MONDAY NIGHT BIBLE STUDY:
I’m beginning a Bible study which I hope to post every Monday night starting next Monday, September 14th. I am being led to start with the book of Revelation. This is one of the more interesting books of the New Testament. As one of the last books to be added to the canon of Scripture, it was met with skepticism by many of the early Church fathers. One of the reasons for this skepticism was that they did not know how to classify it. It wasn’t really a letter. It definitely wasn’t a Gospel. Was it apostolic or was it prophetic? Actually, it was a combination of apocalyptic (prophecy of complete destruction of the world) and eschatological (concern with death, judgment, and final destiny of the soul and of humankind) thinking, along with what many of the early Church fathers felt was a sub- Christian Christology, which gave it too many “theological problems,” as they understood it.
Another problem was its authorship. Until around 150 A.D., most of the early Church fathers held that the author was the Apostle John, the brother of James and the son of Zebedee. After that, the authorship began to be disputed, especially in the Eastern Church, until around the mid 3rd century. After about 373 ad, Athanasius of Alexandra turned the tide for the claim of authorship by John. This held fairly well until the mid 1400’s, Martin Luther decided he didn’t like the book at all.
The biggest problem with John being the author is the Greek language in which the book is written. It is not the same or fluid Greek with which John wrote his Gospel and letters. As a matter of fact, the Greek of the first three chapters and the last part of the 21st chapter are different than the Greek in the rest of the book. This leads scholars such as Massyngberde Ford to hold that there are at least two if not three writers of the book.
The next biggest problem, according to Ford and others, is the Christology found or not found in the book. Ford (who is considered by most as the world’s foremost authority on the Book of Revelation) says that there is no Christology found from chapters 4 through 21a. He believes that this section of Revelation was written not by the Apostle John but by John the Baptist, and that Chapters 1 through 3 and 21b were written by a Christian apologist. He bases this on the difference in the Greek and Roman Catholic tradition that the Baptist was a prophet and by a slight allusion in the Scripture of his having possibly written a prophecy. A second point he makes is that the Gospel of John was written to a church in Ephesus. John the Baptist was known to have many followers still in Ephesus at the same time. This is true. Raymond Brown, a scholar considered as being the foremost expert on the Gospel of John, believes that the Gospel was written in part to explain the difference between the Christian church and the followers of the Baptist.
Revelation is believed to have been written around 95 A.D., when the Apostle John was a very old man.
I disagree with Father Ford and those in his camp. While I can’t dispute that the style of Greek is different in different sections, that is not uncommon in the longer books like the Gospels in the New Testament. Also, I see Christology throughout the whole book of Revelation, which I plan to point out as we work through our study. Finally, the earliest Church fathers held it to be written by the Apostle John, and these were the people living closest to the time of its writing. It never ceases to amaze me how Biblical scholars will amend translations and change even contexts when something closer to the time of an event becomes available. The rule is this: the closer date of the manuscript to the time of the occurrence of the event, the more authoritative it is. That is, unless you decide that you don’t want to accept that authority. The Church fathers closest to its writing (the 50 years following its writing) stated that it was written by the Apostle John. Therefore, I will be presenting the study of this book from that authority.
This is going to be exciting! We will see prophecy and events current to John’s day. We will see teachings of the end times. We will learn about punishments and the rewards. We will see how the sinfulness of man causes history to repeat itself. But greatest of all, we will see how the finished work of Christ on the cross over 2000 years ago will bring about our ultimate victory through Him at His second coming!
Join me on Monday evenings as we study together The Revelation of John. At first, our teachings will be in written form, but I do hope to go to video in the near future and maybe even live streaming shortly after that.
Our first section of study will be Revelation 1:1-3
The teaching will be found here and on my website, www.goadap.com