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Podcast: What Is the Mark of the Beast? (Thomas Schreiner)

Podcast: What Is the Mark of the Beast? (Thomas Schreiner)

This text is a part of the The Crossway Podcast sequence.

How Ought to We Interpret the Ebook of Revelation?

On this episode, Thomas Schreiner discusses the e book of Revelation. He displays on the easiest way to method the e book when learning it for the primary time, explains what the mark of the beast is admittedly all about, and affords phrases of counsel and encouragement for pastors hesitant to evangelise by means of Revelation of their church buildings.

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Six skilled Bible academics stroll by means of a few of therichest however more difficult books of the New Testomony, serving to Bible readers perceive what they are saying about Christianshope for the long run.

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Full Transcript

01:25 – Welcome

Matt Tully
Nicely, Tom, thanks a lot for becoming a member of us at the moment on The Crossway Podcast.

Tom Schreiner
Matt, its nice to be with you at the moment.

01:33 – Approaching the Ebook of Revelation

Matt Tully
So I feel if have been all trustworthy most of us Christians would in all probability not know what to do with the e book of Revelation. I feel for many people it feels fairly overwhelming at instances, or complicated, or simply exhausting to essentially get into. So if earlier than somebody have been to start out digging into Revelation for the primary time what would you need that individual to remember?

Tom Schreiner
I feel Id say notice that once you come to Revelation that its going to suit with, its going to cohere with, its going to agree with what you discover in the remainder of the New Testomony. Youre not going to seek out some unusual new doctrines that you simply havent seen anyplace else. So I feel thats useful as a result of I feel some folks assume now have been coming into a world of newly disclosed mysteries. And I dont assume thats what the books about.

02:39 – Key Misconceptions

Matt Tully
Fascinating. So what do you assume are a number of the different key misconceptions that folks typically have in regards to the e book of Revelation?

Tom Schreiner
Thats a tough query to reply, Matt, as a result of folks have so many various . . . theres completely different interpretive methods for decoding the e book. However I feel one key false impression is that what we’ve in Revelation is a prophecy chart that after you learn the e book you’ll be able to form of transfer by means of and you’ve got an overview of what’s going to occur sooner or later. As an alternative, I’d say what we’ve in Revelation is that we’ve recapitulation of the identical occasions instructed from numerous perspectiveswhich Im completely happy to speak extra about. However then perhaps the second misconceptionwhich suits with what I mentioned earlier however I feel its value saying againI assume folks dont count on once they learn Revelation that its going to reaffirm the primary issues we already know within the Christian religion. So I say to my college students, “Look at how central the sovereignty of God is in Revelation. Notice how prominent the cross of Christ is. Consider how believers are called upon to persevere to receive a final reward. See how God wins the ultimate victory over evil.” I imply these are all issues have been taught elsewhere. These are a number of the primary themes in Revelation. So I feel folks come into the e book anticipating one thing so uncommon that typically they dont see that it coheres with what we learn elsewhere.

04:47 – Specializing in the Proper Issues

Matt Tully
Yeah thats so attention-grabbing. I do assume that we frequently view Revelation as this e book centered on the tip of days and these future apocalyptic occasions, which it does discuss that stuff, however I feel youre proper. We form of miss the religious profit that comes from it reaffirming issues that perhaps we already do learn about God.

Tom Schreiner
And also you introduced up one thing that I feel contributes to the confusion and that’s the e book is apocalyptic. Its an apocalyptic style. Apocalyptic has a whole lot of symbolism, we’ve uncommon visions. So I dont need to take away from the the truth that sure, there’s interpretive challenges right here and there are within the e book tough passages. However we will nonetheless deal with the tough that we will miss the mainstream message of the e book.

05:51 – Four Totally different Methods Folks Interpret the Textual content

Matt Tully
So it looks like the historical past of Christian interpretation of the e book of Revelation may be damaged down into 4 broad classes. So the primary class of individuals could be those that assume that the entire occasions recorded within the e book already occurred. So quickly after the e book was in all probability written within the days of the Roman Empire. So thats the primary class. Second class could be those that assume that the e book is talking prophetically about occasions that may occur sooner or later when Jesus returns. And I feel thats in all probability for our listeners at the moment would perhaps be the default manner that we frequently take into consideration the e book of Revelation. After which theres those that assume that the occasions of the e book occur all through church historical past. So it was prophetic on the time it was written, however issues have been occurring all through the historical past of Gods folks since Christ. After which lastly those that assume that the entire e book is kind of simply symbolic and doesnt essentially correspond to actual historic occasions. First, do you assume thats a good breakdown of the broad methods folks have considered Revelation through the years?

Tom Schreiner
Yeah, I feel thats a great abstract.

Matt Tully
After which it looks like every of those views has been standard or promoted by sure teams of peopleChristiansat completely different instances in historical past. Are you able to form of summarize who has been proponents of every of those completely different views?

Tom Schreiner
Yeah. Nicely let me take these one after the other. I imply first comeand you’ll be able to leap in after every one if you’d like toso first lets take that first view that Revelation is principally fulfilled within the first century. Theres actually. . . I imply Im being overly simplistic however lets discuss two sorts of that view. First, there are liberals who maintain that view. By liberals I imply those that dont assume that Scripture is in the end with out err. So theyll say, “Look, John expected Jesus to come soon, the whole book to be fulfilled in the first century. And he got it wrong. Jesus didnt come back, John made a mistake, he thought Jesus would come soon, its obviously not true because two thousand years of passed.” So thats the liberal view. Then theres an Evangelical view which often argues that the e book was written within the 60s and that Jesus returned, he got here quickly within the judgment of Jerusalem when Jerusalem was destroyed in AD 70. So thats a standard view as properly. Now, I dont maintain to both of these views, however I’d say theres a reality on this view. And that’s the reality on this view is sure, this e book was written to folks within the first century, it associated to their lives, and sure it was it was being fulfilledat least in vital waysduring their lifetime. So I feel we will take one thing good out of that view with out embracing it completely.

Matt Tully
Yeah thats attention-grabbing. What would you say about that second view then, that although is that the e book is talking solely about future occasions that may occur when Jesus returns?

Tom Schreiner
Id say one thing comparable right here. We may name that view the “futurist view” the notion that the e book is fulfilled within the futurewhile clearly theres a whole lot of reality in that. Jesus hasnt come again but. He hasnt introduced within the kingdom. Not every little thing prophesied on this e book has come to cross. I feel the weak point of the futurist view is the alternative of the primary view we talked about. It doesnt say sufficient how the e book was fulfilled within the first century and the way it pertains to the historic context.

Matt Tully
Then how in regards to the view that the occasions described in Revelation, or the prophecies there, have been fulfilled all through church historical past?

Tom Schreiner
That view is the view I’ve essentially the most bother with. Only a few interpreters would argue that view at the moment as a result of in the event you see the e book as a prophecy of occasions all through church historical past it turns into very arbitrary, I feel, and often thats particularly emphasised with the seven letters. In order that the primary letter is the early church, began out actually passionate after which it misplaced its past love, after which folks virtually all the time say, “Well, now today were the Laodicean churchwere lukewarm. But the problem with that is those letters werent written to us. Those letters arent actually prophecies. Those letters were written to real cities and Johns talking about whats happening in those cities. So to construe those chapters as a prophecy I think is flawed. I think almost all the readings that read this as, “Oh, this pertains to all of church historical past” are fairly arbitrary. Is there something good about that view? I’d sayI assume it goes overboardbut I attempt to see the nice in each view and I feel theres a grain of reality on this view. The e book pertains to Christians all by means of historical past. So Christians all by means of historical past may learn Revelation and be helped by it and it utilized to them. Thats completely different from saying although that its really a prophecy of whats occurring in say the yr 1000 or the yr 1500, the yr 1700. I discover these readings exhausting to imagine and like I mentioned, hardly anyone argues that anymore.

Matt Tully
Okay. After which that final view then is that the entire e book is admittedly simply symbolic. Its filled with symbolic imagery that basically isnt supposed to correspond to actual historic occasions. What would you say about that view?

Tom Schreiner
I feel to say that it doesnt correspond to actual historic eventsI assume even individuals who say the e book is symbolic would say, “Thats not quite what Im saying.” So, say the beast is an emblem of Rome. So they might say, “Look, the beast is symbolic but its symbolic of something.” So I dont assume anyone says its not symbolic of something that pertains to historical past, however I feel the benefit of this view is that its spared from the form of arbitrary unusual interpretations that some folks provide. Like, let me point out a wild one: when John says in Revelation 12 that “the woman is spared by the two wings of the eagle.” An excessive futurist and I learn mentioned, “Hey, thats the United States Air Force.” When clearly the symbolic view would say, “No. Thats going back to Exodus 19:3 where the Lord delivers his people on eagles wings.” So I feel the symbolic view . . . theres a whole lot of reality in it that we must be cautious about over studying the e book. I suppose the hazard within the symbolic view is in the event you dont join it with something in the actual world. If all you get out of the e book iswhich that is the primary message of the e book, however I feel it says greater than thisGod wins. Devil loses. Gods individuals are rewarded. Sure. Completely. Thats true. I feel everyone would agree that thats what the e book is about. It says a little bit greater than that.

14:26 – How Ought to We Learn the Ebook?

Matt Tully
In order you then take into consideration these 4 views and youve kind of highlighted risks and perhaps some useful emphases that every view would have, the place do you land? How do you form of put all of them collectively? Or how do you concentrate on this query of how we should always learn the e book? How do you form of method the e book personally?

Tom Schreiner
I’d maintain to a mixture view, I feel. We have to learn it in its historic contextthe first view. We have to recognizesecond viewthat all of the prophecies arent fulfilled. Third view: we additionally acknowledge we will apply the message to at the moment at any time. After which fourth view: we do acknowledge that the e book is essentially symbolic. So we’ve to watch out about over-literalizing what its saying. Now we have to watch out about over-reading a connection. Whos most responsible of that? The futurist view. The futurist view tends to over-read the language or the photographs which can be used. And often what it does is it connects it to up to date occasions.

15:46 – Who Is the Beast?

Matt Tully
Nicely, lets leap into that. I feel in all probability one of many prime examples that’s typically very complicated to us or we’ve speculative concepts, perhaps weve seen it represented in standard tradition or in fiction, however is the mark of the beast. So that you already referenced this a little bit bit earlier and I simply need to learn a little bit part from Revelation 13, which is the place we hear this language of the mark of the beast. After which Id like to form of discuss by means of that with you. So Revelation 13 verses one by means of a little bit bit additional on within the chapter, John writes,

And I noticed a beast rising out of the ocean, with ten horns and 7 heads, with ten diadems on its horns and blasphemous names on its heads. And the beast that I noticed was like a leopard; its ft have been like a bears, and its mouth was like a lions mouth. And to it the dragon gave his energy and his throne and nice authority.

After which later John goes on to speak about how

each small and nice, each wealthy and poor, each free and slave, to be marked on the precise hand or the brow, in order that nobody should buy or promote until he has the mark, that’s, the identify of the beast or the variety of its identify. This requires knowledge: let the one who has understanding calculate the variety of the beast, for it’s the variety of a person, and his quantity is 666.

So earlier than we discuss in regards to the mark itself, lets simply discuss that beast. We form of have that vivid description that it appears like this legendary creature, a mixture of a number of animals. Why or who’s it? Youve form of already alluded to this, however simply stroll us by means of the way you perceive the beast.

Tom Schreiner
So the passage you learn, the start of the passage, compares the beast to those numerous animals. And so the primary thingso that is only a key for decoding Revelationis in the event you simply learn that and also you by no means learn every other a part of the Bible you simply assume, “What in the worlds going on? Why was he doing this?” However the important thing to studying Revelation, I’d sayso that is so necessary for usis to not have interaction in what I name “the newspaper eschatology”, which is what lots of people do at the moment. They learn one thing like that in Revelation after which they go to the newspaper they usually attempt to determine what it means. However I feel thats precisely the incorrect manner. The language of the beast that John makes use of those that know their Bibles properly know that hes referring to Daniel chapter 7. And Daniel Chapter 7 talks about these 4 beasts they usually confer with 4 empires beginning with Babylon. After which Mede, and Persian, and Greece, after which Rome. So Daniels speaking about these 4 empires that resist Israel resist the folks of God. Nicely, John picks up that language of the beast from Daniel 7. So there we see proper from the start: Ah! If you already know the Outdated Testomony, John provides a sign to the readers, “When Im talking about “the beast” Im talking about government. Im talking about a governing authority.” This can be a longer argument, however I feel what John is telling us is, “Look, this beast is a combination of all the beasts in Daniel chapter 7. Hes that fourth beast in Daniel chapter 7.” And I’d argue that fourth beast is Rome. However heres our downside, proper? Our downside is most of us dont know the Outdated Testomony that properly and in order that makes Revelation exhausting.

19:55 – What Is the Mark of the Beast?

Matt Tully
So then turning to the mark itself, whats the aim of this mark? So if we all know that the beast then is Rome, whats occurring with this concept of a mark on a forehand or on a hand?

Tom Schreiner
Yeah properly the very first thing Id say is we discover its a method of persecution. Its a method of singling out those that belong to the beast and those that dont. So theres financial discrimination in opposition to those that belong to the Lord. Heres a heres a key query and good folks disagree, however is there a literal mark? And I’d argue theres not. Now, I might be incorrect on that. Nicely see if sooner or later theres a mark. However I feel he alludes to Ezekiel chapter 9 the place theres a mark placed on those that belong to God after which theres those that have been depraved. So I dont assume we should interpret such marks actually due to his Ezekiel chapter 9. And so its only a manner of signaling those that belong to God and those that dont.

21:30 – Historical past of Interpretation

Matt Tully
In order we take into consideration church historical past and the historical past of interpretation of this concept of the mark of the beast what are a number of the concepts that folks have had about what this mark could be if it was a literal mark?

Tom Schreiner
Nicely, no matter whether or not its a literal mark or not the preferred interpretation in crucial scholarship is that John is referring to the Emperor Nero who was the emperor in Rome from A.D. 54 to A.D. 68. And Nero began out good however he ended up being a really depraved merciless ember and when the fireplace of Rome got here he began to persecute Christians. After Nero died there was a fantastic concern that he was going to return again and wreak every kind of havoc on Rome. So many individuals assume that John is selecting up that concept that Nero goes to return. So early on, a minimum of by way of crucial scholarship, thats essentially the most the almost certainly view. In poor health have extra to say about that. However then all through historical past folks have tried to determine who this beast is by way of a selected particular person. And I cant even keep in mind all of the names which were prompt, however you already know in our personal dayI imply Im Im olderIve heard John F. Kennedy, and Henry Kissinger, and I imply so many individuals. You realize its form of attention-grabbing that even Reagan, proper? Reagans identify, Ronald Wilson Reagan. Every identify has six letters.

23:38 – What’s 666?

Matt Tully
Nicely thats the attention-grabbing factor about that is it does appear to be theres Christians have oftentimes actually gotten into making an attempt to tease out virtually like a hidden that means behind a few of these issues. And a whole lot of that has to do even with that numberthat traditional quantity 6 6 6which I feel culturally talking at the moment form of has taken by itself even creepy significance even exterior of the church. And so may you stroll us by means of whats occurring with that quantity?

Tom Schreiner
Yeah. Nicely to begin with, I need to say thats precisely proper. I keep in mind after I was in a restaurant and the change was 6-6-6six {dollars} and sixty six centsand the waitress was freaked out about that. And I simply wished to chuckle. I imply its only a quantity. You realize theres nothing to fret about. Weren’t superstitious. Its OK in case your change is six {dollars} and sixty six cents. However the best way I interpret the numberand different interpreters interpret it this fashion as wellnumbers in apocalyptic literature are sometimes symbolic. So in in Revelation the quantity seven is the variety of perfection. Theres seven spirits, which I feel refers back to the Holy Spirit. And theres not seven holy spirits, however the quantity is symbolic of the perfection and fullness of who the Spirit is. So if seven is the right quantity, then I’d argue that he makes use of the quantity 6-6-6 to face for that which is evil and that which is against God. So I dont perceive the six-six-six to confer with a selected individualtrying to discern the identify of a selected one that suits that quantity. As an alternative I feel John is saying this beast shouldn’t be 7-7-7. It doesnt signify goodness and wonder and reality, however its 6-6-6. It represents that which is evil, that which is against God. So you already know, thats a tough matter. Perhaps Im incorrect on that. As I already mentioned, many assume its referring the Nero. It might be a selected particular person, however I lean within the different path.

26:07 – What Does the Quantity Seven Imply?

Matt Tully

So why is it that 7-7-7, or the quantity seven itself I suppose, has these connotations of perfection, of representing God, the place does that come from?

Tom Schreiner
I feel it comes from the Outdated Testomony itself. It has the thought of completeness. The Lord created the world in seven days. So you already know, it begins from the beginning. After which in Israels calendar: its a seven day week isnt it? Which concludes with the Sabbath. After which you’ve gotten sabbatical years. And as we undergo the Outdated Testomony theres every kind of references to those completely different feasts like tabernacles lasting seven days. So I feel these are a literal seven days within the Outdated Testomony, however I feel this language prepares us for the thought in Revelationwhich is an apocalyptic bookthat the quantity seven is is symbolic. So Im not, simply to ensure I’m understood, Im not arguing that in every single place within the Bible the quantity seven happens is symbolic. Im arguing that John picks up the quantity seven within the e book of Revelation and he implies it symbolically as a result of its apocalyptic.

27:36 – Recommendation for Pastors

Matt Tully
I feel many pastors may be considerably intimidated by the thought of preaching by means of the e book of Revelation. I feel typically it in all probability simply appears so tough interpretively. And in addition simply fraught with controversy and perhaps on prime of that theres even the sneaking suspicion that the religious advantage of preaching by means of the e book simply wouldnt be there, particularly in comparison with different books the place they only appear extra related to our on a regular basis lives, less difficult to use, perhaps talking extra to a number of the key doctrines of the religion slightly than simply stuff sooner or later. So I suppose my query is two-fold: how would you reply to that feeling {that a} pastor may need, after which what recommendation would you provide to a pastor who was going to aim to evangelise by means of the e book?

Tom Schreiner
First, I perceive that it may appear daunting. Secondly, I need to say I feel Revelation is such a vital e book to evangelise. So I simply need to give some examples. In chapter 1 its a fantastic passage on Do you concern the long run? Do you concern demise? Jesus holds the long run in his palms. Do you concern what the federal government would possibly do to you? Hes the ruler or the kings of the earth. Hes the one who has the keys of demise and Hades. I imply, everybody has to think about deathwhats their final future? And chapter 4: God is the Creator. Who who guidelines the world? Is our life spinning uncontrolled? So additionally once we consider the e book as a complete we see increasingly more that society is against the Christian religion. Nicely thats what Revelation is all about. What will we do when society is popping in opposition to Christianity? And Revelation says heres what have been referred to as to do: have been referred to as upon to persevere. And secondly, we ought to not be stunned that theres a fantastic battle occurring between Devil and God. After all, God will win. However we perceive have been within the battle. And one other factor is Revelation over and over says how can we’ve assurance that we belong to God. In chapter 1, in chapter 5, in chapter 7, chapter 12, he says we may be assured, we will have faith, we will have hope, our responsible conscience may be assuaged due to the cross of Christ. So Im going to say the cross is central to this e book. After which Revelation warns us in chapter 17 and 18 in regards to the risks of unbridled materialismI imply thats a related messageand throwing your lot in with the world, loving the issues of the world slightly than the issues of God. After which Revelation reminds us there’s a ultimate judgment. Thats necessary to know. Life on Earth doesnt final eternally. Whats going to occur to those that do evil? And does it matter? Does it matter that we do whats good? Are we simply frittering our lives away and theres no that means in life? No. Theres a that means. Theres a brand new heaven and a brand new earth coming. Theres a tremendous an unmatched pleasure earlier than us. And theres a judgment and hell for many who reject. Theres greater than I may say, however I feel its a fantastic and thrilling e book to evangelise. I preached by means of it myself and our congregationand not as a result of it was me, however simply due to the messageI assume they beloved it.

31:34 – Avoiding Pitfalls

Matt Tully
Thats encouraging. Hopefully that may be an encouragement to pastors listening who . . . there may be the belief that they and even their congregations would have in regards to the e book, however thats good to listen to theres extra to it than what we frequently assume. Virtually talking, what would you say are a number of the greatest pitfalls that pastors would need to keep away from when planning to evangelise, perhaps planning out the sequence, really doing the sermon prep, after which really delivering the messagesdo you’ve gotten any sensible recommendation for avoiding pitfalls?

Tom Schreiner
Sure. I’d say dont do too many messages. I feel theres a hazard of spending too lengthy within the e book. Perhaps you can do a shorter sequence however, Id say 20 to 25 messages Id suggest. You will get slowed down in a e book and form of lose the place youre going. So I feel thats a really manageable factor. You should definitely hold the massive image in thoughts. We all the time must be reminded this as pastors: have been to clarify the textual content properly, however alsomaybe Im chatting with myself herelets not get a lot within the rationalization that we dont overlook software. Every time we preach a textual content, particularly Revelation, we have to all the time be mindful as preachers What does this say to folks at the moment? Whats the message for our congregation proper now, my congregation proper now? What’s the Lord saying to us? After which fourthly, simply admit on some passages, “I dont know. Heres my best shot”. Perhaps thats not proper. I feel its good to speak to the congregation, “I dont have all the answers. We dont have to have all the answers. I know what this book is mainly about, but I dont know what every detail is about and good people disagree.”

33:46 – Closing

Matt Tully
Nicely, Dr. Schreiner, thanks a lot for spending a while speaking with us at the moment, sharing a little bit bit extra in regards to the e book of Revelation, and the actual gems that it comprises for us. Respect you taking the time.

Tom Schreiner
Matt, I totally loved this dialog. Thanks a lot.


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