divine fullness, eye = knowledge, horn = power, we see that Apocalypse 5:6 means that Jesus Christ enjoys the divine fullness of knowledge and power. For another example, the twenty four elders with their golden crowns and white vestments: their golden crowns represent royalty, their white garments represents their priestly function as intermediaries offering up the prayers (incense) of the saints, their number (24, i.e. 2×3×4) their role as witnesses (2) between heaven (3) and earth (4). They represent the saints of the Church Triumphant guiding and interceding for the Church Militant below. In the main body of the Apocalypse developments are arranged in 3 series of Seven: 7 Seals (being decrees of God), 7 Trumpets (the carrying out of these divine decrees) and 7 Bowls (their examples in the 60’s AD). In each of these series, after the 6th and before the 7th, there is an interruption. For just as the original creation had taken place over 6 days before the rest of perfection on the 7th day, so shall the destruction of evil take place throughout all the cycles of history (6 × 7 = 42). The classic pattern for this was set by Nero’s career of madness and cruelty leading via chaos to his own destruction. 17
After his arrival in Rome in June 70, the new Emperor Vespasian commissioned a lieutenant named Nerva to review all his son’s sentences of exile. Intent upon bringing an end to the civil strife as soon as possible, Vespasian instructed Nerva to cancel all arbitrary or unjust sentences of exile. Later in 70, therefore, upon Nerva’s recommendation, St. John was permitted to return from Patmos to Ephesus. (Here he was to remain based until his death ‘in the third year of Trajan,’ i.e. in the year 100 A.D.) Domitian later became Emperor (reigning from 81 to 96) and was succeeded by Nerva (96 to 98). The Church remembered that St. John had suffered under Domitian’s orders and had been released by Nerva. St. Irenaeus, writing in 180 recorded that, before he wrote, St. John had suffered his exile on Patmos ‘late in the reign of Domitian.’ This gave rise to the belief that St. John did not write his Gospel and the Apocalypse until late in his old age, i.e. in about the year 95.* 18
By the 60’s all the churches were long familiar with St. Matthew’s chapters 24 and 25 in which Jesus had prophesied not only the end of Jerusalem’s Temple but also the end of the world. But even today a reader of this chapter finds it difficult to distinguish which of these two terrible events both of which, in the 60’s, were still in the future – our Lord was referring to. (At the beginning He is clearly referring to the fall of Jerusalem, and at the end He is clearly referring to the end of the world. At what stage did He change from one subject to the other and what was the connection between these two events?) Since 66 the terrible Roman-Jewish war had been raging to its terrible climax. Jerusalem was doomed. Christ’s prophecy was coming true. But had not our Lord also said ‘I tell you solemnly, before this generation has passed away, all these things will have come to pass’? Did this mean then that the end of the world too was at hand? Our Lord came to St. John on Patmos to reveal to him that the answer was No. St. John’s Apocalypse told the beleaguered Church that neither its sufferings nor even the fall of Jerusalem, and the end of its Temple and its Sanctuary meant the end of the world.
Published on Nov 29, 2011
Published on Nov 29, 2011
This survey of how the New Testament came to be written is also a chronicle of the first 40 years of the history of the Christian Church. It...