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Re: [revelation-list] Rev 2:9; 3:9

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  • George F Somsel
    Almost, but not quite. The difference is that those whom he labels as not being Jews are probably the more negative ones. george gfsomsel ... From: Ramsey
    Message 1 of 23 , Oct 13, 2006
      Almost, but not quite. The difference is that those whom he labels "as not being Jews are probably the more negative ones.


      ----- Original Message ----
      From: Ramsey Michaels <profram@...>
      To: revelation-list@yahoogroups.com
      Sent: Friday, October 13, 2006 5:38:55 PM
      Subject: Re: [revelation-list] Rev 2:9; 3:9

      Isn't that just a more polite way of saying the same thing?

      Alternatively, if those who say they are Jews and are not are actually
      Judaizing Gentiles, then John is telling the literal truth: they are lying
      in claiming to be Jews.

      In the very city to which Rev 3:9 is directed, notice Ignatius' polemic
      against Gentiles who preach Judaism (Philadelphians 6.1; see also Magnesians

      Ramsey Michaels

      ----- Original Message -----
      From: "George F Somsel" <gfsomsel@yahoo. com>
      To: <revelation-list@ yahoogroups. com>
      Sent: Friday, October 13, 2006 3:08 PM
      Subject: Re: [revelation- list] Rev 2:9; 3:9

      > No, I don't think the author of the Apocalypse means that when a Jew calls
      himself a Jew he is lying. What I think he is saying is that the then
      current representatives of Judaism were not true to the tradition of Judaism
      (as the author conceived it, of course). Since the Church viewed itself as
      the legitimate successor to the religion of the OT, anything which did not
      tend toward its viewpoint was ipso facto a deviation from the religion of
      the OT and its proponents heretics (perhaps a reaction to the "blessing" of
      the Nazorenes reputed to have been a part of the 18 benedictions? ).
      > george
      > gfsomsel
      > _________
      > ----- Original Message ----
      > From: Ramsey Michaels <profram@comcast. net>
      > To: revelation-list@ yahoogroups. com
      > Sent: Friday, October 13, 2006 9:25:24 AM
      > Subject: Re: [revelation- list] Rev 2:9; 3:9
      > If ethnic Jews are meant, isn't John saying that when a Jew calls himself
      > Jew he is lying? Is that what we should say to our Jewish friends? Does a
      > Jew stop being a Jew just because he does not accept Jesus as Messiah?
      > I believe the interpretation of Rev 2:9 and 3:9 as referring to ethnic
      > reads the text altogether too much through the lens of Romans 2:28-29. But
      > even Paul stops short of saying that those who are Jews "outwardly" are
      > lying when they call themselves Jews. And surely the author of the Gospel
      > John did not hesitate to call ethnic Jews "Jews."
      > For an alternative view (Judaizing Gentiles), see my IVP Commentary, pp.
      > 73-74, 84.
      > Ramsey Michaels
      > ----- Original Message -----
      > From: "Sinclair Stable" <sincink@imagewirel e ss.ca>
      > To: <revelation- list@ yahoogroups. com>
      > Sent: Friday, September 15, 2006 3:23 PM
      > Subject: [revelation- list] Rev 2:9; 3:9
      > > beloved,
      > >
      > > I was wondering if the group could give the understanding of Rev 2:9;
      > > Spacifically if the identity of "Jews" is of ethnic origin = children
      > the whole house of Israel.
      > >
      > > This could be according to the historical evidences / documents we have
      > the time
      > > the book of Revelation was given to John; or the church age as a whole.
      > >
      > >
      > > Rev 2:9
      > > I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich) and
      > know] the
      > > blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but [are] the
      > synagogue of Satan.
      > >
      > > Rev 3:9
      > > Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are
      > Jews, and are not, but do lie;
      > > behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to
      > that I have loved thee.
      > >
      > >
      > > Thank you, I will read the replies in the digest.
      > >
      > >
      > > barb sinclair
      > > <saskatchewan>
      > >
      > > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      > >
      > >
      > >
      > >
      > >
      > > Yahoo! Groups Links
      > >
      > >
      > >
      > >
      > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      > Yahoo! Groups Links

      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • KennethGentry@cs.com
      In a message dated 10/13/2006 3:10:33 AM Eastern Standard Time, ... EVEN THOSE WHO PIERCED HIM Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr., Th.D. Revelation is the most difficult
      Message 2 of 23 , Oct 13, 2006
        In a message dated 10/13/2006 3:10:33 AM Eastern Standard Time,
        ottoerlend@... writes:

        > "I have a brief paper on 1:7 from this perspective that I could post
        > on revelation-list if anyone would like for me to."
        > I would very much like you to post this paper. Thanks!


        Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr., Th.D.

        Revelation is the most difficult book to interpret in all of Scripture.
        And it becomes even more difficult when would-be exegetes overlook its stated
        theme. Anytime we endeavor to understand a work, we must seek to do so on the
        basis of the original author's theme. This is especially true when the author
        states his theme — as the Apostle John does in Revelation.

        As with the temporal indicators provided in Revelation 1:1 and 3, John
        places his thematic statement early in his prophecy. In fact, it appears in his
        seventh verse (in our modern versions):

        "Behold, He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see Him, even
        those who pierced Him; and all the tribes of the earth will mourn over Him.
        Even so. Amen" (Rev. 1:7).

        The initial impression this verse leaves on us today is the conviction
        that John is speaking of the Second Advent. It certainly does involve language
        quite applicable to the future, glorious, history-ending Second Coming of
        Christ. The Scriptures speak often of his Second Coming, and even with this sort of
        cloud-coming judgment language (cp. Acts 1:9-11; 1 Thess. 4:16-17; 2 Thess.
        1:7-10). And the historic, universal Christian Church has always affirmed that
        majestic event.

        Yet looks are deceiving. Despite this reasonable first impression, strong
        evidence compels us to interpret Revelation 1:7 differently. I believe this
        verse presents us with a judgment prophecy against first century Jerusalem,
        whose destruction occurs in AD 70. John's theme looks to the approaching
        devastation of the Temple and Jerusalem under the Roman generals Vespasian and Titus.
        In that this interpretation of John's theme is not immediately obvious and is
        quite unfamiliar to most modern Christians, I will need to defend it in some

        Several compelling reasons move us away from a Second Advent
        interpretation to an AD 70 one. I will prsent eight lines of evidence supporting a first
        century interpretation.

        The Preceding Context of the Theme
        Perhaps the leading interpretive principle for understanding any document
        can be summarized in three words: "Context. Context. Context." Before we
        arrive at Revelation 1:7 upon opening John's book, we must pass through verses 1
        and 3. These two verses emphatically declare that the events expected in
        Revelation "must shortly take place" (Rev. 1:1) because "the time is near" (Rev.
        We must carefully note that not only does John declare the events of his
        book near, but in those nearness declarations he relates his purpose, applying
        it to his first century audience. Revelation 1:1 informs the original
        recipients that he is writing about "the things which must shortly take place" (Rev.
        1:1). One would think that if he is writing about "the things which must
        shortly take place" this would involve his very theme. It would be strikingly odd
        if John were to declare temporal nearness for the very purpose of his writing,
        then give a theme which reached thousands of years beyond his day. After all,
        does not he declare the nearness of "the time" as reason why his first century
        readers must read, hear, and "heed the things which are written in it" (Rev.
        1:3)? Why would he urge their heeding the things written, if his thematic
        purpose lies untold centuries in the future?
        So then, just four verses before John states the theme of Revelation, he
        declares the events near and applies them to us original audience.

        The Following Context of the Theme

        Not only does John introduce his theme in a way demanding its fast
        approaching fulfillment, but just two verses after stating it he applies it to the
        grueling circumstances of his original readers: "I, John, your brother and
        fellow partaker in the tribulation and kingdom and perseverance which are in
        Jesus, was on the island called Patmos, because of the word of God and the
        testimony of Jesus" (Rev. 1:9).

        John is ministering to a persecuted minority: God's concern with those
        suffering for the faith in the first century is a major, recurring theme running
        throughout Revelation (Rev. 2:9-10; 3:9-10; 6:9-12; 13:5-7; 14:13; 20:4).
        Surely he is not telling these persecuted saints that the time is near, that they
        must heed that which he is writing, that God is concerned with theirr
        persecution — but he will avenge his people thousands of years in the future?
        Revelation 1:7 must apply to the first century circumstances.

        The Apocalyptic Language in the Prophecy
        John frames his thematic statement in apocalyptic imagery by speaking of
        Christ "coming with the clouds" (Rev. 1:7). And though this sounds like the
        Second Advent, and though that glorious event will be literally "with the
        clouds," we find this type of language can be used symbolically of divine historical
        judgments other than the Second Coming. Anyone reading Revelation quickly
        recognizes that he is in a work with strange imagery. And that imagery must often
        be understood symbolically. I believe such is true here in our theme verse as
        well. Let us note just two examples of apocalyptic imagery used of historical
        In Isaiah 19 we find a warning to Old Testament Egypt. In that prophecy
        God threatens judgment upon that ancient nation, a judgment which transpires
        when the Assyrian king Esarhaddon conquered Egypt in 671 B.C. Yet notice the
        language Isaiah employs: "The oracle concerning Egypt. Behold, the Lord is riding
        on a swift cloud, and is about to come to Egypt; the idols of Egypt will
        tremble at His presence, and the heart of the Egyptians will melt within them"
        (Isa. 19:1). Clearly the prophecy applies to Egypt. And just as clearly it claims
        the Lord "is about to come" to Egypt. Yet no interpreter believes the
        Egyptians saw God Almighty sitting on a cloud and descending among them in judgment.
        In Matthew 26 the Lord Jesus himself uses this language in speaking of
        his judgment against Israel in AD 70:
        "And the high priest stood up and said to Him, 'Do You make no
        answer? What is it that these men are testifying against You?' But Jesus kept
        silent. And the high priest said to Him, 'I adjure You by the living God, that You
        tell us whether You are the Christ, the Son of God.' Jesus said to him, 'You
        have said it yourself; nevertheless I tell you, hereafter you shall see the Son
        of Man sitting at the right hand of Power, and coming on the clouds of
        Verse 64 is similar to Revelation 1:7: "you shall see the Son of Man sitting
        at the right hand of Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven." And note that
        he is speaking to the high priest and those gathered around him: "you shall
        see." This must refer to the AD 70 judgment, which is prophesied in several
        places by Christ (see particularly Matt. 21:33-34; 22:1-7; 24:1-34), and which
        would be witnessed by many of those who stood against Christ on that day.
        So then, Revelation 1:7 can be applied to the historical judgment
        befalling Israel in AD 70. Nothing in Scripture prohibits such an apocalyptic
        rendering. As the evidence mounts, we will be driven to that very conclusion.

        The Lord's Prior Teaching on the Subject
        In the preceding evidence I mentioned as an aside that Christ himself
        employs apocalyptic judgment-coming language when referring to the approaching
        destruction of the Temple. Let us look a little more closely at this phenomenon
        as we unpack the meaning of Revelation 1:7.
        In Matthew 21:33-48 Jesus presents the Parable of the Vineyard Owner. In
        that parable we have a picture of God's loving blessings upon Israel over the
        centuries (21:33-34). But God's providential care of Israel is portrayed
        against the backdrop of her stubborn disobedience leading her to kill the prophets
        whom God sent to her (21:35-36). Finally God sends his very son, only to have
        Israel kill him (21:37-40). Based on this parable Jesus asks the religious
        leaders of Israel: "Therefore when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he
        do to those vine-growers?" (21:40).
        Israel's leaders unwittingly respond to his query: "They said to Him, 'He
        will bring those wretches to a wretched end, and will rent out the vineyard
        to other vine-growers, who will pay him the proceeds at the proper seasons'"
        (21:41). He shocks them by catching them in their own words: "Therefore I say to
        you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you, and be given to a nation
        producing the fruit of it. And he who falls on this stone will be broken to
        pieces; but on whomever it falls, it will scatter him like dust" (21:43-44).
        They then understand his point: "And when the chief priests and the Pharisees
        heard His parables, they understood that He was speaking about them" (21:45).
        This parable and its consequent discussion look to the AD 70 destruction
        of the Temple, speaking of the AD 70 judgment as a "coming" of the Lord: "when
        the owner of the vineyard comes" (21:40). In the following context another
        parable speaks more literally: "But the king was enraged and sent his armies,
        and destroyed those murderers, and set their city on fire" (Matt. 22:7).
        Clearly then, Revelation 1:7 can at least theoretically be applied to AD
        70. And given its contextual setting (and other matters I will rehearse
        below), this is the preferred understanding of John's theme.

        The Specific Cause of the Judgment

        Having established the context and the possibilities, we must now focus
        on the express wording of Revelation 1:7. John applies the prophecy
        particularly against "those who pierced him": "Behold, He is coming with the clouds, and
        every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him; and all the tribes of the
        earth will mourn over Him. Even so. Amen" (Rev. 1:7). This provides a clue for
        the proper interpretation of the theme which is as overlooked as the clues
        regarding John's temporal expectations.

        We are all aware that the Roman soldiers were the direct, physical
        instruments of Christ's crucifixion. The Bible, however, strongly and repeatedly
        emphasizes Israel's covenantal responsibility for the whole terrible event. I
        will list several verses that point directly to Israel as the cause of Christ's
        crucifixion (in a later chapter we will see how relevant this is to the message
        of Israel).

        "And all the people answered and said, 'His blood be on us and on our
        children!'" (Matt. 27:25).

        "They therefore cried out, 'Away with Him, away with Him, crucify
        Him!' Pilate said to them, 'Shall I crucify your King?' The chief priests
        answered, 'We have no king but Caesar'" (John 19:15).

        "This Man, delivered up by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge
        of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death"
        (Acts 2:23).

        "The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom you had put to death by
        hanging Him on a cross" (Acts 5:30).

        See also: Acts 7:52; 10:39; 13:13-15; 1 Thess. 2:14-16.

        The unrelenting testimony of the New Testament blames Israel for Christ's
        death. She is covenantally responsible; she should have known better (Matt.
        23:37; John 1:11). So then, Revelation 1:7 promises judgment upon "those who
        pierced him," which demands that that judgment fall in the first century while
        "those who pierced him" were still alive — especially given the near-term
        temporal indicators in the very context of this statement (Rev. 1, 3). The events
        of AD 70 present us with a most perfect, relevant, and compelling fit.

        The Ultimate Focus of the Judgment
        But there is more! Revelation 1:7 also states that: "all the tribes of
        the earth will mourn over him." Who are these "tribes of the earth"? And why do
        they "mourn"?
        The reader must understand that the Greek word translated "earth" (ge)
        can also be translated "land." In fact, it often refers to "the land of Israel,"
        i.e., "the Promised Land." In a number of places in the New Testament this
        word speaks either of the Promised Land as a whole, or some portion of it. In
        those places we find it in such phrases as "the land of Judah" (Matt. 2:6), "the
        land of Judea" (John 3:22), "the land of Israel" (Matt. 2:20, 21), "the land
        of Zebulun" (Matt. 4:15), "the land of Naphtali" (Matt. 4:15), and "the land
        of the Jews" (Acts 10:39). Thus, upon purely lexical considerations, the term
        can be understood as designating the Promised Land.
        When we note that this "land" contains "tribes," we move even closer to
        the proper interpretation. The Greek word for "tribe" is phule, which in
        Scripture most frequently refers to the Jewish tribes. The New Testament often names
        particular "tribes" of Israel: Asher (Luke 2:36); Benjamin (Act 13:21; Rom
        11:1; Phil 3:5); Judah (Rev. 5:5; Heb 7:14). The "tribes" found their home in
        Palestine; these are "the tribes of the land" Revelation 1:7 mentions. John's
        reference to the "tribe of Judah" in Revelation 5:5 clearly points to the
        tribal division among racial Jews. The term "tribe" obviously has that racial
        import in Revelation 7:4-8 (where it is used of each of the specifically named
        Twelve Tribes) and in Revelation 21:12 (where John refers to "the twelve tribes of
        the children of Israel").
        As a matter or fact, literal translations of the Scripture lean in this
        "Lo, he doth come with the clouds, and see him shall every eye, even
        those who did pierce him, and wail because of him shall all the tribes of the
        land. Yes! Amen!"
        "Behold he comes with the clouds, and will see him every eye and
        [those] who him pierced, and will wail over him all the tribes of the land. Yes,
        This not only fits nicely with the near-term temporal indicators, but
        also Jesus' warnings of impending judgment upon Israel. Notice three examples
        from Luke (in addition to the parables mentioned previously in Matthew):
        "And when He approached, He saw the city and wept over it, saying,
        'If you had known in this day, even you, the things which make for peace! But
        now they have been hidden from your eyes. For the days shall come upon you when
        your enemies will throw up a bank before you, and surround you, and hem you in
        on every side, and will level you to the ground and your children within you,
        and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not
        recognize the time of your visitation'" (Luke 19:41-44).

        See also: Luke 21:20-22 and 23:28-31.
        The evidence for an AD 70 meaning of Revelation 1:7 is becoming
        insurmountable. John's theme in Revelation is Israel's judgment for rejecting the Lord
        Jesus Christ.

        The Particular Parallel in the Gospels

        Interestingly, Revelation 1:7 finds a remarkable parallel in the Lord's
        teaching in the Olivet Discourse. Observe the similarities between Revelation
        1:7 and Matthew 24:30, noting particularly the italicized words:

        "Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all
        the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming
        on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory." (Matt. 24:30)

        "Behold, He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see Him,
        even those who pierced Him; and all the tribes of the earth will mourn over Him.
        Even so. Amen." (Rev. 1:7)

        Both of these verses are unique in Scripture in merging portions of
        Daniel 7:13 and Zechariah 12:10. John draws the "coming on the clouds" imagery from
        Daniel, and the "mourning of the tribes" from Zechariah. No other passage in
        Scripture merges these two verses.

        Furthermore, both of the prophetic discourses in which we find these
        verses speak of "the great tribulation" (Matt. 24:21 and Rev. 7:14). And most
        commentators note the parallel between Matthew 24:6-11 and the first four seals in
        Revelation 6:1-8. And both prophecies are associated somehow with the Temple
        of God (Matt. 24:1-3, 15 and Rev. 11:1-2). In fact, we should note that Luke's
        version of the Lord's teaching appears to be the source of John's language in
        Revelation 11 (note especially the italicized portions):

        "They will fall by the edge of the sword, and will be led captive
        into all the nations; and Jerusalem will be trampled under foot by the Gentiles
        until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled." (Luke 21:24)

        "And leave out the court which is outside the temple, and do not
        measure it, for it has been given to the nations; and they will tread under foot
        the holy city for forty-two months." (Rev. 11:2)

        Interestingly, John's Gospel lacks the Olivet Discourse which is found in the
        other three Gospels — perhaps because John covers the same material in
        another work, Revelation.

        Now remarkably for our purposes, both prophecies also expressly focus on
        near-term events. I show above that John insists his Revelation prophecies
        "must shortly come to pass" (Rev. 1:1; 22:6) "for the time is near" (Rev. 1:3;
        22:10). In Matthew, the Olivet Discourse opens with Christ's denouncing the
        Temple (Matt. 23:38) and the disciples pointing out the current Temple's beauty
        (Matt. 24:1). Jesus responds to their wonder by stating: "Do you not see all
        these things? Truly I say to you, not one stone here shall be left upon another,
        which will not be torn down" (Matt. 24:2), to which the disciples reply: "Tell
        us, when will these things be?" (Matt. 24:3). After providing them with
        precursory signs, he finally answers their question: "Truly I say to you, this
        generation will not pass away until all these things take place" (Matt. 24:34),
        which happens to match very nicely with John's assertion that these things "must
        shortly take place." And we know from history that that very Temple was
        destroyed in AD 70, just forty years after Jesus spoke.

        Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr., Th.M., Th.D.
        <A HREF="www.KennethGentry.Com">KennethGentry.Com</A>
        "Serious Studies for Serious Christians"

        Revelation Commentary Project
        If you would like to give toward funding my research on
        Revelation please go to <A HREF="www.KennethGentry.Com">KennethGentry.Com</A> then click
        on "Revelation Commentary Project."

        New releases
        Gentry, Covenantal Theonomy: A Response to T. David
        Gordon and Klinean Covenantalism (241 pp; paperback)

        Gentry, He Shall Have Dominion: A Postmillennial Eschatology
        (reprint of Second Edition) (600+ pp; paperback)

        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      • hubbes.laszlo
        I cannot pronounce myself on this special issue, since I m not a specialist in this aspect of the Revelation, but this is a good opportunity for me to try to
        Message 3 of 23 , Oct 15, 2006
          I cannot pronounce myself on this special issue, since I'm not a
          specialist in this aspect of the Revelation, but this is a good
          opportunity for me to try to catch the attention again on the next
          year's joint SBL-EABS conference in Wien, which will have a special
          session organized around the theme of the Revelation in the section
          "Early Christianity between Hellenism and Judaism". Maybe somebody
          would be interested in submitting a paper to it. Anyone intrerested in
          the issue, should contact Michael Labahn at am.labahn@... and
          visit the EABS-homepage at http://www.eurassbibstudies.group.shef.ac.uk
          I'm not insisting on it, just take the chance of this discussion, and
          post again the call for papers, maybe there is somebody who just
          haven't noticed the first time.

          Hubbes Laszlo
          doctorand, Babes-Bolyai University Cluj, Romania

          P.S. I'll defend my thesis on Apocalyptic in november, please pray for me.
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