What does furlong mean in Luke 24 and Revelation 14 & 21?

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By BibleAsk Team


Understanding the significance of the term “furlong” in both the Gospel of Luke and the book of Revelation requires delving into the context, historical background, and theological implications of its usage. In Luke 24, the term provides a geographical reference point for the narrative of Jesus’ resurrection appearances, while in Revelation 14 and 21, it is employed symbolically to convey profound spiritual truths about divine judgment and the heavenly city, the New Jerusalem. Let’s explore the meaning of “furlong” in these passages in detail.

Furlong in Luke 24:

Context and Usage:

In Luke 24:13, the word “miles” in some translations is translated from the Greek word “σταδίους” (stadious), which refers to a unit of length in the ancient Greek measurement system. It is often translated as “furlong” in modern English translations, particularly in the New King James Version.

Interpretation:

  1. Geographical Reference: The mention of “seven miles” or “seventy stadia” (using the Greek measurement) in Luke 24:13 serves as a geographical marker, indicating the distance between Jerusalem and the village of Emmaus. This provides context for the narrative of Jesus’ appearance to the two disciples on the road to Emmaus.
  2. Symbolic Significance: While the primary function of the measurement is descriptive, some scholars have suggested that the number “seven” may carry symbolic significance, representing completeness or divine fulfillment. Thus, the “seven miles” to Emmaus may symbolize the completeness of the disciples’ journey or the fullness of revelation experienced in encountering the risen Christ.

Theological Implications:

  1. Confirmation of Jesus’ Resurrection: The narrative in Luke 24 affirms the reality of Jesus’ resurrection appearances and underscores the transformative impact of encountering the risen Christ. The journey to Emmaus serves as a powerful testimony to the disciples’ recognition of Jesus’ identity and the fulfillment of Scripture in His resurrection.
  2. Revelation of Scripture: Through His interactions with the disciples on the road to Emmaus, Jesus opens their minds to understand the Scriptures concerning Himself (Luke 24:27). This highlights the importance of Scripture in revealing the identity and mission of Jesus Christ, leading to faith and transformation.

Furlong in Revelation 14 and 21:

Context and Usage:

In Revelation 14:20 and 21:16, the term “furlong” is used to describe measurements related to divine judgment and the dimensions of the heavenly city, the New Jerusalem, respectively.

Interpretation:

  1. Measurement of Divine Judgment: In Revelation 14:20, the mention of “one thousand six hundred furlongs” symbolizes the extent and completeness of God’s judgment upon the wicked. This measurement conveys the magnitude of divine retribution and the thoroughness of God’s justice.
  2. Measurement of the New Jerusalem: In Revelation 21:16, the dimensions of the New Jerusalem are given as “twelve thousand furlongs” in length, breadth, and height. This measurement emphasizes the completeness, fullness, and eternity of the heavenly city, symbolizing the infinite blessings and joys awaiting God’s people.

Theological Implications:

  1. Divine Judgment and Justice: The measurements in Revelation 14:20 underscore the certainty and severity of divine judgment upon the wicked. They emphasize the consequences of rebellion against God and the ultimate triumph of righteousness over evil.
  2. Hope and Promise for Believers: The measurements of the New Jerusalem in Revelation 21:16 offer hope and assurance to believers, reminding them of the ultimate destination prepared for those who belong to Christ. The city’s dimensions symbolize the incomprehensible blessings and joys awaiting God’s faithful servants in the age to come.

Conclusion:

In conclusion, the term “furlong” appears in both the Gospel of Luke and the book of Revelation, serving different purposes and conveying distinct theological truths. In Luke 24, it provides a geographical reference point for the narrative of Jesus’ resurrection appearances, while in Revelation 14 and 21, it is used symbolically to depict divine judgment and the dimensions of the heavenly city.

Understanding the significance of “furlong” in these passages enriches our understanding of Scripture and its theological implications, highlighting the multifaceted nature of God’s revelation to humanity. As believers engage with these passages, they are invited to reflect on the transformative power of encountering the risen Christ and the hope of the eternal inheritance awaiting them in the New Jerusalem.

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In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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