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

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

Assumption Greek Orthodox Church, Long BeachRevelation also highlights the importance of doxology in the contemporary world. Throughout the history of Christological development, interpretations of who Jesus is necessarily took place in the context of the place given him in Christian devotional practices.[1] While there are obviously limits to defining doctrine based on the sensus fidei, the fact remains that contemporary Christian doxology may fruitfully inform understandings of who Jesus is and how he is appropriately worshiped. Revelation also encourages active and vibrant doxological practice in today’s church communities, calling Christians everywhere to join in the worship of God and Jesus along with the saints across time and place.

Most interpretations of Revelation make special note of its eschatological insights. While that has not been the explicit concern of this study, Revelation’s overarching message—God’s victory over sin, death, and the devil through Jesus Christ—and the Christological emphases drawn out here—especially Jesus’ role as Divine Warrior and eschatological judge—offer comfort amidst the struggles of today, encouraging Christians everywhere to look forward to the Lamb’s final victory and to reside within the hope of the new heavens and new earth. Inexorably tied up within this eschatological expectation resides the hope of the resurrection of the death. Hans Urs von Balthasar rightly highlights the importance of taking Revelation’s portrayal of the Lord of Apocalypse’s power seriously as a result of his resurrection.[2] Revelation offers insights into the εὐαγγέλιον which other New Testament sources address less directly, most importantly that Jesus now exists as Lord of time, no longer limited by death.[3] In a world still full of pain and suffering, Revelation’s message of the coming return of King Jesus may offer comfort and hope to those who follow him.

Hubble Space TelescopeYet Revelation offers more than just eschatological hope. John’s message of Jesus’ Lordship also calls contemporary Christians to participate in the ongoing victory of Jesus over the forces of evil through the κοινωνία of the Church and ongoing love and service in the world. In the first place, Revelation speaks of Jesus’ continual support of those who follow him, both through perseverance and the power to resist evil.[4] It is Jesus’ defeat of death and judgment of Jerusalem and Rome that Revelation casts as the empowerment of Christians to persevere in the face of evil and push back against the dominant ideologies of their day. So too contemporary Christians may rely upon Jesus’ ultimate defeat of death and evil as the impetus for participation in the service of God and active engagement with the world. Initiated by the victorious Lamb, God’s kingdom is coming—Christians ought to love and serve one another as they wait.

[1] Maurice Wiles, The Making of Christian Doctrine: A Study in the Principles of Early Doctrinal Development (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1967), 62-93, esp. 74.

[2] Von Balthasar, 156.

[3] Von Balthasar, 194. Cx. Rom. 6:10; Heb. 9:26; 1 Pet. 3:18.

[4] Rev. 2-3. Hurtado, Lord Jesus Christ, 590. Bauckham, Theology. 39.


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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