Thursday, September 6, 2012

Beale on Revelation 2:17 and 3:10

In this write-up about G.K. Beale's The Book of Revelation: A Commentary on the Greek Text, I will talk some about Beale's interpretation of two passages: Revelation 2:17 and Revelation 3:10.

1.  Revelation 2:17 states (in the King James Version): "He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it."

What are the hidden manna and the white stone with the new name in it?  Regarding the hidden manna, Beale thinks that it symbolizes "end-time fellowship and identification with Christ, which will be consummated at the marriage supper of the Lamb" (page 252).  Beale believes that the message here is that those who refused to eat at pagan feasts will partake of the hidden manna, which is hidden either because it will only be "revealed to God's people at the end of time, and possibly to each at the time of death", or because Jeremiah hid the manna in the Ark of the Covenant before the Temple's destruction and it will be revealed at the Messiah's advent (II Maccabees 2:4-7), or because the "manna given to Israel in the wilderness was...said to be 'hidden in the high heavens...from the beginning' of creation (Targ. Ps.-J. Exod. 16:4, 15) and was ultimately to prosper Israel at the end of days (Targ. Neof. 8:16)" (page 252).  Beale refers to other examples in Jewish literature in which manna is part of Jewish eschatological expectation (B.T. Chagiga 12b; II Baruch 29:8; Sib. Or. 3:24-49; 7:149; Ecclesiastes Rabbah 1:9).  Beale also speculates that manna is mentioned in Revelation 2:17 because of the reference to Balaam in Revelation 2:14.  According to Beale, the message is that "Israel should have relied on God's heavenly food rather than partaking of idolatrous food, and the church will partake of heavenly manna if it does not compromise in the same way" (page 252).

Regarding the white stone, Beale offers a variety of possibilities: that it is a white stone of acquittal (IV Maccabees 15:26; Acts 26:10) (in this case, from its stigma in the eyes of the world) or a pass of admission (probably to Jesus' eschatological supper); that it has in mind a Jewish tradition that precious stones fell from heaven with the manna (Midrash Psalms 78:4) or relates to the stones in the high priest's ephod that "will be revealed in messianic times (cf. 2 Bar. 6:7-8)"; or that it concerns the description of manna as "resembling white bdulliam stones (cf. Exod. 16:31 and Num. 11:7)" (page 253).  In any case, Beale believes that the stone's whiteness relates to the church's righteous acts and refusal to be corrupted by wickedness.

What about the new name?  Beale believes that this concerns a new intimacy with Jesus Christ, who himself has a new name that is unknown to people (Revelation 19:12).  Beale refers to Luke 10:22, which affirms that no one knows the Son except the Father.  Beale's argument seems to be (if I am understanding it correctly) that believers will know the new name of Christ.  Beale also mentions Isaiah 62:2 and 65:15, which associate Jerusalem's new name with "Israel's future kingly status (62:3) and restoration to Yahweh's covenantal presence (62:4a...)" as well as "its new married relationship with the Lord (cf. 62:4b-5...)" (page 255).  Beale contends that Jesus, as the representative of latter-day Israel (which Beale understands as the church), "is the first one to fulfill the 'new name' prophecy of Isaiah" (page 256).

And what about the fact that the new name is written on the stone?  Beale is open to this having a priestly significance, for the names of the twelve tribes were on the precious stones of the "shoulder pieces of the high priest's ephod" (Exodus 28:9-12), and "Holy to the LORD" was written on the golden stone on the forehead of the high priest (Exodus 28:36-38) (page 258).  In Revelation 2:17, the idea may be that the believers are priests.

2.  Revelation 3:10 states (in the KJV): "Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth."  This is addressed to the church of Philadelphia.  In my opinion, this verse is evidence that the author of Revelation expected for the end to come soon, in the days of the seven churches in Asia Minor.  (I suppose one can argue that the church of Philadelphia was kept from worldwide tribulation because it ceased to exist long before the time of the Second Coming, but what would be the big deal about that?  That can also be said about the bad churches in Revelation 2-3!)

How does Beale interpret Revelation 3:10?  Beale uses his already-but-not-yet argument, saying that there is a sense in the Book of Revelation that tribulation is already present (1:9; 2:9) or imminent (2:10, 22).  At the same time, he's open to it being a future event; in this case, Beale may be falling back on his view that the seven churches concern, not just the first century churches, but the different types of churches throughout the church age between Christ's first and second comings.  Beale offers another possibility as well: "Or the period may just as well refer to a trial to come immediately on all in Asia Minor or in the limited known world of that time" (page 290).  I talked in an earlier post about how Beale thinks that some of the seven trumpets pertain to the church age.  Does he believe that God punishes idolaters (in some sense) throughout the time of the church age, between Christ's first and second comings?

No comments:

Post a Comment

Search This Blog