OUT OF EGYPT IV:
The Gnostic concept of the “apocalypse” (revelation) emerged in the last few centuries before the common era (CE), which begins about the time of the Christ event. Gnosticism assumed the ultimate obliteration of all Creation and the consequent return of the imprisoned god(s)/qualified human selves from confinement in terrestrial, fallen bodies to an eternal, celestial abode. Contrary to this emerging Gnostic concept of “apocalypse,” the One-and-Only God determined to “reveal” (Gr. apokalupto) the truth of reality.1
Not long after the emergence of ancient Gnosticism, the true God “revealed” himself as fully and finally human.
And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt [tabernacled] among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. — John 1:14.
For in him [Christ] dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. — Colossians 2:9.
Jesus Christ was born in Bethlehem of Judea (Matthew 2:1). He briefly lived in Egypt with his parents, Joseph and Mary (Matthew 2:13-15). They then returned to Israel, where Jesus was raised in the village of Nazareth, a suburb of Sepphoris, the provincial capital of Galilee (Matthew 2:23). As a young man, Jesus probably labored with his father and brothers in helping rebuild Sepphoris, which had been largely destroyed by the Roman general, Varus, during the rebellion of Judas, the son of Hezekiah.2
Later, when Herod Antipas abandoned Sepphoris and created the city of Tiberius on the shore of Lake Galilee (14-18 CE), Jesus probably helped build the northern village of Capernaum (cf. Matthew 4:13-15).3 Building Capernaum was critically important because observant Jews could not enter Tiberius, since its location had been a Jewish cemetery.4 Capernaum thus became the place where the Jews could overlook Tiberius and track its activities.
When Jesus reached adulthood, he went to be baptized in the Jordan by his cousin, John the Baptist (Matthew 3:13-16). Afterward, he resided in the wilderness for 40 days, where he encountered his “alter ego,” Satan (Samael),5 the proverbial scapegoat alleged to have created darkness and evil (cf. Isaiah 45:7; Matthew 4:1-11).6
After his temptations in the wilderness, Jesus recruited disciples and began his ministry, which focused on the reversal of all Gnostic assumptions. He healed the sick, cleansed lepers, cast out demons, fed the hungry, stilled storms, forgave sinners, and raised the dead back to human life.7 In all these “manifestations” Jesus confirmed Creation and humanity as legitimate and unconditional.
Finally, Jesus went to Calvary (Matthew 27:33-50) to terminate the old covenant of command, possession and power, to bear the burden of all evil, and to end his reign as the “old” God, who had created darkness and evil (Isaiah 45:7).8 Approximately 40 hours later Jesus rose bodily from the dead (Matthew 28:1-6) and appeared to his disciples. In this and in repeated appearances, Jesus assured his followers of his irrevocable humanity.
The term apocalypse is derived from the Greek word apokaluptein, which means “to uncover,” “to reveal,” “to disclose.”9 Jesus Christ himself was, is and always will be the true and ultimate Apocalypse. He was and is the Uncovering, the Appearing, the Manifestation, the Revelation of the only true God, of true humanity, and of eternally enduring Creation. The true God was not and is not imprisoned in Creation. Rather, he liberated himself by becoming a part of Creation. The true God determined not to live in eternal isolation, but as he himself declared, “ . . . [L]o, I AM with you alway . . . ” (Matthew 28:20, emphasis supplied).10 Furthermore, the true God emphatically declared that human beings were not his servants but his friends (John 15:15).
Joy to the world! the Lord is come;
Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare Him room,
And heaven and nature sing . . .
Joy to the Earth! the Saviour reigns;
Let men their songs employ;
While fields and floods, rocks, hills, and plains
Repeat the sounding joy . . .
No more let sins and sorrows grow,
Nor thorns infest the ground;
He comes to make His blessings flow
Far as the curse is found . . .
He rules the world with truth and grace,
And makes the nations prove
The glories of His righteousness,
And wonders of His love . . . 11
- See “Other,” at en.wikipedia.org/wiki/other: “The concept that the self requires the Other to define itself is an old one and has been expressed by many writers . . . ” (go back)
- See Emil Schurer, A History of the Jewish People in the Time of Jesus (New York: Schocken Books, 1961), pp. 161, 162. (go back)
- See ibid, p. 168. (go back)
- Herod Antipas undoubtedly abandoned Sepphoris and then located his capital, Tiberius, upon a Jewish cemetery in order to exclude the Sanhedrin, which had alternatively met at Sepphoris for many years before. (go back)
- The Old Testament portrays the One-and-Only God as having opposite aspects — “ego” and “alter ego.” First, God was kind, loving and compassionate, and created all things “good” (e.g., Genesis 1:4). Second, God created “darkness” and “evil,” and also permitted evil to rampantly occur throughout history (Isaiah 45:7). (go back)
- See “The Gospel for the Postmodern World III: The ‘Other Side’ of God,” Outlook (January 2008). (go back)
- See the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. (go back)
- See “‘For Judgment I AM . . . ,’” Outlook (September 2010); cf. “The Gospel for the Postmodern World III: The ‘Other Side’ of God,” Outlook (January 2008); “The Divine Struggle for ‘I’ and ‘Thou’ III: Command,” Outlook (December 2009); “The Divine Struggle for ‘I’ and ‘Thou’ IV: Possession,” Outlook (January 2010); “The Divine Struggle for ‘I’ and ‘Thou’ VI: Empowerment,” Outlook (March 2010). (go back)
- See “Out of Egypt III: Emergence of Gnosticism,” Outlook (March 2011). (go back)
- See “The Divine Struggle for ‘I’ and ‘Thou’ IX: ‘I AM’ with ‘You,’” Outlook (June 2010) (go back)
- Isaac Watts (1719), at en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joy_to_the_World. (go back)