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The severance of the church from Judaism prob. By that time the church and synagogue had developed in two different directions. The doctrine of justification by faith apart from the works of the law had driven a wedge between the advocates of orthodox Judaism and the community of Christian believers.

The destruction of the Temple had broken whatever slight connection might have remained between the church and the center of the Jewish faith in which it had been cradled.

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Within the church itself there were signs of declension which are reflected in the letters to the seven churches of Asia. Initial fervor had cooled, immoralities and heresies had infiltrated the ranks of teachers and communicants alike and an increasing laxity prevailed. Revelation represents an attempt to revive zeal by portraying the tensions of the time and by summoning its readers to a preparation for the return of Christ in judgment. The character of the visions and the exile of the author would account for minor digressions, repetitions, and lack of polish in the language. The unity consists in his original integration and interpretation of the material that he uses.

If he weaves it into a new fabric of ideas, it can have a real unity; any connection with its former usage becomes a secondary consideration. If the consecutive heptads of Revelation indicate anything, they imply a central organization emanating from one mind.

Church History (Book VII)

Furthermore, the internal structure of Revelation argues for unity. The introduction of each of the letters to the seven churches contains an allusion to the initial portrait of Christ; the final promises to the overcomers anticipate the coming of the City of God. Throughout the narrative beginning with the fourth ch. A definite progress appears in the development of the successive judgments, so that they may be regarded as a continuous sequence from the opening of the seals in ch.

There are some digressions and parenthetical episodes, but these do not disrupt the fundamental unity of the book. According to the statements of the author, his name was John. The visions comprised in the book had been received while he was on the island of Patmos, presumably exiled for his Christian faith.

External tradition identifies him with John, the son of Zebedee to whom the gospel and epistles were likewise ascribed. Justin Martyr c. Irenaeus, Bishop of Lyons, indicated by numerous copies of the Apocalypse that were already extant, but also upon the testimony of men who had seen John face to face Against Heresies IV. Tertullian c. Origen c. From the middle of the 2nd cent.


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Definite objections to the Johannine authorship were first raised by Dionysius of Alexandria, who contested the traditional opinion on the following grounds: 1 the Apocalypse claimed John as its author, whereas the Johannine gospel and epistles were written anonymously; 2 the vocabulary of the Apocalypse differed radically from the acknowledged Johannine writings; 3 the grammar of those writings was generally good Gr.

In essence they are identical with those advanced against the Johannine authorship of Revelation, nor are they necessarily conclusive. The statement that the gospel and epistles are anonymous while the Apocalypse names its author is not strictly correct.

It is true that the gospel and the epistles do not name their author, but he was evidently well known to the readers, and was presumably one of the Twelve. He certainly claimed to be an eyewitness of Christ. While identity of authorship cannot be proved on this basis, it is not impossible. There is no compelling reason to conclude that the author of the gospel could not have written the Apocalypse simply because he named himself in the latter work, and not in the former.

The difference in vocabulary may be explained by the difference in subject matter. The gospel is a quiet and meditative account of the life of Jesus, drawn from the memories of many years and viewed from the perspective of Christian experience. The Apocalypse is the record of visions received under stress while in exile, and prob.

The gospel dealt with familiar sights and sounds connected with a normal human life in Pal. Notwithstanding these disparities, there are some resemblances. In both the activity of Satan is prominent John ; , 27 ; ; Rev ; ; , 7 , 10 ; and the climactic quality of the death of Christ is emphasized John ; Rev ; The parallels are not always exact, but they are sufficient to warrant the conclusion that between the acknowledged Johannine writings and the Apocalypse there is a noticeable verbal accord.

The so-called grammatical anomalies can be explained on the basis of the apocalyptic quality of the writing, or upon the attempt of the writer to render into Gr. Beneath the Gr. Perhaps the gospel of John was smoothed out somewhat by an assistant or an amanuensis who added the final comment John While the evidence for the Johannine authorship of Revelation may not be absolutely complete the evidence to the contrary is by no means conclusive.

The weight of early testimony favors the view that the Apocalypse was written by John, the son of Zebedee, and there is no absolute proof that he could not have done so. Obviously the writer was highly respected by the churches of Asia, and was regarded as an authority whose writings deserved the status of Scripture. Epiphanius, writing in the 3rd cent.

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The date is too early, for the churches of Asia had not been founded at that time, and the tension between Christians and the Rom. It is possible that Epiphanius was referring to Nero, who also was named Claudius. An argument for a date during the administration of Nero a. Two major objections can be raised against this view. There are several other combinations of letters that will yield the same result, and furthermore it is very unlikely that Hellenic provincials of Asia would have reckoned ciphers in Heb. The seven heads are seven hills on which the woman is seated; they are also seven kings, five of whom have fallen, one is, the other has not yet come, and when he comes he must remain only a little while.

As for the beast that was and is not, it is an eighth but it belongs to the seven, and it goes to perdition Rev If this be interpreted to mean the successive rulers of the Rom. This interpretation is too uncertain to warrant any final conclusion.

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If they refer to the emperors, they prob. Nero would then be the fifth; Vespasian would be the sixth, since the three emperors following Nero did not reign long enough to be important to the provinces. Titus would be the seventh, and Domitian the eighth. The traditional view ascribes the Revelation to the reign of Domitian on the testimony of Irenaeus Against Heresies V.


The traditional date is prob. It allows for the growth and incipient decline of the churches of Asia. By adding the numerical values of the abbreviated Gr. Stauffer, Christ and the Caesars , p.


While the sole applicability of this cipher to Domitian cannot be proved, it fits his name as well as that of Nero. The island of Patmos was the place where the visions were received. They may have been recorded there, or later, possibly at Ephesus. Patmos was a small rocky island in the Aegean Sea off the coast of Asia Minor, on which a penal colony was located. Political prisoners were sent there for exile or for forced labor in the mines. Whether these visions were recorded at Patmos is uncertain, though prob. In any case they reflect the language and atmosphere of the Rom.

Stauffer op.

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  7. The churches to whose leaders the Book of Revelation was addressed were situated on a roadway that ran N along the coast from Ephesus to Pergamum via Smyrna. From Pergamum another road ran southward farther inland, touching Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea, and thence back to Ephesus. A messenger carrying this document could make a complete circuit, passing through all of these cities. Ephesus was the seat of the magnificent temple of Artemis; Smyrna was the chief seaport of Asia; at Pergamum were located the colossal altar of Zeus, the temple of Aesculapius, and the seat of provincial government.

    Thyatira was a center of agriculture and of a textile industry. Sardis, a city of declining fortunes, was one of the most ancient settlements and had been the capital of Lydia. Philadelphia was the gateway to the fertile plains of the inner plateau. Laodicea was a prosperous center of banking, wool growing, and the manufacture of medication for eyes. Paul wrote to Ephesus and Laodicea; Ignatius was familiar with several of these cities. They included most of the leading centers of the Asian province, and prob.

    The destruction of Pompeii and Herculaneum by the eruption of Vesuvius in a. Domitian was an egomaniac who demanded abject worship from the Rom. He claimed the title of Dominus et Deus Lord and God , and was the first of the emperors to assume the status of deity, though others had received worship unwillingly during their lifetime and had been deified by the Senate after death.

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    8. When his small son died in a. A coin issued in memory of the child represented him as sitting on the orb of the world, with the moon and planets around him. The apotheosis of the mother and child, the deification of the emperor and, in his person, of the state, the acclamation which ascribed to him extravagant titles and impossible powers, are mirrored in the imagery of Revelation. The arrogant and blasphemous claims of Domitian are countered by the apocalyptic honors given to Christ as Sovereign and Saviour of men.

      Roman historians do not chronicle a widespread persecution of the church under Domitian. Possibly these charges reflect Christian faith, since Clemens, if he were a Christian, would worship no visible god, would accept Jewish scriptures, and would refuse to worship the emperor. He was the second that raised a persecution against us Revelation, then, was written for churches that were under the shadow of imperial persecution, whether or not it was a general policy.

      The imminent danger of official repression was a continued threat to their existence. Because of the prevailing uncertainty they needed both encouragement and warning: encouragement to keep them from despair and consequent abandonment of faith, and warning to make them alert to the dangers of external attack and of internal apostasy. Both of these elements, together with a general reflection of prevalent conditions in the Empire, appear in the Apocalypse.

      The encouragement of the churches was focused on the coming of Christ to judge His enemies, to deliver the church from peril, and to establish the City of God.