“The Groupings of Mankind in the Apocalypse: A Study in Eschatological Anthropology”

ETS: National Meeting Paper Proposal
November 14-16, 2023

“The Groupings of Mankind in the Apocalypse:
A Study in Eschatological Anthropology”

A. Boyd Luter, PhD
The King’s University/Seminary

Five passages in Revelation (5:9; 7:9; 11:9; 13:7; 14:6) include the same four descriptors of portions of mankind (“tribe,” “language,” “people,” “nation”), none of which have the four terms in the same order. Also, there are two more passages which contain three of the four terms (“language,” “people,” “nations”), but substitute one term—which is different in each of the two cases. Revelation 10:11 has “kings.” Revelation 17:15 has “multitudes.”
Though these phenomena are well recognized by students of the Book of Revelation, there is no consensus as to their individual significance, much less how these seven passages work—or fit—together. The purpose of this paper is to suggest a way forward: understanding these seven passages as an example of spread parallelism in the Apocalypse, which greatly clarifie the relationship and meaning of the passages individually and collectively. In addition, a suggestion will be made regarding the possible earlier scriptural origins for the four major terms for mankind: the verse immediately following the “Son of Man” prophecy in Daniel 7:14 and the wording about the scope of the Great Commission in Matthew 28:19.
The following is a chart depicting the parallelism of these seven passages:

a (Rev 5:9) “Every tribe and language and people and nation” (for whom Christ died)
b (Re 7:9) “Every nation, tribe, people, and language” (the innumerable multitude taken to heaven)
c (Rev 10:11) “Many peoples, nations, languages, and kings” (those who are the subjects of John’s bittersweet prophecy)
d (Rev 11:9) “Those from peoples, tribes, languages, and nations” (whom would soon be saved [11:13; see the “eternal gospel” in 14:6-7])
a’ (Rev 13:7) “Every tribe, people, language, and nation” (over whom the beast has been given authority)
b’ (Rev 14:6) “Every nation, tribe, language, and people” (those who hear the eternal gospel [“fear God and glorify him” [14:7] = final preaching of the gospel [see Matt 24:14])
c’ (Rev 17:15) “Peoples, multitudes, nations, and languages” (those who are dominated by the Prostitute/great city [17:18; “Babylon the Great” in Rev 18])

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