1. In revelation God Himself takes the initiative in bridging the gap bet. Himself and His creatures; for He is a hidden God (Is 45:15). In disclosing Himself to men in ways of judgment and grace, God always remains both subject and object of revelation. The knowledge that God grants is unified as regards its object but variable in the matter of means.
2. There is a revelation of God in nature (Ro 1:1920); but there is a difference from other ancient religions in this, that in Scripture nature is only the garment, not the body, of God. The revelation of God in nature is part of gen. revelation, whose evidence is also found in man's capacity, e.g., for soc. institutions, pol. order, artistic creation.
3. Scripture is more concerned with special revelation, which takes place in various ways, e.g., in a theophany,* as when God appeared personally to Abraham and Lot (Gn 1819). In gen., such direct assocs. with God are reserved for persons esp. chosen to this end (e.g., Moses; other prophets).
4. A dream can also be a medium of revelation (Gn 20:3; 28:12; 41:140; 46:2). Prophets criticized the illusory character of this kind of revelation when claimed by lying prophets (Jer 23:2532; 27:9; Zch 10:2).
6. God's name constitutes a revelation (Ex 3:14; Is 30:27).
7. God reveals Himself most completely and precisely in the Word* of God. That Word is, above all, God's Son (the incarnate Word; Jn 1:114). The Word may also take the form of the spoken or written Word (Jn 20:31; 1 Co 2:13).
a. The most ancient laws are known as words. The preamble to the 10 Commandments (Ex 20:12) recalls God's revelation to Moses and God's deliverance of His people. The laws of the holiness code (Lv 1726; see also Law Codes, 2) are motivated, e.g., Lv 19:32, 34, 36.
b. The Word is characteristic of the prophetic office (Jer 18:18). The prophet is subordinate to his message. The formula Thus saith the Lord designates the Word as a royal message to be delivered faithfully and fully. The divine Word is placed into the prophet's mouth (Jer 1:9) or spoken in his ears (Is 5:9). Having been present in the council of God (Jer 23:18, 22), the prophet delivers what has been confided to him. At times the Word seized a prophet with such power that it cast him into an abnormal state of mind (e.g., Eze 3:15). By means of symbolic action or unusual dress a prophet sometimes illustrated his message (e.g., nakedness, Is 20; yoke, Jer 28; belt, or girdle, Acts 21:11).
c. The term mashal (Heb. discourse; parable), applied to the maxims of Wisdom literature, is also used of mysterious oracles (Nm 23:7; 24:3). This suggests that the element of revelation is the primary feature of these materials, at whose heart lies the statement that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (Pr 1:7).
8. The distinctive mark of Biblical religion is the revelation of God in hist. God calls Abraham to go from his land to one that God would show him. God delivers His people from bondage in Egypt and reveals His power and purpose in the crucial events of Israel's hist., including the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ and the creation of the ch. But essential to the full fact of revelation is the sending of prophets, apostles, and evangelists as proclaimers and interpreters of these events. Through the confusion that characterizes man's hist., God accomplishes His saving purpose (Is 5:12, 19; 10:12; 28:21) acc. to a plan conceived in eternity (Mt 25:34; Eph 1:36; 1 Ptr 1:2).
9. Revelation deals with the event in which God breaks through to man; inspiration (see Inspiration, Doctrine of), as the term is used in theol., deals with the coming into being of the written Word (2 Ti 3:16) under special guidance of the Holy Spirit. The doctrine of inspiration deals with the way in which God, who reveals Himself in word and deed, is active in the process by which the message is committed to writing. The unique significance of the Bible is that it is to this book that we go for knowledge of the revelation that God has given of Himself in hist.
10. Since the knowledge of God transcends reason, the truth of revelation cannot be reached by the human mind left to its own devices. Yet the content of revelation is not irrational. Paul spoke to Festus and Agrippa of a proclamation that included his witness to the resurrection; but Paul insists that he is not beside himself (Acts 26:2425). It is the province of God's gift of human reason to take God's revelation of Himself as given in Scripture and formulate and articulate it in such a way as to relate it to the particular situation of the ch. in a given age (systematic* theol.). MHS
J. Baillie, The Idea of Revelation in Recent Thought (New York, 1956); H. E. Brunner, Revelation and Reason, tr. O. Wyon (Philadelphia, 1946); Revelation and the Bible, ed. C. F. H. Henry (Philadelphia, 1958); J. McIntyre, The Christian Doctrine of History (Grand Rapids, Mich;, 1957).
Edited by: Erwin L. Lueker, Luther Poellot, Paul Jackson
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