Gregory Boyd on the Book of Revelation

‘As for the Jesus of the book of Revelation, I became convinced about six years ago – and I’m even more convinced today – by the increasing wealth of scholarship that demonstrates that John appropriates violent symbols from the OT and from the violent apocalyptic literature of his day in order to subvert it. So, for example, Jesus is depicted as the mighty lion of Judah, but John immediately identifies him as, and later depicts him fighting as, a little slaughtered lamb (Rev 5:5-14). So too, John depicts Jesus slaying people with a sword, but it’s the sword of truth that comes out of his mouth, and it destroys lies (Rev 1: 16; 2:12, 16; 19:21; 19:15, 21). And in what looks like the most violent chapter of this book, and possibly of the whole Bible – Revelations 19 – John depicts Jesus using the standard imagery of a mighty warrior is drenched in the blood of the enemies he’s slain (Jn 19:13). Except in the case of Jesus, John depicts him as soaked in blood before he ever goes into battle, because as John reiterates throughout this book, the way this warrior fights is not by shedding the blood of others, but by allowing his own blood to be shed.

In any event, I have been persuaded by this growing list of scholars that Revelation is a violently anti-violent war scroll. That is, it encourages followers of the lamb to wage aggressive war against the principalities and powers as well as against the surrounding culture of Babylon (= all governmental systems under Satan’s reign, which means, all governmental systems). But they are to wage this aggressive war by following the example of Jesus and choosing to die rather than kill. Jesus’ warriors “follow the lamb wherever he goes” (Rev. 14:14) and overcome by “the blood of the lamb and the word of their testimony” (Rev. 12:11)).’

source: Gregory Boyd, “A Cruciform Magic Eye” (reknew).


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