The Season of Fulfillment - Daniel Applied in Revelation

SYNOPSIS:  The prophecies of Daniel find their fulfillment in Revelation, beginning in the first century A.D.

Photo by v2osk on Unsplash
Photo by v2osk on Unsplash
The book of Revelation uses Old Testament passages more frequently than any other book in the New Testament, especially from Daniel. But it does so allusively, never directly citing a passage. Instead, John folds phrases from key texts into his narrative, often modifying specific words to make a point.
The opening paragraph of Revelation provides two examples of how John applies verbal allusions to Old Testament passages to his day and to the seven churches.
When applying Old Testament verses, John consistently uses the Greek Septuagint version of the Old Testament. Several phrases are used more than once (e.g., Daniel 2:8 in Revelation 1:1; 4:1; 22:5):
(Daniel 2:28 [Septuagint]) - “There is a God in heaven that reveals mysteries and he has made known to the king Nebuchadnezzar what things must come to pass in later days.”
(Daniel 12:4 [Septuagint]) - “Daniel, shut up the words and seal the book, even to the season of the end.”
(Revelation 1:1-3) - “The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to make known to his servants what things must shortly come to pass…Blessed is he that reads and they that hear the words of the prophecy and keep the things that are written therein, for the season is at hand.”
(Revelation 22:10) - “And he saith unto me, Seal not up the words of the prophecy of this book; for the season is at hand.”
The first example occurs where John is informed that he has been given a “revelation” (apokalupsis) to make known to God’s servants “what things must come to pass soon.” The phrase in Greek reads, ha dei genesthai en takei. The clause, en tachei, denotes “with speed, quickly, soon” (Acts 12:7, 22:18, 25:4, Romans 16:20).
The source of the allusion is Daniel 2:28 (Septuagint), which reads, “there is a God in heaven that reveals (apokaluptōn) mysteries, and makes known to the king Nebuchadnezzar what things must come to pass in later days (ha dei genesthai ep’ eschatōn tōn hémerōn).” Revelation modifies Daniel’s original phrase by changing “later days” to “soon.” What was once expected in a remote future is now at hand.
The second example occurs when John is informed that the “season is at hand.” “Season” translates the Greek noun kairos or “season”; “at hand” represents the Greek engus (εγγυς) or “near.” It stresses proximity and imminence (Romans 13:12; 1 Peter 4:7).
The source for this second example is Daniel 12:4: “Daniel, shut up the words and seal the book, until the season of the consummation.” In the Greek Septuagint version of the Old Testament the term “season” or kairos is used; the same word found in Revelation 1:3.
Daniel was commanded to “seal” the book until the season of the end. Revelation declares that the promised “season” is now at hand, if not already underway.
In Revelation 22:10, unlike the Prophet Daniel, John is told NOT to “seal up the words of the prophecy of the book” precisely because “the season is at hand,” the latter repeating the clause found previously (Revelation 1:3). In other words, from the perspective of John, the promised season had arrived or, at least, was imminent in the late first century.
Theologically, John is not breaking new ground. Though perhaps counterintuitive, the view of the early church was that the predicted period known as the “last days” began with the death and resurrection of Jesus. This radical change in the era is evidenced above all by the resurrection of Jesus and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on all believers (e.g., Acts 2:16-21, Ephesians 1:10, Hebrews 1:1-3).
The point from the book of Revelation is that the season of fulfillment anticipated in the book of Daniel had commenced by the time wrote down his visions. What was once distant expectation was now in process. The warnings and promises of Revelation were already applicable to the first-century churches of Asia. This does not mean the visions of the book were completely fulfilled at that time. It does mean that whatever future events portrayed in them have been underway ever since.
The vision that John received on Patmos concerns far more than just history’s final few years before the return of Jesus or the real-life experiences of believers in the first century.