Tuesday, May 29, 2018
A SURVEY OF REVELATION 16, PART B: COMMENTATORS
Scripture quotations are from the English Standard Version.
ESVSB = English Standard Version Study Bible
NIVSB = New International Version Study Bible
The following are notes from commentators:
Rist infers that the speaker is “God himself.” He describes the seven plagues to be “patterned in part” after the plagues of Exodus. He refers to verses 15:2-3 and considers the martyrs by the sea of glass are patterned after the victory celebrated by Moses by the sea. He notes that the pattern in chapter 15 and 16 is the reverse of the Exodus: the martyrs of Revelation celebrate before the plagues whereas the Israelites celebrate after crossing the sea. But in Revelation the “author” wishes to “show that the martyrs will be safe in heaven…when the seven bowl plagues are poured out.
He considers the plague of sores to be a “retelling” of the sixth plague of boils in Exodus 9:8-12. These sores are in “partial fulfillment of the warning of the angel in 14:9-10” against worship of the Beast.
The second plague is “derived” from the first Exodus plague of turning the Nile into blood (Exodus 7:14-25).
He considers the third bowl plague to be a “variant of [the] theme” of the first Exodus plague, which was extended from the Nile to all the sources of water in Egypt. He notes that the angel of the water is consistent with the angels of the winds (7:1) and the fire (14:18). He describes the water angel’s utterance to be “liturgical.” The angel’s pronouncement of justice is considered by Rist to be an example of “lex talionis, the law of retribution, which permeates all of Revelation…”
It is important to understand that, Jesus’ abrogation of the law of retribution in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:38-39) is addressing personalhumanvindictiveness. ESVSB considers that Jesus was not concerned with punishment by civil government. In any case, God’s authority to punish wrongdoing is reserved to himself and cannot be questioned (Deuteronomy 32:35, Psalm 94:1, Isaiah 34:8, Romans 12:19, Genesis 18:25, Romans 2:16, II Timothy 4:1, Isaiah 13:11). Rist implies that he is not questioning God, but rather is critiquing the “author” of Revelation from a “higher criticism” standpoint.
Rist comments on the oddity of the altar speaking: “That an altar can speak is not surprising in a book where an eagle, the dragon, the beasts from the sea and land, and other nonhuman creatures are given the power of speech.” He relates the statement of the altar to the cry of the “martyrs under the altar in 6:10…” The altar “speaking for the martyrs affirms that it [God’s judgment] is just.”
Rist discusses “apocalyptic speculation” of the destruction of the world by fire. He includes II Peter 3:10 as well as the Apocalypse of Peter 5, which, he says, was “written at the time of II Peter, ca. the middle of the second century.” Note that this statement is made as absolute fact. In fact conservative scholars disagree on this dating of II Peter and attribute II Peter to the apostle Peter, writing shortly before his death around AD 65. (See introductions to the book in ESVSB and NIVSB. See also the lengthy discussion of all of the problems in Green, 13-55.)
However, he considers that the plague of Revelation 16:8-9 is not a fiery destruction but an increase in the heat of the sun to scorch the wicked. He notes that the victims blaspheme God but do not repent. He says that “we may…be amazed that these series of apocalyptic woes…will have little or no effect upon the attitude and behavior of the idolatrous Romans toward the Christians.” This statement is consistent with Rist’s interpretative scheme. That scheme understands the book to have been written around AD 95 in the reign of Domitian. Rist understands the Beast to be ancient Rome. The author is writing to encourage martyrs that Christ will come soon and destroy Rome. So the time frame for the events is the next few years. From our frame of reference most of the events of the book, including the various plagues under the seals, trumpets, and bowls, would take place in final years of the first century AD, and Christ would come around AD 100. With this time frame in mind, Rist makes the statement concerning the lack of effect of the plagues on the Romans. (See Rist, 365.)
Rist notes that the fifth bowl plague—darkness—corresponds closely with the ninth plague on the Egyptians in Exodus 10:21-29. In the fifth bowl, “the emperor [the Beast] himself becomes a direct target of God’s terrible wrath. This is an omen of his coming defeat and destruction.”
He considers the mention of frogs to be derived from the plague of frogs in Exodus (Exodus 8:1-15). There is no correspondence between the role of the frogs in the sixth bowl of wrath and their role in Exodus. He says that the frog plague of Exodus is combined with the sixth trumpet (Revelation 9:13-19). There is some correspondence between the sixth trumpet and the sixth bowl. The Euprhates Rivers is mentioned in both passages. It the place where four angels are kept bound in the trumpet narrative. The river is dried up in the bowl narrative. In the trumpet narrative 200 million “troops” seem to be activated by the unbinding of the four angels. In the bowl narrative, the “kings of the east” are given a way across the Euphrates. Later, the kings of the whole earth are gathered for battle. So, there is some vague correspondence between the two narratives, but not a very close one.
Rist interprets the “kings of the east” as the “satraps of Parthia.” He compares the frogs to various mythologies from Zoroastrianism. It is his practice often to point to as many similarities as he can find in a passage to other Biblical and myths and legends. His implication is that John is drawing from all this literature to fashion the narratives of Revelation. In some cases, his comparisons are almost ludicrous.
He describes the “battle on the great day of God the Almighty” (verse 16:14) as “the apocalyptic conflict in which the forces of evil are to be finally defeated and destroyed.”
Although some critics regard verse 16:15 as a “displacement from another chapter…or else a scribal interpolation…” Rist considers that John has placed this “beatitude” here on purpose to warn people to be on guard and to give assurance. He interprets the “garments” as “garments of immortality.”
Rist comments that Armageddon “like the number 666, has been magnified in popular thinking out of all proportion to its significance.” Rist mentions some “solutions” to the meaning of the term. Some believe it is a corruption of Hebrew for “his fruitful mountain.” I am very limited in access to Hebrew. Using Young’s concordance, I could not find a Hebrew word for “fruitful” that would come close to any of the syllables of Armageddon.” Others suggest it comes from the Hebrew for “the desirable city.” I could not find anything helpful along these line in Young’s. He indicates the interpretation that is more agreed on is “the mountains of Megiddo.” Because the area near Megiddo was where a number of battles were fought, “the name Armageddon was used by John to symbolize the site of the eschatological conflict between the cohorts of God and Satan.” He notes that there are no “mountains of Megiddo,” but one can consider that “the term refers to the mountains in the neighborhood of Megiddo.” He speculates that John refers to mountains because he follows Ezekiel, who says “the conflict was to take place on ‘the mountains of Israel.’” (See Ezekiel 38-39.) He concludes that the “derivation…is not as important as the fact that John has chosen this memorable name to signify the final battle between the forces of good and evil, a battle in which the latter will overthrown and destroyed.”
Rist compares three announcements from heaven:
Verse 11:15: Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever.”
Verse 16:17: The seventh angel poured out his bowl into the air, and a loud voice came out of the temple, from the throne, saying, “It is done!”
Verse 21:6: And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment.
He is not necessarily equating these three, but notes that each is a “divine exclamation” announcing the completion of the “apocalyptic drama.”
He also notes the parallels between the “phenomena” of verse 16:18 and 11:19. He could have also mentioned similar phenomena in verse 8:5. He compares the earthquake of 11:13 to the one of 16:18-19, the latter being even worse than the former. He considers the mention of Babylon in the latter part of verse 16:19 to be evidence to identify “the great city” in the first part of the verse with Babylon. He further identifies Babylon with Rome. He considers that this is the fulfillment of the predictions of 14:8 and 14:10. In those verses Babylon is described as “fallen” and the followers of the Beast are promised that they would drink the wine of the wrath of God. He believes that “the cities of the nations” in 16:19 are pagan cities outside the Roman Empire. (Why he concludes that is not clear.)
Rist notes that in 6:14 the mountains and islands were removed, and this is similar to 16:20. He concludes that this “is just one of the indications that the different series of plagues are not actually to be considered as following one upon the other, but are probably…differing versions of the same series of eschatological woes preparing the way for the end of the world and age.” I believe that another interpretation would be that seventh of each of the series is at the same end point, but that the later series may fill in chronology that is implied by earlier series.
He notes that the hailstones (16:21) weighed about a talent and that is about a 100 pounds. The plague of hail does not bring repentance, but only cursing of God.
He notes that the hailstones complete the seven bowl plagues and, so, “the end is at hand.” However, he says, “a number of events are yet to occur before the final act of this cosmic drama is staged.”
In his introduction to this chapter, Morris notes that there are some similarities to other plagues, the plagues of Exodus and the trumpet plagues in Revelation. However, there are differences of extent. For example, in the bowl plagues, people are directly attacked in the very first plague (sores), whereas this is not true of the early plagues in Exodus or the trumpet plagues. He quotes Swete to say of the bowl plagues: “They are not tentative chatisements, but punitive and final.” Morris says: “It is this air of finality which sets this series of plagues off from all the others.”
The “great voice” or “loud voice” from the temple is likely from God himself.
He compares this plague, of the sea turning to blood, with the second trumpet plague, which only affected one-third of the sea. This reminds us that we are “face to face with the last plagues.”
He states that the Jews understood that various angels were given charge over “specific areas of the universe,” so an “angel in charge of the waters” is not surprising. He notes that the fact that the altar speaks can be related to the fact that a voice came from the horns of the altar in 9:13. He also considers that it is significant that the altar is connected with the prayers of the saints and the fire of the altar brings about judgment in 8:3-5.
He comments on the King James, “it was given,” (verse 16:8), which is “it was allowed” in ESV. This “reminds us once more that God is over the whole process.” He notes that men did not repent and the consequence is that they failed to give God glory. He also notes that in verse 16:9 there is again a mention of the sovereignty of God in that God has power over the plagues.
He describes the results of pouring the fifth bowl onto the throne of the Beast as “curious.” He says this because he notes that there is no reason given for the darkness nor the pain. He surmises that the pain came from the sores of the first plague and the burning of the fourth plague. He believes that it is possible that the darkness comes from “a waning of the power of the beast…” As with the fourth bowl, “the sinners reacted in the wrong way.” They blasphemed God. They “were preoccupied with their pains…” “Even grievous pain did not awaken them to the realities of the situation.”
The sixth bowl “resulted in men being prepared for the End. It did not usher in the End, but prepared for it.” He considers that the drying up of the Euphrates is parallel to the “drying up of waters…” in several Old Testament accounts. He mentions the Red Sea in Exodus 14:21 and the Jordan in Joshua 3:16ff. In both of these accounts “dry ground” is mentioned. However, in both cases the central miracle is the parting of the waters. The Red Sea water was parted and this allowed the sea bed to become dry. The Jordan River was halted and the waters “piled up” well upstream and this allowed the river bed to become dry. He also refers to prophetic passages concerned with end-times and the nation of Israel. In three Scriptures—Isaiah 11:15, Jeremiah 51:36, Zechariah 10:11—there are mentions of bodies of water or rivers being dried up or otherwise rendered passable. In all these cases, Israel is enabled to get where it needs to go.
He also quotes Swete, who refers to an ancient historical incident: Cyrus of the Medes and Persians conquered Babylon by damming the Euphrates so his army could march into the city. Swete says: “a new Babylon is to be surprised [the Babylon of chapters 17 and 18], and the drying up of the river marks the removal of the last obstacle to its fall.”
Morris refers to the Parthians and the “Nero redivivus” myth. The reference to the drying of the Euphrates would evoke fears of the Parthians with Nero at their head. Morris says: “John is suggesting that at the end all these fears and more will be realized.” But Morris emphasizes that Revelation is not simply expressing fears of the late first century. Morris believes that this is saying that “at the end of time the divided forces of evil will engage in a terrible conflict.” However, he also notes that “kings” of the east are not mentioned again in the book.
He comments on the three unclean spirits and concludes that the “false prophet” is the “beast from the earth” (13:11). He considers the frogs to evoke “evil associations”—such as slime and meaningless croaking, “but no solid achievement.” But the “main idea” is that the evil spirits are like the “’lying spirit’ who [enticed] Ahab into battle (I Kings 22:21ff).” However, these spirits entice “the whole world into battle.” He points out that, although the “dirty spirits” are enticing the leadership of the world, their activity is leading up, not to their day, but to the Day of the Lord. That day “is associated with the culmination of divine purposes.”
He points out that the “interjection” from Jesus is “seen against the gathering forces of evil.” Jesus uses “thief” to mean his coming is “unheralded and totally unexpected.” The “thought [of the warning to be clothed] is that believers caught unprepared will be put to shame at the critical time in the world’s history. They will be like those outside the people of God.”
In 16:16, it is the evil spirits who gather the kings and their armies to Armageddon. He considers this name to be “symbolic…but its meaning is uncertain.” He discusses the problems (that there is no mountain, but, rather, a plain, etc.). He suggests that the “mountain” is “the great mound on which the city stood…” He refers to the battle between Israel, led by Deborah and Barak, and the forces of the Canaanite King Jabin, led by Sisera (Joshua 4). The battle is described in Joshua 5:19 as near to Megiddo. It was a battle won by the Lord, and Morris believes that “the deliverance under Deborah [sets] the pattern” for the “final overthrow of all the forces of evil by an almighty God.”
He describes this bowl as “the complete fragmentation of earthly life.” The bowl is poured into the air, “which was held to be uniquely the abode of demons…The evil spirits are being attacked in their own element.” His interpretation of “the great city” is: “It stands for civilized man, man in organized community, but man ordering his affairs apart from God. It symbolizes the pride of human achievement, the godlessness of those who put their trust in man. This great city is now shattered.” He notes that, as the “great city” falls, so do the cities of the nations. He notes that “nowhere” in the book is there an expression as emphatic as that which describes God’s wrath on Babylon.
He notes that Zechariah 14:10 looks to a time when the mountains of Israel will become a plain, just as the mountains disappear in 16:20. He notes that verse 16:21 uses a special Greek word (sphodra) to indicate the severity of the plague of hailstones. He comments that the disaster is a “decisive event.”
Ladd introduces the chapter by saying that the bowl plagues “must be seen in the context of the titanic struggle between the Kingdom of God and the kingdom of Satan…[These plagues] are the outpouring of [God’s] wrath upon…the beast—and upon those who have given their loyalty to him.”
The plague of sores is upon the people who have been enticed by the Beast. The only ones who have not done so are those “who are loyal to the Lamb…In the end-time, religion will be no longer a merely nominal thing; all men will have to declare their loyalty for Christ or for Antichrist.”
There is no limitation on this plague—such as was seen in the Exodus plague of blood or in the trumpet plague of blood.
Again, there is no limitation: all of the fresh water is affected. The comments of the “angel of the water” and of the altar declare that God’s judgments are not “arbitrary and capricious but are true and just. In the end, God’s acts of judgment will be completely vindicated.”
The plague is not due to anything “inherent in the sun’s heat, but is due to the sovereign judgments of God overruling the processes of nature.” Ladd notes that, although the people know that God is the source of their affliction, their hearts are “hard and recalcitrant…because of the choice…to follow the beast…” Therefore, rather than repent, they curse God.
The bowl is poured out “directly upon the center of the beast’s power.” Ladd believes that the intense darkness magnifies the pain from previous plagues. Again, he notes that people do not repent, but, instead, curse God.
As did Morris, Ladd refers to Isaiah 11:15 (as well as 11:16) as an example of how the “prophets…looked upon the drying up of the river Euphrates as the prelude to the gathering of God’s…people…” In this instance from Revelation, the drying of the River is “the removal of the barrier which holds back the pagan hordes.” Whereas some see a “civil conflict” between the kings of the east and the rest of civilization (see Morris above), Ladd rejects this. He believes the pagans “join forces with the kings of the whole (civilized) world to do battle with Messiah…” He rejects the idea that the “kings from the east” is a reference to Parthians under Nero. He believes that these kings become allies of the Beast. This is not consistent with the Nero myth, in which the Parthians attack Rome.
Ladd notes, as do other commentators, that there is a reference to the “false prophet.” He concludes, with Morris, that the false prophet is the beast “rising out of the earth” (ESV) of 13:11. The three spirits that are like frogs are “John’s way of describing the demonic inspiration of the foes of God in the last great battle.” He goes on to say that “this is no mere military or political movement but the manifestation in eschatological history of the age-long struggle between God and Satan.”
He discusses the term “the great day of God the Almighty.” He refers to various phrases, such as “day of the Lord” or “day of the Lord Jesus Christ” that are found in the New Testament. He rejects the idea that these terms refer to different days, but insists that the terms are “interchangeable.” He defines “the day of the Lord” as “the time when the total redemptive purpose of God will be consummated, both for salvation and judgment, both for individuals, the church, and the whole creation.” He states that “John sees” hatred, hostility, and persecution reaching “a last grand finale” in the final battle. He refers to Old Testament references to this battle in Psalm 2:2-3, Isaiah 5:26-30, Jeremiah 6:1-5, Ezekiel 38, and Joel 3:9-15.
Jesus’ “interjection” in verse 16:15 is a reassurance to the “church.” He assures his people that war led by the Beast “is not the ultimate reality; the ultimate reality is the fact of the Lord’s return.” That Christ comes like a thief refers to the “unexpectedness” of his return. Referring to I Thessalonians 5:4, Ladd states that this unexpectedness is only for those who are unprepared. For those who are ready, Christ’s return will be a “glad deliverance” from their situation. He argues that people have misconstrued the blessing on the one who “stays awake.” The King James Version translates this “watcheth.” Therefore, many, says Ladd, have believed this supports a “Pretribulation Rapture” theory. (See below for my additional commentary.) Although “watch” is a possible translation, Ladd argues that the main meaning is to “stay awake.” Probably the best argument for this is in Mark 13:32-37. In that passage, Jesus is warning that the time of his coming is unknown. Therefore, it is important to “keep awake” (Mark 13:33). The Lord uses the analogy of a man who goes on a journey and returns suddenly. The disobedient servant will be “asleep” (Mark 13:36). The contrast, then, is between being awake and being asleep. So, the same message, most likely, is conveyed in Revelation 16:15: to keep awake.
My additional commentary: It should also be noted that the context of 16:15 is importance. It is difficult to see how this verse can be related to warning saints in the Pretribulational period, since it is set squarely within the Tribulational period. So, using this verse to rationalize a Pretribulational Rapture does not seem logical.
Ladd goes on to explain that for a person to be spiritually asleep in this context is “to lose sight of the ultimate issues of life and to assume security is to be found on the human level instead of in terms of one’s relationship to Christ.” He goes on to say that John assumes that this spiritual sleep is not characteristic of the last-days church “in spite of the triumphant rule of the beast among the nations.”
He explains the warning about not being naked in 16:15 is a “summons to spiritual diligence.” He refers to 3:17-18, which describes the church at Laodicea as “naked” because of its “spiritual poverty.”
He considers verse 16:16 to resume the narrative of the unclean spirits who entice the kings to battle. They are brought to Armageddon. “This is preparatory for the actual battle which takes place in 19:11ff…” He discusses, as do other commentators, the meaning of “Armageddon.” He concludes that no clear explanation for the name can be determined. Nevertheless, “John means by Armageddon the place of the final struggle between the powers of evil and the Kingdom of God.”
Ladd believes that the description of the seventh bowl is a “proleptic statement of the judgment of God upon Babylon.” This judgment is detailed in chapters 17 and 18.
Verse 16:17 uses a “literary technique..of announcing a completed fact, and later expounding the content of that fact.”
Verse 16:18 mentions “apocalyptic phenomena” that are “common manifestations of the divine power and glory.”
These phenomena result in the “complete collapse of the godless human civilization” (verse 16:19). He considers the “great city” of 11:8 to be Jerusalem, but, in 16:19, the “great city” is Babylon. This “utter ruin” that is caused by an earthquake “is described in different terms in the two chapters that follow.” The announcement of the fall of the “cities of the nations” is “proleptic” of the war of the Lamb against the ten kings, which is announced in 17:12-14. Ladd points out the mirror images of the two cups: the cup of wine of sexual immorality (14:8) offered by Babylon to the world and “the cup of the wine of the fury of his wrath.” (16:19) This wrath comes from God as he “remembered Babylon the great.” Ladd notes that, in the short term, the reign of Antichrist makes it appear that “God has forgotten his people,” but he remembers and gives Babylon “her just due.”
Ladd considers the description (16:20) of the islands fleeing and the mountains being flattened to describe “proleptically the consummation.” It is the anticipation “of the breakup of the old order.” Although this is possible, I think it is jarringly out of place. The chapter has been progressing through what we might call “penultimate” (just short of the ultimate) events. The very next verse (16:21) continues within that timeline. Why does this verse leap-frog to the situation described in 20:11 and 21:1? Is it not more likely that the immense upheaval of the overthrow of Babylon and associated cities (which is described in chapters 17-18) is referred to by 16:20?
Ladd’s comment on 16:21 is very brief. He only says that the hailstones would be over a hundred pounds.
In his introduction to the chapter, Johnson notes similarities and differences between the seven bowls of wrath and the seven trumpet judgments and the plagues of Exodus. He notes that, as with the other series, there is an attack on earth, sea, rivers, and sky, which are the “traditional divisions of nature.” He notes, as do other commentators, that the bowl judgments involve directly the suffering of people. They also are much more complete than, for example, the trumpet judgments—“all” rather than “a third.” The last three bowl judgments are “social and spiritual” and “shift from nature to humanity.” He asks whether the judgments should be taken more or less literally, and he believes “less literally.” Nevertheless, “they depict God’s sure and righteous judgment that will one day be literally and actually done in the world.”
His comments on the first three bowls are very brief. He refers to verses 16:5-7 as the “dialogue between the angel and the altar.” The blood in the water “vindicates the blood of the martyrs.” The choice is clear: “Peaople must choose whether to drink the blood of saints or to wear robes dipped in the blood of the Lamb.”
In commenting on those who curse God in response to their pain from the heat of the sun in verses 16:8-9, he remarks that “their problem goes beyond the awful physical pain and is moral and spiritual.”
In discussing the darkness on the throne of the Beast in verses 16:10-11, he says the throne “symbolizes the seat of worldwide dominion for the great satanic system of idolatry.” He understands the darkness to mean that the “system” (of Beast worship) is disrupted, which is chaotic for those who seek “life and meaning in it.” It is a “moral and spiritual” darkness.
In his comments on 16:12-16, he rejects the idea of some that the description of the events of the sixth trumpet and of the sixth bowl are essentially the same. They both mention the Euphrates and groups from the east, but otherwise they are quite different. The events in the sixth bowl are preparatory for the kings of the east to meet God in battle. Johnson considers the mention of the Euphrates to signal two evils found in Revelation—Babylon and the entrance of the “evil hordes” (of 9:13ff). “Thus in mentioning the Euphrates by name, John is suggesting that the unseen rulers of this world are being prepared to enter into a final and fatal battle with the Sovereign of the universe.” He rejects two ideas about the warfare that is referred to in 16:12-16: one is that this represents the Parthians attacking the Roman Empire and the other is that it represents a future “political” invasion of Israel. Johnson seems to believe that the future battle (which is the Battle of Armageddon) is much bigger than what human beings can muster. Rather, he calls what is about to take place as the “eschatological defeat of the forces of evil, [which he believes is symbolized by] the kings from the East.” The “froglike evil spirits” deceive the kings and gather them to Armageddon.
The warning from Jesus to be alert is to warn against “satanic deception.” It is relevant for any time in history, but, in the gospels, these kind of warnings are connected with the return of Christ. He rejects the idea that John is “reinterpreting the second coming of Christ” as simply found in “the crises of history.” John is dealing with “eschatological judgment.”
Johnson does not believe that Armageddon is a reference to the city of Megiddo, but is a symbolic name. He considers various possibilities. He argues for one possible meaning from the Hebrew: “His place of gathering in troops.” It “would allude to the prophetic expectation of the gathering of the nations for judgment (Joel 3: 2, 12).” He dismisses any possibility of discovering a geographical location for Armageddon and maintains that it is symbolic and “describes the eschatological confrontation where God will meet the forces of evil in their final defeat.” He quotes Mounce: “The great conflict between God and Satan, Christ and Antichrist, good and evil, which lies behind the perplexing course of history will in the end issue in a final struggle in which God will emerge victorious and take with him all who placed their faith in him. This is Har-Magedon.” He adds: “Nevertheless, the name refers to a real point in history and to real persons who will encounter God’s just sentence.”
He describes the lightning, thunder, etc. as symbols of the destruction of evil. He considers the earthquake as symbolic of God’s judgment that reaches the “strongholds of organized evil” in pagan cities. He asks the question whether the descriptions, which are “geophysical” (islands disappearing, huge hailstorms), are really describing the destruction of “merely natural or even of politico-historical entities,” or whether we should understand this to be the destruction “exclusively of the unseen powers of evil.” He considers that there is, in the passage a “rising pitch of God’s wrath on the rebellious powers of the earth.” He does not see in this passage merely reference to Rome’s evil or to a first-century crisis for the church. Rather, he understands this chapter is referring to end-time events: “He is speaking of the great realities of the end, when God has put down all his enemies.”
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