Jesus in the Apocalypse of John: Jewish Monotheistic Devotion

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

apostle-johnIt is within the limits of acceptable monotheistic worship that the constellation of Revelation 19:10, 22:8–9, and 5:8–12 seems particularly insightful. In both Revelation 19:10 and 22:8–9 John attempts to worship the angel speaking to him.[1] In both instances, the angel forcefully redirects John to “worship God” as the truly transcendent source of the visions. The message here—for John, his original audience, and contemporary readers—is that the revelations of the Apocalypse confirm the Jewish belief that Yahweh alone is worthy of worship. Continue reading

Jesus in the Apocalypse of John: Jesus Devotion in Revelation

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

Jesus - History and TheologyTo this point, this study has examined Revelation’s names, images, and actions pertaining to Jesus, arguing that these characterizations conveyed the message that “Jesus is Lord.” This section examines the monotheistic context of Second Temple Judaism, considers Revelation’s portrayal of devotion to Jesus, and offers an assessment of Jesus’ identity in the Apocalypse. This examination suggests that Revelation considers Jesus on the level of Yahweh due to the advocation of Jesus devotion. Continue reading

Jesus in the Apocalypse of John: Sacrifice

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

Sacred ScriptureRevelation 5:12 is particularly indicative of the importance of Jesus’ actions as sacrifice. The slain Lamb is worthy, not just because of who he is, but also because of what he has done—redeemed the world through his blood. As Revelation 5:9–10 says, “for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.” Jesus’ sacrifice not only guarantees the redemption of humanity, but also points toward his victory over death as the “living one” (1:17).[1] Of course, Christ’s defeat of death, both on the cross and in the eschaton (20:14), highlights his status as “firstborn of dead” (1:5) and directs Christians toward the coming resurrection (20:5f). For John, Jesus’ sacrifice serves as precursor to his redemption of humanity and ultimate victory over death. Continue reading

Jesus in the Apocalypse of John: Actions

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

Icon of the Holy Trinity (Rubilev)

Icon of the Holy Trinity (Rubilev)

As already touched on through the examination of names and images, Jesus performs a number of actions in the Apocalypse. This section notes three of the most important active roles fulfilled by Jesus: Seer, Sacrifice, and Conqueror, each of which ultimately reveal Jesus to be the Agent of God. Continue reading

Jesus in the Apocalypse of John: Depicting Jesus

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

Jesus IconThe images employed in the Apocalypse of John reveal four key depictions of Jesus. First, Jesus is pastoral Lord of the Church. These pastoral images connect the Lord of the Church to the Lord of the Temple and Tabernacle, who is Lord and authority of all creation. Second, Jesus is the Divine Warrior who will bring about God’s final judgment against the wicked. These characterizations are strongly connected to the third image of Jesus as the victorious Lamb who has defeated death and will come in eschatological judgment. Not only does Jesus serve as leader of Christian communities—Lord of the Church—but he also makes war against his enemies—Divine Warrior. John’s emphasis on victory–through–suffering would have been especially comforting for his original audience, who appear to have suffered from persecution at the hands of both the Jewish people and the Roman Empire. Continue reading

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