Cwic Show- Book of Revelation Explained - Ian Paul

In this episode, The Book of Revelation Explained, Dr. Ian Paul talks about interpreting the Book of Revelation. He calls the book "the most remarkable text you will ever read." We discuss the language that John uses to write the book, whether it was a vision, who John is writing to, numerology, the mark of the beast, the seven seals, and many more things about this misunderstood text.

  Ian Paul's Book- Revelation, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries -​

Ian Paul's Website-


Raw Transcript


all right welcome to the quick show i am
our guest here this is dr ian paul dr
paul is someone that i have
followed for a couple of years he is in
i'm going to say the the the u.s person
here you're in nottingham
i am in england and uh
uh so a little little uh discussion here
across the pond
you are an assistant minister with the
anglican church that's right
in nottingham let me go over this also
here on your
on your website say
i'll go over that a little bit more a
little bit later yeah you put yourself
down as a theologian
and author and i've read your books
speaker academic consultant
adjunct professor with a fuller
theological seminary that's interesting
yeah uh again associate minister at st
nix nottingham managing editor of grove
books yeah and a member of the general
so and many other accolades i could
throw on here in fact i want to talk to
you a little bit about
uh eventually about your dissertation
even oh okay
that you did as well i think that wasn't
that on chapter 12 of
revelation yeah i was 12 and 13 yeah
marvelous marvelous okay
so what i'd like to do here is
being that you are an expert on the book
of revelation
is talk a little bit about first what is
this book what is it so many of us
we hear the stories about the book of
revelation we see the images the four
horsemen the throne of god
and it's so foreign to us that
oftentimes it's difficult to engage with
this text
and to dip in and try to understand it
because it's it's from a very different
time period from a very different
and it's written unlike not unlike
all of scripture but unlike most of
scripture that we get in the bible
uh you wrote this in in your book
and you said revelation is the most
remarkable text you will ever read
many people are starting to think well
wait a minute what does that mean and
then you said elsewhere it is the most
extraordinary piece
of literature ever written by a human
well i think i'd stand by that greg yeah
no by the way i'm really impressed you
read the book you're quoting from it so
i'll just wave it for those watching
from there
this is a commentary in the ibp tyndale
yes and we will definitely be linking to
that's fantastic thank you as i
appreciate that yeah i think it's
amazing i mean i
it was interesting i i came to faith i
ca i was i had a church background the
roman catholic church
but i didn't find personal faith there i
came to faith uh through a church of
england and evangelical church of
england church
um and i actually i actually came across
the book of revelation very soon after
coming to faith so it was kind of my
kind of slightly weird introduction i
was actually attending the roman
catholic church and going to the
anglican church and then midweek i was
going to a baptist church bible study
wow and so i was i was a pretty mixed up
kid there but that's that's all very
good isn't it it's good good you know
ecumenical engagement
um and we were the leader of the group
said i think god's telling us to read
the book of revelation we sort of went
i mean you know i i hardly read the
scriptures at all myself i was beginning
to be inducted into this
so you know i've been i'm i'm nearly 60
now so i've been
i've been doing this for quite a few
years um and i still every every week
i discover something new about this book
i think it is it is extraordinary
i would say any university that has a
course on world literature it really
should have the book of revelation front
and center
and the reason for that is because it's
a combination of um really unusual
language it's extraordinarily carefully
it's um uh it's extra
it makes a remarkable use of the old
testament i once spent a week in my life
counting all the examples of
psych illusions to the old testament and
turns out there are 676 and it's 404
verses now that's pretty saturated
and actually teasing those out is a
whole kind of discipline in itself
um but not only i mean it's not only
remarkable as a text it's also
remarkable in the influence that it's
had over
uh christian thinking about politics
about um
christian worship uh art if you i mean
you go into any
any any well i don't know you don't have
so many inner states that are not
on our side of the pond we've got a lot
of old church buildings with stained
glass in
and you you go and you look at historic
that history
of christian art represented in stained
glass i would reckon that about 50
of the images that you find there
actually come from the book of
you know in our worship if we ever use
the word alleluia where does that come
from it comes from the book of
now i know some of your listeners will
be saying no hallelujah is a hebrew word
from the old testament
that's true but english language
translations translate that as praise
the lord
the only place in english bibles we find
the word alleluia is in the book of
revelation because john
one of his quirks is that he actually
carries over hebrew language into greek
in his text so so i would say that that
in terms of worship in terms of
christian thinking about all sorts of
subjects in terms of
christian art this is this is a this is
a book of unparalleled influence so
it is extraordinary so i think i think
i'm going to stand by my claim there
okay very well you're substantiating
this what
is i mean if you were if you were to
this book this text yeah
what what what is the book of revelation
well i think i think greg what you said
at the beginning
is absolutely key that is it is strange
so you talked about the fact that it was
written at a different time
it's written in a way that we're not
used to uh it's using
language that we often struggle to make
sense of and i think that's that's
that's the one thing i would want people
to take away from this it is a
strange book in a technical sense now
the reason i say that is because
there are so many attempts in um the
english speaking world to domesticate
to systematize it so a lot of people
would say ah
okay what you need is my particular key
to reading it and when you read it it
fits into this system and for example to
take one reading
it predicts events on this time scale so
it's telling us about the end of the
now the problem with that is that when
you do it the book is no longer strange
and it and it needs to be strange we
need to recognize this
you know when we when we read a text
from a past culture we are traveling
into a foreign country
and unless you can really inhabit that
country and understand its customers
understand its language
so that you move from where you are into
the land the other country into that
world of this text
that's the way to understand it what we
try and what most reading strategies try
and do is they try and pull it
out of its context and pull it into the
modern world into our context
and in the end what we do is we silence
the book because when people give you
this sort of time scale or a scheme of
reading whatever
what they end up doing is they actually
end up telling you about their scheme
not about the book of revelation and i
think i find one thing i find it really
sobering is that
as you said you hesitated when you said
we don't have anything else in the bible
written like this well of course
actually as you know we do
we have the book of ezekiel we have the
book of daniel
we have sections of isaiah and uh isaiah
is the most influential old testament
book on on the
book of revelation ezekiel is up there
with him as well in terms of shaping
the text and then of course in the new
testament we have matthew
24 and mark 13 which often called the
the little apocalypse the little
revelation and jesus uses the same kind
of language we find he uses this cosmic
language of destruction and he talks
about you know the sun will be darkened
and the moon will turn to blood and the
star support and all that kind of thing
now what i find really really striking
is that you know we're very happy when
jesus teaches us parables about
sowers sowing seed and you know
different kinds of soils or
uh god being like a shepherd and all
that kind of stuff
what's really striking is that when
jesus teaches these parables in mark
chapter four for example
his disciples say jesus we have no idea
what you're talking about please explain
this is a mystery to us
when they sit down in the mount of
olives and jesus says ah the moon will
the sun will be dark and the moon will
turn to blood and the stars will fall
from heaven
the disciples go that's fine
we know exactly what you're talking
so that's a reminder that
revelation is strange to us because
we're at a cultural
distance from it not because it's
strange in itself it's different from us
and that's what makes it a challenge so
i say to people when
i'm wanting to read the book of
revelation it's
if i'm teaching this i'll just say look
let me take it let me take a bible and
the bible has a front cover and a back
cover and those are really important
because they tell you
what's in the bible and what's not in
the bible now obviously from an lds
you have another book too but for
mainstream christians we have the bible
now the question is is revelation inside
or outside the bible
and it's not a trick question it's
inside i say okay fine so in that case
why would we interpret it or treat it
any differently from any other part of
the bible
and that's a good question i mean you
think about it martin luther for example
in the early part of his life he wanted
to keep it out of the canon
absolutely well it wasn't until later on
that he started making references to it
and bringing it in a little bit more
but again this was by the time martin
luther writes so what what are we
talking uh 16th century 15th century
yeah 15 yeah yeah so he's
he's already distanced i would say right
from that culture and from that language
and maybe
too distance from too distanced from the
old testament
to to bring this in and say okay
i can understand this more but already i
mean you know 500 years ago or so
yeah there's already a distance it seems
from oh but it's it's even worse than
that greg because actually
by the second generation after after
john wrote it in the first century
they'd already forgotten it now there's
a really interesting illustration of
this and that's
um uh you know the most notorious verse
revelation which is revelation 13 18
which is
uh this calls for wisdom let him who's
understanding calculate the number of
the beast
it's a man it's the number of a man and
it is 666.
now we'll come we'll come back to this
but actually in terms of scholarship
there's a really clear
consensus since the 1840s
exactly what that number refers to and
there's been a huge amount of research
done in the last 20 30 years which
reinforces that understanding
now it's clear that by the second
century when you read patristic
commentators on this you already find
they've forgotten the meaning of it
but but actually i think we can be
really confident what this numerological
this this is a means now you mentioned
my blog is called sofidzo
that's the greek word for to calculate
to to add up
and and it comes from to measure right
to measure
even even maybe to judge a little bit
well it does because um it comes from
the greek web cephos which is a pebble
and you use a pebble for doing two
things in the ancient world use a pebble
for counting
uh so you know like little counters or
beans or whatever
you also use it for casting a vote so
in in modern greek sephiroth means to
vote uh for a political party
but in the ancient world it also meant
to count in other it is actually saying
well you know we either use it to count
or we use to use it to work out who
as it were you know it's interesting so
this has a reference to uh
just just interjecting here this has a
reference to 217 then right
revelation 217 yeah absolutely okay so
revelation 217
it's interesting also because i've done
a little bit of research on this but
it's you know the greeks
anciently used to use in court
yeah they would use a as far as a a
yeah guilty or not guilty they would use
a white pebble
for innocence and a black pebble for
guilty you know kind of a vote right
exactly exactly and that's why it's so
significant to uh
uh to the the christians that john is
writing to because it you know it says
jesus is the one who has the
the correct verdict over them right um
but the fact that the fact that you know
this this the meaning of this verse was
actually forgotten
from the second century through to 1840
also tells us what a challenge this text
is so
uh but i think i think modern readers
most of us we're challenged on a number
of different fronts first of all we
don't know our old testament
so we're not going to rec we're not even
going to recognize this
illusions that john is using all the way
through this text
and therefore actually we're going to
misunderstand some of the things he's
saying so for example you know you
mentioned one of
one of the um compelling images in this
text is the four horsemen
yeah i mean you'll find that everywhere
when i was a teenager i remember
watching apocalypse now
uh you know about the vietnam war and if
you've noticed that the posters
are for the publicity posters for that
had four helicopters on them which is
signifying the four interesting
apocalypse you know it's a
it's a really you know huge cultural
meme that's people don't even know where
it comes from
but you get the four horsemen in chapter
six you get the four winds of heaven in
chapter seven
now what's the connection between the
two you only know that if you recognize
that these are illusions to the old
testament prophet zechariah
and zechariah zechariah actually talks
about four
horsemen who are the four winds or
so unless you can see those things and
most most ordinary readers do not know
their old testament so that's one
challenge to us the second challenge is
the kind of writing maybe we'll just
come back to that we just don't rec we
you know unlike the the disciples who
are very happy for jesus to talk about
these things
uh on the mount of olives we we it's a
strange kind of writing to us although
actually i argue
in my thesis my research but also in the
commentary i argue that
actually some of the ways john uses
language is pretty familiar to us
through for example the kind of vivid
images you find in
uh political cartoons these days um
we've got a particular tradition in the
uh peter brooks in the times does really
sometimes quite off-putting visual
images of politicians and if you
describe them actually
you'd actually find yourself writing
something quite similar to apocalyptic
imagery or if you know if you go back to
second world war and
you talk about an eagle is fighting with
a bear
now we would know that the eagle is
america and the bear is russia and
you know you start you start writing
this down it's beginning to sound pretty
that's another another difficulty and i
think a third one which is one of the
i find most fascinating not least
because i i was a mathematician
before i was a theologian is that
revelation uses numerology in at least
four different ways
and again this is part of going into
this other culture of the ancient world
if you just realize again i think most
ordinary readers don't realize
in the ancient world they did not have a
separate number system
so the number system we use we call it
arabic well that
arose in the seventh or eighth century
so if you live in a world
where you use letters to designate
numerical values
then numbers suddenly become much more
important and also they become much more
connected with
written language and and that's where
for instance the 666 calculation comes
well we can see this in psalms right
typically if you see a header on the
you've got a number there which is a
letter it's a hebrew letter that you're
going to see
absolutely absolutely and it also means
uh in a world where there were very few
compared with the world we live in we're
just saturated with words now
then you know you actually those who
write text
don't write very many of them uh and so
they think very very carefully and i
would i would say that
there isn't a single word in the book of
revelation that john hasn't you know
weighed very very carefully
so we we just that's again a very
different approach to language into
and it just means we need to slow down
and ponder very carefully exactly
what john is saying why is he saying
that this why is he using the particular
um there are a whole heap of other stuff
as well there's a i just last week was
involved in
examining a phd which was very good but
it was on the grammatical irregularities
of revelation it's got some very odd
language in there and one of the
one of the fierce debates in the
academic the economic world is exactly
what's going on there
mind you just there is that one warning
i mean you mentioned luther and his
reluctance to engage with it
in the jewish tradition ezekiel chapter
one the rabbis always said that that
no one should study ezekiel chapter one
on their own
because it is too mysterious and too
lofty for them and you could only do
that if you've been a rabbi for many
many many years
interesting it comes with a health
warning maybe we should do the same with
the book
sure sure yeah here in the us we'd say
you need a surgeon general
uh uh exactly there so
what the name of the book
yeah right apocalypse yeah
we see you know means revelation
uh pulling out from under unveiling uh
is this a vision
right i i've read different scholars
that say yeah this is a vision he's
seeing it
some others will say it's a it's several
different visions
some will say no it's just the type of
of language that he's writing in in a
certain tradition
yeah and and therefore he's just
he's bringing different litter literary
elements into this
yeah are we are we getting a a
play-by-play of a vision that john had
well that's a really interesting
question and again one thing i find
fascinating is that's a question when
talking about revelation in a a regular
church context
if i can talk about engaging with
ordinary readers of the text
that's the kind of number one question
they have one things i found
strange though when i wrote my own
commentary is that as i look through the
commentaries i got on my shelf i've got
just over there 43 different
and very few of them actually engage
with that question
now there's one simple answer which is
that no it's not a vision
visions are things that you experience
what we've got is a text so at the very
best what we've got
is a vision report and as you mentioned
you know the
the vision report so real quick sorry
what's the difference between him seeing
a vision and giving a vision report
what's the correlation there
well i don't think you can answer that
unless you've had a vision i mean i
don't know if you've ever had a vision
a vision a dream sure okay there's a
dream so here's the thing
when you have a dream and you try and
describe it to somebody
what's going on i mean do you do you
very difficult interpretation yeah
exactly very it's very number one it's
very difficult number two
there isn't a really obvious correlation
between the words you use to describe
your dream and what your dream was
actually like because a dream is a
very different kind of experience than
than a description of it
thirdly you you use language and ideas
that you are familiar with and that the
people you're talking to are familiar
with as well so
you know people's people seem to assume
again ordinary readers will often assume
that john is describing something
literally so there was a literal throne
and literally someone's sitting on the
as if it was a painting and john is just
describing the painting and therefore
very often people try and turn it back
into a picture
now there's several problems with that
one is that john is living in a
particular culture so
you can't avoid the fact that you know
even when we're describing a dream we
reference to things in our own culture
and our own language
so you can't divorce it from that number
two a lot of what jerome describes is
so for example very simply you know in
chapter 4 around the throne there was a
rainbow like an emerald
well believe you me rainbows are not
like emeralds
now rainbows are muddy colored and
arched in a bow emeralds are solid and
are green
so it's literally impossible um you can
and again all that language of the
the heavenly furniture and the
arrangements actually
that's why people really struggle to
draw pictures of it because it doesn't
literally make sense
just to take another well-known example
in chapter one jesus the vision of jesus
the the
new jesus at one moment he looks like
the ancient of days in daniel 7 because
he's got white hair
and another moment he looks like an
angel in daniel 12 because he's wearing
a gold
band around him in another moment he
looks like a high priest who's wearing a
cloak robe that goes down to his feet
he's very specific about that
uh his voice sounds like the voice of
many waters well that's a that's
from ezekiel about the voice of god so
you've got actually got a composite
he actually here's a here's another
thing he actually has breasts like a
female god
the gold band is not around his chest
stephos it's actually around his
his breasts right uh so so so you have
jesus who represents god to us who is
also the messenger from god like an
angel but he was also a high priest
who is also displaces the function in
the ancient world of goddesses he makes
uh for us in the way that the goddess
does so so
how how do you just how do you describe
that as a coherent picture it's not
it's not easy and i don't i don't know
we see it
yes we see oftentimes in the scriptures
where we have what i believe this is
this is
gospel by greg here several titles
of of the lord right of jesus of jehovah
right over and over again you know
isaiah everywhere else we get these
i believe their titles and i believe
they're similar to what you might have
in the uk you know you've got uh prince
philip just passed away
yeah right he was the duke of edinburgh
he was the prince consort exactly so you
have these titles
that are almost you know that that you
get a match of of
god as king and these are titles that
have a certain representation
and meaning that we don't really
understand as much today
uh on this and and so that's what it
seems like to me is what you're
describing here
there's there's different roles that
he's playing
uh different interpretations means
different things to different people
yeah and therefore what you've got is a
composite picture
and it doesn't really make very much
sense to to
literalize it on the one hand on the
other hand that's not the point
you know his feet are like burnished
bronze the point
is not that there's some glowing hot
metal in the furnace here the point is
this symbolizes trustworthiness his eyes
are blazing like fire what's the point
of that the point is that that is
traditional imagery for a divine figure
in the ancient world particularly in
understanding so in other words what
john describes
the purpose of it is for us to
not for us to get fixated on the the
specifics but actually
it it they're bearers of meaning i think
the other thing that for me which over
the years has really
uh challenged the idea that that john is
simply reporting a vision
is that he uses his language so
carefully one of the errors i've been
doing research on is
is the way that his language i mentioned
the four different ways he uses numbers
one of the ways one of the ways is
really obvious he talks about you know
the seven
assemblies in asia minor and he talks
about the 24 elders so we've got
explicit numbers in the text
uh straightforward numbers and then
there's you know the seven seals and the
seven trumpets and seven balls and so on
um but one of the numbers which is often
hidden is the fact that
particular words come with certain
frequencies so for example
he talks about you know um blessed is
one who in verse three blessed are the
one who reads aloud the words of this
well that word blessed uh which is
uh macarius um that comes seven times in
the book
in chapter 14 the scene of judgment
there's mention of a sickle which
symbolizes judgment there's a grain
harvest and a great harvest
the word sickle comes seven times the
word christ christos
comes seven times the name jesus comes
14 times
so when you begin to look at the
now this is that this is not a usual way
of reading stuff i mean last time you
read a novel if anyone said to you
oh did you notice how many times the
word discovered came in this novel
you look at them slightly strangely it's
not the way that we we treat text
but again if you're living in an ancient
world where texts are very precious and
you only have a few of them you
you pore over them very carefully then
and and where if you're going to copy a
text you've got to pay a scribe and you
pay them
quite likely for the number of words
that they write out for you so
you know you're in a world where you're
used to word counts and of course one of
the great ironies in our technological
age is that
now that we use computers we're very
of word counts and we specify word
counts for length of documents when i'm
in academic world and i'm marking
students essays they have to have a
certain word count
and what it means again is is that
technology is allowing us to discover
about the ancient world we wouldn't have
otherwise known if you take a greek text
of revelation you can
i can tell you straight away i just i
just noticed this morning by the way
that the mark
as in mark of the beast the word caragma
actually occurs seven times in a text
how do i know that
because i just sat here on my accordance
program and i typed in the word keragma
and says seven occurrences came up so
there's an interesting way in which
technology is connecting us back with
the first century in ways that we
haven't quite anticipated
what you bring up i think is interesting
because and i think it applies not just
the book of revelation but to the entire
bible and and that is these
authors you know we get in our minds
sometimes that that you know
again it's a play by play this is what
jesus said this is where he went this is
what he did
and we're writing this out as it happens
as it unfolds
because it was a documentary in reality
you know even the gospels you know are
you know ranging in in times of when
they were written but you're talking
after likely that of of the life of
christ where these were actually written
and so there's there's a time period of
contemplation and how i'm going to write
what do i want what message do i want to
get across
and and you had said originally
revelation is the most remarkable text
you will ever read
of course i think understanding these
things that you're bringing up about
how it was composed yeah
is is certainly a part of that yeah now
the whole question i mean that's an
interesting question about the gospels
and certainly in the german tradition of
critical scholarship from
a couple of hundred years ago until
fairly recently that was the dominant
view the dominant view was that
the stories about jesus were circulated
and there was an oral tradition and then
the stories got fashioned
through that passing on what's quite
interesting is that there's been quite a
bit of pushback on that in the last few
years certainly there's a british
scholar called richard balkam who's
actually that the gospels are very much
eyewitness accounts
in other words they're much closer to
the the time of jesus
and again one of the things we're
discovering more and more is the the
prevalence of writing in the ancient
so um for instance in the 1970s the
discovery of the vindalanda tablets
in the by hadrian's wall showed that you
know soldiers centurions would be
writing notes jotting things down on on
little bits of wood or card or whatever
um and so and particularly in religious
context as well that that
specialized as it were religious
literacy was probably much higher than
we have given
credit for um and then one or two hints
as well i mean luke talks at the
beginning of his gospel about those who
are guardians of the word from the
beginning which which some
scholars would argue okay these are
people who actually took notes of what
jesus was saying and these things were
but the point you're making that
interpretation is absolutely spot on
that the gospels aren't simply
played back documentary accounts of what
jesus said because if they were how come
there are so many differences
differences of emphasis how come
different things are included in the
different gospels
there are about interpretation what we
have is an interpreted
account of who jesus is and the the
gospel writers aren't just saying this
is what he did but this is
what the meaning is of what he did so i
absolutely agree with that and again the
same is true with revelation it's about
you know what's the what's the
significance what's the meaning of it
uh and there's no doubt that there's
lots of evidence that in the first
century that john's listeners would have
um perfectly well but they were just
they would they wouldn't have had the
kind of problems understanding we're
that we do and this comes back to you i
mean sorry we've got sidetracked you
asked me about the word apocalypse a
long time ago yes yes
ah and the reason why revelation is
called an apocalypse is because it's the
first word of the text the text begins
apocalypse says jesus christ and now to
this is the revelation of jesus christ
which god gave to show his servants
what must take place and what is
is that that word apocalypse has now
been used to designate a whole
genre the whole kind of literature and
we realize now there's a huge amount of
uh jewish second to temple literature
in that kind of apocalyptic style these
kinds of vision reports
and of course you know you now get
apocalyptic films and
apocalypse which has really nothing to
do with what the idea of what
literature is i know exactly you got
sort of you know disaster movies and
that kind of thing
yeah um but there's a couple of things
really fascinating about the language of
apocalypse apocalypse is a kind of
firstly when you look at all these other
jewish apocalyptic so-called apocalyptic
none of them call themselves an
apocalypse it's only
the book of revelation so that needs to
kind of like flag something out the
second thing
is that uh they're actually often quite
from the book of revelation so they are
often very
focused on national restoration they've
got a very nationalistic edge to them
they almost always include commentary so
the the person is has a vision and then
there's an explanation of it
and often the interpretation is given by
an accompanying angel
which is a phenomenon mostly missing
um the book of revelation um so there's
some really significant
differences as well and of course most
of these jewish apocalypses were
written in the name of some patriarch
they're written pseudonymously so it's
the apocalypse of abraham or
enoch or ezra and so on sure and and one
of the striking differences here
is that john tells us his name and he
writes in a way which demonstrates that
he's a pastor who knows the context of
the people he's writing to
so he's writing to those in these seven
nobody's actually found an explanation
convincing explanation why he's picked
those seven cities because of course
there are lots of other cities like
miletus and troias where we have
christian communities and they're not
um but he knows them and he writes in a
way that demonstrates his familiarity
with them so
again this is another thing that
community that suggests that this isn't
some 2000 year old forecast of the
present day this is a text which
actually meant something
to its first readers and and communicate
it's the
revelation of jesus christ and you know
early commentators assume this is
talking to us about jesus and the gospel
not about some remote time and in fact
at the end at the end of daniel
the angel says to daniel seal up the
words of this prophecy because it
doesn't relate to events from
daniel's time in the eighth century bc
it relates to the second century bc and
the anti-king crisis
at the end of revelation john is told do
not seal up the words
of this prophecy in other words what
you're writing now in the first century
relevant to the followers of jesus in
the first century it's saying something
really important to them
to help them to be faithful witnesses to
jesus now
and again just reflecting the fact that
this is at a distance from us we are
um we're listening in on someone else's
conversation here so
we're trying to hear what god is saying
to us through
what john was saying in the power of the
spirit two
christians in the third jesus followers
in the first century and so we need to
take that seriously so so that was one
of my questions here is
okay what is this then that as far as
john is writing is he because
you know is he writing just for
the christians of his day or is he
writing for those
of the you know our period you know
coming up to a second coming of christ
or is it both well i think i'd kind of
go back and reply to that first i'd ask
you a question now secondly make an
here's my question when paul wrote his
letter to the romans was that just for
the romans was that for us too
well okay so sure okay
so but what is that on the other side i
would say
i would say that's for us too of course
in the sense that it's indirectly to us
absolutely it's for us but it's not to
okay so and i say even more even more is
true for one corinthians i mean some
people would say romans is a kind of a
bit of a setting out of doctrine i don't
think it is quite like that
paul was addressing some very key issues
particularly in the division between
jews and gentiles in the roman church
let's take one corinthians a good
example clearly paul is writing to the
corinthians and he's
addressing with them some really
issues for them in their day now
some of those we know some of those we
don't and and for instance in one
corinthians 7
1 paul says now concerning the things
about which you wrote to me
we were thinking oh paul if only you'd
appended their letter to you and then
we'd know what was going on
but we don't so we do have to speculate
a bit but at least we need to recognize
paul is addressing specific problems for
but he's doing it hey number one those
are the kind of problems we have too
you know he talks about division sexual
conflict about communion you know i
think yeah well that's like today's
church okay
um so they're they're they're they are
persistent problems even if our problems
aren't quite the same as those we can
see the kinds of things that were going
on number one
number two he addresses their problems
reflecting on what god has done in jesus
so for example in chapter six there's a
question of immorality how does paul
address it in chapter five
he actually specifically appeals to the
bodily resurrection of jesus to say look
we've got we've got resources here to
address these questions
so we can learn from it too now the same
show of revelation john is writing to
particular people in a particular place
with particular challenge the challenge
was that the conflict for them in the
demand of loyalty to the emperor and
roman imperial power on the one hand
and what it meant to be a follower of
jesus on the other so they've got
they've got very specific challenges
and john is addressing those through
sharing the vision the vision report
that god has given him
but we can learn from him as well
because we also
have that same conflict what does it
mean to be
for me a faithful citizen uk for you a
faithful citizen of the us on the one
but on the other to be a faithful
follower of jesus
at what point does do the powers that be
make demands of us where they cross the
line into either
claiming to give us the thing that only
god can give us demanding the loyalty
that belongs to god alone
or you know crossing the line and saying
that you can't actually be a faithful
christian on the one hand a faithful
citizen on the other
now there are places in the world where
that question is asked really sharply
but actually in western culture that you
know you and i share
are the question is asked perhaps more
subtly so for example
do i do i find my identity by the brands
of clothes that i buy
what what role does global capitalism
and free market economics have
can it satisfy all my needs or do i need
to ask some fundamental questions about
consumerist culture about our attitude
to wealth and our attitude to government
what about the what about the other
powers that be in our world what about
um so-called internet internet
what about sports styles what about
people who shape our la our culture
uh do they demand things of us that
actually are in conflict with what it
means to be
a disciple of jesus so and i think we
can actually learn things from the book
of revelation which
help us because of paul because of john
helping his readers to engage with those
those questions about
are fundamental clashes of loyalty in
their culture
we also have some similar clashes of
and therefore we can look to revelation
2 help us answer those questions
you talk about this a little bit you
talk about four main themes
in your book of revelation uh one is
power and greatness and i think that has
a little bit to do with
kind of what you're talking about where
we get the depiction of the throne of
god especially in the first few chapters
absolutely uh everything seems to change
in chapter four
as far as i can see right it goes from
there there's allusions to
heaven and and whatnot but it seems to
to a little bit more of a heavenly
view starting in chapter four and you
kind of see this this uh as you're
outlining here a
maybe a little bit about the conflict
between earth and heaven right about
between a a man-made civilization or or
or government and the government of god
so to speak
number two i really like chaos and
meaning three was economic exploitation
and materialism
and number four was environmental
destruction i wanted to ask you about
chaos and meaning
you say here a principle that you're
pulling from
from uh revelation you're saying chaos
comes not directly by the authority of
but not totally unconnected to his will
yeah the the contrast with the
contemporary narrative
of the game of thrones right yeah
where there is no meaning right as
compared to what the
meaning is that that john is trying to
give here i think that's kind of
you know game of thrones is the meaning
power i think if there's a meaning there
it's simply it's simply power and pride
yeah right what what how do you how are
you looking at that as a contrast to
john is talking about with with power or
or meaning in chaos yes
yeah well i think you're right and i i
like the way you sum up that movement
from heaven to work that says there
really is a clear change from
you know the kind of earthly reality of
the the assemblies in the seven cities
in chapters two and three and then you
have this
heavenly perspective in fact actually
the whole the whole of the text moves
from one to the other
i'm just writing some um bible study
notes on on chapters 13 and 14
and chapter 13 with the beast trampling
the saints that's a pretty
grim view of chaos on earth
and then suddenly you step into chapter
14. now remember
that the chapter divisions weren't part
of the original text so
we kind of think oh well this is a new
chapter this is something different but
the text actually just flows
by the way that the chapter divisions
were invented by the archbishop of
canterbury and uh
stephen langton in the 13th century so
that's another thing to give thanks for
for the british for the church
but then you you move from the
nitty-gritty earthly in the
chapter 13 to the heavenly vision of the
um saints followers of lamb on mount
zion and in fact in chapter 13 they've
been called
heaven dwellers just as paul says in
ephesians chapter 2
we are seated in the heavenly places
with christ jesus that's the picture the
new testament gives
when you are in christ you are you're
with him as it were
enjoying his reign in your life and and
in that sense you are
sitting in the heavenly places but i
think this whole question about k i
i'm not a great fan of game of thrones i
try to watch a few times i just find it
so depressing because
you know some good guy goes along it all
looks good then suddenly they get their
their throats step yeah it really is
full of violence full of chaos
um but what's really interesting i find
i mean just again to take the image of
the four horsemen
you've got a really graphic image of
conquest the rider on the white horse of
warfare swinging a huge sword and death
and famine and disease
you know and the uh the fourth rider and
rode with him but death followed after
it hades followed after him i mean it's
really gruesome stuff
and again the the john's readers in the
first century they would have recognized
perfectly well their first response if
you live in the first century
this is my world you know they lived in
a world where life was brutish and short
they lived in a world where there was
constant warfare particularly in the
east of the empire there were constant
threats from the parthians coming from
from the east and and you know one of
the things rome said was you'll only be
protected from them by staying with us
saying lord to the emperor he's the one
who can provide you with security and
um it's an air at a time where life was
really brutish and short where
um women died in childbirth where life
expectancy was really short you know
if you were a roman army veteran you
managed to do your 20 years to get your
pension you were doing really well um
very little medicine a plagues came and
they just
ravaged through cities and just
destroyed whole
generations so this is a chaotic world
they lived in now
what does what does john do in the way
he does he gives his vision report
all this chaos and all these sort of
bizarre images and all these sort of
monsters and all these things
they're actually held in a seven-fold
and again just to take that example john
does not depict
god inflicting this on the world what he
is when the lamb opened the next seal
i heard a voice of one of the creatures
on the throne say come
now what's he saying there he's saying
ultimately ultimately
god is on the throne and ultimately none
of this happens
without god's permission
this isn't about god vindictively
inflicting things on it but
be encouraged in the end in this chaos
god is still the one who
holds this in an orderly way god
still is on the throne and ultimately
the throne of god will come from heaven
to earth so that in chapter 21 where
we're heading to
in the new jerusalem god's dwelling
place is with humans
and in fact the cube of the new
jerusalem a cube in the old testament
stands for the holy of holies the
dwelling place of god
this enormous cube of the old testament
of god's presence
comes down and we his people
will be with him forever and will be
there intimately with him so
the chaos doesn't have the last word god
is still on his throne
even if you can't see the signs of that
so obviously now
but you live through the chaos in the
hope that god's orderly holy presence
will one day set all things right
does that i didn't answer your question
that does and it's going to lead me to
something else but i want to get
back go backtrack a little bit before i
get there because that's leading into
well how is that going to apply to us
today how does this how does this book
apply to us today but
i wanted to ask you just focus a little
bit more in on the old testament
yeah and how this how this is
drawn uh by john in in the text
you mentioned was it 676 references
what's the ones i counted yeah okay 676
references to the old testament
obviously i mean
there's no new testament that's compiled
at this time there's
you know they're living in an old
testament textual world
absolutely so to speak right this is
what they're drawing from they perhaps
the septuagint i don't know but
but they they're you you had mentioned
that uh
you know books such as daniel where you
get this visionary
language also and ezekiel
several times in ezekiel you see this
and isaiah especially maybe isaiah 6
you're drawing on this this language
yeah of of vision uh this is what you
had said about
uh the old testament here if i've got
this right
i pay careful attention to the way john
on the old testament in the way that he
uses and
reuses such words and ideas i have
frequently commented on how the text
relates to other parts of scripture
which old testament text john appears to
be drawing on and the parallels we find
in other parts of the new testament
how does the old testament especially
these these visionary texts
how do they inform us of what john
is is trying to tell us
um i think i'd say it at every point now
one of the one of the debates
again in scholarship is heads in two
directions one is is this
john's doing something deliberately is
he actually using his subconsciously
or is it just the fact that his mind is
saturated in this in old testament
language and therefore that's just his
um i think there's some good arguments
to say this is deliberate it appears to
be conscious
and i'll give you an example to
illustrate that i think the other
question is
um that again has been debated is uh
some conservatives got to say
oh well john isn't changing the meaning
of the old testament he's keeping it
intact and just using this language but
again i don't think that's true
i think perhaps one of the most helpful
examples comes from
revelation 11 and 12. and again it's a
new it's a numerological one you can see
i love the numbers
and that is just i'm just going to get
uh revelation 11 up so we have
um in revelation 11 uh
he is um given a measuring world and
told to measure the temple although he
never actually he never actually doesn't
describe himself doing that
and then he has this vision of the two
witnesses now
again this is a really interesting thing
i'm circling back now you asked about is
this a vision report
one of the reasons why it isn't a vision
report or isn't a vision simply
is that i don't if you've noticed how
much what john writes isn't what he sees
it's what he hears now i was in a
conference a few years ago and i was a
bit bored
so i was sitting in the comments so i
thought well i wonder how much does he
actually hear so i actually took the
an english text of revelation and i
divided it up in a word document into
things he reports he's seeing and things
he reports hearing
the things he reports hearing worked out
at 45
of the text which i think again people
don't always realize
in fact this whole first half of chapter
11 isn't a description of something he
it's written in a future tense and it's
actually in recording what the angel
says to him so this is something he
hears um
so again you can see it's it's much more
complicated than just being a better
sure but you see he says that the 42
witnesses sorry the two witnesses
um the the temple has given over to the
nations they'll trample the holy city
for 42 months
and i'll grant authority to my two
witnesses and they will prophesy for
1260 days
and then in chapter 12 those numbers
that time period of 42 months 1260 days
is also described as
time times and half a time or in some
translations three and a half years
now these are actually all the same time
period and
you can do that but just by as it was as
you would say do the math okay so
three and a half years 12 months in each
year uh
36 plus 6 is 42. so 3 and a half years
is 42 months
now just bear with me if you if you have
a perfect religious calendar and all
your months have 30 days
then 42 times 12 times 30
is 3 4 12 2 3 6 is 1260 days
right so john seems to be talking about
time period half a week of years time
period 260 days 42 months it's a time
of suffering because the the the temple
is trampled and i think that's an image
for the people of god
for 42 months it's a time of
safety the woman in chapter 12 is taking
the desert protected by god for 1260
but it's also a time of testimony as
well now so
john is actually doing quite a lot of
work with this time period now i would
argue i'd agree actually
again richard balcom has said this and i
agree with him this is a symbolic
representation of the time between
jesus resurrection ascension on the one
hand and jesus return on the other in
other words
this is the time we are living in the
time we are living in
is a time of suffering whether people
got it trampled but it's also a time of
protection where we know that god
actually is looking after us
and it's a time for witness it's a time
we should testify
to what god has done in jesus and in
fact we can see that because right the
very beginning when john is writing this
not only an apocalypse but a letter to a
prophetic letter to the churches he says
john this is revelation one verse nine i
john and your brother
in the tribulation the kingdom
and the patient endurance that are ours
in jesus okay
tribulation flipsis is what we have in
jesus jesus said in the seven on the
blessed are you when people persecute
and revile you because of me
in paul's missionary journey he preaches
in lister and derby in
in acts 14 22 and he says through many
tribulations we must enter the kingdom
of god
uh you know if you're going to follow
jesus jesus says everyone wants to
follow me he must come after me
and take up their cross a cross is about
suffering about tribulation
tribulation but also about kingdom
because we actually
when we're baptized into jesus were
baptized into his resurrection
life and the kingdom of god so if you're
living in a time where you have trouble
and tribulation in the world but you're
in the kingdom you need patient
endurance that's the quality you need
while you're waiting for this to be
okay so there's a whole complex of
theological ideas there now where does
john get them from
where does john get three and a half
years 1260 days
and 42 months well the answer to the
first two is the book of daniel
because in daniel the tribulation is
going to last time times and half a time
so this is a short intense limited
period where it looks like the temple in
jerusalem is being desecrated
but the point about it being a defined
short time is that
god is still sovereign and god will
bring this period to an end so we just
need to be patient
and wait for god's deliverance now uh
um daniel actually calculates this time
as lasting 1290 days or 1335 days
so john changes that in order to fit
with his numerical scheme because
he then also identifies that with 42
months now
if i said to you 40
then you'd probably guess where it came
which is the world well i mean you've
got the accident you've got the 40 days
in sinai you've got the 40 days of of
fasting with christ absolutely and those
are already
40 years in the wilderness 40 years in
the wilderness exactly but in fact if
you read the book of numbers carefully
it's not
40 years it's actually 42 years because
they stay two years in kadesh barnier
before the 40 years of wandering
and in the end of numbers numbers 33
there's a list of all the places that
they stopped
and guess how many places there are 42.
so what i think john is doing is he's
saying look
how do we make sense of this we're
followers of jesus he's going to keep us
how come we have so much trouble in the
world what's going on
and if we're going to get pressure in
the world but we're also
being protected by god what do we need
to do to get through this
and what john is doing with the old
testament is saying
yes you are having trouble like daniel
this is an intense period of tribulation
but you can endure because god is
but he's also saying this is like the
exodus wanderings
so the christian journey we've been set
free from slavery not to egypt but to
slavery to sin
and we are heading for a promised land
not the land of israel but
the new jerusalem that comes from heaven
to earth where god is renewing the whole
so the christian life is a bit like
being in daniel but it's also a bit like
being an exodus now here's the question
have we heard those ideas before
in the new testament absolutely you know
in luke's gospel at the transfiguration
moses and elijah come and talk to jesus
about the
exodus that he will perform in jerusalem
so in other words jesus death and
are enacting another exodus journey
why is jesus in the desert tempted 40
days because again it's an echo
precisely of
the the exodus wanderings of israel so
jesus is actually as it were reenacting
the life of israel and when we're
incorporated into jesus
then paul talks about being in christ
then we too
are on the excess journey and again you
find in for instance one corinthians 10
where paul goes back to you know
um he talks about people being baptized
into moses and saying look here
here's examples for us we need to learn
from these exercise wanderings because
you know being a follower of jesus is a
bit like
being on those on on that exodus journey
so so
on the one hand john is really clearly
it seems to be reworking these
biblical his old testament ideas
scriptural ideas he's doing it for a
particular purpose of explaining what it
means to be a follower of jesus
and the other writers in other parts of
the new testament are doing exactly the
same kind of thing
it's interesting yeah for for the lds
listeners here that's uh
of particular interest would be lehigh
leaving jerusalem and heading for the
promised land also because that's very
very closely tied to exactly what you're
yeah on this um
isaiah specifically why so much from
isaiah isaiah's everywhere
right i mean jesus opens up in the
synagogue with a with a quote from
we see isaiah all throughout the new
testament in the gospels that are that
it where it's
it's uh uh we talked about the suffering
servant and and
absolutely the the servant songs in
why isaiah so much what what is what is
different about isaiah from
even daniel or or ezekiel or zechariah
why is that drawn so much in the new
well i think because because isaiah's in
comes in two parts
and it comes in a part which has hope
but has been a situation of crisis and
then it's a second part which is
that the deliverance of god is at hand
so you have the dynamic of crisis and
now i don't i don't know if you've
talked to your show before about the
this is numbers again i'm going to
understand it yeah i'm obsessed with
okay so how many chapters are there in
uh 60 61 62 56
66 okay okay 66 chapters and i
how many books are there in the older
new testament together that i don't know
it's 66. okay okay so
now almost every scholar most
commentators divide isaiah into two
so the first part do you know how many
chapters the first part has
no 39 you're talking about
one first one yeah first time's up first
size yeah
and what scholars commonly call
secondary i mean scumbles are divided
back with the secondary zero third as i
yeah some put it into the third idea as
well yeah okay
um so secondary starts with chapter 40.
okay so how many chapters are there in
the second half of isaiah well
27 27 okay fine
in the protestant canon of scripture how
many books are there in the old
well let me get twenty-seven thirty-six
thirty-something okay 39 old testament
yeah okay and then the new testament
twenty-seven okay got it okay so
the structure of isaiah as it's divided
into chapters corresponds exactly with
the structure of the bible
divided into the old and new testament
so what you're arguing for there i mean
just just
on a tangent here you're what you're
arguing for is it is a meta-narrative
of isaiah then yeah but remember
remember the chapter divisions aren't
part of isaiah they were added by
stephen langton of 13th century but he
did that
because of the common christian
interpretation that we find the gospel
in isaiah because we find
in the first 39 chapters hints of
hope but the foreground is despair or
challenge or problems
but the hope shines through in the
second half you have the hope realized
and therefore christian readings of the
whole canon of scripture would say the
same thing we say in the first half in
the old testament
you do have glimpses of what is to come
but you're mostly presented with the
problem that you're facing
but in the new testament in jesus you
the deliverance that was promised and
that's why new testament writers look so
much to isaiah and they looked it for
two things as you say
for the obvious the chapter that stands
out as isaiah 53 but
um for instance for for those in
christian churches using the
the shared lectionary across different
churches the passage that we're looking
at is
luke chapter 24 where jesus meets the 11
disciples and says look
you know it's following the road to
emmaus incident and he says look um
uh it was this this has to happen as it
was written up to me in the scriptures
that the messiah
should suffer and should be raised
and that the gospel shall be preached to
all the nations well where does that
come from isaiah 53 talks about the
who suffers and isaiah 49 says
iphone 6 says you know it is too light a
thing for me to deliver only
judea israel i will make you a light to
all the nations so that all the nations
will hear about my salvation
so you have both in isaiah the second
half of isaiah you have the fulfillment
of the promises of hope you have in the
first half but
it transcends a nationalistic vision
this isn't just hope for
judah this is hope for the whole world
and so actually all the way through
isaiah you have this image right from
very beginning chapter two you have the
fact that
all the nations will be drawn to our
design zion will become the highest
mountain in the world
and all the nations will come to it hey
what happens in revelation 21
the new jerusalem comes down on a great
high mountain it's the temple presence
of god
on a high mountain and all the nations
of the earth all the kings of the world
of the earth bring their riches in
and all the nations walk by the light so
revelation picks up particularly
this movement from despair or from
crisis to hope to the realization of
and it moves as well from a
nationalistic thing to
a vision of cosmic of global salvation
and so therefore one of the key i'm
coming back to neurology one of the key
phrases in the book of revelation
is in chapter seven seven verse nine
where john has
heard because he hears half the stuff
uh this the people counted out the
hundred forty four thousand from every
of each one of the twelve tribes and
heard them counted out he turns to look
at them and what does he see
he sees people from every tribe language
people and nation
who are all gathered around the throne
in other words the the numbered
disciplined israel of god is actually
drawn from
every tribe language people in nature
because in jesus
the hope of israel and the grace of god
in their redemption has now broken the
bounds of israel has become a hope for
the whole world
and and that's john is that's that's the
vision that occupies john that's why he
draws on his eyes so much because that's
where he finds it
and of course that four-fold phrase
actually occurs through revelation
seven times and and
four is kind of like a number of natural
where we have four wins that happen to
well the four points the compass
so four signifies everybody and seven
signifies completeness
so you have in revelation you have a you
have an international
global cosmic vision of the impact of
the redemption we find in jesus
very interesting real quick did does
does isaiah
1-39 yen then represent those three and
a half years those first three and a
half years and in 40 to 66
after that you're talking about the
three and a half years or the 42 months
is that kind of represented by those
first 39 uh yeah 39 chapters
no i would say it differently i said
rather than seeing them consecutively i
would say you see them together in the
that we are this is where we're getting
into sort of
new testament eschatology whereas
whereas jewish eschatology said look
we're looking for a day of the lord
and the day of the lord we bought by a
messiah an anointed one and that messiah
liberate israel will purify worship or
drive out the gentle oppressors
and will raise the dead for judgment and
when jesus was raised in the dead
the disciples can't make sense of this
because they're sitting in that jewish
sense of hope they don't expect one dead
person to be raised in the dead if the
resurrection's coming it's going to be
and israel's going to be liberated and
the gentiles are going to be driven out
and you know it's all going to happen
and in fact what happens in new
testament eschatology we find with jesus
resurrection we see
the beginnings of that happening we see
god's anointed we see
that sin is forgiven we see that grace
is poured out on israel that worship is
but we don't see the end of sin and
oppression so
we actually end up with an overlap so
the age to come
has broken into jesus but this evil age
and we all through the new testament we
are living with one foot in each camp as
well we're living
in the age to come but we're also still
living in this age so it's not that
it's not that the bad past the pressure
has gone and we're now living in the new
age it's actually we're living in the
and that's why paul uses the language of
first fruits you get a language in
um in revelation 14 as well about that
those who live on zion are the first
in other words we are in jesus
resurrection life we're stepping into
the future god has for us
but we're living that future out in the
present world this age
great two things before we let you go
here i wanted to get to you did your
on chapter 12 which is kind of the the
hub of the book right i i don't know if
you've looked at that as a chiastic
at all and it looks like that's right at
the center of the chiasmus and
in the entire book but you brought in
uh uh
paul ricour yes i did you focus on
recore is that right
okay so recur brings in hermeneutics and
and mixes it with phenomenology yeah and
hermeneutics uh interpretation
what what you see and you use that as an
approach to
to the book of revelation yeah and just
a couple quick things here on this you
had said
in your book one of the most important
thinkers about metaphorical language was
the french philosopher
paul recur he observed several important
things about
metaphors the first is that they make
real claims about
reality so to me this is spiritual
yeah absolutely essential in the way
that we describe the world
metaphors cannot be reduced to
propositions but are necessary
in our engagement with reality
is this language this style of writing
is it somehow trying to bring earth and
heaven together in a way
yeah i i i would say yes so there's
something that's not particularly
recur's perspective
but um i just found it was really
valuable because
um his his
um the way he describes if i can talk
about the anatomy of
metaphor the way that he describes how
medical functions explains
both the power of metaphorical language
that we find in the book of revelation
but also explains a number of things
about for example why is it that
every generation of reader of the book
of revelation has always thought it's
about their world
not about the ancient world not just but
you know so going back to luther you
know one of luther's bibles
actually had a picture of the pope in a
as the prostitute riding the beast in
revelation 17. in other words he he was
very clear that revelation
was describing things in his world and
and why is it such a
powerful but why does it raise so many
emotions and and
create such conflict and that's because
of the way that metaphor functions
so what ricoh was saying is that first
of all metaphor
and then with it narrative which he sees
as closely related
the metaphors and narratives actually
configure the way we perceive the world
so when we for example just to take a
really simple one which is central to
christian theology
when we describe god as father
then that fundamentally changes our
conceptual our cognitive understanding
as well as our
effective relationship to who god is and
what god does
now god is not literally a father in the
sense that a father is someone who sighs
children through a woman
and and you know one of the early
disagreements between islam and
uh christianity is that you know islam
says far be it from god to have children
god is not literally a father but he is
really a father in the sense that
you you can you can reflect on what
fatherlineness means by god but in the
end you can't simply explain it away
so for christian theology identifying
god as father and as the father
jesus christ is an irreducible element
of christian language
um be because you cannot account for it
you can't simply reduce its properties
of statements now the same is true in
the book of revelation as a sense in
which actually
um this language when you start
describing political systems as beasts
from the sea or beasts arising from the
land it has a
very powerful emotional impact and it's
very motivational and that's why
revelation has been
such an important text in so many uh
generations of christians so many
political movements
and we can reflect on what that means
but we can't simply
reduce it to other language and we also
have to be really careful about what
that means john is doing in his world
one of the things that we do when we
describe when we use metaphors to
describe people or describe things
we are not transferring everything about
the vehicle of a metaphor
into the subject so not everything that
is true about a father is true of god
only certain things are and not
everything that's true about beast is
true of
of of in john's day roman imperial power
or the kind of human empires we've seen
in the world since then
so we do have to treat these metaphors
with discernment as well and that
that means that and again recurs very
strongly that means that metaphors
demand interpretation so he
he one of the reasons why rico moved
away from his existential
roots is that he wasn't satisfied with
the need to interpret
you know the fundamental thing we need
to do is to understand our world to
understand ourselves
is to interpret the world around us and
again i think one of the reasons why
revelation is so powerful is that
it helps us understand who we are as
followers of jesus by
interpreting the world we live in to us
and he does that
drawing on that biblical language so
much but also very explicitly drawing on
language and images
of its time so as i argue that
revelation 12 uses
biblical characters the woman um in the
sun and in the pains of childbirth
the dragon the serpent the satan and the
child who's to will the nation without
the rod of iron from psalm 2 verse 9.
and but but he then
he embeds that into a narrative from the
first century the
apollo lito myth which again his readers
would have known very well that's
another reason why we find it a
difficult book to interpret is because
we're not familiar with the
mythology and the language of of of
john's readers and we need to do both
those things so he blends them together
in order to create a a
biblical picture of the world in which
they lived so i've really liked what
i've read about record and
and and and studied a little bit on him
he he actually mentored
they did which is very odd to me because
i am not a fan of dairydoll
no no no very different now we're
getting you know and there there is a
little bit of crossover there as far as
thinking about metaphor and relativity
and things that are you know most in a
postmodern uh
view of of no core truth right i mean
you can see how you can in my mind
pervert things
and and move into something different is
is there do you see an association there
at all between yeah i do i mean i think
post-modernism that came about
shortly yeah and yeah in some ways
although i i think recur
himself i mean he died a few years ago
now i think he he himself would
um some of what ricker said
would suit that in the sense that he was
he was one of the weaknesses i think the
recurrence thought is is not paying
sufficient attention to history
and you know one of his early essays he
talks about he talks about plato and
says plato is
our topos he's unplaceable and there's a
sense which
has a agnosticism about whether we can
really understand the past because it is
so it is so different from us and i
i think that's a weakness what he does
and one of the things i do in my thesis
to say look that
that actually needs addressing um but i
think in terms of derridale's movement
to to
to deconstruct language and meaning i
think i think recur's
thought even if not ricardo himself
would actually stand against that in the
sense that you know paul uses
ricoh uses this language about um
criticism he he says that
again one of his slightly early works on
the symbolism of evil he says look
beyond the desert of criticism we want
to be called again
and ricker believed in a two-fold
hermeneutic on the one hand a hermetic
of suspicion where we ask
questions about text and textual meaning
but on the other hand he says we can't
just stay with that because that just
simply demolishes everything he has a he
uses a metaphor of demolishing idols
he says but we're off we've demolished
idols we actually need to recover
symbols because symbols are the symbols
the metaphors that they lead to in
language and the narratives that they're
embedded in
actually the things which give us
concrete meaning in life
so we can't simply go around demolishing
things and i think daradai and this
deconstruction language would actually
fall in that category of people who
who are masters of suspicion i mean
originally recur talks about
marx and freud as masters of suspicion
in the realms of psychology and of
and i think he might have gone on to
describe deredo as a master of suspicion
in terms of
the meaning of language but but actually
ricardo was very clear that language
carried meaning and that recovering
meaning by going through a critical
process but then at the end he talks
about making a wager of faith
on what a text means uh that that
language of wagering
and committing ourselves is something i
think it's very hospitable to christian
theology but i think also it stands over
the the more skeptical approach to
language and meaning
that daredevil has been but i thought
that certainly recur would not reduce
language to
uh exercises and power plays in a way
that the deconstruction test yeah gary
dodd definitely took a different path
with all of that
no question lastly i don't want to keep
you from your dinner so
uh how how do we apply
the book of revelation to us today aside
dispensationalism right i mean it's like
how do we take this as a message
as a christian message and and apply it
into our lives today
well i think the fundamental reason why
i don't i'm not persuaded by
dispensationalism as i think it's
we need to pay attention to the way that
scripture configures time
and the primary way the new testament
configures time is in
this kind of this apocalyptic escalator
language of this
age and the age to come and that
because the resurrection of jesus marked
the end of history as it were
and the breaking of the age to come the
fundamental configuration for
for believers is that we live
in this age but we also live in the age
to come and all the questions about the
tensions of christian living
arise from the tensions of us sitting in
this time now
i actually argue in in my um i think i
mentioned my commentary that
that john does that very specifically he
does it again through a numerical device
where we have the seven trumpets
and we have the first uh four trumpets
and then for the fifth sixth and seventh
trumpet he introduces something
another numerical configuration he sees
an eagle high in the air in the middle
of the air
uh crying out saying whoa whoa whoa the
three woes are to come
and the fifth trumpet is the first woe
and the sixth trumpet is the
is the second woe and then when the
seventh trumpet blows
there's no third woe it's left hanging
and in fact we discover woe
in chapter the next world in chapter 12
michael and his angels expel satan
because of the victory of jesus
uh for death the lamb who was slain and
he then says
rejoice you heavens but woe to you who
are on earth
so as heaven dwellers who live on earth
we are rejoicing
in the victory of jesus but we're also
experiencing woe
as well and i think i think that's what
john is saying to his readers
you and i were in between the sixth and
seventh trumpet where
we are in the end times we've been in
the end times since jesus ascension
until jesus returns and that's exactly
what peter says at pentecost he says you
know this is that about which the
prophet joel wrote
in those end times i will in those last
days i will pour out my spirit the
the spirit of god i think in paul's
writing as well is the
end times gift where where um the spirit
goes poured out on us in order that we
might live
resurrection life in the present age so
i would say that's the big picture for
us in revelation and therefore
that's what we do we are we are it helps
us because we inhabit the narrative
that revelations offer us so we see
ourselves as
the seven gold lampstands amongst whom
jesus walks or the stars that we are
held firmly in his hand
we see ourselves as that 144 000 that
army that's disciplined and ready for
spiritual warfare but we also see
ourselves as
drawn from every tribe language people
and nation that's particularly pertinent
in the era of black lives matter is it
not you know the god's people are
multi-ethnic multicultural
together uh we see ourselves as
the ones who are are trampled by the
beast in chapter 13 but we also see
ourselves as the ones who are protected
in the desert place like the woman and
in the end we're on that journey and the
which ends with the vision of the new
jerusalem that's what we're setting our
hope on and i think there's just so much
material as we read revelation
theologians so much material there to
actually give us
very specific guidance on i mean in
revelation revelation 14 that the 144 on
mount zion
i've given a sevenfold description of
what they look like and that gives us
you know this is the picture of what it
is that that jesus is forming us to be
as his people uh that we are blameless
that we are honest that we are
we are dedicated devoted to him and and
and and pure
and preparing to be there's just a
multiplicity of images of who we are
and how we should live now wonderful by
the way i i liked your description of of
using 144 as a as a as a square
yeah you you parallel that to the square
altars which were different from the
altars of the people absolutely in that
time and again you see this is a lovely
visual metaphor so so john uses the
the the dimensions of altars in the old
testament which is square to describe
who we are
paul says it in a much more mundane way
doesn't it in revelation 12 and in
romans chapter 12 he says therefore in
view of god's compassions
offer yourselves your bodies as a living
sacrifice holy and pleasing to him and
john is just saying that the same thing
but instead of saying it directly he's
saying it visually
numerically drawing from language in the
old testament which i think is what
makes revelation such a remarkable book
now the the real quick the the number
one thousand you see
i thought you said you put that in as a
square also it's actually a cube
it's a cube yeah 10 10 10. yeah and the
cube is the shape of the
number of the holy of holies yeah
absolutely in a sense okay
dr paul thank you so much for uh taking
this time with us and going over this
and i i know that uh
our followers are going to love this
conversation here the book you've
written is revelation it is a tyndale
new testament commentary there it is
green paul
and ian again i really appreciate your
enthusiasm and your motivation for all
of this and
and the work that you do and i hope
look a little bit look for him a little
bit more online whether it's social
media or
on your your website your blog yeah
yeah just search em i zeo yeah but you
can just search for em pull blog and
it'll come up and just
come up great all right thanks so much
appreciate it and uh
the technology worked great over the
pond here i'm very very happy about that
well thanks for the invitation greg it's
been really good to engage with you and
thanks for the questions and and
and for reading the book appreciate that
no problem

50% Complete

Two Step

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua.