Season of Fulfillment – Revelation Interprets Daniel

SynopsisThe prophecies of Daniel find their fulfillment in the Book of Revelation, beginning in the first century A.D.

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The Book of Revelation uses passages from the Hebrew Bible more frequently than any other book in the New Testament, especially from the Book of Daniel. But it does so allusively, never employing direct citations. Instead, John folds phrases from key texts recorded in Daniel into his narrative, often modifying them to make a point.

The opening paragraph of Revelation provides two examples of how John applies verbal allusions to Old Testament passages to his day and to the seven churches. When doing so, it uses the Greek Septuagint version of the Old Testament. Several phrases from Daniel occur more than once (e.g., Daniel 2:8 in Revelation 1:1, 4:1, 22:5):

(Daniel 2:28 [Septuagint]) – “There is a God in heaven that reveals mysteries and he has made known to the king Nebuchadnezzar what things must come to pass in later days.”

(Daniel 12:4 [Septuagint]) – “Daniel, shut up the words and seal the book, even to the season of the end.”

(Revelation 1:1-3) – “The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to make known to his servants what things must shortly come to pass…Blessed is he that reads and they that hear the words of the prophecy and keep the things that are written therein, for the season is at hand.”

(Revelation 22:10) – “And he saith unto me, Seal not up the words of the prophecy of this book; for the season is at hand.”

The first example occurs when John is informed by the “angel” that he has been given a “revelation” (apokalupsis) to make known to God’s servants “what things must come to pass soon.” The phrase in Greek reads, ha dei genesthai en takei. The clause, en tachei, denotes “with speed, quickly, soon” (Acts 12:7, 22:18, 25:4, Romans 16:20).

The source for the allusion is Daniel 2:28 (Septuagint), which reads, “there is a God in heaven that reveals (apokaluptōn) mysteries, and makes known to the king Nebuchadnezzar what things must come to pass in later days (ha dei genesthai ep’ eschatōn tōn hémerōn).” The Book of Revelation modifies the original phrase from Daniel by changing “later days” to “soon.” That is, what was once expected in a remote future is now at hand.

The second example occurs when John is informed that the “season is at hand” (Revelation 1:3). “Season” translates the Greek noun kairos or “season, opportune time.” “At hand” represents the Greek term engus (Strong’s #1451) or “near.” It stresses proximity and imminence (e.g., Romans 13:12, 1 Peter 4:7).

The source for the second example is Daniel 12:4: “Daniel, shut up the words and seal the book, until the season of the consummation.” In the Greek Septuagint version, the term “season” or kairos is used, the same word found in Revelation 1:3.

Thus, Daniel was commanded to “seal” the book until the season of the end. In contrast, the Book of Revelation declares the promised “season” is at hand, if not already underway; the time of fulfillment had commenced.

In Revelation 22:10, unlike the Prophet Daniel, John is told NOT to “seal up the words of the prophecy of the book,” precisely because “the season is at hand,” the latter repeating the clause found previously. In other words, from the perspective of John, the promised season had arrived (Revelation 1:3, Revelation 22:10).

Theologically, John is not breaking new ground. Though counterintuitive, the early church claimed the predicted “last days” began with the Death and Resurrection of Jesus. That radical change in eras was evidenced by the resurrection of Jesus and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on all believers, Jews and Gentiles alike (e.g., Acts 2:16-21, Ephesians 1:10, Hebrews 1:1-3).

What was once a distant expectation was set in motion by the Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. This means the contents of Revelation were relevant to the first-century churches of Asia. This does not mean its visions were fulfilled completely at that time; however, the future events portrayed in them have been underway ever since. The vision that John received on the isle of Patmos concerned far more than history’s final few years.

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