Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Beale on Victory, the Two Beasts, and Double Meaning

In my latest reading of G.K. Beale's The Book of Revelation: A Commentary on the Greek Text, Beale talked about Revelation 12-13.

Regarding Revelation 12, Beale talks about how the serpent fell from heaven.  According to Beale, Satan in Revelation 12 was defeated through the blood of Jesus Christ.  How?  Well, Satan accuses people before God and, when Christ paid the penalty for people's sin, there was no longer any basis to Satan's accusation, at least when it comes to believers.  Moreover, as a result of Christ's death, people were entering God's dominion and leaving that of Satan.  But Satan attacks believers through the floods of deception and persecution, and Beale interprets the part of Revelation 13 about the healing of the Beast's deadly wound in light of that sort of concept: that, although Satan is defeated, it looks to many as if such is not the case.  And yet, according to Beale on page 688, "Whenever believers withstand persecution, deception, and compromise, the devil and his agents are seen as continuing to be defeated..."
  
I have not read all of what Beale has to say about Revelation 13.  But he says something quite interesting on page 682, concerning the Beast who comes out of the sea and the second beast who comes from the land.  Beale speculates that we should consider the perspective of people in Asia Minor to understand these beasts.  People in Asia Minor saw Romans come to them by sea, to Ephesus, and so the first beast represents Rome (though Beale does not believe that the Beast of Revelation 13 should be limited to Rome, for, to him, it relates to the entire church age between Christ's two comings, plus Beale acknowledges that there may be an intense manifestation of the Beast soon before Christ's second coming).  The second beast, the one from the land, represents the "native political and economic authorities" of Asia Minor, Beale contends.  This makes sense to me.  Revelation 2-3 is about the struggles of Christians in Asia Minor against persecution and idolatry.  Moreover, in the same way that the second beast promoted the worship of the first beast, so likewise did parts of Asia Minor promote emperor worship.

One more interesting item before I close this post.  On page 687, Beale states: "In 4 Ezra 12:12-13 God tells the seer that the interpretation given to Daniel that the fourth kingdom was Greece is not wrong but now that kingdom is to be identified as Rome."  In that passage, God tells the seer that the fourth beast of Daniel's vision was not explained to Daniel as it is explained to the seer.  This stood out to me because an interest of mine is how ancient interpreters interacted (if they did interact) with the literal-historical meaning of the biblical text while also seeking to apply it to their own times.

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