{cix.}

XII
Some Doctrines of our Author.


The chief theme of the Apocalypse is not what God in Christ has done for the world, but what He will yet do, and what the assured consummation will be. It is therefore the Gospel of faith and hope, and seeks to inspire the Churches anew in these respects; for that the end is nigh. As it sets forth its theme, it instructs, though incidentally, and its teaching is always fresh and in some respects unique.

§ 1. The doctrine of God. -- If the doctrine of God were drawn only from the direct statements which the Apocalypse makes on this subject, though in some respects it would transcend the level reached in the O.T. (as in its teaching on God's fatherhood, etc.), in many others (such as His infinite mercy and forgiveneness) it would fall far short of it. Many scholars have emphasized this peculiarity of the Apocalypse, and insisted accordingly on the Jewish character of its doctrine of God. But to draw such a conclusion betrays a total misapprehension of the question at issue. The Christian elements are not dwelt upon because they can all be inferred from what the Book teaches regarding the {cx.} Son; for all that the Son has and is is derived from the Father. Hence the conception of the Father under this heading must be completed from that of the Son in the next. The conception is on the whole severely monotheistic.

     (a) First as regards the ethical side, God is holy, righteous, and true. He alone is alone (mo,noj o[sioj, 154 165: cf. 48 610); He is the True One, 610 (avlhqino,j = avlhqh,j in our author), who keepeth covenant; with this truthfulness is associated His righteousness in judgment, 153 167 191. 2. He is the Judge of the dead, 2011-15.

     (b) The gracious attributes of God are not brought forward, but are rather to be inferred from the fact that He is called the Father of Jesus Christ, 16 227 35. 21 141, and the Father also of all such as conquer, 217, and will dwell with them and be their God for ever, 213. Herein is the consummation of all the world's travail. The divine world is to come into the world of history and realize itself there, seeing that all things come from God and end in God. But this idea belongs in part to (c).

     (c) God is everlasting and omnipotent. First, as everlasting, He is designated as o` h=n kai. o` w]n kai. o` evrco,menoj, 14 48; o` w]n kai. o` h=n, 1117 165 (see vol. i. 10 sq.); o` zw/n eivj t) aivw/naj t) aivw,nwn, 49 106 157. Next, He is omnipotent. Our author's favourite expression for this idea is ku,rioj (> 1614 1915) o` qeo.j o` pantokra,twr, 48 1117 153 167. 14, 196. 15 2122; He is also designated o` despo,thj, 610; o` ku,rioj (+ h`mw/n, 1115), 1115 141 3154; ku,rioj o` qeo,j, 225; o` ku,rioj kai. o` qeo.j h`mw/n, 411. But though omnipotent, His omnipotence is ethically and not metaphysically conceived. It is not unconditioned force. That He possesses such absolute power is an axiom of the Christian faith, but He will not use it, since such use of it would compel the recognition of His sovereignty, not win it, would enslae men, not make him free. Hence the recognition of this sovereignty advances pari passu with the advance of Christ's Kingdom on earth, and each fresh advance is followed by thanksgiving in heaven; for the perfect realization of God's Kingdom in the world is the one divine event to which the whole creation moves, 411 513 712 1115.

     (d) He is the Creator, 411 147. Yet see § 2 (c) on the creative activity of Christ.

     (e) He is the Judge of all the dead, 2011-15.
 

§ 2. Jesus Christ. -- The teaching of our author on this subject is very comprehensive. Only the main points of it can be dealt with under the following heads, which are not always logically distinct. (a) The Historical Jesus. (b) The Exalted Christ. (c) The Unique Son of God. (d) The Great High Priest. (e) The Pre-existent Christ. (f) The Divine Christ.

     {cxi}(a) The Historical Jesus -- He is most frequently designated by His personal name "Jesus," 19 1217 1412 etc., occasionally by the originally official name "Christ," 1115 1210 204.6, and by the combination of the two, 11.2.5 2221. He is of Israelitish birth, being the Root of David, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, 58, and born in the midst of the Jewish theocracy, 121-3.5, i.e. the gunh. peribeblhme,nh to.n h[lion. That there is no reference here to the Virgin Birth is clear from the fact that our author is here using a Jewish source, which naturally represented the Messiah as one born naturally in the midst of the community. Besides, "the woman" has other children (1217 tw/n loipw/n tou/ spe,rmatoj auvth/j). Thus the faithful are sons of this woman as Jesus is. On the other hand, they become sons of God, 217, which Jesus is originally and uniquely (16 227 35.21 141). He has twelve apostles, 2114; His crucifixion in Jerusalem is referred to, 118; His resurrection, 15.18, and ascension, 321 125.

(b) The Exalted Christ -- Nowhere in the N.T. is the glory of the exalted Christ so emphasized. He is said to be "Like a Son of Man," 113 1414 -- an apocalyptic expression first applied to the Messiah in 1 Enoch 461, denoting a supernatual Being in dignity above the angels. He is described as the Faithful Witness, the Sovereign of the dead, the Ruler of the living, 15; as the resurrection and the life, and so the exclusive Mediator of salvation (e;cw ta.j klei/j tou/ qana,tou kai. tou/ a[|dou( 118). He is the Supreme Head of the Church, the Centre of all its life (evn me,sw| tw/n lucniw/n, 113 21) and the Master of its destinies (e;cwn evn th/| dexoa/| ceiri. auvtou/ avste,raj e`ota,, 116), chastening its individual members and judging them from love and in love, 319; promising them that conquer in the coming tribulation every blessing of the Kingdom of God, 27.11.17.26-28 35.12.21; embracing them in perfect fellowship, 320, and glorifying all who depart in this fellowship with the beatitude pronounced by God Himself, 1413. And even over those who are without the borders of the Church, He exercises a silent yet real sway, which more and more will come into manifestation and break in pieces the hostile peoples, 227 125 1915; for He is "King of kings and Lord of lords," 1714 1916. And to Him is committed the Messianic judgment, 17 1414.18-20 1911-21 207-10 2212.

(c) As Unique Son of God, Pre-existent and Divine -- Whereas the faithful become sons of God, 217, He is Son of God, essentially, 16 218.27 35.21 141. He is "the Word of God," 1913, "the Holy the True," 37, even as God is, 610; "the First and the Last," 117 28 2213b;  "the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End," 2213 -- titles that are used by God of Himself in 216 as denoting the source and goal of all things. In the light of these words we can rightly interpret, 314 h` avrch. th/j kti,sewj tou/ qeou/. This does {cxii} not mean the first kti,sij of God (as in Prov 822), but the active principle in creation -- the aivti,a or cause. The words, "I am He that liveth and was dead, and behold I am alive for evermmore," 117-18, recall to some extent the divine name "which is, and which was, and which is to come," 14 48. He sits with God on His throne, 321 717 125, "the throne of God and the Lamb," 221.3. The divine worship offered to Christ in 512 is described in the same terms as that offered to God in 410, and the same hymn of praise is sung in honour of both Christ, 513, and God, 710,(1) and during the Millennial reign the saints minister to Him as to God, 206. Many designations which belong alone to God in the O.T. are freely used of Christ. He is described in 114.15 in terms used of the Ancient of Days in Dan 79. He searcheth the heart and the reins, 223, as God in Jer 1710, Ps 710. His are the seven eyes that are sent out into all the earth, 56, as are those of Yahwhe, Zech 410: as Yahweh's garments in Is 631.2, His are sprinkled with blood, 1913; and as Yahweh in Deut 1017, He also is Lord of lords, 1714. Our author thus appears to coordinate God and Christ. Yet the relation is one of subordination than of equality.  He never goes so far as the author of the Fourth Gospel. He does not state that God and Christ are one, nor does he ever call Him God. And yet He is to all intents and purposes God -- the eternal Son of God, and the impression conveyed is that in all that He is, and in all that He does, He is one with the Father, and is a true revelation of God in the sphere of human history. Only in three definite respects is He represented as second to the Father. First, absolute existence is not attributed to Him as to the Father -- the idea conveyed by the words, o` w;n kai. o` h=n kai. o` evrco,menoj, 14 48 (1117 165). Yet see 117 28 2213 above. Next, the final Judgment belongs to the Father alone, 2011-15. Thirdly, though He is the active principle in creation, 314, it is the Father who is the Creator, 411 147.(2)

(d) As Great High Priest: Lamb of God. -- It is probable that Christ is represented as a priest in 113 where He is "clothed with a garment down to the foot." But this idea is wholly overshadowed by another, expressed by the designation "the Lamb," where Christ is not the Priest but the Lamb slain. This designation occurs twenty-eight times in our author in reference to Christ. But in this phrase two ideas quite distinct are combined,(3) the most prominent one -- a Christian development -- is that of the Lamb as a victim -- avrni,on ) ) ) w`j evsfagme,non, 56.12 1211 138 and elsewhere. The second idea -- derived from 1 Enoch and Test. XII Patr. -- is that of a lamb who is a leader -- either a spiritual leader, as in 717 141.4, cf. 1 Enoch 8945 where Samuel is symbolized, or a military leader, 56, i.e., a lamb "with seven horns and seven eyes," that is, a Being of transcendent power and knowledge: the Messiah is so symbolized in 1 Enoch 9038, Test. Jos 198.(4) This conception, which is borrowed in the main from Jewish Apocalyptic, comes to the front in 1714, where it is foretold that the ten Parthian kings will war with the Lamb and the Lamb will overcome them -- to. avrni,on nikh,sei auvtou,j (cf. Test. Jos 198, in footnote 4 below, for the same words applied to the Jewish Messiah).

But these two ideas are merged together by our author, as we see in 56. The Lamb is at once the triumphant Messiah, leading His people to victory, and the suffering Messiah who lays down His life for His people. This latter conception is non-Jewish.(5) But after the death of Christ this fact was soon {cxiv} explained, as already foretold under the influence of such a passage as Is 537 "As the lamb that is led to the slaughter, and as a sheep that before her shearers is dumb, yeah, he openeth not his mouth." In Acts 832-33 this passage is interpreted of Christ.

Under the designation "the Lamb," therefore, there lies the ideas of sacrifice and triumphant might. Out of love to man and with a view to redeem him, Jesus sacrifices Himself (15 tw|/ avgapw/nti h`ma/j kai. lu,santi h`ma/j evk tw/n a`martiw/n h`mw/n kai. evpoi,hsen h`ma/j basilei,an( i`erei/j tw|/ qew/|: 59evsfa,ghj kai. hvgo,rasaj tw/| qew/| evn tw/| ai[mati, sou evk pa,shj fulh/j ) ) ) kai. evpoi,hsaj auvtou.j tw/| qew/| h`mw/n basilei,an kai. i`erei/j). The conquest of sin is only to be achieved through self-sacrifice. Nothing but the self-sacrifice of holy love can overcome the principle of selfishness and sin that dominates the world. The Lamb who conquers is the Lamb who has given Himself up as a willing sacrifice. But the principle of love going forth in sacrifice is older than the world, 138 -- the Lamb was slain from its foundation. And he who would follow Christ must conquer in like fashion (321 o` nikw/n di,sw auvtw/| kaqi,sai metV evmou/ evn tw/| qro,nw| mou( w`j kavgw. evni,khsa kai. evka,qisa meta. tou/ patro,j mou evn tw/| qro,nw| auvtou/). The aim of Christ's work is not the cancelling of guilt, but the destruction of sin in the sinner, his spiritual deliverance and redemption. Only by His life and death can He win man from sin: this is the cost incurred. Hence the figure of purchase is used 59 143, but there is no suggestion of a ransom paid to God or a lower being.

Hence, since the Lamb as the Redeemer stands in the midst of the throne of God, 56 717, and the throne of God is His throne, 221.3, everything that is affirmed of the Son is to be affirmed of the Father. The Son is a revelation of the Father on the stage of the world's history. Hence, as the Father is supreme in power, He is supreme in love going forth in sacrifice. Thus the principle of self-sacrificing love belongs to the essence of the Godhead. God's almightiness is not only a moral force, as we have already seen (see § 1 (c) ad fin.), but a redemptive one, which can only realize itself in moral and spiritual victory. Thus divine omnipotence and divine love and self-sacrifice are indissolubly linked together for the world's redemption -- from eternity and for evermore.
 

§ 3. The Spirit. -- There is no definitely conceived doctrine of the Spirit in our author. In 14 the editor sought to introduce the doctrine of the Trinity by inserting kai. avpo. tw/n e`pta. pneuma,twn tw/n evnw,pion tou/ qro,nou auvtou/: see vol. i. 11-13. But such a grotesque conception has no place in our author. In the words to. pneu/ma le,gei the Spirit of Christ is meant in 27.11.17.29 36.13.22; for in all the seven Epistles the Speaker is Christ. {cxv} The same is true in 1413 2217. See vol. ii. 179; see vol. i. Introduction xi. § 6 (d).
 

§ 4. Doctrine of Works. -- The necessity of works is strongly enforced in our author, since men's works follow with them, and men are judged according to their works, 2012 2212, which are recorded in the books, 2012.(5) These doctrines imply man's free will and self-determination. On the other hand, the term "books of life," 138 178, seems to express divine predestination. But this is  not necessarily so. It need express nothing more than God's omniscience from the beginning of the world. The words klhtoi,( evklketoi.  kai. pistoi,( 1714, set forth God's share and man's share in man's salvation: the call (klh/sij) remains ineffective without faith (pi,stij) -- a word which in our author means faithfulness or fidelity in 219 1310, and can also be so in 213 1412

But what does our author mean by "works"? These are not observances of the Mosaic Law, since our author never mentions it and nowhere admits of any obligation arising from it. Nor does it mean isolated fulfilments even of the commandments of God or of Christ. They stand for the moral character as a whole, and are not in their essence outward at all though they lead of necessity to outward acts. But, so far as they issue in outward acts, they are regarded by our author simply as the manifestation of the inner life and character. That this is our author's teaching will be seen from the two following passages. In 22 the "works" of the Church of Ephesus are defined as consisting in "labour and endurance." The first of these is certainly manifest. In 219 we have a very instructive definition, oi=da, sou ta. e;rga kai. th.n avga,phn kai. th.n pi,stin kai. th.n diakoni,an kai. th.n u`pomonh,n. The first kai, is used, of course, epexegetically. "Love, faith, service, and endurance" define the e;rga. See vol. i. 371 sqq. In 32 watchfulness is enjoined, and 210 faithfulness unto death. The "works of Jesus," 226, are those which originate in faithfulness to Jesus.

The righteous acts of the martyrs not to be identified with their white garments. -- The righteous acts of the saints are thus, according to our author, the manifestation of the inner life and character -- the character a man takes with him when he leaves this life. From this it follows that the clause to. ga,r bu,ssinon ta. dikai,wmata tw/n a`gi,wn evsti,n, in 198, misrepresents the teaching of our author and is an intrusion. For neither the righteous acts nor the character of the martyrs form the garment of their souls, seeing that the souls of the martyrs in heaven, 611, are described as lacking such garments for a time, though they {cxvi} possess righteous acts and righteous character in a supereminent degree: see Introd. vol. i. 184-188. Hence the garments cannot be identified with the righteousness which they take with them, 1413, but with the spiritual bodies which are assigned by God to them, which in 611 (note) and 35 (note) are described as white garments. Faith has an heroic quality in our author. It leads to endurance, 219, to faithfulness in persecution, 213 1310, even when this ends in death, 210 1413. In 213 1412 pi,stij is followed by an objective genitive, in 219 1310 by a subjective. In the latter case it means "fidelity" or "faithfulness." In fact it could be so rendered in all four passages.
 

§ 5. The first Resurrection, the Millennium, and the second Resurrection. -- Since these subjects are so fully dealt with in the Commentary, I shall content myself with summarizing the results arrived at there.

The First Resurrection. -- Only the martyrs share in the first resurrection, 204-6. These reign with Christ for 1000 years in the Jerusalem that, coming down from heaven, 219-222.14-15.17, forms the seat of the Millennial Kingdom (see vol. ii. 184). To them is committed the re-evangelization of the world, 2124 2214.17, which is promised in 1115 146-7 154. Into the Holy City pour the nations of the earth, and are healed of their spiritual diseases, 2124-27. Without this city are sorcerors and fornicators and murderers, 2215. At the close of this kingdom the unrepentant nations rebel afresh and are destroyed, and thereon follows the final judgment. See vol. ii. 182 sqq.

The Second Resurrection. -- The former heaven and earth vanish before the final judgment. Only the dead arise for judgment by God. These are the righteous who had not suffered martyrdom, and the wicked. The former come forth from the "treasuries" or "chambers," 2013a, the latter from Hades. From our author's teaching elsewhere we are to infer that the righteous are clothed in spiritual bodies but that the wicked are disembodied, vol. i. 98. Since this body appears to be the main organ by which the soul expresses itself or receives impressions in the world of thought and righteousness, the wicked have thus involuntarily but inevitably ostracized themselves from this world. Selfishness and sin have brought about their natural penalty, the isolation of ever sinner, and finally his destruction in the lake of fire. See vol. i. 184-188, ii. 193-198.

Judgment. -- The judgment of all the living on the earth is committed to Christ, from the Seven Seals onward to the destruction of Gog and Magog. The Messianic judgment deals with the living: God's judgment with all the dead, save the martyrs, having attained to the first resurrection, are not subject to the second death, 206, and such others as during the {cxvii} Millennial Reign enter the city and eat of the tree of life, 2214. All the remaining righteous coming forth from the "treasuries"(6) and the wicked from Hades(7) receive their final award.

NOTES
1. Our author is deeply conscious of the impassable gulf that separates the creature and the Creator, and the mediating angel sternly refuses such worship on the ground that it is due to God alone, 229.
2. It must not be overlooked that Christ's fitness to undertake the shaping of the world's destinies is attributed to His faithfulness unto death. He had earned it by His self-sacrifice:

"Worthy art thou to take the book
And to open the seals thereof;
For thou wast slain,
And hast redeemed unto God with thy blood
Men of every tribe and tongue and people and nation,
And hast made them unto our God a kingdom and priests,
And they shall regin upon the earth," 59-10.
Again in 226-28 Christ promises to make those that conquer rulers over the heathen -- even as He too had received this power from His Father, and in 321 to make them share in His throne even as His Father had made Him to share in His throne because of His having proved a conqueror.
3. See Expositor, 1910, vol. x. 173-187, 266-281. Spitta, Streitfragen der Geschichte Jesu: Das Johannes-Evangelium als Quelle der Geschichte Jesu, 1910. I have strengthened the evidence adduced by Spitta by further facts from 1 Enoch and the Testaments in the next note.
4. This usage is well attested in 1 Enoch, where, 8945 (161 B.C.), Samuel as a leader is called a lamb, and likewise David and Solomon, 8945.48, before they were anointed kings. All the faithful in the early Maccabean period are also called lambs, 906.8, but all these are without horns. In 909.12, however, there arise "horned lambs," and Judas Maccabaeus is such a lamb "with a great horn." Thus "the horned lamb" is a symbol for the leader of the Jewish Theocracy. But it is also used of the Messiah in 1 Enoch 9038 and in the Test. Joseph 198 (109-107 B.C.), where the words, proh/lqen avmno,j( kai. ) ) ) pa,nta ta. qhri,a o[rmwn kat auvtou/ kai. evni,khsen auvta. o` avmno,j, refer to one of the Maccabees, most probably to John Hyrcanus. Now, since the author of the Testaments regarded John Hyrcanus as the Messiah (see my edition of Test. XII Patr. pp xcvii-viii, Reub 67-12, Levi 814 18, Jud 241-3, Jos 195-9), it follows that the term "lamb," or more particularly "horned lamb," was in apocalyptic writings a symbol for the Messiah. In our author the former appears in 1714, the latter in 56. In 1311 the second Beast assimilates itself to the horned lamb, i.e., to the Messiah: see vol. i. 358.
5. In 228 the judgment is  not eschatological, but that which takes place in this world.
6. See the necessary emendation of the text, vol. i. 194-198.
7. Hades means only the abode of unrighteous souls in our author: see vol. i. 32, vol. ii. 197 ad fin. On the "Abyss" see vol. i. 239-242.
 
 
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