The Old Testament in the Book of Revelation (Revelation 11:15–19)

Passage Summary

After the seventh angel blew his trumpet, multiple voices proclaimed the acquisition of the world’s kingdom into that of God and His Son (11:15). The twenty-four elders prostrated themselves and thanked God for doing so (11:16–17), detailing what had taken and would take place (11:18). In response, the heavenly temple opened, showing the ark as accompanied by various phenomena, confirming that what was announced would indeed take place  (11:19).

Old Testament in the New 

Revelation Old Testament Connection Between the Two
11:15 Exod 15:18; Dan 2:44–45; 7:13–14, 27 God’s kingdom is eternal.
11:18 Ps 2:1–3; 46:6 The nations rage, and God meets their rage with His wrath.
11:18 Ps 115:13 God’s reward is to the entirety of His saints.

 A Parting Thought

Though judgment has its purpose in dealing with those who spurn their Maker, it will also clear the way for God’s eternal kingdom on earth, free from evil, in which we live out our salvation to its full. Give thanks to Him whose power shall do just this!


Not in My House: Reminding Ourselves of 2 John 10–11

10 If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting, 11 for whoever greets him takes part in his wicked works” (2 John 10–11 ESV).

Every Christian should occasionally remind himself of this passage and its meaning, especially in light of today’s pervasive pluralism. This passage yields two prohibitions (“do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting”) with an explanation for these prohibitions (“for whoever greets him takes part in his wicked works”), and I will try to draw out the meaning of this passage below in a series of observations.

Observe, first of all, the context. The commands concern “anyone” who “comes to you,” and this “anyone” is such a one who “does not bring this teaching,” namely, that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh (cf. 2 John 7), indicating that this “anyone” is certainly not a Christian (cf. 2 John 9). The “you” is a plural “you” (humas), referring back to “the elect lady and her children” (2 John 1), likely a figurative expression for a local church and its members, some of whom may have been returning to the rest as sent back from John with this letter (cf. 2 John 4). Understood for 2 John 10–11, then, is that its prohibitions and explanation are from the apostle John to a local church concerning what to do with false teachers.

Second, having the context in hand, we are now in a better position to understand what it means to forbid someone entrance into one’s “house.” Supposing this house were a personal, physical dwelling, to receive someone therein in John’s day would imply a solidarity of sorts between the host and guest. In this instance, the purpose of hospitality would be to facilitate the intentions of the guest. He (or multiple people) is the “anyone” who “comes to you,” apparently with a teaching, but not “this teaching” that confesses Jesus Christ to have come in the flesh (cf. 2 John 7). The host’s shelter, then, would imply an acceptance or at least a tolerance of this guest’s anti-Christian teaching, a heinous sin indeed (more on this point below). It is no wonder that John would command homeowners to “not receive him into your house.” It would communicate to the heretical guest and likely others that his false teaching could be tolerated, accepted, or even promoted, and the end result would be that the teacher and followers do not have God, a perilous result, to be sure (cf. 2 John 9).

But, third, suppose that the “house” referred to a personal, physical dwelling as it was used for the gathering of a local church for worship, as was typically the case in John’s day (cf. Rom 16:5; 1 Cor 16:19; Col 4:15; Phm 2). If so, “house” would be a metonym in which the thing (house) closely associated with another (church) is used instead of the other.  The command to “not receive him into your house” would then assume that he would not be received and recognized by the church that gathered together for worship in this house. Beyond that, he would certainly not be given opportunity to promote his heresy. One way or the other, the net effect seems to be the same. His intention to promote heresy would have made him unwelcome in a Christian’s home and thus the church. Or it could have made him unwelcome in the church and thus whatever assistance a member of such a church would provide.

Fourth, as to the previous point, it would seem that even shelter is denied to these false teachers because John commands to “not…give him a greeting.” The word for “greeting” (chairō) could be used for either a parting (cf. 2 Cor 13:11) or, more frequently, a greeting (cf. Acts 15:23; 23:26; Jas 1:1). If the emphasis is on the false teacher’s departure, John gives a tidy prohibition encompassing both the false teacher’s arrival and departure. The false teacher should receive neither aid when he comes nor blessing when he leaves. Or, if the “greeting” has the false teacher’s arrival in mind, John’s readers were to give him neither shelter nor even a standard greeting. Either way, the goal is to offer no assistance, Christian recognition, or opportunity for the false teacher to promote his heresy.

Fifth and last, the explanation for these prohibitions clearly shows why these prohibitions are so severe: “for whoever greets him takes part in his wicked works.”  As one lexicon explains, to take part “in the deeds of others means to be equally responsible for them.”1 In other words, to shelter and aid a false teacher, or even to wish him well, whether he is coming or going, is to be equally responsible for his heresy and leading others away from the truth. In John’s day, the heresy was to deny that Jesus Christ came in the flesh (cf. 2 John 7). Whether this heresy or another, applying this command today would mean that we should deny Christian aid or recognition to anyone who denies the life-giving teaching of Christ and thus displays that he does not have God (cf. 2 John 9). Should we do any less, we share in his wicked works.

  1. BDAG, s.v., “κοινωνέω.” []

The Old Testament in the Book of Revelation (Revelation 11:7–14)

Passage Summary

The ministry of the two prophets ends when the beast rises from the dead and kills them, precipitating the final forty-two months of the Tribulation in which Israel is especially persecuted and trampled (11:7; cf. 11:2; 13:4–7; 17:8, 11). The death of the two prophets is globally celebrated (11:8–10), ending three and one-half days later by their resurrection and ascension into heaven, followed by an earthquake in Jerusalem, bringing about the conversion of the survivors (11:12–13; cf. 16:9). This is the second of three woes (11:14; cf. 8:13).


Old Testament in the New 

Revelation Old Testament Connection Between the Two
11:7–8 Dan 7:3, 8, 21 John describes this time in Daniel’s terms.
11:8 Gen 19:24 God punished Sodom and Gomorrah. Jerusalem is figuratively described. Cf. Isa 1:9–10; 3:9; Jer 23:14; Ezek 16:49.
11:9 Psa 79:2–3 The bodies of God’s servants lay unburied in Jerusalem.
11:11 Ezek 37:5, 9–10 God’s breath gives life.
11:13 Ezek 38:19 Both texts speak of an earthquake in Jerusalem.

A Parting Thought 

While many die from the earthquake, God let some live on for the sake of their salvation. Sometimes God sometimes uses amazing means for the sake of drawing in His people.


An Overview of 2 Timothy and Four Commentary Recommendations

While some books of the Bible can be neatly outlined, others are not while nonetheless being clearly understandable. In 2 Timothy, there are certainly the clear and repeated themes for Timothy to suffer, preach the Word, and be faithful in his ministry (2 Tim 1:8, 13–14; 2:1–3, 14–15; 3:14–17; 4:1–5), especially in the midst of gospel opponents (2 Tim 2:15–18, 22–26; 3:1–9; 4:14–15). The letter’s body revolves around these themes and others (2 Tim 1:3–4:18), bookended by an obvious introduction and conclusion (2 Tim 1:1–2; 4:19–22).

After an introduction (2 Tim 1:1–2), the first section of 2 Timothy includes Paul’s thankfulness and instructions for Timothy (2 Tim 1:3–18). After giving thanks for Timothy and encouraging him to teach (2 Tim 1:3–7), Paul exhorted Timothy to suffer for the gospel (2 Tim 1:8–12) and guard the good deposit of the gospel entrusted to him (2 Tim 1:13–18).

Paul then gives a number of pictures of service for Timothy in order to reinforce Timothy’s faithfulness to his ministry (2 Tim 2:1–26).  He is to teach and suffer as a solder, athlete, and farmer (2 Tim 2:1–7), as motivated by Christ’s salvation to those he would serve (2 Tim 2:8–13), and to do so as a diligent workman, cleansed vessel, and man of God (2 Tim 2:14–26).

Paul again charges Timothy to faithful ministry (2 Tim 3:1–4:8) by promising the presence of ungodly people in these last days (2 Tim 3:1–9), reminding Timothy how he differs from them (2 Tim 3:10–17), and charging Timothy  before divine witnesses to preach the Word, especially in light of Paul’s soon departure (2 Tim 4:1–8).

In bringing the book to an end, Paul requests Timothy to bring some things to him in prison and gives a report of his trial before the Roman authorities (2 Tim 4:9–18). Greetings are given and requested, and the book closes with prayers for Timothy and the rest in Ephesus (2 Tim 4:19–22).

Here are some recommended commentaries, ranging from shorter to longer works:


The Old Testament in the Book of Revelation (Revelation 11:3–6)

Passage Summary

The two witnesses are granted authority to prophesy in sackcloth for 1,260 days (11:3). In the raptured church’s absence (cf. 1:20; 3:10–11), these two now shine the gospel as lampstands, the means whereby a great multitude of Gentiles and 144,000 Jews are saved (cf. 7:3–14). They use fire to kill their opponents (11:5), stop the rain, turn water to blood, and do whatever plagues they choose as often as they desire (11:6).

Old Testament in the New 

Revelation Old Testament Connection Between the Two
11:4 Zech 4:1–3, 11–14 Israel and the two witnesses would be God’s light to the world.
11:5 2 Kgs 1:10 Fire came at the command of a prophet to consume the enemies of God. Cf. also Num 16:35; Jer 5:14.
11:6 Exod 7:19–25 A plague may be turning water into blood.
11:6 1 Kgs 17:1 A plague may be the absence of rain.

 A Parting Thought 

Christ will protect His own (1 John 5:18), even sending specially chosen servants to do miracles to protect those who have not yet come to Him (i.e., Israel as a whole). In this, we see a very tangible example of how Christ will indeed receive all those that His Father has chosen to give to Him (John 6:37).


When God’s People Live in a Godless Nation – A Reminder from Long Ago

2017.02.01 - Blue_MarbleThe kingdom of Israel divided into southern and northern divisions under the reign of Solomon’s son Reheboam in roughly 930 B.C. (2 Chron 10). Reheboam then ruled the two tribes of Judah and Benjamin in the south while Jereboam ruled the other ten tribes in the north.

It is interesting that these two sets of tribes were taken captive by foreign powers roughly 200 and 350 years later. The northern tribes were taken captive by Assyria in 722 B.C., and the southern tribes were taken captive by Babylon in 586 B.C. Why is that one set of tribes would be taken captive by about 140 years earlier than the other?

Many reasons could be given, but we find one significant factor for the earlier captivity of the northern tribes just after the kingdom divided―leaders for godliness left the north to go to the south, and many of God’s people followed them (2 Chron 11:13–17).

To keep his people from following Reheboam once again, Jeroboam created two calves of gold and appointed non-Levitical priests to facilitate this system of false worship (1 Kgs 12:25–33). Along the way, Jeroboam cast out the true priests from the Levites, provoking the godly people in the north to follow these priests to the south (2 Chron 11:13–16). Their influence on the southern tribes was noticeable: “They strengthened the kingdom of Judah, and for three years they made Rehoboam the son of Solomon secure, for they walked for three years in the way of David and Solomon” (2 Chron 11:17). One can easily assume that the strengthening of the south was surely matched by the weakening of the north. After Israel’s division, the northern tribes instituted a system of idolatry, and it no surprise that they hastened God’s judgment all the sooner than the south. Unfortunately, the southern tribes, too, would be taken captive for their idolatry in time as well.

The northern tribes of Israel illustrate a helpful reminder for us today―a nation is stronger when its people fear the Lord. Remember that the priests were expelled from the north, provoking those who truly followed the Lord to follow these priests to the south. It is no surprise that the northern tribes took roughly half the time than the south to exhaust the patience of God.

Putting the above into a broader perspective, we know that Christ will judge the world at the end of this present age, just as Israel’s divisions were judged long ago. Until then, however, let us be a godly people who strengthen whatever nation may be our home because of who we are in Him. May it be that the influence of His people stays His hand in judgment for a time so that more may join us in knowing Him.

1 John 5:18, and a Note on Perseverance and Preservation

2016-10-06-opened-bible1 John 5:18 (ESV) states, “We know that everyone who has been born of God does not keep on sinning, but he who was born of God protects him, and the evil one does not touch him.” In this verse, we see both the perseverance of the believer and the protection of that believer by Christ. Let’s look at these two topics more closely.

Preservation is the work of God whereby He eternally secures and guarantees the final salvation of all believers.

As Christ claimed in John 6:39, “And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day.” Likewise, He stated in John 10:28–29, “I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.” In these passages, we see that God and Christ secure and guarantee the believer in his salvation. This idea is present in 1 John 5:18: “he who was born of God [i.e., Jesus Christ] protects him.”1

Whereas preservation is God’s role in securing a believer’s salvation, the believer is responsible to persevere. Perseverance is the divinely-enabled and continued progress of a believer in faith, doctrine, and practice whereby he is assured of his eternal security.

As Paul says in 1 Corinthians 1:7–8, it is the “Lord Jesus Christ, who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.Paul states in Philippians 1:6, “I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” Likewise, Christians are those “who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time” (1 Peter 1:5). In each of these passages, God or Christ is described as enabling the believer’s perseverance in some way.

This perseverance involves one’s faith, doctrine, and practice. The believer’s faith is “the victory that has overcome the world” (1 John 5:4). His doctrine allows him to be presented “holy and blameless and above reproach before him” because he will “continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel” (Col 1:23). His practice is to “follow” Jesus (John 10:27), doing “good works, which God prepared beforehand” (Eph 2:10).

Understanding 1 John 5:18 with the above, we do not keep on sinning because God protects us from falling away from Him. He keeps us in our salvation. At the same time, however, we persevere. We do not keep on sinning because we persevere in our faith, doctrine, and practice as He enables us to do so. May God protect us, and may we persevere and be thereby assured of His protection.

  1. “He who was born of God” is best understood as a reference to Christ. It is not that He has been born, as if to say what is true of believers is true of Him, namely, that He experienced a conversation that has continuing results. Rather, His birth was a unique one-time event, and thus He was born. Thus, Christ is the one who protects the believer in 1 John 5:18, but this is obviously not apart from the work of the Father (cf. John 10:28–29). []

Who Is the One Born of God in 1 John 5:18, and Why Does It Matter?

2017.02.02 question mark with book1 John 5:18 (ESV) states, “We know that everyone who has been born of God does not keep on sinning, but he who was born of God protects him, and the evil one does not touch him.”

At first glance, the meaning of “everyone who has been born of God” seems to spill into “he who was born of God,” which would indicate that a believer “protects him,” that is, himself. Having done so, the believer’s protection of himself keeps the evil one from touching him.

The idea of protecting or guarding one’s self is not necessarily wrong. Jude commands his readers to “keep yourselves in the love of God” (Jude 21). At the same time, God is not absent in the matter. One keeps in the love of God by the power of God “who is able to keep you from stumbling” (Jude 24). It seems that a closer look at 1 John 5:18 gives us this same idea―that it is actually divine protection and not one’s own protection from the evil one that is in view.

Were one, however, to understand “he who was born of God” to be the believer who protects himself, it would be for the following reasons:

  • In the preceding clause in 5:18, those “born of God” are believers. Naturally, “he who was born of God” is just one of “everyone who has been born of God.”
  • The designation “he who was born of God” is not used elsewhere to describe Jesus Christ, which would be the other understanding of this phrase (see below).1

While context and comparing Scripture to Scripture seem to side with identifying “he who was born of God” as a believer, a better understanding is that this one so-born is actually Jesus Christ for the following reasons:

  • “Born” describes believers in the perfect tense, an event with ongoing results, but “born” then describes Christ in the aorist tense, a one-time event (i.e., His birth).2 Despite this difference, however, the similarity in language brings out the solidarity among Jesus and us (cf. 1 John 4:17).3 In context, even when a believer temporarily engages in sin, he does not lose the Son and will eventually imitate Him again.4
  • As would be otherwise expected, a reflexive pronoun is not used it indicate that the one born is protecting.5
  • Scripture elsewhere supports the concept that Christ protects the believer (cf. John 17:12–15; 1 Pet 1:5; Jude 24; Rev 3:10). While the phrase to identify Christ is certainly unique in the NT, the notion of Christ’s protection is not.6
  • “He who was born of God” contrasts fittingly with “the evil one,” that is, Jesus Christ protects the believer, and Satan does not touch the believer. These statements are two sides to one theological coin.7

Having concluded as we do above, we could paraphrase 1 John 5:18 like this: “We know that everyone who is a believer who has been born of God does not keep on sinning, but he who was born of God, that is, the One uniquely born, Jesus Christ, protects him, and the evil one does not touch him, the believer.”

  1. Simon J. Kistemaker, Exposition of James and the Epistles of John (Grand Rapids, MI: Backer, 1986), 365–366; Stephen S. Smalley, 1, 2, 3 John (Dallas, TX: Word, 1989), 302–303. []
  2. Daniel L. Akin, 1, 2, 3 John (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman, 2001), 212; Kistemaker, Exposition of James and the Epistles of John, 365–366; Smalley, 1, 2, 3 John, 302–303. By speaking of Jesus’ birth in this way, perhaps John subtly emphasizes again the Christ was human from His birth and continues to be thereafter. []
  3. Smalley, 1, 2, 3 John, 302–303. []
  4. Karen H. Jobes, 1, 2, & 3 John (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2014), 238. []
  5. Akin, 1, 2, 3 John, 212; Smalley, 1, 2, 3 John, 302–303. []
  6. Akin, 1, 2, 3 John, 212; Colin G. Kruse, The Letters of John (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2000), 195; Smalley, 1, 2, 3 John, 302–303. []
  7. Kistemaker, Exposition of James and the Epistles of John, 365–366. []

The Old Testament in the Book of Revelation (Revelation 11:1–2)

Passage Summary

John was given a rod to measure the temple of God (an earthly temple built by the Jews; cf. Dan 9:27; Matt 24:15; 2 Thess 2:3–4), the altar, and the worshippers therein (11:1). He was to exclude the outer court, however, so that the Gentiles could trample it and the surrounding city (Jerusalem; cf. 11:8) for forty-two months (11:2), the final three and one-half years of this age in which Jerusalem has been trampled time and again (cf. Luke 21:24). Dan 9:27 prophesies that the Jews would worship in peace for three and one-half years, only to be followed by three and one-half years of intense persecution, as described in part in Rev 11:2. The measuring of one area not to be trampled and the lack of measuring of one that will be trampled may indicate that what or who is measured (temple, altar, and worshippers) is to be protected by God (i.e., Israel) while what is not measured is not (i.e., the nations).

Old Testament in the New 

Revelation Old Testament Connection Between the Two
11:1 Ezek 40:3–4 Both John and Ezekiel are equipped and told by a heavenly figure to measure a temple. Cf. Zech 2:1–2.
11:2 Ezek 40:17–20 Whereas Ezekiel measured an outer court, John did not.
11:2 Dan 8:13; 12:7 Both Daniel and John see a trampling to take place by the Gentiles for the duration of three and one-half years. Cf. Isa 63:18.

 A Parting Thought

 If our understanding of why John measures something but not another is correct, we see an example of how God protects those who have not yet come to Him, knowing that they will be saved in time (cf. Rom 11:2). In this, we see a unique example of how God works all things together for those who love Him, or, in this case, those who will come to love Him in time.


Does Your Schedule Show a Commitment to God’s People?

2017.02.01 - Clock_of_Munttower_Amsterdam_00111“So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom” (Ps 90:12).

How do you use your time each week? If Christ examined your schedule today, would your claimed commitment to Him and His church be reflected in how you spend your time with His people each week?

As Christians, we are to be “making the best use of the time, because the days are evil” (Eph 5:16). We do so not by living according to our former sins but rather by the Spirit in every avenue of life (cf. Eph 5:15–18). We do not seek our own interests, but the interests of Christ as the Spirit leads us to do so. The interests of Christ are typically serving His people or being with His people in some way (cf. Phil 2:20–21).

For those who claim to be committed to their local church, one would hope their claim would be more than words and thus matched by at least being a part of their church’s weekly schedule as much as they are able, as well as the occasional events that the church uses to advance its mission. All things considered, this really is not as much time as one might think.

Everyone on earth has 168 hours a week to use or not for the glory of God. If you sleep 8 hours a night, use 9 hours a day to commute and work, and use 3 hours a day for meals, a shower, et cetera, you still have over 40 hours a week to yourself. Perhaps a couple hours a day to tend to children, groceries, and the tasks of life could put your time left over to 20–30 hours a week. Committing yourself to a service, a couple of Bible studies, and a Wednesday prayer meeting hardly seems too much to ask, especially when the example of the early church was that they devoted their schedules to these kinds of activities (Acts 2:42).

Sometimes we run to excuses that we might never use if really saw how meager they were. Skipping church on Sundays or Wednesdays because we are merely tired, ducking out early or coming late on a Sunday and missing its education hour so we can get to lunch earlier, foregoing the Sunday night Bible study so we can watch our favorite sports team—do we really expect that Christ’s eyes of fire upon His churches will look the other way (cf. Rev 1:14)? Or maybe the problem is a lack of self-control. How much time do you spend watching TV, checking social media, or giving your life to frivolous pursuits? Sometimes we find little time for God and His people because we love lesser matters more.

A church is only as strong as the commitment of its people to the gospel and one another, and the commitment of one may practically look very different from that of another. As much as you are able, devote yourself and your time to the people of God when they have covenanted to meet with each other.