Richard Bauckham is a renowned New Testament scholar, who lives in the United Kingdom.  He wrote a short and compact book over two decades ago called The Theology of the Book of Revelation.  It contains much food for thought regarding how to read and study the last book of the New Testament and the bible.  There are some places where I disagree with Bauckham’s interpretive approach, but I still find his insights enlightening and sharpening.  For his example, his explanation of the Two Witnesses offers depth and encouragement for the end-time church or God’s people in the last days.  After all, the Lord has poured out his Holy Spirit in these last days in order to empower his people, the church, for its prophetic end-time witness and ministry to the nations. Here are Bauckham’s words:

“To be the witnesses who bring the nations to faith in the one true God is the novel role of God’s eschatological people, revealed by the scroll that only the Lamb has been able to open.  If we ask how the prophetic witness of the church is able to have this effect, which that of the Old Testament prophets did not, the answer is no doubt that it derives its power from the victory of the Lamb himself.  His witness had the power of a witness maintained even to the point of death and then vindicated as true witness by his resurrection.  The witness if his followers participates in this power when they too are faithful witnesses even to death.  The symbolic narrative of [Rev.] 11:11-12 means not that the nations have to see the literal resurrection of the Christian martyrs before they are convinced of the truth of their witness, but that they have to perceive the martyrs’ participation in Christ’s triumph over death.  In fact, the way that Christian martyrdom, in the early centuries of the church, impressed and won people to faith in the Christian God, was precisely thus.  The martyrs were effective witnesses to the truth of the Gospel because their faith in Christ’s victory over death was so convincingly evident in the way they faced death and died.”

(Richard Bauckham, “The Two Witnesses,” The Theology of the Book of Revelation, pp 87-88, 1993)

 

The Prophetic Witness of the End Time Church

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