PMT 2014-007 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.

scrollIn my last blog article I argued that the strong angel in Rev 10 is Christ. He appears several times in Revelation by means of angelomorphism. In this article I will focus on the open book in his hand.

The strong angel (Christ) of Rev. 10 comes down out of heaven holding a little book which was open: “He had in his hand a little book which was open” (Rev 10:2a). Commentators have long debated the identity of this “little book” (biblaridion) and its relationship to the “book” (biblion) of chapter 5. Though many scholars distinguish the two, a significant number hold that the little book in Revelation 10 the scroll taken by the Lamb in Rev. 5.

I believe that the two books of Revelation 5 and 10 are the same. This is significant because the book in Revelation 5 is God’s divorce decree against Israel. Now that decree is fully opened against her. I believe these two books are to be identified for the following reasons:

(1) Revelation’s flow suggests it: the earlier heavenly scenes present the “book” (Rev 5) and only gradually unseal it (Rev 6-8). It would now properly be open at this juncture. Its being open is mentioned twice (10:2, 8), apparently for emphasis.

(2) Previously, in heaven Christ alone could take the book to open it (5:3-8); here Christ descends from heaven holding it open and in his hand (10:2). Thus, in both chapters Christ is in control of the heavenly book(s). In fact, the last time we see it he has it in his hand (5:7-8; 6:1, 3, 5, 7, 9; 8:1).

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(3) Both chapters paint their scenery with the same images: a “strong angel” who cries out loudly (5:2; 10:2), a “lion” (5:5; 10:3); the prominent taking of the book from the heavenly hand (5:7; 10:8-9); and references to heaven, earth, and sea (5:13a; 10:6b) and  to God’s eternality (5:13b; 10:6a). This strongly links the two passage.

(4) Both passages make obvious allusion to the narrative in Ezekiel 2–3. Rev 5:1 describes the scroll as written inside and on the back, as does Eze. 2:10, which is unusual for scrolls are not usually written on the backside. Rev. 10:19 John is commanded to eat the scroll which will taste like honey (3:1) and which contains a bitter message for Israel.

By bringing the book of Revelation 5 back into view, we learn of the theological consequences of the opening of that book, i.e., the redemptive-historical results of the judgments upon Israel. In the preceding context John notes that Israel does “not repent” under God’s judgments after the book had already been unsealed (8:1; 9:21-10:1). Nevertheless, the larger purpose of God is not thereby thwarted. As Revelation will ultimately demonstrate, John agrees with Paul: “I say then, they did not stumble so as to fall, did they? May it never be! But by their transgression salvation has come to the Gentiles, to make them jealous” (Ro 11:11).

We will discover in the following verses in this chapter (see the next blog article) and in later chapters (chs. 20-22) that the devastation of Israel in A.D. 70 leads to the full, permanent, and final inclusion of the Gentiles into the kingdom of God. With this judgmental affirmation the debates of Acts 11, 15, and Galatians are dramatically and resoundingly resolved forever: the Gentiles are now numbered among the people of God and are not subject to old covenant ceremonial strictures.

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3 thoughts on “THE STRONG ANGEL’S BOOK

  1. Robert Cain January 15, 2014 at 1:09 pm

    The divorce decree against “Israel”. If true Israel is the church(?), then I think it would be helpful to make clarification(s) on this point so as not to confuse the already confused.

  2. Kenneth Gentry January 15, 2014 at 4:26 pm

    Good point. We must recognize that the divorce of Israel is speaking of the divorce of old covenant Israel, not her New Testament fulfillment. In fact, more precisely I am speaking of the divorce of geo-political Israel, not ethnic Israel. That is, God is disestablishing the geo-political focus of Israel as central to his earthly kingdom. Ethnic Israel still has hope for redemption as a mass of individual subjects. In fact, according to Paul in Romans 11:25, they have a sure hope of redemption — on the same basis as Gentiles and to the same status (not superior to) Gentiles in the Church of Jesus Christ.

  3. John Coffee May 25, 2014 at 9:33 am

    Would you mind if I share your blog with my Myspace group? There’s a lot of folks that I think would really appreciate your content. Please let me know. Many thanks

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