Most of the discussion in these posts has revolved around John 6 and transubstantiation, particularly how transubstantiation impacts scriptural integrity. The culmination of Dr. Hahn’s talk, however, is the presentation of the Mass as a picture, or type, of the eternal, or heavenly Mass taking place in the New Jerusalem. Much of the discussion about that centers on Revelation which is why the lecture opens with his initial frustration and disappointment with popular interpretations of the book but closes with his subsequent love and enjoyment of the book itself. Dr. Hahn’s book, The Lamb’s Supper: The Mass as Heaven on Earth, will probably provide much more detail than the talk does regarding this topic. While I don’t doubt that much of the liturgy used in the Mass is taken directly from some of the pages of the Apocalypse, the way Dr. Hahn seems to use these ideas to validate the Mass seems a little backwards; but to be fair, not having read his book and with the limited amount of information given in the talk, I would rather not discuss some of the conclusions he alludes to.
For the final post in this series I want to address the interpretation that Dr. Hahn uses for Revelation 1:10. Revelation 1:10 itself is a bit of an anchor to interpreting the rest of the book of Revelation and Dr. Hahn uses it, somewhat, as a springboard into his own understanding of the Mass as a picture, or window, into Heaven. I think this interpretation is in error, and Dr. Hahn is far from the only one who uses it. I’ve cringed several times after hearing my own pastor use the same interpretation. It’s when it affects doctrine that it can become a problem.
The Lord’s Day
Most translations render Revelation 1:10 similar to Rome’s sanctioned NAB version of the Bible:
I was caught up in spirit on the Lord’s day and heard behind me a voice as loud as a trumpet1
The ESV translation reads:
I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet2
Regarding this verse, Dr. Hahn states on track 13 at the 1:40 mark:
…and so in Revelation 1:10 we read that John was in the spirit on the Lord’s day. What is the Lord’s day? Sunday. But he couldn’t gather the flock and preside and preach… he was alone on the island of Patmos when Jesus appeared to him and said [referencing Revelation 4:1] ‘Lift up your hearts! Come on up!’ And John is suddenly taken up in the spirit to see how they worship up in heaven where you have the angels and the saints and the martyrs and the mother of Christ, the woman in Revelation 12.
There’s a lot in this statement that could be addressed but for the purposes of this post I want to look at the idea that when John says he was in the spirit on the Lord’s day he was meaning what we refer to as Sunday, the 1st day of the week. In Dr. Hahn’s defense the note on that text for the NAB reads: “[1:10] The Lord’s day: Sunday.”3 and the ESV Study Bible isn’t any better: “The Lord’s day is Sunday, the first day of the week, the day on which Christ rose.”4
There are two main problems with understanding the Lord’s day in Revelation 1:10 to be what we call Sunday. The first is that no other passage in all of Scripture refers to Sunday as the Lord’s day. As far as Scripture is concerned, all the day’s of the week were referred to as numbers, according to the day’s of creation. So when John, the same author of Revelation, in his gospel says “…on the first day of the week…” in John 20:1 and later states “On the evening of that day, the first day of the week…” in John 20:19, he is referring to what we would call Sunday.5 As far as the first day of the week as referenced in Scripture, we can also see that Matthew uses this system in Matthew 28:1, Mark uses it in Mark 16:2, 9, Luke in Luke 24:1 and Acts 20:7 and Paul uses it in 1 Corinthians 16:2.
One could argue that the practice obviously arose at some point in church history and perhaps John had started using this term to refer to Sunday by the time he wrote Revelation. The problem with this is that the writings we have from the period after Revelation was written, have already started referring to the first day of the week as Sunday (obviously converts from paganism were already bringing in their weekday names) and not the Lord’s day. Justin Martyr, writing roughly 50-75 years after most scholars date Revelation, states:
And on the day called Sunday, all who live in cities or in the country gather together to one place, and the memoirs of the apostles or the writings of the prophets are read, as long as time permits; then, when the reader has ceased, the president verbally instructs, and exhorts to the imitation of these good things. [Emphasis added.]6
The natural question that arises then is why would John be using a term to refer to a particular day of the week that his readers wouldn’t understand? It would make much more sense that if John was intending to specify that this being caught up in the spirit happened on Sunday then he would have said he was in the spirit on the first day instead of using the term the Lord’s day. Which brings up the second problem with interpreting the Lord’s day in Revelation 1:10 as Sunday, there is another idiom in Scripture which fits much more in line with what John was probably intending to convey and that is The Day of the LORD.
We have to remember that John was a 1st century Jew. His writings have so many allusions to the Old Testament Scriptures that many readers become very perplexed as to what John is meaning. The book of Revelation is quite possibly the most riddled with these in all the New Testament. For a book of 404 verses there are over 800 allusions to the Old Testament and that translates to roughly two per verse. Chuck Missler will often quip that you can’t understand the book of Revelation unless you know your Old Testament. And so we have to wonder that if John had meant to refer to Sunday, why wouldn’t he have used the term that his readers would probably have more readily understood.
The Day of the LORD is an idiom found throughout the Old Testament and always refers to a future time of great calamity. There are 16 expressions of יום יהוה (yom YHWH; the Day of the LORD) in the Old Testament7 and with all the other idioms found in Revelation it only makes sense that John had this idea in mind in light of the probability that his readers would have much more readily understood this.
Finally, Revelation unveils the descriptors used in the references to The Day of the LORD. As E.W. Bullinger writes:
For what is the “DAY of the Lord” or “The LORD’s day”? The first occurrence of the expression (which is the key to its meaning) is in Isaiah 2:11. It is the day when “The lofty looks of man shall be humbled, and the haughtiness of men shall be bowed down, and the LORD alone shall be exalted.”
That is the one great object of all the future events, seen by John in vision, and recorded for us in the Apocalypse.8
It’s for these reasons I believe that Revelation 1:10 would be more properly understood as “in the spirit on the Day of the Lord”. If that is the case, it has implications to much of the conclusions Dr. Hahn alludes to in regards to the Mass as Heaven on Earth. It makes perfect sense that in the book of Revelation we see the fulfillment of what Isaiah 2:11 states, the LORD alone shall be exalted. It is only fitting that worship services, songs and liturgy would be filled with these windows into Heaven and so I doubt the Mass is any exception.
Renewing a Covenant
On Track 15 at the 2:07 mark Dr. Hahn states:
[In reference to his wife listening in on his Bible study] …as I explained how the book of Revelation is divided in to the same two halves as the Mass. The Liturgy of the Word, the Liturgy of the Lamb, the Eucharist. And then we went through all of the songs and the prayers. The Agnus Dei, the Lamb of God, the Amen, the Alleluia, the Holy, Holy Holy, the Gloria; all of these things that you can find in the book of Revelation and nowhere else, anywhere in the New Testament! No other New Testament writer even calls Jesus the Lamb of God, but John, and he calls Him that 28 times in 22 chapters! And it all culminates in The Marriage Supper of the Lamb where the church as the bride receives Christ as the bridegroom to renew this new covenant.
There are two items to make mention of. The first is that both Peter and Luke refer to Christ as the Lamb of God in the sense that they are drawing on the idioms from Passover; though John is the only one who uses it as a title of Christ.9 The second is when Dr. Hahn uses the term renew at the end, stating that at the Marriage Supper of the Lamb the bride and bridegroom are renewing the new covenant. This is eisegesis at its finest.
While in Catholic tradition the Mass is a renewing of the covenant, and as I pointed out in Part 4 it is indeed another sacrifice and is propitiatory, this concept is nowhere to be found in the New Testament. The author of Hebrews goes through great lengths to compare the Sacrifice of Christ with the sacrificial system of the Old Testament. I’m not going to rehash all of that here but Hebrews 7-10 couldn’t make it any clearer: Christ is our Great High Priest and His sacrifice was once for all. There is no need of a priesthood. There is no need of a pope. Christ is now our intercessor and there is no renewal of any agreement necessary. What Dr. Hahn is doing is taking the understanding and teaching of Catholic tradition regarding the Mass and inserting it into the passage we call The Marriage Supper of the Lamb. Scripture doesn’t allow for it and no Christian should either.
It may very well be the case that the Mass is loaded with imagery from the book of Revelation, but there is no reason to see the Mass as an earthly fulfillment of what is taking place in Heaven and the glimpses that we see of it in Revelation. I believe Dr. Hahn’s interpretation of Revelation 1:10 is incorrect and when understood as a reference to The Day of the LORD, it will have implications on some of what he concludes.
While this series of posts has taken a hard stance against much of what Dr. Hahn presents I can sympathize with him greatly on several points. In particular, typology has certainly been neglected in much of western Christianity and I firmly believe we’ve suffered for it. It played such a big role in my own salvation I often wonder how many people are like I was, completely in the dark just waiting for that spark, to be told about how Abraham’s offering of his son Isaac back in Genesis 22 looks forward 2,000 years where another father would offer His son in the same place. It never grows old.
- New American Bible, Revised Edition (Revelation 1:10) ↩
- The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. 2001 (Re 1:10). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society. ↩
- USCCB, Revelation, chapter 1 ↩
- Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (2464). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles. ↩
- See also John’s use of the numbered days in John 2:1. When reading the Gospels we are likely to think that they are pointing to specific times from an event (as in the first day after something) but this isn’t always the case. ↩
- Justin Martyr. (1885). The First Apology of Justin. In A. Roberts, J. Donaldson & A. C. Coxe (Eds.), The Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume I: The Apostolic Fathers with Justin Martyr and Irenaeus (A. Roberts, J. Donaldson & A. C. Coxe, Ed.) (186). Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Company. ↩
- Isaiah 13:6, 9; Ezekiel 13:5; Joel 1:15, 2:1, 11, 3:14; Amos 5:18, 20; Obadiah 15; Zephaniah 1:7, 14; Malachi 4:5; E.W. Bullinger; Commentary on Revelation (Kregel Publishers 1984) 13 ↩
- E.W. Bullinger; Commentary on Revelation (Kregel Publishers 1984) 13-14 ↩
- See 1 Peter 1:19-21 and Acts 8:32 ↩
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