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deuteros
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« on: September 09, 2009, 10:43:48 PM »

I've recently been introduced to the Orthodox Church. I've been doing a lot of reading, however one issue has been bugging me. From what I gather, the Orthodox Church interprets Revelation as referring to some event in our future. However several times the events are described as "near" and Jesus will be "coming quickly." It seems that John was writing this letter to the people of his day and they believed Jesus was going to return in their lifetimes.

How does the Orthodox Church explain this?
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« Reply #1 on: September 09, 2009, 11:54:34 PM »

I've recently been introduced to the Orthodox Church. I've been doing a lot of reading, however one issue has been bugging me. From what I gather, the Orthodox Church interprets Revelation as referring to some event in our future. However several times the events are described as "near" and Jesus will be "coming quickly." It seems that John was writing this letter to the people of his day and they believed Jesus was going to return in their lifetimes.

How does the Orthodox Church explain this?

Here's a real simple explanation - there are no Epistle or Gospel readings from the Book of Revelation due to its apocryphal nature.

In the 1st Century, many believed that Christ's return was imminent.  Here we are, 20 Centuries later and Christ's return is still imminent.

I believe if you search this forum for Revelation, you may find threads that provide you with better answers.   Smiley

Finally, Welcome to the forum.   Smiley
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« Reply #2 on: September 10, 2009, 12:15:20 AM »

When interpreting prophetical and apocalyptic Scripture, we must first try to extricate ourselves from a linear perpsective. With God, one day is as a thousand years and a thousand years is as one day. God is not bound by time and space, and therefore what seems to tarry from our perspective is perfectly timely from a divine perspective. Admittedly it is difficult - perhaps impossible - for us to truly see things from an eternal perspective. But we must try. The coming of Our Lord is as imminent for us today as it was for the Apostles 2000 years ago.   

That is my humble and simple answer for now. I'm sure that others more learned than myself can enlighten you further.

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deuteros
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« Reply #3 on: September 10, 2009, 08:02:35 AM »

When interpreting prophetical and apocalyptic Scripture, we must first try to extricate ourselves from a linear perpsective. With God, one day is as a thousand years and a thousand years is as one day. God is not bound by time and space, and therefore what seems to tarry from our perspective is perfectly timely from a divine perspective. Admittedly it is difficult - perhaps impossible - for us to truly see things from an eternal perspective. But we must try. The coming of Our Lord is as imminent for us today as it was for the Apostles 2000 years ago.
I don't know if that makes much sense to me. Why would God say he was coming quickly when he really wasn't? Why did Jesus say "this generation would not pass away until these things take place"?
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« Reply #4 on: September 10, 2009, 08:53:06 AM »

With God, one day is as a thousand years and a thousand years is as one day. God is not bound by time and space, and therefore what seems to tarry from our perspective is perfectly timely from a divine perspective.
I don't know if that makes much sense to me. Why would God say he was coming quickly when he really wasn't?
He's already answered that; since God is not bound by time, His definition of 'quickly' is not the same as ours.
Why did Jesus say "this generation would not pass away until these things take place"?
Can anyone speak authoritatively regarding what Jesus meant by "this generation?"
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« Reply #5 on: September 10, 2009, 09:00:27 AM »

How does the Orthodox Church explain this?

Those Church Fathers who have examined the Book of Revelation look at it in three ways:

1) Like most Jewish-Christian apocalyptic literature from the Hellenistic period on up to the end of the 1rst century, it is speaking against the pagan regime under which the faithful suffered and calling out those members of the faithful who capitulate to said regime. Remember that "prophecy" has two meanings: (a) foretelling the future through divine inspiration; and (b) announcing the will/judgment of God boldly. The Book of Revelation obviously accomplishes the latter (and that is usually said to be its main focus); and it's been interpreted to have predicted events that have already occurred, mainly many, many centuries ago. I suggest checking out the Orthodox Study Bible, which has plenty of more info along these lines.

2) Doctrinally, its focus is Christology (not predictions about this or that event). Here's a quote from His Grace Bishop Gerasimos of Abydos of blessed memory:

Quote
The fundamental idea of the Book of Revelation is the belief that Christ is the Lamb, sacrificed for us. He who opens the seals of the book is the ruling king revered and worshiped by the Church in heaven and on earth (Rev. chs. 4, 5, 6, 12, 19). The Lord Christ, the sacrificed Lamb, leads the struggle with His armies, the Saints of the Church. Their weapon is their faith in the word of God to the point of self-sacrifice. The blood of the Lamb, the sacrifice of Christ on the Cross and His Resurrection strengthen them; the victory over the enemy is certain (Rev. 6:2; 12:11; 19:17-18). The Christology in the Book of Revelation, which emphasizes Christ as the sacrificial Lamb, is the most powerful witness for the power of the Cross in the salvation of the world, as the Church experienced it. The Cross, the Resurrection, the Parousia, all indicate clearly the absolute sovereignty of Christ (cf. 1 Cor. 11:26).

In other words, statements about Christ's imminent return are really statements about his current power to save souls and right wrongs. Christ's power is total and complete -- even now -- despite the fact that he hasn't yet fully returned in history. That's what theologians call the "in-breaking of the Kingdom", which we experience in His Body, the Church. Christ's Kingdom is "breaking in" to history even now through the Church; this "breaking in" is paradoxical: one the one hand, it is a foretaste; on the other, it is full and complete and powerful. Anyway, the point is that Christ conquers all and rules over all.

3) Other Fathers focus on its liturgical elements. Its vision of heaven is the same reality -- and structure -- that we experience in the Divine Liturgy.
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« Reply #6 on: September 10, 2009, 11:25:43 AM »

With God, one day is as a thousand years and a thousand years is as one day. God is not bound by time and space, and therefore what seems to tarry from our perspective is perfectly timely from a divine perspective.
I don't know if that makes much sense to me. Why would God say he was coming quickly when he really wasn't?
He's already answered that; since God is not bound by time, His definition of 'quickly' is not the same as ours.
I guess I am having a problem seeing why God and the apostles would emphasize to the people of that day that these things are to happen soon, when in reality they aren't going to happen for thousands of years.

God is not bound by time but we are. To say "I am coming quickly" means nothing from a timeless perspective but it means a lot to us who are bound by time and space.
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« Reply #7 on: September 10, 2009, 11:32:26 AM »

Here's a real simple explanation - there are no Epistle or Gospel readings from the Book of Revelation due to its apocryphal nature.

Poor choice of words.  I meant to say: apocalytipcal nature.   angel
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« Reply #8 on: September 10, 2009, 03:52:36 PM »

With God, one day is as a thousand years and a thousand years is as one day. God is not bound by time and space, and therefore what seems to tarry from our perspective is perfectly timely from a divine perspective.
I don't know if that makes much sense to me. Why would God say he was coming quickly when he really wasn't?
He's already answered that; since God is not bound by time, His definition of 'quickly' is not the same as ours.
I guess I am having a problem seeing why God and the apostles would emphasize to the people of that day that these things are to happen soon, when in reality they aren't going to happen for thousands of years.

God is not bound by time but we are. To say "I am coming quickly" means nothing from a timeless perspective but it means a lot to us who are bound by time and space.
To me, the Gospel Parable of the Bridegroom (Matthew 25:1-13) that serves as the foundation of the Bridegroom Vigil service comes to mind.  We don't know exactly when the Bridegroom will return.  It's just best that we constantly remember "soon", so that we maintain constant vigil and be constantly prepared for His return.  If the apostles were to say, "some time later", then wouldn't we take this as advice to procrastinate and put off those things we need to do to prepare ourselves for the end?  (Not like we don't procrastinate enough already... Tongue)

Watch, therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming.  (Matthew 25:13)
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« Reply #9 on: September 10, 2009, 04:06:09 PM »

Here's a real simple explanation - there are no Epistle or Gospel readings from the Book of Revelation due to its apocryphal nature.

Poor choice of words.  I meant to say: apocalytipcal nature.   angel


Just as a little side note, they actually do have readings from the Book of Revelation in the western rite. But like you said, that's why I heard that it isn't read in the eastern rite.
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« Reply #10 on: September 11, 2009, 12:06:00 AM »

Just as a little side note, they actually do have readings from the Book of Revelation in the western rite. But like you said, that's why I heard that it isn't read in the eastern rite.

Does the Western Rite read through the entire book of Revelation in its Lectionary during the year?
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« Reply #11 on: September 11, 2009, 11:05:32 AM »

Just as a little side note, they actually do have readings from the Book of Revelation in the western rite. But like you said, that's why I heard that it isn't read in the eastern rite.

Does the Western Rite read through the entire book of Revelation in its Lectionary during the year?

I'm not sure. I just remember that when I went to a western rite parish, they read from it as the epistle reading. The readings do differ though if the parish use the Liturgy of St. Tikhon or the Liturgy of St. Gregory. The parish I went to uses the Liturgy of St. Gregory.
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« Reply #12 on: September 11, 2009, 12:39:05 PM »

I've recently been introduced to the Orthodox Church. I've been doing a lot of reading, however one issue has been bugging me. From what I gather, the Orthodox Church interprets Revelation as referring to some event in our future. However several times the events are described as "near" and Jesus will be "coming quickly." It seems that John was writing this letter to the people of his day and they believed Jesus was going to return in their lifetimes.

The full Preterist view has problems even from a "historical linear" perspective. If St. John did imply the 1st century cities of Jerusalem and Rome then why was he writing to believers Asia Minor? What are they supposed to do about the information? If John's prophecies are warnings about the coming judgement of Jerusalem and Rome in the 1st century then why doesn't he write his letters to the believers in Rome and Jerusalem? When the Prophets warned of coming judgement for a city/nation they wrote to that city/nation that was going to be judged not some other city/nation. Jerusalem did not need to be warned about, say, Assyria's coming judgement, Assyria needed to be warned.

Another thing, Malachi wrote: "I YHWH change not". If all the prophecies concerning Messiah's first coming were literally fulfilled then on what grounds can full Preterists claim that all the prophecies concerning His second coming won't be literally fulfilled too? I'm not suggesting that every detail in the book of Revelation must be taken literally, because Revelation is full of symbolism. But I don't think it's right to attribute implications to St. John. St. John, like all the Prophets before him, simply wrote down what he saw, and what God told him to write.
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« Reply #13 on: September 11, 2009, 01:12:09 PM »

If all the prophecies concerning Messiah's first coming were literally fulfilled then on what grounds can full Preterists claim that all the prophecies concerning His second coming won't be literally fulfilled too?
But they were not. What of the very first prophecy of the Christ, which stated that he would crush the the serpent's head, but he would bruise Christ's heel? This was not literally fulfilled. Christ never literally crushed a snake's skull. Yet it was fulfilled. The same will occur with all other prophecy. We may not understand it until it is fulfilled, but it will be fulfilled nonetheless.
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« Reply #14 on: September 11, 2009, 01:20:34 PM »

The full Preterist view has problems even from a "historical linear" perspective. If St. John did imply the 1st century cities of Jerusalem and Rome then why was he writing to believers Asia Minor? What are they supposed to do about the information? If John's prophecies are warnings about the coming judgement of Jerusalem and Rome in the 1st century then why doesn't he write his letters to the believers in Rome and Jerusalem? When the Prophets warned of coming judgement for a city/nation they wrote to that city/nation that was going to be judged not some other city/nation. Jerusalem did not need to be warned about, say, Assyria's coming judgement, Assyria needed to be warned.
This is a good point. I hadn't really thought about that.

I grew up Presbyterian (PCA) and my parents were partial preterists, who believe that much of the "end times" stuff is actually referring to the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70, but that there still remains a portion to be fulfilled in our future.
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« Reply #15 on: September 11, 2009, 01:29:28 PM »

If all the prophecies concerning Messiah's first coming were literally fulfilled then on what grounds can full Preterists claim that all the prophecies concerning His second coming won't be literally fulfilled too?
But they were not. What of the very first prophecy of the Christ, which stated that he would crush the the serpent's head, but he would bruise Christ's heel? This was not literally fulfilled. Christ never literally crushed a snake's skull. Yet it was fulfilled.

I was using hyperbole.

The same will occur with all other prophecy. We may not understand it until it is fulfilled, but it will be fulfilled nonetheless.

Yes this is true, I totally agree.

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« Reply #16 on: September 11, 2009, 01:35:49 PM »

For a time, the Book of Revelation was my favourite book of the New Testament due to its idiosyncratic language. I came into the Orthodox Church around that time, and I wasn't at all disappointed to find that this book isn't used in the Orthodox lectionary. That is because I was thrilled that the actual worship of the Church reflects the Book of Revelation quite well. There's no need to read the Book aloud when the glorification of God it describes is unfolding around you at every liturgy.
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« Reply #17 on: September 11, 2009, 01:40:41 PM »

The full Preterist view has problems even from a "historical linear" perspective. If St. John did imply the 1st century cities of Jerusalem and Rome then why was he writing to believers Asia Minor? What are they supposed to do about the information? If John's prophecies are warnings about the coming judgement of Jerusalem and Rome in the 1st century then why doesn't he write his letters to the believers in Rome and Jerusalem? When the Prophets warned of coming judgement for a city/nation they wrote to that city/nation that was going to be judged not some other city/nation. Jerusalem did not need to be warned about, say, Assyria's coming judgement, Assyria needed to be warned.
This is a good point. I hadn't really thought about that.

I grew up Presbyterian (PCA) and my parents were partial preterists, who believe that much of the "end times" stuff is actually referring to the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70, but that there still remains a portion to be fulfilled in our future.

This is more realistic than full preterism which even claims that resurrection, 2nd comming and judgement was fulfilled in the 1st century. I'm essentially a futurist, though I'm not completely closed to some preterist and historist interpretations, there is overlapping. Also when one reads the Prophets one will notice frequent switching between time frames, and St. John's Revelation is no exception after all he was told to write about "the things that were, that are, and are to come". And of course the spiritual implications of Revelation should be taken it account to, more than anything else. What matters is that we must always be ready and watching for the return of the Bridegroom, and full preterism contradicts the words of our Master where this is concerned.

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« Reply #18 on: September 11, 2009, 06:48:18 PM »

For a time, the Book of Revelation was my favourite book of the New Testament due to its idiosyncratic language. I came into the Orthodox Church around that time, and I wasn't at all disappointed to find that this book isn't used in the Orthodox lectionary. That is because I was thrilled that the actual worship of the Church reflects the Book of Revelation quite well. There's no need to read the Book aloud when the glorification of God it describes is unfolding around you at every liturgy.

Very true.  We live and experience the book of Revelation every week.   
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« Reply #19 on: September 11, 2009, 09:30:00 PM »

If all the prophecies concerning Messiah's first coming were literally fulfilled then on what grounds can full Preterists claim that all the prophecies concerning His second coming won't be literally fulfilled too?
But they were not. What of the very first prophecy of the Christ, which stated that he would crush the the serpent's head, but he would bruise Christ's heel? This was not literally fulfilled. Christ never literally crushed a snake's skull. Yet it was fulfilled.

I was using hyperbole.
I do not think that word means what you think it means.
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« Reply #20 on: September 11, 2009, 11:52:42 PM »

I do not think that word means what you think it means.

Inconceivable!
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