Beale: Revelation—A Word For Today

“In Revelation 1:3 John declares that the one who takes to heart the words of the prophecy will be blessed. The message of Revelation, as it unfolds, is not designed to provide fodder for intellectual speculation about the end times but is rather a series of commands addressed to the present-day lives of all who read it.

Prophecy in the OT generally had two time references: it was a forth telling of God’s word for His people in the present, and a foretelling of events to happen in the future. Revelation maintains these two features of prophecy. Those who read and those who hear and obey its message will be blessed. That the book has an ultimate ethical aim is borne out by the conclusion in 22:6-21, which is an intentional expansion of the prologue in 1:1-3, and especially of the ethical emphasis of 1:3. The prophecy of v.3 is not a set of predictions but, in the biblical tradition, a word from God calling for obedient response in the lives of believers.

The reason those who hear the prophetic words must heed them is now given: for the time is near. Here John echoes the words of Jesus in Mark 1:15, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God at hand,” where “at hand” has the meaning of “about to arrive” or “is now arriving.” The two clauses are parallel: the time Jesus spoke of is now fulfilled and the kingdom has arrived. The connection between for the time is near and quickly in v.1 indicates that in v.3b John is developing further the “inaugurated” latter-day perspective on the OT (especially Daniel 2) which v.1a conveys.

The connection between the two clauses is highlighted by the conclusion of the book, where 1:3a is reiterated in 22:7b (“blessed is he who heeds the words of the prophecy of this book”) and introduced by a repetition of 1:1a in 22:6 (“to show to His bond-servants the things which must shortly take place”). John views the death and resurrection of Christ as inaugurating the long awaited kingdom of the end times that the OT books (such as Daniel) predicted and that will continue to exist throughout the church age. He sees the end-time kingdom of Daniel as having arrived in the person of Jesus Christ.

His prophetic words will speak into the heart of the present, not simply the distant future. To claim to have benefited from Christ’s past redemptive work entails an acknowledgement to submit to Him as Lord in the present.”

-G.K. Beale, Revelation: A Shorter Commentary, 2015, 37-38.

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