The Old Testament in the Book of Revelation (Revelation 18:1–3)

Passage Summary

An authoritative angel illumined the earth with his glory (18:1) and announced with his mighty voice that Babylon was fallen (18:2). It was now a home for demons, unclean birds, and beasts (18:2). The reasons for this judgment were her global immorality and gross materialism (18:3).

 

Old Testament in the New 

Revelation Old Testament Connection Between the Two
18:1 Ezek 43:2 Both God and His angels shine their glory upon the earth.
18:2 Isa 21:9 Babylon is announced to have fallen.
18:2 Isa 34:13-15; Jer 51:37 Judgment is shown through the resultant desolation.
18:3 Jer 51:7 The nations drink from the cup of Babylon, partaking of her sin.

A Parting Thought

Just as all the kingdoms then will fully live for immorality and materialism, so also do the kingdoms now do so to a lesser but obvious degree. May we be cautious to see our culture’s tendencies along these lines and live in a way that is not in keeping with the judgment that will fall upon Babylon in time to come.

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The Early Years of Paul’s Ministry in Galatians 1:18, 21 and Acts 9:26–30

Luke generally describes a meeting between Paul and the apostles in Acts 9:26–27. Paul gave more details as to this meeting in Gal 1:18–19. Paul mentions that he then left for Syria and Cilicia in Gal 1:21. Luke mentions this departure as Paul leaving for Tarsus in Acts 9:30 (Tarsus is a city in the region of Cilicia) and records his time in Antioch in Acts 11:25–26 (this was the Antioch in Syria; cf. Gal 1:21). Acts 22:17–21 records Paul’s recollection of a vision from Jesus during this time as well. What follows below is more detailed and chronological description of this time in Paul’s life. The passages above are cited, approximate dates are provided, and an explanation is given for why the accounts differ between Luke and Paul.

Three years after his conversion (AD 34), Paul came to Jerusalem for the first time as a believer (Gal 1:18; AD 37) and was rejected in his attempt to join the disciples―they were fearful that he was not truly one of them (Acts 9:26). But then Barnabas brought him to the apostles―Peter and James in particular―for a private, fifteen-day visit that, after an explanation by Barnabas of Paul’s ministry in Damascus, resulted in Paul’s fellowship with the brothers in Jerusalem (Acts 9:28a; Gal 1:18–19).

Having been granted this fellowship, Paul then preached boldly in Jerusalem and disputed against the Hellenists (Acts 9:28b–29a). As a result, these Hellenists sought to kill Paul (Acts 9:29b). At some point during this time, Paul was praying in the temple when Jesus appeared to him in a vision, warned him that the Hellenists would not accept his testimony, told him to leave Jerusalem quickly, and said that he would go far away to preach to the Gentiles (Acts 22:17–21).

Whether knowledgeable of Paul’s vision or not, the brothers in Jerusalem learned of the Hellenists’ plot to kill Paul, took him to Caesarea, and sent him to Tarsus in Cilicia (Acts 9:30), where Paul would begin to fulfill Jesus’ instructions. Paul was there for what may have been roughly eight of what many call his “silent years” (AD 37–45), ended by Barnabas retrieving him and bringing him to Syrian Antioch where he stayed for a whole year (Acts 11:25–26; cf. Gal 1:21; AD 45–46).

As to why Luke and Paul differ, Paul’s burden in Gal 1:11–2:14 was to explain that his gospel was from Christ and not Peter, the apostles, and Jerusalem. Paul explained the primary significance of his visits to Jerusalem along these lines but did not need to recount all of the details of his ministry during this time. As to Paul’s preaching in Jerusalem, Luke wanted to provide his readers with the reasons as to why Paul left for Tarsus (in Cilicia) and described how he eventually came to Antioch (in Syria).

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The Old Testament in the Book of Revelation (Revelation 17:11–18)

Passage Summary

As earlier in Revelation (13:3, 12, 14), the beast can be one head or the whole creature. Seeing the future, John saw how the antichrist was (rose to power), is not (was slain), is an eighth (by being raised from the dead), and is eventually thrown alive into the lake of fire (17:11; cf. 19:20). Ten kings follow the antichrist in a brief exercise of power in attempting to overthrow the Lamb but will fail miserably when He and the saints overcome them (17:12–14). The angel identifies the waters as the people of the world (17:15). The ten horns follow the antichrist in overthrowing Babylon and its false religion, unwittingly led by God in doing so, undoing the dominion she once had over them (17:16–18).

Old Testament in the New 

Revelation Old Testament Connection Between the Two
17:12 Dan 7:7–8, 20, 24–25 Both prophesy of kings pictured as ten horns.
17:14 Dan 7:21–22 There will be war between the antichrist and his kings and the Lamb and the saints.
17:15 Isa 17:12–13 People are pictured as waters.
17:15 Jer 51:13 Babylon dwells by the waters.
17:16 Lev 21:9; Ezek 23:25, 47 The prostitute is punished with fire.

A Parting Thought

In God’s providence, He uses evil against evil (while never being its Author) to carry out His sovereign will. The kingdom of darkness will be divided, its house will not stand, and the King will descend to destroy it in the end. Victory is coming!

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Adventures in Arabia: What Was Paul Doing in Galatians 1:17?

In Gal 1:11–17, Paul defended the divine origin of his gospel by recounting when and how he received it from Christ. Along the way, he stated that “he went away into Arabia” (Gal 1:17) but not what he did while he was there. A parallel passage for Galatians 1:17 is Acts 9:10–25, but Luke only tells us a bit of what happened to Paul in Damascus and mentions nothing of Arabia. Here are some suggestions as to what kept Paul busy in Arabia during this time.1

Option 1: Once a zealot for Judaism, the newly converted Paul went to Arabia to study the Scriptures to understand how Jesus was the Messiah and how his life in Judaism had been misguided.

Option 2: Building upon the suggestion above, maybe Paul went to Mount Sinai because he mentions it later as being in Arabia in Gal 4:25 in the midst of a discussion on the Law of Moses (cf. Gal 4:21–31).

Option 3: Wherever Paul stayed in Arabia, Christ personally revealed to him the gospel just as He had done so with the other apostles. If we see two distinct revelations in Gal 1:12 and 1:16―God revealing Jesus as the Christ to Paul (1:16; cf. Acts 9:3–9) and then Christ revealing the gospel to Paul (Gal 1:12)―then this revelation by Christ could have been during Paul’s stay in Arabia. The revelation in Gal 1:12 thus takes place in Arabia in Gal 1:17.2

Option 4: Rather than studying, Paul preached the gospel. This preaching could have been when “many days had passed” (Acts 9:23) between his preaching in Damascus (Acts 9:20–22) and escape from arrest in that city (Acts 9:23–25). If so, Paul preached in Damascus (Acts 9:20–22), continued to preach when he “went away into Arabia” (Gal 1:17), and then “returned again to Damascus” (Gal 1:17), only to flee from being arrested (Acts 9:23–25). Comparing Scripture to Scripture, Paul records this same escape in 2 Cor 11:32–33 and adds that it was overseen by the governor of Damascus who was carrying out the orders of the King Aretas who was, notably, king of Arabia. If the king of Arabia was seeking to arrest Paul in Damascus (2 Cor 11:32–33 with Acts 9:23–25), it was likely because Paul was preaching the gospel while in Arabia in Gal 1:17.

The last option seems best. It matches the timeline of Galatians 1 with Acts 9 and finds support in 2 Cor 11:32–33. Paul probably studied the Scriptures during this time just as he did later in life (cf. 2 Tim 4:13) and maybe even had one or more visions. We are not told one way or the other. But if Acts 9 and 2 Corinthians 11 give us any clues, his primary purpose seems to have been a trip to preach Christ until the threat of Aretas chased him back to Damascus.

  1. Options 1 and 2 are summarized as the views of others by Douglas J. Moo, Galatians (BECNT; Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2013), 106–07, and Thomas R. Schreiner, Galatians (ZENCT; Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2010), 102–03. Schreiner and Moo both suggest the last option in this post for the reasons that are given below. []
  2. Morris V. Klock, “Ten Appearances to Paul,” Central Bible Quarterly 18 (1975), 26–27. []
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What God Thinks about Transgenderism

This post originally appeared on Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary’s blog and has been reposted here with permission.

Former Olympian and gold medalist Bruce Jenner transitioned to Caitlyn Jenner. A once-decorated army soldier who leaked classified data, Bradley Manning transitioned to Chelsea Manning, who is again in the news for recently being hired by Harvard as a visiting fellow. Despite what seems to have previously been men among men, each of these men now claim to be women. What are we to think of those who “transition” from one gender to the other and thereby become “transgender”?

Bringing it closer to home, I was asked by a junior higher in my church about how to think of her classmate who had allegedly chosen to switch genders. I found out along the way that her older brother has to suffer having a girl change in his locker room’s bathroom stall to prepare for gym class since she claims to be a boy. He doesn’t see her change, but she is apparently free to access the locker room, come to the stall, and leave while everyone else changes in the same locker room, making for an uncomfortable situation.

Have you ever had to personally face these questions? What do you think of the Jenners and Mannings of the world? Who is changing in your child’s locker room? And how do we define transgenderism anyway? Is it something natural, morally acceptable, and maybe even fluid?

As uncomfortable as the topic may be, we face it more and more every day in our society and are pressed for biblical answers. But before getting too mired in modern notions of transgenderism, let’s ground ourselves first in Scripture.

God Created Man as Male and Female

In the beginning, God created Adam and Eve in such a way that sexual orientation, birth gender, gender identity, and sexual behavior were altogether male or female (Gen 1:26–28; 2:18, 23–24). To claim that God intended a masculine and feminine mix of the above characteristics is out of accord with what God Himself states in in His Word.1 And if we are forced to use the modern vernacular of having a “gender identity” that corresponds to our anatomical “physical sex,” a male gender corresponds with the male sex, the female with the female, and never the twain should switch or mix in any way.

Unfortunately, however, Adam and Eve sinned, bringing death and suffering into our world, physical defects included. God stated to Moses, “Who has made man’s mouth? Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the Lord?” (Ex 4:11). These defects may extend to other parts of the human anatomy as well. As Jesus told His disciples, “For there are eunuchs who have been so from birth” (Matt 19:12).

But defects in general and especially those that pertain to anatomy that is distinctly male or female were not to be sought or encouraged. In the case that a male’s distinct anatomy was marred by defect or mutilation, he was forbidden to offer sacrifices or participate in Israel’s formal worship of God (Lev 21:20; Deut 23:1). The idea was to not imitate pagan worship that involved the mutilation of one’s genitalia in order to change one’s gender.2 Cross-dressing was explicitly forbidden as well (Deut 22:5). Thus, the presence of a defect, by birth or mutilation, is not seen positively in Scripture. Moreover, defect or not, presenting one’s self as the opposite of one’s sex was explicitly forbidden.

In principle, anything that strays from God created order for man as male or female is not what God intends it to be, and anything that man intentionally does to present himself or herself as the opposite sex of what God has anatomically ordained is sin.

Can Someone Suffer a Truly Transgender Situation?

Having this biblical understanding in hand, let’s consider the possibility of an anatomical defect that makes it genuinely difficult to identify the sex and gender of an individual. The Mayo Clinic describes ambiguous genitalia, the situation in which true transgenderism occurs: “Ambiguous genitalia is a rare condition in which an infant’s external genitals don’t appear to be clearly either male or female. In a baby with ambiguous genitalia, the genitals may not be well-formed or the baby may have characteristics of both sexes. The external sex organs may not match the internal sex organs or genetic sex.”3

Given this difficult situation, is it morally permissible for a true transgender (or intersex) individual to choose his or her gender? Dr. Elizabeth Mitchell notes, “True hermaphrodites are often raised as males (about 75%), but 80% of them are XX, genetically female.”4 If “the true prevalence of intersex is seen to be about 0.018%,”5 then perhaps 18 people out of every 100,000 will be born with intersex conditions, and 14 or 15 of them will be raised as males.6

A pressing moral question, then, seems to be this—is it proper for a true intersex individual to choose a sexual orientation contrary to what his or her family has raised the individual to be? Can an intersex individual “trans” from one gender to the other and glorify God?

Such an individual would have to be convinced that to do so would be correct and honoring to God and just so in face of undoing what his or her social norms have come to be.7 Or perhaps this individual should see his or her suffering this situation as something described by Jesus and glorify God through celibacy (Matt 19:12; cf. 1 Cor 7:6–7, 32).

Applying God’s Word to Modern Transgenderism

Having considered Scripture, it becomes fairly easy to navigate our way through the issues that present themselves today, though society is increasingly hostile to our biblical conclusions. If transgender is defined as it is commonly used today, to “those whose psychological self (‘gender identity’) differs from the social expectations for the physical sex they were born with,”8 then this kind of transgenderism is sin. It claims that an individual who is anatomically male could be psychologically female, and vice versa, something forbidden in Scripture. God’s Word does not allow us to make false distinctions between sexual orientation, birth gender (based on anatomy), gender identity, one’s sex role in society, or sexual behavior.9 God intends these characteristics to be altogether male or female in keeping with how He created them to be.

And, if transgender is so elusive as to be “an umbrella term for transsexuals, cross-dressers (transvestites), transgenderists, gender queers, and people who identify as neither female nor male and/or as neither a man or as a woman,”10 then we stray from God’s created and intended order all the more. The fact that we even have to address these kinds of matters today shows that God has given our society over to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done (Rom 1:30).

Conclusion

For the vast majority of humanity that is clearly male and female, we should live as God created us to be and not attempt to transition from one physical sex to the other or land somewhere in between. Transgenderism as it is commonly defined today is sin.

While we may not know why exactly God allows some individuals to be in a genuinely transgender or intersex state, God’s truth is sufficient to guide these individuals, and may such a one glorify God through this suffering and live with the hope that He will one day glorify the bodies the redeemed, anatomical defects included (Isa 35:5–6; Phil 3:20–21; 1 John 3:2).

  1. Cf. Norman L. Geisler, Christian Ethics: Options and Issues (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1989), 191. []
  2. Eugene H. Merrill, Deuteronomy (NAC 4; Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman, 1994), 307. []
  3. Mayo Clinic, “Ambiguous genitalia.” Online: http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/ambiguous-genitalia/basics/definition/con-20026345. Accessed 14 Aug 2017. []
  4. Elizabeth Mitchell, “Feedback: Hermaphroditism.” Answers in Genesis; 4 Dec 2009. Online: https://answersingenesis.org/human-body/feedback-hermaphroditism/. Accessed 14 Aug 2017. []
  5. This statistic comes from Leonard Sax, “How common is intersex? A Response to Anne Fausto-Sterling,” Journal of Sex Research 39 (2002): 174–78. Online: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/00224490209552139#. Accessed 14 Aug 2017. Sax understands intersex to refer to “those conditions in which chromosomal sex is inconsistent with phenotypic sex, or in which the phenotype is not classifiable as either male or female.” []
  6. Mitchell, “Feedback: Hermaphroditism.” []
  7. Ibid. []
  8. I originally found this definition from “Definition of Terms” by the Gender Equity Resource Center of Berkeley University of California. Online: http://geneq.berkeley.edu/lgbt_resources_definiton_of_terms. Accessed 25 Apr 2015. Though this webpage is no longer available today, a quick internet search of this definition shows that it is commonly used by many institutions. []
  9. John S. Feinberg and Paul D. Feinberg, Ethics for a Brave New World (2nd ed.; Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2010), 310. []
  10. Ibid. []

What to Do with Enemies Within: Thoughts from Galatians 1:8–9

In one of Paul’s strongest passages, he stated, “But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed” (Gal 1:8–9 ESV). Some thoughts to take away:

First, the recipients of this letter were believers. There is some obvious “anyone” and “you” language, distinguishing between the readers from those who taught a false gospel among them. Though Paul skips his usual thanksgiving for the readers in this letter, Paul does not begin by cursing them―he curses the false teachers. If the readers are believers (cf. “brothers” in Gal 1:11), they will return to faithfully holding the gospel they first believed.

Second, as noted above, the curse is reserved for the false teachers, and it is assumed that the action is by God. To be “accursed” is to suffer the condemnation and wrath of God for teaching a false gospel. Paul is pronouncing what is already the case as it is true of these false teachers.

Third, this warning was repeated in multiple ways. Not only did Paul pronounce his curse twice in this letter (1:8 and 1:9), but he also warned the Galatians of turning from the gospel when he was first with them (note, “As we have said before,” i.e., when he was first with them). Some warnings apparently cannot be repeated enough.

From the above, it should be clear that believers should not tolerate teachers of a false gospel within their local churches or in the body of Christ as a whole. So what do we do when we find them in our midst?

Other passages help answer this question. We warn them once and then twice and then have nothing more to do with them if they persist in their false gospel (Titus 3:10). These confrontations will involve witnesses and even the whole church as necessary (Matt 18:15–18; cf. 1 Tim 5:19–20). But we would hope that we might restore the transgressors with a spirit of gentleness (Gal 6:1–2). Nonetheless, if they persist in heresy and are put out of the church, we watch out for them and avoid them (Rom 16:17). We do not even give them lodging or wish them well on their way and thereby take part in their wicked works (2 John 10–11). It may even be that such ones leave the church on their own because they were never truly part of it in the first place (1 John 2:19).

And while that last paragraph may seem neat and tidy, we know from history and maybe experience that applying these passages can be messy, heart-breaking, and painful, whether in a local church or some other type of fellowship that enforces its unity around the gospel.

Let us be sure we know our gospel and be careful to distinguish ourselves from those who promote another. And let us not be confused to extend our fellowship as God’s people to those who are actually under the wrath of God.

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Divorce and Remarriage: A Spectrum of Christian Positions

A 2008 Barna survey suggests that 26% of evangelical marriages end in divorce.1 If this survey represents all evangelical marriages, Christians do well to form a biblical position on divorce and remarriage and understand each other’s respective positions. To clarify, all positions surveyed below agree that a widow or widower may remarry in the event of a spouse’s death (1 Cor 7:39; cf. Rom 7:1–4). With respect to remarriage, this essay surveys the positions as to whether or not an individual may divorce and marry someone other than the original spouse while the original spouse is still living.

No Divorce, No Remarriage

A minority position among Christians today is that believers may neither divorce nor remarry. In the event that a spouse sinfully insists on divorce, the innocent spouse should not remarry but remain single in hope for reunion to the original spouse. 

This position understands that God’s original and ongoing design for marriage is “one man, one woman, for one lifetime,” no exceptions (Gen 2:24). God regulated but did not approve divorce (Deut 24:1–4), and His threats to divorce Israel were hypothetical (Jer 3:8; Hos 1:9). The oft-quoted translation of Mal 2:16 sums it all. God states, “I hate divorce” (NASB). The major texts Mark 10:2–12, Luke 16:18, and 1 Cor 7:10–11 affirm that neither the husband nor the wife may divorce one another. If divorce occurred nonetheless, the man and woman must remain unmarried or remarry only each other. The “exception clause” of Matt 19:9 (“except for immorality”) clarifies that an unmarried couple could be separated in one of two possible ways. Either sexual sin during betrothal allows the dissolution of a marriage-to-be, or the discovery of an incestuous marriage would call for an annulment of an illegitimate marriage (cf. Lev 18:6–18). Either way, a legitimate marriage is not broken. If a divorce ended a legitimate marriage, consequent remarriage would be adultery. 1 Cor 7:12–16 provides a situation in which an unbeliever abandons a believing spouse. The believer may allow the unbeliever to leave (the “Pauline privilege”). Peace is maintained between the two, and the believer should apply 1 Cor 7:10–11 by remaining single and hoping for reunion with the original spouse.

Divorce, No Remarriage

The second position finds voice among a minority of modern Christians and the majority of church fathers. Divorce is permissible in certain instances, but remarriage is not.

Gen 2:24 sets the ideal for marriage. A spouse should forgive and not enforce divorce for immorality (Deut 24:1–4). If divorce does occur, as God loved adulterous Israel (Ezekiel 16) and as Hosea loved his wayward wife (Hosea 1–3), so also should a believing spouse hope for reunion by not remarrying anyone but the original spouse. Jesus appealed to Gen 2:24 in Matt 19:3–9 and thereby shocked the disciples in Matt 19:10; divorce led to celibacy because remarriage was not an option (cf. 19:11–12). Matt 5:32 and Matt 19:9 allow for divorce but not remarriage. Mark 10:2–12 and Luke 16:18 forbid divorce and remarriage. Paul forbade believers to divorce (1 Cor 7:10–11). A believer married to an unbelieving spouse could exercise the “Pauline privilege”  and allow an unbelieving spouse to leave the marriage (1 Cor 7:15), but the believer should not remarry and instead hope to restore the marriage.

Divorce, Remarriage

A third view sees biblical warrant for both divorce and remarriage in certain situations, though disagreement exists as to the extent of this warrant. The majority of modern Christians hold this view in one form or another.

Genesis 2:24 is the ideal for marriage (cf. 1 Cor 7:10–11), though the marriage covenant could be broken. Divorce is permissible in the case of immorality and must be formalized (Deut 24:1–4). God’s approval of divorce is shown by His divorce of adulterous Israel (Jer 3:8; cf. Hos 1:9). Mal 2:16 does not quote God as hating all divorce but describes His hatred for the sinful divorce in which a husband unreasonably abandons his wife for another woman.2 Jesus identifies unreasonable divorce and subsequent remarriage as adultery (Mark 10:2–12; Luke 16:18), but divorce is allowed when a spouse is immoral (Matt 5:32). If immorality takes place, reconciliation should be sought (Matt 19:3–8; cf. Gen 2:24) instead of defaulting to divorce, a surprising concept to the thinking of Jesus’ day (cf. Matt 19:10–12). Remarriage after divorce from an immoral spouse is permissible (Matt 19:9).

The believer left by an unbelieving spouse (1 Cor 7:15) was no longer bound and could remarry, just as a believing widow could remarry (1 Cor 7:39; cf. Rom 7:1–3). Some would say that desertion of the marriage in 1 Cor 7:15 extends in principle to any persistent and major breach of the marriage covenant. In such a case, the believer is privileged to formalize the broken marriage through divorce and may remarry as well (cf. 1 Cor 7:15, 39).

Conclusion

Though these positions differ in significant ways, the Christians who hold these positions may at least agree that God’s ideal is marriage for life. May God give grace to Christians as they seek to uphold this ideal, and may Christians give grace to each other as they vary in ministering to marriages that are less than ideal.

For Further Reading

(1) Davis, John J. Evangelical Ethics. 2nd ed. Phillipsburg, N.J.: Presbyterian and Reformed, 2004.

(2) House, H. Wayne, ed. Divorce and Remarriage: Four Christian Views. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1990.

(3) Köstenberger, Andreas J. and David W. Jones. God Marriage and Family: Rebuilding the Biblical Foundation. 2d ed. Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway, 2010.

 

 

  1. The Barna Group, “New Marriage and Divorce Statistics Released,” n.p. [cited 4 June 2011]. Online: http://www.barna.org/barna-update/article/15-familykids/42-new-marriage-and-divorce-stati. Of the 3,792 adults that were surveyed, 339 professed to be evangelical Christians. 26% of these individuals had been divorced. []
  2. The ESV reflects this understanding: “For the man who does not love his wife but divorces her, says the Lord, the God of Israel, covers his garment with violence, says the Lord of hosts” (Mal 2:16). []

The Old Testament in the Book of Revelation (Revelation 17:6b–10)

Passage Summary

After the angel asked about John’s marveling (17:6b–7a), he promised an explanation of the woman, the beast with the seven heads, and his ten horns (17:7) and gave it―beast (17:8), heads (17:9–11), horns (17:12–14, 16–17), woman (17:18), and added the waters as well (17:15). The beast is the antichrist who is slain, revived, and rises to power in the midst of these final seven years, provoking unbelievers to worship him (17:8; cf. 13:3, 12, 14). The seven heads are both mountains and kings, identifications which call for wisdom (17:9–10; cf. 13:18), giving reason to be tentative as to conclusions. At the least, five kings are past (“fallen”), one ruled during the days of John (“one is”), and the antichrist was yet to come and would rule for a time shorter than the rest (17:10).

Old Testament in the New 

Revelation Old Testament Connection Between the Two
17:8 Exod 32:32-33; Dan 12:1 Books are described as containing the names of those who will live forever.
17:9 Dan 7:4–7 Both prophecies involve beasts and ten horns.

A Parting Thought

The antichrist is a coming, evil king who is worse than all others who precede him. Let us be thankful that God has shortened his time to “only a little while” for the sake of the elect (cf. Matt 24:22).

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A Timeline of Paul’s Ministry in Galatians and Acts

“The Cities of Galatia” (from Nelson’s Complete Book of Bible Maps and Charts, Revised, 1996, Logos Edition)

Galatians is probably Paul’s earliest letter, written around AD 48 to the churches in southern Galatia and not to Gentiles in northern Galatia (the first conclusion among several debated issues, as you will see).

Assuming some dates (these dates can be debated) and matching Paul’s biographical details their parallels in Acts, Paul persecuted the church (Gal 1:13–14; Acts 9:1–2; AD 34), was converted (Gal 1:15–16a; Acts 9:3–19a; AD 34), preached in Arabia and Damascus for three years (Gal 1:17; Acts 9:19–22; AD 34–37), visited Peter and James in Jerusalem after these three years (Gal 1:18–20; Acts 9:26–29; AD 37), and preached in Judea for about ten years (Gal 1:21–24; Acts 9:30–31; AD 37–47).

Fourteen years after his conversion (so it seems; cf. Gal 2:1), Paul took Barnabas and Titus to visit Jerusalem again for a private meeting with Peter, James, and John (Gal 2:1–10), which may or may not be recorded in Acts (if so, Acts 11:27–30; AD 47; this conclusion is debated and hinges on another―see comments on Gal 2:1–10 and Acts 15:1–29 below).

Paul then went on his first missionary journey, which included planting churches in southern Galatia (Acts 13–14; AD 47–48). It is not clear when Peter came to Antioch and was confronted by Paul (Gal 2:11–14), but (making yet another conclusion) perhaps it was after Paul had planted the Galatian churches (thus, AD 48). Maybe Peter wanted to follow up on the gospel’s spread to the Gentiles as he had done earlier in Samaria (Acts 8:14) or visited while traveling to minister to the churches in general (cf. Acts 9:32).

Paul then went to the Jerusalem council in Acts 15:1–29 a year or so later (AD 49), an event probably not the same as what Paul records in Gal 2:1–10 (another debated issue). This conclusion is supported in that (1) Paul does not mention the Acts 15 conclusions in Galatians and (2) Luke describes the Acts 15 council as public (cf. Acts 15:6, 12, 22) while Paul describes Gal 2:10 as a private meeting (cf. Gal 2:2).

Paul then visited the Galatian churches two more times at the beginnings of his second (Acts 16:6; cf. cf. 15:40–18:22; AD 49) and third (Acts 18:23; cf. 18:23–21:17; AD 52) missionary journeys (AD 49–51 and 52–57, respectively).

On a pastoral level, for as strong as Paul was in his letter to the Galatians, we can be encouraged that the churches corrected themselves and persevered, implied by the fact that Paul visited them in his second and third missionary journeys. While these churches were swayed for a time, Paul’s strong and swift denunciation of a false gospel grounded them in the true gospel again, leaving them strengthened in the end.

So, if you are keeping track, (tentative) conclusions made were the following:

(1) Paul wrote the churches in southern and not northern Galatia (i.e., the ones in Acts 13–14).

(2) Paul visited Jerusalem a second time fourteen years after his conversion and not fourteen years after his first visit to Jerusalem (Gal 2:1).

(3) Paul’s visit to Jerusalem in Gal 2:1–10 could be the one recorded by Luke in Acts 11:27–30.

(4) Pauls’ visit to Jerusalem in Gal 2:1–10 was probably not the one recorded by Luke in Acts 15:1–29.

(5) Peter visited Paul in Antioch (Gal 2:11–14) after Paul’s return to the city after Paul had planted several churches, some being in southern Galatia (Acts 13:1–14:28).

(6) The years are exactly as stated above. (As one can see, it is sometimes very difficult to identify Paul’s locations and the times he was there with certainty and precision.)

While it is not imperative to figure out the timing of (5) (i.e., before or after Acts 13–14), it does seem that a combination of (1), (2), (3), (4), and (6) lean upon one another and, if one conclusion is made, so also are the others in this combination.

The chart below is my own and gives a tentative timeline for how one could match the details of Paul’s life in Galatians to Acts. It also adds some semi-related events that Acts mentions besides (i.e., Paul’s other visits to Galatia).

Date Description Galatians Acts
AD 34 Saul (not yet Paul) persecuted the church. 1:13–14 9:1–2
AD 34 Saul was converted. 1:15–16a 9:3–19a
AD 34–37 Saul preached in Arabia and Damascus. 1:17 9:19–22; cf. 9:27
AD 37 Saul visited Jerusalem three years after his conversion. 1:18–20 9:26–29
AD 37–47 Saul preached in Syria and Cilicia. 1:21–24 9:30–31
AD 47 Saul visited Jerusalem fourteen years after his conversion. 2:1–10 11:27–30?
AD 47–48 Saul became Paul and with Barnabas planted churches in Gentile territory, Galatia included, during Paul’s first missionary journey. 13:1–14:28
AD 48 Peter visited Antioch and was confronted by Paul. 2:11–14
AD 48 Paul wrote Galatians. 1:1–6:18
AD 49 Paul participated in the Apostolic Council in Jerusalem. 15:1–29
AD 49–51 Paul and Silas visited the Galatian churches during Paul’s second missionary journey. 16:6; cf. 15:40–18:22
AD 52–57 Paul visited the Galatian churches for the last time recorded in Scripture. 18:23; cf. 18:23–21:17

 

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The Old Testament in the Book of Revelation (Revelation 17:1–6a)

Passage Summary

With similarities that work to bring out a stark contrast to John’s vision of the New Jerusalem (cf. 21:9–11), John is invited by one of the angels who had one of the last seven bowls to see the judgment of the great immoral and adulterous end-times religious system that has its sway over the world (17:1–2; cf. 17:15). John was carried away to the wilderness and saw the woman riding the beast, indicating this religious system will even hold sway over the antichrist (17:3; cf. 13:1). The clothing, gold, and jewelry of the woman show her wealth, and the golden cup full of abominations shows the many sins committed by her followers (17:4). Her forehead held the name now revealed, “Babylon the great, mother of prostitutes and of earth’s abominations” (17:5). Among her sins is to have spilled the blood of believers (17:6a).

Old Testament in the New 

Revelation Old Testament Connection Between the Two
17:1 Jer 51:13 Babylon dwells by waters and is judged.
17:1 Nah 3:4 Babylon is judged for idolatry and immorality.
17:2 Isa 23:17 A world power prostitutes itself to the nations of the world.
17:3 Dan 7:7 The beast has ten horns.
17:4 Jer 51:7 Babylon’s golden cup is full of sins committed by the nations.
17:4 Ezek 28:13 Foreign powers are described as having great wealth.

A Parting Thought

False religion has many lures―immorality, wealth, and power. But these sins and ill-gotten gains come with a price―judgment for abominations, sins, and the murder of God’s own. May we be quick to spot the Great Prostitute and avoid her at every turn.

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