What Evangelicals Need Most To Read Revelation Well

There is a history of evangelical interpretation of the Book of Revelation. It lacks one thing and in its place has used flat-footed literal readings.

Some of them goofy.

When I was in college Tim LaHaye published a book on Revelation that was famous for its literalistic drawings of the beasts of Revelation. They were at best corny but other words would be more accurate. It is now called Revelation Unveiled. Bless his heart, but this is not how to read Revelation.

What many evangelicals (of this kind of reading) need is what Craig Koester, in Revelation and the End of All Things, sketches with utter clarity. (Check out also Ian Paul, Revelation.A good book on how theologians and others in the history of the church have read Revelation is called The Book of Revelation and is by Timothy Beal, and it’s a good and easy read.)

What is that? Imagination. This Book of Revelation sets afire the imagination and should be turning us off to literal pictures. No one yet has sketched Aslan well, or Lucy Pevensie or Bilbo Baggins or Gollum. Movies mostly ruin the books and the images and what we have learned to see in reading the books.

Revelation was written for imaginations not for sketch artists. Enough with that.

Asking Who is Who is the wrong question. Instead, let the Book take you where it goes — flying beasts and wild things smoke and incense and more beasts and wild things and plagues and God’s wrath and judgment so the fury of justice take over. It’s an autostereogram or a kaleidoscope or something in Disneyland.

Want to read a book that takes imagination seriously for Revelation? Try Eugene Peterson, Reversed Thunder.

It takes imagination to see justice coming when evil owns the keys to the doors. Revelation tells us about that.

And Empire. And Babylon. And Rome. And the Bride of Christ.

The fifth cycle of visions begins where the previous cycle ends, with a triumphant song of praise rising from the assembly of the faithful. As cascades of harp sounds flood the heavens, the saints sing the song of Moses and the Lamb, celebrating God’s lordship over the nations. The followers of the Lamb sing beside a fiery sea of glass after conquering the beast, much as the people of Israel sang beside the sea after their liberation from pharaoh (15:2-4). Yet before the heavenly singers have finished, John warns that the end has not yet arrived, for the beast still rages on the earth (15:1). Therefore, just as God sent plagues upon pharaoh and his allies in order to liberate Israel from bondage, God s angels send plagues upon the beast and his allies in order to liberate the world from his tyranny (16:1-21). A number of the plagues in this fifth cycle — painful sores, water turning to blood, darkness, frogs, and hail—are similar to the plagues that fell on Egypt, and their purpose is also similar: to move the ungodly to repent and to liberate the faithful from oppressive powers.

The best thing you might need to do to read Revelation well is to throw away your Scofield Notes and your dispensational charts, turn your back on all those rapture date arguments, and spend time with JRR Tolkien or JK Rowling or CS Lewis, or maybe some Flannery O’Connor or William Faulkner. Instead of pointing from Revelation to some current event, let the Revelation take you to another world … so you can understand this world’s evil as God conquers evil.


Not Your Father’s Book of Revelation

My generation’s fathers by and large read the Book of Revelation through the lens of premillennial tribulation-and-rapture debates, who was the antichrist, and if 1948’s rebirth of Israel was not the herald of the last generation before the return of Christ.



Scot McKnight: Invoking the Holy Spirit


If Jesus, So You: The Spirit And Jesus And You

I contend many don’t really think Jesus needed the Spirit or depended upon the Spirit; I contend, too, that those who think that also don’t think (they may not say so) we need the Spirit.

If with Jesus, so also with us.

The New Testament Gospels are not like the other gospels that didn’t make it into our Bible. For example, there is a story about Jesus as a boy making mud birds in a puddle and then, to dazzle those around him, swished his hands and off the birds went flying. That tale didn’t make the cut. It doesn’t portray the real, human Jesus of the four Gospels.

However, we know that the human Jesus had to learn mathematics; he had to learn the names of friends; and he had to grow in wisdom and knowledge like the rest of us. He also had emotions. In fact, the Gospels let us in on how Jesus felt: he was exasperated, he wept, he wailed, he got angry with other people, and he even cried out in despair. But he also expressed victory and triumph….

Read more: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/jesuscreed/2018/04/03/if-jesus-so-you-the-spirit-and-jesus-and-you/

Reading The Bible, Interpreting The Bible

A friend of mine recommended that I read David Steinmetz’s well-known essay, “The Superiority of Pre-Critical Exegesis,” in his book Taking the Long View: Christian Theology in Historical Perspective

Here’s at least one of the problems: Bible reading intimidates many ordinary Bible readers, and one reason why is specialists — names not given — are so good at what they do, so insightful in what they teach, and so industrious in their efforts (footnotes galore, historical sources cited galore, knowledge galore) that the ordinary Bible reader has done two things: (1) read the work of specialists and (2) stopped reading the Bible for the sheer delight it brings.

Read more: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/jesuscreed/2018/02/20/reading-bible-interpreting-bible/

Philemon: A Call to Reconciliation

McKnight’s commentary on Philemon has a strong message for the church of the twenty-first century. Today, more than ever, the church needs to proclaim a message of reconciliation to our divided society and to a world that has never abandoned the disturbing reality of slavery.

Two factors influence the interpretation of Paul’s letter to Philemon. The first factor is the reality that Rome was a slavery society. In my previous post, Slavery in the Roman World, I introduced McKnight’s discussion on slavery in the Roman empire. No one will be able to understand the book of Philemon unless one gains a good understanding of slavery as it was practiced in the Roman world. My discussion of McKnight’s view on slavery was only a brief summary of the vast amount of information he provides in his commentary.

The second factor that influences the interpretation of Philemon is the two Philemons that are in the background of Paul’s letter. The first Philemon is a Roman citizen, a non-Christian slave owner who probably was a very influential citizen in his society. Paul never introduced the non-Christian Philemon, although he had known Philemon before he became a believer.

Read more: https://claudemariottini.com/2017/12/23/philemon-a-call-to-reconciliation/

The Letter to Philemon