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The Time is at Hand

The Revelation of Jesus Christ

While many Bibles title the last book of the canon "The Revelation of Saint John the Divine" we note that in fact the book itself says:

1:1 ¶  The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John:

The Revelation (unveiling) of Jesus Christ -- it was given to the Lord from God to shew ( the showing is the progressive unveiling ) to his servants the things which MUST shortly come to pass -- it was sent and signifies by an angel to John.

God --> Jesus -->Angel-->John

The Perspective

In verse 4 we read of John in turn passing what he had learnt to the seven Churches which are in Asia. The problem with taking the words  "for the time is at hand"  from verse 3 to mean that John's perspective was that of a writer who was ignorant of the nation of Israel's spiritual state is unlikely and indeed contradicted by John's opening words in his gospel -- John 1:1-14 -- especially verse 11 

KJV  John 1:11 He came unto his own, and his own received him not.
TBT  John 1:11 εἰς τὰ ἴδια ἦλθε, καὶ οἱ ἴδιοι αὐτὸν οὐ παρέλαβον.

He came to His own things and His own people received him not. He came to all those Kingdom "things" that were His by prophecy but they did did not materialize because His own people reject him as Messiah. 

It appears clear then that the great divide of Acts 28 was known to John when he wrote the gospel. That is the statements by the Lord concerning Isaiah's prophecy (Isaiah 6:9,10) were De Jure in the time of the Lord's earthly ministry and De Facto after as recorded by Paul in Acts 28 and this was John's understanding. The passage is full of teaching and written down 7 times (Matt. 13:14, Mark 4:12, Luke 8:10, John 12:40, Acts 28:26,27, Rom. 11:8). It is quoted in three movements -- the last after the all day conference in Rome and concluding with the "Salvation of God sent to the Gentiles".  This marks the beginning of our age and the prison ministry toward the Gentiles without preference to Israel. What is interesting to us is the context of the middle quotation -- the one which is recorded in John 12:40,41 -- after the counsel taken to put him to death John 11:53.

KJV  John 11:53 Then from that day forth they took counsel together for to put him to death.
TBT  John 11:53 ἀπ᾽ ἐκείνης οὖν τῆς ἡμέρας συνεβουλεύσαντο ἵνα ἀποκτείνωσιν αὐτόν.

John's statement in John 12:41-43 allow us to see further into this context -- 

KJV  John 12:41 These things said Esaias, when he saw his glory, and spake of him. 42 Nevertheless among the chief rulers also many believed on him; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue: 43 For they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.

TBT  John 12:41 ταῦτα εἶπεν Ἠσαΐας, ὅτε εἶδε τὴν δόξαν αὐτοῦ, καὶ ἐλάλησε περὶ αὐτοῦ. 42  ὅμως μέντοι καὶ ἐκ τῶν ἀρχόντων πολλοὶ ἐπίστευσαν εἰς αὐτόν· ἀλλὰ διὰ τοὺς Φαρισαίους οὐχ ὡμολόγουν, ἵνα μὴ ἀποσυνάγωγοι γένωνται. 43  ἠγάπησαν γὰρ τὴν δόξαν τῶν ἀνθρώπων μᾶλλον ἤπερ τὴν δόξαν τοῦ Θεοῦ.

John gives us the defacto "his own received him not" then gathers the history of Christ into an almost systematic teaching concerning Christ and salvation "for the world" when His glory will be revealed -  that will ultimately lead to the fulfilling of the prophecy of Caiaphas.

Caiaphas

KJV  John 11:49 And one of them, named Caiaphas, being the high priest that same year, said unto them, Ye know nothing at all, 50 Nor consider that it is expedient for us, that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not. 51 And this spake he not of himself: but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus should die for that nation; 52 And not for that nation only, but that also he should gather together in one the children of God that were scattered abroad. 53 Then from that day forth they took counsel together for to put him to death. 54 Jesus therefore walked no more openly among the Jews; but went thence unto a country near to the wilderness, into a city called Ephraim, and there continued with his disciples. (Joh 11:49 KJV)​

God used Caiaphas as he also used Balaam (Nu 22:38)  -- the point is that all of this is completely in harmony with the perspective of Israel rejected and the message of "Life through His name" John 20:31. There is a clear division that takes place in john's gospel -- the references to "own" are 14 and reveal the sectional division that occurs immediately after the quote of Isaiah 6:9,10 and the rejection of the chief rulers

Jn. 1:11, 41
Jn. 4:44
Jn. 5:18, 43
Jn. 7:18
Jn. 8:44
Jn. 10:3-4, 12
Jn. 13:1
Jn. 15:19
Jn. 16:32
Jn. 19:27

In John 13:1 -- the division occurs -- and in this way the gospel of John is divided in two:

KJV  John 13:1 Now before the feast of the passover, when Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end.
TBT  John 13:1 Πρὸ δὲ τῆς ἑορτῆς τοῦ πάσχα, εἰδὼς ὁ Ἰησοῦς ὅτι ἐλήλυθεν αὐτοῦ ἡ ὥρα ἵνα μεταβῇ ἐκ τοῦ κόσμου τούτου πρὸς τὸν πατέρα, ἀγαπήσας τοὺς ἰδίους τοὺς ἐν τῷ κόσμῳ, εἰς τέλος ἠγάπησεν αὐτούς.

John starts with the rejection of Christ then goes back on His life and records a special selection of miraculous signs :

KJV  John 21:25 And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. Amen.
TBT  John 21:25 Ἔστι δὲ καὶ ἄλλα πολλὰ ὅσα ἐποίησεν ὁ Ἰησοῦς, ἅτινα ἐὰν γράφηται καθ᾽ ἕν, οὐδὲ αὐτὸν οἶμαι τὸν κόσμον χωρῆσαι τὰ γραφόμενα βιβλία. Ἀμήν.

The usage of the word for signs is also instructive:

Jn. 2:11, 18, 23
Jn. 3:2
Jn. 4:48, 54
Jn. 6:2, 14, 26, 30
Jn. 7:31
Jn. 9:16
Jn. 10:41
Jn. 11:47
Jn. 12:18, 37
Jn. 20:30

Notice that most of them except for one come before John 13:1

Welch gives the following structural summary for John and the 8 miraculous signs.

A | 2: 1-11. THE MARRIAGE IN CANA.--The third day. No wine. Glory manifested.

  B | 4: 46-50. THE RULER'S SON.--After two days. At the point of death.

    C | 5: 1-47. THE IMPOTENT MAN.--Pool Bethesda. 38 years. Sabbath. Sin.

      D | 6: 1-14. THE FEEDING OF THE FIVE THOUSAND.--Many went back.

      D | 6: 15-21. THE WALKING ON THE SEA.--Many of the people believed.

    C | 9: 1-44. THE MAN BORN BLIND.--Pool Siloam. From birth. Sabbath. Sin.

  B | 11: 1.44. THE SISTERS' BROTHER.--Two days. Lazarus is dead.

A | 21: 1-14. THE DRAUGHT OF FISHES.--The third time. No meat. Lord magnified. 

Conclusion

The conclusion from this short survey is that John is looking back at Israel from the perspective that she had rejected here Messiah and then uses well placed signs to show among other things that Jesus is Messiah and that believing "the world" in light of Israel's defection can have life through His name.

What does this mean for our interpretation of Revelation?

This means that the seven churches are seen as in the last times -- that it is not the case that John was under the mistaken notion that the time was at hand and he was speaking to Churches then present in the ancient world but rather that he was addressing churches that will be in Asia minor in the time leading up to the revelation of Jesus Christ (Peter calls it an apokalupsis) through His second coming.