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Revelation & Eschatology discuss Revelation 14 - the 3 angel messengers (angels preaching the gospel?) in the The Scriptures forums; I have a friend who thinks that, before the end of the world, angels will be sent to preach the Gospel (based on Revelation 14)... ...

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    Revelation 14 - the 3 angel messengers (angels preaching the gospel?)

    I have a friend who thinks that, before the end of the world, angels will be sent to preach the Gospel (based on Revelation 14)... I have always thought God will merely send forth his angels at the end to announce the end or to gather folks for the Judgment.


    Just how should we read Revelation 14? What is the role of angels near the end of the world?
    Pergamum


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    Are the angels in Rev.14:6ff symbolic (not that they are mere emblems), i.e. do they represent something else?

    At first glance, I'd say together the three angels symbolize the preaching of the gospel (v6) and dire warnings of spurning it's message (vv8-11). Those spiritual angels of heaven are representing to John all the human angelos (i.e. messengers, preachers) here on earth.

    I don't equate the picture given in Rev.14, as I don't take the book as a whole, as flowing in some chronological narrative. So, I don't think the "time" represented has to be just before the end of history, or suchlike.
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    Sometimes these anonymous angels may be referring to Christ's individual ongoing involvement in history in this age.

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    AustinW is offline. Puritanboard Postgraduate
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    I am not an expert on Revelation, but I believe this passage refers to the preaching of the gospel beginning with the first coming of Christ and proceeding throughout the New Testament age. Revelation is a very spiritual book. If you haven't read William Hendriksen's More Than Conquerors, it is not too long and is excellent for overall method of understanding Revelation. It's available on Kindle. I'll note that he is "pessimistic" in his eschatology, but that doesn't ruin the book, nor does it even show up all that much. There is plenty of gold to mine there.

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    Interesting questions, Perg (it seems the malaria has left your mind intact – praying for your illness!). I’ll quote a few commentators, and then some remarks of my own.

    Starting with the first angel of Rev 14, in vv 6-7:

    And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people, Saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters.

    Beale (G.K. Beale, New International Greek Testament Commentary: Revelation) is of the mind that the angelic announcement is one primarily of judgment, and that the addressees are – per the use a number of times in Revelation of the technical term, “them that dwell on the earth” – the unregenerate idolators, most of whom will remain impenitent. He says,

    This understanding of the angel mainly as a messenger of wrath is supported also by the possible partial allusion to the saying of Jesus in Matt. 24:14: “this gospel of the kingdom will be preached for a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.” (p 749)

    Commenting on this passage, Dennis Johnson says, “Having heard three angelic announcements of the end, John sees a twofold vision of history’s end, the harvesting of the earth” (Dennis E. Johnson, Triumph of the Lamb, p 209). Note, this all takes place in a vision John is having; it is he who sees the angel flying and hears the angel speaking. We need to keep in mind that many – though not all – of the visions and auditions John sees and hears are visionary images symbolic of spiritual, and sometimes material, realities, sometimes in the heavens and sometimes on the earth.

    R.C.H. Lenski (The Interpretation of St. John’s Revelation) plainly states that the proclamation of the first of the three angels / messengers is symbolic of the eternal gospel preached by men in the world. Being a Lutheran he has Luther figure prominently – though certainly not exclusively – in this preaching of the gospel that had for a time been submerged under the darkness of Rome.

    Michael Wilcock (The Message of Revelation) says of the vision of the three angels,

    Such is God’s counterblast to the falsehoods of the beast from the earth, a message of “sin and righteousness and judgment” (Jn. 16:8). (p 134).

    In other words, just as the beast from the earth / false prophet of Rev 13 represents the false teachers and teachings throughout the NT church age, so the angels represent the true teachers and teachings throughout the same period.

    Leon Morris (The Book of Revelation (Revised Edition)) says of these angels, they “either proclaim judgment or take some part in bringing it about” (p 173). And Vern Poythress (The Returning King: A Guide to the Book of Revelation) comments on these “three announcements from three angelic beings. Because of their similarity in pattern, these three episodes belong together as a single symbolic history (14:6-11). (p 148)

    -----------

    It is important to keep in mind that these visions are not meant to be literally understood. When John saw a great angel in Revelation 10 standing with one foot on the earth and one on the sea, and he conversed with the angel, this was not such a thing that other people could see or hear. John could hear and see, both these and the other things revealed to him, but others could not.

    If one uses a sound interpretive method Revelation truly becomes an open book. Greg Beale explains this in his lecture (link to mp3 ->)"Two witnesses in Revelation". I’ll go into this a bit more in your other thread on the two witnesses.

    For instance, when Satan is bound (in a limited manner) in Rev 20:1-3 so that he is unable to deceive the nations (as nations) into destroying the people of God – even though otherwise he has been allowed to work evil in the world – this particular binding of his power was effected by the preaching of the gospel in the power of the resurrected Christ, and throughout the world the devil’s ability to deceive nations was broken. When, after the symbolic “thousand years” are expired, Satan is loosed entirely for “a little season”, by which it is understood that the preaching of the gospel will be curtailed – on national levels – criminalized, so that the word of God will no longer go forth. As it is written in 2 Thessalonians 2:6-8,

    And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time. For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way. And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth. . .

    (Read it in a modern version if that is not clear to you.) I think what is “taken out of the way” is the minister of the gospel, and the word of the gospel. For when this is accomplished, “God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness” (vv 11-12). It is at this point the Lord returns in judgment on the wicked, and salvation for His sorely oppressed people.
    Steve Rafalsky
    Member, Queens Presbyterian Church, Astoria (PCA)
    Queens, New York
    USA

    "I am set for the defense of the gospel" (Philippians 1:17)

    "Strengthened with all might, according to His glorious
    power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness...
    " (Colossians 1:11)

    Jerusalem Blade's PB Blog; Collected Textual Posts, Eschatology, and Misc.
    Lightning Sword: Journal of the Apokalypse
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    Thanks Steve!
    Pergamum


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    From memory I recall The Puritan John Mason writing after this fashion, 'It is a sign of maturity
    when one can naturalise the spiritual, and spiritualise the natural.' This is a must for Revelation,
    and books like Ezekiel which rely heavily on symbolism. In no way can Revelation be interpreted
    literally. Though you mention 3 angels there are 7 mentioned, six in the chapter, but also V6 starts,
    "I saw ANOTHER angel", which moves us back to Ch 10, the mighty Angel, who is none other than
    Christ Himself.
    The first 3 angels in Ch 6, (to my understanding) do not preach the Gospel, but are commissioned to
    carry the Divine decrees concerning the preaching of the Gospel and the preparation for the coming
    judgment. God has given gifts of Pastors and teachers for the foolishness of preaching. But the angels,
    who are ministers to the heirs of salvation, have the power to act against the designs and wiles of the
    devil to prevent the Word of God going into all the world. That is why the Gospel light has never been
    extinguished even in the dark ages. As one wrote, persecution only serves to spread the Gospel. These
    3 are the providential carriers and defenders of the purposes of God.
    The remaining 3 angels are harbingers of judgment, the overthrow of Babylon the great. The world system
    with its unholy alliance with corrupted and false worship will fall, and its doom assured. Hengstenberg observes
    that, the aim of the first 3 messages is intended to strengthen men's minds against the temptation which the seeming
    omnipotence of the Beast should present to the followers of the Lamb, and arm them for the judgment to come. He
    states, 'fear can only be driven out by a stronger fear ,the fear of God.'
    Jeff O'Neil,Port Talbot,South Wales.
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    nearby Neath.

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    J.Paton24May1824's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Contra_Mundum View Post
    Are the angels in Rev.14:6ff symbolic (not that they are mere emblems), i.e. do they represent something else?

    At first glance, I'd say together the three angels symbolize the preaching of the gospel (v6) and dire warnings of spurning it's message (vv8-11). Those spiritual angels of heaven are representing to John all the human angelos (i.e. messengers, preachers) here on earth.

    I don't equate the picture given in Rev.14, as I don't take the book as a whole, as flowing in some chronological narrative. So, I don't think the "time" represented has to be just before the end of history, or suchlike.
    The 3 angels do not appear in sequential or chronological order, however they do address the activities that span across the tribulation period. Their message looks for the judgment of the 7th trumpet. 1st angel preached the gospel (this is the only time John uses this noun in his writing), 2nd angel proclaims judgment, and the 3rd proclaims damnation.
    Paul Snider
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    If the angel is to preach the Gospel, this seems to mark a failure on the part of mankind in fulfilling the Great Commission. It seem man is given the task of taking the Gospel to the world, and yet here it looks as if this does not happen and so God sends an angels...if this interpretation is true.

    From the Gospels it always seems that God sends his angels forth to announce the Last Judgment. This doesn't seem to have any evangelistic intent in it.
    Pergamum


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    Why must we associate the presence of the first (or the other angels) specifically with the end of the world? The gospel is being proclaimed in the world, today. And that is what the gospel-angel represents.

    Look now, Paul was an angellos. So were the other apostles, and their successors like Timothy. The heavenly-gospel angel is a sign visible in heaven of what is happening in this age on the earth. And more than the one message, do we ministers of the New Covenant bring. We bring a gospel-word, but we also bring the other word as well, true? Do we not also announce the overthrow of Babylon, of this world's system--religious and political--as does the second angel?

    And do we not bring the direst warning of the eternal end that awaits all those who spurn the gospel, as does the third angel?

    These three angels are announcing gospel and law. That is the job of us preachers. I do not see that this text is promising that someday in the future, these three specific angels are going to take up the task that earthly preachers do no more. I don't need that kind of explanation, because I doubt (strongly) that John intended his book thus to be read and interpreted.
    Rev. Bruce G. Buchanan
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    Perg, I see you are quite taken with the idea of actual angels actually preaching the gospel, warning, and judgment while they are flying across the heavens. This leads me to think that you have come from a Dispensational background (as I have myself). I noted in the other thread of yours that this was the default view in the evangelical churches I knew 45 years ago when I was saved.

    In his two posts here, I think Pastor Bruce hits the nail on the head succinctly (unlike other posters I know – meaning moi!) when he says of the angels in Rev 14:6-11 they are symbols of – that is, they represent – those human messengers of the gospel God has anointed to carry out this task.

    So the issue really is, how does one discern when – for our present purposes – an angel is meant as a symbol and when it is meant to be understood literally? We know that in the OT there are many angelophanies (actual appearances of angels to man), and also in the NT, such as when Gabriel appeared to Mary (Luke 1:26), and an angel to Joseph (Matt 1:20) and to Zacharias (Luke 1:11). I think we can also take fairly literally the war in heaven depicted in Rev 12:7ff.

    When we are told in Rev 12:1-2 of the woman in heaven “clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars” who was “with child . . . travailing in birth”, we do not think this was a real woman (though both Eve and Mary may be alluded to), but a symbol of the church – Old Testament and New – and the Christ-child born of her. Neither do we think of the dragon in 12:3 as an actual dragon seeking to eat the Child, but as the devil seeking to destroy Christ early on. This is figurative language. Commentator Greg Beale unpacks the Biblical warrant for Revelation’s use of symbolic images in this lecture (which I gave the link to in post 5 as well): "Two witnesses in Revelation". He shows how that imagery – and precisely the same language – used in Daniel 2 give the interpretive key to the imagery and exact same language used in Rev 1:1, and this right at the opening moment of the Revelation, so that we will not mistake what God wants us to understand.

    I would like to compare the three angels of God In Rev 14:6-11, and what their activity represents, to the dragon – aka the serpent – in Rev 12:14-16 when he casts water out of his mouth at the woman taking refuge in the wilderness, “that he might cause her to be carried away of the flood”, which is generally understood by amil commentators as representing the flood of false teaching and ungodly practice originating with Satan but carried out through the instrumentality of men. There is an echo here of Isaiah 59:19b, “When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him.”

    So the angels of Rev 14:6-11 and the dragon of 12:14-16 are both symbols to figuratively represent God’s ministers and missionaries (see, you’re in the Revelation, under the figure of an angel!), and the devil’s false teachers.
    Last edited by Jerusalem Blade; 05-15-2013 at 06:49 PM.
    Steve Rafalsky
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    "I am set for the defense of the gospel" (Philippians 1:17)

    "Strengthened with all might, according to His glorious
    power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness...
    " (Colossians 1:11)

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    Steve,

    No, actually the whole scheme of Dispensationalism made me consider atheism quite strongly at age 18 (I read the book of Revelation but didn't see all those inspired charts of Christ's many comings and goings and multiple judgments, etc).

    For awhile I did not even admit a personal Antichrist and I rejected that Romans 11 might speak of a Jewish revival towards the end.

    But now I am trying to reconsider all of my eschatology and take the premills seriously. And most premils seem to insist emphatically that these are real angels in Revelation 14.
    Pergamum


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    I'm sure they were real in John's vision, but there is a vast difference between apocalyptic-genre vision and reality.

    So what is the great attraction for you to the premil view (and are you thinking Dispensational or Historic Premil)?

    And what are your objections to the Amillennial approach?
    Steve Rafalsky
    Member, Queens Presbyterian Church, Astoria (PCA)
    Queens, New York
    USA

    "I am set for the defense of the gospel" (Philippians 1:17)

    "Strengthened with all might, according to His glorious
    power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness...
    " (Colossians 1:11)

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    Pergamum's Avatar
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    I have a premil friend. I am trying to understand his grid of thinking (i.e., It says angels...so why symbolize it when it can be read literally?).
    Pergamum


    "If a commission by an earthly king is considered a honor, how can a commission by a Heavenly King be considered a sacrifice?"
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    (a) There is no analogy for angels preaching the Gospel in Scripture or history.

    (b) Christ has given that task to His human servants - humans, as is Christ, preaching to humans.

    (c) The Revelation is a highly symbolic book.

    (d) Angels are mysteriously nvolved in the Great Commission on that they are the servants of the saints.

    The analogy of Scripture is neglected by dispensationalism.

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    Men shall be blessed in Him,
    and blessed all nations shall Him call (Ps. 72:17)
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jerusalem Blade View Post
    Perg, I see you are quite taken with the idea of actual angels actually preaching the gospel, warning, and judgment while they are flying across the heavens. This leads me to think that you have come from a Dispensational background (as I have myself). I noted in the other thread of yours that this was the default view in the evangelical churches I knew 45 years ago when I was saved.

    In his two posts here, I think Pastor Bruce hits the nail on the head succinctly (unlike other posters I know – meaning moi!) when he says of the angels in Rev 14:6-11 they are symbols of – that is, they represent – those human messengers of the gospel God has anointed to carry out this task.

    So the issue really is, how does one discern when – for our present purposes – an angel is meant as a symbol and when it is meant to be understood literally? We know that in the OT there are many angelophanies (actual appearances of angels to man), and also in the NT, such as when Gabriel appeared to Mary (Luke 1:26), and an angel to Joseph (Matt 1:20) and to Zacharias (Luke 1:11). I think we can also take fairly literally the war in heaven depicted in Rev 12:7ff.

    When we are told in Rev 12:1-2 of the woman in heaven “clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars” who was “with child . . . travailing in birth”, we do not think this was a real woman (though both Eve and Mary may be alluded to), but a symbol of the church – Old Testament and New – and the Christ-child born of her. Neither do we think of the dragon in 12:3 as an actual dragon seeking to eat the Child, but as the devil seeking to destroy Christ early on. This is figurative language. Commentator Greg Beale unpacks the Biblical warrant for Revelation’s use of symbolic images in this lecture (which I gave the link to in post 5 as well): "Two witnesses in Revelation". He shows how that imagery – and precisely the same language – used in Daniel 2 give the interpretive key to the imagery and exact same language used in Rev 1:1, and this right at the opening moment of the Revelation, so that we will not mistake what God wants us to understand.

    I would like to compare the three angels of God In Rev 14:6-11, and what their activity represents, to the dragon – aka the serpent – in Rev 12:14-16 when he casts water out of his mouth at the woman taking refuge in the wilderness, “that he might cause her to be carried away of the flood”, which is generally understood by amil commentators as representing the flood of false teaching and ungodly practice originating with Satan but carried out through the instrumentality of men. There is an echo here of Isaiah 59:19b, “When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him.”

    So the angels of Rev 14:6-11 and the dragon of 12:14-16 are both symbols to figuratively represent God’s ministers and missionaries (see, you’re in the Revelation, under the figure of an angel!), and the devil’s false teachers.
    Hey, thanks for all your thoughts and comments. It is great to look at these sections closer. The only problem I see with the position you guys take saying the angels are symbolic, as you take Rev.as a whole, is that you pick and choose what sections, just like you did above with Rev. 12:7 saying that is literal. I am not being disrespectful, but that seems inconsistent with your hermeneutic. If Christ uses Michael and his angels to complete a war with Satan and his demons, then He can use an angel to fulfill Matt. 24:15. Plus 14:6 speaks of "midheaven" which indicates where the sun reaches the highest point at noon. Only an angel would be able to herald a Gospel message form there. So taking the text literally keeps the meaning at its safest and provides the most accurate handling of the book. Taking a literal approach unless the context bears out figurative language seems to be the same hermeneutic as all of John's disciples and their disciples took in their writings up into the 2nd century. God bless
    Paul Snider
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    "God will call you to face the unthinkable in order to form in you what is unachievable apart from his grace." Paul Tripp
    We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work. John 9:4

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    p.s. that's the premil friend.


    He does have a point that the majority of the early church seemed to be chiliasts.
    Pergamum


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    Hi Paul,

    You said,

    “The only problem I see with the position you guys take saying the angels are symbolic, as you take Rev. as a whole, is that you pick and choose what sections, just like you did above with Rev. 12:7 saying that is literal. I am not being disrespectful, but that seems inconsistent with your hermeneutic.”

    Perhaps you do not really understand our hermeneutic for you to say such a thing. In a nutshell it is, We take – by warrant of the text itself – most of the imagery of Revelation as symbolic, except where the text and the context indicate otherwise. You are the reverse: You take most of the imagery of Revelation as literal, except where it cannot be literal, and then you take it as symbolic. There is nothing inconsistent with our approach. Below (see *) I show what the contemporary “eclectic” or “modified idealist” approach is.

    What kind of premil are you, Historic or Dispensational? And what is your view of the rapture with respect to the tribulation?

    With regard to my hermeneutic, the “modified idealist / eclectic” is in the main idealist, that is, the primary interpretive approach sees the seal, trumpet, and vial (or bowl) vision cycles not as chronological sequences of progressing events, but as recapitulated visions of the gospel age from differing angles, or focuses. This means that Revelation would be as pertinent to the situation of the church in the first and second centuries – and the churches up through the entire gospel age – as it would to the church at the very end. There are repeated warnings, judgments, and fully outpoured wrath upon the wicked all through the age, although this will exponentially intensify at the very end.

    When in Rev 13 the apostle writes of the mark of the beast, the premil school would take this as referring to the very end only, but the amil school sees it as applicable to John’s day as well as all through the age, as well as the very end. There may indeed be implanted microchips in some nations where RFID technology is abundant, but the mark of the beast existed in the time of John the apostle. See ** below for more on this.

    I do see some historical markers within the symbols pertaining to the end of the age.

    Perhaps I have a slight advantage over you, Paul, as I was premil (Dispensational) for some years as a younger Christian, and am familiar with both its views and its failings, but I don’t think you have a grasp of what the amil school believes. There was an older amil school of early in the last century and the 19th century – the “consistent idealist” view of Wm Milligan et al – where there were no historical referents to the symbols, but that is not what I hold.

    * Here are two brief explanations of the “eclectic” or “modified idealist” school. The first is from Vern Poythress:

    Combining the Insights of the Schools


    All the schools except the historicist school have considerable merit. Can we somehow combine them? If we start with the idealist approach, it is relatively easy. The images in Revelation enjoy multiple fulfillments. They do so because they embody a general pattern. The arguments in favor of futurism show convincingly that Revelation is interested in the Second Coming and the immediately preceding final crisis (cf. 2 Thess. 2:1-12). But fulfillment in the final crisis does not eliminate earlier instances of the general pattern. We have both a general pattern and a particular embodiment of the pattern in the final crisis.

    Likewise, the arguments in favor of preterism show convincingly that Revelation is interested in the seven churches and their historical situation. The symbols thus have a particular embodiment in the first century, and we ought to pay attention to this embodiment.

    Finally we have a responsibility to apply the message of Revelation to our own situation, because we are somewhere in church history, somewhere in the interadvental period to which the book applies. Here is the grain of truth in the historicist approach.

    We can sum up these insights in a single combined picture. The major symbols of Revelation represent a repeated pattern. This pattern has a realization in the first-century situation of the seven churches. It also has a realization in the final crisis. And it has its embodiment now. We pay special attention to the embodiment now, because we must apply the lessons of Revelation to where we are. (Vern Poythress, The Returning King: A Guide to the Book of Revelation, p. 37)

    [end Poythress]

    -------

    The next is from G.K. Beale’s, New International Greek Testament Commentary: Revelation, pp 48, 49, the section of the Introduction, Major Interpretive Approaches:

    The Idealist View


    The idealist approach affirms that Revelation is a symbolic portrayal of the conflict between good and evil, between the forces of God and Satan. The most radical form of this view holds that the book is a timeless depiction of this struggle. The problem with this alternative is that it holds revelation does not depict any final consummation to history, whether in God’s final victory or in a last judgment of the realm of evil. The idealist notion encounters the opposite problem facing the preterist and historicist views, since it identifies none of the book’s symbols with particular historical events.


    The View of This Commentary: Eclecticism, or a Redemptive-Historical Form of Modified Idealism

    A more viable, modified version of the idealist perspective would acknowledge a final consummation in salvation and judgment. Perhaps it would be best to call this fifth view “eclecticism.” Accordingly, no specific prophesied historical events are discerned in the book, except for the final coming of Christ to deliver and judge and to establish the final form of the kingdom in a consummated new creation — even though there are a few exceptions to this rule (E.g., 2:10, 22 and 3:9-10, which are unconditional prophecies to be fulfilled imminently in the specific local churches of Smyrna, Thyatira, and Philadelphia). The Apocalypse symbolically portrays events throughout history, which is understood to be under the sovereignty of the Lamb as a result of his death and resurrection. He will guide the events depicted until they finally issue in the last judgment and the definitive establishment of his kingdom. This means that specific events throughout the age extending from Christ’s first coming to his second may be identified with one narrative or symbol. We may call this age inaugurated by Christ’s first coming and concluded by his final appearance “the church age,” “the interadvental age,” or “the latter days.” The majority of the symbols in the book are transtemporal in the sense that they are applicable to events throughout the “church age” (see the section below on “Interpretation of Symbolism”).

    Therefore, the historicists may sometimes be right in their precise historical identification, but wrong in limiting the identification only to one historical reality. The same verdict may be passed on the preterist school of thought, especially the Roman version. And certainly there are prophecies of the future in Revelation. The crucial yet problematic task of the interpreter is to identify through careful exegesis and against the historical background those texts which pertain respectively to past, present, and future.

    The present commentary fits most within the overall interpretive framework of such past commentaries as Caird, Johnson, Sweet, and above all Hendriksen and Wilcock.

    [end Beale]

    -------------

    ** On Micro-chips

    With regard to the implanting of a micro-chip under the skin of the hand or forehead, and this being the "mark of the beast" of Revelation 13: a good interpretive approach to understanding that book is that almost everything in it should be understandable to and applicable to the churches in the first century (and early second), for it was initially written to them (the seven letters of chapters 2 and 3, for example). The Lord gave the prophecy of Revelation to comfort the young churches, many of whom were under persecution of some sort by the Roman authorities or their proxies in the local governments of Asia Minor, or the local trade guilds. Back then slaves were often branded or tattooed on the forehead or hand as a sign of ownership, so it was understood back then that such a mark meant one was owned by someone. But it should also be considered symbolically, even for those who were not branded or marked somehow: a “mark on the forehead” would signify one's thoughts and mental allegiance were given to a certain person or entity; a “mark on the hand” would signify one's actions were in behalf of that person or entity. So a person who gave their allegiance – both in their minds and by their actions – to the "beast" of the Roman Empire (a persecuting antichristian government) would be considered in the sight of God to have the mark of the beast, and to be its follower, even if they had no outward mark. God, on the other hand, did not "mark" His people, but set a seal upon them of protection and ownership; this mark is also invisible – but God sees it! There is a big difference between the mark of the beast and the seal of God!

    My point is, what is written in the book of Revelation would have to make sense to the churches John wrote to, and micro-chips would not have been understood in the 1st and 2nd centuries. The relevance of the book to the early church cannot be ignored. Now is it possible that – accepting what I have already written about the early church – a government could require the implanting of such chips in our day? It is possible, and the technology does exist. The RFID technology is being pushed by some. However, if one thinks that having a chip is the only way to have the mark of the beast, then one has been deceived into looking out for the wrong thing – for one may not have a chip and yet have the mark of the beast in their mental allegiance and their actions! There is a danger in thinking it is only the literal thing and not the often unseen realities of the heart and actions!

    Every Christian, having read Revelation, will be wary of ever receiving an implantable chip. However, if one does receive one, and then believes it an offense to God, He will very likely be able to just have it cut out and removed. They are right who say that a chip does not cancel our salvation by Christ – nothing can separate us from Him, or snatch us out of His hand. Though His followers will be very careful about where our true allegiance lies, and what signs we may give that confirms or denies it. Back in the Roman days, the authorities would make one burn incense to Caesar and call him Lord – and this was understood by the church as in one's heart having the mark of the beast. Some professing Christians – from fear of death or torture – would deny Christ and sacrifice to Caesar, but later repent. The churches had different views of this: some would forgive and receive such again, and some would not. We need to be on guard so as not to betray our Lord in a moment of weakness. While there is repentance, some Christians will be doubtful as to its sincerity. Especially if those who did not deny Christ paid with their lives. Some who did deny, and later repented, went back to the authorities and said they were Christians after all – and paid the price (but were glad they did).

    There may be some things in Revelation that were not at all clear to the early churches, such as things pertaining to the end of the last days – which may be the times were in now (not stating that dogmatically, though). There was a manifestation of Babylon then (Rome, and also the God-opposing cultures), and there is a present-day manifestation. As the time draws nearer to the end, we may have insights into the symbols of Revelation that they did not have then.

    ----------

    Perg, I don’t think this statement of yours is accurate: “the majority of the early church seemed to be chiliasts”. That is a great overstatement! I’ll quote Cornelis Venema’s summary of this:

    In the early history of the church, a number of the church Fathers advocated a form of premillennial teaching. Among the second-century apologists or defenders of the faith, Justin Martyr taught that the return of Christ would inaugurate a one-thousand-year period of peace and righteousness upon the earth, with the Old Testament prophecies regarding Israel’s restoration and future blessing literally fulfilled. This view was shared by many other influential teachers, among them Ireneaus, Hippolytus, and Lactanius. Support for this understanding was often derived from the Epistle of Barnabas and the teaching that the time of creation, subsequent to the creation week, spanned a period of six days, each one thousand years duration.1 In this understanding, the millennium would occur six thousand years after creation and represents the seventh day, or the last period in history of one thousand years.

    Due to a variety of factors, most prominently the influence of Augustine’s view of the millennium, this early form of Premillennialism largely disappeared during the Middle Ages.

    Footnote:
    1 The Epistle of Barnabas is one of the earliest Christian writings (possibly early second century) that we have, and it exercised a considerable influence among many of the early church Fathers. Though this letter clearly teaches the idea of history comprising ‘days’ of one thousand years duration, it is not so clear that it actually teaches Premillennialism, as many assume. Two useful surveys of the early history of Premillennialism are: D.H. Kromminga, The Millennium in the Church; and Charles Hill, Regnum Caelorum: Patterns of Future Hope in Early Christianity (Oxford: Clarendon, 1992). The study of Hill is especially interesting, as he convincingly challenges a common claim that the preponderance of early church teachers espoused a premillennialist view. (The Promise of the Future, pp 195-196)

    [end Venema]

    I think that this has to be hashed out by Scriptural proof, i.e., exegesis of the texts, rather than claims to historical precedents.
    Steve Rafalsky
    Member, Queens Presbyterian Church, Astoria (PCA)
    Queens, New York
    USA

    "I am set for the defense of the gospel" (Philippians 1:17)

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    power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness...
    " (Colossians 1:11)

    Jerusalem Blade's PB Blog; Collected Textual Posts, Eschatology, and Misc.
    Lightning Sword: Journal of the Apokalypse

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    Pergamum is offline. Ordinary Guy (TM)
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    Thanks Steve for the details and time you put into all that above. A good read. I might start another thread about chiliasm in the early church.
    Pergamum


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