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.
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.
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
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?
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