Trinitarian theology within the book of Revelation is not at first sight easily recognisable amongst the plethora of images and prophecies that are recorded. The beauty of John’s theology is that the Trinity is deeply embedded in the text so that the reader must dissect the book in order to glimpse the theological beauty that is present. This essay will seek to explore the threads of the Holy Trinity that appear in the book of Revelation by looking at the characteristics of God, the specific Christology of John and the role of the Holy Spirit in the book of Revelation. In looking at each of these three areas as distinct yet overlapping threads I hope to give a succinct and scholastic Trinitarian theology of Revelation.
Characteristics of God in Revelation
According to Woodman, “the presence of God permeates the whole of the book of Revelation…God also features as a character within the narrative…God is presented as the one who lies behind the vision that Jesus communicates to John.” The vision Woodman speaks of originates in the very first verse of the book, “The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him (emphasis mine).” God is both behind the book as the vision giver, in the book as a character and within the whole narrative as a permeating figure. So, as I look at the characteristics of God it is important to digest this disclaimer that God is in fact in all of the book in some way, shape or form. It is however possible to give three groupings that may help in considering who God is within Revelation, these are:
I. How God is titled e.g. The Almighty, The Alpha and the Omega
II. How God is connected with things e.g. the temple of God
III. God’s being and attributes e.g. how God speaks, his power and justice
The first grouping looks at titular approaches to God. According to Aune there are four main titles that can be attributed .
The first is, ‘the one who is, who was and who is to come.’ This is a “threefold phrase that serves to indicate the eternal nature of God, who exists before, after and above all other powers.” The second title is the ‘first and the last’, this can be seen in Revelation 1:17, 2:8 and 22:13; relating to this is the third title of ‘the beginning and the end’. Both titles show God’s character as eternal in duration and as being in control. The last title is ‘the alpha and omega’, which according to Aune takes on, “the notions of pre-eminence and superiority.”
The second grouping looks at how God is connected with things. For example this can be seen in the phrase, “the one who is seated on the throne.” Woodman points out that, “John’s point is clear: the emperor may sit on an earthly throne, but God is on the ultimate throne in heaven.” How God is connected to the throne is therefore not just a fact that is noted by John, but a metaphor of God’s ultimate rule and power. The throne by way of representation shows another characteristic of God.
The third grouping is concerned...