The Harlot of Revelation 17

[Articles in the Multiple Views series are intended to present various views held by Christians, in an objective and unbiased manner]

In Revelation 17, we see the Apostle John mention “a woman sitting on a scarlet beast” (Revelation 17:3). This woman “is drunk – but her inebriation does not flow from any typical liquors. Her drink of choice is the blood of the saints [seen in v.6]. She is wrapped in a harlot’s robes, and this inscription is found scrawled across her forehead: “BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND THE ABOMINATION OF THE EARTH” (Revelation 17:5) …

An angel unravels the mystery of this woman’s identity. As it turns out, this scene is not about a woman at all. The woman symbolizes a city, “the great city that rules over the kings of the earth” (Revelation 17:18). But this city’s rule does not last forever. “In one day, her plagues will overtake her: death, mourning, and famine, for mighty is the Lord God who judges her” (18:8).

But what city could this woman possibly be? And when does she fall? Or could it be that she has already fallen? Here are the three possibilities for the city symbolized by the woman on the beast” [1], which has been postulated:

 What city could the harlot symbolise? When does the city fall?
  • Jerusalem – judged because of their rejection of Jesus as Messiah
  • In AD 70 when TItus beseiged the city and destroyed the temple.
  • While the defenders of Jerusalem split into three factions (Revelation 16:19), the Roman armies passed easily over the Euphrates River (Revelation 16:12).
  • During the siege, Roman catapults hurled massive white stones into the city (Revelation 16:21).
  • Rome & any other regime like ancient Rome – judged because of their exploitation and persecution for the sake of luxury and gain
  • They collapse will collapse upon themselves (Revelation 17:16-17)
  • When Jesus returns, he will destroy all such powers once and for all
  • Babylon (thought to be rebuilt in the future along the Euphrates River in Iraq)
  •  Near the end of the future seven-year tribulation.
  • This fall of Babylon is also described in Isaiah 13-14 and Jeremiah 50-51


Source
: Rose Guide to End-Times Prophecy (2011)

[1] Rose Guide to End-Times Prophecy (2011), p.261

Gehenna & The Valley of Hinnom

There are various words used in the New Testament (NT) which are translated into our English bibles as “hell.” First off, there’s Hades which is “properly, unseen, i.e. “Hades” or the place (state) of departed souls.” [1] Besides that, there’s also Tartarus which has been taken to mean, “the place of punishment of the fallen angels,” [2] Now we come to the topic of today’s article, that is, Gehenna.

“Gehenna is a transliteration from the Aramaic form of the Hebrew ge-hinnom, “valley of Hinnom.” [3] To transliterate is to “write or print (a letter or word) using the closest corresponding letters of a different alphabet or language.” [4] The development can be summarised as: Ge-Hinnom (Hebrew) –> Ge-hinnam (Aramaic) -> Ge’enna (Greek); Gehenna (transliteration)

The phrase “valley of Hinnom” is found in Joshua 15:8; Joshua 18:16; Nehemiah 11:30. It is also known as the valley of Ben-Hinnom (Joshua 15:8; 18:16), the valley of the son of Hinnom (2 Kings 23:10), and Topheth [5] (Jeremiah 7:31; 2 Kings 23:10).

Continue reading “Gehenna & The Valley of Hinnom”

Manuscript Errors in the Bible?

On the 17th of October 2017, I had the privilege of speaking at one of the sessions in a series on the Doctrine of Scripture, organised by my local church. Below is an outline of my approach to the question, “Manuscript Errors in the Bible?” (Session 2). Attached are the PowerPoint slides & participants’ notes, from the session.

[Please note that this is only meant to be a brief overview of the highly technical field of Textual Criticism. In the limited time I had, to present, I could not cover additional matters (e.g. manuscript text types) which I would have loved to. However, if you do find the resources below useful for your personal edification and/or for the edification of your ministry/local church, please use them without hesitation. God bless!]

Outline:

1) Introduction

  • Self
  •  Scholars referred to

2) Definitions

3) Manuscripts of NT vs Classical Texts

  • Comparison
  • Words in NT vs Variants in NT manuscripts

4) Scribal Work (Exercise)

  • Each person copies down as I dictate 7 verses [taken from Amos 2:9-16; see attachment titled Scribal Work (Exercise)]
  • Each “manuscript” will then be passed to person on the left/right and participants will take turns to read out each verse
  • Variants will then be identified and corrected

5) Types of Variants

  • Explain the 4 types (i.e. not meaningful & not viable, viable but not meaningful, meaningful but not viable, and viable & meaningful)
  • Go through a few examples of each type

6) Text Reconstruction (Exercise)

  • Each group receives 4 “manuscripts” [see attachment titled Text Reconstruction (Exercise)] from which they will attempt to discover the original wordings

7) What happens if we have no NT manuscripts?

8) Conclusion

Attachments:

Manuscript Errors in the Bible? (Slides)

Manuscript Errors in the Bible? (Participants Notes)

Scribal Work (Exercise)

Text Reconstruction (Exercise)

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the individual author, and they do not reflect in any way those of the institutions to which he is affiliated.

Revelation 12

[Articles in the Multiple Views series are intended to present various views held by Christians, in an objective and unbiased manner]

Revelation 12:1-4 says the following:

1 A great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars;

2 and she was with child; and she cried out, being in labor and in pain to give birth.

3 Then another sign appeared in heaven: and behold, a great red dragon having seven heads and ten horns, and on his heads were seven diadems.

4 And his tail swept away a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that when she gave birth he might devour her child.

5 And she gave birth to a son, a male child, who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron; and her child was caught up to God and to His throne.

6 Then the woman fled into the wilderness where she had a place prepared by God, so that there she would be nourished for one thousand two hundred and sixty days.

7 And there was war in heaven, Michael and his angels waging war with the dragon. The dragon and his angels waged war,

8 and they were not strong enough, and there was no longer a place found for them in heaven.

9 And the great dragon was thrown down, the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.

10 Then I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying,

“Now the salvation, and the power, and the kingdom of our God and the authority of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren has been thrown down, he who accuses them before our God day and night.

11 And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even when faced with death.

12 For this reason, rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell in them. Woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, knowing that he has only a short time.”

13 And when the dragon saw that he was thrown down to the earth, he persecuted the woman who gave birth to the male child.

14 But the two wings of the great eagle were given to the woman, so that she could fly into the wilderness to her place, where she *was nourished for a time and times and half a time, from the presence of the serpent.

15 And the serpent poured water like a river out of his mouth after the woman, so that he might cause her to be swept away with the flood.

16 But the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened its mouth and drank up the river which the dragon poured out of his mouth.

17 So the dragon was enraged with the woman, and went off to make war with the rest of her children, who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus.

Today we will be examining the different ways this particular chapter has been interpreted.

 Timeframe  Description
 1) Flashback to Bethlehem + Flash forward to end times
  • The woman is seen as ethnic Israel and so the birth of the child is a flashback to the incarnation of Jesus.
  • After the Messiah is born, the scene immediately flashes forward to a time after the rapture, halfway through the seven year tribulation.
  • That’s when Satan will renew his assault on the modern nation of Israel. This assault will result in cosmic war between the angels of God and the dragon.
  • Defeated by the archangel Michael, the dragon will try to destroy the Jewish believers in Jesus but the earth itself will rise up to protect them (Revelation 12:13-17).
  • Bottom line: Satan will be thrown down to this earth; this will happen during a future time of tribulation.
 2) Flashback to Bethlehem + Flash forward to AD70
  • The woman represents heavenly Jerusalem.
  • During the Jewish-Roman War, Roman legions swept through the land like a destructive deluge (Daniel 9:26; Revelation 12:15-16), but believers in Jesus left Jerusalem before the worst of Rome’s wrath (Revelation 12:14-17).
  • Bottom line: Satan was thrown down to earth; this happened in AD70
 3) Victory in Jesus from heaven’s point of view
  • This chapter is seen as an apocalyptic recounting of all that Jesus accomplished through his life, death, and resurrection.
  • The woman is the Virgin Mary (Revelation 12:12, 6).
  • Jesus died, and God the Father raised him to life and enthroned him in the heavens (Revelation 12:5).
  • Satan tried many tactics to disrupt the Messiah’s genealogy and destroy the long promised king (Revelation 12:3-6; see Matthew 2:16-18; 4:1-11; Luke 4:29-30), but Jesus triumphed and crushed the serpent (Revelation 12:9; see Genesis 3:15).
  • Bottom line: Satan was thrown down to earth; this happened through the sacrificial death and the third-day triumph of Jesus.

Source: Rose Guide to End-Times Prophecy (2011)

Capital Punishment: Justification for Death Penalties in the Old Testament

CAPITAL PUNISHMENT:

JUSTIFICATION FOR DEATH PENALTIES IN THE OLD TESTAMENT

Joshua Wu[1]

            In his popular book, The God Delusion, Richard Dawkins boldly claims that, “The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.”[2] Not surprisingly, many people share Dawkins’ views as a result of their deformed view of the Bible and what it states.

The purpose of this paper is to provide two, non-exhaustive, justifications for Old Testament laws which prescribe the death penalty for certain offences. The paper will begin by addressing some preliminary issues before introducing a two prong justification. Moving on from there, we will consider how it all ties in with Christ, before concluding on what our relationship to the Old Testament law is.

 

  1. A) Preliminaries

It is pertinent to be aware of some of the offences for which the death penalty is prescribed. In his Dictionary of the Bible, John McKenzie maintains: “The laws of the Pnt prescribe stoning for the following crimes: idolatry (Dt 13:10; 17:5); blasphemy (Lv 24:14; cf 1 K 21:10; Jn 10:33); child sacrifice (Lv 20:2); divination (Lv 20:27); Sabbath violation (Nm 15:32 ff); adultery (Dt 22:22 f; cf Ezk 16:40; 23:47;  Jn 8:4 f); fornication by an unmarried woman (Dt 22:21); rebellion of children (Dt 21:20 f); and the ox that gores (Ex 21:28).”[3]

There are also other offences, wherein stoning isn’t mentioned but where it is commanded that the perpetrators be “put to death”. These are, being a false prophet (Deuteronomy 13:5), bestiality (Exodus 22:19), homosexuality (Leviticus 20:13), kidnapping (Exodus 21:16), murder (Exodus 21:12), as well as prostitution and rape (Deuteronomy 22:24). John McKenzie argues that “It may be assumed that stoning is the penalty for other crimes in which the manner of execution is not specified.”[4]

What else do we know about stoning? Craig Keener comments that, “Death by stoning was a common mob action throughout the ancient world, but it was a legal form of execution in the Torah …”[5]. Stoning is also the “… most commonly mentioned form of execution in the Bible … it requires all those persons who have been offended to participate. Because it cannot be determined whose individual stone caused the death of the condemned, no one person needed to bear the guilt for the death.”[6]

Interestingly, “Stoning is not mentioned as a form of capital punishment outside the Bible. Ancient Near Eastern law codes list only drowning, burning, impalement, and beheading, and in each case it is an official body, not the community at large, that is charged with carrying out the punishment.”[7] Lastly, Matthew George Easton remarks: “The official Pentateuchal methods of capital punishment were stoning, burning and decapitation by the sword, these being enumerated in their descending order of severity. The Rabbis added a fourth and milder alternative, strangling.”[8]

Continue reading “Capital Punishment: Justification for Death Penalties in the Old Testament”

A Biblical View of the Antichrist

A BIBLICAL VIEW OF THE ANTICHRIST

Joshua Wu [1]

Craig Koester notes that “identifying the antichrist with figures of one’s own time became especially common from the twelfth century onward. Examples included Pope Gregory IX (1241) and Innocent IV (d. 1254) as well as the Emperor Frederick II (d. 1250). During the sixteenth century, many Protestants came to identify the papal office itself with the antichrist. Later candidates have ranged from the emperor Napoleon to modern American presidents.”[2] Speculation as to the identity of the antichrist will not be undertaken in this paper, but instead, the parameters of what will be discussed are determined by what Scripture has to say.

In our endeavour, we must be careful not to over focus on the antichrist, as the central theme of the Scriptures is not him/it, but our Lord Jesus Christ. Herman Hoyt rightly points out that “there are … [those] who want to major on this area of prophetic truth to the exclusion of other precious truth, and thus become lopsided.”[3] Despite this, we must not retreat to the other extreme whereby we do not care to know about what the Bible has to say regarding the antichrist.

What this paper intends to do is to provide a succinct introduction to what the Bible says about the matter, first off, by addressing some preliminaries, before delving into an examination of key passages which make explicit and implicit reference to the antichrist. Subsequently, this will be followed up with positive takeaways.

 

A) Preliminaries

The most crucial starting point would be to define “antichrist” since it will be used throughout this paper. The word “antichrist” comes from the Greek word “antichristos” (αντίχριστος) which is “made up of two words: the prefix anti- [G473], “acting in the place of” and “opposed to” + christos [G5547], “Christ.””[4] Simply put, the antichrist is “the adversary of the messiah”[5] or “an opponent of the Messiah.”[6]

According to Louw and Nida, “the term . . . appears to have become increasingly equivalent to a proper name as the personification of all that was opposed to and contrary to the role and ministry of Christ.”[7]

Continue reading “A Biblical View of the Antichrist”

When did John write Revelation

[Articles in the Multiple Views series are intended to present various views held by Christians, in an objective and unbiased manner]

“Who wrote Revelation is relatively certain. Although not everyone agrees, the most ancient evidence points to the Apostle John. When the apostle John wrote Revelation is far less certain. Unlike books today, no one placed copyright dates in copies of biblical texts! To decide the approximate date when this biblical text was written, scholars compare what’s inside the book with what was happening in the world outside the book. In the case of Revelation, that process results in two primary possibilities.” [1]

 During the reign of Emperor Nero  During the reign of Emperor Domitian
  • Ruled the Roman Empire, AD 54-68.
  • After a fire in Rome, a rumor circulated that Nero had started the fire.
  • According to the ancient historian Tacitus, “To get rid of this report, Nero accused and inflicted exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, the ones called Christians.”
  • This persecution seems to have been limited to the regions around Rome, but it likely affected attitudes toward Christians beyond Rome.
  • Ruled the Roman Empire, AD 81-96
  • Domitian reportedly declared himself to be divine during his lifetime.
  • According to the ancient historian Suetonius, “Domitian issued an encyclical in the name of his governors that declared ‘Our Master and our God bids that this be done.’”
Evidence 1: An ancient inscription

  • A fifth century version of Revelation in the Syriac language refers to the book as “the Revelation given by God to John the Gospel-writer, on the island of Patmos where he was banished by Emperor Nero.” It is possible that this ascription preserves an earlier tradition.
Evidence 1: The testimony of Irenaeus

  • The second-century writer Irenaeus of Lyons – a student of Polycarp, who knew the apostle John – reported that John wrote Revelation while in exile during Domitian’s reign.
Evidence 2: Persecution of Christians

  • It seems that Christians may have been in the early stages of a time of persecution when John wrote Revelation (1:9; 2:2-3; 2:9-10; 2:13; 3:8-10).
  • Nero instigated the first imperial persecution of Christians in AD 64; this persecution lasted until Nero’s death in 68.
Evidence 2: Worship of the Roman emperor

  • Hints can be found throughout Revelation that Christians may have been coerced to worship the emperor (13:4; 13:14-17; 14:9; 15:2; 16:2; 19:20; 20:4).
  • Nero was never worshipped as divine in his lifetime.
  • Worship of the emperor does seem to have occurred during Domitian’s reign, in the AD 80s and 90s.
  • Coins from Domitian’s reign refer to Domitian as “father of the gods.” An idol of Domitian may have been constructed in the city of Ephesus.
Evidence 3: The temple in Jerusalem

  • If Revelation had been written in the AD 90s, it seems that John might have mentioned the fall of the Jewish temple that occurred in AD 70.
  • The wording of Revelation 11:1-2 suggests to some scholars that the temple of Jerusalem was still standing when John wrote this book.
Evidence 3: The church of Laodicea

  • The description of Laodicea’s self-sufficiency may reflect a time in the AD 80s when the Laodiceans rebuilt their city with no outside assistance after an earthquake (Revelation 3:17).

 

Source: Rose Guide to End-Times Prophecy (2011)

[1] Rose Guide to End-Times Prophecy (2011), p.225

Four Ways Revelation is Viewed

[Articles in the Multiple Views series are intended to present various views held by Christians, in an objective and unbiased manner]

“The Book of Revelation takes its name from the Greek word found in 1:1, apokalypsis (637), an unveiling, uncovering, or disclosure … Written largely in what has been termed apocalyptic genre, not surprisingly Revelation has yielded the greatest number of divergent interpretations of any NT book.” [1] Today, this article will present an overview of four of the most predominant views which have cropped up.

 Perspectives How Revelation is Viewed
A) Futurist
  •  Revelation is a prophecy primarily about the future end of the world and years leading immediately to the end
  • All or nearly all of Revelation is yet to occur
  • Held to by dispensational premillennialists and some historic premillennialists
B) Historicist
  •  Revelation is a prophecy about church history from the time of John to the end of the world
  • The events in Revelation are viewed as symbolic descriptions of historical events throughout church history

Note: Some futurists understand the Seven Churches (Revelation 1-3) in a historic manner, treating each church as descriptive of a particular era of church history

C) Idealist
  • Revelation is a non-historical and non-prophetic drama about spiritual realities
  • Revelation is viewed as “… hyper-allegories or esoteric parables designed to simply illustrate the ongoing conflict between God and Satan, good and evil, the Church and the world.” [1]
  • Seemed to have originated among ancient Alexandrian theologians, who frequently spiritualised and allegorised biblical text
D) Preterist 
  • Revelation is a prophecy which was fulfilled primarily in the first century AD
  • This view “stresses the immediacy of the book’s message.”
  • Strand #1: Partial Preterism – views most of Revelation as fulfilled in the first century although the final chapters of Revelation describe future events to occur at the end of time
  • Strand #2: Full Preterism – views the return of Jesus described in Revelation 19 as spiritual and occurred in AD 70 when the temple of Jerusalem was destroyed.
  • Typically held to by amillennialists or postmillennialists

Note: Christians throughout church history have understood full preterism to be a heresy

 

Source: Rose Guide to End-Times Prophecy (2011)

[1] Hebrew Greek Key Word Study Bible NIV (1996), p.1447

Four Perspectives on Phrases In Daniel 9:26-27

[Articles in the Multiple Views series are intended to present various views held by Christians, in an objective and unbiased manner]

All the four perspectives that we will examine later, agree that the Anointed One in Daniel 9:25-26 is Jesus. “He was “cut off but not for himself,” indicating that he was a sacrifice for the sins of his people.” [1] Now, let us look at Daniel 9:26-27 (New International Version) before seeing how certain phrases in those verses have been interpreted.

26 After the sixty-two ‘sevens,’ the Anointed One will be put to death and will have nothing. The people of the ruler who will come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end will come like a flood: War will continue until the end, and desolations have been decreed.

27 He will confirm a covenant with many for one ‘seven.’ In the middle of the ‘seven’ he will put an end to sacrifice and offering. And at the temple he will set up an abomination that causes desolation, until the end that is decreed is poured out on him. [2] 

 Perspectives Who is the “ruler who is to come”? (Daniel 9:26)
A)  Jesus was the ruler or prince who was :yet to come” when Daniel wrote these words. By rejecting Jesus, the Jewish people – “the people of the ruler who is yet to come” – brought about the destruction of their temple in AD 70.
B)  The Roman general Titus was the ruler who was “yet to come”
C)  The ruler “yet to come” is a future Antichrist who will appear at the end of time to deceive and to destroy
D)  The ruler “yet to come” is a future Antichrist who will appear in the end ties to deceive the Jewish people

 

 Perspectives  How will “sacrifice and offering” come to an end? (Daniel 9:27)
A)  Halfway through the seventieth seven (or perhaps at the end of the seventieth seven), Jesus was crucified. Jesus’ perfect life and atoning death marked the end of any need for sacrifices and offerings. His death also brought about a new covenant “with many.”
B)  The Roman army, under the command of Titus, ended sacrifices and offerings through the destruction of the temple in AD 70
C)  After the first half of the seventieth seven, Jesus was crucified. Jesus’ perfect life and atoning death marked the end of any need for sacrifices and offerings. The second half of the seventieth seven will occur when the Antichrist appear near the end of time
D)  The entire seventieth seven is the time of the future “great tribulation.” A “great parenthesis” of time stands between the sixty-ninth and seventieth sevens. Before of during the first part of the seventieth “week,” a new temple will be built. The Antichrist will make a covenant with the nation of Israel guaranteeing safety and security. In the middle of the final “week,” the Antichrist will break his pact and end sacrifices and offerings.

 

 Perspectives  What is the “abomination that causes desolation”? (Daniel 9:27)
A)  The Jewish religious leaders rejected Jesus, the true temple of God (see John 2:19-21). In the years following the seventieth seven, certain Jewish leaders rebelled against the Romans, fought among themselves and turned their own people against one another. All of these deeds, beginning with the abomination of rejecting Jesus, resulted in the desolating destruction of the Jewish temple.
B)  Titus and his soldiers defiled the Jewish temple, looted the treasury, and placed the Roman eagle in front of the temple.
C)  The Antichrist will persecute God’s people and deal falsely with them.
D)  The Antichrist will present himself in the temple as divine.

Source: Rose Guide to End-Times Prophecy (2011)

[1] Rose Guide to End-Times Prophecy (2011), p.170

[2] https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Daniel+9%3A26-27&version=NIV

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Four Views of the Kingdom of God

[Articles in the Multiple Views series are intended to present various views held by Christians, in an objective and unbiased manner]

“When Jesus arrived on the scene, he immediately began proclaiming the message of a new kingdom: “The time has come … The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!” (Mark 1:15) …

They [the religious leaders] feared that, if Jesus continued to proclaim this royal domain, the Romans would destroy their temple and any hope for a kingdom (John 11:47-48).

But this kingdom was different. He [Jesus] never provided a detailed verbal definition of his kingdom. Instead, he told stories – and his parables rarely included the typical trappings of kingship. There were no horses or chariots or battles in these stories. Instead, Jesus told about a woman who was kneading some dough, a farmer whose neighbor mixed weeds with his wheat, and a man who planted some mustard seeds (Matthew 24:24-33).” [1]

We will now consider four of the popularly advocated and held to views of the kingdom of God

  1. Amillennialism
  2. Postmillennialism
  3. Historical Premillennialism
  4. Dispensational Premillennialism

 

[table id=1 /]

[1] Rose Guide to End-Times Prophecy (2011), p.113

Sources:

  • Rose Guide to End-Times Prophecy (2011)

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