In our Greek Word Devotional series, we discuss some of our favorite passages in the Bible, focusing on the specific use of certain Greek words. Today, we’re looking at a verse from the last chapter of the last book of the Bible, Revelation 22:4, and asking what it means to have God’s name on our metōpon or forehead.
“They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads.”
The following is an excerpt from the CSB Study Bible:
Greek pronunciation: MEH toh pahn
CSB translation: forehead
Uses in Revelation: 8
Uses in the NT: 8
Focus passage: Revelation 22:4
In the ancient world, a mark on the forehead (metōpon) normally involved a master/slave relationship (cp. Word study on seal, Gk spragis). Such markings were used to signify: (1) tribal identity, (2) ownership, or (3) loyalty to a deity (closely related to ownership), as well as (4) to punish runaway slaves.
In the NT, metōpon occurs in Revelation, where a mark on the forehead is always in view. On four occasions God claims ownership of his servants by applying his name to their foreheads, protecting them from his judgment (7:3; 9:4; 14:1; 22:4). Three times God’s enemies receive the mark of the beast (perhaps his name or 666) on their right hand or forehead (13:16; 14:9; 20:4). This represents a satanic counterpart to God’s sealing. Elsewhere, the prostitute riding the scarlet beast bears a cryptic name on her forehead (17:5), perhaps an allusion to the ancient practice of Roman prostitutes placing their names on headbands.
There’s a responsibility that comes with being a child of God. Since we profess to do everything in God’s name and have received his name on our forehead, everything we do reflects back on him. That sign cannot (and should not) be hidden. We will be known by our fruits, so when the world sees us, they should see his name on our forehead and know who we are.
Yet, so many Christians lead their lives as if no mark is present. They may clamor and parade themselves about as followers of God, clothing themselves in (imitations of) righteousness—but the world doesn’t see his name on their foreheads. Maybe their foreheads are smudged by pride or hypocrisy, or are covered by the hats or crowns of other roles and responsibilities. Whatever the case may be, they proclaim the Lord with their lips, but he is not evident in their body. Anyone who has to repeat time and again that they’re a Christian for others to notice something different about them may need to reflect on why they aren’t believed the first time.
The question, then, is this: do we tell people that we are followers of God, or do we show them?
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