Revelation In Context

The book Revelation In Context, by Irene Belyeu, is a literary and historical commentary on the Biblical Book of Revelation with supporting referents and notes.

Although you will find many helpful articles and blog posts regarding this historical and inspirational book on this website, seekers of the truth of the Revelation will want to study and explore more in depth by purchasing the book.  There are two editions of the book available.

  • Volume 1 — This book is for the serious seeker of the truth of the Revelation and would be ideal for a class setting where each student has a copy of Volume 1 also with access to the Complete Edition as a reference work. (397 pages)
  • Complete Edition — This book contains all of Volume 1 and, in addition, all of the Referents and Notes from the Bible, Rabbinic writings, the Apocrypha, and Enoch. (657 pages)

Printed versions of the book may be purchased online at: Xulon Press and the Complete Edition from Amazon; and Volume 1 from Amazon. It is also available at Living Word

Behold He Is Coming – Part 2

Jesus’ Coming As The Holy Spirit

The outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost was a “coming.” The Jews believed that Elijah was to “come” preceding the advent of the Messiah, based upon Malachi 4:5. (See Matthew 11:14; 16:14; 17:10-13; Mark 6:15; 9:12-13; Luke 1:17; John 1:21, 25.) In these Scriptures, Jesus clearly stated that John the Baptist was Elijah. Did He mean that John the Baptist was a reincarnation of Elijah? No. He meant that the same Spirit that came upon and filled Elijah was that which filled John the Baptist, (Luke 1:17).

In this same sense, the coming of the Holy Spirit to fill all of the believer’s was the same Spirit that had filled Christ when He dwelt upon earth in His fleshly body. So, in the same sense that Elijah had returned in John the Baptist, so Christ returned in the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.

Opposing Views

This view is opposed by many Pentecostal and Evangelical teachers. I will use the article by Ian Macpherson as an example of the standard, traditional teaching of these groups:[4]
Macpherson first argues against the idea of “realized eschatology” which says that Jesus taught that the Kingdom of God had come in His ministry during His lifetime. Macpherson fails to deal with the fact that Jesus did indeed teach this doctrine, (Matt. 12:28; Luke 10:9; 11:20; Mark 1:14-15; Mark 9:1; Luke 4:43; 6:20; 9:27; 17:21; 22:16-18; and many other references  too numerous to mention.

His second argument has it that Jesus’ promise of “another Comforter” could not have meant His own Spirit. Biblically, however, it must be so, for the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are One. Indeed, He said: “I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you,” (John 14:18). This is in the context of His promise of the Holy Spirit in verses fifteen to seventeen of the same chapter.

Thirdly, Macpherson argues that after the descent of the Holy Spirit, the New Testament points forward to the “Second Coming.” Indeed, Jesus never did refer to a single “Second coming.” It is therefore more accurate to refer to His “coming” as something that will happen often and repeatedly. There is nothing to prevent the interpretation that the descent of the Holy Spirit was a “coming” which occurred after His bodily ascension. (Macpherson admits that Biblical prophecy may have multiple fulfillments, p. 7).

Macpherson’s fourth argument that the “Second Coming” was not fulfilled in the destruction of Jerusalem, (p. 7), takes no account of Josephus’ record of the appearance in the clouds. He ridicules Thomas Waugh who says: ” Actually… the Rapture occurred on that occasion, and … amid the cataclysmic struggles of the time the fact was not noted!” Macpherson concedes however, that the Christians did indeed escape the overthrow, but ignores the fact that their escape, under the circumstances, had to be miraculous if not an actual bodily translation from one place to another.

His fifth argument that Christ’s indwelling the believer does not qualify as the “Second Coming” is no argument at all. He does not deal with the clear evidence of Scripture (John 14:18, 23). This “coming” was not something that the world would see; nevertheless, He would be “manifest”[5] to everyone who truly loved Him and the Father:

“20 At that day ye shall know that I [am] in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you. 21 He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him. 22 Judas saith unto him, not Iscariot, Lord, how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself unto us, and not unto the world? 23 Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.” (John 14)

Macpherson’s sixth argument that Christ’s spiritual presence in the Church is not a “Second Coming” in that His physical body was not present on the earth after His ascension, (Acts 3:20, 21; 7:55; 9:3). He does not allow for the fact that Christ’s glorified body was not subject to the laws of physics, that is, it was not “physical.” He makes no notice of the fact that Jesus said it was “expedient” for Him to go away. Christ therefore taught that His presence in the unlimited and unconfined Spirit was more “expedient” than would be a physical presence limited to one particular point in time and space.

Macpherson argues that “it seems much easier to believe such a visible, local reappearance of our Lord than His simultaneous manifestation of Himself to His people in all parts of the world!” It may be easier for Macpherson to believe, but that proves nothing about what Jesus said about it. He indeed makes clear that His salvation is available to “whosoever will” when they seek Him with a whole heart. This must be a “simultaneous manifestation of Himself to His people in all parts of the world.”

In his seventh argument that Christ’s coming at the death of the Christian does not qualify as a “Second Coming,” Macpherson admits that Christian biography is full of examples of this experience. However, he uses the passage in John 21:20-23 to “prove” his point. Indeed, this Scripture could be used to prove the opposite, for Christ said: “If I will that he tarry till I come what is that to thee? Follow thou me.” The disciples clearly misunderstood His saying, (v. 23), as has Macpherson, for Christ indeed “comes” for His Saints at their death.

An appearance or coming of “the Son of Man” was seen by the martyr Stephen, Acts 7:55-56:
“But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up steadfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God, And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God.”

Macpherson cites Revelation 1:7 as proof that Christ’s “Second Coming” will be “a personal, physical, local, visible reentry into human history.” (p. 8). However, the rest of verse seven shows that it could not be too localized, for “every eye shall see Him”. It could not have been too far distant in the future, for among those who see Him are “those which pierced Him.” This must also be regarded as one fulfillment of Daniel’s prophecy, (Daniel 7:13), and of Christ’s prophecy, (Matt. 24:30; Mark 13:26; 14:62).

There was a tradition among the Jews that:
“If they are worthy, (i.e. the Israelites), then he shall come with the clouds of heaven; but if they are not worthy, then he will come poor, and riding upon an ass” (CNT, vol. 4, p. 90).
Jesus came to the fleshly Jerusalem “poor and riding upon an ass,” but He came to the spiritual Jerusalem, i.e. to saints such as Stephen, “with the clouds of heaven.”

Notes

( See also my Commentary on Revelation 22:3: “Anathema”; “Greek Words Translated Revelation” on Revelation 1:1; also Commentary at 1:8 “Alpha and Omega”; and 1:1 “Must.”)

[2] See G.K. Beale, The Use of Daniel in Jewish Apocalyptic Literature and in the Revelation of Saint John, (Lanham, New York, London, University Press of America, 1984).

[3] Josephus records such an appearance during the destruction of Jerusalem (Wars 6.5.3).

[4] Ian Macpherson, “How Will Jesus Come Back?” in Pentecostal Evangel, February 9, 1975, 6-8.

[5] Strong’s #1718, meaning ‘to exhibit, disclose.’

So What?

So what?

Did I hear someone say: “So what? Why should I care about some history that happened 2,000 years ago?”

Here’s Why:

Yes, my lessons on the Book of Revelation deal with some history. We need to learn from history: If we do not learn from history, we are bound to repeat it. Hadn’t you rather learn from the experience of others than to have to endure the trouble and sorrow that their mistakes made for them? The Bible says that the history of the Old Testament and the recorded events that happened to the old Israel are written as examples for our admonition: “Now all these things happened unto them for examples: and they are written for our admonitions, upon whom the ends of the world are come,” 1Corinthians 10:11.

The Lessons of History Might Save Ourselves and our Nation

The ancient nation of Israel was destroyed because of their sin and rebellion against God in 70 AD. That’s what the Book of Revelation is telling us. This is what we need to know and understand. If you are only looking for some kind of holy prognostication, [that means ‘foretelling the future’], then you should look for it in the history of what God has said and done in the past. God does not change.
“Righteousness exalteth a nation but sin is a reproach to any people,” Proverbs 14:34. Read Proverbs. It clearly presents the case for the righteousness of a nation. That’s why you should study the Book of Revelation.

High Priests Unlawfully Appointed

To see the context for the Book of Revelation we need to understand what was going on in the Priesthood. This lesson will show how the High Priesthood had been corrupted and had become the pawn of the overruling powers that had conquered Judea before Christ.

Ten High Priests Unlawfully Appointed From The Time of Antiochus Eupator to Herod The Great in Whose Reign Christ Was Born. (Josephus’ Antiquities Books xiv-xx. These were of the priestly families but not in the line of succession from Aaron.)

1. Jacimus, appointed by Antiochus Eupator, Priest, reigned 3 years, died.
(No High Pries for 7 years)

BEGINNING OF HASMONEAN PRIESTHOOD:

2. Jonathan, appointed by Maccabees, Priest 7 years, slain.
3. Simon, his brother, Maccabees, Priest 8 years, slain.
4. Hyrcanus, Maccabees, Priest 30 years, died.
5. Judas (Aristobulus), Maccabees, King and Priest 1 year, died.
6. Alexander, his brother, Maccabees, King and Priest 27 years, died.
7. Hyrcanus, son of Alexander & Alexandra, Maccabees, Priest 9 years, defeated by Aristobulus.
Alexandra reigned as Queen, appointed by the Pharisees, 9 years, died, Ant.13.16.1-6.
8. Aristobulus, brother of Hyrcanus, fought Hyrcanus for Priesthood, King and Priest 3 years and 3 months, captured by Pompey.
9. Hyrcanus, (again), appointed by Pompey, King and Priest 24 years, captured by Parthians.
10. Antigonus, son of Aristobulus, perhaps King only, not High Priest? He was appointed by the Parthians, reigned 3 years and 3 months, captured by Herod, taken to Antony and slain, (Ant.14.16.1-4).
11. Herod, King only, not High Priest, appointed by the Romans, reigned 37 years from his appointment by the Romans, 34 from the death of Antigonus. By pretense made Hyrcanus co-regent with himself in order to kill him.

BIRTH OF CHRIST: Catalog of High Priests from Herod’s time to the end, (Ant.20.8.5. p. 422, footnote).

1. Ananelus of Babylon, appointed by Herod, Ant.15.2.4. High Priest only, not King, replaced by Aristobulus.
2. Aristobulus, grandson of Hyrcanus, Priest only. Slain by Herod about AD 6.

END OF HASMONEAN LINE.

3. Ananelus, (restored), appointed by Herod, Priest only, deposed by Herod, Ant.15.3.1.
4. Jesus, son of Phabet (or Fabus), appointed by Herod, Priest only, deposed by Herod, Ant.15.9.3.
5. Simon, of Jerusalem, son of Boethus, citizen of Alexandria, Herod marries his daughter, Ant.17.4.2, Priest only, deposed by Herod.
6. Matthias, son of Theophilus, appointed by Herod, Priest only, deposed by Herod, Ant.17.6.4.
7. Joseph, son of Ellemus, appointed by Matthias (?), Priest only one day, Ant.17.6.4.
8. Joazar, son of Boethus, appointed by Herod or Archelaus, Priest only, deposed by Cyrenius, Ant.18.2.1.

HIGH PRIESTS APPOINTED BY ROME AFTER AD 6.

(Ant.18.20. After the death or deposing of Archelaus, AD 6, “The High Priests were entrusted with a dominion over the nation”, but were not necessarily considered kings by Rome, Ant.18.1.1. (See also my commentary at Revelation 17:11-12.)
9. (Anas) or Ananus, appointed by Cyrenius, deposed.
10. Ismael, son of Phabi, appointed by Gratus, procurator, deposed.
11. Eleazar, son of Ananus, (had been High Priest before), appointed by Gratus, reigned 1 year, deposed.
12. Simon, son of Camithus, appointed by Gratus, reigned 1 year, deposed.
13. Joseph Caiaphas, appointed by Gratus, reigned 11 years, deposed.
14. Jonathan, son of Ananus, appointed by Vitellius, procurator, deposed.
15. Theophilus, son of Ananus, appointed by Vitellius, deposed
16. Simon, son of Boethus, appointed by Agrippa, deposed.
17. (Agrippa offers High Priesthood to Jonathan again, he refuses so he gives it to (Matthias ?), deposed.
18. Matthias, son of Ananus, appointed by Agrippa, deposed.
19. Elioneus, son of Catheras, appointed by Agrippa, deposed.
20. Joseph, son of Camus, Agrippa, slain by Robbers, Wars2.7.9.
21. Ananias, son of Nebedius Jonathan, appointed by Agrippa, Felix instigates his murder, Ant.20.8.5.
22. Ismael, son of Fabi, Agrippa, deposed.
23. Joseph Cabi, son of Simon former High Priest, Agrippa, deposed.
24. Ananus, fifth son of Ananus, Agrippa, reigned 3 months, deposed.
25. Jesus, of Damascus, appointed by the Robbers, Wars4.3.6, note p. 527, deposed.
26. Jesus, son of Gamaliel, appointed by the Robbers, deposed.
27. Matthias, son of Theophilus, appointed by the Robbers, deposed.
28. Phanias, son of Samuel, appointed by the Robbers, War, end of line, Wars 4.3.8.

This lesson is edited from my book, Revelation In Context, pages 127-132.

Kings And Priests Unto God

Examples of Man’s Exalting Himself Above God

Mankind’s mandate to take dominion is only legitimate “under God.” The reign of Nebuchadnezzar is a type of the reign of Man exalting himself above God . His dominion was given by God. He exalted himself in disobedience. When he was restored by God’s grace, he exalted the God of Heaven.

Belshazzar’s reign is a type of the reign of the Flesh. He obtained his kingdom as a result of death. He desecrated the holy vessels. He worshipped the gods of gold, of silver and of precious stones. His judgment is pronounced thus: “MENÊ’- God hath numbered thy kingdom, and finished it”. Numbering indicates a soon end. God forbad the numbering of his people except they bring a ransom for their souls, (Exod. 30:12-14). Every soul that was numbered was under “mortgage” to God. That is, they were under oath, or sworn, and must be redeemed or ransomed from death. Therefore, the numbering meant that it was appointed or destined to die.

“TEKEL- Thou art weighed in the balances, and art found wanting.” The weighing indicated the payment of a price. Flesh and blood have no value great enough to satisfy a sin debt. The price weighed was not enough.

“PERES- Thy kingdom is divided, and given to the Medes and Persians – .” A divided kingdom cannot stand. Therefore the kingdom of the Flesh, (usurped by satan), cannot be established because it wars against the Spirit, causing the schism which brings its own downfall.

Therefore, the nation of “Kings and Priests unto God and his Father” is a kingdom under God, united in the Spirit, overcoming the Flesh.

Behold He Cometh – Part 1

Revelation 1:7: “Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth, shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen.”

This verse has two direct referents; (a) the phrase “coming with clouds” is found in Daniel 7:13 and (b) the phrase “look on him whom they have pierced” is from Zechariah 12:10. Other passages in the Scriptures also give us more context for interpreting Christ’s “coming”.[1]

Coming With Clouds

Daniel 7:13 speaks of the “Son of Man… coming with the clouds of heaven”. Jesus spoke of Himself as the “Son of Man,” a title used of the Messiah, (Matthew 26: 64 and Luke 19:9-10). In the context of His predictions of the destruction of Jerusalem, He clearly foretells that the “Son of Man” will be seen “coming in a cloud with power and great glory,” (Luke 21:27; Matthew 24:30.) The use of the terms “Son of Man” and “coming with clouds” brings to mind Daniel chapter 7, which so often serves as a referent to passages throughout the book of Revelation. The Revelation, “coming, appearance,” of Jesus Christ in Revelation 1:7, is a record of the fulfillment of Daniel’s vision, and the establishment of Christ’s kingdom, Daniel 7:13, 14, 22, 27.

Daniel 7:27 was fulfilled when Jerusalem was destroyed in AD 70. The old, fallen kingdom of Israel ceased to exist and the Kingdom was given to Christ and His Body, “the people of the saints of the Most High; their kingdom shall be an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey them,” Daniel 7:27. This completed the translation of the kingdom from an earthly kingdom to a heavenly one as foretold by Daniel.

Revelation 1:7 refers directly to the words of Christ in Matthew 26:64:
“Jesus saith unto him, Thou [the High Priest, singular] hast said: nevertheless I say unto you [plural, the chief priests and scribes], Hereafter shall ye [plural] see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.”

When Jesus said: “ye shall see,” He was referring to Zechariah 12:10, “They shall look on Me whom they have pierced”

“And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn. (Zech. 12:10)

This prophecy has been literally fulfilled according to John 19:37; it does not await a future fulfillment:
“36 For these things were done, that the Scripture should be fulfilled, A bone of him shall not be broken. 37 And again another Scripture saith, They shall look on him whom they pierced.” (John 19:36-37)

The phrase “they which pierced Him” refers directly to the men who pierced His side when they crucified Him, especially the chief priests and scribes to whom Jesus was speaking in Matthew 26:64. This verse requires that Christ’s coming in the clouds be fulfilled in the generation which crucified Him. It requires that some of these men should be alive when He “comes with clouds” in order to witness, in the flesh, His appearance or revelation.

The referent Scripture in Zechariah 12:10 foretells that “they shall mourn for him, as one mourns for an only child, and weep bitterly over him, as one weeps over a first-born.”

These are the ones who grieved for the demise of their fleshly kingship and priesthood. The slaughter of the babes of Bethlehem: “Rachel weeping for her children and would not be comforted, for they were not,” marked the end of the fleshly lineage of David’s heirs to the throne. Jesus’ miraculous escape marked Him as the last and only survivor for David’s dynasty, “an only child,” a “first-born.” When He was “pierced,” crucified, those who hoped for the fleshly fulfillment of the promises “mourned for Him as one would mourn for an only Son, and were in bitterness for Him as one that is in bitterness for his Firstborn, (or Heir).”

The people mourned not only their kingship but also their priesthood. The legitimate priesthood, descended from Aaron, had ceased to exist because the office had become merely a political appointment by Rome instead of the God ordained line of succession. The change of person in the pronouns in Zechariah 12:10: “look upon me” and “mourn for him” may indicate that they looked upon Christ, the One Who was pierced, and mourned for David whose dynasty and promises seemed to be ending in defeat.

In one sense of the word, the entire nation participated in and was judged for the crime of their leaders, for the nation ceased to exist as a fleshly nation. In this sense, they were all guilty of having “pierced” Him. Yet, those who would accept His grace were forgiven, even as He prayed for them while on the cross. His shed blood became the genetic blood of the New Israel.
[1] See WS at 1:7: “Coming”.