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Re: Revelation's allusions to the OT

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  • Kym Smith
    Dear Ian, You asked:
    Message 1 of 4 , Jun 5, 2003
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      Dear Ian,

      You asked:

      <<<My question here, and one I had while reading N. T. Wright as well, is whether this assumption is valid; and, in fact, can this question of validity really be settled one way or another for John specifically?

      Will the reality behind the prophecy be an actual transformation in the earth and its atmosphere? Or will it be some other reality to which the cosmic language is simply hyperbole?>>>

      If I understand you correctly, I think my response to Don would be as good as I could offer here as well.

      It must be that the language we use is inadequate to describe things that are beyond us, things of which John received a glimpse. Until we know the present, existential reality of living righteously and without sin, not just (just!!!) the wonder of it we experience through faith while still dealing with continuing failure, we need hyperbole to point us beyond the present. However, while we may not be able to fully understand what it is that our language conceals as much as it reveals, this does not mean that there is not a reality which is yet to open up to us and which John sought to describe in the words that he did. Far be it from me to criticize lights such as N.T. Wright but, if what you are saying is what I think you are saying - and what Wright is saying - I am concerned that we have lowered our sights and become content with a hope far, far short of what God intends.

      My position is that much of the NT was written after the Revelation was given and with the words and images of the Revelation in mind. As an example, in 2 Peter the apostle says that 'the heavens and earth that now exist have been stored up for fire' (3:7) and that 'the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a loud noise, and the elements will be dissolved with fire, and the earth and the works that are on it will be burned up' (3:10). This, I believe, Peter wrote in response to the Revelation. Now these statements are not in the middle of a burst of apocalyptic hyperbole. He was saying in plain language exactly what he thought would happen. It was what he understood the Revelation to be indicating in its (perhaps) hyperbolic terminology. Of course, with the immediate fulfillment of the Revelation still to happen (Nero's persecutions as I date it) he was still of the opinion that the whole of the Revelation was about to be fulfilled. Had he lived through Nero's persecutions he would, like the other apostles, have had to come to grips with the partial fulfillment that they witnessed and experienced. However, that does not mean that he would have decided that the Revelation was largely and simply hyperbole and be satisfied with the continuing Roman Empire as the new heavens and new earth. He would be anticipating, at some stage still unknown, the final fulfillment of all that had been indicated to them in the Revelation, as much had already been told them by Jesus himself (e.g. in the mini-apocalypses of Matt 24, Mk 13 and Luke 21).

      I'm starting to rave. I hope this is useful.

      Sincerely,

      Kym Smith
      Adelaide
      South Australia
      khs@...
    • Juan Stam
      Greetings! As to Kyn Smith s comments on 2 Peter 3, it seems to me that if the author was responding to Revelation, his picture of the world s consummation
      Message 2 of 4 , Jun 5, 2003
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        Greetings! As to Kyn Smith's comments on 2 Peter 3, it seems to me that if
        the author was responding to Revelation, his picture of the world's
        consummation would not be so totally different from that of Revelation 20.
        In Revelation the heavens and earth flee; it is flight, not fire. I would
        be more inclined to think Revelation is modifying 2 Peter (which has much in
        common with Sybiline Oracles) or is perhaps simply totally independent from
        the tradition of 2 Peter.

        Juan Stam, Costa Rica


        > My position is that much of the NT was written after the Revelation was
        given and with the words and images of the Revelation in mind. As an
        example, in 2 Peter the apostle says that 'the heavens and earth that now
        exist have been stored up for fire' (3:7) and that 'the day of the Lord will
        come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a loud noise,
        and the elements will be dissolved with fire, and the earth and the works
        that are on it will be burned up' (3:10). This, I believe, Peter wrote in
        response to the Revelation. Now these statements are not in the middle of a
        burst of apocalyptic hyperbole. He was saying in plain language exactly what
        he thought would happen. It was what he understood the Revelation to be
        indicating in its (perhaps) hyperbolic terminology. Of course, with the
        immediate fulfillment of the Revelation still to happen (Nero's persecutions
        as I date it) he was still of the opinion that the whole of the Revelation
        was about to be fulfilled.!
      • Kym Smith
        Dear Juan, While we must always be careful with apocalyptic language - and I may well be guilty of being too literal where I should not be - Peter s
        Message 3 of 4 , Jun 5, 2003
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          Dear Juan,

          While we must always be careful with apocalyptic language - and I may well be guilty of being too literal where I should not be - Peter's understanding that the heavens and earth would be devoured by fire need not be negated by the heaven and earth fleeing in Rev 20:11. This verse is in reference to the Lord's return to judge the earth. That judgment must happen in the presence of those who are to be judged (the sea - which has no place in the new [21:1] gives up the dead in it).

          The new heavens and new earth of 21:1f are post judgment, they are the eternal home of the eternal family. By this stage the first heaven and first earth had not simply 'fled' but 'was no more' (ouk estin eti - no longer is). The destruction of the old 'by fire' occurs between the judgement of those of the old, bringing this age to and end, and the appearance of the new and eternal.

          Peter's understanding that the earth would be destroyed by fire may have come from the many useages through the Scriptures as fire as a means or expression of God's judgment. It may be a contrast to the destruction of the flood. It may be an extension of the use of fire in judgment in teh Revelation (e.g. 20:9). But it may also be something he/they had been taught directly from Jesus.

          As for 1 Peter being after the Revelation, I think (and have produced an historical reconstruction to support) that the only books written prior to the Apocalypse were Galatians, 1&2 Thess, 1&2 Cor, Romans, Philippians and Hebrews. The last two of these especially were, I believe, written soon before and into the situation that the Revelation was given. Apart from John, Matthew, Luke and 2&3 John, I think the rest of the books were written in the two years following the Revelation (mid 62) and before Nero's persecution commenced (late 64). They were all written with the Revelation in mind and were part of the apostles' preparation of the Church for the final tribulation they thought would preceded the return of Christ.

          Sincerely,

          Kym Smith
          Adelaide
          South Australia
          khs@...
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