Going Forward, Looking Back


We have arrived at the end of chapter 11 of the Apocalypse. I have presented an interpretation from the perspective that the Passion of the Church is the Passion of Christ. The theophany at the end of chapter 11 discloses that Christ has triumphed, and this is the message that John wants his churches to embrace. Because Christ has triumphed in his passion, so too the church will triumph. He has demonstrated that those who do not heed the call to repentance will be destroyed. However, he assures his listeners that the divine continues to send forth that call, and will do so to the end. John began his narrative by presenting the exalted Christ, and showing that the exalted Christ already is present in the church. He has used images of myth and images of history, blending them into a presentation of his message of hope and redemption. In the next sections, John will answer: who is this Christ? What is his purpose? He will take us back to beginnings, again blending myth and history, to demonstrate that the divine is indeed the creator and redeemer. If we want to think in terms of our Apostles’ Creed, which did not exist for John and his church, we may conclude that John has already addressed the First Article, and most of the Second Article. He will continue by returning to the Birth of Christ, and lead us forward. Again, he begins as visionary, and will move toward his new identity as prophet as his narrative flows on.

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