The purpose of this blog is to provide supporting documentation for my book Imagining a Vain Thing.  Please understand that my posting of these documents is not an endorsement of the views expressed therein.  Rather, my aim is to give the interested reader the oppportunity to examine for himself the full text of The John-Revelation Project as well as other important documents related to the 2007 controversy at Knox Seminary.

For those who are interested, Imagining a Vain Thing may by purchased from The Trinity Foundation (see the link under blogroll) for $10.95 plus shipping.

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The John-Revelation Project: Introduction

The John-Revelation Project



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Warren Austin Gage, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Old Testament

R. Fowler White, Ph.D.
Professor of New Testament


A Faculty Forum of Knox Theological Seminary

At the beginning of the 21st century virtually the entire American evangelical community has been captured by a dispensational, pretribulational, and premillennial eschatology. Best-selling book series and sensational movies, reinforced by endless radio talk programs, promote these fantastic interpretations of biblical prophecy as events coming to pass in our generation.

Unfortunately, the response of the Reformed church to this, thus far, one-sided discussion has been to caution that fantastic interpretations of biblical prophecy, especially concerning the book of Revelation, should be skeptically received. But it should be frankly admitted that we have not offered what we could credibly claim is a defensible interpretation of the last book in the canon.

This faculty forum is an attempt to rectify this omission-a deficiency that we must recognize represents a sinful omission in our Reformed history. While the Westminster Confession clearly states that the Book of Revelation is to be received according “to the rule of faith and life” (WCF, chap. 1, para. 2), we have not given John’s Revelation an equal dignity with the rest of sacred scripture. This neglect is demonstrated in the paucity of exegetical attention the book has been accorded from Reformed exegetes. We have consequently treated the Apocalypse as though it were almost an apocryphal document. And although we have silently recognized that its meaning was largely veiled to us, we have not cried out as a community to the Holy Spirit of God to illumine its message to our hearts. This omission is again largely due to our history. It is instructive that Martin Luther questioned the canonicity of Revelation, lamenting that a “Revelation” should reveal; and John Calvin, who commented on every other book of the Bible, glaringly omitted commentary on the Apocalypse. The children of the Reformers have fared little better.1 And it is time to ask why?

The answer to this question, we believe, is suggested once we recognize the genre of Revelation as classically understood.2 The literary pattern of a trajectory leading from darkness to light, from a damsel’s despair to a hero’s victory celebrated at last by a royal wedding procession (komos), is comedy.3

Now, perhaps, we can understand the failure of the Reformed church to address Revelation in any adequate fashion. It is due to our history. Perhaps we must also confess it is due to our sin. For it was our Puritan forebears who closed down the Elizabethan theater, fearing the nature of the theatre to explore the comedic imagination, which was suspected (especially in Shakespeare!) of undermining good morals.4

Consequently, as a community, we Reformed folk have been skeptical of the poetic imagination. We have unknowingly but nonetheless actually shut down one of the most fundamental gestures of the soul in so doing. And we have lost the splendor of the mundus imaginalis, the wonderment and sheer joy of the soul that is our true entrée into the Apocalypse, John’s glorious vision of the beauty of the Son of Man.

The following papers from the Faculty Forum represent the ongoing project of Knox Seminary to articulate an understanding of Revelation through a lectionary reading of the Apocalypse and the Fourth Gospel and by an awareness of the overwhelmingly typological character of Johannine literature. We invite the participation of our students and the Christian community at large as we undertake this exciting study!

Please send all comments to JohnRevelation@knoxseminary.org.


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© 2002 Warren Austin Gage, J. Randy Beck, Steven P. Carpenter

1 There have been several valiant attempts by postmillennialists to exposit Revelation. But postmillennialists have largely approached the book with a literary literalism similar to the hermeneutic of the premillennialists, having failed to appreciate the ironic character of the biblical understanding of victory (cf. Paul’s claim that “we were considered as sheep to be slaughtered. But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us,” Rom 8:36-37). This hermeneutical oversight is caused, as we shall argue, by the loss of a classical understanding of the possibilities of irony, the heart of the comedic imagination.

2 Modern commentaries endlessly repeat the notion that Revelation represents an “apocalyptic” genre. This wholly confected (that is, non-classical) genre category based upon intertestamental Jewish writings has recently begun to give way under the realization that it has not offered significant hermeneutical assistance in developing the contours of thought within Revelation itself. See F.D. Mazzaferri, The Genre of the Book of Revelation from a Source-Critical Perspective BZNW 54 (New York: de Gruyter, 1989) 60-75, 160-84.

3 There are four classical genres: epic, lyric, comic, and tragic. Aristotle, Poetica 1449a. See Louise Cowan, “Introduction: The Comic Terrain,” in The Terrain of Comedy (ed. L. Cowan; Dallas: The Dallas Institute of Humanities and Culture, 1984), 16.

4 Puritanical censors were fearful of comedic wit and humor. Wit, the comedy of the intellect, was eschewed as frivolity. Humor (from the four humors), the comedy of the body, was rejected as bawdy and obscene. This skepticism of the comedic exploration of corporality was often carried to an excess that seemed informed by a neo-platonism rather than a due regard for biblical decency and order. In this we are reminded of the ancient rabbinical canonical objections to the Song of Songs. Solomon’s allegory was relegated to the antilegomena because even the allegorical anthropomorphism of God espousing to Himself a people, once again reflecting the comedic imagination, was regarded as too bold and too bodily.










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The John-Revelation Project: Study Paper No. 1

 Study Paper No. 1 on the Gospel of John and the Book of Revelation



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Biblical Typology:
A Neglected Key to John’s Revelation?


Like an elaborately detailed oriental tapestry, John’s Gospel and Revelation are intricately interwoven to present a composite picture, epic in scope and immortal in theme.  Elaborate patterns portray the marvel and mystery of the heavenly Son of God who leaves the riches of His Father’s court in quest of an earthly bride and a heavenly kingdom.  The Gospel opens with the Spirit descending out of heaven like a dove upon the Son of Man.  Revelation ends with the bride of Christ descending out of heaven, made ready for her Groom, and adorned in all the graces of the Spirit.

Together these books celebrate a love that spans time and eternity.  We begin with the love of the Father for His Son before the foundation of the world.  We survey all the ages, coming at last to the victorious wedding supper of the Lamb and the love of the bride for her Husband at the beginning of eternity future.  The Gospel of the Bridegroom begins in a wilderness, but the bride of Revelation is brought at last to a pleasant garden.  The darkness that struggled to overcome the Light has now been banished forever.  Eternal dawn shines forth, unobscured, clear, and golden.  The stones gathered of old by the banks of the Jordan are seen in this Light, by the banks of the river of crystal, to have been built into a vast city of glittering gems.  And the bride is lovely in this Light.  She is made ready for her Groom arrayed in the finest linen of heaven, white and pure.  But as we admire her beauty, we remember that she can be dressed in white only because her Groom’s robe was dyed in deepest red.2

John the Beloved weaves together his two great books using elaborate parallel, chiastic, and typological patterns.3 The two great works thus interpret and complete one another.  Taken together, the Fourth Gospel and Revelation constitute a literary diptych, a picture whose temporal framework spans the beginning of the first creation (John 1:1), all the way to the vision of the new creation at the beginning of eternity future (Rev 21:1).  Moreover, the two books of John offer a spatial horizon depicting the creative struggle of Jesus both from the perspective of earth (John) and of heaven (Revelation).  Upon this wholly comprehensive canvas, John depicts Jesus’ epic struggle as the typological fulfillment of all of the major figures in the OT.

Jesus as the New Joshua
in the Gospel and in the Revelation

The Fourth Gospel’s Joshua typology largely tracks the account of the conquest of Canaan, beginning with the crossing of the Jordan and depicting two campaigns, one in the south (Judea) and one in the north (Galilee).  The climactic battle involves the struggle of Jesus as the True Joshua against the confederated enemies of God, led by Jerusalem.  This epic struggle occurs, from one perspective, on earth, depicted in the Gospel of John.  Revelation portrays the same struggle from the perspective of heaven.4 In fact, Revelation offers a mimetic portrayal of the heavenly significance of Christ’s earthly ministry in conflict with the Old Jerusalem, the history described for us in the Fourth Gospel. 

We begin our discussion of the typological patterns connecting the Book of Joshua and the Book of Revelation by recounting the warfare of Joshua as recorded in the OT.  We will then consider the restatement of that conflict in the Apocalypse.  In order to show the pattern of verbal concordance between the books of Joshua and Revelation, we will use bold type to identify significant words that share the same Greek root in the LXX and in the Greek NT.5 Words that are related thematically, but not lexically, will be shown in italic type.  The reader should observe the striking pattern of details and the thorough comprehensiveness of these correspondence patterns between the two books.

Joshua’s Battle Against Jericho:

The Story of a Whore Who Becomes a Bride

The name of the great city “Jericho” brings to mind the greatest single battle recorded in the Old Testament.  After crossing the Jordan and entering the land of promise, Joshua and all Israel camped in Gilgal.6  Joshua erected twelve stones taken from the riverbed as a memorial to represent the twelve tribes of Israel who crossed the river in safety.  The Jordan crossing reminded the Israelites of their fathers, those who crossed the Red Sea after they were delivered from pharaoh, whereupon they sang the song of Moses (Exod 15:1-19, Josh 4:19-24).

But the great city Jericho was walled up to heaven (Deut 9:1), defying Joshua and the armies of Israel.  This impassable city represented the decisive struggle of the people of God against the nations of Canaan.  In order to inherit the paradisiacal land flowing with milk and honey, and to receive their inheritance by their tribes (Josh 18:3-10), as promised in the book of seven parts (18:9), Israel would have to destroy Jericho.  But what was this inviolable city to Joshua, who could command the sun and the moon to cease in their courses that the day of slaughter might not end (10:12-14), and whose God could rain giant hailstones from heaven upon the armies of the Canaanite kings (10:11)? 

This fortress city of Jericho, in the plain of the Jordan, was filled with great wealth.  Her treasures included silver and gold, articles of bronze and iron (6:19), linen (2:6), and scarlet (2:18).  Jericho evidently sustained a commercial relationship with Shinar.  Among her many treasures was the beautiful Babylonian garment7 that was to prove so tempting to Achan (7:21).  Jericho was an impregnable fortress town, whose fall before Joshua would cause the kings of Canaan to fear the God of the armies of Israel (9:1-3, 24; 10:1-4).

Joshua initiated the conquest of Jericho by sending two spies to view the land and the city (2:1).  But the presence of the spies was reported to the king of Jericho, who sought to kill them (2:2, 14).  Attempting to escape the king, the spies turned into the house of Rahab, a whore of Jericho identified by her scarlet cord (2:18), whose house was evidently open to strangers (2:1).  Rahab protected the spies, whom she could have delivered over to death (2:14).

The battle of Jericho began with Joshua‘s unexpected vision of a divine Man.  Having sanctified all Israel from uncleanness caused by their neglect of covenant circumcision, Joshua was contemplating holy war against Jericho (5:1-12).  As he lifted up his eyes, he saw a divine Man standing with His sword drawn for battle.  Joshua fell before the Man and was told to remove his sandals from his feet (5:14-15).

The battle began as Joshua directed the campaign against Jericho.  He commanded the people to circle the city once a day for seven days and seven times upon the seventh day (6:3-4).8 On the seventh day, Joshua arose early in the morning (6:12).  He caused the priests carrying the ark of the covenant to sound seven trumpets of judgment before the city.  Then he commanded all the people to shout out against her (6:8,20).  Suddenly the walls of the wicked city fell (6:20).  All those who remained in Jericho were put to the sword, and the city was burned with fire (6:21,24).

But Rahab the whore was delivered along with all her house.  She came out of the city in safety because she had obeyed the word of the two spies (6:25).  According to Matthew, Rahab became the bride of Salmon, who was of the royal tribe of Judah.  Through this marriage the Gentile whore of Jericho became an ancestress of Jesus the Messiah, the True Joshua (Matt 1:5-16)!

Jesus’ Battle Against Babylon in Revelation:

The Story of the True Joshua, and
a Whore Who Becomes a Bride

The name of the great city “Babylon” brings to mind the greatest battle depicted in the New Testament.  The sins of Great Babylon reached up to heaven (Rev 18:5), an affront to the God of all the earth.  This mighty city represented the decisive struggle of the Lord Jesus against the unrepentant of earth.  Babylon must be destroyed for the people of God to inherit the paradise of God (21:1-5), and receive their distribution by their tribes (21:12), as the fulfillment of the book of seven seals (5:1).  But what is this great city to Jesus, the True Joshua, whose own light causes the sun and the moon to cease (21:23), and whose God will rain great hailstones from heaven down upon Babylon (16:19-21)?

Babylon was a city filled with great wealth.  Her treasures included gold and silver, bronze, iron, linen, and scarlet (18:12-13).  In the city lived a woman arrayed in an alluring Babylonian garment of scarlet and purple (17:4).9 The fall of this great city before Jesus would cause the kings of the earth to fear and mourn (18:9-10).10

Now the Lord sent two witnesses into the wicked city (11:3-12), but the nations sought to kill them (11:7).  Nevertheless, they were delivered from death in the sight of their enemies (11:12).  Dwelling in the great city was a whore identified by her scarlet (17:3-5), who committed fornication with the kings of the earth (18:3).  The whore had the power of death over the saints of God (17:6).

Jesus‘ battle against Babylon began with John the Apostle’s unexpected vision of a divine Man (1:12-19).  The True Joshua appeared with a sword proceeding out of His mouth (1:16).  He commanded John to write seven letters to His churches, calling them to purity for holy war (2:1-3:22).  John fell before the feet of the Man as though dead (1:17).

The battle began and Jesus directed the campaign against Babylon.  He opened the book of seven seals (5:1), the seventh seal becoming seven trumpets of judgment (8:1-2). As the seventh trumpet sounded (11:15), the ark of the covenant appeared in heaven (11:19), and there were loud voices in heaven crying out, “The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ!” (11:15).  In one hour Great Babylon, the wicked city fell (18:2).  All the city was burned with fire (18:8).

But a voice had cried out before Babylon, “Come out of her my people, lest you share in her sins, and lest you partake of her plagues.” (18:4).11 And so some of those who had belonged to the whorish city were delivered from death, even those who had obeyed the word of the two witnesses.

And all of those who were delivered from their fornications and adultery became a part of the city of the true Israel of God, the New Jerusalem, the bride of the Royal Lion of Judah, Yeshua, the True Joshua (21:2).  And to memorialize their safe passage to the paradise of their inheritance, Jesus gave them a city of twelve precious stones by the river of crystal waters, even to all of those who had been delivered from the beast and had come safely across the sea of glass, all who sang the Song of Moses nd the Lamb (15:1-4).


This glorious message of hope for those so desperately lost is the heart of the teaching of the Son of God.  It is the crux of His gospel message.  The Lord Jesus has come to this world’s Jerichos to rescue His Rahabs and to deliver His Zacchaeuses, all those harlots and publicans who, like their predecessors who sought the repentance of John the Baptist (Matt 21:31-32), would dare to imagine that the love of a holy God could reach down far enough to deliver them. 

The True Joshua requires a new army to fill His pulpits with those who will once again learn to be strong and very courageous (Josh 1:7), an army of poets and songwriters who will sound again the gospel’s silver trumpets before the walls of this world’s Jerichos—trumpets announcing a terrible judgment to the unrepentant, but trumpets sounding a wonderful jubilee to all those who, like Rahab, will forsake their sins. 

We need a new army.  An army of those with strong imaginations. Imaginations courageous enough in the knowledge of the free grace of God to believe that a whore from Babylon could in truth become the bride of Christ.  Imaginations that hear so scandalous a message and can believe it is not blasphemy.  Imaginations that can envision the depths of their own sin, and so recognize that this scandalous message is the gospel’s very truth.

We need a new sword for the battle.  A sword of the Word, awakened from dogmatic slumbers and fashioned in the fiery foundry of metaphor.  Just like Milton, who knew that the power of poetry would prove at last to be more compelling than all the armies of Cromwell, we need a new and more poetic restatement of these ancient truths.  We need a new sounding of the old gospel of Paul and the apostles, faithfully transmitted through Augustinian Catholicism and Reformed Calvinism—under no illusions about either the nature of man or the power of God in the gospel.

We must, however, sound a more certain sound upon the trumpets of truth.  A more biblical sound.  We should present the gospel in its native dress—a bridal dress, in the metaphor of an eastern wedding.  Our tale is the story of a heavenly romance.  It tells of a love that begins in the heart of Father God, who unconditionally chose a bride in grace, one who would be suitable for His beloved Son.  It is a drama about a bride whose unfaithfulness made her totally unfit and utterly unworthy of that Son.  It speaks of the steadfast love of the Son, who nonetheless paid a great dowry price for her in confidence that she would return His love.  It tells of the Spirit, whose love irresistibly wooed the betrothed back to a pure love for the Son.  And it promises the hope of a heavenly and everlasting love, a faith that enables Jesus’ betrothed to persevere unto the glorious day of her redemption, when she will descend from heaven as a bride, having made herself ready for the Prince of Glory.  


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© 2002 Warren Austin Gage, J. Randy Beck, Steven P. Carpenter

1 This document is excerpted from a syllabus entitled “An Introduction to Biblical Typology,” prepared for a forthcoming course to be offered at Knox Theological Seminary.

2 The classical genre of Revelation’s climactic vision, describing the triumph of good over evil in the context of a divine wedding procession (komos), is comedy.  Cf. Aristotle, Poetica 1449a; see Daniel Russ, “The Bible as Genesis of Comedy,” in The Terrain of Comedy, ed. Louise Cowan (Dallas: Pegasus, 1984) 59.  The quarrel among modern commentators on Revelation regarding the character of apocalyptic genre has generally not led to helpful textual analysis.  Cf. F.D. Mazzaferri, The Genre of the Book of Revelation from a Source-Critical Perspective BZNW 54 (New York: de Gruyter, 1989) 60-75, 160-84.  The categories of Babylon the damned and Jerusalem the blessed, which largely reflect apocalyptic analysis, neglect the tension represented by Ps 87:1-4, where Babylon, the archetypical evil city, is promised salvific blessing, and Ezek 16 and 23, where the prophet excoriates Jerusalem for her whoredoms. The general absence of the comedic imagination in theological commentary, especially expressed in failing to appreciate the transformative nature of love (see Hos 1:2; cf. Ovid, Metamorphoses) and the purgatorial character of comedy (see Ezek 16:60-63, Dante’s Purgatorio from the Commedia, and “Dante’s Letter to Can Grande,” Essays on Dante, ed. Mark Musa, trans. Nancy Howe Bloomington, Ind.: Indiana University Press, 1964 34-47), has led, as we shall argue, to an underestimation of the full range of literary possibilities represented by the Babylonian whore in Revelation.  We would encourage biblical expositors to a consideration of the redemptive potential of the “fallen woman” represented most imaginatively in the western literary tradition by Dante, Cervantes, Hawthorne, and Dostoyevsky.  Strikingly, theological commentary largely disregards this redemptive possibility in spite of the fact that the rescue of the immoral woman is also a significant theme in both Johannine and Biblical theology. See the account of the Samaritan woman (John 4:4-42), the woman caught in adultery (John 8:2-11), and the story of Mary Magdalene (John 20:11-18, cf. Luke 8:2).  See also Hans Urs von Balthasar, “Casta Meretrix,” Explorations in Theology, vol. II Spouse of the Word, trans. Erasmo Leiva-Merikakis (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1991) 193-288, Jean Daniélou, “Rahab a Type of the Church,” From Shadows to Reality: Studies in the Typology of the Fathers, trans. Dom Wulstan Hibberd (London: Burns and Oates, 1960) 244-60, J.M. Vogelgesang,  “The Interpretation of Ezekiel in the Book of Revelation.” (Unpublished Ph.D. dissertation, Harvard University, 1985) 98-112, and Raymond C. Ortland, Jr., Whoredom: God’s Unfaithful Wife in Biblical Theology (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1996).

3 We have developed this thesis in W. A. Gage, “St John’s Vision of the Heavenly City” (Unpublished Ph.D. dissertation, University of Dallas, 2001).

4 The Joshua typology between the two books of John is developed primarily within the parallel pattern of correspondence sustained between the books.

5 The logical and chronological patterns support the analogical and typological interrelationship between the two Johannine books.  The more elaborate the patterns, the more convincing is the typology.  Each of these methods of analysis: logical, chronological, analogical, and typological, as the several hypostases of the Logos, contribute to the method of exegesis presented in this paper.  We will give considerable attention to the method of typological exegesis in due course.  

6 Gilgal is the place of Joshua’s renewal of the covenant for Israel.  It is the camp where Joshua circumcised the people, fulfilling the requirements of the Abrahamic covenant, and where he reinstituted the observance of Passover, the neglected feast of the Mosaic covenant. Gilgal is derived from the verb gālal, which means “to roll,” for it was here that the Lord “rolled away” the reproach of the people from their neglect of the law of Moses.  We note a further symbolic use of “gālal” in the victory ceremony at Makkedah, where Joshua commanded large stones to be rolled against the grave of the Canaanite kings, memorializing their “reproach” (10:18).  In the NT the True Joshua rolls away the reproach of the people of God at “Golgotha” (also derived from gālal).  Moreover, the True Joshua reinstitues the covenant for the people of God by fulfilling on our behalf all the righteous commandments of the law, by giving us a circumcision not made by hands with a flint knife, and by rolling away the stone that sealed our grave. 

7 The coat coveted by Achan was from “Shinar,” the Semitic name for the land the Greeks called Mesopotamia (the land between the rivers). The eastern cities of Babel, Erech, and Accad were in Shinar (Gen 10:10).  The text suggests that Jericho had a commercial relationship with Babel in the east.  The AV thus rendered the word Shinar in this context with “Babylonian.”

8 The pattern of telescopic heptads in Joshua, that is, seven trumpets sounding upon the seventh march of the seventh day, sets the pattern in Revelation for the seven bowls poured out upon the sounding of the seventh trumpet, the trumpets being the seventh seal. 

9 There are clues to the identity of the Babylonian whore woven within the Johannine material according to the parallel and chiastic patterning that tie the two books, the Fourth Gospel and Revelation, together.  The Great Whore of Revelation, who drinks her cup of loathsomeness and is arrayed in scarlet (Rev 17:4), is a mockery of a queen (Rev 18:7) now that her great hour of judgment and death has come (Rev 18:10).  Parallel to the Great Whore of Revelation is the blessed Lord Jesus of John’s Gospel, who in His suffering for us drank the loathsome cup (John 18:11), was arrayed in scarlet (John 19:2), had His kingdom mocked (John 19:3), and suffered death when the great hour of judgment hadcome (John 17:1). John justly charges the Great Whore with blasphemy (Rev 17:3) and fornication (Rev 17:4-5).  Bearing her reproach, the precious Lord Jesus suffered the calumnious charges of blasphemy (John 10:33) and fornication (John 8:41).  Clearly, John is telling us that the Lord Jesus took the reproach of the whore of Revelation upon Himself.  For anyone who has a reformed doctrine of particular redemption, the identity of the whore should become immediately apparent.

Moreover, the chiastic pattern of correspondence between the Gospel of John and Revelation also provides a clue to the identity of the whore.  For Lady Babylon, who thirsts although she sits upon the waters (17:1,4,6), has a relationship with seven kings, of whom five have fallen, one is, and the other has not yet come (17:10).  And when John recognized her, he marveled (17:6).  Chiastically, the whore of Babylon corresponds in the Gospel account to the Samaritan woman, who in her thirst came to Jesus, sitting upon the well (John 4:6-7).  The Samaritan woman likewise has a relationship with seven men.  Jesus says to her, “You havehad five husbands, and the one you now have is not your husband” (4:18).  And when the disciples and John saw her, they marveled (4:27).

Surely the identity of the Great Whore should cause us to marvel as well.  For the OT type of the whore of Babylon is none other than Rahab, the whore of Jericho and a type of the church.  If we conclude from this evidence that the whore of Babylon will become the bride of Christ, then there could not be a more graphic emblem of the biblical truth of the reformed soteriology of sola gratia. On the other hand, this vindication of reformed soteriology against Rome is at the price of falsifying the unilateral and most common historical identification of the whore of Revelation within Protestant circles, which, consequently, becomes five full centuries of slander.

10 St Gregory of Elvira (AD 396) made explicit the typological identification of Joshua’s destruction of Jericho with John’s account of the judgment of Great Babylon in Revelation.  The pattern that would suggest the redemption of the whore of Babylon as a new Rahab is clearly present in this fourth century witness from Spain.  While the editio princeps was not available to us, a translation of the relevant passage occurs in Daniélou’s From Shadows to Reality. The following quotation is from page 257: “Just as the Church made up of many nations is called a harlot, so, as a type of the Church, we see Rahab welcoming the Saints. The fall of Jericho prefigures those last days when the destruction of this world will be brought about and the seven plagues through the seven trumpets or the seven angelic vials will strike the human race together with Antichrist.  Then no one will be saved except those shut up in Rahab’s house, that is, the Church.”

11 The identification of the whore of Babylon as the antitype of Rahab, and thus a type of the church, does not lead to a salvific universalism.  Rahab was surely not the only whore in Jericho, and certainly all the wicked, who did not “come out” of the city, perished.  The command in Revelation for the people of God to “come out” of Babylon (18:4) is the invitation to participate in Rahab’s repentance.  For all of those who remain, their whorish city will be utterly destroyed (18:6-24).












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The John-Revelation Project: Study Paper No. 2

Study Paper No. 2 on the Gospel of John and the Book of Revelation



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On the Incompleteness of the Gospel of John:
A Clue to John’s Revelation?

Surely it must seem impertinent to suggest that the Fourth Gospel, the beautiful account of the Savior by the beloved Apostle John, is somehow deficient by itself. After all, commentary after commentary has been written on the Gospel of John. What major interpreter can be cited who laments some lack in the narrative of the Gospel? Sermon after sermon has been dedicated to expositing the Book of John. Almost all of these studies appear to be quite comfortably developed within the four corners of the text. Faithful expositions have been well received by the church and most evidently blessed by the Spirit of God. Moreover, the Fourth Gospel appears to follow the familiar format of the other three Gospels in recounting the ministry, death, and resurrection of the Savior. What is it about John’s Gospel that could possibly be construed to suggest a defect in its completeness?

It has, however, been widely recognized that John’s Gospel is strangely unique. There is something that prevents us from calling it “synoptic;” something that distinguishes it fundamentally from the accounts of Matthew, Mark, and Luke. What is the reason for this Johannine divergence from the companion Gospels? For example, commentators have long puzzled over the fact that John appears to describe the temple cleansing so early in Jesus’ ministry (John 2:13-22), while the other evangelists place the event at the end of His ministry (Matt 21:12-13, Mark 11:15-18, Luke 19:45-46). A quarrel has consequently ensued as to whether John requires us to understand a second temple cleansing, one at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry. So the question is posed, what is governing the arrangement of John’s episodes in his account? Must we read the Gospel chronologically, or is there some literary pattern that perhaps we have overlooked that reconciles John’s Gospel with its synoptic companions?1 What is the relation of John’s Gospel to the synoptic Gospels?

While the issue of the temple cleansing has gotten considerable critical attention, other issues have been largely overlooked or left unaddressed.2 Looking at only the two opening chapters of the Gospel, we find several questions left open altogether. For example, Jesus promises Nathanael that he will see a remarkable vision that recalls the dream of Jacob in Genesis 32. The promised vision, with the open heavens, reveals a stairway upon which the angels of God are ascending and descending, the Son of Man surmounting, or perhaps constituting, this great bridge between heaven and earth. What is the significance of this promise to Nathanael? The question is posed more urgently in the Greek text, for the vision is clearly not something privately promised to Nathanael. The “you will see” spoken to Nathanael uses the plural form of the verb (John 1:51). The text appears to be prompting us to ask who are the ones who will see the vision, and when and what do they see? There is no evident answer to these questions in the Fourth Gospel, for the vision is not mentioned again. The commentaries often recognize the problem. But they pass over the question without an adequate answer, finding none within the Gospel itself.3

Thematic issues that appear to suggest the incompleteness of the Fourth Gospel are likewise often left unattended. One of the most evident themes of the Gospel of John is the presentation of an Adamic typology of Jesus. John opens his Gospel as a New Genesis, with an account of creation “in the beginning,” stylized after Moses’ account of the first Adam. God the Word creates the world, John writes. Light shines into darkness. Then the Word is made man (John 1:14): a new Adam. The implication of John’s typology is that once the Word becomes authentic man, it is not good that He should be alone (cf. Gen 2:18). There must be a “bride” for Christ. The evangelist makes this explicit when he introduces John the Baptist as a “friend of the Bridegroom” (John 3:29).

So Jesus must have a bride. The evangelist identifies Jesus as the Bridegroom, but where in his Gospel does he describe the bride of the One the Baptist called the “Lamb of God”? Where does he tell us of the wedding of the Son of Man? Christian, and especially Pauline, theology makes the identity of the bride of the Lord quite clear, but reading John’s Gospel within the four corners of the text does not. Is the Fourth Gospel gesturing toward something else? something external, perhaps, to itself? 4

The only wedding described in the Fourth Gospel is not the wedding of the Lamb; rather, it is the wedding at Cana to which Jesus is only an invited guest. In the context of the shortage of wine at the wedding of a friend, Jesus’ mother appears to ask Him to supply the wine. But the wine service is the responsibility of the bridegroom, according to the wedding steward (John 2:10). It is not His hour, Jesus says (John 2:2-4). Nonetheless Jesus supplies the wine for His friend, and the steward complains to the bridegroom that he has violated the protocol of serving the better wine first and the worse wine afterwards, after the guests have drunk (John 2:9-10). Why does John report the consternation of the wedding steward? Is the point of the evangelist simply that Jesus made the better wine? Is the significance of the steward’s comment exhausted in the suggestion that the wine of Jesus’ table will be sweet? Or is the account of the wedding at Cana gesturing toward some other wedding. Is there an anticipation of a wedding where Jesus will be the Bridegroom? But when is this wedding? And when the hour of His wedding does come, will Jesus respect the customary protocol, serving the better wine first and afterward the worse wine, after His guests have drunk? 5

In short, John’s Gospel opens with a reflection upon “the beginning” of all creation. But where is the ending that makes the Gospel whole? The ending of the Gospel attempts to answer a rumor that went out in the early Christian community about the time and circumstance of John’s death (John 21:18-25). Is this false report the conclusion John intended for his evangelistic enterprise, an ending deemed worthy to be juxtaposed to the “in the beginning” of John 1:1?6

On the Interrelationship Between John’s Gospel and the Revelation

Aristotle taught us to look for literary completeness in a plot, characterized by a beginning, a middle, and an end (Poetics 50b).7 The question we are raising is whether the ending of the Fourth Gospel, with the refutation of a rumor circulating in some early Christian communities, is an adequate literary ending to the majestic prologue that opens John’s Gospel (John 1:1-18). Alternatively, should we inquire whether there might be another ending, one that corresponds to the grand beginning of the Fourth Gospel and which better rounds out the Johannine Evangel?

The thesis of these papers is that John’s Gospel and his Revelation are one enterprise by the same author. Together they constitute a literary diptych. Consequently, both the Fourth Gospel and the Apocalypse have been composed by one author in a conscious interdependence upon one another. While the notion of common authorship has not been taken seriously in modern critical interpretation of these “Johannine” books,8 it is nonetheless consistent with the (virtually) unanimous testimony of the church fathers for the first three centuries of the Christian era.9 In spite of the overwhelming testimony of the early church, those rare modern commentators who are brave enough to defend Johannine authorship of these two great works rarely, if ever, treat these books as capable of offering interpretive assistance to one another. It is as though a “Chinese wall” has been erected between these two Johannine books in conservative as well as critical commentary. This in spite of the fact that no one trained in literary interpretation would make so fundamental an error as to neglect the “canon” of the same author, once a commonality of authorship was acknowledged.

Now the thesis that the two great works traditionally attributed to the fisherman son of Zebedee are interdependent has significant interpretive implication. Such a claim would mean that neither the Gospel nor Revelation was intended as a stand-alone document. If these books were conceived and composed as a diptych, then John will help us to interpret Revelation and Revelation will be crucial to completing our understanding of John’s Gospel as well.

We have proposed a hypothesis that the books of John and Revelation are composed as a conceptual unity. If that be the case, such a theory implies that the ending of John’s Gospel is not John 21. Rather, the ending of the entire Johannine enterprise, corresponding to the beginning of the Gospel, would be the conclusion of the Apocalypse, the climax of Revelation.

Let’s examine the beginning of the Gospel of John, looking for significant words and themes that are introduced and that find their appropriate conclusion at the end of Revelation. The number and extent of these correspondences is significant, as we will see. According to our customary convention, words presented in bold type are derived from the same Greek root in the original texts of John and Revelation. Italicized terms appear to be related thematically, but they do not share the same Greek root.

The first verbal and thematic juxtapositions that we observe between the beginning of the Gospel and the end of the Apocalypse are the names and titles of Jesus. The evangelist introduces Jesus as the Word of God in John 1:1, a unique title that he only elsewhere uses to describe the Christ in the vision he relates in Revelation 19:13, where Christ is called the Word of God. The evangelist introduces the One through whom all things came into being in John 1:3. In Revelation 21:5, however, Christ claims, “Behold, I make all things new.” So the opening of the Fourth Gospel is a reflection upon the original creation while the ending of the Revelation is an anticipation of the new creation. The One who was in the beginning with God is now the One who is both the beginning and the end (John 1:1 and Rev 22:13). Moreover, John tells us that the divine Word tabernacled among us in the beginning of the Gospel (John 1:14). He reports at the end of Revelation that God will tabernacle among men forever (Revelation 21:3). And he tells us that Jesus commanded the Jews to destroy the temple, but that they did not understand that He was the Temple (John 2:19,21). But in the eschaton John tells us that he saw no temple, for the Lamb is the Temple (Rev 21:22).

John likewise introduces several themes in the opening of the Gospel that are only adequately resolved at the conclusion of Revelation. He tells us of a quarrel between light and darkness (John 1:5,9). Only at the end of the Apocalypse, however, does John assure us that the light triumphs over the darkness (Rev 22:5). Similarly, the evangelist reports that the prophet John identified Christ as the Lamb of God who would take away the sin of the world (John 1:29). At the climax of the Apocalypse, John reports that there will be no more curse, for the throne of God and the Lamb is there (Rev 22:3).

It is noteworthy that the evangelist records that Jesus said “Come and see!” and that Philip, who heard Him, likewise saysCome and see!” (John 1:39, 46). The double invitation at the beginning of the Gospel is matched by a double invitation at the end of Revelation. The seer reports that the Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” and “let him who hears say,Come!'” (Rev 22:17). Likewise, the Gospel opens with John the Baptist seeing the Spirit descending out of heaven upon Jesus, whom he would call the Bridegroom (John 1:32, 3:29). Revelation ends with the holy city descending out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride for the Son of Man (Rev 21:2). In other words, the Gospel opens with a Bridegroom who has come to earth from His Father in heaven (John 1:14, 3:29), and Revelation ends with a bride who has come to earth from the Father in heaven (Rev 21:2). Thus the Gospel introduces the bridegroom. Revelation presents the bride. Like a husband and wife, these two books must not be set asunder and read separately. The two great works of John are thus made “one flesh and bone” with each other.

Moreover, the Gospel account of the wedding at Cana is clearly written with Revelation’s marriage supper of the Lamb in view. The extent of overlapping vocabulary and the conjunction of theme is unmistakable. Both accounts speak of those called to the wedding (John 2:2, Rev 19:9). Both accounts speak of the coming of an hour of judgment (John 2:4, Rev 18:8, 10). In the Gospel Jesus has the waterpots for purification filled with water that becomes wine (John 2:4). In Revelation, the great whore, the imposture bride, has a cup filled with abomination (Rev 17:1-2,4,6). Jesus makes wine for both weddings (John 2:3, Rev 19:15). After the whore and her paramours are drunk, the Lord serves the wine of the wrath of God (Rev 19:15, cf. Rev 17:1-2). Having served the better wine of grace in the Gospel, Jesus serves the worse wine of wrath in Revelation, after the unrepentant are drunk. Thus Jesus has respected the wedding custom announced in John 2:10.

Similarly, the account of Jesus’ cleansing of the temple, reported in the Gospel, reflects the warfare of heaven against the temple in Revelation 16-22. Jesus pours out the coins of the moneychangers in the temple in Jerusalem (John 2:15), emblematically anticipating the angels of heaven who pour out the vials of judgment upon the earthly temple (Revelation16:1-17). Jesus laments that His Father’s house has been made a house of merchandise as He overturns the tables of the astonished merchants (John 2:16). At the judgment of Great Babylon, the merchants of the earth stand in dismay as the torment of her city begins (Rev 18:3,11,15). Consequently, it should be clear that the evangelist has arranged his Gospel thematically to reflect the opening conflict between the heavenly Temple and its earthly imposture in Jerusalem’s second temple (John 2:21) so as to juxtapose it to the final conflict of the heavenly and earthly temples that constitutes the dénouement of his Apocalypse. There is no need to posit a second temple cleansing, based upon literary grounds. The beginning of the Gospel of John is written in a ring structure to correspond to the end of Revelation. We conclude, therefore, that the Gospel’s temple cleansing episode is presented chiastically rather than chronologically.

Implications Drawn From These Studies

We believe that these studies demonstrate a profound and deep connection between the two great works of the Apostle John, the Fourth Gospel and Revelation. Moreover, we believe that the connections are so evident that the inability of modern conservative exposition to recognize them is symptomatic of a serious deficiency in theological education.

While it should not be unexpected that critical scholarship would fail to search for the beauty and unity of the Bible, since such critics are presuppositionally adverse to the doctrine of inspiration, it is dismaying that conservatives often fail in this enterprise as well. This failure, we suspect, is often due to the fact that many of our brightest young scholars are tutored at leading universities by critical mentors. The methods they learn are thus almost entirely analytical, as would be appropriate to an anthology of random religious writings expressing a particular tradition. But that method, which is normative in much current biblical exegesis, practically denies the possibility of the synthetic message that is vital to the Living Word of a Living Savior. It neglects the “metanarrative” of the Holy Scripture, and myopically misses the grandeur of the history of our redemption narrated in the Scriptures as a canon.

Men and women trained in biblical exposition have learned to parse the text, but have not been taught to see the Person of whom the text speaks. We are training pastors who are literate but not literary. Modern theological method is thus analytic to excess, disregarding almost entirely the synthetic possibilities of the Bible read as a metanarrative. We need a radical reformation in theological education today. It is time that we recapture the Grand Story of the Bible, and train up a generation of pastors who are conversant with the imagery and beauty of the Holy Scriptures as a whole. In that light, we dedicate these studies to those who have “the eyes to see,” to those who would join with us, not simply in confessing the inspiration of Holy Scripture, but who would join us in exploring the splendid unities of the Bible as they display the heart and portray the beauty of the Savior of the World.


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1 See our Study No. 4, p. 6, in this series.

2 One of the most striking “oversights” in the Gospel of John is the failure of the evangelist to establish clearly the Davidic lineage of Jesus. There is, of course, no nativity account or genealogy, such as we see in Matthew and Luke. The issue of the right and title of Jesus to the throne of David is clearly raised in the Gospel, however. John reports that the Jews discussed the lineage issue, citing the fact that the Christ must come from Bethlehem, the city of David (John 7:40-43). Moreover, the evangelist reports the objection posed by the Pharisees that no prophet had arisen from Galilee (John 7:52), all the while John reminds us repeatedly that Jesus was from Nazareth in Galilee (John 1:45-46, 18:5,7, 19:19). But nowhere does the evangelist reconcile the Nazareth origin of Jesus with the claim that the Christ must come from Bethlehem, the city of David. Why does John’s Gospel apparently leave unattended an issue that is absolutely preclusive to the Lord’s claim to be the Christ? The evangelist is certainly aware of the cruciality of the issue. Is he depending upon the familiarity of his reader with the birth narratives of Matthew or Luke? Or might he be gesturing toward his own assertion of the Judahite and Davidic lineage of Jesus, which he makes most clear in Revelation 5:5?

3 See our Study No. 5, in this series.

4 See our Study No. 4, p. 18, in this series.

5 See our Study No. 4, p. 5, in this series.

6 See Frank Kermode, The Sense of an Ending: Studies in the Theory of Fiction (London: Oxford University Press, 1966).

7 See our Study No. 4, pp. 17-19, in this series.

8 A notable modern exception is Austin Farrar, whose poetic sensibility intuited a deep and profound connection between the two great works of John. See A Rebirth of Images: The Making of St. John’s Apocalypse (London: A & C Black Ltd., 1949).

9 The only serious orthodox objection to Johannine authorship of Revelation among the Fathers was Dionysius of Alexandria, whose third century rejection was dogmatically driven by his anti-chiliast bias (see Eusebius’ Hist. Eccl. vii 25).











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The John-Revelation Project: Study Paper No. 3

Study Paper No. 3 on the Gospel of John and the Book of Revelation



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The Gospel of John:
A Neglected Key to Revelation?


The ancient church was virtually unanimous in claiming that John’s Gospel and Revelation came from the same hand—from John, the son of Zebedee.  Nonetheless, most modern commentary dismisses the relevance of the Fourth Gospel in interpreting Revelation.

The following chart displays a literary intertextuality that shows these two great books should be viewed as companion volumes.  In fact, we will claim that if they are read alongside each other, as the church fathers suggested, they will interpret each other according to the Reformed hermeneutical maxim Scriptura Scripturas interpres.  While several other literary patterns appear to interleave the Fourth Gospel and the Apocalypse, the parallel chart presented below offers the most readily recognizable and comprehensive prima facie evidence of the interrelationship of these two books from the pen of the Apostle John. 

Consecutive Correspondences

The pattern of consecutive correspondences consists of significant words, word combinations, and phrases that track between the two companion books, as they are read consecutively and side-by-side.  If you imagine John and Revelation as two railroad tracks, the verbal and thematic links within this pattern are like the railroad ties that hold the tracks together as they present the ministry of Jesus from the earthly (John) and heavenly (Revelation) perspectives.

The Book of Revelation

The Gospel of John

In the following chart, the word(s) in bold type are from the same root in the original Greek text.  When the verse address is bolded, it indicates that this is the only time that the word combinations in bold are found in both the Gospel and Revelation.  The italicized words are terms that are related thematically, but are based on different Greek roots.

John-Revelation Consecutive Correspondence Chart

Gospel of John


1:1 John writes concerning “the Word of God

1:2 John witnesses to “the Word of God

1:5 Jesus is “the Light (that) shines in darkness”

1:16 The face of Jesus “shines like the sun”

1:14 “We beheld His glory as the only begotten of the Father”

1:5-6 “Jesus Christ…the firstborn from the dead…to Him be glory

1:23 John the Baptist introduces the earthly Jesus: “I am the voice of one crying, ‘In the wilderness'”

1:10 John the Apostle “heard … a loud voice, as of a trumpet,” and sees the heavenly Jesus.1

1:42 Jesus gives Peter a new name: “Cephas, which is translated, ‘a stone'”

2:17 “To him who overcomes…I (Jesus) will give a white stone, and on the stone2 a new name” 3

2:17 Jesus purges the temple: “Zeal for Your house will consume Me”

3:19 Jesus purifies His church: “Be zealous therefore, and repent” 4

2:24-25 “Jesus…knew all men…for He Himself knew what was in man

2:23 “all the churches shall know that I (Jesus) am He who searches the minds and hearts

3:1,10 “now there was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus…a teacher in Israel”

2:15 “the teaching of the Nicolaitans” (2:6) 5

3:20 “he who does evil hates the light…lest his deeds be reproved

3:19 “as many as I love I reprove6

3:29 “the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice

3:20 “Behold, I stand at the door…if anyone hears My voice…I will come in to him and dine with him” 7

4:23 “the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth”

4:9-10 “Whenever the four living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to Him who sits on the throne…the twenty-four elders fall down…and worship Him”

4:44 “For Jesus Himself testified that a prophet has no honor in his own country”

4:11; 5:12-13 “You are worthy, O Lord, to receive…honor…Worthy is the Lamb who was slain to receive…honor…Blessing and honor…to the Lamb forever and ever” 8

5:18 “He (Jesus)…was breaking the Sabbath” (the seventh day)

5:5 “the Lion of the tribe of Judah…has prevailed to open the scroll and to break its seven seals9

5:22-23 “the Father has committed all judgment to the Son, that all should honor the Son just as they honor the Father

5:13 “And every creature…I heard saying: ‘Blessing and honor and glory and power be to Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb

5:35 John the Baptist “was a burninglamp

4:5 “seven lamps of fire burning…the seven spirits of God” 10

6:7-9 “Two hundred denarii worth of bread…five barley loaves”

6:6 “A quart of wheat for a denarius, and three quarts of barley for a denarius11

6:15 “when Jesus perceived that they were about to come and take Him by force to make Him king, He withdrew to the mountain by Himself

6:15 “the kings…the great men…rich men… commanders…mighty men…hid themselves in the mountains12

6:18, 27 “And the sea was stirred…a great wind was blowing…for this one has God the Father sealed

7: 1-3 “so that no wind should blow on the earth or on the sea…until we have sealed the servants of God13

6:35 “He who comes to Me shall not hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst

7:16 “they shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore” 14

7:38 “rivers of living water will flow from him”

7:17 He “will lead them to springs of the water of life

8:21-22 “you will seek Me, and where I go you cannot come (i.e., you will not find Me); You will die in your sins…(they) said, ‘Will He kill Himself?'”

9:6 “men will seek death, and will not find it; they will desire to die, and death will flee from them” 15

9:25, 27 “Though I was blind, now I see…I told you (the Pharisees)…and you did not hear

9:20 The wicked are like their idols “which can neither see nor hear16

10:27 “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me”

10:4, 8, 9 “I heard a voice from heaven…Then the voice which I heard…spoke…and said, ‘Go…’ So I went…17

11:14-15 “Lazarus is dead, and I rejoice for your sakes that I was not there that you might believe… So when Jesus came, he (Lazarus) had been in the tomb four days

11:9-10 “(they) will see their dead bodies (the two witnesses) for three and a half days, and not allow their dead bodies to be put into a tomb.  And those who dwell on the earth will rejoice over them”

11:43-44 “with a loud voice He cried out, ‘Lazarus, come forth!’  And he who had died came out bound hand and foot

11:11-12″Now…the breath of God entered them (the witnesses), and they stood on their feet…and they heard a loud voice from heaven saying… ‘Come up here!'” 18

11:48 “if all men believe in Him…they will take away our (the religious leaders’) place

12:8 “and no place was found for them (those who follow the Dragon) in heaven” 19

12:13, 15, 19 “The next day a great multitude…cried out, ‘Hosanna!  Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’  The King of Israel!… ‘Behold, your King is coming’…The Pharisees therefore said… ‘Look, the world has gone after Him!'”

12:10 “Then I heard a loud voice in heaven, ‘Now…the kingdom of our God, and the authority of His Christ have come.'”  “And there were loud voices in heaven, saying, ‘The kingdoms of this world have become those of our Lord and His Christ” (11:15) 20

12:25 “He who loves his life will lose it

12:11 “they did not love their lives to death

12:28-31 “then a voice came from heaven…the people who heard…said it thundered.  Others said an angel spoke… ‘Now the ruler of this world (Satan) will be cast out.'”

12:9-10 “and Satan, who deceives the whole world…was cast to the earth, and his angels…and I heard a loud voice in heaven… ‘Now has come salvation.'”  “there were…thunderings” (11:19) 21

12:32 Jesus says: “And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself”

12:5 “She bore a male Child who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron.  And her Child was caught up to God and His throne” 22

13:29 Judas, who controlled the purse, should “buy those things that we need”  Judas challenges: “Why was this fragrant oil not sold…?” (12:5)

13:17 The beast controls all who “buy and sell23

14:6 “I am the way, the truth, and the life

15:3, 7 “just and true are Your ways…God who lives forever”

14:15 “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments

14:12 “Here is the perseverance of the saints who keep the commandments

15:1-6 “I am the Vine, you are the branches…If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown out as a branch and is dried up, and they gather them and throw them into the fire

14: 15, 18-19 “the harvest of the earth was dried up…and another angel who had authority over fire… called… ‘gather the clusters of the vine of the earth, for her grapes are fully ripe.’  And the angel thrust his sickle into the earth and gathered the vine…and threw it into the winepress” 24

16:8 “He will judge of sin, righteousness, and judgment

16:7 “true and righteous are Your judgments

16:33 “I (Jesus) have overcome the world”

17:14 “the Lamb will overcome them”

17:12 Judas is “the son of perdition

17:8, 11 “(the beast) will go to perdition25

17:24 “Father, I desire that they also, whom You have given Me…from the foundation of the world

17:8 “And those whose name had not been written in the book of life from the foundation of the world

18:11 “the cup which My Father has given”

18:6 the harlot Babylon has a “cup of abominations” (17:4)

18:38  “Pilate said to Him, ‘What is truth?'”

19:11 “and He…was called ‘Faithful and True‘” 26

19:2 “they clothed Him in a purple robe”

18:16 the harlot Babylon “was clothed in purple27

19:5  “Jesus therefore came out wearing the crown of thorns and a purple robeBehold, the Man!”

19:11 “beholdHe who was called Faithful and True…and on His head were many diadems, and His robe was dipped in blood28

19:13 Pilate “sat upon the judgment seat” to “judge” (18:31)

20:11-13 “I saw a great white throne, and He who sat upon it…judged every man” 29

19:17-18 “Golgotha, where they crucified Him (Jesus), one on either side and Jesus in the midst

22:2in the midst of the street, on either side of the river was the tree of life”

19:19 “Pilate wrote a title…it was written, ‘JESUS OF NAZARETH.  THE KING OF THE JEWS.'”

19:16 “On His outer garment…a name was written, ‘KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS'” 30

19:23 “when they crucified Jesus, they took His outer garments

19:16 “On his outer garment…a name was written, ‘KING OF KINGS'”

19:28, 30, 40, 42 “Jesus, knowing that all things were now finished…said, ‘It is finished!’…and they took the body of Jesus and bound it…and placed it in a tomb.”

20:2, 3, 5 “He laid hold of the dragon…and bound him, and shut him in the abyss…that he should deceive the nations no more until the thousand years were finished…and the rest of the dead did not live again until the thousand years were finished31

20:15 “Jesus said… ‘Woman, why are you weeping?'”

21:4 “and He shall wipe away every tear from their eyes” 32

20:17  “Jesus said to her, ‘Do not hold to me yet, for I have not yet ascended to My Father…to My God and your God.'”

21: 2 “Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband…” 33

20:27 “Be not unbelieving but believing”

21:8 “But the fearful and unbelieving

21:15″Feed my lambs

19:9 “the wedding supper of the Lamb34

21:24 “this is the disciple who…wrote these things; and we know that his witness is true

21:5 “And He said to me, ‘Write, for these words are faithful and true35

21:25 “And there are many other things that Jesus did, which if they were written one by one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.”

22:18-19 “if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part…from the things which are written in this book.”



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© 2002 Warren Austin Gage, J. Randy Beck, Steven P. Carpenter

1 John the Baptist, who is about to be cast into prison (John 3:24), announces the coming of the earthly Jesus.  John the Apostle, who is upon the prison isle of Patmos, describes a vision of the heavenly Jesus (Rev 1:9).  It is noteworthy that John the Baptist “bears witness” about Jesus in the Gospel, while John the Apostle “bears witness” about Jesus in Revelation (John 1:7 and Rev 1:2).  The two books open with the witness of “John” about Jesus.

2 There is a homophony in Greek between ‘kephas’ (Cephas) in John 1:42 and ‘psephos’ (stone) in Rev. 2:17.

3 Peter is given a new name, “Cephas,” or stone in John 1:42.  The overcoming believer is promised a white “stone” with a new name in Revelation 2:17. 

4 As noted by the verse address in bold, the only occurrences of the word ‘zeal’ are found in these books that describe the Lord’s determination to cleanse the churches of Revelation just as He had purged the earthly temple in Jerusalem.  In His letter to the Laodiceans, Jesus exhorts the believers to imitate His own zeal for purity in the house of God.  The zeal of Christ drives Him to cleanse the temple (John 2:17).  That same zeal is what will drive God’s people to repent, bringing purity to the church (Rev 3:19).  This ‘consuming’ zeal (John 2:17) is thus the remedy to Laodicean lukewarmness (Rev. 3:16).  Moreover, the cleansing of the earthly temple by the zeal of Jesus (John 2) is balanced by the cleansing of the seven churches, which constitute the heavenly temple, by the zealous call of Jesus (Rev 2-3).  Consequently, both Johannine books begin with a cleansing of the “house of God” as temple or church. There is thus a thematic equipoise to the beginning of both the Gospel and Revelation.  This literary equipoise is sustained throughout the parallel reading of John’s two great works, as we shall see.

5 The meaning of “Nicodemus” and “Nicolaitan” is virtually identical in Greek (“victory of the people”).  If Nicodemus is taken as a representative of the Pharisees, the ground of the Lord’s hatred of the teaching of the Nicolaitans is clearly established (Rev 2:6).  Moreover, the juxtaposition of these names (and a Hellenistic name for the teacher of Israel is unusual, to say the least) in light of the history of Nicodemus’ faith would give hope of repentance to the Nicolaitans of Ephesus and Pergamum.

6 The reproof of Jesus is the evidence of His love (Rev 3:19).  The teaching of this parallel reading constitutes a loving invitation to all those afraid of the light because of their evil deeds to come to Him nonetheless (John 3:20).

7 The invitation to dine with Jesus is a reference to communion at the Lord’s Table.  The suggestion in this parallel is that the Lord’s Supper is in fact an anticipation of the wedding supper of the Lamb (Rev 19:9).  The Laodiceans are being invited into a celebration of love and intimacy by the Bridegroom of heaven at the bridal meal He hosts for them.

8 Jesus’ teaching to the Samaritan woman about true worship (John 4:23) is echoed by all of heaven being filled with worship (Rev 4:9-10).  Similarly, Jesus’ observation that a prophet has no honor ‘among his own’ is contrasted with all of heaven ascribing Him honor (Rev. 4:11, 5:12-13).  The heavenly and earthly scenes are full of ironic contrasts!

9 The boldness of Jesus on earth in asserting His right to work healing on the Sabbath provoked the charge that He was making Himself “equal with God” (John 5:18).  The corresponding passage in the heavenly throne room depicts Jesus as equal with God, worthy to open the seven-sealed book, and boldly ‘taking’ it from the right hand of the Lord God sitting upon the throne (Rev 5:7).  Jesus is thus in the posture of a co-regent, not a supplicant, as He approaches the throne of His Father.

10 John the Baptist, of course, experienced the fullness (cf. “seven spirits of God”) of the Spirit even before his birth (cf. Luke 1:15).

11 The apocalyptic horseman who brings famine to the earth is sent by Jesus to vindicate the justice of God against man’s rebellion (Rev 6:5).  But the context of the parallel correspondence encourages the believer to remember that Jesus was mindful of the hunger of His people in the wilderness and that He is able to supply whatever they need.

12 Strikingly, Jesus fled the honor of man as much as the wicked will flee the wrath of God!

13 The pattern of unique correspondences between John 6 and Revelation 6-7 reveals in both books that the people of God are delivered from the wind and the sea, i.e., from natural or elemental chaos.  Their safety and security is the seal of God.

14 This correspondence sets forth a promise-fulfillment pattern. The promise pronounced upon earth is realized in heaven.

15 The religious leaders conjecture that Jesus intends to kill Himself (John 8:21-22).  Ironically, their conjecture is paralleled with the inability of the wicked in judgment to find death (Rev 9:6).  The wicked, who are dead in their sins, will suffer a torment that will not die.  Once again, the irony is fully appreciated only by a companion reading of these two books.

16 The Gospel describes the religious leaders who are blind to the Light of the World and deaf to the Word of God.  The revelation of their true character is unveiled in the parallel reading.  The religious leaders of the second temple are idol worshippers, and the temple of Jerusalem has become an idol sanctuary.  John’s polemic against apostate Judaism expresses a shocking irony.

17 John’s immediate obedience is intended as an example of Jesus’ teaching about following Him.

18 The resurrection of Lazarus in the Gospel becomes a powerful picture of the resurrection of the two witnesses in Revelation. The murderous hostility of the Jews against Lazarus (John 12:10-11) corresponds to the bestial opposition to the two witnesses of Revelation (Rev 11:7).

19 In yet another shocking irony, the religious leaders are compared to the followers of the dragon.  The religious leaders feared that they might lose their earthly sanctuary as a consequence of the wrath of Rome.  But a far worse wrath awaited them — the wrath of God.  And for their rejection of Jesus their place in the heavenly sanctuary was taken away.  Their loss of “place” (Rev 12:8) contrasts with believers for whom Jesus is preparing a “place”  (John 14:2).

20 The cry of the multitude at the triumphal entry is echoed by the cry of the multitude in heaven.  Heaven and earth alike declare the kingdom authority of Jesus.  The battle on earth against Jerusalem, described in the Gospel, is being simultaneously waged from heaven against Babylon, as depicted in Revelation.  The correspondence between the two wicked cities, Babylon and Jerusalem, and the warfare of heaven against them, is a major thematic parallel between the Gospel and Revelation.

21 These verses constitute the literary axis of the Johannine books.  The thunderous voices of the heavenly angels are heard on earth as the dragon is cast out of heaven to earth.  This correspondence is like an open window between the Gospel and the Revelation through which those on earth are permitted to hear the war in heaven (Rev 12:7).

22 The cross foreshadows the victory of the ascension, when Jesus in His “lifted up” glory will draw all nations to Himself as a community of worshippers. 

23 This parallel correspondence between Judas and the beast is reinforced by the juxtaposition of John 17:12 and Revelation 17:8, 11, set forth below.

24 This pattern of unique vocabulary indicates a thematic interdependence.  The judgment in Revelation is upon the wild grapes, the apostate Israel (cf. Isa 5:7), namely, all those who do not “abide” in Jesus.    

25 We have already seen the bestial character of Judas in John 12:5 and 13:29 in light of Revelation 13:17.  This parallel is significant because of the unique occurrence of the word “perdition.”

26 Pilate’s question in the Gospel is answered in Revelation.  The irony of Pilate’s question is astonishing when John the Seer, like Elisha for his servant, opens the heavens so that we might see the Lord of Glory, Faithful and True.

27 In a striking juxtaposition, Jesus in his suffering is paralleled to the harlot Babylon.  Both have a loathsome cup to drink, and both wear a purple robe.  Moreover, Jesus suffers the indignity of false accusations of blasphemy (John 10:33) and fornication (John 8:41), crimes that John charges against the whore (Rev 17:2-3).  Shocking as it may seem, it is clear that John’s portrait of Jesus in the Gospel has the Lord taking upon Himself the reproach of the whore of Babylon, as depicted in Revelation.  Jesus’ suffering in the place of the whore suggests a truth no less wonderful for its being obvious: the Gospel is laying the foundation in the sufferings of Christ for the redemption of Revelation’s Babylonian whore!

28 Heaven and earth are full of shocking opposites!  Pilate, the Roman judge, brings Jesus forth and invites all Jerusalem to behold the mockery of Christ’s royal claim.  There He stands, crowned in thorns and arrayed in royal purple, and Pilate announces, “Behold, the Man!”  The contrast in Revelation could not be more arresting.  John invites us to “Behold the Faithful and True One!” crowned with kingly diadems and clothed in a robe dipped in blood.  Revelation balances the ridicule of earth with the triumphant glory of heaven!

29 Ironically, Pilate is himself being judged by heaven for his unjust judgment upon earth.

30 Both of John’s books climax in the judgment of Jesus.  Upon earth He is condemned by Pilate, who writes a title to mock His kingdom.  But in heaven the Lord God vindicates the kingship of Jesus, writing Him a glorious name.

31 The career of Satan counterfeits the earthly history of Jesus.  Satan is bound and placed in the abyss just as Jesus was bound and placed in a tomb.  Lest he deceive the nations (Rev 20:3, cf. Matt 27:63), Satan is sealed in the earth (Rev 20:3, cf. Matt 27:66).  Afterward, Satan imitates the resurrection in being “released” from the abyss (Rev 20:3).

32 The Gospel concludes with a woman and Jesus in an earthly garden (John 20:15).  Jesus tells Mary that He must ascend to His Father (John 20:17).  Revelation concludes with the bride descending from the Father to be received by her Groom (Rev 21:9-10), coming to a heavenly garden with the river of crystal and the tree of life (Rev 22:1-2).  The Gospel’s picture of the bride, corresponding to the bride of Revelation, is Mary Magdalene.  Now the choice of this Mary to represent the bride is remarkable due to her reputation within the Christian community as the one from whom the Lord had cast out seven demons (Luke 8:2).  Consequently, one who had known every form of demonic defilement (cf. Luke 11:26) is chosen by John to represent the bride of Jesus.  When read thematically in parallel with Revelation, the redemption of Mary Magdalene is juxtaposed to the redemption of the whore of Babylon, who becomes the bride of Christ.  Once again, the parallel maintains a perfect thematic equipoise with Revelation.

33 The marriage imagery in the Gospel is an implicit Adam typology, with the Lord awakening in the garden tomb as a new Adam.  His wounded side (John 19:34) having been healed, Jesus beholds Mary Magdalene, who has become the new Eve.

34 The parallel is striking.  The pastoral oversight of Peter is made emblematic of the wedding supper of the Lamb.

35 These remarks constitute the seal of John as a faithful witness to all he has written.











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The John-Revelation Project: Study Paper No. 4

Study Paper No. 4 on the Gospel of John and the Book of Revelation



Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6

Part 7

The Gospel of John:
A Neglected Key to Revelation?


Elsewhere we have suggested that John’s Gospel and Revelation are linked by an elaborate pattern of consecutive or parallel correspondence.1  But there is another comprehensive pattern of literary linkage that overlays the two great books of John—a chiastic pattern. 

Chiastic Correspondences

A chiasm is a literary pattern that involves an inverted parallelism of words or ideas.  In chiastic patterning, the beginning of one book contains clusters of shared vocabulary and themes with the end of the second book; and similarly, the beginning of the second book contains paralleled vocabulary and themes found at the end of the first book.  The Gospel of John and Revelation are written throughout in an elaborate chiastic pattern, producing the effect of each book being a mirror image of the other. Together, the consecutive and the chiastic patterns constitute the warp and woof of the Johannine interweaving.

Now John’s use of chiastic patterning is not precisely ordered and mechanical, just as we observed with the consecutive pattern of correspondence.  It is rather more artistic than mechanically predictable.  Nevertheless, the overall pattern of chiastic correspondence is clearly one of John’s major structural devices.

Moving in reverse directions within John’s Gospel and Revelation, we will work our way forward in the Gospel and backward in Revelation, noting as we go in paralleled charts how the two books are joined together so as to enlighten and interpret each other by the use of this ancient literary pattern.  The mirror imaging that occurs between these two books will describe a diagram much like the following.

The Book of Revelation

The Gospel of John

John-Revelation Chiastic Correspondence Charts

The Word and the Old Creation

The Word and the New Creation

1:1 “In the beginning was the Word

22:13 “I am…the beginning and the end”

1:3 “all things were made by Him

21:5 “behold, I make all things new”

1:5, 9  “the light shines in darkness…He (Jesus) was the true light which gives light to every man”

22:5  “there shall be no night there; they need no lamp nor light, for the Lord God gives them light2

1:14  “the Word became flesh, and tabernacled among us

21:3  “the tabernacle of God is among mankind and He will tabernacle among them3

1:17 “grace and truth came by Jesus Christ

22:21 “grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you”

1:28, 48 “these things took place…beyond the Jordan… ‘when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.'”

22:1-2  “And he showed me the river of the water of life…and the tree of life

1:29 “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world

22:3 “there is no more curse; the throne of God and the Lamb is there” 4

1:32 “I beheld the Spirit descending out of heaven like a dove, and He remained upon Him (whom John identifies as the Bridegroom, 3: 29)

21:2 “And I saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband”

1:39, 46 Jesus says, “Come and see!”  Philip, who hears, says, “Come and see!”

22:17 “the Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come!'” and “let him who hears say, ‘Come!'” 5

1:42 Peter, one of the apostles, is given a new name, “Cephas,” meaning “stone

21:14, 19 the New Jerusalem has twelve foundation “stones,” inscribed with the names of the apostles. 6

1:45, 49 “Behold, a true Israelite in whom there is no guile…You (Jesus) are the King of Israel”

19:11, 16 “Behold,…One (Jesus) called Faithful and True… ‘King of Kings‘”

1:51 “you (pl.) shall see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man

19:11 “now I saw heaven opened and…He who…is called Faithful and True”  The first “angel” shows “the beast ascending” (17:8).  The last “angel” shows “the holy city descending” (21:10). 7

The Wedding in Cana

The Wedding of the Lamb

2:2  “Jesus and His disciples were invited to the wedding

19:9  “Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding8

2:3  Jesus makes wine. “When they ran out of wine, the mother of Jesus said to Him, ‘They have no wine.'”

19:15  Jesus makes wine. “He treads the winepress of the wine of the rage of the wrath of Almighty God.” 9

2:4  “My hour has not yet come.” 10

18:8, 10  “For in one day her plagues will come…in one hour your judgment has come.”

2:4, 7, 10 ” ‘Woman, what do I have to do with you?…Fill the waterpots with water‘…they have become drunk with the worse wine

17:1-2, 4, 6 “and the woman (who sat on many waters)…had in her hand a golden cup filled with abominations…they have drunk the wine of her fornication…the woman (was) drunk with the blood of the saints”

3:29 “he (John the Baptist) rejoices because he hears the voice of the Bridegroom” who is the one who “has the bride.” 11

18:23  “the voice of the bridegroom and the bride is heard no longer,” “let us rejoice…for the wedding of the Lamb has come” 12

Divine Wrath Poured Out
in the Earthly Temple

Divine Wrath Poured Out
in the Heavenly Temple

2:15 Jesus “poured out” the coins of the moneychangers, and “drove them all out of the temple

16:1-4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 17 Angels from the heavenly temple “pour out” the bowls of divine wrath.  “no one was able to enter the temple” (15:8)

2:16 “make not My Father’s house a house of merchandise.”

18:3, 11,15  “the merchants of the earth…the great men…shall stand afar off for the fear of her (Babylon’s) torment” 13

2:17 “zeal for Your house has consumed Me.”

20:9 “fire came down from God…and consumed them”

2:18 “The Jews said, ‘What sign do You show us that You do these things?'”

15:1 Angels from the heavenly temple pour out wrath upon Babylon: “And I saw another great sign in heaven”

2:19, 21 “‘Destroy this temple…’ He (Jesus) was speaking of the temple of His body.”

21:22 “And I saw no temple in it…for the Lamb is its temple.”

Out of the Darkness

The City of Light

3:2 “this man (Nicodemus) came to him (from Jerusalem) by night

21:23-25 “and the city (New Jerusalem) has no need of the sun or the moon…its lamp is the Lamb…for there is no night there.” 14

3:5 “Can a man enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born? (i.e. second birth)”

20:6 “holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no power.”

3:13, 29 “He who descended out of heaven, even the Son of Man…the Bridegroom

21:2 “I saw …New Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride15

3:14 “And as Moses lifted up the serpent…”

20:2 “And he laid hold of the dragon, the serpent of old…and threw him into the abyss

3:17-21 “that the world through Him might be savedlight has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil…but he who practices the truth comes to the light

21:25-27 “the nations of those who are saved shall walk in its  (New Jerusalem’s) light…its gates shall not be shut by day, and there shall be no night there…and nothing unclean, and no one who practiceslying…shall ever come into it

3:24 “for John (the Baptist) had not yet been cast into prison

20:3-4, 7 “and he cast him into the abyss…and I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of the testimony of Jesus…Satan will be released from his prison

3:36 “he who does not obey the Son…the wrath of God abides on him”

19:15 “He will rule them with a rod of iron…the wrath of God Almighty.”

The Samaritan Woman

The Whore of Babylon

4:7 The Samaritan woman, who has come “to draw water” says, “I have no husband” (4:17)

17:1 The Babylonian harlot, who sits upon “the waters,” says, “I am not a widow” (18:7) 16

4:18 Jesus describes the Samaritan woman’s old life in the city: “you have had five husbands, and the one you now have is not your husband” “(Jesus) remained there two days” (4:40)

17:10 The angel describes the life of the Babylonian harlot in the city: “five (kings) have fallen, and one is, the other has not yet come; when he (the seventh) comes, he shall remain a little while” 17

4:21 “neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem”

16:20 “and the mountains were not found”

4:27 “His disciples…marveled that he spoke with a woman

17:6 John the disciple writes, “And when I saw the woman…I marveled

The Samaritan Woman

The Bride of Christ 18

4:29-30 The Samaritan woman calls for the people to ” ‘Come’…(and) they came out of the city”

18:4 A voice from heaven calls: “Come out of her (the city of the harlot), My people”

4:10, 28-29 “I would have given you living water…So the woman left her waterpot, and went into the city, and said to the men, ‘Come…'”

22:17 “And the Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come…’ And let the one who thirsts come…let the one who will take the water of life without cost.”

The Old Jerusalem

The Great Babylon

5:2-4 “now there is in Jerusalem…a pool with five porticoes.  In these lay a multitude of those who were sick, blind, lame, and withered…for an angel descended at certain seasons and stirred the waters…”

18:1-2 “I saw another angel descending from heaven…fallen is Babylon the Great.  She has become a dwelling place of demons and a prison place of every unclean spirit” “and a strong angel took a stone…and threw it into the sea” (18:21) 19

5:27 The Father “has given Him (Jesus) authority to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of Man.”

19:11 “in righteousness He (Jesus) judges and makes war”

5:35 “He (John the Baptist) was the burning and shining lamp, and you (Jerusalem) were willing for a time to rejoice in his light

18:23 “The light of the a lamp shall not shine in you (Babylon) anymore”

5:44 “you (the Jews of the temple) receive glory from one another”

18:7 “she (the harlot) glorified herself”

From Shadows

To Reality

6:3,10 “And Jesus went up on the mountain, and there he sat with His disciples…in number about five thousand

14:1 “I looked, and behold, a Lamb standing on Mount Zion, and with him one hundred and forty-four thousand

6:19 “when they had rowed about twenty-five or thirty furlongs, they saw Jesus walking on the sea

14:20; 15:2 “one thousand six hundred furlongs…I saw…the ones who overcame the beast standing on the sea

7:12, 47 Some complain concerning Jesus: “He deceives the multitude.”  The Pharisees challenge the officers: “Are you deceived also?”

13:14 The beast “deceives those who dwell on the earth” 20

The Accusers Cast Out
of the Earthly Temple

The Accuser Cast Out
of the Heavenly Temple

8:3 “And the scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman caught in adultery, and stood her in the midst…and said to Him, ‘Moses commanded us to stone such women…'” 21

12:4 “And the dragon stood before the woman…so that he might devour…22

8:6-7, 10 “This they said, testing Him, that they might have something of which to accuse Him…Jesus said “Let him be the first to cast a stone who is sinless’…And hearing this, they began to go out…Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, where are your accusers?'”

12:4, 8,10 “so that he (the dragon) might devour her Child…and no place was found for them any longer…and the great dragon …was cast down…the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God night and day, has been cast down” 23

letter-spacing:-.15pt’>11:48 “if all men believe in Him…they will take away our (the religious leaders of the temple) place

12:8 “and no place was found for them (those who follow the Dragon) in heaven” 24

The War of Light and Darkness
on Earth

The War of Light and Darkness
in Heaven

8:32, 34-36 “the truth will set you free…whoever commits sin is a slave of sin. And a slave does not abide in the house forever…if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.”

13:16 “He (the beast) causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hand or on their forehead”

8:41 “And they (the religious leaders of the temple)  said to Him, ‘We were not born of fornication’

14:8 “she (the whore of Babylon) has made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication25

8:44 “the devilspeaks a lie…for he is a liar”

12:9  “the devildeceives the whole world.” 26

9:16 “How can a Man (Jesus) who is a sinner do such signs?”

13:13 And he (the beast) performs great signs

10:19  “There was a division among the Jews…many of them saying, ‘He has a demon…’ Others said, ‘These are not the words of one who has a demon.'”

12:7 “And war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought with the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought…”

11:53 “From that day on they (the religious leaders of the temple) plotted to kill him (Lazarus).”

11:7 “When they finish their testimony, the beast…will kill them (the two witnesses).” 27

12:28-29   “a voice came from heaven…Therefore the people who stood by and heard it said that it had thundered

10:3-4 “seven thunders uttered their voices…I heard a voice from heaven

Communion on Earth

Communion in Heaven

13:26-27 “So when he had dipped the morsel, He took and gave it to Judas…and after the morsel, Satan then entered into him

10:9-10 “And he said, “Take and eat…’ and it was in my mouth sweet as honey, but when I had eaten it, in my stomach it was bitter.’

14:1-2 “Let not your heart be troubled…in My Father’s house are many dwelling places

7:15,17 “He shall spread His tabernacle upon them…and God shall wipe every tear from their eyes.”

15:6 “they will gather the dried branches, and cast them into the fire, and they will be burned up.”

8:7 “and a third of the trees were burned up

The Grace to Persevere

The Reward of Perseverance

16:13 Jesus will send “the Spirit of truth (who) will guide you into all truth”

7:17 “the Lamb…will guide them to springs of living water”

16:20,28,33 “I tell you that you will weep…but your sorrow will be turned to joy…I am going to the Father…take courage, I have overcome the world.”

5:4,5,7 “And I began to weep greatly…and one of the elders said, ‘Stop weeping…the Lion of Judah has overcome…and He came (to the Father)”

16:21, 33  “when she has given birth, she no longer remembers the tribulation…in the world you will have tribulation

7:14 “These (the redeemed) are the ones who have come out of great tribulation

The Prayer of the Savior
on Earth

The Prayer of the Saints
in Heaven

17:12 “I have kept them…whom You have given Me…and not one of them perished…”

6:11 “they were told they should rest a while, until the number of their fellow servants…should be completed.”

17:17-19 “Sanctify them in the truth. Your word is truth.”

6:11 “How long, O Lord, holy and true…?” 28

The Arrest of God

The Worship of God

18:3,6 “Then the cohort…came with lanterns and torches…when He said, ‘I am,’ they drew back and fell to the ground.

4:5-6, 10 “seven lamps of fire burning before the throne…four living creatures full of eyes in front and behind…the twenty four elders fall before Him29

18:25,27 “Peter denied it and said, “I am not.'”

3:8 “You have kept My word, and have not denied My name.”

18:37 “for this cause I (Jesus) have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth

3:14 “These things says the Amen, the faithful and True Witness.”

Suffering Before Glory

Suffering Before Glory

18:20 “I spoke openly to the world.  I always taught in synagogues and in the temple”

3:9 “those of the synagogue of Satan, who say they are Jews and are not”

18:37 “for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth

3:14 “These things says the Amen, the faithful and true witness

19:2 “they clothed him in a purple garment

3:5 The overcomer “shall be clothed in white garments

19:2, 5 “the soldiers twisted a crown of thorns…Then Jesus came out wearing the crown of thorns”

2:10 “Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life”

19:18 “they crucified Him with two other men…and Jesus in the midst.”

2:1 “the One who walks in the midst of the seven lampstands”

19:21-22 “The Jews said to Pilate, ‘Do not write…Pilate answered, “What I have written, I have written.”

3:5 “I (Jesus) will not erase his name from the book of life.”

19:29, 30, 36 “a vessel full of sour wine was sitting there… when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, ‘It is finished‘…that the Scripture might be fulfilled, ‘Not one of His bones shall be broken

2:26-27 “And he who overcomes and keeps My works until the end, to him I will give power over the nations… ‘they shall be broken like clay vessels‘ as I also received from My Father”

19:37they will see Him whom they pierced

1:7 “they who pierced Him will see Him”

Recognizing the Risen Lord

Recognizing the Risen Lord

20:1 “And on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene came…”

1:10  “And I (John) was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day…”

20:6-7 “Simon Peter…saw…the face cloth, which had been on His head…”

1:14 “His head and His hair were white like wool”

20:9 “For as yet they did not understand the Scripture that He must rise again from the dead.”

1:18 “I (Jesus) was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore.”

20:14 “she (Mary Magdalene) turned around, and behold, Jesus…”

1:12-13 “I (John) turned to see…and having turned I saw…One like the Son of Man

20:19 “when the doors were shut…Jesus came and stood in their midst”

3:7-8 “The One having the key of David, who opens and no one can shut…I have given you an open door.”

20: 22 “He (Jesus) breathed on them, and said, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit‘”

2:7,11,17,29,3:6,13,22  “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”

Jesus Calling Out to His Disciples
Across the Waters

Jesus Calling Out to His Disciples
Across the Waters

21:2, 4-6 Jesus calls out to “Simon Peter, Thomas… Nathanael…the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples” (seven disciples) from the shore across the waters. 30

1:9-11 Jesus speaks to “the seven churches, to Ephesus, to Smyrna, to Pergamos, to Thyatira, to Sardis, to Philadelphia, and to Laodicea” from an island across the waters. 31

21:4 “But when the morning had come, Jesus stood upon the shore, but the disciples did not know that it was Jesus.”

3:3 To Sardis:  “if you do not watch, I will come to you …and you will not know what hour I will come upon you.”

21: 7 “Simon Peter…girded himself, for he was naked.”

3:18 To Laodicea: “clothe yourself, lest the shame of your nakedness be revealed”

21:13 “Jesus…took bread and gave it to them”

2:7 To Ephesus: “To him who overcomes I  (Jesus) will give to eat from the tree of life”

21:14 “This is now the third time Jesus showed Himself to His disciples.”

1:4 “Grace…and peace from Him who is and who was and who is to come.”

21:15 Jesus asks Peter, “Do you love Me?”

2:4 To Ephesus: “you have left your first love

21:17 Peter says, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.”

2:19 To Thyatira: “I (Jesus) know your deeds, and your love…”

21:19 Jesus tells Peter “by what death he would glorify God”

2:10 To  Smyrna: “be faithful unto death, and I will give you a crown

The Word and the Testimony

The Word and the Testimony

20:29 “blessed are they that…believe

1:3 “blessed is the one who reads

21:20 “The disciple whom Jesus loved, the one who had leaned upon His breast

1:12-13 “And I (John) saw…His breast girded with a golden band”

21:20, 23 “Peter, turning around, saw following them the disciple whom Jesus loved…this disciple should not die…till He come”

1:12,17 “having turned, I (John) saw…when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as though dead

21:24 “this is the disciple (John) who testifies concerning these things”

1:1-2 “John, who testifies…of the things he saw”

21:25 “if they were written…the world could not contain the books

1:11 “what you see write in a book

John-Revelation:  The Story Begins to Unfold

The verbal and thematic patterns expressed in the consecutive and chiastic correspondences point to a divinely intended joining of John’s Gospel and the Revelation.  As the two charts are laid over each other, a wonderful story emerges.  At the opening of his Gospel, John declares that He who was fully God in the beginning has come to tabernacle with men in His earthly sojourn (John 1:1-14).  Then climactically at the end of Revelation, a loud voice in heaven rejoices that the tabernacle of God is with men forever (Rev 21:3).  Redemption’s glorious climax of God dwelling with His people becomes the frame of these two books for the telling of the greatest love story ever, a story of a heavenly Groom and an earthly bride.   

The story is dramatically recounted in the chiastic pattern joining the two books, and is bolstered by key elements from the consecutive pattern.  Each crosspiece of the chiastic structure develops a portion of the inspired story the books tell.  The following chart summarizes the story line developed in each crosspiece of the chiasm.

The Book of Revelation

The Gospel of John

The Great Reversal:
The Son is lifted up (John 12:28-31)
Satan is cast down (Revelation 12:9-10)

The first crosspiece combines the opening chapters of the Gospel and the closing chapters of the Revelation to tell the story of the Son of Man as a Heavenly Bridegroom who leaves His Father’s house to dwell among men in search of a bride. He finds her in a wilderness and woos her to Himself, at last taking her to a pleasant garden in the city of God.  The Gospel presents the Bridegroom; the Revelation introduces the bride. 

This crosspiece is rich with wedding imagery.  At the opening of the Gospel, Jesus and His disciples are invited to a wedding in Cana.  At the close of Revelation, blessing is pronounced on all who are invited to the wedding of the Lamb. At the opening of the Gospel, John the Baptist rejoices to hear the voice of the Bridegroom (Jesus) who has the bride (the church).  At the close of Revelation, Babylon is judged when the voice of the Bridegroom and bride is no longer heard.  Jesus makes wine in both settings.  First, He serves the good wine of the Gospel at Cana.  Then in Revelation, when the harlot and her people are drunk, He serves the wine of the wrath of God (cf. John 2:10).  The good wine of the Gospel is served before the wine of fierce wrath in the Revelation.

The second crosspiece joins the opening of Revelation with the close of John.  It tells of the heroic Son of God, who comes from heaven as a Warrior King to lay hold of His Kingdom by vanquishing the Dragon.  He rides forth upon a white horse to conquer His enemies with the sword of His mouth.  Those who follow Him need not fear the warfare, for their King is the Lord of Life.  Even if they should lose their lives in martyrdom, they will be raised to new life just like their conquering King, and will dwell forever with Him in the New Jerusalem, where there will be no more pain, sorrow, or tears. 

The pivot of both the consecutive and the chiastic structure (John 12; Rev 12), which is the thematic center of the story told by the two books, tells of the great reversal that takes place as the Son is lifted up and Satan is cast down.  John 12:28-31 and Revelation 12:9-10 are anchored by word combinations that occur nowhere else in either book.  These passages constitute the literary axis of the two Johannine books.  (See the consecutive chart.)  Both passages concern the announcement of Christ’s kingdom.  In John 12, Jesus rides into Jerusalem upon a donkey.  The crowds proclaim Him “King of Israel” and the Pharisees worry that “the world has gone after Him” (John 12:13,15,19).  The Revelation passage that corresponds to the Triumphal Entry of the Gospel opens with the announcement that “the kingdoms of the world have become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of His Christ; and He shall reign forever and ever” (Rev 11:15; cf. Rev 12:10).  In John 12:32, the Son is lifted up.  The matching declaration of Revelation 12:9 is that the Dragon is cast down to earth.  As noted on the chart, both John and Revelation speak of Satan being cast out of heaven.


Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6

Part 7

©2002 Warren Austin Gage, J. Randy Beck, Steven P. Carpenter

1 See Gage/White, “The Gospel of John:  A Neglected Key to Revelation? Study No. 1 on the Gospel of John and the Book of Revelation.”

2 It will be seen that the chiastic pattern comprehends several themes initiated in the beginning of the Gospel and concluded at the end of the Revelation.  The darkness, which is the emblem of the power of chaos, is at war with the light in the opening of the Gospel (John 1:4-5).  Only at the end of Revelation is the war finished, and the darkness at last is overtaken by the light (Rev 22:5).

3 The Gospel begins with the declaration that the Word became flesh and tabernacled among us (John 1:14), and Revelation concludes with the glorious announcement that in the consummation of all things God pitches His tabernacle forever among men (Rev 21:3).

4 The promise of John the Baptist at the river Jordan, that the Lamb of God would take away the sin of the world (John 1:29), is realized in the vision of John of Patmos, who sees the river of paradise flowing from the throne of God and the Lamb, with the curse of sin having been taken away (Rev 22:3).

5 It is noteworthy that the Gospel opens with a twofold invitation to “come” to Jesus.  Revelation concludes with a similar twofold invitation to “come” to the Water of Life.

6 Peter’s promise in the Gospel that he would be a “stone” is serendipitously fulfilled in Revelation as he becomes a “precious stone!”

7 The Gospel account of Nathanael, the true Israelite, recalls a fig tree (John 1:48), the tree whose leaves could not hide the knowledge of God in Genesis.  Similarly, Revelation foretells a vision of the tree of life, whose leaves are for the healing of the nations who make up the city of God (Rev 22:2). Furthermore, the promise to Nathanael, that he should see the heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man (John 1:51) is never fulfilled in the Gospel.  Only in Revelation does John see the heaven opened and angels ascending and descending around a vision of the Lord of Lords (Rev 17:8-21:10).

8 The beginning of the Gospel and the ending of the Revelation are filled with wedding imagery.  The wedding of Cana in the Gospel sustains many literary connections with the wedding of the Lamb in Revelation.  John the Baptist describes Jesus as a Bridegroom in the Gospel’s beginning.  But there is no description of the bride in the Gospel.  John the Evangelist describes the bride of the Lamb at the end of Revelation.  But there is no description of the Bridegroom in Revelation.  The two books of John, like a husband and wife, require each other to be complete.

9 According to the wedding custom, the bridegroom should set forth first the good wine, and only afterward, when the guests are drunk, is the worse wine served (2:10).  When the wedding of Cana (John 2:1) is read in light of the wedding of the Lamb (Rev 19:7), it is clear that Jesus observes the wedding custom respecting the order of wine service.  Jesus makes wine for both weddings.   As the steward of Cana testified, the first wine Jesus serves in the Gospel is “good” (John 2:10).  But afterward in Revelation, when the whore and her followers are “drunk,” (Rev 2, 6), He serves them the wine of the wrath of Almighty God (Rev 19:15).

10 The prophetic character of the wedding in Cana is suggested by Jesus’ words.  The hour of which He speaks (cf. John 12:23) is the hour of His passion and death, when he will provide the wine of His blood for His bride.  That hour prepares the way for and anticipates the messianic banquet of Revelation 19:9 (cf. Isa 25:6-8).

11 The proclamation of John the Baptist, of course, is not part of the account of the wedding of Cana.  However, it is related to John 2:1-11 both thematically and by a pattern of inclusions.  Both passages concern the wedding theme.  Both describe Jewish purification custom (2:6 and 3:25).  Finally, both employ the same Greek root word to describe the inferior (2:10) wine that follows the better, and the decrease (3:30) of John before the increase of Jesus.

12 Babylon is the city where the “light of a lamp will not shine in you any longer, and voice of the bridegroom and the bride is heard no longer” (Rev 18:23).  The voice of the bridegroom, read chiastically with the Gospel, is the voice of Jesus (John 3:29).  The friend of the Bridegroom is the prophet John the Baptist, who is described as a “bright and shining light” in which Jerusalem rejoiced for a season (John 5:35).   Babylon is the city in which is found the blood of the prophets (Rev 18:24), and the city which silenced the voice of the Bridegroom (cf. Rev 11:8, 18:23).  The conclusion is unmistakable that the Jerusalem of the second temple, the archetypical city of chaos, which is spiritually Egypt and Sodom (Rev 11:8), is likewise the “Great Babylon” of Revelation.  In this light it is instructive that Jerusalem under Pontius Pilate was a “babel” of three languages, Hebrew, Latin, and Greek (John 19:20).  Similarly, the Babylon of Revelation is divided into three parts (Rev 16:19).  The theme of Jerusalem under the figure of “Babylon” will be well developed as the argument proceeds.

13 The love of merchandise is the connecting link between the second temple and Great Babylon (John 2:16 and Rev 18:3,11,15).  The prophet Zechariah anticipated the day when the merchant (BH “Canaanite”) would no longer be in the house of God.  The Lord’s accusation regarding “merchandise” in the temple constitutes the charge that the second temple was in truth a “Canaanite” sanctuary, a point that figures prominently in the theology of John’s Gospel.

14 Nicodemus is characterized in the Gospel as the one coming out of the night of the Old Jerusalem (3:2, 19:39) to Jesus, the Light of the World (8:12).  Judas, on the other hand, leaves the Light to return to the darkness of Old Jerusalem (13:30).  Revelation gives the sharply contrasting picture.  There is no night in the New Jerusalem, the city of light, because the Lamb is its light (21:23-25).

15 The themes developed in these sections are the chief themes of the creation account in Genesis, continuing the pattern that the evangelist began by opening his Gospel “in the beginning” (1:1, cf. Gen 1:1) and by concluding his Revelation with a “new creation” (21:1). This section speaks of darkness and light (John 3:1, Rev 21:25), a Bridegroom and a bride (John 3:29, Rev 21:9), and a serpent of enmity (John 3:14, Rev 20:20:2).

16 The boastful claim of the whore of Babylon that she is not a widow and will never see mourning (Rev 18:7) is an allusion drawn from the destruction of the first temple of Jerusalem depicted in Lamentations (1:1).  John uses devastating irony to portray the coming destruction of the “Babylonian” second temple using the dramatic colors of the destruction of the first temple of Jerusalem by the Babylonians.  At the close of Jeremiah, the prophet foresaw the fall of Babylon for all the rapaciousness of her destruction of Jerusalem (51:49).  But John identifies the true Babylon as the Jerusalem of the second temple, the city whose sins, like Babel’s ancient tower of rebellion, were piled up to heaven (Rev 18:5, cf. Gen 11:4).  The pattern is complete.  In his Lamentations, Jeremiah described the ruins of Jerusalem as desolate as a “widow,” she who had been great “among the nations” (Lam 1:1).  The nations had dealt treacherously with her, despising her because they had “seen her nakedness” (Lam 1:8).  Jerusalem had “fallen,” and so had lost all the “precious things” of her temple (Lam 1:10). 

In Revelation, once the Babylonian character of the second temple is revealed, the judgment of Babylon the Great is seen to be in fact the judgment of second temple Jerusalem.  John borrows Jeremiah’s description of the ruin of the first temple to predict the character of the destruction of the second.  Revelation’s Babylon denies that she is a “widow or will ever see mourning” (Rev 18:7).  That is, the second temple boasts that she will never suffer the fate of the first temple.  But John foresees the day of divine wrath when the “nations,” who had been familiar with her, will despise her, having “seen her nakedness” (Rev 17:16, 18:9).  Thus Great Babylon will “fall” (Rev 18:2).  And they will mourn the loss of all her “precious things”  (Rev 18:11-18).  Just as the destruction of the first temple was incomparable for sorrow (Lam 1:12), so the ruin of the second temple for sorrow will be incomparable (Rev 18:18). Just as the abominable practices of the religious leaders of the first temple brought about its destruction (Ezek 8), so the abominations of the religious leaders of the second temple will require a like judgment.

17 The Samaritan woman’s past bears a striking resemblance to the whore of Babylon!

18 There is masterful artistry at work in the selection of a Samaritan woman to symbolize the New Jerusalem.  The heavenly Jerusalem is one city, but it is composed of two peoples, Jew and Gentile.  It is built on the foundations of the twelve apostles to the nations, but its gates are named for the twelve sons of Israel (Rev 21:12-14).  Its inhabitants include thousands upon thousands “from every tribe of the sons of Israel” and a “great multitude, which no one could count, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues” (Rev 7:4, 9).  Just like the New Jerusalem, the Samaritan is one woman, but she is part Jew and part Gentile.  The Samaritans were Jews who had intermingled with their Gentile neighbors.  Thus, the Samaritan woman traced her ancestry back to Jacob, like the Jews, but she was also related by blood to the nations.

19 In both the Gospel and Revelation an angel descends from heaven and waters of earth are “troubled.”  The multitude of the sick gathered at the pool of Bethesda is compared to Babylon as a dwelling place of every unclean spirit!  The collection of the infirm near the precincts of the second temple brings to mind the bias of the Law of Moses against the infirm or the unclean having entry into the sanctuary (cf. Deut 23:1, Lev 21:21-23).  The instruction of the Mosaic Law required that the second temple be preserved from defilement (Lev 21:23).  The nature of the true Temple, however, is such that the Lord Christ heals the infirm and cleanses the defiled.  The Gospel account of the healing of the woman with the issue of blood, who was both infirm and unclean, illustrates the better nature of the true Temple of Jesus’ body, which cannot be defiled (Luke 8:43-48).  The same point is exemplified in the account of the healing of the paralytic man in John 5:2-9.

20 The religious leaders of the second temple charge Jesus with deceit (John 7:12, 47), while John attributes the true deceit to the beast (Rev 13:14).  Deceit is the characteristic of the beast in Revelation, and the charge of the religious leaders against Jesus in the Gospel (7:12, 47).  The basis of the beast’s deceit is that he had been “resurrected,” that is, he is “the beast who had the wound of the sword and has come to life” (Rev 13:14).  The boast of the beast is in truth the claim of Jesus (“I was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore” Rev 1:18).  We have seen the significance of the temple theology in John’s writings.  The allegation that Jerusalem is spiritual Babylon colors the second temple with Daniel’s bestial imagery.  The description of the beast, that he had been dead and was now alive forevermore, is thus a clue to his identification when seen in the light of temple theology.  In fact, the temple of Israel had been destroyed and thus the second temple represented a kind of resurrection (implicit is the claim that the temple would endure forevermore, cf. Matt 24:1-3).  The destruction of the second temple, by this logic, will be the destruction of the beast. It will be the final exposé of draconic deceit.

21 There is an ancient and widely diversified history of the excision of the account of the woman taken in adultery from manuscripts of the Gospel of John. The issue of Jesus’ allegedly negligent attitude toward the requirements of the Mosaic law (John 8:5) as well as His refusal to condemn a notorious adulteress (John 8:11) may account for the challenge this passage presented to the church, reflected in the confusion of the manuscripts.  Nonetheless, the pattern of concentric correspondence provides strong attestation for the passage, both respecting its authenticity and the accuracy of its placement within the Gospel context.

22 The scene in the second earthly temple depicts the scribes and Pharisees seeking to destroy the adulterous woman as a way to accuse, and thus destroy, Jesus (8:6).  The accusers wait to cast stones at her (8:7), wanting to stone Jesus as well (cf. 10:31).  In heaven, the dragon stands before a woman in labor, hoping to devour her Child (Rev 12:4).  The conflict leads to war in heaven, and the dragon-accuser is cast out of the heavenly sanctuary (Rev 12:7-12).

23 In the dramatic account of the Gospel, before Jesus forgives a flagrantly immoral woman (8:11), He first confronts her accusers, whom He shows to be morally incompetent to charge an adulteress.  As a result, the accusers leave the temple precincts (8:9).  The exit of the scribes and Pharisees from the temple because they could not “cast the first stone” constitutes their implicit acknowledgment of their own “adulteries.”  Their exit constitutes a second “temple cleansing” (John 8:9), and corresponds to the accusers who are cast out of the heavenly sanctuary (Rev 12:8-12).

24 The religious leaders, who were so zealous of protecting their place in the second temple (John 11:48), are associated with the followers of the dragon, for whom no place was found in the heavenly sanctuary (Rev 12:8).  The significance of the “place” as a sanctuary is later suggested in the chiastic correspondence of John 14:1 (“I go to prepare a place for you”) and Revelation 12:6 (“And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared for her by God”).

25 The charge of the Jewish leaders that Jesus had been begotten of fornication (John 8:41) suggests the nature of the quarrel between the two temples.  Revelation responds to the moral characterization, identifying the temple as the site of the true fornication (Rev 14:8).

26 The Lord charges that the devil had begotten the religious leaders, which accounts for their deceit (John 8:44), a charge bolstered by the deceitful operation of the devil as depicted in the visions of John (Rev 12:9).

27 The plot of the religious leaders to kill Lazarus is paralleled with the beast’s war against the light of God in the killing of the two witnesses.  The identification of the two witnesses relates to their claim to give light as lampstands (Rev 11:4). In the Gospel both John the Baptist and Jesus are called lights (John 5:35 and 8:12), and both are called witnesses (John 5:33-36), a word which is the fundamental characterization of the witnesses of Revelation (Rev 11:3).  Moreover, the two witnesses of Revelation are associated with the power of Elijah and Moses (Rev 11:6). John is questioned by the Jews as to whether he is Elijah (John 1:21), while Jesus is asked to do the works of Moses (John 6:30-31).  But the Jerusalem of the second temple refuses their witness and extinguishes their light.

28 Ironically, it appears that the saints in heaven require the truth of the word of God for their sanctification, even as do those upon earth.

29 The encounter of Jesus with the Roman cohort is noteworthy for the emphasis John places upon Christ’s deity.  Jesus identifies Himself to the band of about four hundred soldiers by using the theologically significant “I am” formula (John 18:5-6).  This statement constitutes Jesus’ claim of deity, a point made clear by the fact that the entire band of four hundred falls backward and down to the ground in response (John 18:6).  The irony of the encounter is clear.  The four hundred soldiers are arresting God – the very One before whom, in another venue, the twenty-four elders fall down as a token of worship (Rev 4:10).

30 The Gospel account describes seven discouraged disciples (five are named along with “two others”), including and led by Peter.  Filled with doubt and wracked by denial, they abandon their calling to be followers of Jesus and return to their prior calling as fishermen (21:3).  In all of this they largely represent the spiritual challenges of the seven churches of Asia, also suffering doubt and denial (2:1-3:22).

31 Just as Jesus appears on the shore of the sea of Galilee, calling out across the waters to seven of His disciples and inviting them to return to their first love (John 21:15), even so Jesus appears to His disciple John on Patmos, addressing an appeal to seven of His churches across the waters, and likewise inviting them to return to the love they had at first (Rev 2:4).









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The John-Revelation Project: Study Paper No. 5

Study Paper No. 5 on the Gospel of John and the Book of Revelation



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Part 6

Part 7

The Vision Promised to Nathanael (John 1:51):
The Seven Last Angels of the Apocalypse (Rev 17:1- 22:6)

Our Lord’s promise to Nathanael1 that he should see the great vision described in John 1:51 is part of an elaborate Jacobite typology. Nathanael, the “Israelite” unlike Jacob (i.e. one who is “guileless”), is promised that he shall see a climactic vision2 that recalls the Bethel vision granted to Jacob in his dream recorded in Genesis 28:10-22. The vision will be recognized, we are told, when he 1) “sees heaven opened,” 2) and the “angels of God ascending and descending,” 3) upon the Son of Man (John 1:51).

The Climactic Vision of Revelation

This study focuses on the climactic vision of the Apocalypse. The vision opens with a lurid depiction of human depravity in the portrait of the abominable whore, Babylon the Great. It concludes with a beautiful expression of all the hopes of the redeemed in the vision of the virginal bride, the New Jerusalem. The center of the vision consists of a glorious depiction of the exalted Christ, seated on a white horse of victory. With its vivid contrasts of Babylon and Jerusalem, whore and bride, and beast and Lamb, no passage in the Bible portrays more clearly both the desperation and the aspiration of all mankind.

In our attempt to understand the vision of this most allusive and elusive of books, we will appeal to the conventional literary controls of structure and pattern. We begin by observing the structure of the vision itself, a literary architecture defined by references to seven angels carrying seven bowls filled with the seven last plagues. The first and most salient observation is the correspondences between 17:1-3,8 and 21:9-10, the introductions of the first and the last angels in the series of seven angels introduced in 16:1. The following boxes compare the text introducing the first (17:1) and the last (21:9) angels in the vision.3

17:1-3,8 “Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls spoke with me, saying, ‘Come, I will show you the judgment of the great harlotand he led me away in the Spirit into the wilderness…’ The angel speaks of the beast “ascending.” 21:9-10 “Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues spoke with me, saying, ‘Come and I will show you the bride, the Lamb’s wife.’ And he led me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain…” The angel shows the holy city “descending.”

In his excellent study on the Book of Revelation, Richard Bauckham notes the “clearly parallel openings” of the two angels, claiming that they “are so clear that it is astonishing that so many attempts to discern the structure of Revelation have ignored them.”4 Bauckham further observes that several thematic correspondences between the two angels circumscribe the material between them, bracketing a single section of the book. He notes that the two angels deal respectively with Babylon and Jerusalem, the two cities that John depicts under the figure of two women. Bauckham continues, “In 17:1-19:10 he (John) sees the harlot Babylon and her fall; in 21:9-22:9 he sees the bride of the Lamb, the New Jerusalem, which comes down from heaven. Together these two sections form the climax towards which the whole book has aimed: the destruction of Babylon and her replacement by the New Jerusalem.”5

There are, in fact, a number of contrasting parallels between the visions of Lady Babylon and Lady Zion that secure the observation that the visions interpret one another.6

The following chart lists several of these contrasts between Babylon and Jerusalem:

17:1 ” I will show you the judgment of the great harlot.” 22:15 “outside are…fornicators.”
17:1 “the great harlot sitting on many waters.” 22:1 “and he showed me a river of the water of life.”
17:3 “And I saw a woman…being filled with names of blasphemy.” 21:12,14 “And her gates were inscribed with the names of twelve tribes…and the city had twelve foundations, and on them the twelve names of the apostles.”
17:4 “And the woman was clothed in…gold and precious stones and pearls.” 21:11,18,21 “and she had… a radiance like a precious stone…and the city was of gold…and her gates were twelve pearls.”
17:5 “And on her forehead a name was written” 22:4 “And His name shall be on their foreheads
17:5 “Babylon… mother of…the abominations of the earth.” 21:27 “But there shall by no means enter…an abomination.”
17:8 “And those who dwell on the earth will marvel, those whose names are not written in the Book of Life.” 21:27 “But only those (may enter) who are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.”

Bauckham noted the inclusive correspondences between the first and the last angels of the last vision. But inclusio patterns often alert the reader to chiastic correspondence as well.7 Nils Lund has undertaken an elaborate comparison of the angels in a study that arranges them in a chiastic pattern.8 According to Lund’s arrangement, the first angel corresponds to the seventh, as Bauckham also observes. But Lund likewise corresponds the second to the sixth, and the third to the fifth angels, with the vision of Christ in heaven taking the central place of the fourth “angel.”9

Our own study substantiates this chiastic correspondence through the observation that John arranges the angels according to a spatial pattern that conforms to the chiastic pattern. The first and seventh angels are stationed upon the earth (“in a wilderness”, 17:3 and “upon a mountain”, 21:10). The second and the sixth angels descend to midheaven (“descending from heaven” in 18:1 and 20:1), and the third and fifth occupy a place in heaven (“throwing a millstone into the sea,” 18:21 and “standing in the sun,” 19:17).10 The central scene of the fourth “angel” is the vision of Christ in heaven (19:11). The spatial location markers accompanying the seven angels suggest an elaborate ecphrasis depicting a stairway reaching from earth to heaven, with the vision of Christ at the top of the stairway, described by the Seer as he beheld “the heaven opened” (19:11).

The base of the stairway was indicated by the first and seventh angels. If we “ascend the stairway” with John, we may compare the second and the sixth angels in the vision, both deployed for battle in midheaven (18:1 and 20:1).

18:1-3 “After these things I saw another angel descending from heaven, having great authority.” Fallen Babylon is made a “dwelling place for demons and a prison for every unclean spirit…because all the nations have drunk the wine of her wrath.” 20:1-3 “And I saw an angel descending from heaven having the key of the abyss and a great chain…the devil…(is) bound…and thrown into the abyss, and locked in…so that he should not deceive the nations.”11

John describes both the second and the sixth angels as “descending” from heaven. The second has “great authority,” and the sixth has a “great chain” and a “key,” the symbols of authority. Just as we observed with the first and last angels, the second and the sixth angels in the series execute comparable missions of judgment. Each acts by incarcerating evil spirits in order to restrain the deception of the nations (figuratively, their “intoxication”). Further correspondences are set forth in the following chart:

18:4 The people of God, who did not participate in Babylon’s sin, are called out of the city devoted to double judgment. 20:4 The people of God, who did not receive the mark of the beast, are delivered from the second death.
18:7 Babylon is taunted because she “sits as a queen.” 20:6 The people of God will “reign” with Jesus.
18:8 Babylon will be “devoured with fire.” 20:9 The wicked surround Jerusalem, but are “devoured with fire.”
18:10 The kings of the earth stand afar from Babylon’s “torment.” 20:10 The devil, beast and false prophet are “tormented.”
18:11 The merchants of the earth will “weep and mourn” for Babylon. 21:4 And “He shall wipe away every tear…and there shall be no more mourning” in Jerusalem.

If we “ascend the stairway” with John once again, we move from the second and sixth angels in the midheaven to the third and the fifth angels, who are situated in heaven on either side of the central vision of the exalted Lord Christ (19:11).

18:21 “And one mighty angel took up a stone like a great millstone and hurled it into the sea, saying, ‘Thus with violence shall Babylon the great city be hurled down…'”12 19:17-18,20 “And I saw one angel standing in the sun,” who speaks in a “great” voice of judgment upon “mighty” men. “And the beast and the false prophet were hurled down into the lake of fire

In the last pairing of angels, the adjective “one” introduces each angel and each is associated with natural imagery, the sea or the sun. Moreover, one angel is described as “mighty,” and the other speaks a taunt against “mighty” men. The metaphoric hurling of the millstone into the sea by the third angel foreshadows the hurling of the beast and the false prophet into the lake of fire under the authority of the fifth angel. Just as we have observed with the first two pair of angels, this third pair of angels shares a further correspondence in their missions of judgment:

18:23 “for by your (Babylon’s) sorcery all the nations were deceived.” 19:20 “the false prophet who worked signs by which he deceived those who received the mark.

As we pass the third and the fifth angels, we have “ascended” to the highest stage of John’s stairway connecting earth to heaven. The Seer now describes a truly remarkable vision. Consider the central apex of the grand vision spanning Rev 17:1-22:6:

19:11, 13, 16 “Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And he who sat on it was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war…and His name is called The Word of God…and on His thigh He has a name written, ‘King of Kings and Lord of Lords.'”

At the summit of the stairway set on the earth, with its top reaching to heaven, John beholds the Lord astride a white horse and dressed in battle array at the head of the heavenly army. The full description of the Lord Jesus is so central to the vision we are considering that we will discuss it in detail.13 Before we proceed, however, we should step back from the detail of the text and observe the structure of the vision as a whole. The following diagram displays the pyramidal or “stairway” structure of John’s climactic vision in Revelation 17:1-22:6.

John’s Great Vision of the Seven Last Angels (Rev 17:1-22:6)




19:11, 16 “Now I saw heaven opened; and behold, a white horse, and He who sat upon it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war…and on His thigh He has a name written, King of Kings and Lord of Lords”







18:21 “And one mighty angel took up a stone like a great millstone and threw it into the sea, saying, ‘Thus with violence shall Babylon the great city be hurled down…’


19:17-18, 20 “And I saw one angel standing in the sun” who speaks in a “great” voice of judgment upon “mighty” men. “And the beast and the false prophet were hurled down into the lake of fire.





18:1-3 “After these things I saw another angel descending from heaven, having great authority” Fallen Babylon is made a “dwelling place for demons and a prison for every unclean spirit…because all the nations have drunk the wine of her wrath.”




20:1-3 “And I saw an angel descending from heaven having the key of the abyss and a great chain…the devil…(is) bound…and thrown into the abyss, and locked in…so that he should not deceive the nations.”  



17:1-3, 8 “Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls spoke with me, saying, ‘Come, I will show you the judgment of the great harlotand he led me away in the Spirit into the wilderness…'” The angel speaks of the beast “ascending






21:9-10 “Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues spoke with me, saying, ‘Come and I will show you the bride, the Lamb’s wife.’ And he led me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain…” The angel shows the holy city “descending.”



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©2002 Warren Austin Gage, J. Randy Beck, Steven P. Carpenter

1 The promise is actually broader in compass than the one disciple named Nathanael, a fact indicated by the plural pronoun in the phrase “you shall see” (John 1:51). As we shall argue, the vision is actually “seen” by John on Patmos.

2 The Greek word for “ladder” in the LXX account of Bethel is “climax.” A “ladder” metaphor is thus a remarkable chiastic response to the promise to Nathanael at the opening of the Gospel for the concluding ecphrastic vision of Revelation.

3 This study will provide an English translation for the Greek NT in all charting. Words that contain the same Greek root will be presented in bold text. Words that are not derived from the same Greek root but that appear to be related thematically will be presented in italic text.

4 The Climax of Prophecy: Studies on the Book of Revelation (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1993) 4.

5 Ibid. 4-5

6 See G.K. Beale, The Book of Revelation: A Commentary on the Greek Text NIGTC (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1999) 1117-21.

7 See John Breck, The Shape of Biblical Language: Chiasmus in the Scriptures and Beyond (Crestwood, N.Y.: St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1994) 335.

8 Lund’s work first suggested the chiastic structure of the angels of this vision to the author. Lund’s otherwise interesting study is seriously marred, however, by his occasional transposition of the text, without any manuscriptural warrant, in order to satisfy his chiastic arrangement. See Lund, Studies in the Book of Revelation, 182. His chiastic arrangement of these seven angels, however, is confirmed by this analysis.

9 Ibid. 177-178.

10 There is a further clue to the position of the fifth angel, who is described as “standing in the sun” (R 19:17). The angel calls out to the fowl in the “midheaven” (R 19:17). Clearly John’s vision has heaven (R 19:11), midheaven (R 19:17) and the earth in view (R 17:3 and 21:10). This tripartite understanding of the cosmos recalls the Genesis creation account. The sun was created in “the expanse of the heaven” (1:14) and the fowl were placed in midheaven, “above the earth in the expanse of the heaven” (1:20).

11 Satan is retained in “prison” (R 20:7), the same word as the “prison” of the unclean of Babylon (R 18:2).

12 The figure of a millstone being cast into the sea as a metaphor for severe and inescapable judgment is familiar from Matt 18:6 and Luke 17:2.

13 We have suggested that this vision of the last septet of angels constitutes an elaborate ecphrasis describing a “stairway” connecting the earth with heaven. This observation is based, first of all, upon the chiastic correspondences between the three pair of angels arrayed around the central vision of Jesus, who takes the place of the central “angel” in the vision. Second, we noted the careful description of the spatial markers in the text which, following the chiastic order, places the angels in corresponding pairs on earth, in midheaven, and in heaven. There is a third point that suggests a “stairway of angels,” which we only note now for reference, realizing that it raises a number of questions that we will address in detail below. John has described a vision wherein he sees the heaven opens, and angels tell of the beast ascending and the city descending, all in a context surrounding the One who is the Word of God, that is, the Son of Man. The vision in Revelation is strikingly similar to the one promised to Nathanael in the Gospel of John (1:51), but otherwise never fulfilled, wherein Jesus said, “you (pl.) shall see the heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.” The only reference in the Johannine material to the heavens opening is found at the beginning of the Gospel and at the end of Revelation in these references. Both contexts further reference visions of Jesus within a context of angels ascending and descending. As early as Augustine (Cont. Faust. xii.26), the Nathanael passage in the Fourth Gospel was understood to allude to the stairway or ladder of Jacob’s dream described in Gen 28:12, with the angels of God ascending and descending between heaven and earth. In the Genesis account, Jacob beheld the LORD standing at the top of the ladder (Gen 28:13). In Revelation, John describes the Lord Jesus at the top of the stairway, calling Him the Word of God. Jesus is only given this divine name in one other place, the beginning of John’s Gospel. It is thus a striking Christological frame for Johannine theology. In addition to the ascending and descending angels, we note several other remarkable correspondences with the Gospel account, including the description of Jesus as the Word of God, as set forth below:

John 1:1 “the Word was God Rev 19:13 “His name was called the Word of God
John 1:45 “Behold, a true Israelite, in whom there is no guile,” that is, unlike Jacob (Gen 27:35 LXX) Rev 19:11 “Behold, …One called Faithful and True” and on His “thigh” was the banner of His strength, that is, unlike Jacob (Gen 32)
John 1:49 “Rabbi, You are the…King of Israel” Rev 19:16 “a name was written, King of Kings
John 1:52 “you (pl.) shall see the heaven opened Rev 19:11 ” I saw the heaven opened













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The John-Revelation Project: Study Paper No. 6

Study Paper No. 6 on the Gospel of John and the Book of Revelation



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The Relationship of the Seven Churches (Rev 2:1-3:22) to
the Vision of the Whore and the Bride (Rev 17:1-22:6)

The chiastic structure we have observed in Revelation predicted the contextual relationship between the letters to the churches (addressed to the first septet of angels) and the vision of the whore Babylon and the bride Jerusalem (introduced through the last septet of angels). We have seen how prominently the vision of the exalted Christ in 19:11-16 figured into the inaugural vision of Jesus (1:12-20) and the letters to the seven churches (2:1-3:22). We will now compare the entire vision of the last seven angels to the letters to the seven churches.

The pattern of inclusions connecting the letters to the seven churches to the vision of the whore and the bride is striking and pervasive. We begin by comparing the seven promises given to “the one who overcomes,” that is, the one who resists temptation and endures suffering (2:7; 11; 17; 26-28; 3:5; 12; 21). As we will see, the promises all anticipate the privileges secured in the New Jerusalem, the bride of the Lamb.

The Bridal Destiny of the Seven Churches

The Lord of the seven churches encourages His faithful ones to purity and patient endurance by describing the hope that they have of participating in the New Jerusalem, the virginal and serene bridal city of the Lamb (21:2).1 Consider the following chart that compares the promises given to the overcomers with their eschatological fulfillment:


2:7 “I will give to him to eat of the tree of life 22:2 “in the midst of its (New Jerusalem’s) street – the tree of life


2:11 “he shall not be hurt by the second death 20:6 “on these the second death has no power”


2:17 “I will give to him a stone, and on the stone a new name written 21:14,19 “the city has twelve foundations, and on them the names of the twelve apostles…the foundation was of every precious stone
Thyatira 2:26-28 “I will give authority over the nations, and he will shepherd them with a rod of iron…I will give the morning star 19:15, 22:16 “He…strikes the nations…He Himself will shepherd them with a rod of iron…I am the bright morning star


3:5 “he will be clothed in white…his name in the Book of Life 19:14; 20:12 “the armies in heaven …dressed in fine white linen…and another book was opened, the Book of Life
Philadelphia 3:8,12 “I have set before you an open door that no one can shut…I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God…and the name…of My city of the New Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from God shall be on him” 21:2, 22 ,25″the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God…the Lord God Almighty is its temple, and the Lamb…and its gates shall not be shut
Laodicea 3:21 “I will give him to sit with Me on My throne, and…on His throne 22:3 “and the throne of God and the Lamb shall be in it (New Jerusalem)”

It should be noted that all the promises to the seven churches are precisely fulfilled in the New Jerusalem.2 Consequently, John has carefully exploited the capacity of a chiastic structure to show promises and their fulfillment.

The effect of the chiastic interconnection is to set before the believers of the churches of Roman Asia the hope that is assured by their destiny as the chosen bride of the Lamb. Indeed, much that describes the seven churches, especially their zeal for purity (3:19), previews the bridal hope expressed at the conclusion of Revelation in the vision of the New Jerusalem.

But the seven letters are also filled with severe admonishment and the threat of terrible sanctions from the Lord.3 Jesus warns the churches about an immoral woman who dwells in their midst, one who leads the church into fornication (2:20). Further, He warns the church about a false prophet who seeks to deceive them (2:14). Moreover, Satan dwells among them (2:9 and 3:9). Each of the warnings stated in the seven letters to the churches has a chiastic correspondence in the vision of the last seven angels. The portrait that emerges when we match the warnings with their chiastic correspondence is generally less flattering than the bridal imagery:

The Seven Churches and the Whore


2:5 “Repent…but if not…I will remove your lampstand 18:23 “And the light of a lamp shall not shine in you (Babylon)”
Smyrna 2:10-11 “the devil is about to throw some of you in prison… you will have tribulation ten days…be faithful until death, and I will give you a crownyou shall not be hurt by the second death 20:2-7 “He laid hold of the devil and bound him for a thousand years…those who had been beheaded…lived and reigned with Christ…over such the second death has no powerSatan will be released from his prison


2:13-14 “Antipas, My faithful martyr, who was killed among you…you have there some holding the teaching of Balaam so that they would…eat food sacrificed to idols 17:6, 19:20 “the woman (Babylon) was drunk with the blood… of the

martyrsthe false prophet who had performed signs of deceit…to make them worship the beast

Thyatira 2:20,22-23 “you permit that woman Jezebel…to deceive My servants into committing fornication and to eat things sacrificed to idols (abominations)…I am throwing into a bed those who commit adultery with herI will give to each one according to your works 17:4, 18:6,9 “The woman (Babylon)…had a golden cup full of abominations and the filthiness of her fornicationrepay her according to her works…those committing fornication with her
Sardis 3:3 “Repent…(or) you will not know in what hour I will come upon you 18:10 “Woe to you, the great city (Babylon)…for in one hour has your judgment come
Philadelphia 3:9 “I will make them come (false Jews of Satan‘s synagogue) and know that I have loved you 20:9 “They (Satan and those he deceives) went up…and surrounded the beloved city…and fire came down from heaven and God and devoured them
Laodicea 3:17-18 “you say, ‘I am rich… and have need of nothing‘…you do not know that you are… naked…Buy from Me refined gold…and white garments 17:4,16, 18:7 “the woman (Babylon) was arrayed in scarlet and adorned with gold…(yet) these will …make her naked…in her heart she says, ‘I sit as a queen…I will not see sorrow‘”

The first pattern that emerges from a comparison of the two charts is that the seven churches anticipate the bride, the New Jerusalem. In fact, two churches, Smyrna and Philadelphia, are not reproved at all. They are simply encouraged to persevere. But each of the other five churches has a feature or features that conform to the portrait of the whore Babylon. In fact, two churches, Thyatira and Laodicea, are in great moral jeopardy, their portrait striking for its similarity to the whore, while Ephesus, Pergamum, and Sardis are generally more composite in their association with both the bride and the whore.

The seven letters convey the message that the whoredoms of Babylon are not, at least primarily, an external threat. Contrary to the settled opinion among modern critical commentary on Revelation, John’s “Babylon” is not to be identified primarily with Rome and imperial persecution. Indeed, the choice between the two cities, which the Apocalypse presents, is fundamentally ethical. The intent is to promote repentance, and only secondarily is endurance in view.

We conclude by observing that the immoral woman and the false prophet are at work within the church, which establishes the need for the churches to repent.4 The dramatic portrait of the church as bride and whore is a fundamental conclusion drawn from the chiastic intertextuality between the letters to the seven churches and the vision of the seven last angels. It is this radical juxtaposition, set against the antithetical portraits of the alternative destinies of the bride and the whore, which characterizes Revelation as a hortatory address to the people of God. The jeopardy of partaking in the judgment of the whore rather than the wedding of the bride is the basis for the parenetic exhortation to believers.


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1 The eschatological banquet is clearly in mind. See Rev 3:20 and 19:7-9. See also Jan Fekkes, Isaiah and Prophetic Traditions in the Book of Revelation: Visionary Antecedents and their Developments (Sheffield, JSOT, 1994) 233.

2 See Fiorenza, “The Eschatology and Composition of the Apocalypse,” CBQ 30 (1968) 537-69; reprinted in idem, The Book of Revelation: Justice and Judgment, 35-67; Rossing, The Choice Between Two Cities, 158.

3 See Beale, The Book of Revelation, 262. Warnings are not pronounced against Smyrna and Philadelphia, two faithful churches. However, both churches suffer from the “synagogue of Satan” in their midst (2:9 and 3:9) and their deliverance is anticipated in the judgment on Satan announced in Rev 20.

4 It is instructive that the description of Jesus addressing Thyatira, the fourth of the seven churches, is the One “whose eyes are like a flame of fire” (2:18). This description anticipates the depiction of Jesus as the fourth angel in the vision of the last seven angels, “His eyes were a flame of fire” (19:12). The intent of the metaphor of the “fiery eyes” is to present Jesus as the divine Judge, the One can see through all deceit and who will visit righteous judgment, even on the community of faith. See Beale, The Book of Revelation, 951. In the context of a call to repentance, the fiery eyes may also suggest the possibility of purgation under the gaze of the holiness of the Son of God.













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The John-Revelation Project: Study Paper No. 7

Study Paper No. 7 on the Gospel of John and the Book of Revelation



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“The Days of Noah”:
The Eschatological Structure of Genesis

In a fascinating paragraph to his classic work, Schöpfung und Chaos in Urzeit und Endzeit,1 Hermann Gunkel observed the fundamental interdependence between the beginning and ending of biblical history, a relationship regarding which he noted implicit reference in 2 Pet 3:6-7 (where eschatological judgment is described after the dimensions of the Noahic catastrophe), and explicit formulation both in Matt 24:37, “But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of Man be;” and Barnabas 6:13, “Behold, I make the end like the beginning.”2 Gunkel admitted his inability to discover the nature of the relationship between the biblical beginning and ending, though he postulated major theological significance to this relationship, stating his view that the New Testament speculation regarding predestination was in large part founded upon the comparison of first and last things.3

Claus Westermann marvelled in Anfang und Ende in der Bibel4 that Gunkel could leave a question of such significance unresolved, for its answer is fundamental to the very thesis of his book. Westermann noted further that Gunkel’s question has not yet been satisfactorily answered, though he likewise concluded that it remains of utmost theological import.

Gunkel’s failure to investigate further the inter-relationship of the biblical beginning and ending is consistent with a broader neglect of foundational studies in biblical protology, an omission which has hindered the successful construction of an eschatological scheme comprehending the entire scope of Scripture. It seems only reasonable, however, that any accurate formulation of biblical eschatology should be squarely based upon biblical protology, that the ending of history could only be comprehensible within the categories by which the be-ginning of history is described. Furthermore, should Genesis provide us with an overarching structure of historical direction we might reasonably expect to discern the inter-relationship of the biblical beginning and ending, and in so doing derive the theological insight which, though anticipated by Gunkel, nevertheless eluded him.

At first glance perhaps it appears paradoxical to suggest a telic or futurist theology undergirding Genesis, the book of origins and first things. Nevertheless the possibility of deriving an eschatological structure from Genesis follows from the fact that a comprehension of universal time is clearly within the self-consciousness of the book. This awareness of diachronology is suggested by the introductory “in the beginning” (berešit) of Gen 1:1, an expression which sets forth the beginning of history while implying a historical eventuation in an eschatological “ending of days” (‘aharit hayyamim),5 and required by the promise of perpetual seasons in Gen 8:22, “While the earth remains” (‘ōd kol-yemê ha’ares), a statement wherein the prophetic oracle foresees an eschatological terminus.6 Moreover, the possibility of projecting such an eschatological structure beyond Genesis is suggested by the divine teleology presupposed in the creation narrative7 and consistently reaffirmed throughout Scripture.8 Genesis is, after all, the beginning of the revelation of the One who writes history from the Alpha to the Omega, who is the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End (Rev. 22:13).

While the chronicle of the origin of Israel is unquestionably primary to the design of Genesis, the beginnings of Israel’s national history are nevertheless embedded in a matrix of universal history, a broader context which affords a historiographical perspective to the author’s interpretation of Israel’s destiny.9 This introductory chronicle of universal history (Genesis 1-11), however, is constructed about a scheme by which the direction of the whole of history may be deduced and displayed.

The thesis of this paper is that the chronicle of prediluvian history (Genesis 1-7) is composed of five theologically fundamental narratives, each of which finds consecutive, synthetic parallel in the history (and prophecy) of the postdiluvian world. Consequently, by understanding the historical movement initiated in early Genesis, we may discern the relationship between the beginning and ending of biblical history.

The first of these theological narratives is the original creation of the world out of the waters of chaos, a story foundational to theology proper, and paralleled in postdiluvian history in the recreation of the world out of the waters of Noah. The second narrative is the commissioning of Adam, a record fundamental to anthropology, and paralleled in the new commission to Noah. The third narrative is the sin of Adam, a record finding hamartiological parallel in the sin of. Noah. The fourth parallel concerns the relationship between the descendents of Adam, namely, the Cainites of the wicked city of Enoch and the Yahweh worshipers in the family of Seth. This chronicle of redemptive import finds parallel in the postdiluvian juxtaposition of the descendents of Noah, namely, the inhabitants of the wicked city of Babel and the Yahweh worshipers in the family of Abraham. Finally, the fifth parallel narrative concerns the sons of God and the daughters of man whose miscegenation brings universal judgment upon the ancient world. This record has profound eschatological significance as it projects the expectations of apostasy and cosmic catastrophe upon the biblical understanding of postdiluvian history.10 The task of this study is to demonstrate that the record of postdiluvian history is stylized so as to be an essential reduplicative chronicle of antediluvian history.11 Accordingly, the five narrative models isolated and identified in the thesis statement will be examined in turn and appeal will be made to the consecutive structural and literary correspondence of the postdiluvian to the prediluvian models. The literary correspondences marshalled to defend the thesis are structurally presented for it is to be observed that the five parallel narratives sustain a logical as well as a chronological consecution (i.e., God, man, sin, redemption and judgment).

It should be recognized that the primary goal of this survey is to articulate the thesis directively and not exhaustively. It is freely acknowledged that individual correspondences may be challenged while other parallels may be suggested. Nevertheless it is hoped that the aggregate of the evidence herein presented is sufficient to sustain the broader profile of the thesis.

Genesis 8: The New Creation

The ordering of the present heavens and earth out of the chaotic overthrow of the ancient world recorded in Genesis 8 parallels the original creation account of Genesis 1.12 In both chapters the theological narrative moves from the display of divine work to the account of divine rest. In Genesis 8:1 God brings about a wind to pass over the waters of the flood which, like the waters of original chaos (Gen 1:2), cover the earth (Gen 7:18-19). The emergence of the dry land and the bringing forth of vegetation (Gen 1:12) find a mirror image in the olive leaf brought to Noah, which is taken as a token of the emergence of dry land (Gen 8:11). Noah’s sabbatical pattern in the sending of the dove13 suggests that God alone, who created the first world in six days, can deliver the earth from such a catastrophe. The sabbath rest of God at the conclusion of the original creation (“and He rested,” wayyišbot; Gen 2:2) finds correspondence in the sacrificial rest of God after the new creation is completed (“and the Lord smelled the aroma of rest,” reah hannihoah; Gen 8:21; cf. Exod 20:11 in which the rest of God on the seventh day of creation is described by the verb nuah). The literary correspondence between both accounts is readily evident through the extent and frequency of shared vocabulary: ruah, tehom, yom/laylah, yabeš/yabbašah, leminehu, šabat.14

Genesis 9: The New Adam

The divine commission and blessing bestowed upon Noah finds precise parallel in the record of Adam.15 The anthropologically fundamental doctrine of the divine image in man (selem) occurs in the Adam narrative as the basis of man’s identity and in the Noah narrative as the basis of man’s protection, being wholly unique in Genesis to the Adam and Noah stories (Gen 1:27; 5:1, 3; 9:6). Surely it also has anthoropological significance that man in his relationship to other animate life is a point central to both the Adam and Noah records.16 God brings the nepeš animals to Adam to be named. He brings them once again to Noah to be protected (cf. Gen 2:19; 7:15).17 Finally, the blessing of fruitfulness given to Adam and again to Noah virtually finds identical expression, signifying the fatherhood of Adam and Noah to the prediluvian and postdiluvian worlds respectively (cf. the isocolic parallels of Gen 9:2 and 1:28a: wayebarek ‘elohim ‘et-noah we’et-banayw wayyo’mer lahem peru urebu umil’u ‘et-ha’ares and wayebarek ‘otam ‘elohim wayyo’mer lahem ‘elohim peru urebu umil’u ‘et-ha’ares).

Genesis 9:20-27: The Fall Renewed

The structural and literary correspondence between the story of Noah’s sin and the record of Adam’s fall is striking.18 Noah’s transgression19 begins with a vineyard (Gen 9:20) while Adam’s sin is set in a garden (Gen 3:1). Noah drank of the fruit of the vine while Adam ate of the fruit of the tree (Gen 9:20; 3:2), both being acts of deliberate disobedience resulting in the sinner’s awareness of shameful nakedness (Gen 9:21; 3:7). While Noah’s nakedness was covered by his eldest sons (Gen 9:23), Adam’s nakedness was covered by God (Gen 3:32), and both the sin of Noah and the sin of Adam issued into a fearful curse and enduring division in their respective seed (Gen 9:25; 3:15). In both accounts the narrative moves from the sin of the father to the resulting blessing and cursing of the seed and finally to the genealogical development (Genesis 10 and 5). The authorial intention to relate the story of Noah’s sin to Adam’s fall is literarily evident in the word-play in Gen 9:20 (cf. ‘is ha’adamah with adam in Gen 2:7) and the parallel of Gen 9:24 (“Noah awoke,” i.e., by metonymy, his “eyes were opened,” cf. Gen 3:7a).

Genesis 11-12: Renewed Conflict of the Seed

The cursing and blessing of the Adamic seed in Gen 3:15 divide the ancient world into Cainites and Sethites, according to the thematic development of Genesis 4-5. Cain, condemned to wander in the earth, founds the wicked city of Enoch to the east of Eden (Gen 7:17), an antediluvian cosmopolis finding correspondence in postdiluvian history with the wicked city of Babel, on the east of the mountains of Ararat,20 which Noah’s sons found to avoid wandering in the earth (Gen 11:2, 4). The godly line of Adam is represented in the line of Seth in their collective capacity as “calling upon the name of the Lord” (Gen 4:26). The structural correspondence in postdiluvian Genesis is unavoidably directed toward Abram, who with his family “calls upon the name of the Lord” (cf. the correspondence of Gen 12:8, wayyiqra’ besem YHWH with Genesis 4:26, ‘az huhal liqro’ besem YHWH). By this precise correspondence the conclusion is irresistible that the author would have us discern the identifying continuity of Israel’s patriarch with the godly Sethite comnunity of the ancient world.

This juxtaposition of Israel and the nations as reflective of the renewed conflict of the spiritual seed21 in postdiluvian history sets the broader context for understanding the Old Testament distinction between the elect nation and the heathen, later spiritualized as Zion and Babel. The character of the conflict between these seed had been the subject of the Cain and Abel story in Genesis 4, that is, the conflict is to the death (cf. again Gen 3:15), and it was the neglect of this principle in the intermarriage of the Sethites and the Cainites,22 thus bringing the entire race under the curse, that was the occasion of the overthrow of the antediluvian world.23

The conflict between Zion and Babel becomes a major unifying theme throughout the entire postdiluvian scriptural record. The building of an earthly Babel by the postdiluvian faithless brings to mind the wicked city of Cain.24 By contrast the hope of the heavenly city among the postdiluvian faithful brings to remembrance the heavenly expectation of Abel (cf. Heb 11:4, l3-l6).25

Eschatological Expectation: The New Judgment

The task of this study was to demonstrate that the Genesis record of postdiluvian history is so constructed as to be an essential reduplicative chronicle of antediluvian history. Now this reduplication in Genesis carries through historically only to the fourth narrative (creation, man, sin, and the beginnings of renewed conflict of the seed), the conflict between Babel and Zion constituting the rest of the scriptural drama. But the implication of the pattern of historical presentation in Genesis requires the projection of general apostasy and cosmic judgment into postdiluvian prophecy to satisfy the pattern of parallel narratives.26 Explicit confirmation of these expectations is found in the New Testament in Christ’s speaking specifically about the “days of Noah” reappearing upon the earth,27 and the Apostle Peter writing of the Noahic deluge as an adumbration of the eschatological fiery catastrophe.28 Just as the destruction of the ancient world ushered in the present heavens and earth, so the present world’will pass away before the new heavens and earth.29


Moses writes simple stories in this book of beginnings, but they contain profound teaching. They tell of light and darkness, good and evil, of gardens and graves, life and death. In Genesis we are told of the sons of the serpent and the sons of God, of the children of darkness and the children of light. The unifying feature of all these particular stories is a structural comprehension revealing God’s ordination of the historical process. The historical setting was created by the divine Word. History is created by the divine Prophecy. Consequently, the inevitability of historical direction presupposed by the eschatological structure of Genesis serves as the overarching signature of divine sovereignty in the affairs of men.

Remember the former things long past, for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is no one like Me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things which have not been done; saying, “My purpose will be established, and I will accomplish all my good pleasure.” Isaiah 46:9-10

The History of the World: The Macrocosm

The World That Was
Genesis 1 – Genesis 7

The World That Now Is
Genesis 8 – Revelation 22


The New Creation

Waters of chaos cover the earth. Gen 1:1-2

Waters of Noah cover the earth. Gen 7:18-19

Spirit hovers upon face of the waters. Gen 1:2

Dove “hovers” upon face of the waters. Gen 8:9

Dry land emerges, vegetation brought forth. Gen 1:12

Olive leaf betokens the emergence of dry land. Gen 8:11

Old world finished, God rests. Gen 2:2

Present world finished; God receives sacrifice of rest. Gen 8:21


Noah, the New Adam

Man commissioned in God’s image. Gen 1:26

Man, recommissioned in God’s image. Gen 9:6

Man commanded to fill the earth. Gen 1:28

Man commanded to fill the earth again. Gen 9:7

God brings animals to Adam for naming. Gen 2:19

God brings animals to Noah for delivering. Gen 7:15


The Fall Renewed

Adam sins in a garden. Gen 3:2

Noah sins in a vineyard. Gen 9:20

Adam partakes in fruit of tree of knowledge. Gen 3:6

Noah partakes of the fruit of the vine. Gen 9:20

Adam shamefully naked. Gen 3:7

Noah shamefully naked. Gen 9:21

Adam’s nakedness covered by God. Gen 3:21

Noah’s nakedness covered by sons. Gen 9:23

Adam’s sin brings curse upon seed. Gen 3:15

Noah’s sin brings curse upon seed. Gen 9:25

Conflict of Seed

Seed Conflict Renewed

Cain, condemned to wander, founds wicked city of Enoch. Gen 4:17

Noah’s sons, to avoid wandering, found the wicked city of Babel. Gen 11:4

Seth, with son Enosh, begins to call upon the name of the Lord. Gen 4:26

Shem’s decedent Abram begins to call upon the name of the Lord. Gen 12:8

Daughters of men taken to wife by sons of God. Gen 6:2

The harlot Babel seduces the sons of Zion throughout the ages. Cf. Dan 1:1; Isa 47:1-15; Rev 17-18


The New Judgment

Days of Noah are upon the earth. Gen 6:13

“Days of Noah” are again upon the earth. Mt 24:37-39

God brings cloud upon earth to destroy the wicked with a flood. Gen 7:23

God comes in clouds to destroy the wicked with fire. Mt 24:30; II Pet 3:7

Old heavens and earth pass away before the present heavens and earth. II Pet 3:5-7

Present heavens and earth pass away before the new heavens and earth. II Pet 3:13



Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6

Part 7

1 H. Gunkel, Schöpfung und Chaos in Urzeit und Endzeit (Goettingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1895), 369.

2 Matt. 24:37: hōsper gar hai hemerai tou Nōe, houtōs estai hē parousia tou huiou tou anthrōpou; Bar. 6:13: idou poiō ta eschata hōs ta prōta.

3 Gunkel, Schöpfung, 369.

4 C. Westerman, Anfang und Ende in der Bibel (Stuttgart: Calwer, 1969), 30.

5 W. Eichrodt, Theologie des Alten Testaments (2 vols.; Leipzig: J. C. Hinrichs, 1935), 2:2-3, 53.

6 C. Westermann, Schöpfung (Stuttgart: Kreuz-Verlag, 1971), 37.

7 Cf. Gen 1:31.

8 Cf. the worship formulation of Rev 4:11. The reasoning regarding teleology is often associated with the Genesis cosmology, e.g., Ps 104:31; Isa 43:18; John 1:13.

9 Mosaic authorship of Genesis is implied by Christ in John 7:21-22.

10 Cf. Deut 31:14-32:43; Matt 24:37; 2 Pet 3:6-7.

11 The notion of Semitic parallelism as a literary form is a well-accepted point of Hebrew exegesis. The interrelationship of the creative Word and history in Hebrew theological thought is also generally acknowledged. If the creative Word, then, and history are so inextricably identified in ancient oriental thought, might we not be justified in distinguishing a parallelism of thought in Hebrew poetry? The scope of this question is relevant to the hermeneutic of Old Testament history as well as the understanding of New Testament typology; cf. the charts appended to this essay.

12 Compare the synthesis of original creation and the Noahic recreation in the theology of the wisdom school in Ps 104:9; 74:12-17; Job 38:4-11; cf. also 2 Pet 3:5-7.

13 The origin of the dove as a symbol of the Spirit (cf. Matt 3:16) may be traceable to a synthesis of these creation accounts. Gen 1:2 describes the original earth in darkness and deep (both to be taken as tokens of evil as indicated by their absence in the perfected heavens and earth vision of Rev 21:1, 25.), the Spirit of God hovering upon the face of the waters (cf. The rahaph of the eagle in Deut 32:11). Noah sends forth first the raven (black and unclean) and then the dove (white and clean), the dove finding no rest upon the waters of wickedness, therefore “hoving” upon them.

14 One exegetical implication of the correspondence between the folood and creation is the deduction of the universal dimension of the flood in the authorial conception, contrary to the local or Mesopotamian theory finding common acceptance.

15 Cf. U. Cassuto, From Noah to Abraham (Jerusalem: Magnes, 1959), 124-29; Westerman, Schöpfung, 39-43.

16 Cf. Gen 6:20 with 1:25; Gen 1:26 with 9:2 and also the divine appointment of food for man in Gen 1:29 and 9:3.

17 The source critical attempt to distinguish the creation of the animals in Genesis 1 (attributed to P) from the seond account of animal creation in Genesis 2 (attributed to J) must explain the tidy synthesis of elements of both accounts in the Noahic record within the one recreative model. Here as elsewhere the identification of form patterns calls into question the validity of the source critical method.

18 Cf. Cassuto, From Noah to Abraham, 158-70, and Henry M. Morris, The Beginning of the World (Denver: Accent Books, 1977), 125-26.

19 The confusion in conservative commentaries is unwarranted. Noah did not discover viniculture, drinking in ignorance, being insensible to the properties of wine. Christ assured the disciples that before the flood the antediluvians were “eating and drinking” (Matt 24:38, cf. 11:19), and we may be sure that Noah both knew of wine and that his sin was deliberate.

20 This interpretation assumes that the min of miqqedem has a directional force; cf. BDB, 578. Separating himself from Abraham, Lot also chose the wickedness of the east region (miqqedem) of the land (Gen 13:11).

21 The terms “Israel” and the “nations” are often used in Scripture in a spiritual sense apart from ethnic significance (cf. Ps 73:1; Matt 6:32; Rom 9:6-13; etc.). As such they represent the theological distinction between the sons of God and the sons of the serpent, a conception traceable to gen 3:15 (cf. Matt 3:7; 1 John 3:13).

22 The narratives in Genesis are rooted in th prophetic oracles, Gen 3:15 having establish the determinative enmity between these Adamic seed. The intermarriage of the sones of God wit the daughters of man is a further explication of the strategy of the serpent, revealed in the garden, to seduce the man (Adam) through the woman (Eve), a theologically fundamental principle in Genesis 1-7.

23 This history perhaps explains Abraham’s extreme care and explicit instruction regarding the choice of a bride for his son Isaac (cf. Genesis 24; also Jacob in Genesis 28), and sets he theological background to the understanding of the serousness of intermarriage with non-covenant nations (cf. Samson, Solomon, returned exiles; also an echo in 1 cor 7:9).

24 Cf. the cities of wickedness—Babel, Sodom, Pithom and Rameses, the cities of the Amorites, which like Babel, were “built up to heaven,” and the Jebusite city finally overcome by David. Cf. also the titanic struggle between Jerusalem and Babylon in the latter Old Testament prophets (Jeremiah 51; Isa 21:9; Dan 1:1; Zech 2:7; Mic 4:10; etc.) and in the New Testament (1 Pet 5:13; Rev 14:8; 17:5, 18).

25 Cf. Moses’ anticipation of the heavenly city in Exod 15:17, the city of God in the Zion hymns (Ps 46, 48). Cf. also the Zion of the latter prophets Jeremiah, Isaiah, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Micah, Zepheniah, and Zechariah and the New Testament heavenly Jerusalem (Gal 4:26; Heb 12:22; Rev 21:2).

26 That the eschatological projection is derived from the structure of Genesis may be displayed thusly: the prediluvian models a, b, c, d, and e correspond to postdiluvian Gensis models a’, b’, c’, and d’. The particular identification of e’ is implicit from an inductive study of Gensis as necessitating the elements of apostasy and cosmic judgment, points finding explicit statement outside Genesis in Matt 24:37 and 2 Pet 3:6-7. The New Testament confirms the structure of narrative parallels derived from the Genesis material (cf. also 2 Tim 3:105 and 2 Pet 3:1-7).

27 It is interesting to note that the use of Enoch’s preaching of judgment to his generation is applied typologically to the wicked of this world by Jude (cf. also 1 Enoch 106 [fragment of the Book of Noah]).

28 The “Song of Moses” in Deuteronomy 32 represents Pentateuchal expectations of apostasy and cosmic judgment, containing the lament over the spiritual harlotry of Israel which will bring a fiery overthrow of the earth (cf. especially vv 19-22). Note the eschatological judgment finds God taking his bow of wrath once again, with which he had figuratively destroyed the world of Noah (cf. Gen 9:12-16) and with which figuratively he will finally destroy the present world.

29 It is the expectation of the everlasting eschaton of perfect righteousness (cf. 2 Pet 3:13, Revelation 21) wherein we find the fulfillment of the messianic blessings first aroused in Gen 3:15 (cf. Heb 11:16, that from Abel to Abraham the hope of the godly seed was ever in the heavenlies).












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From Jason Grabulis’ Stuff That Matters blog. Originally posted 11/10/07.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

CRPC Session & Current Knox Seminary Board Drives Another Nail into Coffin?

The perception from the CRPC Session and the new/non-resigned KTS Board appears to be that the Gage/Hermeneutics fiasco is over. That is, the CRPC Session this past week passed three motions (not exact verbiage):


·         The Knox Theological Seminary Board that did not resign is the official Knox Board.

·         The pronounced “official” Knox Board had the authority to place additional demands on the resigned board members who were originally asked to return without any additional conditions.

·         Since the resigned board members did not respond within the allotted time to the new, additional demands calling them to recant and repent of their actions and beliefs pertaining to Dr. Gage and his hermeneutic, they therefore are no longer eligible for service on the Knox Board – hence, they are not on the Board.


Needless to say, this is not how many were hoping and praying the situation would end – whether they agreed with the confessional concerns against Dr. Gage or not. Also, I believe that the resigned board members have appealed to the South Florida Presbytery. However, as a current student who is extremely concerned over how this situation has played out, I believe there are several pertinent and pressing questions facing Knox Seminary and CRPC as currently constituted:

·         How will Knox Seminary and Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church regain any vestige of Reformed orthodox legitimacy within academia and the broader Evangelical environment?

o        Context: Nationally respected theologians, professors, and pastors (to include Dr. Sproul, Rick Phillips, Cortez Cooper, and several Knox professors), pronounced Dr. Gage and his hermeneutic to be outside the bounds of the Westminster Confession only to have their thoroughly researched analysis rebuked in two weeks. Seminaries and churches are often only known for the orthodoxy of their leaders. If such leaders leave an institution, particularly in mass, then how does such an institution recover for the “good”?

  • What will the Knox Seminary Board and the CRPC Session do in relation to those professors who believed and probably still believe that Dr. Gage is contra-confessional? Will they also try to make them sign a paper about recanting and repenting of their beliefs? Will they force them out? Or, will they deal with the doctrinal / hermeneutical issue?
  • How will Knox Seminary establish any academic legitimacy if the professors who believe Dr. Gage is contra-confessional are forced out?

·         Who will the Knox Seminary Board and CRPC Session appoint to the Knox Board to replace the doctrinal qualifications of Dr. Sproul, Rick Phillips, and Cortez Cooper? Will they be able to attract anyone given the circumstances over which the former board members resigned?

·         Does a conflict of interest exist in that some of the newly appointed Knox Board members are also current students of Knox Seminary?

·         Is Knox Seminary’s accreditation threatened?

o        Context: The ATS mandates that the Board of all accredited schools must have the credentials and qualifications to lead a theological school and the Board must also reflect the gender, race, and ethnicity of the school. Currently, there is only one PhD on the board and one of the new members is still working on his M.Div – not to mention that I believe they are all white males while Knox is extraordinarily diverse.

·         Who will Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church attract as a senior pastor to replace their former Reformed orthodox leader, Dr. Kennedy? Again, will they be able to attract anyone given the circumstances over which the Reformed orthodox leaders left Knox?

·         Who will Knox Seminary appeal to in the realm of new customers/students?

    • Context: That is, since the exodus of such Reformed orthodox leaders as listed above by default brings any institution’s orthodoxy and commitment to the Westminster Confession into question, then to whom will such a school appeal? Technically, it cannot appeal to Reformed orthodox students, for obviously leaders that these students look up to have fled the seminary because of its doctrinal stance. Do they then appeal to liberals? Yet, Knox is not technically a liberal Protestant school. Will their only appeal be to local commuter students? There is nothing wrong with this, but Knox will have an extraordinarily difficult time becoming the Old Princeton which Dr. Kennedy had hoped it would be.
  • Since some Federal Vision (and some NPP) advocates appear to endorse Dr. Gage and his hermeneutic (for instance, Peter Leithart) – since Dr. Gage’s hermeneutic does provide an exegetical basis for their theology – then will the Federal Visionists see this as an opportunity to move into Knox Seminary and establish a Federal Visionist and New Perspective on Paul institution and ministry?
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From Jason Grabulis’ Stuff That Matters blog. Originally posted 10/19/07.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Statement of the CRPC Session Regarding the Recent Suspension of Dr. Warren Gage

Below is the “official” statement of the Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church (CRPC) Session detailing their understanding of the recent suspension of Dr. Warren Gage and the Session’s subsequent rulings.

For those of you interested in an explanation of official PCA documents, the following statement details aspects of both the Book of Church Order (BCO) and CRPC’s constitution. However, the statement does not interact with Knox Theological Seminary’s Bylaws. (This document is posted with the permission of the CRPC Session) –

Statement of the CRPC Session Regarding the Recent Suspension of Dr. Warren Gage by the Knox Theological Seminary Board of Directors

The Session of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church recently upheld the historic reformed understanding of Scripture as expressed in the Westminster Confession of Faith in overturning a decision of the Board of Directors of Knox Theological Seminary.

In light of recent publications on Web and elsewhere, it is proper that the Session provide an official version of the facts which led to the extraordinary act of overriding the Board of Directors of Knox Theological Seminary which resulted in the resignation of six of the directors1. The Session provides this statement and prays for healing and reconciliation.


The Authority of the Session

Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church is not only a confessional church, but it is a constitutional church. The Constitution consists of the Westminster Confession of Faith (WCF), the Larger and Shorter Catechisms and the Book of Church Order (BCO). The Scripture is not a part of the Constitution because while a constitution may be amended, the Scripture is a non-amendable authority which is above the Constitution. All teaching elders, ruling elders and deacons in the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) are required to subscribe to the constitution and to advise the court of which they are members if their views on the subject change. That subscription to our constitutional standards is at the heart of the recent disagreement between the Session and the Knox Board.


The government of the Presbyterian Church in America is divided into courts at three levels. BCO 11-4 provides in relevant part:


For the orderly and efficient dispatch of ecclesiastical business it is necessary that the sphere of action of each court should be distinctly defined. The Session exercises jurisdiction over a single church, the Presbytery over what is common to the ministers, Sessions and churches within a prescribed district and the General Assembly over such matters as concern the whole church. The jurisdiction of these courts is limited by the express provisions of the Constitution.


Every court has the right to resolve questions of doctrine and discipline seriously and reasonably proposed, and in general to maintain truth and righteousness, condemning erroneous opinions and practices which tend to the injury of the peace, purity or progress of the Church.


The Book of Church Order 12-5 also enumerates the powers and responsibilities of a PCA Session; it states in part:


The church Session is charged with maintaining the spiritual government of the church, for which purpose it has power:


To call congregational meetings when necessary; to establish and control Sunday schools and Bible classes with special reference to the children of the church; to establish and control all special groups in the church such as Men in the Church, Women in the Church and special Bible study groups…(BCO 12-5d).



It must be understood that Knox Theological Seminary is very different from independent seminaries in its form of government. Whereas other seminaries are governed by a board of directors of what is usually a separate nonprofit corporation, Knox is a division of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church having no independent existence apart from the church. The Knox Board is established as a commission of the Session totally subject to the Session as clearly stated in Section 18000 of the Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church Policy Book.


A commission, often called an ecclesiastical commission, is simply an organization within an organization that has the power to do things in the name of the commissioning organization. Section 15-1 of the BCO provides:


A commission differs from an ordinary committee in that while a committee is appointed to examine consider and report, a commission is authorized to deliberate on and conclude the business referred to it, except in the case of judicial commissions of a presbytery appointed under BCO 15-3. A commission should keep the full record of its proceedings which shall be submitted to the court appointing it. Upon such submission this record shall be entered on the minutes of the court appointing…


While the BCO does not discuss the power of the commissioning court to overrule a commission; nonetheless, inherent in the power to create a commission is the authority to override, overrule, decommission and reconstitute it. The Session is accountable to the higher courts in the Presbyterian Church in America. For example, the Presbytery through its review of Session minutes can note or cite irregularities made by a Session or its commission. Accordingly, the Session must have the authority to control the commission as necessary. This inherent power is explicitly recognized in the CRPC Policy Book, Section 18,000, which creates the Knox Commission (Board) using the following language:




Knox Theological Seminary (Knox) shall be governed by a Board that acts by authority delegated by the Session of CRPC. Just as the Session exists in conformity to Scripture, the Westminster Confession of Faith and Catechisms, and the Book of Church Order of the Presbyterian Church in America, the Board of Knox exists by discretion of the Session in conformity to the higher standards and to the standards enumerated below.


Thus the Policy Book states:

1.       The Knox Board acts by authority delegated by the Session.

2.      The Knox Board exists by the discretion of the Session.

3.      The Knox Board exists by the discretion of the Session in conformity to the higher standards and the standards enumerated below. More on this later.


Also note from BCO 11-4 above that while church courts have the right to resolve questions of doctrine, commissions may only do what they are commissioned to do. Since the Knox Board is a commission not a court, there is no implied authority giving the Knox Board the power to resolve questions of doctrine. Indeed, the doctrine of the Church and the Seminary are fixed in the Constitution (WCF, LC and SC). In fact they are the guardians of the historic doctrine set forth in the Constitution above. They may not deviate from it.


Background–September 11, 2007

On September 11, 2007 the Board of Directors of Knox Theological Seminary sent a delegation to the Session to report that they had earlier that day at a called meeting suspended Dr. Warren Gage from all teaching at Knox and had given him seven conditions (metrics), not all doctrinal, to which he must agree in order to be restored. It was suggested that the Session should, in turn, suspend Dr. Gage from teaching and preaching at the Church. The Session declined to suspend Dr. Gage, but instead scheduled a called meeting for September 25, 2007 to hear testimony from both parties.


The Doctrinal Question

During Dr. Gage’s testimony, he readily agreed to six of seven conditions imposed by the Board, and, in some cases, provided testimony why he believed he had not violated them at all, and emphasized his agreement to WCF I:92.


This brings us to the one condition, the main doctrinal question, which is hereafter referred to as (Condition 1.)


Dr. Gage said he could not agree not to set forth any typology except that which is explicit in the Scriptures. After a full hearing, discussion and deliberation, the Session determined that WCF 1:9 does not require that the use of typology be limited to what is explicit in Scriptures. Instead, the Session found that WCF VII:5 speaks much more clearly to the issue by indicating that there are a great many types, all of which point to Christ.


Article VII .5 provides:

This covenant was differently administered in the time of the law, and in the time of the gospel: under the law it was administered by promises, prophecies, sacrifices, circumcision, the paschal lamb, and other types and ordinances delivered to the people of the Jews, all foresignifying Christ to come; which were, for that time, sufficient and efficacious, through the operation of the Spirit, to instruct and build up the elect in faith in the promised Messiah, by whom they had full remission of sins, and eternal salvation; and is called the Old Testament.”

(Emphasis added.)


The conflict between Article VII .5 of the WCF and a restraint on typology as adopted by the Board and imposed on Dr. Gage required action by the Session to protect the integrity of the Seminary’s adherence to the Westminster Confession of Faith. The restraint imposed by the Board and delivered to Dr. Gage and to the Session was in writing in the following form:


Dr. Gage…

[Condition] 1) Must agree not to set forth any typology except that which is explicit in the Scriptures.

For example: Jesus’ teaching on the Road to Emmaus does not include specific Old Testament references. We may not speculate on how and where Jesus used the Old Testament.

(Emphasis added)

This restraint is simply in conflict with the much broader view of typology expressed in the Westminster Confession of Faith, VII. 5 (above). The restraint had been proposed by an Anglican bishop in the early nineteenth century, but it is not a doctrine of the Reformation.


Furthermore the language in Condition 1 above, as formulated by the Knox Board has been declared unacceptable and non-reformed by such scholars as Patrick Fairbairn (Typology of Scripture) and Louis Berkhof (Principles of Biblical Interpretation). The Session maintains the Board’s action was a deviation from our historic reformed hermeneutic (interpretation) and the Westminster Confession of Faith.


The Session rejected the idea that the WCF compels adherence to Condition 1, finding persuasive the opinions expressed in a letter from Dr. Dominic Aquila, the President of New Geneva Theological Seminary, in which he states that, “Dr. Warren Gage’s writing, teaching and preaching are in conformity and in accord with these principles of Systematic Theology and Biblical Theology. His hermeneutical approach is within the mainstream of historic Reformed biblical interpretation, in accord with the writings of Reformed scholars like Geerhardus Vos, E.J. Young, Meredith Kline, O. Palmer Robertson, and Herman Ridderbos.” The Session also considered the scholarly opinion of Dr. Edmund P. Clowney, the late Reformed theologian and first president of Westminster Theological Seminary (Philadelphia, PA), as it related to Condition 1. Dr. Clowney wrote, “Only the lack of hermeneutical method can shut us up to recognizing types only where the New Testament itself explicitly recognizes them.” (Preaching and Biblical Theology, pp. 111- 112). Dr. Clowney’s statement clearly supports the position of the Session.


The Session Decision

After hearing the Board’s one hour presentation with time for questions and answers and hearing Dr. Gage’s one hour presentation with time for questions and answers and a review of documents submitted by the parties, and vigorous debate, the Session passed the following motions:


1. Dr. Warren Gage was declared Confessional and the Knox Theological Seminary Board’s conclusion was declared incorrect.


2.      Dr. Warren Gage’s suspension from teaching at Knox Theological Seminary was vacated and he was reinstated immediately with full rights and privileges as a professor in good standing. Further, neither Dr. Gage nor any other faculty members are required to meet Condition One of the restoration procedure (Must agree not to set forth any typology except that which is explicit in the Scriptures.)




It is understood that a commission of the Session should ordinarily be allowed to do its work with minimum oversight by the commissioning court. On rare occasions, however, a Session has the obligation to overrule.


It is the fervent prayer of the Session that the process of forgiveness and reconciliation will continue, and that the Church and the Seminary will continue to honor the Savior producing well trained reformed pastors to the glory of God.

Soli Deo Gloria

1 On or about October 12, 2007 the six Knox directors who had resigned notified the Session that they rescinded their resignations.

2 WCF Article I.9 The infallible rule of interpretation of Scripture is the Scripture itself: and therefore, when there is a question about the true and full sense of any Scripture (which is not manifold, but one), it must be searched and known by other places that speak more clearly.

–> The document can also be read on CRPC’s website here.

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