Jesus in the Apocalypse of John: The Lamb

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

lambThe image of the Lamb appears some twenty–nine times in Revelation, making it John’s favorite way to visually portray Jesus.[1] A number of competing conceptions of what this Lamb–image indicated to the original audience of Revelation have been offered. David Aune argues that the Lamb functions as the narrative guide to the “mythical narrative” of Revelation, similar to Virgil in Dante’s Comedia.[2] Yves Congar suggested that the Lamb should first be understood as the Passover sacrifice and the suffering servant of Isaiah.[3] Most convincing are conceptions of the Lamb which combine these motifs of guide and sacrifice, interpreting Lamb as the central Christological focus of Revelation, the slain and resurrected Lamb now leading his people to God.[4] Revelation’s portrayal of the Lamb clearly highlights its eschatological and judicial roles, as the Lamb leads the Christian communities (7:9–17; 14:1–5; 21:9–22:5) and makes war against the enemies of God on earth (12:10–12).[5] Continue reading

Jesus in the Apocalypse of John: Images

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

Jesus with BibleThe images applied to Jesus in Revelation are of supreme importance, for “the theology of John is visual theology.”[1] While there are a riotous profusion of images used presenting Jesus, this section examines three of the most important: Jesus as Lord of the Churches, the Divine Warrior, and the Lamb. Continue reading

Jesus in the Apocalypse of John: Jesus as LORD

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

Lord Jesus ChristThe most common name applied to Jesus in Revelation is κύριος, which is used some twenty three times.[1] Occasionally this designation comes within a larger title—such as “king of kings and Lord of lords” (17:14)[2]—but many times it occurs as a simple designator of who Jesus is, appearing in place of his name. Building on the connections between κύριος and Hebrew Adonai, Cullmann argues that any connection of Jesus to the title “Lord” must recognize the theological and philological implications of that term in its Hebrew/Aramaic context.[3] For Cullmann, one consequence of the application of κύριος to Jesus was that early Christians could apply to him “all the Old Testament passages which speak about God.”[4] Thus when John refers to Jesus as κύριος—even in a seemingly offhanded manner (22:20–1)—that title remains full of theological importance, identifying the Lord Jesus with the κύριος Almighty. Continue reading

Jesus in the Apocalypse of John: First and Last

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

Crying AngelIn Revelation 19:12–13, Jesus is said to have “a name [ὄνομα] written that no one knows but himself…and the name by which he is called the Word of God.”[1] The meaning of this secret ὄνομα has long been a topic of speculation, including postulation as this passage as a reference to Sophiology, Gnostic myths, the “Destroyer” of Wisdom 18:15–16, and/or the “Angel of the Lord” of Exodus 12:23.[2] J.E. Fossum suggests that this final possibility—the Yahweh Angel of Judaism—is here identified with the Logos, thereby distinguishing the Lord—the proper name of God—with the Logos himself.[3] If this understanding is correct, John applied the ὄνομα of God to Jesus in Revelation 19 as a means of classifying him as both the Jewish Angel of the Lord and as an instrumental force in creating the world. Continue reading

Jesus in the Apocalypse of John: Names

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

Greek New Testament PageNew Testament Studies has long been concerned with understanding the theological implications of early Christian titles for Jesus.[1] Before examining the names applied to Jesus in the Apocalypse, a word of caution should be offered about these titles, for they are often “more strange and complicated than we assume they are.”[2] Yet the names given in Revelation are not so complicated that they are beyond providing insight into who early Christians perceived Jesus to be.[3] While much has been made about the names which are not applied to Jesus in Revelation—most notably his human titles, “Wisdom”, and “God”[4]—the concern here is with names John felt comfortable ascribing to Jesus and what those names indicate. Further, although there are a wide variety of titles utilized in Revelation—including “Son of God” (2:18), “beginning of God’s creation” (3:14), “the Amen” (3:14), “lion from the tribe of Judah, root of David” (5:5), and “Word [λόγος] of God” (19:13)[5]—this section examines four of Revelation’s most prominent designations: Son of Man, the Name, Alpha and Omega, and Lord (κύριος). Continue reading

Jesus in the Apocalypse of John: Four Views on Revelation

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

RevelationAny interpretation of Revelation must, as a matter of primary hermeneutic importance, address the topic of how to deal with the whole of the Apocalypse of John. As demonstrated Steven Gregg’s masterful work, Revelation: Four Views, throughout Christian history there have been four major ways to read the Apocalypse:[1] the historicist, futurist, idealist (or spiritualist), and preterist views. Continue reading

Jesus in the Apocalypse of John: A Christological Lacuna

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

God, Sistine ChapelWhile early Christological studies have rightly moved toward an “Early High” standard, the edges of this model remain underdeveloped, especially the Christology of the Apocalypse of John.[1] This tendency begins with Bousset’s effectively neglect of Revelation, an influence which has trickled down into contemporary examinations of early Christology. For example, Robert M. Grant’s classic treatment, The Early Christian Doctrine of God, only references Revelation three times in its entirety, each time in a footnote.[2] Gregory K. Beale’s voluminous tome, The Book of Revelation, also neglects a summary of Christology, despite the fact that numerous christological insights are noted in the commentary section.[3] Likewise, I. Howard Marshall relegates Revelation’s input to marginalia and footnotes.[4] Continue reading

Jesus in the Apocalypse of John: Introduction

JesusAfter nearly 2,000 years, the study of Christology—the study of the person, nature, and role of Jesus[1]—continues as a popular, relevant, and important realm of theological inquiry. Indeed, it would not be an overstatement to say that Christology forms the economic basis for all truly orthodox Christian theology.[2] Studies of the history of Christology—especially the Christology of the earliest followers of Jesus and those who composed the writings now included in the New Testament—have become particularly important in recent decades, as the streams of Roman Catholic ressourcement, Orthodox Ιερά Παράδοση, and Protestant ad fontes merge into greater emphasis on the early Church. Continue reading

Christology in “O Come, O Come Emmanuel”

Christian Worship“O Come, O Come Emmanuel” is a popular Christmas hymn written by an anonymous Latin author in the twelfth century and translated into English in 1851 by John Mason Neale. The hymn contains nine verses, all of which contain statements about Christ. The name “Jesus” and title “Christ” do not actually appear in the hymn; however a plethora of other titles are used to refer to the coming to Israel. This is quite clearly a hymn of Advent and Christmas, as it is written as if in the distant past, reflecting an Old Testament view of things (as we shall see with the names and titles used below), a view that welcomes the coming of the messiah to Israel. The refrain, “Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee , O Israel” demonstrates the position of Christ as coming savior of Israel, the messiah figure of the Old Testament prophets. Continue reading