Creación y evangelio en el mensaje de los tres ángeles
Palabras clave:Apocalipsis, El mensaje de los tres ángeles, Creación, Evangelio
ResumenEl artículo investiga los contextos inmediatos y más amplios de los mensajes de Apocalipsis 14,6-12. Después de enfocarse en la visión central de Apocalipsis que rodea el mensaje de los tres ángeles, busca otros mensajes en el Apocalipsis presentados con o sin vocabulario del habla para obtener una imagen clara de lo que el libro quiere comunicar. La tercera parte se enfoca en el significado fundamental del evangelio mencionado en Apocalipsis 14,6 y su relación con la creación en el siguiente versículo. El artículo sugiere que, si bien los mensajes tratan del juicio, el evangelio debe entenderse en un sentido positivo. También propone no centrarse exclusivamente en el mensaje crucial de los tres ángeles en Apocalipsis, sino proclamarlo en el contexto de los otros mensajes de Apocalipsis.
Revelation 14,6-12 (NKJV). While the text quoted here follows the NJKV, the other quotations in the document uses ESV, unless otherwise indicated.
“Then [and] I heard a voice from heaven saying to me, ‘Write: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.’ ‘Yes,’ says the Spirit, ‘that they may rest from their labors, and their works follow them’” (Rev 14,13). This is one of seven beatitudes found in Revelation.
The dragon went ποιῆσαι πόλεμον μετὰ τῶν λοιπῶν (“to make war with the remnant”; Rev 12,17). The sea beast is given power ποιῆσαι πόλεμον μετὰ τῶν ἀγίων (“to make war with the saints”) and to overcome them (Rev 13,7).
While Satan is doomed to be destroyed, the saints are persecuted but will inherit eternal live.
For a more detailed outline of these chapters and the connection between them as well as the conflict between the remnant and the evil powers see Ekkehardt Mueller, “The End Time Remnant in Revelation,” Journal of the Adventist Theological Society 11, Nos. 1-2 (2000): 188-204. This article also explains the time frame of the vision.
David E. Aune, who does not seem to support a pre-advent judgment, still states: “The urgency of the call for conversion in v. 7a implies that the day of God’s judgment of the world has already arrived…” But he adds that this “is obviously used in a proleptic or anticipatory sense.” Revelation 6-16, Word Biblical Commentary 52B (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1998), 827; emphasis supplied by author.
See Ekkehardt Mueller, “Revelation’s Babylon and Its Characteristics,” in The Word: Searching, Living, Teaching, vol. 1, ed. by Artur A. Stele (Silver Spring, MI: Biblical Research Institute, 2015), 156-161.
It is not completely clear if it is also God who speaks in Revelation 16,1 and 17, but it may be possible.
Grant R. Osborne, Revelation, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2002), 72.
Robert H. Mounce suggests that God the Father breaks His silence and speaks (The Book of Revelation, New International Commentary on the New Testament [Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1990], 384).
This may be a reminder of Jesus’ words on the cross. The plan of salvation has finally come to a conclusion. A new creation, based on salvation achieved through Jesus death on the cross, has been established. G. K. Beale notes: “… here it designates the accomplishment of the new creation, which was set in motion at the cross when Jesus cried, ‘It is finished!’” (The Book of Revelation: A Commentary on the Greek Text, New International Greek Testament Commentary [Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1999], 1055).
Therefore, Adventists cannot limit themselves to a simple repetition of Revelation 14,6-13 in their own words. There is more to be said.
Ranko Stefanovic, Revelation of Jesus Christ: Commentary on the Book of Revelation, 2nd edition (Berrien Springs, MI: Andrews University Press, 2009), 621.
Paige Patterson, Revelation, The New American Commentary (Nashville, TN: B&H, 2012), 203.
See, e. g., Revelation 5,12; 7,3.12; 10,9; 14,220.127.116.11; 16,5; 17,1.7-18; 18,2-3.21; 19,17-18; 21,9; 22,6.9-11.
A dimension is added in chapter 18 which is not present in Revelation 14,8. The second angel’s message is a kind of report and information about Babylon and an indirect warning. But an imperative is not used with it. This is different in Revelation 18 where people are commanded to separate from Babylon (Rev 18,4).
The angelic speech (λέγω) begins in Revelation 19,9 with another beatitude and continues in verse 10.
Some are just reported to be saying something, but the content is not revealed.
See also Revelation 6,6.
In this respect, the beatitudes differ from the hymns of Revelation because the hymns of the Apocalypse are introduced with a form of λέγω (“to say”).
There is an alternative reading: “Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city” (Rev 22,14; NKJV). For a discussion of this option see, e. g., Ranko Stefanovic, “‘Wash Their Robes’ or ‘Do His Commandments’?,” in Interpreting Scripture: Bible Questions and Answers, ed. by Gerhard Pfandl (Silver Spring, MI: Biblical Research Institute, 2010), 450-453.
Cf. Jürgen Roloff, Revelation, A Continental Commentary (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 1993), 22-23. On page 23, he notes: “However, in place of Paul’s thanksgiving (e. g., in Gal. 1:5), a christological formula of praise (doxology) appears in v. 6b that is expanded and developed by the adoption of a type of confessional formula… There follows a prophetic saying that proclaims the return of Jesus Christ (v. 7), as well as a direct statement by God that solemnly confirms this announcement.”
Joseph L. Mangina observes: “Grace and peace! These are words we do not often associate with the Apocalypse. Many would say that there is more divine wrath than divine mercy here, more violence and bloodshed than peace. Nevertheless… [g]race and peace are the very content of this apocalyptic irruption into our world” (Revelation, Brazos Theological Commentary on the Bible [Grand Rapids, MI: Brazos Press, 2010], 41-42).
Brian K. Blount defines the term witness as “a word of provocative testimony and therefore active engagement, not sacrificial passivity” (Revelation, The New Testament Library [Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2009], 29).
See also Simon J. Kistemaker, New Testament Commentary: Exposition of the Book of Revelation (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 2001), 76.
Peter J. Leithart, Revelation 1-11, The International Theological Commentary on the Holy Scripture of Old and New Testaments (London: Bloomsbury T&T Clark, 2018), 92-93.
Hymns in Revelation have, e. g., been defined by Justin J. Schedtler, A Heavenly Chorus, Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament 2, Reihe 381 (Tübingen, DE: Mohr Siebeck, 2014), 22. A hymn is a poetic and oftentimes doxological passage, sometimes even designated as “song” (ᾠδή; Rev 5,9; 14,3; 15,3), and is typically directed to God the Father or Jesus Christ.
That Revelation 1,5-6 is a doxology is recognized by many commentators, e. g., David E. Aune, Revelation 1-5, Word Biblical Commentary 52A (Dallas, TX: Word Books Publisher, 1997), 43-46, 49; Craig R. Koester, Revelation, The Anchor Bible 38A (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2014), 227; Mangina, Revelation, 31; 35.
Osborne, Revelation, 68.
It has been pointed out that the elements of this doxology are unusual because love occurs in the present tense, while redemption and the new status of the believers are described with aorists. Leithart notes: “He loves us, not just loved us in the past but loves us now with a love expressed in his death” (Revelation 1-11, 91).
John C. Thomas and Frank D. Macchia, Revelation, The Two Horizons New Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2016), 77.
Buist M. Fanning points out that here a second unusual element occurs: “Also unusual is the focus on Christ’s love that led to the cross—the New Testament more frequently cites the love of God the Father as expressed in the atonement (e. g., John 3:16; Rom 5:8; 8:39; Eph 2:4;
John 4:8-10)” (Revelation, Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament [Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Academic, 2020], 82).
Blount, Revelation, 36.
Thomas and Macchia, Revelation, 77.
See Koester, Revelation, 226; 230.
See Ekkehardt Mueller, “Recapitulation in Revelation 4-11,” Journal of the Adventist Theological Society 9, Nos. 1-2 (1998): 260-277.
We assume that the messages to the seven churches are closer to classical prophecy than to apocalyptic prophecy—as the following visions are—and that they apply to a situation of seven churches in the first century as well as to seven periods in world history beginning with the first century A. D. and ending with the Parousia.
See Kenneth A. Strand, “The ‘Spotlight-On-Last-Events’ Sections in the Book of Revelation,” Andrews University Seminary Studies 27 (1989): 201-221. E. g., the seals have an introductory sanctuary segment—the throne vision (Rev 4-5), the historical development with the opening of the first six seals (Rev 6), the expansion of the sixth seal with the portrayal of the 144,000 and the great multitude (Rev 7), and the climax in the seventh seal (Rev 8,1).
The Holy Spirit is referred to as “the seven Spirits” (NKJV). See Osborne, Revelation, 61. On the Holy Spirit in Revelation, see Ekkehardt Mueller, “O Espírito Santo No Apocalipse de João,” in Pneumatologia Pessao E Obra Do Espírito Santo, ed. by Reinaldo W. Siqueira and Alberto Timm (Engenheiro Coelho, SP: Unaspress, 2017), 321-352.
For more information, see Ekkehardt Mueller, “Creation in Revelation,” Journal of the Adventist Theological Society 30, Nos. 1-2 (2019): 21-68.
While John uses the terms only sparingly, Paul seems to be fond of them. “Gospel” is used by him about 60 times out of 76 in the New Testament and “proclaiming the Gospel” 23 times, out of 54 in the New Testament.
E. g., Kistemaker, New Testament Commentary, 407; Mounce, The Book of Revelation, 270-271.
Sigve K. Tonstad, Revelation, Paideia Commentaries on the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2019), 203.
Beale, The Book of Revelation, 748.
George B. Caird, The Revelation of St. John the Divine, Harper’s New Testament Commentaries (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1987), 182; Peter J. Leithart, Revelation 12-22, The International Theological Commentary on the Holy Scripture of Old and New Testaments (London: Bloomsbury T&T Clark, 2018), 94. “God’s kingdom comes through judgment, and judgment is good news because it means that God is at long last going to deal with the wicked.…” “Why would this not be the gospel itself, the announcement that the Creator is taking over as Lord of all nations, that he has overthrown ‘Babylon.’ And that he will reward his loyal followers as he judges his adversaries?” (ibid., 95).
The book of life occurs in Revelation 3,5; 13,8; 17,8; 20,12.15; 21,7. In half of the cases, Revelation mentions those not being written in that book (Rev 13,8; 17,8; 20,15).
These four groups appear seven times in Revelation (Rev 5,9; 7,9; 10,11; 11,9; 13,7; 14,6; 17,15). In two cases, one of the four terms is replaced by another similar term (Rev 10,11; 17,5).
Sigve K. Tonstad, Saving God’s Reputation: The Theological Function of “Pistis Iesou” in the Cosmic Narratives of Revelation, Library of New Testament Studies 337 (London: T&T Clark, 2006), 193-194.
Richard D. Phillips, Revelation, Reformed Expository Commentary (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2017), 407. See also Kistemaker, New Testament Commentary, 413.
Thomas and Macchia, Revelation, 537-543.
Stefanovic, Revelation, 453.
Caird, The Revelation of St. John the Divine, 183.
Rodriguez, Future Glory, 131.
We will briefly discuss the direct creation statements, but the indirect references have also to be taken in account when creation in Revelation is being discussed. Allusions to the Genesis creation are the references to (1) heaven, sea, earth, (2) the presence of God, (3) life, (4) precious stones and gold, (5) the heavenly bodies (sun, moon, stars), (6) day and night, and (7) the ruling of humanity. Further allusions are the phrases “from the foundation of the world,” “It is done,” the silence in heaven, and the beasts coming from the sea and out of the earth. Creation themes occur with the divine designations, the verb ποιέω (to make), the undoing of creation in the trumpet vision, the abyss, and humans as souls.
The NKJV calls Jesus “the Beginning of the creation of God.” But such a translation can be misunderstood in the sense that Jesus would be the first being created by God, not the Creator Himself. In Revelation, “beginning” (ἀρχή), applied to Jesus and God must be understood actively, as we do in the phrase Jesus is “the Beginning and the End” (Rev 22,13). This phrase is used verbatim also for God the Father who is likewise “the Beginning (ἀρχή) and the end” (Rev 21,6). Some English translation prefer “ruler” as translation of ἀρχή (e. g., the NIV). However, this does not seem to be likely due to John’s use of the term. The meaning “ruler” or “powers” is mostly found with Paul, e. g., in Rom 8,38; 1 Cor 15,24, Eph 1,21; 3,10; 6,12; Col 1,16; 2,10.15; Tit 3,11, however, not in Hebrews (see, e. g., Heb 1,10; 2,3; 3,14; 5,12; 7,3). In addition, John seems to distinguish between ἀρχή and ἄρχων (ruler, authority) in Revelation.
Gregory Stevenson, “The Theology of Creation in the Book of Revelation,” Leaven 21, No. 3 (2013): 140.
The strange order of verbs has triggered a number of suggestions, among them that God planned creation in His mind before executing it. See, e. g., Mounce, The Book of Revelation, 127. Beale proposes that the meaning of lines 2 and 3 is: “they continually exist and have come into being” (The Book of Revelation, 335). Aune talks about “an instance of hysteron-proteron, i.e., the inversion of events, which sometimes occurs in Revelation…” (Revelation 1-5, 312). On the other hand, Osborne suggests an ABA pattern, a chiastic pattern, in which creation is being restated without implying a chronological order (Revelation, 242).
See Craig S. Keener, Revelation, The NIV Application Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2000), 181, and Mounce, The Book of Revelation, 126.
Koester understands the title One who was, is, and will come as “Affirming God’s present, past, and future… role as Creator” (Revelation, 2265). Referring to Alpha and Omega he states (230): “As the Alpha God is the Creator, the beginning of all things (4:11); as the Omega, he brings all things to completion in the new creation (21:1).”
Κτίσμα occurs also in Revelation 8,9, the second trumpet, where a third of the sea creatures dies. In Revelation 5,13, however, God’s creatures include “every creature in the universe.”
Larry L. Lichtenwalter, “Creation and Apocalypse,” Journal of the Adventist Theological Society 15, No. 1 (2004): 127. Cf. John Sweet, Revelation, New Testament Commentaries (Philadelphia, PA: Trinity Press International, 1990), 178.
See Gerald L. Stevens, Revelation: The Past and Future of John’s Apocalypse (Eugene, OR: Pickwick Publications, 2014), 386.
Ekkehardt Mueller suggests that true worship is theocentric, tinitarian, objective and not only subjective, universal and all-encompassing, continuous and unending, maintains the tension between God’s immanence and his transcendence, extols the character and nature of God, praises the works of God, and provides a new perspective to life on earth. The completion of the plan of salvation is set into a worship setting (“Reflections on Worship in Revelation 4 and 5,” Reflections: The BRI Newsletter (July 2012): 1-6).
Applied to God’s creative acts ποιέω is found in Genesis 1,18.104.22.168.25.26.27 (three times), and 31; 2,2 (twice), and 2,3.4.18. According to Genesis 3,21 God made garments for Adam and Eve.
See Jon Paulien, “Revisiting the Sabbath in the Book of Revelation,” Journal of the Adventist Theological Society 9, Nos. 1-2 (1998): 179-186.
Revelation 11,19 mentions the ark of the covenant which contained the ten commandments (Exod 25,21; Deut 10,1-2). Observance of the commandments occurs in Revelation 12,17; 14,12, rejection in Revelation 12,4.15 and 13,15 (killing); 13,22.214.171.124.15 and 14,11 (idolatry); 13,6 (blasphemy).
See George E. Ladd, A Commentary on the Revelation of John (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1991), 193.
Michael J. Gorman concludes: “Thus this paradise is not just a garden but an urban garden, or even better, a garden-city” (Reading Revelation Responsibly: Uncivil Worship and Witness; Following the Lamb into the New Creation [Eugene, OR: Cascade Books, 2011], 164).
In Jesus God “tabernacled” also among humans, however, in a more hidden way (John 1,14).
Jonathan Moo, “The Sea That is No More: Rev 21:1 and the Function of Sea Imagery in the Apocalypse if John,” Novum Testamentum 51 (2009): 165.
Revelation 14,7 with the addition of the springs of water to the threefold sphere of creation as heaven, earth, and sea may have in mind the eschatological water of life that is available at no cost (Rev 21,6; 22,17). But still creation is expressed in the first angel’s message with an aorist and in the context of the Genesis creation account.
According to Revelation 1,18 he has the keys to death and Hades and is able to bring about resurrection to eternal life.
See discussion above.
E. g., Beale understands Jesus “as the sovereign inaugurator of the new creation” (The Book of Revelation, 298). This does not mean that He would be sovereign “over the original creation.” He also mentions the view that Jesus is “the beginning, not of the original creation, but of the newly created church or of the new age of the church.” Fanning states that “Christ is never presented in this book as creator or agent of creation” (Revelation, 8), but this would probably not mean that He is not its ruler (185). See also M. R. Mulholland Jr., “Revelation,” in James, 1-2 Peter, Jude, Revelation, ed. by G. R. Osborne and M. R. Mulholland Jr., Cornerstone Biblical Commentary 18 (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2011), 452. Dwelling on the aspect of “ruler”, Robert M. Royalty Jr. suggests: “The phrase ‘the origin of God’s creation’ (ή ἄρχή τῆς κτίσεως) evokes the political theme of the proem, where Christ is called the ruler (ἅρχων) of the kings of the earth (Rev 1:5). This play on words (paranomasia) on archōn and archē in Rev 1:5 and 3:14 ground’s Christ’s political authority over the kings of the earth in his cosmic authority as the beginning or origin of creation (see also Rev 22:13)” (The Streets of Heaven: The Ideology of Wealth in the Apocalypse [Macon, GA: Mercer University Press, 1998], 165).
Richard Bauckham, The Theology of the Book of Revelation, New Testament Theology (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993), 56. See also Aune, Revelation 1-5, 256; Sweet, Revelation, 107; Patterson, Revelation, 138.
Osborne, Revelation, 205. Leon Morris opts for both: “Christ has the supreme authority over creation and… he is the origin of created being” (Revelation: An Introduction and Commentary, vol. 20, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries [Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1987], 84).
Kistemaker, New Testament Commentary, 169.
Thomas and Macchia, Revelation, 538.
The parallel text in Revelation 17,8 is clear: The names of the earth dwellers “are not written in the Book of Life from the foundation of the world.” But the message of Revelation 13,8 may have a different emphasis. In the Greek text, the direct antecedent is “the Lamb slain.”
God’s plan is to save all people, but not all people allow God to save them. Therefore, they can be blotted out from the book of life—Revelation 3,5; 22,19—or their names are not found in the book of life—Revelation 20,15.
Mounce, The Book of Revelation, 252.
Osborne, Revelation, 504.
Πνεῦμα means breath but also spirit and may refer to the Holy Spirit. This phrase has been translated as “breath of life” by a variety of modern English translations (e. g., ESV, NASB, NIV). However, it has been translated “Spirit of life” by older English versions such as the Geneva Bible, KJV, but also by the Revised Webster Bible of 1995. “Spirit of life” is also the choice of the French translation of Louis Segond (1910) and the Nouvelle Edition de Genève (1979). Many if not most of the German translations use “Spirit of life” (e. g., Luther [1545, 1912, 1984, 2017], revised Elberfelder Bibel , Münchner NT, Schlachter , Zürcher [2007/2008]). While some commentators opt for “breath of life” (e. g., J. Ramsey Michaels, Revelation, The IVP New Testament Commentary Series [Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1997], 142), others allow for the translation “Spirit of life” or even choose it (e. g., Keener, Revelation, 296; Jürgen Roloff, Revelation, A Continental Commentary [Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 1993], 134.) The Old Testament background for Revelation 11,11 is Ezekiel 37, the valley of the dry bones where these bones came to life again through the Spirit. Thomas and Macchia, seem to be correct when they assert: “Significantly, the Spirit who now enters the two prophets is the same Spirit who has inspired their prophetic activity” (Revelation, 207).
These meanings include “to be born”, “to be produced,” “to be made,” “to be created,” “to come about,” “to happen,” “to become,” and “to be.” See Moisés Silva, ed., New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology and Exegesis, 2nd edition (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2014), 196-199.
Genesis 1,3 (twice); 1,5 (twice); 1,6 (twice); 1,8 (twice); 1,9.11.13 (twice); 1,14.15.19 (twice); 1,20.23 (twice); 1,24.30.31 (twice); 2,4.5.7. See the chapter by Jon Paulien, “Creation in the Johannine Writings,” unpublished document.
Michaels, Revelation, 121.
Ulrich B. Müller, Die Offenbarung des Johannes, Ökumenischer Taschenbuch-Kommentar zum Neuen Testament 19 (Gütersloh, DE: Gütersloher Verlagshaus Gerd Mohn, 1984), 281.
Kenneth A. Mathews, Genesis 1-11:26, The New American Commentary (Nashville, TN: Broadman and Holman Publishers, 1996), 133.92 For a more detailed discussion of the abyss, see Ekkehardt Mueller, “The Beast of Revelation 17—A Suggestion (Part 1),” Journal of Asia Adventist Seminary 1, No. 1 (2007): 40-50.
See the Holy Spirit as the One who also communicates the messages to the seven churches and who raises from death the two witnesses.
Elias Brazil de Souza, “Sanctuary: Cosmos, Covenant, and Creation,” Journal of the Adventist Theological Society 24, No. 1 (2013): 37.
Roloff, Revelation, 176. See also Patterson, Revelation, 293. Tonstad states: “In the emerging scenario, the Lamb is not the agent of the torment, and it misses the mark to see the Lamb ‘and the holy angels’ as indifferent spectators” (Revelation, 209). However, he differs from other interpreters by suggesting that the execution of judgment, described as torment, is Satan’s doing: “In the contrastive reading, the torment ‘with fire and sulfur’ shows the work of the dragon, but the deed has witnesses (Aune 1996-98, 835)” (Revelation, 209, emphasis by author).
G. R. Beasley-Murray, Revelation, The New Century Bible Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1983), 226.
See Ian Boxall, The Revelation of Saint John, Black’s New Testament Commentary (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 2009), 209-210.
Beale, The Book of Revelation, 760.
Richard Lehmann notes: “It can be argued that it is not the angels and the Lamb who stand before the damned as ironic observers of their suffering, but the idol worshippers who stand before the angels. They are paralyzed by the reality whose existence they have denied. After having mocked the One who had worn a crown of thorns, they find him crowned with glory. The time of grace has passed. The opportunity has been lost. Not to receive grace is to face the sad reality of one’s own failure” (L’Apocalypse de Jean: Commentaire biblique [Collonges-sous-Salève, FR: Faculté Adventiste de Théologie, 2018], 387); translated.
See Tonstad, Revelation, 210.
This is not to deny that the death of Jesus had dimensions that ours does not have.
Even the end of the great war vision of Revelation 11,19-14,20 with its symbolic depiction of Jesus’ second coming as harvest of the world focuses much more on the evildoers and their fate than the believers. This is appropriate in its context. But other visions with other perspectives are able to round out the picture.
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