The River of the Water of Life–Illustration from Perga

July 3, 2020

The closing chapters of the book of Revelation describe for the reader “how beautiful heaven must be.” That heavenly, holy city, new Jerusalem where God “shall wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there shall no longer be any death; there shall no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away” (Rev. 21:3-4, NASB). Moving on to the final chapter, John writes, “Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life– water as clear as crystal– pouring out from the throne of God and of the Lamb, flowing down the middle of the city’s main street. On each side of the river is the tree of life producing twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit every month of the year. Its leaves are for the healing of the nations” (Rev. 22:1-2, NET Bible).

What was lost in the beginning in the Garden of Eden, access to the Tree of Life, is regained in heaven! Oh how I want to be among that number there in that beautiful city! The Tree of Life, along with the Water of Life! This is depicting eternal life, the people of God at home with God.

In the text above, the imagery of a river of water flowing through the main street of the city brings to mind the layout of the city of Perga of Pamphylia (today southern Turkey) mentioned in the context of Paul’s First Journey (Acts 13:13-14; 14:25).

Watercourse in Perga. The water flowed down the main street of the city in Roman times. Photo © Leon Mauldin.

Our photo shows how Perga’s water supply flowed down the main street of the city, with the street on either side, to the sides of which various shops and businesses would have been located (where the standing columns can be seen). Images such as these help us to understand and visualize the description employed in our text. The two large structure at the far end are towers that stood at the gate that go back to the Hellenistic period, to the time of Alexander the Great.

To the side of the street a number of ancient columns are still standing.

Ionic column standing to the side of the street in Perga. Photo ©Leon Mauldin.

We took this photo of an Ionic column, which was one of the very popular styles in Greek and Roman architecture.  This is one of many still to be seen among the remains of Perga.

Click on images for larger view.


“The Alpha and The Omega” and Merisms

August 31, 2013

In Revelation 22:13, Jesus said, “”I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.” Revelation is filled with allusions to the Old Testament. Isaiah furnishes the background for Yahweh’s declaration that He is the “first and the last” (41:4; 44:6; 48:12). What is said of the Father is here affirmed of the Son, as He shares the divine essence. Consider the first part of the verse.

“I Am The Α

and The Ω.”  


What does this mean? Beale and McDonough observes:

These divine titles are figures of speech (merisms) in which the figurative point is to mention the opposite poles of something on order to emphasize the totality of all that lies between. The use of the first and last letters of the alphabet was typical of the ancients in expressing merisms. So the Jews could say that the law should be kept from aleph to tau. (Commentary on the NT Use of the OT, p.1055). 

The concept is that of totality, completenessInterestingly, the blessings for obedience are listed in Leviticus 26:3-8, and begin with aleph (first letter of the Hebrew alphebet) and conclude with tau (last letter).

Wikipedia has some helpful info on merisms:

In rhetoric a merism is the combination of two contrasting words, to refer to an entirety. For example, when we mean to say that someone searched thoroughly, everywhere, we often say that someone “searched high and low”. You also say “ladies and gentlemen” and the “young and old”.

Merisms also figure in a number of familiar English expressions. The phrase lock, stock, and barrel originally referred to the parts of a gun, by counting off several of its more conspicuous parts; it has come to refer to the whole of anything that has constituent parts. Basically, and everything in between – all encompassing.

In biology, a merism is a repetition of similar parts in the structure of an organism (Bateson 1894). Such features are called meristic characters, and the study of such characters is called meristics.

Merisms are conspicuous features of Biblical poetry. For example, in Genesis 1:1, when God creates “the heavens and the earth” (KJV), the two parts combine to indicate that God created the whole universe. Similarly, in Psalm 139, the psalmist declares that God knows “my downsitting and mine uprising”, indicating that God knows all the psalmist’s actions. 

Greek Letters Alpha and Omega.

Greek Letters Alpha and Omega.

Alpha is the first letter in the Greek alphabet; omega is the last. We would say, “Everything from A to Z. What is affirmed is that everything is summed up in Jesus. He is the beginning of creation, responsible for its origin. He is the end, and will bring it to a conclusion. He is what all history is about from beginning to end. Contextually in Revelation, it was not ultimately the Roman Emperors who ruled, but rather Jesus is KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS (Rev.19:16).

Romans 11:36: “For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen.”

Ephesians 1:9-10: “He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him with a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things on the earth.”

Col. 1:15-20: 

15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities– all things have been created through Him and for Him. 17 He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. 18 He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything. 19 For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him, 20 and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven.

What is meant by Jesus’ being the Alpha and Omega? He is Everything! Observe:

1. Jesus’ absolute Deity is affirmed.

2. He is Creator.

3. He is Redeemer.

4. He is Sovereign Ruler over all.

5. He is Judge.

“I have found a friend in Jesus,

He’s everything to me,

He’s the fairest of ten thousand to my soul;

He’s the Lily of the Valley, in Him Alone I see

All I need to cleanse and make me fully whole. “

Philadelphia, the Church with an Open Door

June 14, 2010

We continue to give attention to the cities of the Seven Churches addressed in Rev. 2-3, looking now at Philadelphia, modern Alasehir.  The churches at Philadelphia and Smyrna were both commended by the Lord; there were no charges of wrong doing against either congregation.

Further, Jesus said, “Look! I have put in front of you an open door that no one can shut” (Rev.3:8).  Many biblical students believe that the “open door” refers to Philadelphia’s location, on the great trade-route from Smyrna to the highlands of Phrygia.  Their faithfulness would be rewarded by further opportunities to proclaim the gospel to the many merchants and other travelers passing through this strategic site.

Our photo below shows view from the lower city, looking between Byzantine columns (Church of St. John), looking up to the acropolis.

Philadelphia. View from lower city facing acropolis. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Very little excavation has been done in Philadelphia.  In photo below you can see some of the excavated area.

Limited excavations at Philidelphia. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

From the acropolis looking down one has a good view of Philadelphia.

Philadelphia modern Alasehir. View from acropolis. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Click on image for larger view.  More to come on Philadelphia.

The Island of Patmos

March 19, 2010

Greetings from Athens, Greece.  Our ship arrived at the Athens Piraeus Habor this morning, having visited the islands of Patmos, Rhodes, Crete, and Santorini.  On Paul’s 2nd Missionary Journey, when he left Beroea because of persecution, Luke writes:  “Then the brothers immediately sent Paul off on his way to the sea, but Silas and Timothy remained there” (Acts 17:14, ESV). Paul apparently sailed from Beroea to Athens, and likely would have used the large Piraeus Harbor.

In our travels, our group has seen the cities of the Seven Churches of Rev. 2-3: Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea. It was the island of Patmos from which John wrote the book of Revelation, having been exiled there because of his faith.  He was exiled on the island of Patmos “because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus” (1:9).

Pictured here below is Patmos. You can see the harbor of Scala in the center.

Island of Patmos. Photo by Leon Mauldin

Today we visited Mars Hill, the acropolis, and the Athens Museum.  Tomorrow we are to go to Corinth.  I did not have a workable system while on the Med. cruise, so I am a bit behind on the blog.  I plan to post some more photos of the sites of the Seven Churches, and other sites in Turkey, as well as some on Athens and Corinth, so continue to check the blog.

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