Great controversy exists in the prophetic community about what the “sealing” of the prophecies of Daniel means. Some say “this” and some say “that.” A deeper question exists, however: “what book is sealed in Dan. 12?” Is the Book of Daniel sealed in Dan. 12 or is it possible that something else is sealed?
This is not an incidental question of interest. The reliability of Daniel’s prophecies are at stake. If Daniel is truly sealed, has it been completely unsealed? Is there still understanding we don’t know? If something other than Daniel’s prophecies are sealed, we have complete information and can safely interpret the prophecies. Heroes of the prophetic community and lesser figures (myself included) have written on this subject and concluded Daniel is/was sealed. This doesn’t mean we were correct, however. Notice I have placed a tag on this blog called “Unsealing the Book of Daniel.” I find that humorous and ironic if this blog proves that false.
In order to understand the questions we asked above, we must rely on our fundamental tools of Bible interpretation: context and reference. Context is looking at the passages surrounding the verse in question and deriving meaning in light of what the entire section of scripture says. Reference is looking at other sections of Daniel and the rest of scripture and let the Bible interpret the Bible.
Let’s begin our search by looking at the passage that has led to this investigation.
And at that time Michael the great prince shall stand up, that stands over the children of thy people: and there shall be a time of tribulation, such tribulation as has not been from the time that there was a nation on the earth until that time: at that time thy people shall be delivered, even every one that is written in the book. And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to reproach and everlasting shame. And the wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament, and some of the many righteous as the stars for ever and ever. (4) And thou, Daniel, close (Gk: ENPHOBOS, meaning fill with Godly fear) the words, and seal the book to the time of the end (Gk: SUNTELEIA, meaning “completion of many parts” or “payment”); until many are taught, and knowledge is increased (Dan. 12: 1-4 LXX)
Notice I chose the Septuagint Greek translation of Daniel not the Hebrew. Nearly all our English translation Bibles are based on a Hebrew text and every analysis I’ve seen of this passage has been constructed from the Hebrew. The Greek, however, was the primary text used by the Apostles. All but 5 OT quotes in the NT are from the Septuagint. Additionally, the language of the Septuagint and the NT are both in Greek and word studies can be done and compared to NT texts. If you are familiar with the translation of the Hebrew, you probably noticed the Septuagint version quoted here isn’t all that different. But perhaps these slight differences will help us gain understanding.
Verse 4 above is at the center of all controversy. The English translation of the first half of the verse says “close the words and seal the book to the time of the end.” That certainly sounds like the angel is commanding Daniel to seal his book (the Book of Daniel) until we reach the “time of the end.” But is that what “the book” means? Look just two verses above this passage and you will see “the book” referred to again. Can these two “the book” references be different books? They cannot (under the rules of proper Bible interpretation.) They are one and the same book. If the angel intended to refer to the Book of Daniel, he would have said “this” book or “your book.” The definitive article “the” in both references to the scroll (book) means it’s the most important of its kind in scripture.
What is the most important book (scroll) of all-time? Most would say the Book of Life. In Rev. 20:15 we are told “And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.” This is obviously a very important book. The salvation of all people depends on their names be written in this book. What does Daniel say about “the book” in the passage above? “thy people shall be delivered, even every one that is written in the book. And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life.” This is the Resurrection and obviously “the book” is the book, the Book of Life. The passage in Revelation is almost a direct quote of Daniel. John simply identifies “the book” with the two extra words “of life.”
This means “the book,” the Book of Life, is what is sealed in Dan. 12:4 until the “time of the end.”
I think the above is a pretty definitive proof that “the book” is the Book of Life, but like the ads on TV say, “wait, there’s more!” In the Greek, a very special noun is translated “end” in the phrase “time of the end.” This word is SUNTELEIA which means “payment” or “completion of many parts.” This exact word was used by the disciples when they asked Jesus the question that led to him answering with the Olivet Discourse, “Tell us, when will these things happen, and what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end (Gk: SUNTELEIA) of the age?” (Matt. 24:3) This is a very particular word. In the New Testament it is always used in reference to the return of Jesus and the end of the age. In every case in the NT, the text is referring back to this use in Dan. 12: 4 and its other use in Dan. 12:13.
Interestingly the ideas of a “payment” and the “completion of many parts” are found in one verse in Revelation. Even more interestingly, this passage involves a “sealed book (scroll)”:
Worthy are You (Jesus) to take the book and to break its seals (seven seals which when open are the completion of multiple parts); for You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood (the payment) men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation. (Rev. 5:9)
This is the SUNTELEIA, the time of the end Daniel was referring to: the breaking of the seven seals on the 7 Sealed Scroll. Only Jesus is worthy to break the seals because of the payment he made with his blood on our behalf. When all seven seals are broken, we will reach the completion of multiple parts, the SUNTELEIA. Also notice that men were what was purchased. This is completely consistent with the Resurrection mentioned in Daniel 12:2. “The book” in Daniel 12:2,4 is the Book of Life and the 7 Sealed Scroll in Revelation is most likely the same book.
I guess the only question one might have is “why was this not noticed before? It seems so obvious!” There are several reasons:
- No other commentator I know has looked at the Greek. The Hebrew word in Daniel 12:4 can’t be compared to the New Testament. The use of the Greek OT opens up the meaning.
- If the 7 Sealed Scroll truly contains the Book of Life (it has other aspects to it as well), there are serious implications on the timing of the Rapture. If the SUNTELEIA occurs upon the “completion of multiple parts” (the opening of the 7th seal), the Resurrection and the Rapture must occur toward the end of the 70th Week of Daniel. This is completely consistent with Dan. 12:2 that pictures the Resurrection after the Great Tribulation. Based on this analysis in Daniel, there can be no Pre-Tribulation Rapture. Believers in a Pre-Tribulation Rapture analysing these verses would likely allow their pre-conceived theory obscure the meaning of “the book.”
- Dan. 12:4 discusses the “closing of the words” (Gk: LOGOS) also, not just the sealing of “the book,” and this has confused commentators. We’ll discuss this in the next section.
Closing the Words
This is a very odd term, “closing.” The reason it’s odd is the underlying Greek word translated “closing” doesn’t mean that at all. It actually means “filling with Godly fear.” This is the same Greek word (Gk: ENPHOBOS) used in the New Testament when the women encountered the angels at Jesus’s tomb after his Resurrection and bowed before them. This certainly doesn’t sound like “closing” or “obscuring” or “sealing” to me. It is highly consistent with the Holy and frightening nature of the words on the 7 Sealed Scroll, however. The reward of the righteous are on the scroll in the form of the names of the saved. Most scholars (me included) also believe the punishment of the wicked in the form of the Wrath of God is written onto that scroll. Both of these items should fill us with Holy fear. So the word ENPHOBOS is incredibly appropriate.
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The Angel’s Explanation
After giving Daniel this prophecy, the angel is joined by two others and they further clarify its meaning. Daniel is confused even by the further explanation and they respond:
I heard, but I understood not: and I said, O Lord, what will be the end (PERAS, meaning boundary or limit) of these things? And he said, Go, Daniel: for the words are closed (Gk: ENPHOBOS) and sealed up to the time of the end (Gk: PERAS) . . . and thou shalt stand in thy lot at the end (Gk: SUNTELEIA) of the days. (Dan. 12: 8-9, 13 LXX)
Again the angel uses the same two Greek words in his explanation ENPHOBOS and SUNTELEIA and the meanings are the same. Daniel is told that the words are filled with Godly fear and sealed until the time of the “limit or boundary.” These words are the same as the words in Dan. 12:4 above, they are the words on the 7 Sealed Scroll. Then Daniel is told he will stand in his “lot” at the SUNTELEIA which we now know is when the Resurrection happens. So we are told Daniel will be resurrected and stand with his tribe (Judah), with the others who have trusted their salvation to the Messiah. This will happen at the breaking of the seventh seal. (Daniel trusted the Messiah for salvation 550 years before Jesus’s death on a cross.)
I’m sure this blog has surprised you, maybe even shocked you. It may even have disappointed you to know that the Book of Daniel is not supernaturally sealed. But the true meaning of Daniel 12 is much greater than the sealing of Daniel. It helps identify the 7 Sealed Scroll of Revelation and greatly helps us understand the timing of events related to the opening of that scroll during the 70th Week of Daniel