“Every eye will see him” (Rev. 1:7): Isaiah as source of the promise of Christ’s visible return

In common with other New Testament and early Christian texts, Revelation 1:7b emphasizes the visible return of Christ in glory—“every eye will see him”. Commentators on this text either provide no explanation for this emphasis on the universal visibility of Christ’s return (e.g. Osborne 2002; Koester 2014), or explain it as a development from the allusions to Daniel 7:13 and Zechariah 12:10b (e.g. Aune 1997; Beale 1999). Neither of these Old Testament texts, however, employs the verb ὁράω in the Greek translations; nor do they describe the prophesied event as universally visible to human eyes. The present paper, therefore, argues that Revelation 1:7b draws on a series of texts in Isaiah which speak of the LORD God coming in universally visible glory (Isa. 35:2; 40:5; 52:8, 10; 60:2; 66:18) to characterize the Lord Jesus’s return as the final coming of God. The significance of these Isaianic “visible advent” texts for Revelation’s depiction of Jesus’s return does not appear to have been recognised, but is suggested by five complementary lines of argument. (1). Revelation 1:7b shares with all the Isaianic texts (LXX) a future form of the verb ὁράω, with the Lord or his attributes as the object of sight. (2). Revelation 1:7b shares with four of the Isaianic texts indications that the Lord’s advent will be universally visible (Isa. 40:5; 52.10; 60:2; 66:18). (3). Revelation 1:7b shares with three of the Isaianic texts the explicit mention of “eyes” (Isa. 52:8, 10; 60:4). (4). the Synoptic Gospels similarly combine allusions to Daniel 7:13 with future forms of the verb ὁράω and other elements of the biblical “coming of God” tradition to affirm that Jesus’s eschatological return will be universally visible (Matt 24:30 // Mark 13:26 // Luke 21:27; Matt 26:64 // Mark 14:62; cf. Did. 16:8; Justin, 1 Apol. 51). (5). The New Testament elsewhere “Christologizes” the Old Testament promise of God’s advent to present the future return of Jesus as the final “coming of God” (Adams, 2006). The paper concludes that Isaiah’s prophecies of the final coming of the LORD God provide an important source for the New Testament promise that the Lord Jesus will return in universally visible glory.

5 thoughts on ““Every eye will see him” (Rev. 1:7): Isaiah as source of the promise of Christ’s visible return”

  1. Smith, “Every eye will see him” (Rev. 1:7): Isaiah as source
    Proposal is detailed, argument is clear, and the two-testament nature of the project is solid and explores interesting connections.

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