- Video Messages w/ PPT
- Commentary on The Sermons to the Seven Churches of Revelation
- Commentary on 1-2 Thessalonians
- Paul the Ancient Letter Writer
Well, thank, thank you, Larry. And thank all the people who are zooming in. Uh, it's a privilege for me to talk about this project and I'm especially excited because I think that this book, I know that this book actually is aimed at exactly people like you, people who are hopefully going to preach or teach on this part of the book of revelation before I have a little bit of a PowerPoint, uh, uh, presentation with my, uh, comments, uh, I thought I'd share what I shared in the preface, how the book came about, uh, because I think it may be of interest to some of you. Uh, 14 years ago, there were seven pastors in Iowa and they were part of a, uh, an internet group. And they had what they thought was a great idea. They said, Hey, let's invite Jeff while I'm a down, teach us everything we need to know about the seven letters of revelation and that each of us will write one sermon and then we'll preach it seven times and all of our, uh, services.
And so that was their plan. And even though I had really not done any work on the revelation, I all my publishing work and research had been on Paul because I was starting to lead tours to a Turkey. I thought, okay, I'm willing to invest the time to do this. Now I tell that story in the preface, but I didn't tell the rest of the story in the preface, because what happened is one of the councils said to their pastor, uh, we like you're preaching way better than all the other ministers. Now, I think they were just thinking that their pastor was trying to, you know, be lazy and get around. And so they couldn't say that. So they said, we love your preaching better than everyone else. And so we want you to preach all seven of them. And so one poor pastor among the group of seven, uh, couldn't participate had to write all seven.
And so the, the other six said, well, we'll all right, the first one on ethicists. And then we'll do round Robin for the remaining six. And so that's what, that's what they did. Anyway, 14 years ago, I started diving in a little more deeply into, uh, the Southern letters of revelation. And, um, uh, what, what kind of happened is this book evolved. Um, I did the research first for these pastors. Some of you know that I do preaching seminars one or two day seminars, where I'm pretty promiscuous with my notes. The idea is you, you take or borrow the information and then you turn it into a sermon series. And I have one on Thessaloniki and another one in Corinthians and other parts of the new Testament. And so then I added to the repertoire now the seven letters of revelation. So I did those seminars for pastors in Canada, United States.
And then after a while I thought to myself, well, this is kind of silly. I'm teaching pastors how to preach this. I should preach it myself. I do a lot of preaching and I could use some new material. And so then I started preaching the seven letters or better the seven sermons to the seven churches. And so, uh, and then on top of that, I started visiting, uh, Western Turkey, uh, many times. And so all of these things kind of came together kind of the knowledge of the history and geography of the seven churches in Asia minor. I'm teaching this to pastors and then preaching it myself. And so the book became kind of beta tested if you sense, you know, both with pastors and with parishioners. And I think, uh, the product at the end was better by going this kind of longer, a longer route.
Well, I can only say a few things in the time that we have, and I'm going to try to share here, hopefully this will work. All right. And, uh, there's a picture of the book and its cover and of me. And, uh, here are some comments that I would like to start off by saying, um, the biggest reason why you should consider preaching or teaching this material is that it is extremely relevant, I believe for an affluent compromising Western Christian Church of today. So I'm stressing that because before I looked into this material closely, I had a, a, a kind of presupposition, a stereotype about the book of revelation that turned out not to be true and even worse. Um, it made me somehow not excited about the book. So one of course are the images. I think that the book of revelation intimidates or scares a lot of people.
And so if you can kind of overcome that fear by presenting this material in a clear and compelling way, that's one already big plus. But the thing that I, uh, hesitated about the book was this. I thought that the readers of revelation were essentially good Christians, almost like superstar Christians, because they were being persecuted for their faith and they were hanging tough. And the book of revelation was a kind of way to go church, you know, hang in there one day, Jesus will come back or I will come back Jesus through John and I will prove and vindicate your faith. And, and because I thought of it that way, I'm afraid that the book seemed not very relevant to me. Why? Because I, and the church I was ministering in is not under persecution. And so somehow, you know, because people are ruthlessly pragmatic today and sometimes us preachers get caught up in that expectation too.
And what I found out though is when I did the research, is that actually, that's not the case, uh, far from being healthy churches, the majority of the congregations to whom the seven churches were, were written. And by, uh, by the way, of course, the southerner only representative of all the churches of Asia minor, it turns out that they were unhealthy and they were unhealthy in ways that I think, again, the church today is unhealthy. And so suddenly these books or these sermons, uh, seemed extremely timely and that made me excited to teach and to preach. And I hope that you will feel the same way. Um, so in the slide, for instance, um, we see here the sin of idolatry. So, um, the catechism, the hybrid catechism, interestingly says, you know, that we're guilty of idolatry, not just by replacing God with something or someone else, but by putting something alongside of God.
And so as Christians, you know, your parishioners, uh, aren't obviously interested in replacing God and therefore they think somehow, you know, we're not guilty of idolatry, but we are, I'm afraid extremely guilty of that second thing, putting a variety of other idols or gods alongside of the one and only true God. And so a couple of the sermons of revelation deal head-on with the sin of idolatry. And that seems especially relevant to the church situation today. Also, the sister sent the sister send, you can ask me why it's a sister, San or twin sin of idolatry is sexual immorality. And, uh, I hardly need to make the point that we live in a sex saturated society. And a lot of the negative attitudes towards sex and sexuality of our culture are impacting the church. And I think the seven sermons hopefully address that. There's also the problem of false teaching, the, the, the, the kind of clever arguments that were used to justify doing things that ought not to be done.
Speaker 2 (09:29):
And, uh, and we're, we're kind of like that too. We're pretty smart. And we say, you know, wait, if you think about it this way or that way, you know, then maybe this isn't so bad after all. And the sermons of revelation also deal with that. And then also I think a very relevant problem for reform churches today in north America. And that is of complacency, complacency, uh, uh, churches. And some of us have been Jesus followers for maybe a little too long. And the gospel has kind of lost its excitement and its Ferber and, uh, and unhealthy things happen when churches become complacent. And so these are at least just some of the key topics that are addressed in the churches of revelation two and three. And as I've said, a couple of times already, I think that they are crying out to be preached or taught to churches.
Speaker 2 (10:21):
Uh, today the seven sermons are listed in a key aspect pattern. Now, I need to tell you that I'm highly skeptical about chiasm, right? I think way too often, they're more in the mind of the interpreter today than of the biblical author, but in this case, I won't make it here. The book will do that at greater length and with greater detail, but here visually you can see, uh, the, the kind of structure and with the red being the unhealthy churches and the green being the healthy churches, you can see that well, um, the seventh and climactic position, right, the end is in the climax position. That's by far the least healthy congregation and the two healthy churches are kind of hidden if you will, uh, within the seven in position number two and its corresponding spot, number seven, both of them were dealing with the, uh, with attacks from the outside and Jesus has no complaints to say about them.
Speaker 2 (11:22):
And so they're in there, they're kind of commended for persevering in the midst of persecution. So the book of revelation does deal with the theme of persecution, but, um, that also should be preached today because as many of us know, even though the Western press, doesn't give it a lot of attention. We have brothers and sisters around the globe, right, who are facing a variety of forms of oppression every day. And we ought to at least be sensitive to their situation. Furthermore, we have more and more, um, uh, members within our own churches that come from those countries and reflect those communities. And it can be a very affirming and comforting for, uh, let's say, Chinese Christians here in north America to hear how the church in north America recognizes that Christians over there are facing oppression and how a biblical text, you know, kind of encourages Christians to persevere in their faith.
Speaker 2 (12:19):
Um, I have a quote here from Greg Villagio skip. So, so I think it's better and more accurate to think of the seven congregations as predominantly unhealthy five unhealthy and two healthy congregations. And the areas of sin again, are very relevant for today. I found a quote from Craig keener, which says exactly, uh, my experience. So he says, traditionally scholars have viewed revelation as addressing oppressed Christians facing persecution from the mighty Roman state. And I was, yeah, that was me. And as a result, because I'm not in a country, that's oppressed on how this text doesn't seem relevant, but now he says correctly today many and more and more, hopefully you including if you wrestle through my book and this issue today, many emphasize instead that the book addressed complacent spiritually anemic Christian revelation speaks to churches, both alive and dead, but more of the churches are in danger of compromising with the world and of dying from it.
Speaker 2 (13:25):
This makes the book relevant to north American Christianity today. And so amen to that. And so, uh, I want to encourage all of you pastors, uh, to think about a preaching series or a teaching series about this very relevant part of the scriptures to our contemporary situation, uh, today. So the second thing that I have in the brief time I have with you is to say something about the structure of the seven sermons. So there are a number of advantages for preachers and teachers to think carefully about the structure of each individual sermon, by the way, notice I'm not calling them letters. Uh, some of you know, that I'm kind of into letters, uh, and I'm very sensitive about the form and the structure of a letter. And it's clear that the book of revelation and the seven letters are not letters, but that doesn't mean that they don't have any structure.
Speaker 2 (14:22):
And it doesn't mean that that structure is unimportant. It's just a different kind of structure. And so what are the advantages of not only from a interpreter point of view, knowing the structure, but also from a preaching and teaching point of view highlighting the structure? Well, first of all, I have here a visual image that, um, by chopping up these sermons into its parts, you simply simply, you importantly make it a much more helpful for people to appropriate the text and the information that you are sharing them, right. Rather than, you know, giving them and shoving down all this information, which is overwhelming to them like this poor kid, trying to tackle this a watermelon, it's better to kind of break it up into its parts. And that's not only better for understanding. It's also better for remembering. It's also better for telling others. And even if none of that were true, a literary approach to scripture, and some of you may ask me what I mean by that.
Speaker 2 (15:18):
Some of you know, already what I mean by that, but an emphasis on not just what is said, but how it is said and emphasis not just on the content, but on the form and structure is important to interpreting any passage of scripture. And so not surprisingly, so also the seven sermons. So I'm going to spend a couple of minutes quickly giving to you what I think is a good and useful structure. And then at the end of that, give you a couple of examples of how that is exegetically significant or important. And that will probably be the end of my formal presentation, but I'm hoping for good questions from you, or I'll have a chance to say a number of other things as well. So, so let's do this second thing before we have our Q and a session. So here is the simplified structure that I use to interpret the letters and I've used in the preaching and teaching of this letters.
Speaker 2 (16:15):
Um, you can see I've used pneumonic device, like see words that are again, more helpful to remember. Uh, and, but, but they're not artificially made these distinctions. Here we go. Every sermon begins with first a Christ title. So before Jesus says anything, John, under the inspiration of the holy spirit. So to say reaches back from chapters two and three, where the seven sermons are found back to chapter one. Why chapter one? Because in chapter one, we have a very dramatic image of Jesus and it's found in chapter one verses nine through 20, and John doesn't close his eyes when he grabs usually two of those titles, no, by the leading of the spirit, he picks titles that are especially relevant for the church to whom Jesus is about to speak. And so the Christ's titles in every sermon are very important for anticipating or for shadowing either the content of the message or the tone, the relationship between Jesus and this particular congregation.
Speaker 2 (17:22):
Secondly, Jesus, must've listened to his mother, Mary, who said, if you don't have anything nice to say, then don't say anything at all. And so Jesus, secondly, begins by saying something nice, a C word for that would be commendation. It always begins with the words. I know this about you and Jesus highlights often some thumbs up words about good things that are happening in that particular congregation. However, almost always, at least in five of the unhealthy churches, not the two that are healthy, but almost always after the good news, the thumbs up the commendation comes, the bad news comes. The complaint. Jesus will say, depending on the translation, but or never the less right. There's an article here are the specific concerns I have about what's happening in your particular congregation. And then after the complaint, we have the correction. And I think it's important for people to highlight the people.
Speaker 2 (18:22):
I mean, for preachers to highlight and therefore for people to understand the correction is really a word of grades, right? If you think about a four-page message, this is where the grace comes out because instead of Jesus highlighting their problem, their sin, and then, you know, abandoning of them, you guys figure out what to do about it. Now Jesus graciously offers them a solution, right? How they can kind of turn this around. Almost always. Of course it involves the verb repent. And I know that people today don't like to be commanded to repent because it implies that we're doing something wrong, but it requires that change of mind, literally in Greek, right? That the churches that are being rebuked need to rethink things, they have to correct their wrong theology. And then hopefully of course, they're rethinking their repentance will lead to appropriate behavior. The last thing is in two parts and every sermon that is in the text, not in my actual preaching or teaching, and that is the consequence.
Speaker 2 (19:26):
So every sermon highlights both first and negative consequences. If the church doesn't repent and turn this thing around and then finally a positive, uh, consequences. So first the negative consequence, which almost always has to do with the return of Jesus, that's kind of striking because so often in the new Testament, the return of Jesus is good news. The apostle Paul, every time in an extended passage, he talks about the return of Jesus. He concludes with therefore, comfort one another with these words, comfort one another with these words, comfort one another with these words, because the word, the return of Jesus is indeed a word of comfort for those who belong to him. However, as that old hen puts it, uh, it will be Jesus returned not only a day of wonders, but also a day of judgment. And the book of revelation has some sobering words about judgment and the seven sermons, not surprisingly, also do that too.
Speaker 2 (20:24):
And that comes out at this part in the sermon, the negative consequence, but the sermons never end that way. They always end on a positive note and they end with a, what I call the Nike, uh, formula. So if we remember Greek, uh, you may remember that the Greek verb and I K and it's a contract verb, so alpha, but anyway, and I K is a great verb, meaning to win, to conquer, to overcome, to be victorious, translated different ways, but it's the same Greek word. And I have a Nike swish on here because, um, uh, of course that was the motivation for Nike picking its name. What better name to give to a sports company than Nike, a verb, a victory, not only avert, but, uh, but a God S there are many, many images and they're easy to find and use in a sermon, two of the goddess, Nike, she has wings, which allow her to fly and give what she's holding in her outstretched right hand and not the crown as it's always are almost always mistranslated, but the victory read.
Speaker 2 (21:34):
And so every sermon talks about to the Christian who Nike, who overcomes, who is victorious. And so, uh, I always toward the end of my message, whether it's teaching or preaching will say to the audience, are you a Nike Christian? And by that, I mean, you're not wearing Nike clothes. You don't have no Nike sports equipment, you know, back home, but are you a conquering Christian, are you able to overcome the sin of whatever the sermon has been addressing? And then I, I offer some words about why they can be competent, they can overcome, and what do you get when you do? And so every sermon ends then with this positive consequence and this Nike formula, now that's the end of the biblical texts, but the preacher in me and the teacher in me knows unfortunately how gifted people are at failing to see how the text applies to their life or our church.
Speaker 2 (22:30):
And so I do think that, uh, the pastor and teacher has some responsibility to spell out, right, to kind of sow some seeds for, you know, fertile soil. So to say for the holy spirit to kind of apply the text to the person's individual life or congregation. And so I added another C word, the contemporary significance. And so one more thing is, uh, I looked like I'm right on time here. Um, so the book, I'm going to stop that now for a second, if I can do that and CLU again. So, uh, the book has eight chapters in it. So there's an introduction which deals with a lot of common introductory issues. Those are the kinds of things that you could deal with if you were doing a teaching series, but if you were preaching, you probably wouldn't do right. Um, you might, you would either skip it or maybe incorporate little parts of it as you preached on the text.
Speaker 2 (23:26):
But after the introduction comes not surprisingly seven more chapters dealing with the seven sermons and every chapter about two thirds of the chapter is extra Jesus dealing with the then and there of the text, what God was saying to the people in that day through and Asia minor, but the last quarter or third or wherever you want to put it of there, it's printed in a different font. It's printed with shade. I have my own sermon. Now, granted it's a fairly exegetical sermon even by my standards, but, um, it gives you an, a nice compact summary form, the upshot of all the detailed extra Jesus in the first part of the chapter. And I add a, hopefully I'll let you judge whether it's a catchy introduction, but it's a way to kind of hook the audience. And at the very end there's application, as I do what I just said, I think preachers and teachers need to do you kind of spell out, you know, the potential implications for people's lives.
Speaker 2 (24:29):
And so the book is kind of meant the first part of the chapter is meant for use in the study, right? As you prepare the sermon or the class, and the last part of the chapter, again, in a different font and the shaded background is meant for use in the pulpit. Um, I know that all the pastors here are so dedicated, they would never ever skip the acts of Jesus and go only to the application, but just theoretically, if that happened, okay, you'd at least get all the, the, the, the core of the extra Jesus. And then let's imagine in the summary, you saw something that you were puzzled about, or maybe you had a different interpretation, then you could always backtrack to the more detailed exegetical discussion earlier in the chapter. And you likely, there will find a more full explanation of what these alternative views are and their relatives, weakness, and strength. So the book really is meant for preachers and teachers. And so I'm very happy again, to see so many of such species of people in front of me, and now I'm waiting, uh, eagerly for their insightful comments and questions. How was that Larry for being on time, at least, Hey,
Speaker 1 (25:39):
Thanks, Jeff. So if you have a question, pop it in the chat and Daniel will be watching that. Uh, I'm just going to jump out here and just, you go from, you know, we, a lot of us who have preached this right, have talked about seven letters and you're talking seven sermons or prophetic Oracles. And, and how do you see that change from kind of the letter format, which is what you work in a lot with the Pauline to a sermon, a prophetic Oracle, how does that change the way that we think about, uh, teaching and preaching, uh, that material?
Speaker 2 (26:15):
Um, that's a good question. I just realized I skipped over some important points in that presentation of mine. So, uh, uh, so thank you for at least drawing, drawing, drawing my attention to that. So now, um, in one way, uh, let me just say it this way. There's no question. All the things that we have in letters, namely, an opening and a Thanksgiving and a body and a closing. And then in the letter opening, we usually have three parts. We have the sender, the recipient, and then putting my hands up a greeting cause we as pastors use it. And then within the body of the letter that is Paul's letters and other new Testament letters, there are a number of fixed formula or stereotyped expressions. And it's good, not just to know that they exist, but what function they have because they have exegetical meaning.
Speaker 2 (27:02):
So for instance, uh, Paul writing to a friendly audience, he has a good relationship. He doesn't want to offend them by being heavy handed and say, aye, the apostle Paul, by the authority of the Lord, Jesus Christ commands you. Instead, he deliberately uses an expression widely used of his day. When a letter writer had a good relationship with their audience, he says in a more user-friendly way, I appeal to you. All right? And so it's good. Not only in letters to know that these things exist, but what function they have because they help us better, uh, interpret and understand the text now. So the seven sermons have none of these epistolary things, but they do very clearly have the structure. I mean, even, even a person who has no theological or biblical training, you just read all seven in a row and you'll recognize there's a, there's a, there's a structure, there's a pattern here.
Speaker 2 (27:58):
And so that, that's kind of obvious. And what I didn't say in my presentation a minute ago was maybe the, the, uh, consequences of knowing the structure. I did say one thing I said, by presenting it in a structure, your audience can better understand it can better remember it and can better repeat it. So that was one positive thing, but I forgot to say a couple of other positive things. So for instance, um, in the seas, remember there's a commendation, right? Uh, Jesus, I said begins by saying something positive, thumbs up to a church. Well, when we get to, for instance, sermon number five to Sardis and sermon, number seven, to lay a Desia, and we're looking for the thumbs up and it doesn't come, right. I'm afraid if you don't know the structure, it'll go right over your head. You'll, you'll completely miss the fact as many, even extra genes do that.
Speaker 2 (28:52):
There's been a change in structure. And that is significant. I say in the book most often the Bible is significant for what it says, but there are some times the Bible is significant for what it doesn't say. And so it would be important for the preacher or the teacher to recognize, wait a minute. The judgment against Sardis and Laodicea is stronger because Jesus can't find anything positive to say some of us know the analogy would be Galatians, where instead of Paul's normal practice of saying, I give thanks to God for you readers in glacier. He says, I am astonished, right? So there's a kind of a similar situation. So by knowing the structure and recognizing changes in the structure that doesn't happen by accident or chance, I think we better understand, uh, what's going on. That's one, one change, or I'll give maybe a positive example and then I'll stop talking and get the next question out.
Speaker 2 (29:46):
Um, Laodicea the worst of the seven. Why is it the worst? Well, it's in the seventh connected position. The complaint. Well, first of all, there's no commendation, no thumbs up. So there are two churches like that, but Sardis at least has the concession. Jesus says about Sardis. Uh, some of you have not soiled your clothes, so there's no concession for Laodicea. So no commendation, no concession. And the complaint is longer, longer complaint than any other sermon. And it's got shocking imagery. Jesus says, you guys are neither hot nor cold. You're lukewarm. I'm about to, and actually way too many translations say it wrongly spit you out of my mouth. Right? And instead in Greek, there's a difference between spinning and skewing, right? Spinning is when you have like, uh, let's say bad coffee and it gets on your tongue and you're like, ah, yuck. And you spit it out.
Speaker 2 (30:43):
Spewing is when you drink something, it goes into your stomach and it sits there for a little bit. And then you say to yourself, where's the nearest bathroom because, uh, something violent is going to happen. You're going to throw up. And so, uh, layer to see is the worst. Not only because there's no commendation, there's no concession. Not only because the complaint is the longest, but Jesus basically says to the Christians there, you guys make me want to puke. You guys make me want to throw up. You guys want to make me upchuck. You know, that's, that's shocking now, knowing that you get to the consequence, remember there are two consequences. First, the negative one, and then a positive one. So when I get to Laodicea and I'm thinking about the structure, I'm like, oh man, I'm a little nervous about what the negative consequences going to be, because Jesus has said some pretty strong things to other churches who weren't nearly as bad as Laodicea one, the world is going to be the negative consequence for Laodicea and you're kind of brace yourself.
Speaker 2 (31:42):
And then what do you find? You read something like behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anybody hears my voice and opens the door, right. I will go in and eat with them. And then with me, oh, you have to set this up. So people hear how shocking this is to the worst of the worst of the churches. Jesus, doesn't have a word of negative consequence, but positive. And it's even better than that. Because at the beginning of the Laodicea sermon, Jesus identifies him with the Christ title as the ruler of God's creation, the ruler of God's creation, the ruin of God's creation. It doesn't have to knock on anybody's heart. Okay. Right. They can just speak the word and do whatever they want. They have all power and authority. That's what Jesus is like a sad sack boyfriend he's been dumped by his girlfriend.
Speaker 2 (32:31):
And then he still buys flowers and stands outside her door and says, please pretty pleased. And what I hope you're capturing in this all too quick explanation is, is the level of grades. You know, how, how compassionate Jesus is. Basically. It doesn't matter who you are. You can be the worst of sinners, the spiritually sickest congregation, and Jesus still loves you. In fact, he says in the sermon, those whom I love I discipline. And so the structure and understanding nuances of the structure, I think, uh, reveal in a greater depth and power, you know, the meaning of what Jesus was saying to the Christians then, and then hopefully we can find ways to convey that truth, uh, today. So, so hopefully later I gave a couple of examples of how knowing that form and structure is I think very important for a proper interpretation of, of these seven, uh, seven sermons.
Speaker 1 (33:33):
Thanks. So, um, Dave's wondering about moving from again, letter to prophetic Oracle, if that changes the way that we assume those, those sermons were used, um, in the original setting. And, and along with that, I'm going to tack on a mesh. This is really good tack on or not, but, um, I'm wondering, uh, in that original setting, how much those sermons would have connected to people in the Roman empire. Uh, so the language, the imagery, those kinds of things, uh, was there, was there connections that people, the Roman empire would hear these messages somehow and say, oh, this really connects to who we are and what we're about.
Speaker 2 (34:13):
So I'm on the first part. I, I hope I'm catching the first question and then I'll slide into the second part of the, uh, second question. Um, I think that the book of revelation is every bit as GRU, grounded and rooted in the historical context as the letters of the new Testament, not to say it differently, but Paul wrote to the Corinthians about spiritual gifts. It wasn't because, you know, he thought somewhere down the church, down the road, you know, the church would have a debate about this, or it's not like Paul's in an office with his feet up and say, no, what should I write about today? Ah, maybe I'll think about, you know, eschatology now Paul's letters are. And the other new Testament letters are always responding to actual historical situations. And the book of revelation is no different. And so these seven sermons are responding to real problems, real life situation.
Speaker 2 (35:06):
So in that sense, yes, the form is different. It's not the form of a letter, but it still is similarly grounded in a historical reality. And then your question kind of feeds off of that Larry and that is not just how the people in the church, but in the culture would respond. So when I preach and teach this, and I think Larry, you've worked through the book a little bit. You'll, you'll maybe catch this, uh, too. And others will too. If you, if you spend some time, I sometimes let's let me say it this way. Um, the, the book of revelation is saturated saturated with old Testament illusions. There are very few quotations, but there are tons of echoes or illusions. And, uh, John expects the, his readers to be very sharp in terms of their knowledge of the old Testament. And that's another reason why we struggled today because we don't know the old Testament that well.
Speaker 2 (36:01):
And so when we have that in the text, I often will go like this. I said, oh, did you hear the echo echo echo of the old Testament? And then people will say, if you're honest, you'll say no, because most of us most don't I say, don't feel bad. I didn't either, depending on this old Testament loops, right. But then I go on to explain what that old Testament illusion is and how it's significant for understanding what's going on. But sometimes instead of holding up my left ear saying, did you hear the echo echo of the old Testament? I sometimes will hold up my right ear and say, did you hear the echo echo of the Roman world in which the readers were listening in? Because there are a number of references to practices and historically events that people back then would readily understand, but we don't today.
Speaker 2 (36:49):
So a good example would be the reference to the seven stars, the seven stars. So in the Christ title of one of the sermons, it says that he holds the seven stars. Now that clearly is an echo of the Roman world. Why? Because the Roman emperors on their coins. So we know that the Roman emperors spent more on producing coins and they needed to, because they knew that coins were a great form of propaganda. People don't throw away coins, they're portable, they move around. They're a great way to potentially shape public opinion and attitudes. And so the Romans spent not the minimum on their coins. They spent extra and they thought very carefully, but then this is true for all kinds of coins. And so the seven stars are clear reference, oh, well, uh, I have a picture. Maybe I can kind of find that in here. Maybe I can do this. Uh, oh, by the way, here's a picture of Nike and they can see in the field [inaudible] Christian. So her image is found everywhere because if you're an athlete and we are crazy about sports in the ancient world, or if you're in, if you're a general, right, you've got to make sure that you sacrificed to Nike and, uh, she's on your side. Right? So hang on for a second. If I can, I should have had this ready.
Speaker 2 (38:23):
Uh, there we go. So, um, I don't know if they can do that with 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 starts because on the one side you have a picture of Hadrian, the woman and the person watching this coin and saying, oh, the guy on the one side Hadrian is so powerful. He's not only controlling things on earth, why he even controls things in the heaven, the seven stars. And if you don't find that convincing, here's another coin, you can see that.
Speaker 3 (39:04):
Ooh. All right. So this is [inaudible]. So on the left side is the woman, the wife of the
Speaker 2 (39:20):
Speaker 3 (39:20):
Boy sitting on a globe and naked boys sitting on a globe,
Speaker 2 (39:25):
Why is he naked? Well, because in that day, that wasn't, that was a sign that the person was divine was not God, but unit one of the Roman generals Pompey, the great publisher coined of un-self naked. And it was considered scandalous, not because of our thinking nakedness, but no, because up to that time, the only naked portrayal on coins and statues were gods and goddesses. So what Pompey, the great dude was saying is I'm not like normal people I'm gone or gone. Like, and so the boy being naked is because he's the 10 year old son of the emission, the 10 year old son of demission who died. And demission declared him a God worthy of veneration. And he's sitting on a globe in a position of power. And if you could see it, you would see in his outstretched arms, you, maybe you can almost at one more time,
Speaker 3 (40:19):
There are 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7.
Speaker 2 (40:24):
Because again, if you live in anywhere in the ancient world, you're encouraged to believe that Rome is all powerful, not only on earth, but even in the heavens. They're so powerful to even control the moon and the seven stars. And then one day you get a letter in the mail or one day a professor will call it a sermon. You get a sermon. And in the sermon before Jesus says anything, he says, I'm the one who has, and I just have, but I hold in my all powerful. Right-hand the seven stars. I'm the one who's all powerful, not only on earth, but in heaven. And so there are lots of times Larry, right, where you have to hold up the one ear, the left ear, because there are all these echos or allusions to the old Testament, but there are also many illusions to the Roman world of that day. And people, our audience doesn't hear those either because most of us haven't lived in the ancient world. Aren't Roman scholars and are familiar with these illusions on the political and social side that are also a big part of the message. So I hope that that kind of answers, uh, the question
Speaker 3 (41:29):
That's marvelous. So just to note with that,
Speaker 1 (41:34):
Um, if you want to get, uh, this light and in-person so to speak, uh, uh, Jeff has preached all these sermons. He has a website that they're on and, uh, when our recording goes out, we will also pop onto there a link to his website. So you can go actually watch you preach these sermons. And, uh, actually I stole that from you, Jeff. Uh, when I've, [inaudible]
Speaker 2 (41:55):
The only, the only hesitation, the only hesitation is I did this at a mega church a few years ago. And so I probably would nuance it a little differently today, but at least a thank you. It gives you a least a field for a lot of the basic information. Anyway, as long as you say to yourself, that's not my final, you know, because remember, I, I, I wrote the book more recently and I maybe nuanced my position on a few little things, but
Speaker 1 (42:20):
Final answer. Yes. Right. So somebody is asking, does Kaia some fit in with the postal route through?
Speaker 2 (42:29):
Um, well, I, I think that way too much is made of the postal rate route theory, you know, because, um, you can easily go completely the opposite direction, uh, you know, for bare minimum, right? There's no necessary and ethicists isn't even the closest port. If you look on a map on the closest major city and major port is my leeches where Paul met the Fijian elders. And so I'm not so convinced about, about that now, obviously this is, uh, they, they are following a somewhat natural order. I mean, if you're in one seat, then it's the next one and so forth. And so, uh, I'm a little bit, uh, again, I'm, I don't think we should take away too much from the postal route theory. And what I'm saying is what's the extra genetical payoff of the key ASM. Um, and you can see a quote in the book.
Speaker 2 (43:17):
I didn't read it to you here from Greg Beale, by the way, Greg Beale has a commentary about that thick and he's excellent on the old Testament echoes that's his forte, right? It's a bit intimidating the commentary, but anyway, bill would be another scholar who says that the key astic structure is meant to hide or made a highlight the unhealthy churches, because they're there, they're there at the beginning, the unhealthy church emphasis or at the end layer to see ya. And the middle, the middle sermon to Thyatira is quite a bit longer than all the other ones. And so, um, there are some strengths to the, even for a skeptical person like me to the key structure. And, um, and, and I, I guess I've already said, aye, aye, aye, aye. I think that should be recognized more so than this. This is just the order, supposedly that a guy in horseback went and delivered them.
Speaker 1 (44:10):
Jeff, are there particular old Testament books that revelation echos?
Speaker 2 (44:16):
Uh, well, I mean, it's kind of common. I mean, Isaiah is a, is, is repeated a lot, I mean, but that, you know, from Qumran for instance, where we have copies of the old Testament, you know, we find that, you know, Jews, of course, in the new Testament, Terry period, you know, uh, uh, put a lot of prestige in Isaiah, but I mean, there are other echoes like Daniel, uh, uh, you know, the, you know, some of the images like, um, you know, fiery eyes and burnished feet of burners Braun that comes from the, the image of, uh, the man, the, you know, the man from heaven or whatever, uh, in Daniel eight, nine and 10. So, uh, so those are at least a couple of books that are commonly referred to, but there are all kinds of other illusions. I mean, uh, you have references to, uh, they lamb and bay lacks, you know, uh, and, and the, the audience, you know, our modern audience may not remember the story of Baylin and Baylock.
Speaker 2 (45:09):
And so you have to, you know, John clearly expects his readers to, we have a, we have a reference to Jesse nibble now, no, Chris Christian family would name their daughter [inaudible]. So this is almost certainly a nickname given by John or Jesus through John to a prophetess. Okay. And what is Jebel famous for while she's famous for a lot of things, a lot of bad things, but she's most famous or most infamous for what introducing bail worship, the sin of idolatry. And so they're not only books Larry that are, or whoever asked the question, I should say, you know, that are commonly referred to, but there are lots of, uh, stories and events that, that, that is assumed to be known. And again, our audience doesn't know them today. And so the preacher teacher has some responsibility to kind of unpack that, right, so that you can understand the significance of these illusions or references.
Speaker 1 (46:05):
So I'm going to follow that up with a question about actually preaching this, because there is so much here in, and I've, I've done a series a couple of times, and you have a tendency to do one of these week, right. At about 25 to 30 minutes. Um, but there's so much from pack here, as you think about preaching a series of sermons on this, uh, would you say, listen, there's just no way you can really do seven churches, seven weeks. If you're going to do it justice, or would you say do seven churches in seven weeks and do a adult study afterwards? What, what's the best way to kind of unpack this for the congregation in the 21st century who don't know a lot of the Aleutians?
Speaker 2 (46:42):
Well, contextualization of course is crucial, right? So, I mean, is this an evening service educational? Is it an established church where, you know, people are seasoned believers for awhile, um, you know, how much time do you have? So these are all the kinds of variables, but I think you have to know yourself. I have a tendency, maybe some of you who know me, you know, I love to go in detail and say too much, you know? And, uh, I I'm learning the hard way. You know, that less is more, or in terms of length. I tell you this all the time. I don't know if I live it, but my motto is the longer I am, the better I better be. Right. The longer I am, the better I better be. So, so I say all of that to exhort all the preacher and teachers to make sure that yeah, you don't overwhelm people so you can help a little bit by breaking it up.
Speaker 2 (47:32):
You can help a little bit with some, maybe an outline or a PowerPoint outline that that will be helpful, but you have to be kind of ruthless about cutting things out. And so it pains me a little bit to do so in the, in the sermon, uh, like remember every chapter has the gray part, right. But that's at least an example where I just, I just cut some things out. And by the way, Larry, um, just, I, I was Weiss forced to do this because I've been preaching this stuff for a few years now. And if I go back, I can see that my original sermons were longer and more detailed. And so I, I, I've kind of learned the hard way, you know, to that less is more. And so again, just be ruthless and, uh, and, and focus in on the central ideas because, uh, even the title that I give for every sermon really gets at the core.
Speaker 2 (48:22):
I sometimes say, jokingly, even if you fall asleep for the rest of the sermon or the rest of the class, if you can remember this sermon title, you're at least on the right track to getting to what the heart and core of what this message is all about. So, uh, again, um, I think it can be done. Uh, I think you just have to be careful about it. There's something helpful about doing it, you know, every week, right. Uh, and, and series shouldn't last too long anyway. Right. Uh, it's good to have a beginning and an end. So,
Speaker 1 (48:52):
So little bit more about the seven stars. I'm wondering if there's any connection to the seven angels and the churches and how you see you the seven angels.
Speaker 2 (49:02):
Yeah. Well, thanks for picking something that I'm whisper about rather than I shout some of you know, that I have this distinction that you know, that there are lots of subjects that the Bible mentions in many places. And these many topics mentioned in many places are quite clear and these things we should shout and I'm really setting you up for the other half. And that is, there are some topics that aren't mentioned so often. And the few times they're mentioned, they're not so clear, and these are the things we should whisper. So when it comes to the seven angels, um, now there's no connection with the seven stars. I mean, other than the number seven, but most of us are aware of that. Seven is a big number in the book of revelation, right? So in sense, seven itself is significant, but we know there are more than seven churches for instance, in Asia minor, right?
Speaker 2 (49:48):
So they're meant as representative. Um, there are two ways to go with angel. I mean, you can see it as a human figure or a divine figure. If it's a human figure, some talk about it being a preacher or some kind of head person in charge. If it's a divine figure, it could be an angel, or it could be some upset, oh, it kind of represents the character or the spirit of the church. And anyway, in the commentary, I kind of, uh, I kind of highlight what the options are. And, um, I think the strongest cases refers to an angel, a kind of maybe guardian angel, which is common in apocalyptic writing. But I do say also happily the interpretation of the letter is not significantly impacted by this particular interpretation, right. There are other exegetical issues that are, are more important, but on this particular issue about what the seven angels refer to, I don't think, I I'm quite convinced that, you know, the bottom line, you know, the, the, the core of the sermon, right. And your own message wouldn't change depending on if you disagreed with my position on that, for instance.
Speaker 1 (50:57):
So just thinking about church renewal, um, do you think that kind of the basic challenges facing our churches in the 21st century are addressed in these letters? Or are there other things that you would say as you're looking around right now and seeing what's happening in the churches? Uh, there's, there's a couple of other things that you would say good with the seven churches, but here's some other stuff we need to be paying attention to as well.
Speaker 2 (51:20):
Yeah. Well, uh, obviously the book of revelation doesn't address all the contemporary issues, but I've said a couple of times already, it nails a number of them. And, um, and, uh, so you say, you know, if, if the book of revelation was written toward the end of the first century under the mission, that means we're into like second or third generation Christians. And, um, and things happen over time, you know, in terms of the passion in terms of the zeal. Um, and, and again, I see, especially the idea of compromise being so typical for the church today. You know, we, we want God and Jesus, but we also want the so-called gods, or at least the things that people today that value or importance. And so, and that sense, I think it's highly, highly, uh, relevant. It's certainly picks up a lot of the key issues facing, uh, folks today.
Speaker 2 (52:14):
Um, I could say one of the challenges in preaching though, is, uh, especially by the way there, if you do seven in a row, I've noticed this, if I've done a seminar like seven in two days, when you, when you, when you go through them in detail in a row, they do have a strong note of judgment to them. I'm just slowing down because, uh, generally speaking, uh, most people don't like messages of judgment and sometimes pastors and sometimes church planters, don't, you know, they think it's too much of a negative message. And I've already said earlier, you know, that the day of Jesus return is on all your day of wonder is the day of judgment. And so that comes out quite a bit in the, in the sermons. And that's why I think it's really important to stress the grace and the text if you're going to preach it.
Speaker 2 (52:58):
And one thing I haven't said yet, uh, and that is the Nike formula. I said, every sermon ends with, to him who Nike's, but the seventh to the worst in the climactic, there's an important difference. There is an important addition. It says to the one who Nike's, and then it's added just as I have Nike. And so I always say for every sermon, even though it's mentioned in the last one later to see it's true for all seven churches, I would say we can be Nike Christians, not because we're so gifted, not because we're so talented, but because we know someone who already Nike, who already won the victory or to use hybrid catechism language, right. I would echo that. So those, you know, who belong body and soul and life and a death to their faithful savior, Jesus Christ. We have the victory by virtue of the victory that Christ has already won and his spirit and works in and through us. So a two part answer to your question, a lot of contemporary soldier culture is addressed in there. And so it's very, preachable both to existing Christians and to newbies or in the faith, but I would just watch out and say, make sure that, um, as you're preaching, you know, the grace and the text is done justice to right, because otherwise the note of judgment, uh, might predominant in a way that I think would distort the gracious character that is ultimately at work in this part of, uh, scripture.
Speaker 1 (54:23):
So we have time for just one more question. And, um, the question is there are two positive churches that do really well. Right. Um, and how do you speak that text into the life of a congregation, uh, in, in that very positive, hopeful sense, and, you know, are these kinds of like, um, you know, unicorns, uh, that, or, or kind of creation state, you know, we could be that.
Speaker 2 (54:48):
Yeah, well, um, I could say, you know, read the end part of the chapter to, uh, Smyrna and Philadelphia, and you can see how I did it, you know, at least as one possible way, you know, to do that. So one way is of course, to talk about persecution around the globe, right? Uh, I, I just think we should, there's lots of stats. We should just be clued into the fact that we do have brothers and sisters around the globe who are going through very strong challenges. Like in China, I mentioned, I mean, uh, you know, uh, crosses are being physically tore down, um, um, uh, churches having a hard time to meet because you can't build a church, you can hardly rent a place. You can't renew your rent, uh, on your government card, you state, your faith has implications for your job. That's just one country.
Speaker 2 (55:32):
And so I think one way, even though it's, again, a bit of a stretch to get people's attention, but it's simply to make them aware because the writer of Hebrews says that we have to sympathize with those who are going through, uh, such struggles just as if we were now having said that, then I think it's important to talk about persecution in north America. I talk about major league suffering versus minor league suffering, major league versus minor league. So we have minor league suffering here, but it's still suffering. And I think it's good to kind of spelled what that is. And I might say it might increasingly be ratcheted up to something closer to major league suffering. So I see some Canadian brothers and sisters on the screen, and I would say that Canada lives in a ruthlessly secular society, ruthlessly, secular. I think that you live there, you don't realize, you know, the kind of intolerance increasingly there is, you know, for Christian convictions and that's happening more and more in the states too.
Speaker 2 (56:32):
And it's interesting that on some issues in the past, right, the church has enjoyed an opinion on morality or ethics. That is the same as culture, but in many places that's now changing. And suddenly Christians are finding themselves holding views that somehow are viewed as prejudicial or offensive or whatever the case may be. And so increasingly there's hostility toward Christians. And now the question is, how is the church going to respond? Are they going to wilt? Are they going to cave in to cause no one likes to be viewed in a negative light, right? Or are we going to persevere? And so those two positive churches, I do think, um, not only to empathize with brothers and sisters around the globe, but increasingly, so for our own contemporary context, it becomes an occasion to talk about, well, are we experiencing suffering or affliction or persecution? And if we're not, why not? And if so, how much and why and how we should respond. So I think all of that is, uh, also very relevant, uh, and preachable and teachable for today.
Speaker 1 (57:36):
Jeff, thank you so much for being with us today. We appreciate it. Great stuff. And uh, and just for reminder for everybody next week, our next month, uh, Mike go heat is going to be with us and he is going to be talking about Leslie new begans ecclesiology and what it looks like to be a missionary church, which is a big deal right now, uh, trying to figure out coming out of COVID people are saying, so what is the church and how does the church operate? What is it all about? Uh, I think it's gonna be a wonderful conversation. Please. Note it's noon Eastern. So an hour later than regular, uh, Mike teaches in the morning and he's in Arizona. So he's going to rush out of class and jump into this conversation with us. Uh, so we hope to see you next month. And again, thanks Jeff for being with us.