Healing- And Evangelism- in the New Creation
Guest Article by Dr. Dallas Burdette
Just recently the issue of evangelism in the New Creation came up. Several former preterists, including Sam Frost denied that there is evangelism in the New Creation. However, those who believe, like me, cited Revelation 21-22, where the nations outside the New Jerusalem come into the city to find healing. That demands evangelism, forgiveness. Sam Frost responded, denying that claim, by arguing that the word “healing” in Revelation 22:1-2 is a noun, and not a verb. Since it is not a verb, that (supposedly) negates the idea of evangelism in the New Creation. I knew immediately that Frost was trying– once again– to pull a bluff on the readers here. So, I reached out to my friend, a scholar by the name of Dallas Burdette, who is fully qualified to analyze Frost’s linguistic argument. What follows is Burdette’s article that he sent to me.
The Word Healing:
Revelation 22: 1-3
By: Dallas Burdette
Note from Dallas Burdette:
I was born July 4, 1934. I have been a serious student, teacher, and preacher of the Bible for just a little over sixty-eight years, supporting myself for many years as an agent for AFLAC. I have written numerous articles for religious journals, as well as many essays and sermons which are available on my website (www.freedominchrist.net). I am also the author of fourteen books. Within my ministry, I developed a keen interest in promoting unity among God’s people through a more accurate reading of the Word of God. I hold the B.A., M.S., and M.Div. degrees from Amridge University (formerly Southern Christian University), and I hold the Doctor of Ministry degree (1999) from Erskine Theological Seminary. Also, I was the Director of Extended Learning with Amridge University for about five years.
Don, just a brief reading of Revelation 21:4 and 22:1-3 reveals that these two citations are eschatological, that is to say, depicting events that would transpire with the coming of “a new heaven and a new earth.” For example, John wrote: ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes [Isaiah 25:8]. There will be no more death’ [Hosea 13:14] or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order [the Mosaic Age, Hebrews 8:13] of things has passed away” (21:4). This citation is an echo of Isaiah 25:6-8, which depicts the healing in Revelation in 21:4 as well as 22:1-3, even though the Greek word for healing is not mentioned in 21:4. The context of 22:1-3 includes 21:4, which text is developed more extensively in 22:1-3. Paul, too, echoed Isaiah 25:8 and Hosea 13:14 in 1 Corinthians 15:54-58, which deals with the “healing” of the nations in Revelation 22:1-3.
Numerous Christians have a tendency to isolate Scripture from Scripture, which activity Sam Frost is guilty. In Revelation 22:1-3, John writes about what was lost in the Garden of Eden is now restored in the New Heaven and New Earth. In other words, the curse (“spiritual death”) placed upon Adam and Eve as recorded in Genesis 2:8-17 is now removed. Revelation 22:1-3 is an echo of Genesis 2:8-17. Just a cursory reading of Revelation 22:1-3 is a reflection of the “curse” being removed by the “healing” blood of God’s Lamb. John pens the following words:
Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb 2 down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing [θεραπείαν, therapeian] of the nations. No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him.
(☛ Θεραπείαν ( therapeian, noun, accusative, singular, feminine) is from the Greek word θεραπεία (therapeia), which noun is translated as a gerund, that is, “the English verbal noun in -ing that has the function of a substantive and at the same time shows the verbal features of tense, voice, and capacity to take adverbial qualifiers and to govern objects.”)
This noun θεραπεία (therapeia, pronounced: thĕ rä pay ä) carries within its definition the action of the verb, even though the specific verb form of the word is not utilized in this text. What we have here is a “verbal noun”—see below. Does not the word “healing” convey action? If there is “healing,” (noun) then there is action (a verb) to bring about that healing. Hermann Wolfgang Beyer’s comments on this noun (θεραπεία) is helpful, especially his remarks that Revelation 22:2 is eschatological. He explains: “’healing,’ whether in the medical sense at Lk. 9:11 or in the eschatological of the healing of the nations at Rev. 22:2.”
(☛ Hermann Wolfgang Beyer, “Θεραπεία, Θεραπεύω, Θεράπων,” ed. Gerhard Kittel, Geoffrey W. Bromiley, and Gerhard Friedrich, Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1964–), 131).
One does not necessarily need an expressed verb with the noun to convey the idea of action (healed). In Luke 9:11, you do have the use of the verb (“healed”), which emphasizes the noun “healing.” Again, the word healing –what the people needed – is a noun— not a verb. Luke penned the following words about Jesus’ ministry: “But the crowds learned about it and followed him. He welcomed them and spoke to them about the kingdom of God, and healed (ἰ το, pronounced: ē ä toe) those who needed healing (θεραπείας, pronounced: thĕ rä pay äs).” So, to suggest that no “healing” (verb) is involved even though the noun “healing” is there is ludicrous and illogical in the extreme.
Following the introduction to the ministry of John the Baptist and the baptism of Jesus, Matthew reports the forty days that Jesus spent in the wilderness. Next, he reveals the activities of Jesus’ ministry this way, beginning in Galilee: “Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and healing (θεραπεύων, therapeuōn, pronounced: thĕ rä pew own) every disease and sickness among the people” (Matthew 4:23). Again, in Matthew 9:35, Matthew uses all three words as in 4:23. In Matthew 11:1, Matthew employs two of the same Greek words, but he leaves out θεραπεύων (therapeuōn), even though in 11:20, he refers to “healings” as “mighty works.”
(☛ θεραπεύων, (therapeuōn) is a verb, present, active, participle, masculine, singular, nominative, from the verb θεραπεύω (therapeuō). The participle is a grammatical hybrid. As its name implies, the participle shares (takes part or participates), in the nature of both a verb and an adjective, just as the infinitive shares in the characteristics of both a verb and a noun.).
In Revelation 22:2, Jesus spoke of those who would enter the new heaven and new earth would be healed from the curse that Adam and Eve received when they violated God’s command, which violation ended in “spiritual death.” This healing in 22:2 is the eschatological healing of Isaiah 25:8 and Hosea 13:14. Within the noun form (θεραπεία, therapeia) of the verb (θεραπεύω, therapeuō, pronounced: thĕ rä pew ō), action is still implied. This healing in 22:2 is in harmony with 21:4, which healing is continuous for those who are “in Christ.” (2 Corinthians 5:14-21; Romans 3:21-30; 4:1-25; 8:1-2).
To put this another way, Frost is ignoring the grammatical reality of the verbal noun, healing. A verbal noun is a noun that has no verb-like properties despite being derived from a verb. Simply stated, without healing—i.e. the verb—there is no healing (i.e. the noun). This is common sense. This is grammatically correct. This is contextually correct in Revelation. Frost has simply ignored this, or decided to distort that reality.
Sam has “ears” to hear, but he does not hear the implications of the text. He has “eyes” to see, but he refuses to see the common-sense reading of the text. I think Sam is a lost cause. Don, your writings on this subject are sound, because your reading of the text is based on a common-sense reading of the text. Unfortunately, Sam fails to read the whole of Scripture (the larger context (the whole of the Bible), the remote context (the text within the individual book itself), and the immediate context (the verses preceding and following the text you are reading). It is one thing for an interpreter to make a statement and another thing to prove or support one’s statement by evidence.
Where is his support for such a preposterous presupposition concerning the word “healing” in Revelation 22:1-3? Simply stated, there is no support for his attempt to escape the teaching of Revelation 21-22. His claim that “healing” is a noun and not a verb is linguistically correct. However, the conclusion that he draws from that is an abuse of the context, of logic, of common sense. In fact, Sam Frost is guilty of abusing the Greek language in the worst sort of way.
The point of all of this is that when Sam Frost attempted to negate the truth that there is evangelism in the New Creation, as powerfully set forth in Revelation 21-22, by making his argument on the noun form of healing, His argument totally failed. Instead of proving his point, he simply exhibited his willingness to abuse the Greek, context and common sense.
For more on evangelism in the New Creation, see my book, The Elements Shall Melt With Fervent Heat, in which I discuss “Life After the End.”