Friday, March 15, 2019

Microcosmic judgments

Christ states that John is to write ἃ εἶδες καὶ ἃ εἰσὶν καὶ ἃ μέλλει |γενέσθαι| μετὰ ταῦτα “that which you see [Aorist as a perfective aspect, not past tense], that which is and what is destined to take place” in v. 19.  “That which is” is typically understood as referring to the present judgment of Christ concerning the churches in the letters and then “that which is destined to take place after these things” refers to the future. This is not completely false, but may need some nuancing. What is likely being said is that the microcosmic events occurring now and the macrocosmic events occurring in the future are what John is seeing and writing about throughout the book. They are combined and one is being placed in the context of the other rather than seen as two separate events that don’t have much to do with one another. The judgment Christ renders of the churches now is part of the judgment to come. The salvation He gives to the churches now is part of the salvation that is to come. Hence, John is told to write in the typical framework of the apocalyptic genre. What is now is placed in the context of what is to come as though what is to come is, to a smaller degree, taking place now through the microcosmic event occurring in the present. This is made clearer by understanding that John has split the scene in Daniel, where the Ancient of Days opens the books to render judgment. The Son comes to render judgment upon the churches and receive His kingdom in the present, but will ultimately not receive it from the Ancient of Days until the final judgment (i.e, John's "already-not yet" framework is on display in Revelation as it is in his Gospel).

This interpretation has potential relevance for the debate between preterists and futurists. Two kinds of judgment are both in play: microcosmic judgments stand for macrocosmic judgments, and in Revelation, these are blended. Those who say Revelation reflects a failed prediction about the timing of the Parousia fail to appreciate the distinction. Past judgments are microcosmic reflections of the macrocosmic judgment to come. In Revelation, the judgments blur, both because one kind mirrors the other, and because this is a visionary medium about what the prophet sees. Like a dream in which the imagery is fluid. 

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