Blogging through Beale (Rev. 5-6)

Revelation 5

5:10.  Basileuo can be either future or present. Futurists connect it to Rev. 20:4. Beale opts for a present tense reading as it ties in with 1:5-6a. But if the referent to 1:5 holds, then these saints are reigning on earth right now, and that is not the case. To be sure, 1:6 speaks of his making us to be a kingdom, but if we aren’t currently reigning on earth, then it does not make sense to connect it to verse 5.

Revelation 6-8

Two questions present themselves to us.  Are the seals recapitulated in the trumpets and bowls?  Secondly, are the first four seals simultaneous or sequential?

Beale says the seals are simultaneous.  That does not seem right. For example, the actions of war and famine create the conditions for inflation. Moreover, Beale says these seals apply to the general church age (384-385). He says the seals “purify the faithful,” but he alludes to Leviticus 26, which contain covenant curses on God’s people.

He then says the four horsemen (“to kill”) is aimed at the Christian community. That does not follow for a number of reasons.  The first three plagues are aimed at the whole world (presumably killing much of the world). Why would this last plague be any different?  And in terms of this happening over “the church age,” while persecution does last throughout the age, it is never a worldwide phenomenon like in this passage.  Finally, and most problematic, if these seals purify the church and punish the wicked, then it is hard to see how killing Christians punishes the wicked.

6:9. Are the saints under the altar actual martyrs or Christians in general?  Beale says they represent all Christians. True, there is sacrificial language of the Christian life in the NT.  A simpler reading, though, is that these Christians were actually killed.  There is a future referent in the comfort provided to them (i.e., wait until the rest of the Christians are killed).  If killed at the end of the verse means killed, then it has to mean so at the beginning. Not only does this point to a future referent, but Beale even concedes that the future seems “imminent” (395).

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