Fallen: The Fate of the Mega-Whore

(This paper is published here as a theological reference for the pastor, teacher, student, scholar, and every thoughtful believer.)
The fall of Babylon is located in the section depicting the pouring of the seventh bowl in the second vision of John. From a literary angle, the first vision includes Christ and the seven churches (1:9-3:22);1 and the second, the heavenly throne, scroll, trumpets, and bowls, and the temple, dragon, woman, and two beasts (4:1-16:21). The third vision contains details of Babylon, the beast, ten kings, and the final messianic victory and consummation (17:1-21:8). The fourth includes the new Jerusalem (21:8-22:5). The seventh bowl includes a proclamation of the fall of Babylon with a great earthquake and a plague of hailstones (16:19). John introduced Babylon in 14:8 and 16:19, and now singles out this image in chapters 17-18, describing it in detail as an important aspect of the coming of the end.

This essay shall identify the distinctive characteristics of Babylon, examine the basis for her condemnation, and probe prophetic statements of her destruction, by analyzing apocalyptic imagery, OT motifs, and descriptive clues in chapters 17-18. I will then draw theological implications based on exegesis of the relevant texts, within a qualified present/future interpretive framework. . . . more

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Revelation: A Survey of Interpretive Frameworks

(This paper is published here as a theological reference for the pastor, teacher, seminary student, scholar, and every thoughtful believer.)

The book of Revelation is not an easy read. But such difficulty is no excuse for not studying this fascinating final book of the NT. There is a reason why the Spirit has chosen to give us a revelation of Christ in such apocalyptic imagery and prophetic utterance found in no other book in history. Revelation is full of apocalyptic accounts. It is a prophecy. It is pastoral, laying down his concerns for all believers. Like an epistle, John addresses it to the seven first century churches in Asia.

Revelation has been interpreted in different ways throughout church history. In this essay, I will map a survey and critique of each of the five main interpretative frameworks for reading Revelation. Each approach largely depends on a starting assumption of the genre of Revelation, whether predominantly apocalyptic or principally prophetic. . . . more

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Revelation: A Theology of Christ in Outline Form

(This paper is published here as a theological reference for the pastor, teacher, seminary student, scholar, and every thoughtful believer.)
In Revelation, John presents the glorified Christ. A theology of Christ in Revelation can be outlined as follows.

1. He is the Historical Jesus and the Historical Christ
a. Called Jesus and Christ (1:9, 11:15; 12:10, 17, 14:12; 20:4, 6)
b. An Israelite—Lion of the tribe of Judah and Root of David (5:5-7)
c. Has twelve apostles (21:14)
d. Slain (11:8)
e. Resurrected (1:5, 18)
f. Ascended (3:21; 12:5) . . . more

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Disclaimer: I’ve tried to give credit to whom credit is due.  If there is any original thought or reference which I failed to footnote, please call my attention.  Once validated, it will be corrected immediately.
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Revelation: Setting, Purpose, Probable Date, and Significance

(This paper is published here as a theological reference for the pastor, teacher, seminary student, scholar, and every thoughtful believer.)

Other than the genre, the historical setting of a book such as Revelation is an essential interpretive key to understanding it and its significance for churches today. It is important to realize that the book was not written to us primarily, in our own situation, and in our own time. While addressed to historical churches however, Revelation also points to future events beyond their own time (2:5, 16, 21; 3:3, 19).1 Hence, we must begin with the “then,” before we can ascertain its message for the “now,” and the “later.” The historical situation of Revelation may give clues to its purpose and design and date of writing. In the following, I will briefly trace the historical conditions of Revelation through both external and internal evidence, sketch its persuasive intent, argue for a probable date, and propose its implications for us today. . . . more

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Disclaimer: I’ve tried to give credit to whom credit is due.  If there is any original thought or reference which I failed to footnote, please call my attention.  Once validated, it will be corrected immediately.
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The Fulfillment of the Law by the Spirit: Tracing Paul’s Eschatological Thought in Rom. 8:1-11

(This paper is published here as a theological reference for the pastor, teacher, seminary student, scholar, and every thoughtful believer.)
Paul has established that the law produced paradoxical results—powerlessness to destroy sin but also increasing power of sin (5:20). Salvation therefore is not to be found in the law, for with the law came only the knowledge and power of sin. Where sin increased in death, however, grace increased much more, which is found only in therighteousness of Christ. Salvation then is found in union with Christ, in His death and resurrection (6:4). Having died to the law through Christ, believers now serve the law no longer, but “the new life of the Spirit” (7:4, 6). It is at this point that Paul introduces the eschatological gift of the Spirit in fulfilling the requirements of the law. The gift of the Spirit of Christ signaled the new era of deliverance from the power of sin. Paul builds on the role of the Spirit in breaking that power, using the nouns, pneumatos and pneuma, “spirit,” seventeen times in Rom. 8 alone, while using them only seven times throughout the letter. While Christ’s death on the cross provided the basis for fulfilling the law’s requirement (8:1-4), the gift of the Spirit transferred believers into a new epochal reality—the realm of the Spirit, that the righteous requirements of the law might be fulfilled in them (8:5-11) . . . . more
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The Future in the Present: The Eschatological Character of Justification in Romans

(This paper is published here as a theological reference for the pastor, teacher, seminary student, scholar, and every thoughtful believer.)

It was E. Kasemann who first set afire contemporary conversations on justification with a short lecture on “The New Testament Today,” at the Oxford Congress in September 14, 1961. For Kasemann, justification and its related term, righteousness, are set in an eschatological context: “dikaiosone theou is for Paul God’s sovereignty over the world revealing itself eschatologically in Jesus.”1 The righteousness of God that we receive by faith is “already present,” yet its “ultimate realization is lying still in the future” (in today’s refrain, “already but not yet”), in what Kasemann calls, Paul’s “double eschatology.”2 A. Oepke has noted that the revelation of the righteousness of God is “an eschatological event.”3 H. Ridderbos cites 1:17 and 3:21 as indicative of the eschatological character of Paul’s view of justification.4 Following Oepke and H. D.Wendland, Ridderbos concludes that Paul’s doctrine of justification is “a definite interpretation and application of his eschatology.”  . .  more

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Disclaimer: I’ve tried to give credit to whom credit is due.  If there is any original thought or reference which I failed to footnote, please call my attention.  Once validated, it will be corrected immediately.
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Who Do People Say That I Am: Jesus as Prophet in Luke

(This paper is published here as a theological reference for the pastor, teacher, seminary student, scholar, and every thoughtful believer.)

Scholars generally affirm the prophetic role of Jesus in Luke. However, whether Jesus is
the eschatological prophet is still subject to debate. How did Jesus’ words and actions fulfill the Jewish expectation of an eschatological prophet? If he is the final prophet, how did he discharge that role? What was his prophetic message? The question is not whether Jesus was prophet or messiah, but how Jesus was the eschatological prophetic messiah. To address this question, I will attempt to show how Luke portrays Jesus’ prophetic role, which links inseparably with his overriding messianic function. Our task is to study functionally, exegetically, and theologically those words, actions, and OT allusions that demonstrate Jesus as prophet.1 By this approach, we could then see a clearer picture of Jesus as prophet in Luke. In what follows, I will first draw out features of the eschatological prophet of Jewish hope and then compare the trajectories of second temple apocalyptic and the third gospel. . . . more

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The Wright Reading of the Historical Jesus

(This paper is published here as a theological reference for the pastor, teacher, seminary student, scholar, and every thoughtful believer.)

Nicholas Thomas “Tom” Wright is probably the most prolific, if not the most controversial, leading NT scholar in the field today. His massive volume, Jesus and the Victory of God, the second in the anticipated magisterial six-volume series on NT theology entitled, Christian Origins and the Question of God, is already a portent of voluminous things to come. Volume One, The New Testament and the People of God, laid out much of the methodology that underlies volume two. In what follows, I will present Wright’s hypothesis (volume two) and historiographical method of critical realism (volume one), which tests the premise that Jesus came as a prophet pronouncing the restoration of Israel from exile. My aim in this essay is to assess Wright’s theological and historical scheme in his quest for the historical Jesus. . . . more

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The Challenge of Meaning

(This paper is published here as a theological reference for the pastor, teacher, seminary student, scholar, and every thoughtful believer.)

I have observed recently that whenever I read a theological book, I get drowsy. Is it the author whose writing style I may not fancy, and who assumes a referent that I am woefully unfamiliar? There are some authors that make me fall asleep and others that awake me. Is it the text that is filled with verbosity and laden with words that I am unaware? Or is it me, the reader, who prefers one author over another, or who is just sleepy because of the weather? It is in this conundrum that makes meaning seem indefinable, while posing a challenge to capture it in definitive ways. In what follows, I attempt to do so, showing that meaning is gained by the reader’s grasping of authorial intent through the mediate agency of the text, while the reader gets alongside the world of the text. . . . more

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Disclaimer: I’ve tried to give credit to whom credit is due.  If there is any original thought or reference which I failed to footnote, please call my attention.  Once validated, it will be corrected immediately.
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One Thing You Lack: The Radical Demand to Sell All to Enter the Kingdom in Luke 18:18-30

(This paper is published here as a theological reference for the pastor, teacher, seminary student, scholar, and every thoughtful believer.)

In Luke’s story of the rich ruler is found a more intriguing, perplexing, and difficult requirement of Jesus to enter the kingdom of God, especially for the rich. A certain rich ruler draws near to Jesus and begins the conversation with the question, “What must I do to inherit eternal life” (Lk. 18:18).1 Jesus answers by telling the ruler to obey the second part of the Law, which speaks of concern towards other people (Lk. 18:20). The rich ruler replies that he has kept the commandments from his youth. Jesus responds, “One thing you still lack. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me” (Lk. 18:22). Why does Jesus require the rich ruler to sell all his possessions and give it to the poor? Is it a universal requirement for entering the kingdom or for committed discipleship? How does Luke interpret this detail? What is the Lukan emphasis concerning wealth in relation to the kingdom in this pericope (Lk. 18:18-30)? . . . . more

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Disclaimer:  I’ve tried to give credit to whom credit is due.  If there is any original thought or reference which I failed to footnote, please call my attention.  Once validated, it will be corrected immediately.
Plagiarists will be shot!