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John to the Seven Churches

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice
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November 16, 2020 7:00 am

John to the Seven Churches

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice

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November 16, 2020 7:00 am

Johns letter set the stage for a powerful message to the Church concerning persecution, the end times, and the central focus of it all: Jesus Christ

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The Bible Study Hour Dr. James Boice
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James Boice
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James Boice
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James Boice
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James Boice
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James Boice
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James Boice

Look into the final studio radio and Internet ministry of confessing Evangelicals featuring the Bible teaching of Dr. James Boyce for more information please contact us by calling toll-free one 804 88 18 and now the alliance is pleased to present the Bible study hours preparing you to think and act biblically on the revelation down to verses which are the second level to beginning the revelation has to be getting this. The first three verses which we looked at last week on verses four through eight, which were going to look at without the stubble beginning is a very fortunate thing for us because it gives us two opportunities to examine the complex introductory matters that we need to think about before plunging into the prophecies that make up the bulk of the book.

One of the things we saw last week is that Revelation is a number of things wrapped up in what the proper name for that is your daughter Amy's certain type of material we saw that it is on the one hand the prophecy.

Secondly, also an apocalypse inferred a letter now. If it is a letter, among other things in his formal beginning of the letter really is with verse four, which is what we come to now I get it so commonplace for a book that contains so many wild and imaginative things in the ancient world were set ways in which one introduced the letter. Most of the New Testament letters begin in this way.

First of all, there's the name of the author. Secondly, the name of those to whom he is writing. Third, there is a greeting and forth from the case of the Bible's letters at least a blessing or a doxology we have the first three of those elements of these verses the author is John introduces himself in verse one is writing to the seven churches in the province of Asia.

It's there in the same verse and is greeting his grace and peace. Doxology follows in verses five through seven or something were going to walk out in the next study. Now the author of this mysterious last book of the Bible introduces himself as John does it not only here in verse four, but also later in verse nine of the same chapter and in Revelation 22 eight.

We asked the question who is John anybody who has done any serious study of the New Testament at least studying what the scholars had to say about it will not be surprised to learn that there's a great deal of discussion over who this John actually is the early church fathers as the early tradition of the church unanimously identify the author of Revelation is the son of Zebedee, the disciple of the Lord became an apostle. Examples would be Justin Martyr I Renée S. Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian, Justin Martyr referred to him as a certain man whose name was John, one of the apostles of the Christ. I Renée of scalding John the Lord's disciple. Another early witness of the authorship of Revelation is a Gnostic document that bears the title the apocryphal ion of John, was discovered as recently as 1945 in upper Egypt and it says that Revelation was written by John the brother of James, those who are sons of Zebedee, it wasn't until the mid-third century through the writings of a man named Dionysius the head of the Alexandrian school that any doubt was even cast upon the matter. Dionysius suggested that this is not John the apostle, but another John a presbyter who lived in Ephesus and in time. This was picked up by Eusebius first real church historian and so we passed on our time.

Another some reason for thinking that the author of Revelation might be other than the apostle John and one is certainly the fact that it is so different from the other Johannine books revelation obviously is different from the gospel or the letters now one of that can be explained most of it could be explained by the fact that it is an apocalypse after all a dream is quite different from the gospel.

On the other hand, there are some differences in the language that need to be taken seriously and one is differences in grammar gospel of John is written in flawless elegant Greek, one can see that even when you read it in English it just flows along beautifully, but they agreed to Revelation.

According to this view, is not only bad Greek is barbarous. One of the scholars whose name is Rh Charles said that it has a grammar of its own. Unlike any other grammar as a matter of fact he felt that so strongly, even wrote a little grammar book for the barbarous Revelation grammar that we see an example of that. In this passage, which is why I bring it in.

At this point it's where John sends blessings from Kim who is and who was and who is to come see that in the text Greek preposition from the word iPod and iPod always needs to be followed by an object in the genitive case.

Let me explain that not everybody loves these little points of grammar, but let me explain it in terms of English when a pronoun is the subject of the sentence we use it in the nominative case we say he example would be, he did it but when you are using a pronoun that follows a word like from God in the nominative case anymore. It's in the genitive case and so you change it.

We no longer say he we say Kim. We say he did it, but we say the book as a gift from him. I got exactly the same sort of thing in Greek. If John had been writing proper Greek. He shouldn't follow the preposition meaning from the genitive pronoun writing from Kim who is and who was and who is to come. Which is how the translators have rendered it in order to make it sound right in English is not actually what John wrote what John actually wrote was this from Keith, who is, and she who was, and he who is to come. Barbarous grammar and date. I was there! For that other than the fact that John just didn't know good grammar and therefore has to be at author different from the one who wrote the gospel will, there's a perfectly good explanation. John is it making up these words what he's doing is withdrawing from Exodus 314 where God revealed his name to Moses as I am who I am on the nominative case majority opinion among commentators today is a John keeps the name on the nominative case in order to make clear that he's alluding to this defining passage in Exodus, or to put it. In other words what he's trying to show us that God lives in what we would call the eternal present is what one commentator says is possible that John employ such kinds of constructions here and elsewhere as he bright-isms in order to create a biblical effect. So to show the solidarity of his work with that of God's revelation in the Old Testament words. John's alleged grammatical errors or intentional William Barclay defends drawn even more strongly he says John has such an immense reverence for God that he refuses to alter the form of the divine name even when the rules of grammar demanded.

There are other reasons why some scholars seek another author for Revelation John the apostle, one would be the John Doe where identifies himself as an apostle, but that's only a formal objection.

He certainly rights as an apostle that is authoritatively you put all that together in the whole identification of John the apostle of the son of Zebedee is the author of the book seems the best option if for no other reason than it's hard to imagine somebody other than John being so well-known that he could identify himself in the book of Revelation. Simply as John without any other identification John the apostle of the disciple of Jesus would get away simply calling himself joins side with Justin Martyr I Renée answer the other early Christian witnesses stand on this traditional identification of the church.

One thing that points to Johannine authorship is the way John includes himself in the chain of Revelation we find in these opening verses of the filament or something. Jesus said to the disciples significantly and not recorded by John himself and the gospel John 16 verse 13 Jesus said when he spirit of truth is the Holy Spirit comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own.

He will speak only what he hears, he will tell you what is to come. John's writing to the seven churches in Asia, but his point is that he's not writing on his own words, not just the thoughts of John has about the churches what they should do what he really is doing is conveying the message that has been given to him first by Jesus Christ through the work of the Holy Spirit.

Have you look at those early versus the chain of Revelation goes like this, according to verse one God the father gives the Revelation to Jesus Christ second.

Also, according to verse one Jesus imparts the Revelation to his angel, who third makes it known to John Allen this book John is making known to the churches what he has received calls that the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ. Word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ. The same thing. What John is saying is that he is the communicator.

By the grace of God, of this revelation is very serious about this.

He is conscious of being part of the chain of those God is used down through church history of the prophets in the past say that the people of God, receive all they need to know about the gospel in living the Christian life. Unlike most other New Testament books Revelation doesn't have even one direct quotation from the Old Testament interesting, but it does contain literally hundreds of illusions to Old Testament passages or ideas on the commentators whose name is Stephen Greg maintains that there are 79 references to Isaiah before references to Daniel 48 two Ezekiel 43 of the Psalms 27 to Exodus 22 to Jeremiah 15 Zechariah 9 to Avis and eight the Joel Bruce Metzger reckons that of the 404 versus comprising 22 chapters of this book of Revelation 278 almost 3/4 have one or more illusions to an Old Testament passage is one more introductory matter.

We have to deal with before we get on the other things and that is the time of the writing. When did John Wright Revelation 2 main theories about it. Some writers hold a late date is from the reign of the Roman Emperor Domitian would be about 8196 a day sometime in that timeframe, and others will do an early date from the reign of Nero is timeframe 54 to 58 A.D. now you may be saying to yourself I don't care. When John wrote Revelation, we have it, that's all that matters. Well, unfortunately it does matter because it has bearing on how you interpret it does look at this for a moment. First of all, this latent dating from the reign of Domitian. It's the traditional dating because it's been held from the earliest days of the church. The first hard evidence for this essay hard because we assume that other people thought it we just don't have records of it is from I Renée I assume I mentioned earlier he's writing about the identity of the Antichrist. My says about the Antichrist is interesting as well. He says we will not incur the risk of pronouncing positive literally as to the name of Antichrist. If it were necessary that his name should be distinctly revealed in the present time it would've been announced by him about the apocalypse you remember that when we come to it ourselves.

And then he goes on for this was seen not very long ago that almost in our own day. Toward the end of Domitian's reign. That's the first hard evidence for late date is also the general consensus among scholars today, most of whom would date the book, about 95 a date with John of course would've been a very old man. I hope not because I Renée is set but because Revelation seems to be so concerned with persecutions, persecutions among Christians, getting them ready for it will even be able to stand against it and it would seem, what we know of history that the only widespread persecutions of the church took place not as early as Nero. But during the reign of Domitian. I would struggle in the great fire destroyed Rome.

Nero blamed it on the Christians. Many Christians in Rome are fed to the lions in the arena of the sort of deflect attention from himself.

There's no evidence of that spread beyond wrong. Different. In the case of Domitian commissioned demanded Caesar worship.

He told the provincial governors, official pronouncements had to begin with the words of our Lord and God. Domitian commands anybody would dress them face-to-face in a personal way had to begin by saying Lord and God's true there is no evidence for widespread persecutions under Domitian, but they did happen and this is the only point of that early period of Roman history that it seems wise to put them. So the book fits into that the decline of the church is described in chapters 2 and three also seem to fit a later date, you don't talk about decline in the very early years. Of years has to go by more specific delay of the CN church is called wealthy Laodicea city was destroyed by an earthquake in 60 to 61 a day and would seem would take a little while for a church to build itself up a city to build itself up to the point of being wealthy and not just in a couple years. Well, that's the one side, here's the other argument dating from the reign of Nero that is early before the 58 a day status favored by the prioress. I'm sure you all remember who the predators are because we talked about the last week. Most of the people who want to say that the prophecies in this book because they are described as things that must soon take place actually did take place soon. That is shortly after the time John wrote them and their associated with the fall of Jerusalem well printer is taken early date. Obviously, because it's necessary for their interpretation of the book they think of babbling mentioned throughout Revelation is a disguised reference to Jerusalem. Although John probably uses it around one argument for an early date. Revelation is the mention of the temple in Revelation 12 verses one and two is no indication there of its destruction. But that assumes that John is writing about a literal temple in Jerusalem is not a figurative way of thinking, which is not quite right. Well let me give you one more complex thing were to quit this before long, so you don't have to worry, there's another argument for an early date. Revelation 17. Nine speaks of seven mountains, probably a reference to Rome build on the seven hills followed by a reference to seven kings, five of which are fallen sixes raining and the seventh is yet to come. Now some work out the six going to be Nero is what it was raining at the time John is writing the book. Therefore, ergo, an early date is everything depends upon when you start, and a great deal of juggling seems to be needed to get this to work. The first actual Emperor was Augustine's you start with the Gustus emperors were number one. The Gustus number two Tiberias number three Caligula number four Claudius number five Nero number six, then auto telling us it rained only a short time the three of them together. Then, Vespasian and Titus. Then Domitian that makes Nero the fifth. According to that particular verse should already have died. You move back one Emperor arbitrarily and start with Julius Caesar. Certainly, prominent Emperor, but was not actually in Emperor Nero becomes sex and that's nice with the theory, but then the eighth dreaded kicking news also described as the beast, verse 11, shortly after that is auto only rained a very short time and hardly serves the title or you just dismiss those three emperors all of whom together rained only a very short time, Otto and Vitellius. The eighth one becomes Titus, who was not a persecutor was a difficult problem to work out anybody has trouble with that but it is not a very sound basis for dating the book of Revelation is in the matter of deciding who wrote it were probably best if we just stick with the traditional dating and conclude that the prophecy was given to John for a time in history when the churches were beginning to feel pressured about of the Roman Emperor in worship and to prepare them for the kind of difficulties that would exist in such times of the churches to which he writes of the seven churches in the province of Asia verse four.

These were actual churches.

They lay in a more or less circular route kind of route that a postal clerk taken. For example, if he was delivering this book to the various churches are mentioned in Ephesus the first church mentioned was the closest one Must where John was imprisoned. Also, the major city of the area so you can understand how that would flow out but there's probably more to the matter than this.

For one thing, there were more than seven Christian churches in Asia minor is a jerk control as, for example, we learned about in the next 20 church in Colossae Ball wrote a letter to the church in Colossae recall the Colossians with the church in Heliopolis is mentioned in Colossians are probably others you have to ask why these seven only well when you think about numbers, especially the number seven realized that there are all kinds of things in sevens of the book of Revelation 7 candlesticks seven stars seven lambs seven seals of the horns of the eyes of an Angel seven plague, seven bowls, you begin to suspect that the number is somewhat symbolic and it undoubtedly is hesitant with fullness completeness and that's the case here.

The choice of the seven churches.

It probably means that these churches are to be thought of as representative of the church universal business and that day all kinds of problems are discussed but also in our day, say, with a real churches, yes of course they were. The book was sent to each and was to be read by each one, but all of that was to be read by one.

That's why when letters are concluding and say he who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. Churches is plural, which means each church was to read what had been written to the other person were to read the same way as I holiday describe what's going on in our churches today are our church in which we learn from it.

What I said earlier that verses four through seven are in the form of an ancient beginning the letter follow a set pattern and after the identification of the author and the one to whom he is writing you have a blessing and the blessing here is this grace and peace to you from who is and who was and who is the common from the seven spirits before the throne and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth, it seems to be a Trinitarian greeting part of the grading is from God, the father of already said something about the way God the father is described in the grammatical problems with the text there from Kim who is wise and who is to comments.

Undoubtedly a deliberate reference to God's revelation of his name to Moses at the burning bush Exodus 314 is echoed in other places to Isaiah 44, 48, God says I am the first, I am the last sentence Jesus applies to himself.

Later on in the same chapter verse 17 Revelation 1H God refers to himself saying I am the Alpha and the Omega, who is in. It wasn't who is the common at the very end of Revelation, Jesus puts a number of these titles together saying I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last getting in the end you notice the order of those phrases in verse four usually in normal conversation. We start with the past, we moved to the present. We talk about the future, we would say reference to God him who was and who is and who is to, John doesn't do that. He begins with the present that he goes back to the class and talk about the future. The recent courses that he is emphasizing the God is eternally present reason. He writes the phrase the way dots as we could say the past and the future are all embraced in the present for him to look at what that means we come to it again and again.

That's the way God the father is introduced and secondly we have a blessing from the spirit is a puzzling phrase there. The seven spirits before the throne is unusual and it may mean that this is in a Trinitarian passage of all is that it's not talking about the Holy Spirit but seven spirits meaning something else that same phrase occurs several other places that it doesn't seem to be the Holy Spirit. There, on the other hand, may well be. This is the best explanation anyone is come up with the John is referring to Isaiah 11 verse two where there are some aspects of the Holy Spirit.

Isaiah talks about them as being the spirit of the Lord of the wisdom of understanding of counsel of power of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord. If that's the case in we really do have a Trinitarian blessing. And thirdly, Jesus Christ. That's the most important one, and most of the phrases are given to him. We say why wisely mentioned last well because John wants to focus on Jesus is the central figure of the book, and indeed he does not only hear by listing three of Christ's titles in verse five. The following verses he utters a doxology which is praise of Jesus Christ and a reminder of the second coming and in the remainder of the chapter he provides a vision of Jesus standing among the lampstands represent the churches. I'll hear the titles. First of all is the faithful witness was a faithful witness to all that God instructed him to teach John three verse 11. Jesus is speaking says I tell you the truth, we speak of what we know is using a collective word to refer to all of the writers and speakers in Scripture and we testified what we have seen that you do not accept our testimony of Jesus certainly has done that is a special emphasis in the New Testament upon Jesus testimony before Pontius Pilate at the time of his trial. The words of formal testimony. John 1837. Interestingly enough clues these words.

For this reason I was born in for this cause I came into the world to testify to the truth. Paul in his writing to Timothy to encourage him to be faithful in his testimony says in the sight of God, who gives life to everything on Christ Jesus who while testifying before Pontius Pilate made a good confession. I charge you to keep this command, without spot or blame mentally appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ. When you remember that this letter being written to Christians who were suffering persecution or would soon be suffering persecution. Many of them would endure hardship and suffering, and perhaps even death the sake of their witness is certainly an encouragement to them to know that the Lord Jesus Christ there serving himself bore a faithful witness, even though he suffered for it. Letter to the church of Pergamum acknowledges one of these witnesses and to pursue .it was put to death in your city Greek this word witnesses the same word for martyr sword marches so John is saying many of you may be martyrs for the sake of the testimony, but remember Stan firm because Jesus did it before you same title as the firstborn of the dead, perfectly evident why that occurs there. Jesus bore his witness and he died for it, but God vindicated him by raising him from the dead. And that's exactly what he would do with those who follow Jesus Christ. Even though they should suffer persecution the believers in Asia needed to remember this and perhaps Ava remembered Jesus having set the Salina stands firm to the end will be saved. I needed to do that we need to take that seriously. We say we do that today that we ourselves actually stand firm to the end even when we are in danger from those who hate the gospel we resist sin since treated lightly today. He wants to take it seriously. Carl manager even wrote about it he wrote a book calling whatever became of San always under pressure today to adopt the politically correct stance on moral issues to treat normal as normal behavior.

Sins which the Bible says will bring the unrepentant judgment as far as the name of Jesus is concerned.

Well name of Jesus may be tolerated. Christians may be able to worship in private as long as they keep it there will be to them if they try to bring action that the political or social round is precisely with affirmations like these. Jesus is Lord he is the one way, the one truth of the Bible is an error in the gospel is the way in which your saved you must believe him back pass from death to life that provide such hostility from those with whom we work and that we have to be faithful to that if we are to be faithful to Jesus and then finally John refers to Jesus as the ruler of the kings of the earth probably comes from Psalm 89 is a matter of fact, the idea of the firstborn probably comes from the same Psalm even though Paul was the first to use it explicitly of Jesus in Colossians Psalm 89 the one who was appointed by the father to be the firstborn is also appointed me, the King of Kings. We read in verses 27 and 29. I will also appointed him, that is Jesus my firstborn, the most exalted of the kings of the earth Bible establishes line forever throne as long as the heavens endure the context of this testimony on the whole of the gospel. We can't overlook the fact that what is ascribed to Jesus. Here is a blessing ruler over all the kingdoms of the world is being the temptation that Satan laid before them. At the very beginning of his ministry statement from Tulane offering him all the kingdoms of the world and the splendor of only Jesus would bow down and worship Satan. Jesus wasn't interested in the kingdoms of the world is the King of Kings and the Lord of lords, and he is to possess them, and indeed he does but he wouldn't take them on the devil's terms rule Satan.

He knew that the way the kingdoms of this world was the cross followed by the resurrection only if he pursued that path.

The rain with the blessing of the father and with those who had been given to him by the father from before the creation of the earth point of course is that that is also the path set before us. Many want the kingdoms of the world without the suffering want to buy the world's own means by political manipulation by compromise, but it doesn't come that way. Kingdoms of the world, by the faithful testimony on the sufferings of those who are the disciples of the Lamb who will by the grace of God one day rain with him. Father, we ask for your blessing on our study this morning.

This reminder of the greatness of our Lord fact the blessings only come from him, but must come in his way. That might remain with us they might strengthen us to be faithful in our own testimony wherever we may be rest of this day this week. Throughout the years to come may be said of us, Lord returns that we are blessed of the father and found faithful because we were able to stand by your strength).

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