Saturday, November 24, 2012

Does Revelation 20:9 Necessarily Rule Out the Heavenly Hope?

In his 3-volume commentary on Revelation, David Aune delineates the hermeneutical possibilities for the Greek expression τὴν παρεμβολὴν τὼν ἁγίων in Revelation 20:9a. They are

1) The heavenly city.
2) The encampment of the people of God which is identical with "the beloved city."
3) The encampment of the people of God stationed outside the city in expectation of the impending attack.
4) The martyrs with Christ in Jerusalem (Revelation 14:1-5).
5) An army of angels (perhaps the force mentioned in Revelation 19:14) that is "bivouacked" in Jerusalem's vicinity. In fact, Eichhorn renders the phrase with the Latin phrase "castra angelorum" (cf. 2 Kings 6:17; 1QM 7:6 and 19:1).

Number 1) is taken from the commentary on Revelation by R. H. Charles. He argues that the heavenly city descends to the earth, but as I've noted previously, his interpretation is not necessarily the correct one. The heavenly city could be under attack insofar as its representatives are being assailed. Jesus taught that if you harm his brothers, you hurt him. Remember the words, "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me"?

Number 5) might also be a viable possibility.


The Apologetic Front said...

I don't find the "representation" view to be necessary or even implied in the text. The point is, they had to "come up on the broad plain of the earth" in order to surround them. While I suppose that some options are possible, it would seem that the simplest and contextually sound answer is that these ones were actually surrounded while on earth.

If I recall, the WBC on Revelation has some interesting comments on this text.

Edgar Foster said...

Dear Apologetic Front:

I wouldn't say the representation view is necessary: it was only floated as a possibility. The expression concerning the breadth of the earth is also interesting. Does it mean that the enemies of God must literally encompass a certain geographic region? And even if the camp of the holy ones is literally on earth, it doesn't mean that the holy city is.

Finally, the possibilities outlined in this blog post did come from Aune's WBC.

Ivan said...

If the city is synonymous with the Church, then the representational view says the Church's representatives are the ones being surrounded, not the church/city itself.

But the problem is self-evident. All true Christians are members of the Church. Therefore, the representation view holds to non-Christians representing Christians. But how can this be?

Are the "holy ones" Christians? If so, why are they not to be identified with/as the city? How can there be Christians which are not part of the Church?

The Apologetic Front said...

Hi Edgar,

Thanks for the response. Doesn't the text say that they "came up on the broad plain of the earth and surrounded...and the beloved city?"

To answer your question, i'm doubtful that a geographic region is in play here as i'm not a dispensationalist. But at the least, I think an earthly setting is more likely in play here.

Thanks for pointing that out about the WBC. I'm so used to reading the WBC electronically that I forget who the authors are!

aservantofJehovah said...

@Ivan:would an attack on a U.S embassy in nigeria be regarded as an attack on the U.S?

Ivan said...

Yes, but your analogy assumes the very thing under consideration so I fail to see how it resolves the dilemma in Revelation 20:9.

How can a "saint" not belong to the Church?

aservantofJehovah said...

@Ivan,Actually it is you who are raising a false dilemma.The City is a subdivision of the church,but here it is being employed as a metynymy for the entire church.It simply does not follow that the church's representatives are not nembers of the church.In fact it is more likely that representatives of a community would be members of that comunity rather than the reverse.That is why an an attack on a U.S consulate anywhere in the world would be considered an attack on the entire nation.It would put U.S citizens representing the entire nation in danger.

aservantofJehovah said...

Ps.Of course I meant "metonymy"please forgive my misspelling.

Ivan said...

Your assertion that the "city is a subdivision of the church" is baseless without further elaboration. In Revelation 21 the city is explicitly identify as the Bride, i. e., the Church. Not as a subdivision but as the Church itself.

The Church's representatives would themselves be part of the Church, yet you do not believe this this, hence your need to create "divisions" of groups/persons within the Church.

What you are suggesting is that Christ's wife/Bride has a representative. Yet, nothing in Revelation 20:9 suggests this.

aservantofJehovah said...

At one time the church was made up of only prospective members of the bride/newjerusalem/priesthood.But revelation7:9,echoing the prophecy at zechariah8:23,indicates that this was due to change during the Lord's day or the last days.Also indicating that the priesthood is a subdivision of those being saved is the use of the expression Firstfruits to refer to them at revelation14:4.The firstfruits of the harvest are ALWAYS! a tiny initial sample of the entire harvest.if you can find an example of the term(whether literally or figuratively)being employed differently in scripture(or anywhere else for that matter) I would love to see it.The new Jerusalem is the capital of Jehovah's new world.It is not unusual for newsreports and other commentary to employ the Capital City as a metonymy for the nation-state,for example we may read of 'beijing's' position or washington's position on a particular issue,meaning china's or The U.S' position on the said issue.Something similar is in play at revelation20:9.The attack on the camp(of course the camp would be outside the City)Would constitute an attack on the city,the camp represents the city.