Tuesday 29 March 2016

Bible Book:

“When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he placed his right hand on me, saying, ‘Do not be afraid; I am the first and the last, and the living one. I was dead, and see, I am alive forever and ever; and I have the keys of Death and of Hades.’” (vv. 17-18)

Revelation 1:12-18 Tuesday 29 March 2016

Psalm: Psalm 117


This passage comes from the beginning of the vision John theDivine received, when on the island of Patmos in the Aegean Sea.It's possible that he had been exiled there because of hisChristian faith. In the vision John was given messages for sevenchurches. Just before this passage begins John had heard a voicecommissioning him to write what he saw and send it to the sevenchurches.

The description of the speaker owes much to an apocalypticvision recounted in the book of Daniel (chapter 7) in the OldTestament. "one like a human being [Son of Man]" (Daniel7:13) represents the faithful people of Israel, who enduresuffering, persecution and even death, but are ultimatelyvindicated and given authority to rule by God. This figuretherefore clearly acts as a type for Jesus Christ, and is thoughtto be the reason he chooses to call himself the "Son of Man" in theSynoptic Gospels. Thus we can identify the speaker in this visionas Jesus Christ, risen, exalted and granted by God the authority torule.

He also refers to himself by several divine titles which pointto his death and resurrection and supremacy over death. In theHellenistic world it was believed that there were doorways fromthis world to both heaven and the underworld, and the goddessHecate was thought to hold the keys to them. Thus John portraysChrist as surpassing the authority of Hecate and of all othernatural and supernatural powers.

Although these descriptions draw strongly on the imagery of bothJewish and Greek epiphanies, the emphasis is uniquely Christian.Both the Son of Man title and the direct statement: "I was dead,and see, I am alive forever and ever" make clear that the risenChrist's authority is uniquely acquired through enduring sufferingand overcoming death, and is therefore an intrinsically redemptiveauthority.

To Ponder

  • What qualities and experiences do you feel gives peopleauthentic authority?
  • What impact does the strange language of apocalyptic literaturehave on you?
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