The Second Rule of Revelation: Pay Attention to Old Testament Usage

Sabbath school commentary for discussion alongside the Adult Bible Study Guide for April 8, 2023.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

This is a tacit admission that the author of Revelation was not relating a movie/a vision wherein he actually saw these images. Rather, he was writing in a familiar genre, apocalyptic, which flourished from the second century BCE to the second century CE. That is, it was a carefully composed and constructed literary work using sources in a new context. His imagery was intended to be understood by his audience who were likely expected to be aware of previous apocalyptic works, both canonical and non canonical, as well as snippets from the Jewish scriptures, reinterpreted through the methodology of midrash. He was writing in a context of current crisis and predicting the outcome.


Trying to predict the future based on John’s nightmares is tantamount to a 21st century tourist trying to navigate the streets of Rome using a map drawn up during Caligula’s reign.



Yea, that would be silly to try. But how about from 1844?


In regards to the 7 seals, it can be helpful to understand them as witnesses to the scroll. Documents were sealed with bits of wax over threads that tied the scroll closed. The witnesses then pressed their personal seal into the hot wax to attest to the authenticity of the document. Consider what the witnesses might imply about the contents of this scroll: 1. Deception (the rider of this white horse is not the same as the rider of the white horse in Rev 19:11!), 2. Violence, 3. Scarcity, 4. Oppression, 5. Lack of Justice, 6. Ecological Disasters,… 7. Heaven, normally depicted as a very noisy place, is utterly silenced (cf. Isaiah 52:15). The existential questions have been answered, which is why the lamb standing as though slain was the only one who could open the scroll to unveil its contents. On the cross he handed himself over to the powers of death so that the truth could be made known to the whole universe. Now we know who is behind all the evils of the trumpets and bowls!


Uh…from what I hear, there have been a few developments since then; cars, electricity, airplanes, a couple of WW’s. the second of which pretty much rearranged entire blocks of former land marks, 70 governments (just in Italy and just since The Big One), etc., etc., etc.

So no, I’m still gonna wanna have the latest Michelin travel guide.



I am so glad to hear of someone else who understands that the rider of the white horse in the first seal is not Jesus. Just because the horse is white doesn’t mean we have the divine equivalent of Roy Rogers.


It’s like insisting that all of Daniel has to be interpreted in an historicist fashion because of the historical sweep of Chapter 2. Everything after is then corresponded to that to maintain an artificial consistency. Never mind that Chapter 8 makes no sense within the text of the chapter itself with a papal little horn and a heavenly sanctuary that is cleansed after 2300 years.



The phrase makes no sense, no matter what the timeline, as we have no clear definition for what is meant by any of the terms involved. That is, what and where is heaven? Is the sanctuary real, spiritual or a literary construct? And since we have no definitive answer to the first two questions, what can it possibly mean to cleanse “it”?

If only the OT god loved us enough to have availed himself of the NT’s god’s ability to speak in tongues so that he could be understood in plain English.

But then again, the supposedly personified NT god hasn’t used that trick for the past two millennia, either; so much so as to make a rational person question the existence of either and wonder if Jesus was talking about an actual person when he putatively prayed to his dad.

And maybe the concept of a trinity is as mythical as thinking that Jesus could be one of the judges on the Supreme Court of public opinion?


everything presented in this series is fascinating so far, but i think i’m still a bit skeptical about all the apparent evidence that Revelation was written by someone of immense learning (i almost suspect that someone of immense learning is finding things that are a bit coincidental, and unintended)…are we saying that John the fisherman, disciple, apostle isn’t the author…

Given that different people have different opinions, there is no “we” on this question.

I, for one, am firmly in the “Those Who Do Not Care Who Wrote Revelations” Camp as I’m convinced the book is as irrelevant as yesterday’s astrology column and should never have been re-read by anyone born after the 2nd century, except perhaps as an historical relic, lest one think he’s found some vague predictions in the indeterminable symbolism about his own circumstances which have seemingly “come true”.

Further, if god does want to communicate some vital information to “us” of the putative Last Generation, it seems that given his omnipotence and ever-presence, he wouldn’t even need to avail himself of humanity’s latest technology in order to get that message across, much less tell it to a “prophet” 2,000 years ago and then hope that the intended recipients would be able to decode his plan at the last hour and just prior to his destroying the world and its wicked.


Correct. He wasn’t the author. He was well educated. He was a Greek speaker. Highly literate. Well read. Everything a Galilean peasant would not have been. We have no idea who the writer was except that his name was John (assuming this wasn’t a later interpolation), which was a very common name at the time. Lacking any other evidence, he is effectively anonymous.


For those interested in what biblical historians know - and don’t know - about who wrote various parts of the bible, and when, this is a great series from Matt Baker:


Perhaps the more important question is, Who made the selection of which writings to include and which to exclude? These anonymous people actually held the greater authority. We know nothing of who they were and very little about their criteria, other than to choose those writings which most closely resembled their own beliefs while suppressing those which were used by their theological opponents.


This is just one of the questions we cannot answer.

For example, we don’t know the person called Jesus except perhaps for the fact that Jesus wasn’t his real name.

We don’t know the people who recorded his purported gospel and contradictory quotes.

We can’t talk to anyone who witnessed any of the alleged miracles.

We can’t verify Paul’s conversion story.

We don’t know any of the recipients of his letters.

We don’t know the editors of the various canons.

We don’t know the translators or the transcriptionists of any of the texts.

We can’t know EGW nor can we verify that her stories and dreams aligned with any of the other people we don’t know in this list.

IOW, we simply do not, and cannot know how much we do not and the unknown peoples, activities, motivations, dates, locations, potential inaccuracies and other variables are so indeterminate, insurmountable and unverifiable that no self respecting prosecutor would think of taking such a flimsy case to trial.

And yet, we’re told that it is only by believing every bit of this “evidence”, and the convoluted rescue plan concocted from it, that we might possibly be able to be saved from our supposedly corrupted human nature and eventually be granted life eternal.

Is this believable?

Two thousand years has shown this to be the case for billions of people.

But that’s the best that can be said, while the worst that can be said is that a preoccupation with these these potentially mythical accounts is an horrific waste of life and time, particularly given that the believability of any story has absolutely no bearing on the truth of it.

So other than the fact that the story is what some people desperately want to believe, there is absolutely no compelling rationale for accepting any of it and, as you’ve said, it is beyond embarrassing for me to think that I didn’t question any of it, and believed it all, for the first 20 or so years of my life.


I’m confused, but perhaps I’m just missing something. If you don’t believe, then why are you posting here?

1 Like

I’ve answered this question several times in the past.

That said, and given what I know about explanations-that is, one’s friends don’t need them and his enemies will never understand-I suspect none of mine will be satisfactory for you and will not help ease your “confusion”.

In any case, if you believe I shouldn’t be allowed to comment here due to my lack of belief, please take it up with the @webEd.


This topic was automatically closed after 14 days. New replies are no longer allowed.