Round 2 of Writing Contest Voting Begins!

Hey all,

The contest will start on August 5th.  They accidentally posted the entries a week early.  Sorry about that but thanks for telling me so!  I had to email them and wait for a response.  So August 5th is the voting.  I will leave this here and send out a reminder when it’s time.  Thanks for your patience!!

Thanks to you all I made it to round 2.  Now I need you to follow the link and vote again for first AND second lines.

Mine is:  “We should slit her throat right away.  Why wait?”  “Shut up, Heman!”

Here’s the link:  http://www.adventuresinyapublishing.com

I’m about half-way down the box in which you have to scroll.  Once you click the box next to my entry, you scroll down and click done.  You’ll get a message saying “Thank you for taking the survey”.    If you have issues, below the box is a place to click and vote as well.  This is for those using Internet Explorer.

Voting closes not sure.  Winners receive a writing critique.

Thanks in advance for your support!  Words cannot express my appreciation!!

I Need Your Votes!

Hey all,

I’ve entered a first-line contest and I need your votes!

Go to this site:  http://www.adventuresinyapublishing.com and it’s the second entry entitled “Vote for your favorite first line–Red Light Green Light Contest”.  Scroll down inside the survey box until you see the line:

“We should slit her throat straight away.  Why wait?”

That’s mine!

Voting closes at midnight on Monday, July 27th!

Thanks in advance!  I appreciate your support!

Note:  Internet Explorer users:  Scroll down beneath the entry to where it says “Internet Explorer users may experience issues.  click HERE.” and then click on the HERE.  Thanks and hope that helps!

Outline of Book of Revelation

Scholars differ on the breakdown of the book of Revelation.  Here’s my favorites amongst them.  I have no idea what BSF’s approach will be.

There are 7 visions in the book of Revelation recorded by John.  Four are considered key and they all begin with the words “in the Spirit”  (Rev 1:10; 4:2; 17:3; 21:10).

The 7 Visions are:

1)  The church on Earth (chapters 1-3)

2)  The Lamb and the seven seals (chapters 4-7)

3)  Seven angels with trumpets (chapters 8-11)

4)  The church persecuted by Satan and the beast (chapters 12-14)

5)  The seven bowls of God’s wrath (chapters 15-16)

6)  Judgment of Babylon (17:1-19:10)

7)  Final judgment and victory (19:11-22:21)

Another Outline I found is this:

I  Introduction:  the return of Christ (1-1:8)

II  Christ, the critic of the churches (1:9-3:22)

III  Christ, the controller of destiny (4:1-16:21)

IV  Christ, the conqueror of evil (17:1-21:8)

V  Christ, the consummator of hope (21:9-22:5)

VI  Epilogue, appear and invitation (22:6-21)

Numbers will be very significant in the book of Revelation so pay attention when you see them.  I will be pointing these out as we go along.  The number seven is chief among them.

Overview of Revelation: What is Premillennialism? Debate over Revelation 20

Within the study of eschatology is the debate about when will Jesus come again.  There are three main interpretations of the Bible here known as amillennialism, postmillennialism, and premillennialism.  These beliefs all stem from Revelation 20 where Jesus’ Second Coming and the Millennium is discussed in some detail.

What is premillennialism?  This is the belief that Jesus will physically come again (the Second Coming) before (“pre” means before in Latin) the ushering in of the Millennium spoken about in the book of Revelation (Revelation 20:1-6).  Jesus comes, the Millennium begins, giving unbelievers a chance to turn to God, Satan in bound and then he’ll lead a final revolt, then the judgment occurs.

Amillennialism (“a” means no in Greek) is the belief that the book of Revelation is figurative and the time frame is indeterminate. Revelation 20 refers to the church age during which Satan’s power over the nations is restrained so the gospel can reach more people.  This belief holds that we are already in the church age, waiting for Christ to come and judge, and therefore Christ’s reign is in heaven and not here on earth.

Postmillennialists (“post” means after in Latin) see the millennium as a future period when truth will be revealed and accepted by the majority of people.  They believe in the literal 1000 year period or Golden Age but unlike the premillennialists, they believe the church, man, and nations will all eventually turn to Christ first and only when the majority of the world is ready for Christ will he return physically to earth and judge mankind and usher in the New World Order.  They believe the 1000 years has not begun yet.

Did you catch the key difference between the postmillennialists and the premillennialists? Postmillennialists believe man will convert people and reference Matthew 28:19-20 (the Great Commission).  Premillennialists believe Jesus himself will come and convert the majority of mankind to him.

In sum, amillennialists don’t believe in a physical coming of Jesus.  Postmillennialists and premillennialists believe Jesus will physically come to usher in his kingdom–the debate is in the details of when as well as the actual 1000 year period itself.

All agree that this world will end and Jesus will establish an eternal kingdom here on earth. The debate is over how and when.  Again, does it matter?  We can hold onto the hope and the truth that there will be a time when Jesus will reign.  For now, he reigns in our hearts.

This is at the end of our study but it’s good to have this idea in your head now and be thinking on it as we go along.  Perhaps there will be clues elsewhere.

To me, this is just plain interesting.  I love how God doesn’t make it clear because I believe the details don’t matter to Him.  He wants us.  Always has.  Always will.  As long as we’re secure in Him, the rest is merely fodder for the soul.

Overview of Revelation: What is Eschatology?

Eschatology is a Greek word meaning “the study of the last”.  In Revelation, eschatology refers to the study of End Times.  However, in Christian eschatology, it’s also the study of the end of life, the end of an age, the end of the world, etc.  More specific, it includes the study of the Second Coming of Jesus, the judgment of the world, the resurrection of the dead, and the creation of a new heaven and earth.  Further, the nature of the millennium, the intermediate state, the concept of immortality, and the eternal destiny of the wicked is also included.

For Christians, this is the study of what the Bible says about all of the above–chief among them being the Book of Revelation.

Within eschatology, there are various interpretations on what exactly the writings refer to.  Chiefly, these are preterism, historicism, futurism, and idealism.

Preterism from the Latin praeteritus, meaning “gone by” is the belief that all the prophecies of the Bible have already been fulfilled in the past–mainly in the first century AD in reference to the Book of Revelation.  Preterists believe the book of Revelation was written about the present conditions of the Jewish people and Christians in the Roman Empire and was written in a prophetic manner to hide the meaning from pagans.

Preterists see Christ’s second coming as spiritual and not physical and the destruction of the Temple in 70 AD as the final judgment and we are already living in a new earth.

Historicism is the belief that biblical prophecy is fulfilled in the past, present, and future–meaning prophecy is continually being fulfilled.  This view tries to associate biblical prophecy with actual historical events and people.

Futurism is the belief that biblical prophecy will be fulfilled only at the end of the age.

Idealism is the belief biblical prophecy is symbolic only–meaning it doesn’t refer to actual events but serves only a warning to mankind about behavior.  Revelation is a general discourse on the inherent good and evil in mankind, which is constant and never changes throughout time or history.  This view asserts good will triumph over evil but ignores the hows and whys and whens of it all.  This view dismisses entirely the book of Revelation as an apocalyptic writing.

Many scholars don’t neatly fit into any of these categories and instead hold a mixture of beliefs. I have no idea where BSF will fall within these categories or if they will pick at all.  For now, just know the different viewpoints while studying the book of Revelation.  This will help give you the tools to decide for yourself what you think God is saying here.

Remember, always go back to God’s word.  And if it doesn’t make sense, that is okay.  We can never know what God knows nor is His ways ours.  Our job is to try to learn about Him through His word and be ready when He speaks.  And studying the Book of Revelation will help us to do just that.

Overview of Revelation: What does Revelation mean Anyways and What exactly is Apocalyptic Writings?

What does “Revelation” mean?

I’m a language and etymology buff.  I love Greek and Latin and wish in my earlier days I had studied both more.  The word revelation is from the Greek word ἀποκάλυψις apokalypsis, meaning “unveiling” or “revelation”.  The Greek word is formed from two Greek words “apo” meaning away from and “kalyptein” meaning to cover.  Hence, the word literally means “uncover.”  More fully, “an uncovering or disclosure of knowledge”, and “unveiling of knowledge.”

Hence, our English word “apocalypse“.  This word originally referred to the Bible and its prediction of imminent cosmic cataclysm in which God destroys the ruling powers of evil and raises the righteous to life in the messianic kingdom.  Recently, it’s been broadened to mean the end of the world as we know it and not necessarily by God’s hand.

How did we get the word revelation from apocalypse?  Well, it’s Latin.  Revelation comes from the Latin word “revelare” meaning to “lay bare”, “unveil”, or “uncover”.  Hence, thanks to the monks of the Middle Ages, we use the Latin form of the word as the modern day title but we can also thank the Greeks for the word apocalypse.

The word apocalypse and revelation is the same Greek word just translated differently. The words’ meanings have evolved over the millennium but for our study both refer to the visions John received on the Island of Patmos.

Armageddon.  Originally in Hebrew, this word is “Har–Magedon” or “Har Meghiddohn”, means “Mountain (or hill) of Megiddo (the city).  Armageddon (Ἁρμαγεδών in the Greek) means a mountain or range of hills.  This word is used only once in the Bible in Revelation 16:16 and it refers to the GATHERING PLACE of  the forces of good and evil–NOT THE ACTUAL BATTLE.  Traditionally, this has been at the foot of Mount Megiddo in the Valley of Jezreel where some historians say more wars have been fought here than in any other location in the world.  This word like apocalypse has been broadened to mean the end of the world.

The final battle will take place outside Jerusalem in the Kidron Valley or Valley of Jehoshaphat (Joel 3:2, 9-16) against Jesus Christ (Revelation 14:14-20; 16:14; 19:11-21; Joel 3:12-14).

Scholars disagree as to the actual location of the final battle.  Some take it literally.  Some figuratively.  Some say it will be world-wide.  Others argue the translations and the semantics.  In my mind all that matters is there will be a final battle of good versus evil and God will win.  Does it really matter where it will take place?

What is apocalyptic writings or literature?

Apocalyptic writings focus on the revelation of God and His plan for our world.  They always talk of future events and visions of the future.  Most discuss God’s triumph over evil.  And interestingly, God himself rarely speaks in these writings.  God’s word is usually communicated through angels or others God chooses.

Between 200 BC and 200 AD, apocalyptic writings were actually quite common and quite popular amongst Jews and early Christians.  Apocalyptic writings abound in symbolism, which is what makes the Book of Revelation so hard to understand especially to modern readers.  Symbols change and meanings are lost so a lot of what we will be studying had completely different meanings almost 2000 years ago and we just flat out don’t know what the symbols were supposed to mean either.

Apocalyptic writings came about in the era between the writing of the Old Testament and the New Testament.  God had stopped talking to His people, creating a void in the Jewish community.  Evil rulers were in power at this time (Rome and Greece and Persia before) and God’s people wondered where He was.  Hence, various writers began to write to fill this void and encourage the people that God’s kingdom is indeed still coming especially after the destruction of the Temple in 70 AD.  God’s people couldn’t understand how such a catastrophe could befall them.

Apocalyptic writings can be seen in the Old Testament in the books of Joel, Ezekiel, Zechariah, Chapters 24-27 of Isaiah and chapter 33, and the Book of Daniel.  This was continued with the Book of Revelation in the New Testament.  The main difference between the Book of Revelation (the ultimate apocalyptic writing) and others is visions are left unexplained.  Hence, the difficulty and hence our challenge in studying it.

Furthermore, early noncanonical writings (many discovered with the Dead Sea Scrolls) were imaginary–not based off of actual visions from God.  Hence, I’m assuming we will only be studying what is in the Bible in BSF.

Rest assured, the one theme we will see in Revelation:  the ultimate victory of God.  Evil will be overthrown and God will reign.  This is our hope.  This is God’s promise.  His glory to us all.

Overview of Revelation: Author, Date, the Island of Patmos, and the Seven Churches of Revelation

I’m beginning a series of posts in preparation for Bible Study Fellowship’s forthcoming study of the Book of Revelation.  As you all know, there is so much in this book that I’ve decided to break it into smaller components for better understanding.  I hope this helps to digest the information and feel a bit prepared before the study begins.  This will serve two purposes:  1)  Not to feel so overwhelmed with Revelation  2)  To of course have some background before diving right in.  I have no idea what BSF will focus on for me it will be critical to have background knowledge BEFORE studying the actual text which dives right in.  So let’s begin!

Who wrote Revelation?

First off, let me just say this:  in the Book of Revelation there will be many things in doubt and question due to the ambiguity of the text.  Hence, many things in this study will be interpretations–and that is all. No definitive answers.  Starting with who wrote the book.

For years, scholars attributed the book to John the Apostle who wrote the Book of John.  In verse 1 of Revelation, the author identifies himself:  “John”.  However, that’s all the author tells us.  He doesn’t say, “Hey, it’s me!  John who walked with Jesus.”

In verse 9, he does say, “I, John, your brother and companion in the suffering and kingdom and patient endurance that are ours in Jesus, was on the island of Patmos”.

This doesn’t help much either.

It didn’t take long to question the author either.  Dionysius of Alexandria (231-265 AD) first pointed out that this author declared his name.  John, the apostle, did not when he wrote the Book of John.  And the style and vocabulary of this author were so different from the known writings of the Apostle John that there’s no way they could be one and the same.

Many chuck this up to the difficulties of translating languages from the Aramaic to the Hebrew and the Greek.  Others cite the facts similar terms were used such as “Word of God” for Christ, “water of life” and “the Lamb” to say, yes, indeed, John the Apostle wrote the Book.

So, who wrote Revelation?  No one knows.  And in the end, does it really matter?  As in verse 1 of Revelation, God gave the revelation to Jesus who gave the revelation to an angel who gave it to a man named John who gave it to us.  Just like the rest of the Bible, if we accept it as God’s divine word to His people, does it matter who put pen to paper?  Accept it as a gift from God and remember His ways are not ours.

When was the Book of Revelation written?  Again, up for debate.  Scholars have narrowed it down to two time periods, not all that far apart.

One, during the alter portion of the reign of the Roman Emperor Nero (37-68 AD)

Two, a bit later, during the reign of the Roman Emperor Domitian (81-96 AD).

Some scholars (known as preterists which I will cover in a later post) support the earlier time frame because it was before the fall of Jerusalem in 70 AD.  Hence, Revelation’s message about the fall and destruction speaks to the destruction of Jerusalem.

Most scholars (the futurists) argue for the later date.  They cite the preponderence of early scholars saying s0 (Irenaeus, Clement of Alexandria, Victorinus, and Jerome).  The author, John, was banished to the island of Patmos.  This was a favorite punishment of the Emperor Domitian.

So, when was the Book of Revelation written?  No one knows.  And in the end, does it really matter?  Some say yes because it holds the clue if this book is written as a warning of what’s to come or as a warning of what happened and is thus a purely historical document.  All of this is true.

However, for me, we need to focus on how this applies to us today.  I’m not one to worry what the future holds as I may be dead tomorrow.  I’m not going to live my life thinking the world is ending.  If it does, there’s nothing I can do about it so why worry (Philippians 4:6).

The Book of Revelation has so many different interpretations one can easily get bogged down in the subtle nuances and the quoted passages that support this argument and that.  For me, that’s not what this study will be about.  It will be about what is God saying to me today?  Right where I’m at.  Right where He has placed me.  And how can I take the understanding He will give me and apply it to my life, my community, my church, my world.  That will be my focus.

Where is the Island of Patmos?  One thing John tells us is he was on the island of Patmos when he received his revelation from the angel.  The island of Patmos is a tiny Greek island about 34 square miles.  See map HERE and HERE It’s tiny, secluded, and hard to access, a perfect place to send criminals in the first century AD.  Think modern-day Alcatraz–a place criminals were sent to work and die.

Who was John writing to?  “Write on a scroll what you see and send it to the seven churches: to Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea.” (Revelation 1:11).

John was writing to seven early Christian churches in Asia Minor.  See map HERE, HERE, and HERE

As you can see from the second and third maps, the churches were located on a major road that ran north to south.  It would have been easy for a messenger to send the letter quickly.  There were other churches in Asia Minor at the time but these churches seemed to be selected for the need they evinced.  Their faith was shrinking and needed encouragement.