The “mystery of God”
will be completed in the days leading up to and including the seventh trumpet. This period could include events immediately
after the blast.
The trumpet blast itself
will be a single blast. (See the discussion of Pentecost’s views later.)
The completion of the “mystery
of God” will include events before and at the time of the blast of the seventh
trumpet. Jumping ahead of the story, we
would understand that the Second Coming, Resurrection/Rapture, and defeat of
the Antichrist/Beast all could be encompassed by this period.
Rist has a little
bit different take on these issues. He
compares the oath of the angel to Daniel 12:6, in which an angelic figure
swears that the end will come in three and a half years. So, he sees a difference of opinion with
John. He also comments that
the solemn promise by the angel, the end does not come after the seventh
trumpet is blown (11:15); indeed much is yet to happen.”
For an indication of how this problem may be
solved, see the discussion of Pentecost’s views below.
third issue of interpretation is the final clause: “just as he announced to his servants the
prophets.” The word “announced” is
literally “announced good news.” It is
the verb used for preaching the gospel.
One could create the verb “gospel,” as in “he gospeled the crowd,”
meaning “he preached the gospel” to them.
Exactly how it is to be understood in this verse is a question. I think that this clause conveys that fact
that God announced good news to his prophets.
In this context, the good news was that the “mystery of God” will be
fulfilled or completed. He did not
necessarily tell them the full content of the “mystery of God,” but, rather,
gave them the good news that it will be accomplished. Ladd combines the idea that the prophets had
the gospel preached to them and that the completion of God’s purpose includes
judgment: ultimate salvation must
include purging of universe of all evil.
For another understanding of this issue, see the discussion of Russell’s
Verse 10:8: The little scroll that was introduced in
verse 10:2 is again the focus. An
unidentified voice (probably understood to be God) spoke to John twice, once to
tell him not to write what the thunders spoke, and now to tell him to get the
scroll from the angel. The powerful
angel protects this treasure and no one will take it from him: he has to give it. Ladd points out that, for the third time, the
angel’s stance on earth and sea is mentioned, a reminder that the message is
for the whole world.
Verse 10:9-10: John asks the angel for the book, and the
angel tells him to eat it. He warns that
it will be sweet in his mouth but bitter in his stomach. This is very similar to Ezekiel’s experience
in Ezekiel 2:8-3:3. Tasker also refers
to an experience in Jeremiah 15:16. He
points out that only John experienced bitterness. Tasker believes that the bitterness arose from
announcing denunciations and woes. The
true preacher does not do this with glee.
Ladd considers this a reaffirmation of John’s commission. It is a call to experience thoroughly the
word. “The word of God…must be ingested
and personally assimilated by the prophet, as it must be by every servant of
God who proclaims his word.” The
experience of receiving the word is a blessing that comes from closeness to
God, Ladd notes. However, as he
assimilates it, it becomes bitter because it is no sweet thing to announce
judgment. He proclaims with a broken
heart, just as Jesus wept over Jerusalem.
Then, John was told something.
Literally, it says, “They are saying to
Who “they” are is not clear.
Tasker considers it to be impersonal:
“I was told.”
I think John understood that “they” meant “all of heaven.”
What he was told is that, “It is necessary
that you prophesy…”
The expression “it
is necessary to…” is often used to identify a divine destiny.
John was destined to prophesy.
The next phrase is interpreted in one of two
The interpretation depends on how
one understands the preposition “epi.”
Ladd notes that this preposition can be translated as variants of three
“before, “against,” and
Because the objects of the
preposition are in the dative, the most likely meaning is “about.”
Rarely, the dative can be used with this word
to mean “before.”
KJV translates the word as “before” but Young’s
literal translation, NRSV, NIV, NASB, and ESV all translate it as “about” or
So, John was to prophesy
about many different peoples, nations, etc.
Ladd takes this to mean that his prophecy will concern the whole
He understands the word
“again” to mean that the latter part of the book is the remaining prophecy that
John was to bring forth.
expansion of this idea and how it affects the chronology of Revelation in
Pentecost’s views below.
Summary: The chapter consists of three
portions: 10:1-4, 10:5-7, and
10:8-11. The first portion describes a
mighty angel, standing on earth and sea and holding a little book. The angel shouted and seven thunders spoke. John is not allowed to record what they
spoke. This is likely because the seven
thunders spoke of things that only John was spiritually equipped to receive
them. Those words very likely were of
things that will happen in the future, but they remain to be a surprise for those
who experience them. In the second
portion, the mighty angel takes an oath that there will be no more delay, but
the “mystery of God” will be fulfilled in the days when the seventh angel is
about to blow his horn and when he does blow his horn. The “mystery of God” is most likely God’s
great redemptive plan, which includes salvation, which is offered to both
Hebrews and Gentiles, and includes the judgment on rebellious society. The final portion of the chapter concerns the
little book which the angel held—opened—in his hand. This little book probably represents the
prophetic ministry of John—both in terms of its content and in terms of his
prophetic calling. John is commanded to
take and eat the book, and he does. It
is sweet in his mouth, but it makes his stomach bitter. This probably represents the fact that John
enjoys the deep relationship of a prophet to the Lord, which is sweet, but he
also experiences the pain and grief of announcing the judgments that people
must experience because of their evil.
comments of J. S. Russell on Revelation 10:
I have chosen to separate Russell’s and Pentecost’s remarks from the
other commentators because their approach and interpretations are so different
from those of the other that it would be confusing to include them in the main
body of the analysis. Obviously, I do
not agree with them, but even if I did, it would still create confusion in the
reader to mix these two into the verse-by-verse analysis. J. S. Russell is the father of the Preterist
school of interpretation and J. Dwight Pentecost is a leading author among the
makes a case—though not a very strong one—that the whole chapter, especially
the parts that focus on the mighty angel, is another description of the Second
Coming of Christ. I shall not go into
all of his reasoning, but the following are some of his connections between
Revelation 10 and other passages:
The descriptions of the
might angel are similar to descriptions of Jesus (in Revelation 1 and other places)
and of the Lord enthroned (in Ezekiel 1 and Revelation 4).
I Thessalonians 4:16
(abbreviated THESS): the Lord descends
from heaven as does the angel.
THESS: the Lord shouts and so does the angel
THESS: there is a trumpet; a trumpet is referred to
in Revelation 10:7.
He calls Michael the
prince of angels and Christ the prince of angels.
The voice of the
archangel wakes the sleeping saints [I do not know where he gets this] and so
does the voice of Christ.
The loose associations which Russell makes among
various Scriptures are not examples of strong interpretation. In fact, the narrative in chapter 10 has
virtually no correspondence to the narrative of the Second Coming and Rapture
in I Thessalonians 4. There are some
points at which the account in chapter 10 certainly points in the direction of
the consummation, but it is obviously a scene played out before John to refer
to future events. In addition, there is
good evidence that the mighty angel of chapter 10 is not Jesus. The angel is never worshiped in the
scene. He swears by the Creator. This is an action that one would not expect
from Christ. A voice from heaven
commands John to take the little book from the angel. The angel cooperates with this heavenly
directive, adding the prediction of how John will be affected. This does not correspond with how Christ
would behave or how the scene would play out if the angel is Christ. Moreover, though Russell insists on calling
him an archangel, the mighty angel is not called an archangel throughout the
comments by Russell seem bizarre and do not make one confident in his ability
as a commentator. He confuses the shout
in 10:3 with the statement in 10:6-7. He
also seems to confuse the words from the thunders with the words of the angel.
recognizes that 10:6 states that there will be no more “respite” or delay. However, he is relating this to his overall
interpretation of prophetic material.
So, he understands that the “respite” he refers to is the time that was
given the Jews before the AD 70 destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple.
word “evangelized,” that is used in 10:7, Russell interprets as a “comforting
word.” This comforting word to the
“servants” (10:7) was the word that was given to the martyrs who are described
as “under the altar” in 6:9-11. In
response to their prayers, the Lord sends the whole series of trumpets to bring
judgment on their persecutors. Now, in
10:6-7, they are given a “comforting word” that there will be no more delay,
but the end will come with the seventh trumpet.
At that time the judgment of Revelation 11:18 will take place. (I shall return to this point.)
Russell points to the correspondence between Ezekiel and John in their eating a
book. He points out that Ezekiel’s book
was written full of woes. John’s book
made his stomach bitter and he ate it in the midst of the three woes of
Revelation 8:13. For John “like
Ezekiel, was the messenger of coming woe to Israel, and this very vision
belongs to the woe-trumpets which sounded the signal of judgment.”
is true that John is a deliverer of woe, it is not necessarily true that these
woes should be understood as coming only against Israel. It is possible that Israel will experience
suffering during the Tribulation period, but so will other nations. The reason Russell’s understanding does not
correspond with my understanding is that he is coming from a Preterist
viewpoint. Thus, when he says that the
end will come with the seventh trumpet and he refers to 11:18, he understands
that judgment to be the AD 70 destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple. I shall draw a few sentences from his
commentary on 11:15-18:
“Messiah has overcome; He
has put down all rule, and all authority, and all power, i.e. the hostile and
malignant Jewish antagonism which has been the bitter enemy of His cause.”
“…and it is the time of
the retribution for the enemies of Christ, the destroyers of the land.” (Russell consistently interprets the word
translated “earth” as “land,” that is, the land of Israel. This contrary to every translation.)
“In fact, the whole
catastrophe represents a time and an act of judgment, and the scene of that
judgment is the guilty land of Israel, and the time is ‘the end of the age,’
the termination of the Jewish economy.”
If one keeps in mind that Russell always
has in focus the events of AD 70, then one can see in these statements that he
can transform statements that most would apply to the whole world to the narrow
application to Israel.
general, Russell’s methodology is twofold.
First, he keeps his focus on the idea that every prophetic statement of
the New Testament applies to the events of AD 70. Second, he allows himself great latitude to
freely associate on a passage of Scripture and grab any connection to his main
focus that he can and use that connection as evidence for his thesis. This, in truth, is what is termed eisogesis,
meaning “reading into” a passage the meaning one expects to find.
comments of J. Dwight Pentecost on Revelation 10: As I used his index, I could not find
many references to chapter 10 in Pentecost’s book, Things to Come. I shall
discuss those that I did find.
10:7: In one section of his book,
Pentecost discusses views of the Rapture that are held by various
Dispensationalists. He holds to the
Pre-Tribulation Rapture Theory. One of
the theories he discusses is the Mid-Tribulation Rapture Theory. One of the writers who holds to that theory
states that the Rapture is implied in chapter 11 and that that is midway
through the Tribulation period. One of
the evidences he uses is the mention of the “mystery of God” in 10:7, which is
to be completed at the seventh trumpet in chapter 11. Tribulationalists argue that the church is a
“mystery.” It is unknown to the Old
Testament writers, but it is revealed in the New Testament era. It is a “parenthesis” in the plan of
God. After the parenthesis is closed,
God resumes His dealings with the nation of Israel. The Rapture is the close of the
parenthesis. Since chapter 10:7 mentions
that the “mystery of God” is completed with the seventh trumpet, then that must
be the mystery program of the church.
Pentecost rebuts this view by defining the “mystery of God” in another
way. He quotes Ironside that the
“mystery” referred to is why God permits evil to triumph for so long. So, the finishing of the “mystery of God”
referred to in 10:7 is the final triumph over evil. Pentecost says: “God is now terminating [with the seventh
trumpet] the program with evil.”
I was working through chapter 10, I did a concordance study of “mystery” in the
New Testament. I shall discuss, I hope,
those findings in another article. I
observed that the word does not neatly fit into a program for “this age,” that
is, the church age. For example,
Ephesians 1:9 is a statement of the purpose of God to bring all things under
the headship of Christ. That is not a
plan, it seems to me, that is restricted to the church age. However, Pentecost has a very different view
of “mystery”: “In the twenty-seven New
Testament usages of the word mystery…it
will be observed that the body of truth referred to as a mystery is particular
truth related to this present age.” (135)
He goes on to say: “The existence
of this present age, which was to interrupt God’s established program with
Israel, was a mystery (Matt. 13:11).” (135)
Note his thesis carefully. Then,
one may ask: “How does he deal with the
‘mystery of God’ in Revelation 10:7?”
Instead of referring it to “the present age,” he defines the mystery as
God’s program with evil. Why does he do
this? Because this particular mystery
occurs after the onset of the Tribulation, which in his view is after the
Rapture. Norman B. Harrison, the
Mid-Tribulation Rapture theorist (and otherwise a Dispensationalist), uses the
Dispensationalist understanding of “mystery” in a consistent way and
understands the “mystery of God” in Revelation 10:7 to refer to the church
program of God. Thus, he concludes that
the rapture is implied in chapter 11. He
bases this on 10:7, which says that the “mystery of God” will be completed with
the seventh trumpet. Pentecost thus must
redefine “mystery” in this case to suit his purposes. Ironically, in his list of Scriptures
supporting his case that “mystery” refers to the present (church) age, he
includes Scriptures from Revelation, but not this one. (135)
we can say that Pentecost does not interpret “mystery of God” correctly. However, there is more to the story, as they
in additional arguments with the Mid-Tribulation Rapture view, discusses the “last
trumpet.” The “last trumpet” is
mentioned in I Corinthians 15:52, which describes the Rapture as it takes place
at the “last trumpet.” An argument for the
Mid-Tribulation Rapture view is that the seventh trumpet, in Revelation 11:15, is
the last of the series of seven and the last that is mentioned in Revelation,
so it must be the “last trumpet” of I Corinthians 15:52. In his arguments to refute this conclusion,
Pentecost refers to Revelation 10:7 as indicating that the trumpet will sound
over an extended period of time. In
contrast, the trumpet blast in I Corinthians 15:52 will take place “in a moment,
in the twinkling of an eye…”
Incidentally, this is one of nine arguments Pentecost makes against the
identity of the trumpet in I Corinthians 15:52 with the seventh trumpet. I do not agree with this particular argument
(as well as several others that he makes).
Although Ladd believes that the seventh trumpet will extend over many
days, I do not believe 10:7 says that, and I do not believe that from
consideration of Revelation 11:15.
I have discussed the
issue of the translation and meaning of the expression above. My conclusion there was that the “mystery of
God” will be accomplished in a period of time.
That period is identified by the blowing of the seventh trumpet. It can include the run-up to that event as
well as the trumpet blast and concomitant events. The use of the expression “in the days” does
not necessitate that the blast take place over an extended period of time. In addition, if we observe the wording of the
seven trumps (8:7, 8:8, 8:10, 8:12, 9:1, 9:13, 11:15), we find the exact same
expression for each trumpet: It is
simply: “And the _____angel sounded (“trumpeted”).
In none of the other six cases is there
any implication that the trumpet blast takes place over an extended time. We
note immediately after the seventh trumpet blast (11:15), there are loud voices
speaking (11:15b) and the 24 elders responding (11:16-18). This is followed by the temple in heaven
being opened and lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, and an earthquake
(11:19). Note that all of these sequelae
to the seventh trumpet blast involve auditory events. These would be in competition with an
extended trumpet blast. So, I do not
think the seventh trumpet lasts over an extended period of time.
10:11: Incidental to his arguments
with the Mid-Tribulation Rapture Theory, in the same chapter, Pentecost gives
his view of the chronology of Revelation.
His view is by no means universal among Dispensationalists. He believes that, in a way, the “Mid-Trib”
theorists have some insight in believing that something comes to an end with
seventh trumpet. In fact, Pentecost
believes that the seventh trumpet is the signal for the Second Coming (not the
Rapture, which he believes happens at the beginning of the Tribulation). He refers to 11:15b, which announces that the
“kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and
he shall reign forever and ever.”
Pentecost believes then that Revelation goes back over the entire
Tribulation period “placing emphasis on the individuals who play so important a
part in the events of the seventieth week.” (188) As support for this theory, he refers to
Revelation 10:11, in which John is told that he must prophesy “again”
concerning peoples, nations, etc. The
word “again” is “divine notice” for John to go back through the
Tribulation. I am not sure how much
stock should be put in this reasoning.
However, I do believe that Pentecost’s theory of the chronology in
Revelation has some merit.
summary, Pentecost considers the implications of only verses 10:6-7 and
10:11. He believes the “mystery of God”
is why God permits evil and that the completion of that mystery is God’s
overthrow of evil. This somewhat
contradicts the Dispensationalist understanding of “mystery.” Pentecost rejects the idea that the “last
trumpet” of I Corinthians 15:52 is the same as the seventh trumpet of
Revelation 11:15. One reason for this
rejection is that he believes the “last trumpet” will be in a moment, but the
seventh trumpet will extend over many days, on the basis of Revelation
10:7. There is good evidence that the
seventh trumpet does not extend over a long period. From the commission of John in 10:11,
Pentecost draws evidence that the chronology of Revelation is twofold. Revelation follows events of the Tribulation
period to the end in 11:15-19 and then goes back over that material from a different
perspective in the following chapters.
He bases this partly on the “again” of 10:11. Though his idea of chronology has merit, the
use of “again” as evidence is not too strong.
Bibles (2009-04-09). ESV Study Bible. Good News Publishers. Kindle Edition.
George Eldon. A Commentary on the Revelation of John. Grand Rapids:
Eerdmans Publ. Co., 1972.
Foundation, The. New American Standard
Bible. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publ. ‘
Bruce M. Breaking the Code. Understanding
the Book of Revelation. Nashville:
Council of Churches of the U.S.A. New Revised Standard Version of the
J. Dwight. Things to Come. Grand
Rapids: Zondervan Publ. House, 1958.
Martin. “The Revelation of St. John the
Divine” Exegesis. The Interpreter’s Bible. Vol.
Nolan B. Harmon, Ed. New York:
Abingdon Press, 1957.
Russell, J. S. The
Parousia, A Critical Inquiry into the New Testament Doctrine of Our
Lord’s Second Coming. (Google Internet Book) London:
Zondervan NIV Study Bible. Grand Rapids:
Zondervan Publ., 2002
Post a Comment