Revelation


Seven Trumpets of Revelation 8

Seven Trumpets of Revelation 8

Revelation 8 describes seven trumpets that were blown by seven angels as part of the judgment of earth’s inhabitants. What were trumpets like in the 1st century AD, and how would John’s audience have envisioned his description? During the time of the Hebrew Bible, the typical “trumpet” (Heb. shofar) was a hollowed out animal horn, often from a sheep or goat. The shofar is still used by Jews today in some contexts. However, this is not the kind of trumpet with which most of John’s audience would have been familiar. Instead, the......


Roman Eye Salve

Roman Eye Salve

In Revelation 3:18, God advises the church in Laodicea to purchase eye salve from him, “so that you may see.” In the context this is clearly a metaphor for gaining spiritual sight and  avoiding spiritual blindness, but the metaphor is based off of a well-known Roman practice. A good deal is actually known about Roman “eye salve” (κολλούριον). It is attested in numerous written sources, and a surprising amount is also known from archaeology. One of the interesting aspects of Roman eye salve is that it was mixed as a paste, then......


Where are all the Roman seal impressions?

Where are all the Roman seal impressions?

In Revelation 5-8, John describes a scroll in heaven that is sealed with seven seals, each of which is broken in turn. One would assume this imagery was based on current practice, yet almost no Roman-era seal impressions from a scroll or other document have been found. Why not? There are plenty of literary references to the practice of sealing or unsealing various things, including documents. Among those in the NT: Matthew 27:66 – a seal was set on the stone blocking the tomb of Jesus; Eph 1:13, 4:30 – followers of......


"Hot or Cold" at Laodicea

“Hot or Cold” at Laodicea

A common myth regarding Laodicea has to do with Jesus’s statement to the church there, “I wish that you were hot or cold; because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth” (Rev 3:15-16). The misconception is that this figure of speech is based on water supplied to Laodicea from the hot springs at Hierapolis and the cold springs at Colossae. The Romans mastered the construction of aqueducts to bring large amounts of water to cities, but water was never brought to Laodicea from......


Daniel on Resurrection

Daniel on Resurrection

The references to resurrection in the Old Testament are not many. In fact, they are few enough that in Jesus’s day the topic was hotly debated between Jewish factions. The Pharisees believed in the resurrection of the dead, while the Sadducees denied it (Acts 23:8), which is why they were sad, you see. The issue should have been settled by the prophet Daniel, for he plainly says that both the righteous and the wicked will be resurrected. “And many of those who sleep in the dust of the ground will awake, these......


John on the Island of Patmos

John on the Island of Patmos

John wrote the letter of Revelation from the island of Patmos (Rev 1:9). The island of Patmos is about 60 miles from the ancient city of Ephesus. Both are visible on this Google Earth image. The island of Patmos covers about 13 square miles and is home to a couple of modern villages. The two largest are Skala and Chora. Already by the 3rd century BC the island had an acropolis with defensive walls and towers. Little else is known about John’s stay on Patmos. Tradition holds that John was banished to......