Some More Eschatology: Why I Don't Usually Read G. K. Beale on Revelation

There is a reason why I normally put down G. K. Beale’s commentary on Revelation, and deal with other points of doctrine; because he argues his exegetical points with too much compelling force, in very alluring and persuasive ways. I am currently re-reading his voluminous section (all his sections are voluminous) on Revelation 20:1-15; in particular I am reading about allusions to Ezekiel 38 — 39 in 19:17-21 and 20:8-10. His argument (and the amil argument in general) is that 20:8-10 recapitulates 19:17-21. Both of these pericopes refer back to the battle of Gog and Magog found in Ez. 38 — 39. Beale infers that just as Ez. 39 recaptiulates the same battle in Ez. 38, that John the revelator follows this convention of recapitulation with Rev. 20:8-10 recapitulating (or restating) Rev. 19:17-21. If this is the case, then the premillennial contention that we should read this section (from Rev. 19 into 20 in particular) temporally sequentially is untenable; and thus we should read it thematically and synchronously in line with the amil argument. Beale argues that it makes no sense to read this linear/temporally-sequentially since then we end up with two battles of Gog and Magog (one in 19:17-21 and the other in 20:8-10) [he deals with apparently fanciful conceptions of how to understand this apparent conundrum provided by the premil exegetes — they do seem somewhat pressed]. There is much more to Beale’s argument (that is quite substantial), but I just wanted to draw our attention to a couple more points that have stood out to me as I’ve been re-working this section of his commentary. Here Beale notes an interesting pattern and parallel that emerges between Revelation 20 — 22 and Ezekiel 37 — 48:

[F]inally, that John has in mind a specific prophecy-fulfillment connection in Ezekiel 38 — 39 is borne out by the broader context of Revelation 20 — 21, where a fourfold ending of the book reflects the ending of Ezekiel 37 — 48: resurrection of God’s people (Rev. 20:4b; Ezek. 37:1-14), messianic kingdom (Rev. 20:4b-6; Ezek. 37:15-28), final battle against Gog and Magog (Rev. 20:7-10; Ezek. 38 — 39), and final vision of the new temple and new Jerusalem, described as a restored Eden and sitting on an exceedingly high mountain (21:1 — 22:5; Ezek. 40 — 48). [G. K. Beale, “The Book of Revelation, NIGTC,” 977]

And then an interesting (rough) chiastic structure found in the last section of the book, chapters 17 — 22; note:

A judgment of the harlot (17:1 — 19:6)

B the divine Judge (19:11-16)

C judgment of the beast and the false prophet (19:17-21; cf. Ezekiel 39)

D Satan imprisoned for 1,000 years (20:1-3)

D’ the saints reign/judge for 1,000 years (20:4-6)

C’ the judgment of Gog and Magog (20:7-10; cf. Ezekiel 38 — 39)

B’ the divine Judge (20:11-15)

A’ vindication of the bride (21:1 — 22:5; cf. 19:7-9) [pg. 983]

The point of all this being, of course, if that it can be proven that Rev. 20 recapitulates chptr. 19; then the temporal-sequential ordering that premils must have crashes down like a house of cards. The question, is, of course, which interpretive schema is going to provide the greatest explanatory power with the least amount of inovation in answering the problems (one of those problems being how do we relate two references to the battle of Gog and Magog? One found in chptr. 19 and then chptr. 20. — does premil temporal sequentiation provide for the least cumbersome response, or does the amil thematic/symbolic approach answer that conundrum with more ease)?  Thus far, and this is why I dislike reading Beale, his case is very solid. I have Robert Mounce’s standard premil exegetical commentary on Revelation at hand as well. I have also read his exegesis on this section (Rev. 19 — 20) in the past. I will have to reread his argument some time tomorrow (maybe I’ll offer a post on that as well).

Maybe you can think of some questions or objections to Beale’s points in the comment section here. I have not yet completed his analysis of chapter 20, in toto, yet; but I have already read enough to know that Beale has strong answers, exegetical answers for every objection that can be proffered. It is dangerous for me to be doing this right now, but I like danger 😉 .

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