Category Archives: Revelation

UPDATING EARLY-DATE SCHOLARSHIP

PMW 2020-027 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.

Introduction

An early-date composition is important for the preterist analysis of the Book of Revelation. For if Revelation were written prior to the destruction of the temple in AD 70, the way is at least open for considering the prospect that John’s great prophetic work is looking ahead to that dramatic redemptive-historical event. Unfortunately, the majority opinion of scholars today is that Revelation was written much later than AD 70, no earlier than Domitian’s reign some twenty years later.

But cracks in this dike of scholarly opposition to the early date are showing. A growing number of scholars from a broad array of religious convictions (spanning conservative-evangelicals to liberal-critical scholars) is turning back to the early-date view that was the majority opinion in the nineteenth and early twentieth-centuries. And for this shift, I am grateful. I also believe it is important to make this news known in our current setting. For the preterist analysis of Revelation is often written off with a wave of the hand that ends with the pointing of the finger to the majority of scholars. Continue reading

GOD’S DIVORCE DECREE IN REVELATION (8)

PMW 2020-016 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.

This is my final article on the study of Revelation’s seven-sealed scroll. In this one I will be focusing on Revelation 5 and the divorce grounds.

Covenantal marriage requires formal, legal grounds for divorce. In Deuteronomy 24:1 we read that the husband must find something morally “unclean” (ervah) in her. Jesus affirms the moral grounds for issuing a covenantal divorce in Matthew 5:31–32 and 19:7–9: “fornication” (porneia). In Isaiah 50:1 God’s divorce decree against Israel mentions her “iniquities” (peshaim). In Jeremiah 3 her divorce decree appears in the context of a statement regarding her being covenantally “faithless” (meshubah) and “treacherous” (bagad) (Jer 3:6, 8). Whatever these terms mean, they show the necessity of moral grounds for divorce. In biblical law no one could secure a divorce for “any cause at all” — contrary to the Pharisees’ challenge to Jesus (Mt 19:3; see also: Jos., Ant. 4:8:23; m. Gitt. 9:10). Continue reading

GOD’S DIVORCE DECREE IN REVELATION (7)

PMW 2020-015 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.

As we continue our study of Revelation’s seven-sealed scroll, we must continue with our insights into Jesus’ earthly ministry, which I began in the last article.

During his three and one-half year ministry, the Lord comes to his own but they do not receive him (Jn 1:11). The Apostle John is particularly concerned to demonstrate this recurring problem (Jn 12:37–41), so that he characteristically calls them “the Jews” in order “to denote the Jewish nation as hostile to Jesus.” And no wonder! They are of their father the devil (Jn 8:44). Early in John’s Gospel we witness the Baptist’s wilderness message (Jn 1:23) which reminds us of God’s marrying Israel in the wilderness (Ex 19:1–2); see an allusion to the coming destruction of the temple (Jn 2:19); learn of the dullness of Israel’s leaders (Jn 3:10); and discover that worship will be de-centralized away from the temple (Jn 4:21–23). In John’s Gospel “Jesus is largely rejected in Jerusalem and Judaea” whereas “it is in Galilee and Samaria that he is received and that many believe in him.” In Jerusalem “‘the judgment of this world’ and of its ruler takes place.” Continue reading

GOD’S DIVORCE DECREE IN REVELATION (6)

PMW 2020-014 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.

In this, the sixth installment of a study of Revelation’s seven-sealed scroll, we must consider Christ’s coming and its consequences.

Interestingly, Christ alludes to the Old Testament marriage imagery and relates it to his own coming and ministry. In the several places where he touches on this theme, he “moves wholly within the circle of ideas of His contemporaries when he expresses the meaning and glory of the Messianic period in the images of the wedding and wedding feast.”

Early in his ministry Jesus uses wedding imagery to explain why John the Baptist’s disciples fast though his do not: “While the bridegroom is with them, the attendants of the bridegroom do not fast, do they? So long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast” (Mk 2:19∥). “It is clear . . . that in this connection the bridegroom is an allegorical indicator of the Messiah,” with the wedding imagery being built upon the Old Testament relationship of God to Israel. Continue reading

GOD’S DIVORCE DECREE IN REVELATION (5)

PMW 2020-013 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.

This article continues an eight-part series on the seven-sealed scroll in Revelation 4–5. This scroll occurs early in Revelation: it opens the plot-line of Revelation.

So now let us note that in the Old Testament economy God’s prophets function as his lawyers. They prosecute Israel’s breaches of God’s covenantal law by bringing his legal case (riyb) against them. Just as God was married to Israel at his throne (Ex 24:10), so her divorce issues from his throne.

In Isaiah 1:2 the heavens and earth are called as witnesses against Israel, as per the Mosaic example (Dt 4:26; 30:19; 31:26, 28). In Isaiah 3:14 the Lord “enters into judgment with the elders and princes” (cp. Isa 41:21; 43:26; 45:21). In Micah 6:2 we read: “Listen, you mountains, to the indictment of the Lord, / And you enduring foundations of the earth, / Because the Lord has a case against His people; / Even with Israel He will dispute.” The passage in which Micah 6:2 appears is “an elaborate representation of a legal case ‘Yahweh v. Israel,’ in which God brings a grievance against his people” in this “covenant lawsuit.” In Jeremiah 30:13–14 the Lord speaks through Jeremiah stating “there is no one to plead your cause” for “all your lovers have forsaken you.” Continue reading

GOD’S DIVORCE DECREE IN REVELATION (4)

PMW 2020-012 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.

This is the fourth installment of an eight-part series on the crucial imagery involved in Revelation’s seven-sealed divorce decree.

In Jeremiah’s new covenant promise, God complains of Israel’s unfaithfulness noting that they broke his covenant, though “I had mastered [ba’l] them as a husband” (Jer 31:32). This verb derives from a root meaning “to become master.” Therefore, as Old Testament scholars note, it means to marry “with an emphasis on the rights and authority the husband exercised,” cp. Genesis 20:3; Numbers 5:19–20, 29; Deuteronomy 21:13; 22:22. Whereas the word for “husband” (‘hś) “is apparently an endearing expression”, ba’l “emphasizes the legal position of the husband as lord and ‘owner’ of his wife.” The legal relation and subsequent obligation is clearly in view. Continue reading

GOD’S DIVORCE DECREE IN REVELATION (3)

PMW 2020-011 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.

This is my third article on the identity of the seven-sealed scroll in Revelation. In this article I will deal with covenantal marriage, which is essential for understanding the covenantal divorce transpiring in Revelation.

We must recognize at the outset that Revelation is an extremely Hebraic book that draws heavily from the Old Testament. And we should understand that John’s theme verse warns of Christ’s judgment-coming against the Jews. Continue reading