Blogging through Beale (Introduction)

I have been reading through GK Beale’s standard-setting commentary on Revelation for about a year, off and on. I consider myself “a leaky amillennialist.” I think there are weak spots in amillennialism, though. As a general rule, we have not done a great job dealing with texts like Zech. 14 and Isaiah 24-26. Moreover, I think idealism is a terrible hermeneutic for interpreting Revelation. Beale avoids much of that problem, though I will register my disagreements at time.

Critique of Preterism

For a late date: There was no systemic emperor worship under Nero.  Nero did persecute Christians, to be sure, but it was for the fire, not for religious reasons (Beale 5).  

The biggest weakness arises from the seven kings.  With which king does one start?

Even though “Babylon” is where our Lord was crucified, which seems to suggest Jerusalem, it is also spiritually called Sodom and Egypt, suggesting, rather, that all three terms are figurative (25).

Rev. 1:7 cannot refer to an early date because Zech. 12, its referent, speaks of the redemption of Israel, not its judgment.  Moreover, “tribes of the earth” never refers to Israel, but to the whole world” (26).

Another problem is that preterism limits the prophecies to 70 AD, whereas Daniel 2 and 7, the main passages quoted, are universal in scope and usually point towards a final judgment (44-45).

Critique of Historicism

The main problem is that all of the prophecies are tied to unique moments in Western European history, making the rest of the world largely irrelevant (46).

Beale’s own view is eclectic.  He rejects that there are unfolding prophesied moments in the book (49).


4, 7, and 12 symbolize cosmic order (60-63).

Structure of the Book

The best outline of the book will divide it into 7 or 8 sections (114).  Moreover, Beale suggests that such a division best falls under a fourfold division of 1:1-19; 1:20-3:22; 4:1–22:5; 22:6-21 (155).

Progressive-recapitulation: the seals/trumpets/bowls recapitulate each other by portraying judgment, then redemption (121).

Revelation 1:19 as Hermeneutical Key

Daniel 2:28-29 is the source for Rev. 1:19. When the LXX of Daniel says “what things must take place in the latter days,” John uses almost the same language to say “what things must take place quickly.” Eschaton ton hemeron genesthai en taxei.

1:1 “Apocalyptic” is a heightened form of prophecy. The “things that must soon take place” refer to the “imminent time of fulfillment” (181). We are looking at the beginning of fulfilment, not the final moments (pace futurism) nor merely AD 70 (pace preterism). A similar Greek parallel is Mk. 1:15.

1:10a While “Lord’s day” could be equivalent to “Old Testament Day of the Lord,” the word kuriakos is never used like that in the LXX, NT, or early fathers (203).

1:18. Following David Aune’s analysis, Christ’s holding the keys of death and Hades could be a polemic against  the pagan gods who were thought to be the rulers of the underworld (215).

1:20. The angels are primarily heavenly beings, though with a human dimension in light of corporate representation.  Stars are metaphorical for both angels and saints in the OT (218).

Heavenly Courtroom

Crystal Sea:  allusions to Red Sea (cf. 15:2-4).  Possible Solomon’s laver.

4 Living Creatures: Possible options include the Zodiac.  The problem is that the Eagle is never mentioned in the Zodiac (329).  Probably represented the whole created order.

What Kind of Book is Opened in Rev. 5?

Book of redemption:  The problem with this view is that the contents of the book have more to do with events happening to both elect and unbelievers (339). In fact, if John has Daniel 2, 7, 12, and Ezek. 2-3 in mind, then the book is more about judgment.

Old Testament: Has the advantage of seeing Christ as interpreting the Old Testament.  Unfortunately, it suffers from similar problems: the books in Daniel and Ezekiel are not represented as “the Old Testament.”

Beale suggests the “book” is a general testament of judgment and redemption.  It is a covenantal promise of inheritance (340).

2 Temple Sources Beale Uses

Sibylline Oracles (4.24; Beale 59).

Odes of Solomon 23 (Beale 341). Corresponds to the idea of “book” as “testament of promise.”


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