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COLLECTIONLetters from the Universal House of Justice
TITLEBiblical Verses, Interpretation of
AUTHOR 1 Universal House of Justice
ABSTRACTInterpretation of Biblical verses. Includes chart showing all references in the Bahá'í writings to verses in the Book of Revelation.
NOTES Posted by son of recipient; name retained with permission.
TAGS- Interfaith dialogue; Beast (Bible); Bible; Christianity; Decline and renewal of religion; Interpretation; Number of the beast; Prophecies; Quotations from the Bible; Revelation of St. John; Speculation

To: The Universal House of Justice    
From: Research Department


            The Research Department has studied the questions contained in the letter dated 27 November 1985 from Mr. José Elias Garcia (*) to the Universal House of Justice concerning the interpretation of a number of verses from the Bible. We make the following comment.

            In relation to the general question of the interpretation of biblical verses, the Guardian, in a letter dated 31 January 1955, written on his behalf to an individual believer, provided the following guidance:
"Except for what has been explained by Bahá'u'lláh and ‘Abdu'l-Bahá, we have no way of knowing what various symbolic allusions in the Bible mean."
It is clear from the Guardian's statement that we can be sure of the exact meaning of only such passages as have been authoritatively interpreted in our Writings. In time absence of any authoritative interpretation, the individual is free to draw his or her own conclusions about the meaning of the verses and prophecies. Some examples of individual interpretations include:
Ruth J. Moffett, "New Keys to the Book of Revelation". New Delhi: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1977.
Robert F. Riggs, "Apocalypse Unsealed". New York: Philosophical Library, 1981.
  1. With regard to the interpretation of the Book of Revelation, the Guardian, in a letter dated 13 August 1944, written on his behalf to a individual believer, stated:
    "…although the Book of Revelation has not been interpreted in the teachings from beginning to end there are many passages of it which have been interpreted. It is a very important book and very important in teaching the Bahá'í interpretation of certain Biblical passages to devout Christians."

    As an assistance to Mr. Garcia, we enclose a list of those verses from Revelation for which an authoritative interpretation exists, and their sources in the Bahá'í Writings. In addition, we cite below extracts from two letters written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to individual believers pertaining specifically to the numbers 666 (13:8) and 144,000 (7:4):

                "You have asked about the meaning of the "four beasts" referred to in Revelations, Ch. 4. ‘Abdu'l-Bahá in a Tablet has given an explanation for the reference to the "beast" mentioned in Revelations 13:18, saying that the numerical value given to the beast in that passage referred to the date of the year, i.e. 666 A.D., when the Umayyad ruler arose. This is obviously a reference to Mu'áwíyih, the Umayyad Caliph who opposed the Imamate. He speaks further on this subject in "Some Answered Questions", Chapter XI." (1 August 1978)

                "With reference to your request for any explanations found in the Writings concerning the teaching of the Jehovah's Witnesses about the 144,000 who will go to heaven, the Universal House of Justice directs us to say that nothing on this point can be found in the sacred Writings of the Faith or in Shoghi Effendi's letters." (18 January 1983)

    Further references to these latter subjects can be found in the books mentioned above. See, for example, "New Keys to the Book of Revelation", pp. 38-39; pp. 17-81; 9.86, and "Apocalypse Unsealed", pp. 115-121; pp. 165-175; and p. 281.
  3. As to the references in Ezekiel 9:2 and Genesis 28:12, the Research Department has not located any authentic Bahá'í texts to explain theses verses. Mr. Garcia is free to arrive at his own conclusions.

  4. Concerning Mr. Garcia's question about the relationship the Ayatu'llah Khomeini might have to the prophecies and how the specific prophecies are to be located and interpreted, while the research Department can find no statement in the Writings which specifically deals with this subject, Mr. Garcia is referred to the sections in "The World Order of Bahá'u'lláh" (Wilmette: Bahá'í Publishing Trust,1974), pp. 172-179, and in "The Promised Day is Come" (Wilmette Publishing Trust, 1980), pp. 90-99, which describe the decline of Islám and the contribution of the religious doctors and divines to that process.


Revelations   Bahá'í   Revelations   Bahá'í  
1:8 & 11, 21:6- GPB, p. 9512:4- SAQ, p. 70
1:8- PT, p. 5112:5- GPB, p. 58
1:8 22:13- SAQ. P. 21912:5- SAQ, p. 70
2:17- SW, vol. 11, p. 27512:6- SAQ, pp. 70-72
4:4- GPB, p. 8 14:14- SW, vol. 8, p. 180
9:12- GPB, p. 5816:16- SW, vol. 10, p. 33
9:12- MA, p. 99 17:14- GPB, p. 206
11:1-2- SAQ, pp. 45-4719:16- GPB, p. 206
11:2- GPB, p. 5821:1- GPB, p. 96
11:3- SAQ, p. 4821:1- GPB, p. 213
11:3- GPB, p. 4921:1- MA, p. 99
11:3- GPB, p. 9421:1- SAQ, pp. 67-68
11:2-3- GPB, p. 5821:1-WOB, pp. 205-206
11:4- SAQ, p. 4921:1-2- ESW, p. 145
11:5- SAQ, pp. 49-5021:1-2- PT, p.84
11:6- SAQ, p. 5021:1-2- WOB, p. 205
11:7- SAQ, p. 5121:1-7- BWF, pp. 350-351
11:8- SAQ, pp. 51-5221:2- ADJ, pp. 77-78
11:9- SAQ, pp. 52-5321:2- BWF, p. 381
11:10-11- SAQ, pp. 53-5421:2 & 10 - GPB, p. 96
11:11-12- SAQ, pp. 54-5521:2- GPB, p. 213
11:12- SAQ, p. 5521:2- PUP, pp. 19-20
11:12- GPB, p. 4921:2- PUP, p. 38
11:12- GPB, p. 5821:2- PUP, pp. 101-102
11:13- GPB, p. 5321:2- SAQ, pp. 67-68
11:13-14- SAQ, pp. 55-5621:2- SW, vol. 2, p. 4
11:14- GPB, p. 49 & p. 92 21:2- TAB, pp. 539-540
11:14- GPB, p. 9521:3- GPB, p. 96
11:14- MA, p. 99 21:3- WOB, pp. 205-206
11:15- SAQ, pp. 56-5721:6- SW, vol. 18, p.197
11:16- GPB, p. 8 21:6- GPB, p. 95
11:16-17- SAQ, pp. 57-5721:10-17- TAB, pp. 92-94
11:18- SAQ, pp. 58-5921:23- GPB, p. 95
11:19- GPB, p. 239
11:19- SAQ, pp. 59-61
11:19- GPB, p. 249
12:1- GPB, p. 94
12:1- SAQ, p- 68
12:2- SAQ, pp. 68-69
12:3- SAQ, p. 69
12:3-4- SAQ, pp. 69-70

ADJ     "Advent of Divine Justice", Wilmette: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1984

BWF    "Bahá'í World Faith", Wilmette: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1976

ESW    "Epistle to the Son of the Wolf", Wilmette: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1981

GPB     "God Passes By", Wilmette: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1970

MA      "Messages to America, 1932-1946", Wilmette: Bahá'í Publishing Committee, 1947

PT       "Paris Talks", London: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1961

PUP     "The Promulgation of Universal Peace", Wilmette: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1982

SAQ    "Some Answered Questions", Wilmette: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1981

SW      "Star of West"

TAB    "Tablets of ‘Abdu'l-Bahá, New York: Bahá'í Publishing Committee, 1930

WOB   "World Order of Bahá'u'lláh", Wilmette: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1974

(*) Full Name: José Antonio Elías García; he is my father and a devoted Bahá'í from Perú.
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