THOSE WHO DWELL ON THE EARTH (3)

key-of-davidPMT-2016-81 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.

In Revelation we have an interesting phrase that occurs time and again, and which plays an important role in the drama. This is the third in a short series analyzing the phrase and its significance for the redemptive-historical preterist view of Revelation that I hold.

But now let’s continue by beginning to consider the issue directly as we look at:

The “Land-dwellers” in Revelation

Of the twelve appearances of linked with katoikia, four of them quite clearly refer to the Jews in the Land of Israel (3:10; 6:10; 11:10 [2x]), two of them (13:7–8 and 14:6) seem strongly to refer to Israel, and two (17:2, 8) could very well do so. The remaining four references could go either way, but in light of the clearer allusions and John’s using the phrase as a recurring technical designation, they surely designate the same people.

First, the clear allusions. The first clear reference is 3:10. This verse not only offers clear evidence toward the Jew-focused interpretation, but happens to be John’s first use of this recurring technical phrase. It will be helpful to present the phrase in its context:

“And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: He who is holy, who is true, who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, and who shuts and no one opens, says this: I know your deeds. Behold, I have put before you an open door which no one can shut, because you have a little power, and have kept My word, and have not denied My name. Behold, I will cause those of the synagogue of Satan, who say that they are Jews and are not, but lie — I will make them come and bow down at your feet, and make them know that I have loved you. Because you have kept the word of My perseverance, I also will keep you from the hour of testing, that hour which is about to come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth. I am coming quickly; hold fast what you have, so that no one will take your crown.” (3:7–10)


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(by Kenneth Gentry)

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Besides all the previous argument regarding the use of in this highly Hebraic work, I would point out the following supporting evidence. I would introduce the evidence by nothing that this first use of Land-dwellers is set in what is inarguably the most Jewish of the seven oracles. In itself this opens up the strong likelihood that the phrase is itself a Jewish designation.

(1) This oracle opens with Christ’s Messianic declaration that he holds the “key of David” and that he alone can and open and shut the kingdom to men (3:7).

(2) This is one of two oracles that strongly denounces the Jews as composing a “synagogue of Satan” and being false Jews (3:9a; cp. 2:9).

(3) Immediately after this denunciation he promises that he will subjugate these Jews (3:9b) in such a way that they will know that he loves the Christian (3:9c).

(4) He sets the Land-dwellers over against “the whole world” in a synthetic parallelism: “I also will keep you from the hour of testing, that hour which is about to come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth” (3:10b, c). In this regard I would note that “the whole world” is a translation of oikoumenē holēs. This does not require a truly global conflagration. This is the only place in the NT where katoikountēs occurs with oikoumenē holēs. But oikoumenē often means simply the Roman empire, not the whole world and all seven continents. This is true of even global-sounding statements very similar to that in 3:10. For instance, in Mt 24 and Ac 11 we do discover very similar expressions (though lacking any reference to katoikountēs).

Christianitiy and World Religions


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See more study materials: www.KennethGentry.com


In Mt 24:14 we learn that the gospel “shall be preaching in the whole world [en holē tē oikoumenē].” This speaks of the Roman empire as we can see by interpreting it in the light of Col 1:6, 23 (cp. Ro 1:8) and due to its near-term limitation (Mt 24:2, 34). In Ac 11:28b we read of Agabus’ prophecy of a coming “great famine all over the world [holēn tēn oikoumenēn].” The next words after this are: “and this took place in the reign of Claudius” (Ac 11:28c). Thus, Rev 3:10 is speaking of an empire-wide hour of testing (not a global testing) that will especially focus on the Land-dwellers. Furthermore, Land-dweller and “whole world” statements are not synonymous parallels repeating the same fact. Rather they are synthetic parallels with the second one adding to the first statement (Penley 113, 115). Indeed, though the world/Roman empire will be tested in the near future, the ultimate design of “the hour of testing” is to test those who dwell in the Land (as per Rev’s theme, 1:7).

(5) He expressly promises that this will all occur soon: it “is about to come” (3:10b) and it will come “quickly” (3:11a).

(6) All of this love of the saints and the judgment on the Land-dwellers (the false Jews of the synagogue of Satan) will result in the saints’ entry into the new Jerusalem in heaven above (3:12d, e).

(7) As noted previously the Land-dweller language derives from Hos 4:1 (LXX) which is (a) clearly directed against “the Sons of Israel” (Hos 4:1a) and (b) represents a legal “case [ribh] against the inhabitants of the land” (Hos 4:1b). This perfectly matches what is occurring in Rev, which is a forensic drama presenting God’s judgment against Israel.

In the next article I will consider the second point in this regard. Stay tuned.

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