Revelation "Rule With A Rod Of Iron"

Flannery O’Connor

"Rule With A Rod Of Iron"

Context: It is uncertain who wrote the almost overwhelming vision presented in Revelation. The writer has been variously identified as John the Apostle, John the Presbyter, and John of Patmos, and it is even possible that he wrote under a pseudonym. Scholarship indicates that he did not write the fourth gospel or the epistles; his literary style is quite different. Evidently he was Jewish in origin and a native of Palestine, who had been with the Christians at Ephesus, and was exiled with many other Christians to the penal colony on the island of Patmos. He was a student of the Old Testament and refers frequently to the apocalyptic visions recorded therein. His principal purpose in Revelation is to reassure other Christians and bolster their faith through the visions he has seen of heaven and of the salvation to come. Certainly, the Christians at that time were in need of reassurance; John wrote during the reign of the Roman Emperor Domitian, who hated Christians and rigidly enforced the practice of Caesar-worship. The reign of terror lasted until his death in A.D. 96, and his persecution of Christianity was extreme. John's visions were such that he found them difficult to communicate; some were evidently not expressible in words. Symbolism and allegory form a large part of them. His principal point is that suffering is transitory for the faithful, and that spiritual and not material forces will triumph in the end. The devout must be prepared for the end and for the coming of Christ. He begins by stating that his vision has been sent him by God, through Christ, and delivered by an angel. In a prologue he tells the nature of what he has seen. In Chapter 2 he quotes the letters Christ has commanded him to write to the seven churches in Asia. One of the letters, to the church at Thyatira, indicates the urgency of these messages:

And unto the angel of the church in Thyatira write; These things saith the Son of God, who hath his eyes like unto a flame of fire, and his feet are like fine brass;
I know thy works, and charity, and service, and faith, and thy patience, and thy works; and the last to be more than the first.
Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols.
And I gave her space to repent of her fornication; and she repented not.
Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds.
And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works.
But unto you I say, and unto the rest in Thyatira, as many as have not this doctrine, and which have not known the depths of Satan, as they speak; I will put upon you none other burden.
But that which ye have already hold fast till I come.
And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations:
And he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall be broken to shivers: even as I received of my Father.