Jesus in the Apocalypse of John: Implications for Modern Christianity (Part II)

This post is part of an ongoing series examining the Christology of the Apocalypse of John.

Sacred ScriptureThe Apocalypse holds a unique position within the Christian scriptures, being the only piece of explicitly Christian prophetic material to make the canonical cut. First and foremost, Christians must engage Revelation’s prophetic utterances within a context of Old Testament prophecy, much of which ultimately points towards the coming of Yahweh’s kingdom on earth. Second, interpreters should take seriously Bauckham’s dictum that, “Biblical prophecy always both addressed the prophet’s contemporaries about their own present and future immediately impending for them and raised hopes which proved able to transcend their immediate relevance to the prophet’s contemporaries and to continue to direct later readers to God’s purpose for their future.”[1] Third, a preterist approach to Revelation—arguing that most of the Apocalypse’s prophetic material has been fulfilled—should find value in Revelation as not only as a demonstration of the faithfulness of God and how he works in the world, but also as a source for purging and refurbishing the Christian imagination.

types-of-theology1James D.G. Dunn writes that, “[t]he fundamental issue for a NT biblical theology is whether the message of Jesus or the message about Jesus introduced a radical disjunction with…central features of what we may fairly call Israel’s biblical theology.”[2] This study has highlighted Revelation’s connectivity to the Jewish scriptures and Yahweh, as well as the careful identification of “Jesus as Lord” within the parameters of strict Jewish monotheism. This project also confirms the findings of other studies of New Testament Christology, that theological programs building upon Bousset’s thesis of christological development are severely undermined by the high Christology of the Apocalypse. A coordinated examination of Revelation in conjunction with other early Christian literature, including now-New Testament texts, reveals that “[d]evotion to Jesus is not a result of a progressive or early pagaization of a supposedly purer form of Christianity, but erupts suddenly and amazingly early, and is more correctly understood as initially a distinctive ‘mutation’ within second-temple Jewish religion.[3] Contemporary biblical theology ought to not only recognize this fact, but also integrate the collective force of the biblical witness into modes of understanding and devotionally engaging God through Jesus.

[1] Bauckham, Theology, 152.

[2] James D.G. Dunn, New Testament Theology: An Introduction (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2009), 38.

[3] Hurtado, “Report”, 176.


Published by Jacob J. Prahlow

Husband of Hayley. Dad of Bree and Judah. Lead pastor at Arise Church. MATS from Saint Louis University, MA from Wake Forest University, BA from Valparaiso University. Theologian and writer here and at Conciliar Post. Find me on social at @pastorjakestl

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