Translations in Focus - Behold! He Cometh (Spanish)
Reformed Free Publishing Association
This month on the blog, we're looking forward to the RFPA Annual Association meeting in September by highlighting our translations. Today's "translation in focus" is the Spanish translation of Behold! He Cometh: An Exposition of the Book of Revelation. Read on for side-by-side excerpts from chapter 7 of Behold and HE AQUÍ, ¡ÉL VIENE! Una exposición del libro de Apocalipsis (currently being translated by Jorge Carbajal)!
The Church with a Mystic Tendency
18 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;
19 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.
20 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.
21 And I gave her space to repent of her fornication; and she repented not.
22 Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds.
23 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.
24 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.
25 But that which ye have already hold fast till I come.
26 And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations:
27 And he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers: even as I received of my Father.
28 And I will give him the morning star.
29 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.
LA IGLESIA CON UNA TENDENCIA MÍSTICA
19. Yo conozco tus obras, y amor, y fe, y servicio, y tu paciencia, y que tus obras postreras son más que las primeras.
20. Pero tengo unas pocas cosas contra ti: que toleras que esa mujer Jezabel, que se dice profetisa, enseñe y seduzca a mis siervos a fornicar y a comer cosas sacrificadas a los ídolos.
21. Y le he dado tiempo para que se arrepienta, pero no quiere arrepentirse de su fornicación.
22. He aquí, yo la arrojo en cama, y en gran tribulación a los que con ella adulteran, si no se arrepienten de las obras de ella.
23. Y a sus hijos heriré de muerte, y todas las iglesias sabrán que yo soy el que escudriña la mente y el corazón; y os daré a cada uno según vuestras obras.
24. Pero a vosotros y a los demás que están en Tiatira, a cuantos no tienen esa doctrina, y no han conocido lo que ellos llaman las profundidades de Satanás, yo os digo: No os impondré otra carga;
26. Al que venciere y guardare mis obras hasta el fin, yo le daré autoridad sobre las naciones,
28. Y le daré la estrella de la mañana.
29. El que tiene oído, oiga lo que el Espíritu dice a las iglesias.
The Church at Thyatira
Thyatira was a city in Asia Minor southeast from Pergamos, on the road to Sardis. It was known for the art of dyeing. And, as we know, Lydia, the seller of purple, was from that city, Acts 16:14. It was not a large city, like Pergamos; and it was not exactly a place where Satan would naturally establish his throne and where he dwelt. For that reason the church in Thyatira might enjoy a comparatively peaceful existence; and although the letter of the Lord to this church suggests that there also the believers had suffered for Christ’s sake, yet this congregation did not have to suffer tribulation and persecution as did the churches of Smyrna and Pergamos.
For the rest, at first glance the letter addressed to the church in Thyatira would leave the impression that her condition was almost identically the same as that of Pergamos. The resemblance is indeed striking. Also the church in Thyatira was faithful to the Lord, as the text plainly indicates. Her weakness, or defect, seems to be that she suffered evil men, – in this case, an evil woman with her following, – in her midst. And hence, we would be inclined to draw the conclusion that also in Thyatira we are presented with the picture of a church weak in discipline. Still more, even the nature of the heresies which were being propagated in the two churches appears to be the same: for also in Thyatira the Nicolaitanes had their influence.
However, there must have been a difference between the two churches. For if in the seven churches of Asia Minor we correctly discerned a picture of the church in its totality from seven different aspects, it is plain that the church of Thyatira and the church of Pergamos each presents a different aspect of the church as a whole; and each adds its own peculiar detail to the picture of the church in its totality. This distinctive feature we try to express in the subject of this chapter, “The Church With A Mystic Tendency.”
It is undoubtedly not superfluous, first of all, to ask and answer the question: what is meant by this phrase, “the church with a mystic tendency?”
By mysticism, in the sense in which the term is employed by us now, sometimes designated as “false mysticism,” we denote a condition or tendency in the church of Christ characterized by ardent and abundant spiritual life, rather of the experiential or emotional type, but more or less severed from the objective criterion and test of the Word of God. Perhaps you will be able to gain some conception of this condition if we say that it represents the direct opposite of the condition of the church of Ephesus. The latter was strong in respect to whatever is purely objective: strong in doctrine and the knowledge of the truth; faithful, too, in works; and strict in discipline. But she was weak in regard to the life of the Spirit and had lost her first love. She was poor in warm, inward, devotional spiritual life. With a church of mystic inclination it is exactly the reverse. She is generally rich in spiritual devotion, abundant in that part of our spiritual life which cannot be explained and expressed in words, and often claims a direct intercourse with the Spirit. But she most frequently manifests an accompanying tendency to separate herself from the objective standard of the Word. She is usually poor in knowledge and, in general, in regard to things which can be grasped and analyzed by the intellect.
Or, to prevent any possible misunderstanding, it is perhaps expedient to call your attention to three possible conditions in the church of Christ on earth.
In the first place, we may mention the correct, the healthy and normal, the most perfect condition of the church on earth, namely, that condition which is characterized by a correct and constant equilibrium of the subjective and objective. It is the condition of the church which is both strong in knowledge and maintenance of the truth, emphasizing the necessity of the Word properly, but which at the same time is not devoid of true, devotional, ardent spiritual life, and in which the latter is continually guided and tested by the former. Of course, in any form of true Christian religion there is a mystic element, resulting from our spiritual communion with Christ our head. And any true child of God will be able to speak of the fact that he experiences moments of sweet communion with the Savior that transcend all analysis and expression in human language. To speak in terms often employed by children of God, there are moments when they have “good times” with the Lord, moments in which we experience the mystical feeling of the bride who is near the bridegroom. Such moments are perfectly normal, and they should constitute an element of our life with God. There is no danger in such mystical communion, if only it is continually subjected to the objective test of the Word of God. And if such a condition is peculiar of an entire church, that church enjoys what may be called a state of healthy mysticism.
A second condition, however, also met with in the church of Christ on earth, is that which results when the value of pure doctrine and the function of the intellect in religion is over-rated and exclusively emphasized, while the inward life of the Spirit is forgotten. Then all the emphasis is placed exclusively on cold doctrine. The congregation never receives a taste of sweet mystical communion of the Spirit, and religion becomes cold and dead intellectualism, – a body without a soul. Such a condition is, of course, to be condemned; indeed, it is very dangerous!
But there is still another form that reveals itself from time to time in the history of the church as the dominant form, a form, in fact, which never vanishes out of sight entirely. That is the condition of what we call false mysticism. If dead orthodoxy over-rates the value of doctrine, false mysticism undervalues sound knowledge of the truth altogether. If the intellectual church does not sufficiently emphasize the life of the Spirit and mystical communion, the church which is mystically inclined places all the emphasis on the subjective experience of the soul. The mystical element is there, exists, in fact, in an abundant measure; and many in the church can testify of the “good times” they experience with the Savior. But this mystic life is from the start not guided by the objective testimony of the Word. Such a congregation makes the experience of its members the test and guide of all spiritual life. She is in danger of running wild with devotion. And if this mystical tendency continues and develops, she will attach significance to all kinds of feelings and sentiments, perhaps even to visions and dreams. And, finally, being cut loose from the Word of God, she becomes a fit object of Satan’s seductive influence, exposed to any and every error of the kingdom of darkness.
There was, I think, a clear tendency towards this false and dangerous form of mysticism to be discovered in the church of Thyatira.
Exhortation and Promise
However, also the message to the church of Thyatira does not conclude with threats of judgment, but closes with most glorious promises to them that are faithful and overcome in the battle. In the first place, the Lord tenderly comforts them, and at the same time warns them against the danger of falling into an opposite extreme, when He says: “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.” These last words are referred by some to a burden of judgment. The meaning then would be that the Lord would indeed visit the congregation with His judgments by afflicting and punishing the evil-doers, but that outside of the culprits He would not afflict any other in the church. But this view appears less than probable. More natural, it would seem to be, that these words refer to a burden of law and precepts. As the undefiled would witness the judgments upon the wicked Jezebel and her following because of their fornication, they might be inclined to the opposite extreme and imagine that the complete fulfillment of the law was still incumbent upon them and necessary for their salvation. From antinomism they might swing to phariseeism and nomism. And against this the Lord warns them by saying that He will put upon them none other burden.
The latter interpretation would seem the more probable because there is an unmistakable reference in these words to the passage of Acts 15:28, 29. We remember that the question of circumcision and of the entire Mosaic law had been a burning one in the early churches, and that it had been discussed and settled by the “Synod” of Jerusalem in approximately 50 A.D. And the well-known decision for that important gathering had been: “For it seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things; That ye abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication: from which if ye keep yourselves, ye shall do well.” This, then, was the burden that had been laid upon them heretofore. And if they only had adhered to these precepts, they would undoubtedly have kept themselves undefiled from the vile sins of Jezebel and her wicked brood. But now the danger was more than imaginary that the faithful, at the sight of the judgments inflicted upon the wicked woman in their midst, would turn to the other extreme; and, not intimately acquainted with the doctrine of the church, they would timidly subject themselves once more to the bondage of fear. This must be prevented. Hence, the Lord comes with the definite message: “I will lay upon you none other burden. Just keep what you have till I come.”
To these faithful, then, to those who keep what they have and are pure from the defilement of Jezebel’s teaching, the Lord comes with a most beautiful promise. Says He: “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 they be broken to shivers: even as I received of my Father.”
To see in these words anything but a promise of final victory in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ is to do violence to the plain words of Scripture. Plainly Jesus promises in this passage that He will give to the faithful the same power He has received from His Father. In the day of His coming they shall share in His power and glory of victory. Evidently the reference is to Psalm 2. There we are presented, first of all, with a picture of the powers and the might of the world raging and striving to obtain the world dominion which properly belongs to the kingdom of God’s Anointed. This dominion the Father gave to His Son. He has been anointed King over God’s holy hill, over Zion. And when that Son declares the decree of Jehovah, He says: “The Lord hath said unto me, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee. Ask of me, and I will give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession. Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.” Evidently the dominant thought is that the powers of the world strive to break the dominion of Christ and rebel against the Most High, but that the Son shall have the ultimate victory in the day of His coming and shall execute vengeance upon all His enemies. This is the power which He has received of His Father. And in this power the faithful of the church of Thyatira shall share, according to this glorious promise. In a later connection we shall have occasion to explain this promise more definitely. Now it must suffice that we state as our conviction that this promise is to be literally fulfilled. Literally the enemies rage against the kingdom and dominion of the Son. Literally the Christ shall come to break the power of His enemies. But these enemies which rise against the kingdom of God also oppose the subjects of that kingdom while they are still on earth. They reproach and slander them. They persecute them and cause them to suffer for the sake of Christ. But even as they share in His reproach, so shall they also participate in the glory of His victory in the day when He shall have the final victory over all His enemies. They shall come with Him. With Him they shall judge the nations. And with Him they shall enter into His dominion when the nations are broken to shivers like a potter’s vessel and when all the power of opposition shall have an end.
In the second place, the Lord gives to the faithful the beautiful and suggestive promise of the morning star. Mention of the fact that the righteous shall shine with radiant glory, as the bodies in the firmament, is not foreign to Scripture. In Daniel 12:4 we read: “And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament, and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever.” And in Matthew 13:43 the Lord says: “Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father.” All the righteous, therefore, shall shine. That is the glory of their perfected new being in Christ. Cleansed and purified in the blood of the Lamb, they shall forevermore reveal themselves in eternal luster and resplendent glory. To that eternal glory also the symbol of our text refers. But evidently there is this difference, that the morning star shines with greater splendor, is more obvious in brightness, than the other stars in the firmament. It is a star of special luster and glory. Thus also they who keep themselves pure in the midst of great temptation, who remain faithful in times of special stress and danger, shall shine forth with distinguished glory in the eternal kingdom of God. Even as the morning star shines with special glory in the firmament of heaven, so shall they that have kept themselves pure from the defilement of Jezebel, and who in the midst of great temptations have been faithful unto the end reveal themselves in the eternal kingdom with distinct glory and splendor.
He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches!
What doth the Spirit say?
Do not drift away on subjective experience, ignoring the objective principle of the Word of God. Cling to the Word. For only that Word is our safe guide and firm basis in the midst of strong currents of human theories. And if false prophets arise, who would lead you astray with their own imaginations, test the spirits, and reject them without hesitation. This false doctrine may sometimes appear under a very beautiful mask. In Thyatira it was a mask of super-piety. In our day it is the mask of service to humanity. Surely, service is good if it is service not merely of man, but, above all, service of God. Service is good if it is based not upon the vain theories of human philosophy, but on the eternal principle of the Word of God. Cling, then, to that Word. Keep yourselves pure from the wicked Jezebel.
For the faithful to the end shall receive the same power as Christ has received of His Father!
And they shall shine as the morning star in the kingdom of heaven!
We celebrate the labor of many hours on the part of author and translator in bringing this and our other wonderful works to life!
Interested in other translations of RFPA works? Check out the website of the Covenant Protestant Reformed Church in Ballymena, Northern Ireland. The site houses links to Reformed material in dozens of languages, including excerpts of many RFPA materials.
Interested in the process of translation? The RFPA maintains contracts with many freelance translators in the Reformed world, but we're always looking to add to that list. Follow this link for the CPRC FAQs on translation.