My motive for beginning with a grammatical niggle is that it points towards something more properly theological. If we start with “For God so loved…”, then all our concentration and effort goes into imagining the emotional intensity which lies behind the manifest activity. What is really interesting is not so much what happened, about which we can satisfy ourselves with the briefest of enquiries, describing it in very spare terms. What would really be interesting is the degree in which the act was intended, the push behind it, the emotional force with which the principal agent of this activity carried it out. If, on the other hand, we begin with “It was in this way that God loved”, then we have no prior access to some supposed interior life of God, modelled on our own. Instead it is that which is visible, that which is manifest in the activity itself, which becomes the lure for our fascination. And it is only in the degree in which we allow ourselves to be pulled inside that activity, and what we can discover starting from it, that we begin to get some notion of God’s love.
The prominence of the Spirit is one of the characteristics which marks the Apocalypse out from the category of apocalyptic works in which its literary genre places it. The Spirit also plays an important role in the eschatological perspective of the book. The subject therefore merits some detailed study. We shall first consider the refere
nces to the Spirit in each of the three easily distinguishable categories into which they fall: the Spirit of vision, the Spirit of prophecy and the seven Spirits.
Revelation is the Bible’s climactic and concluding prophecy. Writing deliberately in the tradition of the Hebrew prophet, the prophet John gathers up and completes their contributions to the overall theme of biblical prophecy: the coming of God’s kingdom in all the world. His own prophetic revelation discloses the way in which the universal kingdom of God is finally to come, through Jesus the Messiah and his people.
In order to read Revelation appropriately, we need to recognize equally the way it relates to its original context and the way it transcends that context and continues to address the church in all periods. Like all biblical prophecy, Revelation addressed a concrete historical situation— that of Christians in the Roman province of Asia at the end of the first century CE— with the purpose of enabling them to discern the purpose of God in that situation and to respond in an appropriate way. So although the prophecy concerns the final victory of God’s rule over all evil and the final completion of God’s purpose in the new creation of all things, it portrays the coming of God’s kingdom in direct relation to the situation of its first readers. The eschatological future is envisaged in terms of its impact on the present, so that the first readers might see how to live in their own situation in the light of the coming kingdom. This means that we cannot ignore the situation of the first readers if we are to perceive correctly the continuing relevance of Revelation to later readers.
The Tyndale Ethics Lecture 1985