaven.
ChronologicalSequence(19:1120:10)
As other premillennialists do,34 Adventists read 19:1120:10 as a
chronologicalsequenceofevents.Thus,theybelievethatthemillennium
willoccuraftertheSecondComing.
Amillennialistsclaimthatthe"and" (kai) thatbegins20:1doesnottie
this verse with 19:21 (the last verse in chapter 19) in a chronological
sequence.But"and"isoftenusedinthebookofRevelationforactionsthat
followinachronologicalsequence.Forinstance,"and"isatthebeginning
of15versesofchapter19(intheGreektext),andatthebeginningofeach
verseofchapter20(exceptvs.5),tointroduceeachtimeanewstageofthe
action.35Furthermore,thereisaunityofcontentinRevelation19:1120:10.
BothsectionscombinetoshowhowGodwilldealwithHisthreeenemies
alreadymentionedin16:1316(dragon,beast,falseprophet).Thebeastand
thefalseprophetarethrownintothelakeoffire(19:20);thenSataniscast
intotheabyss(20:13).So,toread20:110asfollowingchronologically
after19:1121isthemostnaturalreading.TheChristiansofthesecondand
thirdcenturiesreadchapters1920inthismanner;thatiswhytheywere
premillennialists.
Revelation20NotLocatedinFirstCenturyA.D.
Chapter20isnotarecapitulationofchapter12. 36Amillennialexegetes
usuallythinkso,andequatethethreeandahalftimesof12:14with
33Erickson,75,85.
34G.&Ladd,ACommentaryontheRevelationofJohn(GrandRapids,1972),261;J.F.Watvoord,
TheRevelationofJesusChrist:ACommentary(Chicago,1966),289.
35ThispointisstronglyunderscoredbyJ.F.Walvoord,adispensationalist,in"Revelation,"The
BibleKnowledgeCommentary:NewTestament(n.p.:VictorBooks,1983),978.
36Johnson,581.

235

TheMillennium
the one thousand years of chapter 20. Both numbers are then interpreted in a
symbolicwayasthetimebetweenthetwoadventsofChrist.Butthereareelements
inthepassagesthatrefutesuchaview.
First,inchapter12,Satanisthrowndownfromheaventoearth,whereasin
chapter20heisboundandthrownintotheabyss(20:3).Second,inchapter12Satan
is"thedeceiverofthewholeworld"(12:9),whereasinchapter20hecan"deceive
thenationsnomore"(20:3).Third,chapter12portraystheChristiansasmartyrsput
to death (12:11), whereas chapter 20 is the time of their resurrection (20:4,6).
Chapter12isatimeofcurse(12:12),whereas chapter20isatimeofblessing
(12:6).Itisevidenttherefore,thatchapters12and20donotdescribethesame
periodoftime,and20:1doesnotgobacktothefirstcenturyAD.as12:1does.
Rather,20:110istobelocatedimmediatelysubsequenttotheChristianEra.

MillennialDescription:LimitedtoRevelation20:110

Onthelimitsofthemillennialdescription,Adventistsdonotbelievethat21:9
22:5,4,15describethemillennialreign.Thesechapters(2122)areseentorelateto
theeternalstate.Otherpremillennialistsusuallyequate20:46with21:922:5,14,
15,becauseFirst,theNewJerusalemisseenonearthinbothchapters2122and
20:9;andsecond,the"nations"arementionedinbothpassages(20:3,8;21:24;and
22:2).
ButAdventistsbelievethecomingdownoftheNewJerusalemwilltakeplace
onlyattheendofthemillennium.Thus,Revelation21:2and10isseentotakeplace
betweenverses6and7ofchapter20.Theevidenceindicatesthatallthewickeddie
attheSecondComing(cf.Rev19:1121;
6:1417),andtherighteous(livingandresurrected)aretakentoheaven(John14:1
3;1Thess4:1618;Matt24:3031).Sotherewillbeno"nations"onearthduring
themillennium.ItisafinalreturnofChristwiththeHolyCityandtheredeemedat
theendofthemillenniumthatbringsaboutthepresenceofthecityontheearthand
theresurrectionofthewicked(John5:28,29;Rev20:5).
Therefore, Adventists view the full sequence (begun at 19:11) as running
chronologicallythroughto22:6,asdosomenonAdventistexegetesaswell. 37(1)
SecondAdvent(19:1121),(2)millennium(20:110),(3)lastjudgment(20:1115),
and(4)eternalage(2122).

37 See forinstanceJohnson,580.Forasummaiyoftheopposedview, secG.R.Bcasley.Murray,


"Revelation,"TheEerdmansBibleCommentary,3rdcd.(GrandRapids,1970),1305.

236

TheMillennium

ScripturalBasisfortheMillennium
WhileRevelation20istheonlypassageintheBiblethatspecifically
mentions a one thousand year period (six times), Adventists see other
categoriesoftextsthatbuttressthistimeperiod.Forexample,thesevenlast
plagues (Rev 1516) and the second coming of Jesus with its attendant
resurrectionandtranslationoftheredeemed(Matt24:3031;1Thess4:13
18;1Cor15:5155)anddestructionofthelivingwicked(Rev19:1721;
2Thess1:710;2:8;cf.Isa11:4)immediatelyprecedethemillennium.
IntheOTtheapocalypticaspectofJeremiah4:2327focusesonthe
ruinedconditionoftheearthbroughtaboutbytheimpactofthedayofthe
Lord.Isaiah24:2123appearstoalludetothe"imprisonment"ofSatanand
theevilangels("thehostofthehighones")andthewickeddead"gathered
inthepit"tobevisited"aftermanydays"(KJV).IntheNT1Corinthians
6:23finds its location in the millennial review phase of judgment (Rev
20:4),whereasthefinaljudgmentportrayedbyJesus(Matt25:3146)finds
correspondencewiththeexecutivejudgmentthatoccursatthecloseofthe
millennium(Rev20:1115).
Inthesanctuarytypesthebanishmentofthescapegoat(Azazel)tothe
wilderness on the Day of Atonement (Lev 16:21) is seen to parallel the
bindingandimprisoningofSataninthe"abyss"thisruinedearthfora
thousandyears(Rev20:13).Justasthescapegoatwanderedthewilderness
untilitdied,justsoSatanisconfinedtowanderthischaoticplanetandto
contemplatetheresultsofhisrebellionuntilhisjudgmentanddestructionat
theendofthemillennium(Rev20:10).
The factthatthereisonlyoneexplicitbiblicalpassageregardingthe
one thousand year period is not a problem when seen in relation to the
nature of prophetic perspectives and progressive revelation. The OT
prophets, for example, merge into one single event the two advents of
Christ,yetlaterrevelationhasmoresharplyidentifiedtwoadvents.
SincethereisprogressiverevelationfromtheOTtotheNT^itisnotim
possibleforprogressiverevelationtooccurwithintheNTitself.Inthatcase,
the concept of an intermediate stage of one thousand years between the
presentageandtheeternalagetocome(asfoundinRevelation20)isan
authenticrevelationfromGod,38evenifitisbriefandinonlyonepassage.
38Inordertoavoidtheprcmilllennialview,amitlcnnialistsoftendenythatthetextisinspiredbyGod
andanauthenticpartoftheearlyChristianfaith.TheychargethatJohnwasinfluenced,notbythe
HolySpirit,butbylatenoncanonicatJewishapocalypses(1Enoch91:1217andchap.93;
2Enoch32:333:1;2Esdras5:17:35;2Banich),whichspeakofareignoftheMessiah.For

237

TheMillennium
weshallalwaysbewiththeLord"(1Thess4:17).Theimportantthingthesetexts
say,isthattheredeemedoneswillnotstayonearthaftertheSecondComing.Since
theyareportrayedwithChristinRevelation20aftertheSecondComingdescribed
inchapter19,weconcludethattheyareinheavenforthetimeoftheonethousand
years.Meanwhile,thereisnosinnerleftaliveonearth,allthewickedhavebeen
killed(Rev19:15,18,21).
Heavenly thrones denote heaven. John sees thrones (20:4). The word
"throne"isused47timesinthebookofRevelation,andalwaysinrelationwith
God or Christ in heaven. 43 The exceptions are 2:13 (the throne of Satan is in
Pergamum),13:2(thedragongiveshisthronetothebeast),and16:10("thefifth
angelpouredhisbowlonthethroneofthebeast").Thus,theonlythronesonearth,
fromchapter1tochapter19,arethethronesofSatan,thedragon,andthebeast
whoareGod'senemies.BywayofcontrastthethroneofGodandoftheLambisin
heaven. Therefore, it is reasonable to conclude that the thrones of 20:4 are in
heaven, too, since they are thrones of people who will "[reign] with Christ a
thousandyears"(20:4,6).
Overcomersofbeast/markreigninheaven.Johnseespeople"whohadnot
worshipedthebeastoritsimage"(20:4).Thisstatementissimilartoanotherone:
"thosewhohadconqueredthebeastanditsimage"(15:2).Thelatergroupisin
heaven.44Theword"conquer"of15:2isalsousedin3:21inreferencetobelievers
whowillsitonthethroneofJesus:"Hewhoconquers,Iwillgranthimtositwith
meonmythrone."WhenRevelation3:21;15:2;and20:4arereadtogether,the
conclusionisthatthemillennialthroneswillbeinheaven.
TheApocalypticVerticalDimension
Adventists believe that Revelation 20:13 describes events on earth at the
beginningandduringtheonethousandyears,whereasverses46describewhat
happensinheavenduringthesameperiod. 45 Thus,theyseeashiftfromearthto
heaveninverse4,andfromheavenbacktoearthinverse7.Thisisnothingnew;
theshiftinfocusbetweenearthandheavenisacommonfeatureintheapocalyptic
booksofDanielandRevelation.
43LconMorris,TheRevelationofSl.John:AnIntroductionandCommentary(GrandRapids,1969),
236.
44Rev15:23;cf.4:12.6.Notethelocationofthe"seaofglass."
45Amillennialistssharethatview(butintheframeworkoftheirowndefinitionofthemillennial
reignofthechurchmilitantonearthandthechurchtriumphantinheaven):"Whereasthe
thousandyearperioddescribedinthesesixversesisthesamethroughout,verses1*3
describewhathappensonearthduringthistime,andverses46depictwhathappensinheaven"
(Hockema,230).

240

TheMillennium

Forexample,theeventsofRevelation7:18takeplaceonearth,thenJohn
describes what hesees in heaven(7:917), but without using the word
"heaven."Itisquitepossible,therefore,thatthesamealternationearth
heavenearthoccursin20:110,eveniftheword"heaven"isnotpresentin
thetextofverses46.46
WilliamSheahasanalyzedandcomparedthestructureofRevelation
12 and 20. He observes a correlation between the literary structure,
thematicdevelopment,andverticaldimensionofbothchapters.Whathe
calls the vertical dimension is an ABA pattern, that is, an alternating
earthbeavenearthsequencethathefindsinchapter12.
Sincechapter20beginsandendsonearthaschapter12does;itis
quitepossible(fromastructuralpointofview)thatthemiddlesectionof
Revelation20(vss.46)parallelsthemiddlesectionofRevelation12and
referstoeventsoccurringinheaven:
Totheextenttowhichsimilarpatternsexistfortheverticaldimension
betweenthestructurallyparallelpassagesinRevelation12and20,tothat
extentthesuggestionthattheeventsofRevelation20:46haveaheavenly
settingreceivessomefurthersupport.47

Manyscholarsagreethatthereisnoreferencetoanearthlymillenniumin
Revelation20.RobertMouncestatesthatthemillennialpassageH
^containsnospecificindicationthattheirreignwithChristtakesplaceon
jtcarth."48AndLeonMorrisarguesthatJohn"doesnotsaythatit[themil|
lBnnialreign]takesplaceonearth,anditmaywellbelocatedinheaven." 49
ElEhus,asanoteoftheOxfordAnnotatedBiblereads,"Onemustbeware
f0freadingmoreintothispassagethaniswarranted;e.g.nothingissaid|tee
aboutareignonearth."50

TheologicalMeaning
WhytheMillennium?Whatisthetheologicalpurposeandmeaning
l^rfanintermediateperiodbetweenthepresentandtheeternalages?The
l^dventistanswertothisquestionputstheemphasisonthecompletevindi
lt^.

|^<6MkhclGourgucs,"TheThousandYearReign(Rev20:16):TerrestrialorCelestial?"CBQ47I.;
(1985),680.
g?:*7WilliamH.Shea,TheParallelLiteraryStructureofRevelation12and2f),"AUSS23(1985):47.
It:48Mounce,351.g^Motris,234.
"J450TheffwOxfordAnnotatedBible:RevisedStandardVersion,ed.HerbertG.MayandBruceM.;"
Metzger(NewYork,1973),n.onRev20:16.
241

TheMillennium
cationofGodintheeyesofallHiscreatedintelligentbeings.ThatGodisjustinall
HisactsrunsasamajorthemethroughoutthebookofRevelation(cf.19:2).Before
the executive phase of the final judgment, that decides once for all the eternal
destinyofeveryhumanbeingandfallenangels,onethousandyearsaregiventothe
savednotonlythemartyrs,butallthebelieversinheaventoexaminetheways
ofGodandHisjudgmentonthesinfulrebellionofmanandangels(cf.1Cor6:2
3).
Adventists view three chronological steps in the final judgment. First, a
preadventinvestigativephasetakesplaceinheavenbeforetheunfallenbeingsof
thatrealm(Dan7:910,1314).Thisphaseoffinaljudgment,extendingfrom1844
tothecloseofprobation(Dan8:14;9:25),separatesthefalsefromthegenuinein
thebookoflifeandaffirmsthelatterasHistruepeople(cf.Rev3:5).Thesearethe
redeemedwhowillgowithJesustoheavenwhenHereturns.Thosenotfoundin
thebookoflifeorwhosenamesareremovedinthisphaseofJudgmentremainon
earth,dead.
During the millennial review phase of final judgment (as noted above) the
redeemedwillhavetheiropportunitytoexaminetheissuesofsinandsalvation(cf.
1Cor6:23;Rev20:4).Finally,attheexecutivephaseofthefinaljudgmentatthe
close of the millennium (Rev 20:11 15) God will apply the sentences. He is
vindicatedtodoso.HedoesnotdestroySatanandthefallenangelsattheSecond
Coming,butgivesthemonethousandyearstothinkabouttheresultsoftheirwar
againstHim,theirrebellionagainstHislaw,theirsin.
ButSatanandthefallenangelsdonotchange,theydonotturntoGodin
repentance.Theirsisaspiritofhate,war,anddestruction(20:79).Theresurrected
sinners(Rev20:5a)shareinthatrebellionagainstGod.They,too,willseeand
agreewiththejusticeofGodatthisclosingphaseofthefinaljudgment.Alongwith
Satanandthefallenangelstheywillbeannihilatedinthelakeoffire(20:1015).
Thus,theAdventistinterpretationofRevelation20placestheemphasisnot
uponanearthlyreignofgloryfortheredeemed,butuponthevindicationofGod,
theclearingandhonoringofHisnameinallHisdealingswiththesinissue."Just
andtruearethyways,0Kingoftheages"(15:3).

242

ChapterVfflNewJerusalem
TheHolyCity
RobertoBadenas
EditorialSynopsis. Scenesofarenewedearth,theNewJerusalem,
andthepermanentandintimateunionofGodwith His peopleformthe
climaxtowardwhichtheprophecyofRevelationmoves.
Threeinterrelatedvignettes(Rev21:18;21:927;22:15)portraythe
eternal home oftheredeemed incontrast tothe cityofBabylonfrom
whichtheyhavebeendeliveredgraciouslyandforever.
Withoutdenyingtherealityoftheheavenlycity,thewriterelucidates
the theological significance of the strands of biblical imagery that the
Holy Spirit drew from Scripture to weave the tapestry of the New
Jerusalem,presentedbeforeJohninthefinalmomentsofhisvision.The
readerwillfindtheresultantstudyanenrichmenttohisunderstandingof
theglorioushomeofthesaved.
In the Holy City we see Eden restored, and the long, wearisome
ExodusofthepeopleofGodfromthe"Egypt"ofthisworldfinallyended.
In that city of eternal tight stands the Christ, the divinehuman
Bridegroom,foreverunitedwithHisbelovedBride.

ChapterOutline
I.Introduction
II."NewJerusalem"Motif
III.CenteroftheNewCreation
IV.DescriptionoftheCity
V.SeatoftheNewEdenVI
CapitalofthePromisedLand
VII.CityoftheLamb
VIII.Conclusions

243

NewJerusalemTheHotyCity

Introduction
/W\hevisionoftheNewJerusalemisthelastonepresentedinthe|bookof
Revelation(Rev21:122:5).Itculminates"therevelationA.ofJesusChrist,"given
toHisbondservantJohn(cf.l:l;22:6).Thisclimaxdescribesthedestinyofthe
redeemedattheendofthegreatcontroversybetweenGod'speopleandtheforcesof
evil.ThedescriptionconsistsofawealthofimagesportrayingtheHolyCity,giving
aglimpsewithinthelimitsofhumanlanguageofthesupremegloryofthe
unendinglifetocome.
Incomposingthisfinalfresco,Johnhasborrowedabundantlyfromtheimagery
and language of Isaiah, Ezekiel, Zechariah, and other OT prophecies whose
fulfillmentisshownhereinagloriousandunexpectedway.Throughtheseimages
Johnhassoughttodescribetheindescribablerealityofheaven;andhehaspainted
forusthemostdetailedpictureevergiveninScriptureofthesurpassingrealityGod
haspreparedforHischildren.
Thetaskofourpresentundertakingistograspasfaraspossible,withinits
biblicalbackground, themeaningofthisdescriptionoftheNewJerusalemthe
gloriousfuturethatawaitstheredeemed.

SettingoftheVision
ThevisionoftheNewJerusalem(21:122:5)isplacedjustbeforethe
epilogue (22:621). Although 21:18 culminates the eschatological events
describedin19:1120:15,itispreferabletoincludeitwiththevisionofthe
NewJerusalem.Itisinherentlyconnectedtothislastvisioninbothcontent
and use of images. It speaks of the new heaven and the new earth, and
alreadypresentstheNewJerusalemdescendingfromheaven,theverysub
jectof21:922:5.
Thedescriptionoftheholycityseemstobesetatthispointofthenarrative,
tocontrastdeliberatelywithtwoofthebasicthemesofthebook:
(1)Babylon,and(2)thepersecutedpeopleofGod.
So,ontheonehandthevisionoftheNewJerusalemparallelsinstriking
contrastthevisionsofBabylon,"thegreatcity"(17:119:10). 1Ontheother
hand the description of the church, triumphant in the heavenly New
Jerusalem (21:122:5) parallels the description of the church militant on
earth(1:103:22),completingtherebythechiasticstructureofthebook. 2
1A.yaucher,LesProphfdesopocotyptiquesctlewinterpretation(ColIongcssousSalcve,I960),87.
2K.Strand,"TheEightBasicVisionsintheBookofRevelation," AVSS25(1987):108,117.Fora
reprintofthisarticle,secSymposiumonRevelation,Book1,DARCOMscries,vol.7(Silver

244

NewJerusalemTheHolyCity

ThevisionofNewJerusalemsurfaceselsewhereinthebook,withsuch
referencesas"Iwillwriteonhim...thenameofthecityofmyGod,thenew
Jerusalem"andtheinvitation"Come"and"enterthegatesofthecity,"and
"takefreelyofthewateroflife"(3:12,RSV;22:1417,owntr.).
Theimportanceofthisvisionisstrengthenedbyadivineordertowriteit
out:"Hewhositsonthethronesaid,...'Write,...*"(21:5,NASB).Thisorder
hadbeengivenfourtimespreviously,eitherbyJesus,ananonymousvoice,
orbyangelsatcrucialmomentsintheprophecy. 3Now,asweapproachthe
end,theordertowritecomesforthelasttime,directlyfromGod'sthrone.
ItisGodHimselfwhoauthenticatestheveracityofwhatJohnisshown.
Theinjunctionatthebeginningofthevisiontowrite,insistingthat"these
wordsaretrustworthyandtrue"(21:5),isrepeatedagain,almostverbatim,at
itsend(22:6).
God confirms this wonderful culmination of the human conflict by
presentingHimselfas"theAlphaandtheOmega,thebeginningandtheend"
(21:6),atitlethatappliesaswelltoGodastoChrist(1:8;22:13).Godthe
CreatorisatthesametimetheFinisher,theRedeemer,theOrigin,andthe
Goalofeverything.
StructureofthePassage
This section is composed of three consecutive, intimately related
scenes,4allfocusedontheNewJerusalem,andcontainingseveralcommon
features:
1.Eachofthethreescenesisintroducedbya"seeing"formula:
a.Thefirstsceneisintroducedbythewords,"Isaw...theholycity,new
Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven..." (21:12). It presents the New
Jerusalemasthecenterofthecapitalofthenewearth(21:3).
b.Thesecondsceneisintroducedbythewords,"[he]showedmethe
holycityJerusalem...havingthegloryofGod"(21:10).Itdescribesindetail
theNewJerusalemasGod'sholycity.
c.Thethirdsceneisintroducedalsobythewords,"heshowedmethe
riverofthewateroflife,...flowing...throughthemiddleofthestreet.."
(22:12). It depicts theNewJerusalemastheseat of the NewEden, the
definitiveparadiseofGod.
Spring,MD:BiblicalResearchInstitute,1991),chap.2
30.Rev1:11,19;14:13,19:9.
4Rev21:18;21:927;22:15;cf.D.Mollat,Unelecturepouraujourd'hui:I'Apocafypse(Paris,
1982),151.
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NewJerusalemTheHolyCity

2.Eachsceneendswithaformulaofexclusionorwarningthatstresses
theideathatGod'scityisahotycity,admittingonlyhotycitizens:
a. In the first scene it is said that "he who conquers shall have this
heritage....Butasforthecowardly,thefaithless,...theirlotshallbeinthe
lakethatbumswithfireandsulphur,whichistheseconddeath"(21:78).
b.Inthesecondsceneitissaidthat"nothinguncleanshallenterit,...but
onlythosewhoarewrittenintheLamb'sbookoflife"(21:27).
c.Inthethirdscenetheexclusionandwarningformuladoesnotcome
immediately at the end. Rather, it occurs in the epilogue in a form that
parallelstheexclusionmotifofthefirsttwovisions."Blessedarethosewho
washtheirrobes,thattheymay...enterthecitybythegates.Outsidearethe
dogs...andeveryonewholovesandpracticesfalsehood"(22:1415).
3.Thethreescenespresentaprogressivedescriptionofthewonderful
characteristicsoftheheavenlycity.
a. In the first vision the city is announced as the center of the new
heavensandearth(21:18).
b.Inthesecondvisionthecityispresentedanddescribedindetail(21:9
27).
c.Inthethirdvisiontheattentionoftheseerisfocusedonitsmost
importantfeatures(22:15).
4.Thenarrativeprogressesfromthegeneraltotheparticular.Itisasif
the seer were approaching the city, and its details became clearer as the
distancelessens.
a.Thereisaglobal,firstimpressionofthecity,asifseenfromafar
(21:2,10).Themainfeatureobservedbytheprophetisthecity'sgloryand
brilliance.Thefirstimpressionisthatofradiantlight(21:11).
b.Thedescriptiondepictsnextthewallsofthecity,thegates,andthe
foundations(21:1217).
c. The prophet's attention is then drawn to the materials of the city
(21:1821).Theimpressionofrichnessandbeautyprevails.Goldandpre
ciousstonesarementionedseveraltimes.
d.Thecenterofinterestnowshiftstotheinteriorofthecity,toitsmain
street(platem,21:21b).Theseercannothidehissurprisewhenhediscovers
notempleinthecity(21:22)!
e.Othersurprisesfollow:ThecityisilluminatedbythegloryofGod,
"anditslampistheLamb"(21:23)!
f.Thedescriptionturnsnexttotheinhabitantsofthecity(24:2427).
g.ThevisionclosesbyfocusingonthethroneofGodandoftheLamb,
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NewJerusalemTheHolyCity
Sourceoflifeandjoy,culminatingwiththeunsurpassablesightofGod
Himself:"theyshallseehisface"(22:1,4).
We now turn to explore the theological significance of the New
Jerusalemvision.

"NewJerusalem"Motif
The Bible presents the city of Jerusalemoften called Zionnot
onlyasthecapitalofIsrael,butalsoastheprivilegedplacewhereGod
dwellswithHispeople(Ps9:11),"thejoyofalltheearth"(Ps48:2),and
thesourceof"deliverance"(Ps14:7;53:6)."Jerusalem,"aswellas"Zion"
can designate the people of Israeland even God's peopleas a
"whole."5 A symbolic, spiritual usage of the term "Jerusalem" is in
biblicalliterature,verycommon.
Revelation2122istheonlyplaceintheNTwheretheNewJerusa
lemisdescribed.Infact,theexpression"thenewJerusalem"isexclusive
to thebookofRevelationwhereitisusedonlytwice(3:12and21:2).
Outside the Bible it is very rare. 6 However, the notion of a "new"
Jerusalem,andevenofaheavenlyJerusalemisquitewellknowntothe
OTandinJewishliterature.7

IntheOldTestament
ThehopeofanewJerusalemrelatedtotherestorationofIsrael
after the exile. Its central function in the eschatological age of
salvationisanimportantthemeintheprophets.8
Jerusalem the holycity(Isa 52:1) was expectedto become,
afterallhertrialsandfailures,onceagainanddefinitivelyso,the
cityoftheLord(Isa60:14).Itwouldbereconstructedinprecious
stones(Isa54:1117)andmadecomparabletotheparadiseofGod
and the Garden of Eden (Isa 51:3). From this new Jerusalem,
convertedtobethecapitalandcenteroftheworld(Isa45:14),
YahwehwouldexertHisroyaleschatologicalrule. 9

5S.Talmon,"DieBedeutungJerusalemsinderBible,"inW.P.Eckert,N.P.Levinson,
andM.Stohl,cds.,JudischerVolkGelobtesLand(1970),13552.
6Cf.K.L,Schmidt,"JerusalemalsUrbildundAbbild,"EranosJahrbuch18(1950):
207248.
7Forbibliographyandreferences,seeR.MartinAchard,"EsaieUVetlanouvelle
Jerusalem,"PermanencedeI'AcienTestament,CahiersdclaRevuedeTheologieet
dePhilosophic(Geneve/Lausannc/Ncuchatel,1984),26084.
8Cf.Isa54:1113;6062;Hag2:19;Zech1:172:13,etc.
9Cf.Isa24:23;52:7;Mic4:7;Zcph3:15;Zcch14:9;Ps146:10;149:2,etc.
247

NewJerusalemTheHolyCity

InIntertestamentalLiterature
IntheliteratureoftheintertestamentalperiodJerusalemisdescribedas
the"holycity"(hieropolts)and"mothercity"(metropolis)notonlyofIsrael
andoftheJewsthroughouttheworld10butalsoasGod'scity,thecenterand
navelofthewholeearth.11However,thehopesfocusedonJerusalemasthe
placeofeschatologicalsalvationwerenotuniform.Onthecontrary,they
weremanyandvaried.12
Since these hopes (generally understood as referring to the earthly
Jerusalem)neverwerefulfilledinthehistoryofIsrael,thethoughtgradually
grewespecially after Jerusalem and the temple were destroyed that
thesepropheciespointedtoanewandbetterJerusalemthatcouldonlybe
broughtforthbyGod'ssavingandredeemingaction.13
InsometraditionstheNewJerusalemwaseventhoughtofasapre
existingcity,builtbyGodinheaven,whichwouldcomedowntoearthwith
thedawnofanewworld.14

IntheNewTestament

BesidesRevelation3:12and21:2,theNTseldomreferstotheNewJerusalem.
InGalatians4:26Paulsetsinantithesistwocities:theearthlyJerusalemand"the
Jerusalem above." In Philippians 3:20 he states that "our commonwealth is in
heaven,"buttheNewJerusalemisnotnamed.15
TheheavenlyJerusalemismentionedalsointhebookofHebrews.Abraham
lookedforwardtoanabidingcitywithfirmfoundations,madebyGod(11:10).The
cityiscalled "thecityofthelivingGod,theheavenlyJerusalem" (12:22).Ina
spiritualsensethisheavenlycityisthedwellingplaceofthepeopleofGod,forthey
havenopermanentabidingplaceonearth(cf.13:14;11:16;12:22).Thisheavenly
citysymbolizesGod'sunshakablekingdom,theeverlasting,patriaofGod'speople,
"thegeneral assemblyandchurchofthefirstbornwhoareregisteredinheaven"
(12:23,28,owntranslation).
Revelation21:122:5is,therefore, theprincipal passage intheBibleonthe
NewJerusalemmotif.
10Cf.Philo,Leg.Gaj.225,281;Eth.En,26.
11Cf.Jub4:26;9:19;Jos.Bell.3:52.
12SecG.Fohrcn."Sion,"TDNT7:31217;Str.B.4:88385;91931.
132Esr10:27;2Bar4:3;cf.Isa62;66:1015,22.
14Test.Dan5:12;Ap.Bar.4:26;4Esr7:26;13:36;Eth.En.90:2829.Theideaofaheavenly
JerusalemdidnotprevailinoldRabbinicliterature.Cf.E.Lohse,"Sion,"TDNT7.326,33638.
15Cf.J.C.deYoung,JerusalemintheNT(Kampea,1960),117ff.

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NewJerusalemTheHolyCity

CenteroftheNewCreation
Immediatelyfollowingthevisionoftheexecutivejudgmentand
theultimate,fierydestructionofevil(20:1115),thescenechanges
abruptly.Fromthecosmic,finalholocaustwemoveintothevision
ofarenovatedworld,createdanewbyGod(Rev21:18).
ANewHeavenandEarth
Thetextinsistsontheabsolutenewnessofthefutureworldby
accentuatingthedifferencesbetweenthenewrealityandtheold. 16
1.Itisexplicitlyandrepeatedlystated,"Isawanewheavenand
a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed
away..."(21:1).Thedisappearingoftheoldcreationisunderlined,it
beingalreadymentionedthat"earthandskyfledaway,andnoplace
was found for them" (20:11). The affirmation cannot be more
categoric:"Theformerthingshavepassedaway"(21:4).Hewhosits
onthethronesays,"Behold,Imake
allthingsnew"(21:5).
2. The term chosen to express the newness is not neos but
kainosyanadjectivethatdenotesinastrongerwaythantheformer
"what is new and distinctive," "unexpected," and **wholly
different."17
3. The newness of the new creation is described mainly in
negativeterms.Littleissaidaboutthenewthingsthatwillexist,but
emphasisisputonthethingsthatwillbe"nomore":
a.Nomoresea(21:1).
b.Nomoredeath,tears,mourning,crying,orpain(21:4).
c.Nomoretemple(21:22).
d.Noneedofthesunandmoontoshineuponthecity(21:22;
22:5).
e.Nonightinthecity.Noclosedgates(21:25;22:5).
f.Nomoresin(21:27).
g.Nomorecurse(22:3).
Thefirstthingmentionedaslackinginthenewworldisthesea,
inthedomainofnature(21:1).Thismaysignifythedisappearingof
the sea as we know it now.18 But the statement may involve a
symbolicuseofthesea.Ifso,thesea,themysteriousrealmofthe
beast(13:1),figurativelydenotesadefinitivevictoryofGodover
chaosandevil19
16Cf.M.Counc,"L'univeranouveau(Ap21),"^S26(1973):6772.
17J,Bchm,"Kainos,"TDNT3:447.50.
18EllenG.White,PatriarchsandProphets(MountainView,CA.1958),44.
19Referencestothedisappearingofthesea,thatit"willbedry"intheeschatological
kingdomof

249

NewJerusalemTheHolyCity

4.Onlyfourthingsaresaidexplicitlytobenew,buttheydesignate
absolutelyeverything:
a.Anewheaven(21:1)
b.Anewearth(21:1)
c.ANewJerusalem(21:2)
d."Allthingsnew"(21:5)
Thenewcreationispresented,therefore,notasasimpleimprovement
oftheactualsituation.Thereisafundamentaldiscontinuitybetweenthe
"first"andthe"new."20Thenewstartissoradicalthatitisdescribedasa
fullactofcreation.
Butnowhereisitsaidthatthenewworldcorrespondstotheworldofthe
primevalcreation.AttheendofthelongparenthesisofhumanhistoryGod
recreatestheheavensandtheearth(cf.Gen1:1)toanevenbettersituation
(ifatallpossible)thanthefirst.Forthesecondandfinalcreationwillnever
bespoiledbysin.Evilanddeathwillhavedisappeared,andtheolduniverse
willhavebeendefinitivelypurifiedbyGod'slove.Thephrase,"Itisdone!"
(21:6),underlinesthefactthatforGodthisnewcreationisnotapossibility
butareality.21
ANewJerusalem
Themoststrikingdifferencebetweenthenewcreationandtheoldisthe
existenceofacityasitscentralfeature.InthefirstcreationGodgivesto
managardenforhisdwellingplace;inthelastcreationGodgivestomana
city:theNewJerusalem.
Thiscloserelationshipbetweentherestorationofanewheavenanda
newearthandtherestorationofJerusalemisalreadygiveninIsaiah65:17
19:"Icreatenewheavensandanewearth;andtheformerthingsshallnotbe
remembered.... I create Jerusalem a rejoicing,... I will... be glad in my
people;nomoreshallbeheardinitthesoundofweepingandthecryof
distress"(Isa65:1719;cf.Rev21:35).
WhatIsaiahsaid,primarilyintermsofthehistoricalorder,thebookof
Revelation applies to the eschatological reality, when the old order has
passedaway(20:1115).
Whyacity?InthebookofRevelation,asinthebookofHebrews,the
pilgrimagemotifisarelevantone.ThepeopleofGodlongforrest.Perse
God,arefoundinAssMos10:6;SibOr5:447
20Cf.Isa25:9;35:10;43:19;65:1619;2Cor5:17.
21Rcfcrenccstoancwcreationarcalsocommoninapocalypticliterature:Jub4:26;2ApocBar49;l3;4
Esr5:45;1Enoch72:1;92:16.
250

NewJerusalemTheHolyCity

cutedonearth,thewomanfliestothedesert(12:14).Nowtheredeemed
peopleofGodhavefinallypassedfromtheinsecurityofthedesertandfrom
theinsecurityofBabylontothesecurityofGod*scity.Theyhavepassed
froma"nocity"or"outofacity"situationtoan"incity"situation.
AtthetimeofJohnthecitywasthehumanandsocialunifierofciviliza
tion.Everyonebelongedtoacity.Ancientsidentifiedtheirpeoplewiththeir
capitalcity. The gloryofthekings were thecitiesthattheyhadbuilt or
conquered.2"AcitythatcouldbeidentifiedasGod*scitywasprobablythe
bestsymboltorepresentthegloryofGod'skingdom.
WhyJerusalem?ThesignificanceofJerusalemwasdifferentfromthat
of other religious cities of antiquity. For example, Jerusalem was not to
YahwehwhatBabylonwastoMarduk,ortheotherancientcitieswereto
their gods. First of all, Jerusalem was not a creation of God, whereas,
accordingtotheBabyloniantextsBabylonwasacreationofMarduk.Jeru
salemdidnothavedivineorigins
TheBibledoesnothidethefactthatJerusalem,oneofthelastcitiesto
belongtotheCanaanites,wasstillapagancitywhenitwasconqueredby
David(Josh15:63;2Sam5:68).Andheconqueredthecity,notunderthe
injunction of God, but as the king of Israel (2 Sam 5:3,610). Even the
constructionoftheTemplewasaccomplishedinpartbypaganworkmen(2
Chr2:78,1314,1617).
Nevertheless,fromtheverybeginningJerusalemwasacceptedbyGod
assymbolofHispeopleandassociatedwiththehistoryofsalvation(Isa40
66;Zech14).
AlthoughJerusalemeventuallybecamethelocusofthehumanrejection
ofGod'splanbytherejectionoftheMessiahandwascondemnedtobe
destroyed,24 yet the city remained the "type" of the future Jerusalem25
announcedbytheprophets.26
TheculminationoftheMessianictaskinthelanguageofOTprophe
cieswastherestorationofIsraelandthereturnandfinalgatheringofthe
exiles. This reality is only fulfilled, far beyond the expectations of the
prophets,intheNewJerusalemcity,comingfromGod'sgrace.Thereis
continuitybetweenthetwocities.Butthereisaradicalrupture,aswell.The
citythatcomesfromheavenisstill"Jerusalem,"butitisessentially
22Isa23;Jer50.51;Ezek2528.
23J.Comblin,"LavilletienanuSe,"VSp112(1965):635
24Matt23:3739;24:2.
25Gal4:2426.
260.Isa54,60,62,66;Zech14;Ezek40^7.
251

NewJerusalemTheHolyCity

differentfromtheearthlyoneinthatitcomesfromabove.
WhatGodbringsaboutexistedalreadyinacertainsense,sinceitwas
"Jerusalem." But it is completely new, for all that was human has been
transformed and glorified by God. This newcreation is not, therefore, a
simple return to the origins. God does not overlook human history, He
assumesit.HetakesuponHimselfthissignificanthumanrealization(the
citywasthebestexampleofhumanproduction)andmakesofitaperfect
work.27
IntheNewJerusalemGodeffectsastrikingreversalofsituations:the
city,locusofrevolt,becomesbyGod*sgracethelocusofreconciliation.28
Likewise, Jerusalem, as a symbol of God's people, can be set over
againstBabylon,thecitythatsymbolizestheenemiesofGod*speople.As
amasterfulrecapitulationofhumanandsalvationhistory,theNewJerusa
lembecomestherealizationofGod'sidealtheocracy,theperfectsymbolof
thegatheringofGod'speople,theplaceofperfectcommunionbetweenthe
Creator/RedeemerandHisredeemedcreatures.TheNewJerusalemwillbe
to the new heaven and the new earth what the old Jerusalem never
succeededtobetoIsraelandtheworld.

DescriptionoftheCity
Likeotherrevelationsinthehistoryofsalvation,thevisionoftheholy
cityisgiven to Johnfrom"agreat,highmountain"(21:910).Fromthis
traditional place of revelation John is shown the glorious fulfillment of
God'splan(Rev21:927).
Thisvisionhasmanyfeaturesincommonwiththevisiongiventothe
prophetEzekielontherestorationofearthlyJerusalemasmaybeseeninthe
chart(Ezek4048)onthefollowingpage.
These common features may signifythat the promised restorationof
Jerusalem,giventoIsraelthroughtheprophetEzekiel,hasreacheditsful
fillmentintheheavenlycity.
Weturnnowtoobservethedifferentaspectsofthedescriptionofthe
holycity.

27Cf.J.Ellul,Apocafypse,235.
28Thehumangoalisreached,butonlyinGod'scity!Cf.J.Ellul,SansFeurtiLieu,Theologiedela
viBe(Paris,1974),27677.
252

NewJerusalemTheHolyCity

ComparisonBetweentheVisiontoJohnandtheVisiontoEzekiel
Revelation21:927
JohnwascarriedintheSpirit
toaveryhighmountain
andshowntheholycity,
Jerusalem(910),and
thecityhadthe"gloryofGod"(11).
Thecityhadahighwallwithtwelve
gates'withthenamesofthetwelve
tribesofIsrael(12).Threegatesto
theeast,threegatestothenorth,
threegatestothesouth,andthree
gatestothewest(13).
Someone,havingameasuringrod
measuredthecity,thegates,andthe
wall(1517).Thecitywassquare
(16).
Severalwarningsandrestrictionsare
statedconcerningthepossible
inhabitants:
"nothinguncleanshallenterit,"etc.
(27;cf.21:8).Thereisthethroneof
God,whodwellsforeveramongHis
people(21:3,5;22:1).

Ezekiel4048

Ezekielwasbroughtinvision
toaveryhighmountain
andwasshownacity,
Jerusalem(40:2)and
"thegloryoftheLordfilledthe
temple"(43:25).
Thecityhadahighwall
andtwelvegates
namedforthetwelve
tribesofIsrael(48:3134)
threegates"onthenorthside...
Ontheeastside...
Onthesouthside...

Onthewestside..."(48:3134).

Someonehavingameasuringrod
measuredthecity,thetemple,thegates
andthewall(40:35)Thecitywasa
square(48:20)(cf.41:21;43:16;45:2).
Severalwarningsandrestrictionsare
statedconcerningthepossible
inhabitants:
noforeigner,"uncircumcisedinheart"
shallenter(44:614)."Thisistheplace
ofmythrone...whereIwilldwellin
themidstofthepeopleofIsraelfor
ever"(43:7).

AsaBride

TheveryfirststatementdescribestheNewJerusalem:"comingdown
outofheavenfromGod,prepared asabrideadornedforherhusband"
(21:2).29
29Theimageryofawomantodescribeacitywasfamiliartopropheticlanguage.Cf.Ezek16:1113.

253

NewJerusalemTheHolyCity

Thecomparison of the NewJerusalem to a bride and the title, "the


Bride,thewifeoftheLamb"(21:9),echoseveralpassagesfromtheOT
wheretherestorationofJerusalemisdescribedpropheticallyintermsofa
marriageencounter.
Thus,Zionispromisedtobeadorned,likeabridewhoadomsherself
withornaments(Isa49:18).AndtheLordadds,"asthebridegroomrejoices
overthebride,soshallyourGodrejoiceoveryou"(Isa62:5). 30 TheNew
Jerusalem vision expresses in similar joyful terms the longexpected
encounter.
After an extended period of trials and infidelities, the bride is com
pletelyliberatedfromallobstacles.Sheisfinally"prepared"tomeet"her
husband"(21:2),theLamb(21:9),herRedeemerandSaviourHimself.The
oldcovenantoflovewillbeaccomplished(Lev26:1112);Godisfinally
andconclusivelyunitedwithHispeople,asinamarriage,forever(21:3). 31
AndGod*sjoyisexpressedinanuptialsong:"AndIheardaloudvoice
fromthethrone,saying,'Behold,thedwellingofGodiswithmen.Hewill
dwellwiththem,andtheyshallbehispeople,andGodhimselfwillbewith
them...'"(21:3).
Thisisthefirsttimeafter1:10thatGod'svoiceisheardinthegreat
conflict.God'seternaldreamhasfinallycometrue:Heisnolongersimply
God,butGodamongmen(21:3).TheprophecyofIsaiah7:14hasbeen
accomplishedthroughthepromisedSon.Godisfinallywithus.Hemaybe
calledbytheverynamegiventoJesus(Emmanuel,"Godwithus,"Matt
1:23)andpromisedtoHischurchbytheresurrectedChrist(**Iwillbewith
youalways,"Matt28:20.NIV).TheGreekwordingof21:3isalmostan
exact translation otImmaniiEl: "And HeGodwiththemwill be their
God."Thecitynameistruly"TheLordisthere"(Ezek48:35).
AlthoughonlytwoexplicitreferencesaremadetoJerusalemasabride
(21:2,9),themarriagemotifpermeatesthevision.Forexample,thewedding
oftheLambisalreadyimpliedinthepreviouslyannouncedmarriagesupper.
"BlessedarethosewhoareinvitedtothemarriagesupperoftheLamb"
(19:9). The importance of the invitation is underlined by the words, "
'Write'...ThesearetruewordsofGod'"(19:9).Nowthesesamewordsare
repeatedjustafterthepresentationoftheNewJerusalemasthebride
30Cf.Hos13;Eph5:2527;Hcb11:10.Intheintertestamcntalliteraturetherearealsosomewitnessof
thehopeforanewJerusalem,designatedeitheras"wife"(1En90:2829;4Esr10:17),or
"mother"(4Esr9:4347;2ApocBar3:13)
31ThiscovenantformularecallsEzek37:27;cf.Isa54:45;61:10;62:46;Hos2:1623;Jer2:13;and
evenEzek16.

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NewJerusalemTheHolyCity
oftheLamb:"Writethis,forthesewordsaretrustworthyandtrue"(21:5),andwill
berepeatedagainjustafterthedescriptionofthebridecityiscompleted(22:6).
Themarriageimageryisaperfectsymbolforthequalityrelationshipbetween
GodandHispeople,abondofloveandintimacy. 3Itcouldalsobesaidthat"the
specificationofthewomanasbrideevokesthenotionofnewnessandardor,andthe
referencetoJerusalem aswifesuggestsenduringfidelityandfruitfulness."33 But
probablythemainpointisthatasbride,thecitybelongsnowonlytoChrist.The
Lamb'swifeisfinallyathome,inperfectsecurityinGod'scity.Thebridegroom
wipesthetearsfromtheeyesofHisbride(21:4).Sheneedstoknowthatjoywill
neverend,thatthistimehappinessisforever. 34

ContrastedWithBabylon
TheloverelationshipbetweentheLambandHisbride,theNewJerusalem,is
contrastedwiththerelationshipbetweenthepoliticalpowers and theBabylonian
harlot.Thewordingofchapter21,comparedwiththatofchapters1718,clearly
shows that John is setting the New Jerusalembride/wife over against the
Babylonianprostitute.3
The combined symbol, womancity, was used first in the description of
Babylon. AndtheportrayalofNewJerusalem followsthisparallelof Babylon.
EventhescenethatdescribestheNewJerusalemcomingdownfromheaven(21:9
10) repeats almost word for word similar phraseology to connection with the
judgmentoftheharlot(17:13).Itisovertheruins,aotospeak,oftheproud,evil,
andcorruptedBabylon,thatNewJerusalemcomes,fromheaven,pureandradiant
withthegloryofGod.Thefactthattheangelwhoshowstheoutcomeofthetwo
citiesseemstobethesamefflbothvisions,makesthecontrastevensharper.The
parallelsandantithesisbetweenthetwovisionsbecomeevidentinthechartonthe
followingpage.
TheseparallelsshowthatthehumanrelationshiptowardGodandtheLambcan
beonlyoneoffidelity(bride)orofinfidelity(whore).SinceGodisatthesame
timejustandgracious,salvationorcondemnationarethe
32Onthemarriagemotif,secR.A.Batcy,NewTestamentNuptialImagery(Leiden,1971);J.Jerc
mias,"numphc"TDNT4:109299;F.Bovon,"LcChristdeI'Apocalypse,"RThPh22(1972):71.
33CDeutsch,"TransformationofSymbols:TheNewJerusaleminRev21:1225"Z/W78(1987):
112.Thisrelationshipisstrengthenedbycontrastwiththewhore,whoembodiesinfidelityand
idolatiy.U.Vanni,"11simbolismoncli'Apoealisse,"Gregorianwn61(1980):480.
34Cf.J.Comblin,"L'hommeretrouvc:larencontrede1'Epousc(Ap22),"AS29(1970):38t6.
35Deutsch,122.

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NewJerusalemTheHolyCity
Babylon

NewJerusalem
TheSettingoftheVisions

"Andoneofthe*evenangel*
whohadUKtownbcwb,
cameand*pokewithinc
laying:Comehere,
Itballihowyou..
ibegreatnariot...
withwhomtheking*ofthe
earthhavefornicated..(17:12)
Andbecarriedmeaway
intheSpirit
intothewildcrncaa,
andl*aw(!7;3)
thegreatdty(17:18)
Babylon(17:5)
fittingonmanywaten
...onatcaridbcatt"(17:1,3)

"Andoneoftbeievenangel*
woobadtheevnbowli...
cameandipotewithme
aymg:Comehere,
tihadtbowyou
thebride.
thewifeoftheLamb(21:9)
Andbecarriedmeaway
intheSpirit
loagreatandhigbmountain
andihoedme(21:10)
tbebolydty
Jerusalem
coolingdownoutofheaven
fromGod(21:10)

TheDescriptionoftheTwoWomen/Cities
And(bewomanwaiclothed
IDpurpleandcartel,adorned
withgoldandpreaou*(tone*
andpearii,havinginherhand
agoldcupfullofabofflinaliolu
andth<impuritie*ofher
fornication(17:4)
Dwellingplaceofdemon*
andpritonofeveryundcan*pirit(16:2)
Tlwcwhotenameitnotwritten
inthehookoflife
wiHraarvdtobeholdibebeatt(17:8)
Thenation*andtheking*
ofthecarth(17:15)*hafl
givetlnarpowerand*trength
untothebeat(17:1213)

havingtheglocyofGod.
Herbrilliancewailikea
predouitone,ofcryilal
ckarjaaper...(21:11)
inthemiddleofbcrstreet
riverofwateroflife,
dearaCTy*tl...(22:12)
DwellingplaceofGodsndofhapeople(21:3).
Nothinguncleanibalfcomeintoit(21:27)
TboMwho*ename*arewritten
intheLamb'sBookofHfe
ballcomeintoit(21:27)
(benation*andthekingf
oftheearthwillbringglory
andhonorintoit
(21:24)

FateoftheTwoCities

bintroducedbyibewwds"Ititdone"
(16:17)andittoaddedthatBabylonwa*
rememberedbeforeGod,togiveherthe
cupofthewineofHi*fierce
wrath(l&19).Inonedayberplague*will
come:deathandmourningandfamine,
andibewillbeburnedupwithfire(18:8)
Theimokeofherburningriaeiup
foreverandever(18:18;19:3)Tbelight
ofalampwillnotbineinilanylonger
(18:23)Babylon,adornedwithgoldand
Jeweh,i*broughttoruin(18:1617)
Babyfonreign*a*aqueen(18:7)but
withherinhabitant*iti*doomedto
deitruction(18:8)Babylonthegreatcity
willbethrowndownwithviolenceand
willnolbefoundanylonger(18:21)

[iintroducedbytheword*
"Ititdone"anditii
addedthaiGodwillgiveto
theonewhothiraufromthe
tpringofthewateroflife
withoutco*t(21:6)
Andthereballnolongerbe
anydeath...normourning...
orpain...(21:4).
They(ballwalkbyiulight(21:24).
[UlampHtheLamb(21:2;)
TheLordGodhallilluminethem(21:25:22:5)
Jennaleffl,radiantlikea
jewdthine*withthegloryofGod(21:11)
ToethroneofGodhallbe
init,andbi*(ervanu
(ballservehim...'(22:3)
andtheyhallreignforeverand
ever(22:5)
Author*tramlation

256

NewJerusalemTheHolyCity
onlypossibleoutcomesofhumandecision
earthlytown.NewJerusalemorBabylon.

sithertheheavenlycityorthe

CityMaterials
TheimageryusedbyJohntodescribeNewJerusalemwasbetter
understood by his contemporaries who were familiar with ancient
cities than by us in modem times. Furthermore, it is obvious that
"humanlanguageandhumanportrayalscannotadequatelyrepresent
thegrandeurofthatcelestialcity.' 136Thedifference,however,between
thepictureandtherealitycallsforcarefulinterpretation.
Ancientcitieswerespeciallycentersoftrade,thestorehousesof
riches. The citywastheprize.37 ThisiswhyJohnpresentstheNew
Jerusalemasacityofabundance,ofincalculablewealth.Thiswealth
isdescribedwiththemostpreciousmaterialsofthetime:gold,pearls,
preciousstones.
The material of the city is pure gold, mentioned two times
(21:18,21).Butitisalwaysstatedthatthisgoldwas"likecrystal."The
ideaofbrilliance,transparency,andpurityseemstoprevailoverthat
ofmererichness.
Precious stones have been used consistently in the Bible to
describetheophanies(visibleappearancesofGod)."Themainreason
isprobablythattheyemitaradiance,justaslight,whichhasoften
beenusedtoillustratethepresenceofGod."38 Thequalitiesstressed
arelight,radiance,
beauty,andpermanence.
Thegemsmostabundantlyusedarepearls;eachgatewasformed
fromasinglepearl(21:21;cf.Isa54:12).Amongthepreciousstones
the one mentioned most often is jasper, although its identity with
modemjasperis
problematic.
1."Itsradiancelikeamostrarejewel,likeajasper,clearascrystal"
(21:11).
2."Thewallwasbuiltofjasper"(21:18).
3."Thefirst[adorningthefoundation]wasjasper"(21:19).Since
GodHimselfisalsodescribedintermsofjasper(4:3),theintentionof
thetextsseemstobethatthegloryofGodisthebrillianceofthecity,
thatGodHimselfisitswall,39andthatHeisalsoitsfirstfoundation.
Concerningtheinterpretationofthe12preciousstonesadorningthe
36TheSDABibleCommentary7(Washington,DC,1957):892.
37Comblin."Laville...,"642.
38Cf.Ps104:12;Ezek1:4,13,16,2628;10:1;seeUnaJans,"Preciousstonesinthe
Revelationof
St.John21.19.21,"ST24(1970):151,
39Cf.Zech.2:45:"Jerusalemwillbeinhabitedasvillageswithoutwalls....ForIwillbeto
herawallofHreroundabout,..andIwillbetheglorywithinher."

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NewJerusalemTheHolyCity
foundations of the city(21:14,1920), it isnecessary to be cautious. Certainly a
symbolismisthere,butitisnoteasytoascertain.First,thisseemstobeanallusion
tothefulfillmentoftheprophecyofIsaiah54:1112:"Behold,Iwillsetyourstones
inantimony,andlayyourfoundationswithsapphires.Iwillmakeyourpinnaclesof
agate,andyourgatesofcarbuncles,andallyourwallofpreciousstones."
Ifthereisanothersignification,itseemsmoreprobabletoseeareferencetothe
12 stones set in the breastplate of the high priest. In fact, 8 of the 12 stones
mentionedarefoundinthebreastplate(cf.Exod28:1720;39:814).Butwhereas
eachstonerepresentedoneofthe12tribes,eachfoundationstonebearsthenameof
anapostle(21:14).
This transformation seems to say that in the new covenant the symbol has
becomeareality,thattheministryofthehighpriestisbothfinishedandfulfilled. 40
TheprefigurationofoldIsraelhasbecomethesolidfoundationofthenewIsrael.
The transfer of names from the tribes to the apostles confirms the universal
characterofthenewreality.41
CityDimensions
NewJerusalemisnottheresultofextemporaneousgrowth. It is,aboveall,a
calculated, well planned, mathematical reality. The description places much
emphasisonthemeasurementsofthecityandthedetailsofitsperfectarchitectural
structure: dimensions,walls,gates,andfoundations.Everythingistheresultofa
perfectintention.Thisiswhatitsmeasurementreveals(21:1217).Thetwonotions
particularlyemphasizedarethoseofperfectionandimmensity.
It is surprising to notice that the number 7, predominant in the book of
Revelation,hasbeenreplacedbythenumber12. 42Allfiguresgivenaretwelvesor
multiplesof12.Forexample,12gates,12angels,12tribesofthesonsofIsrael(vs.
12),"twelvefoundations,andonthemthetwelvenamesofthetwelveapostlesofthe
Lamb"(vs.14);"twelvethousandstadia"(vs.16);"ahundredandfortyfourcubits"
(vs.17);"twelvepearls"(vs.21);"twelvekindsoffruit"(22:2). 43
40Ellul,Sansfeu,289.Thepreciousstonesofthebreastplateofthehighpriestare"thesamethatform
thetwelvefoundationsofthecityofGod."(White,PatriarchsandProphets,351.)
41Thespiritualbuilding,whichisthechurch,hasbeenbuilt"uponthefoundationoftheapostlesand
prophets,ChristJesushimselfbeingthecornerstone"(Eph2:1922).
42AccordingtoCoisini,288,thisfactmaybeexplainedthroughasymboliccode,accordingtowhich7
additionof4and3producesatotalitybutnottheperfection.Perfectionisobtainedwhenthe
relationshipisoneofmultiplication(12istheresultof3x4).
43Itis,infact,"acityoftwelves"(CM.Maxwell,GodCares2[Boise,ID,1985]:531),oreven,acity
258

NewJerusalemTheHolyCity

ThesemeasuresseemtopointtotheplenitudeofGod'speople:
thecityismarkedbythesignofthe12tribesofancientIsraelandof
the12apostlesofJesusChrist,underlyingthusthecontinuityof
salvationhistoryandeventhespiritualidentitybetween"theIsrael
ofGod"andthetriumphantchurch.
ThenewJerusalemdimensions(asquareof12,000stadia,or
aboutfifteenhundredmiles)showthatthiscityisasthemeasureof
theredeemedhumanityasawhole.SurpassingBabylonandRome,
New Jerusalem is the true and the only universal city. The
universalityisstressedbyseveralfeatures:
1.Thecityisorientedtoalldirections.Ithasthreegatesopento
eachofthefourcardinalpoints:"ontheeastthreegates,onthe
norththreegates,onthesouththreegates,andonthewestthree
gates"(21:13;cf.Ezek48:3034).Andthesegates"shallneverbe
shut"(21:25).
ThisrecallsthewordsofJesus:"Menwillcomefromeastand
west,andfromnorthandsouth,andandsitattableinthekingdom
ofGod"(Luke13:29).Thereisunlimitedaccess.Theconditionfor
entrance,however,isclearlystated:"Blessedarethosewhowash
theirrobes,...thattheymayenterthecitybythegates"(22:14).For
thoseonlyshallcomein"whoarewritteninthe Lamb's bookof
life"(21:27).
2. The universal nature of the New Jerusalem explains the
presence of the plural "peoples" (laoi) instead of the singular
"people"(hos)in21:3."Godshalldwellamongthem,andtheyshall
behis peoples.**44 Theheavenlyvoice of 21:3 echoes Leviticus
26:1112:"Iwillmakemyabodeamongyou,...andwillbeyour
God,andyoushallbemypeople."45
But the new covenant formula has changed slightly. The
redeemedpeoplesoftheeartharereconciledwiththeirGodwho
dwellsamongthem.God'speopleshavebecomeGod'speople.The
relationGodhasalwayswantedtomaintainwithmankindisfinally
possible. The intimate communion between the Creator and the
creature,whichGodsolongintended,isnowrestored.Manhas
acceptedthegiftofeternallifeproposedbyGodandobtainedby
theLamb.ThecityofGodisatransnationalcommunity,thecityof
allmankind.
3. God accepts in the New Jerusalem the contribution of all
nations(Rev21:26)."Byitslightshallthenationswalk;andthe
kingsoftheearth
of"twelvetwelves":12gates,12pearls,12angels,12tribes,12foundations,12
names,12apostles,12jewels.12kindsoffruit.12,000stadia,and144cubits(12x
12).
44Thistextualvarianthasslightlybettermanuscriptsupportthanthevariantlaos,andis
tobepreferred;cf.J.Sweet,Revelation(London,1979),289.
45Cf.Ezek37:27;Zech8:8.

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NewJerusalemTheHolyCity
shallbringtheirgloiyintoit"(21:24).Theyshallbringintoitthegloryandthe
honorofthenations(21:26;cf.Zech14:16).
The"nations,"intheNewJerusalemarenolonger"Gentiles"(cf.22:2),butthe
truepeopleofGod.ThewordingofRevelation21:2426recallsverycloselyIsaiah
60:15,11.ButwhileinIsaiahthekingsofthenationsenterintoJerusalemled
captive,intheNewJerusalemtheyenterthegatesfreely. 46
Theimageryofanapocalypticexpectationbasedonanationcenteredreality
hasbeentransferredtoauniversalistexpectation,groundedonauniversalChristian
experience.

CityofNoTemple

AnoticeablefeatureoftheNewJerusalemisitsapparentcubeshape(21:16).
Thecubeistheimageofsolidity,stability,andcompleteness.Buthereitprobably
signifies something more, for the city is a cube like the Most Holy Place in
Solomon'sTemple(1Kgs6:20)
Twofactsinthedescriptionoftheheavenlycitymayhaveabearingonthe
significanceofthisshape:
1.First,thecityitselfistheobjecttobemeasured(21:1517),similartothe
measuringofthetempleinEzekiel'svision.
2.Second,thereisnotempleintheNewJerusalem(21:22).
It may be implied from these considerations that although the city has no
temple,itisdescribedintemplecategories(21:927)becausethewholecityisin
itselfa"temple."Thisis,infact,thereasonthatseemstobegivenfortheabsenceof
temple:"Isawnotempleinthecity,foritstempleistheLordGodtheAlmightyand
theLamb"(21:22).
TheGreekwordusedherefor"temple"isnaos,awordusedbyJohnelsewhere
inthebookofRevelationfortheheavenlysanctuary.Inthesamepassage,theNew
Jerusalem iscalled "thedwellingofGod," {skene, 21:3).ThesameGreekword
designatedthetabernacleinthewildernessandisusedalsoin13:6and15:5.Terms
andtextsreferringtotheTemplearethenusedheretodescribetheNewJerusalem.
The Temple of Jerusalem, as well as the tabernacle in the wilderness,
represented God's realm in the middle of man's domain. Because of sin both
domainsweredifferentiatedandseparated. To bridgethegap,mediationbetween
Godandmanwasnecessary.Now,intheNewJerusalemthe
46ThatIsraelandthenationswouldgatherattheendoftimesintothetemple,wasalsoexpectedin
someintertestamentalwritings(TestBcnJ.9:2;SibOr3:772773;SongofSol17:3235).
47Cf.Rev3:12;7:15;11:1,2,19;14:15,17;15:5,6,8;16:1,17;21:22.

260

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worldofGodandtheworldofmenhavebecomeoneandthesame.Media
tionisnolongernecessary.Communicationisopen.Godtalksdirectlywith
man,andmanwithGod.
Thecommunionofloveisperfect. 48 Therefore,thetemplehastodis
appear.Intheneworderofthings"therewillbenoneedforaseparateplace
tosymbolize,orevenmediatetheencounterbetweenGodandHispeople.
Thetemple,assymbolofaccesstothedivinepresence,isreplaced
bythePresenceitself."49
ThetruetempleisthepresenceofGodamongHispeople.Godisno
moreseparatedfromman.GodisnomoreinaplacereservedtoHimalone.
TheplacewhereGodisandtheplacewheremanishavebecomethesame.
ThenewcityistheencounterplaceofGodandman,withoutbarriers,and
forever.Therefore,"nolongeristhereanyneedfortheordinaryheavenly
sanctuaryortempletoexist."50
CityofLight
TheimpressionthatprevailsinJohn'sdescriptionoftheholycityisone
ofradiantlight.Hisdescriptionstartswithareferencetothecity'sbrilliance.
("HavingthegloryofGod,itsradiancelikeamostrarejewel,likeajasper,
clearascrystal,"21:11).Hecentersonthelighttheme("thegloryofGodis
itslight,"21:23),andbymeansofabeautifulinclusionheendsagainwith
thementionoflight("theLordGodwillbetheirlight,"22:5). 51
Thislightissointensethatthesunandthemoonarenolongerneces
sary(21:23;22:5).TheimportanceofthisfactforJohnissogreatthathe
repeatsthesamepointtwotimesinthesamecontext. 52TheGenesiscreation
startedwiththecreationoflight(Gen1:34).Thenewcreationculminates
withthebrillianceofGod'slight,illuminingtheradiantcity.Inthefirst
creationthelightappearedbeforetheappearingofthesunandthemoon;in
thenewcreationthegloryofGodexpandstoeclipseanyothermaterial
sourceoflight.
But there is a fourth insight: God's light shines through Christ"its
lampistheLamb"(21:23).Heisthe"truelightthatenlightenseveryman"
(John1:9).
48mu\,Apocatypsc,24041.
49Dcutsch,115.
50Maxwell,GodCons2:534.
51Thisrecallstheimageoftheradiantwomanof12:1.
52ThegloryofGodsurpassing(oreveneliminating?)sunandmoonoverNewJerusalemare
alreadyprophesiedinIsaiah60:1920.

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NewJerusalemTheHolyCity
The disappearing of night is also mentioned twice (21:25; 22:5). Why this
insistence?Weknowhowimportantthelightmotifis in theJohanninewritings.
Lightcansymbolizeknowledgeandtruth.Tosaythatthereisnomorenightmeans
alsothatthemysteryofGod(10:7)willberevealed,therevelationofChristwillbe
fullyaccomplished(1:1),andallthatnowisdarkandobscurewillbecome,finally,
definitivelyclear.
CitizensoftheHolyCity
Thecharacteristics ofthecitizensoftheNew Jerusalem enumerated inthis
passageareveryfew:
1.Theyaredescribedasconquerors,usingaformulathatrecallsthepromises
madetotheovercomersinthesevenchurches(cf.21:7with2:7,11,17,26;3:5,12,
21).
2.TheyarecalledsonsofGodandheirs(21:7).Theircovenantrelationship
withGodispresentedinawellknowncovenantalformula:"Behold,thetabernacle
ofGodiswithmen,andhewilldwellwiththem,andtheyshallbehispeople,and
Godhimselfshallbewiththem,andbetheirGod"(21:3,KJV).53Thisformulawas
alreadyusedintheOTbothinreferencetotheinitialestablishmentandtothe
restorationoftheTemple.ButnowthepromisetoIsraelisextendedtoallpeoples.
Theinhabitantsoftheholycityare,therefore,thosewhointhislifeenteredinto
covenantalrelationshipwithGod.
3.Theyaremarked.God'sname"shallbeontheirforeheads"(22:4),thesymbol
ofHisownershipandauthentication.Thesymbolismemphasizestheirconsecration
toGod(cf.7:3;13:16).
4.Theyareworshipers.TheonlydescriptiongivenofactivityintheNew
Jerusalemisthatofworshipandadoration.Theredeemed"shallworshiphim"
(22:3).TheGreekverb(latreuo)meansboth"toserve"and"toworship."The
redeemedarecalledGod'sbondservants(22:3),andtheyexpresstheirworshipin
opencontemplation."Theyshallseehisface"(22:4).55
AccordingtotheScriptures,nosinfulmortalhaseverseenGod'sface.God
did not show Himself to the prophets, nor to the priests in the temple. He was
present,butnevervisible.Therewasnotheophanyinits
53Cf.Lev26:1112;Ezek37:27;48:35;Jer7:23;John14:23;2Cor6:16.
54Cf.Exod29:45;Jer31:33;Ezek37:2627;43:7;Zech8:3,8;10:6.Ontherelationshipbetween
covenantandtempleseeE.SchiisslerFiorenza,"PriesterfurGott,StudienzumHerrschaftsund
PrieslermotivinderApokalypse,"NTA7(1972):4023.
55Cf.Exod33:20;1Cor13:12;1John3:2.

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NewJerusalemTheHolyCity
completesense.OnlyGod'snamewasknown.Healwaysactedthrough
HisWord.Hewas"heard"butnot"seen.'*Nowsightjoinshearing,and
God'spresenceisfullyexperiencedbyman.56
5.Theyhavearighttoenterthecity.Therighttoenterisnotmerelya
questionoffulfillingacertainnumberofspecifications.Theinvitationis
madeto"thethirsty"(21:6)andaccessisgiven,personallytoeachone,by
ChristHimself.Thereshallcomeintothecity"onlythosewhoarewritten
intheLamb'sbookoflife"(21:27).57
Now,theinvitation"tothethirsty"establishesadistinctionfromthose
whodonotthirstbecausetheyhavefoundtheirsatisfactionintheirown
humanperformancesandrealizations(alludedtoin21:8).Thisisnota
moralissuesomuchasitisaquestionofspiritualneed.TheneedforGod.
Thosewhothirstareparalleledwith"thewinners"(21:67).
Theonlyconflicttowinisthestruggleoffaith.Theincrediblebless
ingthatallhumanityisinvitedtoshare(22:17)isthatofbeingredeemed
bytheLamb'sbloodandofbeingcompletelyrecreatedtoHisimage.58
Fromacomparativelist(summarizedfrom Rev 2122and1718,p.
256) we observe that the characteristics listed in the left column are
preciselythosewhichdefineBabylonanditscitizens(secondcolumn).
These lists are less a description than a warning. And the warning is
againstthosewhopreferotherrelationshipstoarelationshipwithGod.
Thisiswhatexcludesthemfromtheholycity(cf.21:26).
AsintherestoftheBible,theworstdepravationisidolatry,thatis,to
worshipothergodsthanGod.Fornication(pomeia)isrelatedspirituallyto
idolatryinthebookofRevelation.Butprobablythemoralandthespiritual
meaningarebothintended.Thecowardlyarethosewhorefuse,ordonot
dare to stand for what they know is right (cf. 2 Tim 1:7). They are
probablythesameasthelukewarmofRevelation3:1516.59
Liarsareespeciallytheenemiesofthetruth(cf.John8:44).Thebook
of Revelationoftenwarnsagainsttheseandrelatedattitudes.Theword
koinon (common/unclean,21:27)occursonlyhereinRevelation. It de
notesritualimpurity,andpointscertainlytotheculticnatureoftheholy
cityastemple.""CommunionwithGodexcludesallformsofevil.New
56fSlul,Apocalypse,23738.Thelastthingwhichissaidoftheredeemedisthat"they
shallreignforeverandever."ThepromiseofRev20:46Findshereitsfinaland
definitiveaccomplishment(cf.1:6;5:10).
57Onthebookoflife,cf.3:5;13:8;20:15.
58L.Bouyer,LaBibleelI'Evangile(Paris,1953),200.
59Prigcnt,L<cid...,263.60Thismayreflectthewordingofsomeprophecies,suchasIsa
52:1andEzek44:9.InSongofSol

263

NewJerusalemTheHolyCity
CharacteristicsofThoseExcludedFromNewJerusalem CharacteristicsoftheInhabitants
ofBabylon
21:8

21:2722:15

Chaps.1718

unclean

18:2
dogs

cowardly
faithless
polluted

abomination

17:45

murderers

17:6;18:24

fomicators

17:1,2,5,15,16;18:3,9

sorcerers
idolaters

18:23
19:20

allliars

19:20

Jerusalemisinfact,bythebloodoftheLamb,aholycity(22:14).
In a city of no temple, there are no cultic officiants or intermediaries. All
believers,accordingtothepromisegivenoncetoMoses(Exod19:6),havebecome
kings(22:5)andpriests(1:6).Thecitizensofthefirstreal"lay"and"holy"cityof
history,worshipGoddirectlyandenjoythedivinepresencewithoutintermediaries
(22:4).61
Acomparisonoftheletterstothesevenchurches(2:13:22)andthevisionof
theNewJerusalem(21:122:5)demonstratesthatthelinksbetweenthetwopassages
aremany.TheintentionofthisparallelseemstoshowthatinthecitizensoftheNew
Jerusalemarefulfilledthepromisesmadetothe"victors"ofthesevenletters.The
prominentfeaturesofthisrelationshipbecamemoreevidentthroughacomparative
chartonpage265.
The correspondences are decisive, not only for ascertaining the relationship
between the letters to the churches and the New Jerusalem vision, but also for
determining the nature of the heavenly city. What the letters promised to the
membersofthechurchesisfulfilledinthecitizensofthe
17:29purificationisassociatedwiththeingatheringofnations,likeinRev21:2427and22:15.See
further,Dcutsch,121.61Comblin,"Laville...,"643;Schussler.Piorenza,381.

264

NewJerusalemTheHolyCity
NewJerusalemaccordingtoRevelation2122.Therelationshipbetween
thechurchesandtheNewJerusalemisclear:WhatChristpromisedtothe
earthlychurchwillberealized,definitively,intheHolyCity.Atthesame
time,thisrelationshipcontainsanurgentcall.Themilitantchurchischal
lengedtobetransformed,throughthepowerofChrist,intotheglorious
andtriumphantchurchoftheNewJerusalem.
PromisestotheSevenChurches

FulfillmentinNewJerusalem

1.Ephesus:Thevictorwill"eatofthetreeof Thetreeoflifeisoneithersideoftheriver
tife,whichisintheparadiseofGod"(2:7). whichflowsfromthethroneofGod(22:2).
2.Smyrna:Thevictorispromisedhe"shall Thevictor"shallhavethisheritage,"butthe
notIdie]theseconddeath" ungodlyreceivetheseconddeath(21:7,8;cf.
20:6,14).
(2:11).
3.Pergamum:Thevictorispromised"anew "Hisnameshallbeontheirforeheads"
name"(2:17).
(22:4).
4.Thyatira:Thevictorispromised"power "Theyshallreignforeverandever"
overthenations"(2:26).
(22:5).
5.Sardis:Thevictorispromisedawhite
"Blessedarethosewhowashtheirrobes,..,
garment,andhisnamewillnotbeerased
thattheymayenterthecitybythegates"
from"thebookoflife"(3:5).
(22:14).TheyarewrittenintheLamb'sbook
oflife(21:27).
6.Philadelphia:Thevictorispromised,"I
The dwelling of God is among men
willmakehimapillarinthetempleofmy
(21:3). God's name shall be on their
God;...Iwillwriteonhim...thenameofthe foreheads (22:4). "The holy city Je
cityofmyGod,thenewJerusalemwhich
rusalemcomingdownoutofheaven"
comesdownfrommyGodoutofheaven"
(21:10).
(3:12).
7.Laodicea:Thevictorispromisedthe
privilegeofsittingwiththeLambonHis
throne(3:21).

"ThethroneofGodandoftheLambshallbe
init,"andtheredeemedshallreignforever
(22:3,5).

SeatoftheNewEden
ThreemainfeaturesrelatetheNewJerusalemwithParadiserecovered:
1.Theriver"oflife"flowingfromthethroneofGod(22:1),seems
toparalleltheriverthatflowedoutofEden(Gen2:10).
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NewJerusalemTheHolyCity
2.The"oneithersideoftheriver,thetreeoflife"(22:2)parallels"thetreeof
life...inthemidstofthegarden"(Gen2:9).
3.Thefactthat"thereshallnomorebeanythingaccursed"(22:3)echoes,asa
counterpart,the"cursedareyou"and"cursedistheground"ofGenesis3:14and
17.
The wording, however, appears to be drawn, not directly from the Eden
Genesisnarrative,butfromtheNewJerusalemvisionofEzekiel,whereParadise
imageryisalreadybeingusedtodescribetherestoredHolyCity.
Theriverofwateroflife,flowingfromGod'sthrone(22:1)parallelsthewater
flowingfromthetemple(Ezek47:112).Thetreeoflife,oneithersideoftheriver,
bearing12fruitsandhealingleaves(22:2),parallelsthetrees"onbothsidesofthe
river,...[that]bearfreshfruiteverymonth....Theirfruitwillbeforfood,andtheir
leaves for healing" (Ezek 47:12). Themainfeature isGod'spresence (22:3); it
parallelsthefinalstatementofEzekiel'svision:"Thenameofthecityhenceforth
shallbe,TheLordisthere"(Ezek48:35).
This relationship between the New Jerusalem and Paradise 62 indicates that
God'sprimevalidealforhumanityhasbeenreached.Attheendofthehistoryof
thisworldandattheendoftheBibleaftertheremovalofsinandallitsterrible
consequences.God'swillisfullyrealizedforHiscreatures.
1."Theriverofthewateroflife,brightascrystal,flowingfromthethroneof
GodandoftheLamb"(22:1)assuresacontinuousflowoflifefromtheCreatorto
everycreature.InGodthereislifeforallandforever.
2."Thetreeoflife,"ofenigmaticmagnificence("oneithersideoftheriver")
andmysteriousriches("withitstwelvekindsoffruit,yieldingitsfruiteachmonth,"
22:2),speaksagainoflifegivinginceaselessnessandfullness.
IthasbeennoticedthatthewordusedinRevelation22:2for"tree"is xulon,
"wood,"andnottheusualwordwhichintheNTisdendron.63Now,xulon,which
usuallymeans"wood"(cf.Rev18:12,13),isoftenusedintheNewTestamentfor
thecross,64andalways,inRevelation,forthe"treeoflife"(cf.2:7;22:2,14,19).If
thisisanallusiontothecross,"thetreeoflife"wouldbeoneofthemostbeautiful
imageseverpossibleforthegospel:
62AdescriptionoftheNewJerusalemintermsofParadiseisalsofoundin2ApocBar4:17;1Enoch
90:3336;TestDan5:1213;4Esr8:52.
63Cf.Rev7:1,3;8:7;9:4.
64Acts5:30;10:39;13:29;Gal3:13;1Pet2:24.

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NewJerusalemTheHolyCity
thetreewouldbetheperfectreminderthatlifereachesmanonly
throughtheredemptivesacrificeofJesus.65
The statement that the leaves of the tree of life are "for the
healingofthenations"(22:2)isproblematic.Inaworldwheredeath
andsufferinghavedisappeared,isthereanyneedforhealing?(Cf.
Ezek47:12.)Inordertoanswerthisquestionwemustalsoremember
thatman,evenafterresurrection,remainsacreature.Helivesbecause
God'slifeisimparted,momentaftermoment,tohim.
EvenwhilebeingwithGod,manisstillman,andGodisstillGod.
MandependsonGodforsubsisting.Hewillbeconstantlydependenton
God'slife.Theleavesofthetreeoflifewillremindmanthatheneedsto
becontinuously"healed"ofhisfinitude.66 Eventhoughfullyintegrated
inthebodyofChrist,manwillneverbeChrist.Manwillbeabletolook
toGodfacetoface,butwillneverbedivinized.HewillneverbeGod.
Hewillalwaysbeacreature,andGodwillalwaysbetheCreator.Man
willreignbutneveralone,alwayswithGod.
ThetreeoflifeitsfruitandleavesisareminderthatonlyGodis
eternal,haslifeinHimself.Man'seternityisaneternitycontinuously
receivedfromGod,sharedbyGod.God'sgiftwillalwaysbetheretoim
part life (symbol of the tree) to heal man from his essential finitude
(symboloftheleaves).Sothetreeoflifemakesclearthetriumphof
grace.Evenineternityallisgrace.
3.Thestatement,"thereshallnomorebeanythingaccursed"(22:3),
mdicatestheabrogationofthesentenceforbiddingaccesstothetreeof
lifeinthefirst Eden(cf.Gen3:1624).Withtheremoval ofsin,the
broken relationship between God and man is restored. Man now has
unlimitedaccesstotheSourceoflife.Thereisnolongeranydangerof
death. The idea of security is implied, as the old prophecy for the
restorationofJerusalemhadpromised:"Anditshallbeinhabited,for
thereshallbenomorecurse;Jerusalemshalldwellinsecurity"(Zech
14:11).

CapitalofthePromisedLand
Besidesthenewcreation,newParadiseandnewEdenmotif,the
description of the New Jerusalem is also permeated by the new
exodus motif, one of the most important themes in the book of
Revelation.67New
65E.M.Emhiy,'Tree,etc.,"D/^7T3:868.
66J.EUu\,Apocafypse,243.
67Cf.DanielScsboue,"ExodeetApocalypse,"inUnelecturedeI'Apocalypse,Cahiers
Evangile11

267

NewJerusalemTheHolyCity
JerusalemispresentedasthefulfillmentofthehistoryofGod'sIsrael.Aftertheir
longexodus,68thenewpeopleofGodfinallyreachCanaanthePromisedLand.
1.Hewhoovercomesispromised"thisheritage,andIwillbehisGodandhe
shallbemyson"(21:7),aformulathatrecallstheverypurposeoftheExodus:to
makeIsraelthepeopleofGod(cf.Lev26:912).69
2.Therewillbenomore"mourningnorcryingnorpain"(21:4).Thehostilities
ofBabylon(whichhastakentheplaceofEgypt)andthedifficultiesofthedesert,
arefinishedforever.
3.Theinvitation"tothethirsty"andthepromiseofdrinkfrom"thefountainof
thewateroflife"(21:6)isreminiscentofExodus17:17.Thisinvitation,againstthe
backgroundofthedesertJourney,wherewaterwassoprecious,istheperfectimage
ofGod'sbestgift,thegiftofeternallife(cf.22:17;John7:3738;Isa55:1). 70
4. The presence of "the dwelling of God" with men (21:3) is the fullest
realizationofLeviticus26:1113(cf. Rev 7:1517;John1:14).Godhasbecome
"Godwiththem."HehasplantedHistent,definitively,amongHispeople.
5.Thestatement,"Byitslightshallthenationswalk"(21:24),referstothe
LambandthegloryofGod,sourceforlightfortheHolyCity.Thisrecallsthepillar
offirethatlightedIsrael'swaythroughthewildernesstothePromisedLand(Exod
13:21).
6."ThenamesofthetwelvetribesofthesonsofIsrael"(21:12)arewrittenin
the 12 gates ofthe New Jerusalem. Thissuggests that in the HolyCity all the
promisestoandhopesofIsraelafterherExodushavebecomeareality.
7.Thereferencestolight(21:23;22:5)andwater(21:6;22:12)seemtosay
thattherewilloccurattheendofspiritualIsrael'spilgrimagethegreatfulfillment
oftheFeastofTabernacles,thetypicalfeastofwaterandlight(cf.John7:2).The
endtimepromiseshavebeenfulfilled.Buttherealitysurpassesthepromisesand
goesfarbeyondallexpectations.
ThepeopleofGodarecalled,saved,protected,andguidedbyGoduntilthey
reachthenewCanaan.TheancientaccountoftheExodusisa
(Paris.1975),3539.
68Theplagues,relatedtothetrumpetsandtothesevenbowls(cf.Rev8;16),recalltheplaguesof
Egypt(Exod811).ThewomantakenbyGodintothedesertandnourishedbyGod(Rev12:14),
evokesthepeopleofIsrael,fedinthedesertbythemanna,etc.
69Onthenotionofadoption,cf.Eph1:35;Rom8:1523.
70Cf.Rev22:17;John7:3738;Isa55:1.

268

NewJerusalemTheHolyCity
typeofGod'sguidanceofHispeoplethroughhistory.WiththisreferencetoGod's
protectionofIsrael,thevisiongives,toencouragethepersecutedChristiansofall
times,apositivesourceofhope.

CityoftheLamb
Aboveeverythingelse,theNewJerusalemisthecityofJesusChrist.
InthispassageChristisexclusivelyandsystematicallydesignatedbythe
term amion, "theLamb.'*Thiswordisrepeatedseventimesinthepas
sage.EachtimeitisusedtodescribeadifferentrelationshipbetweenJesus
andNewJerusalem:
1.TheLambisthehusbandoftheNewJerusalem,Hisbrideandwife
|(2h9).
2.TheLambisthefounderofthecity.Itstwelvefoundationsbearthe
namesofHistwelveapostles(21:14).
3.TheLamb,togetherwiththeFather,isthetempleofthecity(21:22).
4.TheLambisthe"lamp"ofthecity,illuminatingitwiththegloryof
God(21:23).
5.TheLambisthebookkeeperorthejudgeoftheNewJerusalem
citizens. Onlytheyareallowedtoenterthecity"whoarewritteninthe
Lamb'sbookoflife"(21:27).
6.TheenthronedLambisthesourceoflife,ortheLifegiver,for"the
Hverofthewateroflife"flowsfromthethroneofGodandoftheLamb
(22:1).
7.TheLambisking,governingfromHisthroneandservedbyHis
bondservants(22:3).
InthreeofthesereferencestheLambismentionedtogetherwithGodi
mtheformula"GodandtheLamb."GodandtheLambaretheHolyCity's
Htemple(21:22);thethroneofGodandtheLambisinit(22:3);andthe||
riveroflifecomesfromthethroneofGodandtheLamb(22:1).ButChrist
H<loneissaidtobethehusband(21:9),theonewholaidthefoundations|
gHttough His 12 apostles (21:14), the lamp of the city (21:23), and the
jpseeperofthebookoflifewherethenamesofthecitizensoftheNew||
ferusaiemarewritten(21:27).
|| This sevenfold reference to Christ in relationship to the New Jeru
(;AalememphasizestheChristiansignificanceoftheHolyCity.Identified
IpwiththeFather,andsharingthethroneoftheuniversewithHim,Christ
jl^BthecenteroftheNewJerusalem.Heistheking.Hispresence,always
Jftated,isneverdescribed.ChristisessentialtotheHolyCity:Heisits
269

NewJerusalemTheHolyCity
founder,itstemple,itslampoflight,anditssourceoflife.Heis,inaword,thebest
gift of God to mankindthe bridegroom, the husband of humanity redeemed.
EverythingisrecapitulatedinHim.IntheLamboftheNewJerusalemwehave"the
summingupofallthings"(Eph1:10,NASB).Thisvisionshows,inamasterful
way,that"thedefinitionofheavenisthepresenceofChrist."71

Conclusions
Havingarrivedattheendofthissurvey,wemaysummarizesometheological
implications:
1.BymeansoftheimageoftheNewJerusalem,thevisionofRevelation2122
transfers the symbols and functions of the historical Jerusalem to times beyond
history.Byplacingthisvisionafterthefinalrenewalofallthings(19:1120:15),the
realityoftheHolyCityisclearlylocatedsubsequenttoourpresentage.
2.Ratherthanbeingtheculminationofthehistoricalprocessortheresultof
human progress, the New Jerusalem is the product of God's supernatural
workmanship.72ItisacreationcomingfromGod,anabsolutegiftofGodtoman.
Theresultofman'sworkisBabylon:asystemthatcomesupfromtheearthagainst
God,characterizedbysuffering,death,andseparationfromGod.NewJerusalemis
theoppositeofBabylon.Itcomesdownfromheavenandrepresentstheabsolute
triumphoflife,joy,andcommunionwithGod.
3.ByidentifyingtheNewJerusalemwithanewcreation,anewParadise,and
thecityofthePromisedLand,thevisionsuggeststhatthedescriptionofthiscityis
likearecapitulationofsalvationhistory, 73intendedtoreassuretheredeemedofthe
ultimatevictoryofGodoverevil.Thisvictoryisdescribedasbothfulfillingand
surpassingtheprimevalorderofthings.
4.Allthedetailsofthetextimplythatthisneworder,inwhichthetranscendent
andearthlyordersareunited,willoccurinatransformedworldratherthanina
spiritualrealm.ThetraditionsthatidentifytheNewJerusalemofRevelation2122
withthehistoricalChristianchurchoneartharenotsupportedbyexegesisofthis
passage.74
71EllenGWhiteComments,TheSDABibleCommentary7:989.
72G.Vos,"NewJerusalem."ISBE(Chicago,1915),3:162122.
73E.Corsia^L'Apocatypsemamtenant,280.
74Boron,71;cf.MartinAchard,204,n.7.

270

NewJerusalemTheHolyCity
5.ThetransformationthatmakesofNewJerusalemanewcreationoccursin
continuitywiththepropheticpromisesofrestorationofJerusalemintheOTandin
fulfillmentofthepromisesmadebyChristtothesevenChristianchurches(2:1
3:22).ButtherealityoftheHolyCityeternaljoy,ultimateblissandperfection
surpasses human expectations. The final result of God's creativity is always
unexpected,surprising,andabsolutelynew.
6.Asasymbolofthegloriousclimax,thefinalfulfillmentofGod'splanof
salvation,theNewJerusalemespeciallyunderthemetaphorofthebrideandwife
represents the reconciliation of mankind with God, the realization of the
everlastingcovenant.Itrepresents,therefore,thetriumphantchurch,thenewand
definitiveIsrael(1:20)."ThroughChristbothIsraelandthechurchareoneandmet
togetherinonenewcity,theNewJerusalem."75
7.Thisvisioncontainsaforceful invitationfrom Godtobereadyfor the
eternalworld.Thebride,knowingthatthebridegroomiscoming**SurelyIam
comingsoon"(22:20)"hasmadeherselfready;itwas^grantedhertobeclothed
withfinelinen,brightandpure"(19:78).
;i
Allthehistoryofthechurch,andallourpersonalhistory,isexpected'byGodto
beapreparationforthatjoyfulevent,theencounterwithJesus.TOsiswhythetexts
insist,"TheSpiritandtheBridesay,'Come.'Andlethimwhohearssay,'Come.*
Andlethimwhoisthirstycome,lethimwhodesirestakethewateroflifewithout
price"(22:17).Thisistheinvitationofgracetoacitywhereallisgrace.

^H.LaRondcllc,TheIsraelofGodinProphecy,
145.271

II
GENERALSTUDIES

Sanctuary/Judgment
Remnant/SpiritofProphecy
ModernPapacy
Armageddon
HeavenlySanctuary(Qumran)
Christ'sTitles

ChapterIXSanctuaryand
Judgment
JanPaulsen
EditorialSynopsis.JudgmentfromthethroneofGodandoftheLambinthe
heavenlysanctuaryisamajoremphasisinthebookofRevelation.Somejudgments
are remedialindesign.Thepropheticsweepofthechurches,seals,andtrumpets
discloseselectiveoutpouringsofdivinewrathtodisciplinethechurchandtheworld
to bring them to repentance. If the desired response is not forthcoming, these
expressionsofJudgmentareprolepticofwhatistocome.
AsRevelation'sportrayalofthestrugglebetweengoodandevilmovestoward
itsclimax,theseveralfacetsofthefinaljudgmentareobservedintheprophecy:
1.Apreadventphase(Rev11:19;14:67;cf.Lev16;Dan7:910,1314).
2.AseparationphaseattheSecondAdventwhenbelieversareseparatedfrom
thefollowersofantichrist(Rev22:1112;20:56).
3.Amillennialreviewphase(Rev20:46;cf.1Cor6:23).
4.Anexecutivephaseatthecloseofthemillennium(Rev20:1115;cf.Matt
25:3146).
SalvationandjudgmentareministriesthatcenterinthepersonofChrist. His
right torule/judgeandtosaverestsonHisatoningdeathonthecross.Conse
quently,therecurringsymbolbywhichHeispresentedasjudgeinRevelationis
that oftheLamb,slain,butnowenthronedtojudgeuntilthattaskiscompleted,
andtoruleforever.
FidelitytoChrististheissueandbasisforJudgment.FaithfulnesstoChrist
impliesthekeepingofGod'scommandments(Rev12:17;14:12).Faithhasnoother
wayofexpressingitselfthanbyobedience.

ChapterOutline
I.Introduction
II.Terminology
III.SomeObservationsonSelectedPassages
IV.CentralityofChrist

275

SanctuaryandJudgment

Introduction
Toapproachourstudyinanorderlyway,wewillfirstdefinecertainbiblicalwords
germanetothediscussion.Sevenpassageshavebeenselectedinsectiontwofor
analysisbecausetheyappeartohighlightthejudgmenttheme.Asaresultofthese
preliminary observations, we will attempt in a final section to isolate the main
strainsandemphasesofthesanctuary/judgment themepresentedinthebookof
Revelation.

Terminology
Naos(Temple)
InbothGreekhistoryandlanguagethewordnaossignifiedthedwellingplace
ofagod.Itreferredtotheinnershrineorsanctuaryofthegod.Assuch,itwasmore
specificandnarrowerinmeaningthaneither hieron (temple),whichincludedthe
buildings and the courts, or temenos (sacred precincts), which designated the
markedofflandofthetempleortheprecinctsonwhichtheholyshrineandits
buildingsweresituated.(ThelatterwordisnotusedintheNT)
It would appear that these sharp distinctions between naos and hieron (or
between those terms and hagion/ta hagia [sanctuary], also used in the NT to
designatetemple/sanctuary)arenotheldtoconsistentlyintheNT1However,Johnin
thebookofRevelationemploysneitherhieronnorhagion/tahagia.NaosisJohn's
favoritewordfor"temple"whichheuses16timesbutwithdifferent shadesof
meaning.Forexample:
The heavenly temple. A number of passages presuppose or allude to the
realityoftheheavenlytemple(naos).Therevelatorseessaintsministeringbefore
God"dayandnightinhistemple"(7:15); 2thetemplewasopenedbeforehim,and
"withinthetemplewasseenthearkofhiscovenant"(11:19);outofitcameangels
(14:15,17;15:56),includingtheangelswiththevialsofGod'swrath(15:6;16:1,7;
cf.Ps11:4).
ThecommunityofGod'speople.Sometimesnaos(temple)isspiritualizedto
designatethecommunityofbelievers.Forexample,thevictoriousChristianwillbe
made "a pillar in the temple of my God; he shall never leave it" (3:12). This
spiritualizationisreminiscentofimagesfromEzekiel
10.Michel,"Naos,"TDNT4(GrandRapids,1967):88285.
2TheNEBisusedthroughoutthischapterunlessotherwisenoted.

276

SanctuaryandJudgment
44 and Psalm 144 as well as a number of comments by Paul who saw the
communityoffaithasGod'sspiritualtemple.3
TheLordHimself.IntheearthmadenewGodandtheLambareidentifiedas
itstemple(21:22).Godshalldwellwiththeredeemed,thusassuringthepresenceof
thetempleofHispersonamonghumankind(21:3).

Skew(Tenl/Tabcrnacle)
Theearliesttraceablemeaningofthiswordseemstohavebeen"tent"oratent
like dwelling.4 However, NT usage (20 times) takes its meaning from the
Septuagint, a Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible made in the thirdsecond
centuries B.C. Skene is the Septuagint's word used regularly for the Hebrew
miSkan, referring to the tabernacle. The tabernacle symbolized God's abiding
presencewithHispeople.Oneisalsostruckbythefactthat skSne hasthesame
consonantsasshekinah.Thatmaybepurecoincidence,butitmayalsobethatskene
isaGreekloanwordwithaSemiticroot.5
Skene is found three times in Revelation (13:6; 15:5; and 21:3). As far as
etymologyisconcerned,skeneandnaosmayoverlaponlyinpart.Butwefindno
reason to hold that skene in Revelation means anything other than naos. Both
expressionsareusedforGod'stempleinheaven,andin amore symbolicsense,
signify God's presence. The parallel between "the temple of God, the one in
heaven" (honaostouTheouhoentoourano) and "thetempleofthetent...in
heaven"(honaos(esskenes...entoourano)isunmistakable(cf.11:19;15:5).

Thronos(Throne)
IntheGreekworldthronosmeantjustahighchairwithanattachedfootstool.
It'smoreelevatedsymbolicmeaningastheseatofroyalruleorofanabsoluteruler
derivesfromtheOrient."Sittingonhisthrone"meantfortherulertobepositioned
or about to exercise his authority. In that position the ruler makes or executes
decrees.ItiswiththatmeaningintactthatwemeetthissymbolintheBible.It
expressesGod'spowerconditionedbyHisjustice,henceHisruleofrighteousness
(ba16:5;Ps122:5;Prov20:28).
God"sittingonhisthrone"orGod"beinginhistemple"arestatementsthat
overlap.Iftheyarenotsynonymousinmeaning,theyarecloselylinkedwiththe
formerexpression,suggestingthattheRuler/Judgeis
31Cor3:1617;2Cor6:1618.;Eph2:2022;cf.1Pet2:5.
4W.Michaelis,"Skcnc,"TDNT7(GrandRapids,1967):368ff.
5G.B.Caird,ACommentaryontheRevelationofSt.JohntheDivine(NewYork,1966),264.
277

SanctuaryandJudgment
abouttoact.WemeetthisrepeatedlyintheOTvisionsofGodsopositioned,ready
toactordeclare.6
The picture of God decreeing and executing judgment from His heavenly
throne,althoughabsentfromtheeschatologyofHellenisticJudaism,isprominent
bothinPalestinianJudaism(forexample,inEthiopicEnoch[1Enoch]wherethe
agentofjudgmentistheSonofmanortheElectOne)7andinthebiblicalmaterial."
IntheNTthewordthronesisusedmostfrequentlyinRevelation.Ofatotalof
55occurrences,43arefoundinRevelation.Nonewdimensionisaddedtoitsbasic
meaningofbeingthecenterofGod'sactivity,rule,andjudgment.Theonepossibly
newelementthatemerges,butmaybenomorethananenlargement oftheOT
concept,isthattheSonofmansitswithGodtheFatherontheheavenlythroneand
participatesinthesameactivitiesofrulingandjudging.9
God "sitting on his throne" is a comprehensive expression for God's
sovereignty, rule, and judgment. The emphasis is on God acting, and God
dischargesHisfunctionsasRuler/JudgefromHisplaceinthetemple.
Bytheopposingsymbolismofthe"throneofGod"andthe"throneofSatan"
(2:13;cf.13:2;16:10),theongoingconflictbetweenChristandtheantichristis
depictedinRevelation.AlsowithreferencetoSatan,thronossignifiespower,rule,
andauthority(13:2).The"throneoftheLamb,"however,istheonethatultimately
emergesvictorious.
Kririo,Krima,Krisis(ToJudge/Judgment)
ThemostcommonlyusedwordsintheNTtoconveytheideaofGodjudging
aretheverbkririQandrelatednouns,krisisandhima.Anumberofderivativesof
these,allrelatedtojudgingandjudgment,aretobefound.InRevelation krima
occursthreetimes,10krisisfourtimes,11andkrinoeighttimes.12
TheNTusage otkririG goesbackimmediatelytotheSeptuagintwhereitis
usedfortheHebrew Sapat (tojudge).Thatwordand mispUt (judgment)arethe
mostcommonlyusedOTexpressionsfortheactsofcon
6Isa6:1;66:1;Jer17:12;Beck1:2628;Dan7:9.
71Enoch46:4ff.;cf.1Enoch45:34;61:8ff.;62:9,1316.
8C.Rowland,TheOpenHeaven(S.P.C.K.,London,1982).165;0.Schmitz,"Thronos,"TDNT3
(GrandRapids,1967):16364.
9Rev3:21;7:17;22:13;cf.Matt25:3132;22:4145.
10Rev17:1;18:20;20:4.
11Rev14:7;16:7;18:10;19:2.
12Rev6:10;11:18;16:5;18:8;19:2,11;20:1213.
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SanctuaryandJudgment
duelingajudicialproceedingandofsentencingaswellasoftheverdictitself.The
basicmeaningoffowOinclassicalGreekwasthatof"sifting,parting,selecting."
Itappearsnottohavecometothebiblicalmaterialasalegalterm.However,its
basicmeaningwouldreadilylenditselftotheextensivelegalsensethattheterm
hasintheBible.13
Krisis"likeotherwordsformedfromverbalstemswiththesuffixsisdenotes
theactionexpressedbytheverbalstem." 14Itsignifiesthesentencingbythejudge
as well as the process leading up to the sentence. The term is also used in
Revelation16:7;18:10;and19:2toexpresstheexecutionofthesentence.In14:7
itmayrefertotheentirejudicialproceeding,orjusttheactofthehandingdown
ofthesentence,orpossiblyboth.
Krimaisusedin17:1and18:20toexpresscondemnation.Krisisandkrima
appeartooverlapconsiderably.Certainly,onthebasisofthefewoccurrencesin
Revelation,itisnotpossibletodistinguishsharplybetweentwodifferentsenses
inwhichtheymaybeusedasinclassicalGreek(forexample, krima meaning
"sentence,"andkrisismeaningtheprocesslead'inguptothesentence).Context
willneedtogiveguidancehere.
IntheOTtheideasofrulingandjudgingarcheldcloselytogetherinSUppl.
yta. RevelationwefindtheRuler/JudgeonHisthronefromwhichHeinitiates
1
wdmonitorsthejudicialprocess,issuestheverdict,andexecutesHiswrath.

ySihhs,Bsblion(Book/Scroll)
|Biblosoriginallymeantthepapyrusplantthat,afterithadbeenprel^tared,was
usedtowriteon.Fromthereittookonawidermeaningtoinpfiiudeanymaterial
usedtowriteon(parchment,leather,tablet),orwhatjihadbeenwrittenonit.15It
thenmovedquitereadilytomeanabook,apicroll,aroll,orjustsimplyawriting.
|X< The two words, biblos and biblion, appear to have been used inter||
Bhangeably, and it is not possible to establish any real distinction in mean
pitgbetweenthem.TheauthorofRevelationprefersbiblionwhichheusespBtimes
asagainstbiblos,5times.1|'InRevelation"book"acquiresaspecialmeaningthat,
although alluded |N in other parts of the Bible16 and Judaistic apocalyptic
traditions,17
g^P.Biichsci,Krino,"TDNT3(GrandRapids,1967):922.23;ColinBrown,"Krima."DNTT2
l;.^(GrandRapids,1979):36263.
l^aMBuchsel941.
g!:ISBrown,"Biblos,"DNTT1:243;G.Schrenk,"Biblos."TDNT1(GrandRapids,1967):615.
(DM7:10;12:1;Exod32:32;Isa65:6.
|,."IIBthiopic]Enoch81:489:6164.
279

SanctuaryandJudgment
emergesinRevelation'sjudgmentsettingswithspecialprominence:
1.ThebooksealedwithsevensealsinthehandoftheSovereignonthethrone
(5:1).
2.Thebookoflifeinwhichthenamesoftheovercomersareentered.18
3.Thebooksofjudgment,distinguishedfromthebookoflife,19bywhich
everyoneshallbejudged"accordingtohisdeeds!'120

SomeObservationsonSelectedPassages
Revelation11:12

In a message placed between the sixth and the seventh trumpets, Johnthe
Revelatorrecordsanordergivenhiminvision.Ameasuringrodisplacedinhis
hands and he is instructed to measure the temple (naos), the altar, and the
worshipers,butnottheoutercourtofthetemple.Theobviousquestionsare.Who
orwhatisthe"temple,"the"altar,"andthe"worshipers,"andwhatdoes"measure"
mean?Andwhynotthe"outercourt"?
SuggestionsmadebythosewhoseehereahistoricalflashbacktoJerusalem
preA.D.70,orasnippetofaZealotpamphletofsimilarlypreA.D.70origin 21can
bereadilyrejected.LongbeforethewritingofRevelationtheearlybelievershad
acceptedtheverdict ofJesusaboutthecollapseoftheJerusalem temple(Mark
13:2;cf.Acts6:14).Forthewritertohaveincludedahopeforthepreservationof
theJerusalemtemple,whichbythetimehewrotehadbeendestroyed,ishardlya
crediblesuggestion.
Thevisions,images,andsymbols,amongwhichthepresentpassageisfound,
relate to the destiny of the community of faithGod's peopleas history
approachesitsclimax.Theobjectofconcernisthebelieverswhoarecaughtinthe
increasingly intensified struggle between Christ and antichrist. The object is to
secureHispeopleandgivethemassurance.
The symbol of "measuring" is reminiscent of the measuring recorded in
Ezekiel4042andZechariah2:2.Inthosepassagestheactofmeasuringexpressed
thepromiseofrestorationaftertheexile.Wewouldsuggestthatthe"measuring"in
11:1beunderstood,asindeedmostcommentatorsdo,tomeanpreservingorto
keepsafeandsecureforthefuture.Assuch
18Rev3:5;13:8;17:8;20:12;21:27.
19Rev20:12;cf.Dan7:10;Isa65:6.
20Rcv22:12;2:23;cf.IPet1:17;2Cor5:10;Rom2:6.
21W.Bousset,R.H.Charics,J.WellhausencitedinJ.M.Count,MythandHistoryintheBookof
Revelation,8657.

280

SanctuaryandJudgment
it is a sign of immunity from ultimate destruction; 22 a "sign of divine pos
session."23
On severaloccasionsJohn in vision is showntheheavenlytemple.As an
objectinapocalypticvisionits"beingthere"ispresupposed.Ofitself,however,
there isnothingtosuggest that animage in avision,described as an object,
cannotbeasymbol,andthattherefore,onemightlegitimatelyinquireintothe
meaningofthesymbolratherthantorestwiththephysicsdobject.
Revelation is full of objects with symbolic meaning (for example, I horses
emergingfromheaven(6:28);amountainhurledintothesea(8:8);
|ftstarbeinggivenakeybywhichtheshafttoanabyssisopened(9:12);
ttheeatingofascroll,withtherecognitionoftasteandtheeffectsithason||^he
digestivesystem(10:10),etc.Everychapterconfrontsthereaderwith|imagesthat
arerecognizedassymbolsleadingtoinquiryintotheirfurther|a?eaning.
|.,Most commentators suggest that "temple'*shouldbeunderstood tol^efer to
God*speople.Therefore,wearehereconfrontedwithaspirituIplizationotnaos"
In a document filled with images that have meanings t'other than what they
immediatelyconvey,thesuggestionthatnaosshould|.|esimilarlyviewedisnotof
itselfpreposterous.
1;, y Suchaspiritualizationof naos tomeanGod'speople,however,is(ll^ghtly
disturbedbythetripletexpression: temple,altar,andworshipers.|j|allthat the
passageseekstosayiswithreferencetothemeasuringof|fcd*speople,either
"temple"or"worshipers"wouldhavesufficed.Onel^notavoidsensingthatthe
passageisseekingtosaysomethingmore.1^Theexpressionthatiscontrastedwith
thephrase"temple,altar,andllwprshipers"is"theoutercourtofthetemple."Each
of these phrases contributes to the meaning of the other. One area is to be
"measured";theeitherisnot.
feRatherthanholdingthatthe"measuring"hasreferencetothepreser||Htionor
safeguardingofspaceorphysicalstructures,wewouldsuggestthat:
1.Attentionisherebydrawntotwogroupsofpeople,signifiedbythetwo
juxtaposedphrases:onebeingthebelievers,claimedbyGodas
' Martin Kiddle. The RevelationofSt. John (London,1940),
188.^Rowland,429.
^%JoachimJcremias,NewTestamentTheology1(NewYork,1971):208;H.BarclaySwete,The
ApocalypseofJohn(NewYork,1906),132;Rowland,429;R.H.Charles,TheRevelationof
St. John, ICC, 1(Edinburgh,1920):276; G.R.BcasleyMurray, The BookofRevelation
(GrandRapids,1978).181,

281

SanctuaryandJudgment

His;the otherbeingthose**whohavecompromisedwiththeworldthe
Nicolaitans,theBalaamilcs, thefollowers ofJezebel, the lovelessfolkat
Ephesus,thelifelessatSardis,andthelukewarmatLaodicea."
Theformergroupisbeing"measured,"thatis,theyarebeingpreserved
orgiventheassurancethattheyaresecurewithGodastheworldrushesinto
the final, fearful climax of the controversy between good and evil. The
thoughtisparalleltothesealingofchapter7.
Thelattergroupliesoutsidethepromiseandassurancegiventothose
whoareclaimedbyGod.WhetheroneunderstandstheekbaleexQthen(vs.
2)tomean"castout,""throwoutside,"or"havenothingtodowiththeouter
court,"themeaningofbeingexcludedfromGod'spreservationremains.
2. While the above point may be a possible meaning of the present
passage,theuseofthetempleimageryimmediatelyleadsthereadertothe
centralmotifofthewholeoftheApocalypse,namely,thepersonandthe
ongoingministryofJesusChristastheascendedpriest/mediator/judge/ruler
whofromHistemple/thronepositionmediatesthebenefitsofHissacrifice
andjudgesall(cf.Heb8:12).Hisworthinesstodischargethesefunctionsis
directlyconnectedwithHisbeing"theLambthatwasslain"(chaps.45).
There,atthe"heartofthethrone,"istheOnewhoisrecognizedasthe
lambwhosedeathonthealtarcommissionsHimtoHispresentcharge.Itis
fittingthat11:1shouldspecificallysingleoutthealtarwithoutwhichtheact
ofGodtoseal,preserve,andsecureHischildrenforthefuturewouldnotbe
possible.
Wewouldsuggest,therefore,that11:12hastwofoci:(a)theLambwho
mediates,judges,andclaims;and(b)thepeoplewhoarebeingadjudged
worthy,thatis,claimedbyGodasHis,andwhoaregiventhisassurance.
Revelation14:67
AcalltoworshiptheCreatorismade,for"thehourofhisjudgmenthas
come!"Thiscallisdescribedasan"eternalgospel."Somecommentators
questionwhetherthisispartofthegospelatall,thatitcontainsnoChristian
hope, only an appeal to theism, "couched in the language of natural
theology.""Butthegospelsurelyitis,inthat"theannouncement
25Cairi,132.
26RH.Mounce,TheBookofRevelation,NICNT17(GrandRapids,1977):273.

282

SanctuaryandJudgment

ofthejudgmentbringsgoodtidingstothesaints....[and]acalltotheworld
tofearGodandrepent."27
ItsmessageisthatthehistoricalmomenthascomewhenGodwillini
tiateaprocessofjudging(krisis,"sifting"),assomethingseparatefromthe
daitygoingsandcomingsoflife.TheLambisseatedonHisthronereadyto
actinjudgment.Here,asthroughoutthebookofRevelation,wavesofescha
tologythrowthereaderdowntowardtheclosingscenesofearth'shistory.
One"likeasonofman"(vs.14)andamessengerfromtheheavenlytemple
equippedtoreapindicatethattheharvesttimehascome(vss.1420).
Inthissetting,thepresenttextbelongstothesceneofthetimeofthe
end. Context demands that the "hour of his judgment" presented inthis
.passage(14:67)beunderstoodassomethingverydifferentfromeitherthe
crossevent (withits Judgmentdirectedagainstthe princeof this world,
12:712;John12:31)orthefinalphaseofGod'sjudgmentoftheworldthat
'expressestheexecutionofsentence(20:1115).
BetweenthesetwoaspectsofjudgmentRevelationalsoalludestoor
presentstwootherdifferentexpressionsofdivinejudgment.Bothareofa
preliminarynatureinthattheyprecedetheSecondAdvent.Botharealso
encapsulatedinacalltorepentance.Hence,theytakeplacewhilethedayof
salvationisstillwithmen.28
Oneispreliminaryinthatitisanticipatory 29 orpreparatory30 andcon
sistsofselectiveoutpouringsofGod'swrathtocallon,educate,anddisci
plinethechurchandtheworldinordertobringthemtorepentance.This
tindofjudgmentmessageisexpressedinpassages suchas thoseof the
seven churches, the seven seals, and the seven trumpets. If the desired
responseisnotforthcoming,thesepreparatoryexpressionsofjudgmentare
prolepticofwhatistocome.
The other phrase of judgment, also prior to the Second Advent, is
Heaven'sjudicialprocessofsiftingandclaimingandinwhichaccountis
takenofman'schoice.Theultimatequestionis,WhomwillGodsealasHis
own,andonwhatbasiswillGodmakeHisclaim?Judiciallythatwillhave
beenresolvedbeforeJesusChristreturns. 31Thecontextofchapter
27bbonT.Beckwith,TheApocalypseofJohn(NewYork,1922),656;cf.BeasleyMurray,225.
28F.D.Nichol,ed.,TheSDABibleCommentary7(Washington,DC,1957):828.2?George
EldonLadd,4TheologyoftheNewTestament(GrandRapids,1974),626.
30DonaldGuthrie,MewTcCToffiCTtfTheology(DownersGrove,IL,1973),867.
31Dr.ChristopherRolandofCambridgeUniversityinhisrecentstudyofJewishandearly
Christianapocalyptic,TheOpenHeaven(S.P.C.K.,1982)makescomparisonsbetweenthe
eschatologyofDanielandRevelation.AfterstatingthatDaniel"hasnothingtosayaboutthe
lastassize"heproceedstofootnotethatobservationwiththissomewhatremarkablecomment:
"Passageslike

283

SanctuaryandJudgment
14doesnotelaborateontheobjectortheexacttimingofthejudgmentintroduced
inverse7,butitclearlyantedatestheSecondAdventandisapartoftheevents
leadinguptoit.
AsSeventhdayAdventistswehavetraditionallyunderstoodRevelation14:67
torefertothesamejudgmentdescribedinDaniel7withitstimelinkinDaniel8:14.
InDanieFsprophecythatjudgmentscenewasprojectedtobeginin1844.While
Revelation14:7lacksthedetailsofDaniel7and8,thetextreadilyreceivesandhas
roomfortheunderstandingarrivedatfromDaniel.

Revelation15:5
This text brings before us both words naos (temple) and skene (tent/
tabernacle). As observed earlier the two terms cover the same meaning. The
suggestionthatthephrasecouldread"the naos whichisthe skene" is,therefore,
acceptable.32
Thepassage is precededbyadoxologicalhymn,theSongofMosesandthe
Lamb,extollingthejusticeofGod'sjudgments (dikaiomata, "divinesentencesof
condemnation"implyingpriorinvestigation)upontheantichristandtheenemies
ofGod'speople.33
The writer describes the heavenly temple as the "skSnS of the testimony."
ImmediatelytherecomestomindtheOTtabernacleinwhichwasfoundtheark
withthetwotablesoftheTenCommandments(Exod25:16;Deut10:45).That
structurewasknownasthe"tabernacleofthetestimony."34
Once before whenJohnsawtheheavenly templeopened, hisattentionwas
drawntotheark."ThistimeitisnotthearkbuttheTestimonyitcontainswhich
occupieshisattention.Thetimeformercyisover,andGod'slawmustnowtakeits
course."35
Theangelswhoemergefromthetemplearesogarbedastoindicatetheofficial
andsacrednatureoftheirmission(vs.6).Theyhavebeensent
Daniel7:9f.,hadanimportantbearingonlatercschatotogicalideas,notleastthepictureofthelast
judgement inRevelation 20:12f. Inits presentform,however, it mustbedoubtedwhetherthis
heavenlyassizeinDaniel7istobeunderstoodasaneventwhichwilltakeplaceattheendof
history,butisratherajudgementpassedinheaven,whoseconsequenceswillbeultimatelyfellby
mankind"(pp.12,450[emphasissupplied]).
32 M.Veloso,"The DoctrineoftheSanctuary andthe Atonement as Reflected intheBookof
Revelation," The Sanctuary andtheAtonement, ed.Arnold V.WallenkampfandW.Richard
Lesher(Washington,DC:BiblicalResearchInstitute,1981),400.
33 Vss.34;seeW.F. Arndtand F.W.Gingrich, AGreekEnglishLexiconoftheNewTestament
(Chicago,1957);cf.Rev16:57;19:2;correspondingtotheprayerfulsighsofGod'schildren,
Rev6:10;cf.Dan8:1214.
34Exod38:21,RSV;Num9:15;10:11;cf.Acts7:44.
35Caird,200.

284

SanctuaryandJudgment

tocarrythejudgmentsofGod'swrathagainstBabylonwithherwaysofsin
andrebellion.TheyhavebeensentbyGod,andoneexclaimsasthemis
sioniscarriedout,"Justartthouinthesethyjudgements,thouHolyOne"
(16:5).
ThesevenangelscomefromthenaoslskSriepreciselybecausethatis
whereGodsitsonHisthronedischargingHisfunctionsasjudge."Heis
presentinhissanctuaryinoperationtillhispurposeinjudgmentisaccom
plished."36
Revelation18:20
Chapters17and18dealwithGod'sjudgmentonBabylonboththe
sentenceandtheexecutionofit,thelatterbeingthepointofattentionin
chapter 18. Verse 10 announces to Babylon that the divine verdict has
finallycaughtupwithher."Yourdoom[krisis=executionofsentence]
hasstruck!"
Thefocushaschangedfromthe"Alas,alas...Babylon!"(vs.10)to"let
heavenexult over her"(andGod'speople aswell!)asthejustice ofthe
sentence (krima) on Babylon is affirmed. But the additional point being
madeheretoGod'speopleisthattheyarefree!Theverdictreadsliterally
that"Godhasjudgedyoursentence"onBabylon;sheistheguiltyculprit,
and God's sentence against her is a judgment/or His people. The NEB
rendersit,"Forinthejudgementagainstherhehasvindicatedyour
cause!"
AdifficultythatthetextpresentsishowtounderstandtheGreekex
pression,exaufSs.Thesentencereads,"Godhaspassed[judged]yoursen
tenceexaufes.""Yoursentence"musteithermeanthesentencewhichyou
havepassed,orthatwhichhasbeenpassedonyoubyher.Byappealingto
twoOTlawsthelawofbloodshed(Gen9:56)andthelawofthemali
cious witness (Deut 19:1619)G. B. Caird argues that the text should
read,"Godhasimposedonherthesentenceshepassedonyou." 37
Verse20comesasafittingclimaxtoalargerjudgmentscene.Verses
919depictthepitifulstateofBabylonasshereapsherwoes.Verse20
expressestheexultationandjoyofGod'speople,maybenotjustbecause
Babylonhasgottenherjustdeserts,butthattheyarenowfreeandsafe,
vindicatedbytheirGod.SimilaritiesinimagerybetweenRevelation18and
Ezekiel27arenoticeable,aswellasbetweenthejudgmentsceneof18:20
36Beckwith,679.
37Caird,230;BeasleyMurray,268.
285

SanctuaryandJudgment

andDaniel7:22wherethedeclarationstandsoutthat"Judgementwasgiven
infavourofthesaintsoftheMostHigh."
Revelation20:4

Johnsawthrones;onthemsatthose"towhomjudgementwascom
mitted."Thereisnoimmediateidentificationofthesepersons,neitheristhe
textclearastopreciselywhat"givingjudgmenttothem"means.Theword
for"judgment"inthisinstanceiskrima.
Thesceneflashedherebeforethereaderisclearlyreminiscentofthe
picturepresentedinDaniel7:910withthronesbeingsettoinitiateajudg
mentscene.Also,intheDanielscenejudgmentissaidtobegiventothe
saints(vs.22).ThatparticularstatementinDaniel,however,seemst>est
understoodasthejudgingprocessfindingandrenderingaverdictinfa^vor
ofGod'speople.Isthatthepointwhichisalsobeingmadeinthepass^ge
beforeus?Wethinknot.
1.Wewouldsuggestthattheclause(literallyreading,"judgment was
giventothem")beunderstoodtomeanthatthesepersonsarebeinginvested
withjudicialauthority,thatis,thosesittingonthethronesarebeinggiventhe
righttopronounceoraffirmsentence.Theimageof"sittingonthrone[s],"
asindicatedearlierinourwordstudy,shouldbeunderstooddynamicallyto
meanactiveinvolvementinjudging/ruling.
2. The persons to whom this judgment is committed are described
immediatelyafterwards(vss.4b6).Theyaretheoneswhohavebeenloyal
totheirLordandcouldnotbeenticedtofollowthe"beast."Indeed, they
wouldrathergivetheirlivesthanidentifywiththisapostasy. Theytakep
art in the first resurrection at the Second Advent and are therefore pro
nouncedblessed(vs.6),andtheyreignwithChristforathousandyear's.
Theimages,"reigning,""sittingonthrones,""havingjudgmentalautlior
ity,"describetheactivitiesofGod'sredeemedduringthethousand years.
ThismillennialjudgmentwouldthencorrespondtothejudgmentPaulrefers
toin1Corinthians6:23(cf.Matt19:28;Rev3:21;Ps149:59).
3.Thejudicialmatterwithwhichthissittingwillconcernitselfisnot
that of deciding whohas beenloyal tothe Lordandwho has not. That
decisionhasbeenalreadymade.Deathistheabyssseparatingthedisloyal
fromtheLord'sown:thefruitofthefirstresurrectionwhoarenowwithHim
inmillennialreign.Thefollowersofapostasydonotcometolifeuntilafter
the thousand years. Therefore, the judicial decision of "who's wHo" has
alreadybeenmadewhenthepassagebeforeusopens.
Thus,itappearsthatweareviewinghereasceneinwhichthesaints
will
286

SanctuaryandJudgment

participatewithHeaveninconfirmingoraffirmingthesentencearrivedat
andinpartalreadyexecuted.Suchparticipationwillenablethesavedcom
munitytojoinintheSongofMosesandtheLamb:"Justandtruearethy
ways,thoukingoftheages....thyjustdealingsstandrevealed"(15:34).
Priortothedestructionoftheevilforcesandtheirfollowers,whichtakes
placeafterthemillennium,thepresentpassagedepictsGod'sfinalactof
discreditingrebellionbeforehisownpeopleandthussecuringeternity.This,
then,mustbetheanswertothequestion,Whyanotherjudgmentwhenthe
'Svho^swho"hasalreadybeensettled?
Evenacasualreadingofthepassagebeforeusincontextindicatesthat
Johnbelievedinaliteralmillennium.Furthermore,itisevidentthathedid
not regardthisperiodasanadvancedeschatologicalstageintheongoing
processofhistory.Thosewhounderstandthemillenniumtomeanthatthere
willbeathousandyearswhenthesaintswillrulewithChristonearthwith
Jerusalemasheadquartersintroduceelementswhichneitherthetextbefore
usnoritscontextprovides(19:1120:15).38
Revelation20:1115
InthispassageJohnisshownthefinaljudgmentscene.Hissightofa
great white throne with its examining/executing Judge opens the vision.
BeforethegrandeurofHimwhositsonthethronetheoldorder,thepresent
world(earthandsky),fleesaway.Thatissoontobereplacedbyanewact
ofcreation(21:1,5).
Thisjudgmentvisiongivesrisetosomequestions:
1.WhoistheJudge?HeisnotnamedaseitherFatherorSon.TheBible
presentsbothasheavenlyjudgesofmen(Rev5:1,7,13;Dan7:9;
Rom14:10;2Cor5:10).Johndescribesthewateroflifeasflowingfromthe
throneofGodandoftheLamb(22:1),"therebyconveyingthenotionofa
singlethrone,asinglerule,andasinglesourceoflife....TheLambremains
themediatorofjudgementandredemption,yetheisinseparablefromthe
Godwhoenactshisworkofjudgementandredemptionthroughhim." 3'Itis
quiteadequate,atleastforthepurposesofthepointherebeingmade,tosay
thattogetherTheyjudgeman.
2.Isthisauniversaljudgmentorofthewickedonly?Itmaywellbethat
thequestionliesoutsidethefocusofthevision.Eitherviewcanbe
38 H. B. Swete, Commentary on Revelation, 26465; Mounce, 35659; E. Lohse, Die
Offenbarungdes
Johannes(\NTD2]Gottingen,1971),1045;R.H.Charles,Eschatology,349;id.,
Revelationof
St.John2:15051;BcasleyMurray,
287ff.Beaslcy.Murray,25.
287

SanctuaryandJudgment
argued, as indeed commentators do. The position is somewhat dependent on
whethertheexpositorseesthevisionsegmentsarrangedinasequentialorderinthe
largercontextbeforeus(thatis,chaps.1922)orwhetherhesees(asinotherparts
ofthebook)thesegmentscomingaswavesreturningwithmuchofwhathas
alreadybeenstatedorimplied.40
ItseemsreasonabletosaythatJohnmostlyhasthewickedinmind;
theyaretheobjectofthejudgmentsceneofverses46;theyaretheoneswhotake
part inthesecondresurrection. Verses1115wouldthenbeseenasaninserted
visiontoexplainthebasisoftheverdictagainstthem.
3.Then,isthebasisforjudgmentdifferentinthecasesofthosesavedfrom
thosecondemned?Toassert,onthebasisofthepresentpassages,thatitis,would
betoplaceunduestrainonthisvision.ThepointJohnseekstoconveyisnotsimply
thatthe"book"(oflife)istherosterofthesavedonlyandthe"books"(recordsof
deeds)aretherosterofthedamnedonly;theformerbeingsavedbygraceandthe
latterjudgedbytheirrecordofevildeeds.
Thereisaveryrealsenseinwhichallmankindisjudgedonthebasisoftheir
"deeds/*41Andthereisnotensionbetweenthisandtheconceptofbeingsavedby
faith.Faithhasnootherwayofexpressingitselfexceptby"deeds."
That such "books" or records of "deeds" are kept by God with a view to
judgmentwasalreadypartoftheOT/Jewishapocalypticunderstanding.42Similarly,
theexistenceofabookoflifeorrecordofthosedestinedtolive,isaffirmed. 43
SurelythepointsJohnseekstomakeherearethat
(]\thcvp.rdiftinthphfaw*nlv/'<Mn*"".>owM/1*'.U;r'l..l.;.L^^^J

isprivy,unemayreasonaolyassumethattheauthoritygrantedtothesaintsduring
themillennium(vss.4ff.)entailsaccesstothesamedata,andthatsuchaccessispart
ofGod'sactofdisplayingHimself.
Itseemsunnecessaryandincompletetoviewthe"booksofdeeds"asmerelya
registerofnegativebehavior.Whycanitnotbeviewedascontainingatranscriptof
the character of every human being?44 The character is the sum total of our
experience.Ifthatexperienceissustainedby
40"Itisacommontraitofbiblicalnarrationtostateatheme,andthenrestateilinmoredetailasif
recountingasubsequentevent"(Sweet,Revelation,297).
41Cf.Ps62:12;Jcr17:10,Rom2:6;2Cor5:10;1Pet1:17.
42Dan7:10;1[Ethiopic]Enoch47:3;90:20;103:2;2[Syriac]Baruch24:1;Jubil30:22.
43Exod32:3233;Dan12:1;Mal3:1617;Phi!4:3.
44EllenG.WhiteComments.TheSDABibleCommentary7(Washington,DC,1957):987.

288

SanctuaryandJudgment

unionwiththeLord,thenamesarealsorecordedinthe"bookoflife."Here
isthedifferencebetweenthesavedandthelost.
Thisappearstobethemainconcernofthevisionofverses1115.
Revelation21:3
Againavoiceisheardcomingfromtheheavenlythrone.Itproclaims,
"NowatlastGodhashisdwelling[sksm}amongmen!"
Thischapterasawholebringsbeforethereaderavarietyofthoughts
and images, many of which have been dwelt on elsewhere in biblical
apocalyptic;45somearealsoreflectedinJewishapocalyptic. 46
The immediate point before us is the close and free fellowship
betweenGod and His peoplewhichcharacterizesthenewcreation.Now
thecircle,hasbeencompleted;itwasforsuchfellowshipthatmanwas
createdinitially.ThefrequentlyappearingOTmotif,"IshallbeyourGod
and you shall be my people," symbolized by the tabernacle and the
shekmah,ireceivesitsultimatefulfillment.HisskBnS(tent/tabernacle)is
amongHis^people,interpretedinthesamebreathtomeanthat "God
himselfwillbe
iwiththem."
Thisisalsothepointmadelaterinthesamechapterwherethenaos
.(temple)onthenewearthisidentifiedwith"thesovereignLordGodand
theLamb"(vs.22).Theessentialfeatureofeternityistheimmediate
presence of God and fellowship with Him. That which has been long .
promisedisfinallyrealized.
|AstheMediator/JudgeendsHisdualministryofsavingandJudging,/
the thrones and the temple which expressed these activities no longer
serve } their previous purpose. Rebellion is gone and there is nothing
furtherto
keepGodandHiscreationapart.

CentralityofChrist
Revelationgenerateshope.IntypicalapocalypticfashionJohntakesia
grandsweepofthetimeandhistoryinwhichanincreasingpolarization^
betweentheforcesofgoodandevilisbeingdistinctlymarkedout.Hep
presentsitastheebbofhistory.Ateachextreme,thatis,astheleadersofg
teachflank,areChristandtheantichristrepresentingSatan.InbetweenIare
theexperiencesofpainandhopeofGod'speople.InthiscontextJohn
<5ha25:69;35:10;65:17;Ezek37:2627;cf.Lev26:1112;Zech8:8;2Pet3:1013.<6
1[Ethiopia]Enoch45:4ff.;72:1;2[Syriac]Baruch32.26;2Esdras7:75.

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SanctuaryandJudgment

presents Christ as the avenger of His people who have suffered for His
name'ssake.VictoryforChristandHiselect is assured.Hence,themes
sagesofthisapocafypsewillgeneratehopeandcourageforGod'speople.
AtthefinaljudgmentChristwillpreside.Theverdictagainstantichrist
andthosewhoarewithhimisaforegoneconclusion;Christ'select,aswell
aswhatGodhassoughttoaccomplish,willstandvindicated.
Johnpresentsthesemessagesofconfrontationandvindicationtoalarge
extentthroughavarietyofimages.Onehastorememberthattheimages
whichJohnusescometohimconditioned,withreferencetopastapocalyptic
traditions,aswellaswithacertainpliabilityandcapabilityofvarieduse.Of
course,theuseofimagesandsymbolsasvehiclesofexpressionisnotunique
toJohn'sRevelation.However,heusesthemnotonlymoreextensivelythan
otherbiblicalwriters,butalso,withtheexceptionofapocalypticsections
elsewhereintheBible,somewhatdifferentlyinRevelation.
Otherbiblicalwriters"clothetheirhistorywiththeimages,buttheyare
restricted by the historical actuality upon which they fit them.... But the
Apocalypsewritesofheavenandthingstocome,thatis,ofarealmwhich
hasnoshapeatallbutthatwhichtheimagesgiveit.*' 47(Wewilldifferfrom
Farrerwithrespecttohiscommentthatthatwhichisyettocomehas"no
shape"; structures, space, boundaries, and physical elements have not all
vaporized in heaven or in things to come, but our appreciation of such
"shape"asthereismaywellbelimitedtothatwhichimages,conditioned
andcapableofmultiplicityastheyare,canproject.)
Revelation'stwinfoci. ThetwinfociofRevelationare(1)theperson
andministryofChrist,and(2)theexperienceanddestinyoftheelect.But
theyarelinkedtogetherinthethoughtofthebookandcannotbeexamined
asseparatesubjects.Thequestion,WhatishappeningtoGod'speople?is,at
leastinpart,identicalwiththequestions,WhatisChristdoing?and,Howis
Hefaring?Indealingwiththesequestionsavarietyofotherissuesarealso
resolved.R)rexample.Whathappenstotheforcesofrebellion,andOnwhat
basiswilltheybedealtwith?Whataboutthereplacementoftheoldorderby
anewandthebasisonwhichthenewwillbesecured?Willindeedtheday
comewhenmanifestly"everypowerandauthorityintheuniverse"willbe
subjecttoHim?
Fidelity to Christ ThecentralityofChristisbroughtoutinJohn'sfirst
visionwhenhesawtheSonofmanstandinginthemidstofsevenlamps,
47AustinFarrer,^RebirthofImages(Boston,1949)17.

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SanctuaryandJudgment

thatis,inthemidstofthechurchdownthroughhistory,introducingHimself
astheOnewhoholdsthekeystodeathanditsdomain(1:1219)theOne
whohaspowerandjurisdictionoverthefuture.
Onthispremisereststhesubsequentmessagestothesevenchurches.
TheappealbytheLordtobe"faithfultilldeath"(2:10)meansthatyouare
notto"denyyourfaithinme"(vs.13).FidelitytoChrististheissue.As
parodies of the Saviour masquerade on the religious scene (teachings of
Balaam, Nicolaitans, Jezebel, or the ultimate apostasyantichrist), the
questionoverwhichjudgmentwillinvariablybedecidediswhetherornot
onehasbeenloyaltoChrist.Thatisthemessagetothesevenchurches.
Whentheovercomerisassuredthathewillbemade"apillarinthetemple.
ofmyGod"(3:12),itmeansthatinChrist'snewcreationhewillneveragain
beseparatedfromhisLord.
FidelitytoChristasabasisforjudgmentisfurtherillustratedbythefact
that judgment against the forces of evil will be conducted because they
persecutedthosewhoarefaithfultoChrist(6:910;17:6;18:56,20;19:2).
Furthermore,theseforcesofevildemonstratetheirantichristqualities,
not only in persecuting the believers but also in blasphemous behavior
againstGodbywhichtheydistortthetruthaboutChrist,confuseanalready
confused world, and usurp the place that belongs to the Lord only
(13,17.18).
Faithfulness to Christ implies the keeping of God's commandments
(12:17;14:12).Faithhasnootherwayofexpressingitselfthanbyobedi
ence;hence,therepeatedexpression,"Iknowyourworks."
Christ'sauthoritytoserve/judge. Salvationandjudgmentareminis
triesthatbelongtogetherinthepersonofJesusChrist.OnwhatrestsHis
authoritytojudge/rule/save?Ofcourse.CreationitselfprovidesHimwith
this authority, but in salvation history one act emerges as the basis that
authorizesHimtofunctioninthisdiversifiedrole,namely,thecross.Con
sequently,therecurringsymbolbywhichChristispresentedasjudgein
RevelationisthatoftheLamb,slain,yetnowalive(5:6,9,12;7:14;13:8).
TheLambisenthroned(5:6;7:9,17;22:1,3)tojudge,untilthattaskis
completed, and to rule forever. This symbolLambtakes its meaning
fromtheLeviticalsystemwithitsanimalsacrifices.Italsodrawsfromthe
lambsymbolusedinIsaiah53toprojecttheMessiah.Theworthinessofthe
Lambtoundertakethisdualmission(saveandjudge)ispreciselythepoint
beingmadeinchapter5.Oncethecredentialshavebeenestablished,the
openingofthesevensealscanbegin.
Weareinsupportofcommentatorswhounderstandthemessagesof
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SanctuaryandJudgment

thesevensealstocarrythesweepofsalvationhistolybetweentheascension
andthereturnofourLord.Althoughoverlappingwith the sevenchurches,
thesealspassagediffers.WhiletheformerofferscommentsfromGodonthe
stateofthechurchandcounselsthechurch,thelatterfocusesonGod'sacting
fromHisthronetoclaimHisown,sealingandsecuringthem.
Severaltimesinthisvision(48:1)attentioniscalledtothethrone(the
heavenly temple) from which God directs His activities of claiming and
securing,condemningandexecuting.Thegreatgatheringofangels,elders,
andthelivingcreatures,directingtheirworshipandpraisetoGodseatedon
thethrone,signifiesthatwearelookingattheRuler/Judgeandtheprecincts
fromwhichHefunctionsbothtosaveandtojudge.
Asthevisionbegins,Johniscalledtoheaven,andadoorinheavenis
opened.WetakethistomeanthatheisbeinginvitedtoseewhatGoddoes;
hence,thedetailsthatfollow.Towardtheendofthatvisionheexplicitly
locates the throne in the heavenly templethe nerve center of God's
activities(7:15).
Preadvent judgment Beginning with chapter 8:26 a new series of
imagesarebroughttoJohn'sattention.Bytheblowingofseventrumpets,
angelssoundmessagesofwarning.Bythetimetheseventhangelblowshis
trumpet,theangelsandelderswhoministerinGod'simmediatepresence
sensethataclimaxhasarrived,markinganadvancedstageinthestruggle
betweengoodandevil.
Now God steps forward to begin a series of endtime activities that
heretoforeHehasnotengagedin,namely,anextensiveactofjudging,prior
to the return of Christ. The announcement is made that the designated
momenthasarrived(11:1519).Activitieswillbeundertakenbringingreward
toGod'speopleandeventualdestructionto"thosewhodestroytheearth."
InordertoobserveGod'sactivitiesofinvestigationandjudgment,the
heavenlytempleislaidopenforJohn,andhisattentionisdirectedtothe"ark
ofhiscovenant"(vs.19).ToreadersfamiliarwiththeOTpatternthescene
bringstomindtheDayofAtonementritual,theonedayintheyearwhenthe
arkofthecovenantlocatedintheMostHolyPlacewasmadeaccessibleto
thepriest.Itwasatypeoffinaljudgment.
Thewordsofthedoxologyofferedbythe "voices"andthe 24eiders
makeitclearthatweareherebeingintroducedtothebeginningofajudg
ment scene. This is Christ's final ministry before physically returning to
receiveHiselect.ThemomentofHisreturnisthemomentwhentheout
292

SanctuaryandJudgment

comeofthisministrywillbeimplemented: He willreceiveHischildren
untoHimselfneveragaintobeseparated.48
ItisourcontentionthatGoddeliberatelyseeks byHis messagesto
JohntounderlinetheattentionChristgivestoallaspectsofHisministryof
vindicatingandcondemning,savinganddestroying.Nothingwillbedone
haphazardlyandsuperficially,andnooneshallhavecausetosaythatGod
wasanythingbuttotallyopenandfairinHisdealings.
Hence,God,whoiscapableofgatheringalleventsanddataintoone
instantmomentofdecisionmaking,chooses,forthebenefitofHiscreated
beings,tospreadoutoveranadequatespaceoftimeHisdataanddecision
contributingfactors,andHeinvitesthe"courttosit"andobservewhatHe
jsabouttodo.
Inadditionto11:1519wehold,asalreadyreferredtoabove,thatitis
this same preadvent investigative phase of Christ's judgment that John
referstoin14:7.
Revelationdoesnotgiveusanexacttimeforthebeginningofthis
preadventjudgment.However,itisclearlyplacedtowardtheendofthe
age.ThepersecutionofthosefaithfultoChristhasalreadybeengoingon
for some time, and the 1260 days/years are now past. Heaven has
registeredthecry,"Howlong,sovereignLord,holyandtrue,mustitbe
beforethouwiltvindicateusandavengeourblood...?"(6:10).
Yet thisphaseofjudgmentmustprecedetheSecondAdvent.Heav
enlybeingsthemselvesareinattendance,andwhattheyseewillcause
them toexclaim,"'Justartthouinthesethyjudgements,*...'Yes,Lord
God,...trueandjustarethyjudgements!'"(16:5,7).
Thispreadventjudgmentalludedtoin11:19canbereadilyacceptedas
beingthesamepreadventjudgmentdescribedinDaniel7.Inreplytothe
ray."Howlong?"(Dan8:13),itisannouncedthatattheendofthe2300
days^ears God would respond publicly before His universe in an act
ofinvestigation and judgment This prophecy found its fulfillment
beginningin1844.
WearenotsayingthatChristhasneverrecognizedandclaimedHisI
own,thosewhosenameshavebeenenteredinthebookoflifepriortothe
beginningofthisfinaljudgment.Whatwearesayingisthatinthisjudg
48AdventistexpositorsgenerallyhaveregardedthesoundingoftheseventhtrumpetasaperiodofII';,'
time,beginningin1844andextendingtothecloseofprobation(cf.Rev10:7;11:15).Thefocusonthe
"arkofthecovenant"(11:19)recallstheOTritualoftheDayofAtonement(Lev16),atypeofthefinal
judgment.Thus,11:19isseenasnaturallylinkingwilhDaniel78whichdescribesthepreadventor
investigativephaseoftheFinaljudgment.Thejudgmentandrewardsalludedtoin11:18areunderstoodto
refertotheexecutivephaseoftheFinalJudgmentthatoccursatthecloseofthemillennium(20:ll15).Ed.
SeeTheSDABibleCommentary7:8046.

293

SanctuaryandJudgment

ment phase He justifies His claims in the formal setting of a judicial


proceeding. The believers' faith in Him has to be vindicated before the
universe.Thatistheonlywaytheuniversecanleamthedoxologicalhymn,
"Trueandjustarethyjudgements."
Phases of final judgment Apart from sections in Revelation where
selectiveoutpouringsofGod'swrathasactsof"preparatory"Judgmentare
dwelton(seeabove),JohnpresentsGod'sfinaljudgmentasthefourphases
inthehistoryoftheoldorder.Theyareconsecutive,butlinkedtogetherasa
partofawhole.Thesephasesare:
1.Preadventphase.Thepreadventinvestigationoftherecords(bookof
life),thrownopentotheuniverse,bywhichChristjustifies,asmentioned
above, His claims to those who have been faithful to Him, thereby
vindicatingtheirstand(Rev11:1519;14:67;3:5).
2.SecondAdventphase.AtHissecondadventtheconsequencesofthe
claims,whichbythenhavebeengranted,becomeapparentSeparationofthe
faithfulbelieversfromthefollowersoftheantichristhasbothapositiveand
anegativeeffect: Thosewhoareseparatedandbroughtovertothesideof
Christinorderto"reignwithhimforathousandyears"effectivelyisolate
thosewhoaredestinedforeternaldestruction.Thedistancebetweenthefirst
andsecondresurrectionisthegulfthatseparatesthem(Rev22:1112;20:6).
3. Millennial phase. During themillennium the elect are invited, no
doubttogetherwiththerestofGod'screateduniversestillinharmonywith
Him,toseeforthemselvesthebasesofHislegaldecisions.Thisisdonein
theinterestofeverlastingharmony(Rev20:46;cf.1Cor6:23).
4.Executivephase.Thefinalexecutionofthesentence,proleptically
expressedatthebeginningofthethousandyearsnowtakesplace.Atits
completionearthandskyarepushedasideasa"newheavenandanew
earth"replacetheoldorder(Rev20:1115).Bythisactofcreationthecircle
has been completed; God and man are brought into the harmony and
fellowshipforwhichmanwasinitiallymade.
Therangeofthisjudgmentispartlydescribedindetailbutalsoantici
patedasawholeinDaniel'sapocalypticvisions(Dan78;12:13).
God's final judgment is universal. As such it addresses itself to all
persons,livingordead,whetherloyaltoChristordisloyal.Thedeciding
factorisquitesimplyourattitudesandactionstowardGodandHissaving
purposeinChrist.Thejudgment message of Revelationunderlines again
thatthewhetherornotofhumanexistenceisaquestionoffidelitytoChrist
andawillingnesstolivealifeofdiscipleship.Wholeheartedcommitmentto
ChristtakesthebelievertotheweddingfeastoftheLamb.
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ChapterX

TheRemnantChurchandthe
SpiritofProphecy
GerhardPfandl
EditorialSynopsis. Revelation12:17hasalwaysbeenimportanttotheself
understandingoftheSeventhdayAdventistpeople.Thechurchidentifiesitselfwith
"theremnant"who"keepthecommandmentsofGod"andwhohavethetestimony
ofJesusChrist.Inthispresentstudythewriterfocusesparticularlyonthenatureand
meaningoftheexpression,"thetestimonyofJesus."
TheGreek wordftia/lu/fo,translatedas"testimony"or"witness,"occurs37
timesintheNT, 30oftheseinstancesbeingintheJohanninewritings(Gospelof
John;13John;Revelation).Whenever martuna isusedinagenitiveconstruction
(testimony/witness of), thegrammaticalconstructionmaybeunderstoodasasub
jectivegenitive,theactionissuingfromthenouninthegenitivecase.Hence,"the
testimonyofJesus"isbestunderstoodasatestimony/witnessy/wnorbyJesus,the
testimonyHeHimselfgives.
Theangel inJohn'svisiondefines"thetestimonyofJesus"as"thespiritof
prophecy"(19:10)andaspecificpossessionofprophets(cf.19:10;22:89).First
centuryJewsunderstoodtheexpression,"thespiritofprophecy,"todesignatethe
HolySpiritwhoinspirestheprophets.TheJewishtarguroonGenesis41:38reads,
**AndPharaohsaidtohisservants,canwefindamanlikethis,inwhomisthe
Spirit
ofprophecyfromtheLord?"
Thus, the author concludes that "the testimony of Jesus" is Christ's self
disclosurethroughtheprophetsHiswitness,notman'switnessaboutHim.Forthe
endtime"remnant"to"have/hold" (echo) thiswitnessfromChristmeansthatthe
propheticgiftwouldmanifestitselfintheirmidst.SeventhdayAdventistsbelieve
suchagiftdidappearearlyintheirhistorythroughtheagencyofEllenG.White,
andthatthegiftremainsoperativethroughherwritings.

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TheRemnantChurchandtheSpiritofProphecy

ChapterOutline
I.
II.
III.
IV.
V.
VI.
VII.
VIII.
IX.
X.

Introduction
TheRemnant
HerSeed
CommandmentsofGod
TestimonyofJesus
ScripturalEvidence
SignificanceoftheExpression"TestimonyofJesus"
Revelation12:17andSeventhdayAdventists
Conclusion
Bibliography

Introduction
/AhebookofRevelation,accordingtothehistoricistschoolofinter
1pretation,givesapanoramicviewoftheageoldcontroversybeAtween
ChristandSatan.TheaccountofthisconflictduringtheChristianEraisrepeatedly
outlinedinsymbolicvisions.
Chapter12beginsanewlineofprophecy.Alludingonlybrieflytothehistory
ofGod'speopleinthe01;ittouchesonChrist'sfirstadvent,thesignificanceofHis
death, and His ascension to God's throne. It then carries the reader across the
centuries of church history to Satan's final attack on God's people, tersely
summarizedinverse17.
Thispresent studyinvestigatesthebackgroundandcontextofthisverse,an
endtimeprophecywhichhasspecialsignificancefortheSeventhdayAdventist
Church.
"Andthedragonwaswrothwiththewoman,andwenttomakewarwiththe
remnantotherseed,whichkeepthecommandmentsofGod,andhavethetestimony
ofJesusChrist"(KJV).
Thekeyexpressionswewillconsiderare"theremnantofherseed"(tonloipon
touspermatosautes),"thecommandmentsofGod"(tasentolastouTheou\and"the
testimonyofJesus"(fenmarturianlesou).
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TheRemnantChurchandtheSpiritofProphecy

TheRemnant
OldTestament
The remnant ideaisatheological motif whichpermeatestheentire
Scripture. The earliest explicit reference is in the Floodaccount: "Only
Noahwasleft,andthosethatwerewithhimintheark"(Gen7:23).Further
mentionofaremnantismadeintheElijahcycle(1Kgs19:18)andinthe
writingsoftheprophets(Amos5:15;Isa7:3;28:5;etc.).
The main import of the Hebrew words (S'r, pit, ytr, Srd and their
derivatives)istheideaofaportionofacommunitywhichisleftaftera
devastatingcalamity,"theportionuponwhichthepossiblefutureexistence
ofthecommunitydepends."1
G.F.Haselwhohasmadeanexhaustivestudyoftheremnantconcept
intheOTsummarizeshisfindingsbystating:
Whereas theearliestbiblicaltraditionsplacetheremnantideainthemidstof
mortalthreatsandthustestifytotheoriginoftheconceptintheconcerntopreserve
life,theyalsoputtheconceptfromitsbeginningintoatheologicalframeworkwitha
strongsalvationhistoricalemphasis.TheOThasanoverarchingcorrelationbetween
thesalvationofaremnantandthe nucleus ofthetruepeopleofGod,wherethe
initiativeofGodsucceeds in spite of allthreats,obstacles,andfears.Theremnant
themeisanessentialpartofbiblicalhopeandeschatology.

NewTestament
IntheNTitisprimarilythewordloiposanditsderivativesthatareused
toexpressthe remnantidea.3 TheOTremnantconceptisfoundonlyin
'Romans911andinthebookofRevelation.
InRomansPaulteachesthataremnantofIsraelaccordingtothefleshis
laved (Rom 9:2729). In the book of Revelation John uses loipos eight
times.4 i^lhe"rest"inThyatiraarethefaithfuloneswhohavenotaccepted
theteach^tegsofJezebel(2:24).ThechurchinSardisisvirtuallydead,but
"what [remains"shouldbestrengthened(3:2).Andthe"remnant"in12:17
arethose^'whokeepthecommandmentsofGodandhavethetestimonyof
Jesus.
1E.Jenni,"Remnant,"IDB(Nashville,1962),4:32.
20.F.Hasel,"Remnant,"IDB,Supp.(Nashville,1976),736.
3ThevcibIdpSmeaning"tolack,tobeinwant"isfoundsixtimes.Theadjectiveloiposmeaning
"the remaining, the rest," which is used chiefly in the plural, is found 55 times. See W.
Giinther, H.Krienkc,"Remnant," The NewInternationalDictionaryof'NTTheology (Grand
Rapids,19671971),3:248.
<Rev2:24;3:2;8:13;9:20;11:13;12:17;19:21;20:5.

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TheRemnantChurchandtheSpiritofProphecy
Sometimes loipos refers to those who stand outside the fold of God for
example,thosewhointhekingdomparablekilltheking'sservants(Matt22:6),the
fivefoolishvirgins(Matt25:11),thosewhodonotrepent(Rev9:20),andthoseslain
bytheswordofChrist(Rev19:21) 5 Thus,thecontextmustdecidewhether"the
remnant"belongstoGodornot.

HerSeed
OldTestament
Theexpression"remnantofherseed"remindsusofGenesis3:15where
theSeptuagint(LXX)translatestheHebrewzar^Sh(herseed)withtheGreek
phrasetouspermatosautes(herseed)anexpressionidenticalwiththeonein
Revelation12:17.
Thenoun zero1 (seed)fromtheverb zTira' (toscatterseed,orsow)is
used224times6intheOTandcanreferto:
1.Thetimeofsowing,seedtime(Gen8:22).
2.Theseedwhichissown(Gen47:19).
3.Theseedassemen(Lev15:16).
4.Theseedasoffspring(Gen12:7).
The most important theological usage is found in the fourth category.
CommencingwithGenesis3:15theword"seed"isregularlyusedasacol
lectivenouninthesingular(neverplural).Thistechnicaltermisanimportant
aspectofthepromisedoctrine,forHebrewneverusesthepluralofthisrootto
referto"posterity" or "offspring."TheAramaictargumspluralizethe term
occasionally,e.g.theTargumof Genesis 4:10,buttheAramaicalsolimits
itselftothesingularinthepassagesdealingwiththepromisedline.Thusthe
worddesignatesthewholelineofdescendantsasaunit,yetitisdeliberately
flexibleenoughtodenoteeitheronepersonwhoepitomizesthewholegroup
(i.e.themanofpromiseandultimatelyChrist),orthemanypersonsinthat
wholelineofnaturaland/orspiritualdescendants.

In Genesis 4:25 zero' refers to a particular "offspring" (Seth). But in


Genesis46:6,theabovementionedcollectivemeaningisevident:"Jacoband
allhisoffspringwithhim."Zero'(singular)includesJacob'sentire
5H.Fendrich,"Loipos."ExegedschesWQtterhuchzwnNeuenTestament(Stuttgart,1981),2:890.
6R.LairdHaris,GlcasonLArcher,BniccK.Waltkc,TheologicalWordbookoftheOldTestament
(Chicago,1980),1:252.H.D.Preus("Zero'"TheohffschesWGfterbuchmmAltenTestament
[Stuttgart,1973.1986],2:663)counts220occurrences.
7Ibid.,1:253.

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TheRemnantChurchandtheSpiritofProphecy

family,children,andgrandchildren.Thelargerfamily,includingallimme
diaterelatives,isincludedinthewordinpassagessuchas1Kings11:14,
**HadadtheEdomite:hewasoftheking'sseed"(KJV).Thewordisused
ofanentirenationofpeopleinEsther 10:3,"MordecaitheJewwas...
Speakingpeacetoallhisseed"(KJV).
Figurativelyzero*isusedofgroupsandindividualsmarkedbyacom
monmoralquality.Isaiah65:23mentionsthe"seed"oftheblessedofGod,
andbaiah53:10saysthesufferingServantwillseeHisseed/offspring,that
is,thosewhobelieveinandfollowHim.8
If"seed"inGenesis3:15isusedasacollectivenoun,thentheseedof
thewomanarebelieversandtheseedoftheserpent(Satan)aretheunbe
Uevers.9 Bothtimes"seed"isusedmetaphoricallyandnotliterally.Eve
alsostandsforallbelievers,whereasSatanrepresentstheunbelievers.
However,theparallelisnotquiteexact.WemustrememberthatChristX
firstofallthe literal offspringofEve,whereasunbelieversaretheseedof
Sataninonlyaspiritual sense. Langehastriedtosolvethis problem by
identifying the seed of the serpent primarily as the demons and the
^mysterious powers of evil with unbelievers becoming children of the
ser'peat in the ethical sense. 10 But the problem still remains, since the
demons;arenotSatan'sliteraloffspringeither.
' The solution seems to lie in understanding Semitic thought patterns.
Israel'stypeofthinkinghasbeenneatlycharacterizedbyWilhelmVischer
and others as "thinking in totalities" (gamheitliches Denken).11 "Israelite
thinking does not separate, as we Westerners are prone to do, the indi
jpvidualfromthegrouptowhichhebelongs."12Therefore,anindividualand
|; 'agroup canbereferredtobythesameword(forexample zerot) inthe
same|"contextFurthermoretheliteralandfigurativemeaningofawordcan
bepllperimposedupononeanother.
A
Thus,"herseed"canreferatthesametimetoEve'scollectiveoffering
believersandtooneparticularoffspringChrist.Andintheamepassage
"thyseed"canrefermetaphoricallytothefollowersof
8M.F.UngcrandW.White,Nelson'sExpositoryDictionaryoftheOldTestament(Nashville,
1980),391.
9H.CLeupold,ExpositionofGenesis(Columbus,OH,1942),165;H.M.Morris,TheGenesis
Record(GrandRapids,1976),121;CF.Kcil,GenesiswidExodw(Leipzig,1818),74.10J.P.
Langc,Genesis(NewYoric,1915).234.
1; ,11Wilhelm Vischer, TheWitnessoftheOld Testament to Christ, 2vols.,trans.A.B.Crabtree
(Lon''"'.'don,1946),117.SeealsoR.D.Gchrkc,"GenesisThreeintheLightofKeyHcrmencutical
Considerations,"CTM36(1965):558.'"GcBrke,558.
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TheRemnantChurchandtheSpiritofProphecy
Satanunbelievers.Sincezera'canbeusedforgroupsandindividualsmarkedby
a common moral quality, the two "seeds" can stand for two "races" or
"communities"eachmarkedbydistinctmoralqualities.
Atthehistoricalbeginningandendofeachgroupstandsanindividualrep
resentingthewholegroup.Inthecaseoftheserpent'sgroupitisoneandthesame
individual.Schematicallywecanpresentthisinterpretationasfollows:
Woman
(individual;Eve)

Serpent
(individual:Satan)

Woman'sSeed
(collective:believers)

Serpent'sSeed
(collective:unbelievers)
You
(individual:Satan)

He
(individual:Christ)

Onefurtherpointmustbementioned.Onthewoman'ssidethebasic
meaningof"herseed"and"He"isprimarilyliteral.Ontheserpent'ssidethe
basicandonlymeaningisfigurativeormetaphoricalsincetheserpentatall
threestagesinverse15isametaphorforSatan.Wehavemovedfroma
literalmeaninginverse14toametaphoricalmeaninginverse15.
NewTestament
IntheNewTestamentPaulusessperma(seed)aboutadozentimesto
designatetheliteralandspiritualdescendantsofDavid(Rom1:3),Isaac
(Heb 11:18), and Abraham (Rom 4:13). References to Abraham's seed
predominate.TheyrefereithertoChrist(Gal3:16,19)ortotheNTchurch
(Rom9:8;Gal3:19;etc.).
InthewritingsofJohnsperma(seed)appearsfivetimes.Thepromised
MessiahwillbealiteraldescendantofDavid(John7:42),andtheJewsare
Abraham'sdescendantsaccordingtotheirownandJesus'word(John8:33,
37).In1John3:9Johnusesspermainadifferentsense.The"seedofGod,"
inthisinstance,isthe"divineprincipleoflife,which,implantedinasinner,
bringsthenewmantobirthandproducestheChristian." 13Thefifthoccur
renceappearsinRevelation12:17whichwenowaddressinmoredetail.
Revelation12commencesanewlineofprophecy.Johnreturnstothe
13F.D.Nichol,ed.,TheSDABibleCommentary7(Washington,DC,19531957):652.

300

TheRemnantChurchandtheSpiritofProphecy

beginningoftheNTeraandtracesthesubsequenthistoryofthechurchin
itswarfarewithSatan.
RomanCatholicinterpretershavesometimesinterpretedthewomanin
Revelation12asMary. 14Butthehighlysymboliccharacterofthewhole
book,aswellasJohn'sintroductorywords"andthereappearedagreat
wonder15inheaven"indicatethatthewomanisasymbolforthechurch
ofGod.16Verses15portraystheOTchurchthatbroughtforththeMes
siah(vs.5),andverses617portraysthestrugglesoftheNTchurch.
The woman brings forth a manchild (the Messiah) whom the dragon
(appearing on stage in verse 3) attempts to devour (vs. 4). The child,
however,iscaughtuptoGodandHisthrone(vs.5);whereuponthedragon
turnsonthewomanandtriestodestroyher(vs.13),butagainhedoesnot|
ftuceeed(vs.16).
I,Thedragon,whohasbeenangrywiththewomanthroughouttheen|tire
vision,isnowangrywiththeremnantofherseed(sperma)andmakes||war
againstthem(12:17).
ITheexpression"tomakewar"isalsousedinRevelation11:7and13:7.j|
ia11:7itisthebeastoutofthebottomlesspitandin13:7thebeastoutof||
lheseawhomakewaragainstGodorHispeople.Thebeastsaresymbols|
forSatanandhisagents.InbothcasesSatanispartiallysuccessful,butonly
jtoatime.Inchapter11thetimeissymbolizedas3vzdaysandinchapter
p:13as42months.ThisindicatesthatSatancanonlyworkwithinthelimits
|Godsetsforhim.
I Inchapter12theattackcomesafterthe1260yeartimeperiodspeci||
Eied(12:6,14)andappearsasSatan'sfinalattemptatdestroyingGod's||
aithfulpeople,but"thislastfaithfulremnantwithstandsthefiercestper
yteutionbythelamblikebeast(Rev13:1118)andissavedbytherideron
piehorse,whiletheothersareslainintheapocalypticbattle(Rev19:21).
Victorybelongstothelastfaithfulremnant.'*17
larksofIdentity

Thequestionis,Whoisthisfaithfulremnant?Someidentifythisgroupi
GentileChristiansincontrastwithJewishChristians(thewoman)inthe

^MM.Bottchcr,^kgundZielderGemeindeJesu(Hamburg:AdventVerlag,n.d.),204.|PTheword
Smewn(wonderorsign)whichJohnusesseventimesinRevelation(12:1,3;13:1314;
^15:1;16:14;19:20)appearsherefortheFirsttime.Allthesignsmentionedpointtosomedeeper
spiritualsignificanceinconnectionwiththeeventorobject.A.Plummer,"Revelation,"PC
(London,1898),309;R.H.Mounce,TheBookofRevelation,
NICNT(GrandRapids,1987),152.
EI?Basel,736.

301

TheRemnantChurchandtheSpiritofProphecy

time of a future antichrist.18 Others suggest they are Israelite Christians


livingduringthesametimeperiod. 19Again,othersholdtheyareindividual
believersingeneralatthetimeofthefinalconflict. 20Someinterpreterssee
thepersecutionofChristiansbytheRomanEmpireasthefulfillmentofthis
verse.21AndstillothersapplythepassagetothepersecutionofChristiansat
varioustimesduringtheChristianAge.22
Whatinformationdoesthepassageprovideformakingasoundiden
tificationof"theremnant"possible?Inthefirstplace,acontextualstudyof
Revelation12:17showsthat"theremnantofherseed"standsincontrast
withthe"manchild"whoisalsoaseedofthewoman(vs.5).Inother
words,thewomanhaschildren(otherthantheChrist)againstwhomSatan
nowdirectshiswrath.23"Thecloseidentificationoftheseedofthewoman
asfirstofallJesusandthenalsothosewhobecomeHisbrethrenthrough
faithagreeswithotherNTteaching(Matt25:40;Heb2:1112)." 24
Secondly,thesechildrenarenottobeidentifiedasChristiansingeneral,
living throughout the Christian Era. The fact that the war against the
remnant is mentioned after the 1260year persecution of the woman,
indicatesthatthewarontheremnantiscarriedonafterthatearliererahas
expired. The remnant,therefore,referstothosewhoarelivingafter1798,
thedatetheprophetic1260dayscametoanend. 25
Thusweconcludethatspermain12:17referstothefaithfulbelieversin
thetimeoftheend,whoareidentifiedbytwocharacteristics:
1.TheykeepthecommandmentsofGod.
18Th.Zahn,DieOffenbanmgdesJohannes(Leipzig,1926),2:443;A.Dachse\,Dachsel'sBiblwrk
(Leipzig,n.d.),7:81.
19K.Merz,WasinKunegeschehensoil(LahrDinglingen,n.d.),82;J.A.Seiss,TheApocalypse
(GrandRapids,1973),319;E.Schreiner,DOSgropeBuchvomEnde(Chemnitz,n.d.),166.Seiss
undSchreinerdistinguishbetweenIsraeliteChristians(144,000)whokeepthe
CommandmentsandGentileChristianswhohavethetestimonyofJesus.
20Mouncc,247;Plummer,315;G.RBeasleyMurray,"TheRevelation,"TheNewBible
CommentaryRevised(Leicester,1970),1294;A.Schlattcr,BriefeundOffenbanmgdesJohannes
(Stuttgart,1950),245;A.Pohl,DieOffenbanmgdesJohannes,WuppertalerStudicnbibel
(Wuppertal,1971).2:116.
21E.g.,WilhelmBoussct,DieOffenbanmgdesJohannes,6thcd.(Gottingen,1906),345.R.H.
Charics,TheRevelationofSt.John,ICC(NewYork,1920),1:332;MartinKiddle,TheRevela
tionofSt.John,MoffatNewTestamentCommentary(London,1940),240.
22Forexample,K.Hartenstein,DerWiederkommcndefferr(Stuttgart,1969),17576;D.W.Hadom,
DieOffenbanmgdesJohannes,TheologischerHandkommentarzumNT(Leipzig,1928),136;
WilliamAlexander,TheBookofRevelation,TheExpositor'sBible,cd.W.R.Nicholl(New
York,1908),21112.
23G.E.Ladd,ACommenuayontheRevelationofJohn(GrandRapids,1972),174.
24AlanJohnson,"Revelation,"Expositor'sBibleCommentary,ed.F.E.Gaebclein(GrandRapids,
1981).12:519.
25C.M.Maxwell,GodCares2(Boise,Idaho.1985):277.

302

TheRemnantChurchandtheSpiritofProphecy
2.TheyhavethetestimonyofJesus.
Astudyofthesemarks,therefore,isimperativeforarrivingatthecorrect
identificationofwhocomposethe"remnantotherseed."

CommandmentsofGod
Whateverelsewemayseeinthisexpression,"thecommandmentsof
God"(tasentolastouTheou\wemustcertainlyincludetheTenCommand
ments.Thecommandments(mifwot)ofDeuteronomy6:25andEcclesias
tes12:13arethecommandments(entolai)ofMatthew19:17andRomans
13:9.
JohnforeseesatimewhenthecommandmentsofGodwillbeasignby
whichthetruefollowersofGodwillberecognized,becausetherestof
Christianitywillhave"commandmentsofGod"whichdonotcorrespond
totheoriginal.AlreadyDanielforesawthetimewhenGod'slawwouldbe
changed(Dan7:25).
Church history indicates that there was such a change, and that it was
especiallytheSabbathcommandwhichwaschanged. 26 Thus,ifthecom|
mandmentsofGodareaspecialidentifyingmarkofthelastchurch,we|can
expectthatwhatwillsetthetruefollowersofChristapartfromtheIrestof
Christendomwillbetheiradherencetotheoriginalfourthcommandment.

TestimonyofJesus
CommentariesthroughoutthecenturieshavewrestledwiththeJohan[|
nineexpression,"thetestimonyofJesus."Isitthegeneraltestimonyofthe
|;Christian church concerning Jesus, or is it the testimony that Jesus
Him|elfgavewhilehereonearthandlateronthroughtheprophetsofthe
V.WkJOil

jOmstianchurch?Inotherwords,intermsofgrammar,is"testimonyof
jllesus"anobjectiveorasubjectivegenitive?Theexpression"testimonyof|
l|Sus"(martuiianKsou)occurssixtimesinthebookofRevelation(1:2,jp;
12:17;19:10[twice];and20:4).Twoexplanationsconcerningitsmean|png
havebeenputforwardbycommentators.

^ StephenKeenan, ADoctrinal Catechism, 3rdAmerican ed., rev.(NewYork,1876),174; Peter


Geicrmann,C.SS.R, The Convert's Catechism ofCatholicDoctrine, 1957ed.(St.Louis,
1930),50.
303

TheRemnantChurchandtheSpiritofProphecy
GeneralViews
TheFirstviewtakesmarturianlesouasanobjectivegenitiveandinterpretsit
as man's witness to Christ.27 Thus, the war mentioned in 12:37 refers to the
"persecutionsagainstallindividualsofthechurchwhokeepthecommandmentsof
GodandbeartestimonytoJesus." 28Thisinterpretationisbasedpartlyontheview
thatbythetimethebookofRevelationwaswrittenthewordmarturiahadacquired
thetechnicalmeaningofmartyrdom.29
Thisparticularnuancefor marturia, however, is bynomeansestablishedfor
thefirstcentury.Weknowthatbythetime"TheMartyrdom ofPolycarp" was
written(thelatterpartofthesecondcenturyA.D.),itwascommontousemartus
(witness)asanequivalentto"martyr."Butthereisnoindicationthatthiswasthe
case at the time of the writing of Revelation.30 A. A Trite says "the words
marturion,marturiaandmarturein...
11

donotimplymartyrdomaspartoftheirdictionarymeaning.""
The second view takes marturian lesou as a subjective genitive and un
derstandsthe"testimonyofJesus"astheselfrevelationofJesusthatmovesthe
Christianprophets.32TritequotesM.C.Tenneywhoseesthesubjectivegenitivein
Revelation1:2andsays:
Similarlyin1:9and12:17itmakesexcellentsensetotakethegenitives
assubjectivegenitives."ThewordofGodandthetestimonyofJesus"would
thenmean"thewordspokenbyGodandthetestimonybornebyJesus"(1:9)
and"thecommandmentsofGodandthetestimonyofJesus"wouldimply
"thecommandmentsofGodandthetestimonybornebyJesus"(12:17).The
subjective genitive interpretation receives further confirmation in the
explanatorywordsappendedbytheseerin19:10:"For
27M.E.Osterhaven,Testimony,"TheZondervanPictorialEncyclopediaoftheBible(GrandRapids,
1975),5:682;seealsoJohnJ.Walvoord,TheRevelationofJesusChrist(London,1966),41;Petros
Vassiliades,"TheTranslationofMarturialesouinRevelation,"BT36(1985);12934.
28RayF.Robbins,TheRevelationofJesusChrist(Nashville,1975),154;soalsoG.R.BeasleyMurray,
TheBookofRevelation,NewCenturyBible(London,1974),206.
29Vassiliades,131;WilliamHenrySimcox,TheRevelationofSt.JohntheDivine,CambridgeBible
forSchoolsandColleges(Cambridge,1898),117.
30J.MassyngbcrdeFord,Revelation,AB(NewYork,1975),374;HeinrichKraft,DieOffenbanmgdes
Johannes,HandbuchzumNcuenTestamentfTiibingen,1974),22.
31A.A.Trite,"MartusandMartyrdomintheApocalypse,"NovT15(1973):80.Onthetopicotmar
tusand"martyrs"seeF.Kattenbusch,"DerMartyrertitel"Z/W4(1903):11127;T.W.Manson,
"MartyrsandMartyrdom,"BJRL39(19561957):46384;ErnstLohmeyer,"DieIdeedes
MartyriumsimJudentumundUrchristcntum,"ZSTS(19271928):23249.
32JamesMoffat,"TheRevelationofSt.JohntheDivine,"TheExpositor'sGreekTestament,ed.W.
RNicoll(GrandRapids,1956),5:465.
33M.C.Tenney,InterpretingRevelation(GrandRapids,1957),44.

304

TheRemnantChurchandtheSpiritofProphecy
thetestimonybornebyJesusisthespiritwhichinspirestheprophets"(independent
translation).34

Finally,wenotethatmanycommentatorsdonottakeaneither/orposition.Rather,
theyconsidermarturianlesouinsometextstobeanobjeclilivegenitiveandin
othertextsasubjectivegenitive.35

ScripturalEvidence
ITheUseofMarturiaintheNonJohannineWritings
1.ByMark:
Thechiefpriestsandthewholecounselsoughttestimony[marturian}
againstJesus.(14:55)
Theirwitness[hoimarturiai]didnotagree.(14:56)Notevensodidtheir
testimony[hemarturiaauton]agree.(14:59)Summary:Thegrammatical
constructionin14:59isclearlyasubjectivegenitive.
2.ByLuke:
Whatfurthertestimony[marturias]doweneed?(Luke22:71)
Theywillnotacceptyourtestimonyaboutme[soumarturianperiWK?u].
(Acts22:18)
Summary: In Acts 22:18 Luke uses a subjective genitive followed by a
prepositionalphrase(peri,"about,""concerning")thatidentifiestheobiWme."
3.ByPaul:
Hemusthaveagoodreport[marturian]ofthemwhicharewithout.
(lTim3:7,KJV)'h;
Thistestimony[marturia]istrue.(Titus1:13)
'Summary:Norelevantsyntacticalstructureisfoundinthesetwoverses.

(JTheUseofMarturiainJohn'sGospelandEpistles
Hecamefortestimony[marturian},tobearwitnessto(peri,"concerning")
thelight.(John1:7)
^Trite,75.SoalsoHermannStrathmann,"Martyrs,"TheologischesWorterbuchmmNeuenTesta^_
mew(Stuttgart.19331974),4:506;Mounce,66,274.|^5S.MassyngberdeFord,"FortheTestimony
ofJesusIstheSpiritofProphecy,"JTQ42(1975):285;
A.Bames,Notes,ExplanatoryandPracticalontheBookofRevelation(London,1852),56,
68,
358,461;Charies,1:7;Ladd,265.

305

TheRemnantChurchandtheSpiritofProphecy_____
ThisisthetestimonyofJohn[marturiatouloannou}.(1:19)Youdo
notreceiveourtestimony[marturianhemon}.(3:11)Noonereceives
histestimony[hemarturianoutou].(3:32)Hewhoreceiveshis
testimony[autouhemarturian].(3:33)Mytestimony[hemarturia
mou}isnottrue.(5:31)

Iknowthatthetestimony[hemarturia]whichhebearstome[periemou,
"concerningme"]istrue.(5:32)
Notthatthetestimony[marturian}whichIreceiveisfromman.(5:34)Butthe
testimony[marturian]whichIhaveisgreaterthanthatofJohn.(5:36)
Yourtestimony[marturiasou]isnottrue.(8:13)
Mytestimony[marturiamou]istrue.(8:14)
Thetestimonyoftwomen[duoanthroponhemarturia}istrue.(8:17)
Histestimonyistrue[alethineautouestinhemarturia}.(19:35)
Histestimonyistrue[alethesautouhemarturiaestin}.(21:24)
If we receive the testimony of men [he marturian ton anthropon}, the
testimonyofGod[hemarturiatouTheou}isgreater;forthisisthetestimonyof
God[hemarturiatouTheou}.(1John5:9)

He...hasthetestimony[hemarturian}inhimself....hehasnotbelievedin
thetestimony[hemarturian}.(5:10)
Andthisisthetestimony[hemarturia}.(5:11)Mytestimony[hemarturiahemon}
istrue.(3John12) Summary: Marturia isused21timesinJohn'sGospeland
Epistles.Fourteentimesitisusedinagenitiveconstructionthatisclearlysubjec
tive.Theobjectiveideaof"witnessabout"or"witnessto"inJohn'sGospeland
Epistlesisconsistentlyexpressedbytheprepositionperi(about,concerning)with
theverbmartureo(towitness,testify).Heneverusesthenounmarturia(testimony,
witness)withanobjectivegenitiveconstructionbyitself.Forexample:
Tobearwitnesstothelight[martureo+peri}.(John1:7)IfIbearwitnesstomyself
[martureo+peri}.(5:31)Whobearswitnesstome[martureo+peri}.(5:32)He
hasbornwitnesstohisSon[martureo+peri}.(1John5:9)Othertextsusingperi
(about,concerning)areJohn1:8,15;2:25;5:36,37.39,etc;1John5:9,10.
306

TheRemnantChurchandtheSpiritofProphecy
"v>TheUseotMarturiainRevelation
TheintroductiontothebookofRevelation(vss.13)setsforththesourceand
the content of the book as well as the blessedness of those who receive its
teaching. In verse 2weare toldthat Johnbore witnesstothecontent of this
revelation(describedas"thewordofGod"andthe"testimonyofJesus.")37
Revelation1:2:WhoborewitnesstothewordofGodandtothetestimony
ofJesusChrist,eventoallthathesaw.(RSV)
The "word of God" (logos tou Theou) and "the testimony of Jesus Christ"
(marturianlesouChristou)aretherevelationgivenbyGodandthewitnessborneto
itbyJesusChrist.38TheydonotrefertoGod'srevelaItionsandtruthsingeneralor
totheFourthGospelandepistlesasolder|interpretershaveunderstoodthem. 39
Rather,theydescribetherevelaItionscontainedinthisbook,asismadeclearby
theclause,"eventoallthathesaw,"standinginappositiontotheforegoingwords.
Itisagreedbyalmostallcommentatorsthatthetwogenitiveexpressions(ofGod;
ofJesusChrist)arebothsubjectivegenitives.41
I OldTestamentbackground. LookingattheOT,fromwhichmostof the
imageryofRevelationisdrawn,wefindasimilarphraseinIsaiah8:20(KJV):"to
thelaw[torah}andtothetestimony{te'Odah}^Theparallelism
36ThelinguisticdifferencesbetweentheGospelandlettersofJohnontheonehandandthe
ApocalypseontheotherhandhasledmanyscholarstopositadifferentJohnasthewriterofthe
Apocalypse.TheGreekoftheGospelsandlettersisrelativelysimpleandnormallycorrect,
whereasintheApocalypsethelawofconcordisoftendisregarded.Wefindmixedupgenders,
numbers,andcasesaswellasseveralunusualconstructions.Forexhaustiveexamplessee
Charles,1:XXIXXXXVII.YetinspiteofthesedifferencestheApocalypsehasacloseraffinity
totheGreekoftheotherJohanninebooksthantoanyotherNTbook.Thelinguisticdifferences
maybeduetothefactthatRevelationwasprobablywrittenwhenJohnwasaloneonPalmos.
whereastheGospelsandletterswerewrittenwiththehelpofoneormorefellowbelieversat
Ephesus.SeeDonaldGuthrie,NewTestamentIntroduction(Leicester,1976),93442
37Afurtherindicationconcerningthecontentisgiveninverse1:"Whatmustsoontakeplace"isthe
subjectofthevisions.
38diaries,1:7;Mounce,66;Ladd,23.
39Baraes,5657;JohnRussellHurd,Hyponoia;orThoughtsonaSpiritualUnderstandingofthe
Apocalypse,orBookofRevelation(NewYork,1844),iv;FriedrichDiisterdieck(Criticaland
ExegelicalHandbooktotheRevelationofJohn[NewYork,1887],98)listsBede,Nicolausof
Lyra,Aretius,Grotius,Eichhom,Ebrard,andKliefothasbelongingtothisgroup.
40Mounce,66;TheodorZahn,DieOffenbarungdesJohannes,KommentarzumNT(Leipzig,1924),
155;Plummer,2.
41Charles,1:7;IsbonT.Beckwith,TheApocalypseofJohn(GrandRapids,1967),421;Bousset,183;
Hadom,26;BeasleyMurray,52;Mounce,66,n.8;Johnson,417.Anobjectivegenitiveisseen
byMassyngberdeFord,Revelation,373;andVassiliades,133.

307

TheRemnantChurchandtheSpiritofProphecy
isespeciallystrikingwhenwecomparetheseexpressionsinIsaiahwiththosein
Revelation 12:17"the commandments of God, and... the testimony of Jesus
Christ"(KJV).
The parallelism between "word" (dabar) and "law" (t6rah) in Isaiah 1:10
"Hear the word of the Lord, you rulers of Sodom! Give ear to the teaching
[tSrah,*law']ofourGod,youpeopleofGomorrah!"aswellasinIsaiah2:3and
5:24,indicatesthatIsaiahconsidersthewordofGodandthelawofGodtobe
interchangeable.Thus"thelaw"and"thetestimony"inIsaiah8:20areequivalentto
"wordofGod"and"testimony."
Thewordfor"testimony"(te'udah)usedinIsaiah8:20appearsonlythreetimes
intheOT(Ruth4:7;Isa8:16,20).InRuth4:7thecustomoftakingoffone'sshoe
andgivingittosomebodyelseasasymboloftransferringownershipiscalled"a
testimony" (te'&dffh). In Isaiah 8:1620, against the background of the Syro
Ephraimitewarandthetroubloustimesahead,theprophetshowswhatguidance
GodoffersHispeoplefortheimpendingemergencies.
WhetherGodortheprophetisthespeakerinverse16isoflittleconsequence.
Thepurposeisineithercasethesame.Thefaithful,thedisciplesaretohavelaw
andtestimony(bothwithoutarticle)sealedintheirheartssoastobeabletostandin
thetimetocome.Wheninthefuturethepeoplewouldturntonecromancy(vs.19)
theyweretopointthemtothelawandtothetestimony(vs.20).
Itispossiblethat"law"{t6rSh\meaning"instruction"here,referstothewritten
Mosaiclawwhichwastheprimaryinstrumentofinstruction,andthat"testimony"
(te'udah)referstothespokenrevelationgiventoIsaiah. 42However,itseemsmore
likely that "testimony" is simply another synonym for "law," 43 and that both
togetherrefertotherevelationwhichGodhasgiventoIsaiahinchapters7and8. 44
Ineithercase"law"and"testimony"arebothfromGod.TheyareHislawandHis
testimonyandinthissensetheysupportthesubjectivegenitiveinterpretationin
Revelation1:2outlinedabove.
42JeanZiircher,"TheTestimonyofJesusistheSpiritofProphecy,"manuscriptpreparedforthe
EuroAfricaDivisionBibleconferences,1988.
43Leopold,177.Theword'efBJh(witnessortestimony),usedonlyinthepluralandprimarilyinPs
119,isasynonymfor"law."Thenoun'edQl(witnessortestimony),whichismostfrequentlycon
nectedwiththetabernacle,isalsoasynonymfor"law."Itoftendesignatesthetwotablesofslone
uponwhichtheTenCommandmentswerewritten(Exod31:18;32:15;34:29).
44Young,1:313.Onp.319hedefines"law"astherevelationofGodexpressingHiswillforman's
obedience,and"testimony"asHisrevelationexpressingHiswillasasystemtobebelieved.
45NeverthelessilisquestionablewhetherIsa8:20isreallytheVorlageforRev1:2.

308

TheRemnantChurchandtheSpiritofProphecy
| Doubleexpression. SinceRevelation1:2setsthestage,theinterpretationof
furtheroccurrencesofthisdoubleexpressioninRevelationmustStakeintoaccount
themeaningithasinthisintroductorystatement.
RevelaUonl^IJohn,yourbrother,whosharewithyouinJesusthetrib
ulationandthekingdomandthepatientendurance,wasontheislandcalled
PatmosonaccountofthewordofGodandthetestimonyofJesus.(RSV)
Beforespeakingindetailabouthisfirstvision,Johnintroduceshimselfandstates
hiscredentials.HementionswhoheisJohn,yourbrother;
|WhereheisonPatmos;46whyheisthereonaccountofthewordoflOodand
thetestimonyofJesus;whenhereceivedthevisionontheIfiord'sday;47and
uponwhatauthorityhiswordsdependupontheloud1voiceof"onelikeasonof
man"(vs.13).
|Althoughthephrase"onaccountofthewordofGodandthetestimony|ofJesus"
hasreceiveddifferentinterpretations,48theviewcommonly;acceptedisthatJohn
wasbanishedtoPatmosbecausehepreachedthewordlofGod.49Thesecondphrase,
"thetestimonyofJesus,"isseenasareferIencetothegospelbymost
commentators;50some,however,understandtthephrasetorefertotheapostolic
witnesstoJesus(objectivegenitive).51
46PatmosbelongstotheSporadhesislandsoffthecoastofTurkey,about40milessouthwestof
Miletus.Itisarockyislandabout10mileslongand5mileswide.Tacitus(Annals3.68;4.30;
15.71)referstotheuseofsuchsmallislandsforpoliticalbanishment,buthedoesnotmention
Patmos. Pliny (NaturalHistory, 4.12.69)says Patmos was30milesincircumference,buthe
doesnotmentionanypenalcolony(thereferencesgivenindifferentcommentariesarcoften
inaccurate).ForalistofislandsofdeportationmentionedbyancientauthorssecH.D.Saffrey,
"RetireL'ApocalypseaPatmos,"RB82(1975):385417.LeonardThompson("ASociological
AnalysisofTribulationintheApocalypseofJohn,"Semeia36[1986]:150)says,"thelanguage
of1:910docsnotgiveahintofasuggestionthatJohnwasbanished,deported,relegated,or
imprisonedonPatmos; noristhere any evidencefrom Roman sourcesthat Patmoswasa
prisonsettlement.Norwasiladesertedbarrenisle,asissometimessuggested;ithadsufficient
populationtosupportagymnasiumtwocenturiesbeforetheCommonEra,andaroundthetime
ofJohnaninscriptionreferstothepresenceofthecultofArtemis."ThatJohnwasonPatmosin
exileismentionedbyClementofAlexandria(secondcenturyA.D.)inhisworkWhoIstheRich
Man ThatShallBeSaved? vol.42(ANF,2:603),byTertullian(secondcenturyA.D.)in On
PrescriptionAgainstHeretics,vol.36(ANF,3:260),andbyEusebius(fourthcenturyA.D.)in
hisEcclesiasticalHistory,3.20.11(NPNP,1:149).
47"ItwasontheSabbaththattheLordofgloryappearedtotheexiledapostle"(EllenG.White,
The Acts of the Apostles [Mountain View, CA, 1911], 581.) See also Kenneth A. Strand,
"AnotherLookatLord'sDay'intheEarlyChurchandinRevelation1:10,"NTS13(1966
1967):17481.
48Somecommentators believeJohn went to Patmos toreceive therevelation containedinthe
book (Duslcrdicck, 108; Bousset, 192;Kraft,42);othersthinkhewentthereto preach the
gospel(PriedrichSpitta,DieOffenbarungdesJohannes[Halle:Waisenhaus,1889],28).
49Charies,1:22;Simcox,7;Hadom,33;BeaslcyMurray,64;Beckwith,434;Plummer,5;Ladd,
31;
Nichol,7:735;Zahn,185;Moffat,341;Kiddle,10;Johnson,424;Mounce,75.
50Charles,1:21;Bames,68;Zahn,185;Moffat,341;Ladd,31;Nichol,7:735;Thompson,150.
51MassynberdeFord,Revelation384;MartinRist,"TheRevelationofSt.JohntheDivine,"IB
(New
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TheRemnantChurchandtheSpiritofProphecy

InRevelation1:2wehaveseenthatthephrase"thewordofGodand
thetestimonyofJesus"describesthecontentoftheApocalypse.Thisobvi
ouslycannotbeitsmeaningin1:9,sinceJohnwasbanishedtoPatmosbe
cause he preached "the word of God and the testimony of Jesus." 52
Nevertheless,thereisnoneedtosplitthephraseandtakethefirsthalf,"the
wordofGod,"asasubjectivegenitiveandthesecondhalf,"thetestimony
ofJesus,"asanobjectivegenitive.Bothgenitivescanbetakenassubjective
genitives.TheydescribethecontentofJohn'spreachingforwhichhewas
banished.
Weseethenasecondimportofthephrase,"thewordofGodandthe
testimonyofJesus."In1:2itreferstothecontentofthebookofRevelation;
in1:9itisinabroadersensethegospelastherevelationofChrist'slifeand
work.
LongbeforeRevelationwaswrittenPaulusedthephrases"testimonyof
Christ"(tomarturiontouChristou)in1Corinthians1:6and"thetestimony
ofourLord" (tomarturiontouKuriouhemon) in2Timothy1:8(KJV).
Thoughtherearedifferences,53 it cannotbedeniedthattotheheareror
reader in the first century the three phrases, "testimony of Jesus,"
"testimonyofChrist,"and"testimonyoftheLord" (marturialesou,mar
turion tou Christou, marturion tou Kuriou), would all convey the same
meaning.
In1Corinthians1:6thegenitive"thetestimonyofChrist"canbesub
jectiveorobjective,andprobablyitisboth. 54Inonesense"thetestimonyof
Christ"wasconfirmed55 amongtheCorinthiansthroughthepreachingof
Paul;forexample,"Godconfirmedorgaveeffecttothegospelamongthe
Corinthiansbytheiracceptingitandsettingtheirsealtoitstruth,through
theinwardpowerofHisSpirit."56Inanothersensethetestimonybometo
ChristbyPaulwhileheministeredamongthemwasconfirmedastrueby
theirtransformedlives.57
York,1957),373.
52Unlesshewenttheretoreceivetherevelationcontainedinthebook.ButsinceinRevelationdia
neverdenotesthepurposebutalwaystheground(Charics,1:22)werejectthisinterpretation.
53(1)Paulusesthewordmaturion;Johnusesmarturia.Theformeremphasizesthetestimonyitself,
thelatterthegivingofit(Strathmann,508).(2)Eachphraseusesadifferentappellationfor
Christ.
54WcmerdeBoor,I>erCTMeJ9^<^/teito(OTdfcXCTwu/i<^WuppertalerStudicnbibcl(Wuppertal,
1968),28.
55ThewordbebaioGwssatechnicalterminbusinesslawandmeanttomakesomethinglegaltybind
ing,toconfirmit.
56RJamieson,A.RFaussct.andD.Brown,.^Comment^OT^Oyand^wKiMm<rt(GrandRapids,
n.d.),3:263.
57BcaslcyMurray,"TheRevelation,"TheNewBibleCommentary,Revised(Leicester,1970).1053.

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In1Corinthians2:12Paulspeaksofthe"testimonyofGod"(tomar
turiontouTheou)thathehadpreachedtotheCorinthians.Andthis"testi
monyofGod,"heexplains,is"JesusChristandhimcrucified."Thusboth
"thetestimonyofGod"and"thetestimonyofChrist"aretermsusedforthe
gospel.Andthesameistrueforthe"testimonyofourLord"in2Timothy
1:8.Afterhavingexhortedhisyoungdisciplesnot to beashamed of "the
testimonyofourLord"(tomarturiontouKuriouhSnion)theapostleadds,
"butshareinsufferingforthegospelinthepowerofGod." 58
ItseemsthatJohncoinedhisownphrase,"thewordofGodandthe
testimonyofJesus,"toexpressGod'srevelationwhichheproclaimed.The
twophrasesaredistinctandyetaunity,justastheFatherandtheSonare
distinctPersonsyetoneGod.
KennethStrandhasshownthattheOTlawrequiredatleasttwowit
nesses(Deut19:15).ThisconceptundergirdsandpermeatestheNT^par
ticularlythebookofRevelation. 59 In1:2,9,and20:4wefindtwoentities,
"thewordofGod"and"thetestimonyofJesus,"representingthetwowit
nesses.Inotherpassagesthelanguagevariessomewhat.
In12:17, they are (translatingtheGreek terms literally) "command
mentsofGod"and"testimonyofJesus";in14:12,"commandmentsofGod"
and"faithofJesus";andin6:9,"thewordofGod"and"thetestimonythey
hold"where"testimony"alsorefersto"thetestimonyofJesus,"asweshall
see.
Therearealwaysthesetwowitnesses:ChristandtheFather.Justas
JesussaidinJohn8:1318,HeandtheFatherarethetwowitnesses, 60and
thetwoarealwaysone(John10:30). 61AndthebookofRevelationcallsfor
faithfulness to these two entities. This motif of the two witnesses
strengthenstheinterpretationthatthe"testimonyofJesus"referstoChrist's
selfrevelation.62
Revelation6:9When hehadopenedthefifthseal,Isawunderthe
altarthesoulsofthemthatwereslainforthewordofGod[diatonlogontou
Theou], and for the testimony which they held [dia ten marturian hen
eichon}.(KJV)
58Zurcher,14.
59K.Strand,"TheTwoWitnessesofRev11:312,"AUSS19(1981):132.
60SeealsoJohn8:28,38;14:24;17:8.
61InRevelation11:3wefindtwowitnesseswhoalsoworkasoneentity.
62Strand,134,drawstheconclusionthatthetwowitnesses,namely"thewordofGod"and"the
testimonyofJesus"aretheOldandNewTestaments.Strathmann,506,rejectsthisinterpretation
andunderstandsthephraseasafuller,morecompleteexpressionfortheChristianrevelationas
such.

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Although this text does not contain the phrase "testimony of Jesus," it is
includedinourstudybecausethetestimonymentionedismostlikely
thetestimonyofJesus.63However,thereasonfortheomissionoHesouis
.164not
clear.
WhenthefifthsealisopenedJohnseesthesoulsofthemartyrsunderthealtar
cryingoutforvengeance.Theyaredescribedasthosewhowereslainfortheword
ofGodandthewitnesstheyheld.65
Meaningofecho(have/hold).Thequestionis,whatis"thetestimonywhich
theyheld" (marturianheneichon)7 Isitthewitnesstheyreceivedandheldonto
under adverse circumstances, 66 or is it the witness they bore under the same
circumstances?67 Those who accept the latter interpretation usually see all the
martyrs(ChristianorpreChristian)referredto.Butcanthephrasebeinterpretedto
mean"beartestimony"?
Thelexicalmeaningoiechoinitsactivetransitiveformis"tohave,tohold,
to have as one's possession." 68 It can mean further "to bring about, cause,
consider"or"havethepossibility,can,beable,beinaposition." 69 Themiddle
participleofechointheNTmeans"toholdoneselffast,toclingto."70Notone
caseisgivenbyBauer,Arndt,andGingrichinwhichechohasthemeaningof
"tobear."
LiddellandScottgivehundredsofreferencesfortheactivetransitiveform
ofechowiththesamemeaningasgivenbyBauer,Arndt,andGingrich.Inthe
middleformtheygivefourreferenceswhereechomeans"tobear"or"tohold
foroneself" something concrete,forexample,a shield.Liddell and Scott also
citeasecondwordechowhichisfoundonaCyprian
63Bousset,270.SeealsoJohannesBehm,"DieOffenbarungdesJohannes,"NeuesTestamentDeutsch
(Gottingen,1937),41;C.B.Caird,ACommentaryontheRevelationofSt.JohntheDivine,
Harper'sNTCommentaries(NewYork,1966),84;Charles,1:174;Ladd,104;Mounce,158.
64SomeinterpretersfeelthatpreChristianJewishmartyrsarereferredto(Moffat,391).Pohl,1:202,n.
214,saysthenamemaybeomittedforrhythmicreasons.
65KJV;RSV;Luther;Zurcher.NIVandNASBhave"hadmaintained."
66Bousset,270;Diisterdieck,229;Beckwith,526;Charles,1:174;Simcox,44;Kraft,119;Bchm,40;
Zahn,2:359;Mounce,158;BcasleyMurray,TheNewBibleCommentwyRevised,1289;Ladd,
104;Johnson,475.
67NEB,Berkeley,andMoffattranslateitthiswayandseveralcommentatorsadoptthisreading,e.g.,
Bames,190;Plummer,188;Kiddle,118;Beas}eyMurray,NewCenturyBible,135;
MassyngberdeFord,96;J.P.Lange,DieOffenbarungdesJohannes,LangesBibelwerk(Leipzig,
1871),118;
FritzGriinzweig,JohannesOffenbanmg,EditionCBibelkonimentar(Stuttgart,1981),184.
68WalterBauer,Wm.F.ArndtandF.WilburGingrich,4GreekEnglishLexiconoftheNTandOther
EarlyChristianLiterature(Chicago,1957),33234.
69Ibid..333.
70Ibid.,334.
71HeniyG.LiddellandRobertScott,/*GreekEnglishLexicon,rev.ed.(Oxford,1958),74950.

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TheRemnantChurchandtheSpiritofProphecy
TA

inscriptionwhichmentionsanofferingthatis"brought"(echo).'"Nowhere
dowefindechowiththeabstractmeaningof"bearingatestimony."
InRevelation6:9 echo iswrittenintheimperfecttense,activevoice,
thirdperson,plural.Themeaning,therefore,canonlybe"tohave"or"to
hold"and not "to bear." If the meaningwere that "they bore their own
testimony,"wewouldexpecttheverbmartureo(towitness,testify)orsome
compoundformofit.Sincethisisnotthecase,weconcurwithMounce
who says "the martyrs' testimony was not primarily their witness about
Jesusbutthewitnessthattheyhadreceivedfromhim(cf.12:17;20:4)." 74
Theyhadacceptedit,theyrefusedtogiveitup,andconsequentlytheywere
puttodeath.The"testimony,"nolessthanthe"word,"wasanobjective
possessionofthemartyrs.75
.ThisinterpretationisinharmonywiththeparallelismofthewordofGod
andthetestimonyofJesusaswefinditinotherplaces(forexample,1:2,9)
aswellaswiththegrammaticalsenseofecho(have,hold).
Revelation11:7Whentheyhavefinishedtheirtestimony,thebeast
thatascendsfromthebottomlesspitwillmakewaruponthemandconquer
themandkillthem.(RSV)
Thecontextofthisversedescribestheworkofthe"twowitnesses"who|atee
introducedinverse3.TheyareGod'smessengersandtheyhaveacertainmission:
toprophesydoominsackclothfor1260days.Whentheirtestimony||'concluded,
they will be overcome by the beast from the bottomless pit. | The genitive
construction,literally,"thetestimonyofthem,"isclearly|ltsubjectivegenitive.Itis
theirtestimony,givenbythem;notatestimonyEllxmtthem.
Revelation 12:11They have conquered him by the blood of the
Lambandbythewordoftheirtestimony,fortheylovednottheirliveseven
untodeath.(RSV)
In Revelation 12:79 Satan suffers a defeat at the hands of the archigel
Michael.Thedragonandhisangelsarecastdowntotheearth(vs.I,andtherehe
isconqueredbythefaithfulbelieversthroughtheblood tthe Lamb.Theshed
bloodofChristonthecrossistheprimarymeansTvictoryoverSatan.The
secondarymeansofvictoryisthewordoftheir
^2Ibid.,751.
1
E.^.Summartureotobeacowitness,butalsotogiveatestimony.
Mounce,158.
'Chartes,1:174.SeealsoBousset,270.

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TheRemnantChurchandtheSpiritofProphecy
testimony;thatis,theirwitnesstothesavingpowerofthebloodofChrist.The
genitiveconstructionisthesameasin11:7,literally,"thetestimonyofthem."
"Theirtestimony"isatestimonyby/fromthebelieversandnotatestimonyabout
them.
Revelation12:17Thedragonwaswrothwiththewoman,andwentto
makewarwiththeremnantofherseed,whichkeepthecommandmentsof
God,andhavethetestimonyofJesusChrist.76(KJV)
Wehaveseenearlyoninthechapterthatthe"remnantofherseed"arethe
faithfulmembersofGod*schurchinthetimeoftheend,thatis,after1798.The
dragonthatattemptedtodestroythewoman(thetruechurchofGod)throughoutthe
1260 year period, now directs his anger against the remnant of her faithful
believers.77 Thisremnantisidentifiedbytwospecificcharacteristics:They"keep
thecommandmentsofGod"andtheyhave"thetestimonyofJesus."
Remnantcharacteristics.ThefirstoftheseidentifyingmarksreferstotheTen
CommandmentsasGodgavethemonSinai.Prophecypredictsthatattheendof
timeGodwouldhaveapeoplewhocouldberecognizedbytheiradherencetothe
originalTenCommandments,includingthefourthpreceptwhichhasbeenaltered
by the apostate Christian church.78 Prophecy further predicts that the Sabbath
commandmentwillbethefocalpointofthefinalcontroversy(Rev13:16;14:9
12).79SinceChristianityingeneralstilladherestotheotherninecommandments,it
istheSabbathpreceptthatwillspecificallyserveasadistinguishingsign.
The second identifying markthe testimony of Jesuscan, if taken as an
objectivegenitive,refertothefaithfultestimonytheremnantbearstoJesus.Thisis
the view of a number of interpreters. 80 Just as many exegetes, however, take
"testimony of Jesus" as a subjective genitive and understand it to mean the
testimonywhichJesusbore,thetruthwhichHetaught,andtowhichtheremnant
holdsfastinspiteofthepersecutionbythedragon.81
76Theword"Christ"doesnotappearintheancientGreekmanuscripts.
77Wecannotmakeanactualdistinctionbetweenthewomanandherseedsincethewomanherselfis
nothingbutthesumofherchildren.Thewomandesignatesthewhole,whilethemanchildor
theremnantofherseedaretheparticularmembersofthewhole.
78Secp.302.
79Maxwell,37880.
80S.MacLeanGilmour,"TheRevelationofJohn,"TheInterpreter'sOneVolumeCommentaryon
theBible(Nashville,1971),960;Hurd,247;Schlatler,246;Rist,459;Bamcs,358;Vassiliadis,
133.
81W.Barclay,OffenbarungdesJohannes,AuslegungdcsNT(Wuppcrtal,1970),2:98;Morris,160;
Mounce,247;Plummer,315;Beckwith,630;Trite,75.

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TheRemnantChurchandtheSpiritofProphecy

Thesecondinterpretationissupportedbytheuseoftheword echo
(have/hold),theimportofwhichhasbeendiscussed.Itisunfortunatethat
commentatorswhooptfortheobjectivegenitivesensedonotconsiderthe
forceoftheverb echTS (have/hold).Theysimplyassumethatitmeans
"theybeartestimony,"althoughthereisnophilologicalsupportforsucha
meaning. Petros Vassiliades, who argues forcefully for the objective
genitiveforallsixoccurrencesof"testimonyofJesus," 02 doesnoteven
mentionecho(have/hold).Neitherdoesheinvestigatethephrase"spiritof
prophecy"towhichwewillturnshortly.
Onthebasisoftheuseof"testimonyofJesus"aswellastheuseofthe
wordechTS(have/hold),weconcludethatinRevelation12:17thephrase
"testimonyofJesus"referstothewitnessChristHimselfhasgiven.
Revelation19:10ThenIfelldownathisfeettoworshiphim,buthe
saidtome,"Youmustnotdothat!Iamafellowservantwithyouandyour
brethrenwhoholdthetestimonyofJesus.WorshipGod."Forthetestimony
ofJesusisthespiritofprophecy.(RSV)

The contextofthis verse istheannouncementofthemarriageofthe


Lamb(vss.68).AftertheannouncementJohnistoldtowrite,"Blessedare
those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb" (vs. 9).
WhereuponJohn,overwhelmedwithawebywhathehasjustheardandby
the presence of the angel, falls to the ground to worship the heavenly
messenger(vs.10).
TTieangelgentlyrebukesJohn,andinthecourseofhisexplanationhe
referstwicetothe"testimonyofJesus."Scholarlyopinionisagaindivided
onthemeaningofthisexpressionhere.Sometakeitasanobjective,83and
othersasasubjectivegenitive. 84Athirdgroupbelievesthatbothmeanings
arepresent.85
Spirit of prophecy. The key to the understanding of "the testimony of
fcsus**hereisseenbyallinterpreterstobeinthelastclause:"Rirthetesti'
monyofJesusisthespiritofprophecy."Accordingtothefirstview,the
expres;on"spiritofprophecy"formsthesubjectofthesentence,and"the
testimonytofJesus"isitspredicate. 86 Thus,thesentenceisconstruedto
mean,"the
82Vassiliadis,133.
83Rist,570;MassyngberdcFord.Revelation,312;Ladd,251;Bames,461;Charles,2:130;Diister
dieck.456.
84Schlatter,311;Kraft,245;Pohl,2:249;Zahn,584;Beckwith,729;Caird,237;Beasley
Murray,NewCenturyBible,276;Plummer,449;Moffat,465;Johnson,572;Mounce,342;
Trites,76.
85Barclay,2:198;Morris,222;Grunzwcig,2:182.
86MassyngberdeFord,IrishTheologicalQuarterly285.

315

TheRemnantChurchandtheSpiritofProphecy
designofprophecyistobeartestimonytoJesus." 87Accordingtothesecondview
the grammatical order isreversed, and "the testimonyofJesusisthespirit that
inspirestheprophets."88Cairdsays:"ItisunthinkablethatJohn,whosoobviously
believed in his own prophetic inspiration by the Spirit of God, should have
committedhimselftotheviewthatthesolesourceofhisinspirationwashisown
testimonytoJesus,thathewasinfactselfinspired." 89
Thephrase"spiritofprophecy"occursonlyonceintheBible,onlyinthistext.
TheclosestparalleltoitintheBibleisfoundin1Corinthians12:810.TherePaul
referstotheSpiritwho,amongother charismata,givesthegiftofprophecy.The
personwhoreceivesthisgiftiscalledaprophet(1Cor12:28).Thisisinharmony
with2Peter1:21,wherePeterdeclaresthatprophecyhappenswhen"menmoved
bytheHolySpiritspokefromGod."Thus,the"spiritofprophecy"inRevelation
19:10 is the Holy Spirit, who inspires the prophetic word, or according to the
definitionintheverseitself,whorevealsthetestimonyofJesus.
JesusHimselfsaidthatwhentheSpiritcomes"hewillteachyouallthings,and
bringtoyourremembranceallthatIhavesaidtoyou"(John14:26).Furthermore,
"hewillguideyouintoallthetruth;forhewillnotspeakonhisownauthority,but
whateverhehearshewillspeak....Hewillglorifyme,forhewilltakewhatismine
anddeclare ittoyou"(John16:13,14).Inotherwords,the"spiritofprophecy"
inspires the prophets with the testimony of Jesus, that is, the selfrevelation of
Jesus.
Atthesametimeitistruethatthedesignofprophecyistobearwitnessto
Jesus," andthistheinspiredprophetsdo.Thisiswhysomeexegetesseeboth
meanings present in the phrase "testimony of Jesus." And this may well be.
However,forthefollowingreasons,webelievethatthesubjectivegenitivemeaning
(testimonyfrom/byJesus)isprimary:
1.Thepresenceoftheverbechs(have/hold)againindicatespossession.91The
brethren have thetestimonyofJesus.Thereisnotextualbasisforconstruingthis
expressiontomeanthatthebrethrenbeartestimony/witnesstoJesus.
2.TheJewishreadersinJohn'sdayknewwhatwasmeantbytheexpression
"spiritofprophecy." Theywouldhaveunderstoodtheexpressiontorefer tothe
HolySpirit.
87Bames,461.
88Caird,238.
89Ibid.
90Seeabove.
91SeeonRev6:9.
316

TheRemnantChurchandtheSpiritofProphecy
RabbinicJudaismequatedtheOTexpressions"HolySpirit,""SpiritofGod,"or
"SpiritofYahweh"with "the Spiritofprophecy"ascanbeseeninthefrequent
occurrenceofthistermintheTargums(writtentranslationsoftheOTinAramaic):
AndPharaohsaidtohisservants,canwefindamanlikethis,inwhomisthe
SpiritofprophecyfromtheLord?(Gen41:38)
InwhatwillitbeknownthatIhavefoundmercybeforeTheebutinthe
converseofThyShekinahwithus,thatdistinguishingsignsmaybewrought
forus,inthewithholdmentoftheSpiritofprophecyfromthenations,andby
ThyspeakingbytheHolySpirittomeandtoThypeople,thatwemaybe
distinguishedfromallthepeoplesuponthefaceoftheearth?(Exod33:16)
AndtheLordsaidtoMosheh,TaketotheeJehoshuabarNun,amanuponwhom
abideththeSpiritofprophecyfrombeforetheLord.(Num
27:18)92
Sometimestheterm"spiritofprophecy"referssimplytotheHolySpirit,butin
manycasesitreferstothegiftofprophecygivenbytheHolySpiritasismadeclear
bythecontextoftheMasoretictext.
CommentingonthisexpressionintheTargums,J.P.Schafersays:
Thencefirstofallitprovesthattheterm"Spiritofprophecy"iscloserto
theMTthantheterm"HolySpirit."Moreoveranexaminationoftheverses
whereTOusestheterm"Spiritofprophecy"showsthatinalmostallcases
there is a direct relationship to the prophecy in the biblical context. The
translation"Spiritofprophecy,"althoughnotinthestrictestsenseliteral,is
almostalwaysstipulatedthroughthe MT (Genesis41:38Josephhadthe
"Spirit of prophecy" because he was able to interpret Pharao's dream;
Numbers11:25TheSpiritthatsettledonthe70Elders,accordingtothe
MT, brought about "prophesying"; Numbers 24:2 Bileam prophesied
concerningIsrael).Inotherwords,theterm"Spiritofprophecy"describesa
clearlydelineatedsituation,namely,theHolySpirit
93'

sentfromGodwhoimpartsthepropheticgifttoman.F.F.
Brucecomestothesameconclusionandsays:

92JohnW.Etheridge,TheTargumsofOnkelosandJonathanBenUzzielonshePentateuch(London,
1862),1:131,556;2:442.OtheroccurrencesareGen45:27;Exod35:21,31;Num11:17,25,26,
28,29;24:2;Judg3:10;ISam10:6;19:10,23;2Sam23:2;1Kgs22:24;2Chr15:1;18:22,23;
20:14;
Ps51:l3;Isa11:2.StiackKmeibeck,KommenwzumNeuenTestament(Uuncheti,1965),2:129.
93J.P.Schafer, "Die Termini'Heiliger Geist' und'Geistder Prophetic' in den Targumimunddas
VerhaltnisdcrTargumimzucinander,"VT2Q(1970):310.
317

TheRemnantChurchandtheSpiritofProphecy
The expression "the Spirit of prophecy" is current in postbiblical
Judaism:itisused,forexample,inaTargumiccircumlocutionfortheSpirit
of Yahwe which comes upon this or that prophet. Thus the Targum of
Jonathan renders the opening words of Isaiah 61:1 as *The Spirit of
prophecyfrombeforetheLordGodisuponme."Thethoughtexpressedin
Revelation19:10isnotdissimilartothatalreadyquotedfrom1Peter1:11
where"theSpiritofChrist"issaidtohaveborneadvancedtestimonyinthe
OldTestamentprophets.TheretooJesusisthethemeofthewitnessborneby
thepropheticSpirit;theprophetsdidnotknowwhothepersonorwhatthe
timewouldbe,butatlastthesecretisout:theperson is Jesus;thetimeis
now.
InRevelation19:10,however,itisthroughChristianprophetsthatthe
Spiritofprophecybearswitness.What theprophetsofpreChristiandays
foretoldisproclaimedasanaccomplishedfactbytheprophetsofthenew
age,amongwhomJohnoccupiesaleadingplace.94
Other scholars who have studied the Rabbinic literature on this topic have
stated that "Rabbinic scholars consistently understood 'Holy Spirit' to mean the
Spiritofprophecyorthepropheticgift,unlessthecontextforcedthemtointerpretit
astheSpiritwhichinspiredScripture."95

AwordshouldbesaidaboutthevalueoftheTargums.Theearliest
known written Targum come from the second or third century A.D. 96
However,theiroralformgoesbacktothepostexilicperiodwhenAramaic
graduallyreplacedHebrewinimportanceasthespokenlanguage."While
theserenderingswereoral,therearegoodgroundsforholdingthatthey
soonacquiredadegreeoffixity."97 Thuswecansafelysaythatwhatwas
finallywrittendownwasthesameaswhattheJewsinthefirstcenturyA.D.
heardinthesynagogues.
3.TheparallelismbetweenRevelation19:10and22:8,9indicatesthat
thebrethrenwhohavethetestimonyofJesusaretobeidentifiedwiththe
prophets.

94F.F.Bruce,TheTimeIsFulfilled(GrandRapids,1978),1056.
95StrackBiUerbcck,2:128.
96G.L.Archer,ASurveyofOldTestamentIntroduction(Chicago,1974),49.
97R.K.Harrison,IntroductiontotheOldTestament(GrandRapids,1969),227.
318

TheRemnantChurchandtheSpiritofProphecy
19:10
AndIfelldownathisfeetto
worshiphim,
buthesaidtome,
"Youmustnotdothat!
Iamafellowservantwithyou
andyourbrethrenwhoholdthe
testimonyofJesus.Worship
God."ForthetestimonyofJesus
isthespiritofprophecy.

22:89

Ifelldowntoworshiphimatthefeet
oftheangelwhoshowedthemtome;
Buthesaidtome,
"Youmustnotdothat!
Iamthyfellowservantwithyou
andyourbrethrentheprophets,
andwiththosewhokeepthewordsof
thisbook.WorshipGod."

Thesituationinbothpassagesisthesame.Johnfallsatthefeetofthe
angeltoworship.Thewordsoftheangelresponsearealmostidentical,yet
thedifferencesaresignificant:
1.In19:10thebrethrenareidentifiedbythephrase,"whohold[have]
thetestimonyofJesus."In22:9thebrethrenaresimplycalled
"prophets."
ZIn19:10theexplanationisadded,"ForthetestimonyofJesusisthe
spiritofprophecy."Thissentenceismissingin22:9,sincethephrase"testi
monyofJesus"isnotusedthere.
3. In 22:9, after calling himself a fellow servant with John and his
brethren,theangeladds,"andwiththosewhokeepthewordsofthisbook,"
thatis,ofallthesaints.TheangelisalsoacreatureofGod.Assuchheisa
fellowservantofallbelievers.
IftheProtestantprincipleofinterpretingscripturebyscripturemeans
anything,thiscomparisonmustleadtotheconclusionthatthebrethrenwho
havethetestimonyofJesusareprophets.
Some commentators take the position that in a certain sense all the
childrenofGodareprophetsandhavethe"spiritofprophecy";hence,this
expressionshouldbeunderstoodasapplyingtothem.DavidHill,for one,
says:
Theparallelismbetweenthisverse(19:10)and22:9suggeststhat"the
brethren who have the witness of Jesus" are to be identified with the
prophets.... But elsewhere "those who have the marturia Jesou" is the
description of all faithful Christians. What appears to be implied by the
collocationofclausesinthisverseisthatallmembersofthechurchare,
319

TheRemnantChurchandtheSpiritofProphecy
inprincipleorpotentially,prophets,justasthewholechurchpresentsitself,in
exemplaryfashion,intheformofthe"twowitnesses."(ll:3ff.)

Thiskindofreasoning,however,doesnotharmonizewiththescriptural
evidence.In1Corinthians12:411thegiftsoftheSpiritareenumerated.In
verses 810 we read of the Spirit who gives wisdom, faith, healing,
prophecy,tongues,etc.Hedoesnotgiveallthegiftstoallthepeople,but
He"apportionstoeachoneindividuallyashewill."Hencetherecipientsare
notallcalledbythesamename:"Godhassetinthechurchfirstapostles,
secondprophets,thirdteachers,,,."(vs.28,cf.Eph4:11).
The"Spiritofprophecy,"therefore,inRevelation19:10isnotthepos
sessionofallchurchmembersingeneral,butonlyofthosewhohavebeen
calledbyGodtobeprophets.ThishasbeentheunderstandingofBible
scholars past and present. H. Strathman for instance says concerning
Revelation19:10,
Accordingtotheparallel22:9thebrothersreferredtoarenotbelieversin
generalbuttheprophets.Here,too,theyarecharacterizedassuch.Thisisthe
pointofverselOc. If theyhavethe marturiaJesou theyhavethespiritof
prophecy, i.e. they are prophets, like the angel, who simply stands in the
serviceofmarturiaJesou.
Weconclude,therefore,thattheexpression"testimonyofJesus"inRevelation
19:10refers tothetestimonybornbyJesusHimself,eitherinHisownlife and
ministry,orbytheworkingoftheHolySpiritinspiringHisservantstheprophets.
Revelation20:4Isawthrones,andtheysatuponthem,andjudgment
wasgivenuntothem:andIsawthesoulsofthemthatwerebeheadedforthe
witnessofJesus,andforthewordofGod,andwhichhadnotworshippedthe
beast,neitherhisimage,neitherhadreceivedhismarkupontheirforeheads,or
intheirhands;andtheylivedandreignedwithChristathousandyears.(KJV)
The setting of this verse is the first resurrection and the beginning of the
millennium.AttentionisfocusedonthosewhosufferedanddiedforChrist'ssake.
TheyreignwithHimthroughthethousandyears.
OfallthetextsconsideredinRevelation,20:4istheonetextwhere"tes
98DavidHill,"ProphecyandProphetsinRevelation,"NTS18(19711972):413.
99Strathmann,4:501.SeealsoD'Aragon,"TheApocalypse,"TheJeromeBibleCommentary(London,
1969),489;Johnson,572;Zahn,585;Krafl,245.

320

TheRemnantChurchandtheSpiritofProphecy

timonyconcerningJesus"wouldfitbestThemartyrswerebeheadedbecause
oftheirtestimonyorwitnessaboutJesusandbecausetheyproclaimedthe
wordofGod.Manyexegetesunderstandthephraseinthisway. 100
However,in20:4asin1:2,9,and12:17"thephrase[testimonyofJesus]
isbalancedbyasymmetricalonewith'word(orcommand)ofGod,''ofGod'
beingasubjectivegenitive.Inthesecases'Jesus'mayalsobeasubjective
genitive.01
Itisofcoursepossibletounderstand"testimonyofJesus"asatestimony
about Him and "word of God" as the word God spoke; but there is no
exegeticalnecessityforit,anditseemsbettertotakethembothas
subjectivegenitives.
Thus,wefindMarturia(testimony/witness)usedeighttimesinthebook
ofRevelationinagenitiveconstruction.Insomecasesanobjectivegenitive
translationispossible.However,considerationofthetotalcontextindicates
thatasubjectivegenitivereadingispreferableinallinstances.
Inthreeinstances(6:9;12:17;19:10)theverbecho(have/hold)isused
inconnectionwith"thetestimonyofJesus."Ineachcaseitsupportsthe
subjectivegenitiveinterpretation.
Threetimes(1:2,9;20:4)"thetestimonyofJesus'*isusedinaparallel
constructionwith"thewordofGod."Onetime(12:17)itisinparallelwith
"the commandments of God." Since "the word of God" and "the com
mandmentsofGod"aresubjectivegenitives(from/byGod),itisreasonable
tointerpret"thetestimonyofJesus"inthesameway.
GeneralSummary
1.Marturia(testimony/witness)isprimarilyusedbyJohn30ofthe37
occurrencesinScripture.
2.OutsidethebookofRevelationwhenmarturia isusedinagenitive
constructionbyMark,Luke,orJohnitisalwaysasubjectivegenitive.This
isunderscoredbysuchparallelconstructionsasfoundin1John5:9("Ifwe
receive the testimony of men, the testimony of God is greater"). "The
testimonyofmen"and"thetestimonyofGod"arethewordsby/frommen
and the words by/from God (subjective genitives), not words about/con
cerningmenorGod(objectivegenitives).
3.InthebookofRevelationallthegenitiveconstructionswithmarturia
canbeunderstoodassubjectivegenitives.Thereisnocompelling
100Rist,520;Ladd,265;Johnson,582;Bames.475;MassyngberdeFord,Revelation,349;Vassiliadis,
132.
101J.MassyngberdeFord.ITQ285.SeealsoMounce,355.
321

TheRemnantChurchandtheSpiritofProphecy

grammatical,syntactical,ortheologicalreasonfordoingotherwise.
4.Theparallelismin1:2,9,and20:4between"thewordofGod"and
"thetestimonyofJesus"clearlyindicatesthat"thetestimonyofJesus"isthe
testimony He Himselfgives,justasthe"wordofGod"isthewurdwhich
Godspeaks.ThesameappliesinRevelation12:17intheparallelismbe
tween"thecommandmentsofGod"and"thetestimonyofJesus."
5.In12:17"theremnantofherseed"issaidto"have[ech75\thetesti
monyofJesus"(KJV).If"thetestimonyofJesus"means"witnesstoJesus,"
theverbechff(have/hold)wouldbequiteunusualinthisplace.Testimonyto
orconcerningJesuswouldcallforaverbsuchas"tobear"ratherthan"to
have."Thewordechamostnaturallydenotespossessioninthisinstance.
6.TheoverallcontextoftheNTmakesitclearthatthecontentbf"the
testimonyofJesus"isJesusHimself.JustasthecontentofthewordofGod
isChrist,sothecontentandpurposeofthe"testimonyofJesus"isChrist
Himself.The"testimonyofJesus,"then,isChrist'sselfdisclosurethrough
theprophetsHiswitness,notman'switnessaboutHim.Thelatterthought,
though, is closelylinkedwith it; insome cases it could be present ina
secondarysense.
7.Theparallelismbetween19:10and22:8,9indicatesthatthosewho
"havethetestimonyofJesus"havethepropheticgift.Thisissupportedby
theexplanationthat"thetestimonyofJesusisthespiritofprophecy,"that
is,theHolySpiritwhoinspirestheprophets.
Thus"theremnantotherseed"in12:17(KJV)hasthepropheticgift.
Noteverymemberassuch,butoneoftheidentifyingmarksofthemasa
groupisthemanifestationofthepropheticgiftintheirmidst.

SignificanceoftheExpression
"TestimonyofJesus"
ThesignificanceinthegreatcontroversybetweenGodandSatanof"the
testimonyofJesus"(Christ'srevelationcommunicatedthroughtheprophets)
soonbecomesapparent.Itismentionedatthebeginningofthebook(chap.
1),inthemiddle(chap.12),andattheend(chaps.19,20).Itisportrayedasa
specialobjectofSatan'sattacks.Threeofthefivetextsthatmentionthe
testimony of Jesus place it in the context of persecution. The other two
verses(1:2;19:10)serveasexplanationsforthephrase"testimonyofJesus."
Inchapter1wearetransportedintothefirstcenturyA.D.Christhas
died,hasbeenresurrected,andhasascendedtoheaven.Theclimaxofhis
322

TheRemnantChurchandtheSpiritofProphecy

tory,Christ'sdeath,whichaccordingtoSatan'sdesiresshouldhavebeenhis
decisivevictoryoverGod,hasbeenturnedintoaresoundingdefeatforhim.
Heisangryandheisnotwillingtogiveup.
Not many years after Christ's triumph on Calvary, Stephen, the first
martyr,dies.SomeyearslaterJames,thenPeter,Paul,andothers.Asthe
centuryprogresses,persecutionincreases.Emperorworshipforcestheissue
fortheChristians,andmanylosetheirlives.
ForemostamongthepersecutedarethosespeciallycalledbyGodtobe
Hisprophets,thosewhohavethetestimonyofJesus,theSpiritofprophecy.
Johnrecords,IamexiledtoPatmos"onaccountofthewordofGodandthe
testimonyofJesus"(Rev1:9).
Inthetwelfthchapterwearecarriedthroughhistorytotheendoftime,
to the last phase of the great controversy. The church of God and her
childrenhavebeen persecutedfor 1260 years by Satan, but he has been
unabletoexterminatethem.Prophecyshowsthataremnantstillexistsafter
this long period of persecution. This remnant has two identifying marks:
They"keepthecommandmentsofGod,andhavethetestimonyofJesus"
(12:17, KJV). In Revelation 14:12 they are described as keeping the
commandmentsandthefaithofJesus,thatis,faithinJesus(objectivegeni
tive).AndSatan,beingfuriousbecauseofit,makeswaragainstthem.
Inchapter20weareplacedintothetimeofthemillennium.Christhas
comeandredeemedHisownandamongthemarethosethatdiedbecause
theyclungtothe"wordofGod"andtothe"testimonyofJesus."Theydid
notdenyGod'swordnorChrist'srevelationduringthefinalstagesofthe
greatcontroversy;theyrefusedtoworshipthebeastanditsimage.Nowthe
warisoverandtheysitandreignwithChrist.
ThusthebookofRevelationrevealsinthegreatcontroversymotifper
meatingthewholebookthatfaithfulnesstothe'^ordofGod"andtothe
"testimonyofJesus"separatesthefaithfulfromthefaithless.Jehoshaphat's
prophecy is confirmed: "Believe in the Lord your God, and you will be
established;believehisprophets,andyouwillsucceed"(2Chr20:20).

Revelation12:17and
SeventhdayAdventists
TheselfunderstandingofSeventhdayAdventistsisvitallyaffectedbya
proper understanding of Revelation 12:17. Early Seventhday Adventists
were convincedthat their movement was the "remnant of her seed," the
churchofthelastdayscalledbyGodtofulfillaspecialmission.
323

TheRemnantChurchandtheSpiritofProphecy

ThePioneers
G.I.Butlerin1874,afterquotingRevelation12:17,says,
IstherethenDOpeopleinwhomtheseconditionscombineintheselast
days? We believe they truly do in Seventhday Adventists. They have
everywhere claimed to be the "remnant" church for the last twentyfive
years....
DotheykeepthecommandmentsofGod?Everyoneknowinganything
aboutthispeoplecananswerthatthisisthemostimportantpartoftheir
faith....
InregardtotheSpiritofprophecy,itisaremarkablefactthatfromthe
firstoftheirexistenceasapeople,SeventhdayAdventistshaveclaimedthat
ithasbeeninactiveexerciseamongthem.

W.H.Littlejohnwritesin1883:
Be itknown,therefore, thatSeventhdayAdventistsclaimtobethe
oneswhomJohnsawinvision,andwhombestyledthe"remnantwhokeep
thecommandmentsofGod,andhavethetestimonyofJesusChrist."
As it regards the two prominent points of the faith of the remnant
churchspokenofbyJohn,itiswellknownthatSeventhdayAdventists
claimtoholdandpracticebothofthem.Thesepointsare,first,thekeeping
ofthecommandmentsofGod,and,secondly,thehavingorpossessingof
thetestimonyofJesusChrist.

Uriah Smith in a sermon delivered at the 1891 General Conference


states:
InRevelation12:17isfoundlanguagewithwhichyouareallfamiliar:
"Andthedragonwaswrothwiththewoman,andwenttomakewarwiththe
remnant otherseed,whichkeepthecommandmentsofGod,andhavethe
testimonyofJesusChrist."As"thewoman"isasymbolofthechurch,the
seedofthewomanisthenumberofbelieversinanygeneration,and"the
remnantofherseed"meansofcoursethelastgenerationofthechurch.Here
isapositiveprophecythatthelastchurchwillbecharacterizedbythisspecial
feature, they will have the testimony of Jesus Christ. But what is the
testimonyofJesusChrist?Revelation19:10:"ForthetestimonyofJesusis
thespiritofprophecy."...Webelievethatwearefulfillingthisscripture;that
wehavereachedthistime.

102G.I.Butler,"VisionsandProphecy."ReviewandHerald,June2,1874,193.
103W.H.UttleJohn,"SeventhdayAdventistsandtheTestimonyofJesusChrist,"Reviewand
Herald,August14,1883.14.
104U.Smith,"TheSpiritofProphecyandOurRelationtoIt,"GeneralConferenceDailyBulletin
324

TheRemnantChurchandtheSpiritofProphecy
Loughboroughwritingin1892says:
Weareinthetimewhenthetokensareabundantoneverysidethatthe
dayoftheLordisnearathand.Weareintheveryperiodoftimewhen
apeople were to arise who would keep all the Commandments, and who
wouldalso"havethetestimonyofJesus"the"Spiritofprophecy."Whatdo
wefind?Thatduringthelastfortysixyearssuchapeoplehavearisen,
bearing just such a message, among whom the gift ofprophecy has been
manifested.TestingthegiftasmanifestedthroughMrs.E.G.White by the
Biblerules,wehaveseenthatitstandsthetestineveryparticular.

EllenG.White
Ellen White firmly believed that Seventhday Adventists were God's
remnant church and that Revelation 12:17 applied to them. Seventhday
Adventists "are God's representatives upon the earth.'* 106 "We have the
commandmentsofGodandthetestimonyofJesusChrist,whichisthespirit
ofprophecy."10'Andshecounsels:
Thewaymarkswhichhavemadeuswhatweare,aretobepreserved,and
they will be preserved, as God has signified through His Word and the
testimonyofHisSpirit.Hecallsuponustoholdfirmly,withthegripoffaith,
tothefundamentalprinciplesthatarebaseduponunquestionable

authority.108
Ellen WhiteoftenidentifiestheremnantofRevelation12:17withthe
SeventhdayAdventistChurch.109
Letallbecarefulnottomakeanoutcryagainsttheonlypeoplewhoare
fulfilling the description given of the remnant people who keep the
commandmentsofGodandhavefaithinJesus,whoareexaltingthestandard
ofrighteousnessintheselastdays.

Shealsomakesclearthat"thetestimonyofJesus"in19:10isthewit
nessofChristHimself:"ItisthevoiceofChristthatspeakstousthrough
theOldTestament.'ThetestimonyofJesusisthespiritofprophecy.'
(1891),150.
105JohnN.Loughborough,TheRiseandPwyessofSeventhdayAdventists(BattleCreek,MI,1892),
388.
106EllenG.White.TestimoniesfortheChwch2(MountainView,CA,1948):452.
107EllenG.White,TestimoniestoMinisters(MountainView,CA,1962),114.
108EllenG.White.,SelectedMessages.Book1(Washington,DC,1958),208.
109SeetheEllenG.WhiteComprehensiveIndexunder"Remnantchurch"and"Remnantpeople."
110White,TestimoniestoMinisters,58.

325

TheRemnantChurchandtheSpiritofProphecy
Revelation19:10."111 Inseveralplacesthe "Spirit ofprophecy" is identifiedwith
theHolySpiritwhowasgiventoEnoch, 112Simeon,!13Silas,\ 14 andEllenG.White
herself.115 Dreamsandvisionsare given bytheSpiritofprophecy! 16 whospeaks
onlythetruth,i17 Inother places thereferenceseemstobetotheworkEllenG.
WhitedidundertheguidanceoftheHolySpirit.
WemustfollowthedirectionsgiventhroughtheSpiritofprophecy.We
mustloveandobeythetruthforthistime.Thiswillsaveusfromaccepting
strongdelusions.GodhasspokentousthroughHisword.Hehasspokento
usthroughthetestimoniestothechurch,andthroughthebooksthathave
helpedtomakeplainourpresentdutyandtheposition
11R

weshouldnowoccupy.
In a letter from the year 1906 she mentions an Elder who in his teach ing
"showedthattheSpiritofprophecyhasanimportantparttoactintheestablishment
of the truth. When binding off his work. he called for me... to speak to the
people."119Theprimaryreference,however,isalwaystotheSpiritofGod.
YetnowwhenIsendyouatestimonyofwarningandreproof,manyof
youdeclareittobemerelytheopinionofSisterWhite.Youhavethereby
insultedtheSpiritofGod.YouknowhowtheLordhasmanifestedHimself
throughthespiritofprophecy.Past,present,andfuturehave
120

passedbeforeme.

Conclusion
OurstudyofRevelation12:17andrelatedtextshasshownthataccord
ingtoprophecyaremnantchurchexistsafterthe1260propheticdayshave
expired.Thischurchcanberecognizedbytwodistinctivemarks:Theywill
keep "thecommandments of God" and theywill have "the testimonyof
Jesus."
111EllenG.White,PatriarchsandProphets(MountainView,CA,1958),367.
112Ibid.,85.
113EllenG.White,TheDesireofAges(MountainView,CA.1940),55.
114White,TheActsoftheApostles,203.
115White,SelectedMessages,Book1,27.
116White,TestimoniesfortheChurch1:569.
117White,TestimoniesfortheChurch4:13;secalso330.
118EllenG.White.GospelWorkers(Washington,DC,1915),308.
119EllenG.White,Evangelism(Washington,DC,1946).257.
120White,TestimoniesfortheChurch5:64.
326

TheRemnantChurchandtheSpiritofProphecy
Thekeepingofthecommandmentsreferstothekeepingoftheoriginal
commandments given by God on Mount Sinai. In particular, the fourth
commandmentisthedistinctivesignsinceithasbeenalteredbyapostate
Christianity.
ThetestimonyofJesusChrist'switnessreferstothepropheticgift,
whichisalsopresentintheremnantchurch.Godpromisesthatthroughthe
SpiritofprophecytheHolySpiritHewillagainmanifestHimselfina
specialwaytotheremnantchurchtokeepandtoguidetheminthelast
days,whenSatanwillmakespecialeffortstodestroythem.
SeventhdayAdventistsfromtheirveryinceptionhaveseenthemselves
asthefulfillmentofthisprophecy.Theyhaveclaimedthetwoidentifying
marksandappliedthemtotheTenCommandmentsinparticulartothe
SabbathandtothelifeandworkofEllenG.White,
Atthesametimetheyhaverecognizedthatthisidentificationwiththe
remnantchurchdoesnotaccordthemanexclusivestatuswithGod.Sal
vationisnotguaranteedthroughmembershipinaspecificchurch.There
existsaninvisiblechurchofGodwhereallarememberswhohaveaccepted
ChristastheirpersonalSaviour,regardlessofchurchaffiliation.Yetatthe
sametimeGodhasanorganizedandstructuredchurchinthisworld,com
missionedtopreparethisworldanditsinhabitantsforthesecondcomingof
Christ.Thatmeansthischurchhasbeenordainedtogiveaspecialmessage
thethreeangels*messagetotheworld.
The prophetic origin of the Advent movement and God's gracious
guidance through theprophetic gift of Ellen G. White should make us
moreawareoftheresponsibilityweasachurchhave,anditshouldspurus
ontofinishtheworkGodhasgivenustodo.

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vol.39(19561957),46384.
Maxwell,C.Mervyn. GodCares,2 vols.Boisi,ID: PacificPressPubl.Assoc.,
1985. Merz, Karl. Was in Kune geschehen soil. LahrDinglmgen: St. Johannis
Druckerei,
n.d.
330

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Moffat,James."TheRevelationofSt.JohntheDivine."Expositor'sGreekTesta
ment,5vols,5:281494.GrandRapids:William.B.Eerdmans,1956.
Morris,CanonLeon.TheRevelationofSt.John.TyndaleNTCommentary.Lei
cester:InterVarsityPress,1977.
Morris,H.M.TheGenesisRecord.GrandRapids:Baker,1976.
Mounce,R.H.TheBookofRevelation.TheNewInternationalCommentaryonthe
NewTestament.GrandRapids:William.B.Eerdmans,1980.
Naegelsbach,Carl,W.E.DerProphetJesaja,LangesBibelwerk.Leipzig:Verlag
VelhagenundKlasing,1877.
Nichol,F.D.,ed.TheSDABibleCommentary,1vols.Washington,DC:Review
andHeraldPubl.Assoc.,1957.
Osterhaven,M.W."Testimony."TheZondervanPictorialEncyclopediaofthe
Bible,5vols,5:682.GrandRapids:Zondervan,1975.
Plummer,A.Revelation.ThePulpitCommentary.London:Kegan,Paul,Trench,
TrubnerandCo.,1898.
Pohl,Adolf.DieOffenbarungdesJohannes,1vols.,WuppertalerStudienbibel.
Wuppertal:R.BrockhausVerlag,1971.
Preuss,H.D."Zera."TheoloyschesWorterbuchzumAltonTestament,5vols.Stut
tgart:W.Kohlhammer,19731986.
Rienecker,Fritz.LezikonzurBibel.Wuppertal:BrockhausVerlag,1960.
Rist,Martin."TheRevelationofSt.JohntheDivine."TheInterpreter'sBible.New
York:AbingdonPress,1957.
Robbins,RayF.TheRevelationofJesusChrist.Nashville:BroadmanPress,1975.
Safirey,H.D."RelireUApocalypseaPotmos."RevueBiblique82(1975):385
417.
Schafer,J.P."DieTermini'HeiligerGeist*und'GeistderProphetic*indenTar
gumimunddasVerhaltnisderTargumimzueinander."VetusTestamentum20
(1970):304314.
Schlatter,Adolf.BriefeundQffenbanmgdesJohannes.SlutIgart:CalwerVerlag,
1950.
Schreiner,Ernst.DOSGro^eBuchvomEnde.Chemnitz:VerlagvonGottlobKoezle,
n.d.
Schuiz,Siegfried."Sperma."TheologischesWorterbuchzumNeuenTestament,10
Bande,7:53747.Stuttgart:W.KohlhanunerVerlag.1964.
Scroggie,W.Graham.TheGreatUnveiling.GrandRapids:ZondervanPublishing
House,1979.
Seiss,J.A.TheApocatypse.GrandRapids:ZondervanPublishingHouse,1973.
Simcox,WilliamH.TheRevelationofSt.JohntheDivine.Cambridge:University
Press,1898.
Smith,Uriah."TheSpiritofProphecyandOurRelationtoIt."GeneralConference
DailyBulletin.1891.
331

TheRemnantChurchandtheSpiritofProphecy
Spitta,Friedrich.2)(eOfferibarungdesJohannes.Halle:Waisenhaus,1889.Strack
Billerbeck.KommentarzumNeuenTestament,7vols.Miinchen:C.H.
Beck*scheVerlagsbuchhandlung,1965.Strand,KennethA."AnotherLookat
'Lord'sDay*intheEarlyChurchandinRev
1:10."NewTestamentStudies13(1966/1967):17481.
."TheTwoWitnessesofRev11:312."AndrewsUniversitySeminaryStudies
19(1981):12735.
Strathman,Hermann."Martus."TheologicalDictionaryoftheNewTestament,10
vols.,4:474510.GrandRapids:WilliamB.Eerdmans,19641976.
Sweet,John.Revelation.SCMPelicanCommentaries.London:SCMPress,Ltd.,
1979.
Swete,HenryBarclay.CommentaryonRevelation.GrandRapids:KregelPublica
tions,1980.
Tenney,MerrilC.InterpretingRevelation.GrandRapids:WilliamB.Eerdmans,
1957.Tertullian.OnPrescriptionAgainstHeretics.AnteNiceneFathers,
3:26071.
GrandRapids:WilliamB.Eerdmans.Thompson,Leonard."ASociological
AnalysisofTribulationintheApocalypseof
John."Semeia36(1986):14774.Trites,AUisonA."MartusandMartyrdomin
theApocalypse."NovumTesfamen
tum15(1973):7280.Unger,F.M.,andW.White.Nelson'sExpository
DictionaryoftheOldTestament.
Nashville:Th.Nelson,1980.Vassiliadis,Petros."TheTranslationofMartyria
lesouinRevelation."TheBible
Translator36(January1985):12935.Visher,Wilhelm.TheWitnessofthe
OldTestamenttoChrist,2vols,trans.A.B.
Crabtree.London:LutterworthPress,1946.Walvoord,JohnJ.TheRevelation
ofJesusChrist.Holbom:Marshall,Morgan,and
Scott,Ltd.,1966.White,EllenG.TheActsoftheApostles.MountainView,
CA:PacificPressPubl.
Assoc.,1911.

.TheDesireofAges.MountainView,CA:PacificPressPubl.Assoc.,1898.
.Evangelism.Washington,DC:ReviewandHeraldPubl.Assoc.,1946.
.GospelWorkers.Washington,DC:ReviewandHeraldPubl.Assoc.,1948.
.PatriarchsandProphets.MountainView,CA:PacificPressPubl.Assoc.,
1958.
.TestimoniesfortheChurch,9vols.MountainView,CA:PacificPressPubl.
Assoc.,1948.

332

TheRemnantChurchandtheSpiritofProphecy
.TestimoniestoMinisters.MountainView,CA:PacificPressPubl.Assoc.,
1923.
. Selected Messages, 3vols.Washington,DC:ReviewandHeraldPubl.
Assoc.,
1958.

Wieseroann,Heinrich.DOSfleilfiirIsrael.Stuttgart:CahverVerlag,1965.Young.
EdwardJ.TheBookofIsaiah,3vols.NewInternationalCommentaryon
theOT.GrandRapids:WilliamB.Eerdmans,1965.Zahn,Theodor.Die
Offenbarungaesfohannes,2vols.Leipzig:A.Deichertsche
Verlagsbuchhandlung,1926.Zurcher,Jean.*TheTestimonyofJesusIsthe
SpiritofProphecy."Unpublished
Manuscript.BibleConference1988.

333

ChapterXI

TheModernPapacy;
Claimsand
Authority
JohannHeinz
Editorial Synopsis. After seven decades of bitter ideological rivalrythe
leadersofRussianCommunismandRomanCatholicism(SovietPresidentMikhail
GorbachevandPopeJohnPaul II) agreedinVaticanCity,December1,1989,to
establishdiplomaticrelationsbetweentheKremlinandtheVatican.JohnPaulII
calledthemeeting"asignofthetimesthathaveslowlymatured,asignthatisrich
inpromise"(TheWashingtonPost,December2,1989).
Thepresentregardforthepapacyasthemoralconscienceoftheworldisnot
mere happenstance.Astheauthorobserves,Rome"thinksincenturies."Present
papalsuccessesaretheresultsofcarefullylaidplans,persistentlypursued.Cutoff
fromdirectcontrolofthemodernstatesandwiththelossoftheirownterritoriesin
Italy(1870),papal leadersturnedtoanewstrategytorecoverthechurch'slost
authority.
The popes moved first to develop and increase the spiritual forces of the
church,projectingtheimageofthepopeasthelovedandadored'HolyFather'
thecenterofchurchlifeonwhomtheeyesofworldCatholicismweretofocus
whosewordsandinstructionweretobereceivedinaweandobedience.Thedogma
of the pope's infalibility when speaking on doctrine (Vatican I) crowned this
strengtheningofthechurchwithin.
Butpapalstrategyalsoenvisionedanopeningtotheworld.Thepopesbeganto
speak out on world politics, social issues, culture, medicine, science, ethics,
religion,etc.,withtheintenttomoldthethinkingofthenationstothechurch's
viewpoint.JohnXXIIIturnedtotheworldthesmilingfaceoflove,placingthe
churchinaserviceroletohumankind.Hecalledforacouncil(VaticanII)anda
renewalofthechurchtomeettheneedsofmodernsociety.Helaidthegroundwork
for reaching out to communist lands as well as to the "separated brethren" of
ProtestantChristianity,andforthetravelingmissionsofthelaterpopes,PaulVI
andJohnPaulII.Bytheautumnof1988,thelatterpopehadmade40trips,
335

TheModernPapacy:ClaimsandAuthority
pursuing His objective to become the "moral conscience of the world" and the "world
shepherd."
Asaresultofitsglobalstrategytheinfluenceofthepapacyhasreachedapin nacleof
success evenhigher andmore extensivethan everattained inMedieval times. Eventhe
UnitedStateshasanambassadoratthecourtoftheVatican.Thepresentpope"appearstobe
whathewantstobethechampionofhumanrightsandpeace,themorallytrustworthy
leader,thedarlingofthemasses,thesuperstarofthemedia,'almostthesameasanew
Messiah,'inwhomisthehopeoftheworld."
Buthasthepapacyreallychanged?ThestrongassertionsbyJohnPaulIIinfavorofthe
longhelddogmasofRomeremindtheBiblestudentoftheoftrepeatedclaimthat"Rome
never changes." As Ellen White observes, "While they [Protestants] are bent upon the
accomplishmentoftheirpurpose,Rome is aimingtoreestablishherpower,torecoverher
lostsupremacy"(TheGreatControversy[MountainView,CA,reprinteded.,1950],581).
Thischaptertracesthemodernhistoryofthepapacyasitmovestobecomeaworld
force. These striking, but consistent, developments color in the outlines of the endtime
prophecy:"Andalltheworldwonderedafterthebeast....Andallthatdwellupontheearth
shallworshiphim,whosenamesarenotwritteninthebookoflifeoftheLamb..."(Rev
13:3.8.KJV).

ChapterOutline
I.DeclineofReligiousAuthorityandTemporalPower
(Eighteenth/NineteenthCenturies)
II.HealingoftheMortalWound
III.EraofthePiusPopes:PiusVIIXII(18001958)
IV.TurningPoint:JohnXXIII(19581963)
V.ContinuityorRetrogression?PaulVI(19631978)
VI."EffectiveLeader":JohnPaulII(1978)
VII.SummaryVIII.Bibliography

336

TheModemPapacy:ClaimsandAuthority

DeclineofReligiousAuthorityand
TemporalPower(Eighteenth/Nineteenth
Centuries)
WWrhentheAustrianEmperorJosephII(17801790)visitedthe% /\I DQg6'5
Palace inVenice, hisguideswanted tolead him quicklypast ^ v the painting,
"Barbarossa on His Knees Before [Pope] Alexander m" by Federigo Zuccaro.
However,theemperordemandedanexplanationofthepainting.Afterhearingit,
givenwiththegreatestreticence,hesaidwithasmile,Tempipassati("thosetimes
arepassed").1
Attheendoftheeighteenthcenturythepapacyseemedindeedtohavecometo
anend.Throughthe"Babyloniancaptivity"ofthechurchinthefourteenthcentury,
Conciliarisminthefifteenth,theReformationinthesixteenth,Gallicanismandthe
Enlightenmentintheseventeenthandeighteenthcenturies,thepapacyhadforfeited
muchoftheworldlyinfluenceandreligiousauthoritythatithadoncepossessedin
theMiddleAges.
In 1773 Clemens XIV had to dissolve the Jesuit Order; in 1782 Joseph n
carriedouthisthoroughchurchreformsagainstPiusVTsopposition;in1793the
French Revolution abolished Christianity, and in 1798 the revolutionary armies
tookpossessionofthePapalStatesandproclaimedtheRomanRepublic.When
PiusVIdiedinValencein1799,"thePapacyhadsuffereditsdeepesthumiliation..
.[and]appearedtobeannihilated....TheRevolutionalsodealtitthewoundwhich,
itseemed,didnotwanttohealuntilfarintothetwentiethcentury." 2
PiusVIwascalled"theSixthandtheLast"3byhiscontemporaries.Napoleon
spokeof"theoldmachinewhichwillfallapartbyitself." 4Inspiteoftherestoration
ofthePapal States(1801,1814),Kierkegaard considereditproper tosayinthe
nineteenthcentury,"Theageofthepopesisnowpast.*'5Therenewedloss(1870)
andtherestorationoftheVatican(1929)asa"ministate,""thatsmallpieceofbody
sufficingtoholdthesoultogether" (PiusXI), 6 causedStalintomakethewell
knownironicalre
1QuotedinHcnncnsand0.Kohlschmidt,Prot.Taschenbuch(Leipzig,1905),2110.
2M.Wcitlauff,"PapsttumundrnodemeWelt,"ThZ40(1984):36793,csp.372,370.
3J.Gctmi,"DasPapsttumimZcitaltcrdcrAufklarung"inB.Moser,cd.,DOSPapsttwn(Munich,
1983),243.
4Weitlauff.371.
5S.Kierkegaard,Selbstprufung,Wcrkc,12:35258,quotedmDieLeidenschaftdesReligiosen(Stuttgart,
1973),56.
6QuotedinF.Lcist,DcrGefangenedesVatikans(Munich,1971),46.
337

TheModernPapacy:ClaimsandAuthority
markduringtheSecondWorldWar,"Howmanydivisionsdoesthepopeactually
have?"7
Even worse, however, was the loss of its religious authority to which the
papacy hadtosubmitbythemodem thinkingof the Enlightenment,liberalism,
nationalism, and socialism. The emancipation of thinking as the result of
rationalism,theautonomyoftheindividualastheresultofliberalism,thehostility
to religion as the result of philosophical atheism (L. Feuerbach, K. Marx, F.
Nietzsche),andthesecularizationandindifferenceofmodemmanastheresultof
secularismhaveallmadedeepbreachesinthewallsofChristianityandCatholicism
aswell.ThefulfillmentofPh.J.Spener'sprognosisin1675wasbeginningtobe
broughtintorelief:"WehaveanevengreaterfallofpapalRometoawait."8

HealingoftheMortalWound
Ph.J.Spenerhimself,however,hadforeseensomethingquitedifferentforthe
future.Threehundredyearsagohewrote,l<! amconvincedthatRomanBabylon
willagainregainallofitspreviouspowerbeforethelastjudgementovertakesit.I
fearthatmostofthenations,intimidatedbyitspowerandterrifiedbyitsbrutality,
willallowtheyokeshakenoffsometwohundredyearsagotobelainuponthem
again."
In the "deadly wound" of the Erst beast (Rev 13:3) 10the same power
symbolizedbyDaniel's"littlehorn"(Dan7:25)thefirstSeventhdayAdventists
(H.Edson,J.Bates,J.N.Andrews, U.Smith) n sawthefallofRomein1798,
alreadypreparedbytheeventsoftheReformation,ofcourse.12
Consequentlytheyeitherappliedthe"healing"ofthewoundtotheinvestiture
ofPiusVIIin1800(U.Smith),totherestorationof1815(J.Bates),expectedit
sometimeinthefuture(J.N.Andrews),orelsecon
7QuotedinE.Mainardi,"Heiligundunfehlbar?"inG.Denzlcr,ed.,Papsttwnheuleundmorgen
(Regensburg,1975),118.
8Ph.J.Spener,Piadesideria,2nded.(Giessen,1975).47.
9Ph.J.Spener,LetzteDesiderataIII,475;quotedinR.Pache,DieWiederkunftJesuChrisd(Wup
pcrtal.1953),175.
10TheLittleHorn'scorrespondenceinDan7tothefirstbeastinRev13istobefoundinA
Osiander,A.Conradus,D.Pareus,amongothers(cf.LE.Froom,ThePropheticFaithofOur
Fathers2[Washington,DC,1954]:299.319,520).FromtheverybeginningtheAdventist
interpretationhasfollowedthisline(cf.U.Smith,ThePropheciesofDanielandRevelation2
[Washington,DC,1944]:56465).
11SeeFroom,4:1083,1078,1097,1126;Smith,567.
12S.N.Haskell,TheStoryoftheSeerofPatnws(Nashville,1905),232.

338

TheModemPapacy:ClaimsandAuthority

sideredthe"healing"tobeinthespanoftimefromtheReformationtothe
end(S.N.Haskell).Onthebasisoftheirinterpretationsofprophecymany
thus foresaw a "Renaissance" of Rome similar to Spener. The later
Adventistinterpretationsfollowedthesecourses.
L.R.Conradisawtheprocessof"healing"intheriseofthepapacyin
thenineteenthcentury,reachingitsclimaxinthedeclarationofinfallibility
and in the victory of its "cultural" struggle against Bismarck; 13 J. Vuil
leumierconsideredittheascentsincethetimeofLeoXMintothetwentieth
century and beyond;14 W. A Spicer considered the process to be still
continuinginhistimes;15 R.A.AndersonreferredtotheLateranTreaties
betweenMussoliniandtheVaticanintheyear1929. 16
MentioningtheLateranTreaties,too.TheSDABibleCommentaryem
phasizesthemuchgreaterextentoftheannouncedrestoration(Rev13:8,
12)andviewsthisasyetinthefuture. 17Referringto1929inthesameway,
C.M.MaxwellalsoaddstheVaticanIICouncilandthenewprofileofthe
popes from John XXIII to John Paul II as factors in the restoration of
Catholicinfluencein theworld. While, for example. President Truman's
proposaltosendanAmericanambassadortotheVaticanmetwiththemost
violentoppositionfromAmericanProtestants,RonaldReaganexecutedthis
planin1984withoutencounteringanysubstantialopposition.
Thisinterpretationofpapalrestorationisbaseduponcertainexegetical
insights:
1.ThebeastinRevelation13:110 is identicalwiththelittlehomin
Daniel719andDaniel820aswell.
2.Verses57refertothe42propheticmonths(1260years),thetimeof
theMiddleAgesandtheCounterReformation.21
3.Verses3and4areanobjectiveanticipationoftheeventsattheendof
the42months.22
13L.R.Conradi,PropheascherAusbtickaufZeitundEwi^ceit,13thed.(Hamburg,n.d.),375,380.
14J.Vuilleumier,L'Apocafypse,4thed.(DammarielesLys,1948).23537.
15W.A.Spicer,OurDayintheLightofProphecy(Washington,DC,1918),142.
16R.A.Anderson,UnfoldingtheRevelation(MountainView,CA,1974),138.
17F.D.Nichol,ed.,TheSDABibleCommentary(Washington,DC,1957),7:817.18.
18CM.Maxwell,GodCares(Boise,ID,1985).2:346.
19Smith,56465;Conradi,362;TheSDABibleCommentary7:81718.
20Maxwell.327.
21Conradi,38385;TheSDABibleCommentary,7:81819.
22Vuilleumier"Itisinanticipationthatthemortalwoundanditshealinghavebeenplacedinthe
headingofthechart.Chapters14and15offerussomeexamplesofthisfigureofspeech,
havingthegoalofsignalizingtheresultfromtheoutset.Thechronologyofthiswoundcomes
fromthetextitself:Thebeast,succeedingthedragon,receivesfromitasitsinheritance,its
power,itsthrone,andgreatauthority;whenceagloriouscareercomeswhichdoesn'tseemto
coincidewith

339

TheModemPapacy:ClaimsandAuthority

4.Parallelwithverses3band4,verses7b 23 and824 againrefertothe


timeafterthe42months.
5.Verses9and10areparallelwithverse3aandexplainthe"deadly
wound."25 The year 1798can onlybea partial fulfillment 26 andfinds its
completioninthelastjudgment.27
6.The"deadlywound"isnotonlyawoundtooneoftheheads(vs.3a),
buttothebeastitselfaswell(vss.12,14).Therefore,the"healing"isnot
onlythe"healing"ofthehead,butofthewholebeastaswell(vs.14b).28
From this, one can conclude that the "healing" must exhibit several
aspects:
1.Themouthspeakinggreatthings,includingblasphemy.
2.Thegreatpoweroveralltribes,people,tongues,andnations.
3.Thewaragainstthesaintsanditsvictoryoverthem.
4.Thewonderandworshipofthewholeworld.

EraofthePiusPopes:PiusVHXn
(18001958)
ClaimofInfallibility
Themostimportantpopesofthisepoch(PiusIX,LeoXIII,PiusXII)
directedtheirthoughtsandactionstowardcompensatingforpapallossof
worldlypowerwithwhathasbeentermedthe"leapintothesupernatural."9
IntheMiddleAgesthepopeshadmadeenormousclaimstospiritualpower,
suchasGregoryVIIinhisDictatusPapae,30InnocentIII
amortalwoundtothehead;however,thiswoundcanonlytakeplaceattheendofalongperiod
oftimeinwhichtheauthorityofthebeasthasbeenuniversal"(pp.2067).
23TheSDABibleCommentary,7:819.
24Conradi.385.
25Smith,565,567;Haskcll,232;Anderson,137.
26TheSDABibleCommentary,7:819.
27Haskell,233.
28W.G.Johnsson,"God'sPeopleVictoriousOvertheConfederacyofEvil:AnExegesisofRevela
tion1214" (Exposition,Darmstadt, March1825,1987),26(sec editedversion,chap.1inthis
volume).Eventhesevenheadsareinterpreteddifferently:thesevenformsofRomangovern
mentwiththePapacyrepresentedbythelasthead(Smith,711;Conradi,498;Haskell.22729);
thesevenkingdomsinDaniel7=Babylon,MedoPcrsia,MacedonianGreecewithitsfourmost
importantsucceedingkingdoms,Rome(Vcuilleumier,196),ortheperfectnumberexpressingthe
abundance of power, or the various political powers used by the beast (The SDA Bible
Commentary7:808,816;Johnson,2930),ortheomnipotenceoftheRomanImperium(H.Kobs,
GottesGeheimnisoffenban,[Hamburg,n.d.],191).
29Wcitlauff,383.
30"OnlythebishopofRomeislegitimatelycalledtheuniversalone(No.2).Onlyheisabletoappoint

340

TheModemPapacy:ClaimsandAuthority

inhissermonsandwritings, 31 andBonifaciusVIIIinhispapalbull Unam


Sanctam32
However, neither the popes of the Middle Ages nor the Counter
Reformationhaddaredtoarticulatewhatwasannouncedinthenineteenth
centuryas"Catholictruth,""truthfromwhichnoonecandeviate without
damage to one's faith and one's salvation," 33 namely, "the immutable
(jrreformabilis)DogmarevealedbyGod34ofthe'jurisdictionalprimacy'of
thepopeover'thewholeglobeoftheearth 136 andhis'infallibility' in*ex
cathedra'decisionsinquestionsof'faithormorals.'" 37 Withthisthepapacy
was entrusted with an "unbridled power'* (I. v. Dollinger) 38 over the
testimonyoftheScripturesandtradition,andthe"Vatican'ssacrilege"(K.
Earth)39washeightenedtoarrogance.
Thisexaggeratedselfconfidenceistheexplanationforsomethingelse,
quitenew,namely,the excathedra definingofdogmasbythepopealone
withoutthecollaborationofacouncil(1854:TheImmaculateConceptionof
Mary;1950:ThePhysicalAscensionofMary).Inordertoshowthatthis
appraisalisnotexaggerated,letmequoteanumberofstrictCatholiccom
mentsfromtheyearsaround1870:
"TheinfallibilityofthepopeistheinfallibilityofJesusChristHimself,"
andremovebishops(No.3+25).Onlyheisabletoconvenegeneralsynods(No.16);hisname
isunique in theworld(No.11); onlyhemaybe namedinthechurches(No.10);onlyhemay
bearimperialemblems(No.8);hisfeetaretobekissedbytheprinces(No.9);hisdecreesmay
notberepudiatedbyanyoneelse;however,hemayrepudiatethoseofalltheothers(No.18);
theRomanChurchisforeverinfallible(No.22),alltheothersmustagreewithher(No.26);
everylegitimatelyinstalledpopebecomesholythroughPeter'smerit(No.23)"(quotedinCMirbt
andK.Aland,SourcesfortheHistoryof'thePapacyandRomanCatholicism,[Tiibingcn,1976],
1:282,[No.547]).
31"VicarofChrist,theGodofPharao,lessthanGod,morethanman,thebishopofeveiyChris
tian,theprinceofeveiynation,fortheLordleftPeternotonlythewholechurchbutalsothe
whole world to govern as well" (quoted in J. Hallcr, The Papacylocals andReatity
[Hamburg,1965],3:23738).
32"WemustacceptandretainaHolyCatholicApostolicChurchintheobedienceoffaith....Outside
ofherthereisnosalvationandnoforgivenessofsins....Thatthischurchhastwoswordsather
disposal,namelya spiritualaswellasa temporalone,thatiswhattheGospeltexts(Luke
22:38)teachus....Howeveroneswordmustbesubjecttotheotherandtemporalpowermustbe
submissive to spiritual power.... That is why we expound, declare, define, and teach that
submissiontotheRomanpopeisabsolutelynecessaryforthesalvationofeachandeveryhuman
being"(MirbtandAland,1:45860[no.746]).
33DS3060.
34DS3074,3073.
35DS3053.
36DS3059.
37DS3074.
38QuotedinLeist,327.
39QuotedinH.FriesandK.Rahner,EmigfmgderKvchenrealeMof^ichkeit,2ndcd.(Freiburgin
Brisgau,1983),73.

341

TheModernPapacy:ClaimsandAuthority
and''wheneverthepopethinks,itisGodHimself,whoisthinkinginhim.' 140Atthat
timetheProtestantchurchhistorianK.Hasewrotethefollowingprofoundwords:
"Theinfalliblepossessionoftruthinamortal'sheadappearssocloselyrelatedto
omniscienceandissuchanexclusiveattributeoftheDivinitythatonecouldjustas
easily declare a man almighty as for infallible.*' 41 Even today the Catholic
theologianH.Klingtestifieshowunseemlytheclaimof"infallibility"isforamortal
beingwhenhesays"Godaloneisinfallible....'Infallibility*lastfyremainsreserved
forHimforwhomitwasoriginallyreserved:God,HisWordandHisTruth."42

ClaimofTemporalAuthority
Theworldlypowerofthepapacywasonlypartiallyrestoredintheformofa
mmistateduringthe"PianicEra"(18151929).Popesfrom1870to1929hadtobe
satisfiedwithplayingtheroleofa"prisoneroftheVatican."Claimsoftemporal
authority and temporal respect, however, were not relinquished. At every papal
coronationthecrowningcardinalutteredthewords,"Knowyethat,inreceivingthis,
thethreefoldcrownofthetiara,youarethefatherofprincesandkings,therulerof
theglobe,thevicarofJesusChristhereonearth,towhombehonorandgloryin
eternity."43
Beforebeingcrowned,thepopewasenthronedonthe cathedraeminens, the
thronetranscendingeverythingandeveryone.SimilartoSolomon'sthrone,seven
stepsleaduptoit.Anyoneapproachingthepopehadtokneeldownandkisshis
hand,hisknee,orhisfoot.Thetiara(athreefoldcrownsincethefourteenthcentury)
iscalledregnum(kingdom)andissupposedtosymbolizetheuniversalepiscopacy,
thehighest jurisdictionanduniversal dominion. 44 Thethreefoldcrownwasoften
regardedasasignofdominionoverheaven,theearth,andhel!,aswell.45
The pope possesses diplomatic precedence before all other sovereigns, and
since1815hisambassadorsholdthehighestrankinthecorpsdiplomatiqueaswell.
"Howevermuchapopemayasserthisrenunciationofworldlydominion,heremains
acontradictiontoreality:Whatelsethanaworldlydominionisthechurchstateand
Romandiplomacywithits
40QuotedinLcist,344.
41K.Hase,HandbuchderprotestantischenPolemifc,4thed.(Leipzig,1878),156.
42H.Kung,Unfehlbar?3rdcd.(Ziirich,1971),149
43QuotedinLeist,22.
44P.HutchinsonandW.E.Garrison,20CenturiesofChristianily:AConciseHistory(NewYork
1959),120.
45F.LuciusFerraris,"PapaII,"inPromptaBibliothcca.6:2529;quotedinF.H.Yost,"Antichrist
inHistoryandProphecy,"inOurFinnFoundation(Washington,DC,1953),1:697.

342

TheModemPapacy:ClaimsandAuthority
nuncios?Whatelsedothepapalcourt,cardinals,ordersandtitles,crown
andthronesignifythansignsofspiritualtemporaldominion?*
Tobesure,thetimesarelongpastwhenpopessuchasGregoryVII,
Innocent ni, and Bonifacius VIII not only claimed but were able to
exerciseapotestasdirectapapaeintemporalibus,adirectdominionover
emperorandkings.ThelossofpowerovertheProtestantcountriesledto
thetheoryofthepotestasindirectapapaeintemporalibusintheCounter
Reformation, as formulated by Bellarmine. The popes are first of all
spiritual rulers who, however, are also able to intervene in political
circumstancesinordertomaintaintheinterestsoftheCatholicChurch.
Inthiswayahereticprince,forexample,canbedeposedwheneverhe
seduceshissubjectstoheresy.Thepapacyduringthe"PianicEra"even
hadtogiveupthisposition.
Since the time of the "Encyclical Pope" Leo XIII, one has been
speaking about apotestas directiva papae in temporalibus, about an
instructionalauthorityofRomeoverthegovernmentsandnationsofthe
world.Inthisrespect,however,theclaimoftemporalauthorityhasnot
beenrelinquished,buthasonlybeenreducedtoinfluencingthemindand
conscience in a more subtle form. Leo XIII wanted to be a spiritual
worldrulerjustasmuchasbefore.
Hissuccessors,PiusXI(the"ConcordatPope)"andPiusXII(the
"WesternPope)"attimesadministeredtheinstructionalauthorityvery
radicallyanddirectly.Thesepopesdidnotshrinkatemployingtheirin
structionalauthorityinsupportofdictatorswhowerefavorabletothein
terestsofCatholicpower.RomedeclaredMussolini'sAbyssinianWara
"holywar,"47 supportedtheabolitionofdemocracyinItaly,andtacitly
approvedofMussolini'sactionsinSpaininfavorofFranco.Thechurch
taughtitschildrentopray,"Oh,dearGod,preserveIIDuce,thathemay
longreignoverFascistItaly."48ForPiusXItheItaliandictatorwas"the
manofprovidence."49
Although the Catholic Church had opposed national socialism
before1933,sherecognizedthesignsofthetimesratherquickly.Shortly
before Hitler'sseizureofpower,shewheeledaboutinsupportofthe
nationalSocialistParty."Catholics!VoteforthefaithfulCatholicAdolf
Hitler!"50
46Leist,23.
47J.Gelmi,"DasPapsttumbiszurGegenwart,"inB.Moscr,ed.,DOSPapsttum
EpochenundGeslalten(Munich,1983),266.
48QuotedinK.Deschner,EinJahrhundenffeilsgeschkhte(Colonge,1982),1:496.
49AddressofPiusXItotheCatholicUniversityofMilano,February13,1929,quotedin
K.Guggisberg,DieromischkaiholischeKirche(Ziirich,1946),303.
50Deschner,1:429.

343

TheModemPapacy:ClaimsandAuthority

becamethewordoftheday.AccordingtoCardinalFaulhaber,Romecon
sideredNationalSocialismandFascismastheonlymeansofsalvationfrom
Communism.ThiswasthePope's"greatgoal." 31 Onlytoogladlydidthe
VaticanconcludetheconcordatofJuly20,1933,withGermany.Thatwas
Hitler'sfirstforeignpoliticalsuccess.
Romenotonlysupportedthepettydictators(Dollfuss.Horthy,Salazar)
butmassivelysidedwithFranco's"Crusade"inSpainaswell.Onlytheever
increasingly clear idolization of racial purity by the National Socialist
regimeanditspropagandaagainstChristianityledtotheencyclical "With
BurningAnxiety"(March14,1937);thenfollowedtheencyclical Divini
Redemptoris(theCondemnationofCommunism)inthesameyear.Scarcely
hadthewarbrokenoutandthe"FinalSolution"oftheJewishproblembeen
decidedbytheNaziRegime,when"PiusXII'sgreatsilence"(R.Hochhuth)
setin,asilencethatremainsariddletoresearcherstothisday. 52
TheAllies'victoryandtheriseoftheU.S.A.toworldpowercaused
PiusXIItosetallofhishopesonAmerica.JustastheMedievalPopecon
sideredtheEmperorashissword,sowastheU.S.A.tobecomethesecular
arm of the church.53 The Catholics had become the largest Christian
denominationintheU.S.Aand,shortlyafterPiusXII'sdeath,thatcountry
wastoelectitsfirstCatholicpresident(J.F.Kennedy).Accordingtothe
willofthepope,theU.S.A.wastobecomeaCatholiccountry. 54
The "Cold War" assumed the role of a "crusade," with Cardinal F.
SpellmannactingasitsmissionaryandJ.McCarthyasitsinquisitor.In1953
thepopeevenapprovedofthepossibilityofawarofaggression, 55including
the utilization of atomic weapons, 56 though in 1955 he declared their
utilizationtobeimmoral.57TotheU.S.Ain1959,CardinalOttavianisaid,
"Allowmetotellyouhowyourconductremindsmeofthatroleplayed
51Ibid.,1:441.
52That Hochhuth's reproach in1963was not unjustified isshown clearly inaletter by Cardinal
Tisserand(April 11,1940) in whichhedeplores"thepolitics ofaccommodation"(G.Maron,
TheRomanCatholicChurchFrom1870to1970[Gottingcn,1972}.223).Ontheotherhand
thereisthetheorythatPiusXIItrulybelievedhecouldbemuchmoreusefultotheChristians
andJewsby forgoinganypublicstatements(H Schambeck,cd., PiusXIIPeaceThrough
Righteousness[Kevelacr,1986],17;H.J.Fischer,"DeedsInsteadofWordsfortheJews,"in
FAZ,March24,1987,3).
53Deschner,2:13.
54Ibid.,2:280.
55F.Kliiber,"FriedenspolitikimZwielicht:SprichtRomdeutlichgenug?"inN.Grcinacherand
H. Kiing, eds., Kalholische KircheWohin? (Munich, 1986). 59.
56Deschner,2:13.57GreinacherandKiing,60.

344

TheModemPapacy:ClaimsandAuthority

bytheemperorintheMiddleAgesandlaterbythekingofFrance.1bthe
sameextentyouarethemainpillar,supporterandprotectoroftheRoman
Church."58

TheU.S.A.knewthatitcouldn'twintheworldalonewithitsfractured
Protestantism,andRomeconsideredtheU.S.A.asits"armory."TheVatican
indeed has often relied upon the use of arms, even when they were as
unreliableasthosePiusDCletFireontheapproachingItaliansatthePorta
Piain1870.WitharmsandcunningoldRomehadconqueredtheworld.
ThepopesofthePianicEraweregoodRomans!
ClaimofDominionOvertheConscience
In order to maintain its spiritual and secular power Papal Rome
approvedofandusedeverykindoffereeavailableduringtheMiddleAges
and the CounterReformation. Through the Inquisition and Crusades its
Christianaswellaspaganopponentswereeithersubjugatedorstampedout
ThegreatesttheologiansoftheCatholicChurchfurnishedthejustification
forthis.
ThomasAquinassaid,"Thehereticscannotonlybeexcommunicated
butlegitimatelykilledaswell."60Bellarmineaddedtothis,"Theonlyeffec
tivemeansagainsthereticsistoconveythemtothatplaceprovidedfor
themasquicklyaspossible.Inthiswayoneisonlydoingthemafavoras
thelongertheyareallowedtolive,themoreheresiestheywilldevise,and
thus themore believers theywill seduce, aggravating their own damna
tion."61Aslateas1895PiusaLangeniospokeofthe"blessedflamesofthe
heretics'pyre,"62andin1933TheodorHackerofLuther'spossibleburning
asa"fieryactoflove.'*63
Thelossofinfluenceonthemodernstatesmadetheintoleranceofthe
Middle Ages impossible during the Pianic Era; spiritual and intellectual
intolerance,however,remained.ThePiuspopesspokeadecisive"no"to
the world, to Protestantism and the other religions, to freedom of con
scienceandtomoderntheology.In1864PiusIX,inhis"Syllabus,repu
diated the separation of church and state, religious freedom and the
*plagues'ofsocialism,liberalismandtheBiblesocieties." 64
58Deschner,2:496.
59Ibid.,2:296.60S.77i.////,g.ll,a.3.
61QuotedinK.Guggisbcrg,DieromischkatholischeKirche(Zurich,1946),336.
62Ibid.
63Ibid.,33637.64D52955;2915;2918a.

345

TheModernPapacy:ClaimsandAuthority

In his encyclical Diutwnum iUud (1881) Leo XIII designated the


modern revolutions, modern philosophy, and the "plague epidemics"
communism, socialism, and nihilismas consequences of the "socalled
Reformation."65 InhisBorromeanencyclical Editaesaepe (1910)PiusX
reviledProtestantismas"thefirststeptoatheism."Thereformershadbeen
allegedly vulgar materialists, ushering in a "pestilence of vice and the
destructionofmorality"intothelivesofthecommonpeople. 66
Whenin1919BenedictXVreceivedaninvitationtoparticipateinthe
conference on "Faith and Order," he answered with the summons to all
ChristianstoreturntothebosomoftheCatholicChurch.In1928PiusXI
reactedevenmoresharplyinhisencyclicalMortaliumanwzos,intendedas
ananswertotheWorldConferenceofLausannein1927:"Theunification
ofChristianitycannotbepromotedinanyotherwayexceptthroughareturn
oftheotherdenominationstotheonetruechurchofChristfromwhichthey
unfortunatelyhadearlierapostatized."67
Catholics were forbiddento participate in the ecumenical movement.
Completelyinkeepingwiththis,PiusXIIdeclared(Mysticicorporis,1943)
thatonlyhewhoacceptstheleadershipofthepopetrulybelongstothe
church.Speakingtosocialquestions(LeoXIII,Rerumnovarum,1891;
Pius XI, Quadragesima anno, 1931), the Papacy not only claimed the
leadershipofemployerandemployeealike,butalsothelastwordinthe
questionofhowsocialjusticeshouldbecarriedout:unionsandstrikeswere
categoricallyrejected.68
Onquestionsoffreedomofreligionandconscienceitwasingeneralno
different.Whilethewayfortheideaofreligioustolerancehadbeenpaved
bytheAmericanfreechurchsystemintheseventeenthcenturyandclaimed
and even partly realizedby the European Enlightenment in the
eighteenth century, the popes of the "Pianic Restoration" pronounced a
decisive"no"againstit.
Gregory XVI (Mirari vos, 1832) termed freedom of conscience "in
sanity,"69andPiusIXflatlyrejected"freedomofworship"inhisSyllabus10
Therecouldonlybefreedomofworshipforthetruth,andthisisidentical
withthepapalchurch.LouisVeuillotstateditveryclearlyforthe
65Guggisberg,338.
66Ibid.,33839.
67Ibid.,341.
68Ibid.,309310.
69SecJ.Gelmi,"DasPapsttumbiszurGegcnwart,"inMoscr,248.
70DS297S.
346

TheModernPapacy:ClaimsandAuthority

"official"church:"BeweCatholicsintheminority,wewillthendemand
freedomonthebasisofyourprinciples;beweCatholicsinthemajority,we
willthenrefuseitonthebasisofourprinciples."
Thesameintoleranceisalsodirectedinwardly.Romeshouldhavethe
last wordintheology,too. Duringthedominationof the "NewScholas
ticism"promotedbythepopes(LeoXHIdesignatedThomasAquinasasthe
"normative theologian"), every other direction of thinking was soon
threatenedwithcondemnation.Thisstancefrustrated"ReformCatholicism"
(Hermann Schell), demanding "Aggiomamento" around the turn of the
century; "Americanism," emphasizing the "hierarchy of truth"; "Mod
ernism/*wantingtointroducehistoricalcriticalresearchoftheScriptures,
dogmas, and church history as already practiced in Protestantism into
Catholictheology (A. Loisy,G.Tyrell,E.Buonaiuti);andthe"Nouvelle
Theologie"inthetwentiethcentury(H.deLubac,J.Danielou,Y.Congar)
wantingtobreaktheThomisticmonopolyintheologybytheuseof the
Bible, the study of the Church Fathers and modem philosophy. This
frustrationwas,ofcourse,onlytemporary;VaticanIItookupmuchofthis
without,tobesure,rehabilitatingallofthemodernisttheologians.
NewEsteem
TheemancipationofthemodernnationsfromRome'ssupremacy,and
thelossofthePapalStatesin1870havecontributedevenmoreinthelong
runasstrangeasitmaysoundtoastrengtheningofpapalesteem.
"First against the background of the Ultramontane movement of the
nineteenthcentury,"saysManfredWeitlauff,"didthepopebecomeinthe
mindsoftheCatholicpeopleaferventlylovedandadored'HolyFather,*...
whosewordsandinstructionwerereceivedinawe andobedience.Only
thendidthepopetrulybecomethecenterofchurchlife;onlythendidthe
CatholicsoftheworldbegintodirecttheireyestoRome." 72
Itsreleasefromtheburdensofstateadministrationanditsdevotionto
purely spiritual affairs placed the papacy on an international level,
transcendingeveryoneandeverything."Innoothercenturyinmodern
times,"accordingtothereligiousphilosopherFritzLeist,"hastheRoman
See won a greater increase in power than in the nineteenth century. Its
crowningmomentwasVaticanI."'3
71Guggisberg,336.
72Weitlauff,377.
73Lcist.191.
347

TheModernPapacy:ClaimsandAuthority

Thewondermentandadorationofthepapacytookonsuchformsthat
evenHansUrsvonBalthasar,adefenderoftheRomanprimate,spokeof
"Ultramontane Papolatry."74 The majority of the Catholic world gladly
submittedto"ecclesiasticalAbsolutism"(F.Heiler).ThenonCatholicworld
looked with astonishment at Rome's strengthening, developing in a
completely new way. And this process continued on into the twentieth
century.
Fullofjubilation,millionsofpeoplebegansingingPaulKeller'sPapal
Hymn:
You,bearingthetouchoftruth,
You.caringfortheSavior'sFlock,
You,withindefatigablehand
RaiseuptheCrossoverlandandsea,
YouGuardianLionintheSanctuary,
Honor,gloryandpraisebetoThee,
HolyFather,JeweloftheChurch
TheLordbewithThee!
YouToweringRockinthedistressofthetimes,
YouConstantSpiritwithoutfearandwaveringIn
defianceofstormandlashingwaves,
Youstand,aFirmTower,intheseas,
HolyFather,JeweloftheChurch,
TheLordbewithThee!75

Thecleverandfarsightedpopesofthiseraaretheoneswhoplannedand
realizedthisprocessofrenewal."LeoXIIFspoliticalfarsightedness,PiusX*s
religiousfervor,BenedictXV'sgreateffortsforpeacehavecreatedanesteem
for the papacy within the Catholic world; indeed in the modem civilized
world as a whole, such as the papacy had only possessed in its days of
glory.*'76"Andthemoralauthorityofthepapacyincreased
evenmoreinthenonCatholicandnonChristianworldduringPiusXII's
pontificate.*'77
AlmosteverypopeduringthePianicErainsertedhisbuildingblockinto
themostmonolithicformofCatholicismeverseeninchurchhistory
74QuotedinF.Klostennano,"DienstanderEinheitiroGlauben,"inDanzler,88.
75QuotedinW.V/aibcl,ReIisioscZeilfi'agen(Vienna,1948),Ml.
76F.Heiler,DerKathoiiasmus(Munich,1970).305.
77RLciber,"PiusXII,"inJ.HofcrandK.Rahncr,eds.,LexUamfwThwiogieundKuche(Freibuigin
Brisgau,1963),8:543.

348

The Modem Papacy: Claims and


Authority

uptothattime.Experiencingthelongestpontificateinpapalhistory,
Pius IX (18461878) initiated the "new rise of intellectual and
spiritualpowerintheeyesoftheworld,arisecontinuingevenupto
today."Heisconsideredthe"FounderofmodemPapacy" 79 before
VaticanII.PiusDC'sloftyplansforpowerincludedtheworldas
wellasthechurch.ThroughhisdefinitionsofthedogmasofMary's
immaculate conception (without any council approval) and the
infallibilityofthepope(withtheapprovalofacouncilputunder
pressure: "I am Tradition"), 80 he created an "acme of inner
ecclesiastical power" and gave the "deathblow to ecclesiastical
particularism*' (A. Ehrhard).81 Although having lost the Papal
States, he strengthened the power of the Catholic Church in the
worldbyrestoringtheCatholichierarchiesinEnglandandHolland,
byextendingCatholicismintheU.S.A.andthemissionfields,by
concludingconcordatswithRussia,Spain,Austria,Portugal,andthe
CentralAmericannations,byfoundingthe"Center"inGermanyand
successfully resisting Bismarck in his "Kulturkampf" (Bismarck's
strugglewithCatholicism).SimilartothemedievalpopesPiusIX
claimedsovereigntyoverallChristians,OrthodoxandProtestantas
well.82
His successor Leo XIII (18781903), the "Encyclical Pope,"
initiatedacautiousopeningwithinandwithout.Toacertaindegree
onecouldsaythat,followingPiusIX,LeoXIIIrepresentedwhat
John XXIII was, following Pius XII. The opening took place in
ordertostrengthenthepowerofthechurchinawaydifferentfrom
thatofhispredecessor.InthismannerLeoXIIIbecameoneofthe
"most influential popes of the nineteenth century'* whose
achievementwasthe"reconciliationofmodemhumanitywiththe
Church.'*83
Leo effectedtheopeningwithinthroughhisBibleencyclical
ProvidentissimusDeus(1893),which,tobesure,rejected"higher
criticism"butpromotedthescientificpursuitofBiblestudyinthe
contextofanexegesisconnectedwiththepapalmagisterium.The
opening without ensued through the social encyclical Rerum
novarum(1891)andLeo'spolicyofpeacewhichledtotheendof
the"Kulturkampf."
It was Leo's "world plan" (0. Kohler) that "againbound the
modern
78H.Kuhner,LaakonderPapste(Frankfurt/M.,1960),178.
79Maron,203.
80SeeA.B.Hasler,PiusDC(18461878),PapstlicheUnfehlbarlceitund1.VaLKonzil,
bk.12inG.Denzler.ed.,PapsteundPapsttum(Stuttgart,1977),12/1:121.
81QuotedinKG.Sleek,"PiusIX,"inRGG,5:395.
82LetterofPiusIXtoEmperorWilhelm1,October11,1873,inGuggisbcrg,334.
83R.Fischer.Wolpert,LexskonderPapste(Regensburg,1985),134.

349

TheModernPapacy:ClaimsandAuthority

worldtothetiarawithinnerbands...." Its moralgreatnessandintellectual


influenceweretomakethepapacystrongerthanthe"Medieval domsnium
temporalewaseverabletodo.84Thepopewastospeakthedecidingwordin
allmatters(worldpolitics,socialpolitics,culture,science,andreligion),thus
achievingthe"finalevittoria"85bymoldingtheconsciencesofthenations.
InthetimeofPiusX(19031914)papalcondemnationofmodernism
(Pascendidommicigregis, 1907)andthetotalbreakwithFrancein1905(a
radicalseparationofchurchandstate)againsuggestedthespiritofPiusIX.
TTiepapacy,inspiteofallofitsmodernity,wasnotpreparedtogiveupany
ofitspreviouslygainedintellectualandpoliticalpowers.
In the First World War Benedict XV (19141922) pursued an adept
policyofaccommodation,resultinginundiminishedpowerandesteemof
thePapacy(diplomaticrelationswithEngland,France,Portugal,Holland,
and Germany as a statenot only with the individual German States as
heretofore;preparationsfortheagreementwithItaly).Whatwasespecially
significantwithinthechurchwasthenewCodexJurisCanonici,remaining
inforcefrom19171983.
WithPiusXI(19221939),the"MissionaryPope,"Romeagaintookthe
offensive. All of humansocietywastobe renewedthroughCatholic Lay
Action(1922).Thereligionsweretofindtheirunityinthepope,andallthe
"apostates"wouldhavetoreturn (Mortaliumanimos, 1928).UnderPiusXI
Romebecamethegoalofmillionsofpilgrimsfromallovertheworld.The
popedevotedhimselftosocialquestions(Quadragesimaanno,1931),solved
the Roman question (1929), and concluded a large number of concordats
(Poland, Romania, Italy, Austria, Germany). His pontificate has been
characterizedasa"highpointinmodernPapalhistory." 86
With Pius XII(19391958),"thevoiceoftheconscienceoftheworld
and advocate for persecuted humanity in a demonic age of terror," 87 the
Pianicrestorationagainreachedahighpointandatthesametimeitscon
clusion.ThewelleducateddiplomatendeavoredtosecureforRometherole
of a spiritual court of last appeal in all questions (medicine, ethics, mass
media,theology,andphilosophy).
InthechaosoftheSecondWorldWartheCatholicChurchoperated
840.Kfthler,"DerWeltplanLeosXIII,"inH.Jedin.ed.,HandhuchderKirchengeschichte(Freiburg
inBrisgau.1985),6/2:13.
85Ibid.,21.
86FischerWoIpert,138
87Kiihner,187.
350

TheModernPapacy:ClaimsandAuthority

as a "monolith"88 under Pius XII. Very cleverly he allowed the


theologians a moderate adaptation to historicalcritical research
(DivinoafflantespirUti,1943),butsoondrewthelineagainsttoo
muchprogressiveness(Humanigeneris,1950).Withthedogmaof
the corporal assumption of Mary into Heaven Marianic piety
achievedadizzyinglyhighpoint(Munifi
centissimusDeus,1950).

DuringtheSecondWorldWarPiusXIIpursuedapolicyof
accommodation similar to that of Benedict XV during the First
World War. But he set himself completely on the side of the
Western powers after 1945, uncompromisingly condemning
Communism.In1953heconcludedaconcordatwithFascistSpain
which conceded the Catholic Church a "unique position" (G.
Maron).
Inover4,000pages(notalwaysintheformofanencyclical)
he expressed his opinions on social questions, but in 1954 he
frustratedtheexperimentofthe'^workingpriests."Hewaswell
disposedtowardthe"separatedbrethren,"doing,however,nothing
forthepromotionofecumenism.Theonlysolutionhetoocould
envisionwasthroughareturnto
Rome.89
TothemassescomingtoRomeaspilgrims,thearistocratic,ascetic
figureseemedtobea"Goddescendingdowntoearth." 90 Tothe
critical observer today,heseemsrathertoprojecttheimpression
ofbeingthelastecclesiasticalautocratbeforewhomtheCatholic
Church made obeisance, but whom the majority of the non
Catholicworld(Protestants,nonChristians,andatheists)shunned.

TurningPoint:(John
XXffl)(19581963)
The Pianic Era achieved the stabilization and rise of the
papacy,butneverthelesshadnotwonovertheworld.Itbecame
evident that modem man could no longer be influenced by
severity,butratherwithlove.Inordertogaintheesteemofthe
wholeworld,an"openingtothewholeworld"wasrequiredina
newspirit.OnlyinthismannerwouldRomestillbeabletorealize
itsclaimofdominion.
Thetimewasripeforstrict,asceticPiusXIItobefollowedby
"good"
88H.Jcdin."DiePapsteBenediktXV.PiusXI,andPiusXII,"inHJedin,ed.,
HandbuchderKirchengeschichte(FrieburginBrisgau,1985),7:35.
89Maron.227.90Deschner,2;18.
351

TheModemPapacy:ClaimsandAuthority
John XXin (19581963)the "most beloved pope in history."91 the "transitional
pope,"bringingthe"transitionintothefuture**(K.Rahner), 92themodernizationof
thechurch(aggiomamento)andtheopeningtothemodemworld(aperturismo),the
"truerevolution,"becausehehadrecognizedthe"signsofthetimes."93

HisNewStyle
Thenewpopetookuphisofficewiththefirmintention,"Iwillnever
speakexcathedralAtthebeginningof1959hesurprisedtheworldwiththe
announcement of a forthcoming Second Vatican Council. Pius XII had
previouslygivenconsiderationinregardtoaplanofacouncilin1948;itwas
tobethecrowningachievementofthePianicEra(definitionofthecorporal
assumptionofMary;condemnationofcontemporaryerrors). 95 Accordingto
JohnXXIII,however,thecouncilwastoproceedinacompletelydifferent
way.Marywouldnotbeinthemiddle,andthe"prophetsofwoe"weregiven
anunequivocalrefusal.Thepopewasexpectinga"neworder";therefore,the
churchmightnolongerbeaprophetofdoom,"asiftheworldwerefaced
withimminentdestruction."96
Earlierthechurchhadexpulsed,excommunicated,andcondemned,but
sheshouldnowletthepowerofloveinsteadofcondemnationspeak. 97Error
wouldvanishbyitselfunderthemildpressureofmercy.Accordingtothe
Pope'soriginalintentions,thecouncilwastobeacouncilofunion,acouncil
of an opening to the "separated brethren" in order "to seek unity."98 A
"mirabilespectaculunTwastotakeplaceinordertogiverisetothedesirein
theseparatedbrethrentoreturntothe"onefold.'*"
It soon became clear that this was infeasible, and the council of an
interdenominational union became an innerCatholic council of reform.
Neverthelessitbecameevidentaswellthatthe"opening"hadnotremained
simply an empty slogan. Vatican n brought about the "church's self
fulfillmentastheworldchurch.'*100Withitsresolutionsonthecol
91Ibid.,479.
92QuotedinH.Numberger,SoheamesXXSll(Reinbekb.Hamburg,1985),28.
93P.Hebblethwaite./o/tflwier.m//(Zurich.1986),503.
94Numberger,117.
95Ibid.,119.
96QuotedinGrcinachcrandKung,9.
97QuotedinR.KramerBadoni,RevolutioninderlGrche(Frankfurt/M.,1982).27.
98QuotedinMaron,230.
99QuotedinK.E.Skydsgaard,"DaskommeodcKonzil,AbsichtundProblcmatik,"inKE.
Skyds
gaard,ed.,KomtlundEvangeliMtt(GotUngen,1962),118,121.
100K.Rahner,SchriftenzurJheofoye(Einsiedeln.1980),14:288.

352

TheModemPapacy:ClaimsandAuthority
legialityofbishops("Lumengentium,"22),ecumenism (Unitatisredin
tegratio),thehierarchyoftruths(Unitatisredmtegratio),freedomofreli
gion (Dignitatishumanae), andtheopeningtotheworld (Gaudiumet
spes),theCatholicChurchreceivedanewface.
ItisnowonderthatJohnXXIII'sadmirerspraisethecouncilas"the
greatest grace ofthe twentiethcentury" andas the "MagnaCharta for
timestocome."101Protestantsaswellspeakof"Rome'sdevelopmentinto
theworldchurch"andinthisconnectionofa"propheticcouncil.*'102

HisNewPolitics

JohnXXIII wanted tobe the "father of all" 103 andhas gone


down in history as a "father of mankind."104 On May 15,1967,
"Materetmagistra"appearedinremembranceofthe70yearjubilee
of "Rerum novarum." A pope once more addressed the social
questionsnecessitatedbythealteredsituationoftheworld(atomic
power,automation,massmedia,distressof
theThirdWorld).

For the solving of social problems the pope demanded a


mixture of capitalism (personal initiative) and socialism
(nationalization). Theunions (not onlythe Christian ones) were
commended for their contribution to social change. The
tremendous technical progress had to be followed by social
progress.Ineconomicalandsocialquestionsthechurchclaimedto
bethe"materetmagistra"ofmankind.105
The most significant turning away from Pius XII ensued
throughJohnXXIII'snew"Easternpolitics"(P.Hebblethwaite).
On March 7. 1963, he gave an audience to the Adschubejs,
Khrushchev'sdaughterandsoninlaw,intheVaticanandreceived
greatpraisefromMoscowforhiseffortsintheCubancrisis.
AtthattimeKhrushchevacknowledged,"InmyyouthImyself
wasreligious,Stalinwaseveninaseminaryforpriests....Whatwe
thenfought against was not religionper se but rather a special
situation in which a lot of politics was taking place.... The
Orthodoxpriestsweren*tservantsofGodbutgendarmesofthe
Czar....Nowwerespectthechurchandhaveaspecialgovernment
ministryforher...Iaminterestedinassuringthe
101GreinacherandKung,15.
102P.NorgaardHojen,"AlsRomzurWeltkirchewurde,"inLutherischeMonaishefte24
(1985):529
31.
103QuotedinNumberger.30.
104Moser,9.
105SeeW.v.Loewenich,DermodemsKatholizismusvorundnachdanKomil(Witten,
1970),389
91.

353

TheModernPapacy:ClaimsandAuthority
popehowclearitistomethathedoesnotwanttolethischurchbepolitically
exploited."106
Itwasinthisnewclimate,shortlybeforehisdeath,thatthepopewrotehis
encyclicalofpeacePaceminterns(April11,1963),consideredhislasttestament.In
itJohnXXIIIaddressednotonlyCatholicsbutallpeopleofgoodwillforthefirst
timeinpapalhistory.
InordertoobtainpeacetheworldneedstheUnitedNations,humanrights,anda
politicalpoweraboveallwhichmustbecreatedthroughthevoluntaryagreementof
thenations.Onemustalwaysmakeadistinctionbetweenerrorandtheerring;the
erringneverlosetheirhumandignitywhichmustalwaysberespected.Catholics
shouldworktogether withrepresentatives ofall philosophiesoflifeandmakea
distinctionbetweenpracticeandtheoryincertainmovements.Afalsetheorydoes
notinvalidatethegoodthatcanariseinsocialpractice. 107
This"openingtotheleft"metwithgreatapplauseinthesocialistcountriesbut
withsharpcriticismintheWest.

HisNewPrestige

WhenafteronlyfiveyearsaspontiffJohnXXIIIdied,hehadwontheheartsof
thepeopleintheChristianworldanddeeplyimpressedthoseinthenonChristian
worldwithhistact,hishumanwarmthandhishumor.AccordingtoF.Heer,'Atthe
closeofourcenturythepapacyisenjoyinganinternationalesteemasneverbeforein
itshistory.Atheisticscientists,Tibetan,Indian,Japaneserepresentativesofprimeval
Asiatic religions, politicians of every color, men and women of all accentuated
philosophiesoflife,aggressiveyoungpeoplewerealldazedwhentheylearnedof
PopeJohnXXIIFsdeath.Itseemsasifherethepapacyhadachievedanunsurpassed
highpointinprestige,esteem,interest,andsympathy."
WasJohnXXXIIIan"industrialaccident"assomecynicsbelieve,a"strokeof
luck"astheprogressivessay,a"myth,"oranew"strategy"?Inmanythingshereally
didseemtobealiberal;asforinstance,whenhetookupthemodernistthesisin
theology,"Dogmaisonething,thewayofexplainingitissomethingelse," 109oras
ontheinternationallevelhepushedopenthedoorto"Easternpolitics."110

106QuotedinDeschner,2:487.
107SeeLoewenich,38284.
108P.Heer,"OhnePapsttumkeinAbendland,"inMoser,33.
109QuotedinKramerBadom,26.
110Hebblethwaite,49798.

354

TheModemPapacy:ClaimsandAuthority

In many other things one is amazed at his conservatism. He elevated


CounterReformationtheologianssuchasLaurentiusofBrindisitobecome
teachersofthechurch;hecategoricallyrejectedtheabolitionofcelibacy;he
reemphasized the obligatory use of Latin in the liturgy and teaching and
warnedagainstthewritingsofTeilharddeChardin. 11iToseeamodernistin
himreallyseemstobeamyth.
Hewasneitheraprogressivetheologiannoranawkwardfoolignorantof
theworld.Hewasapopewhocouldrightlyinterpretthe"signsofthetimes."
Hewasthediscovererofthe"opening,"of"modernization,"andinthisway,
ofanewstrategythatwastomakethepapacyevenstronger
andthechurchevenmoreluminous.
Thatmanythingsturnedoutdifferentlythanexpected,asJ.Ratzinger
believed("whatiscertainisthatthecouncildidnotfollowthecourseex
pectedbyJohnXXIII")112andthat"Satan'ssmoke"(PaulVI)113infiltratedthe
"temple,"wasariskofwhosedangerhewasperhapsnotatallaware.The
mixture of tradition and progress has in any case impressed upon post
VaticanIICatholicismnewfeatureswhichseemtomakeunavoidablethe
answertothequestion,Doesthepapacystillcorrespondtotheimagewhich
the ReformationAdventist exegesis has in view when it Js dealing with
Revelation13?

ContinuityorRetrogression?
PaulVI(19631978)
Hisunexpected,suddendeathsavedJohnXXIIIfromhavingtocometo
termswiththeresultsofthe"newstrategy."Thenewpope,PaulVI(1963
1978),notapersonwhoenjoyedmakingdecisions(JohnXXIIIhadcalled
him"Hamlet"),114wassooncaughtinthecrossfirebetweentheprogressives
(forexample,H.Kiing)andthetraditionalists(M.Lefebvre).Ibrtheformer
hewastooconservative,morePiusXIIthanJohnXXIII.Porthelatterhe
seemedtobetrayTrentthroughVaticanII.
Itmustbeadmitted,however,thatPaulVItransformedhispredecessor's
initiativesintotheconcreteplansofthe"newstrategy"(travelpolicy,world
ecumenical plan) on which his successor, John Paul II, would build.
Correspondingtohisnatureandthesituation,hedidithesitatingly(not
lllSeeMaron,231.
112Ratzinger,ZurLaydesGlaubens(Munich.1985),40.
113DerSpiegel,No.48,1985,163.
114QuotedinNurabcrger,19.
355

TheModemPapacy:ClaimsandAuthority

"aggiomamento,"but"progressofthechurch"through"selfreflection"was
hismotto),115sothathispontificatecreatedanambivalentimpression.
Continuity
InhismemorialaddressforhispredecessorPaulVIsaid,"Willweever
againbeabletoforsakesuchdecisivelylaidoutpathsinthefuture?One
wouldliketobelieveneveragain."116
InhisfirstradiomessageonJune22,1963,heannounced,"Themost
significantpartofourpontificatewillbetakenupbythecontinuationofthe
SecondVaticanCouncil... thatwill beourchief assignmentandwe will
utilize all of thepowers which the Lordhas givenus for it... our Papal
servicewillconsequentlycontinue,withallvigor,thegreatworkwhichour
predecessor, John XXIII, initiated with so much hope and under such a
fortuitousstar."117
Inthissensethepopecarriedonthe"EasternPolicy."Forthefirsttime
inthehistoryoftheVaticanhereceivedaSovietambassador,A.Gromyko,
in1966.andin1967evenaheadofstatefromtheEastblockforthefirst
time,N.Podgorny.
HandinhandtheVaticanalsomadeitscontributiontothepoliticsof
peace in this way. In 1966 the Vatican State participated in the Geneva
Protocol,banningchemicalweapons;in1971itagreedtotheNuclearNon
proliferation Treaty. With Populorum progressio (1967) Paul VI also
attemptedtocarryonthesocialconcernsofhispredecessor.Radicalun
dertones became audible: The church supports private property, but the
publicwelfareoftendemandsexpropriationoflandedproperty,especiallyin
theThirdWorld.
Thesolutionisnotrevolutionbutreform,reformnow\Thestatemaynot
interfereintheprivatesphere,parentsshouldhaveasmanychildrenasthey
areabletotakeresponsibilityfor(thisstatementwasissuedofcoursebefore
HumanaevUae,1968).Developmentalaidshouldbecarriedoutinplaceof
rearmament.Thisshouldnotceasewiththelawsofthefreemarketbutmust
beorientedtohumanity."Theworldissick";inorderforittorecover,it
needsinternationalcooperationunderaneffectiveworldauthority. 118 With
thisencyclicalthepopereapedanabundanceofcriti
115W.SeTaKaxt,DerPa^oderKonzUimdKm:hevorderEntxheidung(JLew\^13233;
Moser,270.
116QuotedinMaron,233.
117Ibid.,234.
118SeeLoewenich,39193.

356

TheModemPapacy:ClaimsandAuthority

cismintheWestandenthusiasticapprobationintheEast.
SinceJohnXXfflhadonlytheopportunitytotravelinItaly,the
actualmodem"TravelPolitics"ofthepapacybeganwithPaulVI.
Duringthe PianicEra theworldhadtogotoRome; now Rome
was going out into the world. The new strategy seemed to
renouncetheworld'sregimentationthroughRomeandtoplaceher
inserviceatthedisposaloftheworld.
InthiswayPaulVIbecamethefirst"WorldPope." 119 Innine
trips he visited, among other places, Palestine, India, North
America (the United Nations), South America (Columbia) and
Africa(Uganda).Thecentralideaofthenewpolitics,whichwas
latertobecomesoimportantforJohnPaulII,alsooriginatedwith
PaulVI.
InEcclesiamsuam(1964)PaulVIdevelopedthenew"World
Plan*':
Theworldisarrangedintheformofconcentriccirclesarounda
middle point. The middle point is the papacy with the Roman
Catholic Church. TTie first circle is composed of the rest of
Christianity;thesecondcircle,theworldreligions;andthethird
circle,allofhumanity.120 Thepointofdepartureandreferenceis
Romeunderwhosemoralauthorityandleadershipthesickworldis
tobehealed.
Inordertoemphasizethecredibilityofthisgreatpretension
PaulVIbecamethefirstpopetoforgotheuseofthetiara.Tobe
sure,hestillallowedhimselftobecarriedonthe sediagestatoria
asaRomanemperor.OnlyhissuccessorJohnPaulIwaswillingto
forgoanykindofcoronationatall.
In the area of ecumenism Paul VI also followed in his
predecessor's footsteps: Romeinvitedeveryone"toenterintothe
'fold'ofChrist"whose"firstkeeperandshepherdisthepope." 121In
asimilarveinwasthetenorofPaulVTsspeechesduringhisvisit
withthePatriarchAthenagorasinJerusalemin1964,attheWorld
CouncilofChurchesinGenevain1969,andinhisinvitationofall
Christians to Rome for the Holy Year of 1975. Although the
invitationwasfriendly,therewasatthesametimeadecidedclaim
tothe"officeofcommunion"("wearePeter"). 122
It was clearly pointed out in Vatican n that Protestants are
"brothers in the Lord,"123 but their faith has certain
"deficiencies."124They"seekGodin

119Maron.236.
120Seeibid.,235.
121PaulVIconcerningtheHolyYear1975,inDerProtestant,April
24,1975,25.
122PaulVIattheWCCinGeneva,1969,inDerProtestant,August
16,1973,62.
123Ecumenism,1,3.
124Ibid.

357

TheModemPapacy:ClaimsandAuthority
the Holy Scriptures,"125 "but only through the Catholic Church, which is the
universalmeansofsalvation,canonegainentrancetothefullabundanceofthis
means."126 Thisincludesthe"authenticmagisteriumwhichisaccordedaspecial
positionintheexplanationandpreachingoftheWrittenWord."127
Foranysinscommittedagainstunity,theCouncilaskedforforgivenessand
grantedittoitsdebtorsintheotherchurches. 128Inthisway,however,thepapacy
appearedmorelikethepersecutedthanthepersecutor.JohnXXIIIwashopingfor
theothers*returnandcalledoutto
~'J^H"l
______

them,"IamJoseph,yourbrother," 1"andin1963PaulVIopenedthesecond
sessionoftheCouncilwiththesubjunctiveindicativeconfession:
"Incaseanykindofblamefortheseparationcanbelaiduponusinany
way,wenowaskforforgiveness...justasweforgivetheinsultswhichhave
been directed at the Catholic Church." 130 At the end of the Council the
reciprocalbansbetweentheEasternchurchandRomewerelifted.
Introspection
The intervention undertaken by Paul VI in the final statements of
Vatican II show us that the pope would only be interested in "progress
withoutadventure"131andwasurging"introspection"132inconjunctionwith
VaticanIandPiusXII.For"thechurchisJesusChristHimself" 133 andhas
neverbeen"unfaithful"tothetruth.134
Anappendix(Notaexplicativapraevia)tothedecreeaboutthechurch
(Lumengentium), relativizingthecollegialityofbishopsandemphasizing
theexclusiveandindependentprimacyofjurisdiction; 135therepudiationof
solascripturainDeiverbum136andthe19"amendments"totheDecreeon
Ecumenism,emphasizingthe"authenticmagisteriumwhichisaccordeda
specialpositionintheinterpretingandpreachingofGod'sWrittenWord"; 137
thedefinitionofMaryas"motherofthechurch,"138avoided
125Ibid.,3,21.
126Ibid.,1,3.
127Ibid..3,21.
128Ibid.,2.7.
129ReviewandHerald,November29,1962,6.
130QuotedinLoewenich,92.
131Ibid.,93.
132"Ecdesiamsuam,"25,inLeowenich,102.
133Ibid.,33.
134Ibid.,43.
135Church:Appendix3;4.
136Rev1:9.
137Ecumenism,3,21.
138Church,8,53.

358

TheModernPapacy:ClaimsandAuthority

bytheCouncilbutforcedthroughbyPaulVI;allshowusveryclearlythat
thepopewouldtolerateneitherreformationnoradaptationbymodified
dogma.
ThesameimpressionobtainswhenonestudieshisencyclicalMys
teriumfidei (1965) in which private masses are again assigned a greater
value and the ex cathedra defined concept of'transubstantiation" 139 is
defended against modern terminology such as "transsignification" and
"transfinalization."Thepopewantedtoshieldholyformulasfromthe
"poisonofrationalism."140
EvenmoreconservativewastheeffectoftheApostolicConstitution
Iwhilgentiarumdoctrina(1967onthe450thanniversaryofthe95Theses!).
It was emphasized that in issuing indulgences the church dispenses the
"treasureoftheatonementofChristandofthesaints"forthereductionof
temporalpunishmentforsins.141
ThegreatestdustwassurelyraisedbyHumanaevitae(1968).VaticanII
admittedthenecessityofbirthcontrol("Gaudiumetspes,"51)andonly
rejectedthe"immoralsolution"(abortion). 142 However,PaulVIexpressly
demanded married couples to renounce all of their own solutions and
allowedonlytheKnausOgino(ryhthm)Methodtobepracticed. 143Notonly
did this encyclical meet with opposition from the world but within the
churchaswell(H.Kiing:Infallible?).
Sacerdotaliscaelibatus(1967)metwithasimilarlackofunderstanding,
too,althoughitwasopenlyadmittedthatthecelibacyofpriestswasnot
requiredintheNTandhadobviouslycausedagreatshortageofpriestsin
the twentieth century. Nevertheless, celibacy must continue to remain a
validchurchcanonforthepriestrepresentsChrist,andtherenunciationof
marriageisthehighestperfectionofmankind.144
Inthe"CredoofGod'sPeople"(1968)thepopestated,inasimpleform,
what is indispensable in Catholic doctrine (the infallibility of the pope,
transubstantiation, Mary's immaculate conception and assumption, the
necessityofthechurchas theonlymeansof salvation, ecumenismasa
"pushing"towardCatholicunity).145Thisturningbacktotraditionbrought
PaulVImuchcriticismandmadethechurch,forcedopenunder
139FourthCouncilofLateran1215,DS802;CouncilofTrent,Session13(1551),DS1642;1652.
140SeeLoewenich,9395.
141Ibid.,96.
142ChurchandWorldII,1,51.
143SeeLoewenich,97101.
144Ibid.,199200.
145PaulVI,DOJCredodesGottesvolkes.7lhed.(Leutesdorfa.Rh.,1971),14.23.

359

TheModernPapacy:ClaimsandAuthority

JohnXXni,"dullandirritating"andthrownbackinto"retreat." 146However,
one can also say that some contours of the "new strategy" began to be
marked off more clearly, contours that were to be formed into a firm
worldwideplanunderJohnPaulII:opennesswithout,uniformitywithin.
Onlywithaconstantcentercanthecirclesbecontrolled;onlytoaconstant
centercantheybealigned.

"EffectiveLeader":JohnPauln
(1978)
Rulingonly33days,the"smilingpope,"JohnPaulI,wasfollowedbya
"popefromtheEast"forthefirsttimeinpapalhistory:thePole,JohnPaul
II. The conclave provided a sensation: For the first time since 1522 the
Catholic world again had a nonItalian pope. Very soon, however,
somethingmuchmoresignificantbecameclear.Thenewpopeseemedto
becometheveryincarnationofthe"newstrategy":Totheworldwithout,he
appearedasJohnXXIII,the"travelingpope,"themildmessengerofthe
"civilizationoflove"forthecreationofajustworld;towithinthechurch,
heshowedhimselfasPiusXII,thepopeofdisciplineandconservatism.As
H.Kiingsaid,"ThisisnotJohnPaulIIwhorules,butPiusXII"intherole
ofthe"great communicator"and"greatconservator." 147 Nevertheless, the
churchandtheworldreceivedthat"unique,effectiveleaderwhoisableto
define those values which make life worth living," according to the
AmericanJesuit,Vincent0*Keefe.148
TheGreatCommunicator
JohnPaulIInotonlyclaimsthewholeworldashisparish,buthealsois
doingeverythingwithinhispowerwiththemostmodernmethodstocarry
outthisclaim.Inearliertimesnotacrusadecouldenticeapopeawayfrom
Rome;todayheisindefatigablytravelingthroughthewholeworld.
On40trips,byAutumn1988,hehadseenthefivecontinents,visited
over300cities,deliveredsome1200speeches,andcoveredover560,000
kilometers.Hewouldlikehistravelstobeesteemedas"apostolictrips"and
notas"pilgrimages."Thepopeiscomingtoallpeoples(Catholics,
146F.Alt."AufdemRiickzug,"inDcnzler,15.
147H.Kiing,"ZurLagcderkatholischcnKirche,"inGreinachcrandKiing,20.
148QuotedinH.Hemnann,DerheiligeHOT(Reinbckb.Hamburg,1983),65.

360

TheModemPapacy:ClaimsandAuthority

Protestants,Moslems,Hindus,theindifferent,andatheists)as"theservant
ofunityandpeace,"hestatedinIndia.149
OnehadtokissInnocenceIll'sfeet,indeedevenPiusXII's;todaythe
popeiskissingthegroundsoftheworld.Hecomesnotasadisciplinarian,
butwiththetenderandmildattitudeofthe"fatherofthefamilyofman,"
basinghispowerontheauthorityoflove.Hewantstobetheembodimentof
the"moralconscienceoftheworld"andthe"worldshepherd"ofthosegreat
concentricunitsalreadyappealedtobyhispredecessorPaulVI.
Christianity. Thepopeconsidershimselfthe"guarantorofChristian
unity."DuringhisvisittotheWorldCouncilofChurchesinGeneva,he
seemedtoobserverstobethe"visiblefocusandguarantorofthisunity." 150
NotonlyfortheCatholicsisthe"papalfunctionofunityindispensable," 151
butprominentProtestantsseeit,aswell.E.Jiingelspeaksofa"significant
representationoftheunityofallChristians;" 152U.Kuhnofa"conceivable
reunificationundertheleadershipofthepope,"153ifheiswillingtofunction
asa"servant"andnotasa"lord."
Alreadytoday,Romefreechurchesperceivehimasthe"spokesmanfor
allChristians,"154andthepopehimself,afterreading0.Cullmann's"Unityin
Diversity,"statedwithsatisfactionthattheProtestantstodayalsosee"that
the church is inconceivable without the office of Peter." 155 To those
Protestants suffering from the impotence of their churches, the papacy
appearstobea"bulwark"againstthoseworldlypowerswantingtorobthe
church of her autonomy and against the inner powers of secular
demoralization.156
SoitisnotatallastonishingthatCatholictheologians,suchasKRah
nerandH. Fries(RahnerFriesPlanIVa),forexample,inspiteoftheir
great willingness to accommodate, expect Protestants to recognize the
"senseandrightoftheOfficeofPeterastheconcreteguarantoroftheunity
ofthechurch."157 Hereinthevariouscomponentchurchesmayretaintheir
doctrinesandtraditions,aslongasthey"donotdecisivelyandconfession
allycondemnanytenetwhichisanobligatorydogmainany
149FAZ,Febniaiy3,1986,1.
150Adventgememde,No.6,1985,7.
151H.Uv.Balthasar,"ZurEinstufungdesPetrusdienstcs,"inDenzler,23.
152E.Jiingel,"ChancechristlicherOkumene,"inDenztcr,86.
153Informational,No.4,1986,6.
154MD34(1983):105.
155DieZdt,Januaiy2,1987,2.
1560.Cullmann,"PapsttumalscharismatischcrDicnst,"inDenzler,45.
157H.FriesandK.Rahner,Einigfms^erKvchenrealeMof^ichkeit,2nded.(FreiburginBrisgau,
1983),70.

361

TheModernPapacy:ClaimsandAuthority

othercomponentchurch"(II). 158Inanycase,thisincludesatacittoleration
onthesideoftheProtestantsofthedogmasofthePrimacyofJurisdiction
andofInfallibility.
JohnPaul II,asaPolescarcelyconfrontedwiththephenomenonof
Protestantism,seemsnottoforeseethisbeforethethirdmillennium159 and,
therefore, wants first to come to an understanding with the orthodox
churches.Butinconsideringafuture"organicunity,"hisgoalseemstobe
aboveandbeyondtheconcept of componentchurches,namely, thatthis
unity of all Christians is conceivable only in the sense of a "renewed,
RomanstampedWorldChurch"(R.Frieling).160Thetitle."VicarofChrist,"
so loved by the modem popes, thus appears to be the claim of
"Christificatio,"161totherankoftheoneshepherdovertheoneflock.
World religions. Vatican II already determined "that the Catholic
Churchdoesnotrejecteverythingthatistrueandholyinthereligionsdis
persed in the whole world.... It is a beam of that truth illuminating all
men....Tbgetherwiththefollowersofotherreligions,theCatholicChurch
admonishes her sons thus,... to recognize, preserve and promote those
spiritual and moral qualities and also the socialcultural values found in
them(thereligions)."102
The"ApostolicTravels"ofthepopes,consideredtobeacontinuationof
theVaticanCouncilsince1965,aretogivethepope,as"bridgebuilder"(F.
Heer),163 the opportunity of bringing the religions closer together and of
appearingas"thespokesmanforthewholereligiousworld."Withthisin
mindJohnPaulvisitedthesynagogueinRomein1986andalsometwith
theDalaiLamainIndia.
Arecenthighpointwassurelyreachedwhenthepopemetwith150
representativesoftheChristianandnonChristianreligionsforthe"Prayer
forWorldPeace"inAssisi,Italy,onOctober10,1986.There,withthepope
in the middle, the Catholic Church took its Christian and nonChristian
brothersbythehandinordertomakeclearthe"hidden,yetdeeplyrooted
unityofallmankind."164 Soundertheaegisofthepope,accordingtohis
ownwords,Assisibecame"thedayofgracefortheworld." 165Forone
158Ibid.,35.
159LutherischeMonaishefte24(1985);484.
160IdeaSpectrum,April8.1987,6.
161Leist,93.
162NonChristianReligions,2.
163Moscr,44.
164DieZeit,January2.1987,2.
165IdeaSpectrum,October29,1986,11.

362

TheModemPapacy:ClaimsandAuthority

momentthegoalofthenewstrategyandhowitistobeattainedbecame
manifest: Under the pope's leadership all of the religions should stand
togetherinorderto"utilizethepowerofreligionforpeace." 166Asaferand
sounderworldthroughthesavingexampleandwordsofthehighestreligious
leader.The"panreligioussummit"asthecauseofanecumenicalmovement,
includingallreligions,whichwillonedaybeabletocometogetherintoone
greatworldreligion.
AccordingtoJeanGuitton,CatholicphilosopherandfriendofPaulVI,
futurereligionwillbeuniversal.Itwillbecalled"Ecumenism,"embracing
Protestants,Catholics,OrthodoxChristians,unbelieversundertheguidance
ofauniquepastor.Thispastorwillbethepope;nottheauthoritativepopeof
yesterdaybutafederativepopeofthefuture. 167 Theseideashavemetthe
approvalofthemajorityintheworld.
In addition to Buddhists, Hindus, Moslems, Jews, and Animists, the
AssisigatheringwasattendedbythephilosopherCarlFriedrichvonWeiz
sacker(whohadsuggestedaChristian"PeaceCouncil"),thearchbishopof
Canterbury,RobertRuncie,theGeneralSecretaryoftheWorldCouncilof
Churches,EmilioCastro,aswellasbytherepresentativesoftheLutheran,
Baptist, and Methodist World Federation. Only a very few, such as the
Waldenses, did not attend or spoke of a "syncretic breach" (P. Beyer
haus),168orofa"syncreticfair"(M.LeFebvre). 169
TheWorld.VaticanIIdefinedthechurchasthe"allembracingsacra
mentofsalvation."170ThroughthechurchGodpoursout"TruthandGrace"
intotheworld;171thatiswhysheisanalogoustotheSonofGodHimself. 172
Thereforeweshouldnotbeastoundedthatthepopealso
n'3

makestheclaimofbeing"thefatherofmankind."IJ
Inhisfirstencyclical, Redemptorhominis (1979),JohnPaulIIstated
that salvation cannot be attained through politics (apparently against the
"theologyofliberation"),butthatthefunctionofthemeansofworldwide
salvationbelongstothechurchwiththegoalofleadingthewholeworldinto
a"civilizationoflove."174
166FAZ,October28,1986,1.
167ParisMatch,August5,1988,74.
168IdeaSpecffwn,October29.1986,11.
169MD37(1986):116.
170Church,7:48.
171Ibid,1:8.
172Ibid.
173Moscr,9.
174MD30(1979):3036.
363

TheModernPapacy:ClaimsandAuthority

Inhissecondencyclical.Divesinmisericordia,thepopeevenbecame
the apocalyptic admonisher of the world, in complete contrast to John
XXIII'soptimisminprogress.Theworldisthreatenedbythematerialismof
science and technical progress gone awry. Atomic weapons are able to
destroytheworld.ButGodshowsHismercythroughthechurchwhichis
Christ'sintermediaryandpossessesMary'sintercession. 175
That is why, according to his private secretaryEmery Kabongo, the
popeisindefatigablyontheroadinordertosavetheworld("Thepopeis
like a spiritual Hercules,... trying to avert nuclear Armageddon"). 176 The
popeisexpected"toshowthewayintothefuture.*' 177Whatwasexpected
oftheUnitedNationsbefore,isexpectedofthepopetoday;namely,tobe
thespokesmanofthe"conscienceoftheworld" 170andthe"highestcourtof
appealforthesecurityofthegeneralcommonwealth.*' 179
JohnXXIII'sinterventionintheCubancrisiswasconsideredtobethe
"salvation of world peace," 180 and John Paul ITs admonitions in the
FalklandsWarandinthecontroversybetweenChileandArgentinatobean
"importantfactorinworldpolitics."
Since opening diplomatic relations with the greatest world power in
1984,thesmallVaticanisitselfconsidereda"worldnation"(U.S.senator
Quayle,latervicepresident).182Itspoliticalinfluencethroughitsnunciatures
isconsiderablymorethanonemaywishtobelieve.IncontrasttotheLord
ofthechurch(Matt20:2528),dominionandpower,evenifinanewform
ofahighest,morallypersuadingauthority,is"akeycategoryofJohnPaul
II'swayofthinking."lwSimilartoPiusXII,heappearstostakeeverything
on the United States of America, suspending his predecessor's eastern
politics.
Thedualaspectofhispontificate,thefusionofagentlyinducingJohn
XXIIIandasteelhardPiusXII,causestheenemiesoftheCatholicChurch
toviewhimas"themostdangerouspapalfiguresincePiusIX," 184
175MD32(1981):58.
176G.ThomasandM.MorganWilts,TheTkarofArmageddon(London,1985),2.
177A.Sustar,"WegindieZukunflzcigen,"inDenzler,198.
178MD34(1983):105.PaulVIstillconsideredtheUnitedNationsOrganizationandtheCatholic
Churchasparallels(weltlicheundgeistlicheKatholizitat).AddresstotheUnitedNations
Organization,October,1965.HK19(1965):64753,esp.650.
179F.Klostermann,"DienstanderEinheitimGlauben,"inDenzler,91.
180Dcschner,2:487.
181MD35(1984):33.
182ConsciencelLibertyNo.29,1985,9.
183R.Modras,"BinMannderWiderspniche?"inGreinacherandKung,231.
184Deschner,2:542.
364

TheModemPapacy:ClaimsandAuthority

andperhapsexplainstheassassinationattemptofMay13,1981,aswell.
For"JohnDoeConsumer,'*however,the"speedyfather"is"God'sShow
master,"sellinghimselfwiththemostmodemofadvertisingmethodsasthe
moral leader of the world, hobnobbing with the world's great (Ronald
Reagan,ElizabethII,KingJuanCarlos,Jaruzelski,andHelmutSchmidt),
praisedbynonChristianrulers(KingHassanofMorocco)as"educatorof
theyouth,"185 acclaimedbytheEnglishProtestantsandcalled"America's
darling" by Rosalyn Carter. Tb the "touchable pope" 186 the Argentinian
youthcheered,"thewholeworldlovesyou!"" 7andthepeopleofSt.Peter's
Squareshouted,"youarestrongerthansuperman!" 180 ASouthItaliannun
expressedwhatmanyfemalefansthink:"Heisevenmorehandsomethan
JesusChrist."189
Consciously, John Paul II cultivates the image of a popular world
patriarch:asamemberofthesoccerteamsFCBarcelonaandSchaike04,
withbabiesinhisarmsinIndia,withBorisBeckerintheVatican,asan
apostleofpeaceonMontBlanc,beingkissedbygirlsinAustralia,andasa
television preacher on "Wort zum Sonntag" (Meditation for Sunday) on
Germantelevision.ForthesoccerstarHorstHrubeschapapalaudiencehas
been"thegreatestmomentofhislife";theskistarP.Zurbriggenconsiders
his meeting with the pope worth more than his gold medals; and the
ProtestantexChancellorHelmutSchmidtwouldliketomakeconfession
withJohnPaulII.
InthismannerJohnPaulIIappearstobewhathewantstobethe
champion ofhumanrightsandpeace,themorallytrustworthyleader,the
darlingof themasses,thesuperstarofthe media, "almostthesameasa
newMessiah,"190inwhomisthehopeoftheworld.
TheGreatConservative
Intryingtoapplytheexternallypracticedopeningwithinthechurchas
well,JohnXXIIIhadbeenreproachedbytheconservativetheologiansfor
bringing about the "downfall of the church." 191 Therefore, Paul VI very
carefully turned back from "giovannism" to "reditus ad domum," to
RomanismandPapism.Thetraditionalistsdemanded,"JohnXXIIImust
185DieZeit,August9,1985,8.
186Hermann,207.
187ARD(GermanTV),April12,1987.
188Hcmnann,230.
189Ibid.,9.
190H.Kiing."BinJahrJohannesPaulII,"inGreinacherandKung,38081.
191Scrafian,164.
365

TheModemPapacy:ClaimsandAuthority

becorrected."192Nevertheless,PaulVTswellbalanceddirectingseemedto
themtobeabetrayaloftraditionalCatholicism.JohnPaulII,therefore,was
consideredtobethe"lastchanceforturningback." 193
The"completelyresolutenonreformer,*' 194comingfromoneofthemost
conservativeCatholiccountries,hasnotdisappointedthetraditionalistsup
tonow.AccordingtooneofthemostsignificanttheologiansoftheCatholic
Church,wearenowina"timeofwinter."195Ecumenicsandprogressivesare
speaking of "stagnation and resignation" or even of "restoration and
inquisition";196 Vatican experts see a spreading "counterreformation"
(GiancarloZizola).197
Structures. As friendlyas he mayappear outwardly, the pope inde
fatigablyemphasizestraditionaldogmaswithinthechurch:theprimacyof
jurisdiction, infallibility, Marianism. With the appointment of cardinal J.
RatzingerasPrefectoftheCongregationforDoctrine(formerlytheHoly
OfficeoftheInquisition)therestorationhasfoundacompetent,butalso
intransigent,head.
Thepracticeofthe"laicization"ofpriests,ratherwidelyspreadunder
Paul VI, has been rigorously halted. The traditional moral doctrine con
cerningbirthcontrolisbeinginculcatedcontinually,aswellasthechurch
lawofcelibacy.ThearchivesoftheInquisitionstillremainclosedasbefore.
Tbbesure,sinceVaticanIItheoldindexisdead,butauthorsnotinfavor
canstillbesecretlyscrutinizedandcalledupontorecantwithoutanypos
sibilityofjustifyingthemselves.
"Thewayinwhichthepopeisrulingtodaycanonlyfinditsparallelin
dictatorships."198 Asanindicator,letustaketheexampleofthenew CIC
(Corpusiuriscanonici)foundedin1983,which,centralisticallyconceived,
functionsentirelywithinthescopeofVaticanIandsignifiesa"retrogres
sion"inviewofVaticanII,accordingtoKRahner. 199H.Kungevenspeaks
ofa"betrayal"ofthecouncil.200WhiletheCouncilrepeatedlytalkedabout
"service"(munus),theCICcontinuallytalksabout"power"(potestas).
192KrSmer.Badoni,305.
193Ibid.,287.
194Hcrrmann,59.
195PATaho!&ndH.B\a\\awons,cds.,Glaubeinwinterli