Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Revelation 15:8 and Christology

In Revelation 15:8, John reports that when the glory and power of God was fully manifest in his temple, OUDEIS EDUNATO EISELQEIN EIS TON NAON AXRI TELESQWSIN hAI hEPTA PLHGAI TWN hEPTA AGGELWN.

What did John mean by the words OUDEIS EDUNATO EISELQEIN? Who are included in the pronoun functioning as a substantive OUDEIS?

Uriah Smith (a Seventh Day Adventist commentator) writes:

"While the seven angels are performing
their fearful mission, the temple is filled
with the glory of God, and no man, OUDEIS, no one,
no being, referring to Christ and his heavenly
assistants, can enter therein. This shows that the
work of mercy is closed, and there is no ministration
in the sanctuary during the infliction of the plagues ;
hence they are manifestations of the wrath of God,
without any mixture of mercy" (Thoughts, Critical and Practical, on the Book of Revelation, page 308, published 1881).

Notice that Smith includes Christ and his "heavenly assistants" as referents of the term OUDEIS. It does not seem that Smith draws any ontological inferences from the language of Revelation 15:8. However, it seems to me that John is pointing out that not only were beings not in the holy NAOS in heaven--they COULD NOT enter because of the manifested glory and power of God the Father. What do you readers of this blog think?

3 comments:

vasileios78 said...

The comment on Revelation 15:8 in interesting indeed. I believe that generally the book of Revelation, in accordance with the Gospel of John and the general Hebraic monotheism, gives many clear statements that distinguish Jesus from God and refers to God’s superiority over Jesus. Here is a list of such statements (all of them taken from the New American Bible):

Jesus and God as separate beings:

Revelation 1:2 he word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ
Revelation 1:9 I proclaimed God's word and gave testimony to Jesus.
Revelation 7:10 "Salvation comes from our God, who is seated on the throne, and from the Lamb."
Revelation 12:17 those who keep God's commandments and bear witness to Jesus.
Revelation 14:1 Then I looked and there was the Lamb standing on Mount Zion, and with him a hundred and forty-four thousand who had his name and his Father's name written on their foreheads.
Revelation 14:4 They have been ransomed as the firstfruits of the human race for God and the Lamb.
Revelation 20:6 they will be priests of God and of Christ,
Revelation 21:22 its temple is the Lord God almighty and the Lamb.
Revelation 22:1 from the throne of God and of the Lamb


Jesus’ being inferior to his Father

Revelation 1:1 The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave to him
Revelation 1:6 has made us into a kingdom, priests for his God and Father,
Revelation 2:28 I received authority from my Father.
Revelation 3:5 The victor will thus be dressed in white, and I will never erase his name from the book of life but will acknowledge his name in the presence of my Father and of his angels.
Revelation 3:12 " '"The victor I will make into a pillar in the temple of my God, and he will never leave it again. On him I will inscribe the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from my God, as well as my new name.
Revelation 3:21 I will give the victor the right to sit with me on my throne, as I myself first won the victory and sit with my Father on his throne.
Revelation 5:10 0 You [O Jesus] made them a kingdom and priests for our God, and they will reign on earth."
Revelation 12:10 "Now have salvation and power come, and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Anointed.


There are many who believe that Jesus is called “almighty” in the book of Revelation in 1:8, being thus equal with his Father. The truth is that a close examination of the verse does not really support that, especially when the context is taken into account.

It is very interesting that Modalistic Monarchianists of the 2nd century C.E. used such verses to prove that Jesus is God. Much more interesting for the researcher of the history of dogma is to examine the refutations to such claims on the part of the mainstream Christians of those days. So this is how Hippolitus responded to the Modalists:

"For to this effect John also has said, “Which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.” And well has he named Christ the Almighty. For in this he has said only what Christ testifies of Himself. For Christ gave this testimony, and said, “All things are delivered unto me of my Father;” and Christ rules all things, and has been appointed".—Against the Heresy of One Noetus, 6,2 (http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/anf05.iii.iv.ii.iv.html).

Edgar Foster said...

Vasileios,

You bring out a number of good points related to the Trinity doctrine and Revelation or the Apocalypse. I really appreciate Revelation 21:22.

Best regards,
Edgar

Desiderius Erasmus said...

I'm not inclined to draw that kind of inference either. A few sticky verses notwithstanding, I think Revelation maintains the same ontological distinction between God and Christ as the rest of Scripture does. But apocalyptic material has to be handled especially carefully because of the overwhelming amount of symbolism. We have to first ask ourselves What is this saying? and only then What significance does this have?, if that makes any sense.

I don't know that this particular metaphor allows for a further unpacking within it, namely, what the relationship is between the characters. I should say, rather, that I think this is a safer approach, and the propensity trinitarians have for reading their theology into Scripture makes me inclined to show more restraint.