A different world out of the hospital

I thought I’d fill everyone in on how I’m doing. I had two of the worst two days of my recovery. One, because well I haven’t had a bowel movement almost a week. Two, I hadn’t taken my pain medication for 12 hours. I was so exhausted I fell asleep woke up realizing I need some pain medication but then falling asleep. Today I realized I had to set an alarm for every time I had to take my medication. That ended up working out and today was a much better day, though I might have overdone it on the walk 😉 God is so good, throughout all this I see that this will lead to me being able to do things like running, hiking, playing with my kids, and doing athletics. In the end my pain wasn’t so bad there a lot worse off with no hope in sight . What I realized with pain, hope everything. Same is true in life, that’s why we need Jesus Christ, because He brings hope where no one else can.
Acts 4:12

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2 days after back surgery

I have realized everything is an opportunity. God placed me here in the hospital be able to share his love with others that are suffering. So instead of laying around feeling sorry for myself I decided to go around and pray and talk with some people. Here are just some of our interaction. I have change their names just for their privacy.

Mary, though not a real name had knee surgery. She was a wonderful believer. She said she would come and visit me at my church and that I was her angel. It’s obviously I let her do most the talking thinking that I was named angel 😉

Mary and Joseph is a couple I talked with and you could see that she was and discomfort. She said it was a nausea but I believe it was more than that. So I prayed with her and she started to cry and she really appreciated my time with her. I could also tell it meant a lot to her husband.

Margaret had knee surgery. She was an older woman that seems lonely so I just talked with her and she seemed to really enjoy our time together.

See had hip surgery her husband name its Bill. Her husband has Alzheimer’s and she was really concerned for him so I prayed for them both. And then I visit her later when her whole family was there to me all seem to appreciate me taking an interest in their mother.

My nurse from Haiti has a daughter that rebelled and wanted to do things her way, well, she thinks she is living in a shelter. So I asked if I could pray for her and her daughter. So I  prayed . She said she grew up in the church her and her husband took her children to church unfortunately her daughter is gone this way. She said at this point all she has is prayer.

image

Throughout the day there was many others that God allowed me to meet and pray with.

James 1:22 tells us not just to be hearers of the word but doers. Often times we look for someone else to do that and make excuses based on our circumstances. And in doing that we miss out on the blessings of serving others. This was a really blessed day.

Wednesday, the day before back surgery.

Well my pain has not ended up being that bad without pain meds (as long as I don’t do anything). But I do feel a little loopy since I took more muscle relaxers last night to help me sleep. The last two days I have realized how much this surgery is affecting more than just me. My wife, kids, family, friends, and my church, in some way they are all being affected by this. I am really blown away by how everyone has been really caring through this whole process. When things like this happen you really begin to know how much you’re loved.

 

OK everyone, I decided to blog during my recovery of my back surgery. I have learned so much this past year and a half through the pain and physical limitations. I could only expect that more lessons are to come through this recovery that I thought I would share them. For instance, today is the last day I can take my pain medication before the surgery. Ever since I found that out I have been anticipating the pain to come and also realizing that I can easily become self-centered and focused on how I am going to feel that I become insensitive to those around me. Being the season of Lent I am reminded that Jesus also knew what was to come for him and yet he focused on everyone else around him other than Himself. Also His suffering to come should not even be compared to what I am going to go through. I will have loving friends, family, wife and caring physicians visiting and taking care of me, not to mention a morphine drip. Jesus had two thieves, mocking soldiers and friend that kept their distance. Jesus suffering makes my little back surgery seem like a vacation in Hawaii.

What exactly is fasting and why do it?

Fasting most of the time can refer to refraining from eating food (normal fast) for a certain time (often at least 24 hours) such as seen with Jesus as he fasted for forty days in Luke 4:2. However it also can refer to a restriction in ones diet (partial fast) which is seen with Daniel in Daniel 10:3 and also completely refraining from all substance including water and drink (complete or absolute fast) which Paul did in Acts 9:9.

The overarching reason for fasting is to seek to know God in a deeper way (Isa. 58; Zech. 7:5). We see in Scripture this fasting is done privately (Exod. 34:28; 1 Sam. 7:6; 1 Kings 19:8; Matt. 6:17) and corporately (I Sam. 7:5-6; II Chron. 20:34; Ezra 8:21-23; Neh. 9:1-3; Joel 2:15-16;Jonah 3:5-10; Acts 27:33-37), seeking God in a deeper way as a body. We see throughout scripture specific reasons for fasting in which I will name a few: seeking God’s will for leadership in the local church (Acts 13:2), a time of confession (Ps. 69:10; 1 Sam. 7:6; Neh. 9:1-2;), afflictions (Ps. 35:13; Dan. 6:18) private afflictions (2 Sam. 12:16), approaching danger (Esth. 4:16), ordination of ministers (Acts 13:3; 14:23), morning death (2 Sam. 1:12), child’s sickness (2 Sam. 12:16, 21-23), divine deliverance and guidance (Ezra 8:21, 23), also in stewardship campaigns and building projects fasting was involved (Neh. 1:4-2:10; Deut. 9:9-12:28) these are just a few examples found in Scripture.

One thing that we may consider is that fasting is expected. We see that Jesus said in Matthew 6:17 WHEN you fast not IF you fast.

Matthew 6:17–18 (ESV) 17 But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, 18 that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

The Power of the Gospel

Heaven and Hell

Heaven is the place where God dwells though he is not contained or restrained there (1 Kings 8:27; Ps. 139:8). Heaven is a holy place where God makes his home (Isaiah 57:15; 63:15; Matt. 5:16; 16:17; 18:10).  The redeemed are also citizens of heaven a future home for the believer as we read in Ephesians 2:19 “So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God” and also in Philippians 3:20 “But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ”.

Heaven is also a place of reward and inheritance for the believer (1 Pet. 1:4; 2 Cor. 5:1–5; John 14:2; Matt. 5:12; 6:20; cf. Col. 1:5). The experience of Heaven will be like no other and the impossible will be made possible as we stand in God’s and be will see His face (Rev. 22:4). We will live with God there for there will be no more tears, death, mourning, crying, and pain (Rev. 21:4). All of heaven will be illuminated and not by the sun or the moon but by God glory (Rev. 21:23).

In heaven true worship will be given to God as he deserves for we will see clearly and “shall know fully” and be “face to face” with our maker which to me a terrifying picture yet at the same time a glorious picture of what Christ accomplish in all the redeemed. “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known” (1 Cor. 13:12).

I also believe that the final state of the wicked is close to the reverse of heaven. While heaven is all that is good, hell is a place void of any good things. Because all good things come from above (James 1:17) and hell is a place void of God’s presence, therefore all that is experienced in hell is tears, death, mourning, crying, and pain with no end to the suffering (Jer. 50:31; Ez. 44:12; Matt. 25:46; 2 Thess. 1:9; 2 Pet. 2:9; Heb. 10:29).

Hell was originally “prepared for the devil and his angels” and is also the final state of the wicked (Matt. 25:41). While heaven is all that is good, hell is a place void of any good things. Because all good things come from above (James 1:17) and hell is a place void of God’s presence, therefore all that is experienced in hell is tears, death, mourning, crying, and pain with no end to the suffering (Jer. 50:31; Ez. 44:12; Matt. 25:46; 2 Thess. 1:9; 2 Pet. 2:9; Heb. 10:29).

Though Hell is a literal place for the wicked I believe that the fire mentioned in Scripture is only an imagery to allow us to understand the level of suffering. It is not the source of suffering – the source is separation from God. The image of fire came from the constant threat of the outbreak of fire. Juvenal, a Roman poet in the late 1st and early 2nd century would be quoted saying, “No, no!” he cried, I must live where there is no fire and the night is free from alarms!”[1]

Fire also came from Gehenna (The Valley of Hinnom) the word James (James 3:6) and Jesus spoke explicitly in relation to Hell (Matt 5:22-30, 10:28; Mk 9:44 Luke 12:5). Gehenna was a place where fires burned constantly and was known as a place of torment where children were known to be burned as sacrifices to idols.[2]  The valley also became a place where garbage was burnt, along with the corpses of animals and criminals.[3] Gehenna became a synonym for hell and was used as imagery because no words could truly describe one’s suffering when in a state of complete and total absence of God’s presence, creation, and mercy. I believe that the suffering is forever (Rev. 19:3; 20:10) and there is to be no end or putting out of the source of the anguish (Matt. 3:12, 18:8; Mark 9:43; Luke 3:17).

There is little evidence for annihilationism in Scripture. We see constantly that the suffering is forever (Rev. 19:3; 20:10) and there seems to be no end or putting out of the source of the anguish (Matt. 3:12, 18:8; Mark 9:43; Luke 3:17).

Though I believe hell to be a literal state for the final state of the wicked I do believe in the possibility of the fire mentioned in Scripture to be an imagery of the source of the suffering. I believe there would be no words that could truly describe ones suffering when in a state of complete and total absence of God presence, creation, and mercy.


[1] David J. Williams, Paul’s Metaphors: Their context and Character (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Pub.), 13.

[2] David Noel Freedman, vol. 3, The Anchor Yale Bible Dictionary (New York: Doubleday, 1996), 202.

[3] Walter A. Elwell and Philip Wesley Comfort, Tyndale Bible Dictionary, Tyndale reference library (Wheaton, Ill.: Tyndale House Publishers, 2001), 517.

REVELATION 20:1-10

The book of Revelation has often been the most neglected book of the Bible. This is due mainly to the form, symbolism, prophetic nature, and the vivid imagery that at times stretches the imagination. The order in which the events are placed in this book can be at times confusing at best. God, knowing this, promised a blessing for reading the book of Revelation (Rev. 1:3) and is the only promised blessing for reading of a book of the Bible.[1] To come to a correct understanding of the text of Revelation 20:1-10 one must look at the Bible as a whole for insight on how to wrestle with key terms that are the focus of most of the confusion surrounding Revelation 20:1-10. However, in this paper I will mainly look at the text of Revelation 20:1-10 with some references to Old and New Testament passages that relate directly to this passage.

John’s book of Revelation has several themes that most Christians agree on, if not all evangelicals, and that is that Jesus Christ is returning as the triumphant king. Also many agree that the purpose of Revelation is to “comfort the militant church”[2] or give “encouragement to the believer”.[3] Revelation, being the only New Testament apocalyptic book, deserves some special attention. As for what has happened up to this point in Revelation we will turn to Dennis Johnson’s outline of the book found in His commentary on Revelation:

Letter to Churches (1-3)

Seals (4:1-8:1)

Trumpets: Warning Signals of Coming Judgment (8:2-11:18)

The Dragon and the Lamb: The Heart of the Conflict (11:19-15:4)

Bowls: God’s Wrath Completed (15:5-16:21)

The Harlot Babylon (17:1-19:10)

Thousand Years, Last Battle, and the Last Judgment (19:11-21:8)

The New Creation and the Bride Jerusalem (21:1-22:21)[4]

I will break Revelation 20:1-10 into three sections: Section 1 (1-3) Section 2 (4-6) and Section 3 (7-10)

There are many points of controversy in the Revelation 20:1-10 passage where how you interpret the passage gives support to a certain view of the millennium. Though there are many disagreements of how we look at the text there is little variance in English translations overall which is probably why George Ladd makes the comment that “the main contents of the book are easy to analyze”.[5] Though structurally and syntactically this passage and most of Revelation for the most part is non-controversial, I will stop and take a closer look at the Greek when appropriate. As we move through Revelation 20:1-10 I will try to give a balanced approach to the interpretation of the passage without following preconceived ideas led by a specific millennial view. In my opinion, the text itself does not lend itself completely to support one line of reasoning over another. Because the text is so controversial, many are forced to first take a position and then consistently interpret the passage from that point of view to form their eschatological beliefs. For example regarding whether the 1000 years found in Chapter 20 should be taken literally or figuratively, Robert Mounce says, “Nothing in the immediate context favors either interpretation. It is the larger concern to find a consistent millennial position that leads exegetes to commit themselves on the meaning of the 1000 years.”[6] Because I am not approaching this from a specific position, I will note opinions from opposing views (amillennial and premillennial)[7] and avoid entering the theological debate.  

Section 1 Revelation 20:1-3 (NASB95)
1 Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding the key of the abyss and a great chain in his hand.
2 And he laid hold of the dragon, the serpent of old, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years;
3 and he threw him into the abyss, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he would not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were completed; after these things he must be released for a short time.

From the first two words (καὶ εἶδον translated: Then I saw) of the chapter there are those who disagree as to what is being implied. In reading John MacArthur’s commentary on Revelation he would lead you to believe that these first two words indicate “chronological progression”[8]. However, when you turn to Henry Barclay Swete’s commentary he says, “the formula καὶ εἶδον does not, like μετὰ ταῦτα εἶδον, determine the order of time in which the vision was seen relatively to the visions which precede it”.[9] It seems from the text it would be hard to determine the order either way.

As we continue in the text we see an angel coming down from heaven with a key to the abyss and a great chain. This verse seems to be very symbolic in nature using the logic that there is no literal key that locks the abyss and that there is no literal chain that in verse 2 will hold the spiritual being Satan. This symbolism continues as we move to verse 2 as Satan is being described as “the dragon” then John tells us exactly who he is symbolizing and that is the Devil or Satan. He then describes the binding of Satan for a thousand years. The question of why Satan is being bound is answered in verse 3 and that is to “no longer deceive the nations”. From the wording, it appears that the binding of Satan sets the beginning of what we know as the millennium. The words, “thousand years” are seen several times throughout the passage. Whether or not this is a literal thousand years or figurative for a very long time, the repetition of this phrase leads us to believe that each reference is referring to the same timeframe. However, it is important to ask when the binding of Satan is taking place – the present age or after the second coming. Unfortunately, there is very little indication of this from the text itself.

Proponents for the amillennial view refer back to passages in the Bible, such as Matthew 12:28-29, Luke 10:17-18, and John 12:31-32 as evidence that Satan has already been bound at the first coming of Christ and is still currently bound. They even take it a step further by looking at the Greek word, ἔδησεν, which comes from the root, δέω, and is the same root of the word that is used in Matthew 12:29.[10] This similarity in the use of the Greek would lead some to think that the binding of Satan that is described in Revelation 20 had already occurred in Matthew 12.

Premillennialists will also site passages from the New Testament, such Luke 22:3, Acts 5:3, 2 Corinthians 4:3-4; 11:14, Ephesians 2:2, 1 Thessalonians 2:18, 2 Timothy 2:26, and with great emphasis placed on 1 Peter 5:8 to show Satan as being active in the present age. Mounce refers to the key, chain, and abyss as elaborate measures which were taken to insure his custody and states that these measures “are most easily understood as implying the complete cessation of his influence on earth (rather than a curbing of his activities)”[11]. However, R. Fowler White refers to the premillennial explanation of the chronological order and the binding of Satan when he states, “it makes no sense to speak of protecting the nations from deception by Satan in 20:1-3 after they have just been both deceived by Satan (16:13-16, cf. 19:19-20) and destroyed by Christ at his return in 19:11-21 (cf. 16:15a,19)”[12]. Both groups do agree that after the millennium Satan will be released for a short period of time to once again deceive the nations. 

Section 2 Revelation 20:4-6 (NASB95)

4 Then I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was given to them. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received the mark on their forehead and on their hand; and they came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.
5 The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were completed. This is the first resurrection.
6 Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years.

As we move to verse 4, John’s vision seems to jump to another scene where he sees thrones, those who were beheaded, and those who had not taken the mark of the beast. This leaves us with several questions –Where are these thrones? Who are sitting on the thrones? How many groups of people are there? All these questions come from the study of the text and yet, the text itself lends no clear answer; however, I will try to remark on each.

As to the questions of where and when this scene takes place, I will present some options of possible interpretation. By looking strictly at the English translation, it would seem that this takes place in heaven. In the same vision of the thrones, John sees souls of those who follow Christ. Seeing souls, not physical bodies, leads us to think this is taking place in heaven. William Hendriksen adds evidence to this position saying, “the Lamb is represented as taking the scroll out of the hand of Him that sat on the throne (Rev. 5).” Then he refers to Revelation 12 and that Christ was caught up to God in heaven.[13] Also, if we look closely at the word study of throne (θρόνος) which is found 45 times in Revelation outside of verse 4, and of the 45, all but three refer to heavenly thrones. The other three refer to Satan’s symbolic throne (2:13; 13:2; 16:10). This would further impact the interpretation later in the passage where it refers to those who reign with Christ. If it is taking place in heaven, it is more likely to be talking of a spiritual reign, not an earthly one. However, there is evidence for a bodily resurrection, which we discuss later in this paper, which could indicate an earthly physical reign.

Next, I would like to look at the people described in the vision. There are several groups of people described and it is not immediately apparent whether they are separate groups of people or a description of the same group. There are those who are on the throne, those who have been beheaded, and those who have worshipped the beast and taken the mark. The question of who is on the thrones is not clear from the text and leaves us with few options. Therefore, as Mounce suggests, “it would be wise not to go beyond suggesting that they may be a heavenly court (as in Dan. 7:26) that will assist in judgment”.[14] For the next two groups, the beheaded and those who did not worship, there is an indication in the Greek that these are referring to the same group of people. The use of the relative pronoun, οἵτινες, in the sentence shows that the second group is merely a clarification of the first group. Daniel Wallace explains, “Relative pronouns (ὅς and ὅστις) are so called because they relate to more than one clause. Typically, they are “hinge” words in that they both refer back to an antecedent in the previous clause.”[15] There is also the logical argument that refers back to the visions in Revelation 13:15 where all those who did not worship the beast were killed as martyrs. But in order to accept this explanation alone, you would have to first accept that the visions are happening in a chronological order.

Now that we have looked at who is in the passage, we need to address the action that takes place at the end of the verse – the resurrection. The question is whether this is referring to a physical or spiritual resurrection. The phrase “they came to life” comes from the Greek word ἔζησαν which is used as a bodily resurrection and never a spiritual one in the New Testament. The closest that we can come to mean a spiritual resurrection in found in John 2:5 in the story of the prodigal son coming to life. However, this refers to the beginning of a new spiritual life rather than a spiritual resurrection. Therefore, from this understanding of the usage of this Greek word the two times this word is being used (v. 4 and v.5), it most likely means a bodily resurrection. This does not completely rule out that there is a spiritual resurrection but shows a stronger connection with a physical resurrection and therefore stronger evidence for a physical reign.

The beginning of verse 5 refers to the rest of the dead not included in verse 4, which Mounce calls a parenthetical statement[16], while reference to the first resurrection refers back to those in verse 4.  The question or clarification here lies with both verse 5 and 6. Amillennialists believe that “the correlations between the first and the second deaths and the first and second resurrections suggest that the first resurrection refers to the spiritual life of the martyrs who reign with Christ between the time of their martyrdom and the Second Coming”.[17] While premillennialists would say the first resurrection coincides with the Second Coming. For those who participate in the first resurrection, the second death (spiritual or eternal death) has no power over them and they will also reign with Christ for a thousand years.

Section 3 Revelation 20:7-10 (NASB95)

7 When the thousand years are completed, Satan will be released from his prison,
8 and will come out to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together for the war; the number of them is like the sand of the seashore
9 And they came up on the broad plain of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city, and fire came down from heaven and devoured them.
10 And the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are also; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.

The third section has very little variance from translation to translation. As with all of these sections the controversy lies in our perspective.  After the millennium has been completed, Satan is going to be released to once again to deceive the nations for a short time. Both premillennialists and amillennialists agree that this time will be an ushering in of the persecution of the Church. The difference is that premillennialists believe this refers to a physical battle while amillennialists refer to this as a spiritual battle. “The four corners of the earth” symbolize a worldwide persecution. Gog and Magog refer to Ezekiel’s prophecy “which has the same basic structure as Rev. 20”.[18]  More interesting is in the Greek Septuagint Ezekiel 37:10 uses the same Greek word  ἔζησαν (“they came to life”) as is used in verse 4 of our text. In Ezekiel it is used to symbolize Israel’s restoration from Babylonians captivity, picturing it like a resurrection. This would have more significance with the interpretation of verse 4 than it does here. Gog and Magog, being symbolic of very evil forces, and the parallel structure with the restoration that is described as a resurrection, would give support to the first resurrection in verse 4 of being a spiritual resurrection.

Then just as Satan’s forces are about to devour God’s people, God steps in with fire from heaven. Then, Satan and all who followed him are thrown in to the “lake of fire” to be tormented forever.  This vision has come full circle starting with section one having Satan bound to not deceive the nations and now in section three he is released to do what he had done prior and that is to deceive the nations. However, there is judgment for his actions and soon after his release, he is thrown into the “lake of fire”. 

When we come to Revelation 20:1-10 there is one theme that is clear and that is that Jesus Christ is triumphant. The forces of Satan will not be able to prevail against our God. This should be a great encouragement to all those place their hope in Jesus Christ. We must be careful as believers as not to divide each other on the issue of the end times when we have such a clear point of agreement. Unfortunately there have been people, as well as denominations, that have isolated themselves over differing views of the end times. May that not be the case with us, rather let us be united, serving a Triumphant King.   

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Hendriksen, William, More than Conquerors: An Interpretation of the Book of Revelation. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1967.

Hoekema, Anthony A., The Bible and the Future. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. E. Eerdmans Publishing Co.,1979.

Johnson, Dennis E., Triumph of the Lamb: A Commentary on Revelation. Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2001.

Kik, J. Marcellus, Revelation Twenty: An Exposition. Philadelphia, PA:  The Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Co., 1955.

Ladd, George Eldon,  A Commentary on the Revelation of John. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1972.

MacArthur Jr., John, The MacArthur New Testament Commentary: Revelation 12-22. Chicago: Moody Press, 2000.

Mounce, Robert H., The Book of Revelation. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1998.

Poythress, Vern, The Returning King: A guide to the Book of Revelation. Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2000.

Swete, Henry Barclay, The Apocalypse of St. John, 2d. ed. New York: The Macmillan company.

Wallace, Daniel B., Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics – Exegetical Syntax of the New Testament. Zondervan Publishing House and Galaxie Software, 1999; 2002.


[1] Vern Poythress, The Returning King: A guide to the Book of Revelation (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2000), 12.

[2] William Hendriksen, More than Conquerors: An Interpretation of the Book of Revelation (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1967), 7.

[3] J. Marcellus Kik, Revelation Twenty: An Exposition (Philadelphia, PA:  The Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Co., 1955), 15.

[4] Dennis E. Johnson, Triumph of the Lamb: A Commentary on Revelation (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2001), 347-349.

[5] George Eldon Ladd, A Commentary on the Revelation of John (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1972), 14.

[6] Robert H. Mounce, The Book of Revelation (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1998), 362.

[7] Most of my resources dealt mainly with the amillennial and pre-millennial positions. Many scholars dismiss the view as no longer relevant to the eschatological discussion.

[8] John MacArthur Jr., The MacArthur New Testament Commentary: Revelation 12-22 (Chicago: Moody Press, 2000), 233.

[9]Henry Barclay Swete, The Apocalypse of St. John, 2d. ed. (New York: The Macmillan company, 1907), 256.

[10] Anthony A. Hoekema, The Bible and the Future (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. E. Eerdmans Publishing Co.,1979), 229.

[11] Robert H. Mounce, The Book of Revelation (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1998), 362.

[12] Dennis E. Johnson, Triumph of the Lamb: A Commentary on Revelation (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2001),285.

[13] William Hendriksen, More than Conquerors: An Interpretation of the Book of Revelation (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1967), 192.

[14] Robert H. Mounce, The Book of Revelation (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1998), 365.

[15]Daniel B. Wallace, Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics – Exegetical Syntax of the New Testament (Zondervan Publishing House and Galaxie Software, 1999; 2002), 335.

[16] Robert H. Mounce, The Book of Revelation (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1998), 370.

[17] Vern Poythress, The Returning King: A guide to the Book of Revelation (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2000), 182.

[18] George Eldon Ladd, A Commentary on the Revelation of John (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1972), 269.

O Come, All Ye Faithful

 “Adeste Fideles”

O Come, All Ye Faithful

The famous Christmas carol “O Come, All Ye Faithfull” which in Latin is known as ‘Adeste Fideles’, was written by John Francis Wade (1711-86). Wade whom had close ties with the Jacobite rebellions and has been accused of having Jacobite imagery throughout his hymns, such is the case with “Adeste fideles”. The Carol was first published in 1760.  

“Taken in a Jacobite context, Adeste fideles becomes a combination birth-ode and call to arms, in much the same way the Christmas introits and MacLachlan’s poem join imagery of Christ’s nativity with that of his salvific role on earth: Adeste fideles, ‘Draw near ye faithful Christians’ [Attention faithful Jacobites!]; lati triumphantes, venite, venite in Bethlehem,  ‘ with Joy to Bethlehem [England] come’; natum videte, regem angelorum, ‘behold the King of Angels’ ( a pun on regem anglorum, ‘king of the English’ [Charles Edward Stewart])”[1]

Born in 1720, Bonnie Prince Charlie was the focus for Catholic Jacobite rebels who wanted to restore the House of Stuart to the English throne. By 1745 their army took Edinburgh, however they were ultimately defeated at the Battle of Culloden (16 April 1746) by King George II’s forces.  With the defeat Adeste Fideles slowly lost its Jacobite meaning.

Let’s now look at our current understanding of the Christmas Carol “O Come All Ye Faithfull” (Adeste Fideles) and its’ Christology and how this Carol invites us to celebrate and invites one people, those that are faithful. Only the faithful truly love God and are set apart to truly celebrate Christ’s birth.

Faithfull tells us who are invited but also their faithfulness also describes those that are joyful and triumphant (Psalm 101:6-7 Proverbs 28:20 Ezekiel 18:9).  

Matthew 25:21-23
21 “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’ 22 “The man with the two talents also came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with two talents; see, I have gained two more.’ 23 “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’

The Spirit is evident in those that are faithful giving way to happiness and joy. We also see this throughout Scripture; Ecclesiastes 2:25 (NIV) for without him, who can eat or find enjoyment?”Psalm 34:8 (NIV) “Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him.”

God built us in such a way that to run after happiness is part of who we are. God built the desire for joy and happiness right in. Blaise Pascal in recognizing this said:

All men seek happiness. This is without exception. Whatever different means they employ, they all tend to this end. The cause of some going to war, and of others avoiding it, is the same desire in both, attended with different views. The will never takes the least step but to this object. This is the motive of every action of every man, even of those who hang themselves.[2]

Christ is the goal, and pursuing Christ will result in our greatest joy and lasting happiness.  Jonathan Edwards in his resolutions wrote this:

Resolved, To endeavor to obtain for myself as much happiness in the other world as I possibly can, with all the power, might, vigor, and vehemence, yea violence, I am capable of, or can bring myself to exert, in any way that can be thought of.[3]

This joy is not like an earthy temporal joy that hinges on our circumstances. It hinges on Christ love for the Saints and we rejoice in this knowledge. Romans 8:32 “He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?” We see that it is Christ who makes our joy complete in

John 15:11, “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.”

 We are Joyful which is an eternal joy not just temporal because of the eternal love the Son has for us that He would as John 15:13 says that He would lay down His life for us His friends and in doing so claim victory over sin and death. The only one that can accomplish such a feat is the son of God who was “born the king of Angels.” So in knowing what He came to accomplish we celebrate and adore the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.                                

Only the triumphant can celebrate because they stand in celebration that victory is theirs, victory over and sin through Jesus Christ. For some, reason talk of sin and Christmas seem to be foreign to us. Yet, as strange as it sounds, we have Christmas because of our sin. Jesus main purpose for being born as a man was not so that he could “RELATE”. But He came to defeat sin and its reign over our life.  Timothy Keller summarizes Kierkegard’s definition of sin this way, “Sin is the despairing refusal to find your deepest identity in your relationship and service to God. Sin is seeking to become oneself, to get an identity, apart from him”. [4] Christ came to defeat that sin is seeking to find identify in anything other than Christ. Romans 8:37 tells us that we are “more than conquerors” and that victory is secure. The Greek word used here for “more than conquerors” is περνικμεν (hypernikōmen) which means, to be completely and overwhelmingly victorious. We are again reminded of this victory in 1 Corinthians 15:54b-57 in which it says,

“Death has been swallowed up in victory.” “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

When we sing this carol we sing in celebration not because of some gift that is wrapped with a bow. We celebrate because of the gift of Immanuel and what He will accomplish. We celebrate not some monetary temporal reason but of eternal value and reason.

This carol invites those faithful, joyful and triumphant to celebrate and adore the King of Kings, being not caught up in the redefining of Christmas by our culture but coming forward to adore the savior embracing the true meaning of Christmas.

O Come All Ye Faithful

O Come All Ye Faithful
Joyful and triumphant,
O come ye, O come ye to Bethlehem.
Come and behold Him,
Born the King of Angels;
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
Christ the Lord.

O Sing, choirs of angels,
Sing in exultation,
Sing all that hear in heaven God’s holy word.
Give to our Father glory in the Highest;
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
Christ the Lord.

All Hail! Lord, we greet Thee,
Born this happy morning,
O Jesus! for evermore be Thy name adored.
Word of the Father, now in flesh appearing;
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
Christ the Lord. 


[1] Bennett Zon, “The Origin of ‘Adeste fideles’.” Early Music Vol. 24, No. 2 (May 1996): 286

[2] Blaise Pascal, Pascal’s Pensées (New York, NY: E. P. Dutton & Co., Inc., 1958), 85.

[3] Number 22 of Jonathan Edwards resolutions

[4] Timothy Keller, The Reason for God (New York, NY: Penguin Group, 2008), 162.

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