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4 big myths of Book of Revelation
The Book of Revelation has terrified and confused readers for centuries. Few agree on its meaning, but many have opinions.
March 31st, 2012
10:00 PM ET

4 big myths of Book of Revelation

By John Blake, CNN

(CNN) – The anti-Christ. The Battle of Armageddon. The dreaded Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.

You don’t have to be a student of religion to recognize references from the Book of Revelation. The last book in the Bible has fascinated readers for centuries. People who don’t even follow religion are nonetheless familiar with figures and images from Revelation.

And why not? No other New Testament book reads like Revelation. The book virtually drips with blood and reeks of sulfur. At the center of this final battle between good and evil is an action-hero-like Jesus, who is in no mood to turn the other cheek.

Elaine Pagels, one of the world’s leading biblical scholars, first read Revelation as a teenager. She read it again in writing her latest book, “Revelations: Visions, Prophecy & Politics in the Book of Revelation.”

Pagels’ book is built around a simple question: What does Revelation mean? Her answers may disturb people who see the book as a prophecy about the end of the world.

But people have clashed over the meaning of Revelation ever since it was virtually forced into the New Testament canon over the protests of some early church leaders, Pagels says.

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“There were always debates about it,” she says. “Some people said a heretic wrote it. Some said a disciple. There were always people who loved and championed it.”

The debate persists. Pagels adds to it by challenging some of the common assumptions about Revelation.

Here are what she says are four big myths about Revelation::

1. It’s about the end of the world

Anyone who has read the popular “Left Behind” novels or listened to pastors preaching about the “rapture” might see Revelation as a blow-by-blow preview of how the world will end.

Pagels, however, says the writer of Revelation was actually describing the way his own world ended.

She says the writer of Revelation may have been called John – the book is sometimes called “Book of the Revelation of Saint John the Divine” but he was not the disciple who accompanied Jesus. He was a devout Jew and mystic exiled on the island of Patmos, off the coast of  present-day Greece.

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“He would have been a very simple man in his clothes and dress,” Pagels says. “He may have gone from church to church preaching his message. He seems more like a traveling preacher or a prophet.”

The author of Revelation had experienced a catastrophe. He wrote his book not long after 60,000 Roman soldiers had stormed Jerusalem in 70 A.D., burned down its great temple and left the city in ruins after putting down an armed Jewish revolt.

For some of the earliest Jewish followers of Jesus, the destruction of Jerusalem was incomprehensible. They had expected Jesus to return “with power” and conquer Rome before inaugurating a new age. But Rome had conquered Jesus’ homeland instead.

The author of Revelation was trying to encourage the followers of Jesus at a time when their world seemed doomed. Think of the Winston Churchill radio broadcasts delivered to the British during the darkest days of World War II.

Revelation was an anti-Roman tract and a piece of war propaganda wrapped in one. The message: God would return and destroy the Romans who had destroyed Jerusalem.

“His primary target is Rome,” Pagels says of the book’s author. “He really is deeply angry and grieved at the Jewish war and what happened to his people.”

2. The numerals 666 stand for the devil

The 1976 horror film “The Omen” scared a lot of folks. It may have scared some theologians, too, who began encountering people whose view of Revelation comes from a Hollywood movie.

The Omen” depicted the birth and rise of the “anti-Christ,” the cunning son of Satan who would be known by “the mark of the beast,” 666, on his body.

Here’s the passage from Revelation that “The Omen” alluded to: “This calls for wisdom: let anyone with understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a person. Its number is six hundred sixty-six.”

Good movies, though, don’t always make good theology. Most people think 666 stands for an anti-Christ-like figure that will deceive humanity and trigger a final battle between good and evil. Some people think he’s already here.

Pagels, however, says the writer of Revelation didn’t really intend 666 as the devil’s digits. He was describing another incarnation of evil: The Roman emperor, Nero.

The arrogant and demented Nero was particularly despised by the earliest followers of Jesus, including the writer of Revelation. Nero was said to have burned followers of Jesus alive to illuminate his garden.

But the author of Revelation couldn’t safely name Nero, so he used the Jewish numerology system to spell out Nero’s imperial name, Pagels says.

Pagels says that John may have had in mind other meanings for the mark of the beast: the imperial stamp Romans used on official documents, tattoos authorizing people to engage in Roman business, or the images of Roman emperors on stamps and coins.

Since Revelation’s author writes in “the language of dreams and nightmares,” Pagels says it’s easy for outsiders to misconstrue the book’s original meaning.

Still, they take heart from Revelation’s larger message, she writes:

“…Countless people for thousands of years have been able to see their own conflicts, fears, and hopes reflected in his prophecies. And because he speaks from his convictions about divine justice, many readers have found reassurance in his conviction that there is meaning in history – even when he does not say exactly what that meaning is – and that there is hope.”

3. The writer of Revelation was a Christian

The author of Revelation hated Rome, but he also scorned another group – a group of people we would call Christians today, Pagels says.

There’s a common perception that there was a golden age of Christianity, when most Christians agreed on an uncontaminated version of the faith. Yet there was never one agreed-upon Christianity. There were always clashing visions.

Revelation reflects some of those early clashes in the church, Pagels says.

That idea isn’t new territory for Pagels. She won the National Book Award for “The Gnostic Gospels,” a 1979 book that examined a cache of newly discovered “secret” gospels of Jesus. The book, along with other work from Pagels, argues that there were other accounts of Jesus’ life that were suppressed by early church leaders because it didn’t fit with their agenda.

The author of Revelation was like an activist crusading for traditional values. In his case, he was a devout Jew who saw Jesus as the messiah. But he didn’t like the message that the apostle Paul and other followers of Jesus were preaching.

This new message insisted that gentiles could become followers of Jesus without adopting the requirements of the Torah. It accepted women leaders, and intermarriage with gentiles, Pagels says.

The new message was a lot like what we call Christianity today.

That was too much for the author of Revelation. At one point, he calls a woman leader in an early church community a “Jezebel.” He calls one of those gentile-accepting churches a “synagogue of Satan.”

John was defending a form of Christianity that would be eclipsed by the Christians he attacked, Pagels says.

“What John of Patmos preached would have looked old-fashioned – and simply wrong to Paul’s converts…,” she writes.

The author of Revelation was a follower of Jesus, but he wasn’t what some people would call a Christian today, Pagels says.

“There’s no indication that he read Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount or that he read the gospels or Paul’s letters,” she says. “….He doesn’t even say Jesus died for your sins.”

4. There is only one Book of Revelation

There’s no other book in the Bible quite like Revelation, but there are plenty of books like Revelation that didn’t make it into the Bible, Pagels says.

Early church leaders suppressed an “astonishing” range of books that claimed to be revelations from apostles such as Peter and James. Many of these books were read and treasured by Christians throughout the Roman Empire, she says.

There was even another “Secret Revelation of John.” In this one, Jesus wasn’t a divine warrior, but someone who first appeared to the apostle Paul as a blazing light, then as a child, an old man and, some scholars say, a woman.

So why did the revelation from John of Patmos make it into the Bible, but not the others?

Pagels traces that decision largely to Bishop Athanasius, a pugnacious church leader who championed Revelation about 360 years after the death of Jesus.

Athanasius was so fiery that during his 46 years as bishop he was deposed and exiled five times. He was primarily responsible for shaping the New Testament while excluding books he labeled as hearsay, Pagels says.

Many church leaders opposed including Revelation in the New Testament. Athanasius’s predecessor said the book was “unintelligible, irrational and false.”

Athanasius, though, saw Revelation as a useful political tool. He transformed it into an attack ad against Christians who questioned him.

Rome was no longer the enemy; those who questioned church authority were the anti-Christs in Athanasius’s reading of Revelation, Pagels says.

“Athanasius interprets Revelation’s cosmic war as a vivid picture of his own crusade against heretics and reads John’s visions as a sharp warning to Christian dissidents,” she writes. “God is about to divide the saved from the damned – which now means dividing the ‘orthodox’ from ‘heretics.’ ’’

Centuries later, Revelation still divides people. Pagels calls it the strangest and most controversial book in the Bible.

Even after writing a book about it, Pagels has hardly mastered its meaning.

“The book is the hardest one in the Bible to understand,” Pagels says. “I don’t think anyone completely understands it.”

- CNN Writer

Filed under: Belief • Books • Christianity • Church • Devil • End times • Faith • History • Jerusalem

soundoff (8,460 Responses)
  1. Kerry

    Dear CNN, if you advertise an article saying four key points are gong to be addressed in an article, you should deliver on them. There was no mention of the four horsemen in the article as stated in the promo-line. When did CNN go all Junior High book report? Amateurs.

    April 1, 2012 at 11:23 am |
    • Stop the Nonsense

      When did CNN go all religious on us all? Get back to real news and not ancient nonsense writings.

      April 1, 2012 at 11:26 am |
  2. Robert

    It is amazing how a little bit of research and maybe some creative use of Google and everyone thinks that they are a Biblical scholar. Yeash, some people really get so sensitive about this stuff. I'm not even going to touch this point about Revelations. It's too much detail oriented BS that after 2,000 year can never be settled. What I can say is that most people have only a very limited understanding of what 1rst century Israel looked like. Most people don't understand a lick of the culture of the era or just what it meant to be a Jew during that time. Shocking how so many people seem to get so entrenched in their beliefs.

    April 1, 2012 at 11:22 am |
    • Kerry

      Some people don;t even know what its like now, let alone then. If it's written somewhere, well it MUST be true! Sort of like when GOP conservocrats who cite Reagan but have no clue what that means. Reagan would be sickened by the GOP today, and so would Jesus with the church.

      April 1, 2012 at 11:25 am |
    • UncleBenny

      Eisenhower would have been sickened by Reagan.

      April 1, 2012 at 11:39 am |
    • Sheila

      Robert, wake up and open your eyes. If you had a clue how to read and understand Revelations, you would see that prophecy unfolding right here in present day society. But you don't have a clue dear one. You need the Holy Spirit of God to "see truth". Without Jesus Christ, you cannot receive the Spirit of Truth. Jesus Christ is the word of God which was made manifest in the flesh. Awesome isn't it ?

      April 1, 2012 at 12:24 pm |
    • UncleBenny

      No.

      April 1, 2012 at 12:35 pm |
    • Robert

      @Sheila Revelations is not prophecy, it is an analogy. It was one man's interpretation of his world as he saw it using colorful language and metaphor. It is a 2,000 year old fire and brimstone sermon written from exile intended to keep his people in line. It's inclusion in the Bible was purely political and has nothing to do with morality or revealing God to people. It's pure BS.

      April 1, 2012 at 6:09 pm |
  3. jd

    One Bible Scholar says this – and even she says no one can master its meaning – so what is she saying?

    April 1, 2012 at 11:19 am |
    • montoyadaniel

      she makes bold statements on what she definitely believes is the case, because this is dispelling 4 myths according to her findings right? she then hides behind the notion of "oh, but nobody really knows", so she can "educate" you without setting off alarms. Bull crap.

      April 1, 2012 at 11:21 am |
  4. Stop the Nonsense

    According to the Bible anyone working on the Sabbath should be stoned to death. CNN....you might want to stop working today, if you believe in the Bible, which clearly you do by the repeated religious main page articles.

    April 1, 2012 at 11:19 am |
    • jd

      Please reference your scriptures location in either the old or new testaments as what you say is meaningless and may not even be stated as such or taken out of context – you be surprised to find that a lot of the things you think are stated in the Bible.
      Simply are not

      April 1, 2012 at 11:24 am |
    • archbusiness

      Actually, with over 2,000 responses and a target audience of English speakers (the single largest group of believers in the Christian religion) having such articles as a headline is easier journalism to bring individuals in and generate "hits" which equals happy sponsors. Putting personal beliefs to the side, they do it for business/revenue generation.

      April 1, 2012 at 11:25 am |
    • UncleBenny

      Exodus 31:15: "Six days may work be done; but in the seventh is the sabbath of rest, holy to the LORD: whosoever doeth any work in the sabbath day, he shall surely be put to death. "

      Any more questions?

      April 1, 2012 at 11:40 am |
  5. Believer of Christ

    Let the non-believers and evil doers go about their gibberish and childish games. They know there is a creator, and it will be Oh so interesting to watch them all fall.

    April 1, 2012 at 11:18 am |
    • Mark

      Whether you're an atheist or a theist, it is completely arrogant for someone to bash on someone else's beliefs.

      I'm an anthropologist, and a theist also. People must respect others' beliefs.

      April 1, 2012 at 11:21 am |
    • plucky

      What are the childish games they play?
      How does a non-believer know there is a creator?

      You are not making any sense.

      April 1, 2012 at 11:21 am |
    • SkipJunkman

      People must not respect anything. People must do what they do.

      April 1, 2012 at 11:22 am |
    • rmtaks

      Revelation goes on and on about monsters and you call what unbelievers have to say gibberish?

      April 1, 2012 at 11:22 am |
    • Dixon

      Since most of you Christians on here clearly have not really read the Bible, here's what Jesus specifically says in both Luke and Mark:

      As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. “Good teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

      “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone. You know the commandments: ‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, you shall not defraud, honor your father and mother.’”

      “Teacher,” he declared, “all these I have kept since I was a boy.”

      Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, SELL EVERYTHING YOU HAVE and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

      ... The disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said again, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”

      The disciples were even more amazed, and said to each other, “Who then can be saved?”

      Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.”

      Then Peter spoke up, “We have left everything to follow you!”

      “Truly I tell you,” Jesus replied, “no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age: homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—along with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last first.”

      *****************

      So Jesus says to sell everything you have, leave your brothers, sisters, mom, dad, children, business, etc and then you will receive 100 times that in Heaven. He says the last will be first.

      So why aren't all of you running off to do this? You are supposedly worshipping Jesus and then will INTENTIONALLY IGNORE his direct instructions to you. It is hilarious as it makes ZERO logical sense.

      Do you know why you don't sell everything? It is because deep down inside you know this isn't real and therefore you don't do it. If you TRULY believed, then you would. Simple as that. Make all the "excuses" and "justifications" that you want, but his words are his words.

      Good luck with that.

      Peace.

      April 1, 2012 at 11:23 am |
    • plucky

      Mark,
      Would you respect some pedephile's believe that it is OK for him to molest a child?
      You can't just respect someone's beliefs... The beliefs must garner respect on their own merit.

      April 1, 2012 at 11:24 am |
    • Boom Boom

      Yeah. You believe in the divinity of a guy who was wrote about . . . by nobody who met him. You must be pretty stupid.

      April 1, 2012 at 11:27 am |
    • Glh1

      And, as a believer, you would gloat when someone falls? Perhaps you should go back and read the gospels of Christ again.

      April 1, 2012 at 11:27 am |
    • Dixon

      @glh: Exactly! Let's see what the Bible says about the concept of "Judging."

      #1) JUDGING OTHERS:

      Matt 7:1: "Do not judge."
      Matt 7:15-20 (mind you the exact same chapter as above) This section gives instructions on how to judge a false prophet.

      Luke 7:1: "Do not judge"
      John 7:24: "Stop judging by mere appearances, but instead judge correctly."

      1 Corinthians 6:2-4: "Or do you not know that the Lord’s people will judge the world? And if you are to judge the world, are you not competent to judge trivial cases? Do you not know that we will judge angels?" Now you even get to judge angels!!! LOL

      1 Corinthians 5:12-13: "What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside. “Expel the wicked person from among you.” These two lines tell you to judge some and not judge others.

      ***********

      #2) DOES JESUS JUDGE?

      -– Here are some passages that say no, he does not judge:

      John 3:17: "For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him."

      John 8:15: "You judge by human standards; I pass judgment on no one."

      John 12:47: "If anyone hears my words but does not keep them, I do not judge that person. For I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world."

      NOTE: The very next line in John 8:15 says that Jesus does judge! Here it is together: "You judge by human standards; I pass judgment on no one. But if I do judge, my decisions are true..."

      -– Here are some passages that say yes, he does judge:

      John 5:22: "Moreover, the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son"

      John 5:27-30: "And he has given him authority to judge because he is the Son of Man. “Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and come out—those who have done what is good will rise to live, and those who have done what is evil will rise to be condemned. By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, for I seek not to please myself but him who sent me."

      John 9:39: "Jesus said, “For judgment I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind.”

      Acts 10:42: "He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one whom God appointed as judge of the living and the dead."

      2 Corinthians 5:10: "For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad."

      **********

      #3) DOES GOD JUDGE?

      -– Here is a passage that says no, God does not judge:

      John 5:22: "For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son"

      -– Here are some passages that say yes, God does judge:

      Romans 2:2-5: "Now we know that God’s judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. So when you, a mere human being, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment? Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance? But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God’s wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed."

      Romans 3:19: "Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God."

      2 Thessalonians 1:5: "All this is evidence that God’s judgment is right, and as a result you will be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are suffering."

      1 Peter 1:17: "Since you call on a Father who judges each person’s work impartially, live out your time as foreigners here in reverent fear."

      ***********

      #4) DO BIBLE BELIEVERS FACE JUDGEMENT?

      -- Here is a passage that says no, believers escape it:

      John 5:24: “Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life."

      -– Here are some passages that say yes, everyone, including believers, will be judged:

      Matt: 12:36: "But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken."

      2 Corinthians 5:10: "For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad."

      Romans 5:18: "Consequently, just as one trespass resulted in condemnation for all people, so also one righteous act resulted in justification and life for all people."

      Hebrews 9:27: "Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment"

      1 Peter 1:17: "Since you call on a Father who judges each person’s work impartially, live out your time as foreigners here in reverent fear."

      Jude 1:14-15: "Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about them: “See, the Lord is coming with thousands upon thousands of his holy ones to judge everyone, and to convict all of them of all the ungodly acts they have committed in their ungodliness"

      Revelation: 20:12-13: "And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what they had done."

      **********

      #5) DOES GOD JUDGE SITTING OR STANDING?

      Isaiah 3:13: "The LORD takes his place in court; he stands to judge the people."

      Joel 3:12: "Let the nations be roused; let them advance into the Valley of Jehoshaphat,for there I will sit to judge all the nations on every side."

      ************

      #6) DO YOU GET JUDGED BASED ON DEEDS OR BELIEFS?

      -– Here are some passages that say you get judged based on your beliefs:

      Mark 16:16: "Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned."

      John 3:3: "Jesus replied, 'Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again."

      John 3:18: "Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son."

      John 3:36: "Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them."

      -– Here are some passages that say you get judged based on your deeds:

      Matt: 12:37: "For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.”

      Luke 10: 25-28: "On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?” He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”

      John 5: 28-29: "Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when ALL who are in their graves will hear his voice and come out—those who have done what is good will rise to live, and those who have done what is evil will rise to be condemned."

      April 1, 2012 at 11:30 am |
    • scottosky

      You Christians are proving to be some of the most uncaring, nasty, self-righteous being on the planted. You're so filled with venon and jugdement and hatred of anyone other than yourself, it's a wounder you can even function in this world.

      April 1, 2012 at 11:31 am |
    • Peteyroo

      The Creator = Big Bang

      April 1, 2012 at 11:32 am |
    • jd

      Dixin,

      Your a mor on Jesus did say that you stu pid simpleton – he said those who have sold not that every one goes and sell everything – what a truly dum b person you really are

      April 1, 2012 at 11:32 am |
    • Dixon

      scottosky: See above... they can use the Bible to cherry pick virtually ANYTHING they want to.

      To illustrate this, there was an entire site devoted to prove that Tiger Woods was actually God via the Bible. A TINY sampling of those included:

      >> Proverbs 22:15 Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.

      – Obviously this passage refers to Tiger's wildness off the tee as a youth.

      >> Isaiah 11:8 And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp.

      – A snake hole and a golf hole are about the same size, aren't they? Plus, we are quite certain that there were snakes somewhere on the first course Tiger played.

      >> Psalm 89:32 Then will I visit their transgression with the rod, and their iniquity with stripes.

      – Tiger, with his stripes, punishes his opponents with his clubs.

      LOL

      April 1, 2012 at 11:33 am |
    • Dixon

      @jd: You truly have experienced a "miracle".... I didn't realize that they could provide electricity and internet service in your trailer park! You "is" educated indeed!

      April 1, 2012 at 11:34 am |
    • Glh1

      Ah, but Dixon, you don't understand. In that passage, Jesus tells that rich man to sell all he has, etc, because Jesus knows the rich man truly values his wealth more than God. That's why he was told to give it up...it's about priorities and values. We are supposed to value eternal things above earthly possessions. If you read the New Testament, you see that several of Jesus' disciples were rich men. Jesus never admonished them to give everything up – probably because their values weren't out of wack. Jesus even told his disciples to make friends with worldly wealth – because it could be used in furthering the gospel. Please, don't try to interpret other peoples' religion when you clearly don't understand. We as Christians are supposed to be willing to give up our wealth, or do whatever Christ asks. But we aren't all called upon to do the same things.

      April 1, 2012 at 11:34 am |
    • Dixon

      @Peteyroo: "The Creator = Big Bang"

      Santa = Presents

      April 1, 2012 at 11:35 am |
    • Fortis

      How very Christian of you to want something like that.

      April 1, 2012 at 11:36 am |
    • Dixon

      @glh: Nice try.

      While Jesus was talking to a rich man, he was also talking to everyone else. Here is the rest of that EXACT same passage:

      -----

      The disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said again, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”

      The disciples were even more amazed, and said to each other, “Who then can be saved?”

      Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.”

      Then Peter spoke up, “We have left everything to follow you!”

      “Truly I tell you,” Jesus replied, “no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age: homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—along with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last first.”

      ----–

      Do you know what the word "Children" means? It is PLURAL... that means more than one. Jesus didn't say, "Child" which he would have if he was only speaking to one person.

      Peter then confirms this by saying, "WE (plural) have left EVERYTHING to follow you!" Were Jesus' followers rich before following Jesus? The answer is NO.

      Then Jesus answers Peter and suggests leaving your family and job behind and says the LAST will be first. Jesus says to leave the "fields" to follow him which would imply farmers and farm workers... were they rich? The answer is no.

      So what are you going to do now? Are you going to listen to your Savior and leave your wife, mom, dad, kids, brothers, sisters and quit your job to go spread the word of Jesus as he COMMANDS? After all you will get a HUNDRED times worth of those great things when you get to Heaven. Life here is limited, Heaven is forever. Remember, Jesus says to be LAST. If you were a true believer, then you would. But of course you won't. Why? Because you'll find a way to "justify" it.

      Peace!

      April 1, 2012 at 11:38 am |
  6. Ξ

    Revelation 4:6

    In the center, around the throne, were four living creatures, and they were covered with eyes, in front and in back. 7 The first living creature was like a lion, the second was like an ox, the third had a face like a man, the fourth was like a flying eagle. 8 Each of the four living creatures had six wings and was covered with eyes all around, even under its wings.

    How can anybody take this seriously?

    April 1, 2012 at 11:18 am |
    • rmtaks

      Yea, it's basically giving it away that the whole thing was a joke. "Hey you know how you thought Greek mythology was fake because of all the monsters and crazy crap going on? Well we're bringing all that back in the last chapter."

      April 1, 2012 at 11:21 am |
    • Believer of Christ

      The Creatures represent Countries and weaponry. I would suggest you, Do a lil research on evolution and evidence of God

      April 1, 2012 at 11:31 am |
  7. Juan-Jo

    You can believe all you want but that will not stop the end from coming. This author is trying to look wise but sounds more ignorant than anyone i know. You take Harold campin as a false prophet but this author is a false prophet too. I wish the author would understand what she lost when she tried to win the world by writing this rediculous book.

    April 1, 2012 at 11:18 am |
    • Peteyroo

      Harold is that you? How'd that rapture thing work out for you? Be patient. The Mayans have your number this year. My calendar runs out on December 31. Does that mean the world is going to end, or do I just need to get next year's calendar?

      April 1, 2012 at 11:38 am |
  8. Dixon

    Christians: Go check this site out:

    http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/all-videos.htm

    He talks really slowly and provides text as well, so many of you have a fighting chance of following along...

    April 1, 2012 at 11:18 am |
  9. jcampb57

    Elaine Pagels , take on theb4 big myths of Book of Revelation are so full of holes you can drive a semi through them, comeon , written by a guy who saw his world collaspe, there is no known MAJOR battel to have ever taken place on the plains of Meddego ( Armageddon ) yet. Her take that Revelations is a feel good story is absurd,it is the final punishment of evil and those that have not accepted christ as ther personnel lord and savior. The feel good story is the rapture , where all christians are taken from this earth prior to the final conflit between god and the devil. What are the credentials to this nut job of women

    April 1, 2012 at 11:18 am |
    • retrostar1000

      She is no more nuttier than all the other crazy Christians running loose in the world.

      April 1, 2012 at 11:27 am |
    • Mike

      It is interesting to see how fiercly defensive some cpeople get about their accepted set of beiefs as a whole. Revelation is far and away the most incongruous book in the new testament. It comes straight out of left field, and quite frankly it makes extraordinarily litte sense. Why fight an intelligent assessment of its merits and historical context? She's not saying the gospels are wrong, she's just saying this book is complex and commonly misinterpreted. Why the hate?

      April 1, 2012 at 11:37 am |
    • ssnevasail

      I find it of interest that you and so many of the Bible trumpeters have a common thread in their rants. The obvious inability to spell correctly and put together a proper sentence seems rampant in the "true believers". Perhaps a remedial English course would give a bit of coherency to your efforts.

      April 1, 2012 at 11:39 am |
  10. rmtaks

    "It accepted women leaders, and intermarriage with gentiles, Pagels says.

    The new message was a lot like what we call Christianity today."

    Haha what?

    April 1, 2012 at 11:17 am |
    • Robert

      During this point in time a lot of Christian practices weren't quite so defined as today. Women did hold central roles in early churches. Also during this period people weren't certain if Jesus was trying to reform the Jewish religion or start a new one. I think we all know how that ended.

      April 1, 2012 at 11:26 am |
    • rmtaks

      Robert: I was laughing that they were implying Christians accepted women leaders and interracial marriages today.

      April 1, 2012 at 11:28 am |
  11. marty

    so let me get this straight 'But people have clashed over the meaning of Revelation ever since it was virtually forced into the New Testament canon over the protests of some early church leaders' yet we should believe this person ? Umm ... sorry. This is just one more interpretation added to the thousands of others, and is no more 'correct' than any other. The one person who could answer this is dead almost 2000 years.

    April 1, 2012 at 11:17 am |
  12. SkipJunkman

    We don't need faith, we need hope. Your faith is dimming our hope. Put the fairy tales down and pick up a textbook.

    April 1, 2012 at 11:17 am |
  13. I am God

    Wow 40 pages of comments all ready. Let me guess that most of these comments are Christians bashing it. Guess what Christians you weren't the first religion in the world so give it up all ready. Ancient Egyptian Gods were around longer then you have, as well as the Mayan's Gods, Incan's Gods, and so on and so forth. Christianity you are a fraud.

    April 1, 2012 at 11:17 am |
  14. he is watching you...LOL

    The spelling of the president's name (Barack (6), Hussein (7), Obama (5)) has three names averaging 6 letters each or 666, making him the evil one.....lol

    April 1, 2012 at 11:16 am |
    • Dixon

      Ronald Wilson Reagan was a natural 6-6-6

      April 1, 2012 at 11:24 am |
    • TLHemlock

      Try Ronald (6) Wilson (6) Reagan (6). You don't even have to add them up then divide them to get an average. It's as plain as the nose on your face. ;-)

      April 1, 2012 at 11:42 am |
  15. Mark

    Is it a myth when everything in the bible has come true up to date? Literally everything! I know what a myth is, this is not a myth.

    I'm in anthropology, we use the word "myth" to describe ALL religious doctrine. But that does not mean that they are not true...we just call them that because that is anthropological language.

    The Book of Revelations is astonishing. If you understand it and read it to yourself without listening to all these ignorant people, you will know what its talking about.

    The notion that something is not credible because it is not rooted in science is complete ignorance. If you don't wish to believe it, then don't, noones holding a gun to your head.

    Atheist should read this quote very carefully...

    "It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without necessarily accepting it."

    — Aristotle

    April 1, 2012 at 11:16 am |
    • JennieD

      Very true.

      April 1, 2012 at 11:18 am |
    • SixDegrees

      Mostly, it's not a good idea to listen to the voices in your head.

      April 1, 2012 at 11:19 am |
    • slason

      Not rooted in science?! it's not rooted in reality or our time period. All gods are man-made. Sorry, but that's REALITY.

      April 1, 2012 at 11:21 am |
    • Stop the Nonsense

      Mark, what is "astounding" is that you still believe ancient writings.

      April 1, 2012 at 11:22 am |
    • longtooth

      Thank you for the quote. Profoundly true.

      April 1, 2012 at 11:27 am |
    • Dan

      You realize, belonging as you do to a species which has created for itself tens of thousands of gods throughout its existence, that to pick one of those and pretend to believe in it puts you in the least likely position of being objectively correct... right? And since the god you've chosen to believe in doesn't have a shred of evidence in his favor despite millennia of attempts, maybe you shouldn't condescend to atheists about what it means to entertain displeasing thoughts. Here's an idea for you to start with: maybe there is no god. Have fun.

      April 1, 2012 at 11:27 am |
    • rmtaks

      I entertained the thought the first 20 years of my life. And that people take it so seriously that they try to build laws around it is ridiculous and infuriating.

      April 1, 2012 at 11:27 am |
    • Sam Kinison

      I love it when conservative religious people who blindly believe in a series of writings written by men and let those writings guide their existence come back and say non believers are not tolerant and uneducated. Too funny. Just imagine the politics, censorship, and intolerance if some guy started preaching a new religion in our modern society. Conservative Christians would want the guy killed for his blasphemy. Why do you think that is any different 2000 years ago? What is considered The Bible today is a series of highly writings that were hand picked over time by men with agendas. It wasn't handed down the ages intact from the pen of God or Jesus. Every religion claims to be THE ONLY RELIGION. I am cool with you having your faith but remember this, there were millions of people in history who believed just as deeply as you that the Roman gods were the ONLY GODS. Blind faith is dangerous.

      April 1, 2012 at 11:30 am |
    • Mark

      'Love your neighbor as yourself.' No other commandment is greater than these."
      Mark 12:31
      3/31/2012= 12 (over the day) 31 12/31 or 12:31
      12:31 PM EST

      http://www.symbols.com/encyclopedia/31/311.html
      http://www.symbols.com/encyclopedia/31/312.html
      http://www.symbols.com/encyclopedia/31/313.html

      April 1, 2012 at 11:31 am |
    • Peteyroo

      Really? Atheists? No one else?

      April 1, 2012 at 11:41 am |
  16. montoyadaniel

    Palm Sunday, so CNN posts this Gnostic Gospel story from decades ago that the majority of scholars disregard? Not cool man, not cool. John Blake writes too many articles about Christianity that are just meant to ruffle people's feathers.

    April 1, 2012 at 11:16 am |
  17. REALLY?

    And...lol....read the book of Daniel!

    April 1, 2012 at 11:15 am |
  18. denis

    After years of observing what makes most people "tick", I have concluded that the main engine of human behaviour appears to be fueled principally by Ideologies that feed the FEAR OF LOSS and the QUEST FOR GAIN (POWER).

    April 1, 2012 at 11:15 am |
  19. Sarah

    Why is it that so many Christians are not open to listen to anything that contradicts exactly what their own church teaches. Essentially we are born into our beliefs. For most, if we are born into a Jewish family, we practice Judaism, if born into a Baptist family we practice Baptist beliefs, etc. Therefore we are predestined to our beliefs and won't even listen to any other.

    How can one really believe anything without first considering everything?

    April 1, 2012 at 11:15 am |
    • irreligious

      This applies to you too. If you are born into an irreligious family, you will be irreligious

      April 1, 2012 at 11:24 am |
    • Marly

      Is it possible to consider 'everything? ' Perhaps the problem is that we label people first and see the world by those labels without first seeing the person who acts very much like the vast majority of humans. I doubt there is simply a 'Christian' predisposition to not listen to alternatives- I would bet that you have this behavior as well. Most of us do not see it, or will admit to it, within oursleves. It is always easier to see ourselves through others though yet we think we are seeing others instead. It takes training to go beyond what we are used to and our culture believes in pumping the world into us rather than allowing it to expand before us. Our educational system determines our success in the world based on what they tell us that we remember. We tell each other what is 'right' and 'wrong', 'good' and 'bad', 'tolerant' and 'intolerant'...democratic and republican. Yes, we dig our heels in becasue we do not offer each other the freedom to expand and so we get what we have and we complain others are not different than they are and we complain, without knowing, of ourselves.

      April 1, 2012 at 11:30 am |
    • Sarah

      You would be wrong @irreligious, I was born into a protestant Brethren religion. Attended church tree times a week from two weeks old until 18 years old. Then, after reading and listening to other thoughts, my beliefs changed.

      April 1, 2012 at 11:34 am |
  20. Duggerdog

    This is nuts. Why would a 21st century news corp constantly have religious stories on the main page? We're all debating about ancient nomadic herdsmen writings? There has been no "God" update is thousands of years. At the last posting in Revelations they were still riding chariots and using swords. Stop the nonsense.

    April 1, 2012 at 11:15 am |
    • Godfrey

      It's called clickbait, and that's what CNN does these days. They particularly love to do it on Sundays.

      But whatever: I think the comments on these stories expose a lot of theists to other viewpoints. It's a good thing: CNN gets their click revenue, and we atheists get our souls (which we will later use to barter with Satan for a better spot in Hell. Perhaps a Lakeside villa.)

      It's win-win.

      April 1, 2012 at 11:20 am |
    • GodisNot

      I'm with you, but when 80% of the US population still believes these fairy tales then I guess there's still an audience for it.

      April 1, 2012 at 11:29 am |
    • stormsun

      Duggerdog: your frustration is understandable, but consider this – a majority of Americans identify themselves as "believers" in one form of supernaturalism or another. So, actually, the MORE we discuss the rationality and basis of such beliefs, the more likely we are to shake free of this oldest form of mind control. For that is what religion has always been about – control in the here and now. Men claiming to speak for an invisible, unprovable, but all-powerful and all-knowing deity. They don't have to prove anything they say – they have been "chosen" in a way others cannot understand. Most people put more effort, apply more scrutiny and care in a simple investment like buying a car or a house than they do in surrendering their minds to a self-appointed religious "leader." We need to talk about this publicly.

      April 1, 2012 at 11:37 am |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke and Eric Marrapodi with daily contributions from CNN's worldwide newsgathering team.